Trillium 30th Anniversary Readings – Peterborough, Guelph



In the past few weeks, the OMDC put on a travelling series of readings to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Trillium Book Award. There were stops in Peterborough and Guelph so far, and there will be another three events, two in Toronto (one French, one English), and at least another in Ottawa (though I’m told it might be split into two as well). In any case, I was lucky enough to have been invited to the first two events, along with a number of Trillium Award winners and shortlisted authors.



In Peterborough, we were hosted by Traill College, and the readings were moderated by Trent professor Lewis MacLeod. Above, in this art photo I took, you can see ol’ Andrew Forbes reading from his Trillium shortlisted short story collection, What You Need (Invisible Publishing). That excellent book was also a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Other readers included Jeramy Dodds, Rabindranath Maharaj, and Peterborough based authors, Janette Platana and Caroline Durand.



That is a photo of all of the Peterborough writers, taken after the readings, and between pre-event and post-event rye drinking sessions. Followed by a magical night in downtown Peterborough with some the readers and guests, led by Forbes and Prof. MacLeod, who know all of the best places to find more rye and beer after you have done a bunch of art…



In Guelph, the guest authors were Jess Latosik, Pasha Malla, Kevin Connolly, Madhur Anand, and that bearded hillbilly in the photo. The readings took place at the University of Guelph, in their Arboretum, where birds were beating the shit out of each other outside of the place all the while that we read. So that was nice. I read from the story Montana Border, and mentioned a “shrunk dick” as well as a tooth stuck in a characters hand, and dropped a number of f-bombs in front of a small child who was filming on their phone. As a result, I think that can be considered a true success.

The other readers were very good also, and a special mention goes to Pasha Malla for following up my inappropriate set with a bunch of talk about hand jobs in reading from his Trillium winner, The Withdrawal Method. Also, props to Jeff Latosik, 2009 Trillium Award winner in poetry for Tiny, Frantic, Stronger, and my possible ride to the event, for leaving late from Toronto after a long day of teaching and dog-walking, and showing up exactly at the start of the event. I did not believe he would achieve it, but he proved me wrong.

Here’s a photo of all of the authors together, along with our gracious moderator, author James Grainger…



That is the last of the Trillium readings for me, but I was honoured to have been invited to both events, and to have had the chance to do a few more readings between books. If Debris hadn’t won the Trillium, or at least been shortlisted, I wouldn’t have had this chance, and may not have been invited to London Wordsfest this past November, or to participate in IFOA in the Lit On Tour series, and as a delegate for the main festival.

Thanks goes out to all of the OMDC, for their hard work setting all of this up. And special thanks to Bianca Spence, Program Coordinator, and hero, for escorting me back and forth from both readings while I yammered on about many things (and for giving Ms. Jenna Illies a lift to the Guelph event). Bianca also arranged and set these readings up with Janet Hawkins, Program Consultant for the OMDC, and I’d like to thank Janet for putting up with me through all of the Trillium related events, and for inviting me to be a part of it all.



Keep an eye out for the rest of the Trillium Award 30th Anniversary Readings, especially if you are in the Toronto or Ottawa area. You can click on this line for all of the details. They are good people, those who give out the awards and those who have been lucky enough to be up for them, and to read from their works as part of the series. So, get out and show your support, if you like literature and would like to see and hear from the authors in person, and to encourage strange Ontarians to keep at the writing…

KH

DEBRIS wins the ReLit Award for Short Fiction



Earlier this week I got a phone call from writer and filmmaker Kenneth J. Harvey, founder of the ReLit Award, to let me know that Debris had won in the short fiction category for 2016. That turned out to be a pretty good Wednesday.

The ReLit Award was established in 2000, as an alternative to the pressure and big monies of the major CanLit prizes like the Giller. As a result, many excellent works from independent Canadian presses have been recognized by the ReLit. There are three prize categories: Novel, Short Fiction, and Poetry.

Here is the full list of ReLit winners this year:

Novel: Carellin Brooks for One Hundred Days of Rain (Bookthug)

Short Fiction: Kevin Hardcastle for Debris (Biblioasis)

Poetry: Sue Goyette for The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Gaspereau Press)

Each winner will receive the unique ReLit ring, designed by Newfoundland artist Christopher Kearney, with “four moveable dials, each one struck with the entire alphabet, for spelling words.” It has been rumoured that the ring holds special powers and enchantments, but none of this has been confirmed or denied by any previous winners.

Anyways, I am very happy to see Debris recognized for this unique award, and to have been included in the long-shortlists with writers like Anakana Schofield, Jess Taylor, Daniel Scott Tysdal, Jon Chan Simpson, and many more. It is a real honour.

Now I am to find a place to size me up for that magical ReLit ring. After that, I will see if I can emerge from my Annex hobbit-hole in Toronto and rule Middle-Earth in a hilarious manner…

Thanks to Mr. Harvey for reading and considering my work, and congratulations to the other winners and nominees.

Cheers. Hardcastle.

Trillium Readings across ontario – I’ll be at a couple


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As you can see by the posters above, the OMDC are putting on a series of readings for the 3oth anniversary of the Trillium Book Awards. And, hilariously for Peterborough and Guelph, I am involved in some of them.

You can find the event information for both of these by clicking on the link for either town below. All of the event details are included, as well as a button to register to attend. All events are FREE:

PETERBOROUGH – Trent University – March 9th
GUELPH – University of Guelph – March 16th

In P-Town, you can also see readings from Trillium finalist and my partner-in-crime as runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, Andrew Forbes. Also, there will be readings by Peterborough based writer, Janette Platana, Caroline Durand, past winner Rabindranath Maharaj, and more…

In Guelph, we’ll have the wizardry of Jeff Latosik, Madhur Anand, Pasha Malla, and Kevin Connolly. All past winners or finalists for the Trillium.

There will be two more events in Toronto in the months to follow, and one in Ottawa, with the participating authors to be announced. So keep checking back for info on those. They should be some good times, so please come by and listen to some tales and poyems…

Cheers. KH.

Richard Crouse’s show at Newstalk 1010 – AIRS TONIGHT


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Last year I was invited to film critic Richard Crouse’s radio show, on Newstalk 1010, where guests show up to talk about their latest projects, and about various pop-culture topics. That was during the time that Debris was up for the Trillium Book Award, the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Due to the subway being ON FIRE, I was late to the show, but Richard was still kind enough to talk about the book and writing with me.

After going to a launch for Richard’s line of socks (he fuckin’ loves socks), Richard asked me to fill a chair for this week’s show, and I got up at the absurd time of before-8am to make sure I was early and nothing was on fire. I was on with comedian Simon Rakoff (who was there last time, coincidentally), and actor Kyle Gatehouse, and we talked about all kinds of things, like the moving Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes performance and statement at the Grammys (PRESIDENT AGENT ORANGE!!), the recent SNL spoofs of the current US administration, and James Cameron’s whining about the Oscars. It was a good time, and, as Simon said after, it had a really good flow to the whole discussion.

We also talked at length about my new novel, In the Cage, which will be published September 12th by Biblioasis. So you can hear more about it directly.

The show should be airing tonight (Saturday, February 18th) at 9pm. You can stream it online, or listen on the actual radio if you like.

I’ll post the link after as well, so that people can find the show when it’s catalogued on Richard’s soundcloud page. Hang tight for that…

That’s it today. Happy Saturday. It is 11 degrees outside so I am going to get up out of this hobbit hole for awhile. Peace out. KH

Debris reviewed in The Fiddlehead


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Though it has been a year and a half since Debris first saw the light of day, the odd review and bit of interest has still showed up here and there. Most recently, I saw a social media post by critic and IFOA gesticulator Steven Beattie, (who reviewed the collection for The Globe and Mail last year) highlighting a segment from Ian Colford’s excellent review of Debris in the latest issue of The Fiddlehead (Issue 270).

The issue is on newsstands now, and has been sent out to subscribers. It’s not up on their website at the moment, but perhaps it will be at some point (if an online version shows up, I’ll link that in later). I’ve also heard rumblings of an essay in Canadian Notes & Queries about class concerns in Debris and in Andrew Sullivan’s novel Waste, written by The Puritan editor André Forget. That has yet to surface yet, but I’ll post it when I can.

In the meantime, here is a chunk of that Fiddlehead review:


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Thanks to Mr. Colford for such a close reading, and for really digging into what the book is really about. I appreciate that, times twelve.

If anyone recalls, one of my outtakes from Debris was actually published in The Fiddlehead back in the Summer 2015 issue. The story was called Thought you were fast, and it long gestated before getting printed there with the likes of such excellent writers as Kathy Page, Cynthia Flood, and one of my favourite writers on the planet, Daniel Woodrell. That was a pretty sweet deal. So, thanks to The Fiddlehead for all of the support over the past couple years, and for still giving a shit about this collection that, by all CanLit rights, should’ve been long put in the rearview. You are alright, Fiddleheaders.

More to come soon… actually, tomorrow. I am gonna be on the radio again, and I’ll post a little about that. But it’s beer o’ clock and I worked at Booktown this evening and am going to just sit here now.

Cheers. KH

Drive-By Truckers and Debris


(L-R) Jay Gonzalez, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Brad Morgan and Matt Patton of Drive-By Truckers at Tipitina's on January 27, 2013, in New Orleans, LA. (Erika Goldring Photo)


Last Saturday I got to see the Drive-By Truckers play live for the second time. Both of those at The Phoenix in Toronto. Same as ever, they rocked the hell outta the place, and to a sold-out crowd this time around. I don’t know if Alt-Country/Americana/Southern Rock has gotten a little more respect up here, the snobbery worn thin for real, actual country music, or if the success, and frightening timeliness of the latest, critically acclaimed album, American Band, has paid off, but I was glad to see a damn good band who worked so hard get their due.

Anyways, this appears on my blog about writing and writing related things for some good reasons. Mainly, the Truckers are one of my favourite bands (that I first heard on the Friday Night Lights soundtrack, because FNL FOREVER), and who have written some of the most literary and affecting songs about poor and working class people that I’ve ever heard. There’s a narrative quality to their songwriting that shares similarities with all of the schools of writing I’ve been influenced by, such as the Hemingway, Elmore Leonard, Daniel Woodrell (who has gone on the record as saying he’s a fan), Donald Ray Pollack academies. Less is more, and their best songs weigh a ton. Easier than rambling further, here’s a thing from a couple years back where I talk about what I think of their music, and how they’re a very literary band…

This is from The Puritan (their supplement The Town Crier), where I published the story, Bandits back in 2013. It came up that I write to music always, and that I’ve written a ton (far more so since) to the music of the Drive-By Truckers. 

So, thinking on that, and how much of an influence they were on my work, and a companion to the writing, I got this idea that I’d try to get them a copy of my fucking book


hood-hardcastle


Thanks to the sorcery of Jenna Illies, and T Cole Taylor, the Truckers’ road manager, I managed to get backstage after the show and hand a couple copies of Debris to Patterson Hood, one of the two founding member and songwriters. I also got to meet Matt Patton, formerly of The Dexateens, who took up playing bass for DBT after Shonna Tucker left, not long after the show I’d seen in 2011. We had a beer with those folks and then let them continue living their lives, but they were very good about it and Patterson told me they’d read the book. For a band who has been at it more than 25 years (if you count Hood and co-founder Mike Cooley’s Adam’s House Cat days), and in the middle of another of their lengthy, hard-rocking tours, I would’ve been happy just to give it to someone who’d give it to the band. But this was something else.

After many years just trying to get published at all, it is still hard to believe that the work I’ve done could get into the hands of people like the Drive-By Truckers, like John Irving, But, with a little luck and a ton of trying, it may just happen. In short, believe in your dreams and whatnot.


More to come soon, in the meantime, check out the latest Drive-By Truckers album, and their back catalogue, and see what it’s all about. It may just change your life, and inspire the shit out of you, as it did for me.

Take care. KH

ReLit Long Shortlist, WordsFest London with André Alexis


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Yesterday the long shortlist for the ReLit Awards was announced, and Debris ended up in the category for collections of short fiction. On that same list was fellow Biblioasis author Russell Smith (Confidence), and my friend and hilarious book tour veteran Jess Taylor (Pauls – BookThug). There were also excellent writers like Cherie Dimaline (A Gentle Habit – Kegedonce), Richard Van Camp (Night Moves – Enfield & Wizenty), Rhonda Douglas (Welcome to the Circus – Freehand), and Mark Anthony Jarman (Knife Party at the Hotel Europa – Goose Lane).

In the novel category there was another fellow book tour person in Anakana Schofield (Martin John – Biblioasis), and folks I know like Jon Chan Simpson (Chinkstar – Coach House Books), and Danila Botha (Too Much on the Inside – Quattro). For poetry, the likes of friend and weirdo Daniel Scott Tysdal (Fauxccasional Poems – icehouse), Damian Rogers (Dear Leader – Coach House), David McGimpsey (Asbestos Heights – Coach House), and Liz Worth (No Work Finished Here – BookThug).

The ReLit Award was founded by Kenneth J. Harvey, an acclaimed writer and filmmaker from Newfoundland, who wrote a goddamn good book called Inside, that I actually included in a column for 49th Shelf, during the lead-up to my book being published. The column was about essential Canadian books, in my opinion, most of which were concerned with the theme of endurance. Mr. Harvey has been running the ReLit Award for nearly twenty years now, and the prize is not money, but rather a magical gold ring. The idea is that it focuses on recognizing the work for its merit without getting swallowed up in the delirium of prize culture. Fair enough.

Hopefully I get to be Gollum, but, either way, it is a nice honour to be in the running.

For the full list of Long Shortlisters for the ReLit Award, click on this line…



This next bit is the link to a video of the Wordsfest London event that I participated in back in November, a conversation with me and André Alexis, moderated by the great Joel Burton of Western University. Joel sent this clip along not too far back, and, if you like seeing Giller Prize winner André Alexis share a couch with a flannel-clad buffoon who actually pleas for a Budweiser sponsorship on-stage, this might be worth an hour or so of your life.

Thanks again to Josh Lambier, and Joel, and all the other Wordsfest people. Hopefully I’ll get down there again with In the Cage as well. I’ll leave you with a nice set of images on how that novel is going, during final revisions based on notes from friend and colleague and enemy Kris Bertin


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So long for now…

Montana Border published by Internazionale


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A little while ago I got word from Nick Mount, acclaimed University of Toronto literature professor and former fiction editor of The Walrus, that he had been asked to curate a bunch of short stories for Internazionale, an Italian magazine that collects the best journalism in the world for each issue. They print a special issue every year dedicated to the art and press from a certain country, and it was Canada’s turn this time around. So, Nick contributed to the issue by selecting the best stories that he’d come by over the year to be included in the issue.

Luckily for me, my story Montana Border was one of those that Nick chose for Internazionale, and the issue was sent out to contributors this week. It should available at certain news stands and in digital form as of today.


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There are some excellent authors in the issue, including fellow Biblioasis author and Giller Prize finalist Samuel Archibald. Otherwise, there are stories by: Mona Awad, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Sean Michaels, Zsuzsi Gartner, Deirdre Dore, Lisa Moore, Naomi Harris, and Dakota McFadzean. That is some good company right there.

The translation was done by Matteo Colombo, and those magical illustrations were done by Gipi. Editors Giulia Zoli and Monica Paolucci were the good folks that acquired the story for Internazionale and set it all up. They are all heroes…


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The other thing that happened is that Debris ended up on a list on the CBC Books site, which included thirty award-winning titles from 2016. Debris was published in fall of 2015, but won the Trillium Book Award this past summer. It may or may not be the only time I end up on a list with the likes of Paul Beatty, Colson Whitehead, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Han Kang, so that was not too shabby.

You can check out the full list by clicking this line. Giv’er…


That’s all I got today. So long for now.

KH

 

The Story Prize, IFOA blog posts


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A little while ago, Biblioasis submitted Debris for The Story Prize, a US prize for the best collection of stories that year. If you are surprised at how my book is eligible for an American prize, well, so was I. But, it was a sneak move by Biblioasis, likely due to their proximity to and magical knowledge of US publishing and whatnot, especially in the northeast. Turns out that this prize is for a book published in the US that year, and Debris was technically published south of the border on February 9th, 2016, and has a US distributor in Consortium. So yeah…

The director of The Story Prize, Larry Dark, welcomed blog posts on a bunch of things from the nominated authors, and I wrote one. About how “Nobody will really believe you can pull this off.” Some folks have read it already, but you can click here to check it out if you are interested in such ramblings.

The finalist will be announced in January 2017, and the winner at a fancy ceremony in March. This is likely a fairly long shot for me, but at least we are able to give it a go. Thanks to Biblioasis for knowing secrets that other people don’t.


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Another thing I did was write a blog post for IFOA 2016. I was asked to be a delegate, as mentioned in an earlier post, and part of that entailed the writing of a post on one of the events that I saw at IFOA. I did one about my editor, John Metcalf, based on his In Conversation event on the last day of the fest. Metcalf spoke with Randy Boyagoda, an acclaimed writer and professor who knew his stuff about Metcalf’s first new book in 26 years, The Museum at the End of the World, and about the man’s legacy in Canadian letters.

You can read that blog post now, where I rant about how important Metcalf has been to CanLit, despite his deliberate method of avoiding the pressures of the market, and accepting your lot as a literary writer with a readership that will be diametrically opposed to your skills and talents. A few days before this, I’d been in discussion with another John (of the Irving type), who advised me on how to try and actually make a novel into a success over some beers and porkchop at a fancy place. So, both of those conversations, from two very wise Johns, counterbalanced each other hilariously. Nonetheless, you’ll see by reading my piece on Metcalf that I believe his approach to writing is justified, but that it doesn’t stop some of his authors from achieving success under his guidance. And that Metcalf’s contributions to literature should be considered as a very impressive accomplishment.

Anyways, check it out here if you like.


I just wanted to share those two blogs on this blog for posterity, and I hope that some of you read them and they are not crap. Nonetheless, I will write more when I have more news about In the Cage, or about anything else worth mentioning. Until then, thanks and please continue to believe in your dreams…

KH

Good times at Wordsfest London, IFOA – Also, other book things…


André Alexis & Kevin Hardcastle: In Conversation with Joel Burton


As you can see, I was actually invited to another festival, Wordsfest London, and was fortunate enough to spend the weekend there and to be paired up in an event with André Alexis, Giller Prize Winner. I managed to get there for the 10am event on the Saturday, and not swear too much nor fall through the glass table in front of us. So I call that a success. The moderator, Joel Burton, had read our books closely and managed to find some common ground between two very different styles of fiction writing. We talked about such things as the meaning of home in our work, what characters will do to protect each other and what little they might have, the role of class and marginalization, and about how André had Hermes and Apollo drinking Steamwhistle while I should, and WILL be sponsored by delicious Budweiser.

They did video this thing, so if I can find such a thing I’ll update this post with a link to the event.

The festival was going strong in it’s third year, and the turnout for all of the events was impressive. No doubt because of visiting writers and artists like André, as well as Emma Donoghue (who called London home for much of her life in Canada), Douglas Gibson, Teva Harrison, Mariko Tamaki, George Elliot Clarke, & Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. In any case, it was only my second invitation to the main card of a literary festival, after being at the Wild Writers Festival in Waterloo last year. If I can keep up this trend of not ruining them entirely, perhaps I’ll be back…


metcalf-at-ifoa


In the week or so before going to London, I was a delegate for the International Festival of Authors, with its many events and readings going on at the Toronto harbourfront. I’d recently been down to St. Catharines, Ontario as part of the IFOA Lit on Tour program, joining an event with cartoonist Nina Bunjevac. All of these were my first experiences at IFOA as anything but an attendee. All of it went well and I was glad to be part of the fest as both a travellin’ author and a delegate. You can check out my Twitter feed for the events I went to and covered for IFOA, and shortly there will be a blog post on their site that I wrote, based on the In Conversation with John Metcalf event on the final day of the fest (excellent Hardcastle event photography art appears above).

As most people know, Metcalf is my editor at Biblioasis, and said some amazing things that all writers might take to heart, such as: “If you think what you’re writing is sellable, you’re demented.” With that in mind, I gave him the last pages of edits for my forthcoming novel, In the Cage, to be published in fall 2017 by Biblioasis. There might still be a few minor changes to be made, but that thing is pretty well done with. Considering I first wrote a draft of it in 2010, and rewrote it two or three times while turning down the suck as a writer (likely due to nailing down my voice and writing skills through short stories), it is nice to see that book has come this far. I knew there was a good novel in there, but it took some years, and some surgical editing by John, to get it to where I could clearly see the bones of the book again and build it back up from that.

So yeah, that was a good end to a great festival. And my blog about it should be up very soon. In the meantime, you can see the already-published blog posts by other delegates who drank less IFOA lounge beer, like author Nancy Jo Cullen, by clicking on this whole line.


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That is all that I got for now. Thanks to all of the IFOA and Wordsfest London people, especially Geoffrey Taylor, Josh Lambier, Catherine Coreno, Zviko Mhakayakora, Rebecca Hallquist, Riley Watson, Joel Burton, Nina Bunjevac, Jon Eben Field, and DEAN.

So long for now.

Hardcastle