In January, longtime friend, curator, and graphic designer Daniel R. Smith and I went to Havana, Cuba, to talk with poster designers.  After 7 interviews, 2 print shop visits, and a tour of Havana’s Superior Institute of Design (ISDI), we collaborated on this article for the Seattle Weekly. There is so much more to say about Havana, but for now, let the article speak for part of our experience there.

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10974322_922081331157635_4952943626972035777_o-194x300Tonight I’ll be taking a break from book editing and will be reading as part of Old Growth Northwest’s Reading and Open Mic series at the Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater in Seattle at 7pm.  I’ll be opening up for Doug Nufer (check out his self-interview in The Believer Logger) and Michelle Peñaloza (a fellow Poetry on the Busses poet).  Though the poster for the event is reminiscent of a boxing match, I won’t be fighting them.  At least, if they try to fight me I won’t fight back.  We’re just all going to get along instead.

Me with my agent, Dean Cooke, and the Editorial Director at HarperCollins at the prize announcement

Left to right:  My agent, Dean Cooke, me, and Jennifer Lambert, the Editorial Director at HarperCollins, at the prize announcement on Granville Island. (Photo: UBC Creative Writing)

At the Vancouver Writers Festival they shortened the shortlist and announced the winner of the UBC/HarperCollins Canada Prize for Best New Fiction. And guess what?   It’s me.

This is an incredible honor. This means that not only do I have an agent, but I also have a book deal with HarperCollins Canada. The book is slated to come out in Spring 2016.

I wrote this novel as my thesis for the MFA degree at the University of British Columbia seven years ago, and it’s amazing to me that it has finally found a home. There’s lots of work ahead—I have just begun digging into the editing process—but I’m excited for the chance to work on this book again, to make it the best it possibly can be.

Below are the judges’ comments on the novel:

Chelsea Bolan’s In the Place of Silence is a compelling and vibrant novel set in contemporary Mexico, where old paternalistic customs still hold sway. When a young girl is banished from her home, the reverberations are deeply felt in an already fractured family. Bolan portrays, with deft skill, a mother’s anguish, a sister’s desperate search and a father’s hypocrisy, alternating these distinctive narrative voices to build toward an ultimate revelation. Moving from the shiny resort towns of the coast to the most dangerous streets of Mexico City to the furtive, undocumented lives of illegal immigrants over the American border, In the Place of Silence is an engaging, beautifully realized novel, and a fascinating exploration of betrayal, steadfast devotion, and the ways in which our own biases can harm what—and who—we love the most.

 

Incredible news!  The manuscript for my first novel, In the Place of Silence, has been shortlisted for the HarperCollins Canada/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction.  It’s been seven years since I wrote the book as my Master’s thesis in grad school, and the possibility of it finally getting out into the world seems extraordinary to me.  We’ll see what happens:  The winner will be announced on October 24.

Borderlands_40Out of Austin, Texas, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review has released issue Number 40—and I’m honored to have one of my poems, “Let Them Light,” be a part of it. This issue, as well as my poem, is all about loss. We are always losing, every moment of our lives, whether it’s someone we love or something we hoped for, or the small failures of every single day. The poems in here confirm this. But they also reveal what can be gained or recovered—be it beauty, a quiet revelation, or something simply appreciated. Thus the meditative photographs of agave by Joel Salcido, documenting tequila production in Mexico, to help assuage the loss.

ognwanniversaryCelebrate literary non-profit Old Growth Northwest‘s first year this Sunday, June 8 (yes, that’s tomorrow) from 4-6 p.m. at Vermillion Art Gallery in Seattle!  Created by a group of super-smart, inspiring individuals, we’ll raise a glass to all they’ve contributed to Seattle’s literary landscape:  an array of sliding scale writing workshops across the city, Voices Behind Bars, Gay Romance NW Meetups, a reading and open mic series, as well as two literary journals.  And remember, that’s only been in a year.  What will they do in coming years?  With your help, everything!

At Vermillion tomorrow they’ll also debut Writing on the Wall, a projected installation of over 200 works of poetry and flash fiction (including a dozen or so of my poems); there will also be raffles and reveling and readings.  I’ll be reading alongside some incredible writers:  Andrea Speed, Terra McKeown, Nick Schwarzenberger, Susan V. Meyers, Laylah Hunter, and Katherine Hervey. I’ll present a piece I wrote in response to a prompt they provided when I read back in December—bearing the bad first attempts and wrong turns recorded in my notebook to show how I finally arrived at the poem.

This organization is doing great things for this city.  Help them do more great things.  Give them money.  Buy a ticket to the party.  Bring a book for the book drive for the prisoners in their Voices Beyond Bars program.  Give them more money.  Support them as they support and encourage writers, readers, and the literary arts in the Pacific Northwest.

Ryan Boudinot has announced that he is not just donating all royalties from Blueprints of the Afterlife—he’s donating all his royalties from all his books for the rest of his career to the Seattle City of Literature budget.  He’s also donating any foreign sales to publishers in Cities of Literature to those cities’ organizations.

At the AWP conference on Saturday, Ryan read part of the UNESCO application for his portion of the Hugo House Writers in Residence reading. The opening placed Seattle geographically within the world and traced the long line of the region’s storytelling traditions, reaching back through centuries.  So beautiful was the excerpt that the next reader, the amazing Karen Finneyfrock, thanked Ryan for making her cry over an application.

You can hear more on March 12 at Town Hall.  It’s going to be awesome.