Jaspreet Singh: CPL Author in Residence


On October 15, 2019, we welcomed special guest Jaspreet Singh, an internationally renowned novelist, essayist, poet and short-story writer. He was accompanied by Christine Gingerick of the Calgary Public Library Foundation, our marvelous tour guide when the new library was unveiled, and Calgary poet Rosemary Griebel. Mr. Singh is the 2019 Calgary Public Library’s Author in Residence.

Mr. Singh read excerpts from ELENA FERRANTE, of whom he is a huge fan. He spoke of the art of Ms. Ferrante’s English translator Ann Goldstein, which segued smoothly to reading part of his essay “My Mother, My Translator,” which you can (should!) read in entirety (link provided below.)

This poignant essay begins with a relatively short visit his mother made to Canada. Her son’s first book, 17 Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir, had been published. She had arrived with her own translation into Punjabi of the first of the fourteen short stories contained in his English work.

Mr. Singh was impressed that his mother had so eloquently captured in Punjabi the emotional impact of the story. In six weeks, she had handwritten translations of 13 of the 14 stories but had skipped the 9th. When she mailed it later, her son — the author — was upset, as she had made some specific changes to the story. She insisted the story then should be left out, should he not make her changes! Eventually, they compromised by adding a Translator’s Note.

However, “the 9th” was more her story, and became the catalyst for her to write her own memoirs of a woman born in British-occupied India, who had experienced the 1947 partition creating Pakistan and the 1984 Sikh Massacre. It is now her son Jasmeet who is learning much more of his mother’s life, while translating from Punjabi to English. We look forward to being able to read these memoirs someday!

Mr. Singh also mentioned briefly two of his novels, Chef and Helium. They are perfect reading for gaining deep insight into India, Pakistan and Kashmir, for our season of Cultural Awareness Through Literature.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ESSAY (Granta.com) and to coincidentally discover a most interesting quarterly and book publisher.

Marcello Di Cintio, CPL’s Author-in-Residence

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.]

Image courtesy the author, from his website marcellodicintio.com

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!

Alberta’s 1st Bookmark on the CanLit Trail

Here’s an interesting project, spreading a path across Canada!

Project Bookmark Canada has announced that Rosemary Griebel’s poem, “Walking with Walt Whitman Through Calgary’s Eastside on a Winter Day,” is to be a “bookmark” on the CanLit Trail. It will be located at Loft 112,  along 8 Avenue SE (East Village), the site of the poem.

Get more information here.