25th Trillium Award

Five Things Literary: Mississauga with Robin Richardson

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As part of our mapping of literary Ontario, we're highlighting five things about literary life in communities throughout the province. What do our cities, towns and villages have to offer writers, readers and the curious? Follow Five Things Literary to find out.

Today's feature on literary life in Mississauga was contributed by Robin Richardson, author of Grunt of the Minotaur (Insomniac). In addition to her collection, Robin's work has appeared in numerous magazines including Contemporary Verse 2, The Puritan and The Toronto Quarterly.


Mississauga is a suburb in the Western region of the GTA. The Mayor of Mississauga is a ninety-year-old woman named Hazel McCallion. She's been the Mayor for thirty-three years. There's no downtown in Mississauga. There are only malls, highways and the occasional ravine.

1. In Airstream Land Yacht, (Anansi) Ken Babstock has a poem about Mississauga called “The World's Hub,” which he performed at the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2007.
        "A hilltop to the moon over Mississauga —/ chip bags, flattened foil wrappers, shopping/ carts growing fur of frost..."

2. Jeff Latosik, author of Tiny, Frantic, Stronger, (Insomniac) wrote of his hometown in a poem called “Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School,” which was later printed on a "Literary Plaque" in the Mississauga field in which the poem is set, as part of Project Bookmark Canada.

3. The Mississauga Literary Festival takes place annually in September at The Living Arts Center (a building that was erected while I was still living there). The festival includes a meet-and-greet with over thirty authors, an open mic, a kid's zone and several rows of exhibition booths where local authors, cartoonists and publishers display and sell their wares. Visit the Mississauga Literary Festival at the Mississauga Library website.

4. My mother's house is a three-bedroom townhouse at Mississauga Valley Blvd, inhabited by pool players and bibliophiles. There are over 10,000 books in piles along the walls, or in boxes or stacks in the corner of every room. The books range in genre from Sci-fi, to mystery, trick-shots to taxidermy. There's also a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf set aside exclusively for rare, signed and hard to find editions, which she collects compulsively and occasionally sells on eBay.

5. Rattlesnake Skipping Song by Dennis Lee:

            Mississauga rattlesnakes
            Eat brown bread.
            Mississauga rattlesnakes
            Fall down dead.
            If you catch a caterpillar
            Feed him apple juice;
            But if you catch a rattlesnake
            Turn him loose!


Robin Richardson is pursuing her MFA in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in many Canadian and American journals, including Contemporary Verse 2, Dandelion, Berkeley Poetry Review and The Westchester Review.

Would you like to contribute five things about literary life in your community? Send an email with your ideas to [email protected].

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