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    The Ref Centre

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    When it comes to searching for poetry and short stories, or any book really, there's nothing quite like browsing the shelves of your local library, waiting for the books to reach out and grab you, but when it comes to essay-writing season there's no substitute for the convenience of a good, solid, academic database.

    The timing couldn't be any better for our newest, and my new favorite, E-Library resource. Last month one of my co-workers gracefully introduced me to the Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre in the blog "In Search of Short Stories" and I've been hooked ever since. Also since then, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize. Then Lynn Coady won the Giller for her short story collection 'Hellgoing'.

    A good year for the form often considered inferior to the novel.

    Regardless of where we stand on that useless debate, any one looking to master the craft of fiction is going to find everything they need to dig deep into these shorter forms, both classic and contemporary. To be specific:

    • more than 51,000 full-text short stories
    • more than 700,000 full-text poems
    • more than 10,000 dramatic works
    • audio recordings of poets reading their own work from Academy of American Poets
    • more than 450 poem explications
    • 542 eBooks
    • lesson plans from The Poetry Foundation

    Whether you are a student of literature or a teacher (and if you're a writer you're likely striving for both), the Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre may become your new go-to spot for pretty much everything. Give it a whirl!

    Loud in the Library

    by Phil

    Calgary's 4th Annual Literary Vaudeville is gonna a be loud one.

    This Thursday, join host Ken Cameron as he presents 4 wonderful writers at the historic Memorial Park library - Rita Bozi, Kris Demeanor, Naomi K Lewis, and Marika Smythe. This year's Vaudeville will also feature a special guest - the 2013-14 Writer-in-Residence from the University of Calgary Distinguished Writer's Program: Sara Tilley.

    It all gets started at 7:00pm. Memorial Park is located at 1221 - 2nd street SW

    You can read teasers from this year's lineup at the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program page.

    And you can find the performers' work on the shelves of your local library:

    Skin Room, by Sara Tilley Harvest & Other Plays, by Ken Cameron I Know Who You Remind Me Of, by Naomi K Lewis The Guilt and the Shame, by Kris Demeanor

    Where the Wrimotaurs Roam

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The Calgary Wrimotaurs are now officially roaming as National Novel Writing month is upon us. The official Wrimotaur anthem states that Calgary's NaNoWriMo novelists will find their Home, home on the page, Where the verbs and the adjectives play, but as that goal for 50,000 words before December 1 looms heavy and beautiful over our heads, it will become very important to spring away from our fictional worlds and find a second home. A warm, inviting place free from domestic distraction that's quiet enough to get some work done, yet bustling with the life you need to breathe into your novel.

    Oh, give me a home...

    And if this second home also offers an endless selection of material for research and inspiration to keep your plot thickening, well that's a bonus. Oh! Hey! On top of that, why not include the guidance of award-winning Canadian Novelist Lawrence Hill - who just so happens to be appearing at several library branches in early November as part of One Book One Calgary.

    From November 7 to November 10 the library offers 6 opportunities to connect with Lawrence Hill in OBOC Author Talks. Might be nice to hit all six, but if you only go to one, make it this one: a double whammy featuring our 2013 Writer-in-Residence Barb Howard, immediately following our NaNoWriMo "Write-Ins":

    Saturday, November 9, 2:30 to 4 p.m.

    Memorial Park Library

    "From the Authors: Lawrence Hill and Barb Howard"

    Join us for coffee and cake as Lawrence Hill and Writer in Residence Barb Howard discuss the process of writing fiction and the challenges of writing as a way of life. Register.

    Happy Novel Month to All!

    Calgary Stories

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Aerial view of Calgary looking north across downtown and Victoria Park. 1924.There's a natural hunger growing in this city for stories to help us understand and celebrate our past, and this weekend the library is shovelling up loaded spoonfuls. Heritage Weekend 2013 runs from October 25 - 27 and all of the events are potential gateways for any aspiring Calgary writer to discover characters, stories, and hidden corners of history capable of breathing real life into your work.

    The one event I've got circles around for us writers is taking place at the Central library on Saturday, October 26, at 2pm. Historian Laureate Harry Sanders will host a crew of distinguished historians and storytellers for "Calgary Stories" as they serve up some of their favorite tales from the past. Harry's guests will be John Gilpin, Lorna Crowshoe, and David Finch.

    They've already done the research!

    All we have to do is sit back and let the inspiration soak in.

    And if you really do want to see the past come to life, stick around for "Calgary: An Improv History", starting at 3:30pm.

    While it's convenient to have all this spoon-fed heritage on one weekend, remember that the library is your go-to spot for local history research, year round. The local history room on the 4th floor of the Central Library is filled with treasures, and when you can't come downtown but need a history fix in the middle of the night, there's the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library, where you will find postcards like the 1924 beauty included above, as well as digitized historic maps, Century Homes, the Judith Umbauch photograph collection, and more. Do beware though, Calgary's history can be addictive, habit forming.

    Come Write In

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It's time to put on those bull horn helmets, stock the cupboards, and pound out 50,000 words. November is National Novel Writing Month, more conveniently known as NaNoWriMo, and we want the library to be your personal headquarters for preparation, research, production, and anything else involved in your process that's allowed in public. 'NaNo' is meant to be a fun, "seat of your pants" approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working toward the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel before the final minute of November 30.

    As we see it, the beauty in NaNoWriMo is threefold:

    1. Creating a regular writing practice
      So many of us struggle to write every day. During NaNoWriMo you write—a lot—every day, helping to create the habit of making the time to write and then actually writing.
    2. Completing a major length writing project
      Will it be your best work? No. Will it get published? Not likely. Will you realize that you can write a novel to completion and learn a whole lot (about yourself and you as a writer) from the process? Yes.
    3. Community Support
      What most consider the most important aspect of NaNoWriMo is the community support. There are websites, international and local online and in-person meet-up groups, support from others who see the fun and folly of writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

    To get ready, the Central library is hosting two pre-NaNo workshops on Saturday, October 26:


    PHENOMENAL PLOTS - 12 NOON

    Discover how to analyze popular stories in order to understand how to get your readers’ hearts pounding and keep them turning pages long past bedtime. Register here.


    CAPTIVATING CHARACTERS - 2 PM

    Learn and share tips with your fellow writers. We’ve all read characters we couldn’t stand, or loved a character so much we cried when they died. Join a lively discussion on what makes us root for the underdog or love to hate the villain. Register here.


    **Please note that both workshops will take place on the 5th floor of the Central library.

    *Our program guide lists the location as Lower Level Meeting Room, but this area is closed due to ongoing flood recovery efforts.

    Heck, even if you don't plan on participating in NaNoWriMo these workshops are a great chance to sharpen up some skills and meet like-minded neighbours to bounce ideas off of. And because libraries are the ultimate place to write - the domestic distractions of home are eliminated, the calm-yet-lively atmosphere nurtures focus, and you surround yourself with all the glorious material you could ask for in terms of research and inspiration - we are hoping that any and all Calgary WRIMOTAURS come and plug in at any of our 18 branches across the city. Our doors will open 29 out of 30 days in November (closed for Remembrance Day) and on November 9th the Memorial Park Library is hosting two Write-In sessions.

    Register for 11AM - 1PM SESSION

    or

    Register for 2 - 4PM SESSION

    To learn more about Calgary's regional NaNoWriMo group, the Wrimotaurs, take a look at our 'Interview With A Wrimotaur' to hear it straight from our fearless leaders. Happy NaNo everybody!

    Industry Insiders at Wordfest

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    With headliners like Palahniuk, Atwood, and Boyden at this year's Wordfest it's easy to get excited for the festival's kick-off on October 14. At my house the date with the most circles around it is October 16, otherwise known as "Barbara Reid Day", when Calgary audiences have two opportunities to see the author of Subway Mouse, Perfect Snow, Two by Two, and dozens more.

    Barbara Reid's first Wordfest appearance will take place right here in the Central library's John Dutton Theatre at 10am as she presents her new book The Night Before Christmas. This first one's for the kids (K - Grade 2) and you can find tickets here.

    Later the same day, across the street at the Epcor Centre, Barbara Reid will join Eric Walters and Anthony De Sa on a panel of 'Industry Insiders' to discuss Books in the Classroom. Hot topics for educators, librarians, and of course, the writers who write the books, will be discussed by these experienced, award-winning authors. Find tickets for 'Industry Insiders'.

    BARBARA REID is the critically acclaimed Canadian author and illustrator of over twenty books, including Picture a Tree, The Subway Mouse and Welcome, Baby. Her timeless storytelling paired with her vibrant Plasticine illustrations result in utterly original picture books that are loved by children and parents alike. Reid has received major Canadian children’s book awards, including the Governor General’s Award for Illustration for The Party, and the Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon Award for Perfect Snow. In 2012, she received the Order of Ontario. This fall, readers will be dazzled by her stunning version of The Night Before Christmas. Reid lives in Toronto, Ontario.

    ERIC WALTERS began writing in 1993 as a way to entice his grade five students into becoming more interested in reading and writing. At the end of the year, one student suggested that he try to have his story published. Since that first creation, Walters has published several novels which have all become bestsellers and have won over eighty awards. He is a tireless presenter, speaking to over 70,000 students per year in schools across the country. Eric is a father of three and lives in Mississauga, Ontario.

    ANTHONY DE SA is a teacher-librarian and author who grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. De Sa’s critically acclaimed book, Barnacle Love, became a finalist for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2009 Toronto Book Award. At WordFest, De Sa will present his new novel Kicking the Sky.

    Wordfest

    by Phil

    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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