The Gathering Cloud shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize 2016

I’m thrilled to announce that my recent hybrid print and web-based work The Gathering Cloud has been shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize 2016. Winners will be announced at the New Media Writing Prize Award Ceremony, which will get underway at 18.00 on 18 January 2017 at Bournemouth University.

As it happens, I was invited many months ago to give the keynote address that evening. The tile of my talk will be: Things Rarely Turn Out How I Intend them To. Now truer than ever. Admission is free and all are welcome. Register Here.

The Gathering Cloud - a new hybrid print and web-based work by J. R. Carpenter
The Gathering Cloud – a new hybrid print and web-based work by J. R. Carpenter

Of The Gathering Cloud, media theorist Jussi Parikka Writes:

J.R.Carpenter’s new hybrid print and web-based work The Gathering Cloud unfolds as fittingly dreamy, beautiful piece with hypertextual hendecasyllabic verses that attach solidly to the undergrounds of contemporary data clouds.

Like her earlier work, it engages in a contemporary that is entangled between the past and the now. The topic of the cloud becomes the vehicle that drives the work, from Luke Howard’s “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds” (1803) to querying the environmental significance of any word, any seemingly fleeting moment captured as image, uploaded, and stored on the cloud as part of the transactions of data that are the humming backbone of our digital poetics.

~ Jussi Parikka, Machinology

The Gathering Cloud was commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Dundee, UK, 9-13 November 2016. Many thanks to the curators Sarah Cook and Donna Holford-Lovell.

Further reading: NEoN speaks with JR Carpenter

View the work online here: The Gathering Cloud

View the full New Media Writing Prize 2016 Shortlist

And the Dot Award for New Media Writing goes to… A Picture of Wind

Last Wednesday 20 January 2016 I attended the New Media Writing Prize Awards Ceremony at Bornemouth University where it was announced that I’ve won the inaugural Dot Award. This new annual prize sponsored by if:book UK, a charitable company exploring the future of the book and digital possibilities for literature. As well as funding the New Media Writing Prize, if:book set up the Dot Award in memory of writer and designer Dorothy Meade. The Dot Award aims to support writers using the web in imaginative and collaborative ways. The prize is awarded not for a finished project but rather for an idea, a proposal for project which, in the judges’ opinion, shows promise. The prize itself comprises £500, technical and creative support, and promotion of the completed work.

I am delighted to have won this inaugural Dot Award on the basis of a proposal to create a new web-based (tablet compatible) piece called This is A Picture of Wind. This work will expand upon a short text written for a print anthology due out in Canada later this year. This text was written in response to the storms which battered South West England in early 2014, resulting in catastrophic flooding in Somerset and the destruction of the seawall and rail line at Dawlish in Devon. Following the news in the months after these storms, I was struck by the paradox presented by attempts to evoke through the materiality of language a force such as wind which we can only see indirectly through its affect. I began to explore weather, and wind in particular, in all its written forms. I have been collecting language pertaining to wind from current news items as well from as older almanacs, private weather diaries, and past forecasts held at the Met Office Library and Archive in Exeter. I have also been studying classical ideas of weather. For example, in his epic poem De rerum natura, the Roman poet Lucretious writes: “The wind burst open the cloud, and out falls that fiery whirlwind which is what we in our traditional language term a thunderbolt.”

Detail from a weather diary held in the Met Office Archives
Detail from a weather diary from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 1874, held in the Met Office Archives in Exeter, Devon.

This award will help me develop a simple yet stable web interface to combine these diverse archival and classical materials with my own quotidian narrative of the storm events of early 2014, live weather data and maps, and text scraped from Twitter. I do not know yet exactly what form the final work will take, only that it will attempt to address climate change by picturing through language and data the absences left by wind.

Eccles Centre Visiting Fellow in North American Studies at the British Library

I’ve been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Eccles Centre for North American Studies at the British Library. Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowships are intended to help support scholars wishing to visit London to use the British Library’s collections relating to North America and are basically a rare book and old map lover’s dream come true.

the region of Atlantic Canada where I was born
the region of Atlantic Canada where I was born, in Champlain’s map of 1607

I am applied for an Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship in order to undertake further research into the writing (and erasing) of Atlantic Canadian coastlines toward the publication of a monograph tentatively titled ‘Writing Coastlines: On the Composition of Atlantic Canada’.

By ‘Writing Coastlines’ I refer both to cartographic and textual writing about coastlines, and to the writing and erasing of physical coastlines through erosion and accretion, wave actions and storm events. Rather than presenting a historiographical narrative in which the coastlines of the ‘New World’ emerge through a linear progression of discoveries, I aim to frame the writing of these coastlines as an ongoing compositional process. To demonstrate this argument, I intend to draw upon a wide variety cartographic, archival, and literary materials held at the British Library, with an emphases on foundation documents of Canadian history produced in England and France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

This research will build upon portions of my recently completed PhD thesis, Writing Coastlines: Locating Narrative Resonance in Transatlantic Communications Networks. During this research I made extensive use of the Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Maps collections at the British Library. This Visiting Fellowship will allow me to spend more time with the documents I have already consulted and, critically, will allow me to identify and study secondary sources including lesser-known maps, sea charts, ship’s logs, cosmographies, diaries, letters, arguments, treatises, and discourses for discovery. Through a comparative cartographic and textual analysis of these material texts I aim to show how the coastlines of Atlantic Canada have been written and re-written, drawn and re-drawn, formed and transformed, altered and erased by successive generations of fishers, sailors, explorers, settlers, soldiers, captains, navigators, cartographers, politicians, journalists, and literary authors. These coastlines have been composed through centuries of dead-reckoning, careful surveying, and sounding, as well as less than perfect navigation and charting techniques; through willful misrepresentation of dangers and distances; through the transposition of European place and family names onto places which already had names, whether assigned by earlier explorers or by native peoples; through subsequent mishearings, misspellings, translations, and adaptations of these names over the course of centuries of habitation; and though literary re-imaginings of first encounters with the natives, animals, and climatic conditions of these coasts.

During the Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship I will begin work on a new chapter, ‘Arguments to Prove a Passage,’ focused on distortions of Atlantic Canadian coastlines perpetrated in material texts written to elicit support for voyages Northwestward, traces of these voyages written in place names (Davis Inlet, etc), and arguments made to prove a Northeast Passage.

CityFish – A Coney Island of the Google Maps

I have recently (and admittedly repeatedly) posted about my web-based story CityFish being shortlisted for The New Media Writing Prize 2012. Prior to the shortlist announcement, CityFish had been on my mind for other reasons. CityFish is set in New York City. As the below image indicates, there is a Google Map satellite view of Coney Island embed in CityFish which – for now – shows the beach, boardwalk, amusement park, and bordering residential neighbourhoods in pristine condition. As I hope most people are by now aware, the Coney Island neighbourhood was among those heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy at the end of October 2012. It will take months if not years for these communities to recover, and just as long if not longer for Google’s satellite images to be updated to reflect the effect of climate change on the eastern seaboard.

CityFish || J. R. Carpenter
CityFish || J. R. Carpenter

Although CityFish is intrinsically about dissonance – between past and present, fact and fiction, home and away – I am not sure yet how to reconcile this new dissonance – between the lines of the story I wrote and the new lines of this coast. In particular, I am concerned with the harsh economic dissonance underlined by the response (or lack there of) by FEMA, the Red Cross, the New York City Housing Authority, the mainstream press, and the general public to those hardest hit by Sandy. According to this article by Daniel Marans posted to the Huffington Post yesterday, 12 November 2012 – Occupy Sandy Volunteer Sounds Alarm on ‘Humanitarian Crisis,’ Near-Complete Absence of Government Aid in Coney Island Projects – 30-40 public housing buildings in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn remain without power, and often without water and necessities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Accounts of these conditions have been corroborated in the New York Daily News (5 November 2012).

CityFish || J. R. Carpenter
CityFish || J. R. Carpenter

I relate these concerns out of love for and frustration with the city that half raised me, and half made me crazy, a city that – for as long as I’ve known it – has been sharply divided between have and not. It is my understanding, on the basis of the 21 hours or so a day I spend on Twitter, that the #ocupysandy movement is doing great things on the ground in Coney Island, Red Hook, the Rockaways, and other hard-hit coastal neighbourhoods of New York City. To donate to the Occupy Sandy relief effort, visit OccupySandy.org

CityFish short-listed for The New Media Writing Prize 2012

My web-based story CityFish has been short-listed for The New Media Writing Prize 2012. This international prize, now in its 3rd year, aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion about new forms of writing integrating a variety of digital media.

CityFish || J. R. Carpenter

CityFish is a hybrid word, title of a hybrid work, tale of a hybrid creature. Part classical parable, part children’s picture book, CityFish is a web-based intertextual hypermedia transmutation of Aesop’s Town Mouse Country Mouse fable. Winters, a Canadian girl named Lynne freezes in Celsius in the fishing village of Brooklyn, Nova Scotia (Canada), a few minutes walk from a white sandy beach. Summers, she suffers her city cousins sweltering in Fahrenheit in Queens, New York (USA). By now Lynne knows everyone knows it’s supposed to be the other way around. Lynne is a fish out of water. In the country, her knowledge of the city separates her from her school of friends. In the city, her foreignness marks her as exotic. Meanwhile, the real city fish lie in scaly heaps on long ice-packed tables in hot and narrow Chinatown streets. CityFish represents asynchronous relationships between people, places, perspectives and times through a horizontally scrolling browser window, suggestive of a panorama, a diorama, a horizon line, a skyline, a timeline, a Torah scroll. The panorama and the diorama have traditionally been used in museums and landscape photography to establish hierarchies of value and meaning. CityFish interrupts a seemingly linear narrative with poetic texts, quotations, Quicktime videos, DHTML animations, Google Maps and a myriad of visual images. Combining contemporary short fiction and hypermedia storytelling forms creates a new hybrid, a lo-fi web collage cabinet of curiosities. The story of Lynne and the city fish unfolds in this strange horizontally scrolling world of absences and empty spaces – furious, intimate, and surreal.

Based at Bournemouth University in South Eastern England, The New Media Writing Prize offers a Student Prize, a main Jury Prize and a People’s Choice Prize. The short-listed works this year are:

Window by Katharine Norman
CityFish by JR Carpenter
A Duck Has an Adventure by Daniel M Goodbrey
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin by Stevan Zivadinovic
Living Will by Mark Marino
Pentimento by Jerome Fletcher
Hurst (aka @Karen Barley) by Kristi Barnet

To vote for CityFish in the People’s Choice category, click here. Votes, likes, shares, and tweets are much appreciated, and also… it would be great if you could spend some time with this work. CityFish

WORDS THE DOG KNOWS wins Best English Book – Expozine Alternative Press Awards

My first novel, Words the Dog Knows (Conundrum Press, 2008), won Best English Book at the Expozine Alternative Press Awards Gala held Tuesday, March 3 at Casa del Popolo, 4873 St-Laurent in Montreal. Six prizes were awarded, recognizing the best English and French books, comics and zines sold at Expozine, Montreal’s annual small press, comic and zine fair.

Expozine 2008 took place on Saturday, November 29 and Sunday, November 30, 2008. By far the largest Expozine ever, this 7th edition saw close to 300 exhibitors and 15 000 visitors. Each exhibitor was asked to submit one publication to the Expozine Alternative Press Awards. 36 titles were short-listed. The short list for Best English Book included some of my favourite people. I’m so glad I was nominated – otherwise I would have been tough deciding whom to root for.

Winners were chosen by an esteemed panel of judges. Here’s what they had to say about Words the Dog Knows:

With fluid, unpretentious prose scattered with humour, Carpenter imparts wisdom about daily life – sometimes between the lines – in this picturesque and gentle novel.

Huge thanks to the judges, to Andy Brown and Maya Merrick at Conundrum Press, and to Lousi Rastilli, Billy Mavreas and everyone else who makes Expozine happen.
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WORDS THE DOG KNOWS Shortlisted for Best English Book – Expozine Alternative Press Awards

The Expozine Alternative Press Awards Gala will be held Tuesday, March 3 at Casa del Popolo, 4873 St-Laurent in Montreal. The Gala starts at 7 pm, awards will begin being presented shortly after 8 pm, and you are all invited to stay and mingle during the DJ night that follows at 10 p.m. Admission is free and beer and liquor specials will be in effect all night.

Come and celebrate the best of the nearly 300 small presses that took part in last fall’s Expozine small press, comic and zine fair! Six prizes will be awarded, recognizing the best book, comic and zine sold at Expozine.

The winners were chosen by an esteemed panel of judges out of the hundreds of publications submitted at Expozine in November. The gala is a rare chance for you to meet and mingle with the most talented up-and-comers of the local publishing scene, as well as purchase copies of the 36 short-listed titles.

The Nominees / Les nominés:

English Book:

Words the Dog Knows, J.R. Carpenter, Conundrum Press, www.conundrumpress.com
The Debaucher, Jason Camlot, Insomniac Press www.insomniacpress.com
The Sunlight Chronicles, Chris Dyer, Divine Life LLC, www.sunlight-chronicles.com
Fear Of Fighting, Stacey May Fowles & Marlena Zuber, Invisible Publishing, www.invisiblepublishing.com
Blert, Jordan Scott, Coach House Books, www.chbooks.com
Jack, Mike Spry, Snare Books, snarebooks.wordpress.com

English Zine:

Four Minutes To Midnight no. 10, www.lokidesign.net/2356
Nailbiter: An Anxiety Zine, www.steemilie.free23.net
Soulgazers, Camilla Wynne, www.endlessbanquet.blogspot.com
Lickety Split no. 7, www.licketysplitzine.com
Mostly True vol.19 issue 7, Bill Daniel, Microcosm Publishing, www.billdaniel.net, www.microcosmpublishing.com
Place Magazine, Winter 08 issue, www.placemag.org

English Comic:

Mourning a lover, Sofeel, myspace.com/sofeel
Welcome to the Dollhouse by Ken Dahl, Microcosm Publishing, www.microcosmpublishing.com
BFF by Nate Beaty, Microcosm Publishing, natebeaty.com, www.microcosmpublishing.com
Hypocrite, Dakota McFadzean, dakota.mcfadzean.googlepages.com
Finding Joy, Luke Ramsey, Anteism Publishing, islandsfold.com
Kieffer #2, Jason Kieffer, jasonkieffer.com

Nominés francophones fanzines :

Trio à emporter, par Kathey Tibo
Gargouillis indigeste #003, www.gargouillis.com
Ffsshmrwlbaouarf par Simon Bossé/ Mille Putois, www.myspace.com/milleputois
Ectropion, collectif de crémation littéraire, www.myspace.com/ectropion
Fanzine sans titre, Geneviève Dumas
Toxico (Fanzine # 3), par Delf Berg, delfberg.blogspot.com

Nominés francophones BD :

Hasemeister : C’était 2007, Frédéric Mahieu, www.hasemeister.com
La terreur noir pâle, C. Reney
Fatima, A. Desmarteaux, Egotrip Productions, www.arthuro.ca
Une aventure de M. Pixel, Étienne Beck, L’Employé du Moi, www.employe-du-moi.org
Chimeris 1: Sirus, Adeline Lamarre, Vaar Éditeur, www.vaar.ca
Humoro Sapiens, Yayo, Les 400 Coups, www.editions400coups.ca

Nominés francophones livres : À venir …

EXPOZINE
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WORDS THE DOG KNOWS Makes Some Noise

Check out the Montreal Mirror Noisemakers 2009 issue, FREE on news stands all around town January 8-14, 2009. I’m on the front cover, along with lots of other fine folks making noise this year. Finally, all these years of making noise pay off! There’s an awesome write up by Vincent Tinguely on page 35. “J.R. Carpenter comes across as pretty wordy for a fine arts grad,” Tinguely quips. Read the full story here. And check out the smoking hot photo by Rachel Granofsky. Comments on the photo so far include: “You look like you’re going to clobber us and/or take your shirt off,” “Is that your new album cover?” and “You should cultivate that Bollywood look.”

There was a considerably more staid write up of Words the Dog Knows in the Globe and Mail Saturday, January 10, 2008, that’s also available online here.

I’ll be reading from Words the Dog Knows at The Yellow Door Reading Series, Thursday, January 29, 2009.

3625 Aylmer, Montreal (between Pine & Prince Arthur) Tel: 514-845-2600

Doors open 7:00 pm Reading 7:30 pm At the door $5

To purchase Words the Dog Knows visit the Conundrum Press website: http://www.conundrumpress.com/
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“Wyoming is Haunted” wins the QWF Carte Blanche Quebec Prize

Last night at the annual Quebec Writers’ Federation Awards Gala at the Lion d’Or in Montreal my recent non-fiction story, Wyoming is Haunted, was awarded the Carte Blanche Quebec Prize. Carte Blanche, the literary review of the Quebec Writers’ Federation, is published online twice a year. The Carte Blanche Quebec prize is awarded once a year in recognition of an outstanding submission by a Quebec writer. The prize is sponsored by The Quebec Writers’ Federation.

Wyoming is Haunted is a nonfiction narrative of some of the adventures fellow fiction-writer Karen Russell and I had while in residence at the Ucross Foundation, an artist in residence program located on a 22,000 acre ranch in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. The piece first appeared Carte Blanche 7 earlier this year. Two other of my short stories have also appeared in earlier issues: Aerial Photograph & Wasn’t One Ocean.

Thanks QWF and Carte Blanche, for all you do for English writing in Quebec, even when it’s from Wyoming. Thanks CALQ for helping me get out way out west. Thanks Ucross for accepting me and Karen Russell at the same time. And thanks Wyoming for scaring the heck out of us. As this photo clearly indicates, Wyoming is pretty damn haunted.

“As we walked we invented fictional colour-names for things, with Flannery O’Connor’s rat-coloured car as our model, though, as Karen noted, makeup colour-names would also be a great source of inspiration. The road was a rawhide strap. The fauns were faun coloured! The Angus cows were so black they looked hollow.”

Excerpted from: Wyoming is Haunted, J. R. Carpenter
Winner of the 2008 Carte Blanche Quebec prize

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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”

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