Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre as part of the Robson Reading Series.

Andrew Kaufman’s Born Weird tells the tale of the Weird family who have always been a little off, but not one of them ever suspected that they’d been cursed by their grandmother, Annie Weird. Now Annie is dying and she has one last request: for her far-flung grandchildren to assemble in her hospital room so that at the moment of her death, she can lift these blessings-turned-curses. What follows is a quest like no other, tearing up highways and racing through airports, from a sketchy Winnipeg nursing home to the small island kingdom of Upliffta, from the family’s crumbling ancestral Toronto mansion to a motel called Love.

The title of Camille Martin’s latest book of poetry, Looms, signifies the weaving tool as well as the shadowing appearance of something, These “woven tales” were inspired by Barbara Guest’s statement that a tale “doesn’t tell the truth about itself; it tells us what it dreams about.” The strands of their surreal allegories converse, one idea giving rise to another, and the paths of their dialogue become the fabric of the narrative. In a second meaning, something that looms remains in a state of imminent arrival. Such are these tales, like parables with infinitely deferred lessons.

In Barry Webster‘s latest novel, The Lava in My Bones, a frustrated Canadian geologist studying global warming becomes obsessed with eating rocks after embarking on his first same-sex relationship in Europe. Back home, his young sister is a high-school girl who suddenly starts to ooze honey through her pores, an affliction that attracts hordes of bees as well as her male classmates but ultimately turns her into a social pariah. Meanwhile, their obsessive Pentecostal mother repeatedly calls on the Holy Spirit to rid her family of demons. The siblings are reunited on a ship bound for Europe where they hope to start a new life, but are unaware that their disguised mother is also on board and plotting to win back their souls, with the help of the Virgin Mary.”

Author Biographies

Andrew Kaufman is the author of All My Friends Are SuperheroesThe Tiny Wife, and The Waterproof Bible. He was born in Wingham, Ontario, the birthplace of Alice Munro, making him the second-best writer from a town of 3000. His work has been published in 11 countries and translated into 9 languages. He is also an accomplished screenwriter and lives in Toronto.

Camille Martin is the author four collections of poetry: Looms (Shearsman Books), SonnetsCodes of Public Sleep, and Sesame Kiosk. A chapbook, If Leaf, Then Arpeggio, was recently released from Above/Ground Press. She has presented and published her work internationally. Martin earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans and a PhD in English from Louisiana State University.

Barry Webster‘s first book, The Sound of All Flesh (Porcupine’s Quill), won the ReLit Award for best short-story collection in 2005. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the CBC-Quebec Prize, and the Hugh MacLennan Award. Originally from Toronto, he currently lives in East Montreal.


Select Books Available at UBC Library

Kaufman, Andrew. (2013). Born Weird. Toronto, Ont: Random House Canada. Link: http://webcat1.library.ubc.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=6524543

Martin, Camille. (2012). Looms. Bristol, UK:  Shearsman Books. Link: http://webcat2.library.ubc.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=6309169

Webster, Barry. (2012). The Lava In My Bones. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press. Link: http://webcat2.library.ubc.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=6435737


UBC Library Research Guides

Canadian Studies

Book, Theatre, and Film Reviews

Literature Reviews

ANDREW KAUFMAN, CAMILLE MARTIN and BARRY WEBSTER

at the Robson Reading Series

Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7pm

UBC Bookstore at Robson Square

Robson Reading Series events are free and open to the public but registration is recommended. To register for this event, please click here.

Photo credit Lee Towndrow

Born Weird (Random House of Canada) tells the tale of the Weird family who have always been a little off, but not one of them ever suspected that they’d been cursed by their grandmother.

At the moment of the births of her five grandchildren Annie Weird gave each one a special power. Richard, the oldest, always keeps safe; Abba always has hope; Lucy is never lost and Kent can beat anyone in a fight. As for Angie, she always forgives, instantly. But over the years these so-called blessings ended up ruining their lives.

Now Annie is dying and she has one last task for Angie: gather her far-flung brothers and sisters and assemble them in her grandmother’s hospital room so that at the moment of her death, she can lift these blessings-turned-curses. And Angie has just two weeks to do it.

What follows is a quest like no other, tearing up highways and racing through airports, from a sketchy Winnipeg nursing home to the small island kingdom of Upliffta, from the family’s crumbling ancestral Toronto mansion to a motel called Love. And there is also the search for the answer to the greatest family mystery of all: what really happened to their father, whose maroon Maserati was fished out of a lake so many years ago?

Andrew Kaufman is the author of All My Friends Are SuperheroesThe Tiny Wife, and The Waterproof Bible. He was born in Wingham, Ontario, the birthplace of Alice Munro, making him the second-best writer from a town of 3000. His work has been published in 11 countries and translated into 9 languages. He is also an accomplished screenwriter and lives in Toronto with his wife and their 2 children.
.

LOOMS CAMILLE MARTINThe title of Looms signifies the weaving tool as well as the shadowing appearance of something, These “woven tales” were inspired by Barbara Guest’s statement that a tale “doesn’t tell the truth about itself; it tells us what it dreams about.” The strands of their surreal allegories converse, one idea giving rise to another, and the paths of their dialogue become the fabric of the narrative. In a second meaning, something that looms remains in a state of imminent arrival. Such are these tales, like parables with infinitely deferred lessons.

Camille Martin is the author four collections of poetry: Looms (Shearsman Books), SonnetsCodes of Public Sleep, and Sesame Kiosk (out of print). A chapbook, If Leaf, Then Arpeggio, was recently released from Above/Ground Press.

She has presented and published her work internationally. One of her current poetry projects is “Blueshift Road.” She’s also working on “The Evangeline Papers,” a poetic sequence based on her Acadian/Cajun heritage and her participation in archaeological digs at an eighteenth-century village in Nova Scotia, where her finds included ancestral pipes and wine bottles. Martin earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans and a PhD in English from Louisiana State University.

BarryWebster_creditMaximeTremblay

Photo credit Maxime Tremblay

Lava In My BonesIn Barry Webster‘s latest novel, The Lava in My Bones (Arsenal Pulp Press), a frustrated Canadian geologist studying global warming becomes obsessed with eating rocks after embarking on his first same-sex relationship in Europe. Back home, his young sister is a high-school girl who suddenly starts to ooze honey through her pores, an affliction that attracts hordes of bees as well as her male classmates but ultimately turns her into a social pariah. Meanwhile, their obsessive Pentecostal mother repeatedly calls on the Holy Spirit to rid her family of demons. The siblings are reunited on a ship bound for Europe where they hope to start a new life, but are unaware that their disguised mother is also on board and plotting to win back their souls, with the help of the Virgin Mary.

Told in a lush baroque prose, this intense, extravagant magic-realist novel combines elements of fairy tales, horror movies, and romances to create a comic, hallucinatory celebration of excess and sensuality.

Barry Webster‘s first book, The Sound of All Flesh (Porcupine’s Quill), won the ReLit Award for best short-story collection in 2005. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the CBC-Quebec Prize, and the Hugh MacLennan Award. Originally from Toronto, he currently lives in East Montreal.

WALID BITAR, BASMA KAVANAGH and MISSY MARSTON

at the Robson Reading Series

Thursday, February 21, 2013, 7pm

UBC Bookstore at Robson Square

Robson Reading Series events are free and open to the public but registration is recommended. To register for this event, please click here.

 

    They have no maps. Ours, I’ll redraw.
    Isn’t itself, their neck of the woods;
    needs a rest – something more than a nap,
    and less than death, though death wouldn’t hurt.

In Divide and Rule, Walid Bitar delivers a sequence of dramatic monologues, variations on the theme of power, each in rhymed quatrains. Though the pieces grow out of Bitar’s personal experiences over the last decade, both in North America and the Middle East, he is not primarily a confessional writer. His work might be called cubist, the perspectives constantly shifting, point followed by counterpoint, subtle phrase by savage outburst. Bitar’s enigmatic speakers are partially rational creatures, have some need to explain, and may succeed in partially explaining, but, in the end, communication and subterfuge are inseparable – must, so to speak, co-exist.

Walid Bitar was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1961. He immigrated to Canada in 1969. His previous poetry collections are Maps with Moving Parts (Brick Books, 1988)2 Guys on Holy Land (Wesleyan University Press, 1993)Bastardi Puri (Porcupine’s Quill, 2005) and The Empire’s Missing Links (Véhicule Press, 2008). From 1990 to 1991, he held a Teaching-Writing Fellowship at the University of Iowa. His newest work, Divide and Rule (Coach House Books, June 2012), is a collection of dramatic monologues. He lives in Toronto.

Basma Kavanagh’s debut collection, Distillō, engages the natural world and seeks to explore our relationship to it. Hers is a poetics of description which subverts scientific observation and the authoritative language of nomenclature for mythopoetic ends. In the opening section (“Moisture”), precipitation is dissected and categorized, but ultimately the deluge of “rain making rain, /making rain” overwhelms controlled interrogation and undulating imagery saturates everything. Nomenclature reappears elsewhere in the book, attempting to anchor object poems about west-coast flora and fauna–salmon, elk, bear, bigleaf maple, bog myrtle–which otherwise drift toward the mythworld and gesture in the direction of the ethereal and the totemic. Understanding that language can be most precise when it harbours ambiguity and surprise, Kavanagh experiments with pattern poems and the layering of multiple voices in her attempt to express “a fullness /an absence /of self.” This is a book which turns over rocks and looks under them in search of truth in its soft, damp hiding places, poems which instruct us to “[d]escend. Blend /your knowing with the breath of earth”.

Basma Kavanagh is a painter, poet and letterpress printer living in Kentville, Nova Scotia. She produces artist’s books under the imprint Rabbit Square Books. Her poems have appeared in the chapbook A Rattle of Leaves, published by Red Dragonfly Press, and included in anthologies in the United States.

The Love Monster is the tall tale of one woman’s struggle with mid-life issues. The main character, Margaret H. Atwood, has psoriasis, a boring job and a bad attitude. Her cheating husband has left her. And none of her pants fit any more. Missy Marston takes the reader on a hilarious journey of recovery. Hope comes in the form of a dope-smoking senior citizen, a religious fanatic, a good lawyer and a talking turtle (not to mention Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Warren Zevon, Neil Armstrong and a yogi buried deep underground). And, of course, hope comes in the form of a love-sick alien speaking in the voice of Donald Sutherland. More than an irreverent joyride, The Love Monster is also a sweet and tender look at the pain and indignity of being an adult human and a sincere exploration of the very few available remedies: art, love, religion, relentless optimism, and alien intervention.

Missy Marston‘s writing has appeared in various publications, including Grain and Arc Poetry Magazine. She was the winner of the Lillian I. Found Award for her poem, “Jesus Christ came from my home town.” As explained in her National Post Afterword columns, Missy Marston loves Margaret Atwood, aliens and Donald Sutherland. Her first novel, The Love Monster, is an ode to all three. She has been called “an irreverent Canadian” by Commentary Magazine and “weird, funny and moving” by The Globe and Mail. She is fine with that. The Love Monster is her first novel. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

 

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