Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover Freedom's Just Another Word

Seeds of a Story: Part 2

By [Kerry Clare]

Nominees for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards tell us about the places from which inspiration for their storie …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award for Drama Winner Hiro Kanagawa

The Chat with Governor General's Award for Drama Winner Hiro Kanagawa

By [Trevor Corkum]

"Indian Arm is a timely and evocative manifestation of the characters’ struggle with their relationship to the land,” …

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Book Cover I am Not a Number

2017 Seeds of a Story: Part One

By [Kerry Clare]

Nominees for the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards tell us about the places from which inspiration for their storie …

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Book Cover The Dog

Illustrator's Gallery: The Dog, by Margarita Sada

By [Kerry Clare]

The uncomplicated love and dedication of a dog can make anyone feel better. 

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The Chat with Governor General's Award for Poetry Winner Richard Harrison

The Chat with Governor General's Award for Poetry Winner Richard Harrison

By [Trevor Corkum]

We kick off our conversation with this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners in conversation with …

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Book Cover Tug of War

#LookItUp: Knowledge Matters

By [Kerry Clare]

"University presses offer the antidote to alternative facts and the assault on reason, and do it authoritatively and ele …

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Book Cover Dazzle Patterns

Dazzle Patterns: The Books Behind the Book

By [Kerry Clare]

"The novel is as much about art as war and the following books speak these two themes, as well as the historic Halifax e …

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Shelf Talkers for the Dark Days of November

Shelf Talkers for the Dark Days of November

By [Rob Wiersema]

The daring independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers column have taken a peek into the darkness and come up with a gr …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Michael Redhill

Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Michael Redhill

By [Trevor Corkum]

Next up in our Giller special, we’re in conversation with Michael Redhill, author of the novel Bellevue Square.

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Best Canadian Poetry: A Lyric Meditation That Leads To Awe

Best Canadian Poetry: A Lyric Meditation That Leads To Awe

By [Kerry Clare]

"Born of the electricity of thinking and reversing thoughts without fear, yet also born of the dread and wonder of conte …

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Food and Farming Books (by Margaret Webb)

Book Cover Apples to Oysters

In 2008, I wrote a book about Canadian food and farming called Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms. It captures the craziest, most delicious journey of my life – exploring Canada’s food regions by visiting farms, working alongside farmers and eating at their tables. That adventure, along with my favourite Canadian books on food and farming listed below, made me realize that saving our local food systems may well be the most important thing we do for future generations.

Anita Stewart’s Canada by Anita Stewart: I first discovered Anita Stewart’s work in a remainder bin. That book -- The Ontario Harvest Cookbook, which she co-authored with Julia Aitken in 1995 – changed my life in a couple of ways. Stewart wrote about local food well before The 100 Mile Diet became a book and locavore a word, and she was talking about recipes and farmers from my farm roots in Ontario. I fell in love with making soup from a squash soup recipe in that book, and the vignettes about Ontario’s food regions that accompanied the recipes struck me …

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Robert J. Wiersema on the Springsteen songs that don't appear in his mixtape-memoir Walk Like a Man.

Book Cover

Please join Canadian Bookshelf host Julie Wilson (aka Book Madam) in conversation with her chum Robert J. Wiersema as they talk about coming of age and the soundtracks of their youths. Rob's mixtape heavily features Bruce Springsteen, the subject of his latest book Walk Like a Man (D & M Publishers); Julie realizes she has a lot of Enya on vinyl and a worn out cassette of Bronski Beat's The Age of Consent.

When: Tuesday, September 13, 7 p.m.

Where: Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St., Toronto, ON

RSVP on Facebook

And now, a few words from Rob:

I've come to realize over the past couple of books that writing is at least as much about what you cut out, and what is not written, as it is about what actually appears on the printed page. Suffice it to say, I learned this the hard way.
I don't feel so bad about writing long and editing back, though, when I remember that Bruce Springsteen wrote and recorded more than seventy songs for the Darkness on the Edge of Town album. He left sixty plus on the cutting room floor; the remaining ten songs comprise what might just be a perfect album.


With my book Walk Like a Man, I didn't overwrite. (Well, no more than normal, I suppose. After all, what's twenty thousand words between friends?) Given the nature of the book—short essa …

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What I Read on my Summer Vacation: Guest Post by Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen (in a hat!)

As a stay at home dad, it’s never easy to carve out time to write. Summer presents a whole new set of challenges. This past summer I was able to do some writing in the very early morning, before the rest of the house was awake. On the whole, however, my kids’ summer vacation meant that I had to take a vacation from writing. So, instead, I read. What a treat! I so seldom get a chance to read. And with the beginning of the new school year I resolve to read even more. Meanwhile, here are some of my recently read favourites:

Chapter Books

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan:

Quirky and delightful, Cary Fagan’s Banjo of Destiny tells the story Jeremiah Birnbaum. Jeremiah is the unconventional child of wealthy parents who appears to have it all. In fact, it all counts for nothing. The greatest thing he has is his passion to learn to play the banjo. Overcoming numerous hurdles, to say nothing of his foolish parents, Jeremiah follows his heart and discovers that he is capable of creating much more than just good music.

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In Conversation With: Julie Booker on photography and how to frame a story. (cc: @houseofanansi)

Julie-Booker-author-of-Up-Up-Up

I recently met up with Julie Booker, author of the short story collection Up, Up, Up (House of Anansi). After an hour of talking, we realized we'd stumbled upon an interesting topic, how to match the right storytelling tools to the right story. In particular, I was interested in Julie's travel photography. We decided to pick up the chat here, and what begins as a conversation about photography becomes a pleasantly-meandering exploration into how we gather our stories, place ourselves within them, and ultimately decide what to keep and what (and how) to share the rest.

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Julie Wilson: A few months ago, I learned that you're an accomplished photographer. When I first saw your photos, I said to your husband, Denis De Klerck (Mansfield Press), "I didn't know Julie's a photographer." He replied, "I don't know that she thinks of herself as one." I thought it was interesting, that artistic talent is not necessarily akin to artistic pursuit. Or, possibly, it's a matter of using the right tools for the right story. So, let's begin there. Is photography a way to document your travels or a frame in which to tell the stories of your travels?

Julie Booker: I began travelling alone in my 20s because I wanted to bust out of my small, safe life. I started with a few summers backp …

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Books with Old Folks (by Brian Francis)

Brian Francis (Photo credit: Paula Wilson)

"I’ve never met a senior citizen I didn’t like. Cranky, kind, loud-mouthed, timid, I don’t really care. They’re always fascinating to me. In my new book, Natural Order, I’ve indulged my love of seniors with a host of elderly characters. Here are some other CanLit novels that also feature old folks."

BRIAN FRANCIS' first novel, Fruit, was a 2009 Canada Reads finalist. He has worked as a freelance writer for a variety of magazines and newspapers. In 2000, Francis received the Writers' Union of Canada's Emerging Author Award. He lives in Toronto.

Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot

"Honest to God, we’re just old, we’re not morons.”

Barfoot’s 2008 novel was many things: funny, sad, honest and pointed. Set in a retirement lodge, Exit Lines centres around four residents who find an ability to bond with one another in surroundings that would challenge the best of us. In spite of that (or because of it), they discover the preciousness of their own lives.

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