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.

Season 1

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."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

  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"

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

  Episode 11 | Sheryda Warrener

On how poems anchor us in the world:

"I think with a poem, you always want to have something at stake that you just are not going to be able to answer, but you keep trying to get at it in this way, in that way, in this way."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

  Episode 12 | Carrianne Leung

On challenging established ideas about craft and teaching:

"Writing's my playground. So I feel very free. I feel, you know, we're in a world where there's not a lot of freedom. I feel like I'm free on the page."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

Season 2
Episode 1 | Dina Del Bucchia

On bringing humour to cultural critique:

"I think I was a bad writer before I discovered that I could use humor effectively and that I could use it at all. Being able to crack into just something and use humor kind of broke open a little bit of a creative gate that was really holding me back."

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

  Episode 2 | Richard Van Camp

On the future of Indigenous literature:

“You want to be continually energized by your students. And that's really the dance of mentorship. And that's the gift of mentorship, is that when you finally get an afternoon to return to your own work, you're going with that hunger that they showed you all the time.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

Episode 3 | Ayelet Tsabari

On writing about contested places and giving voice to our community:

“I think that there's something inspiring to students about knowing that I don't come from an academic background. My career experience in my thirties—I was a waitress and a house cleaner. So I think that that's actually a good balance to have in an institute that teaches something creative.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

  Episode 4 | Adam Pottle

On the importance of believing in the story you want to tell and how creativity is a necessity for a disabled life:

“I don't believe that I would be a writer if I wasn’t Deaf. I think that being born deaf kind of derailed me from the kind of path that the men in my family tend to take. My dad worked for CN Rail, and my brother worked for CN Rail, and my dad's dad worked for CN Rail. So being Deaf kind of took me away and steered me away from that path and down a more artistic and imaginative path.”

Visit the episode page to listen and check out web exclusive content.

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.

region_of_waterloo_arts_fund_header_logo
T130-Canada
St-Jeromes-University_Vertical_Logo_Full_Colour