Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Pallbearing

Nine Evocative Reads

By Michael Melgaard

A recommended reading list by the author of new short story collection Pallbearing.

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Book Cover BIG

Bodies and Books

By Christina Myers

A recommended reading list by the editor of BIG: Stories About Life in Plus-Sized Bodies

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Book Cover Nought

Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Poetry Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Our 2020 Spring Preview continues with a look at forthcoming poetry.

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Eight Books that Help Support Mental Wellness in Students

Eight Books that Help Support Mental Wellness in Students

By Linda Ludke

I’ve always been a worrier. In elementary school, I was afraid of speaking in class, and dreaded being called upon, ev …

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Shelf Talkers: Melting Queens, Mysteries, and More

Shelf Talkers: Melting Queens, Mysteries, and More

By Rob Wiersema

Robert J. Wiersema ponders what groundhogs might read (and offers them advice) and introduces us to the incredible recom …

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Book Cover Revery

Spring 2020 Books: What's Trending?

By Kerry Clare

Bigfoot, bees, and explosive tweets? Here's what we're seeing on the literary landscape this spring.

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The Chat with Nolan Natasha

The Chat with Nolan Natasha

By Trevor Corkum

Today we’re chatting with poet Nolan Natasha, who's based in Halifax. His debut collection of poetry, I Can Hear You, …

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Book Cover Shape Your Eyes By Shutting Them

Poetry Can Only Be Made Out of Other Poems

By Mark A. McCutcheon

A source reading list for new poetry collection, Shape Your Eyes by Shutting Them.

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Book Cover Sleep Dragons All Around

CanLit's Favourite Cakes

By Kerry Clare

For Family Literacy Day, we're celebrating delicious cakes (with recipes!) from classic Canadian picture books.

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Embracing Winter with Inuit Games & Activities

Embracing Winter with Inuit Games & Activities

By Monique Cadieux

Settling into the winter months here in Southern Ontario means we try to enjoy some outdoor activities in the snow, as w …

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Spring 2020 Books: What's Trending?

Halfway through our preview of books from the first half of 2020 (check out our Fiction Preview and our Nonfiction Preview, and stay tuned for Poetry coming this week...) and here are some of the trends we're noticing.

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Bigfoot

The Wild Heavens, by Sarah Butler (March)

About the book: It all starts with an impossibly large set of tracks, footprints for a creature that could not possibly exist. The words sasquatch, bigfoot and yeti never occur in this novel, but that is what most people would call the hairy, nine-foot creature that would become a lifelong obsession for Aidan Fitzpatrick, and in turn, his granddaughter Sandy Langley.

The novel spans the course of single winter day, interspersed with memories from Sandy’s life—childhood days spent with her distracted, scholarly grandfather in a remote cabin in British Columbia’s interior mountains; later recollections of new motherhood; and then the tragic disappearance that would irrevocably shape the rest of her life, a day when all signs of the mysterious creature would disappear for thirty years. When the enigmatic tracks finally reappear, Sandy sets out on the trail alone, determined to find out the truth about the mystery that has shaped her life.

The Wild Heavens is an impressive and evocative debut, conta …

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The Chat with Nolan Natasha

tagged : Poetry, lgbtq
Nolan Natasha

Today we’re chatting with poet Nolan Natasha, who is based in Halifax. His debut collection of poetry, I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? came out last fall with Invisible Publishing.

Poet Sue Goyette says, “Nolan Natasha’s collection maps the large cultural shift we’re all feeling about identity, about vulnerability, about body, about community with insight and acuity.” Zoe Whittall, meanwhile, calls Natasha’s writing “clear-eyed, funny, tender, and absorbing.”  

Nolan Natasha is a queer and trans writer from Toronto who lives and writes in Nova Scotia. His poems have appeared in The Puritan, The Stinging Fly, Event, Grain, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead and Plenitude. He has been a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize, the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, the Geist postcard contest, Room Magazine’s poetry contest, and was the runner-up for the Thomas Morton fiction prize.

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Trevor Corkum: I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? is such a great title for a collection. Where did the title come from and what does it mean for you?

Nolan Natasha: It’s actually a reference to a family joke from my childhood. When I was kid in the 80s and 90s, walkie-talkies felt like just about the most miraculous thing you could own. Despite all the potential they seemed to hold, my …

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Poetry Can Only Be Made Out of Other Poems

My new book of poems, Shape Your Eyes by Shutting Them, takes one of its epigraphs from Northrop Frye: “poetry can only be made out of other poems.” The acknowledged use of other texts in composing poems is something my book does a lot of (there are some centos, for instance), although I’ve made use of texts from many genres, not just poetry. But Frye’s (point is less about poetic content than about poetic conventions (and he makes this point in the context of a discussion of the commodification of literature by intellectual property laws that equate originality with ownership). So what follows is a selective list of some key source works for my book of poems: some are titles the book cites, while others are titles that have incited me to write a poetry book.

This post about source reading thus complements a mix I’ve made of the book’s source music, streamable at Mixcloud.com/sonicfiction.

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No Language Is Neutral, by Dionne Brand

No list or collection of Canada’s best poetry that omits Brand, Toronto’s former poet laureate, can be trusted. N …

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CanLit's Favourite Cakes

Today is Family Literacy Day, a national event that annually celebrates the importance of families engaging in literacy activities together, sharpening skills and building relationships. Literacy activities including reading picture books together—and baking from recipes! Which leads to even deepening relationships as families eat cake together. Picture book cakes, no less!

Of course CanLit's all-time favourite cakes would include the one from Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman (nom nom), or the cake that Rilla, in abject humiliation, had to carry across town in Rilla of Ingleside.

But in the spirit of Family Literacy, we're sticking to our favourite cakes from picture books. With links to recipes, even. Enjoy!

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Sleeping Dragons All Around, by Sheree Fitch and Michele Nidenoff

About the book: Sheree Fitch has read this book to audiences from sea to sea to sea in Canada, in the Himalayas, and along the eastern coast of Africa. Her first two books, Toes in My Nose and Sleeping Dragons All Around, launched her career as a poet, rhymster, and a "kind of Canadian female Dr. Seuss." Fitch has won almost every major award for Canadian children's literature since then, including the 2000 Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work Inspirational to Canadian Children. She has …

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Embracing Winter with Inuit Games & Activities

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

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Settling into the winter months here in Southern Ontario means we try to enjoy some outdoor activities in the snow, as well as finding ways to reclaim the warmth when we come back inside. With my family, this means good novels and board games, with my students it means books to engage our imaginations and activities to keep us moving.

In my classroom, we have been learning about some of the ways that communities in Canada embrace the winter months. Learning about the rich history of Inuit games and activities enjoyed by the communities across Nunangat has inspired my students to want to know more. I knew exactly how I could satisfy their curiosity.

I was fortunate enough — and thrilled — to be one of the teachers who won the 49th Teachers/Inhabit Education Nunavummi Reading Series giveaway. I received a box of gorgeous books. In the box, were books that I knew would be the perfect additions to the collection of books that I use to integrate Indigenous histories and perspectives into my classroom program. One, in particular, had a special role to play.

Last week, I gathered my students on the carpet and …

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