Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Tyee Anthology showcases authors from Vancouver Island in 20 year celebration

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For travelers, historians, CanLit enthusiasts, and the curious, this will be of interest to you!

The Tyee, renowned for its range of voices on politics, culture and nature, are releasing a 20th anniversary anthology that highlights 30 of BC’s most celebrated writers and the remarkable place they call home.

Titled Points of Interest, this book will showcase the comedic, whimsical, and powerful stories that are interwoven with the land around us—ranging from uplifting anecdotes to deeply reflective glances into darker points of BC’s history.

“It’s a literary road trip through the province we currently call British Columbia,” andrea bennett, senior editor for The Tyee, said in an interview with Victoria Buzz.

“It collects previously published works and pieces that we’ve commissioned…covering a very wide geographic range. It’s meant to…act as a local guide…not the whole history, but a story that’s evocative and stands in as a microcosm for the place.”

David Beers, editor in chief for The Tyee, agreed with bennett, adding that it’s always been the outlet’s purpose to capture a lot of variety in voice—Points of Interest being the perfect way to honour two decades of this.

“The purpose of the book is to reflect the diversity of BC…You’re hanging out with interesting folks and hearing their perspectives,” he said.

“We wanted this to be a book that you would consider a fantastic travel companion.”

Beers noted that there’s all kinds of books that will tell you about BC, whether it’s trail guides or the best places to eat, but this book can be used as a way to find a real connection to the place as you travel through it. 

Both Beers and bennett compared it to sitting down with a local at a coffee shop or a bar and listening to their real experiences from living there. These stories can ground us in a sense of understanding with the area, deepening our experience. 

(Points of Interest edited by David Beers and andrea bennett / The Tyee)

When asked about the selection process for the essays, Beers said he’s always had favourites that have stood out and knew that they needed to be included, which made some of the selection process simple. 

However, there were gaps geographically that needed to be addressed, so they put out calls for submissions to cover that ground. 

“You know the rubix cubes that you spin to line up all the squares?” Beers laughed.

“That’s what chasing all of the essays was like.”

“It was like an ever-evolving word doc until it turned into a spreadsheet. We were keeping in mind a lot of different factors like tone, theme and varieties of diversity,” bennett added.

So, while this project took over a year, the final pieces from the submission call came to them within the last few months or so. Once they narrowed everything down further, they had their complete anthology.

bennett then highlighted the portraits of Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands that readers can get excited about.

In particular, Tom Hawthorn was mentioned, who wrote a piece about Victoria’s colonial history titled, “More Deadwood Than Downton Abbey,” and Tim B. Rogers’ piece about Thetis Lake called, “How I Salvaged My Sense of Wonder.”

Other featured Vancouver Island-based authors include Karen Charleson, Michael John Lo, Neil Griffin and more.

“The writing I do comes out of my interest in the specific relationships between people—including myself—and place,” Griffin told Victoria Buzz. 

He added that upon moving to BC eight years ago, it took him a long time to start writing about places here and began wondering if he’d ever be able to. 

“For me, inclusion in this Tyee anthology means a first sure footing in understanding Vancouver Island as a place. It feels like I’ve finally learned the language of the place I now call home.”

“Plus, there are some killer writers in this anthology—writers that I’ve admired for a long time—and it’s cool to see my work alongside theirs.”

His Tyee piece, “The Riddle of the Monkey Puzzle Tree” asks what Griffin describes as the essential West Coast question: ‘what are those weird looking trees with the pipe-cleaner limbs and the spiky trunks?’

The answer, as described, is a globe-spanning story of evolutionary archaeology, colonial pilfering and the single-minded dedication of horticulturalists almost as peculiar as the trees they dedicated their lives to growing.

Griffin is a Victoria-based poet and essayist that was raised in the prairies and has a background as a wildlife biologist. He has been a finalist for CBC’s Poetry Prize, and multiple magazine awards and his poetry, essays, and short stories have appeared throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.

(Neil Griffin)

Also included in The Tyee’s anthology is Sofia Osborne’s piece capturing Saturna Island and Arno Kopekcy (based in Vancouver), who wrote about the Fairy Creek blockades. 

“Think of this book as a lot of different shards of shiny, colourful glass that all go together to make a mosaic,” Beers said.

Plus, at the end of each chapter, you’ll also find some unique fun facts about that particular place, as well as some illustrations. These are unrelated to the essay and are instead meant to further connect the readers to the area attached to the essay.

The Tyee accepts submissions through their website and is always seeking out pieces that are research-based but have a personal connection through a lived experience. 

They want perspective, voice and a true-story well told—which is exactly what you’ll find in Points of Interest, available for purchase through their publisher, Greystone Books.

The anthology has an upcoming promotional event in Vancouver and is hoping to bring an event out to the island as well. 

If there are any bookstores or spaces in and around Victoria that would be interested in hosting them, reach out to editor@thetyee.ca.

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