New Star Blogs



Gov­er­nor General’s Award-win­ning writer Erin Moure is short­list­ed for the QWF’s pres­ti­gious Mavis Gal­lant Prize for Non-Fic­tion for her book Sit­ting Shi­va on Minto Avenue, by Toots (New Star Books, 2017). The book tells the sto­ry of a man who had no obit­u­ary and no funer­al and who would have left no trace if it weren’t for the woman he’d called Toots, who took every­thing she remem­bered of him and — for sev­en days — wrote it down.  I just knew he didn’t deserve to van­ish,” Moure recent­ly said. In record­ing the tale of the lit­tle man, through mem­o­ries and Google search­es, the book gives a glimpse into an entire era of urban Cana­da, from Vancouver’s Down­town East­side and Main Street and Chi­na­town to a long-ago Mon­tre­al between the Great Depres­sion and Expo ’67.

Erín Moure, a Mon­tre­al poet and trans­la­tor, who once lived in Van­cou­ver, begins this “work of the imag­i­na­tion” (“minto,” in Gali­cian, means “I’m lying”) with a quote from Judith But­ler about those per­sons who have “come to belong to the ungriev­able,” though there may be some that grieve them. Erín Moure’s most recent book of poems is Plan­e­tary Noise: The Poet­ry of Erín Moure, edit­ed and intro­duced by Shan­non Maguire (Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty Press). No one alive now knows who Toots is.

The author of numer­ous books says she worked obses­sive­ly in a short span of time to pro­duce the first draft of Sit­ting Shi­va.  “All I did was write for sev­en days in grief and pan­ic to sal­vage every mem­o­ry I had of the lit­tle man so he would not dis­ap­pear. He lived in but did not par­tic­i­pate in our mar­ket-dri­ven economies and soci­ety of con­sump­tion and accu­mu­la­tion; he just lived in a remark­able atten­tion­al­i­ty to oth­ers and to spaces, and man­aged his dis­ease as best he could. Friend­ship meant some­thing to him, human­i­ty did; he under­stood it.” The author is pleased the work is get­ting recog­nised. “I am sur­prised and glad that it can mean some­thing to oth­ers, who nev­er knew Paul. But who live in the world espe­cial­ly of Van­cou­ver or of Mon­tre­al and who recog­nise the his­to­ries.” As for awards for books, Moure admits to not pay­ing that much atten­tion to short­lists in gen­er­al. “But in the fall I am aware of the awards as their pub­lic­i­ty reach­es me and I do enjoy cel­e­brat­ing the wide range of amaz­ing books that come out of Que­bec each year — so in that sense, I do look for­ward to that joy and pres­ence.”

The short­list comes as a hap­py sur­prise to the Mon­tre­al author who used to call Van­cou­ver home. “I am very hum­bled that it meant enough to a jury of folks who nev­er knew Paul Émile Savard to short­list it for the Mavis Gal­lant Prize in Mon­tre­al, which is one of its cities.” Oth­er final­ists for the award are Robyn May­nard — Polic­ing Black Lives: State Vio­lence in Cana­da from Slav­ery to the Present (Fer­n­wood Pub­lish­ing) Judi Rev­er — In Praise of Blood (Ran­dom House Cana­da). The QWF Awards Gala takes place on Tues­day Novem­ber 20th, 2018 in Mon­tre­al. For tick­et infor­ma­tion, click here.








Sit­ting Shi­va on Minto Avenue, by Toots
Erin Moure
New Star Books (Van­cou­ver)
160 pages
Octo­ber 2017