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 Boxall
Estranged for decades from her brother who suffered from schizophrenia, Joan Boxall describes their shared journey as re-united siblings after she encouraged him, at age 55, to take art classes, in DrawBridge: Drawing Alongside My Brother’s Schizophrenia (Caitlin $24.95). For eight years Stephen A. Corcoran progressed as a painter, eventually displaying his work in two solo exhibits, before his death from cancer in 2013. In memory of her brother, Joan has established the Stephen A. Corcoran Memorial Award at Emily Carr University of Art and Design to assist students coping with mental health issues. His paintings accompany her memoir. With a degree from UBC, Boxall, of North Vancouver, taught English, French and Physical Education to teens in Cranbrook and Delta before acquiring a TESL certificate in adult education. She contributes to Inspired 55+ Lifestyle magazine. Corcoran trained at the Vancouver Art School in the 1970s and had his first solo exhibit in 2011 at Vancouver’s Basic Inquiry Gallery. 9781773860022
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
D is for Dickinson
Set in London during the IRA crisis in 1974, Don Dickinson’s Rag & Bone Man (Coteau $24.95) follows the misadventures of an unemployed Canadian hockey player named Rob Hendershot who is led into intrigue by his 83-year-old roommate. As a somewhat naive Canadian who went to England to play pro hockey, Hendershot is perplexed by the volatile politics of the era as he looks for love in some of the wrong places–and in an art studio. To make ends almost meet, he works as an artist’s model, posing as a modern day Beowulf for the mesmerizing artist, Margaret Lowenstein, with whom he is smitten. A long-time resident of Lillooet, where he taught English, Don Dickinson lived in London during the time period described. His first work of fiction was published in 1982. 9781550502749
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].
I is for Invermere
D.M. Ditson’s Wide Open (Coteau $24.95) is a memoir about unravelling in the wake of a series of sexual assaults that left her with post-traumatic stress disorder. The author confronts her past, her family, and her Evangelical upbringing as she fights to save her relationship and herself. Alison Pick, Man Booker nominated author of Far to Go and Strangers With The Same Dream says that “it will take you to the farthest reaches of what it means to be human.” This memoir won the 2017 John V. Hicks prize, awarded by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, after which D. M. (Dauna) Ditson moved from Regina to Invermere, British Columbia. $24.95 9781550509663
J is for Jordan
Once women had the vote and were given property rights, ushered in by first-wave feminism, a new struggle began for broader equality in areas such as sexuality, family life, the workplace and other areas. Branching Out, Canada’s first national magazine serving this second-wave feminism, which operated from the early 1960s to the 1980s, started surprisingly on the prairies although it was read widely from coast to coast. Vancouver researcher and educator, Tessa Jordan has written a history of this influential magazine, Feminist Acts: Branching Out Magazine and the Making of Canadian Feminism (Univ. of Alberta $34.99) with a foreword by CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel. Branching Out is an Edmonton-based story of political activism and feminist communities. It ceased publication in 1980 but not before becoming the most popular feminist magazine in the country. Jordan’s work focuses on Canadian feminist histories as well as the private sector’s role in the fight for social justice and ecological sustainability.
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
L is for Leavitt
Sarah Leavitt’s second graphic novel, Agnes, Murderess (Freehand $29.95) is based on the folk legend of a supposed 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.
M is for Moreno-Garcia
Having written the oft-reprinted bestseller Writing for the Web, novelist Crawford Kilian has teamed up with rising science fiction star Silvia Moreno-Garcia for A Writer’s Guide to Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction and Fantasy (Self-Counsel $26.95). [Speculative fiction is the umbrella term for science fiction and fantasy.] Together they describe how to create believable worlds and characters within well-crafted stories. Moreno-Garcia grew up in Mexico City where both her parents worked in radio. Her novel Signal to Noise was named one of the best books of the year by BookRiot, Tordotcom, BuzzFeed and io9; her Certain Dark Things was selected as one of NPR’s best books of the year and a Publishers Weekly top ten. Other titles are a fantasy of manners The Beautiful Ones and a science fiction novella, Prime Meridian. Currently she works at UBC in the baffling, sci-fi world… of public relations. 978-1770403161
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 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 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 Quennec
A widow at the age of 32, Kate leaves her backward hometown on Vancouver Island and moves to an even smaller island hoping to find solace. Here, she meets another woman, Ivy who regales Kate with wild stories of Cuba in 1926. Another woman, Kate’s mother Nora provides backstory on mid-twentieth century island living. These are the main characters of Linda Quennec’s new novel Fishing for Birds (Inanna $22.95) that navigates island life from the tropical South to the temperate Northwest Coast, across time and through the very different experiences of three women. Throughout, the novel examines the expectations people cling to, and the unexpected things that show up and impact their lives. Quennec describes herself as an island dweller at heart. She is a PhD student in Depth Psychology with a MFA in creative writing from Naropa University, and is a graduate of The Writers’ Studio at SFU and the Humber School of Writing. Her work has been published in Quills Canadian Poetry, 3Elements Review, Cirque, and Emerge. She lives in Vancouver. 978-1-77133-613-0
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.
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
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
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.
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 Yarn Bombing
Who knew the gentle arts of knitting and crocheting would become beacons of political resistance? Consider the millions of knitted pussyhats worn by women during the #MeToo protests, which led to the pink head covering making the cover of Time magazine in 2017. The famous statue of a charging bull on New York City’s Wall Street was notably covered with crocheted yarn by the artist Olek in 2011 to bring attention to the Great Recession that began in 2008. Such yarn bombing as it is now known, has become an international guerrilla movement. Vancouver-based knitters Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain caught on early to ‘yarnarchy’ and interviewed yarn bombers from around the world for their 2009 book on the subject. Ten years later, with the movement continuing to gain momentum, they have released a new edition, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti: Tenth Anniversary Edition (Arsenal Pulp $24.95) with an updated introduction and an additional chapter about infamous examples of yarn bombing. 978-1-55152-792-5.
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