New Star Blogs

Spring 2020 :: New books from Sharon Kirsch and Louis Cabri


New Star’s Winter/Spring 2020 cat­a­logue has been released into the world, and with it, announce­ments of the two new titles we’re work­ing on for Spring 2020 release.


The Smallest Objective, by Sharon Kirsch


When her moth­er leaves her home of fifty years to move into a care facil­i­ty, it is the author’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to sort out the accu­mu­la­tion of fam­i­ly memen­tos. Most imme­di­ate­ly press­ing is the solu­tion to an old fam­i­ly mys­tery: what is her father sup­posed to have con­cealed beneath her par­ents’ bed­room floor?

It is the more mun­dane objects that Kirsch unearths — an old micro­scope, a bun­dle of post­cards, an enve­lope of yel­low­ing news­pa­per clip­pings — that open win­dows onto her family’s past, but also, more gen­er­al­ly, onto mid-cen­tu­ry Mon­tre­al, and that city’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. In The Small­est Objec­tive, Sharon Kirsch tells the sto­ry of her grand­fa­ther Simon Kirsch, an ide­al­is­tic young botanist at McGill who turns lat­er in life to prop­er­ty devel­op­ment; of Jock­ey Flem­ing, the uncle manque who hid his ori­gins to play a role as one of Montreal’s great colour­ful char­ac­ters when it was still unri­valled as the largest city in Cana­da; of Kirsch’s aunt, whose ear­ly death dur­ing Expo year tore a jagged hole into the author’s mother’s life.

The Small­est Objec­tive is a sto­ry about the death of a par­ent, and of the author’s account of this pas­sage in life; but it is also a sto­ry about mid-cen­tu­ry Mon­tre­al, and how the sub­tle anti-semi­tism of a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions ago has shaped a family’s his­to­ry.

Sharon Kirsch is the author of What Species of Crea­tures. She lives in Toron­to. The Small­est Objec­tive is avail­able April 24.


Hungry Sling Shots, by Louis Cabri


A new col­lec­tion of poems, or maybe they are per­for­mance scripts, from one of Canada’s most orig­i­nal and inno­v­a­tive poets, the Ottawa-raised, Wind­sor-res­i­dent Louis Cabri.

Cabri’s for­mal moves cre­ate par­al­lels between the lit­er­a­ture of a deca­dent French aris­toc­ra­cy and our own enter­tain­ments, and estab­lish­es a frame­work for a cri­tique of the cyn­i­cism and moral vacu­ity of a cul­tur­al dis­course that is shaped by, and behold­en to, con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism and the social rela­tions it engen­ders.

Cabri, who teach­es lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wind­sor, is the author of Posh Lust. Hun­gry Sling Shots will be pub­lished on April 24.

At least a hundred :: George Bowering at the People’s Co-op Bookstore :: Friday, February 21


George Bow­er­ing, whose pub­lished out­put sur­pas­seth one hun­dred vol­umes by most counts, cel­e­brates the pub­li­ca­tion of his lat­est, Writ­ing and Read­ing, on Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 21, at the People’s Co-op Book­store on Com­mer­cial Dri­ve in the heart of East Van­cou­ver.

Writ­ing and Read­ing presents essays writ­ten over the last decade or so on a range of sub­jects — crit­i­cal engage­ment with oth­er Cana­di­an writ­ers; the “Van­cou­ver poets” Guil­laume Apol­li­naire, Blaise Cen­drars, Jack Spicer, et al.; film; dra­ma; music; him­self — with a com­mon theme, the impor­tance of read­ing, espe­cial­ly as part of any writ­ing prac­tice.

In an unusu­al devel­op­ment in the world of small pub­lish­ing, at least two reviews of Writ­ing and Read­ing have appeared even before the book’s launch par­ty. (That reflects in part our deci­sion to wait a decent inter­val after the release, also in late fall 2019, of Bowering’s Tak­ing Mea­sures: Select­ed Long Poems.)

Nicholas Bradley’s review-essay on Writ­ing and Read­ing and Tak­ing Mea­sures, along­side Bowering’s 2015 short sto­ry col­lec­tion 10 Women, appeared this week on the Orms­by Review, the BC Book­world spin-off that is pro­vid­ing space for more crit­i­cal writ­ing about BC lit­er­a­ture.

” .. . an impor­tant addi­tion to his body of late work,” writes Bradley, who teach­es con­tem­po­rary lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vic­to­ria. “What­ev­er his idio­syn­crasies, Bow­er­ing is nev­er dull, and it is reward­ing to have his fur­ther thoughts on Judith Fitzger­ald, Robert Kroetsch, Alice Munro, and Joe Rosen­blatt, on the books he read in 1967, and on the land­scape of Oliv­er, B.C.”

”Com­pi­la­tions such as Writ­ing and Read­ing, and such valu­able edi­tions as Tak­ing Mea­sures, make it pos­si­ble to begin in earnest the task of com­ing to terms with George Bow­er­ing.”

The Van­cou­ver Sun, mean­while, com­mis­sioned anoth­er inde­fati­ga­ble, Tom Sand­born, to write their review of Writ­ing and Read­ing. You can read Sandborn’s review here, as well as in any num­ber of Can­west news­pa­pers that have reprint­ed his arti­cle.

”The book fea­tures affec­tion­ate anec­dotes about oth­er writ­ers and casu­al­ly deliv­ered but inci­sive thoughts about Cana­di­an writ­ing in the 20th cen­tu­ry,” Sand­born writes. “It also includes acute crit­i­cal obser­va­tions that reflect a life­time of engage­ment with lit­er­a­ture. These are essays char­ac­ter­ized by a relaxed, con­ver­sa­tion­al style, even when deal­ing with mat­ters of intel­lec­tu­al heft. Bowering’s nar­ra­tive tone is ami­able and charm­ing, even when deliv­er­ing his crit­i­cisms of oth­er writ­ers and aca­d­e­m­ic fads.”

”These essays deserve atten­tion from any­one who cares about how lit­er­a­ture is made and works.”

Both writ­ers also had some crit­i­cisms to offer. Don’t be mis­led by our mild­ly mis­lead­ing use of select­ed quo­ta­tions; read the whole reviews your­self.

George’s launch gets under­way at 7:30 pm, Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 21.  Admis­sion is free.  Writ­ing and Read­ing may be pur­chased from these guys, New Star’s own web­site, the fore­men­tioned People’s Co-op Book­store, as well as fin­er Cana­di­an book­stores every­where.

We’re moving! Our sales and distribution, that is.


Effec­tive Jan­u­ary 1, UTP Dis­tri­b­u­tion will han­dle Cana­di­an trade orders for all New Star titles.  Book­sellers, whole­salers, and oth­ers in the trade can place orders with

UTP Dis­tri­b­u­tion
5201 Duf­ferin St.
Toron­to, ON    M3H 5T8
tel. 416–667-7791
fax 1–800-565‑9523

Also on Jan­u­ary 1, Amper­sand Inc. takes over as New Star’s Cana­di­an trade sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

BC / Alber­ta / Saskatchewan / Man­i­to­ba / Yukon / Nunavut / NWT
Ali Hewitt 604–448-7166
Dani Farmer 604–448-7168
Jes­si­ca Price 604–448-7170
Pavan Ranu 604–448-7165
2440 Viking Way, Rich­mond, BC V6V 1N2
Gen­er­al phone 604–448-7111 :: Toll-free 1–800-561‑8583
Fax 604–448-7118 :: Toll-free fax 1–888-323‑7118

Jen­ny Enriques 416–703-0666 Ext. 126
Toll-free 1–866-736‑5620 :: Fax 416–703-4756

Atlantic Provinces
Kris Hykel 416–703-0666 Ext. 127
Toll-free 1–866-736‑5620 :: Fax 416–703-4745

Saf­fron Beck­with Ext. 124
Mor­gen Young Ext. 128
Lau­reen Cusack Ext. 120
Vanes­sa De Gre­go­ria Ext. 122
Evette Sin­tichakis Ext. 121
Jen­ny Enriquez Ext. 126
Kris Hykel Ext. 127
Suite 213 – 321 Car­law Ave., Toron­to, ON M4M 2S1
Tel. 416–703-0666 :: Toll-free 1–866-736‑5620
Fax 416–703-4745 :: Toll-free 1–866-849‑3819

Brunswick Books will con­tin­ue to accept returns of New Star titles until March 31, 2020.  UTP Dis­tri­b­u­tion will accept returns for books sup­plied by Brunswick until Decem­ber 31, 2020, as long as they are with­in one year of pur­chase.

This infor­ma­tion can also be found in our Win­ter / Spring 2020 cat­a­logue, down­load­able from this link; as well as on our web­site, here.

Reading, writing, and Bowering


George Bow­er­ing recent­ly sat down with our own Frank Davis to shoot the breeze about his new book, Writ­ing and Read­ing, released Novem­ber 28.

FD: New Star Books has pub­lished what must be your ump­ty-sev­enth, at least, book, Writ­ing and Read­ing.  (We should men­tion that Mark Mushet took the cov­er pho­to.)  What are you up in this one?

George Bow­er­ing: I guess I tried to widen the def­i­n­i­tion of what con­sti­tutes a book of lit­er­ary essays. There is a tiny piece about a writer whose name is almost as long as the essay about her. There is an account­ing of the 100 books I read dur­ing 1967. One hun­dred for the cen­te­nary — get it? There is an expla­na­tion of Apollinaire’s role in Van­cou­ver poet­ry. Send in your ideas.

FD: Most read­ers would think of you, first and sec­ond, as a poet and a writer of fic­tion; or as a pop­u­lar his­to­ri­an. One of your ear­ly books, Al Pur­dy (Copp Clark, 1970), is actu­al­ly a crit­i­cal appraisal of a writer who was quite unlike you, on the page at least, but who became a life-long friend; Al and his wife Eurithe remained pret­ty good com­pan­ions to you and Jean Baird for many, many years. Much more recent­ly there was Words, Words, Words (2010), also pub­lished by New Star Books; and you’ve done a few in between those.

GB: Eleven books of crit­i­cal essays. I couldn’t help myself. bpNi­chol said my sto­ries are like essays ans my essays are like sto­ries. A few are both.

FD: Do you feel there are parts you can reach with one form, be it poet­ry, fic­tion, or crit­i­cal non-fic­tion, that the oth­er forms just don’t get to?

GB: I have often won­dered about that myself. It is arbi­trary in some cas­es. Take a look at my essay on Mar­garet Atwood’s Sur­fac­ing. It’s about that thing that Roland Barthes called the desire for the author. An audi­ence of Eng­lish profs in Aus­tralia loved it––and me.

FD: What can read­ers expect from your new book?

GB: The wis­dom of old age.

FD: At your age most writ­ers have hung up the cleats a long time ago. But you’re still going strong. You’re pret­ty much the Satchel Paige of Cana­di­an lit­er­a­ture. To what do you attribute your long career? Any immi­nent plans to retire, á là Philip Roth?

GB: I keep find­ing note books in which I have jot­ted notes about pos­si­ble books.

FD: I’ve just fin­ished read­ing Rebec­ca Wigod’s excel­lent biog­ra­phy of you, He Speaks Vol­umes. I learned a lot about you from her book. Among oth­er things, that you’re a slip­pery dog. But also, that you tend to have a few projects on the go at any one time. What’s in the pipeline, or, to use a less offen­sive expres­sion, chute, right now?

GB: There’s that series of respons­es to 100 poems. I have done just over half. There’s my rewrit­ing of Gertrude Stein’s Ten­der But­tons. I have almost fin­ished a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, some of which take place in [sur­prise!] my home town dur­ing child­hood and youth. I have a sequence of poems about a girl named Trish, who keeps hear­ing peo­ple rime her name.

FD: Any­thing else you’d like to add for our read­ers?

GB: What do you think? Should I try to rewrite all the books I havent pub­lished?

While we were out


View­ers at home can be excused for think­ing that New Star Books had gone to ground in some way over the sum­mer, as our live­ly and infor­ma­tive news site went all-qui­et-like.  As explained in The Yel­low Tri­an­gle, it was only our web host that was e-mail­ing it in.  In the real-world back­ground, the Autonomous Work­ers at New Star Books were work­ing as hard as ants.  Most impor­tant­ly, we were get­ting a cou­ple of books to press, both of which were released in Sep­tem­ber.

Roger Farr’s I Am a City Still But Soon I Shan’t Be (the title repur­pos­es a line of Bertolt Brecht’s) is a sin­gle long poem, in nine can­tos, The poem takes the read­er on a vir­tu­al tour of the mod­ern city, rep­re­sent­ed here by Van­cou­ver, New York, Berlin, and Nanaimo.  Informed by anarchism’s insights into the human sub­ject under con­tem­po­rary con­di­tions,  Farr’s poem, with its echoes of Eliot and Dante, con­fronts the bruise marks left by cap­i­tal­ism and its tech­no­log­i­cal trustees.

Roger Farr’s sole appear­ance in sup­port of his new book was at the offi­cial launch, which took place on Octo­ber 16 at the feisty People’s Co-op Book­store.  Since then, he’s been chan­nel­ing his inner B. Tra­ven, hun­ker­ing down in his Gabri­o­la Island com­pound, refus­ing all inter­views, so that he can focus on his next book, a revis­it­ing of the work of 15th cen­tu­ry bad-boy French poet François Vil­lonI Am a City Still But Soon I Shan’t Be is avail­able from Spar­ta­cus Books, READ Books, Capi­lano Uni­ver­si­ty Book­store, the People’s Co-op Book­store, and oth­er book­shops.

Also released in Sep­tem­ber was Shot Rock, the third nov­el by Win­nipeg-born-and-raised, now Barcelona-res­i­dent Michael Trege­bov.  A sto­ry that describes an aspect of the city’s vibrant Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty cir­ca ear­ly 1970s, Shot Rock tells the sto­ry of a group of old friends, inspired by the Trostky­ist tac­tics — and pas­sion — of the son of one of their mem­bers, who try to stop the rede­vel­op­ment of their beloved Queen Vic­to­ria, the only Jew­ish curl­ing club in the city, into a Domin­ion gro­cery store.  Although we know (because, his­to­ry) how it ends, Tregebov’s affec­tion­ate por­trait of the world he grew up in takes the read­er on a hilar­i­ous trip in the time machine.

Trege­bov appeared in Thin Air, the Win­nipeg Inter­na­tion­al Writ­ers’ Fes­ti­val, and his nov­el was dis­cussed in Tues­day Book Club on The Next Chap­ter, with host She­lagh Rogers.  You can lis­ten to that hereBernie Bel­lan reviewed Shot Rock for the Jew­ish Post and News, and here’s Gor­don Arnold’s review for the Win­nipeg Free Press.  Ear­li­er, Michael Fraiman inter­viewed Michael Trege­bov for the Cana­di­an Jew­ish News.

Shot Rock, the mol­e­cule-for­mat edi­tion, may be obtained from Librairie Para­graphe, TYPE Books, A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer, Words Worth Books, McNal­ly-Robin­son Book­sellers, the People’s Co-op Book­store, and oth­er book­shops.  Mean­while, it’s been elec­tri­fied, and that ver­sion can be found here.


The Yellow Triangle

|, Novem­ber 19, 2019. Pho­to: Eric E. John­son / Kono­mark

In the top left of your com­put­er screen, in the bar dis­play­ing the URL, you might notice a lit­tle yel­low tri­an­gle with an excla­ma­tion mark inside of it.

It appeared there one day in the spring; we first noticed it when a num­ber of you con­tact­ed us about encoun­ter­ing a secu­ri­ty warn­ing when you clicked on one of the links to our site in the New Star newslet­ter.  The yel­low tri­an­gle sig­nals a secu­ri­ty issue with our site, and (frankly) it’s a big, bright warn­ing sign dis­cour­ag­ing users to vis­it the page.

This sound­ed like a job for our IT guy, so we put in the call.  We had been hav­ing oth­er prob­lems with the host­ing com­pa­ny, so this felt like an oppor­tune time to make the move away from that out­fit, and have our site (phys­i­cal­ly) host­ed clos­er to home, with a local host, instead of Los Ange­les, or Belize, or the Chan­nel Islands, wher­ev­er the host­ing com­pa­ny is stash­ing our data.

It was easy-peasy, way back in 2016 CE, to migrate the New Star site from the host­ing site oper­at­ed by a tiny Vic­to­ria co. that was get­ting out of the busi­ness, to the new, bleed­ing-edge, state-of-the-art, everything’s-up-to-date-in-Virtual-City com­pa­ny picked for us as the new site host.  We can­not recall even a moment’s dif­fi­cul­ty or anx­i­ety in mov­ing our site in 2016.

Remem­ber the 1990s, and “Where do you want to go today?”  Well, those days are gone.  Three years lat­er, this indus­try has evolved to a state where, appar­ent­ly, it has become actu­al­ly impos­si­ble to migrate the site to a dif­fer­ent host.  Two dif­fer­ent, seem­ing­ly knowl­edge­able IT dudes have now told us this, and advised us that the best approach would be to just leave things as they are, and build an entire­ly new web­site from scratch on a new host.  The host­ing com­pa­ny we’re using now is the only web host in the world that can han­dle our site.

That doesn’t make any sense.  Except, appar­ent­ly, here in the new age, it does.

Maybe the most frus­trat­ing and dis­cour­ag­ing aspect of our futile efforts to get our web­site back is that nobody seems to have a clear under­stand­ing them­selves of what the problem/s is/are.  Nobody seems to under­stand why the site secu­ri­ty warn­ing start­ed pop­ping up, and they don’t have an answer for what do to about it.  (We thought we did: Please, get us off the awful host­ing site! but that, it turns out, isn’t an option any­more.)  Nobody has been able to explain what’s so dif­fi­cult about mov­ing this site this year, when it wasn’t dif­fi­cult at all in 2016.  “Start all over again from scratch,” is the best and only advice we are get­ting.  It’s like your auto mechan­ic advis­ing you to buy a new car because the mis­fire you’re expe­ri­enc­ing is just too gnarly for them to get into.

So we might be stuck with that yel­low tri­an­gle until we can either put togeth­er the cap­i­tal to build a brand new site from scratch, or until we can find some­one capa­ble to diag­nose, and repair, what­ev­er is pre­vent­ing us — and you — from get­ting the full use out of the way it was orig­i­nal­ly designed and built.

In the mean­time, we’re going to resume post­ing sto­ries on our blog, and do our best to ignore the the secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate warn­ings and the oth­er prob­lems dog­ging the site — the shop­ping cart that has room for only one book, for instance.  We hon­est­ly believe you will not be injured in any way by click­ing on our web­site links.  And maybe, in 2020 or 2021, we’ll be able to find a solu­tion to these appar­ent­ly insur­mount­able tech­ni­cal issues.

Watch this dep­re­cat­ed space for sto­ries, about the inter­est­ing books we’ve released this year, like this one, and this one, and this one; and ones we’re work­ing on for next year, like this one, and this one; as well as oth­er news and views about the press’s work.

Some questions for the Canada Council


On June 3, Cana­da Coun­cil Direc­tor Simon Brault, and Direc­tor Gen­er­al Car­o­line Warren were in Van­cou­ver for a Town Hall Meet­ing to give a pre­sen­ta­tion on the Cana­da Coun­cil’s pro­grams and cur­rent pri­or­i­ties. This was fol­lowed by a ques­tion-and-answer peri­od where mem­bers of the audi­ence could ask ques­tions of Mr. Brault and Ms War­ren. It seemed that half the mem­bers of the audi­ence that almost filled the York The­atre on Com­mer­cial Dri­ve had some­thing to get off their chests, and the hour went by before New Star pub­lish­er Rolf Mau­r­er had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak. Mr. Mau­r­er offered to use New Star’s own site to pose his ques­tions, which fol­low.



Thank you, Mr. Brault, and Ms War­ren, for your pre­sen­ta­tion, and for giv­ing us this oppor­tu­ni­ty to ask ques­tions and raise our own con­cerns. I wish to raise two issues, and I promise to be suc­cinct.

I have been the pub­lish­er of New Star Books since 1990, and pre­vi­ous to that had worked at the press since 1981 in every capac­i­ty, encom­pass­ing man­age­ment, edi­to­r­i­al acqui­si­tion, pro­duc­tion, sales, mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion, and pack­ing orders for ship­ping. I men­tion this because although I have no imme­di­ate plans to retire, I do face the fact that over the next few years I must pre­pare the press for new own­er­ship — the sec­ond suc­ces­sion that I will have been part of at New Star Books.

For that rea­son I read with a cer­tain amount of alarm the news that the Cana­da Coun­cil has recent­ly sab­o­taged the pro­posed sale of the Ontario lit­er­ary press The Porcupine’s Quill to new own­ers. Aes­thet­i­cal­ly, I could not be far­ther from Tim and Elke Inkster, the cur­rent pro­pri­etors of the press; and polit­i­cal­ly, I could not be far­ther from the ide­o­log­i­cal posi­tions held by the prospec­tive new own­er, Ken Whyte. I am non­plussed, how­ev­er, to find myself in their cor­ner on this one.

Sab­o­taged” is a strong word to use; I strug­gled to find the right one. But “blocked” or “pre­vent­ed” would be wrong, because they imply a cer­tain right, or pro­pri­ety, to the action. I resist any claim by the Cana­da Coun­cil that they have any right to inter­fere in the inter­nal work­ings, includ­ing suc­ces­sion, of any orga­ni­za­tion that ben­e­fits from their sup­port.

The Cana­da Council’s role is to sup­port the ongo­ing work of Canada’s pub­lish­ing hous­es. It has a role in assess­ing the qual­i­ty of the work car­ried out by the press, and to sup­port that work, at lev­els that vary wide­ly accord­ing to its judge­ment, and the judge­ment of the juries it assem­bles. It is not, how­ev­er, itself a pub­lish­ing orga­ni­za­tion. It is an arts agency, tasked with the respon­si­bil­i­ty for pro­vid­ing finan­cial sup­port for an indus­try that in the absence of pro­grams such as Writ­ing & Pub­lish­ing, would not be able to exist in this coun­try, for struc­tur­al rea­sons. Arguably, it lacks the exper­tise to make such pub­lish­ing deci­sions as who can best car­ry on the work of any giv­en press, and its prin­ci­pals. Sim­ply put: your offi­cers do not work close enough to the knives to be able to make such deci­sions.

It is sim­ply not with­in the Cana­da Council’s ambit to deter­mine who gets to pub­lish in this coun­try. It amounts to unwar­rant­ed inter­fer­ence in the inter­nal deci­sions of a pub­lish­ing house. I am dis­mayed to con­sid­er that the val­ue of my life’s work will at the end of the day be judged by an offi­cer at the Cana­da Coun­cil on the basis of cri­te­ria that I have had no voice in deter­min­ing, and which are in any case obscure, or even con­sis­tent­ly applied. I urge you to revis­it this issue, and to recon­sid­er your pol­i­cy around com­pa­ny suc­ces­sion.



The sec­ond top­ic I wish to raise is one that has pre­vi­ous­ly been high­light­ed by the More Cana­da Report, which was issued late last year.

This report draws atten­tion to the pre­cip­i­tous decline this cen­tu­ry in Cana­di­an par­tic­i­pa­tion in Canada’s own book mar­ket­place. Using data pro­vid­ed by the Depart­ment of Cana­di­an Her­itage, the More Cana­da Report states that the pro­por­tion of Cana­di­an-authored books sold in Cana­da has declined from 27 per­cent in the ear­ly 2000s (itself almost cer­tain­ly rep­re­sent­ing a decline from a decade ear­li­er), to about half that today: 14 per­cent. Of that 14 per­cent, it is esti­mat­ed that only 4 per­cent rep­re­sents books pub­lished by Cana­di­an firms, i.e., those pub­lish­ing hous­es sus­tained by Cana­da Council’s sup­port.

Four per­cent. Can you even speak of a “domes­tic indus­try”?

While each one of us pub­lish­ers have been anec­do­tal­ly aware of this sharp decline in access to our own mar­ket­place, the More Cana­da Report is the first time we have seen any acknowl­edg­ment that this decline is not a prob­lem spe­cif­ic to our indi­vid­ual com­pa­nies, but a broad­er phe­nom­e­non. The Cana­da Coun­cil, how­ev­er, has been able to watch this cat­a­stro­phe unfold, in real time, over the past fif­teen to twen­ty years. This rais­es some ques­tions, which I am now putting to you:

How does the Cana­da Coun­cil under­stand this decline in mar­ket share for Cana­di­an pub­lish­ers?

What, in your view, are the caus­es of this decline, and how should these be addressed?

What are the impli­ca­tions, for the Cana­da Council’s own work and for the coun­try itself?

How is the Cana­da Coun­cil itself propos­ing to respond to this sit­u­a­tion?

Why has it been silent through­out this event?

I thank you for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring my con­cerns for­ward, and wish you well in your own work at the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts.

The New Star Review of Reviews


A round-up of recent reviews we’ve detect­ed in the cos­mos…

A recent issue of Cana­di­an Lit­er­a­ture reviews Michael Turn­er’s 9x11, odd­ly paired with a book by Paul Ver­meersh, a poet of con­fes­sion­al lyri­cism.   The review­er doesn’t seem to much like it, maybe .. . didn’t real­ly GET the book.

Nice­ly pre­sent­ed though on a copy-pas­ta about the Koote­nay School of Writ­ing (all these years lat­er, that KSW patch still scares), it’s a nov­el read­ing of both Turner’s book and the com­mu­ni­ty it’s root­ed in.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, Jonathan Ball reviewed for the Win­nipeg Free Press , along­side a book by anoth­er old up-and-com­er. “Turner’s a nation­al trea­sure — bril­liant, strange, dark and even fun­ny, wry even at his most sen­ti­men­tal — and 9 x 11 has a stark ele­gance,” says Ball. Final­ly, poet Shazia Hafiz Ramji reviewed it for the Geor­gia Straight, declar­ing  “… may as well be a guide to liv­ing in Van­cou­ver right now.”

Michael’s poem “I Ran to Per­sia” (not in the book) is Dusie Poem No. 308, and it’s a doozie.

John Har­ris, retired Eng­lish prof (Col­lege of New Cale­do­nia), Coleridge schol­ar, and long-time observ­er of Can­lit — he wrote a book about George Bow­er­ing and his Work way back in ‛88, and it’s still in print!—has writ­ten a long and infor­ma­tive piece about Some End / West Broad­way, by Georges Stan­ley and Bow­er­ing, which appeared last month on Bri­an Faw­cett-owned-and-oper­at­ed  It’s right here.

The pre­vi­ous issue of Cana­di­an Lit­er­a­ture ran a review / notice real­ly of Sharon The­sen’s The Receiv­er, along­side Rever­ies of a Soli­tary Bik­er, by Catri­ona Strang. Stick­ing more close­ly to the journal’s role of report­ing on recent writ­ing & pub­li­ca­tion, Hilary Clark’s review is more in the way of an unin­fect­ed descrip­tion of Thesen’s “uncan­ny poet­ics of recep­tion”, and inves­ti­gates the paths tak­en and deci­sions made by the poet to find her voice for the col­lec­tion.

On the lit­er­ary webzine Emp­ty Mir­ror, Ali Znai­di has done a deep dive into rob mclen­nan’s A perime­ter, notic­ing a lot in his slow, per­cep­tive read­ing that might oth­er­wise have got­ten away. “mclennan’s poet­ry is clear­ly an exam­ple for a work of art that looks for new pos­si­bil­i­ties of mean­ing beyond “the post­mod­ern con­di­tion,” writes Znai­di. “Con­tain­ing seeds of rev­o­lu­tion­ary acts and polit­i­cal posi­tions (in a non-rad­i­cal way) mclen­nan mas­ter­ful­ly explores the fis­sures in the psy­che and the cracks in the walls in this hos­tile world of now.”

Who says there are no sec­ond acts in Amer­i­can lives?  Oh, right.  Amer­i­can lives.  Doesn’t apply to any­body else. Svend Robin­son’s re-emer­gence onto Canada’s polit­i­cal stage is a sec­ond act that has seemed as inevitable as that guy pick­ing up the gun that some­one else absent­mind­ed­ly left on the man­tel­piece back in the first act.  And so, of course, has “Don’t for­get the ring!” Well.  Graeme Tru­elove’s excel­lent 2013 polit­i­cal biog­ra­phy, Svend Robin­son: A Life In Pol­i­tics, pro­vides a use­ful reminder of Robinson’s con­tri­bu­tions to Cana­da, and to the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and its activism on behalf of work­ing-class Cana­di­ans.  And, yes, it deals with the ring thing too, a whole chap­ter devot­ed to it in fact.




Collapsible: The Ontario Tour


Col­lapsi­ble is now in book­stores and cir­cu­lat­ing through the cos­mos. The short sto­ry form is unam­bigu­ous­ly un–dead in this new album of thir­ty fic­tions from Tim Con­ley, com­ing at the read­er in a vari­ety of shapes and guis­es run­ning the gamut from ellip­ti­cal micro–fictions to tales of the inex­plic­a­ble.

Catch Tim Con­ley thrice in Ontario this month where he’ll be read­ing with oth­er fic­tion authors who are launch­ing their lat­est books as well.

First stop is Kingston, ON, for a group launch at Nov­el Idea, with Amy Spur­way (Crow), Vic­to­ria Het­her­ing­ton (Moon­calves) and Scott Fother­ing­ham, (The Rest is Silent).

The very next evening Tim and friends will check in with the fine folks at The Book­shelf, and final­ly, in Toron­to on Sun­day April 29th, Tim will be part of Junc­tion reads — a fic­tion-only read­ing series.

What the experts are say­ing:

“In this wit­ty and dynam­ic new col­lec­tion, Tim Con­ley shows us how real­i­ty, the sto­ry, and the human are a sin­gle mar­vel­lous­ly entan­gled sur­face. Like a Moe­bius Strip, with all our sur­prise end­ings, para­dox­es, mys­ter­ies, ambi­gu­i­ties, come­dies, inge­nu­ity and inven­tion, we are our sto­ries and our sto­ries are us. In the tra­di­tion of Calvi­no, Lydia Davis, Borges and Kaf­ka, these short fic­tions explore the strange­ness, curios­i­ty, beau­ty, con­tra­dic­tion, humour and delight­ful dis­com­bob­u­la­tion of being alive and of being alive to the telling tale.”

— Gary Bar­win, author of Yid­dish for Pirates, win­ner, Stephen Lea­cock Medal, Cana­di­an Jew­ish Lit­er­ary Award, and final­ist for the Governor–General’s Lit­er­ary Award and the Sco­tia­bank Giller prize.

Tim Conley’s Sto­ries Chal­lenge You to Dig Deep­er:

“This adven­tur­ous spir­it is some­thing Con­ley embraces in Col­lapsi­ble: some entries in the col­lec­tion are straight­for­ward and real­is­tic, but many play with your assump­tions and per­cep­tion. Some are sur­re­al for­ays into fan­tas­ti­cal sce­nar­ios — on the sur­face, at least. But Con­ley excels at blur­ring the line between the real­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion and the wool drawn over our eyes by nar­ra­tors with skewed world­views, or ulte­ri­or motives.”
(Read more)

If you don’t find Col­lapsi­ble in your local book­store, just ask for it by name. This is the 21st cen­tu­ry. I’m sure some­one will be able to help you order this excit­ing new fic­tion col­lec­tion, regard­less of where you are in our vast coun­try.

Mudflat Dreaming: Vancouver events in April


Join author Jean Wal­ton at three excit­ing events this month when the author returns to Van­cou­ver to dis­cuss Mud­flat Dream­ing .

“I look for­ward to talk­ing about what it means to live “in suspension”-—that is, sus­pend­ed above the tidal waters, but also “in sus­pen­sion” about whether you will be evict­ed from your home,” Wal­ton remarks. “This is some­thing that I think con­tin­ues to haunt Van­cou­ver today.”

The book, which tra­vers­es the inter­sect­ing domains of activist and doc­u­men­tary film, water­front envi­ron­men­tal­ism, as well as urban land use, was recent­ly reviewed by BC Stud­ies, a snip­pet of which appears below:

It’s appro­pri­ate that a book about a city often referred to as “Hol­ly­wood North” should ground itself in close read­ings of film and the visu­al sig­na­tures of place they con­tain. Two of these films, Livin’ On the Mud and Mud­flats Liv­ing, were made to doc­u­ment the lives of inhab­i­tants of the Maple­wood Mud­flats. The oth­er film, Some Peo­ple Have to Suf­fer, doc­u­ments the griev­ances of the work­ing-class res­i­dents of Bridgeview and their prob­lems access­ing ser­vices and infra­struc­ture. This lat­ter film was a prod­uct of a fas­ci­nat­ing Nation­al Film Board pro­gram, “Chal­lenge for Change,” an ini­tia­tive that empow­ered under­rep­re­sent­ed com­mu­ni­ties to pro­duce films—a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored for­ay into media activism. Though blue col­lar sub­urbs and float­ing coun­ter­cul­ture vil­lages may seem dis­sim­i­lar, Wal­ton shows how they shared more than one might expect, emerg­ing through the same his­tor­i­cal process­es and social and geo­graph­ic con­text.”


Thurs­day, April 25, 7:30p.m. Van­cou­ver His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety (110 Ches­nut Street, Van­cou­ver)

“Water­front Bat­tles and the Squat­ters who Fought Them in 1970s Van­cou­ver”
All lec­ture events are free (admis­sion by dona­tion), open to the pub­lic, and take place at the Muse­um of Van­cou­ver, 1100 Chest­nut Street

Fri­day, April 26, 2:00 p.m. Sur­rey City Cen­tre Library, 10350 Uni­ver­si­ty Dri­ve. (Room 405) “Some Peo­ple Had to Suf­fer: River­front Activism ‘Down on the Flats’ in 1970s Sur­rey”

 Jean Wal­ton reads from Mud­flat Dream­ing: Water­front Bat­tles and the Squat­ters who Fought Them in 1970s Van­cou­ver (New Star Books, 2018). This book tells the sto­ry of hip­pie squat­ters on the North Shore of Van­cou­ver and work­ing class res­i­dents in Surrey’s river­side neigh­bor­hood of Bridgeview who came to feel like “squat­ters,” always on the verge of evic­tion. This read­ing will focus on sub­ur­ban land use on a volatile flood plain, wel­fare and youth pro­grams, NFB film activism, and Scrap­yard Art in Sur­rey of the 1970s. 

Sat­ur­day, April 27, 7:30p.m.People’s Co-op Book­store, 1391 Com­mer­cial Dri­ve, Van­cou­ver, B.C. Join Jean Wal­ton for a read­ing and book sign­ing.

Mud­flat Dream­ing: Water­front Bat­tles and the Squat­ters Who Fought Them in 1970s Van­cou­ver by Jean Wal­ton (Trans­mon­tanus, 204 pages, ISBN: 9781554201495).

Lis­ten to Jean Wal­ton dis­cuss her new book on The Com­men­tary