21 May 2009

Forthcoming from New Star

Two new Northern BC books:

Prince George's Barry McKInnon's long-awaited In the Millenium

and Terrace's Simon Thompson's debut book Why Does It Feel So Late?

20 May 2009

19 May 2009

16 May 2009

Robin Blaser

May 18, 1925 – May 7, 2009

"The poems of the Holy Forest are points on a map of a cosmos that does not exist in historical terms, that cannot exist, yet that must exist, if we are to make it to a Century 22 that is more than the name of a clothing store. The points form a constellation that we are not quite ready to apprehend but through which we are already formed. We grope and we stumble, but then, out of the blue or black or ultra suede, something unexpected happens: we are ensnared by the encounter."
--Charles Bernstein

"the last words in Robin's The Holy Forest: 'language is love.' much as he could rail against the misuses of language, the terrible injustices we inflict on one another, he worked always towards that open potential that pure-pitch words can offer, the sheer loving openness of a mirroring intelligence in language. now his 'window-heart' has shattered & we have lost a great spirit. so thankful his words live on."
--Daphne Marlatt

Books of Poetry:

The Moth Poem (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1964)

Les Chimères: Translations of Nerval for Fran Herndon (San Francisco: Open Space, 1969)

Cups (San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1968)

Image Nations 1-12 & The Stadium of the Mirror (London: Ferry Press, 1974)

Image Nations 13 & 14, Luck Unluck Oneluck, Sky-stone, Suddenly, Gathering (North Vancouver: Cobblestone Press, 1975)

Harp Trees (Vancouver: Sun Stone House & Cobblestone Press, 1977)

Image Nation 15: The Lacquerhouse (Vancouver: W. Hoffer, 1981)

Syntax (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1983)

The Faerie Queene and The Park (Vancouver: Fissure Books, 1987)

Pell Mell (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1988)

The Holy Forest (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1993)

Nomad (Vancouver: Slug Press, 1995)

Wanders, with Meredith Quartermain (Vancouver: Nomados, 2002)

EPC Resources
Readings at Pennsound
Persky on Blaser

13 May 2009

Al Purdy A-Frame Residency

I am involved in developing a residency program at the historic Al Purdy A-Frame on the south shore of Roblin Lake, a mile or so from the village of Ameliasburgh in Ontario. I worry this is going to be a very Ontatio-centric program so hoping to spread the word out west. Please pass on the information.

The A-Frame

So we built a house, my wife and I
our house at a backwater puddle of a lake
near Ameliasburg, Ont.
. . .
Working on my own A-frame we pounded nails
and sawed boards, cussing and seating a little
without money for electricity or plumbing
three lamps together and you might read a book
chopping thru winter ice for water
—Al Purdy, “In Search of Owen Roblin”

The list of people who travelled to the A-frame (if it would be possible to compile a comprehensive list) reads like a who’s who of Canadian letters—Margaret Atwood, Earle Birney, George Bowering, Lynn Crosbie, Dennis Lee, Steven Heighton, Patrick Lane, Margaret Laurence, Jack McClelland, John Newlove, Anna Porter, Elizabeth Smart, and the list goes on and on.

And it wasn’t just those aspiring to be poets who were welcomed. Poets, publishers, booksellers, academics, pool players, students, radio broadcasters, journalists, photographers, painters, and readers made their way to Ameliasburgh. Linda Crosfield reports the following story: "Over dinner the other night, I mentioned to my husband that I was writing a letter to support the initiative to preserve Al’s house. ‘I went there once,’ he mused, ‘it was 1972, the summer Judie and I drove across Canada with the kids. She grew up around there so we were able to find the place. Al wasn't home, but his wife was, and she opened her house to us as I explained how I’d taken courses from Al at Simon Fraser and was a big fan of his poetry.” This is how Al's house has always been, according to those who have found their way there.

The house draws people in. It's a pilgrimage to see the country, search out the places Al mentions in the poems, find the church spire and the site of Roblin's Mill, visit the Purdy Library in Ameliasburgh, cross the street to stroll down Purdy Lane to the graveyard where Owen Roblin and Al Purdy are buried along with the other pioneers of Prince Edward County—Al’s book-shaped gravestone bearing the inscription “This is where I came to / when my body left its body / and my spirit stayed / in its spirit home."

Continuing the Tradition—Writer-in-Residence Program

The residency program for the A-frame was designed by poets David Helwig, Steven Heighton, Karen Solie and Rob Budde. The poets were selected to include a broad poetic sensibility, geographical reach, breadth of experience with residency programs, knowledge of Purdy’s work and personal experience of the property. Both David and Steven were long time friends of the Purdys and spent many decades visiting Roblin Lake.

To begin, the residency will operate for 8 months, from April 1 to November 30. Later the winter months may be added. The A-frame will provide time and a place to work that is attractive and of historic significance. Writers can apply for a term of one to three months. The residency will be open to all writers, but preference will be given to poetry and poetry projects. The jury will also consider proposals for a one month project in critical writing about Canadian poetry each year and will be open to unusual and creative ideas for residencies.

Travel to Ameliasburgh will be paid. Those awarded the residency will be given a stipend of $2500 dollars a month while living in the A-frame, and will be free to spend their time on their writing. Residents will be expected to give one public reading or lecture for each month of their stay—presumably in one of the larger communities nearby, Picton, Belleville, Kingston—and to consider other reasonable requests. All this will be organized in collaboration with the Prince Edward County and Quinte Arts councils. The house is somewhat isolated, but the local liaison will be able to help with occasional rides for those who don’t have a car. Residents will be offered a temporary library card for the excellent library at Queen’s University in Kingston, where many of Al Purdy’s papers are held. Those awarded a residency will be asked to donate at least one copy of one of their books to the Residency Library. Writers in residence will also be encouraged to make themselves known at the Purdy Library in Ameliasburgh and to donate a book. They may also wish to discuss with the local liaison the possibility of working with local schools.

For more information about the project, contact Jean Baird at jeanbaird@shaw.ca or 604-224-4898.

Donations can be made by cheque, made to “The Al Purdy A-frame Trust” and mailed to:
4403 West 11th Ave.
Vancouver BC
V6R 2M2
(Tax receipts will be issued for amounts over $50)

09 May 2009

The Butcher of Penetang Shortlisted


The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce the shortlist of nominees for the twelfth annual DANUTA GLEED LITERARY AWARD. The Award recognizes the best first English-language collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2008.

Judges Merilyn Simonds, J.J. Steinfeld, and Rudy Wiebe shortlisted the following nominees:
Ian Colford: Evidence (The Porcupine’s Quill)
Pasha Malla:The Withdrawal Method (House of Anansi Press Inc.)
Rebecca Rosenblum: Once (Biblioasis)
Ahmad Saidullah: Happiness and other Disorders (Key Porter Books Limited)
Betsy Trumpener: The Butcher of Penetang (Caitlin Press)

"The five shortlisted books exhibit an exhilarating array of voices and styles, presenting stories ranging from the idiosyncratic and fanciful, to the satirical and exotic, to the hard-edged and realistic; these works comment on the human condition in insightful, inventive ways that show the short story is thriving in Canada."

The Award consists of cash prizes for the three best first collections, with a first prize of $10,000 and two additional prizes of $500. The winners will be announced in Calgary, Alberta on May 23, 2009, during the Alberta Literary Awards at the joint Annual General Meetings of The Writers’ Union of Canada and The Writers Guild of Alberta. Their names will be posted on the Union’s website (www.writersunion.ca).

03 May 2009

A Northern BC Literature Quiz – Part 3

Pony up!

1. Which of the following couples are not Northern BC writing couples?

a) Ken Belford and Si Transken
b) Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane
c) Rob Budde and Debbie Keahey
d) John Harris and Vivien Lougheed

2. Which is an early Prince George novelist?

a) Sinclair Ross
b) Frederick Philip Grove
c) Robert Harlow
d) Sheila Watson

3. Longtime Terrace teacher George Stanley was acquainted with what famous San Francisco writer?

a) Jack Kerouac
b) Jack Spicer
c) Robin Skelton
d) Kurt Vonnegut

4. What author published a recent Caitlin book oddly titled (flood basement?

a) Rob Budde
b) Ken Belford
c) Jeremy Stewart
d) Sarah de Leeuw

5. What Northern BC writer recently won the CBC Literary Award for nonfiction and was published in En Route magazine?

a) Rob Budde
b) Ken Belford
c) Jeremy Stewart
d) Sarah de Leeuw

02 May 2009

A Northern BC Literature Quiz – Part 2

Impress your friends! Answer all five correctly and be a star. Prizes prizes prizes!

1. What Prince George post-secondary institution has hosted a literary reading series since 1969?

a) University of British Columbia
b) Sprott College
c) The College of New Caledonia
d) University of Northern BC

2. What is the name of the reading series?

a) Just West of Unruly
b) BC Reads
c) Café Underground
d) Caledonia Reading Series

3. Poet Ken Belford came to live in Prince George after leaving what lake?

a) Damdochax Lake
b) Great Bear Lake
c) Pinche Lake
d) Takla Lake

4. Poet Jacqueline Baldwin’s first book of poetry has what title?

a) Threadbare
b) A Northern Woman
c) Threadbare Like Lace
d) Your One Good Hat

5. Gillian Wigmore grew up in what Northern BC town?

a) Quesnel
b) Vanderhoof
c) Prince George
d) Dawson Creek

01 May 2009

A Northern BC Literature Quiz – Part 1

Answer in the comments and win an extravagant chapbook-related prize if you get all five right.

1. Which poetry title was launched this April by a prominent Prince George writer?

a) How it Feels Like For a Girl
b) Lousy Explorers
c) The Sudden Weight of Snow
d) Ecologue

2. What mythological/theological creature stars in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach?

a) Coyote
b) Abominable Snowman
c) B’gwus
d) Wetigo

3. What press published Barry McKinnon’s book The Centre: Poems 1970-2000?

a) Caitlin and Talon
b) Talon
c) Anvil
d) Caitlin

4. Which of these writers has NOT read in Prince George?

a) Al Purdy
b) Tomson Highway
c) Robert Creeley
d) Aritha van Herk
e) Carol Shields
f) Lorna Crozier
g) Richard Wagamese
h) Robert Kroetsch

5. Which has not been a bookstore in Prince George?

a) Another Art
b) Books on 3rd
c) Mosquito Books
d) Other Art