Canadian Writers Abroad – reviews Midwife of Torment


The Midwife of Torment & Other Stories, Guernica Editions: 2017, 202 pages.

Reviewed by Irene Marques

Calling Us into Seeing and Being More: “Me” and the World

The Midwife of Torment & Other Stories by paulo da costa is a book of short stories, or sudden fictions [under 1,000 words], divided into six parts: “Affections,” “Slowness,” “Aqua Libera,” “Beneath Our Beds,” “Force” and “Fathers.” In this collection, we find provoking thoughts unveiled slowly in an incantatory, lyrical language, revealing our deepest yearnings, frustrations, losses, insufficiencies, and happiness(es), too. His work makes us see, feel and be more: to have profound insights into our lives and the world; to understand what makes us live the way we do and realize that perhaps we ought to be living another way to fulfill our humanity.


see entire review in

Canadian Writers Abroad

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Short-story in Compostela (Tesseracts Twenty) – Anthology

Tesseracts Twenty: Compostela

Compostela (Tesseracts Twenty) is an anthology of hard and soft science fiction stories that best represent a futuristic view of the sciences and how humanity might be affected (for better or worse) by a reliance in all things technological. For more than 1,000 years, Santiago de Compostela (Compostela means “field of stars”) has attracted pilgrims to walk to the cathedral that holds St. James the apostle’s relics. The stories in this anthology in their own way tell the tale of futuristic travelers who journey into the dark outer (or inner) reaches of space, searching for their own connections to the past, present and future relics of their time.

Compostela (Tesseracts Twenty) is now available online and from your favorite booksellers.


Introducing the Authors: Included in the 2017 edition of this long standing Canadian Speculative Fiction anthology are: paulo da costa Alan (Heyuan) Bao Alexandra Camille Renwick Catherine Girczyc Chantal Boudreau Catherine McBride David Clink Derryl Murphy Eric Choi Garnet Johnson-Koehn Guy Immega Matthew Hughes John Bell Jacob Fletcher Linda DeMeulemeester Lisa Ann McLean Leslie Brown Miki Dare Mary-Jean Harris Michaela Hiebert Nancy S.M. Waldman paulo da costa Rati Mehrotra Robert Dawson Rhea Rose R. Gregory Robert J. Sawyer Steve Fahnestalk Susan Pieters Tanya Bryan Jeff R. Campbell Michael Johnstone


Spider Robinson

Since he began writing professionally in 1972, Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print, in 10 languages. His short work has appeared in magazines around the planet, from Omni and Analog to Xhurnal Izobretatel i Rationalizator (Moscow), and in numerous anthologies. The Usenet newsgroup alt.callahans and its many internet offshoots, inspired by his Callahan’s Place series, for many years constituted one of the largest non-porn networks in cyberspace.

In 2006 he became the only writer ever to collaborate on a novel with First GrandMaster of Science Fiction Robert A. Heinlein, posthumously completing VARIABLE STAR. That same year the Library of Congress invited him to Washington D.C. to be a guest of the First Lady at the White House for the National Book Festival. In 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature.

Spider was born in New York City in 1948, and holds a Bachelors degree in English from the State University of New York. He was regular book reviewer for Galaxy, Analog and New Destinies magazines for nearly a decade, and contributes occasional book reviews to The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, for which he wrote a regular Op-Ed column from 1996-2004. As an audiobook reader of his own and others’ work, he has won the Earphones Award and been a finalist for the Audie, and his podcast Spider On The Web has appeared online weekly since September 2007. In 2001 he released Belaboring the Obvious, a CD featuring original music accompanied by guitar legend Amos Garrett. He has written songs in collaboration with David Crosby and with Todd Butler.

Spider was married for over 30 years to Jeanne Robinson, a Boston-born writer, choreographer, former dancer and teacher. She was founder/artistic director of Halifax’s Nova Dance Theatre during its 8-year history. The Robinsons collaborated on the Hugo- Nebula- and Locus-winning Stardance Trilogy, concerning zero-gravity dance. Jeanne contributed to writing, producing and choreographing a film, STARDANCE, with producer/co-director James Sposto. Spider and Jeanne met in the woods of Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, and lived for the last two decades in British Columbia.

James Alan Gardner

Raised in Simcoe and Bradford, Ontario, James Alan Gardner earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo.

A graduate of the Clarion West Fiction Writers Workshop, Gardner has published science fiction short stories in a range of periodicals, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Amazing Stories. In 1989, his short story “The Children of Crèche” was awarded the Grand Prize in the Writers of the Future contest. Two years later his story “Muffin Explains Teleology to the World at Large” won an Aurora Award; another story, “Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream,” won an Aurora and was nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards.

He has written a number of novels in a “League of Peoples” universe in which murderers are defined as “dangerous non-sentients” and are killed if they try to leave their solar system by aliens who are so advanced that they think of humans like humans think of bacteria. This precludes the possibility of interstellar wars.

He has also explored themes of gender in his novels, including Commitment Hour in which people change sex every year, and Vigilant in which group marriages are traditional. Gardner is also an educator and technical writer. His book Learning UNIX is used as a textbook in some Canadian universities.

A Grand Prize winner of the Writers of the Future contest, he lives with his family in Waterloo, Ontario.



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Focus On Victoria – Magazine – w/ author paulo da costa

An out-of-the-box thinker, writer, editor and translator believes in daring to be different for the social good.
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On Writing – Open Book interview with paulo da costa

Interview on Open Book:

The idiom “small is beautiful” is often true in fiction – from short stories to microfiction, sometimes the briefest glimpses into an imagined world are the most arresting. The Midwife of Torment & Other Stories (Guernica Editions) by paulo da costa is a perfect proving ground for the potential of the short and sweet – or in da costa’s case, short and beautifully bizarre, experimental, and creative.

Referred to as “sudden fiction”, these sub-1000 word stories have a fable-like feeling, pushing the boundaries between traditional and speculative fiction. The pieces are complemented by a series of original black and white drawings by Portuguese artist, João Ventura.

We’re pleased to welcome paulo to Open Book today to talk about sudden fiction and The Midwife of Torment. He tells us about curating a collection of stories culled from over two decades of writing, how Ventura’s pieces fit into the collection, and the importance of finding natural spots to write in.

Open Book:

How did you organize the stories in The Midwife of Torment & Other Stories? How they interact with each other in your view?

full interview on Open Book

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All Lit Up – Flash Interview


This Short Story Month, we’re interviewing short story writers every Wednesday, here on the All Lit Up blog.

paulo da costa’s latest short story collection  The Midwife of Torment & Other Stories (Guernica Editions) is exclusively made up of “sudden fiction” – that is, stories under 1,000 words apiece. With stories like “Roses, Lilacs, and Chrysanthemums” (excerpted below) that manage to be succinct yet utterly evocative of their settings and characters, paulo likens Midwife to a “literary tapas” and shares some of his own influences, below.

Read Interview


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All My Relations: Reflections on Home

On December 4, 2016 in Victoria, paulo da costa, Nowick Gray and Heidi Erhardt presented an evening of poetic essays, music and photographic reflections on home, our connection to place and to community in the natural world. Each steeped in communion with natural places (rural Portugal, Maui, BC interior rainforest), we shared stories of listening and tending to the earth, wildlife, and honoring elders in a living culture. Fabrizio Alberico offered music with his handcrafted guitar and banjo.

Nowick Gray:

Heidi Erhardt,

paulo da costa

Fabrizio Alberico:

Medicine Moves Studio:

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Interview & Story in On Spec Magazine



Interview and a new short-story by paulo da costa in issue n.103 of on spec – the canadian magazine of speculative fiction.issue_103_toc

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New essay in Queen’s Quarterly

current issue

The Oak Tree

Fearless in your short, four-year-old legs, your footsteps clap against asphalt and your knees nearly buckle racing down the forty-degree lane. I too ran down this steep hill, freed from the school day and sterile walls, and later, I too climbed even higher, farther up the now vanished woods to the high school on the crest of the hill. That was the first high school to be built higher than any church in the hills, signalling a change in the town and in the future of our lives.

I brought you from urban Canada to the village of my childhood to experience a taste of something that is dying. Of course I have not told you this. It would sound dreadful and ominous…


PAULO DA COSTA was born in Angola and raised in Portugal. He is a writer, editor, and translator living on the West Coast of Canada. His poetry and fiction have been published in literary magazines around the world and have been translated to Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian, and Portuguese. His book of sudden fictions, The Midwife of Torment & Other Stories, is forthcoming in 2017 from Guernica Editions.

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Entrevista na revista gerador #9

Entrevista conduzida pelo Terry e publicada na revista de cultura e ideias mais dinâmica e refrescante sediada em terras lusas. Gerador #9

Revista GERADOR #09 80 Revista GERADOR #09 81

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On Falling from Grace – author and reader

This post includes my clarifications (in the guise of a response) to a few points/interpretations raised by Emanuel Melo regarding a few essays in Beyond Bullfights and Ice Hockey.  I deemed the response  necessary and relevant in light of his interpretations of my Canada Reads essay, and in particular, amid the present high-profile event of the Jian Ghomeshi trial. The original intent of the essays under discussion, and his interpretation on some details, were so unexpected and so far from my original intent that I needed to present my interpretation. This response was originally sent to Emanuel by email. He found the points valuable and suggested I included the response in a sequential exchange in order to expand the reader’s understanding of the essays. As you’ll see, the response is in portuguese. In time I expect to post the full english translation for a wider readership.


No que diz respeito ao teu texto sobre o meu livro de ensaios, agradeço a minuta atenção que dedicaste ao livro. Admiro a intimidade das tuas palavras como leitor apaixonado, assim como a franqueza emocional ao revelar esse leque de reações ao livro. Fiquei particularmente sensibilizado pela tua honestidade ao revelares esse desalento, deceção, my falling from your grace, ao ler os ensaios em que a discordância com o texto criou separação e um desligar afetivo entre o leitor e o escritor. Esses são momentos e palavras de tanta importância como os momentos em que nos encontrávamos em sintonia. Como aludi nos ensaios “Story” e “Mass Storytelling”, eu não desejo ser idolatrizado, concordado em pleno. Na verdade abraço as divergências pois permite expandir a janela da existência, da perceção, e esse reflexo e reflexão oferece mais complexidade sobre as questões debruçadas, e mesmo muito mais complexidade, quer na relação entre o leitor e escritor, entre amigos, entre família, entre amantes. Essa textura da diferença ainda que minuciosa, sendo respeitada, pesquisada, elaborada e conversada, oferece mais do que um percurso linear na busca de contínua elucidação. Um trajeto direto, plano e sem sobressaltos ou surpresas, um trajeto em que já se antecipava a consonância total, pode adormecer a mente. Penso que esse momento de dissonância que gera o sobressalto é uma das chaves de sucesso para qualquer relação humana. O momento de realização da diferença e o apreciar dessas diferenças, especialmente quando são periféricas e complementares. É nesse momento que as relações humanas em todos os seus âmbitos e modalidades muitas vezes falham, quando essa utopia da comunhão total se desmorona e a nova realidade não consegue ser integrada. Quando são divergências fundamentais aí o desafio é enormíssimo, claro.

Outro ponto que gostaria de salientar no teu comentário é a tua leitura que só menciona um aspeto do texto sobre o Canada Reads, que foi escrito pré-Ghomeshi escândalo. No ensaio já questionava o Jian (o qual continuo a considerar como um entrevistador de muita sensibilidade e dos melhor preparados e corajosos que já vira a abordar questões delicadas com tato, pelo menos nas entrevistas que o ouvi no programa Q da CBC), isto vis a vis o paradoxo que questiono nesse texto … de como poderia ele com essa sensibilidade demonstrada como entrevistador, por outro lado ser cúmplice de um programa com raízes tão agressivas e competitivas. Dirigia ele a locomotiva do Canada Reads ou era somente passageiro de olhos fechados e em cumplicidade inconsciente e silenciosa, colhendo os louros da fama e dos cifrões? O futuro demonstrou que essa agressividade ou violência não lhe eram estranhas e ele como muitas das pessoas vivem com paradoxos em que facetas públicas e pessoais se compartimentalizam ou emergem em áreas estanques. Podemos ser sensíveis e sensatos numas áreas e toscos e brutos noutras … ou atores, dependendo da existência de uma audiência ou não. Daí que na minha opinião esse texto já questionava algo incoerente sobre o homem e apontava para essa violência latente e que ninguém publicamente se atrevia a mencionar. Pelo menos ninguém do meu conhecimento ou das minha leituras.

Um último ponto é uma clarificação sobre o ensaio da profissionalização ou critérios de qualidade da escrita nesta nossa era em que todos molham o seu pé nela. Não era meu objetivo melindrar todos os que escrevem, mas sim defender graus de exigência e qualidade na escrita para dignificar a profissão ao encontro do que existe noutras atividades ou profissões. Todavia nas artes de expressão criativa clássicas, desde a pintura à escrita, da música à escultura, etc.. parece ter-se banalizado e amalgamado tudo e todos, o que não dignifica a profissão nem o trabalho, e muito menos a arte. Daí que se veja um aumento vertiginoso de lixo, de menos arte, nas palavras que nos rodeiam, e em contextos ou locais literários em que se esperava mais asseio, polição e critério. O lixo sempre existiu em todas as facetas da nossa existência, a sua proliferação é que parece agora incontrolável. Da mesma forma que se vê a inundação de produtos de fabricação e de fraca qualidade vindos da China, consequentemente de pouca duração, e que criaram uma desconfiança perpétua a tudo o que é produzido na China. Feito na China passou a ser sinónimo de fraca qualidade. Não desejo que tal aconteça às palavras, ao mundo da escrita, simplesmente porque nos abstemos de lutar por critérios de qualidade e distinção nos templos mais elevados da sua prática. Como mencionaste, esse ensaio é certamente um texto mais cerebral, cortante, analítico e académico.

De qualquer forma, e aparte esses esclarecimentos de menor grau que agora escrevi, queria agradecer-te profundamente teres partilhado essas impressões comigo. Sou um escritor sortudo ao beneficiar dessa tua generosidade e coragem incomensuráveis. Como mencionei num dos ensaios do livro, nos dias de hoje é quase inexistente a recensão que apresenta um debruçar tão profundo sobre um livro. Mas tu foste bem mais além. Não é só a extensão do texto, mas a sua qualidade emocional e íntima que se vê revelada perante a leitura do livro. Em geral o crítico literário está muito preocupado em soar inteligente, competente, culto e erudito e não revela o seu coração e alma de forma tão despida. No entanto essa tua intimidade, de compromisso para com o texto lido e pelo texto gerado pela leitura, é fresca devido à tua honestidade. Feito raro. No dia que encontrarmos mais comentários críticos em que se aliará a acutilância da mente com as verdades íntimas do coração ao percorrer um texto teremos uma arte da crítica literária vibrante. É essa aliança que tem faltado ao mundo das recensão.

Emanuel, provavelmente terás iniciado uma nova era e padrão de interação crítica com os livros num fórum público. Espero que seja seguida. Gostaria imenso de partilhar esse texto com outros leitores (…)

Abraço grande,
Janeiro de 2016


translation in progress

(…) I would like to address your comment on the Canada Reads essay highlighting a minor point in the text (which was written pre-Ghomeshi scandal), but which might distort the understanding of that essay for those who have not read the book. In the essay I already questioned Jian’s role (which I still regard as an interviewer of great sensitivity, subject prepared and courageous. One of the best I had seen addressing sensitive matters with tact, at least in the interviews I heard on the CBC Q program), this vis à vis the paradox that I questioned in that text … how could he show such sensitivity toward an interviewee and on the other hand be complicit in a program with roots as aggressive and competitive as Canada Reads. Did he drive the locomotive of Canada Reads or was he a mere passenger with closed eyes, unconscious and silently complicit, reaping the rewards of fame and dollars? The future showed us that aggression or violence were not strange to him. He, like many, lives with paradoxes where public and personal facets are compartmentalized or only emerge in sealed off areas. We can be sensitive and sensible in some areas and rough and brute in others… or even actors, depending on the existence of an audience or not. Therefore, in my view, this essay already questioned something incoherent about the man and pointed to this latent violence who no one publicly had dared to mention. At least not to my knowledge or in my readings.

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