Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Linda Rogers

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A well-known teacher, broadcaster and poet, Linda Rogers has also edited several volumes of Guernica's Writers Series. She is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000) and Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003). Her latest novel is The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). The Bursting Test, a collection of poetry, was published in late 2002 by Guernica Editions. Linda is a past president of The League of Canadian Poets. She lives in Victoria, BC.

Visit Linda's website at lrogers.com. Send your questions and comments for Linda to writer@openbooktoronto.com.

Ten Questions with Linda Rogers

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

LR:

My first publication was in the University Hill School Annual, The Praecursor, in grade two. We had been asked to present the teacher with our best poem. I thought she meant “favourite,” so I transcribed Robert Louis Stevenson’s “At the Seaside” and handed it in. She duly turned it over to the annual editors as a fine example of seven-year-old writing.

One of my astute fellow classmates pointed out her error and mine. “Plagiarism!” Damn. I should have given him the neutered doughnut man he’d been needling me to trade for his overripe banana in the lunch room.

It all came full circle when my CanLit prof at UBC published an essay I had written under his own byline in The Dalhousie Review. Having been given a reprieve in grade two, I let him off the hook, but I do have a dim view of plagiarism. It is so pathetic.

I still love “At the Seaside,” which has all the ingenuous clarity of Leonard Cohen’s “As the Mist Leaves No Scar.” Ha ha.

My holes were empty like a cup, In every hole the sea came up, Till it could come no more.

My cup runneth on…

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Montreal Prize Reading Tour & Broadside Launch, with Mark Tredinnick & Linda Rogers

When

Monday, April 30, 2012 - 6:00pm

Where

Hart House - University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle
(just west of Queen's Park)
Toronto, ON
M5S 3H3

Details

The Montreal Prize has organized a reading tour for 2011 prize winner Mark Tredinnick and for Linda Rogers, whose poem was selected by Eric Fischl for the 2011 poetry broadside.

For more information, please go to http://montrealprize.com/

Location

Hart House - University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 3H3 43° 39' 49.2084" N, 79° 23' 40.8876" W

It Gets Better

I have been mostly silent recently because it has been a very frustrating year on the planet. Governments on every level make me apoplectic ( against/before the pop?). Cruelty and disresepect abound.

WHAT TO DO? I used to respond with poetry, but even poetry has been infected. The spirit voice has been reduced to Wii. Poetry as competition, war even.

My first response was rereating into fiction- movies, storytelling with the short people in my family and reality television. Tyra, Heidi and Samantha are my new friends. I love America's Next Top Model, Project Runway and Dancing With the Stars. God help the eejit who phones me during the prime TV hours. I now get orgasmic over a graceful pose, a perfect seam, a neatly executed tango fan,

Poetry and the Social Gospel

I haven't posted for a while. This is a story I was going to tell at the Canada Cuba Literary Association meeting were it funded. Have fun disagreeing with me. What with Jake Pavelka turning into an apparent sociopath and the gulf pelicans taking on BP, it is an adversarial summer.

POETRY AND THE SOCIAL GOSPEL, the captivity and liberation of language.

I knew a child who lived on the wild side and painted pictures with no borders between his phenomenal and spirit worlds. His only rule was the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Picture St Sebastian with T and A

POET LAUREATE, ONE YEAR ON

When the Victoria Times Colonist printed their Christmas poems last December, many of us wondered if PK Page was going to pack her bags and leave town. She did, the last of our great Golden Age poets.

I’m staying on until my job is done.

POEM FOR THE SEASON

DROPPING THE PENNIES

He’s been saving forever. Every time

he bends over to rescue one, he looks up

expecting the stars to open their mouths

and sing. Tonight he can see his breath;

his pockets are full, and seagulls backlit

by fairy lights drop hopeful cargo from

the sky. The bright pearl at the entrance

to Chinatown freezes and stops in its

tracks, fixing its gaze on a woman wearing

the scent of gingerbread. She is following

a man carrying a tree that smells like

the ancient pine forests of Smyrna.

Everyone's following their noses to Jerusalem;

and no one on the street will go hungry tonight.

He gets the message, a flourish of warm

air passing through brass instruments.

He puts his hand in his pocket, touches

Dear Steve, Dear Gordo/ High and Low End Book Gifting

Last year, I gave you a run-down on My Christmas list. It hasn't changed much. The world hasn't changed much. Evin Prison is still open for business. People are still dying of AIDS. What should be a arable land in war zones is still creating a bonanza for prosthetic manufacturers.

I wish we didn't have to donate to organisations that provide prosthetics. I'd much rather give books.

Introducing Muscle Memory by Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers, Victoria's Poet Laureate and Open Book's former Writer in Residence, introduces her latest volume of poetry, Muscle Memory from Ekstasis Editions, with a reading of the title poem.

A New Book by Linda Rogers: Muscle Memory

Victoria's Poet Laureate, award-winning author, Open Book blogger and former Open Book writer in residence, Linda Rogers, has a new book of poems, Muscle Memory (Ekstasis Editions), which is now in stores. Keep reading for more information about Muscle Memory, which author Pauline Holdstock praises as "measured and steadfast.... In language that is itself muscular, [the poems] take us straight to the world's pain, where Rogers insists we look long enough, deeply enough, to understand what moves us, and what must be saved...."

From Ekstasis Editions:

The Campbell Government's Legacy

Illustration by Kristi Bridgman

Funding Cuts to BC BookWorld

From Alan Twigg, the publisher of BC Bookworld:

The provincial government has suddenly rescinded ALL funding to BC BookWorld, the most-read publication about books in Canada. Notice of this pre-Olympics decision to break a 22-year-old relationship with the newspaper came from Andrea Henning, executive director of Arts & Culture, during a brisk phone call, without any explanation or paper trail, and with less than a month’s notice.

PoCops Rule the Streets of Victoria

I am not a big fan of the police. "Just give them a wide berth" I advise the millions of young people influenced by my opinions.

A few years ago, I witnessed the tasering of a homeless person. He was lying on the pavement, hands behind his back, and three cops were kicking and beating him. Two more came and tasered him twice.

"Whoah!" I said in my pinkest, femmiest voice. "Do you think you might be over-doing it, boys."

Maybe they didn't like being called "Boys!" One of them lunged at me, screaming. "Get out of here, Bitch, or I 'll hit your head off."

Not having the martial arts skills of my sixteen year old granddaughter ( called capitaine, killer and ballbreaker at Capoiera)I backed off, but I did later file a complaint with the watch commander,

ITS UP TO YOU. KEEP CRITICAL DISCOURSE ALIVE IN CANADA

The Government of British Columbia, whose Premier can hardly wait to be photographed next to luminaries attending the Olympics, the steroidal folly that could bankrupt our province, has cut funding to arts organizations, in many cases to zero.

One of the victims of arts cuts at the provincial and federal level is the Pacific Rim Review of Books, one of the few places reviews of Canadian and International writers and critical discussion are still appearing in print. Read the following letter from its publisher and find out how you can help.

L.R.

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Associates,

As many of you know Ekstasis Editions has had its Canada Council funding
cut completely – not simply decreased, but cut completely! We received

POETS SUPPORT DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS

If my introduction (following) to the Chapbook by Canadian poets supporting Doctiors Without Borders tweaks your interest, please contact ainbinder.collins@gmail.com and order a copy or ten at $10 each. I'm giving this book along with charitable donations as gifts this year.

MANNERLY IMPUDENCE

This courageous curiosity
opens the doorway to eternity

writes Holland’s Hans Plomp in “Psychonaut,” his contribution to this chapbook of poetry examining aspects of courage and honouring the work of Doctors Without Borders.

ROCKSALT a BC anthology by Mother Tongue/ review by Sean Arthur that might interest

SWINE FLU AND THE WATERLESS FLOOD

I recently apologised to The Queen of Canlit, now languishing in the gilded unlike antechamber to Heaven or Hell known as pre-publication, while the Lord of Canscam, our national emblem of anti-redemption, waits without the comfort of his silicone enhanced bride for yet another appeal to be turned down.

Cassandra to our collective Pollyannas, Atwood has been telling it like it's gonna be, and some of us didn't want to hear about swine flu or Armageddon.

The big question is, in hard times, while Lord Noir's only court of last resort is on his knees, can we/she still believe in miracles?

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS/ BRING ON THE INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

In the West, we are starting to believe that our Premier might have been dissed by the same beautiful girl who kicked Harper to the curb and went off with the guy with the guitar, or the pen, or the paintbrush, or maybe the one wearing ballet slippers, or vocalising as he rode his bicycle around town, as did my eldest son, who once had his stolen backstage at during a performance at Pacific Opera.

Now our Liberals (yikes) have cut Intrepid Theatre (The Fringe Festival), Pacific Opera, the Community Arts Council yada yada yada, BUT DON"T WORRY FOLKS IT WON'T AFFECT THE OLYMPICS. Now we will be seeing adrenalin and steroid pumped body sculptures leering from the ARTS pages AND the Sports pages because the arts are being systematically decimated.

www.light-sweet-crude.org / LYRICS by Victoria poet laureate Linda Rogers

Sometimes a poem wants to be a song. Check out our website and the songs of redemption on Ruin and Beauty, the new album with Light Sweet Crude featuring my husband, blues mandolinist Rick van Krugel, singer Chris Trygg, Doug and the Slugs (David Letterman's favourite band) lead guitarist and Rev Gary Davis student Richard Baker, Del Cowsill on bass, Andy Graffitti on drums, Steve Drake on guitar, and heartstrings steel guitar by Jake Galbraith.

THE RED GUITAR

When young Victoria bluesman Noah Kasper suffered a virus that caused organ failure in 2000 had a six organ transplant in Toronto, we all hoped for a miracle.

Sometimes miracles arrive in mysterious ways.

Noah limped along, realising every time he relapsed that his hold on life was fragile. A friend brought him the film The Red Violin in hospital and he was inspired by the story. Ironically, the child prodigy who died of a heart attack while playing the possessed violin, was named Kaspar.

Noah decided that he would carry on singing whatever his medical outcome. He asked his mother to have a guitar made after his death. The instrument was to have his blood in the finish and his bone in an inlay.

THE THORNBIRD /Poem for Neda

THE THORNBIRD

Every boy wants to go up on the
roof and fly. Some of them are
actually dumb enough to do it.
They tie capes around their thin
shoulders and wait for a divine
breath to lift them and take them
away. Where is it that boys who
fear women more than they fear
heights want to go? Some of them
believe that death is martyrdom.

They are just hoping for wings, but the
air is for birds and the dead who
have walked in kindness on the earth.

When there is no wind, the boys
play with their guns. They aim
at singing birds, imagining they
have the power to stop the sound
of freedom and flight. Sometimes
they shoot girls, aiming at the heart
because they are afraid of love.

At the corner of Khosavi and Salehi
Streets in Tehran the basij shooter,

Celebrating Literary Culture in Victoria

We are walking to celebrate Victoria literary culture and to remind Ottawa that our voices will not be silenced.

Walk across Johnson Street Bridge from the Ocean Point Hotel to Swans Pub to celebrate the bridge before it is replaced, and to celebrate The Malahat Review, a big winner at National Magazine Awards, and Ekstasis Editions for thirty years of literary publishing, Victoria institutions which have had their funding cut.

Readers at Swans Pub: Bob Hilles, Tim Lilburn, Patricia Young, Terence Young, Barbara Peace, Susan Stenson, Douglas Henderson and Marilyn Bowering.

Music from Light Sweet Crude.

We will pass the hat at the pub to benefit YES! an astonishing program for young people at risk.

Sunday, June 28

YOU GO UNOBSCURED GORAN!

Dear Goran,

Isn't this the writers(obscure(d)) life; living in the subconscious (subway), taking pictures, typing away.

I love your journey. It is ours. We are all travellers. And cameras.

Which takes me to Iran. Isn't it amazing that technology has transcended repression in the streets of Teheran? We see technological eyes held over the dead and injured, so we can witness what is happening there and be outraged that anyone would deliberately hurt a person with hope for a better, fairer world.

REVENGE OF THE NERD

The nerd wore his pants up around his armpits and he tucked his polyester shirt into his underpants.

He combed his hair with his mother's spit.

He could add six columns but he didn't count.

He wrote bad poems that rhymed and never got in the school annual.

The cool neo-hippies in the Drama Club imitated his walk (wedgie with a dime in it) and his received Upper Canada accent.

No one wrote his name in lipstick on the washroom mirror.

He was not invited to the grow op harvest party in the art room.

"Imagine," someone called Steve asked me on the phone tonight, "what he promised himself when that girl walked off with the guy with the guitar after he'd offered her a ride on his bicycle."

PULP FICTION (and poetry takes another hit)

They've done it again. Every once in a while The Canada Council, short arm of the Conservative Government, sees fit to pulp a literary press. It's the shooting gallery of Upper Canada, totally painless because the disappeared is usually a publisher that serves the hinterland, like Caitlin in Northern BC or Ekstasis Editions in Victoria, and doesn't really reverberate on Bay Street.

Times are tough.

By all means, lubricate the auto workers and strangle the poets.

Ekstasis Editions has been bringing new and established writing to Canadian and international audiences for thirty years. It publishes poetry, fiction and children's books, the Pacific Review of Books, a newspaper review, and organises the Pacific Festival of the Book, now in its third year.

WHERE THE HELL DID HARPER COME FROM?

We all know the source of the directives. This is a one man federal government, Dr.Strangeways.

I have been beyond irritated by changes in our internal and external policies. We USED to be a pragmatic voice of reason in the world. No longer. We are riding the septic wake of Bush and company, beliefs that have already been deep-sixed south of the border.

Culture and compassion have been taken out of the Canadian medicine bag. Who needs them?

I think we do.

Take the C out of Canadian and you've got an alien species.

VIVA CHE

I've been called every name in the book. One of my favourites is Cadillac socialist, with "naive idealist" coming a close second.

Well, I've never owned or driven a Cadillac, having owned a VW bug for an indecent length of time and now a "new" one, the new bug designed with bud vases for old hippies, for ten years. The new one is black and I plan to drive it into the ground ie my grave. Now that is SO green.

Naive? I don't think so. Enthusiastic, yes. Optimistic, yes, but not naive.

Y'ALL COME to PACIFIC FESTIVAL OF THE BOOK

Festival Victoria is an oxymoron, hemlock, big toukas kissoff. The most liveable city in Canada, The Garden City, The Poetry Capitol of Canada can't seem to keep a festival going to save it's life. We have lost First Night, ROOTSFEST, Manulife Literary Festival etc etc even though the city of the newly wed and nearly dead is arts friendly and the biggest per capita book consumer in the country. Go figger.

Miracolo! Pacific Festival of the Book is in its third year; and the reason for its ongoing success is a grass roots approach. This year the main venues are St. John the Divine Church with its beautiful interior spaces and gardens, Intrepid Theatre, the Victoria Public Library, the Community Arts Council of Victoria, and Centennial Square, donated by the city of Victoria.

I STILL LOVE BALDYMONK

Shortly after I threw away my first bra, my mother and I went to hear Leonard Cohen read in a classroom at UBC. It was his first tour and my first orgasm.

Leonard wore his guitar and a black leather jacket. I was done for.

My alarmed mother recognised the agonised ecstatic expression on my face and took me to the Faculty Club for a huge lunch, three desserts. For families unwilling to send hormonal daughters on grand tours to divert the first stirrings of lust, food was a cheap antidote. They could trust a kumquat but couldn't predict what would happen when their daughters encountered equipment adjusting Italian males.

Meditterranean men are my weakness.

CHANNELLING AL

I never wanted Al in my body. Not ever; although some people have had the rudeness to ask if it happened.

So why was I channelling him at the Monday Awards last week?

Read on.

It must have been the brown maidens. Monday Magazine, the must read what's going on in Victoria weekly has an annual awards party. They nominate the best of's in the arts scene and readers get to nominate from the page and vote for their favourites.

I have had three Monday awards in different genres and, although I don't lose any sleep over the process, appreciate that they indicate real interest and appreciation from the community.

The Monday competition gets intense and subterfuge is common.

GO AHEAD, KICK SOME WRITERS WHEN THEY'RE DOWN

Did anyone else get a letter from the Canada Council recently saying that although they were "highly recommended" for a writing grant, there was no funding?

If I weren't fully occupied keeping my door shut against wolves and mailpersons with heavy letters from VISA, I might have clapped my hands and laughed.

Good one!

What have they done with our money? Has Bernie Madoff been crunching their numbers?

Is this revenge for our votes?

And what about our respected literary journals, the nurseries for our literature and international showcases for our stunningly diverse and articulate writers.

Bang, you're dead, says Harper, playing cowboys with his big gun.

trailer for The Third Day Book, coming soon

Yes, Pierre, the word for rock, my favourite PM, and the poodle next door.

Not a bad idea at all, Pierre.

One thing I loved about the Oscars this year was the "witnessing" by former winners who praised the work of the nominees. For once we heard WHY they might be nominated and why no one should "win" or "lose" because there are so many reasons to admire what each has done with a challenging role.

Another big plus about the galas our head of state loves to hate is that everyone gets to dress up and party which is one of the main thrills a writer gets from the craft and sullen art. Like every common garden variety schizophrenic, writers do get to talk to the voices in their heads, but it is nice to get out once in a while and visit with real people.

WE GIVE GOOD LINE

Further to my blog about the war on indifference to Canadian writers, which is seeded in the great insecurity about our culture, in spite of so much evidence to the contrary.

I challenged you to bring forward ideas and action plans.

Here are a few of my own. Please post any you might want to add.

1. Badger teachers to include Canadian books on the curriculum. Offer to read at schools and when you do read your own work and/or that of other Canadian authors.

2. Take poetry to the marketplace. Recently I have read poetry in a department story, at a distillery, at a Black History Event, at several birthdays, funerals, and weddings. When part of the planning of any celebration or fundraiser, offer Candadian literature as part of the ceremony.

GET OFF YOUR ASS

There is a lot of talk about shovels in the current popular culture. Faced with dig in and save this and save that, we are making choices. The one that profoundly affects our culture is the choice readers make when they make decisions at their bookstores.

Assuming they have already passed the florid displays of American titles, they are now confronted by BOOKS TURNED OUT. We all know that publishers pay for these privileges, big publishers, some of them owned by former Nazis and others of that ilk.

SCARY, ISN'T IT?

We are all conditioned to buy American. That is the sound of money.

But what about us? Why was I disappointed when I enrolled for a Restoration drama course at university and, because it was full, got stuck in Canadian (groan) Literature?

Dear Hypergraphia

Today I read at a Black History Month event and, because I had been hearing rumours that some of the Black Community had been wondering why so many white people were singing in Victoria's gospel choirs (myself included) and why a white reader would be asked to a Black Festival, I took a portrait that Eva Campbell, who was showing her paintings of Black Sisters at the event, had done of me to thank me for a perceived kindness a year or two back.

Mairuth Sarsfield beat me to the answer when she told the assembly, "We're sharing the spirit. That is a good thing."

"It's just me" I said, showing my painting, "A sister who left Africa a few thousand years before you did and got bleached in the snows of Northern Europe, or whatever it was called back then."

Love, Poetry and Chocolate Haiku Winner

Queen Liz dubs haiku winner City Councilman Chris Coleman Lord-in-Waiting to the Poet Laureate at City Hall Victoria.

Love, Poetry and Chocolate was held in Victoria at the City Hall on February 7. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

What Does a Poet Laureate do?

We do not lasso cattle. That is a lariat. That reminds me of the song about the cowgirl Harriet. Harriet's handy with a lariat/But she aint gonna marry yet/ She's having too much fun.

This week we are having a chocolate and poetry event at City Hall and the leaders of our city have been inundating me with erotic poetry. Where would that happen, except in the poetry capitol of Canada?

Look out Ottograd. We're marching east in our chocolate shoes.

Love, Poetry and Chocolate with Linda Rogers in Victoria

Heading out west next week? Linda Rogers, Open Book's November 2008 Writer in Residence and Victoria's Poet Laureate, will be celebrating Love, Poetry and Chocolate at Victoria City Hall on Saturday, February 7 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Linda, Janet Marie Rogers, Patricia Young, Terence Young and a surprise guest will be reading poetry. Guests are invited to bring a handmade valentine with a poem and to enter a haiku competition.

All ages welcome. Complimentary refreshment and chocolates served.

For more information, call 250.361.0538 or visit www.victoria.ca and click on "What's New."

Dear Hypergraphia

I am trying to picture you as a I respond. Perhaps I shouldn't look for a demographic as I often do, because I am visual.

Yesterday a photographer came to my house to take my picture. We talked about the world of journalism where we both work, and where it overlaps with the world of advertising. She told me her mates chided her for wanting to watch the inauguration speeches. I said, "Oh I know, they are cool guys with black glasses frames and it is so hip to be cynical."

Are you a cool guy with black glasses frames?

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

REVOLUTION

Yes, there will be a revolution,
but one unlike any other.
It will be a revolution of the heart:
one in which we do not destroy
what we have created, nor one
in which we destroy those who
claim ownership of our creations.

Rather we will invite them
to walk among us, and live
like the rest of us, within
the justice of moderate needs

from “Revolution,” the November 2, 2005 blog by Utah Phillips.

BROWN IS STILL BEAUTIFUL

When the Civil Rights, Feminist and Anti-War movements converged in the Sixties, I became friends with Rosemary Brown, who will be honoured with a Canadian stamp this February, Black History Month. I wrote the words and Rosemary talked the talk. She became the first black woman to serve in the BC legislature and almost became the first black woman to head the NDP. That is a long story, and there were many broken promises, but Rosemary never lost her sense of humour or her love of song to alleviate the stress of the moment.

I now sing in the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir, and sometimes ask our director, Checo Tohomasso to sing "Unchained Melody" Motown style. It beings back memories of Rosemary, whose mighty heart gave out.

Going Up/ Poem for the Mayor and City Council of Victoria

Going Up

The curtain’s going up, so let’s
talk about point of view. There
are angels with bird’s eye vision,
everything beneath as gentle and
rolling as quilts sewn by loving
hands. Then there are those who
lie down in the earth and look up.

This is not a good angle. Every
photographer knows not to shoot
women over forty from below. We
live north of forty, on an island,
in a city carved axe, adze and
saw, out of the ancient Rainforest,
the way the Songhees People
made their feast bowls large
enough to feed a whole village.

The best place to watch is from
the highest branches in trees. It
could be flowering cherries from
Morioka, our sister city. It could
be fir, the home of eagles, or the
majestic cedars in Beacon Hill

The Squeaky Wheel is Named Victoria Poet Laureate

Yes, Wordy, I got the job. It was a secret for a while, and that is why I couldn't tell you. I love the opportunity to apread the word that poetry and music are sometimes energising and sometimes healing, and that is my mandate as Victoria Poet Laureate. Hopefully, in the next three years, I will be able to work with a very progressive city council on moving our small city where it aches to go. I want to bring as many as possible together to draw attention to the gifts we have been given and the deficits we have created.

My statement to the Mayor and Council follows:

Your Worship
Members of Council
Friends and Grandchildren

HEEL GOONS. THAT IS CANADASPEAK

It's getting so I have to cross the road when I see men in suits, the same reaction I have to pit bulls. I want to thank Stephen Harper for identifying himself so clearly on television yesterday: two flags, one suit. If he'd brought out the sweater, I would have gagged.

The man was boiling. I could see he just wanted to reach through my TV screen and throttle me.

I was pretty heated too, not at all pleased by the blitz of e ads that came from a conservative ad agency in Calgary; one in fact from the art director who wants to marry our daughter. He should be more careful. I have the power of the pen here.

GREAT CANADIAN POETRY WARS; GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK

Since I haven't managed to rattle any sabres, I thought I'd bow out this month with a reading of an X rated scene in my new novel, The Third Day Book. While shooting, my granddaughter actually turned green. Now she is barfing. Is that an appropriate critical reaction?

In any case, she is too attached to the porcelain bus to attach the file; but please check it out later on, as these sites are saved.

I have just come home from Cloverdale School, where I foolishly volunteered to paint faces this morning. While I was fabricating a holly wreath on the cheek of a nervous six year old, two short anarchists attacked me with glitter and tempera.

I think I will have my husband take my photo and attach the image to my next book cover.

My granddaughter has three teeth, so I ordered three copies of BORN WITH A TOOTH for Christmas gifts

Canada has discovered Jospeh Boyden, or to be honest, I have. I am a little cynical about the awards process. It doesn't make a writer any better than he or she was the day before, but a lot of other people seem to think it does. We are flockers.

I am one of those geriatric hippies who tried not to read Sidhartha etc. etc. I got so sick and tired of people being mellow (narced out) and open (to STD's) while I was just trying to talk my way through grad school.

Same goes for flavour of the month anything. Ho hum.

GRAMADAY

Today is Gramaday. Every Wednesday afternoon, I inject my little beauties with anarchy. They have music lessons from my husband, read, write, draw, swim, watch a film and eat. The parents don't seem to notice the political content, but the food part does draw some critical comment.

My grandson is interrogated as soon as he walks in the door. What did she feed you? I am inclined to tell said parent to bog off, but we have a contract, my grandson and I. Both of us know the value of discretion. What kid ever came home from school without a big angry hole gnawing in his/her stomach?

GIVE A POEM THIS CHRISTMAS

Now that Bay Street and Main Street are miserably conjoined, and Christmas is only one month away, I'd like to share my favourite gift idea with you.

Give like a kid. The people you love only want to know the ways in which you feel for them; and poetry is perfect.

I gift poems all year, to friends, to people who need affirmation, to those who deserve thanks and, and, and...

Ever since I became best friends with the Medieval Japanese novelist Lady Murasaki, who accorded with the Japanese custom of gifting friends and lovers with poems on auspicious occasions, I have searched for beautiful paper and ink, concentrating on presentation.

Cut and paste is a great therapeutic activity for a mind worker.

LIGHTNING AND MAGIC RAINBOWS

If all of us were to collectively wish bill bissett a happy birthday, we might put some air in his balloon.

bill, one of our most beloved poets, has been so inimitably himself for such a long time, we assume he is ageless. Nevertheless, he has had a hard year healthwise.

I propose we all celebrate his birthday by going out and buying his books, or better still his very affordable metaphysical paintings.

bissett is one of a handful of self-sufficient Canadian artists, who lives on readings, royalties and the sale (often fire sales) of his art.

KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET, BABY. LESS IS MORE.

The Abkhazy Garden, my first stop in the day of endless readings, is beautiful, a natural alternative to the vulgar plantings in our most famous public garden. Its partner in tea, The Silk Road Tea company near The Gate of Harmonious Interest, (locals say "compound interest") is a spice box of history and pleasant flavours. Danielle, their tea expert, spoke at the Tea reading, and she was great. So far, so good.

Danielle knows how to hold her audience and when to stop; and that is a rare talent.

When it was my turn to do tea lit, I put my hat on and took my shoes off. The hat fit but the shoes had grown since I last wore them (to Pelleas et Melisande the night my dress got rucked up in my undies and I walked with 'ho skirt right across the lobby of the new Opera House in Toronto).

GRAND PRIZE

I can see you are all stampeding to respond to yesterday's challenge. Perhaps you have been speaking to my children, who were often promised rewards for good behaviour. Once they cottoned on, the good behaviour stopped.

The GRAND PRIZE was a kiss.

How about a virtual kiss? No? Well then, what about ephemeral notoriety on the net????????

VIRTUE IS ITS OWN REWARD.

I'm off to the tea reading. It takes hours to make me fit for public exposure. That would be hair, nails, waxing...

"RON-RY WITHOUT YOU." GRAND PRIZE for blog responders

"How can I miss you when you won't go away?

Our friend Dan Hicks wrote that famous line. Dan is a great musician and songwriter but something of a curmudgeon. What will we say when he is dead, presuming he pre-deceases us?

Doug Henderson, a poet friend who is an Anglican Buddhist (hey, oxymorons are commonplace in this game: how about arts community?) says ,"Never speak ill of the dead." He also says, "If you wait long enough beside the river of life, the bodies of all your enemies will float by," and,"revenge tastes better cold."

Hmmm.

Earlier in this blog, I took a swipe at Ted Hughes, who was a great poet and scholar, and some think he was victimised by the feminist scholars who made his wife Sylvia Plath into a holy icon.

TEA POEM WRITTEN ON U.S. ELECTION DAY

SINONG’S SINGING BOWL
11/4/08

In China, every emperor looked for
the tone that defined his reign. Sinong
went into the woods to listen for the song
of a certain bird, the sound of one leaf
falling, as it happened, into hot water
when the first cup of tea made itself.

Today we reached the mountain top,
so that all of us freed from the slavery
of others can see the other side; so the
trees that line our boulevards can sigh
with relief and let go of their guilty secrets
when leaves fall into puddles of water.

What comes next, we wonder? These
withered hands are not large enough
to provide shelter from rain, or strong
enough to lift the vulnerable out of the
rain into the branches. They burn too
quickly to warm the hands of those who

READING LEAVES

This Saturday, I will be doing a tea reading at Victoria's beautiful Abkhazy Garden. While I won't actually be reading leaves in cups, I think writing is a similar profession. In the present, we look for the images that are maps of past and future. We too are gypsies, detched from our own reality, telling fortunes by interpreting patterns.

Someone from the Silk Road Tea Company will talk about the properties and history of tea, and I will read tea poems, songs and bits of prose, accompanied by my husband on mandolin.

GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN

The last time I saw most of the ladies in my book club, we were celebrating a friend's birthday at a restaurant with a 360 degree view of Victoria on a sunny fall morning. The party consisted of six ladies and six gentlemen, most of whom (the boys that is) are gay. (This is critical information)

After the eggs Benny (try to visualise a PAIR of poached eggs) and several French 75's (champagne and orange juice), something got into us. We all exposed our breasts while our friend Maurice took a photo. I think it was supposed to be a promotional shot for "The Wild Women of the Gorge," a sort of ad hoc singing group ie we crash parties in absurd outfits designed by artist and costume designer Carol Rae, and make complete fools of ourselves.

Later, my husband asked me three questions:

BITTERSWEET, confessions of a twice married man by Philip Lee, Goose Lane Editions

SNIP SNIP, haircuts: The Third Day Book and Deepa Mehta's Heaven On Earth

In the "Director's Comments" for the DVD of Ed Burn's Sundance Award winning first feature film, "Meet the Mc Morran's," Burns admits that because of budget restraints (he borrowed the money from his dad, used free actors, and came in under fifteen K) he had to pre-edit the movie.

SCARY; any of us addicted to film knows that editing is a very important componant. Artful snipping can make or break the suspension of disbelief that takes us into other worlds and then brings us safely back to our own.

Burns said he "visualised" the scenes before he shot them, and wasted no fim. That is almost unheard of.

I wish I could work that way. I am sure there are writers that get it right the first time, but I am not one of them.

Wasps in a Golden Dream Hum a Strange Music, by Asher Ghaffar, ECW Press

COPYCAN AND A WRITER'S RIGHTS

Last night, when I read at the launch of Rocksalt, the very handsome new anthology of BC poetry from Mother Tongue Publishing Company, I ran into League of Poets President Dennis Reid and Past President Cathy Ford.

They told me they have been crossing the country trying to raise awareness about the situation with Copycan, which pays for intellectual property. If you are a writer, or a writer's accountant, you know the situation. Apart from perhaps a half dozen of us, writers are bottom rung cultural workers.

ANGELS DON'T ALL HAVE TO SING

We've been designing our Christmas card, which usually includes a new poem. This year it is Angel Band, our four grandchildren reflecting their individual beatitudes, a heavy metal angel, a castanet playing dancer angel, a doll baby angel and a guitar playing angel who also does martial arts and draws like Raphael.

All this picture think took me to book designer Angel Guerra, whose work raptures me up.

Angel's answers to my questions reveal his artistic sensibility. His responses are clear and sculpted.

With any luck, we will get some images he prepared for my new book into this space and you can guess which cover we chose. Hint. One idea came in after he sent back his answers to my questions.

1.Q LINDA

YOUR TURN

I hear from your comments that you like the interviews, so there will be more coming. I like them too. One my favourite jobs is intervewing artists of every ilk for Focus Magazine. It is a privilege to glimpse artist's lives in relation to the work they do. I used to have a book show on television. Same story. It isn't always true, but with many people, the more you know them, the more you like them and respect their contribution.

MARKETING BOOKS, AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE WALSH

Bruce Walsh is a wizard book mover according to his boss, Cormorant Publisher Marc Cote. I thought it would be interesting to hear his take on the state of the finer art of bringing books to the marketplace.

Q Linda

You are a book publicist, Bruce. I thought our readers might be interested in seeing your job description.

A Bruce

Actually I am not a book publicist. I am director of marketing and sales. But publicity is one of the hats I wear (directing an intern in this case and a team of publicists in other lives). I learned my marketing and publicity skills as an anti-censorship activist, which is where I also developed my aesthetic.

HUG A WRITER TODAY

The Giller competition results were announced yesterday and I am going to pretend I don't know the name of the winner. Doesn't everybody on the shortlist win this one? Whew -limos, flowers, champagne, cioffures and cheques all round.

Somebody cares about Canlit. Tell the Prime Minister.

The G words have morphed. Writers used to slit their throats if they weren't shortlisted for the Governor General's awards. Now there are trendier Gwards and all I hear in the wake of press releases from Ottograd are yawns. Perhaps the Canada Council should also offer makeovers, even though most of the writers I know are beyond hope.

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT PRIEST

I decided to interview well-loved poet, songwriter and playwright Robert Priest because not only is he one of the accessible voices of his generation, but he has been a positive influence on so many young people. Robert's new book, Reading the Bible Backwards shows us how being human involes a willingness to think, love and live in every direction.

Q Linda.

Robert, I found from the caption beneath the back of head book portrait on your new book, Reading The Bible Backwards, that you studied mathematics at university. How did you envolve from math to poetry, or was that devolution?

A Robert

SKIN DEEP ON 11/11/11

The clock has just struck eleven and I am wondering how my grandfather felt all those times he went to the cenotaph to honour his comrades in the Seaforth Highlanders. He must have been wondering what his life would be like if he hadn't been gassed and contracted TB in the trenches.

In the early 1900's my grandfather emigrated from Selkirk, Scotland with other young men from his village. They made a new village in West Point Grey, Vancouver, where they settled and had families. Many of their children fought in World War 2, and some of them died. Those boys were my father's best friends, just as their fathers had been to my grandfather.

If my father too often found his soul trapped in a bottle of Scotch, who can judge? The memories of war are terrible.

INTERVIEW WITH ANTONIO D'ALFONSO OF GUERNICA EDITIONS

I have just come home from interviewing a young luthier friend, Marcus Dominelli, for Focus Magazine and found this email reply from Antonio D'Alfonso, a publisher, writer, and fimmaker who has soaring and painful insights into the state of Canadian culture.

Q Linda

I think of Guernica as a bridge publisher, introducing anglo, franco, and italo Canadians to one another through their writing. Was that your original vision? How has your mandate changed or evolved over the years?

A Antonio

BATTER MY HEART

Trauma victims talk in terms of before and after, when there is no turning back. This morning we got up early, raced through the good news in the newspapers and headed to Silvercity for the Metropolitan Opera's Dr. Atomic, the story of Los Alamos.

The Manhatten Project, conceived as the apotheosis of human intelligence that we now know to be the threshhold of End Days, the gospel according to Sarah Palin, was the wrong turn on the road to now.

How is it, we wondered as we watched this powerful production of John Adams' minimalist opera, that the same adaptation that has produced magificent art, architecture, music, and poetry, has become such a powerful engine of destruction?

AL PURDY, POET OF THE LAND

POET OF THE LAND are the words on Al Purdy's tombstone, which my husband designed in the spring of the year 2000. Al and Eurithe had hope to have a bench at their gravesite, so visitors could sit a while and read or write, or just dream, but when they found out they'd have to buy a doublewide, they changed their minds; and the stone that marks the place where Al's ashes mingle with the soil his ancestors cultivated is a book.

Shortly before he died, an anonymous donor gave $10,000 for a one-time award to ease Al's last days. A few of us went to the Purdy's house in Sidney to present the cheque and kill a bottle of champagne. David Grierson came along to record the moment for the CBC. Sadly, David was to die, in the prime of life, not long after.

Bowls of hope poem by Linda Rogers

i wrote this for my grandson
hope you like it

INTERVIEW WITH MARC COTE, CORMORANT BOOKS EDITOR

One of my favourite literary experiences is conversations with Marc Cote, who is the publisher and editor of Cormorant Books. Marc is a dream to work with. Like a good parent, he is gentle but firm, always asking the right questions that nudge the work in the right direction.

Q Linda.
What is the greatest reward in being a literary publisher?

A Marc.

YES WE CAN

My publisher phoned at five pm and said, "It's looking scary." I went to choir, and in between prayer and praise (our Christmas repertoire) vibrated like a tuning fork.

"Boy, are you ever wired tonight," the person who sits next to me in the second soprano section said.

"It ain't over 'til it's over, I said.

At seven, one of the tenors got a phone call. "One O seven. YES!!!!"

"Sing in your chains like the sea," I said to my near neighbours.

At eight, we got the call. "We're over the top."

One hundred people joined hands and raised their voices, "We shall overcome." Some of us have been singing it for five decades.

"We'll march hand in hand/We shall live in peace."

That is poetry.

DEAR WORDY

DEAR WORDY

This is the day of days. There is record breaking voter turnout in the USA and, going by the television, it is heavily African-American. My heart is bursting.

Is that partisan? You betcha.

I like to think that poetry seeks the best in human nature, and much of it does. Even poets who reduce themselves to desperate games are capable of assembling beautiful language. Thank God.

Ted Hughes was one of those. I was lifted up by his poetry and sometimes demoralised by his behaviour, but there was never any question that he was an inspired writer.

You asked about the Poet Laureate position. Well, that is a secret for a few weeks.

SO UP FRONT AND INSIDE OUT WITH A COLD WIND BLOWING

4 SO UP FRONT AND INSIDE OUT WITH A COLD WIND BLOWING

Kids are so up front. When my husband and I perform music and poetry in schools and at festivals, three questions always surface 1. How much do you make? ( answer, "ha ha ha.") 2. Are you married ( answer, "Yes but we don't have the same name.") 3. have you ever been to jail ( answer, "Not technically, but there is a Siberia for Canadian artists, which can be a lot like jail.").

REDEMPTION NOT RENDITION

3.REDEMPTION NOT RENDITION

Two days to redemption in America and I am a bag of nerves. The Ballet Victoria performance of Firebird last night was exactly what I needed. A breath of fresh air from a young company, who, sadly, cannot afford live music. Isn't that just disgusting given we have the man and womanpower, underutilized and underpaid symphony members?

Thanks again, Mr. Prime Minister for your mis-spending of our tax money.

Isn't it a no brainer? What would we prefer - watching healthy young dancers or sending their brothers and sisters to killing fields in Afghanistan?

Steel Voice- our hockey anthem!

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Words by me, music by Chris Trygg, guitar, and Rick van Krugel, mandolin, with Jake Galbraith, bass and back up vocals.

TRICK OR TREAT

On Halloween, I was summoned to City Hall; and for what? Recognizing the peril of hyperventilating, I put a bag over my face and sat down to think.

I reviewed my returned cheques to make sure the tax payment had gone through. It had, but I remembered with foreboding the parking ticket I'd challenged the night artist Dale Robert's Mailart exhibition opened.

Should I admit I'd left my glasses at home and couldn't read the LOADING ZONE sign?

Should I dress for jail, pack a toothbrush, bring a copy of Crime and Punishment, something to keep me occupied through the long, dark winter when it would be too wet to go to the prisonyard and break rocks. Would I need a candle? I pinned on my poppy for pitypoints. Maybe they'd think I was a veteran.

Holy Terror

HOLY TERROR.

The phrase my mother uses to describe me now has greater relevence; and now you get to choose whether a writer should be active or passive, terrified or a terrorist. It is, I think an important decision.

Since we are meeting post-Halloween and pre-American election, I'm going to take my mask off and recommend a couple of inflammatory books for this anxiety-ridden reading break.

The first one is Dark Days,the story of four Canadians tortured in the name of fighting terror, by Kerry Pither, a human rights activist who does not flinch from the grim reality of rendition.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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