FANTASTIC NEWS: Nalo Hopkinson made SFWA Grandmaster

Bookninja favourite Nalo Hopkinson is being been made a Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers Association. This is a lifetime achievement Oscar but for us nerds. Big stuff and proper recognition for a brilliant writer. I sat on a jury with Hopkinson many years ago and hopefully hid from her how nervous I was to be in her presence, having read and loved her books. She turned out to be super nice and friendly and normal. Lovely. There are few authors I feel nervous around, but she, and another fantasy fellow who I know reads this blog daily because he PMs me on Twitter when he disagrees with me (I won’t name him but his initials are Guy Gavriel Kay), make me a bit weak in the knees with teenaged hero worship.

Online poetry courses by… me

So, over the years I’ve taught, and lectured on, poetry at a handful universities Canada and the US, including UofT and the MFA program at UBC, and so this year, at a time of deep strain on the job market out here, I’ve decided to strike out on my own and offer some courses for new and emerging poets. I firmly believe that everyone has “poetic thoughts”, or moments of connection that resemble poetic thoughts, and that the main difference between someone like myself and the average plumber/doctor/clerk/site supervisor/etc/etc. is that I have spent the last 25 years of my life learning to recognize those thoughts when they happen and training myself to write them down in interesting ways. The thoughts happen to everyone, but the skills needed to craft them into poems are like the skills needed to build a bookshelf: you can learn them. So I’m going to start by offering a couple courses in skills-building for poets. They’ll be a combination 8 weeks of asynchronous online learning and optional synchronous meet-ups and workshopping. One starts in January, one in March. Great gifts for the person in your life who needs a bit of structure and a group for motivation. Everyone from beginners to emerging poets are ideal for the first course in January. Listen, you’re going to be stuck at home anyway, why not learn some new tricks and skills while you’re there?


The choice is in: Pandemic is WotY

“Pandemic” has been chosen by both Merriam-Webster and as their Word of the Year. It seems to cover all bases, really. “Bubble” is still our house’s Word of the Year. That and “Unemployment”. But I digress. “Comfort in the knowing…” Lol. The curse of the educated.

Similarly, at, searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806 per cent higher than spikes experienced on the same date last year, Sokolowski said.

Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population, he said. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski said. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.

That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.

He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn’t know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort in the knowing.

Tuesday newsday