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. In chapters that mix scholarly and literary approaches she exposes the issues of class and access to the arts that beset these communities, while welcoming artists of any age or background into them. 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 brushstroke, every high note, every leap into the air…. Every word.”

Get yours at wolsak and wynn!

Praise for Out of Line

Rob Budde
"MacDonald has written a book for the daring, the uninitiated, the outsider in the Canadian literary arts world. She examines the experience of 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 pedegogy. 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."
"MacDonald creates a portrait of the education of the artist."
- Dr. Budde teaches Creative Writing at the UNBC and is the author of Dreamland Theatre (Caitlin Press)

Katie McGarry
"It’s no exaggeration to say that Dr. MacDonald’s Creative Writing (Poetry) course changed my life. Her well-crafted assignments, along with her encouragement, pushed my writing beyond what I believed I could do; in her class, for the first time, I wrote poems that I actually thought were “good.” My arsenal of writing techniques, revision skills, and confidence grew to the point where I was comfortable declaring myself a writer. I began to share my work with others and submit to literary journals, which has since led to publication."
"I now feel like I belong to a literary community — a community that began in Dr. MacDonald’s class."
- Katie McGarry, winner of the Room Magazine Short Forms Contest, 2018

Arleen Paré
"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."
"Read this book if you are already an artist. Read this book if you wonder why anyone wants to become an artist."
- Arleen Paré is author of Lake of Two Mountains, GGA winner 2015

Brenda Schmidt
"I had high expectations going into the reading of this book. Unfairly high. And not because a few of my words appear in its pages. I wanted this book to be everything the cover claims and more.
I wanted this book to be the book I needed to read when I started out. Turns out this is also the book I needed to read now. It's beyond phenomenal."
"the book I needed to read when I started out"
- Brenda Schmidt, Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan 2017 - 2018

Tanis MacDonald

Tanis MacDonald’s memoir via instruction, Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City, is now available for pre-order from Wolsak and Wynn. Tanis is also a co-editor (with Ariel Gordon and Rosanna Deerchild) of the multi-genre anthology GUSH: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House), and her book The Daughter’s Way (WLUP, 2012) was a finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Tessera, Prairie Fire, Studies in Canadian Literature, Hamilton Arts and Letters, The New Quarterly, and in Far and Wide: Essays from Across Canada (Pearson), and in the forthcoming anthology Far Villages (Black Lawrence Press). She is the author of three books of poetry, with a fourth, Mobile, due out with Book*hug in 2019.
"Learning to make art – or learning to trust that you are making art – when you come from an artless place is not easy. In the hits and misses, we find the shape of our practice."
- Out Of Line


The Daughter’s Way

Cover of Tanis MacDonald's The Daughters Way.
“Original, absorbing, and long-overdue critical examination of the way Canadian female poets have written against the grain of the male elegiac tradition. MacDonald’s scholarly conversation with these works is an important step in understanding the contrary energies of feminist remembrance.”
Sarah Henstra, author of The Red Word

“The Daughter’s Way represents a new way of understanding Canadian women’s poetic elegies….a compelling and precisely focused engagement with gender, genre, and nation. MacDonald (herself a poet) brings a rich understanding of the importance of poetic form.”

Gabrielle Roy Prize committee

Finalist for Gabrielle Roy Prize/Prix Gabrielle-Roy (2013)

Rue the Day

Cover of Tanis MacDonald's The Daughters Way.
“MacDonald offers a virtuoso display of poetic craft…her poems consistently mix fearlessly intellectual elements with passages rich in lyric resonance.”
Jamie Dopp in The Malahat Review

"Fired with a signature intelligence, these shrewdly honed, sometimes volatile poems invoke us to give them our closest attention."

John Barton, author of Asymmetries

Upcoming Events


Congress launch of Out of Line

Sunday, May 27 at 3:00
Book Fair, University of Regina



Launch of GUSH: Menstrual manifestos for our time

Saturday, June 2 at 7:00
McNally-Robinson, Grant Park



Wolsak and Wynn Spring Launch

Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00
Mills Hardware
95 King St. East



Joint launch of Out of Line with Annick MacAskill’s No Meeting without Body (Gaspereau Press)

Thursday, June 7 at 7:00
Open Sesame
220 King Street West



Tree Reading Series (with Rob McLennan)

Tuesday, June 12 at 8:00
The Happy Goat
35 rue Laurier Street



Canadian Writers’ Summit

Saturday, June 16 at 3:30
Panel discussion: “Locating Ourselves” (w/Rebecca Salazar and J.R. Toriseva)
Harbourfront, Market Tent B


Short Works By Tanis MacDonald

The Rusty Toque (June 2017)

Logo of The Rusty Toque Magazine Of the three poems of mine in The Rusty Toque (one of Canada's most prestigious on-line literary magazines), only "It's hard to get published in the The Journal of Irreproducible Results" takes a real scientific journal as a central metaphor. Audio performances arranged and recorded by John Roscoe.

Hear it

Many Gendered Mothers (April 2018)

Photograph of Alice Monroe Many Gendered Mothers is a project on literary influence featuring short essays by writers (of any / all genders) on the women, femme, trans, and non-binary writers who have influenced them, as a direct or indirect literary forebear. My essay on Alice Munro, "The Writer Next Door" is excerpted from Out Of Line, my latest work launching in May 2018.

read it

Lemonhound 3.0 (March 2018)

Photograph of Tanis MacDonald Lemonhound 3.0, the latest reboot of the iconic, paradigm-shifting literary site, features my long poem "Sybill Elegies" in their "Not Your Mother's Future" issue.

"Sybill Elegies" (yes, it's a pun on "Civil Elegies") will be part of my next poetry book, coming out with Book*hug in 2019.

read it

Books By Tanis MacDonald

GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos For Our Times (2018)

Cover of GUSH Co-edited by Ariel Gordon, Tanis MacDonald, and Rosanna Deerchild, GUSH (available for pre-order now!) offers menstrual manifestos for our time that question the cultural value and social language of monthly blood loss, with rage, humour, ferocity, and grief, and propose that the menstrual moment is as individualized, subjective, personal, political, and vital as the feminist click. GUSH launches at McNally-Robinson Grant Park in Winnipeg June 2, 2018.

The Daughter's Way (2012); paperback Fall 2018

Cover of The Daughter's Way Investigating negotiations of female subjectivity in 20th century Canadian women’s elegies with a special emphasis on the father’s death as a literary and political watershed. The book examines the work of Dorothy Livesay, P.K. Page, Jay Macpherson, Kristjana Gunnars, Lola Lemire Tostevin, Anne Carson, and Erin Mouré as elegiac daughteronomies ― literary artifacts of mourning that grow from the poets’ investigation into the function and limitations of elegiac convention.

Rue the Day (2008)

Cover of Rue The Day Tanis MacDonald torques time and consciousness to scrutinize "what plagues us/what snaps our heads to/rights and won't let us look/at look over look alive." Written in the voices of a demanding "speaking subject" -- a fury with a harpy's vision and a muse's asperity -- and the woman writer whom the Fury takes under her terrible wing, Rue the Day is an elegy, an argument about the knowledge, and a conversation about contemporary femininity that shuttles between the frame of form and the long declarative line.

Fortune (2003)

Cover of Breathing November Nominated for the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher (Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards)."Tanis MacDonald probes the miracles, accidents, dumb luck, and rogue chromosomes that swirl beneath the surface of who we think we are. MacDonald weaves folklore, history and myth while keeping her cowboy boots firmly planted on Canadian soil."
~ Jeanette Lynes, author of The Small Things that End the World.

Sass: Poems (2001)

Cover of Breathing November Sass is Tanis' third chapbook, produced by Victoria's Transparent Press in 2001. This rare, hand-bound collector's item contains fourteen of the sassiest poems ever written on Vancouver Island, and the eyes on the soulful tomato see it all. Sass was produced in a limited run of numbered copies.

Holding Ground (2000)

Cover of Holding Ground “Holding Ground is a book of jaunty wit and playful reworkings of history’s lost women, expertly realized in a myriad of poetic voices and forms. But when her poetic ground is grief and loss, Tanis MacDonald’s craft soars-and takes us earthward again, to re-learn the lessons of love in a life that is “engraved with dying,” to re-learn that our closest connections can both wound and heal us.”
~ Maureen Hynes, author of Marrow, Willow (2011)

Breathing November (2000)

Cover of Breathing November Published by Winnipeg's Staccato Press and a summer-long favourite on the Literary Network's "Top Ten Canadian Chapbooks" for 1999. These poems are a series of elegies for people who have died of AIDS. I spent several years working in the AIDS community in Toronto, both as a volunteer and a professional. Sometimes this is a sad book, but like most elegies it's really about inheritance and the force of knowledge.

This Speaking Plant (1997)

Cover of This Speaking Plant This Speaking Plant won the 1996 Acorn-Rukeyser Award, the first year the prize was awarded. It was published by Unfinished Monument Press in Hamilton, which is run by the tireless efforts of James Deahl, one of the people who keep the people's poetry tradition alive in Canada.