Posts by Chris:
This month I was approached by Jaimie Cudmore of Literacy Quebec to talk with her about the need for creating spaces for queer literature in the city. It was the first time I’ve been asked any questions on the subject, and I (surprisingly) found I had a lot to say. It’s interesting when someone else makes you think about the work you’re doing in a more critical way. I could’ve talked to her for hours, but thankfully (for listeners) it’s only 30 minutes.
If you are interested in the origins of the Violet Hour, or the desire to create alternative spaces for literature, then listen to the interview below.
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This past weekend I went to Toronto for the National Magazine Awards. My story “Austin or Bust,” about the Austin International Drag Festival, was up for the 2019 Short Feature Award. It was the first time anything I have ever written has been nominated for a prize, and I was thrilled just to be acknowledged. To have had a jury read my work and deem it worthy of a prize.
The gala was a pretty fancy affair with circular white tables and large video screens (I felt like I was at the Golden Globes). When they called my name, I was pretty much in shock. I can’t remember the last time I was ever that nervous, but somehow I pulled it together and stammered through a short acceptance speech. I’ve spent so much of my professional life tracking prizes (through CBC Books and the CBC Literary Awards), that it felt good to finally be on the other side.
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In November 2017, I got to travel to Austin, Texas for the Austin International Drag Festival. I’ve been a fan of drag for a long time, but I had noticed in the months preceding the trip that something had changed. After ten years under the radar, RuPaul’s Drag Race had moved into the mainstream (switching to VH1 and garnering several Emmy noms/wins). Suddenly, what was once relegated to the dark corners of gay bars was on TV screens around the world and flooding social media. There were drag tours, cruises, conventions, festivals. All of a sudden, having a full-time career as a drag queen seemed like a viable option.
When I found out about this new festival (where both queens and kings could perform, hone their skills and network) I knew I had to find out who was going. I pitched my editors and then they sent me, along with photographer Matt Nager, to capture the colourful people we met. And they came from all over – Canada, Australia, the UK, Berlin, Hawaii, Alaska.
I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun on an assignment. And to be nominated for something I so loved doing is such an honour.
You can read the story here.
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Blue Metropolis started last night. I’ve been meaning to write about it for some time, but keep putting it off. The last few months have been a downhill toboggan ride with all eyes focused on the destination: reading, emails, scripts, question lines, press relations. I am pretty exhausted. Wish me luck this week.
But regardless, I am very much proud of the program I pulled together for Violet Metropolis (the LGBTQ leg of Blue Metropolis). It wasn’t without its challenges (won’t go into that here), but in the end I was able to produce eight events in two languages featuring two dozen writers. It’s like its own festival within a festival. There are readings, on-stage interviews, round tables, an award ceremony, and events in both English and French.
You can read all more about Violet Metropolis here.
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The book has been out for five years now, so it’s always nice when someone draws attention to it again. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to see Victor Dwyer compare my book to Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Less on CBC Radio.
I haven’t read Greer’s book yet (I have it, and hope to get to it once I finish the books I’m reading for Blue Met) but I’m intrigued. I think Victor did a great job of explaining the parallels between the two. I hope this means more people will discover my book.
You can listen to Victor speak to Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter here.
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