3 min

Making us proud

A Valentine's go Xtra West's creatives

Credit: Xtra West files

It’s happened again.Two Xtra West freelancers are finalists in the Lambda Literary Awards, the premiere literary prize for queer writers, and one of North America’s most renowned literary awards.

Frequent contributor CE Gatchalian-we call him Chris-is a finalist for the drama award. His book, Motifs & Repetitions & Other Plays, is receiving international recognition.

Karen X Tulchinsky is an occasional contributor to Xtra West-and has contributed almost since our first issue in 1993. Karen is a finalist in the erotica category for editing Hot and Bothered 4, an anthology of lesbian erotic writing. It’s been exciting watching Karen’s career as a novelist take off in the past few years-and she’s no stranger to recognition for her work.

Vancouver writers are making quite a splash at the Lammies this year, with James Johnstone also nominated for editing Quickies 3, an anthology of gay male erotic writing. Local Vancouver publishing house Arsenal Pulp Press also deserves congratulations-they published the books by Tulchinsky and Johnstone.

Congratulations to all-you bring honour to our community.

There’s a lot of queer talent in this city. We at Xtra West see it as part of our mission to discover and nurture that talent, giving writers, photographers and illustrators the opportunity to practice their craft while getting paid and building a following. In my opinion, we have far more than our share of talent-and the fact that other local publications often approach our contributors to lure them away confirms this. Brett Josef Grubisic, Michael Harris, Denise Sheppard, Stan Persky, Stuart Blackley, Richard Bell, Elaine Miller, Becki Ross, Tom Sandborn, Carellin Brooks, Guy Babineau, Bill Richardson -these are just some of our current or past frequent writers who have been published elsewhere or made a name for themselves in a related field. We’re proud to work with such talent.

Frankly, working with freelancers is also the most fun part of my job. So I’m writing them this valentine.

Our contributors have been recognized repeatedly over the years.

Michael V Smith, who writes the monthly Blush column as his alterego Miss Cookie, was a finalist in last year’s prestigious Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. That novel, Cumberland, got a good review in the Globe & Mail and was, it could be argued, the first successful queering of CanLit.

Monthly columnist Ivan E Coyote won a second place Danuta Gleed Literary Award of the Canadian Writers Union, for the book, Close to Spiderman. Another book Ivan collaborated on, Boys Like Her, won the Forward Magazine Book of the Year Award. And Ivan was recently awarded a Bent Mentor Award from the Bent Institute of Writing in Seattle.

Contributor and former columnist Billeh Nickerson won a Publishing Triangle Gay Men’s Poetry Prize for his magnificent poetry book, The Asthmatic Glassblower.

Our photographers are often showcased. Past and present Xtra West photographers who have received acclaim or been given a gallery show include David Ellingsen, Shaira Holman, Rosamond Norbury, Laura Jane Petelko, Wendy D, Dan Jackson, Jamie Griffiths, Tom Bowen, Daniel Collins, Michael Libby and Diane Whalen. We’re nurturing other up-and-comers, including Jacques Gaudet, Kevin Teneycke, TJ Ngan, Nicholas Jang and Matthew Lester.

But the freelance talent doesn’t end there. Our illustrators include John Crossen, Mia Hansen, Carolyn Bell, Ignacio Corral and comic strip artists Noreen Stevens and Alison Bechdel (Eric Orner quit drawing his internationally syndicated Ethan Green strip last month.)

If I missed anyone in this litany of names, please forgive me.

I’m going to finish this tribute to talent with special valentines to writer Robert Gray and illustrator Patrick Fillion. Two years ago, these gay men worked to bring our readers an entire serialized book, Tide Pool Sketches: The Continuing Adventures of Christopher Roberts. You went nuts over it. Robert and Patrick return starting this issue to bring you another serialized book, Waterboys, which picks up a few years after the last one ended. As much a valentine to Vancouver as an ode to gay love, Robert’s lovingly crafted work will leave you feeling good and talking about the characters with your friends over coffee. And Patrick’s sexy and dynamic illustrations-starting with the cover this issue-are guaranteed to please. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Gareth Kirkby is Managing Editor for Xtra.