Category Archives: News-Events

Supporting Sarnia-Lambton’s Literary Scene

“Create community wherever you find yourself.” – Audrey Stringer*

Sarnia-Lambton’s literary community continues to evolve.

Between 2010 and 2018, this southwestern Ontario region has lost seven key and prolific members of its literary community, a few others have moved to other areas, several more have vanished behind closed doors to write, read, or just mourn their loss of friends, family, pets, health, or job.

So many fond memories of Sarnia and area writers sharing their work at The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.

However, despite the changes, several local writers continue to write and share their words with the public. Some are already well known; others are just making a name for themselves. Some are traditionally published while others have self-published their manuscripts. Over the years, I’ve featured several Sarnia-Lambton writers on my blog.

Today, I’m sharing a compilation of new and familiar writers who are in the literary spotlight this autumn. I hope you will help to celebrate their accomplishments with a loud standing ovation. (My apologies if I’ve missed anyone. Please send me a note in the comment’s section and I will make a note to feature them in an upcoming blog.)

Audrey Stringer’s Fourth Book has Arrived at The Book Keeper

111 Butterfly Moments: Tips to Embrace and Live Life with Joy.

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‘Travelling The Lost Highway’ with Sarnia Writers Deahl & Linder

We awaken to distant thunder,/the sound of rain in the black walnut – James Deahl*

Three cheers and a thunderous applause for Sarnia’s literary couple James Deahl and Norma West Linder who continue to travel and entertain readers and audiences with their prolific work.

James Deahl and Norma West Linder are prolific award-winning Canadian writers who call Sarnia, Ontario, Canada their home. Both launched new work on September 9, 2019.

Last month, their double book launch officially introduced Travelling The Lost Highway, Deahl’s 164-page poetry collection inspired by some of the secluded Canadian and American roads Deahl and Linder travelled as a couple plus Perk’s First Love– A 1984 Drum Corps Summer, Linder’s fictional novel aimed at the youth or young adult market.

Featured books at Double Launch September 9, 2019 in Sarnia

 The double book launch featured more than just two books.

Both shared their work at the literary celebration which also included readings by four contributors to Tamaracks and Lummox anthologies. Guest readers were Joseph A. Farina, Ryan Gibbs, David Haskins, and Rhonda Melanson.

Featured readers at double launch September 9, 2019 in Sarnia

The launch included readings by Joseph A. Farina, Norma West Linder, David Haskins, James Deahl, Ryan Gibbs, and Rhonda Melanson.

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Gertrude’s Writing Room – Behind the Scenes with Vanessa Shields

I want roots in a space so I can do all the things I love to do in one location – and invite everyone to share the space with me! – Vanessa Shields*

Set up the ‘famous-author-themed’ chairs, open up the front door, and roll out the literary welcome mats! She did it!

“A gathering place for writers.” That’s how the website describes Gertrude’s Writing Room, a Windsor-based venture created and run by Vanessa Shields, local editor/mentor/instructor/poet and author of several books including the Black Moss Press poetry collections I Am That Woman (2013) and Look At Her (2016).

Vanessa Shields at Gertrude's Writing Room Open House Photo by Kara Smith

Welcome to Gertrude’s Writing Room: a Windsor-based venture created and run by Vanessa Shields! Photo by Kara Smith

Shields is no stranger to this blog. Back in 2016 in a Q and A post featuring her second poetry collection, she reiterated her long-time dream of opening “a space for creative writing, book launches, reading series, storytelling series, reading…with delicious coffees/teas and fresh pastries. I have no idea how to life this dream to life, but it’s there and very real in my mind.”

Fast forward several years! Shields is indeed realizing her long term goals. Not only did she “life” a modified version of her dream, but over the summer her business Gertrude’s Writing Room celebrated its first year anniversary with an open house in a new location inside Willistead Park, 1899 Niagara Street.

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Introducing Naming the Shadows by Sharon Berg

We were breaking strict rules, heading towards the high, crumbling hillside that was the northern face of this valley called Cedar Vale – Sharon Berg*

 What happens next for Elke, the young protagonist in Sharon Berg’s fictional tale “Trespass” is a heart-wrenching account of how quickly innocence can slip into a dangerous and dark abyss. The tension builds and as a reader, I am left scarred similar to my feelings after reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Will the horrors between bullies and victims never end?

However with shadows comes light and for this Sarnia writer her ability to shock (and move readers into action) is offset by her caring and strong interest in portraying the human experience in its painful as well as its tender, healing moments.

For almost a year, Facebook followers have received teasers about Berg’s upcoming short fiction collection Naming the Shadows to be published by the established trade publisher The Porcupine’s Quill based out of Erin in Wellington County. She’s proudly shared the cover depicting a painting by Alvinston artist Liana Russwurm and has created on-line posters for her upcoming book tour. “Trespass” is part of this new book which includes 9 short stories and two novelettes.

September 29, 2019 in Sarnia

Launching September 29 at The Book Keeper in Sarnia: Naming the Shadows (Porcupine’s Quill 2019) is the debut short fiction collection by Sarnia writer Sharon Berg. Special guests include Berg, artist Liana Russwurm, and poet/musician Tom Gannon Hamilton who will offer background music as she reads from the book.

Now the real work will begin!

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More Advice from Poetry Contest Judges

Who licks the gold stars/Decides on the winner,/The one who rises to/The next level? –Debbie Okun Hill from the poem “Licking Glue from Gold Stars”*

Behold the various opinions of poetry contest judges!

When I was an elementary school student, the grade one teacher would place a shiny gold star on any assignment deserving top marks. Sometimes, for special occasions, she would replace the star with a seasonal sticker such as a jack-o-lantern, a holiday wreath, and/or a bright red valentine. Oh, how this little reward was intended to motivate classmates to do their best! Not once did I ever doubt the teacher’s ability to judge.

Gold Stars - yellow 1

However, over time, I’ve discovered that to judge another person’s work is a huge responsibility, sometimes it’s subjective depending on the judge’s preferences, and when it comes to evaluating poetry, it’s not an easy task.

Earlier this summer, I posted a blog feature outlining my criteria or rough guidelines for blind-judging and selecting My Sister Rides A Sorrow Mule by John B. Lee as the a prize-winning poetry chapbook for a recent contest. See the blog post here. Upon sharing the information, I asked for opinions from other contest judges.

Below are the responses I received:

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In the Theatrical Spotlight – David Stones as The Poet

My whole life shining/charged and fused/with its wick of burning flesh. – David Stones*

Toronto bard David Stones is on fire! He may consider himself a “weekend writer or poet”, but his highly-successful poetry collection Infinite Sequels (Friesen Press 2013) and his poetic performances (based on the book) are certainly attracting attention.

With blazing spotlight performances at the Stratford SpringWorks 2015, the London Fringe 2018, and most recently at the Hamilton Fringe 2019, he and his work have been labelled as “dazzling,” “unforgettable,” and ‘utterly mesmerizing.”

July 19 to 28, 2019 in Hamilton

David Stones’ “dazzling” performances are inspired by his book Infinite Sequels (Friesen Press 2013).

I’m not surprised. As a successful businessperson, Stones is proficient in wooing an audience for a standing ovation.

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Booked for the Summer plus Fall 2019 Releases

 

“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.

November 27, 2019 in Sarnia

Each year Sarnia’s indie bookstore, the Book Keeper, hosts numerous visits by emerging and established authors. Canadian author Margaret Atwood will be in the area in November but event tickets are already sold out. Photo courtesy of The Book Keeper

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.

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