July 12th, 2013

Good literary news

This blog has been a bit quiet of late, and when I do post it tends to be vacation anecdotes or random rants, but here at last is a post with some actual literary news…

First off, in the ongoing adventures of the short film How to Keep Your Day Job, now a nomination for best short film at the Directors’ Guild of Canada Awards. I guess you can watch this space at the end of October to see who won, but it’s just so great to see the amazing cast and crew of the film getting some recognition!

In terms of my own literary accomplishments, my short story “Marriage” has been accepted for an upcoming issue of The New Quarterly. Longtime readers will know I have a long love of The New Quarterly and am thrilled that they like this story. Can’t wait to see it in their pages.

And finally, Monday of this week, I did a fun 75 minute class with Professor Rawding’s literature students at University of Waterloo. They’d read a dozen stories out of The Big Dream, then thought about their reactions and made lists of questions by theme. Each group took a turn asking questions–yes, I did over an hour of Q&A with people who a) knew their stuff (no softball “so do you write with a pen or on a keyboard?” questions) and b) had not chosen the book themselves and did not necessarily like it.

It was *intense* to say the least, but also thrilling–the best compliment is a careful reading, I say. And honestly, no writer worth his/her salt ever believes anyone who says “Great book!” and leaves it at that. But the thorough, insightful questions from these students made me feel truly flattered that the book inspired them. I hope my answers were as good (or nearly).

Here’s a picture with me and the class. I am slouching because I was worried about blocking the kids behind me, who were actually way higher so I just look odd. Professor Rawding’s on the left in the green check shirt.

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And finally, a photo of me with the professor’s cat (of course!)

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February 20th, 2013

Deathmatch

Every year I see a posting for a Broken Pencil short-story contest, click on it with interest and then recoil in horror. I am not Deathmatch Material. I like to think all us short story writers are our own special flowers, and though every reader might not like to sniff every flower, there’s room for all of us in the garden.

Broken Pencil’s Short Story Deathmatch posits a winner-take-all, hateful-comments-weed-out-the-week mentality, at least on the surface. In reality the comments from Canadian readers and writers aren’t *that* harsh–more, the commenters often seem to really engage with the stories. So though I quail from entering myself, I annually find myself drawn into a public-opinion-based literary contest that is actually about the literature.

Because, let’s face it, most public-opinion book contest *aren’t* about the books. At least, not as a “contest” is normally interpreted. Every few months, I’ll get an email or see on FB that an author I know/like/admire is in contention for one of these readers’ choice things, and could I please vote? Usually, I do it if I’ve read the book and liked it–I draw the line at voting for books I’ve haven’t read, no matter how much I like the author’s previous works or personality. But still, even if I know the book well and love it, my vote isn’t really fair, because normally I’ve read few or none of the competitors, so I don’t actually *know* the book I’m voting for is better.

In the interests of fairness, I should really go out and read every book in contention, at least a few chapters and skim to the end, before I make a bold claim that I know which the best one is. But let’s be honest, who is willing to do that without being paid? And who is paid–judges. That’s why I contend that the best people to judge contests are always the judges. It’s not because I’m elitist snob who privileges certain opinions above others; it’s because the only people who are going to read dozens of books in a year that they didn’t select for themselves, some hard to find, obscure, very long, or about topics that don’t interest them–are the folks on the payroll. The “popular” way isn’t even close to fair.

Amazingly, near as I can tell, the Deathmatch *is* fair. Of course, you can’t stop people voting without reading and the writers with friends working office jobs, who can set their phone alarms and go online to revote every hour, are going to do better than folks whose friends are teachers and construction workers. But it works really well. Each quarter final pits only two short stories against each other–it’ll take you maybe half an hour to read both, and then you can make a totally informed decision. You can choose to vote in any number of quarter finals–1, 2, 3, or 4 rounds. The semi-finals pit the winners against each other in 2 more rounds after–get this–everybody’s rewritten their stories to incorporate the feedback they got the first time around. How cool is that?

I voted in a couple quarter finals, but didn’t think to share the love. Now we’re in the semis, but it’s not too late–you can vote until Sunday midnight in the first semifinal, and all next week in the second. Start here and enjoy some weird fiction.

November 2nd, 2012

No Giller reivew this year

So, sadly, there will be no Rose-coloured review of the Giller Awards broadcast this year, because the Giller website listed the time of the webcast as 9pm (scroll down to the second blog post and you can still see the error!) When I eagerly sat down at 8:59, everyone was cheering and the camera was swooping *out*–party over, having apparently started at 8pm. Nerds!

I admit that I mainly wanted to watch so that I could make snarky comments about that guy from Hedley, and the injustice of devoting an hour of air time to books by 5 authors, and not letting 4 of them speak. But I also do enjoy the experience of seeing some razzmatazz in the name of the usually more yoga-pants-y writing life. I’m also a little alarmed that no one caught the error–I bet this never happens with the Pulitzer!

Nevertheless, congrats to Will Ferguson anyway–apparently he was quite charming at the ceremony. And congrats also to Russell Wangersky, the author of the only shortlisted book that I read, for writing a really good one.

I’m looking forward to the Writers’ Trust Awards next week to fill this gap. I have been twice now, and never wanted to say anything snarky about that event–it’s really fun, and yes, glamourous. Also, high-calibre snacks. I’ll be much more upset if I get the time wrong on this one!

April 2nd, 2012

Participant

I’ve been doing a few things lately even *in addition* to swanning around the Maritime provinces and basking in the springtime sun here in Ontario. Today, for example, I ran *many* errands in the aforementioned springtime sun, which is somehow much better than the fraudulent summer sun of a few weeks ago. Today was one of those rare days for a 9-to-5-er, when I had time to prioritize those little errands like the library, the post office, the dry-cleaner–instead of cramming them on the tail-end of some more glamourous errand, they got to be centre stage. And I strolled between them listening to Belle and Sebastian (come on! anyone who doesn’t think Belle and Sebastian is the perfect soundtrack to a spring stroll is just a hipster too far). Lovely.

Ok, but also–some writing stuff. I contributed a line to Pass the Ghost Story, which is fun, creepy, and still in progress; I was interviewed by Grace O’Connell about Writers and Day Jobs, and I made the very long but very cool long-list for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. I’ve read enough of the books on the list to know what an honour this is, so I’m basking…just a bit!

And it’s only Monday!

November 12th, 2011

Rose-coloured Reviews the Giller Prize Show 2011

To watch last year’s Giller show, Mark and I had to head for someone else’s house, but this year through the power of live-streaming, we could watch at home and keep the kitten company. I have no idea if CTV had a live-streaming version of the Gillers, too, but the CBC one was hitchless–no hiccups or buffering issues. Lots (and lots) of commercials, but I guess that was the point.

So there we were with our smartpop, our wine, our kitten going insane under the desk, watching the camera roll over the vast and glittering crowd at the Four Seasons up to…Jian Ghomeshi?? Hooray, I love that guy. He was the host at the Writers’ Trust Awards the year I was a presenter, and he did a lovely, low-key, and charming job of it. What a shock to find that at the Gillers, right off the bat, Ghomeshi was unfunny!

Worse, as the show wore on, he seemed to be rolling his eyes at his own jokes. He’d kind of grimace, look down at his notes, make the joke quickly, and then say, “C’mon, c’mon, that’s funny, right?” It was all a lot more Fozzie-Bear-ish than I was expecting.

But that was the cumulative effect of the entire show–at the beginning he just seemed a little stiff as he introduced Lang Lang, who played something lovely on the piano and was, unique among the men I saw on the telecast, wearing an open-collared shirt.

The next segment was a bit from the judges, talking about how hard it was to read so many (140+) nominated books. One of the judges (I don’t know who any of them were except Annabel Lyon–always nice to see her) said, “All of the books had something about them that made them worthy of the prize,” or something along those lines. “They’re talking about my book!” I squealed. (Full disclosure: I have no idea if *The Big Dream* was put forward for the Giller, I just know that–technically–it was eligible.)

Like last year’s event, things moved along at a good clip, and as I recall after that we got pretty much directly into the book presentations. As with last year’s, the presentaters were a random assortment of vaguely famous non-book-related people. The first one, “international celebrity” Lisa Ray was no one I’d heard of and her telepromtation delivery of the introduction to David Bezmozgis’ novel did not make me want to investigate further. Nelly Furtado, Robbie Robertson, and that guy from Hedley did slightly better jobs, but still–who cares? I seriously doubt anyone who was not going to watch the show would see an advert and say, “Hey, Nelly Furtado is not singing, but is speaking for 120 seconds? I’m so there.” As for me, who was looking forward to the show, there’s pretty much no one whose literary opinion I respect less than the Hedley guy’s, and I consider myself *un*curmudgeonly among litsy types–why not cater to your audience?

Weirdly, the only presenter who did such a good job that I believe (a) that he was speaking extemporaneously, and (b) that he had read the book, was Ron MacLean introducing *The Antagonist* by Lynn Coady. Mark explained that he is some sort of hockey commentator, and he certainly spoke bomastically, but also with genuine enthuasiasm for the book and its author, whom he address directly, as “Lynn”–he also said he was going to call her parents and congratulate them. If all the presentors had been like that, I could’ve forgiven their literary irrelevance.

I should admit that Michael Ondaatje’s book *The Cat’s Table* was introduced last and, though I genuinely liked the excerpt in the New Yorker, by that point I was not paying attention. I don’t even know who introduced it. Part of the problem was that the kitten had become increasingly destructive, flipping a folder off the desk and sending a plume of papers into the air, followed by partially eating a little rubber thing that could not be subsequently identified. But also, there was the fact that I was freaking bored.

The best parts, as last year, were the personal interviews with the authors. This year’s however had shucked off the lame invasive aspects–showing the writers with their partners and kids–in favour of actually focussing on the books, and writing in general. They had also left off the syrupy natural settings (strolling beside a river, anyone?) in favour of a really nice, book-lined studio, the same one for all six. The questions were interesting if not overly intellectual, and the editor kept in only the bits where the authors sounded thoughtful and smart. I liked last year’s pieces very much, but these were far better–weirdly, making the setup less personal allowed the authors’ personalities to come through far better. I was especially impressed with what Coady said about what the reader owes the book (nothing) and what Zsuzsi Gardner said about why she writes (to comment on the world). I also liked that the writerly questions were folded in with the life ones, so that no one was stuck standing in front of a white wall just after the commercials, talking about what is their muse. Really well-done segments, all six (fine, I didn’t really watch Ondaatje’s–the cat was trying to dig through the floor).

I said it last year and I’ll say it again–why are there no readings at the Gillers? The Oscars show clips, the Tonys show song-and-dance numbers, the Grammys have songs, the Gillers have…that Hedley guy reading the back cover bumpf. These are supposed to be our country’s best crafters of words–how come some speech-writer is crafting everything that’s said in the awards presentation? And if the worry is that the authors themselves would be too nervous and unprofessional for a CBC telecast, one could certainly hire actors to read passages–they’d be cheaper than Robbie Robertson, I’m guessing. Although I vastly prefer to see how a writer reads his/her own work, and anyway, this year the writers didn’t even get to stand up on tv (except the winner) and I wanted to see what they were wearing.

And while I’m ranting, with all the serious, respected, professional criticism and reviews that has been written about these 6 books, why was the only quotation in the broadcast of Nelly Furtado’s tweet that she was “consumed” by *Half-Blood Blues*?? WHO ARE THEY TRYING TO APPEAL TO???

Deep breath. Esi Edugyan won. I’ve only read Better Living through Plastic Explosives and The Antagonist (and loved both) but Mark read *Half-Blood Blues* and assured me it was strong novel and a worthwhile winner…though he, like me, was pulling for Coady’s novel. And Edugyan gave a calm, sweet speech and also is absolutely stunning, so it was pleasant to watch her (though for some reason I STILL couldn’t see what she was wearing).

So though we were happy enough with the outcome and were glad these 6 books were celebrated, I found the broadcast of the Gillers extremely lame and unrepresentative of the glorious books it was supposed to be showcasing. And there were *so many* commercials. I haven’t watched broadcast TV with any kind of regularity in nearly a decade, and almost never with my partner, and it turns out there is a strange kind of silence that comes the first time you watch a yeast-infection-treatment advert together…which was probably the most memorable part of the experience.

June 17th, 2011

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

Thanks so much to Allyson Latta for gifting me with the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award! This is an award that is inspiring in its generosity–the rule is the recipients are the next adjudicators, and have to pass it on some other sweet blogs. Which is actually rule 3–let’s do this in order.

Rule one is to thank the person who have you the award–thanks so much, Allyson. We met when we judged the UofT writing contest last summer–and had a wonderful lunchtime debate over the winners at the Gallery Grill. Also is an insightful reader and a fascinating person, as her “7 things about me” section of the Blog Award requirements proves–you should read it if you haven’t already.

So rule 2–tell 7 things about me. I got into trouble trying to do the “25 Things about Me” Facebook meme a few years ago, but 7 seems more manageable. Let’s see…

(1) I’m from a quite small town, and I lived there until I graduated high school. Then I went to McGill and from there to live in Toronto. Apparently these urban experiences have completely overwritten any rural parts of my personality, because people are always shocked and disbelieving that I grew up planting squash seeds every summer so I’d have something to enter in the fair in the fall. I totally did though–and once my squash won third place!

(2) I have a bunch of qualities that “creative” people aren’t supposed to have–I’m pretty good at math, enjoy socializing and dislike being alone, have an easy time obeying orders and learning from direct instruction. The math is helpful, and so is being good at school-type contexts, but it’s a bit hard to be a writer if you don’t really like being on your own, which is why I am very glad I have this blog. And Facebook. And a good long distance plan. And friends in general.

(3) I really like cats. Really a lot (but not a psycho amount). The pathetic thing is I don’t have a cat of my own, and often, other people’s cats don’t like me. I think it is because I am too needy, and I want to play with/cuddle them more than they want to be played with/cuddled. I joke that I am a reverse cat lady because I have a happy long-term relationship with a man but can’t keep a cat interested–but really, when they sprint away from my outstretched arms and hide behind the couch, it still stings.

(4) I used to be a good driver, but after not having a car for a decade, I’m distinctly tense behind the wheel these days. I’m trying really hard to get better, but I still prefer to have a second opinion on whether it’s a good time to merge now, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my passengers.

(5) I have two small titanium screws hinging my upper and lower jaws together, one right in front of each ear. If you were wondering, titanium does not set off metal detectors in airports.

(6) Of all the “amusing anecdotes” I sometimes tell at lunch or at parties, this one is the most popular:
A couple years ago, I was walking home from the grocery store (about a 6 block walk) and pulled a 600 mL bottle of Coke Zero out of the bags and began drinking it as I walked. A guy strode up from behind me on the sidewalk.
Guy: Can I have a sip?
Me: Uh, no. Sorry.
Guy: Oh, come on. I’m thirsty. Just one sip?
Me: I really can’t. (trying to walk faster, but groceries are heavy)
Guy: Come on, please (repeat several times)
Me: I’ll just give you the soda. Here.
(He refuses to take the bottle)
Guy: Is it because I’m black?
Me: No!
Guy: Well, why then?
Me: It’s because you’re a stranger! I don’t know you.
Guy: Oh, come on, I’m a good guy, etc. (followed by further badgering)
Me (now upset and confused): STRANGER! STRANGER!
Guy: (Backing away, hands up) Ok, ok. I’m a good guy you know. I’m just going to church.
Me: Ok.
Guy: So I’m going to go to church now. (He jaywalks across the street, and does in fact go into a church.)

(7) In grade 2, there was a sink directly behind the painting easel in my classroom. Sometimes centipedes would come out of the drain and live in the sink for a while, which freaked out/fascinated all the kids. Once while I was painting a picture at the easel, a centipede appeared in the sink. I was so disgusted by this that I took my brush and painted the centipede blue and yellow (this sort of reaction made sense when I was 7). When the teacher came over to look at my painting, she saw the painted centipede and admonished me: “What if I put you in the sink and painted you blue and yellow?” I thought it over and realized this was probably a fair punishment, and climbed in to the sink, which really baffled the teacher.

~~~
Here are some really sweet blogs for your enjoyment–the new winners of the Irresistibly Sweet Awards!

Candy Blog is an obvious choice for this one. Written by a playwright, but entirely separate from her creative work, the candy reviews are totally serious, well-written, detailed reviews of all the candy in the universe. Great reading if you…like candy, but also if you are looking to expand your vocabulary with ways to describe tastes and aromas. Fascinating.

The Corinna Wraps blog is a full of adorably wrapped presents and other confections made out of paper and card. It’s great if you’d like tips for gifts and favours, or even just like to look at pretty things. It’s done by my sweet friend Corinna, who also teaches workshops on how to wrap like she does. I took one of the workshops on Tuesday, and while my paper flowers came out a little wonky, I was impressed at how much she could teach even a klutz like me in only a couple of hours.

A Place is run by my dear friend Fred, but I’m pretty sure her blog would be funny and fun even for those who don’t know her. Just slice of life stuff–my favourite of the recent posts is the reviews of the foods she got out of a vending machine–but with a very charming eye for detail and a sense of humour. This blog is also 10 years old, so there is a wealth of archives to explore.

My friend Scott’s blog Letters to Henry (is it bad that I pretty much read only blogs of people I know?) is often inspiring and always interesting. I always wish for more updates (cough) but really, a fun and fascinating life away from the screen does make for better posts when they do appear.

~~~

Thanks again, Allyson, for this lovely award and a chance to gas on about myself and the blogs I like. A great start to my day!

November 10th, 2010

Rose-coloured reviews the Giller Prize show

I have not watched an awards ceremony on tv since…whenever the first time Steve Martin hosted the Oscars (ah, 2001! thanks, wikipedia). I thought it would be fun because I like Steve Martin, but I hadn’t seen any of the films, got bored almost immediately and gave up. As a child, I liked watching the Tonys, but only for the musical numbers.

Historically, I’ve taken little interest in the Giller Prize, for similar reasons—I had rarely read any of the books, no musical numbers, not even Steve Martin. But this year a number of authors I admire—and books I love—appeared on the list, and it suddenly had something to do with me.

I have to say, good as the nominees are, I have not found following the Giller run-up especially rewarding. I liked seeing This Cake Is For the Party flash randomly on the tv while I ran on the treadmill at my gym, and Steven Beattie’s five reviews are always interesting, but the Giller pledge? A seemingly drunken conversation in the Globe about how everyone under 40 is an idiot? I think a lot of stuff went on on tv, which I don’t have except randomly at the gym, which might have been more entertaining.

But I did want to watch the ceremony, so Mark (cableless) found us a home containing the three necessary elements—a functioning tv, cable, and a resident who didn’t mind watching the ceremony.

I gotta say, the CTV/Bravo folks (I didn’t know they were the same until this event) worked really hard. The show was exactly one hour, unlike the long rambling Oscars. Of course, it helps that they had only one award to give away. Mark and I briefly fantasized that perhaps there would be equivalents of the Oscars’ sound and lighting awards—stuff for book design and editorial work—but of course there wasn’t. Maybe next year.

The host—a Michael J. Fox-ish news anchor who was very charming but who made such intense constant eye contact with the camera his pupils seemed dialated—kept things moving at a good clip. Each book was introduced by a famous person who I had never seen in the flesh before, so I kept exclaiming “That’s what Anne Murray/Barbara Amiel Black/Jim Cuddy looks like?” The famous folks were non-literary except for one past winner, but all did admirable teleprompted jobs describing plot and character. Then there was a mini-movie about each author, showing them strolling around town with their partners and kids and talking about writing. Intercut with that was interviews with the judges, who described what was awesome about the book.

I’m not sure if I should admit this, but I really liked the personal stuff. Most of it had nothing to do with the books, but it was all very sweet and interesting. One relevant bit I especially liked how David Bergen’s university-student son described how he tried to challenge his dad with his philosophical readings, and that had ended up in the book. Some of it—especially the shots of each writer writing—was lame-o, but on the whole pretty tasteful.

After the little movie, the author was called to the stage. I was confused by this—were they going to give a reading?—but no, they were just given little leatherbound books with the Giller rose on them (what were they?), embraced by the presenter, and sent back to their seats. I guess it was a chance to show off their party cloths (wow, everyone looked good—how does a writer know where to buy and how to wear an evening gown? Does the Giller committee have people to help with that?)

I was surprised that there was so much talk about the books, but no readings. I had thought that’s what the authors were going up there for, or perhaps the presenters would do it, but no. Surely the books are the point of it all, and these talented folks’ actual prose would be much more interesting than the back-flap-chat summaries offered instead. I wonder why no readings…? Especially when so much time was lavished before and after commercials on showing the authors standing against a white screen, answering weird questions very badly. Almost all the clips involved them saying the questions were hard or impossible to answer, and that’s what was kept *in*. I wonder what they cut??

In truth, it wasn’t a very literary evening, even though the host kept exhorting viewers—with increasing anxiety, I felt—to read the books. It was really a sales-y style they used, mentioning the Giller effect and actually showing percentages of how much sales of past winners had increased with the win. I’m not sure what the point of that was, but if I was Linden McIntyre, I’d resent being called Mr. 710%, as he was last night. Isn’t it “The books sold so much because they’re awesome” not “The books are awesome because they sold so much”—right?

Those of us in the peanut gallery fell into decidedly non-literary behaviour, exclaiming over people’s clothing and what might be wrong with Barbara Amiel Black’s head (our hostess explained probably Botox). And then Johanna Skibsrud won, which I think was a big surprise to most, but a pleasant one. She was emotional, but still managed to give a good, clear, not-too-long speech. It was really worth the price of admission (well, we paid in Pirate cookies, but even more than that) to see Skibsrud’s sister crying with delight in the audience. That was lovely.

It was a pleasant evening and I’m glad I watched, though I don’t know that I’ll be in a desperate hurry to do so again. The emphasis on promoting Canadian authors in this show was a bit skewed—they’re only promoting five books. And the Giller pledge doesn’t make much sense and offends me in a way I can’t quite put a finger on—why do we have to promise? Can’t we put the books down if we get bored? And yes, I do think everyone should buy lots of Canadian books to keep our publishing industry going, but there was so much sales talk on this show, completely ignoring how much many people depend on the libraries systems, borrowing from friends, etc., and how that’s pretty good for the industry in its own way.

But then again, I don’t even know how to put on an evening dress, so I can’t really say.

September 14th, 2010

Bronwen Wallace

A call for submissions that might be worth considering:

The Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers: You’ve got to be under 35 and unpublished in book form to qualify for this one, but otherwise it’s quite uncomplicated to enter. Deadline December 17.

November 26th, 2009

This week in review

Of course, this week is not technically over yet, but rather a lot has already happened. I think it was enough to occupy an entire week if it was spread out, and I am rather hoping nothing further will happen until next. Thus, I dare to pre-emptively summarize:

Tuesday: I attended the Writers’ Trust Awards. It is a pretty glitzy event, with roaming waiters and lots of excited chat before the ceremony. At the ceremony, the Journey Prize was the first to be awarded, which meant co-presenter Anita Chong and I could get our moment of stress out of the way early and enjoy the show! I had perhaps 200 words to say, and really people just wanted to know who won, but I was very worried about flubbing it, or not even making it to the podium because I had spotted a gap between the top of stairs and the stage where I could easily wedge my foot.

But nothing happened like that, and I was able to present the winner, Yatsuko Thanh, for her story Floating Like the Dead with no trouble. What an honour to do so, and what an incredible story. I was charmed by how sincerely stunned Ms. Thanh seemed, and was really glad I got a chance to meet her. And the other two incredible finalists, Dave Margoshes for “The Wisdom of Solomon” and Daniel Griffin for “The Last Great Works of Alvin Cale.” An evening like this one really makes me feel alive to all the wonder and diversity of wonders in CanLit.

I was also happy to see that Annabel Lyon took the fiction prize though I have not read the celebrated book, *The Golden Mean*. But if my intense love of her first book, Oxygen is any indication, I should. And I was pleased to hear that, though Ms. Lyon was also pretty stunned by the win, she remembered to mention in her speech all those smaller literary magazines where she got her start, and to please for no further cuts to arts funding in Canada.

Wednesday: On Wednesday morning I went out to University of Toronto Scarborogh to do a guest lecture in my fellow UofT Creative Writing alumni Daniel Tysdal‘s short story class. I did, as promised read the end of a story, “Massacre Day.” When I told the students that I would read the last three pages of that piece, I had the extraordinary experience of watching a roomful of students pull out copies of my book and prepare to follow along.

But that extraordinariness did not all compare with the level discussion after my reading and (very brief) talk. The students were reading intently and speaking insightfully, not just about my work (although I appreciated that very much) but about everything they laid their eyes and minds on. What a fantastic way to spend a morning.

That evening, was the Biblioasis fall poetry party, featuring Zachariah Wells, Shane Neilson and Robyn Sarah. The non-present presence of a 4th poet was Wayne Clifford, whose work was read by all three of the others to make up for his absense. It was really cool to get three interpretations of one voice.

Also last night, I got to meet London, Ontario, novelist A.J. Somerset who just won the Metcalf-Rooke Award. There’s a lot of literary winning going on this week!

Today, is the real American Thanksgiving, I’m pretty sure, so I am wishing you all a happy one of those–I remain as Thankful I was last week, on fake Thanksgiving. Also today, due to a minor incident, I was without tights for a portion of the day, and it was actually warm enough that I didn’t mind dreadfully, temperature-wise. The upside of global warming. What was strange is that I felt like a total scandal, bare knees and nothing under my dress but panties, when of course that is how I spent the entire summer. I think winter makes me puritanical.

I also spent part of today talking books with Kerry Clare while I lay on the floor eating scones and playing with her baby daughter. That was, as you might imagine, delightful.

To continued, low-impact delight.
RR

November 23rd, 2009

On-going goings-on

I think this might be a low-post week due to busyness, but then again it might be a high-post week due to having pictures and reports on the busyness. We’ll see how that goes.

Plans:

Tomorrow night is The Writers’ Trust Awards ceremony. Despite being in a totally different venue than it was two years ago, and thus causing me a little brain-on-fire here-is-not-there moment, I still think it will a lovely event. There will be literary repartee of canapes and fancy drinks, there will be entertaining speeches (at least, last time I attended, almost everyone spoke remarkably well, and briefly), there will be a *lot* of prize money handed out. And there will be me, in a *dress that I ironed* (what I wouldn’t do for literature) helping McLelland & Stewart’s fiction editor Anita Chong announce The Journey Prize 21. Yay for all long-listers, short-listers, and of course, the soon-to-be-known winner (guess who is very excited not to have to keep a secret anymore??)

Then on Wednesday morning, I get to get up very early to go out to University of Toronto at Scarborough to give a lecture of my stories. I’m going to direct my comments mainly towards the last story in *Once*, “Massacre Day,” which is one of the ones the students are studying. It’s also a story I’ve never done a reading from and since the audience has all (allegedly) read the piece, I’m free to read from any point in the piece. I think I might take this unprecedented opportunity to read the ending. But what I am looking forward to most is a discussion with students. It never fails to amaze me when people offer me insightful, thoughtful, utterly accurate interpretations of my work that I never thought of. Can’t wait.

Wednesday evening will find me at Ben McNally’s for the Biblioasis Poetry Bash, appreciating three poets imported to Toronto for the occasion. Should be outstanding–see you there?

So, if this is it for postage for a few days, I would like to leave you with these lines from the song “The New World” by The Burning Hell:

My world would be a place where everyone would play the saxophone
But never soprano saxophone
Only tenor and baritone
Then a drum and a trumpet and a rusty old French horn
Would play a solo and make us shake our little bones

RR

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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