Not okay

Non-binary jaye simpson (left) describes the trauma of being told they were a boy in their debut poetry collection, “it was never going to be okay.” FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Jenn Ashton

A is for Ashton
SFU Writer’s Studio teaching assistant, Jenn Ashton has written a collection of short stories, People Like Frank: and other stories from the edge of normal (Tidewater $19.95) due out this October. The stories include: the tumultuous short-term relationship between a woman, an asparagus bag and a garbageman; a young woman in a group home investigating a mysterious knitted material; and an obsessed bag boy fighting with a squirrel. Ashton sits on the boards of the Federation of BC Writers and Indigneous Writer’s Collective. 978-1-7770-1016-4

David R. Boyd

B is for Boyd
Thirst for Justice (ECW $22.95), due out in October is a political and legal thriller from North Pender Island author David R. Boyd about a trauma surgeon whose experiences volunteering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo lead him down a path he never would have imagined possible, resulting in a global manhunt and a riveting trial. 978-1-7704-1240-8

C is for Christmas
In response to spoken word activist Jillian Christmas’s debut book, The Gospel of Breaking (Arsenal $14.95), novelist David Chariandy described her texts as “incantatory and disarming, sensitive and cerebral, fiercely defiant and courageously tender.” Her poems are expressive of her family history, queer lineage and “the political landscape of a racialized life.” 978-1-5515-2797-0

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

Esi Edugyan. Photo by Tamara Poppitt

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.

F is for Fee
Although natural historians began writing about the polar bear as early as the mid-eighteenth century, it wasn’t until 1971 that it’s official Latin name, Ursus Maritimus (sea bear) was fixed. It’s one of the many tidbits of information in UBC Emerita Professor of English, Margery Fee’s new book, Polar Bear (Univ. of Chicago $19.99). She merges natural and cultural history about this iconic animal, the largest land-dwelling carnivore on Earth. Polar bears symbolize climate change; sell soda pop; feature in children’s books and on merry-go-rounds; decorate buildings; and once were prized by hunters and zoos. Fee’s last book was Literary Land Claims: The “Indian Land Question” from Pontiac’s War to Attawapiskat (Wilfrid Laurier University, 2015). 978-1-78914-146-7

G is for Gibson
Chantal Gibson’s debut book of poetry, How She Read (Caitlin, $20) has won the 2020 Pat Lowther Memorial Award. It has also been nominated for three other Canadian poetry awards: the Griffin Poetry Prize; the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award (which recognizes a first book of poetry published by a Canadian writer); and the Raymond Souster Award (presented annually for a book of poetry by a Canadian League of Poets member). Gibson’s collection represents the voices of Black women, past and present, highlighting the colonial ideas embedded in everyday things such as storybooks, coloured pencils, paintings and postage stamps. Her work has been published in Room magazine and Making Room: 40 years of Room Magazine (Caitlin Press, 2017), and she was shortlisted for PRISM magazine’s 2017 Poetry Prize. Gibson is an artist-educator living in Vancouver with ancestral roots in Nova Scotia. She teaches writing and visual communication in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University. 978-19879-1596-9

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).

J is for Jarman
In Czech Techno & Other Stories of Music (Anvil $18) Mark Jarman’s five tales are built around music and travel. His scenes range from a tour through Napoli to a walk on Victoria’s inner harbor, and music from ‘gentle Tunisian techno’ to tunes from Steppenwolf or The Youngbloods wafting from a car radio. Woven into each story are ever-present matters of the human heart. 978-1-77214-138-2

K is for Kalteis
Fleeing from her mobster boyfriend, Bobbi Ricci takes off with his ex-driver and is travelling around B.C. and Alaska when a hitman starts catching up to them in Cradle of the Deep (ECW $19.95) by West Vancouver writer Dietrich Kalteis. 9781770415263

L is for LeBlanc
Not many poets can claim to have poetry collections in esteemed journals as well as hockey columns in sports magazines. Curtis LeBlanc is one such writer. His work has appeared in the Malahat Review, Prairie Fire, EVENT, Geist and Arc among others. He is also an occasional hockey columnist for NHL Numbers. LeBlanc’s debut poetry collection Little Wild (Nightwood 2018) was followed up with Birding in the Glass Age of Isolation (Nightwood $18.95). The latter explores the social implications of social illness and asks questions about the effects of anxiety on behavior. 978-0-88971-368-0

Oscar Martens

M is for Martens
Having had his fiction published for many years in journals such as the Malahat Review and Prairie Fire, Oscar Martens has just released a collection of short fiction No Call Too Small (Central Avenue $14.99). His dark tales are set mainly in Western Canada and include characters like a camp counsellor trapped in the forest with a group of boys just hours before the DTs kick in; heirs scrambling to get the best of what remains of their mother’s estate; and a policeman who is forced to choose between ethics and social death. Martens previously published book of short stories was The Girl with the Full Figure is Your Daughter (Turnstone 2002). 9781771681957

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

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.
978-0-3691-1004-7-4

Dr. Bal Pawa

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

Q is for Quartermain
Historical writer, novelist, poet and chapbook publisher Meredith Quartermain’s new collection of poems, Lullabies in the Real World (Newest $18.95) puts colonization under the literary microscope. She employs a train journey  from the West Coast to the East Coast as a poetic device to probe Canada’s impact as a colonial nation. As the train travels from west to east, the poems invoke regions, voices and histories. Quartermain also uses imaginary conversations with other Canadian poets such as Robin Blaser and bpNichol to reflect on Canada from different angles as well as to examine the place of a poet in relation to the voices of other poets. At times playful, at other times confrontational, Quartermain ends by imagining a time before or outside colonization. 978-1-988732-78-7

Nicholas Raeside

R is for Raeside
At the age of seven, Nicholas Raeside helped put out a bushfire in his bare feet. While studying in high school, he took days off to help fight local wild fires, sometimes with nothing on his feet but plastic sandals. As an adult he began worked in the logging industry where he held many jobs but eventually specialized in slashburning: the mandated use of controlled fires to clean up logging slash and other debris left behind by industrial logging, a practice meant to reduce fire hazards. He wrote about what it was like working in B.C.’s forests during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s when just about anything went, in his memoir Slashburner: Hot Times in the British Columbia Woods (Harbour $24.95). It’s his first book. 978-1-55017-898-2

S is for Schauch
Mountaineer and entrepreneur, Michael Schauch turned his attention to fundraising and international mentorship after 20 years working in global investment. His new activities include girls’ education and student mentorship in Nepal, outdoor youth leadership for those facing access barriers to nature, and Indigenous leadership development in B.C. He has written, A Story of Karma: Finding Love and Truth in the Lost Valley of the Himalaya (RMB $25) due out in September. He calls his home in Squamish “base camp.” 9781771604673

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.

Denyse Waissbluth

W is for Waissbluth
Denyse Waissbluth studied tea culture in China and enjoyed tea in twenty countries while working as a journalist before writing her debut children’s book, Teatime Around the World (Greystone Kids $22.95). Waissbluth’s poetic writing is complemented by facts about different tea cultures and illustrations by Chelsea O’Byrne. 978-177164-601-7

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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