All posts filed under: Artist Spotlight

In Defence of Meaning

Richard Harrison (February 3, 2010) Last November’s much anticipated Cage Match at Mount Royal University promised us Christian Bök and Carmine Starnino – poets with opposing views of poetry in general, and each other’s poetry in particular – letting their arguments fly in front of a live studio audience. (You can find the recorded event, courtesy of Kit Dobson, the Match’s moderator, at Though the issue between the two writers was framed in the form of The Avant-Garde vs The Tradition, or Experimentalism vs Mainstream Poetry, the question at the core of their debate as it developed might be unpacked as this: which approach produces poetry that does today what poetry ought to do – show the present to itself as it is, represent the future of poetry as it will be, and offer, implicitly or explicitly, the standards by which any work, past, present or future, is to be judged poetry at all – and, if poetry, poetry worth following. As is almost always true of such staged debates, much was said. And much …

Q&A with Natalie Olsen on Why Book Design Matters

Jordan Simpson: Book design has been around for a long time. Like, a really long time. It’s been around since people first put ink/dye/blood to paper, papyrus or animal, or even human skin (yes, human skin; there’s a few books bound entirely in the stuff but that’s for another article). And its guiding principle is of the noblest of causes to the writer: making an author’s work organized, legible and attractive to read. In its own way, design gives the words on the page extra power for the reader. It can engage the reader on another level by intriguing them, seducing them, or entertaining them through simple things like typeface, colour, and layout. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a sexy-looking book? So as an introduction to the occasionally mentioned craft, FreeFall sat down with Natalie Olsen, cover and book designer extraordinaire based in Inglewood and had a nice chat about her art. Olsen, who’s worked with a variety of clients ranging from the Book Publishers Association of Alberta to University of Toronto Press, has designed …

25th Anniversary Contest Now Accepting Submissions!

Did you know that our 25th anniversary contest issue is coming up? Submit for the chance to be monumentalized in FreeFall lore. Plus, it’s a superb chance to have the wonderful John Vigna review your work. Submit online at John Vigna is a graduate of the MFA creative writing program at UBC and alumni of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and anthologies including Cabin Fever: The Best New Canadian Non-Fiction, The Dalhousie Review, Grain, Event, sub-Terrain, The Antigonish Review, and Exact Fare 2: Stories of Public Transportation. He is the recipient of the Dave Greber Award for Freelance Writers, winner of the sub-Terrain Lush Triumphant fiction contest and finalist for a Western Magazine Award, the Event creative non-fiction contest, and the CBC literary non-fiction contest. John lives in Vancouver with his wife, the writer Nancy Lee. He is a Lecturer in the UBC Creative Writing Program.

FreeFall Interview with Joan Shillington

Despite promoting her new poetry book, living life, and being a wonderful poetry editor for FreeFall Magazine, Joan Shillington still found time to sit down for an interview with us about Folding the Wilderness Within. FreeFall: You started taking writing seriously later in life. What was the catalyst? And when and why did you first call yourself a “writer?” Joan Shillington: My daughter Laura was the catalyst. She bought a scrapbook for the poems I had written over the years; simple, rhyming poems for family occasions and games. Once they were gathered in one place, I decided they could be better and began to search for a poetry course. At the Alexandra Writer’s Centre I found a Saturday, all-day Beginner Poetry Workshop. It was May 1999, Bob Stallworthy was the facilitator. By the end of the day, I had fallen in love with poetry and registered for a six-week fall course. In May 2010, eleven years after the Beginner Poetry Workshop, I began to think of myself as a writer. Sequestered with nine poets for …

Under Western Skies

The Under Western Skies conference begins tomorrow. Feel free to stop by and listen to some of the FreeFall editors that will be presenting: Micheline Maylor: Tuesday September 9 – 1:30 – 3:00: The Earth Works like a Poem: A Conversation about Art, Science, and the Aesthetics of Understanding (EC1060) Thursday September 11 – 1:30 – 3:00 Eco-Poetry Readings (EC2065) Friday September 12 – 9:00 – 10:30 Micheline Maylor “The phenomenology of empty space, creativity, and the Burgess Shale as Muse” Ryan Stromquist: Thursday September 11 – 9:00 – 10:30 Ryan Stromquist “Not all Frac(k)ing is Bad Alec Whitford: Tuesday September 9 – 1:30 – 3:00: The Earth Works like a Poem: A Conversation about Art, Science, and the Aesthetics of Understanding (EC1060)

Congratulations Juleta Severson-Baker!

The City of Calgary Announces Short List for W.O. Mitchell Book Prize The City of Calgary, the Writers Guild of Alberta and the 17th Ave Retail Entertainment District are pleased to announce the short list authors for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, one of 17 awards presented as part of The Calgary Awards. The three finalists are Glenn Dixon for Tripping the World Fantastic (Dundurn), Juleta Severson-Baker for Incarnate (Frontenac House), and Tyler Trafford for Almost a Great Escape: A Found Story (Goose Lane Editions). Tripping the World Fantastic by Glenn Dixon is an engaging and entertaining exploration into the story of the world’s music. Dixon takes the reader on a journey to discover musical traditions on all five continents. He explains science, history and musical theory with authority and a down-to-earth manner, centered on his personal encounters and experiences. Dixon is a full time author, musician and documentary film maker and lives and works in Calgary. Incarnate by Juleta Severson-Baker is a superb collection of poetry rooted in the gentleness and …


Congrats to Micheline Maylor, Whirr & Click, shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and to Juleta Severson-Baker, Incarnate, shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. In celebration of this honour we felt we could share some of our favourite reviews of these two wonderful books. Juleta Micheline