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    Day of the Dead Poetry Reading

    by Philip - 0 Comment(s)


    Wednesday. November 2.

    Auburn Saloon.

    7pm - 10:30pm.









    A celebration of life.

    A renewal of death.

    The Auburn Saloon is at 163 Ninth Avenue SE.

    Check out the event's Facebook page.

    Check out Calgary Spoken Word Society.

    Check out the library's wonderful poetry collection, including Sheri-D Wilson's brand new Spoken Word Workbook: Inspiration from Poets Who Teach, described as a "play-space where the audience becomes the artist and artist becomes the audience [and] features interactive exercises from seventeen professional spoken word artists. This unique project is ground-breaking and timely as a poetry and spoken word learning tool." Library copies are still on-order but you can place a hold today.

    Or Kirk Ramdath's Love in A Handful of Dust.

    Wordfest, continued: Adrienne Clarkson, Wade Davis, & Patrick deWitt

    - 0 Comment(s)

    Here's another reason to love Wordfest. Even after the annual festival has ended this fabulous organization continues to bring world-class authors to Calgary. So if you've missed out on the action between October 11 - 16, or were left wanting more, check out these upcoming events, all of which take place in the John Dutton theatre at the Central library:

    WordFest presents Adrienne Clarkson

    Tuesday, November 1

    7pm, John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library

    Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson presents Room For All of Us, a collection of personal stories that explore the immigrant experience. This event will also feature Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

    WordFest presents Wade Davis

    Wednesday, November 9

    7pm, John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library

    Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, presents Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest.

    WordFest presents Patrick deWitt

    Tuesday, December 6

    7pm, John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library

    Author Patrick deWitt shares from his new book, The Sisters Brothers. This novel has achieved international success and is one of the most highly acclaimed and awarded books of 2011.

    For tickets, visit

    Canada Writes

    - 0 Comment(s)

    For all of you who are either sitting on a wonderful, previously unpublished 1,200 to 1,500 word short story or who write best with a quickly approaching deadline, the CBC Canada Writes Short Story Prize is open and accepting submissions until November 1.

    If Creative Nonfiction is more of your bag then you can relax a bit. Look for that contest to open December 1, 2011 and close on February 1, 2011. The Creative Nonfiction Prize awards to the best original, unpublished works of creative nonfiction that are between 1,200 and 1,500 words in length.

    And if you’re completely unprepared for either of those deadlines, or if writing 140 characters is more appealing and attainable than writing 1,200 to 1,500 words, watch out for the first Canada Writes Twitter Challenge on Tuesday, October 25th.

    The Answer to Every (aspiring) Writer's Question

    by Philip - 0 Comment(s)

    Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend hundreds of author readings. Many I remember for being particularly wonderful and a blessed few for being rather dreadful. Almost without exception each reading closed with a question and answer session and without fail the author is asked the following question: “What advice do you have to give to aspiring writers?” I have heard this question asked of first time novelists and Pulitzer prize winners, poets and essayists and children’s book authors and historians. Most of the answers I have heard were, I have to say, forgettable. I say that because I’ve forgotten them. However I do remember two pieces of advice that I would pass on to anyone trying to live the writing life.

    The first piece of advice is practical. Patrick Lane, who is one of Canada’s greatest poets as well as an essayist, novelist and teacher, said that to be a great writer one had to first be a great reader. I don’t know if these are his exact words, but in my mind I can hear his emphatic growl; “Read as much as you can. Read voraciously and read indiscriminately. Don’t just read the writers that people tell you are great - read everything and everyone. You have to see all the different ways that writing is done before you can hope to find your own voice.” These words affected me deeply, and even though I have not pursued the writing life I made a conscious effort to avoid reading the same types of books and writing styles too often. Years after I heard Patrick Lane give this advice I stumbled across a similar quote by William Faulkner:

    Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”

    That Patrick Lane had reached the same conclusion as Faulkner seems a very strong validation of the importance of reading.

    The second piece of advice I have never forgotten was given by Timothy Findley. He was in Calgary touring in support of his book Pilgrim and after his reading the line-up to get books signed was hundreds of people long. After about an hour of signing and chatting, two teenage boys timidly approached the table. As Findley signed their books, one of the young men screwed up the courage to say that he wanted to go into drama in University, but that his parents were against it. Findley’s hand froze in mid-signature and he looked up at the boy with fire in his eyes. “Never, ever, let anyone talk you out of following your passion!” he said in a voice tinged with anger. “Whatever you feel you were put on this earth to do you must do it no matter what anyone says!” Again I can’t say these were his exact words, but these are the words as I remember them. I could see that boy instantly resolved to follow his passion.

    I have thought of that young man often in the years that have past. He would be about thirty now. Did he follow his passion?

    Have I followed mine?

    And you? Do you truly wish to be a writer? If so, then from this day forward, don’t let anything or anyone stop you.

    For books with more inspirational insights and writerly wisdom, click these covers to link to the library catalogue.

    WORDFEST 2011

    by Philip - 0 Comment(s)

    One beautiful thing about Calgary's Wordfest is that there's no way to see everything. Even if you developed the technology to multiply yourself into separate, like-minded entities and then hit every venue in town (and up in Banff!) and listened to every fabulous writer, I imagine you and your army would get word-fested out pretty quick.

    But customizing your own personal mini-Wordfest is a big part of the fun, and we only have a few days to make these important decisions on more than 65 events from October 11 - 16.

    Click here to open the full schedule from

    Realistically, I know I'm only gonna make it to one. A bit pathetic, yes, but it also makes the current decision-making process that much more exciting and important. If I've only got one shot at having a good time at Wordfest 2011, I better choose real carefully. And I've already got it narrowed down to three strong contendors for an hour of my precious time:Wordfest

    Option #1 – Keepin’ it Short

    Saturday, October 15

    11am-Noon, Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio

    Jessica Westhead

    Zsuzsi Gartner

    Johanna Skibsrud

    Fresh, Canadian voices share their work to celebrate YOSS (Year Of the Short Story), which aims to bring short fiction the larger audience it deserves. Hosted by Samantha Warwick.

    This one appeals to me because I'm terrible at conceiving and producing short stories. I figure this event might help me understand what makes the short story work so that I might be able to one day begin working on one with a better idea of what I'm trying to do. For more information on the "Year Of the Short Story", YOSS, click here.

    Option #2 – Writers and Their Collections

    Wednesday, October 12

    5-6pm, Art Gallery of Calgary

    Tim Bowling

    Linda Grant

    Ian Williams

    Lev Grossman

    Writers read from their new works, discuss their personal libraries and share how books have inspired them. Hosted by Suzette Mayr.

    This is just a great concept. Any discussion of a writer's personal library will fascinate me. It's always surprising to hear what books are on an author's shelf. Anytime I see an author profile picture with a bookshelf in-frame I try to make out the spines behind them. Too bad it's only one hour, though...

    Option #3 – The Fantastical

    Wednesday, October 12

    Noon-1pm, University of Calgary, Husky Oil Great Hall

    Zsuzsi Gartner

    Lev Grossman

    Meg Wolitzer

    Three critically-acclaimed authors read from their latest works which all share elements of magic and fantasy. Hosted by Donna Livingston.

    This one stands out for me just because I lean towards the fantastic. Gotta have some magic and fantasy, right? Gartner, Grossman, and Wolitzer - that's a sweet lineup. Here's a selection of their work available at the library:The Magician KingThe Uncoupling


    For much more and much better guidance through your Wordfest week, visit the official Wordfest blog here:

    Opportunities in October

    by Philip - 0 Comment(s)

    If you haven’t had a chance to get out and participate in any of the library’s 2011 Writer-in-Residence programs, there’s plenty more to choose from in the month of October.

    One thing that this particular blog is admittedly lacking is a focus on writing just for the sake of writing. Here in the Nook, and I’m to blame, the focus is irresistibly drawn toward improvement and refinement of the writing craft – ways to keep projects moving forward and ways to engage in the local literary community. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for articles directed at the writer who writes purely for the sake of writing, not trying to refine a craft for an audience.

    Luckily, this Monday, October 3rd, Naomi K. Lewis will host a workshop - “Craft and Catharsis” which will focus on the vital distinction between writing out trauma or crisis for the sake of healing, and writing about these experiences for an audience. Regardless of which type of writer you are, this will surely be a wonderful workshop. Here’s the details:

    Craft and Catharsis

    Monday, Oct 3, 6:00 – 7:30

    Central Library
    616 Macleod Tr SE

    Registration limit: 60. Register here.

    Also in October, Naomi’s “Tuesday Night Write” sessions continue with a couple very interesting and important topics that every writer struggles with.

    October 11 - Setting and the Senses

    October 25 - Writing About Sex

    No registration is required for Tuesday Night Write. The drop-in sessions go from 6pm to 8pm at Memorial Park Library and feature one hour of prompted silent writing and one hour of discussion.

    Memorial Park Library
    1221 2nd St SW