Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

What is not improving by the hour is the piffle flying from the literary male who really must once and for all get over himself. God is this ever a week of bellyaching from them? We began at station creepo. It’s hardly Tuesday and I am stiffened with fury that these males, who cannot get beyond the gurgle of each other, continue to insist that there are no women in the world writing literary criticism, let alone Canada.

No one would deny the critical culture in this country could raise the blinds further up the window and allow for the circulation of oxygen, but Andre Alexis recent Walrus piece, that seemed to derail itself as it went along, insists that the critic is, and criticism begins and ends at the squabbling male, in the much reduced blast of newspaper that no longer even pretends to be interested in literature.

All the examples of possible critics to be heralded or dismissed are men, the same old names because we no longer read for what’s there, we read for  those we understand to matter. It is the criticism and thinking of many women writers on literature that inspired me to take up my pen, that have rattled my brain. My critical reading does not begin and end at James Wood and John Metcalf.

Personally I put considerable thought and mad amounts of hours into every review I wrote for The Globe. Any review I wrote I hoped readers and writers would further the ideas or questions raised. The particular geography of books I wrote about should not have any bearing on the questions and considerations raised since they’re relevant to any locale. I wrote my contributions towards a literary criticism in Canada, their phrasing reflects that, they may not be tattooed in the flag, but that should not dismiss them.

I spent 3 months writing a piece on DM Fraser’s Ignorant Armies to, as yet, no publishing avail.

I actively contributed (and the rates paid are beyond the beyond poor) to the local newspaper because the quality of it frustrated me and I’d rather contribute than sit around sniffing and dismissing in coffee shops while clutching the New York Times. This is my point, to completely dismiss nearly all contributions is disingenuous to that effort. That act of attempting to put something into the bowl whether it floats or sinks.

I’m not interested in being deemed a good critic, a poor critic or a middling one. I am concerned about being a thinking individual and I happen to think it’s vital that writers, working writers, think and write about literature. That very ambition is becoming increasingly impossible. Efforts are continually thwarted. And it seems irregardless women remain bloody invisible.

And for the record one of the best reviews I’ve read in Canada was actually published in The Vancouver Sun written by Annabel Lyon. For years I read The London Review of Books solely for the work of writers such as Jenny Diski. Plus some of the more interesting blogs about Canadian literature are actually written by women poets. And does critical culture begin and end at the newspaper section and the published word, what of the gatherings and talks all over the place (some drive me up the wall, but it is rather energizing to go up) organized by KSW etc, what of the volunteer labour that goes into creating these spaces for people to gather? Again: invisible. Destination: disregarded.

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