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Get To Know: Alicia Elliott

Snapchat-3127893120136803869Alicia Elliott (@WordsandGuitar) is our 2017 Nonfiction Contest judge and the first ever interviewee for our Get To Know series! This series will be dedicated to getting to know our contest judges, magazine contributors, and writers we love.

Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer living in Brantford, Ontario, where she worries she may one day die. Her writing has been published by RoomMaisonneuve, GrainThe New Quarterly and The Malahat Review. She has a monthly column with CBC Arts, and her essay “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground” won Gold for the 2017 National Magazine Award. She’s currently working on a collection of short stories and dealing with the fact that her only daughter is nearly a teenager.

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PRISM TALKS TO NONFICTION CONTEST JUDGE AMBER DAWN ABOUT TRUTH, FORM, & THE POWER OF NONFICTION

While October 31 means Halloween for many, here at PRISM it also means there’s only one month left until the deadline for our literary nonfiction contest! We recently interviewed our nonfiction judge Amber Dawn by email to talk about nonfiction.

You’ve written poetry, fiction and nonfiction, in addition to your work as a filmmaker and performance artist. When you have a story, how do you decide how to tell it?

I am a hypocrite of a creative writing mentor. “Just write!” I’ll say, as any instructor or mentor would. “Just write and worry about structure later.” But I rarely follow this advice because a story without a structure makes me feel lost, homeless. I like my art to have a house. In retrospect, poetry, my first “home sweet home,” may have been the creative discipline I took to first because it offers such a bounty of forms and as a new writer I wanted to try them all: glosas, ghazals, syllabic verse. During my undergrad (BFA in Creative Writing at UBC) I went so far as to translate sonnets from Italian to English, whilst honouring the original rhyme scheme. And this to me seemed less maddening than free form.

When I wrote Sub Rosa—a feminist speculative fiction novel that leans heavily towards the horror fantasy side of the genre—I knew before the first chapter was completed that I was writing a milieu story, a hero’s journey. I didn’t agonize when I reached the ending, as other novelists do, because I simply embraced the form. There was no question as to whether my protagonist would return home from the “belly of the whale”—of course she would. All heroes in milieu stories return home again. Dorothy never stays in Oz.

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REVIEW: THE CHAIRS ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE GO

The Chairs Are Where People Go: How To Live, Work, and Play in the City
By Misha Glouberman with Sheila Heti
Faber and Faber 

Reviewed by Cara Woodruff

Excerpt to be featured in PRISM international 50:1

“There’s a thoughtlessness in how people consider their audience that’s reflected in how they set up chairs […] you have to think about where you put your chairs.” Sheila Heti’s collaboration with her close friend Misha Glouberman contains 72 kitchen table chats, though Heti absents herself after the introduction. As she says, she’d always wanted to write a book about him “in all his specificity.” Raconteur and polymath, Glouberman talks life like your wisest, kindest and funniest friend channeling your eccentric uncle. Intimate and engaging, Glouberman’s thoughts run from philosophy, attending Harvard, theatre with homeless people, experimental music classes, charades and improv workshops to dealing with city councils. It sounds aimless but it’s not. It’s about interacting with people in an authentic and respectful and playful way. And his voice is engaging and the prose clean. Continue reading REVIEW: THE CHAIRS ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE GO