Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Brian Joseph Davis for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a witty one-liner or a bio)?

BRIAN JOSEPH DAVIS Brian Joseph Davis, Italian Disco producer

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

BJD I have to move to California for a couple of months to research my next book so I'm putting it off as long as possible.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

BJD I write in incomprehensible longhand sitting at the kitchen table then retype at the computer.

DS What are you working on now?

BJD Literally just now: An interview with the woman who pretended to be JT Leroy. Also, making a playable instrument out of 20 TV sets and DVD players and somehow getting it to both Vancouver and New York.

Monday, October 27, 2008


The painting to the right of my desk is by Natalka Husar, titled Odalisque. To the right is an oil sketch by Rob, my partner. It`s the view in a mirror ball of our last house.

The table beside the red velvet chair holds the books I`ll be reading next. The wooden mango was brought back from West Africa by a friend who lived there for several years.

The buddha head. No other knick-knacks allowed here. Clean. Tidy. A spot to rest my eyes. The weaving below the head is also from West Africa.

The windowsill holds mainly gifts. Faux fruit, a bottle of ouzo, from friends, and clay crafts made by our daughter. Also an assortment of stones. And a postcard from a friend who visited the Museum of Purses and Handbags in Amsterdam.

My bookshelves contain (besides books): Venetian masks, handbags, a photograph of the woods at St. Peter`s Abbey in Saskatchewan, bird nests, shells, some of my doodles and other odds and ends.

Shawna Lemay for DESK SPACE


SHAWNA LEMAY Shawna Lemay: forges, forages.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

SL My first book (All the God-Sized Fruit) came out in 1999. My next book is called Calm Things - a book of essays about living with still life. (My partner is Robert Lemay, a visual artist, still life painter). It's coming out with Palimpsest Press in October 2008. Soon! After that, I have a book of poetry, Red Velvet Forest, coming out with The Muses Company in the spring of 2009.

DS Where do write (at your desk/outside/in bed)

SL When I write in my notebook, I sit in my decrepit red velvet chair. It`s suitably uncomfortable and yet comforting. I move to my desk when I`m working on my computer. It`s good to have the window to stare out of. At the moment the neighbour`s tree is full of apples.

DS Why you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

SL My room is my nest, my hive, meticulously arranged to induce daydreams. It is where, as Rilke said, I may be magnificently alone. Maybe too, it is because I am able to listen to those things which are insignifcant here. From Bachelard: ``No doubt, one would have to sink into profound daydreaming to be moved by the vast museum of insignificant things.` Maybe I have been influenced by my study of still life, by my everyday exposure to still life, in my arrangement of things in this room. Maybe the arrangement of things, knick-knacks, is more haphazard.

DS What are you working on now?

SL I`m writing about the possibility of a woman art forger, about the belief in this possibility. I`m interested in anonymity, hidden-ness, how we see, what remains invisible. I`m interested in suspicion, confessions, lies, obfuscation. I`m interested in belief. Not to mention fakery, forgery, mystification, shams, scams, hoaxes, greed, hunger. I`m interested in what is real and honest. I`m moving back and forth between fiction and creative non-fiction. It`s quite likely that I`ll never quite finish this piece and I`m not sure that I want to. It`s the most satisfying thing I`ve ever written, a most satisfying place to hide.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Coming Up

This Week on DESK SPACE

Tuesday: Shawna Lemay
Thursday: Brian Joseph Davis

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Dani Couture for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a witty one-liner or a bio)?

DANI COUTURE Writer, small space expert, and animal effigist.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

DC I started writing in the backseat of my parent's pickup truck. As a military family, we spent many hours on the road, so I had a lot of time to read. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. My first book, "Good Meat," was published by Pedlar Press in 2006, and I have a second collection of poetry, "The Handbook," forthcoming from Pedlar.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

DC I write on my couch, which is really a loveseat, with my feet up on the coffee table.

DS Why do you work where you do?

DC Even though I live in a bachelor apartment that doesn't have enough room for a desk, I prefer to write at home. I've discovered creative ways to store my books and papers, and I have a large bank of south-facing windows that makes all the difference.

DS What are you working on now?

DC I'm working on a novel, tentatively titled "Black Bear on Water."

Monday, October 20, 2008


Chris Banks for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a witty one-liner or a bio)?

Chris Banks Chris Banks is a Waterloo poet and high school creative writing teacher which esentially involves being a life coach for angry disenfranchised teens who wear black and tend to like books more than people.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

CB I started writing poems in highschool when I was sixteen after my teacher Mrs. Tetzner introduced me to some poems by Earle Birney and Al Purdy. I wrote my first poems in school hallways and friends’ bedroom walls but never at a desk. Next, I went to university and began writing poems at a desk and reading poems in tiny bars. Some years later, I wrote two poetry books Bonfires and The Cold Panes of Surfaces on a white Ikea pressboard desk that was totally falling apart and which I had to eventually throw away last year. Poor little desk. I miss you.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

CB I now write at a much bigger desk in a small room of my new house deep in the heart of the suburbs. I call my writing space “The laboratory”. Some poets have writing studios. I have a laboratory.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think, in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

CB For me, I need a quiet area to do any kind of imaginative writing which is why I like having my work space separate from other rooms. I also like to surround myself with things I like. Beside my desk, I keep a bookcase full of poetry and essay collections within easy reach. Above my computer sits a bulletin board where I have stuck an assortment of little mementos: photos of poets I admire; the poem “To The Shade of Po Chu-I” by William Carlos Williams; a photo of my wife and I camping in Muskoka; a photo of two porcelain monks I wrote a poem about for my last book; a quote by Auden I really like; a Buddhist cartoon illustrating the Five Hindrances; and lastly, an essay by the American poet Gregory Orr about the making of poems. On my other wall, I also have a framed broadsheet “On Poetry & Craft” by Theodore Roethke which was printed by Copper Canyon Press. It too reminds me everyday what it takes to write poems.

DS What are you working on now?

CB I’m working on a new manuscript of poems and I am about a third of the way through it. So far, it is a hodge-podge of long rambling meditations and lyrics which try to find some middle ground between the spiritual and the corporeal with an added dash of blank verse and syllabics thrown into the mix.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE

Tuesday: Chris Banks
Thursday: Dani Couture

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Elizabeth Bachinsky for DESK SPACE


ELIZABETH BACHINSKY Elizabeth Bachinsky, poet.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

EB I’ve always written—that is, as a kid and a teenager I wrote—but I started publishing in literary journals when I was 24. I was 29 when my first book, Curio, came out with BookThug (2005). I have two other books. Both are published with Nightwood Editions. There’s Home of Sudden Service (2006) and God of Missed Connections (Spring, 2009). I’m at work on another book that might be called Infidel. But that one won’t be done for a while yet. I’m 32.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

EB I share a one-room studio in Vancouver with my husband, so, whenever I get the place to myself, I work there on my desktop. I also work on my laptop in the café downstairs where they make good coffee and leave me pretty much to myself. I also seem to do a lot of house sitting and travelling these days, so I write a lot in other people’s spaces and in hotel rooms or wherever.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think, in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

EB This question makes me want to smoke. I may have to hike into town and get a pack of cigarettes now. And then I’ll want to take my computer outside on the deck, work out there, and smoke. Right now I’m in a cabin on the Sunshine Coast. I came up here to finish God of Missed Connections, which I delivered to my editor yesterday. So now I’m just kind of reeling around trying not to be nervous about it. I’m also trying not to smoke.

DS What are you working on now?

EB Poems. An introduction for a friend’s new book. A short story. More poems.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This Week on DESK SPACE

Coming up on DESK SPACE

Thursday: Elizabeth Bachinsky

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Andrew Hood for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a witty one-liner or a bio)?

ANDREW HOOD Andrew Hood: ditherer/short story plugger-awayer-ater.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

AH I've been up to it since I thought I could impress my older brother by writing (so, what: 12 or 13?) and Pardon Our Monsters came out Fall 2007, dedicated to the lovable lummox even. My next submission to "heaven's unchangeable heart" will come out when I get my act together.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

AH The lion's share of the "work" (in person, I'd wryly make a "tossing-off" gesture here) has to be done anywhere but at my desk, so at my kitchen table, or in coffee shops (either the Red Brick Café or the Corner Stone in Guelph), or in bars (The Woolwich Arms in Guelph and Dieu du Ciel in Montreal). Only the most final of final drafts seems to get done at my desk, which can sometimes make me feel like I'm being kept in during recess writing out lines of "I will not… in class." I can't really write-write at my computer, only arrange and gerrymander there, I guess.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

AP Apart from the respective vices available there, probably I work best in cafés and bars because with strangers ostensibly watching you and wondering what you're writing exactly, you've got to keep your head down and your pen to paper—there's just no opportunity for dicking around or stroking your chin contemplatively in that situation, you know. But at home and at the desk, the smaller and more cramped the space the better. In this way I seem to be slightly autistic: I need to be hemmed-in when I do what it is that I supposedly do. A few weeks ago I was over for dinner at a friend's house and she's got this awesome two-year-old, and this kid's got his own little fort made out of a refrigerator box right there in the living room (there's a little pot in the window for flowers and everything). I saw that and I thought, Now that's the kind of office I need. Or maybe I actually said it out loud. (The kid's not autistic, by the way. He's just understands the benefits of having a home inside a home.)

DS What are you working on now?

AH I'm writing stories for a collection called Traps and Attractions while glacially working away on a book structurally akin to somewhere between Who Do You Think You Are? and Go Down, Moses about the "Canadian Condition" (toss-off gesture here, too), tracing the downfall of a Scottish lineage from the doomed settlement of New Caledonia to the moon landing, with some Mennonites, two-headed horses, and country fairs dappled throughout.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Nick Thran for DESK SPACE
A Poem

Desk Space

after Tomaz Salamun

I have a computer. My computer hurts my eyes.
I have a fan. When I turn on my fan there is wind.
I have a painting by my sister of the human heart.
My sister works two jobs because her landlord doesn’t charge
the same rent anymore.
I have a poem by Mark Strand. “Black Sea” is a wonderful poem!
I have a telephone. The captain has called me to say that I’ve won a free cruise.
I have a cup of coffee. My coffee is always finished too soon.
I have an orange chair. My orange chair is covered with clothes.
I have a dictionary. I look up the word pusillanimous.
I have a radio. My radio does not dream.
I have a letter from Darren. It’s nice to get letters from Darren!
I have a book by Philip Gourevitch.
If I take it with me to read in bed then I will not fall asleep.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The desk was my friend Melinda's until she got pregnant and needed the space for a crib (she didn't stop writing, just bought a smaller desk). The silver lamp belonged to my friend Penny until her cat took a violent disliking to it. The orange vase was my mother's until she took a disliking to it. Taped to the wall is the poem, "The Flying Woman" by Leon Rooke that he emailed me, and a bird painted on a leaf that my my brother sent me from India. The Talouse-Lautrec barroom mirror, I got for 50 cents at a church rummage sale when I was in grade school. Depending in what you believe, my workspace is filled with either good energy or nicer things than I would've bought for myself. Either way, I like it.

Rebecca Rosenblum for DESK SPACE


Rebecca Rosenblum Rebecca Rosenblum--short story writer, author of *Once*, poor chess player, reasonably good driver.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

RR My first book comes out in two days, or is sort of already out, I guess, in select stores and in my living room. The first thing I ever published was the introduction to the "Clubs and Organizations" section of my grade 11 yearbook. It was a meditation on how weird homonyms are, how a club can be both a convivial gathering of like-minded people, and something you can hit someone with.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

RR At my desk, mainly. Sometimes in coffee shops, libraries, or restaurants. In a pinch, at someone else's desk.

DS Why do you work where you do?

RR I'm not terribly fussed about where I work as long it has a chair and a stable flat surface for my laptop/notebook. I *hate* sitting on with my computer in my lap, despite the name. It hurts my neck, plus I'm such a fidget that the lap-resting seems like a really good way to wreck the most expensive thing I own. But even when I write longhand in a notebook, I like tables.

DS What are you working on now?

RR It looks to me like a collection of linked short stories. At least, I have written several short stories which do link. It may be too early to tell for sure, but in any event,I like it.

Coming up on Desk Space

This week on DESK SPACE

Monday: Rebecca Rosenblum

Wednesday: Nick Thran (a poem)

Friday: Andrew Hood

Friday, October 3, 2008


I like a lot of space to spread out my work, especially when I'm editing stuff or going through student work, so my husband Toan turned a door into an extra big workspace for me. Outside the window is a hazelnut tree, currently full of contented squirrels. Sitting in front of my laptop is my dog, Toby, with his recent and very bad haircut. Toby has been a crucial contributor to my writing life for the past three years. While I work, he lies on a yoga mat you can’t see beside my desk, waiting for me to hit a snag so we can go out for a walk. How many walks he gets each day is directly related to how well my work is going.

Susan Glickman for DESK SPACE


SUSAN GLICKMAN Susan Glickman, poet, teacher, novelist, editor, and also mom, gardener, dog-wrangler, arthritic dancer.

DS When did you start writing?

SG When people ask me when I started writing I usually ask them when they stopped! Everyone makes up stories and songs and poems when they’re little, don’t they? I’ve never been able to put away childish things. I still do most of them: I make art, dance, mess around in the kitchen, and play outside.

DS When did you publish your first book?

SG The first book I didn’t put together with a three-hole punch and a red ribbon, Complicity, came out from Signal Editions of Véhicule Press in 1983. Luckily it’s out of print!

DS Where do you write?

SG I generally write at my desk, but I have written lots of other places—cafés and park benches and beaches and so on. I especially love writing on trains. I’m kind of envious of Zach Wells and Erin Moure for that reason!

DS Why you work where you do?

SG I have a home-office because I have always been the main caregiver for my kids. Now that they are teenagers and don’t need me as much, I still find it the cheapest and most convenient place to work. My other main jobs are often on the computer too—I teach online and do freelance editing. So I never have any wasted time; if I’m not working, I can do laundry or make soup or weed the garden or walk the dog. And if I feel compelled to write in the middle of the night, I just creep quietly upstairs with a cup of tea. So there’s a nice flow back and forth between my imaginative life and my domestic one. I always feel like a whole person.

DS What are you working on now?

SG I’m trying to finish my sixth collection of poems, Yarrow, and my third adult novel, Safe as Houses, and taking notes for a sequel to my brand-new-just-released-not-even-in-the- stores-yet children’s book,
Bernadette and the Lunch Bunch. And I have a short story percolating; it involves a dog, as do both the novel in progress and the photo I’ve sent you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008