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December 4th, 2015 • Posted in London, England

British Library 2016 Exhibition Line-up

This from The Guardian 

Recently declassified British Ministry of Defence maps with imaginary cold war battles will go on public display for the first time in a major exhibition next year.

The British Library on Thursday announced its 2016 exhibition programme which will include the strikingly diverse subjects of 20th century maps, Shakespeare, punk between 1976-78, and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

The big autumn show is called 20th Century Through Maps and will explore world history, culture and ideas using items from the library’s vast cartography collection.

It will include never-displayed MoD maps used for military college exams in the 1950s and 1960s and which reflect the political uncertainties of the time. Read more here.

May 31st, 2015 • Posted in Cornwall

Finding the literary in a barren landscape

Reading the History of the Book in Canada Volume Three 1918 to 1980, I came across this in Randall Speller’s article ‘Book Design in English Canada’

Despite a large pulp and paper industry, only a few Canadian mills produced book papers before 1945> in Ontario, the Provincial Paper Company in Georgetown and the Howard Smith Paper Company in Cornwall both made Featherweight and Antique book papers, while in Quebec the Rolland Paper Company also produced fine book papers.

Living in Ottawa, just an hour’s drive away from Cornwall I decided yesterday to check out the above mentioned mill. First stop was the Cornwall Community Museum,

where Ian Bowering quickly informed me that the mill had been demolished years ago. According to Wikipedia the original mill was built by the Toronto Manufacturing Company  in 1881 and purchased by Howard Smith Paper Mills in 1919. The current site is now a brownfield. All that remains standing is a couple of smoke


So much for my hopes to explore an old paper mill in Cornwall. To make matters worse, there isn’t even a bookstore in town. Next best thing was to look through what was on offer at the Museum. Other than a few old photographs, some newspaper clippings, the odd paper sample book and some old deeds, there wasn’t much. Except for this, a folder containing mimeographed lessons from a course on pulp and papermaking conducted on site at the old paper mill itself.

and within this, this 

part of a quite wonderful little lesson on the art and science of rag paper making. Put me in mind of the tour I once took of David Carruthers’s St Armand Papers in Montreal. (Listen to here our Biblio File conversation about the making of rag paper).

Today’s lesson? Regardless of how barren the landscape, you’ll always somewhere find some interesting connection to the book, if you look a little. 

May 27th, 2015 • Posted in New York

NY Art Book Fair, September 18 to 20, 2105


This looks like it will be amazing.

May 27th, 2015 • Posted in Bookstores, chilliwack

From The Bookman in Chilliwack, B.C. All about them Books

May 26th, 2015 • Posted in Franschhoek, South Africa

I don’t think black people are angry enough at Nelson Mandela

If what novelists and poets say, think and write about, often foretells the future, then South Africa looks to be headed for trouble. Here from Books Live, are some remarks made by writer Thando Mgqolozana at the recent Franschhoek Literary Festival

“I’m part of a group of writers that started Read SA with Ben Williams, Zukiswa [Wanner] and others, which was because we want to encourage South Africans, especially black South Africans, to read, and particularly to read South African literature.

We come from a history where black writers were banned and the stories that would most resonate with a black audience were suppressed. There have never been as many black writers as we have now, there has never been as much diversity in terms of voices and stories.

“But that campaign fell off because the literary infrastructure at the moment is in the cities, in white set-ups, like here, for example. It systematically excludes black people. So what is needed is the establishment of that infrastructure. That’s what we need. Not just campaigns. We need to get libraries in the black communities. There are some now, built by the democratic government, but they are fake libraries. The ones that are functioning there are functioning because they are sponsored by Canadians and Australians, and they bring books from there. For example, I went to Harare Library in Khayelitsha [for a conversation with Cyril Ramaphosa about a national book club - ed.] and it’s sponsored by Carnegie. We need libraries and bookstores with relevant, affordable books in the black community.

“I don’t think private individuals can fund the kind of infrastructure that’s needed. We need the government to step up. Between festivals we need other literary activities, book launches and all the kind of things we have here. And that is a massive project, but I would rather be focusing on that than come here and say the kinds of things that I’m saying, ‘please change, please change’. I don’t think it’s going to work. We’ve tried to do it. My greatest focus is going to be writing, and I’m going to try to make this kind of change through my writing.”

But I don’t want this literary festival to change any more. I feel that it was wrong for me to ask of it to change in the first place.

“It’s the same argument as the Rhodes Must Fall kids are making at UCT. They are not asking the university to change, because that would mean tweaking a few things and it remains the same, fundamentally. So now they are talking about the complete decolonisation, and that means a demolishing of the entire system, which would provide us with an opportunity to imagine something new, something different. For me, that’s what I wish and hope will happen to this system. Changing this and that would still not be comfortable for any black writer, I think.

That’s like asking to be integrated into a fire.

“What I’m talking about is not just literary festivals. It’s not just literature. I’m talking about this society, the way it is. But in order to do that I focused on this small point of literary festivals, in order to be able to say: what this society needs is a complete decolonisation…”

I don’t think black people are angry enough at Nelson Mandela.

I think in this country there is a moment that we missed; we should have unleashed our anger, which had been accumulating for centuries, and we didn’t.

“There were many things that we could have done but we chose to go through a Truth and Reconciliation process that didn’t work, which basically postponed the anger that people had and now they are starting to unleash. What black people are missing is that moment of victory. We didn’t have it. The elections in 1994 were not that.”

Several years ago I interviewed Jenny Hobbs, one of the founders of the Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF). We talk a bit about the lack of black audience members (there doesn’t seem to be a lack of participating black authors), and efforts being made to change things.

As mentioned off the top, the anger coming out of this year’s Festival gives reason for concern. It also tells me that the FLF is doing what a writer’s festival should do, airing serious issues in a non violent environment. I only hope that leaders in the country are listening, and are able to take measures to diffuse this anger. Without some action taken to lessen racial tensions, increased violence will in all likelihood be the inevitable result, which will be a tragedy not only for South Africa, but for the world, for the world needs more than just one Canada. It needs more places in which differences are accommodated, exploited and celebrated.

May 25th, 2015 • Posted in Amsterdam

Literary Tourism, a cheap appropriation and amateurish displacement of the text?

Quoting Randy Malamud’s article on literary tourism in The Chronicle of Higher Learning, professor and 10 day student trip abroad specialist Jennifer Eisenlau tells us “many academics might find distasteful “literary tourism [because it] involves a cheap appropriation, am amateurish displacement of the text’s aesthetic sanctity….” While I, too, dislike the idea of Shakespeare’s birthplace as just another stop on the itinerary, I believe there is great value in literary tourism. To stand in Bath, England, the reader physically enters the world of Jane Austen. Nothing can match the sheer force of reading Wuthering Heights and then walking the moors above the Brönte parsonage.”

She goes on…

If I travel abroad to do research—with a capital “R”—then my travel is valid because it is academic in its purpose. For example, I have used my own credentials and the college’s letterhead stationery to gain direct access to Hawthorne’s letters, Yeats’ towerand the Titanic’s artifacts hauled up from the very bottom of the sea. And yet, these moments of examination cannot hold a candle to my casual travels, when I was a mere literary tourist. It was when I was just traveling for myself that I learned the most. This all seems elitist to me: people with serious work to do have every right to the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace, but everyone else is a tourist, with all the negative connotations that word still often evokes…

To be in the Frank’s annex gave me a glimpse into an existence I would dread to experience myself. Fresh air was just outside, but it was totally unavailable to anyone locked behind the windows. The rooms were dim, and yet bright sunshine glinted off the canals below. Summer must have been difficult for the eight people waiting in the hot upstairs rooms. I wanted to leave. The rooms were so crowded, but I could not move without bumping into someone…

Perhaps the close conditions, the humidity, the cramped quarters, and the whiff of body odor are an integral part of the Anne Frank experience. My husband argued that it was a natural matter of course—crowding happens when thousands of people wish to move through a small space. However, I think that while his argument is true, I think visitor discomfort is intentional. A million visitors quietly move through the Frank’s hidden apartment each year. Anne Frank was just one girl out of a million and a half murdered children. What does being part of a million feel like? What was it like to hide for two years in an airless apartment with too many people? I thought I could imagine Anne Frank’s life; but until I climbed the stairs behind the bookcase, I never fully knew.

and, she concludes

Today is August 4th. On this day in 1944, according to the Boulder Daily CameraAnne Frank, 15, was arrested along with her sister, parents and four other people by German security after they had spent two years hiding from the Nazis in a building in Amsterdam. I closed the newspaper and wept. Had I never been to the Franks’ Secret Annex, I would have read this bit of the newspaper and paused for a moment before moving on to “Dear Abby.” But now, after climbing the very steps where Anne Frank wrote, hoped, and lived, the facts of her arrest profoundly affect me. Anne Frank changed from historical figure into one person who pasted pictures of movie stars on her walls, and had to wait until six o’clock each evening before using the toilet, and planned to see Paris. Anne has become a human being to me. It is that simple.

May 22nd, 2015 • Posted in Copenhagen

Help save a volunteer run Copenhagen Bookshop

This from Maya Zachariassen of ark books & ark editions>

First Ark Edition, [is] a beautiful, collaborative, advanced book object, containing previously unpublished texts by Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt – only six handmade copies have been made. The first one is currently being auctioned off with Scandinavian auction house Lauritz here, and is likely to be the only copy sold in this manner. The auction will end at 3pm today, EST. The texts were given to us in order to raise funds necessary to keep our volunteer-run bookshop in Copenhagen alive.

Auster’s ALONE from 1969 shows significant scholarly value by introducing the earliest known form of Quinn of City of Glass, and Hustvedt’s Becoming the Other in Translation from 2014 reveals formative works and aesthetics for her later artistic work. 

May 20th, 2015 • Posted in Amherst

Exploring Emily Dickinson as writer, gardener and cook: An interactive weekend in Amherst, MA, in July

This in from Janis Gray

Amherst, MA – Devotees of Emily Dickinson are invited to explore the poet’s passions as writer, gardener, and cook July 17-19, 2015, in a new program titled,“Would You Like Summer? Taste of Ours —”.

Presented by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, the sensory experience will feature scholars Marta McDowell, Aífe Murray and Jane Wald, and hands-activities to help attendees delve more deeply into Dickinson’s love of poetry, botany and baking.

The weekend also includes private tours of The Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens (home of brother Dickinson and his wife Susan); visits to the poet’s gardens and grave; a trolley tour of Dickinson landmarks; Dickinson poetry set to music, performed by James Mead, Anita Cooper, Willis Bridegam and friends; poetry discussions and readings; and visits to the Dickinson collections at Amherst College, The Jones Library and The Amherst History Museum.

McDowell, landscape historian and author of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens, will discuss the fruits and vegetables that graced the poet’s garden and table. Attendees will learn which heirloom produce they can grow today. She will also lead a “make-and-take” activity inspired by Dickinson’s herbarium, an extensive album of pressed flowers. Participants will learn the basic techniques for mounting specimens and creating flower-decorated cards.

Murray is the author of Maid as Muse: how servants changed Emily Dickinson’s life and language. She will lead participants in making Dickinson family recipes while she describes some of the baking challenges of the poet’s 19th century kitchen; the role played by household chores in Dickinson’s literary process; and how baking served as literary inspiration. The bakers will taste their results that afternoon at a Victorian tea and discussion of Dickinson’s poetry.

Wald is Executive Director of The Emily Dickinson Museum. She will present “I am glad there are Books. They are better than Heaven:” What did the Dickinsons Really Read? Dickinson refused to become a full member of her family’s church and called herself a “pagan,” but she knew the Bible backwards and forwards and often spoke of faith in her poetry. Her poems and letters chronicle a lifelong struggle with issues of faith and doubt, suffering and salvation, nature and deity, mortality and the eternal. Wald’s examination of her family’s libraries can cast more light on Dickinson’s personal theological explorations in the context of 19th century religious movements. Were they better, to her, than Heaven?

The program fee of $400 per person includes all admissions, tours and activities, refreshments and four meals. It does not include transportation to Amherst or lodgings. Optional lodging is available on a limited basis for $75 per person per night in the homes of members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst.

For more information, visit, email, phone 413-253-2848 or write to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, P.O. Box 502, Amherst MA 01004-0502.

This event is a fundraiser for the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. Program subject to change.

May 17th, 2015 • Posted in Dublin

Rediscover the joy of writing, in Dublin meet-up next month

Half Penny Bridge, Dublin

Source: Wiki Commons.

This in from Ellen Girardeau Kempler:Tired of measuring success in words, pages & sales? Our ideas for life & travel will help you refresh, rewire & reboot your brain & rediscover the joy of writing.

Visit Gold Boat Journeys at to download our free PDF, Lifesavers for Writers; schedule a creative strategy session; or plan a Mind Trip for Writers (leaders go free).

Ask about our Bloomsday 2015 Meet Up June 16-20 in Dublin, Ireland!  Here’s the link to my Bloomsday blog post.”

Any charge? I ask. 

No charge. That’s why it’s called a meet up, not a tour. If people want to join the private guided day trip of Wicklow I am organizing for June 17 with Southwest Walks they will need to book through me. We will hike around the Guinness Estate in Wicklow, drive the Military Road to Sally Gap and hike around Glendalough. I am trying to get Tourism Ireland to host me at the Powerscourt Westin that night and plan to tour the garden and waterfall the next day. I could also make those arrangements for anyone interested. The Bloomsday activities are all being booked by the James Joyce Centre. I have tix for the Bloomsday Bus Tour on June 15 and will probably play it by ear on Bloomsday.Lots of events that day. Finally, I thought we might hike in Howth on June 19, our last day in Ireland.  Please let me know if you have questions.  Slainte.

May 16th, 2015 • Posted in Amsterdam

Video: A Walk among Delft Blue Miniature KLM Houses with Mark Zegeling

For more than half a century KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has presented Delft Blue miniature houses to its Business Class passengers. These iconic replicas of real historic Dutch houses are known the world over. Little Kingdom by the Sea explores the lives of the inhabitants, past and present, of these houses. Many of them were colourful adventurers who left a profound mark on Dutch history. Extensive research, including interviews with architectural historians and current residents, has yielded a surprising, and very entertaining collection of  unique anecdotes and ´juicy stories.´  Here´s my conversation with the book´s author Mark Zegeling.