25th Trillium Award

Read Ontario, with Joel D. Harden

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Joel D. Harden

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.

Social justice consultant and Ottawa writer Joel D. Harden has just published Quiet No More: New Political Activism in Canada and Around the Globe (Lorimer), in which he explores global movements in activism and the ways in which citizens can take part in reclaiming their democratic right to effect change and take back their cities and countries. Today he reveals the deep, dark truth about his workspace and where Quiet No More was written.

Visit a participating Read Ontario independent bookstore to purchase your copy of Quiet No More or click here for details on how you can enter to win this novel and 41 other Read Ontario books.

Read Ontario: Joel D. Harden

When friends or family visit my basement study in Ottawa, my preferred spot for writing, they always furrow their brows in confusion.

Our main floor has a well-lit back room with a modern desk, a soft carpet, and a wall of exposed brick. Most assume this is where I work, but they soon find out otherwise. It is where we store house files, answer the phone, and watch movies. It is where we play games with our young children and practice the piano. For me, it is a place associated with fun, the precise opposite motif I need as a writer.

I prefer dark, secluded spaces for creative work. This is a habit begun in my early university years, when I lurked the basement stacks of Queen’s University’s Douglas Library. Where others were repelled by musty books and the dull hum of florescent lights, it was a familiar place for me. In those days, before the Internet and its related distractions, I would while away hours shaping narratives to suit various term papers. I needed that seclusion to focus on the task at hand, to forget about adventures that might be had elsewhere.

Today that old, quaint space at Queen’s is replaced with Stauffer Library — a towering modern structure filled with massive windows, sprawling staircases and a large reading room (equipped with a fireplace). The small carrels I once frequented downstairs are upstairs, with well-lit halls and wireless internet at the ready. My basement study in Ottawa is a reprieve from that hurly-burly mess.

As a progressive thinker, I am also mindful of its place in Ontario’s labour history. My basement was built by Irish immigrants who dug Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, often under back-breaking conditions. Its cement was created, it seems, with whatever was lying around; sediment spills onto the floor with the slightest prodding, making the mounting of pictures a hopeless exercise. And yet, what some consider dank and fragile is my own writer’s paradise, my reprieve from our endlessly busy world.

Joel D. Harden works as a social justice consultant in Ottawa and currently teaches at Carleton University in the Department of Law and Legal Studies. During his term as Adjunct Professor at Brock University he served as union liaison for its Centre for Labour Studies. He is an advisory board member for Our Times Magazine and has written numerous academic and general interest articles. He lives in Ottawa.

For more information about Quiet No More, please visit the Lorimer website.

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

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