25th Trillium Award

GG Awards Series: Five Things Literary, with Sandra Djwa

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Sandra Djwa

Open Book continues the celebration of outstanding Canadian writing by featuring the winners of the 2013 Governor General's Literary Awards in the coming weeks. In this special edition of Five Things Literary, Sandra Djwa shares her most inspiring Vancouver hide-outs and landmarks. Her latest biography, Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page (McGill-Queen's University Press), the fascinating study of one of Canada's most important artists, was just awarded the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Congratulations, Sandra!

Five Things Literary: Vancouver, with Sandra Djwa

My literary community is B.C. (and maybe Newfoundland, for my next book). This includes literary friends on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and West Vancouver.

  1. The Vancouver Writers Fest, an annual six-day book festival in October. It brings Canada's best talent to Granville Island to read from their works together with stellar writers from around the world. In addition the Writers Fest sponsors literary events at intervals throughout the year. This year Writers Fest featured Joseph Boyden, Margaret Atwood, Anne Carson and Khaled Hosseini.

  2. The West Vancouver Library, where I find all the latest to read and a place to sit down and catch up with the latest international mags. It supplements books with coffee, cookies and cultural events. It was there that I gave my first reading from Journey with No Maps.

  3. The West Vancouver Community Centre, which provides good friends, exercise, interesting programs and good coffee. They have a wonderful pool, a hot tub and a weight room — just what you need from too many days in front of the computer.

  4. The sea walk along the ocean front which can be accessed a block from our house on Marine Drive and 29th Avenue right up to the Lion's Gate Bridge. This is a wonderful place to go, summer or winter, rain or shine (mostly rain in the winter). No matter how stuck you are in whatever you're writing, a good walk clears the head. Watching the sea in its various moods can also be very peaceful — except when the waves really pound in and drench you top to toe. I get some of my best ideas for writing on the seawall.

  5. The garden: it grows flowers, vegetables and metaphors. Because I'm retired, I can work when I please and garden when I please. In the early spring there are seeds to be planted, transplanted and weeded, and there is more gardening than writing.

Sandra Djwa is a Canadian biographer and critic. Born in St. John?s, Newfoundland, she received a Ph.D. in English from the University of British Columbia in 1968 and for many years taught Canadian writing at Simon Fraser University. She is best known for her prize-winning biographies The Politics of the Imagination: A Life of F.R. Scott (1987) and Professing English: A Life of Roy Daniells (2001), as well as for her literary essays and reviews of modern poets as editor of ?Poetry, Letters in Canada? for the University of Toronto Quarterly. A general editor of the Collected Works of P.K. Page, she lives in Vancouver, B.C.

For more information about Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page please visit the McGill-Queen's University Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore, online from the publisher or at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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