As 2016 comes to a much-welcomed end, it’s always a good time to reflect on all we’ve done and seen, and everything we’ve learned. And, it’s never too early to prepare for what the new year will bring.
A look back before stepping forward
The madness of politics and controversies of all types aside, the arts community had a very full year.
Bob Dylan, not without dispute, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The elusive Elena Ferrante received endless accolades and sparked a lot of discussion regarding her true identity as part of her success in the release of The Story of the Lost Child (English translation by Ann Goldstein), the final installment of her Neapolitan series.
Several legendary talents passed away – including Harper Lee, David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen – which incited worldwide celebrations of their lives and achievements, hopefully introducing new generations to their legacies.
Gord Downie released Secret Path, an album and accompanying graphic novel (illustrated by Jeff Lemire) about the tragedy of Chenie Wenjack and the injustices experienced by First-Nations families and children through the residential-school system.
Whether or not we agree with where the praise and criticism fell, it is certain that this past year gave us much to absorb and be inspired by.
On the horizon
Vancouver-local writers will be publishing creative works in 2017. Keep an eye on Arc Poetry Magazine for a new poem by Hanako Masutani. Writers Meg Todd and Jane Campbell will have new writing published in upcoming issues of EVENT. And that’s only naming a few.
Lovers of horror and the macabre will also be happy to hear that Stephen King is working on his novel Sleeping Beauties which is set for publication this coming year. Renowned nonfiction writer Joan Didion is releasing South and West: From a Notebook in the spring.
I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.
From “On Keeping a Notebook” in Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Didion, 1968)
I have been a fan of George Saunders’s short stories and essays since Tenth of December was published in 2014 (I mentioned one of his wonderful nonfiction essays in a previous entry). When late January rolls around, I will be sure to get my hands on his first full-length fiction novel Lincoln in the Bardo, a tale of grief and reflection told over the course of one night as Abraham Lincoln visits the grave of his son, Willie.
Fresh starts and opportunities
Writers, both fledgling and established, can often find it challenging to carve out the time and resources to work on their projects. As each new year begins, residencies, grants, and fellowships become available to creators at all stages of their careers.
Local funding for arts projects can be found through your city’s official website. The Banff Centre has several programs for writers, artists, and translators. The Writer’s Trust of Canada, as well as global resources like Literistic and Aerogramme Writer’s Studio, provide up-to-date details on programs and funding offered both near and far.
Creative-minded Canadians out there should read up on the new funding model being introduced by the Canada Council for the Arts. Be sure to bookmark their new URLs and resource pages.
What were your favourite offerings of this past year? What are you anticipating in the hopefully grand and great 2017? Let me know!
Enjoy these last few moments of 2016. I’ll see you in the new year.