WINDSOR SALT & STAN ROGAL

Stan RogalThe Vancouver-born poet and novelist Stan Rogal was the featured reader for the launch tonight of the annual Windsor Salt publication from the University of Windsor’s Creative Writing department. The work in this magazine also included the work of a group of graduate students. The event took place at Mare Nostrum Café on campus. Rogal, the  co-founder of Bald Ego Theatre and at one time co-ordinated a weekly literary reading series at The Idler Pub in Toronto, is one of the more entertaining writers on the public reading circuit. He was joined by a stellar group of other writers that included Vanessa Barraco, Jennie Broadwell, Tim Fogarty, Micaela Muldoon and Yanik Gallie.

Rogal’s poetry and fiction can be found in scores of magazines and anthologies in Canada, the US and Europe. He has some 19 books to his credit including four novels and 11 poetry collections.

 

A Woman Walks on the Detroit River

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Emily Schultz at Biblioasis

 

It was such a great pleasure to see Emily Schultz back in Windsor Wednesday night (March 22). Her roots are here. She not only studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, but her grandfather, Herman, was a rumrunner in Detroit during Prohibition. She can tell you stories of how at the age of 14, her grandfather started in the business to become a small-time gangster and entrepreneur. He operated out of an auto shop where he fixed up old jalopies that were guided across the ice on the Detroit River to pick up shipments of Canadian whiskey. That is why it is so appropriate for this newest novel from Schultz to begin with a man falling through the ice. A classic Prohibition story. Men Walking On Water, published by Knopf Canada ($25)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Emily Schultz at Biblioasis

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Emily Schultz at Biblioasis

and set in 1927, opens with a Model T loaded with booze having just crashed through the icy Detroit. Alfred Moss, the driver who is carrying a bag of money, is now lost in the frozen river. It is this mystery that fuels Schultz’s book, keeps you turning the page. She is the kind of writer that knows how important it is to catch your attention, keep your gaze fixed on the words, and make you want to see this through to the end. That’s the kind of novel this is.That’s the kind of an effective writer she is. I’m better than half way through, and I seem to spend every waking moment, eager to finish this new work of fiction — it is that good!

Emily was at Biblioasis reading from Men Walking On Water to a packed house. She read from novel in a measured and effective way, and afterwords, the queue snaked up and around the bookshelves for book buyers seeking her autograph.

Now living and working in Brooklyn with a five-year-old son, this author who was named a finalist for the Trillium Book Award and selected by NPR and Kirkus for Best Books of the Year, is on a book tour to promote the novel whose subject is one that is dear to my heart, having written The Rumrunners. It is interesting what Schultz says about the influence of her family’s stories on the making of this book. She said when she was attending university here on the south shore of the Detroit River, she often gazed at the waterfront, daydreaming of its presence and its symbolic importance in her life. She said, “My father crossed the river himself, during the Vietnam War, to escape the U.S. Army. I looked at the river every day of my university years. The river could give you freedom, or money. It could also end your life. And it sits at the centre of my family’s story.

Schultz tells the story of her father coming across a pearl-handed revolver when he was 10 years old. It had belonged to his father, or Emily’s grandfather: “Its patina worn, it was already a relic by the 1950s. He took it out and held it in his hands, knowing he wasn’t supposed to have found this. Quietly he put it back and made no mention of it until he decided to collect our family’s history. By then, he knew where the gun had come from.”

Read this newest book by Emily Schultz. You will be drawn into the high-flying romantic period of the 1920s, the era of flappers and gangsters. I’m with Stephen King one hundred per cent when he remarked, “Emily Schultz is my new hero.”

Welcome home, Emily.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Emily Schultz at Biblioasis

Radish Poetry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe renowned award-winning poet Susan Holbrook led her merry band of poets to Biblioasis Books Thursday night (March 16) to read from their newly-minted book Radish, the result of work in the University of Windsor’s English Department creative writing course #498. This impressive chapbook, released by Biblioasis as No.5 in its South Detroit Chapbook Series, employs a novel approach with each student contributing a poem. In each case, however, the poem underwent an “erasure” procedure, whereby another student would remove words from the original in an effort to create yet another poem. The result, says Holbrook in her introduction, was a collaboration of sorts: “Some of these crystallize the original; some answer, playfully undermine, or hold hands with it…These works reveal the voices within our voices.” Fascinating. I was particularly impressed with Abigail Roelens’ piece They Worked Ninety Years Side by Side and Never Spoke A Word:

their mother had a silent womb/even the doctor said so and/he had put his head up to her/held his breath/didn’t even hear a ping of a pitchfork tine/”voter uterus eat come uno tomb”/—spring, 1925/to belgian farmers/it was a fair assumption/after that/ their mother and her still belly/ came in with extra vowels/birthed her twins in a cornfield/on county rd 8

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Terry Dang reading from his poem

It was a delightful evening, hosted at Biblioasis here, with Yanik Gallie as the emcee introducing some 16 writers. Among this talented bunch were Kaitlyn Benjamin, Terry Dang, Joe Rowley, Victoria Sinasac, and there was a neat piece by Ellie Hastings, who performed her poem side by side with Holbrook. Here are my photographs of the event.Nicole Clark.jpg

March reading

Last night, André Narbonne launched his impressive new book — his second published work — since Twelve Nights to Midnight. The reading, sponsored by Flat Singles Press, took place at Biblioasis Books on Wyandotte Street here in Windsor. The place was packed. Narbonne was joined by two notable poets, Melanie Janisse-Barlow and Eva H.D.

In photos above Narbonne is reading at the event that also featured Eva H.D. and Melannie Janisse-Barlow. Dan Wells stands at the back in the aisle listening to the reading.

Melanie Janissse-Barlow

Melanie Janissse-Barlow

Poet Tom Wayman in a review of Narbonne’s newest work wrote that the poet “provides an unflinching look a rural Ontario childhood. His deft poems recall those throw-away words uttered by a significant adult that can haunt one throughout one’s life, for example the mother cautioning a novice photographer: ‘Stop! / my mother cried. / It’s not a picture without someone in it.’ Or a child misunderstanding a pending divorce, when at a lake he hears his ‘father say he was / parting waves with the family.’ Other poems skillfully consider the grown child, nature and travels through time and geography. A sense of home grounds and sustains the poet; in contrast, he is aware that ‘no stranger / can draw anything but a self-portrait.’ And thanks to Narbonne’s amazing eye and command of his art we are shown the familiar in unexpected places in our world, like those birds the poet notices that roost in the letters of large advertising signs that ‘nest in the alphabet of commerce.’”

 

 

I’m in the midst of reading this book slowly, and will write something later. For now, here are some photographs of the events. It was so gratifying to see Narbonne’s family at the reading. (Simon and Pearl above) When I was younger, I was always accompanied by my children. I couldn’t afford a babysitter. As a result, my children tasted the best of Canadian literature through the 1970s and 1980s. The authors they met became their uncles and aunts and cousins …