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    Wordfest

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It's almost here. The week when many of the world's best writers gather in Calgary to share their stories. With more than 65 events to choose from in the span of 7 days, covering a truly vast array of literary angles, it can be a bit daunting figuring out which writers not to miss.

    When the 2013 lineup was revealed in August names like Margaret Atwood, Michael Crummey, Joseph Boyden, and Lisa Moore had us all nodding along "Yes, yes... this is good" and now with the 64 page Wordfest guide (completely redesigned for 2013) in hand we can really dig into the essence of this year's festival des mots.

    One event I didn't notice until seeing the guide, which is kind of shameful considering the nature of this blog, was WRITERS BOOK CLUB, featuring Jowitka Bydlowska, Douglas Glover, Sue Goyette, and Elizabeth Ruth discussing how they approach the books they read. We all know the best advice for writing is READ READ READ, but are we getting the most out of our reading? Are we reading like writers?

    Another event I missed on my first scan, which I don't want to miss on October 18, is SCREECH: A DELICATE EVENING OF LITERARY THUNDER FROM BELOVED NEWFOUNDLAND WRITERS. This event will bring together Michael Crummey, Wayne Johnston, David Macfarlane, Lisa Moore, and Michael Winter for "a literary spin on a traditional 'screech-in' ". Hard to resist because of the potential chemistry of mixing this many artists from the friendliest place in the world. Hard to resist just to say I've been to a 'screech-in'. You can find the work of all these authors at your local library:

    Which Wordfest events are you going to this year? Let everyone know in the comment box so no one misses out. Happy Wordfest to all!

    An OBOC Treat for Writers

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    What happens when the entire city reads one book?

    For one thing, the month of November gets packed with a wide range of library programs capable of bringing together the whole city. From drum circles to the science of cartography. From the recent politics of immigration to candid conversations with author Lawrence Hill, Calgary will connect over the challenging, enlightening novel The Book of Negroes.

    This year One Book One Calgary is also teaming up with the library's Writer in Residence Barb Howard for an irresistable look into the process of writing fiction. On Saturday, November 9, at Memorial Park Library, two award winning authors will sit down to give us a behind the scenes look into their process and into the challenges and rewards of writing as a way of life. The event runs from 2:30 to 4pm. It's a long way to November but I have a hunch this one will fill up quick. Register here.

    For guidance and inspiration from an award-winning author before November, the library's Writer in Residence program is in full swing. Don't miss Barb Howard's next installment of 'Reckless Writing' - a workshop full of fun writing prompts and exercises and advice. The next topic is 'Tangible Textures' and the session will be held at Memorial Park Library on Tuesday, October 8. 6pm. No registration required.

    Barb will also be branching out with an appearance at the Signal Hill Library on Thursday, October 3 where she will read from a selection of her works and talk about her experience as a writer. Register here.

    The Writer in Residence service only lasts 3 months, September to the end of November, so don't miss the unique opportunity to work with and learn from a professional, award-winning author.

    The Shuffle

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    I've always thought the best way to experience poetry was on the page, in a book, examining how the poem comes to life from its own structure. Something about hearing a poem read aloud is far too fleeting, new lines coming at me too quick. I need to savour and pause at my own pace, turning to the next poem only when I'm ready.

    Saturday may change all that.

    House of Blue Skies, the RE:act Collective, filling Station magazine, and Poet Laureate Kris Deameanor have teamed up for 'The Poetry Shuffle'- a leisurely 5 km stroll down the banks of the Bow with poetry readings and pit stops along the way. From Kensington to Inglewood in the company of some our city's finest poets. Everyone is welcome to shuffle the whole way, or join up at any of the nine destinations:

    DESTINATION**

    POETS

    A. 11:00 a.m.

    Pages in Kensington (1135 Kensington Rd NW)

    Anne Burke, Cassy Welburn, Sheri-D Wilson

    B. 11:30 a.m.

    Poetic Park Plaza (at 4th Ave SW + 9th St SW)

    Bob Stallworthy, Cecelia Frey

    C. 12:00 p.m.

    Peace Bridge (Prince’s Island Park)

    Kirk Ramdath, Diane Guichon

    D. 12:30 p.m.

    Prince’s Island Park (Festival Stage)

    Kris Demeanor, Dymphny Dronyk

    E. 1:00 p.m.

    Sien Lok Park

    Vivian Hansen, Lori Roadhouse Haney, Max (Danny)

    F. 1:30 p.m.

    Central Library (616 Macleod Trail SE)

    Kris Demeanor, Samantha Baldwin, Emily Ursuliak, Richard Harrison

    G. 2:30 p.m.

    East Village (in front of Simmons Mattress Factory, Confluence Way & 5th St SE)

    Weyman Chan, Wakefield Brewster, Adrienne Adams

    H. 3:00 p.m.

    Fort Calgary

    Tara Scaglione, Ian Kinney, Chick Hurst

    I. 4:00 p.m.

    Inglewood – Alexandra Writers’ Centre Park (922 9th Ave SE)

    Caitlynn Cummings, Rosemary Griebel

    **Times of arrival at each destination are estimated.

    At some spots the Shuffle will stop just long enough for the poetry and at other spots there will be time to rest and recharge. The most exciting stop, of course, will be STOP F - the Central Library!! where we will welcome shufflers with refreshments. Don't forget to bring your library card and check out our vast collection of local poetry.

    Join the Shuffle. Breathe in the river. Celebrate areas and businesses recovering from the flood. And get involved in an Invest YYC campaign for a forthcoming anthology, The Calgary Project - A City Map in Verse and Visual.

    Keep up to date on this highly changeable event on its Facebook page.

    New in the 'Nook

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    New titles land on library shelves every day. It is my mission to sort through them all and pick it out the most useful, inspirational, and interesting releases from the perspective of a writer looking for an intellectual, technical, or grammatical boost. Here's five for September:


    Bough Down, by Karen Green

    With fearlessness and grace, Bough Down reports from deep inside the maelstrom of grief. In this profoundly beautiful and intensely moving lament, artist and writer Karen Green conjures the inscrutable space of love and loss, clarity and contradiction, sense and madness. She summons memory and the machination of the interior mind with the emotional acuity of music as she charts her passage through the devastation of her husband's suicide. In crystalline fragments of text, Green's voice is paradoxically confessional and non-confessional: moments in her journey are devastating but also luminous, exacting in sensation but also ambiguous and layered in meaning. Her world is haunted by the unnameable, and yet she renders that world with poetic precision in her struggle to make sense of not only of death but of living. In counterpoint, tiny visual collages punctuate the text, each made of salvaged language and scraps of the material world-pages torn from books, bits of paper refuse, drawings and photographs, old postage stamps and the albums which classify them. Each collage--and the creative act of making it--evinces the reassembling of life. A breathtaking lyric elegy, Bough Down uses music and silence, color and its absence, authority of experience and the doubt that trembles at its center to fulfill a humane artistic vision. This is a lapidary, keenly observed work, awash with the honesty of an open heart.


    Please, No More Poetry: The Poetry of derek beaulieu

    Please, No More Poetry is the first selected works of derek beaulieu. As the publisher of first housepress and, more recently, No Press, beaulieu has continually highlighted the possibilities for experimental work in a variety of writing communities. His own work can be classified as visual poetry, as concrete poetry, as conceptual work, and beyond. His work is not to be read in any traditional sense, as it challenges the very idea of reading; rather, it may be understood as a practice that forces readers to reconsider what they think they know. As beaulieu continues to push himself in new directions, readers will appreciate the work that he has created to date, much of which has become unavailable in Canada. With an introduction by Kit Dobson and an interview with derek beaulieu by Lori Emerson as an afterword, "Please, No More Poetry" offers readers an opportunity to gain access to a complex experimental poetic practice through thirty-five selected representative works.


    Always Apprentices: The Believer Magazine Presents 22 Conversations Between Writers

    'Always Apprentices' collects five years of intimate, wide-ranging conversations with many of today's most prominent writers, taken from the pages of the 'Believer'. The participants don't limit themselves to issues of writing and craft, but instead offer unfettered exchanges on a wide range of topics-from what it means to be a consumer to whether or not to kill a deer, from how we get to know each other to walking while inebriated. The interviews feature the serious-yet-casual 'Believer' approach to the often staid interview format. For example, Sheila Heti asks Mary Gaitskill, "If you go into a room or go to a party, is there a basic disposition you have toward humans going through the world?" Elsewhere, Colum McCann begins his conversation with Aleksandar Hemon by asking, "What are we doing here? Why aren't we in a pub?" Other interviews include Don DeLillo talking with Bret Easton Ellis; Joan Didion talking with Vendela Vida; and Barry Hannah talking with Wells Tower.


    Web Designer's Guide to Wordpress: plan, theme, build, launch, by Jesse Friedman

    Legions of web designers and developers are choosing WordPress for building sites. That's because it's powerful, reliable, flexible, scalable--and more. This book is your complete guide to mastering WordPress theme development, covering everything from installation to leveraging the community and resources to improve your WordPress skills for years to come.

    With detailed explanations, real-life examples, and step-by-step tutorials, you'll find everything you need to build and deploy WordPress-powered websites with no prior server-side or WordPress development experience.


    Sin and syntax: how to craft wickedly effective prose, by Constance Hale

    Today's writers need more spunk than Strunk: whether it's the Great American e-mail, Madison Avenue advertising, or Grammy Award-winning rap lyrics, memorable writing must jump off the page. Copy veteran Constance Hale is on a mission to make creative communication, both the lyrical and the unlawful, an option for everyone. With its crisp, witty tone, Sin and Syntax covers grammar's ground rules while revealing countless unconventional syntax secrets (such as how to use--Gasp!--interjections or when to pepper your prose with slang) that make for sinfully good writing.

    A fully revised and updated edition with challenges and writing prompts in every chapter

    All book descriptions lifted from summaries in the library catalogue.
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    Share Your Work @ Central

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    After a flood-induced hiatus over the summer the Central library's Creative Writing Club is set to go for a new season. In this group participants will find an opportunity to share their writing, engage in fun exercises to get their creative wheels spinning, and perhaps most awesome: meet some like-minded aspiring writers to bounce ideas off of and share the joy of a good sentence.

    The Creative Writing Club meets every other Monday, starting September 9.

    Space is limited, but we still have a few spots available. REGISTER HERE.

    Any one who's had their hands on our September – December Program Guide may be confused by the meeting location listed as "Lower Level - Meeting Room 1". With Central's Lower Level currently CLOSED for flood repairs (which will include the construction of additional meeting rooms) the Creative Writing Club will move upstairs to the 2nd floor Program Room.

    Just starting down the path of creative writing? Looking for some good books on the subject? Try these classics!

    Bird by Bird: instructions on writing and life, by Anne Lamott Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg On Writing: a memoir of the craft, by Stephen King

    Launch Plans

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Some important dates are creeping up for anyone out there looking to take advantage of the library's 2013 Writer in Residence service. This year Memorial Park library will host award-winning author Barb Howard for three months of manuscript consultations, 'Reckless Writing' workshops, author reading events, and more.

    September 1. This is the first day to submit manuscripts and set up a consultation. Please read the Manuscript Submission Guidelines, which include poetry, fiction, children's, articles, and non-fiction.

    September 5. Welcome Barb Howard to her new position at the official Program Launch. She will read from a selection of her works and outline plans for her residency. A reception will follow. 7pm. No registration is required.

    September 10. The first installment of 'Reckless Writing' - one hour of prompted fearless writing followed by one hour of discussion. Starts at 6pm and again, no registration is required.

    It's all free with your library card.

    For more information on Barb Howard check out the author's website and read this local news story from the Cochrane Eagle.

    I feel a bit like I'm writing a car commercial now, but a program with this much value really only comes around once a year, so don't miss the opportunity to take your writing to the next level, no matter what level that may be.

    Wordfest Workshops

    by Phil - 1 Comment(s)

    Of all the wonderful opportunities coming from October 14 to 20 courtesy of Wordfest - including more than 65 writers coming to town for an incredible range of events - none may be more valuable to the aspiring writer than the Wordfest Workshops. This year there are 4 workshops. One of them is already SOLD OUT so don't hesitate to get signed up for the few remaining spots. Update! Sept. 14 - MORE TICKETS FOR TERESA TOTEN NOW AVAILABLE!

    The 2013 festival lineup is now available at wordfest.com and it features a special Pre-Festival event. On September 25 Wordfest presents Amanda Lindhout with her memoir A House in the Sky - "a story of courage, resilience and extraordinary grace. Her curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia."

    Now, those workshops:

    Tuesday, October 15

    WRITING FOR KIDS WITH CARY FAGAN

    This intensive workshop includes hands on writing exercises, discussion and tips on igniting a child’s imagination through storytelling.

    Cary Fagan is an award-winning children’s author, a writer of adult novels, an editor and a contributor to a number of magazines and newspapers. He has twice been a Toronto Book Award finalist, and he has won the Jewish Book Award and the World Storytelling Award.

    Thursday, October 17

    WRITING FICTION WITH MICHAEL WINTER

    Award winning author and the mind behind Minister Without Portfolio shares tips on how to write compelling yet believable fiction at this workshop packed with writing exercises, insider advice and in-depth discussions.

    Michael Winter is the author of a number of novels, including The Architects Are Here and The Big Why. He has been short-listed for the Giller Prize and Roger Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and received the Winterset Award and Writers Trust Notable Author Award for his previous work.

    Saturday, October 19

    WRITING MYSTERY WITH PETER ROBINSON

    Bring a pen and notebook to this workshop, and learn more about the art of building tension and suspense in mystery writing through fun, interactive exercises and engaging discussions.

    Peter Robinson is the recipient of numerous awards for his Inspector Banks novels, including the prestigious Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for the French translation of In a Dry Season and several Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel.

    Saturday, October 19

    WRITING YA FICTION WITH TERESA TOTEN


    Learn how to mine real-life experiences as inspiration for stories geared to young adults in this workshop for writers of all ages and levels.

    Teresa Toten is the author of the acclaimed Blondes series, as well as other books including The Taming, co-written with Eric Walters, and The Game. Toten has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award.

    *All event descriptions and artist bios lifted from wordfest.com

    WWC in YYC

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Karma is biting this blogger big time. Last week I dissed the month of August whole-heartedly and now August is taking every chance it gets to tell me I was so wrong. This weekend is the third When Words Collide festival, known for bringing a wide variety of guest authors, publishers, and passionate fans together for "a sharing of information, for learning, and to build a sense of community."

    The festival runs from August 9 – 11.

    Get full details from the When Words Collide website, including the complete list of presenters & panelists. This list includes local author Axel Howerton, who will appear on the panels "Pushing the Limits of Traditional Mystery" and "Violence in Literature". This week's FFWD features an interview with Howerton. Read it.

    You can find the books of this year's guest authors at your local library. Click the book covers to place a hold.

    SHIRLEE SMITH MATHESON

    PATRICIA BRIGGS

    BARBARA FRADKIN

    DAVID B. COE / D.B. JACKSON

     

     

     

     

     

     

    JAMIS PAULSON

    MICHAEL CASSUTT

    Alphabet Soup

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    A mild layer of confused distress sometimes settles over the days of August. It's the month when kids can't even enjoy summer knowing it's quickly coming to an end. Record companies and book publishers and movie producers save all their good stuff for later. August is summer's December - better when it's over. August is a vague, lazy, sloth waiting for the forward drive of September. If this sounds too cynical, take a look at Slate Magazine's article titled: "August: Let's get rid of it", by David Plotz, and you'll see it's all very real. I strongly support Plotz's idea to extend both July and September by ten days, reducing August to a ten-day breeze. The modification would leave enough time for the month's #1 attraction: the three-day People's Poetry Festival, which will leave its bright, inviting mark on Calgary from August 16 - 18.

    The Calgary Public Library is a proud supporter of The People's Poetry Festival and its valiant mission "to tear apart the notion that poetry is reserved for academic elites and enlightened beatniks". On August 17th our Louise Riley branch will host "Alphabet Soup" - a poetry workshop to help you craft your own abecedarian, or alphabetical poem (for example, look below!). The workshop runs from 11am to 12:30 and we still have a few spots left. Register here.

    Here, now, is my first rushed attempt at an abecedarian poem...

    August

    Behind the

    Curtain of July

    Delaying our

    Eager push to

    Fall and

    Gasp for

    Home

    Instead of

    Jostling for

    Kinetically

    Liberated

    Moments in

    Non-jacketed late night

    Options

    Perhaps

    Questioning

    Rest

    Sometimes even

    Turning

    Under the

    Very

    Wheel with

    Xenolithic

    Youth and

    Zero meaning.

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    An Author's Authority

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It can be a real sludgefest when it comes to finding the right book to help writers with their writing. Over the summer I've been picking away at updates to our 'Writer' book lists and the publishing niche is just so convoluted that it's nearly impossible to keep up with. There's a lot of people out there trying to get the most out of their literary ambitions and a ton of writers willing to write books to tell them how.

    It's pretty easy, right off the bat, to avoid any books with the words 'SELL', 'BESTSELLER', or 'MONEY' in the title, but that still leaves me with hundreds of books with space in my list for about twenty. After sampling dozens of titles I got a lucky break during a camping trip when I had a chance to finally start reading Tom Bissell's 2012 book of essays, Magic Hours.

    Four essays in I encountered an authoritative voice on the subject of how-to-write manuals. The essay is titled"Writing about Writing about Writing" and anyone considering consultation in the how-to section might want to get their hands on Magic Hours first. In his own insecure search for authoritative guidance Bissell seems to have familiarized himself with many of the classic staple how-to-write books and his perspective on the subject is blunt, honest, and valuable.

    After a discussion of whether writing is teachable, whether how-tos are useless, and declaring John Gardner's On Becoming A Novelist as the book that literally taught him how to write, Bissell usefully separates the different types of manuals into four categories: 1) "The User's Manual", 2) "Golden Parachute", 3) "Nuts, Bolts, Tea & Angels", and 4) "Olympus".

    I'll be going into detail for each of Bissell's categories as I compare his recommendations with our collection, hoping to create the ultimate writer's booklist, but in the meantime here are the most prominent titles from each category...

     

     

    "User's Manual" "Golden Parachute" "Nuts, Bolts, Tea & Angels" "Olympus"
    For a firm, confident grasp on the English language.

    For those focused mostly on success and popularity.

    For a peek behind the curtain of a writer's literary secrets. For opinions, philosophy, and advice from highly-esteemed writers.

    Stay tuned for the final, updated 'Nook booklists. And please leave a comment below to tell us about the books you've encountered that must make the list.

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