An Hour with Anne Carson (Even 67) brought hundreds—of an impressively varied sort—to Performance Works. Carson, 63 and nearly unearthly at the podium in her large glasses and black outfit, is one of the most acclaimed poets alive on the planet and seems to touch us on multiple rungs: she’s a brainiac’s poet (replete with arcane references and mimicries of ancient Greek syntax); but she’s also a romantic’s poet. One reading—taken from her latest book, Red Doc>—described the red monster G. as he witnesses the death of his mother: “And the reason he cannot bear her dying is not the loss of her (which is the future) but that dying puts the two of them (now) into this nakedness together that is unforgivable. They do not forgive it. He turns away. This roaring air in his arms. She is released.”
Event 47: Drunk Mom saw an older-mom-aged group of women (and even a few guys) crowd Studio 1398 on Friday morning to get a dose of everyone’s favourite medicine—the confessions of another. Author Jowita Bydlowska discussed her harrowing relapse following years of sobriety into a stretch of binge drinking and blackouts when she found herself spending days alone her newborn son. Bydlowska was sober throughout her pregnancy but, even while breastfeeding, found herself timing her drinking schedule so breast milk wouldn’t be tainted.
“I didn’t need a mother but I wanted to know who my mother was,” Priscilla Uppal candidly declared during In the Beginning (Event 49). When Uppal was seven years old her mother fled to Brazil. Her father had become a quadriplegic five years earlier. Twenty years later Uppal happened across her mother’s website. Uppal told the audience, “I was in shock and did what any writer would do, I immediately applied for funding.”
British Columbian author and visual artist Douglas Coupland is a hit name in bookstores inside Canada and out. Well-known for his apt-to-contemporary-life novels such as Generation X, JPod and Player One, he blends visual form and a unique voice for storytelling to explore the experiences of those in the internet generation. Having been thoroughly fascinated by Player One in a first-year course beforehand, I decided to pay a visit to the man behind the words as he described his newest novel: Worst. Person. Ever.
British Columbian author and visual artist Douglas Coupland is a hit name in bookstores inside Canada and out. Well-known for his apt-to-contemporary-life novels such as Generation X, JPod and Player One, he blends visual form and a unique voice for storytelling to explore the experiences of those in the internet generation.
photo: Andrew Jameson
The United States, or America as many Americans refer to their country, lends itself to panorama, the large canvas. The size, diversity, wealth, power, fraught history — the extremes routinely provided by the country — present a challenge for any writer attempting to construct an essential narrative from that magnitude. For those who try, one approach is to gather a selection of characters, locales, and storylines, and interweave these multiple threads as they play out over an extended period of time, in the hope that from this representative selection will emerge the essence of a nation and an era. During the 1920s and 30s, John Dos Passos used this method in his novels, notably the U.S.A. trilogy, and Manhattan Transfer, and as George Packer told moderator Wayne Grady and the audience at UBC’s Frederic Wood Theatre during a well-attended Writers Festival event, Dos Passos “gave me a structure” when it came to forming the mass of material that would become The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.
What you don't know about Leonardo da Vinci that would make you love him even more
Or so goes the through line of Ross King's talk with Kirk Lapointe (Event #12) about his book "Leonardo and the Last Supper", which King lavished with such details as Leonardo's favourite colours, his weapons of mass destruction, his genius, his late-life vegetarianism, his handsome legs, and of course one of his renaissance-era jokes about two friars and a business man that somehow manages to remain timeless with King's droll and erudite delivery.
There was a soft wolf whistle from the audience in the darkened theatre as the stylish young moderator Shannon Ozirny walked across the stage and took the mike. Ozirny was ready with self-deprecating humour and quick wit to moderate the night’s discussion with writers of young adult fiction, Maureen Johnson and Maggie Stiefvater. While their work is aimed at young readers, paranormal fiction has a incredibly broad appeal these days. Both Stiefvater and Johnson are New York Times bestselling authors known for their social media presence. Stiefvater has sold over two million books and gave a TEDtalk at the TEDxNASA conference entitled, "How Bad Teens Become Famous People.” Johnson, who has ten wildly popular books to her credit, has been listed by Time magazine as one of the top 140 individuals you should follow on Twitter. Currently Johnson has over 92,000 followers and has sent out over 66,000 tweets.
A full house attended Event 25: Beyond Queer on Wednesday night to hear from a trio of queer writers reporting from the frontiers of sexual identity. Morocco’s first openly gay writer, Abdellah Taïa, read a fragment from his breakthrough autobiographical novel, Salvation Army, wherein the narrator (harangued by fierce homophobia in his native land) literally finds salvation in Europe—at, yes, a Salvation Army. Ontario’s Nancy Jo Cullen swiftly lightened the mood with a comic offering: the tale of a middle-aged woman getting her pubic hair waxed in order to get over her ex. And, finally, Vancouver’s Amber Dawn read poems from two ends of a coming-of-age spectrum: the first about a certain awakening identity; the second about full-fledged activism fueled by identity-politics.