Joan Thomas

Joan Thomas
InThunder Bay April 2

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Sad letter from Katja Maki re: Northern Woman's Bookstore

Dear Friends of Northern Woman's Bookstore:
As you know the Northern Woman's Bookstore is closed. For this reason, we have been returning consignments of books, CD's, cards and jewellery. If you have consignments here and have not picked them up as yet, we ask that they be picked up by you or someone you designate before February 22nd, 2016 as the building will be up for sale shortly and all contents must be removed.  
Please contact me to arrange a time to pick up your work by emailing me at northernwomansbookstore@gmail.com or calling me at 344-7979. Please leave a message if I am not here and I will get back to you as soon as I am able.
If you live out of town, please contact me so we can arrange a way to get your works back to you.  
Thank you

Katja Maki

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016


ice heart

February 14

Hard as he is to see
in the brush along the shore,
the eagle is taking flight
from tangled metaphor.
However much he loves the air
I love you more.

Ulrich wendt



Sunday, January 31, 2016

Voice and Intimacy in Third Person Narration/Movement and Stillness


Presented by Joan Thomas
Saturday, April 2nd, 2016
10am - 3pm
Mary J.L. Black Library
FREE for members/$25 non-members
**Registration Information Below**
Joan Thomas is an award-winning Canadian novelist and book reviewer, whose debut novel Reading By Lightning won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book as well as the Amazon.ca First Novel Award (http://joanthomas.ca/author-bio/).
The morning workshop entitled Voice and Intimacy in Third Person Narration will examine fiction writers’ various alternatives for narrative voice and point of view and the advantages of each. The afternoon will be devoted to Movement and Stillness and will explore pace in literary fiction.

Both of these will be taught as master classes, geared at experienced writers. The workshop is free to NOWW members and $25 to non-members. Space is limited.   To register, email admin@nowwwriters.ca or visit our website at http://www.nowwwriters.ca

The workshop will be held in the auditorium at the M.J.L. Black Library, 901 Edward St. S. from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Joan Thomas

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Poem. Marrow by Robert Matejko


Dear art!
You call out to the world with the very marrow your inspiring name!
Matriarchies and oligarchies both seek out the secret of you that brings such fame,
as you bring to life sensuous sounds and strokes of brush,
that would otherwise be made in vain.

The marrow of your existence lies in the very bones of the world,
as under your influence,
the arrays of sensory experience of this sphere of existence,
they are unfurled.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Poem from 14th century Persia

A Cushion for Your Head

Just sit there right now
Don’t do a thing
Just rest.
For your separation from God,
From love,
Is the hardest work
In this
World.
Let me bring you trays of food
And something
That you like to
Drink.
You can use my soft words
As a cushion
For your
Head.
خواجه شمس‌‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی, known in English as Hafiz or Hafez
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky
This poem was sent to me by FireflyToronto-based business offering creative writing workshops, online writing workshops, and creative writing coaching, all with an extra dose of love. Check it out at http://fireflycreativewriting.com.

P.S.They send me poems and writing prompts all out of the goodness of their heart and they will send them to you too. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Canada Reads. CBC tells us all about it.

The theme is Starting Over. A great theme. The books and defenders are listed below.I loved The Hero's Walk. I have always liked Michael Winter and Lawrence Hill. So  but now I have to read the others. Info below from CBC web site.
Okay, bibliophiles — put the kettle on and ready your reading nooks. It's time once again to launch Canada Reads, CBC's annual battle of the books. 


The 2016 contenders are:
    Bruce Poon Tip, defending Birdie by Tracey Lindberg: "For all of us that care about reconciliation … this book opens that path."
  
    Farah Mohamed, defending Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz:  "For a fiction book, this book is incredibly real. You go on a roller coaster ride and at the end you feel like you know the characters"

    Clara Hughes, defending The Illegal by Lawrence Hill: "It puts a face to the faceless and it brings a humanity to the struggle … it's a thriller that sweeps you along."
   
    Adam "Edge" Copeland, defending Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter: "It's about falling flat on your face, dusting yourself off and how do you walk on."
   
    Vinay Virmani, defending The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami: "It shows us that each one of us can be a hero that can look change in the eye and walk a road that leads to transformation and betterment."

This year's host is author, broadcaster and previous Canada Reads winner Wab Kinew. 

Send comments on the list to joanbaril@gmail.com. I will publish then later. Tell which one you would pick.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

18th Annual NOWW Writing Contest

Lots new this year in the annual NOWW writing contest including two new categories, Novel Excerpt and the Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose which requires "a Northwest Ontario setting central to the work," and can be memoir or personal essay. Sounds exciting to me!

Other categories are: poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction (which can include memoir or personal essay)

Lots of opportunity for writers here.  

The rules are simple but vary for each category so be sure to check them carefully. 

The contest is open to all and free to NOWW members and a very low fee of 10$ for non-members.

Closing date for submissions is March 19, 2016

Everything in made clear at http://www.nowwwriters.ca. Click on contests. Happy scribbling.



Terry Fallis,  Contest Judge for the Novel Excerpt Category

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Margaret Phillips. A poem by Estella Howard read at Margaret's celebration of life, Saturday January 16, 2016.



Margaret by Estella Howard

margaret was a woman of valour
words to describe her cross and criss cross
she was a woman of service
providing books for women
books about women
books authored by women
a social planner
a feminist pillar.
margaret was humble and fierce
at the same time.
she held on when others let go
a gentle rock
children's stories and cunt colouring books
on different shelves of course.
music by women and a special spot for
rodney brown
she shared ideas with her customers and friends
stepping around her literature covered counter
to offer a cup of tea, a chair to sit in, a conversation.
She wore her glasses low, peering at you over the frames
her hair always long - red for so long then finally grey
the northern women's bookstore and her home
filled with "her story."
she was the northern woman
in print and in heart.
she was the tip of the iceberg and
many wondered what lay beneath
most too shy to ask respecting the gentle woman privacy
and those special few who held her through the hard times
these old and loving friends.
sisterhood is powerful.
social justice was her place setting at the table
steadfast in her beliefs and committed to holding the space
for others.
for those of us who shared her generation
memories long forgotten amid tears and laughter
the early days of the women's movement,
old friends, authors, gatherings rich in experience.
margaret took a stance and held i, at times feeling along
an independent woman - an independent bookstore
a haven for new writers, young feminists and justice advocates.
a place to feel safe and understood
free to express outrage and joy.
a place to share.
so good-bye dear margaret -
all those poets,, novelists, journalists, and playwrights who have gone before
and a few old friends
all hanging out together
reading to each other, challenging ideas and sharing laughter
thank you for your kindness, open heart and gentle spirit.
and god?
damn she is a woman!
Lovingly remembered by a sister


Margaret Phillips,  founder of the Norther Women's Bookstore in Thunder Bay with Anna MeColl, ran the business for forty years. At her death the Bookstore was the last women's bookshop in Canada. At present the shop is closed and the volunteer collective is considering the next step.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Readings and a Self-Publishing Workshop. Free for all.

A letter from the president of NOWW, Jane Crossman. Hi Joan: Winter readings and free for all at Brodie Library.

Tuesday, February 16th, 7pm
Brodie St. Library, Fireside Room
Sizzling Hot or Freezing Cold

Tuesday, March 15th, 7pm
Brodie St. Library, Fireside Room
10x10 Plays

Tuesday, April 19th, 7pm
Brodie St. Library, Fireside Room
Novel Experiences for the winter NOWW Readings:

Wait, wait. There's more! An intriguing workshop on self publishing.
Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW) will be offering a free workshop entitled The Indie Road: Self-publishing in a Global Marketplace facilitated by Heather Dickson on Monday, February 1st, 7:00-8:45 p.m. at the Waverly Library, 285 Red River Road. There is no need to register.  

H. Leighton Dickson grew up in the wilds of the Canadian Shield, where her neighbours were wolves, moose, perennial-eating deer and the occasional lynx. She studied Zoology at the University of Guelph and worked in the Edinburgh Zoological Gardens in Scotland, where she was chased by lions, wrestled deaf tigers and fed antibiotics to polar bears by baby bottle! She has been writing since she was thirteen, has three dogs, three cats, three kids and one husband. She has managed to keep them all alive so far. 

A hybrid author, Heather has four self-published novels on Amazon and is eagerly awaiting the publication of her highly anticipated gothic thriller series, Cold Stone & Ivy, out April 2016 via Canada's own Tyche Books. She also writes for Bayview Magazine and is a photoshop wizard when it comes to book covers.

Her website is http://www.hleightondickson.com and Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/HLeightonDickson

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jurassic Library

Jurassic Library is an award winning story written by Kayla, a thirteen year old girl. We are very happy to be able to publish it here. Hope you enjoy it.


JURASSIC LIBRARY

I sprint down the sidewalk, my beaten-up sneakers squeaking with each step. Most days I take my time down this street, what with the old Victorian houses covered with ivy vines, or the historic shops wafting the scent of freshly baked bread. But I can’t slow down today. I practically fly down the street, hardly even noticing the vibrant new imports at the flower shop. My backpack bumps around with each step, and my lungs sting with my uncommon practice of exercise. I nearly miss the entrance to the library, the sign is hidden by an extremely overgrown shrub nobody ever bothered to trim.

The library is one of my favourite buildings in this neighbourhood. Hidden down a back road, the little brick building covered in foliage always fascinated me. I look down at my watch, pulling back the lilac-and-cream striped sleeve of my sweater. It’s five-thirty four. School ended nine minutes ago, and I am four minutes late. Pushing open the heavy double doors, I jog through the maze of old wooden bookshelves to the back of the library. Jenny, the kind librarian with thin, blonde hair and long, delicate limbs, pulls me into the back room. This room was added about ten years ago for all the events the library hosts. One of the walls is made completely of glass, and it overlooks the beautiful gardens, half of it donated by the local flower shop. The rest of the room is white and blue, and the little plastic chairs they use in schools are lined up to face the massive window.

 Today all of the seats are filled with people, who seem to be getting impatient. It’s only been four minutes! I will never understand the people of this town. Jenny ushers me up to the front, handing me my violin that I keep here for convenience. The parents of the crowd begin shushing their children, and I scan the people for anyone I might know. No such luck. Mom is at work, Dad’s looking after my little sister Annie, all of my friends don’t exist, and the rest of my siblings are either asleep, partying or studying.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Notso List. Disappointing Books 0f 2015 (And a few more favourites)

The Notso List: Every reader brings her own personality and imagination to a book. One person’s great read may be another’s disappointment. I give a book a chance to lure me in, but if, after several pages, I find the story uncongenial, I return it to the library where it might find someone who loves it.

Sometimes, a book seems so full of promise or has received such glowing reviews, that I slug on, wondering what kind of illiterate clod I am to find boring what all the world loves.  Last year The Goldfinch almost put me into a comma and this year I trudged though The Buried Giant by Kazue Ishiguro, longing for release as a brilliant premise faded like memories of a long forgotten war.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld, charmed me with an original plot but the important information was left to the end, sending me, the reader, into a fit of pique. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, much praised this year, was interesting in a sociological way but not riveting, and two erotic novels by James Salter, a fine writer who died this year, were diminished for me by his view of women as sex objects.The excruciatingly slow and detailed Death of the Father by Ove Knausgaard made me long for a merciful end.

I looked forward to Career of Evil, the latest mystery by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowlings) but its lack of humour, its heavy tone and gruesome descriptions did not work.  Lighten up for God’s sake, I whinged. A good thriller activates the nerves to the point you are afraid to turn the page, but my nerves remained dead. 

In a misplaced attempt to read those classics I always have avoided, I tried Walden by Thoreau and came face to face with a scold and egomaniac who looked down on everyone except himself.  Walden returned to a bottom shelf, too famous to throw away but too boring to open again. Alas, the Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler proved dated and creaky at this remove. But, on the other hand, the Japanese classic, Snow Country by Yasumari Kawabata, sent me into a trance of delight. 


The disappointment in the Big Sleep was well compensated by some great mysteries: The Overlook by Michael Connelly, Entanglement by Polish writer Zymunt Miloszewski  and Ice Run by Steve Hamilton and two William Deverell mysteries, Sing a Worried Song and The Laughing Falcon. Deverell is the funniest mystery writer I know. However, notso with Grantchester: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcle which brings us to the 1950’s in England where a young handsome clergyman is invited by the local cop to help out with cases. The dialogue is not only wooden (everyone speaks as if they were in a Coward play) but often it does not quite make sense. But I read it to the end. Why? I think I liked the main character, the weedy Sidney.  

The few disappointments were compensated by many many  goodies. See list below of my top picks of the year.  As usual I read a lot of short stories this year, too many to list. I fell in love with Melissa Bank's A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing and especially the first story which I reread several times. I also enjoyed Sharon Irvine's book of stories called Close Encounters. Here are a three others that I enjoyed: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, The King's Curse by Phillipa Gregory, and Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Haruf, a marvellous writer died this year.



Kent Haruf