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All stories by Shannon Webb-Campbell

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Paris-based lit mag to reprint Alice Munro’s first short story

HRM founder and editor-in-chief Harriet Alida Lye

Her Royal Majesty, a Paris-based literary and arts journal, is celebrating its latest issue on May 11, with simultaneous launch parties in Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Toronto, and Montreal*.

Each issue of Her Royal Majesty is curated around a particular theme, and appears in print and online. Issue 12 focuses on “The Exotic,” and features the first short story ever published by Alice Munro. “The Dimensions of a Shadow” appeared in a 1950 issue of Folio (the University of Western Ontario’s undergraduate journal), when Munro was only 18.

HRM founder and editor-in-chief Harriet Alida Lye is a Toronto native who started the journal in 2008 while studying in Halifax. Lye, who now lives in Paris, speaks to Q&Q about Munro and the City of Lights’s influence on the journal.

How did you come across Alice Munro’s first short story?
I love Alice Munro’s work. I am from very near where she grew up in Southwestern Ontario. It’s not just the places that are familiar; it’s the tone, the stories themselves. I read on Wikipedia that her first short story, “The Dimensions of a Shadow,” was published in the University of Western Ontario’s undergraduate journal, but found that unless readers want to buy a copy of Folio Magazine, vol. 4, no. 2, for $750 on Amazon, the story remained inaccessible. So I started to dig for it.

How did you get the rights to publish “The Dimension of a Shadow?”
I got the idea to publish this story and got in touch with Munro’s agents and publishers. We communicated back and forth for months. I had lawyers and literary editors help me draw up contracts, but finally they just said no. A while later, after having more or less given up, I was talking to a friend about it and he suggested I try contacting the University of Western Ontario directly. Since the story was published there first, he informed me they hold the rights to it, not Alice Munro, not her agent, not her publisher. The university staff gave me the permission required to publish the story and I wrote Alice Munro a letter asking for her blessing.

How has Paris influenced Her Royal Majesty?
The community I found in Paris has been absolutely essential to the development of Her Royal Majesty. The people I’ve met – by this, I mean artists and writers, but also readers, thinkers, teachers, and friends – have been instrumental in the evolution of the magazine.

UPDATE: The Halifax launch party is cancelled. For more details on all the events, visit HRM’s website.

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Brian Brett wins B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence

The West Coast Book Prize Society has awarded Brian Brett British Columbia’s ninth annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Brett is a writer, publisher, journalist, and teacher. He initiated the B.C. Poetry in the Schools program and teaches at the University of British Columbia’s online Master’s Degree program. In 2005, he was elected chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Brett is the recipient of several prestigious literary awards, including The Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the CBC Poetry Prize, and the B.C. Book Prize. Brett lives on a farm with his family on Salt Spring Island, where he wrote the 2009 bestseller, Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life (Greystone Books).

The jury members for this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award were novelist and poet George Bowering, writer and critic Max Wyman, and Evelyn Gillespie, owner of Laughing Oyster Books. In a press release, Bowering says, “Brian Brett is the kind of man the 21st century needs. He sets a great example as a person who is mindful about the earth and its pure products, and equally mindful about the language we have been bequeathed.”

Brett will receive the $5,000 award at the B.C. Book Prizes gala on May 12.

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Q&A: poet and Book Fridge founder Kerri Cull

Labrador writer Kerri Cull, founder of the literary blog The Book Fridge, recently released her debut collection of poems, Soak (Breakwater Books).

Quillblog caught up with Cull before her reading tonight at the White Horse Lounge in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

What inspired The Book Fridge?
The food metaphor came from the idea of how we choose what books to read. I have a couple hundred books in my book room just waiting to be picked up.  Whenever I’m ready to start a new book, I browse and skim that pile as I would browse the fridge for a snack, looking for something that satiates my hunger or my craving. It also refers to food for thought and the obvious reference to books feeding us in some way.

You’re originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland. What drew you to Labrador?
I was working in St. John’s for a broadcasting company but didn’t really see it going anywhere and I wasn’t using my education, so I accepted a job teaching English literature and communications at the College of the North Atlantic*.

How has living in Labrador influenced your writing?
Living in Labrador has become both a blessing and curse. I have the time to write but I have never felt more isolated as there is no community of writers from which I can draw inspiration or support. I have a few writers that I keep in contact with via email, and Book Fridge helps me stay connected to writers and readers.

Why did you name your first collection Soak?
has many meanings: to experience, to saturate, to lie in. There are sexual connotations to that word, too, that evoke ideas about the body and the way our bodies experience, which sometimes can be different from that of our minds. I thought it truly spoke to the themes in the collection.

Why do you write poetry?
You can read one poem on its own and it can really rock you, change your perspective or inspire. Poetry can be very powerful and is quite amazing in that regard. It’s like no other genre in that it doesn’t necessarily need an anchor for context. It becomes its own anchor.

Correction, April 28: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story stated that Cull teaches at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Richard Gwyn wins $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen prize

Richard Gwyn’s Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times; Volume Two: 1867 – 1891 (Random House Canada), the second volume in the two-part biography of Canada’s first Prime Minister, is the recipient of this year’s Writers’ Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Gwyn was awarded the $25,000 prize at the Politics and the Pen Gala in Ottawa on Wednesday night.

In a press release, the jury comprised of journalist David Akin, historian Charlotte Gray, and political scientist Janice Gross Stein praised Gwyn’s book as a “fully rounded and compelling portrait of our prime minster’s public and private life.”

The first volume of Gwyn’s biography, John A: The Man Who Made Us, was a finalist for the prize in 2007, and in 2011 was named one of the best Canadian political books of the last 25 years by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Nation Maker was a finalist for the 2011 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Nation Maker beat out Ron Graham’s The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada (Allen Lane Canada), Max and Monique Nemni’s Trudeau Transformed: The Shaping of a Stateman, 1944 – 1965 (McClelland & Stewart), Andrew’s Nikiforuk’s Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests (Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation), and Jacques Poitras’ Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border (Goose Lane Editions). Each of the four runners-up received $2,500.

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Book links roundup: Jennifer Egan’s writing life, Brick Books redesigns website, and more

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Book links roundup: Orwell Prize shortlist, Truman Capote’s typewriter sells at auction, and more

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BookNet bestsellers: fiction

E.L. James, who confessed last week that she is “not a great writer,” is at the top of the bestsellers’ list with her erotic romance, Fifty Shades of Grey.

For the two weeks ending April 15:

1. Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
(Vintage/Random House, $17.95 pa, 9780345803481)

2. The Affair, Lee Child
(Dell/Random House, $11.99 mm, 9780440246305)

3. Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts
(Penguin, $8.99 mm, 9780515150636)

4. The Postcard Killers, James Patterson and Liza Marklund
(Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, $10.99 mm, 9781455506637)

5. The Lucky One (movie-tie-in edition), Nicholas Sparks
(Grand Central/Hachette, $16.50 pa, 9781455508969)

6. I’ll Walk Alone, Mary Higgins Clark
(Pocket/Simon & Schuster, $9.99 mm, 9781451675511)

7. Now You See Her, James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
(Grand Central/Hachette, $16.50 pa, 9780446574709)

8. Game of Thrones 4-Book Box Set, George R.R. Martin
(Bantam/Random Hous, $39.96 mm, 9780345529053)

9. The Lucky One (movie-tie-in edition), Nicholas Sparks
(Grand Central/Hachette, $8.99 mm, 9781455508976)

10. Zero Day, David Baldacci
(Grand Central/Hachette, $15.99 pa, 9781455518999)

11. Betrayal, Danielle Steel
(Delacorte/Random House, $34 cl, 9780385343190)

12. Calico Joe, John Grisham
(Doubleday, $28.95 cl, 9780385536073)

13. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
(Penguin, $18 pa, 9780143170112)

14. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
(Penguin, $18.50 pa, 9780425232200)

15. The Sixth Man, David Baldacci
(Grand Central/Hachette, $10.99 mm, 9780446573092)

16. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
(Bantam/Random House, $10.99 mm, 9780553573404)

17. Only Time Will Tell, Jeffrey Archer
(St. Martin’s Press/Raincoast, $11.99 mm, 9780312539566)

18. The Devil Colony, James Rollins
(HarperCollins Canada, $11.99 mm, 9780061785658)

19. The Accident, Linwood Barclay
(Seal Books/Random House, $11.99 mm, 9781400026395)

20. The Lady of the Rivers, Philippa Gregory
(Touchstone/S&S, $18.99 pa, 9781416563716)

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Book links roundup: Charlotte’s Web turns 60, Alison Bechdel wins Publishing Triangle Award, and more

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Canadian literary event roundup: April 20-26

  • Fan Expo Vancouver celebrates science fiction with Spider Robinson, D.D. Brant, A.M. Dellamonica, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Vancouver Convention Centre (April 21-22, check website for times)
  • Blue Metropolis Festival offers readings, panel discussions, master classes, literary performances, slams, and awards, Opus Hotel, Montreal (April 20-23, check website for times)
  • Michael Christie reads from The Beggar’s Garden, Waverley Resource Library Auditorium, Thunder Bay (April 23, 7 p.m., free)
  • Seven Readings for Seven Masters, University of Toronto Masters of Arts in creative writing graduates read, Supermarket, Toronto (April 23, 6 p.m., free)
  • This Is Not a Reading Series presents the launch of Richard Stursberg’s The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto (April 24, 7:30 p.m., $5)
  • Gary Geddes reads from his travel memoir Drink the Bitter Root, Runnymede Library, Toronto (April 24, 7 p.m., free)
  • The Anansi Press Poetry Bash features readings by Erin Knight, Dennis Lee, A.F. Moritz, and Erin Mouré, Tranzac, Toronto (April 25, 6:30 p.m., free)
  • John Gould reads from 7 Reasons Not To Be Good, Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, Vancouver (April 26, 7 p.m., free)

Quillblog is looking for photos from literary events across Canada. Send your photos to

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Book links roundup: Karen Solie takes her poetry to the 2012 Olympics, top 10 graphic memoirs, and more

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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

Steve Artelle

Chris Jennings

Kaie Kellough


Hall of Honourers

Brandon Wint

Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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