Category Archives: down time

Nomination for Dr. Lamees Al Ethari

Screenshot 2019-02-13 10.21.09

Congratulations to English’s own Dr. Lamees Al Ethari, who has been nominated by The New Quarterly for a National Magazine Award in the poetry category. The shortlist will be announced in early May and the winner will be announced at a gala in Toronto. She is the author of From the Wounded Banks of the Tigris (London: Baseline Press, 2018) and Waiting for the Rain: A Memoir (Toronto: Mawenzi House Publishers, 2019).


Award for Faculty

Screenshot 2019-02-05 13.36.24
Congratulations to Dr. Lamees Al Ethari and Prof. Carrie Snyder of UWaterloo English, who have just received a SSHRC Connection Grant.

UWaterloo English: Best book, part 2

Were you waiting for part 2? A looong time? So long that you’d forgotten a part 1? Well, in case you need a good book for the holiday break, here’s a round-up of some of the best books our UWaterloo people have been reading in the past year.

Renée Belliveau (MA graduate)
I recently picked up The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, a Yale English graduate who sadly passed away five days after graduation, and I instantly saw myself reflected back. Her prose is fresh and puts forth a mixture of ambition and anxiety that I think a lot of us graduate students feel, or can at least remember feeling. I’ll tag on Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader to this post, for anyone looking to be reacquainted with their love for literature and the English language.

Andrew Deman (Lecturer)
ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times by Andrew MacLean. Apart from featuring a badass gender positive female protagonist, ApocalyptiGirl is just a really rare SF beast: a whimsical dystopia that doesn’t undermine its own politics. The moving, central relationship of the story is the all-encompassing love between a girl and her cat, rendered without a hint of irony. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a text as free of cynicism or pretense. It’s a joyous read.

Jennifer Harris (Associate Professor)
It has to be Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland, the most original neo-slave narrative I have read in a very long time (apologies to Colson Whitehead).  I’m generally not one to pick up a Young Adult novel with zombies, except this pulled me in: “Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.” As an allegory about slavery and post-slavery it is stunning.

Bibi Ashyana Harricharran (MA graduate)
The Grass Dancer by Susan Power. This is a powerful novel. Power manipulates with the Gothic to her own liking to demonstrate violence, power, and subjugation. The story is told through the first person where each character gets a chapter to tell his/her own story. One of the things that stood out to me the most is when Power integrates the play, Macbeth, to project catharsis. The characters in Power’s text go through a sense of catharsis because they experience the same betrayal as Duncan. It is a difficult narrative for an author to pull off: you either fail miserably or you succeed. Power succeeds because she remains faithful to her subtle perspective.

Linda Warley (Associate Professor and Associate Dean)
The best book I have read recently is Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City. It won the RBC Taylor Prize. The book tells the stories of seven Indigenous teenagers who had to leave their home communities in order to attend high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They all died. Their deaths and the handling of the cases by policing and justice services reveals much about the systemic racism in Canada that affects the lives of Indigenous people today. It is a heartbreaking book, but necessary reading.

Comfort reading from our PhD students

In the second year in the UWaterloo PhD programs, candidates write the first of what are known as Comprehensive Exams. These are extremely rigorous and thorough exams written over the course of an entire day. Students are examined on fields of literature they have selected, relevant to their dissertation research. Historically, these exams have been incredibly stressful–when I wrote  my exams years ago, we all knew the story of a student who had a breakdown after a computer crash wiped out everything they had written, at the eleventh hour. Fortunately, technology has advanced, and–in consultation with the students–we have streamlined the process, making it more humane. Nonetheless, if you interacted with the second years over the last few months, the stress was palatable. On that note, I reached out to some of them and asked what they would be reading to decompress after the exams ended. Here’s what they shared with me.

Chris Giannakopoulos is looking forward to returning to Life, A User’s Manual, which he first read as an undergraduate, and is not at all what it sounds like. According to Chris: “Though my current research focusses on transnational English poetry, my continued interest in Perec’s work comes from his puzzling approach to language.”

On the other hand, Diana Moreno Ojeda is reading Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, which is apparently exactly what it sounds like. She writes: “Short stories are a great way to disconnect from the world for a couple of hours, and there is something fascinating about the type of fantasy that manages to be both unsettling and intricately human. And that is what I am looking for in this book; ingenious stories threaded with poignant narrative.”

Sally Beresford won the heart of this nineteenth-century scholar when she wrote: “Holidays are a time to spend with loved ones and friends and I find that books are no exception! I therefore pull out old favourites: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol of course, usually a Jane Austen, and always lots of fun murder mysteries as those by Agatha Christie or E.C. Bentley’s Trent’s Last Case. Lucy Maud Montgomery also had a lovely collection of Christmas Tales – Christmas with Anne – that are fun to dive back into this time of year.”

Sally won my heart, but Christin Wright-Taylor won my stomach: “I am looking forward to reading, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking over the break. My partner and I watched the Netflix version of the cookbook when I needed brain space from studying my exams and the cooking made me SO Hungry. I love eating delicious food and Samin is a natural educator. I trust her to guide me through the kitchen.”

Finally, Hannah Watts, who is working with Critical Disability theory, Affect theory, postmodern poetry, and readership, has hit upon how I managed to keep my head clear when immersed in densely theoretical reading during the PhD–by reading classic children’s literature: “Over the break I will be reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for fun.”  I’m pretty sure she’s not the only one.

Book signing with Alumna Carolyn Huizinga Mills

UWaterloo Alumna Carolyn Huizinga Mills has published her first book, The Little Boy Who Lived Down The Drain and will be signing copies at Words Worth Books, in Uptown Waterloo, Sunday Nov. 25 from 12-2pm. The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain was nominated for the 2018 Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award as well as being selected by the OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation to be part of their Rainforest of Reading program.

Earlier this year Carolyn reflected on her English courses at UWaterloo: “One memory that still stands out to me from my university days so many years ago is sitting in a class taught by professor Eric McCormack, thinking: Hes written a book! I remember being impressed (perhaps even awed) by the fact that he was an author, a genuine, bonafide author, and he was teaching me about writing. So it seems surreal, now, to be able to call myself an author, too.” (“A Dream“)

Visit Carolyn’s author website at:

Read all about it!

Screenshot 2018-10-29 15.08.48
Head on over to UWaterloo English to read our 2018 newsletter, featuring a letter from our new chair, Dr. Shelley Hulan, and updates on faculty and student achievements.

Wild Writers Festival, 2018

The New Quarterly
, a  literary magazine based at St Jerome’s at UWaterloo, is proud to present the seventh annual Wild Writers Literary Festival on November 2-4th, 2018. Join us for a celebration of the feral and free and its expression in poetry, the short story, and everything in between. Create, learn, discover and share the art of groundbreaking writing. There are workshops, readings, and food!

Friday the 2nd
Leading off Waterloo Region’s premier literary event will be Jael Richardson, an author and broadcaster, in conversation with Sharon Bala and Rawi Hage. This will take place at the CIGI Campus Auditorium on Erb Street West in Waterloo.

Sharon Bala won the 2017 Journey Prize, presented annually by McClelland and Stewart and the Writers’ Trust of Canada for the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine. Her story, “Butter Tea at Starbucks,” was published in The New Quarterly. Sharon’s bestselling debut novel, The Boat People, was a finalist for Canada Reads 2018 and the 2018 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Rawi Hage’s new novel, Beirut Hellfire Society, is a finalist for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Hage’s debut novel, De Niro’s Game (2006), won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for English fiction. His second novel, Cockroach (2008), was shortlisted for the Giller, the Governor General’s and the Rogers Fiction Prize.

Saturday the 3rd

…also at CIGI, there’ll be an intriguing mix of writer’s craft classes, panel discussions and masterclasses. These classes will include instruction on writing poetry, creative nonfiction, character development as well as custom crafted ones for young creators and caregivers.

Sunday the 4th
A literary brunch featuring conversations with and readings from Katherine Ashenburg, Claire Cameron and Michael Redhill at the Rhapsody Barrel Bar on King Street in Kitchener.


Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of three nonfiction books: Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario, The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die, and The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.

Claire Cameron has written three novels: The Last Neanderthal, which won the 2018 Evergreen Award; The Bear, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize); and The Line Painter, nominated for the Arthur Ellis Crime Writing Award for best first novel.

Michael Redhill is a Giller Prize-winning novelist, poet and playwright. He is the author of the novels Consolation, longlisted for Man Booker Prize; Martin Sloane, a finalist for the Giller Prize; and most recently, Bellevue Square, winner of the 2017 Giller Prize.