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    Pressed Into Silence

    by Phil

    The day before the opening of Sochi's Olympic games 217 prominent writers from around the world signed an open letter to condemn Russia's anti-gay laws. "As writers and artists," the letter states, "we cannot stand quietly by as we watch our fellow writers and journalists pressed into silence or risking prosecution and often drastic punishment for the mere act of communicating their thoughts."

    The full letter letter can be read courtesy of The Guardian.

    So now Putin falls to his knees, apologizes, and repeals the laws, right?

    Of course not. But that's not the letter's intention. Among prominent Canadian authors who signed the letter (including Lawrence Hill, Jane Urquhart, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje), Yann Martel appeared on CBC news from his basement in Saskatoon to explain why. Martel's hope is to "remind Russians that they can do better" and also to remind Canadians that "nations thrive the freer they are. Every nation needs to be reminded of that. Not just in Russia, but also here in Canada."

    The campaign, unfortunately, is not unique. Since 1921 PEN International has been promoting and fighting for the global freedom of expression. Since the letter to Russia was posted on February 6, PEN has posted 22 other headlines in the span of two weeks. It may seem far away from us here, but as the open letter to Russia eloquently states, these issues contribute "to the political and intellectual shape of the world far beyond their country's borders."

    Calgarians looking to celebrate freedom of expression, or just looking for an inspiring night out, have a lot to choose from during the Freedom To Read Week (February 23 – March 1). On Thursday, February 27th, at 7:00pm, the library will be at Owl’s Nest Books to present the winners of the Calgary Public Library’s Freedom to Read Contest.

    The following night Wordfest and the Writer's Guild of Alberta present GUILTY (READING) PLEASURES. Local artists Rosemary Griebel, Christian Bök and Jeff de Boer will discuss what they read purely for pleasure and the topics that obsess them the most. That's Friday, February 28, at Shelf Life Books. Reception and presentations from 7pm onwards.

    And of course — the #1 way to celebrate... READ!

    Local Lookout

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    If you couldn't get your hands on a ticket to see Neil Gaiman's sold-out appearance on February 24 as the U of C's Distinguished Visiting Writer, don't worry, the second half of February is chock-full of some seriously interesting literary events to stimulate our oh so ready-to-thaw brains. Both events listed below will take place at Shelf Life Books (100, 1302-4th Street SW).

    Thursday, February 20, at 7:30pm

    2014 SINGLE ONION LECTURE SERIES (Part 2)

    "The Thinkership of Conceptual Literature"

    The Single Onion offers part two of the 2014 Lecture Series, with an event featuring a lecture by Christian Bök and readings by derek beaulieu, Gregory Betts, and Ken Hunt.

    Click here for complete details.

    Friday, February 28, 2014, 7pm

    GUILTY (READING) PLEASURES

    Join the Writers Guild of Alberta, Wordfest and Shelf Life Books for an interactive evening of laughter, wine and storytelling in celebration of Freedom to Read Week. Local artists Jeff de Boer, Christian Bök and Rosemary Griebel will discuss what they read purely for pleasure and the topics that obsess them the most.

    The recipient of the 2014 Freedom to Read Award, presented by The Writers’ Union of Canada, will be announced and honoured at the event. Hosted by Shelley Youngblut


    Find all the poets' work on the shelves of your local library...

    Farewell, Sweet Study Guides

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    To make room on 4th floor for more study space and for indispensable genealogical records on microfilm, we are soon saying farewell to study guides in print form. While the information within literature study guides is indispensable, getting us through some of those dense texts required for high school and college English courses, the physical presence of the guides have been gradually replaced with online resources. So if you're struggling to get through an essay, cannot understand why Jay Gatsby keeps noticing that green light across the water, trying to wrap your head around Shakespeare, or just need to cheat a little bit, here's where to turn...

    The Calgary Public Library's E-Library offers Literature Resource Centre with full-text journal articles, critical essays, author biographies, author portraits, work overviews, contextual essays and explications. Also includes the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature which provides 10,000 definitions of literary terms.

    Also in the E-Library we have the 'Shakespeare Collection' which "includes the Arden full-text, annotated scholarly editions of the complete works of Shakespeare, with introduction and appendices. The database contains primary source material, criticism from the 17th century to the present and general reference data." For those translations into modern-day english, search the library catalogue with the terms "Shakespeare Made Easy" and/or "Shakespeare On the Double".

    For the study of poetry and short stories, go directly to our write-up on the new Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre.

    All E-Library databases are free to access with your library card.

    Fare thee well, study guide. Your coffee stains, dog-eared pages, and pencil marks will be missed. Now here are some quick links to the best online resources for study guides:

    SparkNotes

    Our guides contain thorough summaries and insightful critical analyses. We offer more than 500 guides forEnglish literatureandShakespeare, and a vast number of guides forhistory,math,biology, and other subjects

    BookRags

    resources including encyclopedia articles, critical essays, student essays, biographies, primary sources, interviews, and study guides.

    Cliffs Notes

    CliffsNotes is the original (and most widely imitated) study guide. CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams.

    Pink Monkey

    A "G" rated study resource for junior high, high school, college students, teachers and home schoolers. The world's 'largest' library of free online literature Summaries, with over 460 Study Guides, Book Notes, and Chapter Summaries.

    The 'Weekend Wrap-Up

    by Phil - 1 Comment(s)

    First off, a big THANK YOU to everyone who spent last Saturday hanging out with us at Writers' Weekend 2014. It's the passion and dedication of Calgary's writing communities that keep us working hard to bring you the best presentations every year and we sincerely hope everyone went home with sacks full of wisdom-nuggets.

    If there was anything missing, or anything you'd like to see in the program for next time, please leave a comment below so we can get to work on the arrangements. Outside the theatre at the library's Resource Fair table we were under a bombardment of interest in the free online writing courses available in our E-Library. It's called Learn4Life and with your library card you have access to a wide range of highly interactive courses that you can take entirely online. Courses run for six weeks and new sessions begin every month. From L4L's main page if you click the 'Writing & Publishing' category, then choose 'Creative Writing' (we also offer Business Writing, Grant Writing, and Publishing) you will find a list of 26 courses. Enrolling is easy, but we have a step-by-step guide to get you started.Calgarys first Poet Laureate... Whos Next?!

    One thing that was missing from this year's Writers' Weekend was poetry. With just one day to dive into the always-growing world of writing resources, we cannot possibly cover everything every year, but it didn't leave a lot of room to discuss the upcoming deadline for nominations for Calgary's next Poet Laureate. The bad news is we won't have Kris Demeanor providing his bang-on reflections of our city in his work (it's a two-year term). The good news is another two-year term will begin and you can HAVE A SAY in the selection process for Calgary's next Poet Laureate. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, February 14, at 4:30pm. Go to the Calgary Arts Development website for complete details.

    The 'Nook blog would also like to send out a big congrats to all the winners of the 'Just Write' contest. Looks like the future is in some highly capable, super creative hands. You can read the winning entries posted in our Teen Zone blog.

    And don't forget to let us know what you thought of the 'Weekend so we can go even bigger (or perhaps smaller) next year!