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Pickle Me This

April 26, 2010

In which a poem is dispensed from a vending machine

Because we live in a wonderful city, the highlight of this afternoon was visiting the poetry vending machine at This Ain’t the Rosedale Public Library, as installed by the Toronto Poetry Vendors. Like all the best vending machines, this one jammed a little bit once I’d put in my twoonie and turned the crank, so I had to stick my hand up the chute to get my poem out, and (imagine if I’d gotten stuck? And they’d had to call the fire department? Because I’d gotten my hand stuck in a poetry vending machine? Now, there‘s a story, if only it weren’t fiction, because) my purchase slipped out easily. My luck of the draw was a poem called “Rhyme Scheme (for Condo Country)” by Jacob McArthur Mooney, and now it’s hanging on my fridge.

And, because I was in a bookstore, I picked up Joy Is So Exhausting by Susan Holbrook, as pitched by Julie Wilson today for Keeping Toronto Reading. (Hear Susan read her collection at Seen Reading; I recommend the poem “Nursery” [second from the end] in particular, mainly because the world needs more breastfeeding lit. and the poem is joyous).

March 30, 2010

On community

I joined Twitter about a month ago, and I’m still not quite sold. First, twitter vocabulary makes me cringe. It also gives me a window into a whole host of things going on that I’m not a part of, so I feel left out, and I probably liked it better when I didn’t know what I was missing. That said, it is the best way to get links to great content, and I really appreciate that. Some people manage to be consistantly hilarious in 140 characters. Interesting to note that my favourite people to follow tend to have columns in major newspapers– either they’re terribly good with words, or they have more free time than the rest of us.

The point of Twitter is community, though Twitter is not so much where the action takes place, but it can point you in the direction of the places where things are happening. And because there are a lot of these places, Twitter becomes very useful.

Julie Wilson’s Book Madam and Associates is in full swing: “a collective of publishing and media professionals who love bright ideas and have been known to have a few of their own.” She’s just announced her crew of associates, and the group of them managed to pack an Irish pub last Thursday night. The Book Madam has also just announced her online Book Club’s first pick: Amphibian by Carla Gunn. It’s like Oprah, but with less conflict with Frey and Franzen.

The Keepin’ it Real Book Club has yet to come down from their Canada Reads: Civilians Read high. (And okay, I’ve just read their latest post in which I was referred to nicely. Which I didn’t plan, but I still like it. Community sure has its good points). Newest side project is “Books in 140 Seconds”, which is a whole Book Club meeting in 140 seconds. They read Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld to start things off: check out the first video here. (Aside: I hated Prep, in case you’re wondering, and didn’t come to love Sittenfeld until American Wife.)

The KIRBC has also got behind the Toronto Public Library’s amazing Keep Toronto Reading campaign. 99 reading journals are currently floating around the city, they have a Books We Love promotion with readers doing video pitches, and many other events, online and otherwise.

February 26, 2010

In the post and etc.

I just tramped out through the snow to collect today’s brilliant postal haul, which included a writing cheque, my new spaceage autoshare keycard, and a copy of Susan Telfer’s absolutely beautiful collection House Beneath. And really, it tops off the most wonderful morning, which I’ve spent listening to DJ Bookmadam’s playlist, reading An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym and issue 32.3 of Room Magazine. Drinking pear lychee green tea, while Harriet napped for almost two hours (!!). This morning following an evening during which I went out and spent my time in the company of inspiring, amusing women and ate lots of cheese while my husband put the baby to bed without me for the first time ever, and they both did brilliantly. All of which is to say that I am terribly, terribly happy today, and I tell you this not to be smug or rub it in, but because this is one of those good days that I want to collect like a postcard, to pickle away and keep always to remember just how fantastically beautiful the snow-covered world is outside my window right at this moment.

December 10, 2009

Pathos and other things

If I look tired here, it’s because I am! It’s been a hard, hard, hard few weeks. I think I’m blaming it on teeth, as there are two teeth apparent but remarkably sloooow at coming in (it’s been two weeks now, and they’re just creeping past the gums). There’s been a lot of screaming all the livelong day, and a lot of not sleeping all the deadlong night, and now I’ve just learned the joy of pushing a stroller along snowy sidewalks that people don’t shovel. Today I was a lesson in pathos as I shoved my stroller up over snowy curbs, the rain cover ripped and flew up in my face, my boots were leaking, buttons dripping off my coat, and I got splashed by a taxi-cab. The whole thing was very sad. And I won’t even get started on the middle of last night, when the baby would only stop crying when she was throwing up in my bed.

Motherhood is not always as romantic as I dreamed it would be.

There are good things: wonderful books to read, of course. I’ve been doing ongoing Christmas baking. I’m knitting Harriet a Christmas stocking. I finally completed a short story for the first time since Harriet’s birth. My short story contest win. Friends to spend afternoons with. Yesterday’s visit to the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. That Harriet’s intensive lessons in waving hello and goodbye are starting to pay off. Advent calendar fun at every turn.

Speaking of, I’m loving The Advent Books Blog. I love reading the recommendations for books I have no intention of reading even, I love that different kinds of books that readers are so passionate about, and I like the linky places the recommenders’ biographies are taking me.

I love this post about Christmas shopping at the library. DoveGreyReader on readers vs. critics. Maureen Corrigan on passionate books for the holidays. Rebecca (delightfully) on names and naming. And I found this old interview with Allan Ahlberg, which was interesting. (Peepo is a favourite around our house.)

Now must go eat… something. And begin reading An Education by Lynn Barber.

UPDATE: For those who care, the second tooth is finally in, and we’ve got a bit of peace around here. Hurrah! I’ve also found a cheap second-hand jogging stroller online that will make my pedestrian life a little less pathetic this winter.

December 1, 2009

A Big Day

Tomorrow is a big, big day. Biggest of all, Harriet goes to the doctor for her six month checkup, so she’ll get shot up with powerful poisons and we’ll find out how many point how many pounds of enormous she is. What this means, however, is that I won’t be able to head down to the CBC to see Canada Reads 2010 unveiled. I’m honestly sad about this, and looking forward to finding out this year’s books (which I may or may not read, depending on what they are). In related news, Julie Wilson is guest-hosting the CBC Book Club. In Julie Wilson-related news (and there always is some. I am sort of a Julie Wilson fanatic, actually), tomorrow also starts Advent Books— a book a day to satisfy your holiday shopping-recommendation needs.

I am now reading Gaudy Nights, and I’m surprised to find that it is a fairly demanding read in terms of length and content. Maureen Corrigan also ruined the ending, but I think I’ll still enjoy the ride.

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