Book Cover: Out of Line: Daring to be an artist outside the big city, Tanis MacDonald

Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City

Tanis MacDonald
  • $20.00

June 2018 
195 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-59-2

“This is for you.” 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. 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 brush stroke, every high note, every leap into the air.... Every word.”

Advance Praise

“MacDonald has written a book for the daring, the uninitiated, the outsider in the Canadian literary arts world. She examines the experience 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 pedagogy. 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.” – Robert Budde, author of Dreamland Theatre and The Dying Poem

“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.” – Arleen Paré, author of The Girls with Stone Faces and Lake of Two Mountains


Review (Susan Douglas, University of Toronto Quarterly, 02/03/2021)
"An innovative contribution to the literary tradition in that it is both a memoir that seeks to demystify the art world and, at the same time, a guidebook to daily life as an artist . . . This volume importantly invites readers to reflect on how the social, cultural, and institutional spaces we inhabit – from the educational to the familial – constitute not only who we are but also what we can offer our audiences . . . Out of Line is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Canadian cultural industry."


Tanis MacDonald on How We Can Expand Our Idea of the Writing Life to Include Smaller Communities (Open Book, 01/08/2018)
"A book title should do two things, initially in sequence and eventually simultaneously. It should draw in the reader with curiosity and then it should recur with an altered meaning that’s revealed after the reader’s finished the book. The title should foster a palimpsest of meanings: first you see one layer, then the other, then all of them. A good title should keep on giving."


Read Local with the Kitchener-Waterloo Lit List! (Open Book, 18/03/2019)
Tanis' book is picked as one of Open Book's Read Local titles for Kitchener-Waterloo!

An Artistic Practice (Shawna Lemay, Transactions with Beauty, 03/09/2018)
"'How do you establish and sustain an artistic practice when the circumstances of your life seem to oppose it? Or, put more plainly, how do you make art when you come from an artless place?' This is the opening to Tanis MacDonald’s book, Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City. I wish I had this book when I'd started out in my so-called writing career. But it's also worthwhile for those further along, to know that they have company, from wherever it is they have left, whatever sized city, to find themselves part of the literary community."

Tanis MacDonald: Surviving as an "out-of-line" artist in a smaller community (Tanis MacDonald, Quill & Quire, September 2018)
"Makers  in out-of-line communities need to make our practice evident and public; we need to defy relocation as a requirement for making art."

Tanis MacDonald on Alice Munro (Tanis MacDonald, many gendered mothers, 30/04/2018)
"Claiming Alice Munro as an early influence is a bit like claiming God as your co-pilot. Believe me, I know all about praising of Munro’s skill so unequivocally that there’s no room to do anything but agree or pronounce yourself a hater."

Tanis MacDonald: One poem (Lec, Lemonhound 3.0, 15/03/2018)
Tanis shares her poem "Sybill Elegies."


Read an excerpt from Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City

About the Author

Originally from Winnipeg, Tanis MacDonald now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, where she teaches Canadian literature and creative writing at Wilfrid Laurier University. She won the Bliss Carman Poetry Prize in 2003, was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in 2013 for her book The Daughter's Way and was the recipient of the Robert Kroetsch Teaching Award in 2017. She is co-editor (with Rosanna Deerchild and Ariel Gordon) of GUSH: menstrual manifestos for our times for Frontenac House. Widely published as a scholar and a reviewer, her fourth poetry book, Mobile, is coming out with BookThug in Fall 2019.

Other Books By This Author

Straggle: Adventures in Walking While Female (2022)

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