Williams and Robinson

Giller Prize-winner Ian Williams (l.) will be in conversation with the U.S.’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Marilyn Robinson on writing craft, themes and the power of fiction at the Vancouver Writers Fest. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Susan Alexander

A is for Alexander
Susan Alexander’s second volume of poetry, Nothing You Can Carry (Thistledown $20) focuses on apprehensions (climate change) and mysteries (love) in a world increasingly separate from the sacred. “Mostly, this collection is a cautionary tale,” writes Dr. Laura Apol, “a reminder of what is loved and what is always, ever, in danger of being lost.” Alexander’s new themes mark a change from the fanciful subjects of her debut poetry book, The Dance Floor Tilts (Thistledown 2017) in which a cow-eyed goddess steals a nymph’s tongue and steering wheels are taken over by octopi. Alexander’s wide-ranging imagination is fuelled by eclectic work experiences such as working as a chambermaid, a CBC Radio journalist and an associate at a boutique investment firm.  Her suite of poems, Vigil, received the 2019 Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Poetry. She won the 2016 Short Grain poetry prize and the 2015 Vancouver Writers’ Festival Contest. 97817718719834

Mary Jayne Blackmore

B is for Blackmore
Having broken away from the polygamist community of Bountiful, Mary Jayne Blackmore returned to become a teacher and vice principal of Mormon Hills School. She writes about the journey in Balancing Bountiful: What I Learned about Feminism from My Polygamist Grandmothers (Caitlin $24.95), out in October. She is the fifth child of Winston Blackmore’s 150 children, was married at age 16, a mother of two before the age of 20, began college at 21 and eventually divorced after eleven years of marriage. She managed to retain loving bonds with her family, including her father and now is working to heal the community where she grew up. 978-1-77386-004-6

Claudia Cornwall

C is for Cornwall
When B.C. suffered one of its worst fire seasons in 2017, it was personal for writer Claudia Cornwall: a cabin that had been in her family for sixty years at Sheridan Lake was in danger. She began hearing stories from others about their losses but also about the bravery and kindness of the many who pitched in to help. After meeting with people from the communities of Sheridan Lake, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 16 Mile House, Lac La Hache, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Hanceville-Riske Creek and Clinton, Cornwall put their stories together in a book: British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer (Harbour $26.95). With over 60 photographs, Cornwall captures the importance of community in the face of one of nature’s destructive forces. 978-1-55017-894-4

D is for Doroghy
After his sister gave him 15,000 bees as a Christmas present, Dave Doroghy developed a fascination for the insects. After many mishaps – like getting stung multiple times, loosing bees to wasps and mites, even losing the queen bee twice – he continues to raise bees and blogs about it at houseboathoney.com. Now, he has published Show Me the Honey: Adventures of an Accidental Apiarist (Touchwood $25). Doroghy lives on a houseboat outside of Vancouver. 978-1771-5132-2-7

E is for Edugyan
As the author of The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Half-Blood Blues and Washington Black, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novelist Esi Edugyan of Victoria has been curating a blog post for articles by Black women writers who include Afua Hirsch, El Jones, Namwali Serpell, Roxane Gay and Nikole Hannah-Jones. For information on twenty-five black authors of British Columbia, visit abcbookworld.

Patrick Friesen

F is for Friesen
After publishing more than a dozen books of poetry, Victoria’s Patrick Friesen has released, Outlasting the Weather: Selected & New Poems (Anvil $20), which spans a quarter century of his work. In 2016, he was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize for his co-translation of the Danish book of poetry, Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments by Ulrikka Gernes.

G is for Gunn
The short stories in Genni Gunn’s new collection Permanent Tourists (Signature $19.95) are linked although they take place in an array of geographical locations across Canada, USA, Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico and Italy. Gunn describes her characters as “less thrill-seeking tourists on vacation than they are P.K. Page’s ‘terrible tourists with their empty eyes / longing to be filled with monuments.’ What they’re looking for cannot be not found in any postcard destination.” 978-1773240-80-0

Judy Hilgemann

H is for Hilgemann
Judy Hilgemann has written and illustrated the kidlit book, The Great Grizzlies Go Home (Harbour $23.95) about two grizzlie bears that swim to Comorant Island and surprise the residents of Alert Bay. The bears wander around the town for a few days before conservation officers are called in to safely trap and re-locate them back to the mainland. Based on true events, the book has 30 watercolour illustrations and a section on bear safety tips. 978-1-55017-907-1

I is for Imagining Violet
Mary E. Hughes’ first work of historical fiction, Imagining Violet (self-published) uses letters to tell the story of a 16-year-old Anglo-Irish girl who went to Germany in 1891 to study violin on her own. Violet is based on a few jottings that Hughes’ grandmother made in her Bible. Published by the author and First Choice Books in 2018, the book is available at Salt Spring Books, the Salt Spring Library and via https://imaginingviolet.blogspot.com. Hughes previously published The Life and Times of the Floathouse Zastrozzi (2011) and Frank Welsman, Canadian Conductor (2006).

Heather Jessup

J is for Jessup
A hoax isn’t always a lie meant to deceive or wound, it can also exert a positive influence argues Heather Jessup in This Is Not a Hoax: Unsettling Truth in Canadian Culture (Wifrid Laurier U. $35.95). Publicity for the book states that hoaxes can be constructive by helping “viewers and readers in re-examining unquestioned institutional trust, habituated cultural hierarchies, and the deeply inscribed racism and sexism of Canada’s settler-colonial history.” Jessup examines hoaxical works from Canadian artists such as Brian Jungen and Rebecca Belmore, and writers and translators David Solway and Erin Moure. She holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and teaches English at Langara College. Her first novel, The Lightning Field (Gaspereau 2011) was a finalist for the Raddall and Savage Book Awards, and was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. She is co-curator and lead director of the Prud’homme Library Project. 978-1-7711-2364-8

Rosemary Keevil

K is for Keevil
Tragedy strikes twice in one year for Rosemary Keevil when she loses her brother to AIDS and her husband to cancer. Left to raise two young daughters on her own, her addiction issues get worse. The high-functioning radio host decides to go into rehab. But rather than bringing tranquility to her family, more chaos ensues. Keevil reveals all in The Art of Losing It: A Memoir of Grief and Addiction (She Writes Press $16.95). 978-1-63152-777-7

L is for Lazarus
Populist historian Eve Lazarus adds another title to her list of true crime stories, cold cases and non-traditional histories with Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History (Arsenal $32.95). From eccentric museums, buried houses and belly-flop contests to nudist camps, Lazarus explores Vancouver’s neighbourhoods with equal measures of humour and pathos. 978-1-55152-829-8

Allie McFarland

M is for McFarland
In Allie McFarland’s debut novella, Disappearing in Reverse (Univ. of Calgary $24,99), a young woman named Devin, who supposedly died five years ago, has a recent picture posted online. Another young woman, convinced that she caused Devin’s death, embarks on a road trip to find out if Devin may actually be alive. Part mystery, part road novel and part coming of age story, it blends time and genres in a story that plays with expectations. 978-1773851433

N is for Narsimhan
Eight-year-old Kiara’s grandmother left her a genie in a garam masala bottle. She enlists the genie to help her with a bully at school, but the genie is on vacation after working for ten thousand years. The genie wants Kiara to do his bidding. The battle of wills that follows is the latest kidlit story from Mahtab Narsimhan, Genie Meanie (Orca $7.95), the author of Embrace the Chicken (Orca), Mission Mumbai (Scholastic), The Tiffin (DCB) and The Third Eye (Dundurn), which won the Silver Birch Award. 978-1-45982-398-3

Thomas Antony Olajide

O is for Olajide
A member of the Saga Collectif, Thomas Antony Olajide co-wrote the play Black Boys (Playwrights Canada $18.95) about the complex dynamics of the queer black male experience. His co-writers include two other black men, a black woman and a white man. The play examines three very different black men seeking to understand themselves in a society that both vilifies and sexualizes the black male body. Each role does a deep dive into the interplay between gender, sexuality and race. Olajide is a Dora Mavor Moore Award-nominated Toronto-based actor from Vancouver. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. The Saga Collectif was founded in 2012 to bring under-represented bodies and voices to the stage in a way that is honest, risky and new.

P is for Pawa
In The Mind-Body Cure (Greystone $24.95) due out in September, Dr. Bal Pawa shows how we can heal from chronic stress and relieve the impact it has on our bodies. She explains how the body’s stress hormones impact everything from our sleep to our immunity, and shows how to manage stress through actionable tips for sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindset, and more. 978-1-7716-4579-91

Lynne Quarmby

Q is for Quarmby
SFU professor, activist and Green Party candidate Lynne Quarmby writes about her time aboard a schooner of artists on a trip to the Arctic, mixing memoir, microbiology, grief for the loss of a frozen world and the sublimity of the northern landscape in Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear (McGill-Queen’s UP, $24.95). Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks and Elizabeth May, former leader of the Green Party of Canada both give testimonials for the book.  978-0-2280-0359-5

R is for Resnick
After forty years as a UBC political science professor, Philip Resnick offers his reflections on academic freedom and key political developments in B.C. and Canada in Itineraries: An Intellectual Odyssey (Ronsdale $21.95). Growing up Jewish in Montreal, he broke with organized religion and moved out west to teach in 1971. At first, not considering himself a good British Columbian – being too rooted in the past, not outdoorsy and European-focused – he stayed anyway, becoming a pundit for the media and eventually writing ten political books and six collections of poetry. 978-1-55380-602-8

Madeline Sonik

S is for Sonik
Madeline Sonik’s collection of linked stories, Fontainebleau (stories) (Anvil $20) is set in a troubled city on the Detroit River full of noxious substances and curses where people struggle to free themselves from bad situations. Then a rash of killings occur that a lovesick policeman tries to solve. There are plenty of suspects. 978-1-77214-148-1

T is for Terry
Darrell Fox has edited Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters (Viking $29.95) to mark the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope. Due in September, it consists of 40 letters recounting the inspiration, dedication, and perseverance that Terry Fox embodied. The contributors include Margaret Atwood, Bobby Orr, Tom Cockrane, Jann Arden and Christine Sinclair, as well police officers who escorted Terry on his run. Royalties will support the Terry Fox Foundation which has raised over $750 million dollars for cancer research. 9780735240698

U is for Umingmak
Umingmak is the Inuit word for muskox and a symbol of strength, authority and protectiveness. It was also the nickname the Inuit gave Stuart Hodgson, the first resident commissioner of the Northwest Territories who arrived in 1967. Commissioners and their council were appointed then and Ottawa gave Hodgson the mandate to establish a modern, self-elected government in NWT with Yellowknife as its capital. Hodgson succeeded and did so, as Indigenous leader, James Wah-Shee, chair of the Tlicho National assembly says, through recognizing the importance of governing by consensus, which is “the Aboriginal way – and this is part of his legacy.” The story is told by Jake Ootes in, Umingmak: Stuart Hodgson and the Birth of the Modern Arctic (Tidewater $29.95), due out in May. The book also tells how Hodgson co-founded the Arctic Winter Games, organized three royal visits to the NWT, and united the entire population of about 26,000 people in fifty isolated communities spread over 3,400,000 square kilometers.  9781777010102

NWT Commissioner Stuart Hodgson, aka Umingmak. Circa 1967

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 addictions on the coast and to raise money to build a healing centre open to all people.

M. Anne Wyness

W is for Wyness
In 1986, the iconic James Inglis Reid Ltd. store of traditional Scottish food with its motto, “We hae meat that ye can eat,” closed to make way for the Pacific Centre development. It had been a fixture on downtown Granville Street for almost eighty years, known for its smoked hams and bacons, sausages and haggis, and freshly-baked meat pies and scones – almost all made on the premises. Now M. Anne Wyness, the founder’s granddaughter has written a company history, The Larder of the Wise: The History of Vancouver’s James Inglis Reid Ltd. (Figure 1 $32.99) that honours the store and its artisanal techniques. 978-1-77327-118-7

X is for Xwalacktun
Xwalacktun (born Rick Harry) was born and raised in Squamish. His mother is originally from Squamish and Alert Bay (Coast Salish, Kwakiutl) while his father was Coast Salish (Squamish). Xwalacktun was given his indigenous name by his father, Pekultn, who was a hereditary chief, originally from the Seymour Creek area of North Vancouver. He increased his skills and education as an artist at Emily Carr College of Art and Capilano College but feels he also learned a lot through trial and error. The North Vancouver Arts Council contracted Xwa-lack-tun [alternate spelling] to do a print of a historic site for the new Millennium. In 2001 he was invited to Scotland to promote the country’s totem pole project and he returned in 2002, 2003 and 2005 to travel Scotland and demonstrate carving techniques. Xwa-lack-tun worked on designs for the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympic Bid. He has also created and carved the yellow cedar, double doors for BC Hydro’s main buildings in Vancouver and Burnaby. Harrison Hot Springs Resort also commissioned him to create its set of doors placed at the entrance of its spa. He has created a 41.5-foot, red cedar pole for a gallery in New Hampshire, USA. Perhaps most auspiciously, in 2014-2015, he was commissioned by the Audain Museum in Whistler to create the waterjet cut, aluminum house post for its main entranceway entitled He-yay meymuy (Big Flood). No, he doesn’t have a book yet. It’s only a matter of time.

Yusuf Saadi

Y if for Yusuf
Examining poetic visions and traditions in his debut poetry collection, Pluviophile (Nightwood $18.95) Yusuf Saadi works with form, imagery and sonancy in these sonnets and shorter poems. One of the longer poems, “The Place Words Go to Die” won the Malahat Review’s 2016 Far Horizons Award for Poetry. Locations he explores range from Montreal to Kolkata; from the moon to the gates of heaven.  978-0-88971-374-1

Z is for Zimmerman
Alex Zimmerman has self-published, Becoming Coastal: 25 years of exploration and discovery of the British Columbia coast by paddle, oar and sail (Seaworthy Publications $34.95). An avid sailor and outdoorsman, Zimmerman has built several of his own boats and kayaks, and both his sail and oar boats. He estimates he has put several thousand miles under the keels of his various boots but he knows the sea still has much to teach him. 97819484942747

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