Looking forward to being part of the Brockton Writers Series, with Sandra Campbell, Anand Mahadevan, Thomas Armstrong, Elizabeth Abbott and Glen Downie.
Wednesday April 4 at St. Anne’s Church, 270 Gladstone (north of Dundas).
Reception at 6:30pm (hosted by The Writers Union of Canada). Readings at 7pm.
If you’re in Toronto, please come out and say hello.

Can’t say enough about the Robson Reading Series. Welcoming, well-organized, and wonderfully relaxed — with disco skating in the background! Many thanks to the organizers for inviting me. And also can’t say enough about Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist. A book with true grit and bite.

Feb 2012

This Thursday, Dec 1, I’ll be reading with Rebecca Rosenblum. 6:30 to 8pm at the wonderful Lillian H Smith library. Hope you can join us.

Nov 2011

Word on the Street

Sep 2011

Open Book Toronto

Thrilled to be part of the July roundup at Open Book Toronto.
On Writing: The Short Story Edition

Jul 2011

Bayfield Writers’ Festival

Bayfield Writers' Festival
Bayfield is a funky little village with a friendly, well-curated bookstore. It’s located along the edge of a sandy beach where you can spend the cooling hour watching a red fiery sun sink into the big blue of Lake Huron. On July 25, I was honoured to be part of the Bayfield Writers’ Festival, sponsored by The Village Bookshop. Turnout was great, the audience incredibly supportive and giving, the atmosphere celebratory. Had the pleasure of reading with Hilary Gillespie, author of Under a Sunflower Sun, Sarita Mandanna, author of Tiger Hills, Emma Ruby-Sachs, author of The Water Man’s Daughter, and Terry Fallis, author of The High Road. Heartfelt thanks to Mary Brown for inviting me and for organizing such a wonderful event.

Jun 2011

Canadian reads

Visit Canadian Bookshelf: Discover Canadian Books, Authors, Book Lists and More

canadianbookshelf.com is a new website that celebrates Canadian books. It’s a rich resource for discovering and rediscovering great books by Canadian writers. Pleased to contribute a blog post: … the long road

Jun 2011

Ode to the road

Although Google maps and CAA triptiks suggest the best route from Dryden to Toronto is through the States, in the spirit of this road trip, that’s just wrong. What’s more, I don’t want to leave the country during an election that might actually shift a few bums in seats, so I keep to highway 17 and tune into Cross Country Checkup to satisfy a patriotic curiosity.

The loop around Superior doesn’t disappoint. The towns here have that bleak bipolar impermanency of places that exist to extract a resource: trees, gold, or uranium. But they’re surrounded by a timeless geography that’s quintessentially Canadian. Majestic and expansive. In every direction are huge swaths of evergreen forests above soft pine needle carpets and strings of dark blue lakes with sandy beaches. And granite. I’m off-grid for longer than 48 hours, so the word no longer conjures kitchen countertops but massive exposed rock face, blown open for the TransCanada.

I take the highway south along Georgian Bay. The odometer says we’ve traveled close to 5,400 kms. I’m feeling a gratitude that’s bigger than this huge country for everyone who’s helped me make this trip, and to everyone I’ve met over the past three weeks.

To all the thousands of people who climb atop high ground along the highways and create a gallery of sculptures — talismans for the highway — I salute you. And on election night, here’s to you Canada.

Till phase two, hopefully in the fall.

May 2011

The power of small

At Keewatin, on Lake of the Woods, went on a search for the bakery, Allens, and the grocery store up the hill from the marina. They weren’t there. But we met a couple (B & B) who were able to fill in the blanks, so to speak, confirming that yes, we were standing in the right place, but that the landmarks we remember are gone.

B & B moved to Keewatin from Winnipeg a few years back and opened up a General Store. Their move defied practical logic, since at the time Keewatin was already losing its purpose to Kenora, while the mills around Kenora were closing, so the entire area was, and still is, searching for new forms of survival.

Yet this is where they want to live and it’s easy to understand why. Lake of the Woods is a jewel of deep blue waters on the edge of the Canadian Shield, full of thousands of islands and surrounded by boreal forest. But as one of the Bs tells me, E-Bay, Walmart and their like have killed retail as we used to know it, and there’s no money in gas when you’re off the highway. And it’s mostly a retired community that’s moving here and they don’t buy locally. But the other B has more work than he can handle building custom kitchens for cottagers. So the general store’s going to reduce in size; the workshop in back will expand.

It’s all disconcerting and yet hopeful. I’m happy B & B are able to adapt and make a living here, but the loss of local industry, retail and small businesses is troublesome. The changes that have stripped a town of its independence and left it to find a new one satisfying the whims of increasingly well-off vacationing cottagers, feels unsettling.

But searching for signs of hope and intelligent life in a supply chain that’s ruled by the price of commodities, market share and growth, and consumers who proudly believe that every dollar saved is a personal victory — is a frustrating, maddening and challenging quest.

A few days back, standing in a bookstore, I watched a woman pick up best sellers, comparing aloud, the prices to those at Costco. This isn’t Costco, I said. I know, she replied defensively, as if the only issue at hand was the sign above the door, not the fact that she admitted to me that she comes here to talk to the knowledgeable staff, and then goes online or to Costco to make her purchases.

Apr 2011

Fighting for what we love

Piles of sandbags several feet high line the riverbanks protecting properties from threat of flooding. Meanwhile along Broadway and adjacent streets, trees are wrapped with foil bands to protect them from threat of aphids, cankerworms, and caterpillars. It’s a battleground here, but one that’s being hard fought.

Winnipeg may be situated in dry prairie but it’s a city of trees. Close to eight million deep-rooted leafy flora shade the streets of this prairie metropolis. Oak, Elm, Ash and Maple Streets were all named not for the city’s forebears, but for the trees they planted along the boulevards and sidewalks.

The threat to the city’s trees won’t recede with the same swiftness as did the 2011 threat of flooding along the river banks, but here’s to every Winnipegger who’s working to save the majestic canopy. Here’s to Trees Winnipeg, a non-profit citizen’s group working to protect and preserve the health of Winnipeg’s urban forest.

And thanks to all family and friends who came out to one of the very finest bookstore in Canada: McNally Robinson Booksellers. And thanks John Towes, Events Coordinator, for all you do and for the eloquent introduction which included the following:

Anne has a way of teasing human failings into the light and exposing them gracefully, yet mercilessly, in a dark and affectionate manner. One character reflects in the title story that “leaving everything open to possibilities can lead to terrible fun and tragedy” and I can’t imagine a more apt description of this collection.

Apr 2011