Interview with IBI KASLIK
At the debut of the She’s Shameless anthology on Tuesday June 23, novelist Ibi Kaslik will conduct the inaugural TINARS writing workshop with teenaged girls. Ibi took a moment today to give Winston the lowdown on this new venture.
Congratulations on the Trillium nomination for The Angel Riots. Is the awards process as unnerving as it looks?
Yup, awards are a real mind warp. Smile, drink, read, try to sleep, smile, be a gracious loser, drink some more and then go home and dissolve into a puddle of self-doubt and confusion afterwards – that pretty much sums up the experience. Of course it's great and all that, wonderful, really, but very unnerving and unnatural. This was my first GOVERNMENT and CANADA type award too, so hopefully it gets easier.
One of the fascinating aspects of your work is the way you handle private
spaces. Whether it is Giselle avoiding Holly in Skinny, or the Angel Riots
backstage, we get a strong sense of the tension between private and public
worlds. Is that something that you have cultivated?
Thanks for the kind words, Win! I have a background in poetry so it likely comes from that notion of small moments and intimate spaces that poetry revolves around. It is something cultivated, I suppose, both consciously and unconsciously because I think we all continually exist as a collection of different personas rather than having any finite identity, ever – stamped it, no erasees.
Where do you stand on that perennial conundrum: rock, paper, or
Rock, definitely rock. I don't care what anyone says, you can crush people's brains with a rock. You would know this if you had thumbs.
How do you find that teaching writing informs your process as a writer?
It gets me out of the house, first off, which is something I strongly believe in. I think writers she be in the world working and living and sharing not in an ivory tower of sorts. To be honest, I wish it did inform my process more as I think it would keep me more disciplined and organized: I am a strict (in a good way) writing teacher but a lazy writer.
Why prompted you to conduct a writing workshop with teenage girls? Did you
lose a bet?
Yes, with you, in fact. Don't you remember? There was a big bucket of fish and a case of beer involved on your end. No, seriously, I tutor young women as a part time job already and am basically a teenage girl still myself. I basically spend all my time with teens anyway so it was just very natural.
What books are currently on your bedside table?
Sun Storm by Asa Larrson (Swedish mystery/crime)
Being Nobody Going Nowhere by Ayya Khema
If you could have any super-power, which one would you chose?
Flying with my eyes closed (because I'd like to fly but I'm afraid of it)
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received as a writer?
Life is short but art is long and get an MA but don't get a PhD (part 2 & 3 was advice I gave myself).
Who is your favourite Sesame Street character? Why?
Grover, because I think he is complex and maybe a sociopath and also I remember when you guys were roommates in college.
What five songs would you put on a mix-tape soundtrack for a teenage girl who aspires to be a writer?
Ah geez, where does a penguin come up with questions like this?
“Suedehead” by Morrissey
“Old to Begin” by Pavement
“Five Years” by David Bowie
“Coast That's Closest” by Eagle and Talon
“Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
P.S. “Street Hassle” by Lou Reed
SHE’S SHAMELESS / SHE’S WRITING
What media event five years ago transformed the lives of teenaged girls across North America? Here’s a clue: it had nothing to do with a boy wizard or the misadventures of trust fund brats. In June of 2004, Shameless, a magazine for “girls who get it”, first appeared on newsstands. Megan Griffith-Greene and Stacey May Fowles have assembled She’s Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back (Tightrope Books). To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Shameless collection, such contributors as Zoe Whittall and Shannon Gerard will perform short pieces. Five teenaged girls will join them on-stage and present monologues from a writing workshop conducted that afternoon by acclaimed writer Ibi Kaslik. The evening will conclude with an early ‘90s-themed, Sadie Hawkins prom, featuring a noted local DJ.
– A This is Not A Reading Series event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Tightrope Books, Shameless, NOW Magazine, Gladstone Hotel and Take Five On CIUT.
Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St West, Toronto
Tues June 23; 8pm (doors 7:30pm) $5 (Free with Book Purchase)