Love infinitesimally expanding

Ted Blodgett (1935-2018), at left, wrote 23 volumes of poetry and won the 1996 GG Award for poetry. His last collection, reviewed here by Christopher Levenson, focused on his wife, soon to be a widow. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Kevin Annett

A is for Annett
B.C. author Kevin Annett was mysteriously detained at the Canadian border on May 15-16, while attempting to legally re-enter Canada from Vermont. He has described his allegedly illegal detention in an underground holding facilities, by unnamed captors working with the Canadian Border Services Agency, in a lengthy interview available on YouTube. A whistleblower with about ten books to his credit, Annett courageously charged the Canadian government and church organizations with genocide regarding residential schools decades before it became fashionable and permissable to do so. He has paid an enormous price ever since. His website is www.murderbydecree.com

B is for Boothby
Ian Boothby grew up in North Delta, B.C. He is an Eisner Award– and Canadian Comedy Award–winning writer who has been creating sketch comedy for television since he was thirteen. Best known for his work on The Simpsons comics, Boothby has written cartoons for The New Yorker and MAD Magazine, and co-created ExorSisters for Image Comics with artist Gisèle Lagacé. He also co-created the Scholastic graphic novel Sparks! with artist Nina Matsumoto, that received the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Book Award in 2019 at the BC Book Prizes.

C is for Cadwaladr
With support from the Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society and the City of Surrey Cultural Grants Program, Margaret Cadwaladr has written and published her second tribute to a major public garden, A Secret Garden: The Story of Darts Hill Garden Park (Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust Society 2019 $29.95), in which she recounts the history of Ed and Francisca Darts’ donation of their South Surrey garden–which began as a fruit and nut orchard–to the City of Surrey in 1994 for horticultural education for the next 999 years.  With 200 colour images, the book will be launched at Darts Hill Garden Park, 16th Avenue & 170th Street, in Surrey, on Wednesday, July 31. 978–1-9995465-0-2

Joseph Dandurand: earlier days

D is for Dandurand
To be published in September, Joseph Dandurand’s Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish (Playwrights Canada $17.95) is a 50-minute play that teaches the Kwantlen First Nation lesson, When you take something from the earth you must always give something back. Th’owxiya in an old and powerful spirit that inhabits a feast dish of tempting, beautiful foods from around the world. Th’owxiya herself craves only the taste of children. When she catches a hungry mouse named Kw’atel stealing a piece of cheese from her dish, she threatens to devour Kw’atel’s whole family, unless she can bring Th’owxiya two child spirits. Ignorant but desperate, Kw’atel sets out on an epic journey to fulfill the spirit’s demands. With the help of a sqeweqs, two spa:th, and a sasq’ets, Kw’atel endeavours to find gifts that would appease Th’owxiya and save her family. The story emanates rrom the Kwantlen First Nation village of Squa’lets. Meanwhile, as Indigenous Storyteller in Residence at Vancouver Public Library, Joseph Dandurand is also the new Director of the Kwantlen Cultural Centre which opened in 2013. His new poetry book, SH:LAM (The Doctor) (Mawenzi House $19.85), tells the story of a medicine man who has the ability to heal others, but is himself a heroin addict. “This is the truth of what has happened to my people,” he writes. “The Kwantlen people used to number in the thousands, but like all river tribes, eighty percent of our people were wiped out by smallpox and now there are only 200 of us. I believe the gift of words was given to me so I can retell our stories.” Doctor 978-1-988449715

E is for Emery
Prudence Emery of Victoria was born in Nanaimo in the 1937. After working for five years as a press secretary for the Savoy Hotel in London–and getting a kiss from Paul McCartney–she became a Hollywood publicist working with the likes of Jodie Foster, Beau Bridges, Rob Lowe, Peter O’Toole and Canadians Raymond Burr and David Cronenberg. She has 80 credits as a unit publicist on IMBD. At age 82, she will publish her memoirs, Nanaimo Girl (Goose Lane 2019), forthcoming in the fall. $24.95 978-1-77086-527-3 / Prudence Emery graduated from Crofton House Private School in Vancouver, B.C. in 1954 and attended UBC for two years before taking a secretarial job at the Naval base in Esquimalt. She earned enough to attend the Chelsea School of Art in London in 1957. She returned to Canada in 1962 at age 25 and taught handicrafts to veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver for a summer, then took a year of teacher’s training in Victoria before heading to Toronto where she worked as scab proof reader during a strike at The Globe and Mail from 1965-1966. Her breakthrough as a publicist occurred at Expo 67 in Montreal where she oversaw tours for travel writers and celebrities including Liberace, Twiggy, Hugh Hefner and Edward Albee. In 1968 she returned to London for a month’s visit and was offered a job as Press and Public Relations Officer at the Savoy Hotel. For five years she met celebrities and politicians such as Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Petula Clark, Louis Armstrong, Sir Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, Liza Minnelli and Ginger Rogers. She returned to Toronto in 1973 and began working as a publicist for more than 100 film productions, travelling all over the globe in the process, meeting actors such as Sofia Loren, Julianne Moore, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Viggo Mortensen, Jenifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford and Jeremy Irons. She has worked for ten films directed by David Cronenberg. In 2014, at age 78, she wrote and produced the short comedy Hattie’s Heist.

F is for Fiona
For six-and-a-half years North Vancouver-born Fiona McQuarrie was a music critic at the Vancouver Sun and The Province. Her lifelong interest in pop music has led to her first book, Song Book: 21 Songs from 10 Years (1964-74) (Walthamstow, UK: New Haven Publishing 2018 / $18 U.S.) which tells the stories of how and why some of her favourite songs were written by the likes of Randy Newman, Beach Boys, Tim Hardin, Donovan and Split Enz. 9781912587155

G is Grindler
Everyone who has ever visited a West Coast beach and held a tiny piece of sea glass in their palm will know the pleasure of wondering where that sea-rubbed-smooth shard of glass might have come from before it reached the tideline. Salt Spring Islander Sarah Grindler has added other tidal pool gems such as sea urchin shells and sand dollars for her wonder-inducing Seaside Treasures: A Guidebook for Little Beachcombers (Nimbus $15.95), due in May and designed as a practical volume for the novice collector of washed-up gems. 9781771087469 [Meta Rose photo]

H is for Hunt
Gwynne Hunt’s Unlocking the Tin Box (Silver Bow Publishing 2019 / 9781774030103) is a family memoir that describes growing up in Vancouver and Kamloops in the 1950s and 1960s in a dysfunctional home with alcoholic parents and sexual abuse. Hunt describes it as “a personal journey of living with a con man and a carny, but a still very caring Dad. He kept the family going surviving and growing.” With some DNA evidence for grist, this is a generational journey. Hunt has also self-published a collection of poetry called bruises and bad haircuts [sic] and a book about murdered and missing women and children in Canada called ramage [sic].

Spencer Sheehan-Kalina

I is for Indigenous
2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, a United Nations observance to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world, “with an aim to establish a link between language, development, peace, and reconciliation.” B.C. publishing has long led the way for books for, about and by Indigenous people. A new imprint, Rebel Mountain Press, is launching Michelle Sylliboy’s Kiskajeyi—I Am Ready ($19.99) which blends her poetry, photography with Mi’kmaq (L’nuk) hieroglyphic poetry and Spencer Sheehan-Kalina children’s picture book Nootka Sound in Harmony ($14.95) in relation to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people. Metis artist Spencer Sheehan-Kalina lives in Courtenay. Kiskajev 978-1-7753019-2-9 $19.99; Harmony 978-1-7753019-3-6

J is for James
Rick James has provided an authoritative overview of what really happened when B.C. boats ran liquor to the U.S. during Prohibiton Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How: The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running (Harbour $32.95). “We operated perfectly legal,” said Captain Charles Hudson. “We considered ourselves philanthropists! We supplied good liquor to poor thirsty Americans … and brought prosperity back to the Harbour of Vancouver.” 978-1-55017-841-8 [Author photo by Patrick Lawson]

Helen Knott

K is for Knott
Previewed in our Spring issue, and due in late August, Helen Knott’s In My Own Moccasins (University of Regina $24.95) has been endorsed by Eden Robinson, who writes, “”In My Own Moccasins never flinches. The story goes dark, and then darker. We live in an era where Indigenous women routinely go missing, our youth are killed and disposed of like trash, and the road to justice doesn’t seem to run through the rez. Knott’s journey is familiar, filled with the fallout of residential school, racial injustice, alcoholism, drugs, and despair. But she skillfully draws us along and opens up her life, her family, and her communities to show us a way forward. It’s the best kind of memoir: clear-eyed, generous, and glorious.” Helen Knott is a Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, and mixed Euro-descent woman living in Fort St. John. In 2016 she was one of sixteen global change makers featured by the Nobel Women’s Initiative for being committed to end gender-based violence. 9780889776449

Sarah Leavitt

L is for Leavitt
Sarah Leavitt’s second graphic novel, Agnes, Murderess (Freehand $29.95) is based on the folk legend of a serial killer Agnes McVee who owned a roadhouse in 108 Mile House during the Cariboo Gold Rush. Inspired by the unverified allegations about this madam, Leavitt imagined a whole new story for her beginning with Agnes’s birth on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland. The power of Agnes’ grandmother, a witch feared by the islanders, grows stronger especially after the early death of Agnes’ mother. She escapes to London then British Columbia but continues to be haunted by her grandmother wherever she goes. There are many twists and turns, including Agnes’ passionate friendships with women in St. John’s Wood in London, England to female relationships in the Cariboo, despite having a husband and child. Leavitt’s inaugural book, Tangles: A story about Alzheimer’s, my mother and me (Freehand 2010) was the first work of graphic literature to be a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, among other accolades. Tangles went on to be published in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Korea and a feature length animation is in development. Leavitt’s prose and comics have appeared in Geist, The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Review, The Georgia Straight and Xtra West. She has also written short documentaries for Definitely Not the Opera on CBC Radio. Leavitt holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and continues on with the program teaching comics classes.
9781772141429

M is for Mickleburgh
As we go increasingly digital, society barely bats an eye as unionization of the workplace declines, and more and more workers are hired under contract, with no job security and few benefits. Hence judges have selected Rod Mickleburgh’s On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement (Harbour $44.95) as this year’s winner of the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness. It reminds British Columbians how integral trade unionism has been for social progress. Mickleburgh, a retired journalist, has documented the broad historical sweep of what has been Canada’s most volatile and progressive provincial labour force. He will receive the 15th Ryga Award on April 27 at 1 pm at the new sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay Library branch, 385 Menzies Street, in Victoria. Runners-up were Chelene Knight for Dear Current Occupant and Sarah Cox for Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro. Judges for the Ryga Award were professor and author Trevor Carolan, Joe Fortes Library branch manager Jane Curry and Beverly Cramp.

N is for Natalie
Natalie Meisner of Salt Spring Island is a playwright and author of the memoir, Double Pregnant, about two lesbians and their quest to have children. Illustrated with watercolours by Mathilde Cinq-Mars of Quebec, her My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother and Me (Nimbus $22.95) is for children and young teens. It arises from Meisner’s experiences as a mother of two. “When the fog disappears, the path to the beach beckons, with all the treasures it leaves behind: lobster traps, buoys, fused glass, urchins, a note in a bottle.” 9781771087414

O is for Off
Off the Hook: The Essential West Coast Seafood Recipes (Touchwood $22) by Salt Spring Islanders DL Acken and Aurelia Louvet has received a 2019 PubWest Book Design Award for its original design by Canadian-born Tree Abraham. At just 168 pages, the small-format paperback cookbook includes more than sixty recipess, plus  hand-drawn illustrations by Abraham to complement Acken’s photos. The book also received a silver award in the cookbook category.

Julie Paul

P is for Paul
After a dinner with newcomers to their small town, a couple learn that the husband of the new family, a writer, is actually there to do an expose on the community. Seeking revenge, the couple take the newcomers to a nearby body of water in a quarry, planning to throw them in for a cold swim, it being the month of November. It could all end badly in this short story, one of 14 in Julie Paul’s third collection, Meteorites (Brindle & Glass $22). Known for her quirky characters, Paul doesn’t disappoint. Other stories include characters such as a couple of criminals new to rural living; a man who takes his father to Hawaii even though he’s been dead for several months; and an organ player who loses an arm and insists on fulfilling her Sunday morning duties anyway. Publicity for the book states: “Ghosts, giant animals, artists, imposters – you’ll meet them here in these captivating stories of family dynamics and frailty, loss and atonement, faith and redemption.” Paul’s previous collection of unsettling stories, The Pull of the Moon (Brindle & Glass 2014), received the City of Victoria Butler Prize and the title was also selected as a ‘Top 100 Book of 2014’ by the Globe & Mail. Her first poetry collection, The Rules of the Kingdom (McGill-Queens 2017) is part of the Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series. 978-1-92736-682-0

Q is for Quill
Vancouver-born-and-raised Ian Thomas Shaw, who attended UBC, worked for more than thirty years as a diplomat and as an international development worker, in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. He has now followed his first international novel, Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls, set in south-east Asia and self-published under his own imprint, Deux Voiliers Publishing, with an international love story and political thriller, Quill of the Dove (Guernica $24.95), set amidst the Lebanese Civil War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, scenes in Cyprus and the Greek village of Arkassa on the island of Karpathos. 978-1-771833783

R is for Reece
The late humorist and CBC Radio personality Arthur Black praised PJ Reece’s latest book, Throw Mama from the Boat: And Other Ferry Tales (Rolling West 2018) for being funny and weird. Others simply describe this collection of 13 short stories as whimsical. The author himself says his initial aim was to run with the absurd, and that by staying on this track “soon it develops its own reality.” Reece has been a working writer for 25 years, having scripted documentaries for most of the big networks, published two novels, ghosted a memoir, and self-published two books on story structure. A well-travelled cinematographer, he has has also spent time in East Africa as a hydrometeorologist.
978-0-9953235-3-7

Michelle Sylliboy

S is for Sylliboy
Michelle Sylliboy’s Kiskajeyi- I AM READY (Rebel Mountain $19.99) is described as a hieroglyphic poetry book with which she seeks to revitalize the L’nuk (Mi’kmaq) language. Sylliboy blended her poetry, photography & Mi’kmaq (L’nuk) hieroglyphic poetry to coincide with the launch of her Mi’kmaq hieroglyphic art exhibit in Nova Scotia. The book’s B.C. publishers reported Kiskajeyi sold out in one month, requiring a second printing, and Sylliboy was interviewed by Shelagh Rogers for the CBC’s The Next Chapter. In 2019, Sylliboy moved to Nova Scotia to work on her doctorate for Simon Fraser University, having lived on unceded Coast Salish territory for twenty-seven years. In Vancouver she was a member of the West Coast Aboriginal Writers Collective. 978-1-7753019-2-9

Leslie Timmins

T is for Leslie Timmins
Covering topics as different as domesticity, sensuality and disease, Leslie Timmins’ debut collection of poems Every Shameless Ray (Inanna, $18.95) has been described as one that “shimmers with a radiant engagement of life.” The poems are arranged in three linked movements ending with a meditation on the visual artist Henri Matisse. Timmins’ poems have been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize and have won honours in both Canadian and American magazines. Her poems are strongly influenced by the years she spent living in Europe and the Canadian Rockies, as well as by activism and a decades-long Vipassana (insight) meditation practice. Timmins holds an MFA in creative writing and her work includes stints as a waitress, community radio host, housing advocate, freelance writer and creative writing teacher. She currently works as an editor, writes reviews for Event magazine, and is a member of the powerX6 writing collective. For several years she has volunteered with WRAP, the Women Refugees Advocacy Project, petitioning government to provide effective trauma care and family reunification for female Yazidi refugees in Canada. She is also the author of the chapbook The Limits of Windows (The Alfred Gustav Press, 2014). 978-1771335775

U is for Ut’akhgit
Smithers arose from a swamp beneath a mountain. Initially the non-indigenous residents of the town in northwestern B.C. largely excluded the surrounding Witsuwit’en population. As a third-generation native of Smithers, who now works as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University, Tyler McCreary has orchestrated interviews with more than fifty Witsuwit’en and non-indigenous families for Shared Histories: Witsuwit’en – Settler Relations in Smithers BC 1913 – 1973 (Creekstone $24.95). To celebrate this publication, the community of Witset (formerly Moricetown) and the Liksilyu clan organized a 34 km. Walk to Witset and a feast hosting more than 400 guests (over 50% non-Indigenous). Ut’akhgit Henry Alfred, the last living Witsuwit’en plaintiff in the Delgamuukw – Gisdaywa court case, hosted the feast, attending in spite of illness, and died soon after. “This book is part of a process to acknowledge the historic contributions of Witsuwit’en people to building the town,l” says McCreary, “and the forms of discrimination that they endured.” 978-1-928195-04-7

Irsula Vaira

V is for Vaira
The Federation of BC Writers has announced Ursula Vaira is the new editor of their magazine WordWorks distributed to more than 700 writers around B.C. After working for Oolichan Books in the 1990s, Vaira founded Leaf Press in 2000. She has written several chapbooks as well as And See What Happens: The Journey Poems (Caitlin 2011), containing an account of her thirty-day, 1000-mile paddle from Hazelton to Victoria in a First Nations canoe to raise awareness of the mistreatment of Indigenous people in residential schools. She was the only woman on the journey.

W is for Wong
In 2018, Edwin Wong (1974-) founded the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Playwright Competition with Langham Court Theatre to challenge conventional Aristotelian, Hegelian, and Nietzschean interpretations of tragedy. It is touted as the world’s largest competition for the writing of tragedy (visit risktheatre.com). A year later, Wong’s study of the nature and appeal of tragedy, The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected (Friesen 2019 $22.50), asserted his own theories as to why tragedy has been an integral part of storytelling for two millennia. Tragic heroes, he maintains, “by making delirious wagers, trigger catastrophic events. Because they wager human assets, tragedy functions as a valuing mechanism. Because they lose all, audiences ask: how did the perfect bet go wrong?” Wong has a Master’s degree from Brown University, where he concentrated in ancient theatre. His other research interests include epic poetry, having published “a solution to the contradiction between Homeric fate and free will by drawing attention to the peculiar mechanics of chess endgames.” He lives in Victoria, B.C. and blogs at melpomeneswork.com

Cecil Paul and Briony Penn

X is for Xesdu’wäxw
Born in 1931 in the Kitlope, Cecil Paul, also known by his Xenaksiala name, Wa’xaid, is one of the last fluent speakers of his people’s language. At age ten he was placed in a residential school run by the United Church of Canada at Port Alberni where he was abused. After three decades of prolonged alcohol abuse, he returned to the Kitlope where his healing journey began. He has worked tirelessly to protect the Kitlope, described as the largest intact temperate rainforest watershed in the world. In his late 80s, he resides on his ancestors’ traditional territory. He is the co-author of Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa’xaid (Rocky Mountain Books $30) as told to Briony Penn, who is also releasing her own 400-page book, A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac (Touchwood $26). “My name is Wa’xaid,” he says, “given to me by my people. ‘Wa’ is ‘the river’, ‘Xaid’ is ‘good’ – good river. Sometimes the river is not good. I am a Xenaksiala, I am from the Killer Whale Clan. I would like to walk with you in Xenaksiala lands. Where I will take you is the place of my birth. They call it the Kitlope. It is called Xesdu’wäxw (Huschduwaschdu) for ‘blue, milky, glacial water’. Our destination is what I would like to talk about, and a boat—I call it my magic canoe. It is a magical canoe because there is room for everyone who wants to come into it to paddle together. The currents against it are very strong but I believe we can reach that destination and this is the reason for our survival.” Front page photo by Callum Gunn. Colour above, by Greg Shea.

Y is for Yacowar
After a 44-year academic career, including jobs as Dean of Academic Affairs at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and Dean of Fine Arts at The University of Calgary, Maurice Yacowar of Victoria has released Reading Shtisel: A TV Masterpiece from Israel (lulu.com, $20). It’s a detailed, 92-page critique and appreciation of the hit series that first aired in Israel in 2013. Netflix brought it to North America in 2018. Yacowar previously self-published two books evaluating The Sopranos.

Z is for Zuehlke
Following the tumult of early Canada’s war with America in 1812, several decades of peace ensue before the group of British North American colonies take their first steps to becoming a real country. Mark Zuehlke’s first graphic novel, The Loxleys and Confederation (Renegade Arts $19.99) tells the story of this era through the lives of the Loxley family who live in the Niagara peninsula. In a blend of history, education and adventure, the novel begins in 1864, following the Loxley family when the pre-Canada colonies once again face the threat of an American invasion after the cancellation of the Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty. The colonies look to unite for protection and the Loxleys journey to the Charlottetown Conference and witness the events that lead to the formation of the Dominion of Canada. The main storyteller is fifteen year old Lillian Stock, who is the granddaughter of George Loxley and the hero of a previous book The Loxleys and the War of 1812 (Renegade Arts). Zuehlke’s co-writers are Alexander Finbow and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair; illustrations by Claude St. Aubin and Christopher Chuckry; and lettering designed by Todd Klein.  978-0-99215-089-1

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