Monthly Archives: January 2015

Brockton Writers Series 04.03.15

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 4, 2015

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L-R: Hoa Nguyen, Joyce Wayne, Waubgeshig Rice & Karen Connelly.

AT

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery

1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

Guest speaker at 6:30pm

Zoe Di Novi, Wattpad

“Go Social: Using crowds, comments and community to gain influence online”

Readings begin at 7:00

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and treats are available for sale. Please note that while the venue is wheelchair accessible, washroom facilities are not.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

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GUEST SPEAKER

Zoe DiNovi

Zoe Di Novi helps lead the Community team at Wattpad, the world’s largest community of readers and writers. She started her career as an arts journalist in Washington D.C., working at the PBS NewsHour, The Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, and The Dish with Andrew Sullivan. Zoe loves reading pretentious things in her personal time, and sexy romance for work. She digs the part of her job where she gets to help writers promote their work and find huge, enthusiastic global audiences to grow their readership.

READERS

Karen Connelly is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She is a polyglot, a rabble rouser, and a voracious reader. PEN Canada and Amnesty International are two of her favourite human rights organizations. She is presently writing a new novel called The Change Room.

Hoa Nguyen is the author of nine books and chapbooks including As Long As Trees Last and Red Juice: Poems 1998 – 2008. She currently lives in Toronto where she curates a reading series, reads tarot, and teaches poetics.

Waubgeshig Rice is an Ottawa-based author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His debut collection of short fiction, Midnight Sweatlodge, was published by Theytus Books in 2011. It won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2012. Theytus published his debut novel, Legacy, in 2014.

Joyce Wayne published her first book, a historical novel called The Cook’s Temptation, in 2013. She teaches journalism and literature at Sheridan College, and is working on her second novel, a thriller about Soviet spies in Canada entitled The Last Night of the World.

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BWS 07.01.15: Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

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Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is the bestselling author of the novels All The Broken Things, Perfecting and The Nettle Spinner, as well as the short fiction collection Way Up. Her short stories have appeared in Granta, The Walrus, and Storyville, where she won the inaugural Sidney Prize. Kathryn recently completed residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and is pursuing a PhD in Literature at the University of Toronto. She dropped by the blog ahead of her visit to BWS–TONIGHT!–to discuss two disturbing videos from deepest, darkest YouTube unearthed during research for her latest novel.

(1)

For my novel All the Broken Things, I researched captive and non-captive bear behaviour. My novel has two wrestling bears. In one of the wrestling videos I watched for research, the video’s narrator, who is also the human wrestler in the video, says, “When you’re in the ring with that bear you gotta keep him busy, or he’s liable to just walk away from you and go out of the ring and back to his cage.”

In the video, the bear is clearly being handled. He has no real, inherent interest in being in the ring at all. This is a constructed wrestling match, with the bear participant being paid with a life jail term and an occasional Coca-Cola.

What’s interesting to me, and what formed the spine of my novel, is the spectacle of it. I am interested in the way the audience cheers, and moves toward the bear. The narrator says, “The bear doesn’t know one opponent from another,” but the truth is that the bear isn’t thinking about “opponents” at all. If the bear “is a natural wrestler” as another video purports, how is it natural to muzzle, chain, and force him to wrestle a human? What exactly is the thrill of witnessing this?

(2)

One of the important characters in All The Broken Things is a four-year-old girl who is severely disabled and deformed as a result of her parents’s exposure to Agent Orange during what North Americans call the Vietnam War.

In this video clip, the Vietnamese journalist says, “Even though things are better, The American War is still among us.” Already we begin to see how different perspectives change seeing. Is the war Vietnamese or is it American? Watch the girl at about 1:45, who tries to avoid being filmed. Who gets seen, and who eludes the eye?

I have never shown the images or the videos of Agent Orange children that I watched and wept over while researching my novel–not because I think they should not be seen, but because they are painful, and because I have some anxiety about gawking in this way. It’s a strange conundrum. Freak shows and circuses and zoos have made spectacle of people like this (and animals like Victor the Bear) for centuries.

So what is it to be a spectator? I think it’s this: what we look upon reflects back to us what we are, what we have done, and of what we are capable. I sometimes wonder if such looking does much more than simply satisfy a distorted need to feel, and whether that isn’t worrisome in its self-absorption. I looked, I felt, I am done. Our human need to feel has lost any useful impulse. We are stranded in feeling.

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer visits the Brockton Writers Series Wednesday, January 7, 2015—full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC)—along with Andrew J. Borkowski, Lee Maracle and Andrea Thompson. The event begins with a special guest talk by Jack Illingworth, Literary Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, about applying for the writing grants the organization provides.

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BWS 07.01.15: Lee Maracle

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Lee Maracle is the author of a number of critically acclaimed literary works, including several novels, a non-fiction book, a poetry collection, and a short fiction collection, and she has edited several anthologies including My Home As I Remember. Born in North Vancouver and a member of the Sto: Loh nation, Lee is currently an instructor at the University of Toronto, the Centre for Indigenous Theatre and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and is also the Traditional Teacher for First Nations House. She was granted an honorary doctorate in letters by St. Thomas University in 2009, and has received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work promoting writing among Aboriginal youth. In 2014, Lee was awarded the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Her latest novel, Celia’s Song, was released in October. 

As a sneak peek ahead of her Jan. 7 appearance at Brockton Writers Series, here’s a clip from Lee’s April, 2014 appearance on Context with Lorna Dueck. Enjoy!

Lee Maracle visits the Brockton Writers Series Wednesday, January 7, 2015—full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC)—along with Andrew J. Borkowski, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Andrea Thompson. The event begins with a special guest talk by Jack Illingworth, Literary Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, about applying for the writing grants the organization provides.

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