Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)

Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)
Prize Winning Stories from NOWW

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Review by Ottawa Poet Margaret Cunningham

                   The Autobiography of a Lesbian Cree 
Written by Ma-Nee Chacaby  with Mary Louise  Plummer

 This book is a “Must Read”.  It will appeal to anyone  who is concerned about the welfare of  Native Canadians and are afraid to tackle the subject of Lesbianism ,as  I was. In a gentle and extraordinary way, Ma –Nee’s life opens the reader to a deeper understanding of both issues.

 Ma-Nee began life in Ombabika, a remote area near Lake Nipigon,Ont.It is now also referred to as “ The Ring  of Fire”in the region of Nakina  and Armstrong.  She missed the opportunity to learn to read and write and learn English because she was out trapping with her step-dad when the authorities came to take the children to the Residential Schools. Her mother beat her frequently and she was sexually abused by men in her community. She came to the conclusion that her life might have been much better if she had gone  to a Residential School. 

Her beloved Grandmother was her salvation.  From her she learned spiritual and cultural traditions.  Her Grandmother forecast that her life would be difficult as she was a two-spirit woman. This meant that she  carried both  a male and a female spirit inside.

At the age of twenty, Ma-Nee with her children , moved to Thunder Bay to escape a vicious and brutal husband. It was quite trek. During this journey, she and her children walked  35 miles in order to catch the train to Thunder Bay.  Good friends helped her get settled there but her alcohol addiction continued to deepen.

Confronted with the possible loss of her children, she went to A.A. When she had recovered, she trained and worked as an alcoholism counselor. She raised her own children and fostered many others despite the fact that she was visually impaired.

She came out as a lesbian in 2013 and helped lead the first gay parade in Thunder Bay. Ma-Nee Chacaby  is an exceptionally gentle woman. She overcame many hurdles and endured  unbelievable hardships and torture.  In the end ,however,she uses her experiences to help countless others.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another wonderful book review from the Inimitable Margie Taylor

The Magical Realism of Life of Pi by Margie Taylor
“[W]hat is the purpose of reason, Richard Parker? Is it no more than to shine at practicalities – the getting of food, clothing and shelter? Why can’t reason give greater answers? Why can we throw a question further than we can pull in an answer? Why such a vast net if there’s so little fish to catch?”
Why, indeed? Who hasn’t wondered at some time or another, about the point of it all. Why are we here? What does it mean?
Piscine Molitor Patel, commonly known as Pi, stranded on a lifeboat somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, has time to consider these questions. More than enough time, actually. In the end, he will have 227 days to ponder those questions in between bouts of feeding himself and the 3-year-old Bengal tiger who is his sole companion and his greatest threat. If he cannot keep the tiger fed, he will most likely be eaten. If he is successful, he may still be eaten in the end. Only a regular diet of fish and the tiger’s intense spasms of motion sickness keep the boy alive.

How Pi, a teenage boy from Pondicherry, India, and Richard Parker, the tiger, find themselves in this particular situation is a complicated story. In brief, Pi, his mother and father and younger brother, and an assortment of animals belonging to his father’s zoo are on a Japanese freighter bound for Canada. Twelve days into the voyage the ship sinks; the boy’s family, the ship’s crew, and almost all the animals perish. Pi, thrown into a lifeboat just before the ship goes down, survives, along with a zebra, a hyena, and a female gorilla. Oh yes, and the tiger.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Poem for Today by Jameson Kooper.

Fire and fury
I wonder
What makes death
So easy when suicide
Is a missile
Striking hallowed ground.
I suppose
Far afield
The mushroom dance
In skies blazing
nuclear lightning
Feels no warmth.
Why worry about
The gust front
Tearing rafters from walls
And flaying flesh alive.
Comfortable among Washington
There are no screams
To hear
No trunks like twigs snapped.
Just the bellowing bull
Incessantly whining
Stripping air from the room.
That is all you see
As the rain kills
And maims.
August 10, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Makenzi Fisk's Intuition Series Coming to Thunder Bay.

Mckenzi and her partner Tracy at Factor Lake. 

I love Makenzi Fisk's sentences. They are short, punchy and, allied with good pacing, move the story along. Just what you want in a mystery, right?

And I only had time to read the first third of the first book!

I was lucky to spend time with Makenzi Fisk at her camp at Factor Lake near Atikokan. Makenzi is the editor and publisher of Mischievous Press but she is also an award winning mystery writer.

Her Intuition Series includes Just Intuition, Fatal Intuition and Burning Intuition.

My time at the camp was too short to read the entire book. I was busy writing, canoeing, fishing, swimming, sauna, a trip to Atikokan to eat some famous fries (I had poutine), visit the canoe factory and meet poet Jameson Kooper. Not to mention talking to Mackenzi about the book biz, playing with the cat and dog, picking raspberries and eating great food. Oh that butter chicken!

Makenzi is also the publisher of Canadian Shorts, a collection of short stories to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. All proceeds from this book go to the Canadian Council of Refugees. The stories in the book were chosen in a cross-Canada contest. Thunder Bay's Marion Agnew, won a place, with her sharp and sweet story, A Map of the Moon.

Marion Agnew, will sign Canadian Shorts which contains her award winning story, A Map of the Moon.

Both Marion and Makenzi will be at Chapters August 5 from 1-5, to sign books.

I wil be there too. First, because I also have a story in Canadian Shorts.  But mainly because I want to buy Just Intuition, the book I started at Factor Lake.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Man Booker Long List 2017

Arundhati Roy

 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (U.S.)
  Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland)
 History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (U.S.
  Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-U.K.)
  Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland)
  Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (U.K.)
  Elmet by Fiona Mozley (U.K.)
 The Ministry of Utmost Happiness Arundhati Roy (India)
  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (U.S.)
 Home Fire Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan-U.K.)
Autumn by Ali Smith (U.K.)
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (U.K.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (U.S.)

I can happily recommend Autumn by Ali Smith and I am dying to read The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. Paul Auster, Sebastian Barry, George Saunders and Zadie Smith are old friends. I have not yet read their books listed here but I can recommend the authors. This is a very interesting list. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lone Pine. North Woods. Jameson Kooper , a powerful poet

I met poet Jameson Kooper at Robins in Atikokan. Mackenzi Fisk, the publisher and editor of Mischievous Books, introduced us. Mackenzi published Lone Pine, North Woods, Kooper's book of poetry. And what poetry! Powerful stuff.

In the forward he writes: Writing poetry is always a surprise. I never know what they will become until they finalize like ice...our wonderful planet guides my muse because wonder at life has that way with us all. The daily struggle struggle of living that one sees in nature translates to me struggling daily as I do to understand and figure out my place in the universe wild...


Where go the men of peace?

Where hide the women of hope?
For deep in this hollow
desert dust
where springs the blood
of bombs
the collateral damage of innocents,

No one speaks for them.

No one speaks for
the red swept
swaddled in dust
after the bunkers come
crashing through.

No one
cries foul when
doctors die
deep in Gaia’s bosom
broken and torn apart
by coward’s toys.

Where lies the brave soul to speak
for those
creatures caught
by war?

September 28, 2016

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Letter from Helen Cimone the Bookbag Lady at TBPL

Hello Joan
Here are some new additions to the Book Club in a Bag collection.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
And some new additions generously donated by local book clubs:
Out of the Storm by Carole Ashe, donated by the Red Rockin Readers
The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux , donated by the Food For Thought Book Club
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman donated by the Murillo Book Club
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman donated in memory of Wendy Schilke by the Booktasters Book Club
Thanks to all the clubs that donated books for the Book Bag collection. Beginning next week, you will be able to do your own online reservations of  these new titles along with all the other book bags.I will be sending out more information about this on Monday.
Have a great weekend!

Helen Cimone
Community Hub Assistant - Collections

Mary J.L. Black Library
901 Edward Street South, Thunder Bay, On P7E 6R2
TEL: (807)-345-8275
FAX: (807)-475-7855

Great News for Book Clubs. Reserve your book bags on line.

Hello Joan
I am very happy to let you know that you can now reserve your own book bags online. Our new software, called Kitkeeper, allows you to view all the book bags in our collection, see all the bags available on a given day and reserve them for pick up at a library of your choice. You can also access your own reservations and see what you have booked. You will now be receiving email notifications when your book bag is ready for pick up. We can only hold your book bag for three days once you receive your email.
The large availability spreadsheet has been replaced, and you can access the new Kitkeeper software from our website. Here is the link:
Also, here is a video that you can watch about it.
If you have any questions you can email or call me at 345-8275.
Helen Cimone
Thunder Bay Public Library.
Helen Cimone
Community Hub Assistant - Collections

Mary J.L. Black Library
901 Edward Street South, Thunder Bay, On P7E 6R2
TEL: (807)-345-8275
FAX: (807)-475-7855

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Great Literary Review Closes

Margrith Schraner, Associate Editor and Ernest Hekkanen, Editor-in-Chief.

I am always happy when a literary magazine accepts one of my stories. Unfortunately, this acceptance from The New Orphic Review came with bitter news.

Earnest Hekkanen, the editor-in-chief, said he was happy to publish my story “Generosity.” And he added, “I found your story very affecting. I was moved by it.” But then I read on. “Your story will appear in September, 2017, our final issue.”


I emailed back. Say it isn’t so! The New Orphic Review is one of the peppiest, most creative and edgiest publications in the world of Canadian Literary Magazines and Hekkanen is the bluntest, sharpest, most iconoclastic of publishers.

Almost every year, for the past five years, The New Orphic Review published one of my stories.  I was thrilled in 2011 when the magazine took Prisoners of War, a story about the Neys POW camp on Lake Superior.

In 2012, the magazine published Cousin Bloomers, a tale of love between cousins, and the same year Subterranean Homesick Blues, about the death of a Weatherman responsible for the Greenwich Village bombing.
2013, Hekkanen took The Yegg Boy, which was also published in The Antigonish Review and recommended by it for the Journey Prize.

In 2014 the magazine published The Monument, a slightly fanciful tale of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s trip to the Lakehead with the King and Queen on their 1939 cross-Canada Royal Tour.

In 2016, he accepted The Kaministiquia Stories.
In the Spring 2017 issue, Ernest Hekkanen writes, “I've decided that the upcoming fall 2017 issue will be the final issue. I've published the NOR for 20 years, and while it has been interesting and we've donated a lot of time and money to the project, I find I'm getting a bit weary, at the age of 70.”

Ernest Hekkanen and his partner Margrith Schraner started the journal in 1998 when they were living in Vancouver. Later, they moved to Nelson, BC. He writes, “I enjoy a great range of writing, some of it quite experimental.” His own stories and forty-seven books follow this pattern.
Explaining the name New Orphic Review and, at the same time, giving some good advice to writers, Hekkanen says, “On the title page of every New Orphic Review is a small icon identified as Pythagoras. Back in the annals of time, Pythagoras was a prominent figure in the Orphic Tradition…one of the traditions revolved around theory… which meant something closer to ‘passionate sympathetic contemplation,’ a practice that can be quite useful for writers who are trying to get inside a character’s heart and mind. The idea was to enter into one’s subject and thereby know its essence. It could be compared to a form of meditation…

“Back in the mid-1900s, I decided to adopt the word “Orphic” for our publishing house and literary review. I did it out of a sense of playfulness, and because it suggested that we were part of a lineage”

The twenty-year span included triumphs and disasters. A 2014 a Journey Prize award was followed by a cyber attack in 2016. Hekkanen refused to pay the ransom and lost all his files. The NOR had to start over with new computers but after a short delay, the next issue was released.

He adds, “We have published an amazing number of talented writers who have since gone on to make careers for themselves in the literary world. It will be with some sadness that we step back from publishing…Hang on for the last issue of The New Orphic Review which will be published late in 2017.”

 I am honoured that my story, “Generosity” will be part of this last issue. Joan M. Baril

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Interview with Thunder Bay's Duncan Weller.

An Interview with Duncan Weller from TBPL's "Off the Shelf"

Duncan Weller and Friend at Chapter's Book Signing 
(photo by Joan Baril)

Duncan Weller is a writer of children’s books, adult fiction and poetry.  He is also a visual artist who shows his work regularly.  He lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and travels often to get ideas and images for his books.  He won two of Canada’s top awards (Governor General’s, Schwartz) for his picture book, The Boy from the Sun.  You can find him online And check out his artwork at the Vinyl Listening Station at Waverley Library!
Shauna Kosoris: So what came first for you: art or writing?
Duncan Weller: Children are quite happy to draw until they learn to write. The interest in writing supersedes drawing because words more easily express ideas and feelings than pictures. I kept drawing as I learned to write to satisfy an itch that I can’t explain. According to my mother, my first spoken word as a one year old child occurred when looking at a sundown over the Ottawa River. I said, “Pretty,” and not another word for three months. In my twenties I thought of myself as a visual artist. I was getting paid for my art long before my writing, but today I don’t distinguish between the two as powerful twins.
In university, you were originally in Fine Arts. Why did you decide to switch to English?
I wanted to learn about the history and methods of creating children’s books and other forms of literature. And at the time the Fine Arts Departments across North America emphasized modern art, which has value for some, but wasn’t my thing. The philosophical underpinnings of modernism was too subjective for my taste and Fine Arts departments completely ignored the potential of popular culture.There’s nothing wrong with the traditional functions of art when those traditional functions are used progressively to dramatically enrich a democratic society. And humanism is at the core of English literature which applies not only to visual art, but to cultures the world over. That emphasis, of art with a mission beyond aesthetics, ideology and the self struck me as more meaningful and useful.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Treasure Hunting in Second Hand Bookstores.

After coming down from Margie Taylor's remarkable and mesmerizing historical novel, Harrow Road, this book addict found herself with (oh no!!) nothing to read.

A quick trip to Victoriaville and the Public Library's used bookshop ensued.  The well-filled shelves contain mystery, romance, classics, fiction and non, all for a buck a book. For me, the following treasures.

1. Most useful. The Harrowsmtih Perennial Garden. Since I started writing the gardening column for the Thunder Bay Seniors' newsletter, I have been collecting reference books.

2. Best find. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot.  I saw the musical but never read the lighthearted cat poems which T. S. wrote for his godchildren. The slim but happy volume describes several cats, including
Macavity: The Mystery Cat.
Macavity's  a Mystery Cat; he's called the Hidden Paw
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of the crime - Macavity's not there!

I have now read the fifteen poems in the book at least ten times. So now I'll  give the book to a cat-loving granddaugher.

3 and 4. Best novels. The Romantic by Canadian Barbara Gowdy, author of The White Bone. All of Gowdy's books are a little strange, slight off kilter. Here the theme is love in all its variations, real and unreal.  Crusoe's Daughter by British writer, Jane Gardam, is a haunting story of a lonely girl who grows up in an isolated house with only her old aunts for company. Slowly she discovers  the strange secrets of her family. I have read a lot of Gardam whose bestselling novel, Old Filth, has always been a favourite. 

5. The Oldest Book. Flowering Wilderness by John Galsworthy. In the 1920's,  The Forsyth Chronicles enthralled readers and Galsworthy kept churning out more tales of the Forsyths, the wealthy British merchant family. He detailed the scandals, the loves, the double dealing, the tragedies, the drama until, after nine volumes, he completed the saga in the dirty thirties. Over the years I have read quite a few. I also watched the BBC dramatization of the first three books. A lot of "will she, won't she?" and 'Did they, didn't they," keeps the various plots weaving along. Will I enjoy it? Probably.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Lightkeeper's Daughters
The Lightkeeper’s Daughters, by Jean E. Pendziwol, is a novel set on Lake Superior. It is an affecting story of family, identity, and art, that involves a decades-old mystery.

Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. She can no longer read the books she loves or see the paintings that move her spirit, but her mind remains sharp and music fills the vacancy left by her blindness. When her father’s journals are discovered after an accident, she enlists the assistance of a delinquent teenager, Morgan, who is completing community service at the retirement home where Elizabeth lives, and together they read the musty books. 

An unlikely relationship develops between the two women as they are drawn into the words of the Porphyry Island light-keeper penned more than 70 years ago.  In the process, they discover they are both connected to the isolated island, their lives touched by Elizabeth’s enigmatic twin sister Emily and the beautiful but harsh Lake Superior environment. 

But for Elizabeth, the faded pages of her father’s journals hold more secrets than she anticipates and threaten the very core of who she is.

Jean E. Pendziwol, award winning author of Once Upon a Northern Night and No Dragons for Tea, will be launching her debut adult novel The Lightkeeper’s Daughters on Thursday July 6th from 7-9pm at the Sleeping Giant Brewery. She will also be at Chapters on July 8, 1 – 4 p.m.

Jean E. Pendziwol