“I will address all seasons in turn/and summer the memories” – Donna Allard, International Beat Poet Laureate*
As a child I welcomed summer, those endless memories reading yet another book in the comforts of my favourite tree. As an adult, I still enjoy being squirreled away to enjoy the summer tranquility that outdoor reading can bring.
However, while vacationing from social media last June, I missed the biggest literary news to hit the area: the great Canadian author Margaret Atwood would be touring with her latest book. One of her readings would be held at a local hotel in late November 2019. By the time I heard about the event, all the tickets were sold out.
Although I will miss one of my favourite authors read, bookstores, libraries, and other organizers of literary events are already gearing up for a busy fall season and I’m looking forward to hearing more updates as they become available. Some of those Ontario happenings appear on the event section of my blog.
What are you doing for the rest of the summer to feed your literary mind?
Below is my August/September “hoping to read soon” reading material as well as some of the Fall 2019 book releases and activities that I’ll be following.
SUPPORTING THE LOCAL SCENE
NEW ON MY SHELF (in alphabetical order, according to author):
Travelling the Lost Highway (Guernica Editions, 2019) by James Deahl. Deahl is no stranger to the Canadian poetry scene with forty literary titles behind his name. This recent collection features work written from 2011 to 2018 including a series of poems written about his ‘off the main-highway-beaten-track’ travels through the United States and Canada. According to the book’s back cover: “It contains themes such as the poet’s responsibility to nature, the necessity and beauty of love, elegies, and the vulnerability, yet surprising resilience, of all life.” Another one of Deahl’s books Red Haws to Light the Field (Guernica Editions, 2017), is also on my ‘to read’ shelf.
Perk’s First Love: a 1984 Drum Corps Summer (Hidden Brook Press, 2018) by Norma West Linder. Having already read the advanced reading copy, here’s my mini-review: “With the precision and joy of a musical marching ensemble, Canadian author Norma West Linder leads her main characters through the trepidation and exhilaration of performing in a drum corps. The complexities of making tough decisions in life and love, and the intensity of teenage desire and angst, amplify the plot. A romance novel where long hair gleams ‘like liquid honey’ and lips press ‘against his shining horn’, Perk’s First Love – A 1984 Drum Corps Summer, is a read worthy of a thunderous applause.”
Suspicious Activity (Devil’s Party Press, 2018) is a 226 page anthology that includes 29 crime-themed stories including the work of two local writers: Sharon Berg and Phyllis Humby. Congratulations! Both Berg and Humby will also have new books published within the year. See the Coming Soon section below.
Hidden Places 2019: The Third Collection of Our Hometown Poetry by Writers International Through Sarnia (WITS) and Sydenham Story Tellers (Wallaceburg) (Perch Creek Press 2019). This 24-page poetry chapbook features the work of 20 local writers: Cherie Barnett, Lee Brown, Anne Kavanaugh Beachey, Margaret Gregory Bird, Bob Boulton, Linda Lou Classens, Delia DeSantis, Heather Dunlop, Christine Dupuis, Chris Jenkins, Norma West Linder, Kathy D. Milliken, Deborah Odette, David D. Plain, Lorna Pominville, Najah Shuqair, Fleda Southgate, Wendy Washington, John K. Wilson, and the late Carmen Ziolkowski. Looking forward to exploring the hidden talent: a good introduction to some familiar and unfamiliar faces. Several of these writers have already been featured on my blog or will be featured in the future.
Naming the Shadows (Porcupine’s Quill, 2019) by Sharon Berg. As a strong writer Berg is quickly making a comeback in the Canadian literary scene after returning from a long hiatus. According to the publisher’s notes, Berg’s debut and “quietly insightful collection focuses on relationships between generations, acknowledging the prevalence of the shadows that are everywhere—but also celebrating the light.” Her reading tour will take her to numerous locations in Ontario, British Columbia and the Maritimes. Additional information about her involvement with Big Pond Rumours Press and e-zine appears here. Watch for a Q & A with the author later this fall. Meanwhile, here’s the link to her new author website.
Bloodline Feather (Curious Tales by Creekside Book 3) (Bublish 2019) by Gloria Pearson-Vasey. The author of close to 10 fantasy or suspense-filled novels, Pearson-Vasey’s newest book deals with the secrets of a travelling author whose real identity is kept hidden from her readers. An earlier interview with Pearson-Vasey appears here. Additional information can also be found on her website.
Old Broad Road (Devil’s Party Press, 2020) by Phyllis Humby. Having read one of the first drafts of this novel, I can’t wait to read the final version set for release in February 2020. Set in Newfoundland, this first book by First Monday columnist Humby introduces a strong female protagonist who walks out on her family to start a new life across the country. Humby shares her excitement about her new book on her blog. A blog post featuring Humby’s involvement in the short story anthology Our Plan to Save the World appears here. Watch for a Q & A with Humby in the New Year.
FEATURING LONDON, ONTARIO WRITERS
NEW ON MY SHELF:
Incubation Chamber (Anstruther Press, 2019) by David Barrick. An impressive looking debut chapbook of 14 poems by one of the co-directors of the Poetry London reading series. Earlier versions of some of the poems were published in such literary magazines as The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, and The Antigonish Review. A Q & A with Barrick appears on the Poetry In Voice website. It should be an excellent read.
When the Bones Speak (Eratopress, 2016) by Joan Clayton. Clayton is well known in the London scene as the emcee for the Mykonos Open Mic Poetry series as well as the former London Open Mic Poetry series. Her first novel focuses on World War II and the connections between a Ukrainian woman and a young Air Gunner from Nova Scotia. According to the back cover, “This is a story of secrets, lies and the call to reconciliation”.
Threadbare (Baseline Press, 2019) by Sile Englert. I fell in love with Englert’s poetry and multi-disciplinary art when I first heard her share her work for a Couplet’s, London’s Collaborative Poetry Series event held last August. Her poetry has appeared in Canthius, Contemporary Verse 2, Room Magazine, and The Fiddlehead. A talented individual deserving of her first poetry chapbook.
Covenants: Poems (Harmonia Press, 2019) by Andreas Gripp, a former London resident and a former host/organizer of the Mykonos Open Mic Poetry series. See an earlier interview with him here. He will be launching his latest and 27th book on August 26 at Mykonos Restaurant. Featured in the book are 24 of his surrealist poems. See the poster below. Hope to see you there. Additional information about Gripp can be found on his website.
CELEBRATING OTHER CANADIAN WRITERS
NEW ON MY SHELF
Cold Fire (Sky Wing Press, 2019) by Donna Allard, International Beat Poet Laureate. According to the back cover, Cold Fire is her “fifth book of poetry. All Allard’s books are based on her experience living in the Acadian culture”. Two additional books Three Times Around the World (River Bones Press, 2019) and Ghost in the Window (River Bones Press, 2019) are also on my ‘to read” shelf. My review of her book Shore to Shoormal (2013) appears here. It’s one of the first reviews I ever wrote and I look forward to catching up with her latest books. More information on her author website and her River Bones Press website.
My Sister Rides a Sorrow Mule (Beret Days Press, 2019) by John B. Lee, the poet laureate of the City of Brantford and the poet laureate of Norfolk County. Hot off the press, this 20-page chapbook won first prize in The Ontario Poetry 2019 Golden Grassroots Chapbook Contest. “A haunting trail of loss!… Beautifully written and mesmerizing with original metaphors and similes that un-wrap the rural geographic gauze on ancient secrets and ghostly images.” More information appears here.
Worry Stones (Ronsdale Press, 2018) by Joanna Lilley. Meet this Yukon-based author in an earlier blog post here. She’s a poet I admire and I look forward to reading her debut novel that begins with the line: “At minus eighteen, chocolate didn’t taste of much.” What happens when British art historian Jenny returns from the Canadian Artic to possibly face the religious cult world in which her parents may still be tangled up in? Time will tell.
Falling Forward (a chapbook) and Beauty for Ashes (a CD featuring voice, guitar, and piano) by Paul Sanderson. This limited-edition package features the work of a Toronto arts and entertainment lawyer who is also a member of the League of Canadian Poets and the Toronto Blues Society. An eclectic and poetic mix of words and images that begins with “Naked Writing” and “I Wrote a Poem Today” and a CD that begins with “After the Rain” and ends with a “Premier Minuet”. Learn more about his work here on his website.
The Long Bond – Poetry (Guernica Editions, 2019) by Allan Briesmaster. According to the publisher “The Long Bond is a gathering of the finest work from six books over four decades by a widely respected and remarkably versatile poet. It spans a massive range of subjects and styles, encompassing the Canadian landscape, music and art, love and family, science, technology, and the manifold challenges to a questioning mind on our anxious planet.” An earlier Q & A with Briesmaster appears here.
SEEN ON FACEBOOK
The list of new books on my Facebook newsfeed seems endless. I wish I could share them all. Here are just a few examples:
Love You to Pieces by Marsha Barber to be launched September 18, 2019. More details TBA. See a Q & A and review of her earlier poetry collections here.
Radiant – Poems (Inanna Publications, 2019) by Kate Marshall Flaherty. See a blog post about her earlier work here.
Two new books by the former poet laureate of Mississauga Anna Yin. See a review of her earlier work here.
ANTHOLOGIES AND E-ZINES, WITH THANKS TO THE EDITORS
Anthologies and journals are great places to read the work of other writers. Thank you to all the editors who selected my work for their 2019 projects: three poems in Awesome Onyms: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry (Beret Days Press, 2019) compiled by Fran Figge; two poems in the Big Pond Rumours zine, final issue; three poems in Dancing on Stones (Beret Days Press, 2019) edited, compiled, and illustrated by John Di Leonardo. (More information about Di Leonardo’s debut trade book appears here); two photographs in Devour: Art and Lit Canada Issue 003; and five poems in Tenfold: An Anthology of Poetry by 10 Life Members of The Ontario Poetry Society (Beret Days Press, 2019).
Two ash-tree themed poems in the next issue of The Nashwaak Review.
Discovered treasures in a second hand shop: The Essential Tales of Chekhov (ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000 edited by Richard Ford with translation by Constance Garnett and Into the Water a novel by Paula Hawkins, author of the bestselling book The Girl on the Train.
In my mailbox: the latest copy of The Malahat Review, my consolation prize for being rejected in the most recent long poetry contest. (Never give up right?) Looking forward to reading the winning and short-listed poems.
Also on my “books read” shelves: several books by Toni Morrison including Beloved, and The Bluest Eye. News concerning her death was announced earlier today. Perhaps, it’s time to re-read her work. A powerful writer indeed!
THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
As a child, one of my dreams was to read every single book in my parent’s house and when that was done to move onto the books in the local library.
As an adult, I’m still working on reading all the ‘unread’ books on my shelves. I could be busy for a long time. Happy reading everyone and if you have a few minutes after you finish a book, post a ranking or review on Goodreads. It helps to get Canadian (and international) books and authors noticed.