Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What we’re reading. What we’re writing. Where we’re going

What astonishing creativity inhabits Thunder Bay. This blog is for anyone interested in books, writing, film and the local arts scene.



Walking to school
And home again
Over the smooth brown rocks
Carved with cracks and crevices
And punched with stony basins
Full of puddle sky.

Our eyes were on
The lake
The Giant and,
The grain elevators.

On this lake
Of deep blue icy,
Diamante water,
Tugs, grain boats, freighter and passengers
Came and went.

On a frigid morning
Sunrises blessed the sky, elevators and the Giant,
Blushing them rose.
The frosted lake-scape caught
Forever in the mind….
Margaret Rose Cunningham is a former Thunder Bay resident and poet.


Book Club in a Bag. The Thunder Bay library loans sets of books to book clubs. The latest title is The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson. Lawson is the author of the beloved Crow Lake.

Thunder on the Bay, the upcoming anthology of poetry and fiction by local writers and produced by the Writers’ Circle, should be available in the new year.

The Curious Savage, Cambrian Players' new offering, is opening November 7, Kathleen Savage directing. This play, by John Patrick, is a warm-hearted tale of a widow committed to an asylum by her greedy step-children but who eventually gets her revenge. Should be fun.

Random Acts of Poetry can hit you anywhere. On October 7, the fearless poets swarmed Brodie Street Library dressed in orange construction suits (they construct with words) and read their poems to bemused patrons. Some hid behind their newpapers but others applauded - great fun.

A makeover team hit the Confederation College Library. Now called the Paterson Library Commons, the new facility is upscale and elegant.

Farewell to Hyphens. Away with them says the latest edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary and with gleeful hits of the delete key eliminated hyphens in 16, 000 words. Nice for writers who are always checking the spelling of compounds. Most hyphenated words now become two words or one. Thus water-bed is water bed and leap-frog becomes leapfrog. Will other dictionaries follow? Most major dictionaries allow alternative spelling so are we edging closer to “any way is OK.”?

The Giller
Elizabeth Hay for Late Nights on Air,
Michael Ondaatje for Divisadero,
Daniel Poliquin A Secret Between Us
M.G. Vassanji The Assassin’s Song,
Alissa York, Effigy
And the $50 thou winner is….. My money goes on Elizabeth Hay.

Thunder Bay’s most celebrated author has to be Sheila Burnford the author of several books, among them The Incredible Journey. This book have never gone out of print and has become a children’s classic as have the three movies based on it, particularly the 1993 Homeward Bound, The Incredible Journey. The first of the movies had its world premier at the Paramount Theatre in Port Arthur in 1963. So where in Thunder Bay is the street or park named for Sheila? Is there any recognition in the city that Sheila Burnford lived here and wrote here? None. Shouldn’t we start to honour our artists? How about a Sheila Burnford Street?


I’ve just finished The View from Castle Rock by the incomparable Alice Munro. I’m amazed at the looseness of her prose, her long, often awkward, sentences and her use of colloquial language that would send the average writing teacher into fits. For example, the title of one story, “What do You Want to Know That For?” would be immediately red penciled to “Why do you want to know?” Many sentences start with “The thing that..” or “Where I went was …” “What he did was…” or memorably “She could not bear not to be on the distributing end of that sort of thing.” I imagine Alice, notebook to hand, lurking in her local Tim’s, jotting down every idiom and Canadianism she hears—not such a bad idea for a writer, actually.

Recommendations from around town:
Fiona Karlstedt and Margaret Phillips of the Northern Woman’s Book Store loved Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill.
Fiona also loved Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, an Oprah pick topping the non-fiction list .
Murray Becotte, investment advisor at TD Waterhouse, enjoyed Immortal, a thriller by Brain Freeman set in Duluth.
Meghan Eddy, Hammerskjold High School student says The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebald was a great book and her sister Sarah Eddy, also a student at Hammerskjold recommends Suite Francaise by Irene Nemrovski.
Phyllis Meadows at the Folino’s Supparette enjoyed Sandra Brown’s police procedural set in Savannah titled Ricochet.

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