From Rita Joe to Children of God

Children of God reveals how the inescapable residue of abuse, loneliness and captivity within residential schools has been ruinous for adult survivors.  FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Susan Alexander

A is for Alexander
A cow-eyed goddess steals a nymph’s tongue. Steering wheels are taken over by octopi. These are some of the images in Susan Alexander’s book of poems The Dance Floor Tilts (Thistledown $17.95), due for publication this fall. Her wide-ranging imagination is fuelled by eclectic experiences according to the book’s publicity, including: work as a chambermaid, CBC Radio journalist, and associate at a boutique investment firm, as well as being a stay-at-home mom and reflecting on family history and her passions. Alexander is the winner of the 2016 Short Grain poetry prize and the 2015 Vancouver Writers’ Festival Contest. Her poems have been published in SubTerrain, Arc, CV2, Grain, Room, The Antigonish Review, and PRISM international.  978-1-77187-152-5

Bartley clan in summer

B is for Bartley
The Bartley family has long maintained a summer home on one of the Gulf Islands. Now mother and daughter, Joan and Tracy Bartley, have taken time off from taking time off to write Greening Your Cottage or Vacation Property: Reduce Your Recreational Footprint (Self Counsel $14.95), a recreational guide to reducing your carbon footprint while reading murder mysteries, waiting for ferries, and the like. Joan Bartley is a potter; Tracy is an avid gardener, green blogger and backyard chicken keeper who visits with her family from Los Angeles whenever she can. 978-1-77040-290-4

Jennifer Craig

C is for Craig
In Jennifer Craig’s third book Gone to Pot (Second Storey $19.95) Jess, a feisty Nelson-based Grandmother, faces near calamity. On the same day, she loses her job and almost loses her house. As an older woman, Jess finds her employment options are limited. Drastic measures are called for and she turns to growing marijuana in her basement. The new people she meets and the reactions of her old friends are a revelation. Craig’s first published work, a semi-autobiographical novel about trainee nurses in Leeds during the 1950s, Yes Sister, No Sister: My Life as a Trainee Nurse in 1950s Yorkshire, was first published in the UK in 2002. It made the London Times bestseller list and has reputedly sold in excess of 100,000 copies. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia with a dog and a cat. 978-1-77260-034-6

Leanne Dunic

D is for Dunic
How do you follow up winning the Alice Munro Short Story Contest? In the case of Leanne Dunic, you write and publish your first book. To Love the Coming End (Bookthug $18). The story follows the protaganist as she moves between Singapore, Canada and Japan. Obsessed with natural disasters as well as emotional upheavals such as the loss of a loved one, Dunic captures what it is like to simultaneously experience global trauma, her place in history and personal loss. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies in Canada and abroad. She is the singer/guitarist of the band The Deep Cove and also the Artistic Director of the Powell Street Festival Society. 978-1-77166-282-6


Karen Enns

E is for Enns
In her third collection of poetry, Cloud Physics (University of Regina $19.95), Karen Enns focuses on endings – cultural, ecological, and personal. Endings may be viewed as tragic but throughout Enns peppers her lines with affirmations of love, music and language. The importance of being rooted in place and history is another favorite topic that she mines for inspiration. Enns is a former pianist and this collection is informed as much by music as her love of language. Her first book, That Other Beauty was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her second, Ordinary Hours was shortlisted for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. 978-0-88977-461-2

Alan Fossen

F is for Fossen
In his Freedom in East Vancouver, The Photography and Writing of Alan Fossen (Vancouver: Electromagnetic Print, $65), photographer Al Fossen has documented the eastside of Vancouver via “people, posters, protests and places” during the 1980s and 1990s. In 110 full-colour pages he highlights “alleys and graffiti” to reflect an era in which citizens dealt with counteracting 20th century racism, colonialism, fascism and “the modern capitalist state which fuels war and criminalizes the poor.” It is intended to reflect the resiliency of the human spirit. This book will be launched at Cafe Deux Soleils on March 19th.

Ding Guo

G is for Guo
A journalist since 1990, Ding Guo has contributed to World Economic Review magazine, China Times Weekly, World Journal, Asian Weekly and Ming Pao Monthly. He also worked as a commentator for political programs on Shanghai Eastern Radio, Talentvision TV and CBC Radio and has been a producer and commentator on OMNI BC since 2003. He has received several awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Jack Webster Award for journalism. With David Lai he has co-authored Great Fortune Dream: The Struggles and Triumphs of Chinese Settlers in Canada, 1858-1966 (Caitlin 2016). See review posted under David Lai entry. Great Fortune Dream describes Chinese migration and life in Canada according to the four periods of Canada’s policies on Chinese immigration, ranging from Free Entry to Exclusion. In 1967, the Canadian government adopted a universal immigration policy, ending these discriminatory laws and advocating multiculturalism. $26.95 / 978-1-987915-03-7

Grant Hayter-Menzies

H is for Hayter-Menzies
Grant Hayter-Menzies, author of books about the unsung and extraordinary – mostly women – is set to release his latest in November: Dorothy Brooke and the Fight to Save the Lost War Horses of Cairo (Potomac Books – U. of Nebraska Press 2017). The story recounts the heroics of an English general’s wife to help old and retired equines that had been used during wartime. Dorothy Brooke (1883 – 1955) discovered and rescued elderly and abused former war horses and army mules abandoned in Egypt following the end of World War I. She set up a veterinary hospital in a slum area of Cairo in 1934, working there until her death in 1955. The hospital continues today and has spawned free clinics for vet care working with equines in eleven developing nations. Endorsees for the book include animal rights activist Dr. Temple Grandin and actress Joanna Lumley. Hayter-Menzies has also written about President Jimmy Carter’s mother Lillian Carter; the Manchu-American author, feminist and personality, Princess Der Ling; Billie Burke, who was a famous stage personality before she played Glinda the Good Witch of the North in “The Wizard of Oz,” as well as being the wife of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.; and others. He has worked extensively with playwright William Luce, providing original verse for his musical-biography The Divine Orlando (based on the life of the 16th century composer Orlando di Lasso), produced off Broadway in 1988; translations of German poetry for his 1991 Broadway play, Lucifer’s Child; and translations of Rimbaud for his play Nijinsky, which premiered in Tokyo in January 2000.

I is for Itter
Sculptor and writer Carole Itter is the 2017 recipient of The Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. Born in Vancouver in 1939, Itter co-edited (with Daphne Marlatt) a volume in the Sound Heritage series about her Strathcona neighborhood in 1979. She later published and edited a remarkable, posthumous collection of journal writings by her daughter Lara Gilbert, I Might Be Nothing: Journal Writing, that documents her gifted daughter’s descent into drug abuse and prostitution in Skid Row, containing clear allegations of sexual abuse prior to her eventual suicide in 1996. Itter’s own writings have also been included in Room of One’s Own, Brick, A Literary Journal, Cradle and All, Women and Words, Periodics and more. Her exhibits in the visual arts include The Pink Room: A Visual Requiem at the grunt Gallery, Vancouver (l999) and at Open Space, Victoria (2001); The Float at the Or Gallery, Vancouver, l995; Where Streets Are Paved With Gold at the Vancouver Art Gallery, l991 and at the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City, 2005.

Julie Paul

J is for Julie
Also a massage therapist and teacher, Ottawa Valley-raised Julie Paul, from Lanark, moved to Victoria and published her first collection of fiction, The Jealousy Bone, in 2008. Now her first poetry collection, The Rules of the Kingdom (McGill-Queens $16.95), has appeared as part of the Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series. Paul recently gained the spotlight when her second collection of twelve unsettling stories, The Pull of the Moon (Brindle & Glass 2014), received the twelfth, $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Prize, presented by City of Victoria acting mayor Chris Coleman and sponsor Brian Butler. The title was selected as a Top 100 Book of the Year by the Globe & Mail. Paul’s stories, poems and essays have been accepted for publication in numerous journals, including The Danforth Review, Little Fiction, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, Event, The Fiddlehead, The Dalhousie Review, PRISM International, Qwerty, Geist, Vallum, existere, The Rusty Toque, Boulevard, Canadian Living, and in the anthologies Coming Attractions 07 and Women Behaving Badly. 9780773548992

K is for Knox
Alligators and tigers can be white. Lobsters can be blue. One in twelve people have a rare disease. So what should we do? To raise awareness of rare diseases, “the underdogs of health care,” Deborah Katz, an artist and nursing professor with twenty years of experience in health care, has produced Rare is Everywhere (Miss Bird / Sandhill $19.95) in an attempt to educate children about nature and make them feel better if they have a rare disease or any anomaly that makes them feel different. The overriding message about her assortment of strange animals comes at the end: “So if you ever feel different, like a white spirit bear, you don’t have to worry because, Rare is EVERYWHERE!” Proceeds go to the Rare Disease Foundation, started in Vancouver in 2007. A rare disease is defined as a condition affecting fewer than one in 2,000 people. There are more than 7,000 known rare diseases. 978-0-9958261-0-6

Grant Lawrence

L is for Lawrence
As a pop music aficionado, Grant Lawrence must have known before he decided to publish his memoir of being lead singer for his widely-travelled, never widely-touted rock band, The Smugglers, that he had some hard acts to follow. Having co-founded the Hard Rock Miners in 1987, Michael Turner had already set the bar high with Hard Core Logo (Arsenal), later made into a movie. John Armstrong’s Guilty Of Everything (New Star, 2001) was shortlisted for a B.C. Book Prize for recalling his exploits as Buck Cherry in Vancouver’s old-school punk scene with The Modernettes. And Lawrence would have been aware of the shadow cast by DOA frontman Joe Keithley’s memoir I, Shithead (Arsenal 2004), now into its third printing. The good news is Lawrence’s reworking of his tour diaries for Dirty Windshields: The Best and Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries (D&M $26.95) contains some of the best and funniest writing you’re going to find just about anywhere. Of course, there’s no shortage of dismal circumstances and raucous tomfoolery, but Lawrence’s description of the band’s arrival in Los Angeles during the aftermath of race riots, in response to the acquittal of police for beating Rodney King, is riveting. “Los Angeles reeked. The stench was disturbing combination of exhaust fumes, campfire smoke and burning plastic…” This book cannot be dismissed as a self-indulgent paean to boy-band glory days; it’s a finely edited, very smart and wholesome On The Road. Okay, so Jack Kerouac didn’t come home to his doting Mom and Dad, but Lawrence has his own style, his own adventures. Even if The Smugglers were mediocre at best, the writing deserves a chorus of praise. 978-1-77162-148-9

Karen McAthy

M is for McAthy
For all those cheese-loving vegans who thought they had to give it up or resort to unappetizing non-dairy ‘cheeses’ found in grocery supermarkets, there is now a cookbook for making plant-based cheese. Karen McAthy, the chef and founder of Blue Heron Creamery in Vancouver wrote Plant-Based Cheesemaking (New Society $29.99) about the evolving craft of making real, cultured plant-based cheese. It contains recipes, processes, and encourages experimentation for beginners and experienced foodies alike. A distinction is made between ‘cheese’ and ‘cheeze’. The offerings include concoctions such as walnut ricotta cheeze, seed cream cheeze, coconut kefir curd, and almond curd feta. McAthy was born and bred in Alert Bay and has worked in and around kitchens since 2000. Both her parents came from agricultural backgrounds and she grew up learning how to grow food. 978-0-86571-836-4

Emily Nilsen

N is for Nilsen
We get our balance from our ears. An otolith is a series of bones in the ear that enable us to be oriented within the context of physical space, our environs. In her debut book of poems, Otolith (Goose Lane $19.95), Emily Nilsen of Nelson examines the ache of nostalgia in the world’s passage of time. Publicity states: “These poems are full of life and decay; they carry the odours of salmon rivers and forests of fir; salal growing in the fog-bound mountain slopes.” Born and raised in Vancouver, Nilsen lives in Nelson. Her poems have appeared in PRISM International, Lake, and The Goose. She was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, after having been longlisted for the prize on three occasions, and her work has been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. 978-0-864929-62-4

Emisch Oghma

O is Oghma
After a severe accident caused agnosia—the inability to recognize and identify objects or persons—Emisch Oghma of Victoria began studying and modernizing the ancient Chinese face reading system called siang mien. By being more observant and interested in people’s faces, Emisch was able to reduce the effects of agnosia, giving rise to his book, In Your Face (Agio $19.95), designed to show how anyone can quickly “read” their own face, their friends, family or co-workers. 978-1-927755-54-9

Katja Pantzar

P is for Pantzar
A former Associate Editor of B.C. BookWorld, Helsinki-based writer, editor and broadcast journalist Katja Pantzar was born in Finland and raised and educated in Canada. A freelance member of the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle’s news team, Pantzar is a regular contributor to Blue Wings, the inflight magazine of Finnair, and Helsinki correspondent for Monocle 24. She is the author of three guides to Helsinki: The Hip Guide to Helsinki, Helsinki by Light and 100 Things to Do in Helsinki. Her new book, The Magic of Sisu: In search of courage, strength and happiness the Finnish way (2017), is Pantzar’s personal account and hands-on guide to sisu and how it helped her on her personal journey to physical and psychological wellbeing. Hodder will publish this book in the UK in April of 2018, together with Penguin Random House USA’s non-fiction imprint TarcherPerigee in North America. In 2017, reprint rights for her book The Magic of Sisu were also sold internationally to CHINA, Yeeyan Publishing; CZECH REP., Mladá Fronta; FRANCE, Belfond; GERMANY, Bastei Lübbe; ITALY, Marsilio; NETHERLANDS, Kosmos; POLAND, WUJ; RUSSIA, AST; SPAIN, and Roca Editorial (WS). According to her literary agency, the book arose from her responses to Canada where “the consumerist and materially obsessed culture left her feeling empty and unhappy. When she received treatment for depression in her mid-20s, the medical practitioners treating her simply prescribed medication and sleeping pills, no thought given to her lifestyle. After moving to Finland, Katja discovered sisu: the Finnish approach to well being defined by a special kind of resilience, grit and courage. She embraced this way of living and experienced a dramatic turnaround in her health and happiness. Simple, functional exercise (as simple as riding her bike to work), the Nordic diet,spending time in nature and water together with a more courageous outlook, all served to transform Pantzar’s life: her anxieties, fatigue and pain left behind in the sea.”

Q is for Quartermain
Set in Vancouver, in 1972, U Girl (Talon $19.95) is a coming of age story about Frances Nelson as she arrives in big city for her first year of university, escaping her small-town life. Sexual experimentation, drugs, working at menial jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach and studying at the University of British Columbia during the “free love” era are all incorporated in her struggle to be taken seriously as a woman with a desire for gender equality. 978-1-77201-040-4

Fauzia Rafique. Photo by Nasreen Pejvack.

R is for Rafique
South Asian Canadian writer Fauzia Rafique–originally from Pakistan–writes fiction and poetry in English, Punjabi and Urdu. Endorsed by literary friends Susan Crean and Heidi Greco, her second novel, The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior (Libros Libertad $20), interprets and responds to various kinds of oppression that she has witnessed in Pakistan and Canada, in accordance with Simone de Beauvoir’s statement in The Second Sex: “All oppression creates a state of war. “The heroine of the story, Saheban, rebels against her family in overtly sexist Pakistan by refusing an arranged marriage. Embarking on a new life in Canada, Saheban encounters oppression in the guise of racism and economic disparity. Rafique’s first novel was Skeena (Libros Libertad 2011) and a chapbook appeared the same year for her English and Punjabi poems, Passion Fruit/Tahnget Phal (Uddari Books 2011). She is a co-founder and the coordinator of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation group that began to meet on a monthly basis in Surrey in 2011. [The spelling of SahebaN is correct.] 978-1-926763-44-6

Pat and Ron Smith

S is for Smith
Ron Smith’s The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke (Ronsdale $22.95) has won an IPPY Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Group in the United States for the autobiography/memoir category. Founder of Oolican Press, Smith has provided a personal account of what it’s like to have a massive ischemic stroke to the brain stem. Smith recounts struggles with communication, the frustrations of being written off, the role of memory in recovering identity, the value of therapy and, above all, his passion to live. Including suggestions for improvement of care for stroke victims, The Defiant Mind is for stroke survivors, caregivers and medical professionals. [Ron Smith is currently on a book tour through BC, stopping in Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, Osoyoos, Nelson, Fernie and on to Calgary to do a Heart and Stroke Foundation annual meeting, and then back via Kamlops, Prince George, Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert.]

Jason Turner

T is Turner
Jason Turner of Vancouver is a comic book artist whose first graphic novel, Fir Valley (Cloudscape Comics $25), is seemingly set in North Vancouver. The town of Fir Valley, on the side of a mountain,  is shaken when a man is killed and his son disappears. While the community reacts to these events, the mystery is investigated and dark secrets from the town’s past come to light. And here is something lurking in the woods… Turner has self-published comics since the late 1980s, and has been putting his comics on the internet since the late 1990s. He co-wrote the True Loves trilogy with his wife Manien Bothma. More recent work includes Farm School, The Adulation and Bird Comics. His comics column in comic form, Jason and the Comics, ran in Broken Pencil for five years. 978-1-927742-10-5

U is for Ulrike Narwani
North Saanich’s Ulrike Narwani has published her first book of poems, Collecting Silence (Ronsdale $15.95) covering a life arc through youth, love and loss, to maturation and aging. She shares religious moments in other lands – “We stumble outside./ Hurry past prayer wheels./ Set them turning./ Hands skimming faith./ The letters foreign./” – finding something new to say about the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa – “who does not know you/ iconed/ xrayed on history’s gurney, flesh cold/ measured/ the droop or lift/ of left or right upper lip/ or lower/ cameras on selfie sticks bristle-strut/ send portraits home” – and the loss of a grandmother – “I could not discern the moment you left./ You were just no longer,/ a snowflake melting/it seemed so easy./ I could not discern-/ until a coldness rolled in/a morning mist/ sinking warmth beneath it/ until it drowned.” Narwani’s poems remind us of the power of silence to size-up, reshape and transform. She says when we are silent, our deepest experiences – our memories – talk to us in a language that we know without speaking. Of Baltic-German heritage, Narwani’s family was forced to emigrate from their homeland Latvia at the onset of WWII. She grew up in Edmonton before completing a Ph.D in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto. Her poetry has appeared in Island Writer, CV2, FreeFall, Vallum, two chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane, and the anthology Poems for Planet Earth. 978-1-55380-487-1

Kimberley Veness

V is for Veness
Kimberley Veness of Adams Lake learned to love land, animals, growing food and the smell of manure on a ninety-acre family farm in Saskatchewan. In her first book, Let’s Eat: Sustainable Food for a Hungry Planet (Orca Footprints $19.95), she uncovers the secret lives of our groceries, explores alternative farm technologies and tours gardens on corporate rooftops and military-style bunkers below streets. With facts about agriculture around the world, Veness covers everything from the biggest farm in the world to how many pesticides are in a single grape. 978-1-45980939

Mark Warrior in his logger days.

W is for Warrior
“When one reads other accounts of the history of British Columbia since the Second World War,” says Mark Warrior, “the role of unions generally receives short shrift.” So he’s done something about it. Warrior’s history of the Labourers’ International Union of North America in British Columbia since its first local was chartered in 1937 is Building the Power: The Labourers’ Union in British Columbia (LiUNA! Local 1611). Born (1952) and educated in England, Mark Warrior of Ladysmith has published in several anthologies, both in Canada and abroad. He wrote a chapbook entitled Quitting Time (Vancouver: MacLeod Books 1978) published by antiquarian bookseller Don Stewart. He worked for ten years in the forest industry during which he was an IWA job steward, a logging Camp Chairman and a member of IWA Haney Local 1-367’s Executive Board. This was followed by twenty years as a commercial fisherman as a member of the United Fishermen & Allied Worker’s Union, during which he was Secretary-Treasurer its 1,000-member Vancouver Fishermen’s Local 1 and Fishermen’s Strike Captain during UFAWU’s 1989 industry-wide “Free Trade” strike. Building the Power can be downloaded without charge at:

X is for Xinjiang
As a sessional lecturer at UBC, Kim Trainor has released Karyotype (Brick $20), a poetry collection about a woman who lived four thousand years ago. Dubbed Loulan, her body has been preserved in the sands of the Taklamakan Desert—the largest desert in China, in the southwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The word karyotype, we are told, is “the characteristic chromosome complement of a species.” Trainor worked in a biomedical library and for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Previously her poetry won the Ralph Gustafson Prize from The Fiddlehead and the Long Poem Prize from The Malahat Review. 978-1-77131-379-7

Derek Walker Youngs, Japan, 2005

Y is for Youngs
Between 1986 and 2011, the aptly named Derek Walker Youngs devoted much of his life to peace, leading to his posthumous book, Walking to Japan: A Memoir, completed by his daughter. Born in 1940 during a World War II air raid, he later participated in the Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament across the U.S.A. He went on to found the Peace Walker Society, walking more than 25,000 kilometres in 25 countries. Like the classic Fool in the Tarot pack, he walked “in trust and faith,” usually not knowing where he would sleep or find his next meal. He sometimes gained media attention while sharing his own stories of love and learning with people around the world. Carolyn Affleck Youngs is a photographer, walker, and self-described grammar queen who has completed his collection of stories and ideas. Her own pilgrimages include the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and the 88 Temples in Japan. She has walked all the city streets of Vancouver, Canada, and plans to walk across the country one day.

Lillian Zimmerman

Z is for Zimmerman
It’s not easy being an elder in North America and Lillian Zimmerman should know. The 92- year-old writes humorously and knowledgably about the prevalence of ageism in Canada in Did You Just Call Me Old Lady? (Fernwood $18). Recent Statistics Canada information made headline news this year when those over the age of 65 outnumbered the 15-and-younger demographic for the first time since Confederation. Zimmerman’s book makes the case that long-livers can have fulfilling lives and that they make valuable contributions to society. She makes these points while not shying away from the challenges to aging, such as serious illnesses, mental deficiencies, low income and isolation. Zimmerman exposes how prejudice against old people, as seen through media and popular culture depictions like ads for products to alleviate bodily failings, and jokes about memory loss and sexual infirmity fuel negative attitudes towards them. Her analysis shows that many of these problems result from inefficient management and poor policies. Ageism, like sexism and racism, needs to be handled by social justice and anti-oppression actions. Her previous book, Baglady or Powerhouse? A Roadmap for Midlife (Boomer) Women (Detselig 2009) was based on interviews she did while working as an associate with the Simon Fraser University Gerontology Research Centre. She has since established a scholarship at SFU to provide financial support for a graduate student in the Department of Gerontology in their first year of study.  9781552668979

  • About Us

    BC BookLook is an independent website dedicated to continuously promoting the literary culture of British Columbia.