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Showing posts from December, 2011

Top Ten Atlantic Canadian Books of 2011!

1.Facing the Hunter – David Adams Richards
2.A World Elsewhere – Wayne Johnston
3.The Virgin Cure – Ami McKay
4.Our Way Out - Marq de Villiers
5.Eco-Innovators – Chris Benjamin
6.outskirts - Sue Goyette
7.The Atlantic Coast; A Natural History – Harry Thurston
8.Chasing Freedom – Gloria Wesley
9.Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul – David Adams Richards
10.David Askevold – David Diviney

Honourable Mention; The Antagonist by Lynn Coady, A Possible Madness by Frank Macdonald, Gulf by Leslie Vryenhoek, That Forgetful Shore by Trudy Morgan-Cole, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Steven Laffoley, How Hockey Explains Canadaby Jim Prime/Paul Henderson, deluded your sailors by Michelle Butler-Hallett

~ Stephen Patrick Clare

The Passion of Pursuit

Michelle Butler-Hallett has been making up stories for as long as she can remember.
“My grade-two teacher assigned a lot of creative writing,” shares the St. John’s novelist, playwright and screenwriter via email. “Once I connected making up stories with writing them down, that was it. I saw what I had to do and pursued it.”
That pursuit has since become a passion, with the writer penning three full-length narratives in the last five years; Double Blind (2007), Sky Waves (2008), and her latest effort deluded your sailors (Creative Publishing / 300pp / $21.95), the intriguing, intertwining account of a woman whose discovery of crucial documents threatens a government-funded tourism project, a Reverend, and the eighteenth-century daughter of a nameless prostitute.
“The novel has two storylines,” she explains. “One takes place over ten months in a Republic of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the other stretches from 1718-34 in England, and in fictional islands in the Mediterranean, Massachu…


They waked you just below the altar in a room entirely too large for someone of your slight stature; a small, rural church with little stained glass, no pillars, only two rows of pews. I saw it coming, the death I mean, years before when you held a reserved hand on your chest, having raised your voice in an act of discipline for something I’d done, but have long forgotten, while I stood above you a full six inches or more. I felt then a young Tiresias approaching a scene for which I’d be remembered, not by history or some tragic character in a play, but by a version of myself, perhaps a little older, perhaps much older, dredging a moment through sand and libation on each anniversary of that day. I was blind to that physiological disruption of yours, to my own small but recurrent part in it, and now like a fool imagine some regret in my possession for having prevented nothing at all. As if I could have. Birthdays are a kind of purgatory, a voice whispering unwelcomed thoughts into the ear’s gaping abyss; …

Labour of Love!

Joan Rusted says that researching her new book, St. John’s; A Brief History (Breakwater Books / 141 pp / $14.95) was a labour of love.

“I have a background in History and Political Science and drew much of the historical information and analysis from my studies, the fantastic library and the Centre for Newfoundland Studies at Memorial University, public archives and private collections.”
Despite her extensive expertise on all matters pertaining to the capital city, the scribe was surprised at how much more she learned about her subject during the process.
“I gained a much better background knowledge of the province, its culture, the fishery, oil exploration and production, points of interest in St John’s and much more. I found it fascinating to learn that it was due to international wars in Europe that Newfoundland became settled, and also that fortifications were built in St John’s harbour more for the protection of the fishery than that of the town or people!”
Her hometown, she notes ca…
Dave Skyrie graduated with a degree in Arts from ConcordiaUniversity.He has participated in over two dozen group and solo exhibitions and his work is in galleries as well as in private and public collections in North America as well as in Europe. A member of AAAPNB, ArtsLinkNB, Galerie 12, CARFAC and the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation, Skyrie has published three small books of poetry and has also trained as a photographer in Moncton, N.B.He started painting in 2000, after a one year stay in Brazil and works in a variety of media.He currently resides in Grand Barachois NB.

The Birth House

Scots Bay, Nova Scotia isn’t easy to find on a map. The quiet community of less than 200 sits slightly off the beaten path, a few kilometers north-east of the Annapolis Valley, just west of Blomindon Provincial Park, jutting out into the wondrous Bay of Fundy.
Even today, with the world at our fingertips, the internet still won’t tell you much about the 18th century Scottish settlement; there is short Wikipedia entry, a smattering of photographs on Flickr, a, some satellite imagery, bits of genealogical data and a few local business and real estate listings.
In fact, Google Scots Bay and you are likely to bring up more information about its most celebrated resident - writer Ami McKay - than the village itself.
Ironically, and unlike the many families that have inhabited the tiny harbour-town for generations, the multi-award winning author is not indigenous to the area.
Born and raised in rural Indiana, McKay and her husband Ian first toured the region in 1999, purchasing property there t…

A World of Words

Author Trudy Morgan-Cole says that her latest work of fiction, That Forgetful Shore (Breakwater Books / 296 pp / $19.95), was inspired by a collection of old postcards from the early 20th century.
“They were found in an old house my family owns in Coley's Point,” shares the St. John’s scribe via email. “They belonged to my great-great-aunt Emma Morgan who was a teacher in various Newfoundland outports from about 1907-1917.”
Some of the exchanges between Emma and a female friend formed the basis of the new narrative; That Forgetful Shore is the touching and tender tale of Triffie and Kit, two young girls growing up in a tiny Newfoundland outport, and their correspondence by mail after one moved away.
“From the postcards, I had this very vague, very tantalizing sketch of a friendship between two women who were close enough to address their letters to each other using pet names, and who wrote of longing for each other's presence, and yet spent years seeing little of each other.
“Of c…

Welcome to the Jungle!

Lively, delightful, vibrant, vivacious and good old-fashioned family fun.

Those are just a few of the words that came to mind at the conclusion of Neptune Theatre’s holiday production of Rudyard Kipling’s classic coming-of-age tale The Jungle Book.
A mixed-crowd of youngsters, parents and grandparents were on hand to enjoy the 95-minute experience, a musical adaptation that is closer to the heart of Kipling’s original collection of short-stories (1894) than the more recent (1967), and better-known, Disney animated film.
As theatre-goers will witness, Neptune’s edition is equally extravagant; set design is stylish and superb, with an interactive backdrop awash in tribal greens and browns; costumes are clever and colourful; the sonic score is well-paced and properly-placed, and the vocal performances are by turns both tender and quick-witted. In particular, the “rapping-monkeys” number will leave audiences howling.
The real treat here, however, is the acting itself.
Sheldon Bergstrom is cas…

Two Hearts

The inside jacket of Patrick Warner’s debut narrative, Double Talk, (Breakwater Books / 235 pp / $19.95) describes the work as a “coming-of-age novel, a love story and an examination of social class and its mysterious codes.”
Set in the scribe’s hometown of St. John’s, and spanning from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s, the bittersweet story follows the arc of a failed relationship between Violet Budd and Brian (Baby) Power, both aching to leave their former lives and loves behind.
“I wanted to see if I could create a rich and vivid context for the novel’s main characters,” shares the multi-award winning writer via email. “Not so much in an effort to explain them, but to give readers enough information so that they could draw their own conclusions about what happened and why.”
Warner likens the procedure to that of 16th century Italian portrait artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
“To make a likeness of a person he painted likenesses of fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, or books and arranged the…

Five Years Later

Benevolence now, a spaciousness between us,
the capacity to chat and laugh on the phone,
going over details and arrangements, mutual
friends arriving tomorrow. The ancient enmity
and clinging rejection gone, the all or nothing,
desire and resistance, gone. A communion
devoid of creed. Behind his words, I hear his
kitchen door clattering, a female hello. Oh,
there's C___, he says. His girlfriend. His voice
limping with sudden tension, nervousness like
an old war wound acting up. He knows I don't
want him, but worries anyway that I'll be hurt.
A kind man, though protecting himself, having
been burned by me before. I'll let you go, I say
into the phone, meaning it more than I know.
~ Sharon McCartney

Sharon McCartney is the author of For and Against (2010, Goose Lane Editions), The Love Song of Laura Ingalls Wilder (2007, Nightwood Editions), Karenin Sings the Blues (2003, Goose Lane Editions) and Under the Abdominal Wall (1999, Anvil Press). In 2008, she received the Acorn/Plantos Peopl…

O Vertigo’s Sensual and Emotional Explosion

Onde de choc
Sir James Dunn Theatre, Halifax
December 1, 2011

Last night, Live Art Dance Productions coordinated the Halifax premiere of Montreal-based dance company O Vertigo and their performance of Onde de choc (Shock Wave). The Oxford Dictionary defines shock wave as “a sharp change of pressure in a narrow region … caused by explosion or by a body moving faster than sound; a widespread feeling of shock caused by an unexpected event”. Literally and figuratively, O Vertigo’s eight performers succeeded in simulating such a supersonic experience.
Visually: Each dancer, with ripped muscles in their physical prime, displayed their endurance as they pushed their bodies to extremes for the entire hour. The imagery their flexible limbs created was stunning, from high speed convulsions and impressive lifts (demonstrating ultimate trust between partners) to emotional facial expressions and flows of imitated movements in circuit-like fashion. Some motions led to pondering (is that a fish out of …