Thursday, January 29, 2009


Jon Paul Fiorentino for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (one-liner or bio)?

JON PAUL FIORENTINO I wrote a novel, Stripmalling, which will be out in the Spring of 2009. I teach writing at Concordia University and I edit Matrix magazine. So, you know, I pretty much have it all.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book or when are you publishing your next?

JPF I started writing when I was a kid. But I started taking it seriously when I was around 17 and I realized it was the only thing I was good at. I published some embarrassing juvenilia, but I am still very proud of Transcona Fragments. I published that in 2002, when I was 25 and very wheezy.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

JPF The desk at home. I spend a lot of time writing and crying in my office at Concordia University too. The laptop on my desk has a cracked screen but it's still working, and I wrote The Theory of the Loser Class and Stripmalling on it. So it will be going into the National Archives soon.

DS What are you working on now?

JPF Stripmalling will be out in the early spring. Mentholism, my next book of poetry, will be out in 2010.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Jon Paul Fiorentino

Thursday, January 22, 2009


1. Obvious desk shot. As opposed to, Obvious desk, shot. No desks were harmed in the shooting of this picture.

2. My Frankenberry bobblehead. Fun. Pink. Gender fluid.

3. A piece of chalk my grade nine math teacher signed when I won a quiz. I get all the answers right and my reward is his autograph! I loved that he claimed his own bit of authorship in our accomplishments. My favourite personal item. It's got to be going on twenty years old and has yet to break. Now that I've said it out loud...

4. A car poster. Two of my characters originally aged enough over the course of the story that I imagined them driving into a field where they dance in the headlights to Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back." Don't know that that's gonna happen now, but one of the older brothers - who dies in a car accident - will probably inherit this baby. Either that, or I endorse underaged driving. I'm undecided.

5. The view from the La-Z-boy chair. The sky really is that blue.

Julie Wilson for DESK SPACE


JULIE WILSON Julie Wilson, author, podcaster, Gossip Girl of the book world, creator of

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book, or when are you publishing your next?

JW I have a distinct memory when I was four years old. I was standing in my bedroom in front of a pink ironing board play set. I tried to imagine a woman, who this woman was, and how she felt about her ironing. I decided, for whatever reason, that she wasn't happy with the ironing. What would that feel like? I asked my four year old self, and promptly started to cry. I ran to my mother who was, rightly, freaked out. She kept asking me why I was crying, and I just blabbered on about this invisible woman and her ironing board and how it was all so very sad. I may not have been able to write, but I think it's safe to say that that's the moment my mother knew she had a little storyteller in the family.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

JW I write Seen Reading almost exclusively at my desk. About 215 km from my that, there's a really nice La-Z-Boy recliner that overlooks a bay. I seem to get more word count toward my novel when I'm sitting in it.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think, in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

JW I don't have wireless, so it's essential that I'm "plugged in" when writing Seen Reading. The entries are short, but I do a fair bit of research for each, be it the brand name of a jacket, or the proper pronunciation of an author, etc. And because I update five days a week, I find that if I'm obligated to stay at my desk I'll remain focused and churn out the material faster. It would easy to spend the entire weekend creating lavish worlds for each reader I see, when people have often told me, in fact, that their favourite entries only contain one or two sentences. That's one of the reasons I started "Page One" sightings for readers I see who are only just starting a book. For those, I write to the exact word count of the first sentence only. It keeps things fresh and fun, and I'm reminded that it doesn't take three paragraphs to invite the reader into another world.

The aforementioned La-Z-Boy lives in a place where there's only dial-up, so I'm more inclined to write freehand which, at this stage, grounds me more in my characters and the setting.It also to function as a reminder of just how atrocious my handwriting has become.

DS What are you working on now?

Since I started recording Seen Reading as a podcast I've become keenly aware that it's readership/listenership has a chance to expand through syndication. I'd like to find a home for it beyond the parameters of my site. The hope is that with the right resources - *cough* a little cash *cough* - I could broaden my sightings to the farthest reaches of the GTA. In the new year, I think I'll also open a phone line so people can call in their sightings. I think that would be a real treat for some people, to hear their voices telling the world what they saw someone reading on a bus in Sudbury. I know it would be a treat for me.

I'm plugging away at my novel, Fading. And, blissfully, I have a fairly solid structure for a second. What I'm learning from my time as a publicist at House of Anansi is how difficult it is to invest in increased word count when you don't have months of solid time. I'm in awe of writers for taking the financial and emotional risks required to get something on the page. So, for my small part, Seen Reading is my way of making sure writers and publishers know that their efforts aren't in vain. And, I hope, myself, to be strong enough to take a similar risk sometime in the near future. I have a few words in me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Julie Wilson

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Alessandro Porco for DESK SPACE


“To Carthage I came, where there sang all around me in my ears a cauldron of unholy loves.” – Saint Augustine

DS When did you start writing?

AP As a freshman at Queen’s University, I took an introductory survey course in English literature, and that was that. I heard— that is, felt and comprehended— T.S. Eliot’s “rhythmic grumblings”: they put me on my way.

DS Where do you write?

AP These days, I live in a small studio in Allentown, a nice neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. I work at a desk that’s set-up in a little sun-filled alcove (it’s rainy today, not so sun-filled) that looks out to the tree-filled yard. It’s lovely. It’s really quiet.

Generally, on my desk you’ll find a coffee, my laptop, CDS, and flowers (my girlfriend’s a florist). The floor around my computer has all the books I’m currently working with. I don’t have a lot of space and the floor’s as good as anywhere else.

Given that I’m working on my PhD on hip-hop, not surprisingly the CDs are usually hip-hop related. (Been listening to a lot of Biggie, in anticipation of the bio pic coming out soon).

DS What are you working on now?

AP I just had a collection of poetry published this past spring— Augustine in Carthage, and Other Poems (ECW Press)— of which I am very proud. I do write a monthly hip-hop column for Maisonneuve Magazine Online; it’s called “In Extremis.” The latest column is “Five Great Hip-Hop Albums You’ve Probably Never Heard.” Check it out at! Forthcoming columns include an interview with Canadian poet / DJ Wayde Compton. I’m also busy teaching an “Introduction to Poetry” survey class in the department of English at SUNY-Buffalo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Alessandro Porco

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Lynn Crosbie for DESK SPACE

I used to have a collage over my desk, and now there is just my dead husband’s picture (Steve Banks) and a shot Leanne Delap gave me of The Cyclone. I bought this desk from my neighbour, and he and I had good fun hacking the old one (that belonged to my wish-he-was-dead husband.) It is very large and wooden. I have a VOD mouse pad, and too much paper and a thesaurus because I say “tiny” too much, and ephemera that disgusts or intrigues me. Also a jar of knives, snail-tape, a tiny boat and a monkey.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Lynn Crosbie