Off the Page

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

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The Chat With Eden Robinson

The Chat With Eden Robinson

By [Trevor Corkum]

We start this month on The Chat in conversation with Eden Robinson, author of the much-heralded new novel Son of a Trick …

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Book Cover Table Manners

Poetry Must-Reads for Spring

By [Kerry Clare]

Poetry collections are to springtime what ripe peaches are to late summer, and let me tell you: the crop this year is sp …

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The Recommend: April 2017

The Recommend: April 2017

By [Kiley Turner]

Picks from Joanna Lilley (If There Were Roads); Matt Murphy (A Beckoning War), Robert McGill (Once We Had a Country); Sa …

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Book Cover Raising Royalty

Raising Royalty: The Canadian History

By [Kerry Clare]

Carolyn Harris on Canada's contribution to the changing conversation about royal parenting through the ages. 

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Book Cover Don't Laugh at Giraffe

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Cooperation

By [Kerry Clare]

These picture books make good springboards for discussion on cooperation and the complexities involved when people work …

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Sugar Ride

Writing the World

By [Kerry Clare]

Books about travel, migration and immigration that show us what we can learn by going to find ourselves—as readers and …

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Book Cover Wherever I Find Myself

We All Come From Somewhere: On Canadian Immigrant Women's Stories

By [Kerry Clare]

"I was an outsider. I did not belong. But far from threatening, I was lonely, clueless and utterly terrified." 

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What We Once Believed

Andrea McPherson: Bad Mothers and Wives

By [Kerry Clare]

Women who dare to defy society's expectations for them—for better or for worse.   

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NPM Logo

National Poetry Month: Poems on Time

By [Kerry Clare]

Poems about time: history, progress, resistance, and what's to come...

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Book Cover SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut

SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut

By [Kerry Clare]

SakKijâjuk—"to be visible" in the Nunatsiavut dialect of Inuktitut—provides an opportunity for readers, collectors, …

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Writing the World

Our editorial theme for April is "Writing the World," stories of travel, migration, immigration, and what we can learn by going to find ourselves in places where we don't belong. These twelve titles are far-reaching in their approach and subject matter, but each does the job of injecting a global perspective into CanLit. 

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Wanderlust: Stories on the Move, by Byrna Barclay

About the book: Readers of Wanderlust, an anthology of travel stories, will at once feel that need to roam, the longing for surprise, the thrill of just recognizing the threat of danger, and the nomadic impulse simply to move oneself for the sake of moving, that restless and endless quest for a new beginning—even if it means the end of one life and the start of a new one.

In every story a character embarks on a journey of discovery. They travel through the Nordic Viking age, experience family life in Italy, interpret the Lascaux Caves in France, climb Nicaragua’s volcanoes, undertake a road trip through the villages of Mexico, and finally are brought back to the Canadian prairies. Editor and contributor Byrna Barclay draws inspiration from the philosophers who expounded on the theory that, rather than change, a person simply becomes more of what he or she already was at birth.

Why we're taking …

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We All Come From Somewhere: On Canadian Immigrant Women's Stories

This month our focus is on books about global experiences, and the new anthology, Wherever I Find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women, fits the bill perfectly. Editor Miriam Matejova has put together a diverse collection of stories that form a mosaic of emotions and worldviews that underline the immigrant condition for women. In this excerpt, from the book's introduction, she tells the story of her own coming to Canada, and explains where the impulse to create the anthology came from. 

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As I sit down to write an introduction to this anthology, immigrants from selected countries are being denied entry into the United States. Anti-immigrant attitudes are on the rise in Europe. In the Western world, the far right is clashing with the far left, with immigrants often caught in the middle. Hateful rhetoric and acts of vandalism are aimed at people who are perceived as outsiders, as not belonging, as threatening.

I am an immigrant. I came from Slovakia as an eighteen-year old, wishing to study at a Canadian university. Back then I was an outsider. I did not belong. But far from threatening, I was lonely, clueless and utterly terrified.

At first I lived with my estranged father, a man whom I knew mostly from flashes of childhood memories and stories my grandmother …

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Andrea McPherson: Bad Mothers and Wives

Andrea MacPherson's new novel, What We Once Believed, takes place smack dab in the middle of feminism's second wave, during which ideas about wives and mothers were turned on their heads—it's called progress. But what MacPherson shows in her novel is that progress is complicated, and that sociological changes have surprising and unexpected implications for individual lives. The novel focuses on the experiences of 11-year-old Maybe during the summer of 1971 when the world is changing...and so is everything.

In this list, MacPherson recommends great reads showcasing women who dare to defy society's expectations for them—for better or for worse.   

*****

I have always been fairly obsessed with bad mothers, and by default, bad wives. Our perspectives and expectations of these roles are so precise, so narrowly defined, that any aberration fills us with shock. Perhaps my interest in “bad mothers” comes from a story my grandfather told me, when I was quite young, about his mother abandoning her children and husband. The detail that stuck with me? She made him, her crying 10-year-old son, drag her trunk across town to the train station. So, my interest in bad mothers, and bad wives, started young.

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National Poetry Month: Poems on Time

Thanks to Hazel Millar and Nicole Brewer from the League of Canadian Poets for creating a recommended reading list just for us for National Poetry Month, which is happening right now. 

*****

This April, the League of Canadian Poets will celebrate National Poetry Month by sharing and discussing poetry and poems on the theme of “time”—history, progress, resistance, and what’s to come. These six poetry collections span lifetimes, while still reveling in the tiniest moments; they dive into a turbulent past, they celebrate change, they anxiously await the future. Take a moment this April to celebrate poetry with one of these time-themed collections! For more reading recommendations and other ways to get involved with National Poetry Month, visit poets.ca/npm.

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Passage, by Gwen Benaway

In Passage, Benaway—a Two-Spirited Trans poet of Anishinaabe and Métis descent—seeks to reconcile herself to the land, the history of her ancestors, and her separation from her partner and family by invoking the beauty and power of her ancestral waterways. Traveling to …

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SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut

Book Cover SakKijâjuk

Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of Canada that achieved self-government in 2005, produces art that is distinct within the world of Canadian and circumpolar Inuit art. The world's most southerly population of Inuit, the coastal people of Nunatsiavut have always lived both above and below the tree line, and Inuit artists and craftspeople from Nunatsiavut have had access to a diverse range of Arctic and Subarctic flora and fauna, from which they have produced a stunningly diverse range of work.

Artists from the territory have traditionally used stone and woods for carving; fur, hide, and sealskin for wearable art; and saltwater seagrass for basketry, as well as wool, metal, cloth, beads, and paper. In recent decades, they have produced work in a variety of contemporary art media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, video, and ceramics, while also working with traditional materials in new and unexpected ways.

SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut is the first major publication on the art of the Labrador Inuit. Designed to accompany a major touring exhibition organized by The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery of St. John's, the book features more than 80 reproductions of work by 45 different artists, profiles of the featured artists, and a major essay on …

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