Tag Archives: Eugene Stickland

A-R International: Eugene Stickland

Eugene Stickland
Authors-Readers International

I arrived in Calgary in 1994 when I began a ten year residency at Alberta Theatre Projects, establishing a reputation as one of western Canada’s most prominent playwrights. All in all, I have written twenty plays, some of which have been produced many times across North America and beyond. My play Queen Lear, for example, had a two year run in Istanbul in Turkish translation and is currently running in Russia in Russian translation. While still at ATP, I began writing a feature column for the Calgary Herald’s Saturday Entertainment Section which allowed me to write about theatre and any other arts-related topics I chose for a potential weekly audience of up to half a million people. At the same time, I have always had a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation. I have taught or held residencies at a number of institutions and situations, including the National Theatre School of Canada, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, York University and the University of Regina. I was for ten years writer in residence at St. Mary’s University in Calgary where I taught creative writing, both drama and prose. For a number of years I was the Canadian delegate to the World Interplay Festival in Australia and in that capacity worked with and mentored young playwrights from around the world. In 2015 I published my first novel, The Piano Teacher, which was awarded the 2016 W. O. Mitchell Award. I am currently writing a new book titled In My Time of Dying and a play about Saskatchewan-born American artist Agnes Martin, titled Agnes.

2018 – 2020 – Last year I worked with the Stardale Woman’s Group to oversee the writing of The Make Believer Project that was produced numerous times throughout Calgary in May and June of 2018. This involved encouraging and guiding some twenty First Nations adolescent girls to share their experience of growing up in Calgary, and then creating a script from their writings. This year I am working on a new project with them titled The Road.

2020 – Overseeing publication of my play First and Last by St Mary’s University Press.  It was to have been launched in April, 2020, although now this is going to be more virtual than actual.

2019 – I am finishing a new novel, In My Time of Dying, which I expect will be published in the fall of 2020.

2016 -2019 – Collaborated with Calgary musician Morag Northey to help her create and perform her theatre piece titled 17, which we performed in BC, around Calgary and in Taos, New Mexico.   We will be consolidating and publishing the script this fall.

2017, 2019 — Appeared as the ghostly presence of Gordon Lightfoot in Alberta Ballet’s Our Canada. This season, I made an appearance in Alberta Ballet’s Frankenstein, October, 2019.

2009 – 2018. Instructor of creative writing and Writer in Residence at St. Mary’s University College, Calgary, AB.

2009 – Present. Instructor of English and Canadian Culture at Alberta Business & Educational Services. I teach a class of Internationally Trained Professionals, mostly doctors, to help them integrate into the Canadian medical system. In this capacity I have taught students from some forty countries and learned much about the experience of immigrants in Calgary.

2008 – Present. Founding Editor of B House Publications, a boutique publishing house based in Calgary with a mandate to publish plays, poetry, spoken word compilations and other work we feel is deserving of publication. Our first book was my play Writer’s Block, published in April, 2009.  Our most recent publication was my novel The Piano Teacher, which was awarded the 2016 W.O. Mitchell Award.

2003 – 2009. Featured Guest Columnist for The Calgary Herald “City Scene” Column. I have also written features for various magazines in Calgary such as Alberta Views and Avenue Magazine.


I didn’t meet Eugene Stickland in person until I was back in Calgary, around 2010 or so, and was promoting Authors and their books directly through Alberta Books Canada. As I remember, that meeting was made possible through a mutual friend at Caffe Beano, Eugene’s coffee spot of choice … where I like to think of him as the Artist-in-Residence. Eugene was founding editor of an independent company called B House Publications and I remember attending a “street” launch outside Beano‘s celebrating all the books they had published to date. I promoted Eugene on Reading Recommendations after he published his novel The Piano Teacher, which went on to win the W.O. Mitchell Award in 2016. Come to think of it, I have only ever met with Eugene at Caffee Beano over coffee. That’s the book business for you, in a nutshell!


First and Last

First and Last was commissioned for St. Mary’s University, and premiered in 2017. The successful run was followed by a performance by Company of Rogues Theatre in Calgary that same year.

“First and Last” is a new comedy by highly acclaimed Calgary-based playwright and novelist Eugene Stickland. At the heart of “First and Last” is displacement, loss, the search for sanctuary and the nature of belonging.

Recording artist Lenny returns from a West Coast tour to find his apartment empty of both furniture and his girlfriend. He’s heartbroken. While trying to write his next album people begin to show up at his door with lease in hand. A young couple, a hipster, a synchronized swim team and 2 refugees all lay claim to the same sanctuary – Lenny’s apartment. Hilarious and touching , “First and Last” is a welcome return of Eugene’s Stickland’s warm and human world to the stage. Almost a world premiere!

The first-ever Eugene-A-Thon was held on Wordfest‘s Facebook page June 18th, a  6-hour fundraiser, featuring Eugene Stickland at Caffee Beano, in support of teen literacy and arts education. And to promote the publication of his new book! You may watch some of the video here.

Here’s a great article in The Guardian, a Saltwire Publication, about how this Eugene-A-Thon came to be

Lisa Wilton of CKUA Radio interviewed Eugene Stickland about this play in April 2020.

What Eugene Stickland has been doing lately: Eugene has been painting! Check out this blog post for a sample of some of the art he has created.

You may see more information about Eugene Stickland on his website.

Eugene Stickland was previously a guest on Reading Recommendations in May 2015.

Best Books Read in 2015

By July 3rd of this year I had read so many good books that I wrote about the best of those in this blog post. (See the original post for details of these titles.)

As with the first half of the year, the following books are listed in the order I read them and, with one exception (that I have marked), I rate them all at 4 out of 5 stars … because, you know, you have to have written a VERY good book, or be Richard Ford, to receive all 5 stars from me. I am a discerning reader.

So here’s my list of Best Books Read for the second half of the year … I’ve linked to their promotions all Authors who have been featured on Reading Recommendations.

12095120_626933277448055_9033175093362345310_o Killer City by Seumas Gallacher – I read this new novel in advance of publication and thought it a fine addition to Gallacher’s Jack Calder series.

10994976_796292483760006_2976227424109873861_nThe Gift: Awakening by J.P. McLean – I have a complete set of JP’s books in The Gift Legacy series and began at the beginning. An excellent premise to this series and very well-written!

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – 5-star – Sadly, Kent Haruf passed away in 2014 shortly after completing the proofs of this book. I’ve been a fan of his writing for many years and have read everything he has published. This book was a high note in a stellar writing career, as far as I’m concerned. A bitter-sweet story, it’s simply told but nonetheless powerful, about love and growing old. Others to whom I’ve recommended this book have come back to tell me how much they enjoyed it. If you love great writing, and you have a heart, this will make you weep to read for its sheer beauty – in the storyline, in the characters, in the way Haruf tells us about this episode in lives of plain people, lives that are so utterly full of grace.

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann – I received an ARC of this novel about the Hemingways and Fitzgeralds and their set of friends vacationing at a real-life house in France during the 1920s and I enjoyed reading it very much. Great descriptions of the times, the place and the people.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – I read the ARC of this novel about a Swedish reader who travels to the US to visit the woman who has been recommending, by letters, books to read. A delightful read that anyone who enjoys reading books will also love!

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – This is a book that had been sitting on my shelf for a number of years. I finally picked it up and was pleasantly surprised at how well-told it is, this story of South Carolinian women.

12283279_10200858274536262_516233112_n Full Circle by Tim Baker – Tim Baker has been promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations, since the beginning – and for good reason! I’ve read everything Tim has written, and now read his manuscripts before they are published, as was the case with this latest novel. Interestingly, this was the first novel Tim wrote a couple of decades ago, but it didn’t see the light of day until just recently. What can I say? Tim sure knows how to write! I own copies of all Tim’s print books, I have the T-shirts, and I’m a big promoter of all his work. Read this book!

town-father-3d-copy Parts Unknown and Town Father by Kevin Brennan – Kevin Brennan’s writing has impressed me since he first promoted Yesterday Road on Reading Recommendations. I have read everything he has written and own all the print copies available, except this most recent title – a problem I will rectify when I return to Canada in the spring. Kevin is an intelligent writer, well-steeped in literature and history, and he’s not afraid to experiment with genre and style. I liken him to a cross between two of my favourite authors, Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf (see above), with a sprinkling of Margaret Atwood’s exploration of craft and genre. Town Father, his most recent novel, is a foray into historical fiction and I say Kevin has done a brilliant job of presenting a story that’s new and fresh, considering it’s set in the 1880s US Sierra Nevadas. If you’re looking for versatility in a writer, look no further! Kevin is your guy!

AtlantisFNLweb The Road to Atlantis by Leo Brent Robillard – I was approached by the publisher of this book to promote it on my blog and was sent a PDF of the book to read in advance. I had never heard of this Canadian author previously and was very taken by the quality of his writing and the story he tells. I am also happy to see that, since I promoted Robilliard in Sept. 2015, this book has now also been released in eBook format, so it’s available for the entire world to read.

That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx – I discovered a hardcover edition of this book in the campground library and decided to read it, because I had enjoyed Proulx’s Shipping News when it was first published. I enjoyed this novel just as much. Great writing!

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths – I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I had never heard of the author or the book previously and so was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a very good read.

18634588 My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie – Martin Crosbie promoted a how-to book on my blog, but he also writes great fiction, like this novel I read and enjoyed. And it’s the first in a series, too, so more great books to come!

The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King – I was a sales rep for one of Thomas King’s earlier books and had the great pleasure of meeting the man for lunch when he was in Calgary. He is one of the most interesting, intelligent, funny and genuine “gentleman” I’ve ever met. And I don’t use the term gentleman lightly here. He is a Gentle Man in all respects. This latest novel (I had an ARC) was published last year and won the GG Award for Best English-Language Fiction. Very well done!

coverThe Piano Teacher by Eugene Stickland – I know Eugene from my days in Calgary, so when he announced a new book’s release I asked him to promote it on Reading Recommendations. Then when I went back to Calgary for a visit this autumn I bought a copy of the book from the man himself in his natural habitat, Cafe Beano, over a couple of cups of coffee. Eugene is well-known as a playwright and this was his first foray into novel-writing. A terrific job, I thought! And the good news is … he’s writing a second novel!

2161163 Better Than Perfect by Tricia Drammeh – Tricia has long been an internet pal and fellow blogger/promoter who I turn to regularly for help, advice, and just general comradery. I’ve read several of her novels so far and enjoyed all of them, but Better than Perfect was exactly as the title says, I thought. True life and genuine characters brought perfectly to the page (or screen, in my case) by a very accomplished author.

Sweetland by Michael Crummey – I had the pleasure of attending an event held in London, ON, this autumn at which Crummey read from his new novel. A well-told story of a little known (outside of the province) episode in Newfoundland’s history. Funny in places, but sad throughout. Definitely worth reading, especially if you’re open to learning a new dialect and turns of phrase. (I’m fortunate in knowing a native Newfoundlander so a lot of the speech in this novel was very familiar to me.)

The Quiet American by Graham Greene – I’m not sure I actually read this novel previously, although Greene is a favourite author, but I did see the film starring Michael Caine. I have to say, they did a fine job of casting Caine for the part of Fowler. The novel is an excellent introduction to the French occupation of Vietnam during the years leading up to US involvement in the region.

Sundown, Yellow Moon and Orchard by Larry Watson – I’m catching up on the books by this favourite US author that I missed reading at the time they were released.

What about you? Was there one outstanding book you read in 2015? Or have you posted to your blog a similar list as I have here? Please leave your comments below and tell us what you enjoyed reading. And leave a link to your Best Books post.

Thanks for reading!

I should mention that I tried reading some of the many books that were long-listed, short-listed, and won prizes in the various big book awards that were handed out this year, but in a number of cases I just could not read the books at all and was disappointed in their having been selected. I’m still waiting for holds to come in at the library for a number of other prize-winners I anticipate reading and enjoying in the near future. But I must say that, overall, I was generally disappointed in most of the titles that made those prize lists. I don’t believe it has as much to do with my changing taste in reading as I grow older (and become a more experienced reader all the time) as it does with the judges’ different taste from mine in choosing the lists and winners. That’s a topic for a whole different blog post, however.

Weekly offering of links to Blogs, Articles, Information, Discussion, Inspiration … and a Writing Contest!

On Editing:
From ragan.com: news and ideas for communicators
Why every writer needs an editor

From Writer Unboxed
The Value of Editors

On Reading, and Finding Readers:
From The Guardian
Readers are out there – but the model for getting their attention is broken

From The Guardian
Fiction prescription: why libraries make you happy

On Writing:
From GalleyCat
How To Write a Scene: A Step-By-Step Infographic (I love infographics!)

From Noveliscious.com
Write Your Novel – Torture Your Characters

From terribleminds
The Art of Asking: For Writers and Storytellers

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog
5 Ways “Difficult” Women Can Energize Your Writing and Make Your Fiction Memorable by Ruth Harris

From The Writing Corp
So, You Claim To Be A Writer?

From Northwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop
2013 Contest Rules

On Publishing:
From terribleminds
Writers and Misinformation, Or: “How Did You Publish?”

From Rachelle Gardner
Sometimes You Fail. And it Sucks.

On Promoting and Marketing:
From Forbes
19 Things Successful People Do On Social Media

On Unnecessary Promotion and Publicity:
From Carin Makuz
dear media people

GREAT Blog Posts
From Eugene Stickland, a very inspirational blog post …
Caylan Boyse – Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World

From Seth Godin
“I’m making money, why do more?”

And, Just For Fun!
From Proposition Zen
Daily Zen – March 4, 2013

Blogs, noteworthy articles, inspiring words for writers, and some stuff just for fun!

From Anne Lamott


From The New Yorker
Phantom Bookstores

From The Los Angeles Times
As Barnes & Noble shrinks, small bookstores are born

From C. Hope Clark
How We Treat Writers

From Rachelle Gardner
Who should read your unpublished work?
and Are Self-Pub Books the New Slush Pile?

From Seth Godin
Humanize It

From The Toronto Star
Academy of the Impossible an experiment in education

A request for topics and compelling material from terribleminds
The Annual Refuelling of The Blog Tanks

Great writing from Carin Makuz
maybe the kids’ll be alright after all

From Eugene Stickland, a hilarious take on
My Day in Comic Book Fashion

A new poem from Rachel Small (my editor!) on her blog, Freelancing to Freedom
Absent Muse

Another short story, Kick, from Betty Jane Hegerat
From Beneath the Snoozing Tree

And a new video from Simon’s Cat
Feed Me

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

I’m reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (2010, W.W. Norton & Company) and not only finding it fascinating, but oh-so true, unfortunately. For some time now I’ve noticed that I read print books differently than I once did, and it’s almost as though I’m suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder at times. I had previously put this down to multi-tasking and the way we live now in this modern world, being constantly bombarded by information and the urgent need to be “connected” far more than is necessary. It turns out, according to Carr, that with the advent of each new technology throughout history our brains have become rewired so that we compensate for the new way of taking in all this information. And this same rewiring of human brains has happened a number of times over centuries – including with the introduction of print books and silent reading that resulted.

Not only do we all read differently now, though, but the digital text also affects the way we write…

… the Web’s tendency to turn all media into social media will have a far-reaching effect on styles of reading and writing and hence on language itself. When the form of the book shifted to accommodate silent reading, one of the most important results was the development of private writing. Authors, able to assume an attentive reader, deeply engaged both intellectually and emotionally, “would come at last, and would thank them,” quickly jumped beyond the limits of social speech and began to explore a wealth of distinctly literary forms, many of which could exist only on the page. The new freedom of the private writer led, as we’ve seen, to a burst of experimentation that expanded vocabulary, extended the boundaries of syntax, and in general increased the flexibility and expressiveness of language. Now that the context of reading is again shifting, from the private page to the communal screen, authors will adapt once more. They will increasingly tailor their work to a milieu that the essayist Caleb Crain describes as “groupiness,” where people read mainly “for the sake of a feeling of belonging” rather than for personal enlightenment or amusement. As social concerns override literary ones, writers seem fated to eschew virtuosity and experimentation in favor of a bland but immediately accessible style. Writing will become a means for recording chatter. Page 107

And the idea of “text” and permanence of text in print books has also changed from what we knew, and will inevitably have an effect on the way we write:

The provisional nature of digital text also promises to influence writing styles. A printed book is a finished object. Once inked onto the page, its words become indelible. The finality of the act of publishing has long instilled in the best and most conscientious writers and editors a desire, even an anxiety, to perfect the words they produce – to write with an eye and an ear toward eternity. Electronic text is impermanent. In the digital marketplace, publication becomes an ongoing process rather than a discrete event, and revision can go on indefinitely. Even after an eBook is downloaded into a networked device, it can be easily and automatically updated – just as software programs routinely are today. It seems likely that removing the sense of closure from book writing will, in time, alter writers’ attitudes toward their work. The pressure to achieve perfection will diminish, along with the artistic rigor that the pressure imposed. Page 107

By the way, and for the record – I’m reading the print version of this book that I borrowed from the library. Definitely a must-read for anyone looking for an explanation as to what is currently going on in our brains when it comes to reading and writing and why our brains may have been collectively rewired, and permanently.

And I transcribed the above quotes rather than copying/pasting…

Thanks to Eugene Stickland for recommending this book!