25th Trillium Award


The WAR Series (Writers as Readers), with Melissa Hardy

The WAR Series (Writers As Readers) gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Melissa Hardy's new novel, Surface Rights, was published last month with Dundurn Press. A darkly humorous novel about loss, family and determination, Surface Rights is the story of a woman who thinks she has lost everything — until she discovers she has something left to fight for.

Melissa's WAR Series interview could actually be a list of essential reading for any book lover or writer, so if you're looking for books to add to your stack of holiday reading (or your wish list), you couldn't find a better selection.

On Writing, with Fred Dawkins

A new year is approaching — and many of us will be planning for new jobs, new writing projects, new approaches to our lives. One book that will help inspire and inform many New Year's resolutions is the just-released Everyday Entrepreneur: Making it Happen (Dundurn Press), by Fred Dawkins. Fred is co-founder of The Olde Hide House and has made many other entrepreneurial leaps in his long and successful career. His latest, of course, is as a writer. In today's On Writing interview, Fred explains how he brought 40 years of experience together into one fascinating book — one that, according to Terry Fallis, has such a great narrative that "you may not realize how much you’re learning until you’ve turned that last page.”

Waiting for the Story: Shane Neilson, on Writing Will

Shane Neilson is best known for his poetry and criticism, but for many years he has had a collection of short stories brewing. Will, published this fall with Enfield & Wizenty, covers expansive territory, drawing from trials in his own personal life, his professional experience as a medical doctor and, of course, wide-ranging reading. Cultural figures from Vladimir Nabokov to Michael Jackson to Alden Nowlan make appearances, as does the iconic World War I poet John McCrae.

Today, Shane tells us about the long road he travelled with this manuscript, and why it was important for him to write — and wait — with patience.

Find out about the book that changed Shane's life in his previous feature, "On Forgiveness: Reading Nowlan's The Wanton Troopers"

Poets in Profile, with Vivian Hansen

Vivian Hansen is a poet and the co-founder of the Calgary Women's Writing Project. She teaches writers' workshops and is a dedicated participant in the vibrant writing community surrounding her. Her new book, A Bitter Mood of Clouds (Frontenac House), is a moving and evocative long poem that follows the life of Anne/Arne, a hermaphrodite born in Denmark who travels to Alberta where a new life may begin.

In today's Poets in Profile interview Vivian reveals the tragic moment that revealed poetry to her, and shares some of the poems that keep her singing.

Writing Fatherhood, Part Four

by rob mclennan

Read Writing Fatherhood, Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

The Key of N

Dividends, bewildered powers. Stretch-marks, nursery. Secondary heart-beat. Listen: blood pools, pulse, the powdered structure. Spilling forth. Grammatic, slowness. Slowness of the ground, the passage, seasons’ fall. Belonging to. Fragments, disappear. The sun sometimes divides, a music. Pressure points. Take pleasure in, a run-on, run-off. Sentenced. Is the theme of voice. Montage, a vessel. What, you hold her. Listen, pulse. Attention, all. As if to recognize.

Over the first two weeks of November, I composed poems for my second daughter, uncertain if she was days or even hours from emerging. Perhaps the waiting, and the unknown, is the worst part of all. Apart from the pain, Christine reminds. Over the years, one of my favourite book dedications has been from George Bowering’s In The Flesh (McClelland & Stewart, 1974) that reads: “dedicated to Thea Claire, who arrived just then.” The photo on the back cover includes author and newborn daughter, as Thea chews contentedly on her fist.

Just how do male writers write about their offspring? The male perspective as parent and caregiver couldn’t be more interwoven with confusion, contradiction and mixed signals. Still, the deeper I delve into our bookshelves, the more examples I discover. Winnipeg poet Dennis Cooley, father of two now-grown daughters, includes the poem “megan” in the “New Poems” section of his sunfall: new and selected poems 1980-1996 (Anansi, 1996). The piece gives the impression of a newborn still in the hospital under a health scare, as he writes “the moon / is eating you yellow as the jaundice / you were born into Christmas,” and further lines such as “lie now inside your fear,” and “we both know there is nothing i can do / cannot scare off the wolves this night / which always before you have turned / to anger now you lie quiet / at the ends of my frightened love[.]” Cooley writes:

you on the end of our lives
something is in & they will enter
the thin membrane of your breath
your life that lifts from our throats
wanting you to float there forever
moving as moons should move
    bright & perennial as the night which turns
                  into a second fullness
        stuck on the sky’s high ceiling
                        our silent calling

On Writing, with Steve Burrows

Steve Burrows has travelled the world to pursue his twin passions of birdwatching and journalism. Now that he's settled in Oshawa, he's preparing for the release of his debut novel, the murder mystery A Siege of Bitterns (Dundurn Press). Inspector Domenic Jejeune is the Canadian detective abroad at the heart of this new series — an enigmatic man, his skill as a detective is matched by his love of birdwatching, and the two pursuits don't always align. In today's On Writing interview, Steve introduces us to JeJeune and explains how birders and writers are driven by a similar quest, one that must be guided by a particular set of goals and rules. Watch for the publication of A Siege of Bitterns this coming spring.

The Proust Questionnaire, with Juleta Severson-Baker

In her latest book of poetry, Incarnate (Frontenac House), author, performance teacher and birth doula Juleta Severson-Baker uses the body as a camera, reflecting the ways in which we connect with each other and the world around us, and the ways in which we withhold that touch. Whether artfully balancing poignancy and humour in a poem about a 40-year-old woman and the very young stranger “working my touch screen” in “Sometimes; from the edge of a city ” or capturing an exquisite tenderness in the final moments of a couple’s lovemaking in “His Gentleness With Her,” Incarnate reveals an ease with the language of the body in all its expressions.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Juleta shares her love of her homespace, a flock of birds she adores and the importance of mindfulness in her life.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

The Proust Questionnaire, with Christian McPherson

Ottawa writer Christian McPherson is the author of four books of short stories and poetry, but it was in his 2010 debut novel Cube People (Nightwood Editions) that he introduced us to would-be writer/government office worker Colin MacDonald. The often hilarious and occasionally terrifying misadventures of Colin continue in Christian’s follow-up, Cube Squared (Nightwood Editions), in which Colin faces off against middle age, an enemy far more threatening and volatile than the slow smothering of bureaucratic and domestic ennui.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Christian McPherson coins a useful phrase, explains his beverage schedule and reveals a soft spot for little plastic bricks.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

Ontario Elementary and High School Students Have the Write Stuff

IFOA Ontario & Open Book: Ontario announce this year’s winners of Write Across Ontario competition

After much deliberation, IFOA’s touring programme, IFOA Ontario, and Open Book: Ontario are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Write Across Ontario creative writing competition. Students in grades 5 to 12 were asked to write a story in 500 words or less, using the story-starter provided for their age group by one of four well-known authors. This year, Kevin Sylvester provided the story-starter for grades 5–6, Richard Scrimger wrote one for grades 7–8, Lesley Livingston covered grades 9–10 and Dionne Brand created the story-starter for grades 11–12. The story-starter was used as a place for students to begin their story, but where the story went from there was in the hands of each individual.

The (Quotable) Dirty Dozen, with Barry Dempster

Barry Dempster is best-known for his Governor General's Award-nominated poetry and for his role as editor at Brick Books. This is an exciting season for fans of Barry's work: not only did we see the publication of his latest book of poetry, Invisible Dogs (Brick Books), we've also been rewarded with a novel, his first in 20 years. The Outside World is an absorbing coming-of-age story set in the suburbs of 1960s Toronto, and it's just been released with Pedlar Press. In his very own version of the Open Book Dirty Dozen, Barry shares twelve memorable quotes that describe his life and state of mind right now.

Barry Dempster will launch The Outside World at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on Thursday, December 12. Visit our Events page for details.

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