Friday, June 8, 2012

In 30 words or less....

This is a new feature for this blog. Up until now, it’s been all about me, and I get bored talking about myself all the time. “A Kick At the Darkness” is actually being read by more people than ever (the stats counter doesn’t work properly—actual readership is approximately five times what is shown), and I will continue to apprise you of my personal thoughts and doings. But I’d like to use this platform to shine a spotlight on some other people in the arts community—largely within my home province of Newfoundland, but also some folks in Atlantic Canada and across the country, occasionally even stepping a toe across the 49th parallel or taking a glance across the pond. I call this feature “In 30 Words or Less...” with the utterly complex idea that the person I’ve chosen to interview will respond to each question in (cough, cough) no more than thirty words. That’s a promise that might draw you in and keep you to the end.

As a writer myself, many of those I feature will be writers, as well as people in the publishing industry—the idea being to help you get to know them a little, to understand who they are, what they do, and why. But I’ll also be highlighting the occasional musician, painter, illustrator, actor, director, and well, you get the point. Like in that CD title from The Once, it’ll be “row upon row of people I know.”

And, yes, for the most part, it will be people I know. This blog purports to be about me and my world, my thoughts, and so on, and anyone who’s been coming here likely has been doing so for that reason. So the people I choose to feature will be those who, by however tenuous a thread, are a part of my world in some fashion. So, if you want to be featured, I’d suggest you get to know me. Facebook me. Talk to me. Email me. Meet me in a dark alley at 8 a.m. Buy me a bagel and a coffee. But don’t call me. I hate telephones.

Oh, and you won’t always recognize the names and faces. The idea, after all, is to focus on those who often get missed but deserve acknowledgement. Furthermore, I encounter quite a few young (and some older) people who are just trying to make themselves known. If I can play a small role in that, then I’ll use my blog for exactly that on occasion. It’ll be fun. After all, it’s only a minute or so of your time.

In 30 Words or Less: Tamara Reynish

I’ve known Tamara Reynish for a couple of years. She’s the friend and neighbour of another longtime writer friend of mine, JoAnne Soper-Cook, and we met at a dinner party at JoAnne’s house one February night. By strange coincidence, I’d been talking to Tamara earlier that week by email in her capacity as the new editor of  WORD magazine. I was inquiring about an article I’d submitted, and I’d never spoken to her before. So, technically, I met the same new person twice in one week and was completely charmed both times.

Tamara is a striking person in every way, from her flaming red hair, to her meticulous speech, her sultry  voice and her agile mind. If one of my stories was ever to be recorded for posterity, assuming Gordon Pinsent wasn't available, I would want Tamara to be the reader. She comes across as one who knows who she is and what she wants and, especially fortuitous for writers in this province, she knows how to attain her goals--although, as I've been told by others who have observed Tamara in action, it usually takes a rather Herculean effort. Fortunately, Tamara believes in her cause and is up to the challenge.

While she’s far from shy, when asked to talk about herself, Tamara often pushes someone else to the fore in the hope of giving credit where it’s due. And that’s exactly why I wanted her to be my first featured guest: she is a selfless promoter of others, largely through her work with the Literary Arts Foundation of NL and the Writers’ Alliance of NL (WANL), while also operating her own business, Reynish Communications. Most recently, and of particular significance to me, Tamara was instrumental in securing much-needed sponsorship for the NL Book Awards, now known as The Ches Crosbie Barristers Award. Without that sponsorship, the award wouldn’t carry nearly the distinction it has right now. She has performed a similar miracle for the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers, which is presented every second year to a worthy, new writer.

On the night of the Atlantic Book Awards in St. John’s, Tamara disclosed that she and her long time partner, Peter King, were getting married the following week. So, “Mrs. Tamara Reynish” is a newlywed.

Here’s Tamara Reynish, in 30 words or less:

1. Please state your full name, where you came from, and why the hell you’ve chosen St. John’s as a place to live.

Tamara Denice Reynish (Rhine-ish): I was born in Ontario, raised in West Germany and moved to St. John’s in 1989. Naturally, I live in St. John’s for the weather.

2. What’s your connection to the Literary Arts Foundation?

I am the Foundation’s president, proudly representing an amazing board of directors. I took over from the venerable Leslie Vryenhoek in December 2010.

3. What exactly is the Literary Arts Foundation?

It funds literary programs (Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards and Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers) and fosters appreciation for local literature. It also hosts a writing retreat, Piper’s Frith: Writing at Kilmory.

4. When you’re not working on behalf of the Foundation, what do you like to do?

I love spending time with my husband. I like words – especially editing and writing them. Luckily, I own a communications company. As well, I volunteer with the Writers’ Alliance.

5. What do you think your friends think of you?

I wouldn’t want to presume, so I asked one: Jeff Bursey, author of Verbatim: A Novel (who will be reading at the Ship on June 17), said, “Tamara is a force of nature – by some quirk, not Hibernian or Welsh, but Slavic – and by that I mean revolutionary and wildly beautiful.”

No comments:

Post a Comment