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Photographer credit: Esther Kabamba and Will Fraser

Between Us: The Language of Home

Interview by Emma Cleary

Welcome to the first installment of Between Us, a conversation series by, for, and between immigrant/first-gen Canadian writers. We’re featuring writers who move back and forth across the hyphen, straddling old country and new, negotiating ideas of home-place, belonging, and identity. Writers who create within and beyond the categories of “Canadian literature” and “Canadian immigrant literature.”

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Any Way I Want: An Interview with Alan Woo

Interview by Tze Liew

Alan Woo is a lively, open-hearted Asian Canadian author who was born in England and grew up in Vancouver. Disguised as a lanky, pink-bellied rabbit, he read his award-winning children’s book, Maggie’s Chopsticks, at Chosen Family Story Hour, a Vancouver Queer Film Festival event. His book paints a heartwarming picture of learning to find strength in your own unique nature, even when everyone is telling you to do something their way. Woo graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Master’s in Library Studies and a Minor in Creative Writing, and has written for Ricepaper, Vancouver Magazine, Arc, and Xtra. He is currently a teen services librarian at Surrey Libraries, where he often works with LGBTQ+ youth and youth of colour.

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Get to Know: Jan Zwicky

Interview by Claudia Wilde

Our next Get to Know (with a few bonus added questions!) features Jan Zwicky, a poet, philosopher, essayist, and musician who will be appearing at this year’s Writers Fest in Vancouver. In 1981, Zwicky earned her PhD at the University of Toronto specializing in Philosophy of Logic and Science. Jan Zwicky has published over a dozen books of poetry, and was the recipient of the Dorothy Livesay Prize and the Governor General’s Award for poetry. After teaching for a number of years, she has finally settled on Quadra Island. Last year she came out with a collection of poetry called The Long Walk.

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“The Dark and Other Love Stories:” An Interview with Deborah Willis

Deborah Willis is one of the most exciting and original talents to emerge in the last ten years. Her first short story collection Vanishing and Other Stories (2009) was nominated for the Governor General’s Award and earned several rave reviews. Her most recent collection The Dark and Other Love Stories (2017) was longlisted for the Giller Prize. Her fiction has appeared in Event, PRISM international, The Walrus, The Virginia Quarterly, The Iowa Review and Lucky Peach. Deborah is currently working on a novel and is the writer-in-residence at MacEwan University. Prism international was excited to have the opportunity to discuss with Deborah her most recent collection of unforgettable short stories. Be sure to see Deborah Willis at the Vancouver Writers Fest for How This Story Began and The Sunday Brunch. Check it out at http://writersfest.bc.ca/.

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Mark Jordan Manner

Most Perfect Things About People: An Interview with Mark Jordan Manner

Interview by Matthew Walsh.

Mark Jordan Manner’s debut novel, Most Perfect Things About People, was published this year by Tailwinds Press. After a few publications in literary journals for his short fiction, it only seemed inevitable that a novel would be on the way. Told through various narrators, the story is a sprawling account of family secrets and memories, told over years by characters who are separated by geography and connect again through their own recollections of childhood memories. I was so happy to be interviewing Mark, whose stories were some of the weirdest, loveliest pieces of fiction I had read in a while.

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Constantly Chipping Away At The Mainstream: An Interview with Jen Sookfong Lee

Interview by Matthew Walsh.

Jen Sookfong Lee’s new book, Gentlemen of the Shade: My Own Private Idahois part film analysis and part cultural commentary, with glimpses of memoir. The book focuses primarily on My Own Private Idaho, Gus Van Sant’s 1991 film about two drifters—but there are asides that delve into 90s pop culture in general, with mentions of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s Nevermind album. My 90s memories returned to me through my reading of this short, precise analysis of 90s art and culture—a period when “our connection to beauty [was] universal, as [was] our search for identity.”

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Yumna Al-Arashi bio photo no photographer credit

Get To Know: Yumna Al-Arashi

Interview by Kyla Jamieson.

Get to Know is an interview series dedicated to introducing you to our favourite writers and contributors by way of a range of questions that touch on quotidian details, public spaces, risk-taking, and advice for emerging artists.

This week it’s our pleasure to introduce you to our summer cover photographer Yumna Al-Arashi, a Muslim American who was raised in Washington, DC, and holds a degree in International Politics with a focus on the Middle East. Al-Arashi’s work often focuses on the self-expression and strength of women—from North African matriarchs with face tattoos to nude women in a Beirut bathhouse. This October, her work will be projected onto the International Center of Photography Museum’s windows as part of “Projected,” a series that focuses on photographers “exploring empowerment, catalyzing social change, and giving voice to the unheard.” Scroll down for morning routine inspiration and some stellar music recommendations from this visionary artist.

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Jessica Bebenek photo by Joanna Gigliotti

Get to Know: Jessica Bebenek

Interview by Kyla Jamieson.

Get to Know is a new PRISM interview series dedicated to introducing you to our favourite writers and contributors by way of a range of questions that touch on quotidian details, public spaces, risk-taking, and advice for young writers. This week it’s our pleasure to introduce you to Jessica Bebenek (@notyrmuse), a writer and transdisciplinary artist currently pursuing an MA at Concordia University in Montreal. Her non-fiction piece “For J” appeared in PRISM’s Spring 2017 issue after being shortlisted for our Non-Fiction Contest; this piece is part of Writing for Men, a non-fiction collection she’s currently working on.

Bebenek’s poetry chapbook Fourth Walk was released this Spring by Desert Pets Press, and she is currently completing her first full collection of lyric poetry, No One Knows Us Here. This Fall, the knitted tapestries in Bebenek’s k2tog series, which explore how women speak to each other through both ‘art’ and ‘craft,’ will be displayed at The Gladstone’s Hard Twist exhibition, alongside the launch of her accompanying chapbook of knitting patterns (k2tog), forthcoming from Berlin’s Broken Dimanche Press. You can find further info on publications and readings on Bebenek’s website.

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