Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Brick, Soot and Canadians in Space

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 Brick, Soot and Canadians in Space

I often wake up in the morning with my mind casting about for a space to tether to. Something that will pull me from sleep and into the day. Often it is gratefulness that I'm back. Today it was Brick. And then soot.

Apparently I spent yesterday in a coal mine, though it looked like Pride and the Proud Voices stage inside. Evalyn Parry, Krystal Mullins, Truth Is..., Bethann (?), Nicola Ward all threw it down. It was probably Cyndi Lauper, later, who blues'd up that soot into my nostrils.

Brick, back to Brick. Have you read Brick? It's an incredible, incredibly Canadian publication. Have you noticed the way these quintessentially Canadian literary islands feel in the hand? Brick, Coach House Books' pages? To say Brick is a magazine, for that is what it calls itself, is a little off-the-mark.

Magazines bring to mind flimsy, rat-a-tat-tat styles and glossy pics of celebrity skin. Brick is a little more than different. Edited by a team led by Michael Ondaatje, you will, in each issue, walk through rooms constructed by Karen Solie, Edmund White, Roberto Bolano or Sarah Polley — and, god knows, how many others. Brick is an earth-bound space station. Where or where would I have come across Francisco Goldman on Bishop Juan Gerardi, Rawi Hage on Rachid Al-Daif or Sarah Polley on Allan King? I could have missed Alan King. I could have missed Alan King. I could have walked right by.

You're far better off subscribing to Brick than buying it piecemeal. But it's worth it to get your taste buds out. Never have construction materials tasted so good. Disclaimer: I willingly throw my money at Brick and I don't throw my money at anything. I'm a paid up subscriber; this is not a ploy.

Each of us dock at Brick. If you don't buy it, subscribe to it or read it, you'll never know. As an exile, it is the one space station, other than my own work, that has anchored me to this country. I am tethered now. Irrevocably.

I learn at least five things I never thought of in every issue. For some that's a plus, for others terrifying. Brick is the fresh vision of a mag in its own shoes. And, from that height, is acutely interested in the life-force, the majesty of the blade of grass, pushing up through the ground and holding its sole (Where is Alana Wilcox when I need her?).

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Thom Vernon

Thom Vernon has worked in film, television and theatre since 1989. He has been the Actors’ Gang Youth Education Program director and has worked as an arts educator at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. The Drifts (Coach House Books) is his first novel.

Go to Thom Vernon’s Author Page