Touring Newfoundland with The March Hare

As West Country folks have done for centuries, I’m preparing to depart from balmy Plymouth for blustery Newfoundland for a week on the road with The March Hare, Atlantic Canada’s largest and certainly most eclectic poetry festival, in which:

Traditional stories alternate with contemporary poems, emerging writers appear alongside established writers, local performers share the stage with performers from all over the world, and all of them are accorded the same courtesy. While long-term achievement may be given the nod of respect in the form of an extra two or three minutes at the podium, the time allotments are tight and more or less equal. There are no stars at the March Hare.

I’ve been timing various pieces and it turns out everything I’ve ever written can be read aloud in eight minutes and thirty seconds. I’ll be reading a mix of new and old work, including Air Holes, Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl, and Once Upon a Tide, a print iteration of which will appear in Arc Poetry Magazine this month.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to listening, meeting new people, and getting to see more of this wonderfully wild island.

Here are my dates:

Tuesday, March 7th, 8:00
Chidley’s Place, Renews

Wednesday, March 8th, 8:00
St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, Tilting, Fogo Island

Thursday, March 9th, 7:30
Gander Hotel, Gander

Friday, March 10th, 8:00
Swirsky’s, Corner Brook

The full program is online here:

Three Stories in Ryga: A Journal of Provocations

Three of my short stories appear in the inaugural issue of Ryga: A journal of Provocations, a new publication of The Ryga Initiative at Okanagan College, in association with the Okanagan Institute.

Ryga: A Journal of Provocations consists of a single or multiple works by writers whose work the editor considers worthy of readers’ attention. It is published as a 275-page book, on good quality recycled paper, with a full colour laminated cover, 4 times a year, and offered for sale at $20 each through the book and periodical trade, and on

Ryga editor Sean Johnston writes:

Carpenter’s quietly moving stories are about endurance in the wake of tragedy. They’re about the impossibility of fully understanding the world we live in. Bodies of water dominate the stories and the constant, rhythmic movement between the literal and the figurative undersurface emphasizes the fragility of human life.

The narrator in “Truth, Dare, Double-Dare, Promise to Repeat,” for instance, longs for the inevitable sexual knowledge of adulthood, but the sinister nature of the impaired vision, the silty water where she and her friends swim, makes the future dark and dangerous.

. . . . .

Air Holes

In 2006 my short story “Air Holes” was one of the three winners of the CBC/QWF Quebec Short Story Competition. The competition called for short stories under 1200 words, my favourite category. “Air Holes” weighs in at a wee 930 words or so. The story was broadcast on Cinq à Six CBC RadioOne July 2006.

In 2007 the competition changed its name and rules and regulations. Now now short fiction, travel writing and memoir all fall into one category, which seems like a cruel and unusual thing to do to short fiction. Oh well. Every three years Véhicule Press still publishes an anthology of winners and honourable mentions. “Air Holes” appears in the most recent of these anthologies, In Other Words: New English Writing from Québec, launched last weekend at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal. Here is the opening paragraph:

“The tide will go out at two today. The kids and I will go down to the beach. Between the tidemarks, beneath our feet, tight-lipped steamer clams will burrow sandy deep. But we’ll find them. Their air holes will give them away.”
J. R. Carpenter, “Air Holes”

. . . . .