Canadian Writers Abroad
For and about Canadian writers who are working or have worked outside of Canada, this site has three purposes: to promote, to share, and to record.
1. Writers who work abroad may encounter challenges that stay-at-homes do not. More important than such things as geckoes dropping on your manuscript, for example, is the way you disappear from the public eye once you pass through customs. Think of Mavis Gallant, who wrote for much of her life in Paris, publishing in The New Yorker. It wasn’t until Home Truths was published that she really got media coverage in Canada. So the first function of this site is to help a journalist or graduate student who searches “Canadian writers abroad” to find you.
2. The site is also meant to be a forum where writers abroad can share experiences and resources. Under Time and a Place you will find links to writing workshops and retreats outside of Canada. Under Keeping Posted you will find important submission deadlines – suggestions are welcome.
3. Writers have been writing outside of Canada pretty much since Canadian Literature was identified as such. To name a few: Morley Callaghan, Mordecai Richler, John Glassco, Margaret Laurence, and Sara Jeanette Duncan. I have set myself the little project of tracking down where Canadian writers lived and if possible taking photos to post on this site.
When I lived in Nairobi (1988-1991), I was cut off from the little writerly world I had created for myself in Montreal and Ottawa. There was no internet. Corrections with an editor who was publishing my chapbook and my essays were frustrating because it took so long for my corrections to reach him by post.
Letters, corrections by hand — it all seems quaint now that I can keep in touch by email and submit work online. If one wants to keep in touch, that is. Whether you have left in pursuit of privacy or adventure, or moved away for family reasons, temporarily or permanently, one thing is certain: we’d like to hear from you.
So tell the world here. Where are you and what are you doing? If you’ve returned to Canada, what was it like to work abroad? Or perhaps you’d like to submit something more structured, a short essay that captures the moment in time and place, like the “Letters from” that appear in the Guardian and the New Yorker. Would you like to review the work of a local writer? Are you working on something new or want to try a new form? Whatever you submit, you’ll have a front page lead. I offer you another way to promote your work. Check out the interviews and mini-interviews, too.
About the Editor
Debra Martens writes when she is not moving house, which she has done at least fifteen times since leaving home for university. (BA at the University of Toronto, MA in English Literature at McGill University.) She has published short stories in New Quarterly, Grain, Room of One’s Own, Descant and in four anthologies. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen, Descant, Paragraph, Books in Canada, Quill and Quire, and most recently in Numéro Cinq. She earns her living from freelance writing and editing. Some of her time abroad is discussed in the post Walls.