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Producing Canadian Literature

Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace

KitDobson, SmaroKamboureli

Publication Year: 2013

Producing Canadian Literature: Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace brings to light the relationship between writers in Canada and the marketplace within which their work circulates. Through a series of conversations with both established and younger writers from across the country, Kit Dobson and Smaro Kamboureli investigate how writers perceive their relationship to the cultural economy—and what that economy means for their creative processes.

The interviews in Producing Canadian Literature focus, in particular, on how writers interact with the cultural institutions and bodies that surround them. Conversations pursue the impacts of arts funding on writers; show how agents, editors, and publishers affect writers’ works; examine the process of actually selling a book, both in Canada and abroad; and contemplate what literary awards mean to writers. Dialogues with Christian Bök, George Elliott Clarke, Daniel Heath Justice, Larissa Lai, Stephen Henighan, Erín Moure, Ashok Mathur, Lee Maracle, Jane Urquhart, and Aritha van Herk testify to the broad range of experience that writers in Canada have when it comes to the conditions in which their work is produced.

Original in its desire to directly explore the specific circumstances in which writers work—and how those conditions affect their writing itself—Producing Canadian Literature will be of interest to scholars, students, aspiring writers, and readers who have followed these authors and want to know more about how their books come into being.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: TransCanada

Cover, Title Page

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pp. 1-5


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pp. 6-7

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Foreword: Producing a Globalized Canadian Literature and Its Communities

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pp. vii-x

...The small modernist library in New Westminster, B.C., opened in the year that I was born. Its architecture, a modest variation on the International Style, and its open floorplan with a mezzanine, reflected the way in which culture was being brought into the Canadian public sphere, and signalled the centrality of print...

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pp. xi-xii

...Killam Trusts Postdoctoral Fellowship that he held at Dalhousie University; an Internal Research Grant that he received from Mount Royal University; the Canada Council that brought some of the authors interviewed to the TransCanada Institute; and the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canada Research Chairs Program that have allowed Smaro to create the TransCanada Institute at...

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pp. 1-10

...write, publish, and read so much poetry about nature when 80 per cent of Canadians now live in cities? Christian Bök suggests here that this focus derives, in part, from a bias in how our funding structures operate, a bias that devalues experimental poetry. There may be a problem of logic in such a claim, since...

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1. Too Bloody-Minded to Give Up: Interview with Christian Bök

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pp. 11-27

...federal—and nobody was willing to support the book. After two or three years of attempting to extract grants from these agencies, I started making inquiries at the offices of these program in order to find out why I was being excluded from consideration. I learned that, while the jury members...

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2. The Politics of Our Work: Interview with Ashok Mathur

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pp. 28-46

...done with support, but my next two novels both got support, and the current one has support from places like the Canada Council. I tend to look more to the national body, the Canada Council, than to the provincial ones, which have been more successful for me, for the type of work that...

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3. Change the Way Canada Sees Us: Interview with Lee Maracle

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pp. 47-60

...work the oratory into various art forms, and then create a single piece of multidisciplinary art from it. I also know that Indigenous writers with more than six books can’t apply for the Aboriginal Secretariat writing grants, while the competition in the Canadian grant section is so much stiffer...

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4. A Very, Very Uncertain Way to Make a Living: Interview with

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pp. 61-74

...positive, but of course I haven’t had any experiences with funding bodies in the last, I would say, ten years. With the exception of something like my current position, of course, where I’m now writer-in-residence in a university and the Canada Council provides half of the fee that I collect. So I suppose I have indirectly been affected by programs that are funded...

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5. To Hear This Different Story: Interview with Daniel Heath Justice

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pp. 75-91

...available specifically for Aboriginal literature, so apply.” I wasn’t too sure about applying, because I get a good paycheque from the university, but it was helpful for that summer; I didn’t need to teach a summer course and I could focus on the book. So I applied and got the good news. It was a good, very productive summer. But that was the only arts funding I’ve applied for...

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6. Crossing Borders with Our Work: Interview with Erín Moure

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pp. 92-110

...inviting you here or there. At times they seem to have different programs working against each other, but also, when that happens, I usually have the sense that they are trying to balance something so that they can make funds available. So sometimes one person is trying to do this and the other...

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7. No Reason to Fool Yourself: Interview with Aritha van Herk

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pp. 111-129

...I have applied and had a very idiosyncratic record. I’ve had, I think, two grants, and I’ve been turned down quite a number of times. It is a body that doesn’t have the same strictures as the Canada Council, but it also seems to be in an entirely different realm in terms of its feeling that it has...

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8. Literature Survives through Its Variety: Interview with Stephen Henighan

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pp. 130-149

...was worth $6,300. I still remember that figure because it was about my annual income at the time. I later got a grant of, I think, $10,000 from the Ontario Arts Council for a novel set in Montreal that ended up taking me about fifteen years to finish. I got the grant in 1990. It’s a novel where I wrote an 800-page first draft, which I then had to whittle away for years...

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9. Under Conditions of Restraint: Interview with Larissa Lai

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pp. 150-167

...available, because I look at the generation that’s a decade younger than me, and I don’t think they have had the same kinds of resources. I think that one of the most important things that arts councils can do is to make grants available to young artists because it makes the difference between having a life that goes in a creative direction and one that doesn’t. Of course it would...

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10. A Book of Poetry in the Mix: Interview with George Elliott Clarke

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pp. 168-188

...there too. These were really small amounts of money. The $12,000 grant was the largest grant I ever applied for and received from the Canada Council. But provincially, I would ask for $200–300 to go to a conference or to go to Banff, and the cultural division of the government of Nova Scotia never refused me a penny, ever. But again I don’t know how they...

Appendix: Timeline of Canadian Cultural Bodies

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pp. 189-196


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pp. 197-200


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pp. 201-208

E-ISBN-13: 9781554586394
E-ISBN-10: 1554586399
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554583553
Print-ISBN-10: 1554583551

Page Count: 220
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: TransCanada