About the Podcast

Parallel Careers is a monthly podcast about the dual lives of writers who teach.

Few writers make their living from publication alone; many fill the gaps with teaching in both academic and community settings. Much of the work is precarious, and there are few opportunities for professional development.

Parallel Careers features writers with diverse practices and points of view—writers who are at the top of their game in both craft and pedagogy. Tune in to hear the big ideas and practical tips they take into their classrooms. Take their insights into your own class or craft.

Available on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts.

episodes

  Introducing Parallel Careers

Join host Claire Tacon on Parallel Careers.

Claire Tacon is the author of In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo (Wolsak & Wynn), which was the 2019 Hamilton Reads selection. Her first novel In the Field (Biblioasis), was the winner of the 2010 Metcalf-Rooke Award and her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Bronwen Wallace Award, the CBC Literary Prize and has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She has an MFA from the University of British Columbia and has been a lecturer at St. Jerome's University since 2011.

On creative writing in the Canadian classroom:

"A lot of the students who come into the class have focused on a Western perspective of what poetry is or what it looks like. Or it’s not a very diverse experience of literature. In my class we try to find writers with different backgrounds so the students get an understanding of what it means to be Canadian in the 21st century, to be a Canadian writer in the 21st century."

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On opening up the possibilities of poetry:

"We don't ask the question 'What is this poem saying?' That's a very simple question. We have to ask what is this poem doing? When we begin to discuss what poetry is doing, we can think about how it works, its techniques, its ways of meaning."

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On disability activism in the teaching process:

"What I always focus on is an understanding that disabled people are 23% of the population, which means 23% of every population. And that's often a real shock to people who tend to think of disabled people as only being white. In this world of Black Lives Matter one of the first things Black disabled activists say to us is that we have to also understand that Black Disabled Lives Matter."

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On joining the conversation:

"I know that as a participant, it's really the experiential exercises and the networking with the other people—hearing what they have to say and realizing I'm not alone. All of that is really what I take out of workshops, not what the lecturer at the front of the room is doing. And so I think the teacher's job is to facilitate people getting, moving, doing their own work, and then sharing with the group."

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On writing in your own way:

“For me, poetry is really where my heart lives. And the reason why these poems that are maybe such short emotional bursts is because that's how my heart functions. I definitely know I'm not a super technical poet. I'm not a structural form poet. My poetry is just me heart-speaking. And that's it. And that's all I want it to be. And that's all it needs to be.”

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On empowering students in the classroom:

“Many people have lifted me up and have given me a helping hand in my career and I wouldn't be here without them. And so the more I can do to pull up the next generation, the more I will do. And that's what teaching is all about.”

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On the lightning bolt of inspiration:

“My own background in physics has taught me wonder. As a poet, we deal mostly in metaphors and a metaphor says that this is that—that's what equations do too. Equations say that mass is energy. Just being able to throw yourself at the universe and find out everything you can is a great background for a scientist or for an artist.”

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On creating new containers for learning:

“When I think about teachers as gatekeepers, I think deeply about privilege and what our access to information and knowledge looks like. I recall a lot of the opportunities that have been offered to me came from a teacher just paying attention. And so when I think of gatekeeping at that smaller scale, it's also the teacher needing to pay attention to that and to open the door and say: Hey, you. You can come into the space. It's totally fine.”

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On constructing and disrupting:

"I talk about speculative fiction in particular, as theory given characters and taken form. And so, rather than it just being a theoretic concept out there somewhere, it becomes this very specific—here's a character that embodies this theory. Here's a world that embodies this theory. And then we play it out."

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  Episode 10 | Madhur Anand

On challenging the divide between art and science:

"Writing is something that I really come at as a writer. And I think, like many writers, we all bring our lenses to what we write. Science — now I'm realizing more and more — it's an entire language. Which, of course, has a culture associated with it as all languages do. And I bring that language and culture to my writing"

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behind parallel careers

Parallel Careers is produced by Claire Tacon, in partnership with The New Quarterly. 

Erin MacIndoe Sproule is our Technical Producer and Story Editor.

Music composed by Amadeo Ventura.

Financial and in-kind support provided by the The Region of Waterloo Arts Fund, St. Jerome’s University, and the Government of Canada.

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