Wade Davis: Cultural Awareness through Literature

Gleilson Miranda / Governo do Acre [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What an opener to our literary season! Robin shared an intriguing glimpse into Wade Davis’ life as an anthropologist, botanist and ethnobotanist. Ethnobotany, in case the term is new for you too, is the study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious and other uses. Originally, field work for Harvard and National Geographic drew him to the outermost (innermost?) reaches of this planet. Robin mentioned it would be easier to list where Wade Davis has not been in the world, than where he has gone.

He continues work in areas still almost unknown, living among indigenous communities as a member, and not merely observer. Robin decided to spare us the description of his “dysentery breakfast,” while we were sipping tea and enjoying goodies from the comfort of the Memorial Park Library! He shares his insights through writing, superb photography and speaking engagements. Robin said, “He writes with the soul of a poet.” One of his books is titled The Wayfinders, Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Thanks to Robin’s talk, I suspect many of us will be wanting to learn more from this explorer/scientist/author.



The gift of Rex Murphy

How appropriate that one of Canada’s best known newspaper columnists and commentators on radio and TV was brought up in one of the oldest European settlements in North America — which also happened to be in the last province to join Confederation, and barely did!

Fall in Carbonear, Newfoundland
Shhewitt [CC BY-SA 4.0] https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

For a refresher on Newfoundland, enjoy Mr. Murphy’s Reluctant Union here.

Anita’s presentation about Rex Murphy was sprinkled generously with her own sense of humour. Certainly, Rex Murphy is well appreciated by members of the club, who know him best as host of CBC Radio’s Cross-Country Checkup, commentator for CBC TV’s The National, and journalist for newspapers The National Post and The Globe & Mail. But did you know…

  • Rex Murphy’s mother loved literature and learning and his father was known for “linguistic dazzle.”
  • Rex Murphy was politically active very young, having entered Memorial University at fifteen. He was noticed (not in a good way) by Joey Smallwood, but the students ultimately got what they wanted!
  • In the 1980’s, he ran for political office in Newfoundland. Although he didn’t win, he decided he was better critiquing politics and politicians anyway.
  • He is author of two books, Canada and Other Matters of Opinion and Points of View (Penguin Random House)
  • Lifelong classical literature study underpins his writing. His way with words (& quotes) is like no other.
  • He is a fierce defender of free speech and will jump into messy, controversial topics himself — such as defending Alberta’s and the East Coast’s oil industry, for example!

There is much more to be found in Anita’s Presentation Summary.

The Club received a special gift: a letter from Rex Murphy himself. The letter is a gift to share, and can be read here, with the kind permission of Rex Murphy.

Wouldn’t it be great to have Mr. Dickens writing today?

Dickens has a lot in common with those who came before… that is, those in this year’s line-up of authors who use Humour, Irony and Satire in Literature to expose foolishness and corruption — with a view to pushing reform.

He knew what he wrote about: At twelve, he worked ten hours a day in a rotten, rat-infested “blacking” warehouse, putting labels on shoe polish. His family was thrown into debtor’s prison at this time. When he started writing in serial form, he allowed lower classes to read his work, though this was criticised as “pandering.”

Margaret quizzed us on actual-versus-fictional place names used in Dickens’ works. Hilarious! And then there are the ridiculous proper names and their unforgettable characters.

Along with a fascinating overview of his life and times, Margaret gave us some tips:

  • A Tale of Two Cities best describes the times Dickens lived in.
  • David Copperfield is the most autobiographical novel.
  • The Pickwick Papers, his first book, was written in a popular style in the 19th Century called “picaresque.”
  • Read What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (Daniel Pool) to understand Victorians.

And last, but certainly not least:


Happy September

Image by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

The days are growing shorter and the morning air has that bit of an edge to it. Yes, it’s September again and the end of another wonderful summer. It also means that it’s time to get ready for our first Calgary Women’s Literary Club meeting. We have an exciting year ahead of us as we explore our new topic, Cultural Awareness Through Literature.

I know that each of us is looking forward to some thought provoking sessions, engaging conversations and of course, to renewing old and new acquaintances over coffee. October 1st marks that date of our first meeting back. See you anytime after 1:30 at the Memorial Park Library.  

 Doloris Duval, President CWLC

Tina Fey: A prolific writer

No one could have done better justice to comedienne and writer Tina Fey than our own Kathy, who could be a stand-up comedienne herself. Kathy interspersed her presentation with many photos, video clips and readings. Amazingly, Tina Fey’s writing credits alone cover no less than nineteen categories.

All in all, Kathy herself will be a hard act to follow!

PLEASE CLICK HERE for Kathy’s summary.

Original image by Mingle Media TV, modified for Wikipedia
and shared under licence CC BY-SA 2.0