amongst books

amongst books

Friday, September 30, 2011

Writers Fest- a few picks from a reader & music geek

Ottawa International Writers Festival Fall Edition
October 20-25, 2011

i count on the festival to introduce me to writers i haven't heard of. i have noticed over the years that i have discovered many of the novels and short story collections i've read through attendance at the festival. here are a few of the authors & works i'm looking forward to discovering at this fest & of course i expect to discover other serendipitous surprises.

OCTOBER 20-AN EVER PRESENT PAST with Frances Itani, Carmen Rodriquez and Anita Rau Badami, Knox Church, 6:30pm

i read an article in the Ottawa Citizen recently which talked about the winter setting of Anita Rau Badami's "Tell it to the Trees" and the author's own lack of affinity for the season. i think there is so much that can be done with a winter setting. (speaking of winter, i would love to read Adam Gopnik's Massey Lecture: "Winter: Five Shadows on the Season" which gives an overview of how winter has been treated by artists and writers.)

i like reading about experiences of immigrants in Canada, especially East Indians. The book sounds like its fraught with a lot of family tension, which is always fun. The trailer is here, for those that like trailers.


SONGWRITING CIRCLE with Emm Gryner, Mathew Barber, Ann Vriend and Louise Burns, curated by the friendly Alan Neal of CBC's Ottawa Today and other shows. 8:30pm Knox Presbyterian Church. Emm Gryner!

RE-LIT AWARDS, 9:30pm Arc Lounge

i don't know if i'll make it there on time, but i am very happy to see that Glenn Nuotio will be performing in a celebration to John Lavery. i may have to break my rules and go anway, even if i'm late. also free books. i like free books. so who will win? well, here are my picks, not really guesses, but ...


Krakow Melt, Daniel Allen Cox (Arsenal Pulp)
(which i still haven't read! but i loved Shuck and i adore Daniel)

SHORT FICTIONI’m a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, Anne Perdue (Insomniac)

(again i haven't read this one and there are other amazing contenders here. love, love everything Ivan E. Coyote does, but i read a review of Perdue's book in Front&Centre by Matthew Firth and it sounded like a punch, no holes barred read.)


The Inquisition Years, Jen Currin (Coach House)
(heard Jen read from this book at an A B Series event and it's the only one i've read on the list, i'm ashamed to admit)


POETRY CABARET with Dionne Brand and Patrick Lane-hosted by the brilliant and talented Stephen Brockwell-4PM, Knox Presbyterian Church;

THE CHAIRS ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE GO with Sheila Heiti and Misha Glouberman, the Manx, 5pm; i will be sad to miss this event, you should defintely go. the book sounds unusual and quirky, worth a read.

BYWORDS JOHN NEWLOVE POETRY AWARD, 8:30 pm Knox Presbyterian Church (of course, this is one of my pics);
great music and wonderful readings by last year's recipient of the award Winter Fedyk and this year's honourable mentions and winner. it's a celebration of a year's worth of Bywords' poetry. and i will make a special announcement about next year's judge too. the evening will be full of surprises. and a cash bar!

and if i can manage to stay up, Ukrainia! 9:30pm Arc Lounge


PLAN 99 with Jennifer Still, Nick Thran and Sandra Ridley, the Manx Pub, 5pm
very much looking forward to hearing Sandra read from her new book Post-Apothecary

6:30pm HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE with Johanna Skibsrud, Helen Oyemi and Miriam Toews-hosted by the charming and skilled writer Michael Blouin, Knox Presbyterian Church

Helen is the only one of these three who i've ever heard read before at the festival, and i enjoyed her reading immensely at the time; i look forward to all three and i am fond of the theme, taken from a Sartre quote. All their books are on my wishlist. i haven't yet read Miriam Toews and Irma Voth sounds very captivating. I haven't heard much yet about Helen's Mr. Fox at all, but the blurb on the fest site is good. i have read & enjoyed some of Johanna's poetry, "Late Nights with Wild Cowboys" (Gaspereau Press, 2008) and am interested to see what she will do with short fiction in "This will be difficult to explain and other stories."

9:30pm MUSICAL LANGUAGE:SPOTLIGHT ON COACH HOUSE BOOKS with Rob Benvie and David McGimpsey, Arc Lounge

another late night event, which i am aiming to attend, but not making any promises. haven't ever heard of Benvie, but just took a look at his site, and saw he was a member of the band, the Dears, which i do sort of remember. so i have no idear (groan!). he's also one of the features at Coach House's fiction event on Monday, October 3 at Mother Tongue Books. (check the calendar, do i even need to say it?)

David McGimpsey is an Ottawa favourite. i enjoy his wry wit and self-deprecation. there's not enough self-deprecation in Canadian lit either. i also enjoy the photos of greasy food from American diners he posts on FaceBook. L'il Bastard is his fifth collection of poems.

IS IT HARD TO BE FUNNY with Christian McPherson and Miriam Toews at the Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch, noon, hosted by provocative Citizen columnist and blogger Peter Simpson. i am a fan of Chris's poetry and will be happy to see how he engages with Miriam and to see the different styles of their humour. there's not enough humour in Canadian literature, alas.

LOVE OF MY LIFE with David Gilmour, Kevin Chong and Anne Enright, 8:30pm Knox Presbyterian Church
i love it when David Gilmour comes to the festival. the man is charmingly provocative or provocatively charming. his book "the Film Club" was unputdownable. David hasn't been shy about mixing a lot of real life in his fiction. here's a review of his latest novel, the Perfect Order of Things. i do so enjoy the picaresque. i also am interested in the hybrid of memoir and fiction, the remixing of work from previous books into this book. i find it an inspiring possibility for poetry too (am conjuring up a new poetry project as i type this...)

i think the festival has done a good job programming a variety of cultural and literary events that will be of interest to Ottawans. and their pre-fest events are happening now. check the site for more info. become a member. hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Whack of Rants

Been a while since i did a rant, so here are three.

RANT 1: Artists & Money

On FaceBook recently a silly poster has been shared all over the place saying "I'm an artist, don't expect me to work for free." While I think it's great when artists get paid for their work, I do expect them to work on their stuff because they are exploring and testing boundaries etc., etc. That's why I think this statement is nonsense. An artist is going to explore their art regardless of receiving money for it or not.

Being paid for the end result of one's art is another issue. Writers, visual artists, dancers, musicians, playwrights etc who attempt to live off the money they earn as artists, except for rare examples, often live below the poverty line. They have chosen art over practical concerns. I wish we lived in a society where all artists could get funded for working on their art, but we don't. We live in a society where art is seen as a hobby by many people, is funded barely by the powers that be, even though it has been proven what an economic benefit art is. Many artists who are famous now were not rewarded financially for their work in their life time. I'm not saying that artists should starve for their art. I'm just saying that yeah, artist, I expect that you will do your art without financial remuneration, but I hope that you get paid for it.

Part 2 of this rant is about the be all end all obsession with money

There are all kinds of ways to get paid for one's work. Artists may exchange their creative output for attention. Most artists dwell in obscurity most of their lives. To have one's work paid attention to is rare and important. In this day and age of social media and blogs and sites, artists might exchange creative output for a chance to have their work shown on a popular site. They are exchanging creativity for publicity. It's a fair exchange. Sharing one's creative output for free also can help discover other artists working in a similar field. The exchange of creativity for creativity is a fair and wonderful exchange. Not to mention trading one's work for other people's.

Everyone dreams of being a famous novelist with scads of money and adoring fans, but the truth is that happens rarely. Someone said once "if you don't have to write, don't." and i think that applies to all artistic disciplines: if you aren't driven to do it to explore on an artistic level, then don't. For the most part your ego is going to be bruised, your wallet will be empty and nobody will give a rat's ass about your art. You are the one who has to care.

RANT 2: Question and Answer sessions

I go to a lot of readings etc. And inevitably there's one person during a Q&A who will stand up, not ask a question but ramble on with praise for the author and then launch into some lengthy personal diatribe, wasting everyone's time and monopolizing the mic. I don't get it. Why do people do that? I'm sorry but nobody, including the writer, cares. It's just not the time. I don't know how organizers are supposed to react to this. It's rude and self absorbed and selfish.

RANT 3: Buy local

So recently I had to listen to a well known celebrity chef rant on and on about the buy local movement. His rant ruined the evening for me. Not because he didn't make some good points but because it was not what i expected when i decided to spend a precious evening attending what i thought would be a discussion on his recipes, stories about his experiences and tips on making meals. The guy was so absolutist. Meanwhile I took a look at all his clothes, his shoes, his fancy silver ring etc, and wondered if all of them were products he bought locally. Meanwhile I listened to him talk about his wonderful and expensive hobbies. Meanwhile I heard him say that a gadget he can't live without is his pepper mill because he loves ground pepper. I wondered where in his little hamlet he bought locally grown pepper. Or the Thai curry paste in his recipe book, or the cumin. I don't enjoy hypocrisy and I hate being lectured to.

The whole buy local issue is not so straight-forward. Firstly instead of lobbying to get nutritious and flavourful food into the grocery stores where Canadians who are not wealthy kite flyers who guzzle ice wine syrup but average families with earnings that barely cover their mortgages, this fellow and many of the buy local proponents advocate stopping in to wee shops where you know the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker. For most of us living in urban centres this would entail wandering off to the far reaches of some little town, using up plenty of gas and then spending double or triple the going rate for a block of cheese or a chicken. Where's the concern for the carbon footprint taken up in pursuit of such? Where's the concern for the whole world rather than one's little berg and what such protectionist, isolationist embargos do for the global economy?

Don't get me wrong I understand that AgriBusiness is fucked up, that the food distribution system is fucked up. But instead of working with the system and lobbying for the availability and affordability of good nutritious food for all, the buy local movement and this fellow in particular seem to be advocating another enclave for the rich to shelter in while the poor continue to eat their kraft dinner because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to buy in a grocery store than a bunch of produce. This reminds me of the rich wanting Canada to adapt a private health care system instead of having universal health care. It's wrong-headed and elitist and selfish.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Michèle Provost : Vocabulaire

[i have a wee piece in this show as one of several people invited to write something using any or all of 100 words that Michèle found in the local urban environment.]

Michèle is a creative kindred spirit who i admire for her eclectic flexibility and imagination. Here's a quote about her work taken from her bio for an artists' talk at the Ottawa Art Gallery in 2003:

"Michèle Provost's work involves the subjective assessment of the world that surrounds her. It evokes the fleeting and the mundane, the little moments and simple thoughts that often get lost in an otherwise overpowering and frantic life."

Espacémi, the art gallery of UQO (Université du Québec en Outaouais), is proud to present Vocabulaire, a new exhibition by artist Michèle Provost. The exhibition is featured as part of les Journées de la culture en Outaouais.

Here's the info from the invitation:

"Vocabulaire is an attempt to extract a bit of poetry out of the everyday, by isolating some text elements that have become so customary that our eyes no longer bother conveying them to our brains. The work is centered around a list of 100 French words collected and photographed during regular comings and goings on both sides of the Ottawa River. The installation also features special contributions from a wide variety of both French and English participants, who will individually explore and recompose the same collection of ambient vocabulary. The aim of the exercise is to explore how such apparently banal utterances can be recombined and reconfigured to form an infinite number of more substantial concepts and images."

The exhibition will be on view from September 30 to October 13 2011, at the gallery of the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO).

Opening hours :
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12 to 2PM and 6 to 7 PM
Saturday, 1 to 4 PM
Pavillon Lucien-Brault (A-0112), 101 rue Saint-Jean-Bosco, Gatineau

Hope to see you at the vernissage on Friday, September 30 between 5 and 8pm.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Call and Response 2

info and poem excerpts on the SPAO site

SPAO Show Teasers

When I was a child, I believed that if I squinted just so or held myself very still, I would see the angels and ghosts that hovered just beyond the corners of my eyes.

[Click on image to read text]

Vernissage: Friday, September 23, 2011 6-9pm, SPAO 168 Dalhousie
Show continues til October 29, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Poems in the Moment

I am honoured to have been invited by rob mclennan to participate in "Call and Response: Poetic Responses to Photographs in the Red Wall Gallery," School of Photographic Arts Ottawa (SPAO). For this project, I had the utmost pleasure of responding to Moment(o) Mexico at a glance (un vistazo) by John Hewett Hallum, who very kindly discussed his work with me.

From September 23 to October 29, 2011, if you go to the gallery, you will see John's wonderful photos of Mexico on the wall and you will be able to read my series "In the Tempo of Now: a poetic accompaniement to Moment(o)." I hope you will have a chance to visit. SPAO is located at 168 Dalhousie St, fairly far north.

I inially wrote a fairly long statement for the project, but didn't want to bog down gallery viewers with it. To me, the photos demanded sparseness not wordiness. But this is the web and you have a bit more time to read, if interested, so I thought I'd include my revised statement below.

At some point there may be some online content that I can share with you and if so, I'll add. The call and response project is a collaboration between SPAO and the local poetry community and is curated by rob mclennan, whose praises i can't sing highly enough. once more he has encouraged us fraidy cat poets to stretch our paws a wee bit.

here's some well-deserved acknowledgments, the statement and a bibliography:


Thanks to rob mclennan for including me & for encouraging me to push beyond.

A special thanks to John Hewett Hallum for his friendliness, co-operation and assistance.

To the University of Ottawa library and the Ottawa Public Library which made it possible for me to find resources not easily available on line.


In her excellent response to Leslie Hossack's Cities of Stone - People of Dust, Pearl Pirie takes on the role of poet-journalist. Here, in a very different context, I am not a journalist; I am a fabricator whose imagination has been sparked by John Hewett Hallum's impressionistic photographs of Mexico...from the corner of his eye to my mind's eye.

In mathematics there is something called "interpolation," which is to construct new points between known points. There is also "extrapolation," which is to extend or expand experience into the unknown. This is how I worked with John's photos. I listened to the tone and the mood that the work evoked, to what was around.

In my practice and in life in general, I am a magpie. I pick up shiny objects. I keep what resonates. For this project, I read about Mexico's rich literary and cultural history. I enthusiastically dove into articles about Mescal, chapolines, which are grasshoppers served as snacks, the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish, magic realism, ghost stories and legends.

I read the contemporary poets of Mexico and their influences, including Octavio Paz. Through his writing, I discovered Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th century poet and brilliant scholar from Oaxaca. "Hear me one moment/I'm all set to sing!," she wrote in 1689.

Digging a bit further into Mexican literature, I took a detour into the Pre-Columbian era where I made the acquaintance of Nezahualcoyotl, the Hungry Coyote, a 13th century ruler and the Poet King of Texcoco. Much of his poetry focused on the moment. " Not forever on earth, only a brief time here!" The Flower Tree.

With his photographs, John offers us a gift: a moving landscape that changes moment by moment, eroded by time, weather and water, so that even if we visit the same places, we will never see the same images again.

To complement these photographs, I offer you poems that juxtapose the fleeting moment with the eternal, fantasy with reality. Quotes from Mexican literature are in italics within the poems. This literature, along with Mexico's art and history, shape the architecture and the landscape of the country. These poems, have been inspired both by the literature and by John's poignant and compelling photographs.

My goal here is not to impose meaning or understanding but to unleash your imagination.

The river goes by, goes by
and never stops.
The wind goes by, goes by
and never stops.

Life goes by
and never comes back.

from Four Otomi Poems, p. 119 Flower and song : poems of the Aztec peoples


A Sor Juana Anthology, Translated by Alan S. Trueblood, with a foreword by Octavio Paz, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 1988.

Sor Juana, Or, The Traps of Faith, Octavio Paz, Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988.

The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, Edited and Translated by Eliot Weinberger, New Directions, New York, 1987.

Flower and song : poems of the Aztec peoples, Translated and Introduced by Edward Kissam and Michael Schmidt, Anvil Press Poetry, Neptune House, London, 2nd Edition 2009.

The Flower Songs of Nezahualcoyotl


Where the Air is Clear, Carlos Fuentes, Translated by Sam Hileman, Ivan Obolensky, Inc., New York, 1960.

Ignacio Padilla: Latin American writers grew iguanas to make them look like dinosaurs, The Independent, July 20, 2002.

Move Over, Tequila, It’s Mescal’s Turn to Shine, Randal C. Arnold, the New York Times, July 21, 2011.

Pedro Páramo, Juan Rulfo ; translated by Margaret Sayers Peden ; with a
foreword by Susan Sontag. New York : Grove Press, c1994.

The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry, A Bilingual Anthology, edited by
Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon Grosman, Oxford University Press, 2009.

I do hope you Ottawans will have a chance to stop by the gallery, especially savour the quiet beauty of John Hewett Hallum's photographs and perhaps to open up the nearby binder and take a peek at a few of the poems I've conjured up as a complement and compliment to his work.

Conversations between poetry and art do not happen often enough, in my opinion. Here's an ongoing conversation to take part in. If you have comments, or if you are inspired by the work and want to write or create your own responses, that would be the cat's meow or pajamas. If you do so, let me know please.

The vernissage is on Friday, September 23 from 6pm to 9pm. and you're invited!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Remembering John Lavery-Celebration of Words and Music

Foyer - Maison de la Culture de Gatineau, 855 La Gappe Boulevard, Gatineau, QC
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 2pm; Copies of John's CD "Dignity" and his books will be available for sale.
Here's the FaceBook event listing with further details.

"I’m a hybrid that high-bred
folk find arresting at best,
part propeller, part angel,
I sailed out of the nest."
from "So Sang," a song by John Lavery

thank you, John, for your friendship, your music and your words. we miss you down here on earth.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dani Couture's Playlist Feature

Poet, novelist and renaissance woman, Dani Couture has been doing a playlist feature on her site for the last while, asking writers to talk about the music they listen to during the creation process. I chipped in with a playlist for Welcome to Earth, my chapbook with Book Thug here.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ottawa's Shiny New Fall Literary Season

here are just a few events i'm looking forward to in the next month or so. details at

Plan 99 - September 10 Joe Denham and David Hickey
Denham's "the Year of Broken Glass" (Nightwood Editions, Harbour Publishing) sounds like a captivating tale about a man who has to deliver a glass boat to a collector across the Pacific.

I am excited about this because I love captivating novels with the sea as setting. I have never heard or met Joe Denham before, so for me, he is a fresh, new voice. I love the Manx and the Plan 99 Series. David O'Meara is one of Ottawa's most competent and engaging hosts. He doesn't ramble on; his introductions are informative but not fawning and he ensures that pub clientele is quiet during the reading. He makes readers feel comfortable and the beer at the Manx is excellent. My pick is Prince Edward County's Wapoos Cider (i know this isn't strictly a beer) served in a green bottle.

Joe will also be reading the next day at the Sasquatch Writers Performance Series if you aren't sated yet from Saturday.

On October 8, Carleton Wilson will be launching his poetry collection "The Material Sublime" (Nightwood Editions). I have been a fan of Carleton's for his wonderful book cover designs but haven't read any of his work, so am very much looking forward to the reading.the book design is mighty fine too, take a peak

Ottawa International Writers Festival Kick Off with Michael Ondaatje
September 13
The Cat's Table sounds interesting. Ondaatje is a CanLit legend (i apologize if by some weird chance the writer is reading these words, but i doubt it, so onward...) and Joseph Boyden, an excellent writer in his own right/rite/write? will be the host. I like this conversation format that the fest is renowned for.

The Tree Reading Series workshop with Phil Hall and the featured reading by Margaret Christakos
I can't be in two places at once, dag nabit but I recommend this event too. A free workshop by Phil Hall would be fabulous to attend. I suspect it will be crowded. The man is a skilled writer and a humble and approachable soul, someone i would imagine one could feel comfortable sharing one's work with.

I last heard Margaret Christakos read at the A B Series in October, 2009 from her book "Welling" (Your Scrivener Press) and enjoyed the reading tremendously. It's not easy to read long poems to an audience but she did a fine job with her pacing and the work was compelling; the audience was rapt. Christakos is an accomplished writer with numerous poetry collections published and also the driving force behind the course and site that highlights contemporary writing and responses InfluencySalon.

September 17
Celebration of Words and Music: Remembering John Lavery
the highly anticipated launch of John's CD "Dignity" alas without the composer, who his friends still miss dearly. John is a dear friend and brilliant writer whose novel "Sandra Beck" (House of Anansi Press) should be read by anyone who loves a good story, eccentric characters, wordplay and imaginative plots. his music is just as brilliant and it's heart-rending. this is an event not to be missed by his fans, friends and anyone who has yet to discover his work. there will be copies of his fiction available.

the A B Series begins

October 1 Peter Norman and Stuart Ross
i don't know whether Peter will be reading once again from his poetry collection "At the Gates of the Theme Park" (Mansfield Press) and Stuart from "Snowball, Dragon Fly, Jew" (ECW Press), but i'm hoping, given the series' thrust: experimental and performance, that we'll be hearing at least a wee bit of new work by the two of them. if not, i'm happy to hear more of each of the aforementioned books and have a few drinks with these fine good folk who don't come to Ottawa as often as i'd like.

October 15 (my birthday) Zorras and Camille Martin

Zorras is a multi-media troupe based in Scotland. one of its members is the fine and versatile poet Sandra Alland. i have heard and enjoyed Sandra's reading with bill bissett at the writers festival and am looking forward to hearing her again and her group.

Every since I heard and met Camille Martin at the Tree Reading Series a number of years ago, when it was still held in the drippy basement of the Oyal Roak (Royal Oak II on Laurier E.), i have loved her work. At that time she read from "Codes of Public Sleep" (Book Thug), a work i still return to for its memorable and unique lines, particularly those poems having to do with New Orleans. she's had at least one poetry collection since, a collection of sonnets, and I'm looking forward to hearing her read once more.

Of course there are oodles of events taking place for your literary tastes: storytelling, crime novel signings, spoken word showcases and slams, workshops and book sales. For more info, please visit the calendar of literary events. See you at a reading. Let's clink glasses!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Front & Centre's 25th issue hits the streets

F&C's 25th issue schmecks like F&C always schmecks. good writing, not sappy, not fancy, just plain stories of a realistic bent from the rough side of the tracks.
In the opening interview with writing couple Alexandra Leggat and Salvatore Difalco about his latest book The Mountie of Niagara Falls and Other Brief Stories put out by Anvil Press, Salvatore Difalco says

"Frankly, I don't know what edgy means any more. I don't know if writers in Canada are really capable or permitted to write edgy fiction. But then again, that word is problematic, isn't it? If it means you're writing from the margins ... either by choice or circumstance, well, okay. If it means you're willing to explore certain darker regions of the human psyche and the human condition, I guess it's as efficient an adjective as any." ...

I think F&C is always questioning the idea of edgy in every issue. The stories deal with unpleasant or weird situations. They make you squirm.

In The Balcony Zsolt Alapi writes a memorable piece about a guy's obsession with a Russian woman's underwear, hanging on a clothes line. Her ass sags, there's sweat and hair. From his window, the guy watches her get fucked by her husband at the kitchen sink. There's even lyric beauty in this story, the sight of the blue panty dancing around like angry semaphores on the clothes line. We get a close up of how this guy's mind works, his sexual excitement at the thought of this woman's underwear. His transgressive behaviour. He doesn't just watch. It's a spare story that doesn't shy away from portraying the less than beautiful aspects of life.

David Burdett's The Road to Happy Destiny is a wry piece that documents an alcoholic's return to the bottle, in an unsavoury miserable life. The last line, which I'm not going to reveal to you, is probably one of the best final sentences I've read in fiction. I may have to steal it, it's so good. There's a build up in this story and it doesn't tie up in some neat little Hollywood or old ladies drinking tea Canadian fiction kind of way.

The star of the show for me was Daniel McIsaac's Old Christmas. After reading it, i just wanted to read everything the man has ever written. A young woman hawking hot dogs in Vancouver gets knocked up. What I loved about this was the woman's voice, her language and the writer's clear empathy for her. He makes you care.

There's a lot more in this issue. Good to see the fine writing of Jeremy Hanson-Finger, Stacey Madden's weird tale Mammory Man. So much good stuff.

It's perfect bound this time around, likely to celebrate the fact that this is the 25th issue. No fanfare here, no patting on the back by the editors Matthew Firth and Bill Brown, just good stories and intelligent reviews. Get a copy via Black Bile Press; better yet, subscribe.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Join the party on September 24

This is a heartfelt plea to my fellow Ottawans to come join us on September 24, 2011 at the annual AIDS Walk for Life. It's not a long walk at all and it's a lot of fun.

Back in the early aughts, I asked Charles what he wanted for his birthday and he told me he wanted to take part in the walk. It happens close to his birthday and our wedding anniversary. In his words, what better way to celebrate. You're surrounded by people, many of them dressed up, all having a great time together and it's for a worthy cause. So the walk is our party for Charles.

I'll let you in on a small secret: every year, Charles tirelessly raises significant funds for the walk--another reason why I love him.

Of course, the walk is not just about celebrating Charles' birthday. Its goal is to raise awareness about AIDS/HIV and money for organizations that help people in the community with AIDS/HIV. has been participating almost since we began in the early aughts as part of our ongoing mission to show we care for Ottawa and our fellow residents. Our writers, our volunteers, book sellers, event organizers, subscribers are all part of the community. And you are part of this community.

You don't have to raise any money if you aren't able to. You can just join the team and help to show Ottawans that members of the literary community care as we assemble en masse and walk together when the organizers call out our team name.

You don't have to join the team, you can sponsor us and help us meet or even exceed our goals of raising $500 for Pink Triangle Services, a very worthy non profit organization that, among numerous other supportive activities, offers support and out reach to those with AIDS/HIV and also, germane to our own activities, provides a library with GLBT books and resources.

I will be in my usual white attire, including a tutu. And believe me, when I walk thru downtown in my wee tutu on a Saturday afternoon, I draw attention. That's the goal. There are also motorcycle cops who stop traffic. It's a lot of fun and it's for a good cause. Come join us. Or if you're already on a team, that's terrific. See you at the walk!

Registration begins at 5pm at Marion Dewar Plazy, Ottawa City Hall, and the walk itself is around 7pm. Afterward, we shall warm up at a local public establishment and hoist tankards of ale.

As many as 68,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Canada. One third of them don’t even know it. There is no cure and no vaccine to prevent new infections. When you have HIV/AIDS, life gets a lot harder. You can help.