Internationally acclaimed writer Michael Crummey – author of The Wreckage, River Thieves, Flesh and Blood and three collections of poetry – is happy to be back at Memorial University as Writer in Residence for the Winter 2008 term. Mr. Crummey completed his BA in English Literature in 1987 before departing for Kingston, Ontario for postgraduate work.
Being back at Memorial “feels like a full turn of the wheel,” Mr. Crummey offers. “I started writing poetry in my first year of university and had my first public exposure to the world through the Gregory Power Poetry Awards. Coming back now as some kind of an ‘established’ writer is a nice confirmation that I haven’t completely wasted the last 25 years.”
After discontinuing his PhD. in English at Queen’s University, Mr. Crummey published three books of poetry and a collection of short stories and then began work on the novel that would become The River Thieves. Short listed for the Giller Prize in 2001 and published in the U.S., U.K., France and Holland, this epic tale of early Newfoundland settlers and the Beothuk was a national bestseller. The Wreckage, published in 2005, is the story of young Newfoundland soldier Wish Fury and his beloved Sadie Parsons. It was nominated for the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
This will be Mr. Crummey’s first stint as writer in residence and he is looking forward to working with people at various levels of experience in different genres. “I have always enjoyed being a second set of eyes for other writers, trying to point out things that are working well and things that need work,” says Mr. Crummey. Previous writers in residence Lisa Moore and Don McKay have highly recommended the position at Memorial, says Mr. Crummey, both agreeing that the biggest challenge is protecting time for the writer’s own work.
Mr. Crummey is currently nearing the end of the first draft of a new novel which he hopes to complete through the course of his residency at the university. He also intends to make great use of the Folklore Archives and the Centre for Newfoundland Studies while on campus. The best thing about being a writer in Newfoundland, according to Mr. Crummey? “Being mentioned in the same breath as Lisa Moore and Michael Winter, Wayne Johnston, Joel Hynes, Bernice Morgan and Carmelita McGrath and Ken Harvey, Mary Dalton and Agnes Walsh and on and on. There is an amazing wealth of talent coming out of here at the moment and it’s nice to feel like part of the wave.” Crummey says that despite his success, he still occasionally struggles with thinking of himself as a writer – “that’s just part of the job, I think.”
Back in St. John’s now for the past eight years, Mr. Crummey lives in Wedgewood Park with his family of three kids and two dogs. He and his wife Holly spend as much time as possible at their house in Western Bay, which is the outport his father was born and raised in.
The Faculty of Arts and the English Department together are sponsoring Michael Crummey’s four-month stint as Memorial’s writer in residence for the Winter 2008 term. The writer in residence serves as a resource for the entire community, meeting with writers at any stage, working in any genre. This service is provided free of charge, and is available to everyone, not just those with ties to the university.
Jennifer Lokash is on the faculty of the English Department and a former co-chair (with Danine Farquharson) of the writer in residence committee.
She had this to say about Michael Crummey’s appointment: “We're thrilled to have someone of Michael's stature as our current writer in residence - it's a huge asset to Memorial and to the community at large to be able to offer his expertise to aspiring writers. It is also wonderful to know that the Department of English and Memorial University--Michael's alma mater--is helping to facilitate his ongoing creative work, which is so powerfully connected to Newfoundland and Labrador. We're very grateful to the Canada Council and to the Faculty of Arts for making this possible.”
Michael Crummey will also hold drop-in office hours in room A-3038 of the Arts and Administration Building. These will occur on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 1 – 3 p.m., beginning Jan. 15, 2008. Writers who can’t meet with Mr. Crummey during office hours are asked to try to set up an appointment with him via phone or email for another time.