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Peter Clair's Writing Journey

An interview with Peter, hosted by Zev Bagel

In conversation with Zev Bagel, Peter Clair will share some of the stories behind and within his book, Taapoategl & Pallet. Winner of the New Brunswick Book Award, Taapoategl & Pallet describes the journey of a young Mi’kmaq man who seeks to discover the stories of his people, and his own identity. Woven throughout the story of Pallet’s journey, just like the weaving of Peter Clair’s basketry, we live out the experience a young girl as she is abducted by hunters. Zev will invite Peter to read a few excerpts from the book as well as his follow-up novel.

Peter Clair

I am from Elsipogtog, Oapenagi (Maritimes), in the Mi’kmaq community of Siginigtog (Southeastern N.B). My first experience with writing was my mother’s prayer books that were written in Mi’kmaq. I remember many of them had a red cover, size of a novel, and she also had some that were smaller. She used to get them in Listuguj, Quebec.

Another experience was drawing figures in the sand. Each high tide brought a new canvas to draw or write on. It was interesting to see what messages people would leave in the sand. Maybe they played a game and their footprints were a record of frenzy activity. It was challenge to figure out how many people were there and what kind of game they played.

My mother also read the Family Herald. I would often look at the pictures. Trying to decipher the images and occasionally looking at the mass of words that appeared on the page, I would look forward to the next issue.

My next remembrance was looking at newspaper cartoons that were glued to the wall – any early version of insulation - of our potato picker shack in Maine. Before the lamplight went out, I would look at the cartoons on the wall next my bedside.

Then I went to early school where I met Dick and Jane. During this time, I also met many Indian Day School students and teachers.

Later I made baskets for a living. I had several exhibits in Canada.

In the later part of my life I began to write more seriously which resulted in Taapoategl and Pallet: a Mi’kmaq Journey of Lose and Survival. Now, I have completed the next stage of Pallet’s travels.

Zev Bagel

Zev Bagel (the pen-name for Warren Redman) was born in England and moved to Canada in 1994. He has lived in Shediac, New Brunswick since 2009. As Warren Redman he is the author of seventeen books of non-fiction, including a Canadian award-winner, and is President of the Emotional Fitness Institute.

Zev’s short stories and poetry have been published in several journals and anthologies. His first novel - Bernie Waxman & the Whistling Kettle was short-listed for the Atlantic writing awards. His second is Secrets, and his third, Solitary, winner of the David Adams Richards Award in 2021.

Zev Bagel is a past president of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick and a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

© 2021 Writers' Federation of New Brunswick

Territorial Acknowledgement

The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick acknowledges that the land on which we live, work and gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq Peoples, and we honour the spirit of our ancestors’ Treaties of Peace and Friendship.

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