As ACPA Editors, we wish to give you accurate, relevant, and strongly written information on Atlantic Canadian poets and their works. Whether we were poetry enthusiasts or not before working for the ACPA, the archive has stirred a passion in us for the work in our backyard.
Below you will be introduced to the current Managing Editor of the ACPA and learn what they have to offer towards the diversity of the archive. Please take a minute to read their story. We hope you appreciate them as much as we do.
Managing editor Evan Mersereau speaking at Mount Saint Vincent University -- thanks to Sara Nason for capturing this photo.
1. What year were you Managing Editor of the ACPA?
May 2018-March 2019.
2. What did you study (are currently studying) at STU? Where did that take you (will take you)?
I'm going in my final year at STU, majoring in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing and minoring in Communications and Public Policy.
I might still be working on my degree, but it's already taken me places. I'm a freelance writer who specializes in video games. I've been a teaching assistant and a writing tutor before editing with the ACPA. And that's just my job history, never mind all the other cool stuff I've done. My novel excerpt "I Shall Be Elsewhere" won STU's David Adams Richards Prize for Prose 2018; I wrote a paper on the video game adaptation of Henry David Thoreau's Walden (yes, that's a thing, don't knock it until you've tried it), which I read at the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference in March 2018, and trimmed into my first op-ed; I hunkered-down and wrote a novel during National Novel Writing Month 2016 (that's November, by the way, A.K.A. Fall Semester Crunch Month); I was asked to read poetry at Bliss Carmen Middle School a couple years back with some great peer-writers. I owe a lot of that success to the awesome people I've met who've challenged and workshopped all my roughest edges.
Some people have a life goal, or a plan for what they would like to study and where they want to work. I don't think I can impress enough that none of this success was planned. If you had told me five years ago about all the things I just listed, I wouldn't have believed you; I would have laughed politely and thanked you for your confidence. I thought I'd be stuck in a dish pit for the rest of my life. Right now I'm working on another novel, and maybe I'll try and get that published. Or, maybe I'll try my hand at a Master's in English or Creative Writing. That being said, as much as I love pushing myself to meet bigger challenges, I can't deny the simple appeal of going back to washing dishes. I guess some people take a trip to a distant land when they graduate, or take a year off, or go right into grad school, but I'd kind of like to get back to my working roots in the service industry. Not forever, just for a little while, to give me a sounding board at the least. I think a little perspective couldn't hurt. I don't know, I just hope things work out in the end.
3. What intrigued you about the ACPA?
My last job was as a writing tutor at STU's Writing Centre. I found that I really loved reading academic papers, no matter what the subject. That blended really well with my experience workshopping other students' work in Creative Writing classes. But part of the ACPA's allure for me is the mystery: poetry has always been inaccessible to me. That's not to say that I've never read poetry -- I did just say that I have written and read poetry to other people, which requires at least a little experience -- but academic poetry analysis is almost new territory for me. What this gives me is an opportunity to learn about poetry analysis, and a license to engage with cultural traditions and artistic genius.
4. What did you enjoy most about editing the ACPA?
This is a scenario where I have all the tools I need to survive -- I know how to write, how to critique writing, how to research, etc. -- but I don't have the manual, i.e., the original authors of the poems, nor the analyses. It's just me, a stack of papers, my red pen, and an editorial mandate to make these entries look as good as they possibly can. What I got out of tutoring was giving other students the push they needed for stronger writing and thinking, which in a lot of cases was about drawing out what those students were already capable of. But this is a position where I can help those who are already strong writers celebrate their abilities.
The other most enjoyable thing is that I'm pulling from both my major and my minor for relevant skills. While the English field often demands lengthy papers, the entries we receive for the ACPA have a 1000-word maximum. This means that entries need to be in-depth and concise, and concision is what the Communications field is all about. These papers need to be tight, and I love that added layer of difficulty. They've got to be good, and they've got to be short. This is the kind of challenge that I love to overcome.
5. Why should people be interested in what the ACPA has to offer?
Fredericton, New Brunswick is my home, and if I can help it I will never leave this place. I recently had a talk with someone around my age about differing motivations for leaving Atlantic Canada. This is a bit reductive of the conversation, but basically, this person and their friends all felt like New Brunswick was something to leave, whereas some of my friends and I grew up trying to cling to it as much as possible. At the core of both views there is an agreement that something is lacking, that in our own ways we are unfulfilled with our lots here. I think that the ACPA is in a unique position to convey this dichotomy by providing a platform for not only the poems of Atlantic Canada, but the inter-generational conversation between the poets of different eras, and the students who analyze this poetry.
I think that, like my dad's work with East Coast music, the work done here will demonstrate the unique perspectives about art and living in this place. There is not only a difference in scale between Atlantic Canada and other Canadian regions, but a difference in kind: there's a feeling with odd persistence throughout the region, but there are also shifts in tone from town to town and province to province. I will admit that I see the Atlantic Canadian label to be a very convenient box that doesn't really exist, but I think it's fascinating to watch a lot of people tackle the same subject material from different angles. This might be me projecting a little bit, but it seems like a lot of content on here is trying to reconcile a place in several layers of culture and world. We're all stuck between figuring out if this really is home or just a house with our name on the porch.
Anyway, you'll read something here that will make you think.
The ACPA wouldn't be what it is today without our past managing editors. Take a minute to appreciate their work by reading their stories here.