25th Trillium Award

Windsor & Essex County

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Focus on: Windsor & Essex County
A Guide to Windsor & Essex County?s Literary Scene
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Windsor, Ontario's most southern city, has always had its own flavour and flair. Once a bootlegging port and a corridor for the Underground Railway, now a hub of cutting-edge literary activity, Windsor and the surrounding county of Essex have become the home of many outstanding writers, independent publishers, bookstores and reading series.

Windsor & Essex County News

Poets in Profile: Micheline Maylor

Micheline Maylor?s first collection, Full Depth: The Raymond Knister Poems (Wolsak & Wynn), was published in 2007 and praised by reviewers for its "imagistic poetics and exquisite lyricism." Originally from Windsor, Micheline now lives in Calgary, where she teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University. She has just published her latest collection, Whirr & Click, with Frontenac House.

Micheline joins the Poets in Profile series today, revealing her unlikely source of inspiration and how she deals with poems that refuse to be written.

Readers Write: The Road to Anderdon, by Mark Warren

By Mark Warren

For me, reading began in a one-room school house in Anderdon Township, Ontario. Not that I?m that old — I?m 64. But the separate school system in rural Ontario provided an education in the same building my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents had attended.

Our books were utilitarian, having been chosen by venerable men and women keen to protect us from ideas, moral untidiness and thoughts of adventure — reckless or otherwise. When needed, our teacher would retrieve these from wooden boxes stored in a crawl space under the school. Also under there were boxes containing ink pots and ice skates, along with spare desks, mounds of unused coal and rolled up maps, yellow with age and held together by string and strips of flaking tape.

There was more mystery in that space under the school house than any of the books given to us by the school board.

The Proust Questionnaire, with Anthony Maria

Author Anthony Henry Joseph Maria was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. He began his writing career working for his mother, who owned the newspaper LaSalle Silhouette in LaSalle, Ontario. He later went on to interview musicians for various local magazines. In 2006, he retired from journalistic writing and began to write his first novel Dear Me, a mystery love story that he published recently. Anthony lives in Windsor with his wife and daughter, and will have another daughter born in July.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Anthony tells us about his personal hero, an impressive weight-loss feat that took place when he was in his 20s and his idea of happiness.

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 WAR Series: Writers As Readers, with Christopher Greig

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

Today we find out about the reading habits of Christopher Greig, a professor at the University of Windsor. As we head into the season of wood-chopping, fishing and car-washing, Christopher's book Canadian Men and Masculinities: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (CSPI), co-edited with Wayne J. Martino, will serve to prove that the activities and attitudes of Canadian men are far more complex than the beer commercials would have us believe. He delves into issues such as fatherhood in the 21st century, black athleticism and indigenous masculinities.

Christopher is a life-long reader with a broad range of interests that have included the work of Dr. Seuss, Lynn Coady and a sneakily procured copy of Roger Caron?s prison memoir Go Boy! Memoirs of a Life Behind Bars.

Riverside Drive: Windsor-born Michael Januska's Border City Blues

By Megan Philipp

Riverside Drive (Dundurn Press) rumbles through the Border Cities during the difficult years following the Great War," says Windsor-born author Michael Januska of his debut novel and the first in his Border City Blues crime series. Scheduled to be released on May 25, 2023, the novel is set during the Prohibition era in six Ontario communities located along the Detroit River; they included the rural community of Ojibway, the town of Sandwich, the commercial centre of Windsor, the factory town of Walkerville, Ford City (the birthplace of Canada?s automobile industry) and the residential community of Riverside. Today, the Border Cities still exist as neighbourhoods within the city of Windsor. Januska is knowledgeable about the time period, explaining that before the 1920s, veterans returned home in search of opportunities in a time when there weren?t many — there had been a recession, an influenza epidemic, and food and energy shortages. This is where Riverside Drive begins, as Januska?s lead character Jack McCloskey returns home from the war, working jobs in factories and dockyards before turning to bareknuckle boxing for money and therapy. From there, a gang leader working a second job as a boxing promoter scouts out McCloskey for professional boxing matches, and later recruits him as his heavy, which Januska describes as ?the kind of guy an ambitious bootlegger? would have needed ?to get things done.? The early days of Prohibition, Januska explains, was a time when people were all about claiming territory, and veterans like McCloskey would have ?found themselves back in the trenches, so to speak.? In contrast with Jack McCloskey is Vera Maude Maguire, a young librarian who wants to escape the industrialized Border Cities but lacks the will to do so; she instead plays the role of detective, suspecting a neighbour of being a bootlegger. ?It was a time of great social unrest,? Januska enlightens, ?and there were those who sought to exploit situations for their own material gain and political power. Towards the end of the story a new breed of criminal descends on the Border Cities posing new challenges not only for local law enforcement but also for the underworld?s establishment.?

Get to Know Literary Windsor, with Vanessa Shields

This spring saw the launch of a book that belongs entirely to the city of Windsor, the writers near and far who have been inspired by the enigmatic City of Roses and the students who make their homes here while completing their degrees at one of the premier creative writing departments in the country. Whisky Sour City is a collection of poems inspired by Windsor that were submitted in response to a call for submissions from Poet Laureate Marty Gervais. These couldn't be just any poems: they had to have been written during three specific days in the summer of 2012. Between August 17 and August 19, 2012, the undercurrent of creativity that's always buzzing in Windsor must have been crackling at its highest pitch. The editors received over one hundred submissions. During the following months, guest editor Vanessa Shields and the students of the University of Windsor's Editing & Publishing Practicum worked hard to select, edit and publish this unique anthology. The finished project, Whisky Sour City: Poems from the South Shore, was published by Windsor's Black Moss Press in April.

Today, writer, blogger and editor Vanessa Shields tells Open Book how Whisky Sour City came to be, and shares how her own involvement with Windsor's lively, inclusive literary community enriches her own experience as a writer.

Windsor & Essex County: The Recommended Reads

By Erin Knight and Megan Philipp

Picture a high-stakes game of pool. When the cue ball strikes, the carefully aligned balls rocket off in all directions, finding their mark, dropping into the pockets or hitting another ball, altering its course. This is what Windsor & Essex County is like: the inspiration the area gives writers starts them off in any number of ways, so that the style, genre and trajectory of every writer is unique. There is a multi-layered creativity at work here in Ontario's most southern region, and a visit to the area — either in person or through the written word — is an experience that won't soon be forgotten. In our Recommended Reads list, you'll find memoir, poetry, children's books, short fiction and novels, and you're gauranteed to come away from these books feeling like you've just won that pool game. For more on Windsor's local authors, check out Melanie Janisse's feature article, "In The Underbrush: The Literary Tribes of Windsor".

Blog Alert! A Windsor-Based Book Blog: Palimpsest

Run by Dawn Marie Kresan, the publisher of Palimpsest Press, Palimpsest is a Windsor-based book blog that highlights Palimpsest Press news and general book-related information. The blog includes event pictures, award announcements, links to interviews, book reviews, general book news and more.

In the Underbrush: The Literary Tribes of Windsor

By Melanie Janisse


When asked to write this piece for Open Book, about the Windsor lit "scene," I found myself in a funny pickle. First off, I am a visitor to the area, having left a really long time ago and only recently returned for a short stay — I have no real idea what the "scene" is at all. To be honest, panic started to set in about writing this article, because as soon as a decent enough group of individuals accumulated in my mind to comprise a "scene," I would recall others that were missing, struggle to accommodate other times, an event would pop into my head that I had forgotten to include. There seemed to be no one solid form that I could put forward, but an entity with many moving parts that were difficult to keep track of. Instead of a nice neat package, difficult questions:

What is a scene? How can we quantify this into who "belongs" and does "not belong"? How do we take into consideration the different ways in which individuals pass though a physical space and contribute? How do we account for the passage of time?

I was tripping over the "scene," a thing frozen in time and space, inadequately suited to describe a complicated system of human interaction, never fully encompassing what is/has been/will be, and for these reasons and many more, I felt it was important to find a way to show the richness of the writerly "wanderings," "passings through" and "stayings" that can occur in the City of Roses without the word "scene."

Really, I felt no pressure at all.

Focus On: Windsor & Essex County!

Windsor, Ontario's most southern city, has always had its own flavour and flair. Once a bootlegging port and a corridor for the Underground Railway, now a hub of cutting-edge literary activity, Windsor and the surrounding county of Essex have become the home of many outstanding writers, independent publishers, bookstores and reading series. Stick with Open Book: Ontario throughout the month of May for Focus On: Windsor & Essex County and discover Windsor-based authors, BookFest Windsor, Black Moss Press and much more about this unique community of writers and readers.

Profile on Karl Jirgens? Rampike, with a few questions

By rob mclennan

Originally founded in Toronto in 1979 while he was a student at the Ontario College of Art + Design, literary journal Rampike is edited and published by Karl Jirgens, and now in its 34th year of publication. Appearing twice a year, the journal is currently produced out of Windsor, Ontario, where Jirgens serves as an associate professor with the University of Windsor?s English Language, Literature and Creative Writing Department. As he explains to Judith Fitzgerald in an interview for The Globe and Mail?s book blog (posted November 10, 2022), the journal originated in ?my basement in Toronto before it moved with me to Northern Ontario when I landed the job at Laurentian University prior to it accompanying me to my position as head of the English Department at the University of Windsor.? Even as the geography has shifted, the editorial scope has become more expansive, and the strength of the journal continues to be the mix of interview, review, poetry, concrete/visual poetry, fiction, criticism and visual art. Over the years, Rampike has long prided itself on producing an eclectic journal of ?international art, writing, and theory,? and most issues include lists of dozens of contributors from numerous countries around the world. In an interview with Joe Haske on American Book Review, Jirgens says:

Conducting Experiments: Poets and Poetry at BookFest Windsor

By Melanie Janisse

Phil Hall will be reading at Raw Sugar Café in Ottawa on November 24th. See Open Book's events page for details.

Poets in Profile: Nicole Markoti?

Find out what inspires, confounds and delights today's Canadian poets by following our Poets in Profile series.

Today Nicole Markoti?, author of the new collection Bent at the Spine (BookThug), tells Open Book about the surprising results of writing "dumped" poetry, visiting the town dump and dumping (and retrieving) poems-in-process.

Nicole will be launching Bent at the Spine in Toronto at the BookThug Spring Launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at Supermarket. Please visit Open Book: Toronto's Events Page for details.

Ten Questions, with Kevin Shea

We know that hope springs eternal for Leaf fans, but if you get too wistful for the team's bygone glory days, Kevin Shea's latest book of hockey history, Toronto Maple Leafs: Diary of a Dynasty, 1957–1967 (Firefly Books) will give your morale a boost. Here, Kevin Shea talks to Open Book about hockey writing, hockey heroes and hockey dreams.

Cheer the Leafs on tonight as they take on the Sens!

Five Things Literary: Windsor, with Marty Gervais

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 Windsor was contributed by Marty Gervais, author of The Rumrunners and over a dozen other books that span every genre.

This weekend you'll find some of Canada's finest writers at BookFest Windsor, which runs Nov. 4th to 6th. Visit the BookFest Windsor website for more details.

Windsor & Essex County Events

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