Master Writers on the Poetic Process: A Double Launch!

Thursday, April 7, 2005 - 7:00pm
The Rivoli 334 Queen St. W.
Master Writers on the Poetic Process: A Double Launch!

This Is Not A Reading Series and NOW Magazine, in conjunction with The Porcupine’s Quill and Pedlar Press, present: Leon Rooke in conversation with Susan Swan, and Stan Dragland in conversation with Michael Ondaatje.

You know Leon Rooke: the author of astounding novels like the Governor General’s Award-winner Shakespeare’s Dog, the ingenious tale-spinning wild man of Eden Mills. But you don’t know Leon Rooke the poet, the guarantor of Britney Spears’ immortality and (Lord) B's infamy, the visionary blue-dog-stalker. At the age of seventy, and at the instigation of Russell Banks, Rooke has turned to poetry, in the form of a blue book titled Hot Poppies.

This Is Not A Reading Series and The Porcupine’s Quill invite you to the launch of Hot Poppies, where Leon Rooke and Susan Swan will discuss Rooke’s writing process for this, his new (and first!) book of poetry.

Hot Poppies is a riotous, extravagant book, fresh from the hot-house, but it is also seductive and subversive. Five-line love lyrics, full of epigrammatic spark, intersperse vitriolic satires on American electoral antics. Britney Spears goes to war with the squirrels, `hefty as flying raccoons,’ and James Tate’s condemned man talks hurricanes and death row dinners with his warden. Rooke writes poetry with the glitter-seeking eye of a magpie, discovering unsettling beauties in his hoard of cultural detritus and post-millennial dread.

Leon Rooke is the irrepressible author of six novels and more than a dozen story collections. His novel Shakespeare’s Dog (1983) won the Governor General’s Award and his next novel, A Good Baby, was recently made into a feature film. A native of North Carolina, Rooke currently lives in the Annex area of Toronto with his wife Constance, and continues his long-time role as artistic director of the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. Susan Swan has published fiction to critical acclaim in twenty countries. Her novel The Wives of Bath was a finalist for the Guardian Award and the Trillium Award. Other books include The Biggest Modern Woman of the World, Stupid Boys Are Good to Relax With, Last of the Golden Girls and What Casanova Told Me. Swan lives in Toronto.

Stan Dragland, author of Stormy Weather: Foursomes (Pedlar Press)

This Is Not A Reading Series and Pedlar Press invite you to the launch of Stan Dragland’s Stormy Weather: Foursomes. Enjoy listening to Stan Dragland and Michael Ondaatje as they discuss Dragland’s writing process for his new book of poetics, Stormy Weather: Foursomes.

Stormy Weather is a lament in the aftermath of a failed relationship - twelve prose poems or “foursomes” working in a field of emotional turbulence with humour and curiosity. Each of the book’s twelve sections fall into four paragraphs, and four companion quotations divide the sections; hence the subtitle, “foursomes,” a term rassled away from the game of golf. The author, literary luminary Stan Dragland, confesses himself surprised at the diversity of fascinating material that gathers to his distress, some of it inappropriately funny. The heart falters but the world goes on. The heart falters but the mind leaps, from September 11, 2001 to Lear’s Fool to The McGarrigle Hour to “Jack and the Beanstalk” to Mr. Iceberg to the dream of the blue dress to Paul Durcan’s poetry to (disconnected) dry bones. The sentences, plain and protean, are answerable to all this bounce.

Stan Dragland was born and brought up in Alberta. He was educated at The University of Alberta and Queen’s University. He has taught at the University of Alberta, at The Grammar School, Sudbury, Suffolk, England, and in the English Department at the University of Western Ontario in London. He was founding editor of Brick, a journal of reviews and founder of Brick Books, a poetry publishing house. Between 1993 and 1996 he was poetry editor for McClelland and Stewart. He has published three books of fiction: Peckertracks, a Chronicle, Journeys Through Bookland and Other Passages, and (for children) Simon Jesse’s Journey. He has edited collections of essays on Duncan Campbell Scott and James Reaney. Wilson MacDonald’s Western Tour, a “critical collage,” has been followed by two other books of criticism, The Bees of the Invisible: Essays in Contemporary English Canadian Writing and Floating Voice: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Literature of Treaty 9, which won the 1995 Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian Literary Criticism. 12 Bars, a prose blues, was co-winner of the bp Nichol Chapbook Award in 2003, the same year Apocrypha: Further Journeys appeared in NeWest Press’s Writer-as-Critic series. Stan Dragland lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Michael Ondaatje is an internationally acclaimed novelist and poet. He is the author of five novels, including Anil’s Ghost, which won the Irish Times International Award, The English Patient, which won the Booker Prize, and In the Skin of a Lion. He has written a memoir, Running in the Family, and his books of poetry include Handwriting and The Cinnamon Peeler. He has also made two documentary films. He lives in Toronto.