Doloris shared with us “an author who understood the fundamental role that storytelling can play in building bridges of cultural understanding.” It wasn’t until age twenty-three that Mr. Wagamese reconnected with his own Ojibway (Anishinaabe) people. Fortunately, he gives us all an opportunity to understand them so much more, through his writings.
Richard Wagamese was part of Canada’s 60’s SCOOP when it was common practice to ‘scoop’ newborns from mothers on reserves, placing them with mostly middle-class Canadians of European descent. His parents, victims themselves of a residential school system that “tried to scrape the Indian out of their insides,” (Richard Wagamese) had abandoned their children. At three, he was separated from his siblings and sent to various foster homes before being adopted at nine. At sixteen, he was living on the streets, escaping an abusive home life.
Thanks, Betty, for choosing to present Alan Bennett, a perfect end to our entertaining and thought-provoking season of humour, irony and satire!
Betty read from the charming novella The Uncommon Reader, wherein Queen Elizabeth gets hooked on reading after chancing upon a mobile library van while walking her corgis. This book had been the first book Betty had read by Alan Bennett, and thereafter she was hooked. After Betty’s presentation, CWLC members are too!
Many of us had seen — if not read — The Lady in the Van, the funny, poignant story about the actual relationship Mr. Bennett developed with a true eccentric. Betty noted that Alan Bennett’s works have been said to be “too English.” Betty would argue that anyone can enjoy them.
CHECK HERE for the Wikipedia page and note especially the body of work by this actor, playwright, screenwriter and author, and the numerous awards and nominations. It is awe-inspiring to see how much someone can do in a lifetime — and is still active! .
The CWLC webmaster is many steps behind our program in 2019. Not sure Christmas is her best time to get caught up, but she’s trying!
On April 16, CWLC welcomed Liz Howard, poet and the University of Calgary “Canadian Writer in Residence.” Liz was introduced as a writer of “humility and brilliance” by Caitlin Spencer, Coordinator for the Calgary Distinguished Writers program.
Ms. Howard spoke about her poetic practise, her background and how she became a writer. She grew up off-reserve, in Chapleau, a small northern Ontario logging town. She obtained a B.Sc. in Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Toronto and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph.
Her poetry reflects the sense of being balanced between the worlds of her Anglophone mother and her First Nations father.
Ms. Howard’s remarkable presentation included readings from her first book, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2016. A too-brief discussion on “the problem with Canada” followed.
Here’s another chance to enjoy more from Natalie Meisner, as playwright and actor! The Calgary Public Library downtown is hosting a free play, but with only 40 spots available, it’s worthwhile to book a seat for the 7:00 – 8:30 pm performance. You can reserve seats, if you follow the link below.
Program Coordinator Sandra Ens introduced our November 12th special guest speaker. Natalie Meisner is coordinator of the Mount Royal University Writer-in-Residence Program and a professor in the MRU Department of English where she works in the areas of creative writing, drama, and gender/sexuality studies.
Professor Meisner, who is also a published author and playwright, spoke engagingly about the importance of telling stories outside the mainstream so that other voices are represented at the table of post-modern literature. In addition to this focus on diversity and the “lit of now,” her teaching emphasizes the role of empathy in helping emerging writers engage with their subjects to craft stories that create community. She concluded her presentation by referencing the shift in her own writing away from tragedy and anger toward comedy as a means of effecting social change.
After reading an excerpt from her very amusing work of non-fiction, Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family, Professor Meisner answered questions from the membership that confirmed the idea that literature is something we make, not just something we read.
A whole Canadian political news cycle has passed since Helle’s April 9 presentation on the singular and spirited political commentator Allan Fotheringham. Which is exactly why you will want to read or reread Helle’s comments about the author and why she says, “Today, more than ever, we could use more humour, sarcasm and irony to keep politicians and people in the public eye on their toes.” Even writing in times that were relatively easygoing compared to today’s political correctness, Mr. Fotheringham was the subject of 26 lawsuits: He only lost two!
CLICK HERE to read more of Helle’s timely presentation.
Janet Halls has a fitting author event to showcase for Remembrance Day, for CWLC and others. When We Were Shadows was written by a Calgarian and former teacher (coincidentally, a neighbour of Janet Halls.) Janet Wees worked closely with “Walter” to bring his story to others. Even in the Netherlands, few were aware of this story. Although technically this is a book for youth, it is a riveting read for adults too.
Synopsis from the CPL Program registration:
Based on a true story, When We Were Shadows is the story of Walter, a young Jewish boy and his family. They stay one step ahead of the Nazis in Holland during the Second World War, eventually hiding in a hidden village deep in the Dutch woods, forced to rely on strangers for their safety. It is a story of human resilience, the power of family, and the kindness of strangers. Suitable for ages 12 and up.
WHERE? Memorial Park Library, Main Floor Salon
WHEN? Monday, November 11, 1-2 pm
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER: (Not required, but recommended, as only 42 spaces are available. Your CPL library card number is needed for registration.)