Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

aireland's blog

Ann Says "Farewell".

Now it’s time to say goodbye
To all our Company.....
This is my final blog, more of a blogette.
Maybe you enjoyed reading some of teensy essays. I quite liked writing them, though I confess that I felt the pressure of writing four a week for a month. Feel free to leave Comments on any of the blogs from May.

I bought this book in Oakland a few days ago: A Book Of Silence by Sara Maitland. I liked the idea of a book about living alone in the middle of semi-nowhere and being silent. Guess what? You can go without Internet and other people for extended periods, without going mental. It’s inspiring and I feel silent and better, just reading it.
Buying it was a signal that the blogging month is over. Time to pull the blanket back over my head.

Writing Retreats


From time to time I’ve organized a writing retreat for myself. Once it was a cabin, another time a nuns’ retreat centre with meals provided, and later, space at the delightful, even bucolic, Gibraltar Point.

In each case I stayed about two weeks. In each case I felt each day as holy, as so fully centered in silence and work that I came to the conclusion that this was the perfect way to work on a project. Each day at retreat I’d sit at desk or chair or beach towel and write by hand, pages and pages. The writing was coming from a deeper place, with no internet, no family, no phone, no domestic concerns.I was writing close to twenty pages a day.

Touching the Hem of His/Her Garment

The Hem of His Garment.

Or Her garment.

It’s important for young writers to get a sniff of a real live writer, not just from the page but up close. I had my share when I was young –or ‘emerging’ as the saying goes.

When I was 14 years old I went to my girlfriend’s parents' party and met Austin Clarke. He danced with me. He may not remember this.

Creativity: That Live Wire word

Creativity: that live-wire word.

The words ‘creative’ and ‘creativity’ usually signal a yearning for the path not taken, a sense that a more interesting life lurks elsewhere. If only I...
If only what?

If only I had more time, fewer responsibilities... a more obvious talent and direction.

It’s notable that people who live the life of an artist rarely use the word, except in reference to money. As in: ‘My creative work versus my wage-earning work.’

Other Peoples' Houses


We’ve been staying in other peoples’ houses in Berkeley for the past four years, often for a couple of months at a time. We’re up to nine different houses at this point.

Clean up the Toronto house and take off, to inhabit the lives of others. I feel a certain giddy freedom as I step into the Berkeley house, noting the lilies climbing up the front yard, the palm tree, and sometimes a deer poking around the garden.
Check out the view of the Golden Gate bridge sketched against the sky and water, and the shimmering white towers of downtown San Francisco.

Scouting Berkeley/Oakland bookshops

Scouting Berkeley/Oakland Bookshops

“Someone should open a store dedicated only to the work of Joyce Carol Oates.”
“There’d certainly be enough.”
I’m browsing the stacks of Diesel Book Store on the border of Berkeley and Oakland and listening to the booksellers as they shelve.
"Are we re-ordering Telegraph?"
She’s referring to the latest by local bestselling novelist, Michael Chabon: Telegraph Avenue.
“It’s over. Off the lists.”
Ouch, I think.
“When’s Fathers’ Day?’
“Third Sunday in June.’
“Because we need to start thinking of adding Dads to the Grads table.”
Dads and Grads. Of course. I’ve spotted U.C. Berkeley grads in their black robes and mortar boards all day.

Can Writing Be Taught?

Can Writing Be Taught?

Of course.
Well, sort of.
I’ve been teaching writing since I was in my twenties and I am a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing Department. I’ve been to a workshop or two in my life – put it that way.

What I find remarkable is how much CAN be taught, even in the ten-week classes I and my colleagues teach at Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education.

Over and over again, students come in with a vague idea of a story or a creative non-fiction piece they’d like to write, and they walk away, ten weeks later, with a publishable article or a much improved tale. And I know that they walk away with a sense of how to live in the world as a writer, with a writer’s sensibility and observant eye.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader.

Hello Reader. I love you. I’m in love with you. Please sit next to me on the couch- right here. See, I’m patting a spot for you and feel free to drop your feet on the coffee table. I hope you like Earl Grey tea. Sorry that these cookies are a touch stale, but as we know, sugar isn’t good for us. I opened the window to let some of that tasty urban air stream in. Now we can knuckle down and talk. What’s your name again? Pardon? Will you spell that?
By the way there is no ‘e’ on ‘Ann.’

Why I Read Poetry

Why I Read Poetry

Poetry is a dense brew for the mind and eye. It kick-starts my mind and heart in the morning, as I sit with tea at my desk, cracking open the cover of something new, something borrowed, something blue.

The first author reading I attended was Irving Layton at the ROM- I was maybe sixteen and I went by myself, already fashioning the idea that I was a writer. I wore black and felt very self-conscious. Layton was exactly my idea of what a poet should be. He had the knack for that, the wild hair and off-colour language and overt sexuality.

Giving Voice


‘I want to give voice to the voiceless’.
We often hear writers saying this as they describe their work.
Why does it make me so uncomfortable?
Why do my toes curl?
I think it’s because it sounds like, well, the writer has the voice and those other poor sods don’t.
Well isn’t it that EVERYONE has a voice, but we just aren’t listening. So maybe it’s not about giving voice to the voiceless at all, but about LISTENING.

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