At 114 years young, the Calgary Women’s Literary Club will be meeting for the first time ever on Zoom, and not in our beloved Memorial Park Library.
If you are new to Zoom and need help getting started, please let us know. One of us will provide support and/or extra practise with Zoom, prior to the first meeting.
Our first meeting on Tuesday, October 6 will be an informal one, to let members visit and try out the technology. So… no commute, no parking woes! Instead, about 1:45-1:50 pm, take a last look in the mirror, grab a nice beverage and snack, and settle into a comfy chair at home across from your computer screen. Find the email you will have received from us containing the Zoom link. Click on it, optionally hold your breath or (better yet) take a sip, and you should be ushered in.
Guests are welcome: Email us at email@example.com
The following week, we will continue with our long-awaited Cultural Awareness Through Literature session.
On March 10, 2020, Sandra Ens introduced our guest speaker Sharanpal Ruprai, this year’s Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary. Dr. Ruprai is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies including Exposed and Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Canadian Women Poets. She is also the author of two other volumes of poetry: Seva, a coming of age collection which speaks movingly about experiences from Ruprai’s Sikh girlhood; and her most recent collection, the humorous and evocative Pressure Cooker Love Bomb, which was named a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. As Dr. Ruprai engaged us with readings from her body of work, we were encouraged as she was “to cut the noise out of the poetry” and to be mindful of the need for openness about the multiples of culture and religion.
CLICK HERE for more on Pressure Cooker Love Bomb and its poet.
Cecilia’s lifelong passion for William Shakespeare was clearly evident in her enthusiastic presentation on October 16, structured in the form of a five-act Shakespearean play.
Each succeeding act consisted of defined topics, such as family and friends who influenced his writing, his humour as well as various characters who inhabited his plays.
Cecilia’s power point presentation (Act IV) in exquisite pictures, detailed her extensive personal experience with Shakespeare’s live theatre as well as journeys to Stratford in the United Kingdom and Canada.
Shakespeare’s words of wisdom, his philosophy of life and humour still resonate with us today.
Sandra Ens has taught Robertson Davies to many English students. Now it’s our turn to find out why! Davies’ style of writing has been out of favour: He uses long sentences and depicts a non-multicultural Canada of times gone by. Yet, his paragraphs, full of literary allusions, can be “unpacked” by an intelligent reader. Is that not us?
Sandra explained that Robertson Davies’ humour is gentle and never malicious. You won’t find many gags. Stories build, characters are well-developed and timing is everything to reveal truth in an unexpected light. Sandra reminded us that truth lies at the heart of comedy, that dying is easy but comedy is hard — and that it takes great skill by an author.
Davies’ comedy is in a SHAKESPEAREAN TRADITION: Satire is to seek improvement and solutions (see also ARISTOPHANES) but delivered through characters that are larger than life, exuberant and expound about life. Laughs will follow!
For her presentation on November 20, Anne Tingle took us back in time to the Golden Age of ancient Greece, and the plays of Aristophanes.
After an engrossing explanation of Aristophanes and his times, Anne surprised many of us with a Reader’s Theatre. Contrary to Greek times, she had assembled an all-female cast (several of our members and a guest) to read parts of Lysistrata, her favourite Aristophanes’ play. Hilarity ensued!
Anne disclosed she was using a turn-of-the-century (i.e. circa 1900) translation for the (relative) comfort of her readers and audience. A 2005 translation was apparently even racier! What a “reveal!” More laughs!
Cultures have changed, but how recognisable are human characteristics, despite a span of 2400+ years!
Aristophanes used satire and farce to highlight the need for peace, order and good government. Although there is no evidence he had influence politically, his artistic influence is incredible, and his plays are still performed.
We were so honoured by the presence of two Calgary authors on October 23rd. Poet Rosemary Griebel introduced Marcello Di Cintio, who was in the midst of his three-month tenure, delivering programs, mentoring aspiring and established writers and presenting to august audiences such as the CWLC! [CLICK HERE to learn about Rosemary’s “Literary Bookmark” in Inglewood.]
Growing up, Marcello described himself as a science nerd who liked to write stories: He graduated with dual degrees, English and Microbiology. Shortly after, he volunteered in Ghana to teach biology for three months, then travelled the next nine. His first published writing was an article in City Palate about weird food he ate while travelling, and Africa inspired his first book, Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa. He was completely hooked on travel.
Trying to get his first book published, he got some very sage advice from a publisher: That his books should reflect not a traveller who writes, but a writer who travelled. And does he travel, but not to easy-going resort destinations! Following his time in Africa, he has been drawn to the Middle East, Persian culture, and the concept of walls as barriers and the people who live along them.
In discussing his most recent book, Pay No Heed to the Rockets, Marcello mentioned he has visited Israel and Palestine nine times. He connected with writers and others in the literary world, who provided him with “a backstage pass” to interesting people. He sought to bring a fresh perspective from individuals in conflict-riddled areas: ageing poets, young novelists (not a common writing form in that culture,) a Bedouin writer of a fairy tale that won the Astrid Lundgrun prize, a teenager who writes on Facebook… To follow more of Marcello’s illuminating, inspiring journeys and writings PLEASE CLICK HERE You will find Marcello Di Cintio is, without a doubt, a writer who has travelled!
There is one last Favourite Author to post, shared by Marcia Century in April 2018. Marcia’s favourite genre is crime fiction and her favourite author is Donna Leon. Almost none in the audience have read this author, and we are grateful Marcia made this recommendation!
Donna Leon was born in New Jersey in 1942. This is the only consistent fact Marcia found in her research. The author has lived her adult life between Venice and Switzerland, where her books were published in German. Leon refuses to have her books published in Italian to retain her privacy in Venice. Her works are translated in 35 languages.
Since Marcia’s presentation, a new novel (29th in the series) has come out. In other words, her non-stereotypical Commissario has solved more than a major crime a year in Venice since 1992. Yes, this author was first published at 50! She finds writing effortless, doing one scene every morning and starting the next one before turning off the computer. Critics call her prose “exquisite.” Marcia described her writing as intelligent, intense, subtle, funny, satirical and angry — “character studies wrapped around the heart of a mystery.” There are three more Donna Leon books to discover: a cookbook, a book of essays on Venice and a multi-sensory publication of music, painting and the literary arts.
Could it be the polar vortex that is making our club’s winter break seem so long? I know that I, for one, am really looking forward to resuming our weekly meetings. And having said that, I am very pleased to announce that the first meeting of The Calgary Women’s Literary Club will take place on Tuesday, MARCH 5th. Our usual meeting space is reserved, Lynn Koltutsky and Flora Spackman have volunteered to bring refreshments and Sandra Ens is looking forward to presenting her paper. The tea and coffee will be on and I look forward to seeing everyone again. Until then, do stay warm. A Chinook or spring is just around the corner.