Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Conflict of Interest: I Know What You Did This Summer

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Conflict of Interest: I Know What You Did Last Summer

Welcome Back, your dreams were your ticket out.... So goes the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter, a 1970s TV show starring John Travolta and the guy from the opening of Friday The 13th Part VI who played Horshack.

To get us primed for the fall season, but also to bid a fond farewell to the summer of 2012, I consulted five Ontario writers about how they spent their summer vacations. What is fascinating is just how varied the five are in their approaches to life and work. My hope is that readers will see us all as separate from the paperback fates — a simple, yet complex, and humble humanity, at work at life, love and dreams.

From Michael Blouin, author of Chase and Haven:

I have the good fortune of having the summer off. This is part of my payment for teaching almost 100 teenagers for 200 of the other days of the year. I love it. But give it a try. Take your vitamins first. It’s a marathon. Anyway, I don’t avoid writing. I’m trying to sell two very experimental “poetry” (for lack of a better term) manuscripts, working on second draft revisions for a novel, writing another novel and reading manuscripts for deadline. I don’t avoid writing but I do lie in bed early each morning thinking of other things to do. I golf. I fish. I boat. Work on my Jeep. Go to the gym. Landscape. Maybe cook. By evening I am in the office. I look at some of the things in my office: a paint by number portrait of Jesus (he’s simpler than a lot of people think); my bike; a Mexican skull; a 1927 Underwood; a bowling pin; a lightning rod; three guns; my guitar; a doll’s head; a crudely hand painted sign salvaged from a barn that says, “LIFE IS TOO LONG TO LIVE LIKE THIS”; my two bill bissett paintings; a limited edition broadsheet by Susan Musgrave and one signed by Stan Bevington. I listen to music. Then I write. Very late into the night. I do this in the winter too, but then I have to get up in the morning for 100 teenagers.

So in the winter I do not golf.

Karen Connelly, author of The Lizard Cage and Grace and Poison, made a list:

1.    Pined for Lesvos.

2.    Gardened.

3.    Had a decent amount of sex.

4.    Went to Iraqi Kurdistan to get all those damn men to introduce me to some women. Then, finally, talked to the women. Then spent a lot of time reading about some of the things we talked about, like FGM (odd to put sex and FGM one after the other, but . . .  well. That’s just how it worked out. They do fit together in a strange way. There is nothing like reading/thinking about FGM to make one appreciate an intact clitoris.)

5.    Returned to Algorta, in the Spanish Basque country, where I used to live when I was a mere sprite of 19.

6.    Recovered my Spanish. Saw the Guggenheim. Ate pinxos. Saw a merman. Laughed with my old witchy friend Noemi.

7.    Pined for Lesvos.

8.    Bought a new bikini. Swam in lakes, rivers, and pools. But did NOT swim in the Aegean. Got a tan anyway.

9.    Drank a fair amount of that organic vodka from Wisconsin. Or is it Minnesota?

10. Pined for Lesvos.

11. Did not stop smoking completely. But, mostly.

Tony Burgess, author of People Live Still in Cashtown Corners, was busy too:

This summer I made an alien, which had stomach for skin, then had my head shot off. I escaped from prison with my sexy lover and got dragged from a car by a tentacle and whipped into the sky. I also forced a guy to live in my basement and eat only human waste. Then he crawl out of a culvert and freaked me and Charlie Baker while we were fishing.

Evan Munday, author, artist and full-time publicist at Coach House Books was busy working on his own book projects and then some:

I revised the second installment of my Dead Kid Detective Agency book series, made some serious fall event and publicity plans for scads of amazing Coach House titles and visited Boston, where I pet manta rays, visited a Breakfast-Club-themed diner and canoed along the Charles River.

Sonia Elisabetta Di Placido, author of the upcoming poetry collection Exaltation in Cadmium Red from Guernica, had a frenzy of activities that kept her busy during the hot, hot days.

This summer, namely end of June, all of July and the beginning of August, was an enterprise in exorcising and balancing two parts of the mind and the body and strengthening the emotional. I did a teaching certificate in stationary low impact cycling over the summer months to tone and get fit; it was a great release and required discipline! And I enrolled in a poetry workshop titled: Modern American Women Poets: Gertrude Stein and Emily Dickinson, facilitated by Hoa Nguyen, poet of ”As long as Trees Last” for approximately eight weeks. It was an amazing combination of working with the inner and the creative.

What did I do? I made some sort films, had some poems published in Prism, worked away on the final edits of Savage 1986-2011, started editing Julie Hart’s book, read Pasha Malla’s new book People Park and readied myself for the International Festival of Authors and all the encompassing frenzy. I also did some bookstore and magazine mingling at various events such as Big On Bloor festival and other outside affairs. Is that the key to accessing new readers? The big public spectacle events? Let’s hope so, The Word On The Street is days away, and it’s a one-shot moment for both the industry and the public to unite in a moment of book-culture awareness. Thousands will come, hundreds will buy, and for a lucky few, dreams could come true. There’s this new component this year, a chance to adopt an author via friendship. The WOTS crew have been working tirelessly all year to make sure all the bolts are tightened and the volunteers have their survival kits. So be kind to the volunteers this year, and tell them they are doing a great job and that you appreciate their efforts.

Also of note: poets rob mclennan and Christine McNair are getting married. While the wedding won’t be telecast on television or Facebook or Blogger, one can only imagine the poetic presence at this esteemed event. rob has always been a good pal over the past 12 years, and even though he hit me with a frying pan on the head, threw me through a table for a poetry event and moments later chipped my tooth with a folding chair (which I recently had fixed) I consider him a true friend and compatriot in the war against indifference towards literature. I’m truly glad he’s found love and a poetic partner in our nation’s capital. So cheers to them both! Ottawa’s golden poetry newlyweds!

Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of Wrong Bar and Let’s Pretend We Never Met. His most recent editorial projects includes Savage 1986-2011. Follow him on twitter @NathanielGMoore

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