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Spring 2018 Poetry Launch

Join us for the launch of three new poetry collections: When Centipedes Dream by Sue Bracken, destination out by charles c. smith and No Line in Time by Sonja Ruth Greckol.

May 10, 2018, 6:30-8:30pm
77 Carlton Street Event Centre
77 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5B 2J7

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No Line in Time—Sonja Ruth Greckol


ISBN: 9781988040400
Price: $19.95




No Line in Time transits between the mechanisms that “emptied” the geography of a prairie childhood and privileged adult learning and travel. It questions what lay under the feet taking possession and leads to medieval Spain, to Aragon launching Columbus. Greckol moves from historilessness to the timeliness of “now:” great- granddaughter of Eastern Europe learning her place winding flashes of medieval poetry, slight sketches of philosopher-soldiers, and faint tableaus, in disjunctive blurts and lyric flights threading an iterating unstable self, preoccupied with the blanks and fissures in her learning.

“If Al-Andalus was a utopia where Muslims, Christians, and Jews  seemed to tolerate one another for a while, Alberta is another kind of no place where denial blanks six centuries of forgetting not secret just blank conquest plowing land fouled by elders falling through now-time breaking bodies histories lastitudes SE25-55-14-W4. Rhythm is how blank silence breaks in No Line in Time, Greckol’s dense furrowed sentiences unsettlearning contquested terrains leaving blood shit fruit silk scream storm debris material unworked power flowering through progress’s cracks. Read No Line in Time for bodies marked in time not blank but filled with her;our cacophonous surround of the now.” —Rachel Zolf, author of Janey’s Arcadia

“Sonja Greckol conveys a sharp sense of the missing as diasporas migrate, settle, and unsettle across continents inflicting and carrying trauma, creating hybrids and erasing genetic lines. Varied stanza sizes in tight blocks of text establish rhythms and train the reader how to be in the poem. Swarmed with associations—rich cross-referencing and pollinating—each stanza is like a text book. A reader may lose purchase in difficult poems but be filled by the atmosphere of the poem.” —Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square

Photo: Robi Levi

Sonja Ruth Greckol was moved to write poetry when Mike Harris was elected to a second term. Now she finds herself muttering nasty limericks which, alas, are unpublishable. She has taught college and university, studied order and disorder in jokes, done human rights and gender-based research, organizational consulting, and local activism.

Posted in N, Poetry, spring 2018, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , |

When Centipedes Dream—Sue Bracken


ISBN: 9781988040387
Price: $19.95




Sue Bracken often finds the bizarre and the beautiful in what she sees. When Centipedes Dream, her debut book of poems, is a collection of these sightings. It  ranges from the familial love in a small blue bracelet,  the roar surrounding the loss of a sibling, the balletic thoughts of a homeless woman in a Toronto shelter, to a decadent night at the Gladstone Hotel. Her work brims with both joy and sorrow, but mostly astonishment at all these moments.

“Sue Bracken’s poems riff with grit, wit, and grace. A debut collection that hums with ‘beautiful god sparkle.’” —Laura Lush, author of Carapace and Swing Beam

“With the flick of a mer-woman’s tale, Sue Bracken’s first collection of poems is both muscular and full of grace. A ‘cool pool of wonder’ that one feels compelled to dive into and that reminds us of our aqueous origins. At turns playful and elegiac but always brave, these poems shimmer on the page.” — Jane Byers, author of Acquired Community and Steeling Effects

When Centipedes Dream is, at turns, sweetly playful, joyous, empathic, and above all, infectiously in  love with language. Such odd and lovely creatures populate Sue Bracken’s protean mind; such perfectly expressed, lyrical, love. A book to dream with.” —Lynn Crosbie, author of The Corpses of the Future and Where Did You Sleep Last Night

“Plays with meanings … words come apart … poems ‘telescope and reverse’ in ‘zen infused’ language … colours ‘reverberate’ … the psychomachia of light and dark” —Anne Burke, poets.ca

Photo: David McClyment

Sue Bracken lives in Toronto in  a house ruled by artists and animals. This is her debut collection of poetry.

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized, W | Tagged , , , , |

destination out—charles c. smith

ISBN: 9781988040394
Price: $19.95




destination out is a dark collection of poetry in three parts. The book tells of leavings: from family, countries of origin, legacies based on truth and rumour in small communities back home, and what happens after. Some poems depict artists full of so much that they reached beyond their bodies’ borders and ended up spread out on a table for final reckoning, or venturing into mad houses and brothels and gutters in wet snow. The collection also reveals elders, mystics, lovers, and seers who glimpsed shades of light and reached out to them, falling into the inexpressible and the unknown.

In destination out, charles smith reveals an exacting poetic clarity for the intensity of the moment, and a fine poetic ear for the lyrical. His lines, ‘you wove your experience / as at a loom / the yarn threaded theory / clothed spirit,’ might well be a statement of his own poetics. These poems journey with certainty across the solid ground of smith’s poignant yearning to know his father and his namesake brother who died just before smith’s birth; his celebration of the brilliance of US jazz artists against the racism meted out to them; and his horror at the violent and harrowing attacks on an ancient culture.” —Maureen Hynes, author of The Poison Colour

“The poems in destination out compel you to dive deep into shadows, witness the beauty there, while admiring the magnificence of nature.” —Dane Swan, author of A Mingus Lullaby 

“smith takes the reader on a lyrical, poetic hang-time experience roller coasting through the vastly deep infinite skies between childhood adventures, an estranged father, and a wayward young man’s rebirth, redemption, and adult-awakened confidence rooted in jumping, life-breathing jazz. This is more than imitation ragtime wolverine blues. These poems are tight, meticulously crafted, syncopated, and always invoking meaningful light. destination out is a true revelation and a must read!” —Michael Fraser, author of To Greet Yourself Arriving

“charles c. smith’s poetry is about walking ‘out of circumstance’ by people who know ‘first-hand / all the patterns of the darkness.’ It has the urgency of breath and the beauty of blood. The speaker in these poems recounts the journey of his family through time in a voice ‘deep as death.’ Smith’s poetic language is a fractured mirror held up to stories, defying the limits of observation.” —Bänoo Zan, author of Songs of Exile

“charles c. smith is a true poet: not only an artisan of rhythm and words, but a conjurer of the quiet voices who reside in liminal space. We hear in his works the pain of injustice and loss, the tragedies of the marginalized and near-forgotten, and the hope of redeeming history. Smith jars the reader out of the comfort zones of the warm and familiar and into the places that disquiet our hearts and minds. destination out is a brave work.”  —Dr. Georgia Wilder, lecturer/writing instructor, New College, University of Toronto

Photo: Bia Rohde

charles c. smith is a poet, playwright and essayist who has written and edited twelve books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly Magazine, at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios. He also studied drama at the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, has edited three collections of poetry, has four published books of poetry, and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines.

Posted in D, Poetry, spring 2018, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Tightrope Fiction Night at Ben McNally’s

 

 

 

Join authors Danila Botha, Andrew Daley, Priya Ramsingh and Richard Rosenbaum for a special evening celebrating fiction writing. Wednesday, April 11, 6pm, Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay Street, Toronto.

Posted in News |

Locating Home Launch

Join Tightrope Books and IFOA in celebration of the release of George Elliott Clarke’s Locating Home: The First African-Canadian Novel and Verse CollectionsTo Greet Yourself Arriving author Michael Fraser will be a special guest reader. This special event is part of  IFOA’s Toronto Lit Up series.

January 19, 6:00pm, Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay Street, Toronto.

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Locating Home

ISBN: 9781988040219
PRICE: $21.95




“The project of properly constituting an African/Black Canadian literature is one that entails mining archives…”

In this unique literary collection, George Elliott Clarke — the pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature — anthologizes the field’s first collections of poetry and the first novel. Clarke’s powerful introduction illuminates the historical, cultural, and political significance of these groundbreaking works for contemporary readers of Black Canadian authors.

Photo: Department of English, Harvard University

About the editor: The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is a revered artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry. Now teaching African-Canadian literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. Clarke’s work is the subject of Africadian Atlantic: Essays on George Elliott Clarke (2012), edited by Joseph Pivato.

 

Posted in 2018, Anthologies, Uncategorized, winter 2018 | Tagged , , |

Short Story “Wrong Side of Heaven” from Things Don’t Break

 

If you revisit the scenes of your happiness, your heart must burst of its agony.—Dorothy Parker

Dear Earth,

You’re 384, 403 kilometres away, but it still seems like I could reach out and grab you. Since I’m in rotation around you, you’re always visible up there in the sky. You wobble a little but never actually set, so I can look up and see you whenever I want.

How are you feeling? You’re looking good. You’re looking pretty.

Shine a light out your window at night, and it takes about a second and a half to reach me here. Our exploration vehicle took four days. It will take that same 1.5-ish seconds for this message to reach you when I press send. I don’t know exactly when I’m coming back. I’m not totally sure that I am coming back.

Because our station is atop the rim of this crater at the north pole—since that’s where the water is—it’s permanent daytime here. The sky’s always black because there’s no atmosphere, but the station lives in a peak of eternal light. We have to sleep in rooms without windows. Or at least I do.

Where I’m sitting writing this, I like to call it the garden. That drives the actual astronauts crazy because it’s more like a farm or a greenhouse, and a couple of them just call it by its module number (one zero zero one). But they’re engineers and scientists. Technical types. Even the people who work here in the garden are botanists and entomologists. I’m the only liberal arts grad in the whole place. How about that: December Tenth, MFA—first civilian woman on the moon. Anyway, it reminds me of the garden behind Jamie Oakener’s mum’s house, with the kale and the tomatoes and the turnips and everything . . . and the bees, always with the bees. So I call it the garden, even though really it isn’t.

What Jamie’s mum’s garden didn’t have that this one does is the continual vacuum cleaner sound of the atmosphere generators and the endless grey expanse of completely desolate wasteland just on the other side of the fence.

Just like at Jamie’s mum’s, I like to sit here and drink coffee and write. Not the good coffee that Jamie would make us in the morning. Terrible coffee, thin, instant coffee, but coffee. Here I am, sitting, drinking coffee on the moon. That still gets me. I miss orange juice—the powdered crap that passes for orange juice around here tastes more like coffee than the coffee does—but the orange grove won’t be harvestable for years yet.

An acute, whispery voice comes from behind me saying, “Don’t move. Don’t freak out, but there’s a bee on you.”

Always with the bees.

With a complaisant wave, Dr. Keats shoos away the bee from my shoulder. It alights and lands again on a nearby cucumber vine. Smiling, I turn to Dr. Keats as he stands beside me at the edge of the garden, the transparent barrier that encloses the station just inches in front of us.

I say, “Thanks, Jon.”

The “there’s a bee on you” thing is somewhere between an inside joke and a religious ritual at this point. Since I spend so much time in the garden, and since Dr. Keats is the head apiologist on the station, we see each other fairly often, and there is usually a bee on at least one of us. The fat, fuzzy bumblebees used here for pollination in the garden are really chill and non-aggressive, but you still need to take an allergy test before leaving Earth to make sure you won’t die of anaphylactic shock, just in case you do something stupid and get yourself stung.

“Good morning, December,” Dr. Keats says. “How are you doing?”

“Pretty good,” I say. “Working on my post to send back to Earth.” I gesture toward the blue globe in the black sky, as if I’m concerned he won’t know what planet I mean.

“Cool,” Dr. Keats says.

He’s a small, grey, friendly man from California. Most of the station’s occupants are American. Some are Canadian, like me, and there’s also a handful of Russians. Some people from India, some from England. Ireland, Israel. Everyone gets along except during the World Cup.

He says, “Well, don’t let me disturb you.”

“Please,” I say, grabbing the cuff of his white button-down—some people here wear their filmy aluminum-cotton space suits at practically all times, but Dr. Keats, like me, prefers casual dress even when he’s on duty. I say, “Disturb me.” I pull him down, and he sits beside me on the bench that’s like a metal grate bent into a pair of right angles. Does that image even make sense?

“Having trouble writing?” Dr. Keats asks me.

I nod. “I don’t think it’s going to turn out very well. What am I doing here, Jon? I’m just some girl with a creative writing degree and one shitty novel. What was I thinking?”

Dr. Keats hasn’t shaved for a few days; white coruscations of hair sit in the pores of his cheeks. “You’re thirty years old,” he says, smiling. “You’re hardly a girl. And I’m certain that you wouldn’t have been selected if you weren’t up to the task.”

He’s too kind to me.

“What was I thinking?” I say again.

“I don’t know,” says Dr. Keats. “What were you thinking?”

***

Dear Earth,

What I was thinking was this: I was about to finish school with the most nugatory degree I could conceive of. I had a not-as-good-as-I’d-hoped short novel coming out with an indie press that was one step up from the Xerox machine at the 7-11 down the street. I was unemployed and probably unemployable. I was single and probably un-de-singleable, and going to the moon was the one thing I’d wanted most since looking up at the sky at night as a child and seeing it there, resting matte gold on the horizon or suspended burnished silver at its zenith

So what do you do when the big news is that they’re looking for professional writers to live on the new lunar station and file regular reports, to chronicle the majestic adventure of humanity’s first permanent space colony, to write a record to live for the ages? You polish your CV, one-inch your margins, and you apply for that motherfucker.

You don’t actually expect to be chosen. You don’t expect to . . . to have to leave everything behind.

Jamie Oakener was the only person to show up at my first reading, and even that was just a coincidence.

The two-by-five foot foamcore reproduction of my book’s cover—its title, The Thermodynamics of Love (holy Lord, what was I thinking?), in round, red sans serifs over a picture of some girl much prettier than me looking all heartbroken—is 100 percent of the publisher’s marketing budget for the season, and it leans against the front of the little table where I sit, hiding my Levi’s legs and the fifty copies of my book that I brought with me from home, and it’s the first time in my life that I feel like I might have been too optimistic.

Around two dozen chairs stare me down in the bookstore with a collective ass population of precisely zero. It’s twenty minutes past when I’m supposed to start reading, but I’ll be damned if I read to no one. Instead I brandish my best passive-aggressive smile at the customers who walk past while avoiding my eyes, a better advertisement for my dentist than for my publisher or myself probably.

this girl—all skinny arms and legs, hair a cascade of dark coffee curls, in a blue dress with white polka dots, a string of imitation pearls around her neck—appears, comes straight toward me, and sits down in the front row. Looking just like she walked out of a speakeasy circa 1922. Looking just like she’s there on purpose.

And Dear Earth, is she ever pretty.

And I say hi and she says hi. And I say, “Do you want to get a cup of coffee?” And she says, “Aren’t you going to read?” And I give the empty-but-for-her chairs a declarative look and I say, “It doesn’t seem like it.”

“Did you actually come here to hear me read?”

And she says, all bashful, “No. You just looked so sad and cute.”

So my sad, cute heart does a flip in her direction, and I say again, “Let’s get some coffee.”

We have the first conversation I have with everybody, which is about my name: how my parents’ surname was Tenth, so when I was born on the tenth of December, they thought they’d be all clever and call me December Tenth. I tell this story a lot.

But she does something unexpected. She says, “I have a weird name too!”

“Jamie Oakener?” She’s already told me. “What’s so weird about that?”

She smiles like a conspiracy.

“Jamie comes from Jameson’s, which is what my parents were drinking when I was conceived.”

I laugh. “Gross!”

“It gets better. I have middle names. My mum’s maiden name was Parker, right, and my dad’s grandmother’s name was Dorothy. Making me—”

“Jamie Dorothy Parker Oakener!” I shout, delighted, informing the whole café, but I don’t even care.

“December Tenth,” she giggles. “Use your indoor voice!”

            The first time I come over it’s raining, and in the morning we sit in the garden drinking coffee and reading the brand new IKEA catalogue to each other and gently waving away the bees that try to land on us because we’re so bright and sweet together they mistake us for flowers.

***

Dear Earth,

            The station’s electricity is generated in two ways. The first is solar. Because there’s no atmosphere beyond our metal-and-plexiglass enclosure, there’s nothing to dilute the sun’s energy as it reaches the craggy grey surface, so the solar collectors work at almost 100 percent efficiency.

The other way is hydrogen fuel, which we get from mining the ice. Every day a dozen robots roll down into the polar crater below us and come back a few hours later hauling big pyramids of dirty ice. From the area above the vehicle storage unit—the garage, where I am now—you can see them. Robots like a baby elephant crawled inside R2-D2 and had a baby with a Zamboni. Robots crawling up the side of the crater like Sisyphus.

This is how we get our oxygen, too. By a process of electrolysis, the water-ice is split into hydrogen and oxygen: the hydrogen goes into the fuel cells, and the oxygen goes to the generators to produce breathable air. The sighs of the station’s 108 personnel make their way to the garden for the plants. The rest of the water is treated and mineralized and fluorinated and made potable for us and for the plants, and our waste water is recycled.

The gravity . . . I haven’t got even the fuzziest idea about how the gravity works.

In the station, Captain Wallace is in charge. Captain Wallace looks just like an astronaut from a 1950s science-fiction movie: a crew-cut black like oil, eyes blue as Earth and always looking into the distance at something you can’t see, like cats do. He’s thirty centimetres bigger than me in every direction, and he wears his US Air Force uniform every day, with the silver double-bars of his rank pinned to his lapel. Anytime he’s not talking to you, he absently worries the wide gold band around the hairy knuckle of his left ring finger. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realize that he does this. But it makes him seem human to the rest of the crew, rather than like the intimidating, unrelatable archetype he’d otherwise be.

Okay, he is still kind of intimidating.

I say, “Good afternoon, Captain.” You have to call him Captain. You do not call him Dave. You especially don’t do your best HAL 9000 impression when he’s around.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Tenth,” he says, and even though I’ve just walked up out of nowhere, he does not startle, and he doesn’t turn to look at me, just continues watching, through the window of the garage, the barren crater as the robots return with our water and power and air for the next week. He says, “I read your last transmission to Earth.”

Of course he did. Part of his job is reading everything I write and approving or rejecting each post before dispatching it. This is still a military mission, technically, and we can’t have me giving away any secrets. Captain Wallace knows all about embedded journalists and their loose lips; he was in the war.

“Did you like it?” I ask.

“It was very . . . ” His Bruce Campbell chin rises up almost imperceptibly. “Personal.”

“Is that bad?”

“No,” he says. “No.” Out there, the little robots drag their frozen cargo back home, dutiful as ants. Out there, the robots don’t remember. Out there, the robots don’t dream.

For most of my life on Earth, I felt safe. Safe like a prison is safe. Earth has everything you need to be alive: air, water, food. It’s all just there. But the same gravity that keeps the atmosphere from floating away also keeps you rooted to the spot. You look up at the sky at night and what you see is possibility. What you see is freedom. What you see is everything else. I always thought that if I went to the moon, I would feel what I never felt down on the planet where I was born. And wouldn’t you know it, Earth—I was right.

Here I do feel free. Free, and constantly afraid. This place is hostile. If you want to eat, if you want to breathe, you have to come prepared with the products of thousands of years of human civilization strapped to your back. The moon is a blank white page on which we’re still scrawling the very first sentences, and we can write anything we can imagine On Earth you could always get hit by a bus or eaten by a crocodile—there’s never any guarantees, but on the moon you might wake up with a chest full of emptiness and die of suffocation one morning because some asteroid looked at your bedroom the wrong way.

Point being, you think you have to choose. You think it’s either safety and confinement, or freedom and fear. You think it can only ever be one way or the other.

Dear Earth, let me count the ways.

The way we have the same arms. The way her socks never match. The way she calls people by their full name. The way the sound of hers, her name, liquefies my heart still. The way she shakes her hair. The way she draws dinosaurs. The way her red nail polish is always perfectly chipped. The way that she’s better than me at everything, and the way that makes me feel not envious but proud. The way she’ll smile kindly and call you a doofus only when she’s really, really mad at you.

Captain Wallace’s arms fall back down to his sides, then his hands join behind his back. He looks like he’s seen things you people wouldn’t believe, like he’s thinking deep thoughts, like he’s about to say something profound. He kind of always looks like that.

What he says is “Ms. Tenth.” What he says is “Being apart from someone, even being half a million miles away, shouldn’t make you feel so all alone. It should make you feel blessed to live in a universe so kind that it contains a person so special, a person worth missing like that.”

Out there, the north stretches across empty space. Out there, the Earth hangs suspended on nothing. Out there in the sky, looking so small and so close that I could reach out and grab it, is everywhere I have ever been.

Standing just behind him, I look at Captain Wallace’s hands, holding each other behind his back. He never looks at me, but he unclasps his hands, takes the gold ring on his left hand between two fingers on his right, and turns it round and round like the orbit of the moon.

***

Dear Earth,

Jamie Oakener came with me to Florida, where the space ships depart, to see me off. It was hot in Orlando. Or it might have been the coldest day in a century, I don’t really remember. I think it was raining, though, or snowing maybe, because I do recall that our faces were wet.

We stood close, and she said, “Don’t go.”

And I said, “Come with me.”

Don’t go.

Come with me.”

I looked into her eyes, but I couldn’t see a fucking thing.

And she looked into my eyes, and she smiled so kindly, and she said, “You doofus.”

Posted in Excerpts | Tagged , , , |

Best Canadian Essays 2017 Launch


Join Tightrope Books and Editors Marina Nemat and Christopher Doda for the launch of Best Canadian Essays 2017. Readings by anthology contributors, including Matt Cahill, Leonarda Carranza, Larissa Diakiw, Suanne Kelman, Lauren McKeon, Richard Teleky.

November 16, 2017, 6pm, Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay Street, Toronto.

Posted in News |

2017 Fall Fiction Launch

Join Tightrope Books for the launch of our three fall 2017 novels: Andrew Daley’s Resort, Priya Ramsingh’s Brown Girl in the Room and David Cozac’s Finishing the Road.

Tuesday, October 10, 6:30pm (readings begin at 6:50pm) Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta, Toronto.

 

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Author HW Browne at Westminster Books

Join A Moose in the Dark author H.W. (Heather) Browne and  Home Coming author Wayne Curtis at Westminster Books in Fredericton for an evening of stories.

September 21, 7pm. 445 King Street, Fredericton NB.

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Brown Girl in the Room—Priya Ramsingh

ISBN: 9781988040332
PRICE: $22.95




Sara Ramnarine is just starting out her career in Toronto, a city that is touted as one of the most cosmopolitan in the world with its motto, “Diversity is our Strength.” As a smart, driven, educated, contemporary woman, Sara assumes her rise up the corporate ladder will be seamless. But she soon discovers that the workplace is full of pitfalls and obstructions, including discrimination and racism. Eventually, Sara is forced to make a critical decision that affects her career and state of mind, risking her reputation for years to come.

“Priya Ramsingh’s Brown Girl in the Room is a nuanced and insightful account of what it means to be a first generation Canadian woman within a ruthless corporate environment. Fearless and direct, Ramsingh presents her protagonist, Sara, as well as her friends and colleagues with an equal mix of compassion and critique, exposing racism, misogyny, and all of their consequences. An engaging and powerful debut.” —Danila Botha, author of For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known and Too Much on the Inside

“A storyline that isn’t discussed in popular modern fiction but needs to be told“—Goodreads

“When a book is able to make you reflect on your own life experiences and reminds you of some of the issues that still exist to this day, you know it is extremely well written!—Goodreads

“Ramsingh creates a mostly believable, true-to-life workplace filled with conflicting egos and low-key racism that’s as damaging as anything overt. The book’s message is strong… a worthwhile story”—Publishers Weekly

“Office politics steeped in rivalry and racism.”—Toronto Star

“A crucial addition to Canadian diasporic literature… In an era where representation matters, Brown Girl in the Room is definitely the first novel I have read that has connected so deeply to my own reality.” —Amrita Kumar-Ratta, Brown Girl Magazine

“This story will serve as a point of affirmation… Brown Girl in the Room gives me hope”—Harsha Nahata, Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl in the Room is an all too realistic and relatable story of being a woman of colour and building your career… Ramsingh does a great job of depicting the insidiously subtle form racism can take in the professional world.”—Literary Treats

Since she was acclaimed by her Grade Five teacher for story writing skills, Priya Ramsingh has recognized her calling as a writer. An English graduate from Carleton University, Priya spent twenty-two years in communications, with nine as a freelance writer. Brown Girl in the Room is her first novel.

Posted in 2017, 2017 Novels, B, Fall 2017, Novels, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

H.W. Browne Kingston ON Readers Rendezvous

Enjoy an illuminating hour of readings about the dark with two local to Kingston authors: A Moose in the Dark author Heather (H.W.) Browne and Fernanda Ponte. The Seniors Centre, 56 Francis Street, Kingston ON. August 24 at 1 pm. $5 per member. More details here.

 

 

Posted in Events, News |

Resort—Andrew Daley

ISBN: 9781988040363
Price: $22.95

A thriller, a love story, an elegy, and a confession, Resort recounts the misadventures of actors/con artists, Jill Charles and Danny Drake. Broke and desperate in Acapulco, Danny agrees to Jill’s scamming of an eccentric older English couple, leading them across Mexico to Veracruz.

Along the way, Danny begins to suspect Jill hasn’t told him the truth about herself or the English couple, who may have nefarious designs of their own. Set in Mexico, Toronto, and points in between, Resort is an engrossing, moving, and darkly comic journey through the shadowy side of a sunny world.

Resort is a taut twisty story that starts out being about a life of crime but encompasses so much more: love, literature, and the limits of trust are all seen from new angles. I was enthralled from start to finish.” —Rebecca Rosenblum, author of So Much Love

“All the action, suspense and emotional baggage needed for a good-to-the-very-end story… If you like novels that have an adventure, risky capers, with a touch of humour and a strong dose of reality, then you will definitely enjoy Andrew Daley’s Resort.”—James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader

“Resort is a classic style thriller following the trail of Jill Charles and Danny Drake, two actor friends and lovers… a fun and charming read.”—Sarah Ward, Crime Pieces

“Telegenic tale, part caper and part love story”—Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star

“Will leave you very pleasantly hoodwinked”—Goodreads

 Andrew Daley was raised in Orangeville, Ontario, and moved to Toronto to attend university. Aside from a year in England, he’s lived there ever since. He’s done a variety of jobs and seems to have settled in the film business. His first novel, Tell Your Sister, was published by Tightrope Books in 2007.

Posted in 2017, 2017 Novels, Fall 2017, Novels, R | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Finishing the Road—David Cozac

ISBN: 9781988040370
Price: $22.95



Finishing the Road is set in 1990s Guatemala, where a long, often brutal, civil war persists. The Canadian, French and Guatemalan protagonists travel the country, confronting various questions. How to forge an identity amid an intense sense of rootlessness? Where is home for the lonely and emotionally adrift? How to overcome grief? In his debut novel, David Cozac introduces the reader to a land beset by loss and to people seeking to end their isolation, free themselves of doubt and rekindle human connection.

“David Cozac’s novel reminds us that the bird of Guatemala, the quetzal, cannot survive in captivity. His story pays homage to the flight of the resplendent bird, whose beautiful plumage is echoed in the intricacies of Ixil weaving. In this braided quest story, four individuals seek connection and belonging in the highlands of Guatemala. In prose that flows with the inflections and metaphors of the land, a story is woven of three separate journeys. A teenaged girl takes her brother back to the village from which their family fled a decade earlier. Theirs is the story of persistence in the face of persecution, and an honouring of ancient ways. A young woman seeks to connect with the father she never met by travelling to the places that shaped him. A young man finds solace and direction in her published accounts. This is a novel about healing the wounds of fatherlessness, about the weaving of chance and fate, the wisdom of hope and the potential liberty in following the path of the heart.”—Kelley Aitken, author of Canadian Shield and Love in a Warm Climate

Finishing the Road was, for me, the type of book you don’t want to put down, can’t wait to pick up, and yet, at the same time, you never want it to end.”—James Fisher, Miramichi Reader

Photo by Sharon Ting

Canadian author David Cozac was born and raised in Toronto. He works for the United Nations. In the past, he worked for several human rights organizations, including PEN Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

 

Posted in 2017, 2017 Novels, Catalogue, F, Fall 2017, Novels | Tagged , , , , , , |

The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English

ISBN:  9781988040349
Price: 24.95




The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English takes the pulse of Canadian poetry with ninety superb poems that have excelled—twice—at the test of “the best.” With poems chosen from the first nine volumes of this landmark series, this special tenth-anniversary edition highlights a vibrant variety of subjects from romance and family to ecology and the economy—not to mention blizzards and bears. Ranging from iconic poets Michael Ondaatje, Anne Carson, George Elliott Clarke, and P.K. Page to notable upstarts, the anthology includes an index for readers, notes from the poets, an illuminating analysis of Canadian poetics by series editor Molly Peacock, and provocative excerpts from past introductions by guest editors Stephanie Bolster, A.F. Moritz, Lorna Crozier, Priscila Uppal, Carmine Starnino, Sue Goyette, Sonnet L’Abbé, Jacob McArthur Mooney, and Helen Humphreys.

For a full list of The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry contributors, visit the Best Canadian Poetry Series site.

“A collection as complex and satisfying as a symphony.” —Publishers Weekly

“A great jumping-off point for readers who might be interested in Canadian poetry but are unsure about where to start.”—Emma Healey, Globe and Mail

“Bits of eternity, arranged alphabetically.”—Merilyn Simonds, Kingston Whig-Standard

“Canada’s most eloquent, profound, humorous and meditative writers, ranging from the seasoned and well known to the new and upcoming.” —Eric Schmaltz, Broken Pencil

“The Best Canadian Poetry series offers an annual sampling of voices and experiences—a little slice of Canadiana that may be appreciated beyond borders as well.” —Lori A. May, Examiner.com

“Buy it, or borrow it, but do read it.”—Paul Tyler, Arc Poetry Magazine

Anita Lahey is a poet, journalist, reviewer, and essayist. She is the author of The Mystery Shopping Cart: Essays on Poetry and Culture (Palimpsest Press, 2013) and of two Véhicule Press poetry collections: Out to Dry in Cape Breton (2006) and Spinning Side Kick (2011). The former was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and the Ottawa Book Award. Anita is a former editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, and posts occasionally on her blog, “Henrietta & Me: People and other wonders found in books.”

Molly Peacock is a widely anthologized poet and writer. Her seventh volume of poetry is The Analyst, poems about psychoanalysis, poetry, and painting, from Biblioasis. Her recent book of tiny tales is Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions, with illustrations by Kara Kosaka; she is also the author of a biography, The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, and a memoir, Paradise, Piece by Piece, all from McClelland & Stewart.

Posted in 2017, Anthologies, B, Best Canadian Poetry, Catalogue, Fall 2017, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Best Canadian Essays 2017

ISBN: 9781988040356
Price: 21.95

 


Featuring trusted series editor Christopher Doda and acclaimed guest editor Marina Nemat, this ninth installment of Canada’s annual volume of essays showcases diverse nonfiction writing from across the country. Culled from leading Canadian magazines and journals, Best Canadian Essays 2017 contains award-winning and award-nominated nonfiction articles that are topical and engaging and have their finger on the pulse of our contemporary psyches.

“Fascinating, provocative, sobering and painful… Besides exposing readers to an abundance of artfully expressed ideas, this collection’s appeal comes in two further forms. Its essays offer an intimate form of education, and, better, help give what might seem like overwhelming complexity a reassuringly compassionate and relatable face.”—Brett Josef Grubisic, Toronto Star

Contributors: Peter Babiak, Deni Ellis Béchard, Matt Cahill, Jane Campbell, Leonarda Carranza, Francine Cunningham, Larissa Diakiw, Alicia Elliott, Suanne Kelman, John Lorinc, Lauren McKeon, Susan Peters, Russell Smith, Joanna Streetly, Richard Teleky, Jane Edey Wood.

Christopher Doda is a poet, editor and critic living in Toronto. He is the author of three books of poetry, Among RuinsAesthetics Lesson, and Glutton for Punishment: Hard Core Glosas. His award-winning non-fiction has appeared in journals across Canada and he was on the editorial board of Exile Editions for over ten years.

Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years in Evin, a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution. She came to Canada in 1991 and has called it home ever since. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, first published in 2007, was an international bestseller. In 2007, Marina received the inaugural Human Dignity Award from the European Parliament, and in 2008, she received the prestigious Grinzane Prize in Italy. In 2008/2009, she was an Aurea Fellow at University of Toronto’s Massey College, where she wrote her second book, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed, which was published by Penguin Canada in 2010.

Posted in 2017, Anthologies, B, Best Canadian Essays, Catalogue, Essays, Fall 2017, Non-fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sitting Down with Ron Charach: Part Two

A guest post by Luka Pajkovic

Ron Charach is a practicing psychiatrist and author based in Toronto, Ontario. He writes poetry, with ten published collections, and is a Canadian letter-writer, with his work often published in The Toronto Star, The National Post, and The Globe and Mail, as well as American venues such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Atlantic.

I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Ron about his first novel, cabana the big, which was published through Tightrope Books last year.

You can read the first part of our discussion here.

LUKA: Was there any specific inspiration that led you to cabana the big?

RON: I’ve always been fascinated by just how easily power gets abused and how easily it can get used to do the most awful things. I’m also interested in this whole notion of being co-opted, why do we ride with the eight? There are many reasons, and they’re explored in this book.

But it is hard to know exactly what got you started.

I was also curious about the stylistic choices in cabana, notably dropping quotations around dialogue. What led you to these decisions?

I like to keep the reader off-balance a little bit, and dropping quotation marks always manages to do that, it’s always a little more challenging to read. I don’t like everything to be cut and dry, because sometimes it’s not really clear who said what. I try not to make it impossible, but cabana is a challenging read, it’s a literary book. cabana seems like it’s having lots of fun, and not taking things seriously, but it is.

cabana is also described as a cautionary tale, is there something specific it’s warning us about, or strictly the gun obsession?

A move towards gun obsession is really a move towards masculinity obsession, obsession with maleness, and determination to use it to dominate the world and rape it of all its beauty and resources. And not caring about the consequences.

In big ned’s dream about the young girl, he is fully made of metal, then he becomes flesh again except for his dick, which stays metal. I saw this as being his gun; they are literally one and the same for him.

And is that crude? I don’t think so, take Kim Jong Un, he’s a porn addict, and his biggest joy is having those missiles, long phallic things with so much power, paraded by. He could majorly fuck up the world, and so can Trump.

What I’m saying with cabana is let’s drop the gloves, this man they’ve elected is a crude man, so it’s time to get crude. It’s time to realize that unless people stand up to him all the time, constantly, he’s going to drag everyone down to his level.

Do you have any advice for any budding poets or fiction writers?

I would say develop an ear for dialogue, listen to people talk. I would say have a day job. I believe it becomes a self-contained little world if all you’re doing is talking to the same students who are reading the same stuff.

The other thing is, recognize that if you come up with something totally new, people are going to revile it. So don’t worry about it. It may even mean you’re onto something.

 

You can find cabana the big here.

Posted in guestposts, News |

Sitting Down with Ron Charach: The Story of cabana the big

A guest post by Luka Pajkovic

Ron Charach is a practicing psychiatrist and author based in Toronto, Ontario. He writes  poetry, with ten published collections, and is a Canadian letter-writer, with his work often published in The Toronto Star, The National Post, and The Globe and Mail, as well as American venues such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Atlantic.

I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Ron about his first novel, cabana the big, which was published through Tightrope Books last year.

RON: cabana the big is a dystopic, post-nuclear novel. Billionaire harold galloway sets up his little world in an ecosphere, and he sets it up like a grade B western. Of course, the novel predicts Trump coming to power, which is kind of nice.

LUKA: That’s interesting. It’s your first novel too, right?

It’s my first novel; but I’ve actually been writing prose as long as I’ve been writing poetry.

I’m also one of Canada’s main letter-writers. My letters largely comment on gun control, and of course, cabana is an outrageous gun book. They love guns in this book, galloway loves having the big eight, his ‘one-better’ version of the magnificent seven; he loves all that kind of stuff. It keeps him alive, it keeps him hopping; he’s the kind of guy who needs a fight in order to feel real, just like Trump does.

Yeah, this story seems like a dream for the gun-obsessed, the environment is built around carrying guns; and everyone sees guns as part of a person’s identity. I noticed a lot of it felt related to compensation and ‘dick-measuring.’

Absolutely, cabana is a very genital book, and Trump is a very genital president. He’s deeply misogynistic, but also deeply homoerotic. When Trump was running against the other Republican candidates he was just grabbing at their nuts. He was criticizing their manhood left, right, and center, and they didn’t know what to do. No one had ever done that. No one had behaved in public like that.

Very crude.

And galloway is a very deceptive, crude man in his own way. But what intrigued me about writing cabana was henry morgan. He used to be Dr. Henry Morganstern, but now he rides with the big eight. His psychology is intriguing because he went from being a doctor and poet, to riding with the eight. And really, we are all riding with the eight; all of us are colluding with the powers that be, which are moving in a fascist direction.

I noticed that idea does come up in the story; at a town hall meeting henry basically accuses all the townspeople of wanting to be a part of the eight.

That’s right, and it’s like these people who love Trump. They love the brash power he has to do whatever the hell he wants. It’s the American outlaw tradition, adulation of the outlaw.

Being a psychiatrist, I imagine that also has an influence on how you write.

It does, I spend my whole day listening to people talk. I know how people talk. Sometimes I’ll read in other books people talking, and I know nobody talks like that. I have an ear for the colloquial, an ear for dialects and accents. I love accents.

I also have a knowledge of psychodynamics, so hopefully what happens between my characters is recognizable to people. I hope they understand why my characters act this way.

I imagine writing characters is pretty interesting when you have so much insight into how real people think and behave.

Characters are based on real people, but you always put some of yourself into every character. I’m a bit like everyone in cabana, because I wrote it, I chose how to set everything up. I like to think I have empathy with my characters, that I understand them and their insecurities.

Like galloway being jealous of the bulge in henry morgan’s pants.

I hope people get a real hoot out of this book; I think it’s hilarious. But you have to be able to get into it.

Get into that bit of crudeness that’s part of the world.

And part of everyone’s unconscious. It’s going on in all our minds. I started writing cabana when I was eighteen or nineteen, that’s why it’s so raw and sexual. As a psychiatrist, I didn’t see the need to censor any of that, because that’s what our unconscious is all about. Cognitive psychologists have lined up with the psychoanalysts, and they say most of what people do is done for emotional reasons. They agree there is such a thing as the unconscious mind.

And that’s what everyone is saying about Trump, his reasons are emotional, and based on his desire to be the best and most powerful.

Definitely. Trump lined up very quickly with the NRA, and he’s refused to criticize various paramilitary groups. He’s going where the power is. It’s very disturbing. People are saying he’s looking for a war; he needs a war, to draw attention away from his other failures.

You can find cabana the big here.

Part two of this interview is here.

Posted in guestposts, News |

Catching Up with Trillium Book Award Finalist Danila Botha

Cover photo by Jowita Bydlowska

A guest post by Kathleen Anderson

The short fiction collection, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, by Danila Botha is a finalist for the Trillium Book Award 2017, and I had the chance to chat with Danila about her nomination and her love of short storytelling. She was overjoyed when she learned that she was a finalist for the award, comparing the nomination to getting an incredible and unexpected present. “It’s wonderful for the book to be recognized like that, and it’s wonderful to be in the company of such incredible writers,” she said. “It’s an honour and I’m so thrilled.”

Our conversation about short stories sent Danila’s mind reeling with the many collections she’s read, as well as the long list of reasons that she loves the medium. “I really enjoy the economy of the form,” she said. “Every word and every sentence has to be quite meaningful. You sometimes have two or three sentences to tell a backstory, and I really like the challenge of that.”

The stories that make up For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila’s second short fiction book, explore the complexity of love and relationships. Though there is connectivity between a few stories, each one holds the reader in a moment. We peer into the characters’ lives as they experience joy or confusion or heartbreak, and their emotions are real. The ability to pinpoint snapshots in time and draw the reader into individual moments of emotion makes short stories unique from longer fiction. “You can leave the reader in a place where they continue to wonder what happened to the character long afterward,” Danila said.

I asked Danila what writerly advice she would give if she could speak to her younger self. She had a long list: she’d tell herself to read a lot, remind herself to persevere through frustration and the many drafts that aren’t quite right, and assure herself that her work will be greeted by an incredibly warm and supportive community.

One of her key pieces of advice was about cultivating her own individuality as a writer and having confidence in her uniqueness. She said, “The things that are different about us, which can be scary because we love other people’s work for completely different reasons, are sometimes the things that are the most interesting about our work and the things that we should explore.” While she is captivated by the work of many other authors (for example, Etgar Keret’s ability to be simultaneously emotionally impactful and incredibly succinct, and Heather O’Neill’s “magical” metaphors), she insisted on the value of trusting her own instincts as a writer.

The Trillium Book Award nomination is an indication that her instinct has led her right. The book went through a long process to reach this point of celebration: from its initial inspiration that came from reading love-and-heartbreak-laden books, poems, and stories, such as Lynn Crosbie’s Liar; through her research process, where she spoke to people about their relationships; and through the writing process, sometimes frustrating, sometimes emotion-filled, but always underpinned with “an element of pure pleasure,” Danila said.

Now that the book has landed in the hands, eyes, and minds of its audience, Danila is effusively grateful for the encouraging and thoughtful response it has received. “You always feel a little bit vulnerable when something comes out, whatever it is,” she said, “especially when it’s emotional in nature. But people have been absolutely kind and supportive.”

You can find For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known here.

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Tightrope Summer Short Fiction Launch

Join Tightrope Books on the first day of summer 2017 for the launch of two new short fiction collections: A Moose in the Dark by H.W. Browne and Things Don’t Break by Richard Rosenbaum. Readings by the two authors and special guest reader, Canadian Shield author Kelley Aitken.

June 21, 2017, 6:30pm, Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta, Toronto.

 

 

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June 13 Bryant Park Reading NYC

Publisher Jim Nason, Best Canadian Poetry Series Editor Molly Peacock and BCP poets Nyla Matuk & Kilby Smith-McGregor read at New York City’s Bryant Park on June 13 at 7pm.

Posted in News |

“Writers on Rights” Poetry Event: A First-Timer’s Impression #2

A special guest post about the May 14 “Meet Me in the Aga Khan Museum” event by Luka Pajkovic

“Meet Me at the Aga Khan/Writers on Rights” was my first time at a poetry reading, I went in not knowing what to expect, and I’m happy to say I was blown away. I had never really considered poetry readings before, I tend to read poems myself and leave it at that. But the poets I saw on the fourteenth read their works so passionately and with so much intensity that their words took on power and life that I don’t think I have ever seen captured on the page.

Vivek Shraya’s performance, where she sang lyrics from a range of black female artists, was incredible, and turned the reading into a concert. It was an experience that couldn’t be matched by just reading the poem. Hearing Vivek’s piece, as well as all the other poems, made me think about everything that is added to a poem when you hear someone read it. Especially if they read it with true feeling, like all the speakers at Sunday’s event seemed to do. Through their reading, every poem was filled with the emotions of its author. I think this carried over to the audience, and it influenced the way the poems were understood. I know it was like that for me at least.

Considering the heavy subject matter, human rights, and some recent events, things got pretty intense during more than a few readings. The audience even had to be reminded to breathe. Listening to these poets reminded me of the power that poetry can have, and how moving it can be; the tension and energy in the theatre was enough evidence to convince me.

The Aga Khan is a beautiful museum, and its auditorium made the perfect venue for such a powerful display of art and language. It was an amazing event, and well worth it when the only price of admission was being inside on a sunny day.

 

Posted in guestposts, News |

“Writers on Rights” Poetry Event: A First-Timer’s Impression #1

A special guest post about the May 14 “Meet Me in the Aga Khan Museum” event by Kathleen Anderson

The closest thing to a poetry event I’d ever been to was a small reading crammed into the corner of a library. I was excited to experience something more elaborate and hear from people whose work has and continues to make an impact, exploring different facets of human experience.

The event took place on a sunny afternoon inside the stunning Aga Khan Museum, and Amnesty International was present to provide information about human rights issues.

A poetry event on the topic of human rights demands seriousness, of course, but I wondered just how charged the environment would be. There were certainly intense and emotion-filled moments, but there were also jokes and smiles. The blending of these different emotions, for me, made the event even more valuable, a real expression of human experience.

I liked the effect of hearing different readers speak one after another because it revealed similarities and differences in the way people express their experiences creatively. The writers all talked about topics connected to human rights, but the poetry they chose to read was so interestingly varied: the type of poem, the content, the context (personal and political), and even the verbal expression.

The vocal element of the event really struck me. Hearing poetry spoken aloud is such a different experience than reading the off a page. I could hear the passion, the anger, the sadness. The words were brought to life.

For me, the most rewarding part of the event was that I couldn’t just sit in the audience and passively listen. The poems and the authors’ commentary on the link between art and activism made me think as I heard it. Then I spent my drive home turning the words and ideas over in my head. It’s fascinating to find an experience that doesn’t end when you leave the building.

 

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Things Don’t Break—Richard Rosenbaum

ISBN: 9781988040196

PRICE: $21.95




Acclaimed writer Richard Rosenbaum’s short stories range in genre from realism to speculative, and stylistically from literary to experimental. In his stunning first collection of short fiction, Things Don’t Break, readers will discover stories about relationships, robots, videogames, the moon, giant evil chickens, and more.

“Things Don’t Break is an amazing piñata of a book. Crack it open and out will fly all kinds of strange and wondrous things (including a robot or two). A truly smashing collection of stories.”—Neil Smith, author of Boo

“Richard Rosenbaum knows the way people work—the way they love, the way they hurt, the way they break. These are stories that fire on all the emotional cylinders. A Pandora’s box of the strange and beautiful things that live inside us all.”—Ian Rogers, author of Every House Is Haunted

Click here to read “Wrong Side of Heaven” from Things Don’t Break.

Richard Rosenbaum is the author of the novel Pretend to Feel (Now Or Never Publishing 2017), the novella Revenge of the Grand Narrative (Quattro Books 2014), and of Raise Some Shell (ECW Press 2014), a cultural history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also a regular contributor to the popular culture analysis website Overthinking It. He lives in Toronto.

Posted in 2017, Short Fiction, Summer 2017, T, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , |