Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

Archive for December, 2011

December 31st, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

Chewing over the Canadian Literary Scene

I’ve just spent the past couple of hours engaging with the latest issue of CNQ magazine (83). It’s so good I may have to marry it. Editor Alex Good is to be commended. He has commissioned a superb selection of articles that collectively hit, bitch about, elucidate, lament, gripe, grapple with and analyse pretty well every topic worth discussing -  or at least knowing about – re today’s Canadian literary scene.

The future of bookstores, the impact of e-books, the state of book reviewing, Ken Babstock’s latest collection of extremely irritating poems, dumbed-down post secondary education, the birth and possible death of CanLit,  the Giller prize (of course), government funding cuts and priorities, and the miserable condition of Libraries and Archives Canada…

Despite its generally disconsolate tenor, the content of this 83rd edition of the magazine is meaty and heartily satisfying. Rare you might say, in this uncultured climate of ours. Eat it up. 

December 28th, 2011 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Video: Literary New York: What to see and do

December 28th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

Paris when it Sizzled, by John Baxter

December 28th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

Slide Show: Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace

December 25th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

Literary Centenaries in 2012

George Woodcock, Canadian author, critic, anarchist.

2012 marks the centenary of these literary events:

  • Virginia Stephen marries Leonard Woolf
  • Frieda von Richthofen meets D. H. Lawrence
  • Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore brings translated work to England and impresses William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, among others.
  • Harriet Munroe founds Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in Chicago (with Ezra Pound as foreign editor);  describes its policy as: “The Open Door will be the policy of this magazine—may the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free from entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written. Nor will the magazine."
  • ‘H.D.’ [Hilda Doolittle], Richard Aldington and Ezra Pound meet in the British Museum tearoom to discuss ‘Imagist’ poetry.

     New books:

  •    Joseph Conrad – The Secret Sharer
  •     Zane Grey – Riders of the Purple Sag
  •     James Weldon Johnson – The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
  •     D. H. Lawrence – The Trespasser
  •     Stephen Leacock – Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
  •     Thomas Mann – Death in Venice  
  •     Carl Jung – Theory of Psychoanalysis    
  •     Robert W. Service, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone 
  •     Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, 
  •     Walter de la Mare, The Listeners, and Other Poems
  •    T. E. Hulme, The Complete Poetical Works
  •     Rudyard Kipling, Collected Verse 
  •     Ezra Pound, Ripostes 
  •     Jean Cocteau, La Danse de Sophocle   


    •       Nikiforos Vrettakos  Greek writer, poet
    •       George Woodcock  Canadian poet, biographer, academic, anarchist
    •       John Enoch Powell, Poet and MP  
    •       Northrop Frye, Canadian critic
    •        F. T. Prince  South African British poet and academic
    •       John Jefferson Bray  Australian writer
    •       Barbara Tuchman, American historian  
    •       Roy Fuller English poet/novelist  
    •       Lawrence Durrell, British poet and novelist   
    •       May Sarton, American writer  
    •       John Cheever, American writer 
    •       John Toland,  British  historian and biographer  
    •       Eugène Ionesco, Italian playwright  


    •       Harry Elkin Widener Bibliophile, (b. 1885) drowned on the titanic
    •       Bram Stoker, author (b. 1847)
    •       August Strindberg, dramatist (b. 1849)
    •      Andrew Lang, poet, novelist and critic (b. 1844)
    December 22nd, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

    Film: Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man

    2005 Documentary film on George Whitman and Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore/commune he re-established in Paris in 1951

    December 20th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

    Audio: Patrick deWitt on his novel The Sisters Brothers

    Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently lives with his wife and son. He is the author of two novels, Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers, which recently won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. Here’s how the jury described it: Brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters are at the centre of this “great greedy heart” of a book. A rollicking tale of hired guns, faithful horses and alchemy. The ingenious prose of Patrick DeWitt conveys a dark and gentle touch.”

    I met recently with Patrick in Ottawa to discuss his award winning novel. Please listen here as we talk, among other things, about mannered language, the Coen Brothers,  Charles Portis, horses, psychopaths, masturbation, arts funding and being Canadian.


    December 19th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

    Audio: Phil Hall on his Governor General’s Award-winning book of poetry, Killdeer

    I met recently with Phil Hall, whose latest collection of poems, Killdeer, has just won the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for English Poetry. It’s a sensitive, engaging, revealing work that incorporates narrative essay, life philosophy and literary criticism into its stanzas. In sharp contrast to  the arrogant, impenetrable and solipsistic, Hall’s poetry is humbly presented, accessible, beautiful, pastoral, reflective and at times profound. Listen here as we talk about brown speckled eggs and fiddle tunes, imbalance and literary prize juries, lying, distraction, pain, what’s important, plus theatre and spectacle,  truth and doubt.


    December 16th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

    Video: 2011 Dawkins Award Christopher Hitchens

    December 16th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

    Christopher Hitchens

    More videos at The Guardian.