In Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City
, poet and professor Tanis MacDonald draws on her years of experience teaching writing at a small university, where students often asked her how they can “be writers,” to hold a magnifying glass up to artistic communities and demystify artistic practice. In chapters that mix scholarly and literary approaches she exposes the issues of class and access to the arts that beset these communities, while welcoming artists of any age or background into them. With warmth, humour and a willingness to share her own successes and artistic missteps, MacDonald has written a book in which she explains that we all deserve “every brushstroke, every high note, every leap into the air…. Every word.”
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"MacDonald has written a book for the daring, the uninitiated, the outsider in the Canadian literary arts world. She examines the experience of being various forms of other—rural small town (from the "boonies"), a woman in a male-dominated writing workshop, a working-class student among the silver-spoon crowd—but the dual lungs of this book are its expression of grassroots arts community building and MacDonald's brilliant and heartwarming classroom pedegogy. Drawing on her varied experience, MacDonald creates a portrait of the education of the artist, a non-fiction Künstlerroman, or artist's novel, for twenty-first century Canada."
"MacDonald creates a portrait of the education of the artist."
- Dr. Budde teaches Creative Writing at the UNBC and is the author of Dreamland Theatre
"It’s no exaggeration to say that Dr. MacDonald’s Creative Writing (Poetry) course changed my life. Her well-crafted assignments, along with her encouragement, pushed my writing beyond what I believed I could do; in her class, for the first time, I wrote poems that I actually thought were “good.” My arsenal of writing techniques, revision skills, and confidence grew to the point where I was comfortable declaring myself a writer. I began to share my work with others and submit to literary journals, which has since led to publication."
"I now feel like I belong to a literary community — a community that began in Dr. MacDonald’s class."
- Katie McGarry, winner of the Room Magazine Short Forms Contest, 2018
"In Out of Line, Tanis MacDonald has written a masterpiece of exhortation. With generosity, practical and political sensibility, using her own outsider story in smooth conversational prose, she addresses the social and emotional tangles of the unprivileged beginner artist, the writer or painter or dancer who has grown up outside art’s inner circles. Read this book if you want to become an artist. Read this book if you are already an artist. Read this book if you wonder why anyone wants to become an artist. This book has something to teach us all. This is a book for everyone."
"Read this book if you are already an artist. Read this book if you wonder why anyone wants to become an artist."
Tanis MacDonald’s memoir via instruction, Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City, is now available for pre-order from Wolsak and Wynn. Tanis is also a co-editor (with Ariel Gordon and Rosanna Deerchild) of the multi-genre anthology GUSH: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House), and her book The Daughter’s Way (WLUP, 2012) was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Tessera, Prairie Fire, Studies in Canadian Literature, Hamilton Arts and Letters, The New Quarterly, and in Far and Wide: Essays from Across Canada (Pearson), and in the forthcoming anthology Far Villages (Black Lawrence Press). She is the author of three books of poetry, with a fourth, Mobile, due out with Book*hug in 2019.
"Learning to make art – or learning to trust that you are making art – when you come from an artless place is not easy. In the hits and misses, we find the shape of our practice."
- Out Of Line