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Friday, November 13, 2009

Canadian Voices

Earlier this week I attended a book event at an odd sounding restaurant – Supermarket Art Bar.

The place was overflowing with people. All gathered to participate in the launch of Canadian Voices, an anthology of prose and poetry by emerging Canadian writers.

Published by BookLand Press, the book is the first of its kind in Canada. This is Volume One. Others will follow over the years.

Publisher Rogert Morgan introduced the concept of the collection saying the idea was to encapsulate some of the best contemporary writings in Canada by emerging Canadian writers in a single volume.

A quick look at the table of contents page showed a multicultural diversity the Morgan’s publishing company has put together into one book – it brings together nearly 50 prose writers and poets.

Short story writer, poet and novelist Jasmine D’Costa introduced some of the writers who read their work. The launch was simulcasted on the web, too.

Despite my tight schedule, I managed to read some stories and many poems from the book.

The best way to read such anthologies is to randomly select a story and start reading it.

The first story I read was Professor Z. W. Shen by Hailun Tang. It read like a memoir – a touching tale of a professor in China who despite persecution during the Cultural Revolution, fearlessly agrees to teach English to two students; one of them is the writer of the story, who ultimately immigrates to Canada.

Then I read Pratap Reddy’s In the Dark, a story based on the power outage that North American experienced some years ago. Reddy skilfully turns the tables on the reader who expect something to happen between Anne and Dev, the two main characters who meet in the subway.

The short length of the each of the stories makes for an easy read.

Among the poems, I liked The Red in Poetry by Cassie McDaniel

It doesn’t take much to be a poet
you need a red book
hide-away hide-out don’t-look
warning, dangerous words
It doesn’t take much.

It doesn’t take much to be a woman
red mouth
red-words red-eyes look-out
heavy, breath like gravy
red gravy.

It doesn’t take much to be a poet
you need a big hurt
deep pain, like Peguis canyon
in Mexico, off the main roads
swoop and dive, like a red-tail
arrogant and lost.

And Val David by Jasmine D’Costa

I stand on the street at Val David holding your hand
on the tired road beneath my feet.
In the distance, the hills blue-green stretching sleepily,
fade into distant colours.
Undoubtedly, the road ends there
And beneath endless pines, the forest path
is defined by the lone traveler
I look around for you
But all I see is the straight road to the hills
and nothing beyond

For the first time ever, I promoted this blog directly.

When I bought the book at a side table from Robert Morgan, I scribbled this blog’s URL on a piece of paper and told him, “I’ll write about this book on my blog.”

He looked at me bemusedly, and then smiled.

Before I left for home, I went across to Jasmine D’Costa to get her to autograph the book. She did and so did writer Zohra Zoberi.

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