Monday, February 2, 2015

A chapbook in the making

Don Domanski is a marvellous poet in the true sense of the word, his work full of natural marvels. Years ago the "Globe and Mail" asked me to review the finalists for the Governor General's Award for Poetry, including Don Domanski's book, "Wolf-Ladder." I still remember (more or less) a line I wrote then: "Giving the Governor General's Award to Domanski would be like giving first prize at a dog show to a wolf." (In fact, it would be a few more years before he won.) Espresso Books is a limited-edition chapbook series edited by Rebecca Comay, Bernard Kelly, and me. We all act as editors while Bernard does the design and typesetting, Rebecca and I choose the cover stock, and I sew the books and bind them in paper wrappers with pasted-on labels. I am in the middle of binding a series of poems by Don Domanski called "Fetishes of the Floating World." The cover paper is a heavy Japanese linen. In the first photo several copies are being glued into their covers. The second photo is our logo (from the previous chapbook) and the third is our series to date, which I keep out in my work room. They always sell out, although there are a few copies left of the previous one, Sandra Alland's "Naturally Speaking." You can read about (and order it) here:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Return to the Market

The Market Wedding (with art by Regolo Ricci) was my second picture book, an adaptation of Abraham Cahan's short story "The Ghetto Wedding." My version takes place in Toronto's Kensington Market and to celebrate the new edition from Groundwood Books we took a little walking tour of the market. Here you can see a photograph of the Kiever Synagogue, model for the one in the book. The tour can be found on Groundwood's blog at

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

'Show to End all Shows' on CTV News

Sean Wilson of the Ottawa Writer's Festival has named "The Show to End all Shows," book two of Master Melville's Medicine Show, as a Best Read of the Season. "Fantastic writing. His children's books are so engaging, so beautiful, so wonderful." *** You can watch it here:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vicky Metcalf Award

I was thrilled and honoured to be this year's recipient of the Vicky Metcalf Award for Young People. The event, at the Glenn Gould Theatre, was lovely and I had a chance to talk with some writers I hadn't before--especially Miriam Toews, Ken Babstock, and Tyler Keevel who came in all the way from Wales. Receiving the award is both a practical and an emotional lift and I am grateful to the Writers Trust, the Metcalf Foundation, the jurors, and everyone else involved. Pictured are (l to r) Joan Clark, Cary Fagan (also winner of the 'baggy pants award'), Miriam Toews, Ken Babstock, Susan Musgrave, and Tyler Keevel.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A new translation

I haven't posted a translation for some time, so here's "Mr. Zinger's Hat" in Korean. There's always something magical about seeing your words in another language.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wilfrid Laurier Common Reading Program chooses "My Life Among the Apes"

It is a great honour to have Wilfrid Laurier University choose my story collection, "My Life Among the Apes" for this year's Common Reading Program. Fifteen hundred copies are being distributed to incoming arts students who are invited to read and talk about the book and use it as a launch pad for all kinds of conversations. I'll be visiting the campus for two days in September to talk, read, give workshops, and meet with students. I'm sure it will be the highlight of the fall for me. So Laurier students, I look forward to meeting you. There's a Facebook page, "Laurier Arts Common Reading," that you can join and post on.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Words and pictures

Here, it is, folks, the book you've been waiting for (you just didn't know it). Enough with those 'talented' artists doing such beautiful artwork in picture books. It's time for the amateurs to step up. And admit it, don't you sometimes want to do something but feel maybe you're just not good enough? If so, it's time for you to read "I Wish I Could Draw." New from Groundwood Books. (Thanks to the website canlitforlittlecanadians for this image of the cover alongside a drawing from the book.)