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    Man & Other Natural Disasters

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Man & Other Natural Disasters, Nerys Parry reading at Central, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., March 16

    Simon Peters, a recluse full of half-cocked theories on every subject from heart-broken shrimp to the Jungian consciousness of DNA, spends his days hiding from his horrific past in the basement of the Calgary City Library. Enter Minerva, a twenty-two year-old business major whose ghostly resemblance to Simon’s dead sister compels him to reveal his shocking past: a sister who died of spontaneous human combustion, a father crushed in a rock blast, a mother who disappeared in a tornado—all during one hot prairie summer.

    But parts of Simon’s story do not add up. When he finds Minerva passed out and bleeding on his bathroom floor, he must conquer the tyranny of his own memory and confront what really happened that summer of 1962. But the truth, when uncovered, proves no less astonishing than the original tale.

    Based on real events recounted during the Sons of Freedom movement of the 60s, Man & Other Natural Disasters is a testament to the power of story in a world too often shaken by forces outside our control: nature, terrorism, death—even love. Of all the planet has yet to throw at us, the question remains: can we recover from the worst natural disaster yet—ourselves?

    Synopsis lifted from author website—

    Man & Other Natural Disasters

    Place a hold on Man & Other Natural Disasters.

    At noon, Friday March 16, join us at the Central Library as author Nerys Parry returns to the setting of her novel to talk about the 11 year journey to get her remarkable debut novel into print. Learn what it takes to get published in today's market from a "powerful and emerging talent" in Canadian literature.

    After the presentation, you are invited for a "behind the scenes" tour of the library's basement. See for yourself the location that inspired the novel's protagonist, Simon Peters.

    This event takes place Friday, March 16 on the Main Floor from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Register here.

    The Trouble with Poetry—Billy Collins in Calgary

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    the trouble with poetry is
    that it encourages the writing of more poetry

    ~from "The Trouble With Poetry" by Billy Collins


    An Evening with Billy Collins

    Whether you're a fan of poetry or not, you're sure to enjoy listening to former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins at the University of Calgary. Collins has been praised (and sometimes derided) for his "accessible" poetry—that is, poetry that the average Joe or Jane can read and enjoy whether or not they have a graduate degree in literature.

    Collins' poems frequently examine everyday life, often with sly humour and astute insights into human nature. During his tenure as Poet Laureate, Collins created Poetry 180, a program designed to bring poetry into the lives of high school students.

    The Calgary Distinguished Writers Program is bringing poet Billy Collins to Calgary as the 2012 Calgary Distinguished Visiting Writer. Collins will give a free public reading and lecture on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at in the Ballroom on the 3rd Floor of MacEwan Hall, MacEwan Student Centre, University of Calgary. Click here for more information.

    If you're not familiar with the work of Billy Collins, we have several collections of his poetry (click on the book covers to see a few) and many of his poems are online in both text and audio format:

    Billy Collins biography and poems on the Poetry Foundation site.

    Two audio recordings of Billy Collins:

    Best Cigarette website

    Billy Collins on The Trouble with Poetry
    All Things Considered, NPR, November 6, 2005

    Collins Values Approachable Poetry, Not Pretension
    Talk of the Nation
    , NPR, April 6, 2011

    Best Cigarette is a audio collection of Billy Collins poems read by the poet and available for free download.

    The Library of Congress Poetry 180 site and two books include poems chosen by Billy Collins and designed to be read by high school students (or, anyone):

    “Poetry can and should be an important part of our daily lives. Poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race.”
    From Poetry 180.

    Since my life has been recently touched by issues of memory and forgetting, I'll post a Billy Collins poem that has particularly resonated with me:


    The name of the author is the first to go
    followed obediently by the title, the plot,
    the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
    which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
    never even heard of,

    as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
    decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
    to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

    Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
    and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
    and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

    something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
    the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

    Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
    it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
    not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

    It has floated away down a dark mythological river
    whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
    well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
    who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

    No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
    to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
    No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
    out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

    ("Forgetfulness" from Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes.)

    The following video includes Billy reading three of his poems including, with much audience laughter, "Forgetfulness":

    Billy Collins Reading in the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival

    And for something completely different (but still laughter)—here's Billy's pal Bill Murray doing a reading of the above poem:

    Bill Murray reads "Forgetfulness."

    Say what? A poet with a sense of humour? Go figure.

    "If you find yourself as a writer thinking about posterity you should probably go out for a brisk walk or something."

    ~Billy Collins interview in Guernica Magazine.

    Patrick deWitt

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Only two sleeps (and probably not a lot of tickets) left before this year's winner of the Governor General Literary Award for Fiction AND the Rogers' Writers Trust Fiction Prize will grace the stage of the John Dutton theatre. Rather than butcher Wordfest's elegant description of this exciting event (the way I butchered that first sentence), I'm just gonna use their write-up:

    WordFest presents Patrick deWitt

    Sisters Brothers

    Tuesday, December 6
    John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library
    7pm, 10$

    Author Patrick deWitt shares from his new book, The Sisters Brothers and discusses the challenges of depicting the Old West with Hell on Wheels producer Chad Oakes.

    The Sisters Brothers was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize and received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Film rights for the novel have been sold to actor John C. Reilly’s production company, with Reilly to play one of the brothers. Reilly recently starred in Terri, a film written by deWitt.

    Tickets: call the EPCOR CENTRE’s Box Office at 403.294.9494 or purchase tickets online.

    Click here to buy tickets

    If you're like me - very interested in this author and delighted by his success but haven't had a chance to read his work - the Calgary Herald has printed a couple of great articles recently that discuss some of deWitt's influence, history, the state of Canadian literature, and top-secret plans for a film:


    And this one appeared in the latest Swerve magazine - the author discusses some of his favorite films and novels of the Western genre:


    For library copies of The Sisters Brothers, place a hold today. The waiting list is long, and growing, but we also have his 2009 novel, Ablutions, which is another sweet piece of cover art and sounds like a very good read...

    In a famous but declining Hollywood bar works a barman. Morbidly amused by the decadent decay of his surroundings, he watches the patrons fall into their nightly oblivion, making notes for his novel. In the hope of uncovering their secrets and motives, he establishes tentative friendships with the cast of variously pathological regulars.

    But as his tenure at the bar continues, he begins to serve himself more often than his customers, and the moments he lives outside the bar become more and more painful: he loses his wife, his way, himself. Trapped by his habits and his loneliness, he realizes he will not survive if he doesn't break free. And so he hatches a terrible, necessary plan of escape and his only chance for redemption.

    Step into Ablutions and step behind the bar, below rock bottom, and beyond the everyday take on storytelling for a brilliant, new twist on the classic tale of addiction and its consequences.Terri film poster

    The library also has copies of Terri, deWitt's screenplay for a film starring John C. Reilly. The story "centers on a large 15-year-old boy in a small town as he struggles to adjust to his difficult life" and comes from the producers of Half Nelson and Blue Valentine.

    Endicott & Edugyan Live at Memorial Park

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Marina Endicott

    Esi EdugyanThis Thursday, 7pm, Memorial Park Library will host quite an exciting author reading featuring two women who have compiled an amazing collection of hardware and nominations over recent years.

    Esi Edugyan, winner of the 2011 Giller Prize, will read from Half-Blood Blues. Marina Endicott will read from her new novel, The Little Shadows.

    Don't miss an opportunity to hear these two fantastic writers, both former Calgarians, share the podium. Come out and see how two of the very best do their thing.

    Presented in partnership with Pages Books on Kensington.

    Click here more information on Esi Edugyan's recent selection as the 2011 Giller Prize winner.

    Memorial Park Library is at 1221 2nd Street SW.

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