Shane Book, U of C’s Writer-in-Residence, was our guest speaker

Introducing our guest speaker, Margaret Sparkes noted the appropriateness of having poet Shane Book on March 21, World Poetry Day!

Shane gave our group an illuminating and fascinating presentation on his life’s journey and how he ended up becoming a renowned writer and filmmaker. As the child of a Canadian father and a Trinidadian mother, he was born in Peru and spent several years as a child in Ghana, as his father worked for the Canadian International Developmental Agency as an economist and diplomat. They later returned to Canada where he lived in Vancouver and Ottawa.

While at the University of Victoria and New York University, he began to study poetry in earnest. He also began to seriously want to make movies.

His philosophy is that everything comes from poetry.  Many novelists say they are failed poets. Poetry forces the writer to pay attention to each word. Poetry also trains the ear.

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Unstuffing stuffed shirts (George Jonas)


George Jonas (Image from Toronto Sun article January 10, 2016

George Jonas  (Image from Toronto Sun article Jan. 10 2016)

George Jonas escaped Hungary and arrived in Canada at age 21 without speaking English well. He went on to become a respected Canadian journalist, novelist, playwright and poet. He provided a unique point of view based on classical liberalism. Journalism lost an important voice January 2016.

Anita Madill’s presentation serves as a strong reminder of the importance of journalists and journalism, especially of the caliber of George Jonas.

Read Anita’s Presentation Summary on George Jonas


CWLC news and upcoming guest Speaker

Our March 14 meeting included a special guest, Julia Harrington, the new Community Outreach Librarian for the Memorial Park Library. With WordFest above us, extended library hours and more program offerings, our Memorial Park Library is hopping!

Next week’s meeting will feature special guest Shane Book, University of Calgary’s Writer in Residence. Get boned up (What an odd expression that is!):

Read more on Shane Book here.


Poet and U of C Writer-in-Residence

Photo of Nick Thran from CBC News, The Calgary Eyeopener August 28, 2015

Nick Thran, CBC News, The Calgary Eyeopener August 28, 2015

On November 3, we were delighted to have as our guest speaker Mr. Nick Thran, author of three books of poetry and this year’s University of Calgary Writer-in-Residence. A native of Prince George BC, he received his Masters of Fine Arts from New York University (NYU). Currently he is poetry editor for Brick Books. He is married to poet Sue Sinclair and they have a young daughter.

We were given an interesting glimpse into the mind of a poet, as Mr. Thran talked about motivations and behind-the-scenes efforts of writing poetry. As a child, his family moved a great deal and he experienced intense feelings as a teen which he was able to express through poetry.

He discussed the importance of finding images which resonate in one’s life so as to be able to fit these intense images into writing. For example, he carried an image of a flooded river in the south of Spain when he was 16 years old. The ripe oranges from the local orchards had spilled over into the flooded river and this image stayed with him. Years later, when he read Ezra Pound’s poem, “In the Station of the Metro,”  the memory of the oranges resonated and he was able to make a connection and write a poem.

While still a young man, Nick Thran had the opportunity to work in a book store and was allowed to take home all the books he wanted as long as he returned them the next day in pristine condition. This afforded him the freedom to read a huge variety of books. He feels that he became a better poet by reading broadly.  While taking his Masters at NYU, he was influenced greatly by a professor of journalism, Lawrence Weschler.

His wife, Sue Sinclair, is a poet. He read one line from one of her poems – “side by side with eternity, but never touch” – the comma is extremely important! He taught us that poets spend a great deal of time dealing with the microscope of the language in a tactile way.

We were fortunate to hear Nick Thran read several of his poems:

  • “Azucar” (sugar)
  • “Marginalia”
  • A poem from the book, Earworm, “Coastguard vessel pleasure boat” in which each line was taken from headlines of Globe and Mail newspaper articles
  • “The Particular Melon” is from his newest book, Mayor Snow, about two fictional people having a conversation about making a film about a melon

And he read an excerpt from an essay, “My Library.”

After time for questions from the audience, Anne Tingle thanked Nick Thran for helping us de-construct poetry.


A Visit with Ian Williams

Our March/April program opened with a very stimulating presentation by Ian Williams, currently Canadian writer-in-residence in the Distinguished Writers Program at the University of Calgary. A gifted student, an accomplished author and an inspirational speaker, he fully captured our attention.

In keeping with our theme, “Nobel literary recipients”, Williams selected six laureates whom he lists as his favorites, They are:

Alice Munro, Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Samuel Beckett, T.S. Eliott and William Butler Yeates

Williams’ choice of favorites stems from his analysis of what makes the Nobel Prize winner’s work deserving of honor. He stated that he wants the writer to sound like no other writer; they are not apologetic about sounding like themselves. Writing that strikes a vision appeals to him. He appreciates the tenderness explored and evidenced in the works of laureates placed on his register of favorites.

To illustrate his rationale for including the above listed authors on his preferred list, Williams read excerpts from selected works of each writer. We were impressed with his sensitive , enthusiastic rendering of each extract. His brief comments on each writer’s unique style and/or intent, often humorously expressed, added to the overall experience. . Williams, quite obviously, merits our attention. The CBC named him as “one of ten Canadian writers to watch”. And watch him we will, through his writing:

Personals (poetry)

Not Anyone’s Anything (fiction)

You Know Who You Are (poetry)