Thursday, November 05, 2020

the ottawa small press book fair : home edition #23 : Doris Fiszer

Doris Fiszer has won awards for her poetry including the 2017 John Newlove Award and the 2016 Tree Reading Series Chapbook Award for The Binders. The Binders was also shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies in Canada and the United States. Locked in Different Alphabets, is her first full-length poetry collection. Doris is happily retired, lives in Ottawa with her husband Bruce and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.

Q: Tell me about your writing. How long have you been publishing, and what got you started?

Writing poetry has been my focus for as long as I can remember. Since retiring, I have devoted more time to this passion.  I have also occasionally dabbled in writing children’s short stories and may attempt to do so again. One of my first poetry acceptances was with Bywords which at that time was still producing print journals. Over the last twenty years, I have also had work published in other online and printed journals and anthologies in Canada and the United States. Past membership in several poetry groups under the expert guidance of Stephanie Bolster and the late Barbara Myers has expanded my knowledge of the publishing world.  The publication of my first chapbook, The Binders (Tree Press’s 2016 Chapbook Award) and the launch of The Binders at the Tree Reading Series motivated me to keep writing and sending my work out for publication. Winning the 2017 John Newlove Award was another huge boost for my publishing history. The award also offered me the opportunity to publish a chapbook, (Sasanka, Wild Flower, Bywords) and a launch at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. Thanks Amanda Earl! The publication of these two chapbooks encouraged me to complete a full-length poetry manuscript and submit it to different publications. I was fortunate to have Locked in Different Alphabets, published by Silver Bow Publishing in Vancouver in June.

Q: How many times have you exhibited at the ottawa small press fair? How do you find the experience?

I have exhibited at the Ottawa small press fair on three occasions and try to regularly attend the spring and fall fairs. These fairs offer writers the perfect venue to display their work, check out new titles and network with fellow poets. An occasional book sale is a bonus too. Thanks, rob for giving writers this opportunity to exhibit their work!  I will miss the excitement of attending the fair this fall.

Q: Would you have made something specific for this year’s fairs? Are you still doing that? How does the lack of spring or fall fair this year effect how or what you might be producing?

I would have exhibited my new poetry book, Locked in Different Alphabets, as well as my two chapbooks. Launching during a pandemic is not an easy endeavour and has motivated me to find alternative ways of making my writing accessible to readers.

Q: How are you, as a literary writer, approaching the myriad shut-downs? Is everything on hold, or are you pushing against the silences, whether in similar or alternate ways than you might have prior to the pandemic? How are you getting your publications out into the world?

Ruby Tuesdays the poetry group I belong to has been meeting weekly on Zoom since the shut-down in March. Initially, meeting virtually was quite an adjustment for everyone. This group of talented and supportive writers, however, has adapted well to this new format. Weekly writing exercises and the group’s constructive feedback on each other’s poems have helped me adhere to a fairly regular writing practice. The shut-down has proved to be a challenging, yet an unexpectedly productive writing and publishing period for me. The shut-down in March gave me ample uninterrupted time to edit and submit my manuscript which was accepted by Silver Bow Publishing in Vancouver at the end of April. The editing process moved extremely quickly and my book was published in June. I have used social media to promote my book and have mailed out copies to those interested in purchasing a copy. As well, I have approached independent book stores in Ottawa who have agreed to carry my book.

Q: Have you done anything in terms of online or virtual launches since the pandemic began? Have you attended or participated in others?  How are you attempting to connect to the larger literary community?

Virtual launches offer the possibility of participating in a wide variety of literary events and supporting poet friends and colleagues who have released new books, or have been nominated for awards.  I enjoyed Claudia Radmore’s, Frances Boyle’s and Pearl Pirie’s book launches. The Ottawa Book Awards and the Ottawa International Writers Festival were also highlights. The Tree Reading Series and other online readings and events keep me connected to the poetry community. I am also looking forward to VerseFest in November.  Silver Bow’s publisher, Candice James is in the process of organizing a virtual launch for Susan Atkinson, The Marta Poems and me on December 6th. Our manuscripts were accepted for publication within weeks of each other. We are delighted to be able to share our debut full-length collections with the literary community.

Q: What is your most recent book or chapbook? How might folk be able to order copies?

Locked in Different Alphabets is my first full-length poetry collection. It is available from Silver Bow Publishing: and Amazon. Copies can also be purchased directly from me at

Q: What are you working on now?

Publishing my book has given me the freedom to explore a more diverse range of subjects and experiment with different forms of poetry. I am curious to see where these new poems will take me!

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