Richard Harrison book launch

Poetry reading and book signing to launch Richard Harrison’s new book,
On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood (Wolsak & Wynn). 
Also reading: Nasra Adem, Laurie MacFayden, Thomas Wharton
WHEN: ThursdayDec. 1, 2016; 7pm-830pm
WHERE: ChVrch of John, 10260 103 St, Edmonton

THE READERS


Richard Harrison – On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood
Richard Harrison is an award-winning poet, essayist and editor. His six books of poetry include Big Breath of a Wish, poems about his daughter’s acquisition of language, and Hero of the Play, poems in the language of hockey. He has published writings on literary criticism, comic culture, creative writing and mathematics. Richard also contributes to the scholarship on the superhero: with MRU colleague Lee Easton, he co-authored the book of essays, Secret Identity Reader (2010). Richard teaches composition, creative writing (poetry), and comics and graphic novels. After 11 years, Richard Harrison returns to poetry with a moving tribute to his late father in On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood.

The great Alberta flood of 2013 slides through Richard Harrison’s latest collection, its rising waters pulling his books of poetry off their shelves, washing the ink from letters kept in boxes in the basement and threatening to carry off his father’s ashes. On these waters float Harrison’s mourning for his father, who suffered a form of dementia later in life but never forgot the poems he’d memorized as a young man. Alongside these, the waters also carry Harrison’s love of comic books, his struggles with the haiku and his willingness to stay in the game, “to try again.” Combining elements of memoir, elegy, lyrical essay and personal correspondence, On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood is a generous and enchanting book, one that leaves you, like the poet, thinking about the way “characters in a novel can escape anything/except their story.”

Nasra Adem
Nasra Adem, 22, is a multidisciplinary artist and current Youth Poet Laureate of Edmonton. She has performed at poetry and spoken word festivals across North America. Nasra studied musical theatre at MacEwan University and is  the founder of Sister 2 Sister: a monthly showcase of women artists of colour and the curator for Black Arts Matter, Edmonton’s first all-Black arts festival. Devoted to creative and spiritual authenticity, Nasra is uses her artistic practice as a way of breaking barriers, reimagining realities and creating forward momentum within her communities.
Laurie MacFayden
Laurie MacFayden is an Edmonton-based poet, visual artist and journalist. In addition to two award-winning books of poetry, Kissing Keeps Us Afloat and White Shirt, her writing has appeared in The New QuarterlyFreeFall, Queering the Way, Alberta Views, and online at canadianpoetries.com and DailyHaiku. Her work has been performed in Edmonton’s Loud & Queer Cabaret, Skirts Afire herArts Festival, Read and Write With Pride, and Calgary’s Q the Arts cultural festival. Her third book with Frontenac House, You Can’t Tell, will be released in September 2017.
Thomas Wharton  
Thomas Wharton’s most recent book is Rutherford the Time-Travelling Moose, a children’s story about the history of Edmonton. His first novel, Icefields, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, Canada/Caribbean division, and the inaugural Banff Mountain Book grand prize. His second novel, Salamander, was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. He has published a three-volume fantasy for younger readers, The Perilous Realm. He is currently working on a collection of short fiction.

Dear Younger Me: Relax, you’ll turn out OK

youngerself

What would you say to your younger self?

Dear Younger Me … A letter to myself
Sunday, Nov. 6, 2-3:30 p.m.
Latitude 53, 10242 106 St, Edmonton

Six area writers have been invited to pen letters to their younger selves, whether as children or as young adults, and share these aloud with the audience, followed by a Q & A session. The event includes a silent auction, cash bar, and desserts from Cafe Reinette donated by The Writers’ Union of Canada. Proceeds go to our kids camps and sponsoring youth in financial need from Edmonton and rural Alberta to attend.

Marilyn Dumont, Minister Faust, Mieko Ouchi, Thomas Trofimuk, Thomas Wharton and Laurie MacFayden are the featured literati letter writers and presenters. They’ll have copies of their books available for purchase.

Tickets are available at the door for $25.

things that make me crazy

first crazy

snow.
snow in april.
snow in may.
snow that gets in my eyes, on my eyelashes,
in my boots
and under my skin
snow that gets into my heart
and refuses to melt
mosquitoes.
dampness.
toffee when it sticks to my teeth.
magpies yapping.
chickadees mourning.
crows cackling.
dog hair on the rug.
white dog hair on black pants.
people who talk on their cellphones while driving.
cellphones.
people.
people who take up two seats on the bus
and grunt when asked to make room for someone standing
buses that are late
buses that are so early you miss them
(rare but it does happen)
forgetting.
forgetting how i made a certain paint colour.
forgetting the names of people whose names i swore i’d never forget.
forgetting keys in doors
forgetting to lock doors.
family.
feeding the cat.
the cat.
the cat’s indifference.
when there’s no milk for the coffee.
racism. sexism. homophobia.
anti-feminist assholes.
modern jazz that feels metallic and disharmonic and headache-inducing
and i know the reason it makes me crazy is because i don’t understand it
and i hate that.
not understanding makes me crazy. not getting it.
not being connected.
being too connected.
the internet
the computer
the cable company
the system
the election
the spammers
the spam
the starbucks baristas who ask if i want room for cream in my coffee
and then don’t leave any room.
(yes i once made one cry)
the chaos in the tupperware cupboard.
anything loud.
anything digital.
turnips.

things that make me crazy in a good way:

chickadees
crows
magpies
cats and dogs
that perfect shade of blue, trying to re-create it
water
poems by just about everybody
email
‘the artistic temperament’
potato chips
coffee rings
coffee culture
coffee
sunrise. sunny days.
don draper.
ipod photo apps.
breakfast burritos.
road trips.

(warmup write, sometime in 2013)

12 words

her holy hands scorch me
that effervescent grin
the laugh that went into the candle wax
those splashing eyes
her fingers a myriad of vowels, of consonants
that eclectic thing she does when she breathes me in
her winsome writing dress
introspection is where she stepped onto the bus
murmuration is where she got off
our trinity involves flannel, soft grass, omelettes
i made her mulligatawny soup for breakfast
she sang vespers for me in the bath

hoarder

i filched quarters from my dad’s change pocket
saved them in my baby blue plastic coin purse
i kept letters from a high school boy for far too long
i still have my mother’s thimble
long after my father tossed her recipes
i rescued a purpleblack magpie feather from my cat’s backyard
preserved it in a crevice on the stucco landscape of my little house

i kept my aunt verna’s poodle pin
and the niagara falls teacup from my grandma (another verna
but from the other side of the family)
i cherished the pewter candleholder my mom brought
from finland in 1974 and the brown corduroy beatles cap
my brother surrendered that same year.
i still have the candleholder but gambled away the hat
somewhere between barrie and alberta

for months i saved beer caps that my first love mailed to me;
mementoes of parties he’d been to, 12 years after he first asked me to marry him
under the grapevines when we were five and betrothed for life
eventually i threw out his beer caps
with the cool white jeans i’d bought with my inventory money
to wear when i finally saw him again
i never saw him again

i saved a memory of the polkadot curtains my mom sewed
for my room on no. 2 sideroad; the first room i didn’t have to share with my brothers.
yes, virginia, my first room of one’s own.
my daddy built me a desk for that room and painted it white
and i cling to memories of that furniture, still.
we moved one year later and i wondered if another little boy
or girl would sit at the white desk my daddy made for me

i rescued a wounded baby rabbit
but it was not destined to live a long and happy life
i have hung on to rodeo pins; pins that say schol and copenhagen on them
because those are brands that cowboys chew. baseball players chew, too,
they call it dip, and i will always hold memories of tobacco juice
like grasshopper blick
ending up on my batting practice stenographer footwear.
i have retained the olfactory experience of the clubhouse
its weird blend of liniment and shoe sanitizer, shower steam and old spice
i am cloaked in memories of john ducey park and its dilapidated press box.
a year after i stopped covering that team they tore ol’ ducey down
and replaced it with a new diamond: telus field.
it lacked character and cachet, and instead of hot dogs and popcorn
those cold steel bleachers just smelled like money

i have kept my dad’s red tartan christmas shirt
and my brother’s soccer jersey
they all think i’m a fool for saving these things.
i have trouble letting go.

july 2014