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New B.C. scholarly book prize shortlist announced

Sandra Djwa didn’t win the Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction, but a week later her book, Journey With No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page (McGill-Queen’s University Press), is up for another award,  alongside Derek Hayes’ British Columbia: A New Historical Atlas (Douglas & McIntyre) and Jim McDowell’s Father August Brabant: Saviour or Scourge? (Ronsdale Press). The three titles have been shortlisted for the new Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia.

Sponsored by the UBC Library and BC Bookworld, the prize was established in memory of former UBC librarian and School of Library, Archival and Information Studies director Basil Stuart-Stubbs, who passed away last year. The inaugural prize recognizes the best scholarly book by a Canadian author on a subject related to British Columbia.

“Funds are being raised largely through contributions from supporters of UBC Library, including Basil’s family, friends and former colleagues,” UBC communications manager Glenn Drexhage said in an email Tuesday. UBC is also looking for community partners to help organize the event and raise awareness of the project.

Calls for submissions were sent out to publishers last fall and 20 titles were received for consideration, according to jury member and UBC liaison librarian Brenda Peterson. Along with Peterson, the jury consists of BC Bookworld publisher Alan Twigg, and two historians and UBC professors emeritus, Roderick Barman and Jean Barman.

The prize is worth $1,000 and will be announced in April. The award will be presented at a reception will be held on May 7 in UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

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Robson Reading Series coming to an end

After a decade-long run, Vancouver’s Robson Reading Series will be shutting down in March. According to a statement on its website, the series will be concluding in light of the closure of both its host venues – the University of British Columbia library’s Robson Square branch, which closed in August of last year, and the coming March 28 closure of the UBC bookstore at Robson Square.

Run by the UBC bookstore and the university’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Robson Reading Series’ aim is to provide a forum for the discussion of Canadian literature. The series has hosted a number of writers from across the country, including Sheila Heti, Ian Ferguson, Julie Wilson, Linda Besner, and Esi Edugyan.

“Our mandate was to host writers with only one or two published books alongside more well-known ones … to bring in a wider audience, but also as a means to build community,” says Michael Smith, who co-founded the series.

According to Smith, the series’ end was also sparked by economic considerations. In addition to issues over funding, Smith says sales resulting from the events were minimal. “Often, the bookstore couldn’t cover the cost of staffing with the profit from the sale of books,” he says.

“I think it’s a great loss to the city, and to downtown,” Smith adds. “The bookstore [and] library at UBC went above and beyond to extend a helping hand, to offer space, staffing, and finances to host our Canadian writers.”

According to Glenn Drexhage, UBC library’s communications manager, the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre will be “looking for new partners going forward, in Metro Vancouver and possibly beyond, to continue offering a reading series that will highlight Canadian authors.”

The UBC bookstore’s website states that the growth of online retail and a reduced need for textbooks at the store have led them to focus on online sales through the main bookstore website. Prior to the downtown UBC library’s closure, its computer and study space was shuttered and converted into classroom space. It is unclear what led to the closure.

The Robson Reading Series will continue until the end of March. Speakers include dramatic monologue artist Walid Bitar, poet Al Hunter, and Born Weird novelist Andrew Kaufman.

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HathiTrust ruling bodes well for Google Books, the beef against women readers, and more

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Book links roundup: Beautiful Disaster film finds studio, Fifty Shades outsells Harry Potter, and more

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This weekend in Canadian literary events: July 27-29

The season of literary festivals and readings in the park is well underway, and it’s not slowing down this weekend. Here are just a few of the events featured on Q&Q‘s calendar.

This is the last weekend to check out the Leacock Summer Festival in Orillia, Ontario. The festival runs until July 29 and features appearances by Matthew Forsythe, Andrew Westoll, Rebecca Rosenblum, Mark Kingwell, Ken Babstock, and Cordelia Strube. This year’s festival also hosts the world premiere of Sketching Sunshine: An Evening and A Morning with Stephen Leacock, a one-man play starring Joe Matheson.

Jeff Lemire launches his new graphic novel, The Underwater Welder, on July 28 at 7 p.m. at Innis Town Hall in Toronto. Admission is $5 or free with purchase of the book.

Vancouverites who want to eat healthier should check out the Vancouver Public Library on July 27 when Sharon Hanna discusses her bestseller, The Book of Kale: The Easy-to-Grow Superfood, 80+ Recipes. The free event starts at 3 p.m. at VPL’s Kitsilano Branch.

Sue Goyette, Warren Heiti, and Anne Simpson read from their 2012 Atlantic Poetry Prize–nominated books on July 28. The night kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Acadia University Art Gallery in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

You can catch the first photography exhibit by author Kenneth J. Harvey at Gerald Squires Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland, until Aug. 31.

Keith G. Powell will sign copies of Raising Kain at Indigo stores across Calgary this weekend. He will be at Indigo Signal Hill and Indigo Cross Iron Mills on July 27, and Chapters Chinook Centre on the 28th.

Want to add an event to Q&Q‘s calendar? Send your literary event listings to Quill & Quire. Please include the event name, date, time, location, cost, and a brief description.

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New Innisfree library serves rural Alberta population of 220

Innisfree, Alberta, has opened its first permanent public library. The 220 residents of the rural village now have access to free DVDs, CDs, e-readers, books (about 2,600 books have been catalogued so far, with another 1,000 on the way, the Vermilion Standard reports), and literacy programs.

The Innisfree Public Library, which occupies 1,400-square feet of the village’s community centre, has been in the works for the past four years, since the village became part of the Northern Lights Library System. In the year preceding its July 4th opening, the library board and volunteers had generated community interest by running the village’s first-ever youth summer reading program, hosting the Alberta Prairie Classroom on Wheels bus, and organizing a book swap and donation drive.

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Frye Festival throws 100th birthday bash for Northrop Frye

Frye Festival

As Northrop Frye’s 100th birthday is recognized across Canada this week, the Frye Festival is commemorating its namesake by hosting a community event in honour of the literary critic. The free event takes place on July 13 at the Moncton Public Library.

The celebration will feature the unveiling of a life-sized bronze sculpture of Frye, depicted sitting on a park bench with an open book in his lap. The event will also include a barbecue and birthday cake, live music, and a reading by local poet Serge Patrice Thibodeau, whose poem, to be read in French, was originally published in a special edition of the University of Toronto Quarterly dedicated to Frye.

“There isn’t much public art in Moncton so we thought this would be a great way to enhance the downtown area while celebrating Frye’s legacy,” says Danielle Leblanc, the festival’s executive director.

Designed by local artists Darren Byers and Fred Harrison, in collaboration with Janet Fotheringham, the sculpture was funded through the Department of Canadian Heritage, private donors, and local fundraisers. CBC reports that officials at the University of Toronto have expressed interest in having a copy created for its campus, where Frye taught.

Along with the unveiling of the sculpture comes the announcement that leading Frye scholar Dr. Robert D. Denham has donated his personal collection of Frye memorabilia to the library. Appraised at $40,000, the donation includes signed editions of Frye’s works, plus paintings and caricatures, audio-visual materials, and Frye’s writing desk, chair, and typewriter.

The donation will be housed in the library’s Heritage Room, though some pieces will be displayed in its lobby for viewing at the party.

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Toronto’s LGBTQ speed dating gets a literary reboot

Toronto Public Library Homepage

Speed dating has been given a bookish twist, thanks to the Toronto Public Library’s debut LGBTQ Literary Speed Dating night, which takes place July 4, 6:30 p.m. at the TPL’s Bloor/Gladstone branch.

Organized by librarian Raymond Lam to coincide with the end of Toronto’s Pride Week, the speed-dating night is open to anyone who identifies as LGBTQ, between the ages of 19 and 35. The event gives participants a chance to discuss a favourite book, CD, or DVD with like-minded people.

Lam says he got the idea after reading an article about the success of similar events at other libraries across the country. (In February, The Globe & Mail wrote about the Vancouver Public Library’s popular “Read Dating” nights.) He explains that literary speed-daters create an alias, and when participants meet someone they’d like to see again, they can check their name off on a speed-dating card. If two people show an interest in each other, Lam will put them in touch via email.

About 20 people have registered so far, and Lam is “hoping for some drop-ins” to reach the cap of 40 people. Participants can register by calling the Bloor/Gladstone library.

Lam, who has already declared tomorrow night a success, is planning a heterosexual literary speed-dating event for Oct. 24.

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WordFest celebrates 100 years of the Calgary Stampede with Wild West programming

Photo courtesy of WordFest and the Calgary Stampede

Calgary’s WordFest has teamed up with the Calgary Stampede to celebrate 100 years of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

WildWest Wordfest is a special summer “mini-fest” in tribute to Western Canada’s cowboy culture in literature, music, and art. The free three-day festival launches Monday at Motion Art Gallery with an appearance by Calgary poet laureate Kris Demeanor, an exhibit of images from the Stampede archives, and stories by the winners of the TumbleWord Writing Contest. (Entrants were asked to write a postcard story based on one of five archival Stampede images posted to the WordFest website.)

Highlights from the rest of the week include a Tuesday lunchtime presentation with Piikani storyteller and Stampede School site coordinator Anita Crowshoe; the launch for David Campion and Sandra Shields’ new book of Stampede photography, Cowboy Wild (Rocky Mountain Books), at the Art Gallery of Calgary on Tuesday evening; and the Cowboy Cabaret wrap-up party on Wednesday. The cabaret, which will be held at the Calgary Public Library, features auctioneer Bob Dyck, a collaboration between cowboy poet Doris Daley and singer-songwriter Bruce Innes, a reading from Tom Three Persons by Yvonne Trainer, and a performance of I Just Wanna Be a Stampede Queen by spoken word poet Sheri-D Wilson with dancer Hannah Stilwell.

The WordFest–Stampede partnership might leave some people scratching their heads, but WordFest marketing manager Mary Kapusta says with Calgary being named one of two cultural capitals of Canada for 2012 (the other is Ontario’s Niagara Region), the city has been “buzzing” with opportunities to show off its creative side.

Kapusta admits that the Cowtown’s community of artists hasn’t always appreciated the Stampede’s cultural value, though everyone from actors and  singer-songwriters, to visual artists and writers has responded positively to this partnership. “It’s been an eye-opener for some in our community … learning that the Stampede is about more than just the races and the rodeo,” she says, expressing her own surprise at learning of the Stampede’s involvement in issues such as gender in sport, aboriginal rights and heritage, scientific and technological advances.

Most important, though, was discovering what the two festivals have in common: storytelling. “WordFest is all about stories,” Kapusta says, and the Stampede also treasures a good yarn. “The power of stories is a big thing for them,” she says, noting that the Stampede’s archives provided an entryway to the event’s legends and history. In fact, the archives were integral in putting the Wild West programming together, Kapusta says. “We’re pulling parts of that [history] and playing with it, exploring it, and throwing it against this modern backdrop.”

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Lynn Coady, U of Calgary Press among winners at 2012 Alberta Book Awards Gala

The winners of the 30th annual Alberta Literary Awards, the Alberta Book Publishing Awards, and the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award were revealed June 9 in Calgary at the 2012 Alberta Book Awards Gala.

Fred Stenson received the Writer’s Guild of Alberta’s Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement, and Wayne Arthurson scooped the Edmonton Public Library’s Alberta Readers’ Choice Award for Fall from Grace (Forge Books). The Alberta Literary Award recipients are:

  • R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature
    Cathy Ostlere, Karma (Puffin Canada)
  • Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction
    Lynn Coady, The Antagonist (House of Anansi Press)
  • Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Non-fiction
    Alice Major, Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science (University of Alberta Press)
  • Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama
    Nicole Moeller, An Almost Perfect Thing
  • Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
    Tim Bowling, Tenderman (Nightwood Editions)
  • Amber Bowerman Memorial Travel Writing Award
    Alison Karlene Hodgins, “A World Away”
  • James H. Gray Award for Short Non-fiction
    Jannie Edwards, “All Night Mirror: Notes Toward an Elegy”
  • Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story
    Amy Bright, “Look at it This Way” (Character I Press)

Recipients of the Alberta Book Publishing Awards are:

  • Alberta Book Design Awards
    Book Cover/Jacket: Natalie Olsen, Kisscut Design for House of Spells by Robert Pepper-Smith (NeWest Press)
    Book Design: Marvin Harder for Three-Persons and the Chokitapix by Allen Ronaghan (CAHS Press)
  • Children’s & Young Adult Book Award
    Wayne Lynch, Canadian Rockies Wildlife for Kids (Summerthought Publishing)
  • Scholarly & Academic Book Award
    Sarah Carter and Patricia McCormack eds., Recollecting: Lives of Aboriginal Women of the Canadian Northwest and Badlands (Athabasca University Press)
  • Trade Fiction Book Award
    Kristen den Hartog, And Me Among Them (Freehand Books)
  • Trade Non-Fiction Book Award
    M. Ann Hall, The Grads Are Playing Tonight! (University of Alberta Press)
  • Lois Hole Award for Editorial Excellence
    Peter Midgley, The Man in Blue Pyjamas by Jalal Barzanji (University of Alberta Press)
  • Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award
    Susan McCaslin, Demeter Goes Skydiving (University of Alberta Press)
  • Publisher of the Year
    University of Calgary Press
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