Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Niagara’s Literary Scene

Open Book: Niagara
Focus on: Niagara
A Guide to Niagara’s Literary Scene
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Each writing community in Ontario is unique, with different hang-outs, habits, landmarks and opportunities. Open Book is set to celebrate the vibrant literary cultures in regions across our province with our new "Focus On" series. We'll highlight events, introduce key players in the community, promote the local literati and publish new articles about the literary experience in each locale. You won't want to miss our regional Recommended Reads or our monthly contest...a $50 credit at the local bookstore of your choice!

We kick things off with Focus On: Niagara! Check in with us all month long for the talk of the towns we've got in our spotlight.

Niagara Landmarks

Niagara Literary News

Read Ontario, with Michael Ripmeester

Ontario has a wealth of fantastic writers and amazing stories. This October 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.

Michael Ripmeester is a professor of Geography at Brock University. Today, he tells us how living in the Niagara region inspired him and his co-editors, Phillip Gordon Mackintosh and Christopher Fullerton, to uncork the stories behind this bountiful wine region. The World of Niagara Wine (Wilfrid Laurier University Press) is a collection of essays that explain the history of wine making in Niagara and explore the significance of the industry to the region today.

Visit a participating Read Ontario independent bookstore to purchase your copy, or click here for details on how you can enter to win The World of Niagara Wine and 41 other Read Ontario books.

Behind the Books, with Kaley Stewart

When we think of the people behind the books we love, we generally think of writers. But many people work in a variety of professions to get those books onto your shelves. In our new series, Behind the Books, Open Book speaks with the printers, publicists, book sellers, book bloggers, event programmers and many others who work in the publishing industry.

Kaley Stewart has had a lifetime love affair with books, and it's one she hopes to continue with a career in the book industry. Her passion for reading led to the launch of Books Etc., her popular book review blog, in November 2010. Kaley is working on a publishing certificate from Ryerson University to complement her communications studies degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and her event management diploma from Conestoga College. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her bunny, Tonks, discovering new authors (especially Canadian ones), and meeting other book lovers.

Kaley has recently completed internships with both Random House Canada and Project Bookmark Canada. In her Behind the Books interview, she shares her experiences as an intern at Random House Canada, from envelope stuffing to celebrity sighting. Check back with Open Book in the coming weeks to find out about a different sort of internship with Project Bookmark Canada. In the meantime visit Kaley's blog, Books Etc., for some excellent reviews on a wide variety of books.

The Dirty Dozen, with Ward Kaiser

Writers can't always be sure how their readers will react to their books. In his version of the Open Book Dirty Dozen, Beamsville author Ward Kaiser shares comments he received in response to his provocative new book, How Maps Change Things: A Conversation about the Maps We Choose and the World We Want. His responses are shown in italics.

Lonely As a Cloud, with Leigh Kotsilidis of Fish Quill Poetry Boat

The Fish Quill Poetry Boat are paddling their canoes down the Grand River once again, giving poetry readings and musical performances at cafes, farmers' markets and bookstores during the ten days of their adventurous tour from Elora to Six Nations. This year's poets are Linda Besner, Leigh Kotsilidis, David Seymour, Gillian Savigny and Stewart Cole, as well as musician Grey Kingdom. They kicked their tour off with a reading at Toronto's Tranzac Club on Thursday, June 13. Since then, they've read and camped in Elora, West Montrose and Kitchener-Waterloo. You can catch up with them on Wednesday, June 19th in Cambridge. Visit our Events page for details. Later, they'll hit Paris, Brantford and Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

These intrepid voyageurs have a special perspective on the writing life. To find out more about these paddling poets, we'll follow their lead as they drift down the Grand. Today, Leigh Kotsilidis tells us about her book, Hypotheticals (Coach House Books), which challenges our notions about what we think we know with "a beautiful recklessness."

The Proust Questionnaire, With Jade Alyssa

Jade Alyssa, also known as Jade Wallace, is a St. Catharines poet who lives in Toronto. She has been a student of formal education and is in a band called The Leafy Greens. She has published with Grey Borders Books, Dead (G)end(er) magazine, Conversation Poetry Quarterly and Poetry Sz and performs regularly at the St. Catharines Poetry Slam.

Jade will be reading in St. Catharines with Andrew Faulkner (Need Machine, Coach House Books) and Sarah Pinder (Cutting Room, Coach House Books) for the Grey Borders Reading Series on February 22, 2023. Go to Open Book: Ontario's Events page for more information.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Jade tells us about her greatest extravagance, her favourite poets, where she would like to live and much more.

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.

Garden City Writing

By Harry Tournemille

The life of a writer, you've got it made. Ever hear that? I get it every once in awhile, usually from people who don't write. The conversation begins with how rough their work week has been, the revelation of a particular bit of drama, and then the comment. I assume they have a romantic notion of what a writer is, what it means to write. Perhaps they think I parade around in my pyjamas all day, staring out the windows at cats and squirrels. That I am insulated from the woes of the world, from real people and their endless pursuits. That I revel in what does not matter. How can I tell them otherwise? The truth is writing can be a painful grind, but it's a truth known only to writers.

Two years ago I moved to St. Catharines with my family. We were living in B.C., tucked into a reasonably welcome bit of Vancouver's suburbia, and going through the motions of commuter living. I was studying Writing and Philosophy while my wife was working as a 3D senior artist for a video game company. Life was crazy. Days bled one into the next, along with a sense of spinning our wheels. We asked ourselves what we were trying to keep up with and discovered we were chasing nothing. Our hectic lifestyle was our own doing. So we moved.

A Fond Farewell to Dead (G)end(er) Magazine

By Phil Miletic

Last month I ran into Lindsay Cahill, founder of the Dead (G)end(er) biannual literary magazine, and I asked her about the details for the launch of the fourth issue. I had thought that dg was a quarterly magazine and it was its one year anniversary. Lindsay corrected me, reminding me dg is a biannual publication, so it’s already been two years. I couldn’t believe it had been that long since the launch of the first issue of dg, which featured many local young artists, including myself, from the Niagara region mostly, but a few artists from Toronto as well. Since then, the third and fourth issues received a revamped look and a sleeker design than the previous two issues and have featured artists from around the world. And so I gave my congrats and best wishes to future issues, but my words of encouragement were met with a sad smile and disappointing news: the fourth issue would be dg’s last.

Automobiles and Literature: An Interview with Anne Osborne, Publicity Chair of the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association

By Phil Miletic

Recently, I've found myself asking others about the length of time they have spent at a particular job. These conversations typically are with friends’ parents since I’m at the age (I’m 23) where you can have a chat and a beer with your friends’ parents and talk about Life. I am never prepared for their answers: I’m fresh out of grad school, having completed my MA in English this past summer, and am now managing a temporary living as a teaching assistant, which contract lasts until April. So their answers are always incomprehensible to me, not because they are speaking in another dialect; rather, because it’s usually much longer than I have spent being alive, never mind at a job. My response collapses into gibberish, and I end up embarrassing myself, preventing any further conversation. How do you talk about being in the workforce with someone who has 30 years to your 14-week contracts without sounding like a complete idiot, like some young punk who knows nothing of what’s being discussed, yet still talks anyway?

Luckily it was through email when Anne Osborne, Publicity Chair of the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association (CAA), responded to my request for an interview for Focus On: Niagara. “You're on! Ask away! I've been here since the branch began in 1983.” That’s 29 (nearly 30) years! Now that’s dedication, and a lot more time than I’ve spent dedicated to finding a permanent job. Allow me to pause for a moment to recollect myself.

Five Things Literary: Niagara, with Eric Schmaltz

Focus On: Niagara brings you the best of Niagara's literary scene — but if you had to only choose five literary hotspots to hit, our Five Things Literary guide is the place to start.

Five Things Literary: Niagara was contributed by poet and critic Eric Schmaltz, who co-curates the region's hottest reading series, Grey Borders Reading Series. Their next reading features Troll-Thread, Ferno House and Avant-Garden on Friday, November 16, 2022. Visit our Events page for details.

Coming Soon to Niagara: The Suppermarket Series

The arts scene in Niagara is always evolving — we can pack 1,300 glamorous artists and spectators into a warehouse for STRUTT, our wearable art show, and we can certainly fill a winery to talk about food, music and books. The SupperMarket Series, a line-up of events dedicated to celebrating culture and community, is coming soon to the Niagara region.

Every Wednesday, SupperMarket organizer Lauren O'Malley Norris will host a delicious, dynamic evening focussing on food, movies or life skills, with the final Wednesday of each month featuring literature, music and — as always — good food. Book lovers and writers at any stage in their career are invited to attend for an evening of good food, poetry, writing advice and other literary hijinks. Visit their website for more details.

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