Kara-lee MacDonald is an enthusiastic Northern British Columbian. Prince George born and mostly raised, with short stints spent in some of our neighbouring regions. She is a UNBC alumna twice over, having most recently defended her Masters thesis. She is an avid writer, a newly published author, a fervent feminist, and a survivor. She is also an absolute joy to meet and share tea and conversation with, and her book is inspiring, enlightening, sassy, and beautifully written.
When I met her, Kara-lee was on a quest for a new journal in a cozy corner of Books & Company. As she evaluated page counts, paper quality, binding and cover art, she advised that this would be the newest in a series of dozens of journals stretching back quite a long time.
Only a handful of years ago, Kara-lee decided to expand her journalistic horizons and try her hand at poetry as a form of self-exploration. When she had amassed a respectable amount of work, Kara-lee shared her poetry with her friend – esteemed author and UNBC professor – Rob Budde. Rob, a seasoned poet himself, was thoroughly impressed with Kara-lee’s poetic beginning and, confident she could produce more, challenged her to complete the thirty-page manuscript he assigned to his upper level creative writing students at UNBC. Not one to back down, Kara-lee picked up her pen and returned to Rob with the rough draft of the chapbook that would be the first incarnation of her new book.
That chapbook was then workshopped by Rob and other members of Kara-lee’s creative community. After a few reads, edits, and re-reads, it was shared with a larger poetic community, including Caitlin Press owner and publisher Vici Johnstone. Vici, who has published several works by Rob Budde (among several other exceptionally talented Prince George authors), offered Kara-lee a book contract with Caitlin Press (which was actually a Prince George publishing company at one point in its illustrious life) – provided she could further expand her anthology another thirty-five pages, bringing it to a publishable sixty-five.
Join Kara-lee on Wednesday (November 23rd) from 7-10pm at Artspace (above Books & Company on 3rd Ave) for her book launch and reading. For more information about the event, please see: Eating Matters – Kara-lee MacDonald Book Launch at Artspace
This book, Eating Matters, is a sixty-five page soul search. It is a look into a shadowed mirror, giving us a view of something our society doesn’t always accept and would usually prefer stays silent: eating disorders. It is an autobiography set to poetry, chronicling the story of Kara-lee’s life as a bulimic. More than that, it is a doorway. Whether she meant to or not, Kara-lee opened an important dialogue with Eating Matters. At the very least, this book lets other people struggling with eating disorders know that they’re not alone. It gives them a non-judgemental, knowing hand to hold in the dark. It also gives people a platform upon which they may also speak. Eating Matters addresses the very real pressures society and the media place upon us – men and women alike – and our asinine goals of perfection, as dictated by heavily edited magazine covers.
Kara-lee told me that the “whole experience of writing was empowering.” Blessedly, the publishing process did not take away from this sense of empowerment. Kara-lee was given creative control of her project from day one, from being offered the services of an editor (not harnessed to them) to having the freedom to design her cover art. The boon, I think, of contracting with a small, passionate publishing house, keen to give a voice to BC and its residents.
What’s next for this Northern BC literary powerhouse? Editing a magazine, of course. Kara-lee and Rob Budde will be working together to bring us Thimbleberry, a literary (print) magazine for and of Northern British Columbian writers and artists, established and up-and-coming. Thimbleberry is currently seeking submissions for its first and second volumes, featuring reviews, poetry, fiction (either short or flash, or excerpts from longer pieces), and visual art. Contributors need to either be from or currently living in Northern BC, or have strong ties to the region. For more information about this project, please visit: www.facebook.com/thimbleberrymagazine
Join Kara-lee on Wednesday (November 23rd) from 7-10pm at Artspace (above Books & Company on 3rd Ave) for her book launch and reading. For more information about the event, please see: Eating Matters – Kara-lee MacDonald Book Launch at Artspace (Eating Matters is currently available at Books & Co., and copies will be available for purchase at the book launch.)