Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Whale Music

Celebrating Short Books

By [Kerry Clare]

An excellent chance to meet your reading goals , or to score a Book Club pick that everyone stands a chance of actually …

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Book Cover Black Women Who Dared

New Books on Black History

By [Kerry Clare]

About Black artists, writers, civil rights activists, athletes, heroes, and more. 

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Book Cover Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

Megan Gail Coles: Writing Through Risk

By [Kerry Clare]

Books that challenge  literary expectations and community norms while demanding artistic honesty and human compassion

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The Chat with Shauntay Grant and Eva Campbell

The Chat with Shauntay Grant and Eva Campbell

By [Trevor Corkum]

This week we’re in conversation with the creators of Africville, a picture book nominated last year for the Governor G …

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Book Cover There Are Not Enough Sad Songs

Most Anticipated: Our 2019 Spring Poetry Preview

By [Kerry Clare]

Post-Groundhog Day, we're looking forward to spring with our Poetry Preview, featuring new books by established poets an …

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Book Cover Sugar and Snails

On Our Radar

By [Kerry Clare]

Books with buzz worth sharing. 

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Shelf Talkers: Books to Get You Through February

Shelf Talkers: Books to Get You Through February

By [Rob Wiersema]

Think baggy sweaters and hand-knit slippers, think warm baths and hot drinks, think, of course, of books. (And if your s …

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Book Cover Happy Parents Happy Kids

Happy Parents, Happy Kids: Ann Douglas on Building Your Online Village

By [Kerry Clare]

"It's all about being more mindful about your use of technology and consid­ering both what you stand to gain and what y …

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Book Cover Suki's Kimono

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Get Dancing

By [Kerry Clare]

These picture books can’t teach you how to dance, but they can inspire you.

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The Chat with Nilofar Shidmehr

The Chat with Nilofar Shidmehr

By [Trevor Corkum]

Nilofar Shidmehr’s short fiction collection, Divided Loyalties (Astoria/House of Anansi) is a rich and compelling coll …

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In Conversation With: Sachiko Murakami on Community Poetry Renos and

tagged :

One day, my inbox went *DING* *DONG* and this showed up:


Move in and renovate the poems of Fred Wah, Darren Werschler, Larissa Lai, a.rawlings, Ray Hsu and over a hundred more in this collaborative poetry project initiated by Sachiko Murakami.

What is a poem but a rental unit of language?
Project Rebuild allows visitors to move in to any poem/house in the neighbourhood. On the page of any poem, click on “renovate” and the poem becomes editable in a text box. Change the nouns. Throw out the verbs. Bring in the big delete-button bulldozer and start fresh. Your poem will become a new house in the neighbourhood. And you can follow a poem's evolution by clicking on the "previous tenants" and "renovations" houses on each poem's page."

I immediately went to the site, clicked on the first house closest to my cursor . . . and froze.

"I can't mess with someone else's writing!" I exclaimed. (That's the G-rated version.) I tried again, highlighting a word, then two, then clicking outside the box and closing the tab.

Later that day, I sat in the corner of the room, knees to my chin, peeking out only occasionally to see if The Poem was still intact. I became defensive of The Poem, worried someone less reasoned would stumble in, like …

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Pop Culture, the Literary Gateway: Guest Post by Crissy Calhoun

Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to the Vampire Diaries series (season 2's guide comes out in September) as well as books on Gossip Girl and one in the works on Pretty Little Liars with the genius Jen Knoch. By day, under the moniker Crissy Boylan, she works at as managing editor at ECW Press, and she generally confuses people by having two last names.

I found myself at San Diego Comic-Con last week, officially there for ECW Press to have a look around and see if we would fit in as an exhibitor. Unofficially, however, I was there to gawk at costumes, attend a few panels, and generally try not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees (125,000) or the absurdly handsome faces usually seen exclusively on my TV set. Though ECW has a strong history of publishing Canadian writing (and work on Canadian writing, which is how the company got its start), we also have a thriving pop culture list with a ton of titles on TV shows. I happily work on that list in my capacity as managing editor, and I moonlight as an author of companion guides, most recently on the second season of The Vampire Diaries.

If you’re unfamiliar with the genesis of The Vampire Diaries— which airs on MuchMusic here in Canada — it was born of Alloy …

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In Conversation With: Brian Busby on John Glassco and the Pleasures of Reviving Forgotten Literary Traditions


Recently, I was visiting a friend. It was getting late in the day and she offered to make us dinner.

"What would you like to eat?" she asked.

"Whatever you put in front of me," I replied.

The same can be said of my gig as Host at Canadian Bookshelf, the foreknowledge that my reading interests are going to expand in ways I can't begin to imagine, and that's just how I like it.

Case in point, I was thrilled when McGill-Queen's University Press responded to our initial call for author interviews with the suggestion that I might like to chat with Brian Busby, curator of The Dusty Bookcase: A Very Casual Exploration of the Dominion's Suppressed, Ignored and Forgotten and author of Character Parts: Who's Really Who in CanLit and A Gentleman of Pleasure: One Life of John Glassco, Poet, Translator, Memoirist and Pornographer. The more I read, the more I thought, "I can't wait to see what ends up on my plate."


Julie Wilson: In a recent interview with Trevor Cole about his podcast performance archive AuthorsAloud, I asked if he had a compulsion to both collect the voices he curates for the project. There's a pride in having all those recordings in one place and it serves a unique purpose by housing short readings by Canadian poets and fiction writers. Your blog—The Du …

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The Personal Book Shopper Contest: July's Book Picks Revealed #mybookshopper

personal book shopper

Congratulations to the winners of July's Personal Book Shopper Contest!

Our panelists went to their corners, their hidey-holes, their secret places and have come back with their individual picks for each winner, using only five words! Crazy!

Let's meet our panelists:

Door #1: Corey Redekop writes sometimes (see: Shelf Monkey), publicizes the works of others more often (see: Goose Lane Editions), and aggrandizes himself most of all (see: his inflated sense of self-worth [you can see it from space!]). (Ed. Corey submitted his own bio. I can only see his sense of self-worth on sunny days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Get on it, Corey!)
Door #2: Ryan Deschamps is twitterin' knitterin' former Haligonian, new Reginian librarian, who likes readable non-fiction, zombies and super heroes.
Door #3: It's a new car . . . and Steph VanderMeulen, indie bookseller, book blogger at Bella's Bookshelves and freelance copyeditor.

Our winners:

Shelley Savor: readaholic, greenishblue, curious, driven, pensive
Tracey G. Paris: Swims deep but loves deeper.
Avis Anderson: quiet, quirky, questioning, québécoise, quibbler

Corey's Picks:

Shelley Savor: readaholic, greenishblue, curious, driven, pensive
Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, (Penguin) by Stephen Marche
The World More Full of …

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Jessica Westhead on Ottawa's Octopus Books

Jessica Westhead's latest book is the story collection And Also Sharks, and she is also author of the novel Pulpy & Midge. In her Canadian Bookshelf guest post, she celebrates Ottawa's Octopus Books and Lisa Greaves, the woman at its helm.

I first met Lisa Greaves in fall 2007, on a Coach House book tour stop at the Plan 99 Reading series at the Manx in Ottawa. After I read from my then-new first novel, Pulpy & Midge, a grinning blonde woman made my night by telling me how much she’d enjoyed the excerpt. She introduced herself and said she owned a bookstore in town, and would I like to read there some time? I said I’d love to.

Photo of Lisa Greaves, Octopus Books

Lisa Greaves, Octopus Books owner-of-amazingness

We hatched a plan for me to visit Octopus Books that spring, along with local author and Octo-pal Jennifer Whiteford. On Wednesday, March 19, 2008, embraced by crammed, colourful bookshelves and a small but very friendly crowd, Jennifer read from her awesome young adult novel grrrl, and I read from Pulpy. Then we launched into an impromptu Q&A session and animated literary gabfest, fuelled by Lisa’s wine and her giddy enthusiasm for both of our books.

I saw Lisa and Jennifer again at Octopus Books’ 40th birthday celebration t …

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