Granta’s issue on Canadian writing

The UK literary journal Granta is publishing its first issue featuring Canadian literature, edited by Madeleine Thien and Catherine Leroux. My story “The Initials” is included. The issue includes many amazing writers, including Dionne Brand, Karen Solie and Margaret Atwood. The issue can be ordered online here.  You can read more about the project in The Globe and Mail here.


Book #3

I’m very glad to say that my third book, Vancouver for Beginners (poetry), will be published by BookThug publishers in Toronto. A number of pieces from the book-in-progress have been published over the past several years in various journals and anthologies, including Descant, EVENT, The Capilano Review, Best Canadian Poetry 2015 (Tightrope Books), Lemon Hound‘s new Vancouver writing folio, and Poetry Is Dead‘s prose poetry issue; one piece was shortlisted for the CBC poetry prize last year. Some pieces are now up on The Elephants. BookThug is one of my favourite Canadian literary presses, so I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Review in Herizons

Thanks to Herizons for recently reviewing my book, The things I heard about you (Nightwood, 2014).

From the review:

“Exploring sexuality, youth, loss and urban life, this collection is tough and tender, and the format (each poem is set apart with a title page bearing a simple, striking line drawing) gives the work the breathing room it requires.

How small can a poem be? If you’re Alex Leslie, it can be as small as an elegant, tear-your-heart-out line or even a perfect single word.” – Kerry Ryan

Journey prize anthology

I was very happy to learn that my story, “The Person You Want To See,” is long listed for this year’s Journey Prize. As such, it will be included in this year’s Journey Prize anthology published by Mclelland & Stewart/Random House, this fall. Thank you to the judges, Kate Cayley, Brian Francis, and Madeleine Thien.

Thank you also to The Rusty Toque for nominating this story and for publishing it. This story went through many stages of revision and  I’m so happy that it will find more readers in this anthology. You can read the story on The Rusty Toque here.

You can read more about The Journey Prize here.


Writing So Hard

Thanks to poet Sachiko Murakami for inviting me to participate in her interview series “The hardest thing about writing” about……. the hardest thing about writing. There are also interviews up on the site with writers like Vivek Shraya and Laura Broadbent.

Mine is here.

It’s complicated to talk about this stuff because my relation to my work and to focus has changed so much over the course of publishing a chapbook and two books and now almost being finished a third. I used to be much more purist and black-and-white about this stuff in my earlier stages of publishing – now I am much more of a negotiator/seeker/improviser about this stuff.


In the last year of high school I met Orlando, not quite real, a creature in a book by Virginia Woolf. A classmate, proud in her teenage Catholicism, declared that there was a mistake in the middle of the book. The teacher asked what she meant. She said, The character changed gender, from one to the next, there had been a mistake, a misstep. The certainty in her voice, so confident. A mistake, a wrong. My hand heavy on my book, protecting it. I held the beauty of the scene in my hand. The silver trumpets. Woolf’s moment torn out any book. Orlando changed. He turned. One thing to the next. Orlando was unimaginably beautiful, they escaped me. I didn’t retread Orlando for years, like a sacred place. I have no sense now of what Orlando looked like, just my sense of a body exploding. The room was silent. Something was starting. How when the the gunfire started they thought it was part of the music.

the largest gun massacre happened this weekend in a gay club called Pulse in Orlando Florida

Some things

Recently poet Sachiko Murakami started up a website The Hardest Thing About Being a Writer  that’s updated every week with an interview with a writer talking about their “hardest thing” about writing. Having published two books and currently working away on my third, I’d say that one of the hardest things is the sheer endurance required by writing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, as a mentor told me once, and I rolled my eyes.

Recently I taught a workshop in a local high school for the Vancouver International Writers Festival outreach program. Many thanks to English teacher Rakshin Kandola and her Grade 11 students for their enthusiasm and hospitality. While talking to the students about my writing and publishing process, I realized I sold my first short story to a literary journal nearly 10 years ago. TEN YEARS. Horrifying.

A couple things about the new book I’m working on. Some pieces from it are in the current issue of Poetry Is Dead magazine, edited by poet Ben Rawluk

I also have a couple pieces from the project in Coast Mountain Culture.  CMC is an outdoors magazine but reached out to me for their fiction issue.

They turned a few sentences from one of my pieces into this gorgeous graphic cover:


One million years

It’s been approximately one million years or so since I’ve posted on this thing. That is the way writing is sometimes. I’ve been working away at my manuscript, getting a lot of work done, and so it goes.

Here I am, posting, because something public is coming up. I have some work in Poetry Is Dead‘s next issue, which is prose poetry themed. I’ll be reading at the launch, which is part of the Verses festival in east Vancouver. Here’s the event on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 26 at 8 PM – 10 PM
Doors at 7 PM
The Cultch C-Lab, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver

All are welcome. Tickets can be purchased through the Cultch website. I’ll be reading from the new manuscript-in-progress.