Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Myna Wallin: Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar

More Than What You Would Expect, More Than Meets the Eye
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Myna Wallin

Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar is not the genre of book I usually read. However, I very quickly got caught up in it. I couldn’t understand how Olivia, the protagonist, could get into so many entanglements. I wondered why so many people seemed to be looking for the encounters depicted in this book. I feared for the sanctity of marriage and monogamy! Then, on page 65, I came to a critical line: "You can’t always believe what you read."

"Humour saves us from taking ourselves too seriously," Wallin tells me. "In moments of disappointment, depression; in every situation no matter how dire, there is a moment of pathos. In every moment of happiness, the fear of growing old, getting sick."

The quality of writing is much different than one might expect from this type of book. But this is to be expected from such an accomplished poetess. Wallin was short-listed for the DESCANT 2011 Winston Collins Prize for her poem, "The Self As Both Object and Subject," which, she says, "is reminiscent of the tone and subject of Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar. I was also shortlisted for the same award in 2010 for 'Death, Wildlife, and Taxes,' which is about my childhood.”

So, is there any overlap between Olivia and Myna? “When I got dressed for the photoshoot I thought of how a cougar would dress. Taking on a character is easier for self-promotion. I’m really not very comfortable with selling myself. But, in taking on that guise, you can learn a lot about yourself.”

I asked her who her favourite male character in her book is. “William was so easy to write. He just had so many peccadilloes that he wrote himself. There were two short stories about him, which I read at various venues around Toronto, and then the book fell into place. The biggest challenge was changing the narrative from first to third person.”

Wallin leads a workshop entitled "Freeing Your Erotic Self in Poetry or Prose" on Saturday, February 26, from 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., at the Tightrope Books office, 602 Markham Street (lower) in Toronto. In a relaxed, open and accepting environment, you will discuss how to loosen inhibitions on paper and will do so with various writing exercises meant to free the sensual writer within. You will look at other writers’ techniques and language and explore the variety of ways male and female writers express passion in their fiction and poetry. Whether you are a novice or published writer, your work will undoubtedly benefit from this playful, exploratory class. Registration information is available at http://tightropebooks.com/workshop-series/

“We love having Myna on board at Tightrope,” says Shirarose Willensky, erstwhile Editor of Tightrope Books, “and she definitely keeps things lively! We're looking forward to her workshop. Judging by the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, there are some writers out there who might enjoy Myna's guidance.”

Wallin will also be at the centre of an event on March 24th, "a business sponsorship called 'Meet Market Adventures.' The event is arranged around me,” says Wallin. At Charlie's Gallery, 112 Harbord Street, Toronto, join in for a fun and flirty night of martinis. Wallin will entertain you by reading a section of her hilarious novel with style, wit and humour. You'll be having so much fun you won't be able to wait to get your own copy of the book. Lucky for you, you'll receive one with your purchase of admission to this fabulous event, which you will have a chance to get signed by the author herself! To register for this, go to http://www.meetmarketadventures.com/events/4456/Toronto-Confessions-of-a-Reluctant-Cougar-Martini-s-and-Reading.html

For all of you stuffed shirts out there who think you are above what Myna Wallin and Tightrope Books are selling, there is only one thing to remember: you are just cougar bait!



Patrick Connors is the arts and mental health writer for newz4u.net, an online news service out of Toronto. He has had his poetry published in The Toronto Quarterly, Word Salad Poetry Magazine and, most recently, in Poet Plant Press. He was shortlisted for the 2010 Scarborough Writers Month award, and has had several of his poems featured on Phantom Billstickers, a New Zealand site. He has had several pieces appear on Open Book: Toronto, and looks forward to many more!

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