Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
On The Chat this week, I'm pleased to speak to Damian Rogers, whose second collection of poems, Dear Leader (Coach House …
Coleman's memoir shows the City of Love like you've never seen it before.
Indigenous writers, artists, and scholars recommend some of their essential reads.
Spring is Canadian poetry's time to shine.
This week on The Chat I speak to Jess Taylor, whose debut collection of short stories, Pauls, has earned rave reviews ac …
Here to help minister to your winter reading needs, our dedicated independent booksellers weigh in with some of their pi …
This week we're pleased to present the picks of memoirist Brian Brett (Tuco); author Amy Jones (upcoming novel We're All …
These are the books that my family has loved until their bindings broke. What are some of yours?
This month we turn to poetry on The Chat. First up, we’re pleased to speak to Damian Rogers, whose second collection of poems, Dear Leader (Coach House Books), earned warm critical praise upon its release last year.
In Dear Leader, Rogers mines the debris and cool detritus of the human heart, picking her way carefully through the long back lanes of memory and their shadowy emotional corners. Praising her work, the Globe and Mail called the collection “poems about the control death has over the realm of the living…death and loss and fear are present, controlling forces all the way through the book.”
Originally from the Detroit area, Damian Rogers now lives in Toronto where she works as the poetry editor of both House of Anansi Press and The Walrus, as the literary curator and co-host of the performance series The Basement Revue, and as the creative director of Poetry in Voice, a national recitation contest for Canadian high-school students. Her first book of poems, Paper Radio, was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award.
Photo credit: Paining o …
Despite being the shortest month of the year, February can often feel like the longest, a month of dark days and cold nights, suffused with a sense that winter may have set so deeply, it may never end.
There is, however, much brightness and joy.
Say what you will about manufactured holidays (and I’m perhaps more of a cynic about Valentine’s Day than most), there’s something, well, wonderful, about the combined force of Valentine’s Day and Family Day. Sure, Valentine’s Day seems to exist to sell chocolates and expensive flower arrangements, and Family Day is still too new to have much of a profile at all other than a day off, but at heart these days are about bringing people together.
Strip away all the trappings and both Valentine’s Day and Family Day are about making connections, about forging or affirming the sort of relationships that take the sting out of the dark winter days. Whether you’re falling in love, or spending the day with your children (or parents!), there’s something refreshing about two days devoted to togetherness, to bonding, to sharing time, and memories, with those we love.
There are, of course, the clichéd ways of observing those occasions, the clichéd gifts for the day (see the previously mentioned chocolates and flowers), but it’s going to surprise exactly no one to learn that I think there is no better gift for bringing people together than a book.
It’s going to surprise exactly no one to learn that I think there is n …
There are two reasons why right now is perfect time to be telling you about Nisha Coleman's Busker: Stories from the Streets of Paris. One is that we're focusing on oddballs and misfits this month here at 49th Shelf, in this misfit month with its 29 days, and Coleman encounters so many of these characters during her time busking in Paris living on the city's cultural fringes. And the second is that Valentines Day is on the horizon, and Coleman's memoir shows the City of Love like you've never seen it before. Busker is also very much a love story in its own right—just not the kind you're probably used to.
Kerry Clare: There are so many compelling bits of your memoir, and one of them for me is the way you write about loneliness of your life in Paris in the beginning, about your longing for just an ordinary friend. You meet so many characters in your daily life—the man with the moustache, the guy with the sex songs, Michel the kisser. Was there really such a dearth of ordinary folks? Are they just not approachable? Is normal too boring to write about? Is there such a thing as normal at all?
Nisha Coleman: I don't believe in normal! I longed for an ordinary friend, but not a normal one. What I lacked in Paris was the kind of closeness that lets you relax in …
In late December of 2015, Canada's Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, proposed an Aboriginal book club month, creating an opportunity to promote reading indigenous authors. Three such authors (Tracey Lindberg, Lee Maracle, and Drew Hayden Taylor) met the following week to debate the merits of that idea on CBC's The Current, and to discuss the state of indigenous literature in Canada—their conversation was fascinating and you can listen to it here.
In this post, we would like to further the spirit of their discussion with Indigenous writers, artists and scholars recommending some of their essential reads.
Bearskin Diary, by Carol Daniels
Recommended by Richard Van Camp
I believe Carol Daniels is one of the most important voices in Canadian and World Indigenous Literature today. Her novel Bearskin Diary follows Sandy as she reclaims her culture and her spirit after surviving the Sixties Scoop. I wasn't expecting this novel to be so fearless, but it is. I could not put this book down.
I love Kenneth T. Williams' quote: "Bearskin D …
Spring is all about the daffodils, and rain showers, and looking forward to April—otherwise known as National Poetry Month! Here are some poetry titles that we're really excited about.
Injun (May), by the award-winning Jordan Abel, composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950, creates a long poem about race, racism, and the representation of Indigenous peoples. Tough poems for tough times: Martial Music, George Amabile's eleventh book, explores the relationships between civilization, technology, empire and human violence, theatres of war, the collateral damage of military occupation, the machinations of power politics, oil spills, destruction of the environment, PTSD, and other characteristics of what we call “world events.” Chewing Water (April), by Nelson Ball, represents a landmark event in a six-decade writing career. And House of Mystery (June), by Courtney Bates-Hardy, is a collection of poems about monsters, mothers, witches and mermaids that will tear apart our conceptions of fairy tales.
Slick Reckoning (Apr …