Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

jought's blog

SKETCH: A STORY (The Writing Life)

I find dreams an important source for creative writing. Sometimes it's a single image or line I recall; other times I awake with almost an entire poem in my mental buffer. I usually try to describe the dream as objectively as possible, not judging whether it is weird or upsetting (or even revealing of my true psychopathology!).

Decoding Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” was at first a little-known cut on his 1988 album Various Positions. Since then, it has spread like a musical virus, now having been covered by over 200 artists, and gained the coveted Christmas Number One spot in the UK through the X-Factor's Alexandra Burke version. It's become for singers what Everest is for climbers -- everybody wants to attempt it. kd lang scaled this peak again at the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies.

Deadly Verses

In earlier times, poetry held an important place in many cultures. For the literate 200 years ago, poems were a way to gain not only pleasure but exercise for the imagination. Maybe you couldn't watch Avatar in 3D, but you could visit Coleridge's Xanadu or Blake's fiery spirits. Centuries before the Romantics, Northern European bards and balladeers were important in their cultures, historians of great deeds and heroes, their lays and songs affording a little immortality to compensate for short human life spans.

Do You Believe?

OK, I've had enough sports hype now. The imperfect storm of media frenzy over the Saints-Colts Superbowl, in which overpaid large American guys in body armour crash into each other during a war game over an inflated pigskin, and the Olympics, in which underpaid athletes from around the world vie for medals that will win them Tiger's leftover brand affiliations, has reached the point of inanity with an extra "s."
Maybe I just don't Believe. In honesty, I think the Olympic torch thing was an inspired idea, giving many small communities something to celebrate in a dreary winter, but the games themselves...

It's a Micro-press Thing.

McClelland & Stewart, tremble in your boots.

I run what is probably one of the smallest publishing houses in Canada. It's called Sixth Floor Press, after the place where my poetry group, The Long Dash, first met. You won't find any Sixth Floor Press titles at chain stores or that big electronic book retailer. In a big year, I issue two new titles. Yet in its tiny way, my press has contributed to Canadian culture; even better, every title has sold out and I've found a way to do this that is neither stressful nor expensive (many literary presses in Canada persist largely because their owners subsidize them with money as well as free labour).

The Philosopher: Canadian Edition

Every so often, it's tempting to conclude that the TV reality show boom is bust. Once the Survivor: Sanitary Sewer Worker; TTC: the Amazing Slow Race, and Hell's Ticket: Iron Parking Cop shows folded, what could be left to titillate addicts of this scripted-but-pretending-not-to-be genre?

E-book or P-book?

I've been unfaithful. After decades of a stable relationship, I'm spending the week-end with a much younger competitor, sleek and alluring. Yes, I've borrowed a Kindle, while paper books languish beside my bed, their dusty silence broken by the occasional muffled sob.

The Kindle is about the size of a typical poetry collection, and a little heavier. Yet it can hold a thousand or more titles at once, downloading them wirelessly in about a minute apiece. Is this the Book of Books, the 1,001 Nights compressed into one electric evening? Will it sound the electronic death knell for the long-running offspring of Mr. Gutenberg -- the bound collection of printed paper?

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