Every spring, thousands of birds from the south arrive in the boreal forest .The bird banding season at the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory at the tip of the Sleeping Giant will welcome some of them.. One spring, I spent an amazing week there.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
At Thunder Cape Bird Observatory
By Joan M. Baril
At five o’clock in the morning, the mist on the rocks is ankle deep. Far out across the lake, an island floats above the rosy haze as if levitating. We three run along the rocks of the shore, leaping from log to rock to patches of sand, clapping our hands. A song sparrow emerges from the weeds and flies ahead of us straight into the mouth of the trap.
He’s an old customer. He already has a band on his leg so we lift the back door and shoo him out. Then back and repeat: run, jump, clap, three humans springing like clumsy deer. Another bird startles out of the underbrush. Then two more flutter into the wide wire maw, sparrows all.
Again clapping, tired now. We want breakfast, coffee in the cabin. No more birds appear. We measure and weigh the sparrows, band and release them, put up the nets, catch an angry blue jay who screams as he is untangled showing us his long tongue.
The waves kiss the beach slipping between the rocks. The mist vanishes in an instant and the island settles down into the water. The pink globe turns on its fire. Another cup of coffee on the deck. Smell of water, dewy grass. Three mergansers bead the air and are duly noted in the book. A posse of cormorants wing by full of black intent. The net shimmers and a warbler as golden as the sun lies still as I untangle him and hold him in my palm. He does not struggle as I slip him into a cloth bag. When I take him out, he regards me with a dark eye. I weigh and measure him and set the narrow band on his impossibly thin leg. He flies off without a backward look.
After lunch, I walk back into the bush looking for mushrooms. It’s then I notice a miniscule nest in the crook of a cedar. The size of a thimble, it contains a single egg like a tiny white candy. When I lean closer, mama hummingbird appears in a whirr of wings, angry as only hummingbirds can be. She buzzes around my head as I back away and chases me all the way to the cabin.
Later, I take my colleagues to see the nest. But once off the path, I’m not sure where it is. We spend an hour searching, but we do not find it.
photo Damon Dowback
Friday, April 29, 2016
Hi fellow lit lovers. I met Pat Laser at the Dairy Hollow Writers Colony in Arkansas and I have been following her blog and poetry ever since. Pat is gifted, I'm sure you will agree. Here is her latest prize winner, "Travesty." This poignant work describes the cutting of trees "for the safety of walkers." Joan M. Baril
The walking trail through Wyndham Park, with oaks
and willows, maples, sycamores and gums:
a splashy autumn show for city folks
in step with robin songs, cicada hums.
One day, sweet woodsmoke in the air, they came:
a droning, giant buzz, like screaming knives
with swishing crashes following. The lame
excuse: obliterate what threatens lives.
They cut two hundred-plus: the young, the old,
the stately, vivid trees. Mimosas spared,
their listless beanpods left to hang like cold
and desiccated tears; but trailside’s bared.
The robins, mockingbirds have taken wing
but I am safe amidst this awful thing.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
The Night Stages. A review by Margaret Rose Cunningham
Jane Urquhart writes with assurance. Her imagery is elegant: Her sense of time and place authentic. Her characters ring true. A sadness, however, like a fog,blows through the book, tinting the tale at almost every turn.
“Night Stages “, set in the remote area of County Kerry, Ireland explores the meaning of separation , and the sorrows of broken families. You will be struck by the emotional depth of the novel and will not easily forget the problems and agony suffered by the characters.
Each of the main characters, Tam ,Niall and Niall’s brother Kieran suffer from deep traumas. Tam , because her love for Niall is not returned; Niall because he failed to help his brother Kieran, and Kieran because of his mother’s suicide at a vulnerable time in his life. The situation is not helped when the two brothers fall in love with the same woman. Only Annie , a countrywoman ,and her friends, are a redeeming presence in Kieran’s life when she takes him into her home.
At the conclusion of the book ,we are left with some hope that the suffering of all of them will be mitigated. Tam has left Ireland only to be stopped in Gander , NFL. by the fog. There she meditates on Canadian Ken Lochhead’s mural for three days. When the fog dissipates, the plane can take off.Hope replaces the sadness.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
My book launch is for real. May 17th in my home city Thunder Bay at Lakehead University and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
Stay tuned for exact times. I have waited for this memoir for so long and I can hardly wait to read it. .
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
When will greening
Your cousin Autumn
Flies colours for us
But you. YOU, are as dull
as dishwater, and
one of your months
True, you’ve lengthened
our days but where
IS YOUR COLOUR GREEN?
IS YOUR COLOUR GREEN?
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Good afternoon JoanApril is shaping up to be a wonderful month for NOWW events! Grab your calendars and read more about them below!
1) Thursday, April 7th, 7pm @ The Foundry: A NOWW Mix & Mingle* Come out and meet other NOWW members, have a drink and some food and relax for the evening! Nothing like some time spent with your fellow writers! * This is a 'no-host' event (you are responsible for your own bill)
Readers Include: Tessa Soderberg and Doug Diaczuk2) Tuesday, April 19th, 7pm Brodie St. Library, Fire Side Room: "Novel Experiences" Reading. All welcome and it is free.* We are still looking for another reader! If you are interested and have a novel excerpt ready please email me as soon as possible!
3) Saturday, April 23rd, 2pm Kenora Public Library: "Warming Up the Pen" Workshop with Charles Wagamese* Be sure to check out this fantastic workshop at the Kenora Public Library. You can find more information here: http://www.nowwwriters.ca/workshops.html
* Be sure to get your tickets for our Literary Awards Party as it is coming up soon! You can find more information and purchase tickets here: http://www.nowwwriters.ca/literary-awards-party.html4) Saturday, May 7th, The Prince Arthur Hotel: The Literary Awards Party
Hope everyone has a wonderful day and I look forward to seeing you next week at the Foundry!5) Saturday, May 7th, Mary J.L. Black Library: Michael Christie Workshop* There are only a few spots left for the Michael Christie Workshop! Be sure to register soon as you won't want to miss this! http://www.nowwwriters.ca/workshops.html
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Good morning Literary Blogsters,
As you'll see in the note below, Joan Thomas has an excellent writing workshop lined up for this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mary J.L. Black Library.
We'll break for an hour during the workshop: you can either go out or bring your own lunch. Tea and coffee are provided.
This workshop is full, with a waiting list. If you can't make it, please let us know right away so that someone else can participate.
Here's a note from Joan Thomas about what to expect:
I’m really looking forward to meeting all of you and spending next Saturday talking about our shared passion for writing.
This won’t be a workshop in the sense of reading and commenting on each others’ work; it’s a “master class”—direct instruction with examples and discussion. I hope both emerging and experienced writers will find the material thought-provoking and relevant to their work.
Bring a notebook and pen, and any questions you have about our two subjects: Narrative Voice and Point of View in the morning, and Pace in the afternoon.
We’ll be talking about things like . . . How do we decide whether the 1st or 3rd person is more appropriate for a story? Why do editors get so worked up about lapses in point of view? What does “voice” mean in the 3rd person, and how do we create it? Has fiction speeded up in our lifetime? How do we create suspense and a sense of movement in character-driven (as opposed to plot-based) fiction?
See you soon,
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Fifteen Dogs, An Apologue
An Apologue: a fable, using animals or inanimate objects to convey a moral lesson.
If you like fables and enjoy the company of dogs I suggest you read Scotia Bank Giller Prize Winner, Fifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis. However, if you are expecting a feel-good story of loyal, cuddly canine companions, you better pass on this one.
This is a pointed fable, similar to Orwell's Animal Farm, although Alexis delves deeper than the political, exposing the darker (and at times the lighter) side of the human animal's psyche. Based on the premise of a divine bet, dogs take on human consciousness, endowed with everything from appreciating beauty and poetry to grim survivalist instinct, pack mentality, intolerance and domination.
The book is a thinly veiled poke at mankind's pretensions of moral evolution. To borrow H.G. Well's phrase, humans are often still "shambling toward the light."
This an important work and I'm really happy it won. It is clever, beautifully imagined, and graced with an ending that leaves the reader redeemed with hope.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin. I loved this book. From the first sentence , it moves at a pleasant leisurely pace. Set in Ireland, Toibin introduces Nora Webster, a widow who has just lost her husband. Her four children have lost their father. Nora is destabilized by grief and yet she has to look after her family in spite of little money. Her extended family both helps and hinders her search for an independent life now that her husband is gone. Love to hear from anyone who has also read it. Send your thoughts and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, March 25, 2016
The Illegal, by Lawrence Hill wins Canada Read
"The Illegal asks Canadians to imagine the humanity of one refugee, and thus all refugees," said Hughes in her final defence of the novel.
The Canada Reads finale ended with a dramatic vote, which forced panellist Adam "Edge" Copeland to break a 2-2 split with The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami. Copeland reluctantly voted to eliminate The Hero's Walk.
Once the winner was declared, Hill came out to surprise the panellists. The author was full of praise for Canada Reads.
"If you win a literary prize, that prize will be discussed for a day or so, and then fade. With Canada Reads, people are discussing five Canadian books for months," said Hill.
Panellists also praised actor Vinay Virmani for passionately defending The Hero's Walk, which came in second.
"He truly shone a light on corners of this book that I didn't see," said Copeland.
Virmani recently purchased the film rights to the book.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
5 books. 4 days of debate. 1 winner.
Five prominent Canadians chose a book they believe is the one novel all of Canada should read. Over four days of live debate, they narrow the list down until only one remains.
Canada Reads takes place March 21-24, 2016. Here's how you can tune in:
- 10 a.m. ET. video livestream on CBCbooks.ca
- On-demand video will be available each afternoon
- 11 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. in NFLD) on CBC Radio One
- 8 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. in NFLD) on CBC Radio One
- The podcast will be available here or on iTunes.
- 4 p.m. local time on CBC Television (4:30 in NFLD), except Tues. March 22, when it will air at 3 p.m. local time
- 7 p.m. ET on documentary Channel
- 9 p.m. PT on documentary Channel