April is all about poetry (and song) pilgrimages…

Yes, indeed!  As Chaucer himself, said:1414477077

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open eye-

(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

Prologue, Canterbury Tales


Please join me and friends in a poetry pilgrimage this week.

Tuesday, April 14 at 7 pm at Strathcona County Library

SonBlake_sie_covergs of Innocence and Experience:  In celebration of National Poetry Month, explore the connections between rhythm and rhyme, poetry and song. Join Gail (who’s also a professional singer) and special musical guests, Angela Flatekval, Kevin McCann and Geoff McMaster, to talk about how these forms are interconnected, and how poets and songwriters can inform and enrich each other’s writing practice and performance.


Saturday, April 18th at 7 pm at Strathcona County Library

9th Annual Evening of Poetry:  As a continuation of our National Poetry Month celebrations, join us for an evening of poetry, featuring readings from Writer in Residence, Gail Sidonie Sobat, Mark Kozub (The Alberta Beatnik) and Mary Pinkoski (Edmonton’s Poet Laureate). The evening will also include an open mic session for those who are interested in sharing their own work. Wine and cheese will be served. Note: this is an adult-only program.

Purchase tickets at the Check Out Desk or at the door, $5 each.

Mark Kozub                                               Mary Pinkoski
Writing Quote:  “I consider myself a poet first and a musician second.  I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.” – Bob Dylan, American poet/ musician (born 1941)
Writing Tip: “Nothing’s wrong with rhyming poetry. Some people… really enjoy it. It’s wonderful to read good rhymes, and challenging to write them. I like to use rhyme to surprise readers by emphasizing interestingly paired words.  That said, many people put together predictable, Hallmark-style rhymes (usually paired with forced meter) and flood poetry contests and magazines with them. Publishers get annoyed (I’ve even seen some specify “no rhyming” in their submission guidelines).” – writersbeat.com

Writing Prompt:  Find an unpublished poem of yours that you haven’t looked at in years. Randomly choose three lines from the poem. Write a completely different poem using those lines.

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…

Another (Very) Special Writers’ Corner



4 of the 5 shortlisted authors for this year’s Alberta Readers’ Choice Award are from the Edmonton area. We are thrilled to be welcoming all four of them to this very special Writers’ Corner in May to talk about their nominated works. Please join us for a great afternoon celebrating local literature.

Event: Writers’ (and Readers) Corner

When: Saturday, May 24th. 1:30 pm

Where: Jasper Place EPL Branch (9010 – 156 Street)

Join 4 of the 5 shortlisted authors for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award as they come to talk about their nominated books. The writers will also be joined by local readers who enjoyed these books and they will be giving their takes on why each of these books is very special, from a reader’s perspective. Join us as we discuss and celebrate these great local books and authors.

Michael Hingston is the books columnist for the Edmonton Journal. Called “one of the sharpest young literary critics in this country” by 49th Shelf, his journalism has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, Salon, Eighteen Bridges magazine, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

His first novel, The Dilettantes (Freehand), was a #1 regional bestseller and received a starred review in Quill & Quire; the Winnipeg Free Press said it “may well be the Great Canadian Comic Novel.” Hingston’s fiction also appears in the anthology 40 Below (Wufniks).

Born and raised in North Vancouver, Hingston now lives in Edmonton with his partner and two children.

Diana Davidson lives in Edmonton, Alberta.  Davidson’s debut novel Pilgrimage was published by Brindle & Glass in September 2013.  Pilgrimage is a book about the violent intimacy of a small place and is set at around the Lac St. Anne Métis settlement, Edmonton, and St. Albert in the 1890s.  Pilgrimage has been heralded as a work of “frontier feminism” by The Edmonton Journal Books Columnist Michael Hingston.  Kim McCullough, for Prism, has said “Davidson has masterfully turned the tables on these historical ‘facts’ by using them to create a fictional world more real than the one found in any history book”. The novel has been on The Edmonton Journal bestseller list all but two weeks since its debut.

Davidson’s other writing has been long-listed for the Canada Writes CBC creative nonfiction prize (2012) and has won the Writers’ Guild of Alberta “Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize” (2010).  Her work has appeared in 40 Below, Alberta Views, Avenue Edmonton Magazine, Little Fiction, The Winnipeg Review, Women’s Words as well as the academic anthologies Analyzing Mad Men and Spectral America.  She has a Ph.D. in literature and has taught at the University of Alberta and the University of York, UK.  She was chosen as one of Edmonton’s “Top 40 Under 40” by Avenue Magazine in late-2011.

Theresa Shea has published poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and articles in a number of Canadian magazines and journals. Her novel The Unfinished Child dramatically explores society’s changing views of Down syndrome over the past sixty years. The story offers an unflinching and compassionate history of the treatment of people with Down syndrome and their struggle for basic human rights.

Born in Maryland and raised throughout the United States, she moved to Canada in 1977 and currently lives with her husband and three children in Edmonton, Alberta.

Todd Babiak grew up in a small house in an oil town, with a mother who read horror novels and a father who cut the lawn with his shirt off. He pursued politics and literature in university. He spent a good part of the 1990s in Montreal. These were almost-separation times. It was bracing.

His novel, Come Barbarians (Harper Collins) is a gripping novel of love and loss, murder, revenge and political conspiracy. Todd Babiak has created a complex, magnetic character forced to confront his bleakest hour and his darkest impulses.

Today he lives in Edmonton, a northern city of mystery and enterprise, with long writing trips to France. Sometimes a month, sometimes a year.


Voting ends May 31st.

#YEG Reads – What are Moms Reading?

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Just in time for Mother’s Day, a list of what some moms have on their night stand:

Lori The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
RitaThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
MaryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
StephanieA Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Michelle- The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Brain Fire – #YEG Reads

I asked a few university students what they’re reading in preparation for final exams…and their answers reminded me why I’m glad I’m out of school!

Jenielle M:
A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Psychology 2nd edition – Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner

Ronita C:
Campbell Biology – Reece, Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, and Jackson
Human Sexuality: In a World of Diversity – Spencer A. Rathus
The Englishman’s Boy – Guy Vanderhaeghe
Stats: Data and Models – De Veaux, Velleman, Bock, Vukov, and Wong
Women’s Voices: Classic and Contemporary Readings – Shaw and Lee
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Michelle H:
Becker’s World of the Cell – Hardin et al.
Organic Chemistry 10th edition – Solomons and Fryle, John Wiley & Sons.
Physics Custom 2nd edition – James S. Walker
Longman Anthology of World Literature. Vol. C: The Early Modern Period. 2nd ed. – Tylus, Jane, and Damrosch

Ashley B:
Physics 4th Ed. – Walker
Stats: Data and Models – De Veaux
Organic Chemistry – Solomons and Fryhle
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood
Sloppy Firsts – Megan McCafferty
Blue Bloods: Gates of Paradise – Melissa De la Cruz
(Story of an Hour – Kate Choplin
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
Shooting an Elephant – George Orwell
Good Country People – Flannery O’Connor
Sonnet 18 – Shakespeare, Sonnet 43 – Browning, Sonnet 18 – Millay
In Broad Daylight – Ha Jin
The Witch Mask – Yumiko Kurahashi
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Elliot
Daddy – Sylvia Plath
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? – Joyce Carol Oates
Wild Swans – Alice Munro)

Kirsten S:
Chemistry 6th Ed. – Silberberg
Elementary Linear Algebra 10th Ed. – Anton
Calculus 7th Ed. – Stewart
Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics 13th Ed. – Hibbeler
Economics Today 5th Ed. – Miller
Engineering Mechanics: Statistics 12th Ed. – Hibbeler
Fudamentals of Physics 9th Ed – Walker
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Kim P:
Daytripper – Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Chronicles of the Death Foretold – Gabriel Marquez
Understanding Social Problems – Linda Mooney
Rhinoceros – Eugene Ionesco

#YEG Reads – Book Sellers

Wondering what it is that book sellers read? Check it out:

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Good Boy Fergus by  David Shannon ~ Jeff

The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy ~ Christina

The Mysteries of Harris Burdock by Chris Van Allsburg ~ Peter

I Want my Hat Back by John Klassen ~ Hong

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone ~Erin

#YEG Reads – CTV

Looking for a good book to help you say goodbye to winter and hello to spring? Check out what the folks at CTV are reading–maybe you’ll find a good read in here!

The Outpost by Jake Tapper and The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (to the kids), Adam Cook,  Sports Director

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Perforated Heart by Eric Bogosian, Sean Amato, Photojournalist

The Hammer of the Gods – The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis, David Ewasuk, Reporter

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho, Julia Parrish, Web Reporter

Georges Laraque: The Story of the NHL’s Unlikeliest Tough Guy by Georges Laraque with PierreThibeault,  David Adomako-Ansah, Intern

Rage is Back by Adam Mansbach, Josh Classen, Meteorologist

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Bill Fortier, Reporter/Anchor

The Little Immigrants, by Kenneth Bagnell, Kelsey Wingerak, Writer/Producer

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak, Michelle Stead, Producer

Frommer’s London2013 and Splat the Cat: Funny Valentine by Rob Scotton, Kim Taylor, Anchor

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, Stephanie Prues, Producer

How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you by The Oatmeal with illustrations by Matthew Inman, Linda Hoang, Digital Reporter

The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives by  Katie Couric, Carrie Doll, Anchor

Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin, Rob McAnally, Producer

Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll by Ann & Nancy Wilson, Darren MacFadyen, Producer

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Marni Kuhlmann, Anchor

Ru by Kim Thuy, Stacey Brotzel,  Co-host CTV Morning Live

Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Carmen Leibel, Health Reporter

#YEG Reads – St. Albert Librarians

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Looking for a good book to read in January? Check out what SAPL librarians are reading this month!

The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson & Jerusalem: chronicles from the Holy City (a graphic novel) by Guy Delisle & Happiness Economics by Shari Lapena & Ru by Kim Thuy ~ Luise, Adult Services, St. Albert

The One and Only Ivan ~ Katherine Applegate ~ Barb, Children’s Services, St. Albert

How to talk about books you haven’t read ~Pierre Bayard ~ Geoff, Teens & Adult Services, St. Albert

True Grime ~Natasha Deen ~ Michelle, Adult Services, St. Albert

Divergent~Veronica Roth ~ Michelle, Adult Services, St. Albert

On the Road~Jack Kerouac ~ Michelle, Adult Services, St. Albert

Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling ~ Heather, Public Services, St. Albert and Julie, Communications, St. Albert

Madame Tussaud – Michelle Moran ~Heather, Public Services, St. Albert

Christmas Time in the City: An Edmonton Journal Holiday Anthology – Edmonton Journal ~ Heather, Public Services, St. Albert

Dovekeepers – Alice Hoffmann ~ Heather, Public Services, St. Albert

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn ~ Rhonda, Office Manager, St. Albert

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt yesterday, The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson ~ Shelley, Communications & Fund Development Assistant

The Headmaster’s Wager ~ Vincent Lam, Janice, Adult Services, St. Albert

The Complete Guide to Chi-Gung ~ Daniel Reid ~ Peter, Technical Support Services, St. Albert

The Emperor of Paris~C.S. Richardson ~ Anne, Children’s Services, St. Albert

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