November 25th, 2007


Rose-coloured excitement: My manuscript Once won the Metcalf/Rooke award at Biblioasis. I shall commence living up to this honour very very shortly–no, really. So far, I mainly dance in front of my bathroom mirror.

The announcement came as a grace note at the end of evening of stellar and thoughtful readings in celebration of Biblioasis’s translation series. The launch book is Ryszard Kapuscinski’s selected poems, I Wrote Stone. The translators are Diana Kuprel and Marek Kusiba: she a resonant alto anglophone, and he a mellow murmuring native-speaker of Polish. They gave double readings of each poem, in both languages, and the effect was almost musical. I don’t mean to over-aestheticize, the poems were disturbing and hopeful and thought-provoking, but it was something to just sit and listen. There were also readings in translation by Goran Simic and A. F. Moritz, and one about translation from Stephen Henighan. It was such an inspiring evening, but a girl does wind up feeling that she’s woefully under-read and needs to retire to the library immediately.

In case you thought some sort of delusion of grandeur caused me to apply subject line to myself, let me assure you I meant the readers mentioned above. I am quite easily star-struck, and have only recently realized that in Toronto it is quite acceptable to go and congratulate a reader after an admirable performance. I was told this ages ago, but I didn’t believe it–I mainly watch readings like movies, and scurry out as soon as they are over. When I first moved here, I met wonderfully talented and kind writer Michel Basilieres. He encouraged me to try to talk to other writers (at that point in my life, he was being pretty generous with that “other”) and learn from them. I said I wasn’t up to much. He assured me that Toronto writers don’t really live up to the stereotypes–most are collegial and friendly and eager to encourage a newcomer. I wasn’t buying it.

For the nervous among us, it’s pretty hard to absorb such information (witness the incident, around the same period, when I hid behind a pole when someone tried to introduce me to Douglas Coupland). But it’s really true that most writers I’ve ever chatted with has been more than forthcoming but I am usually too nervous to approach anyone. Anyway, after the formal part of the evening on Friday, I wandered a bit and talked to a number of people, including the readers, who seemed genuinely happy for my work and interested in it. It was lovely, but a little startling, like a character in a film turning to talk to you. Well, not really, but you get the idea.

It’s a heady thought, that someday I’ll be in the score of Canadian literature, perhaps as a grace note.

Look around around around

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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