Sunday, April 19, 2015

Free workshop with Richard Wagamese

NOWW will hold a free writing workshop led by internationally acclaimed Aboriginal author Richard Wagamese. Mr. Wagamese is the author of thirteen titles from major Canadian publishers including novels, poetry and biographical work. His novel Indian Horse (2012) was the People’s Choice winner in the national Canada Reads competition. The workshop will be on Saturday, May 9 from 10 am to noon at Mary J.L. Black Library, 901 S. Edward Street. Seating is limited and pre-registration is mandatory at Sorry, no walk-ins.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Michael Christie, at Thunder Bay Art Gallery

Local writer, Michael Christie, whose latest novel, If I Fall, If I Die, set in Thunder Bay, has won great reviews from Quill and Quire, The New York Times and elsewhere.

Michael  will be reading at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery on April 30 at 7:30 pm. All welcome.

. If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie. A little boy is kept inside by his mentally ill mother. One day he goes outside.

Wow! Boyden here and Wagamese back again. Double wow!

Joseph Boyden

In honour of Mental Health Week, eminent authors, Joseph Boyden and Richard Wagamese will talk about their journeys of resilience, recovery and reclaiming their histories through story telling at the Victoria Inn, May 6, 2015. Start times depend on type of ticket. See below.

Two types of tickets available. General admission is 25$ and includes a presentation and book signing. Starts at 6:30.  OR VIP Admission for 40$ includes a light supper. starts at 5:00 pm.

To purchase tickets go to http://the fine Tickets on sale now.

Wagamese's latest novel, Medicine Walk

Monday, April 13, 2015

Two great nights at the Northern Women’s Bookstore.

Carrie Saxifrage Author of memoir The Big Swim: Coming Ashore in a World Adrift

April 7 and a visit by author Carrie Saxifrage to read excerpt from her memoir: The Big Swim: Coming Ashore in a World Set Adrift.

This is an unusual memoir.  It is a series of short stories about the search for self discovery, environmental sustainability and the right action to bring this about.

Saxifrage is a strong writer. Several people at the reading mentioned her compelling prose. People asked for more. The book is available at the Northern Women’s Bookstore.

On April 12, a happy birthday celebration for co-founder of the bookstore, Margaret Phillips. In 2008, the NOWW presented Margaret with the Khoui Award for her contribution to literature in Northwestern Ontario.  This year she will receive a doctorate of letters from Lakehead University. All her life, Margaret has been a strong community force for feminism, Aboriginal rights, local literature, social justice. Reading the list of her accomplishments can make you dizzy but you can read about a few if you scroll down to her photo a few posts below this one.

So the singing was heartfelt when all present sang Happy Birthday. What a swell party if was!

Monday, April 6, 2015

I can't believe it! My 42nd Story Published

I can't believe it.

I have just received a copy of The New Orphic Review with my story "The Monument." This is my 42 nd published story/memoir piece. So a big thank you  to Antagonish  Review, Ten Stories High, Prairie Fire, Room, 807, New Orphic, and all the other lit mags who have tossed me into print.. It is always a thrill to see one's story in black and white. And thanks to good friends who have given me good advice and help. No writer can do without the writing group.

The latest story, "The Monument" is a humorous tale of Prime Minister Mackenzie King's adventures  in the 1939 royal tour across Canada. Of course, any story about Mackenzie King is, of necessity. humorous.

I think if I ever get 50 stories published, (if I live so long), I will hire a hall and have a huge celebration! I'll let you know in a few years.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Plantar Fasciitis, a Florida Condo and Books by Joan M. Baril

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

What do you do when struck down with nasty plantar fasciitis, unable to walk but only hobble a few steps at a time. I found Barnes and Nobel and boosted their sales considerably during the month of March. My balcony had a lovely view, the weather was balmy and so I read, did foot exercises, read, swam, read, more exercises, a continuous loop, day after sunny day.  I also finished my novel, Vermillion House, and then deleted the last two chapters. The world’s slowest writer plugs on.

I read eight books and here are the six I most enjoyed and recommend.

Euphoria by Lily King. A novel based on the love life of anthropologist, Margaret Mead. (bet you didn’t know Margaret had a most interesting love life, right?) Set in Borneo in the 1930’s, three young gifted anthropologists are caught in a love triangle. Great plot in a steamy jungle.

Eventide by Kent Haruf. In the high plains Colorado town of Holt, two aging bachelors encounter unwanted change, a young boy stoically cares for his alcoholic grandfather and a disabled couple try to protect their children from violence. Believe me, you never forget Haruf’s characters or his deep sense of humanity. A kind book in a cruel but beautiful world.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Rust is a Form of Fire

Thunder Bay native son, Joe Fiorito has written a wonder book, strange, insightful, eloquent - a complete blast.  Joe spent 18 hours over the course of three days on a downtown corner in Toronto watching, just watching.

A columnist for the Toronto Star, Joe knows the hidden city, the city within the city. Here, as the Watcher, he celebrates what most seldom notice, recording it, using a few words, a phrase, a sharp sentence, a bit of overheard dialogue,  and ends up with a complex and human portrait. He picked a corner where people stop, where the street cars pick up and drop off passengers, where small things happen.

In the introduction, Joe mentions occasionally being approached by a stranger and they talked. "Why? Because we are, all of us, human. Because we are never better, more whole, than when we are in each others' company."

A strange thing happened to this reader while reading. A parallel narrative ran in my head as many of the incidents and non-events Joe observed brought to mind similar observations of my own in different places and times. Many of his sentences lit a little sparkler, illuminating something from my past.

Joe says, "if you need to give what I have done a name, you may call it poetry, or you may call it this.
Non-narrative, non-fiction.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Margaret Philips, recipient of Honorary Degree 2015

Margaret Phillips

Lakehead University Names Thunder Bay's Margaret Philips as Recipient of Honorary Degree

Margaret Phillips is co-founder of the Northern Woman’s Bookstore and was a member of the Advisory Committee that created the Women’s Studies Program at Lakehead University.

Phillips is an alumni of Lakehead, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies in 1980. During most of her adult life, she has worked for social justice, particularly with feminist issues and aboriginal rights. Her early work in the recreation field was, for a young woman at that time, pioneering.

Phillips has served as a Director on the Board of Inter Pares, an international development organization seeking change in the status of women worldwide, and as a Board member of the Canadian Council on Social Development. She was also the executive director of the Lakehead Social Planning Council from 1971 to 1981.

In 2008, the Northwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop honoured Phillips by presenting her with the Kouhi Award for her outstanding contributions to the literature of Northwestern Ontario.

Margaret will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters.

Friday, March 27, 2015

April is jumping with literary opportunities - read on!

NOWW is delighted to present a reading by Canadian poet and novelist Karen Connelly on Friday 17th April at 7pm in MJL Black Library. Her first book, a poetry collection entitled The Small Words in My Body (1990), won the Pat Lowther Award for poetry in 1991. Her second book, Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal (1992), won the Governor General's Award for non-fiction. Her experiences in Thailand served as the basis for her novel about a political prisoner, The Lizard Cage, which won the Orange Broadband Prize for New Writers and was long-listed for the 2007IMPAC Award.

Richard Wagamese 

Here are some upcoming NOWW events to mark on your calenda
  • Richard Wagamese will also be speaking at NOWW's Literary Awards Party on Friday, May 8 at 6 pm at the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel and Suites. Tickets are $30 and are available at Northern Woman's Bookstore, The Book Shelf, and online. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours soon to avoid disappointment!

  • On April 23, NOWW will be offering a free poetry workshop with Lynda Monahan. The workshop will be held at Waverley Library Auditorium from 7-9 pm. All are welcome; no pre-registration required. Click here for more information.

  • NOWW is still accepting submissions for its e-Writer in Residence Program manuscript critique service. Submit your prose manuscript for critique by April 30. Details can be found here.
For more information on any of these events, please


Amy Jones
Administrative Assistant, NOWW

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Book Bag for Book Clubs, a Service of the Thunder Bay Library

A letter from Helen, the Book Bag Lady at the library. Great books here. I have read Longbourn and loved it, gave it to a friend and she loved it.  Munro is always wonderful. And doesn't Desiccate by Bonnie Ferrante sound good?  I have made a decision to try out some YA books and Ferrante's may be my first pick. Many thanks on behalf of the library, great Thunder Bay book clubs. 

Hello Joan
I'm not sure if I have sent out an email about these new titles or not, so forgive me if I am being repetitive. Here are some new book bag titles that you may be interested in:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I thought we should have this as part of our Book Club selection since Harper Lee's long-awaited sequel will be out in June....

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion donated by the (D.E.A.R.) Drop Everything and Read Book ClubThe humorous sequel to The Rosie Project

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr donated by the Beyond the Words Book Club
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instantNew York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Longbourn by Jo Baker donated by the Food for Thought Book Club
A look at the world of Pride and Prejudice from the servant's point of view, where other lives are simultaneously lived with very different concerns and dramas.

Desiccate by local author Bonnie Ferrante donated by the Surprise Lake Book Club
Book 1 of the "Sphere of Vision" Young Adult Fantasy series.
Leya Truelong has the potential to become a powerful Double Vision Mistress, if she can control her impulsiveness and temper and avoid being stripped of her gifts in a painful and debilitating ritual. But, Zandra, a devious bully, knows exactly how to rouse Leya’s anger. The girls’ battle of wits mirrors the greater conflict between the Mistresses and the renegades. Can Leya, a simple peasant girl, hold her own in a world of deception and betrayal?

Vintage Munro by Alice Munro donated by the Golden Heads and Silver Readers Book Club.
In this collection of short stories, Alice Munro has unfolded the wordless secrets that lie at the heart of all human experience. She has won three Governor General’s Literary Awards in Canada, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award.

A big thank you to all the book clubs that have donated books for the Book Bag collection. Your donations help to keep the selection varied and fresh for everyone. If anyone would like to reserve one of these new titles for their club, please call or email me.
Thank You
Helen Cimone
Public Services Assistant

Mary J.L. Black Library
901 Edward Street South, Thunder Bay, On P7E 6R2 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tales of Cats and Dogs by Joan Baril

Early every morning, the cat, Mickey, jumped on the dressing table and admired himself in the mirror.  Mickey was a striped tom with a big-guy hauteur, a long ringed tail and a handsome brown and grey symmetrically striped face.  Mickey began his morning routine by sitting completely still, his tail unmoving and hanging over the edge of the dresser, his chest and body erect, facing the glass straight on. After a long perusal of his facial perfections, Mickey tucked in his chin to view his wide beige chest, and straight beautifully-banded legs. Then, still sitting erect and still keeping both eyes on the mirror, he turned his head a fraction to one side and, after a long approving look, admired the other side.

Thus, every morning, for many years, the couple in the bed woke to see Mickey performing his morning rites and every morning they laughed, a pleasant way to start each day and a wonderful way to maintain a long-lasting marriage. As soon as one of them stepped out of bed, Mickey jumped down and headed for the food bowl in the corner of the kitchen, where he sat and meewed until breakfast was served.


Hobson the cat, who came along much later, could also maintain a six-mile stare. If he heard the sounds from the neighbouring house signaling that Snoopy, the husky, was being let outside into the back yard, Hobson, usually a lethargic cat, zoomed onto a table under a side window where he could look down on the dog. He then entered staring mode. It took a while for Snoopy to look up and see Hobson’s fat form and unblinking yellow eyes trained on him. The dog would shake a bit, sometimes take a run around his yard, but, in the end, he could not help himself. Returning to stand under the window, he lifted his head and barked. And barked again. And again. Hobson merely stared, rock still, eye contact made. The dog’s owner, an elderly Polish woman, flew out her back door, a rolled newspaper in hand and administered a few smacks to poor Snoopy’s flank. “You, quiet you,” she yelled as the dog cowered before her.

Muttering, she returned to the house. She never spotted Hobson in the window, a stone statue, still staring.

Snoopy cowered, defeated, chastened, head bowed. Time passed. Hobson stared. Slowly, so slowly, the dog lifted its head and locked eyes with the cat. Before he could stop himself, he barked. And barked. Again and again. The old Polish woman charged out her back door, a rolled up newspaper in her hand. Thwack, thwack. I secretly believe that Hobson was enjoying himself. This was the part he had been waiting for. He may have smiled inwardly, but outwardly, he did not move a muscle as he maintained the laser eye. “Enough,” I said, “of sadistic cat pleasures.” Ignoring his aggrieved meow, I scooped him up and removed him from the room.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Moon by Robert Matejko

The Moon

The moon is a godess who opens her eyes at night,
as the sun,
it takes its reprieve,
and hides us from its golden hued sight.

The moon is worshipped by the totem of the owl,
as nocturnal lights come to life in the form of firelies,
and the sweet lunacy of the moon,
it falls upon us in curtains purest pearly white light.

I dance under the moon with both devils and angels,
hoping to catch moonbeams of its light upon my skin;
its waxing and waning phases,
they reflect the rising and receding tides within my soul,
as I seek to lose control of my faculties,
so that the moon may bless me with her maddening power,
that has always stirred in my artists muse within.

For you see,
the great archetypes of music and of poetry,
of art and all other humanly artistic aspirations,
they rise most magnificently under the power of the full and pearly white moon,
as lovers swoon under its lights mysterious power,
and music flows like bacchuses' wine into the fingertips of composers,
who sleep and make love to their instruments under the moons magnificent power at night.

As I dance and laugh upon the moons surface in my mind,
I imagine butterflies catching kite strings flown by swan birds,
so that those butterflies wings may kiss the face of the moon for just one moment,
as the carriage of swans makes a circuit around it,
their wings glistening with a mysterious and mystic light,
under the sheen of the moon’s pockmarked face,
which is revealed to us each and every night.

Were that the moon were something I could put in my pocket,
I would carry its light with me,
but alas,
I fear that the induced luancy of a maddened artist would seize upon me forever,
and not simply for one night;
I would grow afraid that having but a fraction of the moons light carried upon my person,
that it would make the owl totem grow covetous,
and a phalanx of owls flight would descend upon me to take away my sight,
for the sin of taking a fraction of the light that comes upon us all at night.

I shall contend myself with looking upon it,
in all its phases and propagations,
and I shall trick the universe with the parallax shift of my fingers,
as I cover the moon with my fingers and than my hand,
and I shall than uncover it and let my face be bathed in its light yet again,
so that I may receive its blessing of lunatic power,
that embowers the human mind with artistic desire,
as devils and angels dance with me in my mind,
upon the surface of the moon,
that in each midnight sky of my life I find.