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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Scotiabank Giller Prize 2005 shortlist

Toronto, ON - Today, in a morning press conference that drew over 100 media and members of the publishing industry, The Scotiabank Giller Prize announced its 2005 shortlist. Selected by an esteemed jury panel comprised of authors Warren Cariou, Elizabeth Hay and Richard B. Wright, the five finalists were chosen from 94 books submitted for consideration. Those books were submitted by 35 publishers from every region of the country.

The jury named the finalists. They are:
Joan Barfoot for her novel Luck, published by Knopf Canada
David Bergen for his novel The Time In Between, published by McClelland & Stewart
Camilla Gibb for her novel Sweetness in the Belly, published by Doubleday Canada
Lisa Moore for her novel Alligator, published by House of Anansi Press
Edeet Ravel for her novel A Wall of Light, published by Random House Canada

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

David McGimpsey Rawks

There are a only few people I would love to be able to write like. David McGimpsey is one of those people. I saw him read at the Ottawa International Writers Fest last fall and he was very much a comedic highlight of the event. I remember saying in my blog about the panel he was on:
"The assembling of writers for one event must be difficult. Again, tonight's 5:30pm event was no different. David "Pass-the-peanutbutter" McGimpsey was paired with Donna "I'm-originally-from-Newfoundland-so-don't-hold-it-against-me" Morrissey, and Beth "How-did-I-get-stuck-reading-with-McGimpsey?" Powning. A stand-up comedian meets, a dramatist and a writer who remembers her grandmother. Interesting combo. "

Interesting combo indeed. Judging from Tuesday evening's performance at Tree Reading Series, McGimpsey truly deserves a stage by himself. He is the full package: lush curly hair atop his big noggin, talented writer, excellent stage presence, and everyone's 'pal'. Who could resist his charm? People of Ottawa, you must have been sleeping. Why else have you passed up the opportunity to catch him live? Or you may have been just satisfied to buy his latest book of short fiction, certifiable (fictions). You can also read one of his latest articles, a travel piece entitled, That's Some Pig in enRoute Magazine. One of Canada's most expensive magazines -- you have to buy an airplane ticket to get the thing, but at least you can read some articles online.

You've got to read McGimpsey's work. One day they'll each win the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and you'll know why. As for myself, I only hope to win the medal - on eBay - if one is ever put up for auction. See? That's me trying to be funny...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Messagio Maestro

Little did I know that last night I was to witness one of the most electric sound poetry perfomances in Canadian poetic history. Too much of a boast perhaps...what the hell do I know about Canadian sound poetry? Although I've not had the good fortune to see a live performance of The Four Horsemen, I have seen snippets on television many years ago and remember that I was impressed beyond imagination. The Four Horsemen are comprised of Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery and bp Nichol. I, however, strongly feel that my opinion would not be dismissed as hubris if you were to ask any of the others who were present.

Being present at jwcurry's event was nothing short of a oral (aural?) and visual spectacle of the senses. I remember thinking last night, after the last act, how anyone could write about what we saw and heard last night. (I did take photos...lots) I am still debating to post some of can I put this... some of the more sensitive ones of Curry crawling on the floor covered in nothing but Alpha-Bits. Formally, the piece was entitled OF GRAMMATOLOGY by the Toronto Research Group.

Before the show jwcurry let us stew in our makeshift seats - in the empty room of the temporary annex of his Room 302 Books - and listen to Ursonate (1922-32) by Kurt Schwitters. If you have not heard this score, I suggest a visit and also listen to Christian Bök's (more aggressive) interpretation of the Ursonate.

Fümms bö wö tää zää Uu, pögiff, kwii Ee.
Dedesnn nn rrrrr, Ii Ee, mpiff tillff toooo, tillll, Jüü-Kaa? (cantado
Rinnzekete bee bee nnz krr müüüü, ziiuu ennze ziiuu
rinnzkrrmüüüü, Rakete bee bee.
Rrummpff tillff toooo?

The Four Horsemen, known for their theatrical assault on the audience's senses, jwcurry along with Ottawa's Max Middle (a.k.a. Mark Robertson) and Jennifer Books delivered the same high energy in their charged performances. I would love to be able to succinctly describe the show last night in my own words... but alas I fear that I cannot. rob mclennan will be the source I will probably turn to for a more literary interpretation. And thankfully, a program handed out by Jennifer at the begging went a long way to explain the context for the content of the show. Curry explained that:

"Messagio Galore takes its working title from Frank Zappa's MASSAGIO GALORE, a swirling musique conctrete melody set to a propulsive synthetic vamp. it is arguably his earliest & dense work involving programmed nonsyntactical sound produced by mouth, its musical component pretty much a support structure.

there have been many composers working with the notion of the sprechgesang but fewer writers have approached the question of what happens to "words in freedom" except in isolated clutches (DaDa in Zurich, Italian & Russian Futurism, the later French Lettristes."

He goes on to mention "musicoliterary parameters", "cultural sedimentation" and something about the "strict narrative-based linearity...and polymorphous 'event'." And that's where my understanding stopped and my ignorance began. However, he does admit that "one of the problems facing the writer of multilinear & sound texts is the absence of a standard notational system for the plotting of works that are all but standard in their applications of language...". But really, this type of theatre is not meant to be read as much as witnessed in the flesh.

To begin, curry stretched before us a roll of paper which looked to be about six feet long with typed poetry. In his mouth was a pair of scissors. He went around commanding people to "Cut me!" They did what they were asked and cut the paper at random points, ostensibly to divide up the page into manageable bits for "reading". The six feet was broken down into three feet, 1.5 feet, .... into many three inch or so slivers of (chaotic) bits of poems. Afterwards curry exclaimed why no one had actually followed his orders to cut him! Thankfully, no one did.

Poet, and audience member, Wanda O'Connor taking the cue to cut curry. [See her musings about the event on her blog.]

jwcurry mid-flight on a crushing course towards the Alpha-Bits. This solo performance was entitled 'OF GRAMMATOLOGY', by the Toronto Research Group.

jwcurry, Jennifer Books & Max Middle perform a multilinear sound text
898989898989898989898989898989898989898989898989898989! (repeat...)

the passion of curry

jwcurry and Max Middle in a typing dual.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is Mike Holmes

Building contractors beware. Don't pi$$ him off or he'll kick your a$$. Mr. Holmes made his first professional appearance at the Ottawa Home Show today. The testosterone was palpable in the Lansdowne Park pavillion during his hour long rant and advice-filled speech. Throngs of fans of his HGTV show, Holmes on Homes lined up for his autograph.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ottawa Citizen Column

I never thought that this would happen. Really. I was minding my own business, blogging away in near isolation about these fantastically talented authors and poets I watched at all these Ottawa literary events. Sometimes with just a brief entry or two, sometimes with a fully developed paragraph of thoughts, and eventually I figured I'd bring along a camera to record what I saw...then... out of the blue, I received an offer last month to write a column in the Ottawa Citizen. It will be about my take on the local literary scene. It should appear every other week. My first column appears this Sunday, 25 September 2005, in the Citizen's Weekly section.

I also got another event photo published in Quill & Quire this month. It's out on newstands today. Featured are several members from Ottawa's Wordlympic Slam Team. A similar picture was published earlier this month on my weblog.

Local Ottawa poet and bookseller, jwcurry is giving a sound & related textu(r)al perfomance this weekend, along with vocal aid by Max Middle. This event, the Hit'N'Run Lecture Series #1, is entitled Messagio Galore take II. I just got wind of the event a few days ago when jw mailed me a post card. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dave Bidini's Hockey Stories

Author and rock star, Dave Bidini, reads at Collected Works tonight.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Seymour Mayne Reads at The Dusty Owl

Seymour opens the Fall poetry season at The Dusty Owl Reading Series, at 5:00 p.m., Sunday, September 18. The venue for The Dusty Owl is Swizzles Bar & Grill, 246-b Queen Street below the Thai Garden Restaurant (down the stairs to the right of the restaurant). There is no cover charge or fee for attending readings at The Dusty Owl Seymour will be reading from his most recent collections, including Ricochet: Word Sonnets and September Rain, both from Mosaic Press.

It's been my experience that not too often at a poetry reading series where the amatuer open-mic readers outshine the featured act. To me, this evening was one of those times. It's not too often where the feature actually leaves before the entire reading is over. This was also one of those times.

In my opinion, the forty-five minute set was more of an academic lecture and oral memoir than a poetry reading, giving Seymour Mayne, University of Ottawa prof. opportunity to name drop that he's the 8th cousin to Mordecai Richler, friend of Louis Dudek and Irving Layton. But hell, I am guilty of that as well: I've played the Richler and Layton card a few times, too -- all you have to do is read my own online bio.

Mayne is a master of the satirical or humourous poem and very passionate about the "marvelously addictive form" of the word sonnet. Each of his poems were prefaced by lengthy introductions and clarifications and even repetitions of his haikus/sonnets - not necessarily a bad thing, but over-elaborate and pedantic in places I felt. For example, he went on - at some length- explaining a Thomas Hardy anecdote to preface his poem:

"Thomas Hardy, the great English novelist and poet left two wills, or they found two wills, when he died. One instructed his family to bury him in his native town, and one asked his family to have him buried where he died. So the family was put into a quandary: how do you bury one body in two places? His sister decided to eviscerated his heart - have it buried in the town he died in, and take the body, sans heart to his home town. So they had the first burial in his home town...and then they came back for the second vigil three days later. She had put his heart on...the mantlepiece in her house. And when she got back...she found that the heart was gone. And if you think that I am making this up, read the biographies of Thomas Hardy! Thomas Hardy's heart disappeard. No one has figured out what happened to Thomas Hardy's heart. And I did some research and there was another, shall I say, 'presence' in that house that may be responsible for Thomas Hardy's heart. So, I wrote a little poem called "Eat Your Heart Out":

Just imagine that
instead of feeding upon a rat
Thomas Hardy's sister's cat
showing his avid devotion to art
sniffed around his bottled heart
then gobbled it up a la carte.

(Just for fun, I googled 'Thomas Hardy Heart' and came up with one site to which refers to the doctor's cat who may have eaten it in the garden shed... Ahh, poetic licence.) Without a pause, he then went on to preface his maledictory poem about his blue couch from nineteen years ago, and read several triple-word type sonnets inspired by the seasons and weather (which he repeated twice, ostensibly for the audience to better get the meaning...that we would have missed had he only read it once.) Shane Neilson, in The Danthforth Review, wrote a review of Maynes' Hail: Word Sonnets (2003). I admit, after reading it, I see more where Mayne was coming from.

I must say that I enjoyed the reading by former CBC poetry face-off winner, Jim Larwill. Such a soothing voice on stage - I very much enjoy his readings. I picked up two of his chapbooks: Rag Doll (1999), and The First Book of Her Story Called Genesis (2003). He sort of dropped-out of the poetry reading scene since his crowing achievement at the CBC event, but he was back tonight in fine form. Upcoming Dusty Owl readers include: Oct. 2: Jennifer Whiteford; Oct. 16: David Solway. I am expecting much excitement from Solway's appearance since reading his recently published book, Director's Cut. This is one reading any local poet/reader should not miss.

(David Solway's reading was cancelled)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Golden Star Shines On: UK Poets Invasion

The Golden Star Lounge, Ottawa's original urban poetry series, returns to continue our mission of bringing high quality, professional artists from across Canada and around the world who represent the absolute best in spoken word poetry.

On Sept. 17, in association with the Mercury Lounge, the Golden Star Lounge presents, for the first time in Canada THE UK POETS INVASION: THE BEST KEPT SECRET Featuring TUGGS.T.A.R., Amen Noir, ShakaRA, OneNess
With special guest from Toronto, the Original One
Hosted by Ottawa's 2004 Slam Champion, the nth digri
Saturday, September 17, 2005, 7:30-10:00 PM
The Mercury Lounge, 56 Byward Street, Ottawa
Tickets $9.00

Featuring international spoken word artists, The Best Kept Secret, four of the UK scene's most exciting performers, on a North American tour that includes stops in New York and Toronto (Dwayne Morgan's International Slam). They have performed with Dead Prez and The Last Poets, featured on MTV, and toured England, Scandanavia, and the United States. Their members include TUGGS.T.A.R, OneNess, Amen Noir, and shakaRA. As well, Ottawa's own the Original One returns to town fresh off a national tour where he thrilled audiences with his calpyso-styled poetry, beat boxing skills, and captivating erotic verse (as heard on his CD, If Yuh Heard, and as read in the TDot-Griots and Black Erotica anthologies).

For more info on this and other GSL shows, click The Golden Star Lounge.
For more info on The Best Kept Secret, click
For more info on the nth digri, click

the nth digri, the host for tonight's event, broke the ice with 'Dis Poem' (featured on the CD Tales From the North Coast). Next up was Da Original One with some excellent lyrical poems and wowed the crowed with his masterful talent of being a "beat boxer". Eddy explained for those who are unfamiliar with the term, that it is "somebody who can make accoustical music with their mouth." He went on to shine his skills performing "Momma wouldn’t buy me a drum machine". (Well worth the price of the $9.00 admission) Just awesome. You can also read more of the poems he recited on his webpage such as "Jourvay Booty" and "Your spirit whispered to mine". The audience also squeezed an encore from him.

Anthony also performed a new poem called "72 hours" which he wrote for the people in New Orleans. You can read the transcript of the poem on his website. I asked Anthony how he came to know of this troupe and he responded, "I originally met Tuggstar in Toronto at one of the Up From the Roots events promoted by Dwayne Morgan [approximately] three years ago. I saw him perform again two years ago at the Toronto International Poetry Slam (he placed third). I loved his work, and when I heard form Eddy Davids (The Original One) that the rest of his group, The Best Kept Secret, were coming to Toronto this September and that they were interested in performing in other Canadian cities, I jumped at the chance to bring them to Ottawa." More than just a mere poetry reading, the UK Poets delivered a brilliantly polished performance with strong messages. The poets stood out from the crowd with their stylish clothing line supplied by 'Fresh Flames'.

Although the Mercury Lounge is clearly an intimate location for such readings, I fear that the very narrow stage space with its huge vaulted ceiling mutes and garbles the sometimes subtle voices that were part of the performance. The micophones could not distinctly pick up the quietest words, at least to me, and I was up front. To me, these are big performers and as such, deserve bigger venues. Don't miss the next The Golden Star Lounge urban poetry series which is to be held on Friday, 28 October at the East African Restaurant featuring Storm (Toronto)And Taqralik Partridge (Montreal).

Eddy David, a.k.a. Da Original One.

the nth digri, a.k.a. Anthony Bansfield

Amen Noir

The Best Kept Secret featuring (left to right) Amen Noir, OneNess, shakaRA, and TUGGS.T.A.R. Absent tonight was ShortMAN.

OneNess with men on bended knee for the lady.

The Best Kept Secret with Da Original One [second on left]

Amen Noir, OneNess, nth digri

The Only Good Thing

...about the CBC lock-out is that Sook-Yin Lee's D.N.T.O. replayed Danny Michel's concert when he performed at Ottawa's Tulipfest. But that's the only good thing I can think of right now.

Familiar Face

I thought that face looked familiar this morning when I opened up the Citizen on page B6: Charles Gordon. Yes, that's him. His retirement was announced this past June in the Ottawa Citizen. Well, according to the tag line at the bottom of his editorial "Charles Gordon's column will appear weekly". This is good news for fans of Gordon's dry wit and humour. Today's column will not disappoint either. His column offers Brian Mulroney some hints on what to say to Peter C. Newman on a future phone call. He offers many examples of what to say on topics ranging from:

- Ottawa journalists: "They have a job to do, and part of the job is to savage the prime minister, perhaps because they have a book contract, but I'm not bitter about that, partly because my own book will be of much more interest to the public."


- Ottawa: "Pardon my language, but it's a darn nice city, one of my favourite cities in Canada, although there are many others, some of them perhaps nicer. I like it so much that I put all my commissions of inquiry here."

In a shroud of secrecy, Peter C. Newman's tell all book, The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister, was released to bookstores and has since gone into multiple printings.

The publisher's webpage writes that, "Mulroney names the names and spills the beans about what really goes on in Ottawa, which he describes as a "sick" city that runs on "goddamned incest": "They're all married to one another. They're shacked up with one another. Their wives are on the payroll of the CBC. It's just awful." Lucien Bouchard, his one-time soulmate, he calls "bitter and profane" and "extraordinarily vain." He writes off his constitutional foe, former Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells, as an "unprincipled son of a bitch." His disgust for the press is as monumental as his sense of being misunderstood, and in his eyes the Ottawa press corps are "a phony bunch of bastards" who don't give him credit even when the world applauds him for being "one of the three men who played the most important role in the collapse of the Berlin Wall."

Oh yeah... if you download the book's index (.pdf file) that Random House conveniently provides it's website you will note that a reference to Charles Gordon appears on page 149. Just thought you should know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Ottawa Poet William Hawkins

Free series, open-mic at 8 p.m. followed by feature at 9 p.m., Royal Oak II Pub, 161 Laurier Ave. E., Sept. 13: Ottawa poet William Hawkins

We learned from Mr. Hawkins that the price of 'fun' was a lot cheaper back in the 60s...especially in Mexico. He mentioned something about a grocery bag full of 'stuff' (my euphemism) procured easily for five bucks and other OTC specialties for mere pennies... Another time, another place.

In attendance this evening was his long-time friend, Roy MacSkimming, author of The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada’s Writers. MacSkimming also wrote the introduction of Hawkins' latest book, DANCING ALONE: Selected Poems. These two also collaborated on Shoot Low Sheriff, They're Riding Shetland Ponies back in 1964. Incidentally, you may also read MacSkimming's introduction online at Speaking of mclennan wrote about Hawkins spring 2005 launch of Dancing Alone on his blog page here.

It was a hot and steamy evening in the basement on this unusually warm September evening. There were a dozen talented readers at the open mic portion of the reading - some old and young - providing a great mix of poetry and prose.

Hawkins and MacSkimming pose for a quick photo after the reading.

Among the various announcements made during the reading, James Moran reported that he and Jennifer Mulligan will be stepping down as organizers of the Tree Reading Series this coming winter. Change is inevitable I suppose. They are looking for others to step up and take over the reading series after their five plus years of bringing talented authors to the Ottawa public. Anyone with ambitions of poetic grandeur in Ottawa should contact James or Jennifer.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dusty Owl Reading at Swizzles

They have a neat feature at end of their reading: an object of desire. Basically, the organizers bring in an 'object of desire' which can be any ole object. This time it was a stainless steel ladel. Audience members, who opt in, write about the featured object. They have about 10-15 minutes to come up with a poem or piece of prose. Amanda of entertained us with her faithful rendtion of Tom Jones' She's a Lady, appropriately retitled "She's a Ladel"
She's a Ladel. Whoa whoa whoa, She's a Ladel.
Talkin' about that little ladel, and the ladel is mine.
However, the evening's winner, eventually determined by applause, was Melanie. Here she is concentrating on writing what to be was the winning entry. Unfortunately, as she was writing her piece, the battery on her laptop had died, and with no power adapter, she had to re-write the few pages from memory just minutes before time was called. The prize? The ladel of course!

An Evening with Jane Urquhart

Monday, September 12, 2005 @ 7:30 pm
An Evening with Jane Urquhart Celebrate the launch of Jane Urquhart's latest novel, A Map of Glass at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington

Governor General's Award Winner, Jane Urquhart, awaits to be called to the microphone by the evening's host, Lucy van Oldenbarneveld, field reporter and Friday host of CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning (when she's not locked-out, of course.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The New Season

Some upcoming book related events in Ottawa... lovingly co-opted for my own use from this morning's Ottawa Citizen.

Nov. 17: 7 p.m., Dead Poets Live at Beechwood Cemetery, 280 Beechwood Ave. Celebration of Canadian poetry and music. All proceeds to the Poets' Hill Commemorative Project. 230-4640

Ottawa poetry publisher presents readings. Oct. 5: Annual John Newlove Poetry Award Reading, Library and Archives Canada; Oct. 16: Bywords Fall Reading, Chapters, 47 Rideau St.; Jan. 15: Bywords Warms The Night 3, Chapters, 47 Rideau St.; April 16: Bywords Spring Reading, Chapters, 47 Rideau St.; July 16: Bywords Summer Reading, Chapters, 47 Rideau St.

Ottawa chapter, support through meetings, workshops, writing-related resources and networking opportunities. Ottawa chapter meets third Tuesday of most months, 7 p.m., Ottawa Public Library, main branch, auditorium. Fee for non-members.

Oct. 5: National Capital Throwdown; Oct. 21: Capital Slam; Nov. 11: Capital Slam: Remembrance Day edition; Dec. 9: Capital Slam: Holiday edition; Dec. 14: National Capital Throwdown open-mic night; Jan. 13: Capital Slam; Feb. 10: Capital Slam: Black History Month edition; March 10: Capital Slam: Women's edition; March 22: National Capital Throwdown open-mic night; April 7: Capital Slam; May 12: Capital Slam Semi-Finals; June 9: Capital Slam Championship finals; June 28: National Capital Throwdown open-mic night, Gap of Dunloe, 263 Bank St. 252-1777.

Readings and book signings: Sept. 20: Safe Kids, Safe Families, by Samantha Wilson, seminar. 7 p.m. Chapters Pinecrest Road. Free, with limited space. Register at 596-3003; Nov. 16: Ordinary Heroes, by Scott Turow, reading and signing, noon, Chapters Rideau Street; Nov. 17: A Crack in the Edge of the World, by Simon Winchester, reading and signing, 7 p.m., Chapters Rideau Street.

Free readings at the shop (1242 Wellington St.) and other locations. Sept. 22: Author and rock star Dave Bidini reads at Collected Works; Sept. 25: Author Sean Henry reads at Collected Works; Sept. 28: Authors Steven Heighton, Lisa Moore and Jaclyn Moriarty read at The Table restaurant, 1230 Wellington St.; Oct. 16: Ottawa author Mark Foss reads at Collected Works; Oct. 19: Author Tracy Quan reads at The Table; Oct. 30: Poets Oana Avasilichioaei and Richard Harrison read at Collected Works; Nov. 3: Author Shyam Selvadurai reads at Collected Works; 722-1265,

Readings at Swizzles Bar & Grill, 246-B Queen St. Open-mic set follows feature readers and music. Sept. 11: Nekusis Publishing Launch; Sept. 18: Seymour Mayne; Oct. 2: Jennifer Whiteford; Oct. 16: David Solway; Nov. 6: Mary Lee Bragg; Nov. 20: Ronnie R. Brown; Dec. 4: John Geddes; Dec. 18: Chocolate House, fundraiser for the Ottawa Food Bank; Jan. 22: Phil Jenkins; Feb. 19: Slam poet Queeverne Kirk; March 19: William Hawkins; April 16: 10th anniversary event; May 21: Christopher Levenson; June 18: Reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream: William Shakespeare meets William Shatner. July 16: Ottawa Spoken WordLympic Team Debut. 230-7710,

Oct. 14-16: Annual used book sale, St. Laurent Shopping Centre. Major fundraising initiative, enabling Friends of Library and Archives Canada to acquire rare archival and library materials.

Readings by poets and storytellers at Cafe Margit, 2425 St. Joseph Blvd., 2:30-5 p.m., Sept. 18: Luciano Diaz and Erik Martinez, Catherine Sheehan; Oct. 16: Capital Slam Team Poets; Nov. 20: Sylvia Adams, Leah Stinson; Jan. 15: Lynne Alsford, Gail Anglin; Feb. 19: Asoka Weerasinghe, Mushfique Trio; March 19: Seymour Mayne; April 23: Colonel By Creative Writers. 747-2272

Exhibitions: Until Jan. 15: The Rockies Through the Lens of Time, and Alberta Faces, by photographer Orest Semchishen; Until March 4: Written by War: Canadian Family Stories, 1939-1945; Oct. 18-April 14: Scoop! A Salute to 160 Years of the Ottawa Citizen; Nov. 2-Dec. 31: Hans Christian Andersen. Readings: Sept. 12: Jane Urquhart, reading from her latest novel, A Map of Glass. Sponsored by the Ottawa International Writers Festival; Sept. 13: Tova Clark; Oct. 15: Poets Betsy Struthers, Ronnie R. Brown; Oct. 26: Barbara Florio Graham; Oct. 27: Oonagh Berry and Helen Levine; Nov. 2: Peter Hessel; Nov. 3: Launch of critical edition of Claire Martin's Dans un gant de fer. Other events listed under presenting organizations, such as Canadian Film Institute, 395 Wellington St. 996-5115,

Oct. 25: Free annual event of the Multicultural Arts for Students and Communities (MASC), honouring young people for their commitment to arts. Ottawa writer Brian Doyle as guest speaker, Library and Archives Canada. 725-9119,

Nov. 16: To benefit the literacy programs of the Ottawa Deaf Centre, book clubs and book lovers invited to attend an evening with Frances Itani, reading from her latest book, Poached Egg on Toast. Interpretation in ASL provided. Centre Jules Leger, 281 Lanark Ave. To register, call 729-1467 or visit the website at

Sept. 12: Jane Urquhart, Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St.; Sept. 29-Oct. 6: Ninth annual Ottawa International Writers Festival, Library and Archives Canada. More than 40 writers participating in readings, discussions, interviews. This year's writers include Michael Crummey, Neil Bissoondath, Shani Mootoo, Wayson Choy, Susan Musgrave, Michel Faber. Festival passes include Urquhart's reading. 562-1243,

Nov. 28: Literary fundraising gala with Frances Itani, prize-winning Ottawa writer, Canadian War Museum. The theme is the 60th anniversary of VE Day, which ties in with Itani's novel Deafening, a finalist for the 2005 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. 580-2424 ext. 14382,

Oct. 15: Room 203, Jack Purcell Community Centre, Elgin Street. Admission free. Exhibitors with poetry books, novels, cookbooks, posters, T-shirts, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, scraps of paper. or 239-0337.

Events at NAC Fourth Stage. Nov. 2: 150 Years of Ottawa Stories; Dec. 8: Stories For Christmas; Jan. 19: Bollywood Ottawa; Feb. 16: Stories by Farley Mowat; March 16: Irish Famine Stories; April 16: Stories from The Ladies Killing Circle; May 11: Women Weave the World; June 15: Stories for a Summer Night. Ottawa Storytellers also presents Stories from the Ages, stories of epic, myth, romance, every Sunday in January, February, March at Rasputin's Cafe, 696 Bronson Ave. 722-2606,

Nov. 2-6: NAC Fourth Stage and Library and Archives Canada. Storytelling magic: Two evenings featuring magical stories and magicians, daytime workshops and storytelling for children, families. 722-2606 or

Nov. 3: Double launch for the latest Ladies' Killing Circle anthology and mystery novel by Mary Jane Maffini, 7 p.m., Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St.; Nov. 7: Toronto mystery author John Brady reading from his latest novel, Islandbridge, Location TBA. Shop is at 891 Bank St. 238-2583

Sept. 24-June 24: Every fourth Saturday except for December, held at Jack Purcell Community Centre, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., with local artisans, small presses and writers. 237-8763,

Second and fourth Sunday of each month, 2 p.m., Royal Oak II, 161 Laurier Ave. East, Ottawa. New season begins Sept. 11 with poet Robert Sward. 238-5911

Free series, open-mic at 8 p.m. followed by feature at 9 p.m., Royal Oak II Pub, 161 Laurier Ave. E., Sept. 13: Ottawa poet William Hawkins; Sept. 27: Montreal humorist David McGimpsey; Oct. 11: Toronto novelist Emily Pohl-Weary; Oct. 25: Saskatoon novelist Anthony Bidulka; Nov. 8: TBA; Nov. 22: Hamilton writer Gary Barwin; Dec. 13: Christmas Tree. All Open Mike Night. 565-0080,

Explore issues and ideas. Group meets the third Monday of each month, 7:30 p.m., Hintonburg Community Centre, 1064 Wellington St. Previous topics have included emotional intelligence, pet peeves, the soul, secrets. 730-4008

Thursday, September 08, 2005


"THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2005 SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED JOHN BANVILLE, JULIAN BARNES, SEBASTIAN BARRY, KAZUO ISHIGURO, ALI SMITH and ZADIE SMITH are the six authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2005, the UK’s best known literary award. The shortlist was announced by the chair of judges, John Sutherland, at a press conference at the Man Group offices in London today (Thursday 8 September)."

Monday, September 05, 2005

Wednesday With Wiesel

Can you believe that in just two days Elie Wiesel is coming to Ottawa? Wow! Yes, that's Elie "Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winning" Wiesel. I have ensured that I will have a media pass for the press conference before the sold out show at the Westin where Dr. Wiesel is the keynote speaker for Jewish Federation of Ottawa's 2006 Campaign Kickoff. I still can't believe I will be in the same room as him. I'm very excited if you can't tell already, and remember vividly the first time I read Night eighteen years ago in English class at John Abbott College.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dusty Owl's Sweet Evening

September is finally here. The appreciatively cooler weather is certainly welcome. And the first Friday of the month could only mean one thing in Ottawa’s Byward Market: World Beats and Eats. It’s a formula that is really hard to beat on a Friday evening: free dessert at World Beats and Eats at the Mercury Lounge. Appropriately re-dubbed this evening as ‘World Beats and Sweets’, the event was a fundraiser was for the folks of the Dusty Owl Reading Series which featured, among others, John Akpata of the Collective Poetry Collective. World Beats and Eats is a monthly event that showcases international food and music as well as local art for the purpose of supporting the Ottawa artists. What a tasty way to start the September literary season. The audience was treated to some of Ottawa’s finest young poets all while savouring some terrific desserts from local bakers.

Kevin Matthews started the troupe’s poetic performance this evening. Kevin reprised his vividly colourful love poem (performed earlier this summer at WESTfest in Westboro). From his WESTFest bio, “Former Slammaster of the Winnipeg Poetry Slam, Kevin is now directing SpoCan: the Spoken Word Canada Network, a new organization that supports the annual Canadian Festival of Spoken Word."

Next up was the tall, slender and geeky, Steve Sauvé. His perfomance is always a crowd pleaser. I saw him at the Tree Reading Series earlier this summer, too, and laughed my head off. I made sure I bought his CD this time. Steve ‘bwana-geek’ Sauvé, performed two poems: one gut-busting, ‘Sweetest Marie’, and the other a recently written poem, ‘Heart’. While ‘Heart’ is very personal, the poem shows the great range that Steve is capable of in his writing. He chose “Sweetest Marie” as his opening poem befitting the sweet-treats theme of the evening. I never knew a chocolate bar could be so eroticly depicted in poetry. Leave it to the quirky humour of Steve to shine a lovely light on this not-so-mundane candy bar.

While you may or may not agree with his politics, John Akpata, is a talented and smooth individual as he riffs on the themes of racism and politics - topics breeched though something simple as coffee and cigarettes. An outspoken poet with a definite agenda, he is at ease on stage and one cannot but appreciate the love of language with a strongly worded message we all need to hear. Instead of having a couple of poems ready to read, John asked the crowd if they had any requests. Indeed, there were shouts of, “Coffee Bean!”, “Dress Code!” Akpata, 2005 Capital Slam Champion, flawlessly performed “Dress Code”, a poem first performed at the step-up-slam which he lost to fellow Ottawa poet Matt Peake. He finished his set off with a stinging poetic diatribe aimed at the politics of George Bush. Incidentally, apart from being the Capital Poetry Collective advisor, Akpata is a federal government candidate in Central-Ottawa riding for the Marijuana Party. The CPC is a production team that works to showcase and support slam poets in Ottawa.

The evening’s finale was left to the young (18 years old) and energenic, D'Janau (DJ) Morales. DJ was the youngest Capital Slam Monthly Champion in February 2005. She recited two of her poems, “Taking a Break” and “I Am”. She warned us that “Taking a Break” was the first poem in which she swore. She giggled as she said that. DJ finished to applause from the audience and she also pointed out that during the show there was another artist that needed to be recognized. Quietly on stage and throughout the evening, Ottawa artist Kenji Toyooka was painting a colourful portrait of Noam Chomsky. Brilliantly rendered in starkly-contrasted colours of black, red, white, and blue, Toyooka finished the portrait by the end of the show.

The evening was a fundraiser featuring treats from 3 Tarts, Three Bakers & A Bike, Harvest Loaf, and Bridgehead Coffee. There was CD giveaways from Six Degrees Records and beats provided by Emily Jones. This June, incidentally, Emily received Ottawa’s Golden Cherry Award 2005 in the ‘Best DJ’ category. Additionally, the Capital Poetry Collective were also winners of two 2005 Golden Cherry Awards for Best Collective and Best Website. I picked my free CD, “Latin Travels 2’ which is “packed with exclusive tracks and remixes from Beny Moré, Bobi Céspedes, Tim "Love" Lee, the Tao of Groove, Los Mocosos, Rondo Brothers and many others.” (I am listening to this CD as I write this…)

The next Dusty Owl Reading Series will be held at its usual location at Swizzles Bar and Grill this September 11th. Remember, their readings are held the third Sunday every month. The reading series coordinators, Catherine MacDonald-Zytveld and Steven Zytveld work dilgently behind the scenes to bring to light the most talented poets Ottawa has to offer. Their website offers some insight on their views of Ottawa’s talent pool of writers as their 'manifesto' reads:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that Ottawa holds untapped numbers of talented writers; that all great art communities come from supporting other artists; that cross-pollination of the disciplines is a Good Thing; that literary readings should first and foremost be about exposing yourself to the styles and opinions and work of a variety of other writers, and should be about having fun with the language; that art and politics are not, and should not be, entirely distinct; and that art in its many forms can build community and make a difference. And we would like to be "a non-partisan, multilateral, cross-disciplinary Force for Good."

Catherine MacDonald-Zytveld

Kenji Toyooka's painting of Noam Chomsky as seen as a work-in-progress.

Two Steves: Steve Sauvé & Steven Zytveld

DJ Morales

Group o' Poets