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Prof. Nick Mount addresses critics of Arrival The Story of CanLit

I met with Professor Nick Mount at his University of Toronto offices in "Toronto" to discuss his book Arrival, The Story of CanLit. We talk among other things about the pronunciation of Toronto, the non-Toronto-centricity of his book, Alistair MacLeod, the CanLit boom, early Canadian writers publishing first in the United States, novels that are so bad they're good, the 1960s, history turning into myth, academic versus commercial success, reviews of the book, Margaret Atwood's Survival,...


Zach Wells on his book of essays Career Limiting Moves

Zachariah Wells is the author of three collections of poetry (Unsettled, Track & Trace, and Sum), as well as a children’s book Anything But Hank, with Rachel Lebowitz), and a collection of critical essays . He is also the editor of Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets and The Essential Kenneth Leslie. His poems have been translated into Bosnian and Spanish and adapted into operatic songs by composer Erik Ross. He lives with his family in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We talk, heartily, here about...


Ivan Klima on his memoir My Crazy Century

I met with famed Czech writer/novelist Ivan Klima at his home in Prague to talk about his memoir My Crazy Century. Please keep in mind that he is today a man in his late eighties. Topics covered include the criminal conspiracy of communism, the impact on his life of the Terazin concentration camp, the thrill of freedom, forests, poisonous mushrooms, communist stupidity and lack of common sense, Potemkin villages, political apathy, great literature describing complications in human...


Guy Baxter on the University of Reading's Archive of British Publishing and Printing, and Ladybird and Beckett

Guy Baxter has been University Archivist at University of Reading since 2008. His responsibilities include caring for the Archive of British Publishing and Printing, the archives of the Museum of English Rural Life, and the Beckett Collection. Guy has worked in museum archives for over 15 years and has advised on several major research projects including Staging Beckett (AHRC), Giving Voice to the Nation (AHRC) and the East London Theatre Archive/ CEDAR (JISC). He is a Trustee of the...


John Cole on the history of the Library of Congress

Historian John Cole started working at the Library of Congress as a young man in 1966. Most of his books since have dealt with this venerable institution. We talk here about it's influence on American political and cultural life, about Thomas Jefferson as bibliophile, about books comprising a small part of the library's total collection; capturing, cataloging and digitizing the world's intellectual activity, serving the blind, teaching teachers how to use the collection on-line,...


Stephan Delbos on Prague and Poetry

Stephan Delbos is a New England-born writer living in Prague, where he teaches at Anglo-American University and Charles University. His poetry, essays and translations have appeared internationally in journals such as Absinthe, Agni, Oxonian Review, PEN America, and Zoland Poetry. He is the editor of From a Terrace in Prague: A Prague Poetry Anthology (Litteraria Pragensia, 2011). A collection of visual, music-inspired poems, “Bagatelles for Typewriter,” was exhibited at Prague’s ArtSpace...


Jean Louis Maitre on Printing and Typographie in Tours, France

Better known for its wines, the perfection of its local spoken French, it's cathedral and chateau, the city of Tours France also has a surprisingly rich historical connection with printing and typography. I was in Tours recently and visited the Musee de la Typographie. It may be small, but it's full of all sorts of different kinds of old printing equipment and tools, typefaces, woodcuts and handmade paper. As one visitor put it: "Muriel Méchin, the owner takes you on a personal discovery...


Lauren Elkin on her book Flaneuse

I interviewed Lauren Elkin about her new book Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London at her apartment in the Belleville neighbourhood of Paris. Stepping off a rather ordinary, noisy street through a large pair of solid French (!) doors, I encountered a lovely, quiet, tree-lined pathway/courtyard en route to "an airy, comfortable writer's home, filled with books, art, plants, and even a piano." To start with, Elkin suggests that the flâneur is "the...


Jo Furber on Dylan Thomas and why you should visit Wales

Yes, the background voices are distracting, but what do you expect, we're in a Welsh pub for crying out loud! Well, actually we're upstairs at the Dylan Thomas Center in Swansea at a bar surrounded by revellers who have just attended a hilarious poetry vs burlesque mashup down the hallway in the Center's theatre. So everyone is pretty frisky. The performance kicked off the annual Dylan Thomas Festival. Dylan Thomas expert Jo Furber is Swansea Council Literature Officer and curator of the...


David Esslemont on Thomas Bewick, Wood Engraver

Wikipedia tells us that "Thomas Bewick (1753 – 1828) was an English engraver and author. Early in his career he took on all kinds of work such as engraving , making the wood blocks for advertisements, and illustrating children's books. He gradually turned to illustrating, writing and publishing his own books, gaining an adult audience for the fine illustrations in A History of Quadrupeds. His career began when he was apprenticed to engraver Ralph Beilby in Newcastle upon Tyne. He became a...


Gaylord Schanilec on his press Midnight Paper Sales

From Wiki: Gaylord Schanilec is an American wood engraver, printer, designer and illustrator. He is the proprietor of the press Midnight Paper Sales. Schanilec uses traditional wood engraving processes to create illustrations for hundreds of works. Schanilec has "set the standard for contemporary artist’s books over the last 30 years." His highly collected and unique fine press books explore his interests and experiences as well as his hometown landscape and community. From farming...


David Esslemont on the history of the Gregynog and Solmentes Presses

David Esslemont is an artist, designer, printmaker and bookbinder. He makes books from scratch, most recently about food, and publishes under his Solmentes Press imprint. He was Artistic Director of the University of Wales Gregynog Press from 1985–97 and has won many book design awards including the Felice Feliciano International Award in 1991. Esslemont’s work can be found in both private and public collections worldwide. (His archive to 2005 is held at the University of Iowa.) I braved...


Margaret Atwood, Literary Tourist

In which I talk, in rather rushed fashion, to great Canadian author and reasonable feminist Margaret Atwood about literary tourism: 'place' and her novel MaddAddam, Harvard and The Handmaid's Tale, and the Kingston Penitentiary and Alias Grace, also the real and the imaginary, the unreliability of eye witnesses, following the research, Samuel Johnson, Ernest Hemingway, food and underclothing, bodies, space and smell, plus the importance of plumbing.


Satire in the Age of Trump

November 30, 2017 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of one the world's great satirists, Jonathan Swift. To honour the occasion I thought it would be fitting to interview an expert on humour, in this, the age of Trump. So I met recently with Maggie Hennefeld, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. We discuss her article Laughter in the Age of Trump that appeared in Flow an online journal of television and...


Scott Griffin on My Heart Is Africa

Scott Griffin, OC (born 1938) is a Canadian businessman and philanthropist best known for founding the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2000, one of the world's most generous poetry awards, and Poetry In Voice, a bilingual recitation competition for Canadian high schools. Griffin is chairman, director and majority shareholder since 2002 of publisher House of Anansi Press/Groundwood Books. In 2006, Griffin published a memoir entitled My Heart Is Africa that recounted his two-year aviation...


Publisher Simon Dardick on Vehicule Press

I met with publisher Simon Dardick at his home office in Montreal to talk about the history and collecting of his great Canadian publishing house Vehicule Press.


Glenn Dixon: Musical Tourist

Glenn Dixon has published two books. Pilgrim in the Palace of Words: A journey through the 6000 languages of Earth was published in 2009 to rave reviews. His second, Tripping the World Fantastic: A journey through the music of our planet came out in April of 2013. He has also published travel articles and cultural pieces in major publications such as National Geographic Magazine, the New York Post, the Walrus Magazine, the Globe and Mail and even Psychology Today. Glenn has traveled...


Marcello Di Cintio on his Literary Pilgrimage to Iran

Marcello Di Cintio is a Canadian writer. He won the 2012 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his book Walls: Travels Along the Barricades. The award was handed out on March 6, 2013 at the Writers' Trust of Canada's annual Politics and the Pen in Ottawa. Marcello was born in Calgary, Alberta where he currently lives with his wife, Moonira, and son, Amedeo. We met recently to discuss his literary pilgrimage to Iran, which he wrote about in his book, Poets and Pahlevans, a...


Rae Armantrout on Poetry, Place, William Carlos Williams...

Rae Armantrout is an American poet generally associated with the Language poets. Armantrout was born in Vallejo, California but grew up in San Diego. She has published ten books of poetry and has also been featured in a number of major anthologies. Armantrout currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego, where she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics. On March 11, 2010, Armantrout was awarded the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for her book of poetry Versed published...


Michael & Winifred Bixler on Letterpress Printing and Monotype

The Press & Letterfoundry of Michael & Winifred Bixler is "devoted to the craft of fine letterpress printing and traditional book typography. Our extensive collection of English Monotype matrices allows us to cast from 8- to 72-point, classic book typefaces including Bembo, Dante, Walbaum, Van Dijck, Joanna, Perpetua, Garamond, Centaur & Arrighi, Ehrhardt, Fournier, Bell, Baskerville, Poliphilus, Plantin, Gill Sans, & Univers. Work is designed, set, printed, & bound in our shop. We use...


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