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Animal Encounters

Posted on Aug 15, 2011

Rotulae: Animal Encounters So, I’ve been reading John Freeman’s The Tyranny of E-mail and trying not to be triggered every time he mentions the ‘e’ word, not to check mine, but I gotta say, it’s Pavlovian. I actually start drooling at the mere mention of it. I’m a classic addict, checking whenever I’m bored, in the hope that someone loves me enough to send me spam. Freeman goes through the history of technology around communicating, and the read is very entertaining, and informative. One early mode of communication has excited me so much I thought I’d see if a game couldn’t be made out of it. What Freemans writes: “The growing order of monks also kept in touch through lay brothers traveling from one monastery to the next, trips that could take as long as several months, carrying scrolls called rostuale, an early, low-tech version of a Listserv. A scroll would leave a central monastery with simply, say, a list of names of brothers or benefactors who had died  and ought to be remembered. At each monastery an addition would be made to the scroll, the local abbot acknowledging receipt of the message and perhaps adding comments or further news” (The Tyranny of E-mail, John Freeman, Scribner, p. 28) I want to use this concept to make a running scroll of animal encounter stories. The rostulae game works like this. Add your most memorable animal encounter below and pass this on, if you like. I love hearing encounter stories — human meets animal — and I’m curious to see whether others like to, as well. Here is mine: When I was putting myself through university I spent several summers up north planting trees in the bush. I always put my tent at the margin of the clearing and the bush, which, to be fair, we were told not to do. One year, an energetic chipmunk discovered that the dome of my tent made an awesome slide, and took to leaping onto it every morning. Once in a while, I’d tap the inside of the dome and give it a scare, which only seemed to add to its amusement. One day, I thought I heard it rustling in the dirty laundry I kept in a garbage bag outside my tent, so I tapped. The chipmunk had grown huge. It thundered off quickly into the bush, and my first thought was, “Moose!” Now moose are gorgeous otherworldly creatures, and having only seen one before I was eager for another view. I crept out my tent and began, all the while looking down, to try to track it. A moose! After about twenty steps and by now deeply into the bush, it occurred to me it might be wise to look up, and when I did, there was a huge male bear, scenting me about three meters away. They say don’t run, they say make noise, but I sucked in the quietest breath ever and ran like hell the other...

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My Owls

Posted on Aug 7, 2011

My Owls ©2011 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer This is a wee essay, illustrated by Frank Fiorentino (title drawing) and Jack Illingworth (photos and video) about the Screech owl family who briefly moved into my Toronto neighbourhood. Douglas Glover at Numéro Cinq published it here, Illustration by Frank Fiorentino . My Owls Essay by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer . In the stories I’ve been writing lately, all set in and around my neighbourhood, a great many animals have arrived as if in the Eden of my mind, they are a necessity. They are not always kindly creatures. And they are there in the created neighbourhood of my stories even when they are not necessarily in my actual neighbourhood. And even when they are something like the animals that can be found in my actual neighbourhood, they are certainly not real in the way they enter the space of the stories, which can be both violent and inexplicable. Yet, there are animals in my neighbourhood. (continued on Numéro Cinq...

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TWUC address

Posted on May 28, 2011

Breakfast Talk © 2011 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer I gave a short speech at The Writers’ Union’s AGM Sponsor Breakfast, and a few people asked me for a copy. I am posting the speech in its extended form here. I cut about half at the breakfast because I had early morning jitters and decided it was too long. Here it is: If you have ever read the book The Gift by Lewis Hyde you will know that gifts are a kind of living currency, and that they need to be transferred in order to stay alive. The future of writing is always predicated on its present and its past. Writers are thieves, sure as anything, but what we steal becomes the gift we leave on the kitchen counter for the next batch of thieves. It’s a kind of strange relationship, isn’t it, where the victim craves the robbery, since it’s flattering sort of theft-gift? In this way, story is the gift that keeps giving. It is not only meant to be shared, it is crucial that it be shared. The internet has become the single most important medium for this exchange. The internet is itself a great gift, but it comes with its burdens, too, and that is because sharing and stealing embrace one another when the object being exchanged is, abstractly, zeros and ones, theoretically, ideas, practically, art. If it feels to some of us as if we are walking through a fog of information and misinformation, to others it this same fog is the chaos that change brings. This transformation is a great party that won’t make sense until the hangover passes. This is because amid valid concern for the individual’s intellectual property, there is a HUGE gift transfer happening. Look at operations like Kickstarter, Red Lemonade & Broadcastr, or Joyland.ca or Check out Douglas Glover’s site Numero Cinq. These are hives of sharing, networking writers & artists. And I haven’t even mentioned FB and twitter. I believe it is a writer’s inherent inclination to share. TWUC’s AGM this year is entirely focused on the future writing. The AGM is titled Onwards. We are probing not just what is the future? but where is the future? To this end we have panels of publishing, writing, and editing experts debating and discussing topics ranging from the changing mores in writing for children, how new publishing platforms are altering story itself, the shifting role of the writer in publicity, to who will be the tastemakers and gatekeepers in this imagined future. This, I am certain, will be a weekend of enormous sharing, of idea stealing, of intellectual gifts being repackaged and sent forward. But in order to do this TWUC reached out to you for donations — gifts. And you, marvelously, generously, responded. So it is because of you that we could enlist the expertise of key panelists to debate and discuss topics of urgency around new technology, new ideas, and it is because of you that TWUC was able to offer the lowest registration fee in memory so that this AGM sees a record attendance – and so that more importantly, this AGM can claim to be the most financially accessible for writers and it is also because of you that we see a record increase by 25% in new members registering. So not only have you helped the AGM, you have helped the future and ongoing health of the union. You can see by this that your gifts already have an impact. I am sure, too, that they have a living currency, as the ideas and debate over this...

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Upcoming reading events

Posted on Apr 13, 2011

Kuitenbrouwer: Upcoming Reading Events Speakeasy Reading Series Thursday, April 28, 7:30- 10:30 Magpie Tavern 831 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario Featuring: Katie Jordon Todd Ryan Lukan Jacob McArthur Mooney Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer & Draft Reading Series May 15, 3p.m. The Merchants of Green Coffee 2 Matilda Street With new work by Michelle Alfano Baila Ellenbogen Catherine Graham Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Nick Power With the $5 admission fee comes a copy of Draft, a limited-edition publication available only at these readings. Also, please note that by clicking through the fb and twitter icons on pages in this website you can like or follow me on facebook and/or...

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Forthcoming stories

Posted on Apr 10, 2011

New Stories by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer coming out in journals this year Fortune has rained upon me… Laikas 1: Granta (fall issue, themed Ten Years Later) Corpse: The Walrus (Christmas issue) The Song of Otto: Filter Literary Journal (guest edited by Tonaya Thompson) (summer) Yuri of the Park: Riddle Fence (summer)

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On Granta Magazine, Submission, and Persistence

Posted on Mar 29, 2011

On Granta Magazine, Submission, and Persistence ©2011 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer It was in the autumn of 1987 that I bought my first copy of Granta Magazine. I was twenty-two years old and I had never heard of the magazine until I noticed, on a table in the doorway of Pages Books in Toronto, the painting of a wild punker on its front cover. Pages Books was a new adventure for me too. I was wandering along Queen Street West in Toronto on a visit from Ottawa, and happened upon it. I’d spent the day scanning the shelves of the many used and rare bookstores along that same stretch of Queen street. Most of these stores no longer exist, including Pages, a new book store, which shut its doors last year. I bought the magazine because it had a story in it called ‘With Your Tongue Down My Throat’ by Hanif Kureishi. I had never heard of Hanif Kurieshi either but anyone who could come up with a title like that deserved to be read. I felt like I’d discovered some exotic island. I had. Of course millions of people had ahead of me, but that doesn’t matter. I have had a few artistic ‘Holy Shit’ moments—watching Eric Rohmer’s Track 29, and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, reading Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Solider, or more recently Lydia Millet’s My Happy Life—and reading ‘With Your Tongue Down My Throat’ was one of them. A ‘Holy Shit’ moment is one in which you are stopped dead in your tracks, and tell yourself this can’t be allowed—but you are simultaneously so ecstatically happy that it can. It is a moment when, for an artist, the door opens onto a new permission. Pages became, then, a go-to store whenever I was in Toronto. There were always surprises there, discoveries. John Fante, Ferdinand Celine, George Batailles. One of my English professors accused me at that time of loving all the misogynists. I said, “Maybe they are misogynistic, but they can write.” It was all that mattered to me. And to be fair, I also loved Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and especially Katherine Mansfield and Gertrude Stein. In Ottawa, I had never seen a copy of Granta, and so, not being able to afford a subscription, whenever I went to Toronto I would buy an issue. For years I bought and read Granta. In these years, I moved back and forth to Belgium to work and live with my future husband. I knew I could marry him for three reasons. 1. When we were courting, he sent me a copy in the mail of Patrick Suskind’s The Perfume—it was accompanied by an envelope with a letter and the small blossoms of a wayside flower, purple; 2. He wanted me to become a writer—his family lineage had famous Dutch writers and artists and he was nostalgic and faithful around the issue of the arts, even if he himself was, at the time, a logger; 3. He believed that books should be bought and not borrowed—we spent many hours choosing books at the FNAC on weekends. This triangulation of facts somehow meant we could live together, and we have, for over 20 years now. When out first child was a baby, I began to send work out. I had no idea where to send except the journals I read, and so, naturally, I sent to Granta. This was the beginning of almost 19 years of rejection. I sent work through the editorial reign of Bill Buford, Ian Jack, Jason Cowley, Alex Clark and John Freeman. I came to...

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