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Babstock, Brand, and Connolly named to new M&S poetry board

McClelland & Stewart announced today that poets Ken Babstock, Dionne Brand, and Kevin Connolly will form the press’s inaugural poetry board. The first list published under the board’s direction will appear next spring.

Babstock, a former poetry editor at House of Anansi Press, won the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize for his latest collection, Methodist Hatchet (Anansi). Brand, Toronto’s former poet laureate, won the Griffin for her 2010 book, Ossuaries (M&S). (Her latest novel, Love Enough, will appear this fall from Knopf Canada.) Connolly was a longtime editor at Coach House Books, and has served as an editor at ECW Press and Anansi. His 2005 collection, Drift (Anansi), won the Trillium Book Award.

M&S publisher Ellen Seligman says the board will be involved in editing or recommending editors for the books acquired by the imprint (a division of Random House of Canada). The program will continue to publish two to four titles per year. M&S senior editor Anita Chong will support the program in-house, with Doubleday Canada publishing director Lynn Henry taking on a consulting role.

“[These board members] have standing in the literary community, editorial savvy, broad and diverse tastes and curatorial expertise, as well as a deep knowledge and interest in the poetry community across Canada,” Seligman said in a press release. “M&S has a rich and valued list, and we look forward to building upon it, into the future, with this exciting new structure in place.”

Dennis Lee developed M&S’s poetry program in the early 1980s. Among its stable of authors are Earle Birney, Ralph Gustafson, Al Purdy, and Gwendolyn MacEwen, with Anne Carson, Leonard Cohen, Anne Michaels, and Paul Vermeersch representing the contemporary set. This month, Trillium winner Adam Sol released Complicity, his fourth collection and first book with M&S.

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Publishers offering discounts to Calgary flood victims

As the Calgary Stampede wrapped up this weekend, residents and business owners were still dealing with the aftermath of damage and destruction caused by flooding late June.

On June 26, Q&Q reported that Pages on Kensington had offered to replace books damaged by the flood at cost. Owner Simone Lee originally included a deadline of July 9, but has since extended the offer.

In an email to Q&Q, Lee writes:

I extended the deadline because after spending two weeks with the emergency clean-up of my parents’ house I knew that people weren’t ready to sit down and think clearly about what they had lost, when they were still ripping out drywall. People think that because the Stampede happened that the flood is over, but really it’s just beginning. There are so many displaced people, and the ones who get to stay are still dealing with sewer issues, insurance companies, contractor’s quotes, etc. I’ve only been in the store myself now for three days, and still feel like the walking wounded … everything is far from normal.

Lee says several publishers have come on board to offer increased discounts to pass on to flood victims. Coach House Books, Brick Books, and the University of Alberta Press have offered gratis copies, and Penguin Random House Canada has extended a 50 per cent discount.

Lee says customer orders have been “trickling in,” but doesn’t have an exact count yet.

Meanwhile, none of the five locations of Fair’s Fair, an independent used bookstore chain, suffered any flood damage, including its store in Inglewood, where Calgary saw some of the worst damage. However, the chain lost four days of business at the Inglewood store and one day at the Macleod Trail and Chinook locations.

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Beach Boy Brian Wilson to write autobiography

With more than 50 years of music under his belt, rock ’n’ roll legend Brian Wilson is set to pen an autobiography. According to a press release, the chief songwriter and producer of the Beach Boys “will describe for the first time the epic highs and lows of his life.”

Published by Random House Canada, I Am Brian Wilson will explore Wilson’s relationship with his father, the loss of his mother and brothers, his fears about live performance, and his success leading the Beach Boys into experimental terrain. It will also cover his nervous breakdown and comeback from drug addiction.

Anne Collins, publisher of the Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group, acquired the book in a pre-empt. “That [Wilson] now is ready to tell the story of his life, in which he at last has come through the tragedy, betrayals and illness that so often threatened to dim that genius, is an epic publishing event,” she says in a press release.

“Life’s better than it’s been in the past 20 years,” Wilson adds. “I’m 70 years old and it took me a long time to learn a really simple thing: it’s hard work to be happy.”

Wilson will co-write the memoir with Rolling Stone editor Jason Fine. Random House Canada has scheduled a 2015 release.

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Random House of Canada to publish “e-book original” honouring Jack Layton

The death of former New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton caught many Canadians off guard and provoked a wave of goodwill across the country. Random House of Canada announced today it’s planning to memorialize Layton’s passing with an “e-book original” that will collect “short, personal essays from a diverse line-up of contributors.”

Hope Is Better Than Fear: Playing Paying Jack Forward, due out at the end of September, will pay tribute to the man and the issues he championed throughout his career. Contributors already lined up for the project include Rex Murphy, Thomas King, David Miller, Steven Page, playwright Brad Fraser, and newly elected NDP MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault.

From the press release:

“The idea of the project is to ask people who are active in areas Jack was passionate about to help inspire us to keep pushing forward,” says Anne Collins, vice-president of Random House of Canada. “The challenge that we have set for the writers, thinkers and activists we’ve approached is to tap into Jack’s energy, optimism and drive, to reflect on where Jack made an impact and then set us all a challenge as to where we need to go next. In essence, if we were lucky enough to have Jack still with us, what would he be kicking our butts to do?”

The “instant” e-book is the first of its kind for the Canadian branch of Random House, the U.S. arm of which published another e-book original, Beyond Bin Laden, mere days after the capture and death of the al-Qaeda leader.

Proceeds from the sale of Hope Is Better Than Fear will go to aboriginal youth initiatives, as requested by Layton’s widow Olivia Chow.

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