Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Steffie, Angel, Baby and More

When I was in high school, I read Fran Arrick’s Steffie Can’t Come Out to Play (1978) more than once.

I even wrote a book report on it in the ninth grade, when the assigned reading included J. Meade Falkner’s Moonfleet and Robert Westall’s The Machine Gunners. (Wanted: female characters.)

Quite likely this story of [...]

About Darkness: Some recent discoveries

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen. Published in 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

“There are definitely faster methods of making a picture, but few more enjoyable in a backwards sort of way.”

The artist was speaking of production, but the artwork is eminently [...]

The City of Toronto: Five Books, One Award

The shortlist for the Toronto Book Award nearly always introduces me to the work of one writer whose work I did not know. (This year, I “discovered” Kevin Irie’s poetry.)

• Kamal Al-Solaylee, Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes (HarperCollins Canada)

Harper Collins, 2012

Much of this memoir speaks of confinement but even in [...]

Types of Canadian Women: Out of Print Wisdom

My copy of Woman: Maiden Wife and Mother is inscribed as part of Mrs Effie Randall’s collection, Port Edward Ontario, 1928.

It’s an oversized hardcover volume and has no publication date, but there is a small slip of paper used as a bookmark, a Quarterly Ticket for August 1890 for The Methodist Church, with the [...]

Kim Echlin’s Inanna (2003)

“I like telling stories of women who act on their passions.”

“I like these strong female characters.”

“When I talk with readers I feel an enormous appetite in women to explore both their strength and their emotional connectedness, which still tend not to be honoured in the dominant culture.”*

Any one of these statements would [...]

On Reading Margaret Atwood’s The Circle Game (1966)

“If you think you understand what you see on the surface, caution Atwood’s fathomless parentheticals, keep looking.”

1966; House of Anansi, 2012

So says Suzanne Buffam in her introduction to the new AList edition of this classic Canlit work.

(And don’t you love the word ‘parentheticals’?)

I’m not sure that I *do* understand what [...]

Heather McHugh’s Upgraded to Serious (2009)

Please don’t go.

House of Anansi, 2009

Not because it’s poetry.

Just watch this video.

It’s only a minute long.

And know that I’m not a “poetry person”.

So that makes it more inviting, right?

That you don’t need a special gift to watch this?

(Unless you are a “poetry person”, in which case [...]

A White Man’s Whip into a Black Man’s Hammer

With lead type and a hand press: that’s how Gaspereau Press originally produced this collection of poems, in the old-fashioned way.

Even the trade edition is the sort of book which makes you want to run your fingers across the page, not simply hold it by the edges, and, yet, simultaneously, it makes you want to [...]

Weekend Sampler: Featuring Edward Riche’s Easy to Like

“Reality is for people who can’t handle fiction — and that is mostly everybody.”

Elliot Johnson has been writing screenplays in LA, but he’s been having trouble selling his fictions.

House of Anansi, 2011

That’s Elliot Johnson.

Or Elliot Johnston, or Elliot Jonson: it depends which document you’re looking at.

His identity is in [...]

Sniffling in the Toronto Reference Library

Suzanne Robertson’s Paramita, Little Black has been nominated for the 2012 Toronto Book Award.

And lucky for me, because I would not have read this slim volume of verse had it not been.

Lucky for me, because it’s another reminder that poetry doesn’t have to be this far-away thing that other people — smarter people [...]