Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

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BookTour 2010: Berkeley

The first thing I learned in the Bay area: San Jose’s airport is a long way from town. Oakland and San Fran airports are both on the train line. Note to self: avoid the labyrinth of transfers, buses, shuttles, and trains next time you fly to the Bay.

BookTour 2010: Oregon

I had a stopover in Portland, and bought a big burrito in the airport. It didn’t sit right, and by the time I got to Ashland (delivered there by the next editor of the West Wind Review Sarah Cunningham), I was shivering and nauseous. My host, the wonderful and talented K. Silem Mohammad, was kind enough to give me a pass on a late evening, though we chatted about this and that in preparation for tomorrow. I slept hard, and woke up in pain. The plan was to do a workshop at the University of Southern Oregon with his creative writing students in the morning, go for lunch, explore Ashland (the Shakespeare capital of America!), go for dinner, do the reading, stay and drink, go and drink, and conclude with a party back at Kasey’s. I didn’t even get as far as breakfast.

BookTour 2010: Vancouver

Vancouver now has direct train service from the airport to the downtown. If nothing else comes out of the Olympics, this alone justifies a lot. My generous and gracious host in the maple-spangled city was Clint Burnham, of SFU. I ate on Commercial that first night at a restaurant that boasted collecting all its groceries (which were all organic) on bicycle. Team Canada lost its hockey game, leaving the thousands of human flagpoles grumpy surly or sad. The next morning, Clint kindly walked me around his local hood, popping into small galleries, book stores, comic stores, and eateries. The sun was shining its high beams, daffodils were knee high, and cherry blossoms pinked up the sky. This is what February is supposed to be like.

BookTour 2010: Banff/In(ter)ventions

Conferences are typically uneven events, pulling together disparate voices from disparate sensibilities. Conversely, the conference I was heading to at Banff (back to Banff, I should add, after two weeks down in Pincher Creek) seemed intentionally geared towards attracting a rather narrow band of participants. The title of the event was, vaguely, In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge. It was inevitable that participants would be compelled to deconstruct such an opaque name, and I think various parts of the phrase came up half a dozen times. Perhaps because I was distracted for being filled with my Southern Alberta sojourn, I didn’t expect that my conference would actually began on the shuttle out.

BookTour 2010: Calgary

The bus arrived late, but I was able to grab a cab right away. The address for the reading was buried in my duffle. I told the driver I was going to Pages in Kensington, on Kensington I thought. He knew the place, and set off. After a moment, he looked back at me and noted that the store was probably closed.

“I’m going to an event there this evening.”
Pause.
“A book launch?” he asked.
“Yes, that’s right.”
Pause.
“Is it your book launch?”
“As a matter of fact, yes it is.”
“Are you a poet?”
“Yes, actually.”
“Okay, finish this: ‘Turning and turning in widening gyre.’”
“Ha, ‘The falcon cannot hear the falconer.’”

BookTour 2010: Edmonton

Arrived in Edmonton from Toronto and got whisked away to an evening of Thai Food and Celtic music by Erin Frith, my sister-in-law and very gracious and generous hostess. I got my first glance at the infamous Whyte Avenue, which seemed to be oddly dotted with car dealerships and slick modern cafes. Also on Whyte – after checking a few of my favourite wines, I noted that the prices were marked up $5-10 per bottle versus Ontario. Alas, someone should tell McGuinty that there might yet be some advantages to publicly owned enterprises.

BookTour 2010: Kingston

Driving through Toronto early Sunday morning, I hit no traffic which left me with an abundance of time. I got off the highway at Brighton and carried on Highway 2 the rest of the way. You notice a switch at Belleville as the towns get filled with limestone. Around I guess Shannonville you start seeing rock groupings in the farmer’s fields – as if the shield itself were emerging from beneath the earth to protect itself from us. Lots of military, of course, and one heartfelt handmade sign in front of a barely better than derelict building saying "Haiti needs our help -- give what you can."

BookTour 2010: Windsor

I hopped into a cab at the train station in Windsor, which sits beside the impressive – or should I say intoxicating? – Hiram Walker complex. Unlike Toronto's distillery, this one still makes things other than real-estate speculative market value. As we drove, the cabbie turned right around in his seat and asked, “Are you here for the Auto Show?”
“No,” I said. “I’m here for Windsor.”
“If you are going to Detroit, you should take the tunnel and not the bridge. It is much faster.”
“I’m not planning on going to Detroit, I’m going be here in Windsor the whole time.”
“It’s much safer in Detroit than people say, but if you want to see white people you have to avoid the downtown.”

Bertram Brooker -- Avant-Garde Writer

One Man's Guide to the upcoming Scream Literary Festival

The summer season is upon us, and one of the dreams the slow moon brings is the Scream Literary Festival. For seventeen years now, the poets have taken over venues around the city for up to a week and more, events that gradually escalate to the main stage marquee evening at High Park. Did you know that it was once illegal for poets to read poetry in Toronto Parks?

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