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Editors' Picks: Week of February 18–24
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Editors' Picks: Week of February 18–24

By kileyturner
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This week, two brilliant poetry collections, an acclaimed new short story collection questioning our impressions of Iran and Iranian women, Emily Carr's monkey, and an exploration of what it means to write and create.
How She Read

How She Read

edition:Paperback

HOW SHE READ is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of Black women, their hearts, minds and bodies, across the Canadian cultural imagination. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art, media and pop culture, Chantal Gibson's sassy semiotics highlight the depth and duration of the imperialist ideas embedded in everyday things, from storybooks to coloured pencils, from paintings to postage stamps. A mediation on motherhood and daughterhood, b …

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Years, Months, and Days

Years, Months, and Days

edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST POETRY BOOK OF 2018

A transfiguration of Mennonite hymns into heartbreaking lyric poems, Years, Months, and Days is a moving “meditation on the possibility of translation.” Bridging secular spirituality and holy reverence with the commonalities of life, death, love, and hope, Jernigan explores the connection between hymn and poem, recalling the spare beauty of Marilynne Robinson’s novels or the poems of Jan Zwicky and Robert Bringhurst. The sparse and tender phrasing o …

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Divided Loyalties

Divided Loyalties

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Acclaimed poet Nilofar Shidmehr’s debut story collection is an unflinching look at the lives of women in post-revolutionary Iran and the contemporary diaspora in Canada.

The stories begin in 1978, the year before the Iranian Revolution. In a neighbourhood in Tehran, a group of affluent girls play a Cinderella game with unexpected consequences. In the mid 1980s, women help their husbands and brothers survive war and political upheaval. In the early 1990s in Vancouver, Canada, a single-mother ref …

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Excerpt

From the story “Divided Loyalties”

We arrive at the Jahmeh Vanak Mosque for the afternoon memorial service forty-five minutes before it starts. To greet those who arrive, I stand with Mom at the women’s entrance, and Milaad stands with my uncle from Dad’s side at the men’s entrance. Then when the mullah comes and bows his turbaned head to us, we move inside. The women-only hall is large and the walls are decorated by black banners with inscriptions from the Koran and religious texts in white and green. There is a table in front with a few bouquets of white flowers Milaad has ordered. A photo of Dad taken by me at the Deep Cove, enlarged and in black and white, sits beside them.

Dad’s family sit together on the right side of the room and Mom’s family on the left. I sit beside Mom during the mullah’s speech at the men section, which is broadcast via the four loud speakers at the corners of the room. As the man rambles about what a nice, kind, and generous husband and father Dad was to Mom and us, women weep under their chadors or scarves pulled forward to cover their brow and eyes.

Once the mullah finishes his sermon, he starts reading the names of those my father has left behind. He says that Mom has been a faithful wife who remained at Dad’s side until his last breath. I fear somebody will say this is a lie but nobody does.

As he speaks about how much Mom and Dad cared about each other, I remember that particular story he told me in Paris and glance at Aunt Raazi from the corner of my eye. The only visible things about her are her hands which she constantly rubs against each other. Is it because, like me, she is recalling the same terrible story? Beside Milaad and me, Raazi is the only one who knows about what happened on the night, only eight months ago, when Dad and Mom came back from their pilgrimage to Dad’s birthplace in the holy city of Mashhad.

Dad told Raazi the story to convince her to search for a new wife for him. “This is the first time in my life my sister rejected me,” Dad complained, “Like you and everybody else, she is scared of your Mom and her penchant for making a scene. She told me I’d better not to involve anyone else and find a woman by myself.” By making a scene, Dad was referring to that night. They took a taxi from the terminal and Mom insisted that the cabbie should first drop Dad at his place while Dad wanted him to drive Mom home first. Mom wouldn’t give her address to the driver. This is when Dad got more aggressive, telling the man that Mom had a lover and was guilty of adultery. He called her a whore in front of the pedestrians when the driver pulled over to let Mom get off midway to Dad’s place. I heard the story from both Mom and Dad. Neither of them answered my question why the hell they travel together while they are separated. As usual, they could neither live together nor apart.

The Mullah ends his speech about Mom and moves on to talk about me. He says that I am an architect living in Canada but as a good daughter I have put my job and life on hold and come back to be present here today. I drop my head but still can feel everybody’s eyes on me. I wonder if they can tell I faked crying.

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Woo, the Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr

Woo, the Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr

A Biography
edition:Paperback

Although Emily Carr is now considered a Canadian legend, the most enduring image is that of her pushing a beat-up old pram into downtown Victoria, loaded with dogs, cats, birds—and a monkey. Woo, a Javanese macaque whom Carr adopted in 1923, has become inextricably linked with Carr in the popular imagination. But more than that, in her short lifetime Woo became equally connected to Carr’s life and art.

Born to a strictly religious family, Carr was never able to reconcile her wild and passiona …

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What It Means to Write

What It Means to Write

Creativity and Metaphor
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
tagged : literary

At a time when people must work harder than ever to stand out from the crowd, the word creativity can seem vague and overused. But what exactly is creativity?

Adrian McKerracher travels from Vancouver to Havana to Buenos Aires, leading readers on a journey to discover poignant new insights into a life of letters. Through encounters with artists of all kinds, famous or obscure, McKerracher traces a socio-cultural history of the meaning of writing, each vignette a meditation on the way that metaph …

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