Wednesday, December 29, 2021

January courses online: Writing Personal Stories, Exploring Creative Writing, Writing Kid Lit, and Intensive Creative Writing

Exploring Creative Writing

 ~ Discover your creative side

Offered online and in-person

Online: Tuesday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
January 25 – March 29, 2022 {no class March 8}
Offered online and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. We’ll explore writing short stories and writing true stories, writing in first person and in third person, writing technique and getting creative, getting down your very best writing and just for fun writing.

You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe setting, where your words will grow and flower.

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Writing Kid Lit

Picture Books to Young Adult Novels

Online: Monday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
January 10 – March 28, 2022 {no class Feb 21 or March 7}
Offered online and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

This course is for adults {or teens} interested in writing picture books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade books, or Young Adult novels. This course is accessible for beginners and meaty enough for advanced writers. Through lectures, in-class assignments, homework, and feedback on your writing, we’ll give you ins and outs of writing for younger readers and set you on course toward writing your own books.

We’ll have two published children’s authors as guest speakers: Jennifer Mook-Sang and Kira Vermond. See full details here.

Fee: $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Writing Personal Stories 

Nine weeks of sharing and writing

Online: Monday evenings, 7 – 9 p.m.
January 17 – March 28, 2022 {no class March 7}
Offered online and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

If you've ever considered writing your personal stories, this course is for you. We’ll look at memoirs, travel writing, personal essays, family history ~ personal stories of all kinds. Plus, of course, we’ll work on creativity and writing technique and have fun doing it. 

Whether you want to write a book or just get your thoughts down on paper, this weekly course will get you going. We'll reveal the tricks and conventions of telling true stories, and we’ll show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Weekly writing exercises and friendly feedback from the instructor will help you move forward on this writing adventure. Whether you want to write for your family and friends or for a wider public, don't miss this course.

We’ll have a published memoir writers as a guest speaker (to be announced).

Fee: $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing

 ~ Grow as a writer

Online ~ 3 different sessions: 
(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Tuesday evenings, 6:30 – 8:45
January 11 – March 22, 2022
First readings emailed Jan 4 ~ Still space in this course!

Wednesday afternoons, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
January 12 – March 23, 2022 – Probably full

Friday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
January 14 – April 1, 2022 (no class March 4)
– Definitely full 

Intensive Creative Writing isn't for beginners; it's for people who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. You’ll be asked to bring in five pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including three long pieces. All your pieces may be from the same work, such as a novel in progress, or they may be stand alone pieces. You bring whatever you want to work on. 

Besides critiquing pieces, the instructor will give short lectures addressing the needs of the group, and in addition to learning how to critique your own work and receiving constructive suggestions about your writing, you’ll discover that the greatest benefits come from seeing how your classmates approach and critique a piece of writing and how they write and re-write. This is a challenging course, but extremely rewarding.

Fee: $229.20 + hst = $259

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada's most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John.  Brian is the author of a children's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Hyde (Tribute Publishing). But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published.   

Read reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here {and scroll down}.

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

“A Tale of Two Tropes or What Systemic Antisemitism Looks Like” by Brian Henry

 

Toronto District School Board Trustee Alexandra Lulka

In a recent scandal, Javier Dávila, a teacher with the Toronto District School Board was found to be distributing “resources to educators” that included links to grossly antisemitic material, promotion of suicide bombings, and glorification of terrorists.

School Trustee Alexandra Lulka took to Twitter: “This is reprehensible,” she wrote. “These materials were provided by an employee from the TDSB equity department, the very department that should be countering antisemitism and violence, not fanning the flames.”

Lulka shouldn’t have been surprised; equity, inclusion and diversity officers as a group have long since been captured by the cult that worships at the altar of antizionism, which is how antisemitism shows itself on the left.

The Heritage Foundation recently reviewed the twitter output of 741 equity, inclusion and diversity staff at American universities on the topic of Israel and, for comparison, China. 

China is a police state with a notoriously horrific human rights record (see here and here for starters). In contrast, Israel is a liberal democracy that aspires to protect everyone’s human rights. It’s the only state in the region in which anyone at all enjoys full civil rights, and Israelis enjoy their rights regardless of whether they’re Muslim, Christian or Jew. It’s not perfect (what state is?), but Israel does a fair job of providing a decent place for people to live.  

Don’t take my word for it; ask Palestinians. Recently, Shfa News, a Palestinian news network, polled Palestinians in Jerusalem, asking if they’d prefer Israel to keep control of the entire city or transfer control to the Palestinian Authority. Only 3% wanted to end Israeli sovereignty. Asked if they would trade their Israeli identity card for a Palestinian Authority ID, only .4% – 5 out of 1,200 – said yes. (See here.)

In contrast, equity staff have a deranged view of Israel and an obsession with it. They tweeted about Israel three times as often as about China, and while most of their China tweets were positive (62%), their Israel tweets were overwhelmingly negative (96%). And they weren’t criticisms of policy; they were accusations of “apartheid,” “genocide,” “settler colonialism,” “ethnic cleansing,” … the usual demonization meant to denounce Israel as illegitimate, as a place that should not exist. (See here).

Such accusations, wholly untethered to reality, are directed against only one state in the world, which happens to be the world’s one Jewish state.

After an investigation, Javier Dávila was returned to the classroom, reportedly with no punishment or reprimand for distributing antisemitic material.

Trustee Lulka's statement posted on Twitter and found
by a supposed human rights expert to be Islamophobic.
Lulka also posted a link to a Toronto Sun article that
details some of the material Davila distributed (see here). 

Trustee Lulka, though, was investigated by the School Board for her tweets objecting to this material. Relying on “an Independent Investigator expert in Human Rights, Harassment and Discrimination” (here), the school board’s Integrity Commissioner recommended that Lulka be formally censured. 

The Commissioner decided that the resources distributed by Dávila did include material that was antisemitic and that promoted terrorism and praised terrorists, but  Lulka’s denunciation unintentionally raised the stereotype of Muslims or Palestinians as terrorists. 

Lulka ought to have explicitly praised the non-antisemitic and non-terrorism-endorsing material distributed by Dávila,as important, positive pro-Palestinian discourse,” and her failure to endorse Dávila’s material fed into Islamophobic tropes, so said the expert.

Fortunately, the school board defeated this wonky recommendation by a vote of 10 to 7.

I suspect that some of those seven who voted to censure Lulka did so because they’re antizionist; meaning they will support anything, no matter how vile or preposterous, as long as it’s directed against Israel. But most of those seven trustees were likely just befuddled. A long, bureaucratic, hard-to-follow report – a torture to read – gave a supposedly expert opinion that Lulka’s tweets were somehow Islamophobic.

The problem is with the human rights “experts.” One of the supposed experts who investigated Lulka was Morgan Sim. During Hamas’s recent war against Israel, Sim liked a tweet that slandered Israel as committing genocide against Palestinians – one of those charges with no basis in reality but meant to paint Israel as an illegitimate state.

And she liked another tweet that praised: “the Palestinian resistance (Hamas PFLP, Islamic Jihad)” for “primarily taget(ting) Israeli military sites” with their “homemade rockets,” while slandering Israel as targeting civilians.

Canada, along with the rest of the democratic world, has designated Hamas, the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations, precisely because of their long-standing policy of deliberately targeting civilians. Yet this is the “Palestinian resistance” Sim apparently likes.

Colonel Richard Kemp, formerly commander of British forces in Afghanistan, gives his professional opinion of the ethics of Israel's armed forces here.

The “homemade rockets” fired by these groups, may carry 150 kg (330 lbs) of explosives (see here), but can’t be aimed at anything smaller than a town, and during Hamas’s several wars against Israel have never hit a military target, not even by accident. They do, however, frequently miss Israel altogether and explode within Gaza, where they often kill or maim Palestinian civilians rather than the innocent Israelis they’re meant to murder. (Regarding the 2021 conflict, see here; regarding the 2014 conflict, here.)

This is a strange activity for a human rights expert to be liking. But maybe Morgan Sim hasn’t noticed what terrorists do. Or maybe it’s the school she went to.

Sim was schooled in human rights at the University of Toronto. There a Law School hiring committee recently voted unanimously to hire Valentina Azarova to direct the school’s human rights department. 

Azarova has worked for al-Haq, an organization with close ties to the PFLP terrorist group. The director of al-Haq is a former senior PFLP operative who has spent prison time for multiple terrorism offences. Al-Haq spends much of its time promoting the BDS movement, which seeks to paint Israel as an illegitimate, apartheid state that should not exist and encourages people to shut Israelis out of our shared humanity. (See here.)

In 2018, credit card companies ceased processing funds for al-Haq because of its ties to terrorism (see here) and Israel recently designated al-Haq as a terrorist organization, meaning that it doesn’t only have close ties to the PFLP but is directly controlled by it and channels funding to it (see here).  

Besides her work for al-Haq, Azarova’s career has been devoted to a single-minded effort to attack Israel. This was presumably why the law school hiring committee wanted her, because really, she has nothing else to offer. {For a detailed assessment of Azarova’s work see here.}

Fortunately, Azarova wasn’t eligible to work in Canada and so her application was rejected. There was a huge outcry over this rejection and supposed outside interference in the hiring process. One of those protesting most loudly on Azarova’s behalf was Morgan Sim. (More commentary here).

This is the state of affairs in Canada and the States today: equity officers, law schools, and human rights advocates – the people we expect to be standing up for the rights of everybody, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or nationality – tend to have a marked bias against one ethnicity, one religion, and especially one nationality.

Beyond falsely accusing Israel of genocide, this tweet, liked by Morgan Sim, plays on the trope of Israelis as the new Nazis. Both the far left and far right have tried to reframe the Holocasust as a Jewish crime; the right by saying the Holocaust was a Jewish hoax; the left by saying Jews are now the Nazis. 

I’ll close with a final example. Back in 2010 I complained about a novel, The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, which had been recommended by the Ontario Library Association and that schools throughout Ontario were encouraging kids in grades 7 and 8 to read. 

The novel presents Israelis and Jews as killers and thieves and especially as child-killers.

For example, on page 180, the Palestinian heroine of the story says: “Your God says kill us?  Steal our land?” The Jewish boy replies: “They don’t see it as stealing. They’ll provoke you, kill you.”

On page 61, an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint, tells an innocent kid: “We shoot Palestinian boys.”

Why? No explanation is given for the brutality permeating this novel. Apparently, Israelis are just monsters; the Jewish God tells them to kill.

In the long history of antisemitism, the nastiest antisemitic trope is the blood libel, the notion that Jews like to kill people, particularly children. The Shepard’s Granddaughter is a contemporary example.

As far as I know, it’s still in school libraries across the province, probably across the country. In Toronto, a committee was struck to assess my complaint. The committee – including an Equity Officer and a consultant from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations – determined the novel was controversial but fine, that it didn’t promote “hate or animosity toward others.”

The Shepard’s Granddaughter is one of the teaching materials recommended by Javier Dávila - and which the Independent Investigator had no objection to. According to the Independent Investigator these materials “were intended to, and do for the most part: (1) center the voices of marginalized Palestinians (particularly those of Palestinian children).”

How? By calling Jews child-killers? This seems to be a trope that equity officers and human rights experts are not just blind to but actually embrace.

This is what systemic antisemitism looks like.

Brian Henry is a writer, editor, creative writing instructor, and publisher of the Quick Brown Fox blog. He’s written opinion pieces for the National Post and The Toronto Star. He was also a regular contributor to the (now defunct) Jewish Tribune and the Engage and Harry’s Place websites in the UK. This piece was previously pbublished on TheJ.ca, the Canadian Jewish community's online journal of news and opinion. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Contests and markets for short fiction, poetry, and reviews ~ for both adults and teens

Note: You can hang out and chat with quick brown foxes and vixens on my Facebook page (here). Just send a friend request to Brian Henry

Also, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to: brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~ Brian

 

Paper Lanterns is a literary journal for all things to do with Teen and Young Adult literature. They’re seeking submissions from both teens and adults.

They’re looking for short stories (maximum 2,000 words) pays €75; flash fiction (maximum 400 words) pays €50; and poetry (maximum 40 lines) pays €50.

Next deadline: January 15, 2022 for issue #8. Guidelines here.

Paper Lanterns is also looking for articles discussing themes in teen and YA literature, interviews with authors and organizations, reviews of literary events, etc. They’re also open to essays on film, theatre and art. They are particularly interested in essays from teen writers.

Proposals and submissions accepted year-round. Guidelines here.

Paper Lanterns is also seeking teens who want to be book reviewers, but you have to live in Ireland. Guidelines here.

Finally, Paper Lanterns seeks art and photography submissions on an ongoing basis. Guidelines here.

 

Writing Competition from Writingblog.ca

Brenda Short’s Writingblog.ca is sponsoring a short story contest.

Submit an original short story of up to 1,500 words. 

Entry fee $5. Prizes of $50, $25 and $15, with certificate. 

Winning stories will be published in February 2022 and may be part of an anthology later in the year. 

Deadline January 15, 2022. See submission details here.

Brenda is part of Wordsmiths, which was established in 2014 with the South Simcoe Arts council and, in recent years, partnered with the New Tecumseth Public Library. Members encourage one another and critique one another’s writing. At the moment, the Wordsmiths are meeting on Zoom, but meeting normally take place in person. New members are welcome. Just send them a message through their contact page here.

 

The Rattle Foundation is a non-profit organization that publishes poetry online, in a print   journal, and in chapbooks. Rattle has two annual contests and accepts regular submissions at any time: 

The Rattle Chapbook Contest: “We’ve always loved chapbooks for their brevity and intensity. At a few dozen pages, a great chapbook is the perfect reading experience for the 21st century – not too long, not too short: They’re the Goldilocks zone of the poetry world. So we wanted to do for chapbooks what we’ve done for poems with the Rattle Poetry Prize – provide a fair, fun, and friendly way to make the most of what they offer.

“While most chapbook contests offer maybe $500 and 25 copies of your chapbook, we’re going to give a few poets something special. Every year, three winners will receive:

$5,000

500 copies

Distribution to Rattle’s 8,000+ subscribers

“In a world where a bestselling full-length poetry book means 1,000 copies sold, the winners will reach an audience more than seven times as large on the first day alone – an audience that includes hundreds of other literary magazines, presses, and well-known poets. This will be a chapbook to launch a career.

“And maybe the best part is this: Every Rattle subscriber will receive a copy of each winning chapbook. Beginning in 2018, each quarterly issue of Rattle includes a bonus chapbook delivered to every subscriber, most of which being selected through this annual competition. Visit the Rattle Chapbook Series page for a full list of selections.”

Entry fee: $25 U.S., includes a subscription to Rattle.

Deadline: January 15, 2022 Guidelines here

The Rattle Poetry Prize. This annual prize offers $15,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $500 each and publication, and be eligible for the $5,000 Readers’ Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.

Entry fee: $25 U.S., includes a subscription to Rattle.

Deadline July 15, 2022. Guidelines here.

Regular submissions are open year-round, always welcomed, and always free. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged. If the work is accepted elsewhere, just let them know. Contributors in print receive $200/poem and a complimentary one-year subscription to the magazine. Online contributors receive $100/poem. All submissions are automatically considered for the annual Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a $2,000 prize judged by the editors.

Regular submission guidelines here.


Quick Brown Fox welcomes your book reviews and your short stories, poems, and essays about reading, writing, favourite books, and libraries. Read a few essays on the blog to get a taste of what other writers have done (see here and scroll down).

Quick Brown Fox also welcomes reviews of any kind and of anything, anywhere or anybody. If you want to review your favourite coffee shops or libraries, babysitters or lovers (no real names please), go for it. See examples of book reviews here (and scroll down); other reviews here  (and scroll down).

Submit to: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Include a short bio at the end of your piece and attach a photo of yourself if you have one that’s okay.

 See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Friday, December 24, 2021

It's a good evening for staying inside, all cuddly and warm

 

To all who celebrate it ~ Here's wishing you a merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Exploring Creative Writing class offered online Jan 13 – March 24

Exploring Creative Writing

 ~ Discovering your creative side

Online: Tuesday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
January 25 – March 29, 2022 {no class March 8}
Accessible from anywhere there's internet 

This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. We’ll explore writing short stories and writing true stories, writing in first person and in third person, writing technique and getting creative, getting down your very best writing and just for fun writing.

You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe setting, where your words will grow and flower.

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada's most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published.     

Read reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.