Thursday, April 07, 2011

Reprint: Getting over her hump

Wolseley writer Ariel Gordon talks poetry, parenthood, and Winnipeg’s growing literary community

The Metro
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

By: Matt Preprost
Posted: 04/6/2011 4:06 AM

It took Ariel Gordon nearly 20 years before she was finally able to have a tangible, 95-page paperback in her hands to prove she was, in fact, a writer.

And since the 38-year-old Wolseley resident’s debut book of poetry titled Hump was released last May, it keeps on giving.

Gordon was recently shortlisted for two Manitoba Book Awards: the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book.

The nominations follow on the heels of her being named Manitoba’s most promising writer last year by the Manitoba Writer’s Guild.

"When you publish a book, you hope certain things will happen to you," said Gordon, a freelance writer and events co-ordinator for Aqua Books.

"I didn’t expect, after being in this community for so long, that they would all happen to me. People have been kinder than I probably deserve and all of the small dreams I’ve had about publishing a book have come true.

"I’ve been saying I was a writer since I was 19 with no proof. Anyone can say they’re writer, but until you have a book, there’s no real qualitative proof."

The 43 poems that comprise Hump illustrate Gordon’s love of nature, her relationship with her partner, and her transition into motherhood.

"My life was hijacked by getting pregnant and having a child, and my writing life was hijacked, too, because all of a sudden it was all I wanted to write about," said Gordon, whose daughter is now four years old. "It was almost like a compulsion, I didn’t have much choice of what I was writing about. I was really trying to explain pregnancy and mothering to myself."

Also nominated for one of the guild’s 12 awards are Wolseley-based writers David Bergen and Kerry Ryan.

Bergen’s book The Matter With Morris is shortlisted for The Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, which carries a $3,500 award, and the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. Ryan was nominated for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.

Gordon called the awards a "celebration" of the province’s growing literary community.

"When I was 19 and first started going to events in this community, there were only four awards," she said. "The awards have grown at the same time the community has grown and look at how many international writers are from Winnipeg.

"I can’t say that I’m one of them, but one day I’d like to think I might take my place, if I’m lucky and I don’t die or turn into a terrible writer."

Award recipients will be announced on April 17 at the Manitoba Book Awards gala, held at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain in St. Boniface. The event is free and open to the public.

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