Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A reading and reflections from Amanda S. Peters

Warm thanks to Talent Trust recipient and writer Amanda S. Peters, for sharing reflections on her art and a very moving excerpt from her work, Ashes!

Amanda is a mixed-race woman of Mi’kmaq and western European ancestry, born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. She has worked for her home community of Glooscap First Nation since 2013. In 2016, while working full time, she completed the Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto with mentors Christy-Ann Conlin and Alissa York. That same year, Amanda was a finalist for the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia Short Fiction Award. In 2017, she won the short fiction award for her story Crows. Also, in 2017 the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia awarded Amanda the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship, where she worked on her first novel with writer and mentor Stephanie Domet.  Amanda was a finalist in 2018 for the Indigenous Voices Award for her short story, “Pejipug.” Her short fiction has been published in The Antigonish Review, Grain Magazine and The Alaska Quarterly Review. Amanda is currently enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indians Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico.

Reading description:
I wrote this (Ashes) as a response to a story a friend told me about her home community on the West Coast. I tried to think about what it must have been like for her people. When I asked her to read it and grant me permission to publish, she cried and I think I knew then that I could tell stories. I also cried. 

What are your earliest memories of your art?
I used to make little books for my grandfather about little furry monsters that went on adventures and my grandmother would bind them with her yarn. 

Who were/are your biggest supporters?
My family and friends have been very supportive. A few fellow writers who have seen something in my writing when I couldn’t, particularly my good friend and mentor, Christy-Ann Conlin.

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Getting to pursue my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico. I’m excited to work with and learn the craft from some brilliant Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers. 

What has been your greatest challenge in relation to your art? Why?
Time. I still have to work to pay the bills when all I want to do is write stories and read stories. Luckily, my work, Glooscap First Nation, is incredibly supportive of me and willing to work with me to pursue my writing. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 year, in relation to your art?
I would like to be writing full time. Even if its small jobs to pay the bills and working on my fiction the rest of the time. I want to write, write, write. I have so many ideas stuck in my head and waiting to be put to paper. 

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of pandemic related to your art?
I had extra time to write when I took a workday reduction to two days a week. I liked it and my work allowed me to permanently stay at two days to work on my MFA. I consider it a privilege to have the time and use it to the fullest.

How have you managed practicing your art during the pandemic?
I have. I completed a rewrite of a manuscript and worked on my MFA creative work.

What quote best describes your commitment to your art? 
“I’m not a native writer … I don’t want to be compared, I don’t want to be ghettoized, I don’t want to be marginalized.… I just want [people] to read my work and go, ‘Wow.’”– Richard Wagamese

What 3 words next describe your commitment to your art? 
Read, Write and Enjoy

What has been your biggest challenge in pursuing your art?
Time. I have worked while writing and sometimes work hours didn’t allow for writing hours but I managed.  

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your art/career?
My Dad. He is a great storyteller, even if he tells the same stories over and over again. He inspired me to write the story I’m currently working on. Also, Christy-Ann Conlin. She started as an instructor when I was doing my Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto and we have since become very good friends. She has been incredibly supportive and I have learned so much from her. 

What aspect of your art/practices 'fills your cup' the most?
Mostly, just when I get it write. Or, when the ending of a story comes to me after years of thinking about it. There is a remarkable satisfaction when I’ve said what I wanted to say and said it as beautifully as I could. 

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