You've seen Hamilton's literary crowd before. We're the ones at Mulberry, Radius, or My Dog Joe, obsessing over word counts and syntax on our laptops. We're the ones rushing off to planning meetings, racing against deadlines, and nervously getting up on stage to share our work with others. You've seen us browsing the shelves at Bryan Prince, Bookseller and J.H. Gordon Books. We're not just writers. We're editors, booksellers, festival organizers, librarians, publishers, readers, spoken word artists, and educators. The list could go on.
Hamilton's literary scene may sometimes seem to lurk in the shadows of Toronto, but we have created our own identity, one that continues to expand to include new faces and new ideas. Some might argue that print is dead, but Hamilton's literary community proves otherwise. Besides our many talented novelists, poets, and essayists, there are literary arts organizations and festivals: gritLIT, Lit Live, Steel City Stories, the Hamilton Poetry Centre, the Hamilton Youth Poetry Slam, and Project Bookmark Canada, to name only a few.
This Living Arts column will be a space to share my own experiences and observations living and working as a writer, editor, and festival organizer in Hamilton but, more importantly, it will be used to chronicle the ongoing conversations in literary circles. Like all artists, those in the literary arts face challenges, from navigating grant systems, finding our voice in the national scene, and capitalizing on change in the digital age.
To steal lyrics from a favourite song, "the city loves you; it gives you oxygen." It's a great time to be an artist in Hamilton. I look forward to contributing to the ongoing dialogue and bringing to the page the conversations already being had in bookstores and coffee shops around the city.
Writer and editor Jessica Rose was born and raised in Burlington, but escaped the suburbs to become a proud Hamiltonian living in the downtown core. Since earning a degree in journalism from Carleton University, she has written for a number of publications across Canada, including THIS, Ricepaper, Broken Pencil, H, and rabble.ca. She is currently a committee member of gritLIT, Hamilton’s Literary festival. She also writes the “Shelf Life” column which appears in every issue of Hamilton Magazine. Jessica edits children's books by day, and writes book reviews by night, many of which appear on her personal blog at www.notmytypewriter.com.