The Big Speakeasy – This Saturday!

Gail will not be in her office Tuesday or Wednesday of this week as she is busily preparing for the Big Speakeasy in honour of Freedom to Read Week, on Saturday, February 28 at 7 pm at Strathcona County Library!

Join us and be dazzled by these fantastic artists and our special guest, Leah Lewis, as we collectively celebrate our freedom to read:


     Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.14.45 AMKarla Anderson

In 2005, Karla Anderson hit the world stage when her song “What Else Can I Do?” was given a prime spot on the National Television show “Joan of Arcadia”. Her debut recording,“ The Embassy Sessions,” was released in the summer of 2005, hit the top of the charts wherever it was played, and earned her the Best New/Emerging Artist at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Dec of 2005 and a nomination for a Western Canadian Music Awards “Outstanding Roots Recording” October 22, 2006. Her sophomore recording “Brand New Day” was released in November 2009, to equally rave reviews. Karla was part of the all-star line-up featured at the 2008 International Leonard Cohen Festival and has been featured on CBC Television several times as well.

anderson_smallTimothy J. Anderson

Timothy Anderson’s work spans opera to science fiction to comedy to health care. With a fistful of university degrees and certificates (ask him!), Timothy sees story potential everywhere. In addition to a long list of publications, productions and prizes, he was writer in residence with the Canadian Opera Company, won the BookTelevision 3-Day Novel Contest, edited for The Books Collective, was a publisher with River Books, and had a stage/concert career. He teaches at YouthWrite®, MacEwan University and the University of Alberta and continues to frequently perform and direct.

Minister_Faust_-_mediumMalcolm Azania aka Minister Faust

Minister Faust is a novelist, print/radio/television journalist, blogger, sketch comedy writer, video game writer, playwright, and poet. He also taught high school and junior high English literature and composition for a decade. The critically-acclaimed author of The Alchemists of Kush and the Kindred Award-winning and Philip K. Dick runner-up Shrinking the Heroes, Minister Faust first achieved literary accolades for his debut novel, The Coyote Kings, which was shortlisted for the Locus Best First Novel, Philip K. Dick, and Compton-Crook awards. Minister Faust is currently finishing his politically satirical War & Mir trilogy, and will be focusing on screenplays and graphic novels during his tenure as writer in residence at the U of A.

Natasha Retribution CropNatasha Deen

Literacy advocate and author, Natasha Deen and her family moved to Canada to escape the racial violence and political unrest of Guyana, South America.  Often the only mixed-race child in the class, Natasha’s childhood experiences come through in her work. Her books mix action with humour and the power of self, and feature strong female and male characters. She is published in a variety of genres and has written for children, teens, and adults. In 2013, she was the inaugural Regional Writer in Residence for the Metro Edmonton Library Federation.

1926905_10152233587814116_103656239_nGeoffrey McMaster

A video producer, news writer and editor at the University of Alberta, Geoff McMaster is a jack of many trades. A university brat, he holds a number of English degrees (specializing in American and African American literature) as well as a degree in journalism from Ryerson. He has been a university professor and an instructor at YouthWrite®. As a freelance video director, he works closely with Jeff Allen Productions, Inc. While non-fiction in-depth pieces and video documentaries are his forté, he is also a photographer and an accomplished musician.

Thomas TrofimukThomas Trofimuk

Thomas Trofimuk is an Edmonton writer who writes poetry, short-fiction, and novels. He has published three novels: The 52nd PoemDoubting Yourself to the Bone, and Waiting for Columbus. His books have garnered critical praise and he has won The Georges Bugnet Alberta Literary Award and The City of Edmonton Book Prize, twice each. He is one of the founders of the Raving Poets and is also a musician. If you want to meet him, he’s that funny looking guy over there, at the edge of the Speakeasy, watching and listening to everything you do and say.

lizpic1Elizabeth Withey

Elizabeth Withey will call the Edmonton Public Library home for 2015. A staff writer for the Edmonton Journal for nearly 11 years, her work has also appeared in newspapers across Canada, well as in magazines and literary journals including Alberta Views, Geist, Eighteen Bridges, Room and Avenue Magazine. Withey grew up in Saskatchewan and has a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. She studied writing at the University of Victoria before moving to Edmonton in 2004. Aside from being an award winning writer, Withey is an advanced yoga practitioner and certified ashtanga instructor, and is also fluent in German, French and Spanish.

SpyderSpyder Yardley-Jones

Spyder Yardley-Jones is an international artist whose shows have caused controversy with his thought-provoking images.  Spyder has been teaching cartooning and illustration for a decade as Artist in Residence through the Edmonton Welsh Society in Edmonton schools. Formerly an educator at the Art Gallery of Alberta, he now instructs through MacEwan University’s Continuing Education program.  Spyder illustrated the picture book, In the Graveyard and the graphic novel, Jamie’s Got a Gun, and has been a YouthWrite® instructor for 19 years. In addition to all of this, Spyder works as a preparator, installing shows at the Art Gallery of Alberta.


Writing Quote: “One must be ruthless with one’s own writing or someone else will be.” – John Berryman, poet (1914-1972)

Writing Tip:   Look and listen. Watch people, eavesdrop, and ask “innocent” questions. Be an observer.  You never know who might end up in your novel.

Writing Prompt: Mrs. Golightly was a shy person…

Score! Giller Prize winner Lynn Coady talk on March 11

I’m delighted to inform you that the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Lynn Coady has agreed to do a reading/Q&A at EPL’s central branch, Stanley A. Milner library, on March 11. Here are the details. Hope to see you there!LC

Life After The Giller
In November 2013, Edmonton author Lynn Coady won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection, Hellgoing. What’s life been like since for the novelist, journalist, and newly minted screenwriter? Join Coady for a Q&A with Elizabeth Withey, the Edmonton Public Library’s Writer In Residence. Coady will also read from Hellgoing.

When: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Where: Stanley A. Milner Library Program Room (next to the MakerSpace)
Cost: This is a free event. No registration is required.

Literary Connections to Shrove Tuesday…

international-pancake-day-xl-2811231For those of you who observe Shrove Tuesday, Happy Pancake Day!

From Christina Rossetti’s “Mix a Pancake” (1830-1894):

Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.


A few other literary references you may or may not know:

1. Eric Carle’s wonderful Pancakes, Pancakes! (1992):


2.  Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well:  Lavache the clown speaks of something “as fit as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday”:Lavache-alls-well



And JustSTC-HENRYIVPT2_125ice Silence, in Henry IV, Part II, rather rudely sings:

Be merry, be merry, my wife has all;
For women are shrews, both short and tall;
‘Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all,
And welcome merry shrove-tide.
Be merry, be merry.


3. ParishioneVicarrs in Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield “religiously ate pancakes at Shrovetide”:






And here’s a challenging Shrove Tuesday literary quiz posted by The Guardian.  Good luck!


Follow-up to Come On Baby, Light My Fire! – I promised to share some links with those who attended my talk on Eros-Thanatos and the inextricable link between the life-force and death-force.


Writing Quote: “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” – Henry Miller (1891-1980)

Writing Tip:  Please see the quotation directly above!

Writing Prompt: The day the moon fell…

Come On Baby, Light My Fire!

The weaAdam-and-Eve-e1346079003542ther outside may be frightful, but this workshop, Come On Baby, Light My Fire!,will hopefully keep you warm!  Join me this Tuesday at 7 pm at Strathcona County Library.

In the spirit of the season of love, the hot topic is desire. After all, sex and death are two of the greatest inextricably linked themes in literature. Desire is the key to how it all starts, and presumably leads to the end. Find out how this tension works in stories by the masters, and how to make it sizzle in your own.