25th Trillium Award


At the Desk: Erin Bow

For each book we readers eagerly open, there's a writer who's spent countless hours researching, organizing, writing and rewriting. The place where all this happens is unique to every writer, and we love nothing more than to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the site where it all happens. In Open Book’s At The Desk series, writers tell us about their creative processes and the workspaces that inspire them.

Physicist-turned-author Erin Bow sits us down at her desk today to talk about the lengths she went to finding the right space to write. Warning: it involves dancing and poles! Erin is one of the authors featured in our Kitchener-Waterloo Recommended Reads list. Her latest book is the young adult adventure Sorrow’s Knot (Scholastic Canada).

Terry Burns appointed Owen Sound’s Newest Poet Laureate

From our friends at the League of Canadian Poets:

Terry Burns appointed Owen Sound’s Newest Poet Laureate

Read Ontario, with Ian Hamilton

Ontario has a wealth of fantastic writers and amazing stories. From October to mid-November the Ontario Book Publishers Organization is highlighting a selection of Ontario's finest writing from some of the great Ontario publishers. Pick up an Ontario book and “Read Ontario!”

But just where does the magic happen? Visit the Open Book: Toronto and Open Book: Ontario websites over the next few weeks to find out how living in Ontario has influenced some of our best authors.

Ian Hamilton is the author of five novels in the Ava Lee series, including The Water Rat of Wanchai (House of Anansi), which was the winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. His unlikely heroine, smart and savvy forensic accountant Ava Lee, has captivated crime fiction readers with her intellect and detective skills. Fans can look forward to the sixth instalment in the series, The Two Sisters of Borneo, forthcoming from House of Anansi in September 2014.

Visit a participating Read Ontario independent bookstore to purchase your copy of his latest novel, The Scottish Banker of Surabaya or click here for details on how you can enter to win The Scottish Banker of Surabaya and 41 other Read Ontario books.

Lynn Coady Takes Home the Giller Prize!

It's an amazing year for Canadian women writers, and an amazing year for the short story. Congratulations to Lynn Coady, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for Hell Going (House of Anansi Press), a collection of eight short stories that "offer a stupendous range of attitudes, narrative strategies and human situations, each complete and intricate, creating a world the reader enters as totally as that of a novel, or a dream" (Jury citation). Coady's previous book, The Antagonist, was shortlisted for the 2012 Giller Prize.

Open Book is proud to include Lynn Coady in our roster of Writers-in-Residence. Visit her WIR Blog here.

You can also read her perspective on literary prizes and judging in the Open Book interview Jury Duty.

Focus On: Waterloo Region - The Recommended Reads

By Ginger Pharand

It's time to get wild with our Recommended Reads as we Focus On: Waterloo Region this November. Home to Wilfrid Laurier University Press and The New Quarterly Magazine, there is always something literary going on in Kitchener-Waterloo. And with the Wild Writers Festival just about to start up for its second season, it's a great time to take a look at the region's writers.

Waterloo Region offers readers a smorgasbord of genres, from Edna Staebler's classic cookbooks to David Chilton's record-smashing financial guide to Tamas Dobozy's award-winning fiction. And if you're a teen reader in Ontario, you'll find Kitchener-Waterloo is the place to be for new releases in young adult fiction. If you're in the area, there's no better place to pick up this month's Recommended Reads than Waterloo's must-not-miss destination, Words Worth Books.

With special thanks to Timm Vera and the City of Kitchener for permission to publish the photos in this series.

Writing Fatherhood, Part Two

by rob mclennan

Read "Writing Fatherhood, Part One."

At a reading he did recently at the Ottawa Public Library, Monty Reid introduced a new poem he’d been working on for some time, originally composed to acknowledge the birth of his daughter. Poems by male writers on their young children, he suggested, tend to be more sentimental than those by their female counterparts. Women who write on their children are often less sentimental and more gritty, perhaps for the sake of the experience being far more physical. Reid's solution was to write about a retained placenta and only obliquely about his daughter. The resulting poem, “Meditatio Placentae,” is scheduled to appear in The Malahat Review, most likely in the upcoming “Winter 2013” issue. Digging through books, I’m able to reacquaint myself with Dale Martin Smith’s Black Stone (Effing Press, 2007). As he writes to open the collection, “I began Black Stone on the first day of the Christian observance of Lent. My second son, Waylon, was born during that period, and I wanted to explore the narrative of days around his birth.” Predominantly structured through the single-paragraph prose-poem, the book begins:

HERE SWIMS THE EARTH-BOUND babe, moving day and night. Speak through a thin shell of skin, fluid deep on the other side. I kiss Hoa’s broad belly. Trace her linea negra, pubis to breast-bone. Outside a perfect crescent moon points both ends up to make a horn. “Mama Luna Moona,” I said to my son, rhyming with the “Foona Lagoona Baboona” in Dr. Seuss. The February night’s cold, black but for that moonlight and a few silver constellations bright enough to break the city’s orange aura. There’s a dead chinaberry downed by last week’s storm. It fell into the giant cane, golden shells clumped about utility wires and where a cardinal this morning sang. Her belly is warm, exposed to a steaming cup of tea. She sips it and shows me where the baby kicks. Like burbling, gurgling fluid black as stone. I touch the movement where my hand nearly cups a little butt. Head down. Open the gates. Let in the light. And my son holding a plastic toy. The air outside’s quite still. Now the sound of traffic enters the room.

Writing Habits: These Happy Golden Years

By Carrie Snyder

I call my writing “work,” but that’s mainly tactical, to convince others that writing is something I really must be doing. No one ever questions you if you say you’re going off to work. Even children take this very seriously. But I’ll let you in on the truth: writing isn’t work, for me, though I’m not suggesting it’s recreation, either. Writing is breathing, it’s therapy, it’s sanity, it’s expression, it’s habit, it’s compulsion, it’s delight, it’s celebration, it’s adventure, it’s discovery, it’s mystery. I could go on. But for the sake of simplifying the editing process (which, by the way, is also not really work, for me) I will stop. Unlike any other job I’ve tried, writing is never something I don’t want to do, and I have the sneaking suspicion that were I not bound to reality by my responsibilities — in the very specific form of four active children — I would disappear inside my imagination and never come out again. Or rarely. You’d probably glimpse me around town in running gear mumbling to myself as I pounded past in all weathers. There she goes — you know, she’s a writer.

And so I count my blessings: pressing pause to exit my head at regular intervals, and dash around in the real world, ferrying children to activities, reading to them, meeting up with friends, cooking meals and participating in the primal stuff and bother of actual life. I’ve learned, over years of necessary practice, how to move between worlds, being as present as possible wherever I happen to be. This fails only when I’m in the midst of a serious plot-push, desperately trying to dump every idea onto the page. That’s when, stirring a pan on the stove while listening in stereo to children begging for snacks and screen-time, I sense myself tuning out, pulled into my imaginary spaces, trying to untangle imaginary problems, my eyes going blank, and I regret it, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Focus On: Waterloo Region

The Waterloo Region is a haven for great minds — including the many gifted and, yes, wild writers who make their homes here. Kitchener-Waterloo is the base for two of the country's best steadfast independent publishers: Wilfrid Laurier University Press and The New Quarterly Magazine. The unparalleled Words Worth Books, host of many spirited literary discussions and readings, is a community-oriented bookstore with an incredible hand-picked selection of books and magazines. And the new Wild Writers Festival, the region's first lit fest, is gearing up for its second season! Follow Open Book: Ontario throughout the month of November as we Focus On: Waterloo Region.

With special thanks to Timm Vera and the City of Kitchener for permission to publish the photos in this series.

A New Chapter for Chaudiere Books

From our friends at Chaudiere Books:

Since Ottawa literary publisher Chaudiere Books was founded by Jennifer Mulligan and rob mclennan in 2006 the press has produced an impressive 13 titles of poetry and fiction (including a couple of anthologies) by writers both emerging and established. Originally founded in part to advocate for the enormous amount of literary activity around Ottawa, Chaudiere has produced single-author titles by a number of locally-based writers including Nicholas Lea, John Newlove, Anne Le Dressay, Monty Reid, Pearl Pirie, Marcus McCann, and Clare Latremouille. Attempting to engage Ottawa writers in a conversation with writers across Canada, the press has also produced works by Meghan Jackson, Michael Bryson, and Joe Blades. Unfortunately, due to a series of life events and sundry other things, the press has been unable to keep to a regular schedule since 2010.

Co-founder Jennifer Mulligan officially left the press earlier this year to focus on her work in film and Ottawa poet, designer and book conservator Christine McNair has stepped in to fill the role of co-publisher. With the assistance of Monique Desnoyers (web designer) and Stephen Brockwell (sage advice); we've been enormously busy over the past few months (apart from the fact that McNair and mclennan are expecting a child any day now) working towards a return to a proper publishing schedule, beginning with the publication of our first new title in December.

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb

In their new book, Tax is Not a Four Letter Word (Wilfred Laurier University Press), father-son pair Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb seek to bring some much needed clarity to the tax argument in Canada by getting to the heart of what taxes are for and what citizens expect in return for them. Dating the current public thinking on taxation to neo-liberal economic policies from the early 1980s, they want to start a new conversation about whether Canadian politicians will stand up to political pressure in order to enact tax laws that meet the needs and wants of the country’s citizens.

In this instalment of The WAR Series (Writers As Readers), the authors share which books most influenced them during the writing of Tax is Not a Four Letter Word — but expect much more than economic texts on this list!

Alex and Jordan will launch Tax is Not a Four Letter Word in Toronto on Tuesday, November 5. They'll be joined by three of the book's CCPA contributors: CCPA Advisory Board Chair Jim Stanford, CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie and CCPA Ontario Director Trish Hennessy. Visit our Events page for details.

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