Oscar: a person of between
March 21st, 2016
Dagger Editions, as a new imprint of Caitlin Press, will publish literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry by and about queer women (encompassing those who identify as queer women, including trans women, or include this in their personal history).
Dagger’s first book launch will feature two new titles: Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity & Ideas by Betsy Warland and Flight Instructions for the Commitment Impaired by Nicola Harwood.
The gathering will be held in Vancouver on April 2nd, from 7 PM until midnight, at Lost + Found Cafe, 33 West Hastings Street.
Betsy Warland’s book is billed as an equivalent to the groundbreaking movie Orlando. It has a very effective premise: “In 2007, at the age of sixty, Betsy Warland finds herself single and without a sense of family. On an impulse, she decides to travel to London to celebrate her birthday, where she experiences an odd compulsion to see an exhibit on the invention of military camouflage. Within the first five minutes of her visit, her lifelong feeling of being aberrant reveals its source: she had never learned the art of camouflage.”
This exhibit prompts her to adopt the alias Oscar. Warland commences to write her biographical story from the perspective of “a person of between” from her childhood in the rural Midwest of the U.S. We revisit her first queer kiss, a divorce, her relationship with Daphne Marlatt (unnamed in press material) and her subsequent “years of unacknowledged exclusion from a community in which she thought she belonged” after they split up.
In fact, Warland has always been a relatively prominent literary figure in B.C. from the days when she co-founded and coordinated the Women & Words —les femmes et le mots conference at UBC in 1983 to her years as the director of the SFU’s Writers Studio (2001-2012).
Ultimately Oscar becomes relatively comfortable with whatever gender interpretations people want to make.
“In Oscar’s daily life, when encountering someone, it goes like this: some address her as a male; some address her as a female; some begin with one and then switch (sometimes apologetically) to the other; some identify Oscar as lesbian and their faces harden, or open into a momentary glance of arousal; some know they don’t know and openly scrutinize; some decide female but stare perplexedly at her now-sans-breast chest; some are bemused by or drawn to or relate to her androgyny; and for some none of this matters.”
Warland has also co-founded the national Creative Writer nonfiction Collective in 2004 and remains on the The (SFU) Writers Studio teaching faculty. In 2007, Warland founded the six-month Vancouver Manuscript Intensive program for which she is the director and a mentor. $21.95 978-1-987915-16-7
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