I am a Prince George freelance writer and creative writer.
My journalistic career covered 32 years: four years as a freelance writer for the University of Nevada-Reno Sagebrush newspaper and small-town Nevada weeklies, nine years as a more than full-time journalist for the daily Medicine Hat News, and nineteen years as a full-time reporter for The Prince George Citizen.
My only full-length book is my thesis for the M.A. in English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (1974) “Oscar Wilde and the Interrelationships Among Critic, Artist and Society.” See http://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/19170. I received an M.A. in history from the University of Nevada-Reno in 1980; however, I opted for Plan B, a combination of oral and written exams and long seminar papers, and I did not present a thesis for that degree. I self-published, with the help of Spee Dee Printers, a chapbook of poetry and short-short stories, “Work Cancels Art”, to send out as Christmas gifts in 2009. This past spring I sent ten pages of submissions to the federal labour standards review panel, which is overseen by Human Resources and Social Development Canada.
1. Please describe your writing/art:
I am a freelance journalist and a writer of poetry, short fiction and essays.
2. What is the writing/artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date?
A column I wrote for the University of Nevada-Reno Sagebrush between 1977 and 1981, “Jeffersonian Postscript”. It dealt with urban affairs, university finance and environmental issues. Most of the editors allowed me complete freedom, and some of the columns dealing with social attitudes, the return of the extreme work ethic after the sixties counter-culture collapsed and its impact on friendship and political participation still stand up today.
Within the category of creative writing, I am most proud of the chapbook of poetry and short-short stories I published for this past Christmas season, “Work Cancels Art”.
3. What are a couple of your specific writing and artistic goals you have yet to accomplish?
Of course, write a novel. Also, write more political and social opinion and also an extended work of history. In addition, I will continue writing poetry and short stories.
4. What do you love most about northern B.C. and why?
I like the long sunsets and deep dusk of the late spring, midsummer and early fall. I also like the hiking trails in the Ancient Forest east of Prince George and in the McBride district.
5. What are the biggest challenges about living in northern B.C.?
Sometimes heavy snow and poor driving conditions, as well as -30 and -40 spells, which have become much less frequent than in 1990, my first year in Prince George. People are friendlier here than in Medicine Hat. It is easier to get to know people in Prince George, but they leave quickly too when they move or are transferred out.
Property crime and the downtown core are challenges. Air quality is often poor.
6. Are there other northern B.C. (or surrounding area) writers and artists who have inspired you. If so, why?
Brian Fawcett’s work has inspired and encouraged me. I reviewed his “Cambodia: A Book for People Who Find Television Too Slow” for The Medicine Hat News in 1986. When I moved to Prince George in 1990, he informed me it was his home town. Fawcett is critical of group-think on both the right and left, and he has given me much encouragement. I am politically just left of centre, and my views offend people on both the left and right. My style of writing is frowned upon by most editors today. It is important to have the encouragement of someone like Brian Fawcett in the circumstances I face.
Lynda Williams, a Prince George-based science-fiction writer, has also given me much encouragement over coffee or breakfast and helped lift my spirits when things were not going well for my career.
7. I live in an apartment near First and Tabor in Prince George. Prince George is a gritty lumber and pulp mill town, as well as a rail centre. Little thought is given to architectural continuity, although a couple of buildings around city hall are nice, the college and university are at least architecturally interesting and there are some nice parks.
8. What is your favourite restaurant or cafe in the North? Where is it? Why is it your favourite?
On a limited income, I tend to go to the Ritz Bakery in the 200 block of Brunswick Street for coffee or soup, the Second Cup in the Parkwood mall for coffee and the occasional snack, or Tim Horton’s downtown or on Eighth Avenue for a coffee and sandwich or chili. Occasionally I go to Riverstone Bar and Grill near Fifteenth and The Bypass, the BX at Fifth and Carney or Kelly O’Bryan’s near Second and Brunswick. I like the people who work at the Ritz Bakery and the Second Cup and the people I meet in those coffee shops, but there are friendly people everywhere.
9. What is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in the north? Why?
I like crows. They squawk and caw when the weather is miserable, such as during freezing rain with high winds, and they can do so without being considered whiners. They can imitate a wide range of sounds. Some say they have the intelligence of, say, a three-year-old child.
10. Has living in northern B.C. informed, affected or influenced your writing or art? If so, please let us know a bit about how.
Brian Fawcett’s descriptions of northern locations in his writings have influenced my view of the North, as has Barry McKinnon’s poetry. I like to use northern B.C. place names in my fiction.
Calvinist and workaholic attitudes still predominant in Prince George and district have been a shock. Attitudes expressed in the workplace, and then comments directed toward people who have been asked to leave full-time employment, are hard to understand. People blame the unemployed for being out of work. This blasphemous Satanic idolatry of work is out of hand. I have tried to address some of these concerns in my protest poetry.
I read my own poetry and translations of Spanish and German poetry at Other Art and Cappuccino in the early 1990s. I wrote a short story during that time entitled, “When the Aesthetes Visited Prince George.” It imagined what the reaction would be if late nineteenth-century British and Irish writers visited the Prince George of the 1990s.
11. What is your favourite place in the North? (town, hangout or wild place)
I can’t think of any one place. An asphalt trail in College Heights that leads from the grounds of the former Gladstone Elementary School down to a canyon with a small stream is one place I like to retreat to. I like the back trails at Otway when I am cross-country skiing. I have visited the Ancient Forest east of Prince George a couple of times and have enjoyed the view from there to the mountains to the North. I like McBride and the immediate surrounding area: it’s so scenic it could be in Austria or Switzerland.