Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tonight! Robert Melançon and Jessica Hiemstra at the Word in Montreal

Montrealers! Make sure you make your way to The Word tonight for a fantastic evening of poetry, featuring Robert Melançon and Jessica Hiemstra. Robert will be launching his latest book, For As Far As The Eye Can See, translated for the first time into English by Judith Cowan. Jessica will be reading from her latest collection, Self-Portrait Without a Bicycle.

What better way to kick off Poetry Month than to get a head start with Biblioasis?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Um. Read this.

the indefatigable rob mclennan, who has always been a champ about doing 12 or 20s for us even when we're shamefully late in sending him books, has posted a new thingie with jessica hiemstra. i call it a thingie because 'interview' is maybe a little ... i dunno ... not enough to do with horses. or blood. or ducks? hell, just go read it. happy friday!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Biblioasis and Shō Art, Spirit & Performance Present: A Lecture on Mark Rothko, by Dr. Lauren Friesen

Join Shō Art, Spirit & Performance and Biblioasis for a lecture by Dr. Lauren Friesen, Professor of Theatre at UMichigan-Flint in anticipation of Shō's upcoming production of the play RED.
Tickets for RED are also available at Biblioasis.

admission is free.

RED is a Tony Award-winning two-man play by John Logan about the art of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko.

Lauren Friesen is Professor of Theatre and Chair of the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of Michigan-Flint. He is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for "Excellence in Theatre" and the Indiana Theatre Association's award for his "Outstanding Contribution to University Theatre." His recent publications include a translation of Hermann Sudermann's The Storm Komrade Sokrates (University Press of America) and the essay "Ritual, Race and Reconciliation in Anna Deavere Smith's Play Fires in the Mirror," (Munster: LIT Verlag). His monologue "Still Waiting for Rachel" was published in Monologues for Men by Heinneman Press. He just completed the translation of a novel...But Stones Can't Speak by the holocaust survivor Carlo Ross. In April 2007, Vertigo Productions in Flint produced his latest 2-act play Rothko.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

April events with K.D. Miller

For our Toronto area Bibliofriends, you have the chance to catch K.D. Miller reading twice in April.

First, head to Saturdays at Portobello Restaurant and Bar (995 Bay St. in Toronto), Saturday, April 6 from 1:30 - 4:30pm, where K.D. will participating as guest author.

Then, on Saturday, April 13th from 10:30am-12:30pm, check out the National Poetry Month Celebration put on by the Vaughan Poets' Circle. This free event will feature K.D. Miller as well as other local poets. For more information, email Debbie Ouellet at

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

News from Marsha Pomerantz

Tara and Chris had the pleasure of seeing Marsha Pomerantz read at AWP Boston and, if you are in the Massachusetts area, so too can you at a couple upcoming events.

She will be reading at Newtonville Books in Newton, MA on April 2nd, as part of a reading celebrating the winners of the 2012 Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants. The reading takes place at 7pm, and more info is available at

Alternately, you can catch her at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival taking place in Salem, MA, May 4th. Details of her reading are still TBD, but if you keep an eye or two on their website, you will be sure to get all the latest updates as they are available. She'll be reading as part of a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Salamander magazine, published by Suffolk University.

You will also be able to find Marsha in a forthcoming issue of Raritan (Rutgers University in NJ), which will feature seven of her poems. Keep a look out on

Monday, March 18, 2013

Biblioasis's Spring Poetry Tour

(le texte français suivra)

You are cordially invited to join Biblioasis as we celebrate 
For As Far As the Eye Can See 
(orig. Le Paradis des apparences), 
now translated for the first time by Judith Cowan, 
as well as Jessica Hiemstra's
Self-Portrait Without a Bicycle
(published by Biblioasis in 2012).

7:30 P.M.
Hosted by Eric Ormsby

7:00 P.M.

7:00 P.M.

7:00 P.M.

In the 144 poems of For As Far As the Eye Can See, Melançon re-imagines the sonnet as a "rectangle of twelve lines," and poetry as "a monument as fragile as the grass." Impressionistic, seasonal, allusive, in language sharp and clean, this form-driven collection is both a book of hours and a measured meditation on art, nature, and the vagaries of perception.

The evening will also feature the poet and visual artist Jessica Hiemstra, whose Self-Portrait Without a Bicycle was published by Biblioasis in 2012.

Robert Melançon is one of Québec’s most revered contemporary poets and a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award. A longtime translator of Canadian poet A.M. Klein, Melançon has been the poetry columnist for Le Devoir and the Radio-Canada program En Toutes Lettres; he is also a critic and a professor at the University of Montreal. In addition to the Governor General's Award he is a past recipient of the Prix Victor-Barbeau and the Prix Alain-Grandbois.

Jessica Hiemstra is a visual artist and writer who divides her time between Ontario and Sierra Leone. She is also the winner of two Malahat Review Open Season Awards (2011) and the Room Magazine Annual Poetry Contest (2009). Self-Portrait Without a Bicycle is her third volume of poetry.

Chers amis,

Biblioasis vous invitent au lancement du Paradis des apparences de Robert Melançon, qui vient d’être traduit en anglais par Judith Cowan.

Dans les 144 poèmes de
As Far As the Eye Can See, Melançon redéfinit le sonnet comme « un rectangle de douze vers », et la poésie comme « un monument aussi fragile que l’herbe ». Impressionniste, saisonnière, allusive, écrite dans une langue précise et nette, cette suite de poèmes est un livre d’heures aussi bien qu’une méditation sereine sur l’art, la nature, et l’incertitude de nos perceptions.

La soirée mettra égalment en vedette la poète et artiste visuelle Jessica Hiemstra, dont
Self-Portrait Wthout a Bicycle a paru chez Biblioasis en 2012.

Robert Melançon, deux fois lauréat du prix du Gouverneur-Général, est un des poètes québécois contemporains les plus respectés. Traducteur de longue date du poète canadien A.M. Klein, Melançon a été critique de poésie au
Devoir et à l’émission « En toutes lettres » à Radio-Canada; il a également été critique et professeur à l’Université de Montréal. En plus du prix du Gouverneur-Général, il a aussi reçu le prix Victor-Barbeau et le prix Alain-Grandbois.

Jessica Hiemstra est une artiste visuelle et un écrivain qui vit au Sierra Leone. Elle a remporté le prix « Open Season» » de la
Malahat Review en 2011 et l’« Annual Poetry Contest » de Room Magazine en 2009. Self-Portrait Without a Bicycle est son troisième recueil de poèmes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is it a novel or a kettle bell?

Presenting a novel that could be used to do shoulder presses: The Traymore Rooms by Norm Sibum, coming this July from Biblioasis.

We're binding galleys today and my paper cut count is up to five.

At least I'm getting in a bit of an arm workout in the process.

Who needs weights when you've got a book this massive?

Left, 6 galleys of David Mason's The Pope's Bookbinder (a pretty lengthy book on its own). Right, one gigantic copy of Norm Sibum's The Traymore Rooms. The result? A paper cut ratio fast approaching 1:1.

Biblioasis Receives Two Nominations for the B.C. Book Prize

Enthusiastic congratulations to C.P. Boyko and Anakana Schofield, both of whom have been nominated for the Ethel Wilson B.C. Book Prize for fiction! AK was of course nominated for Malarky, and Craig for Psychology and Other Stories. Other nominees include: Bill Gaston (The World), Ann Fleming (Gay Dwarves of America), and Yasuko Thanh (Floating Like the Dead). For more about the Ethel Wilson Prize you can consult the B.C. Book Prizes website here. (If you'll look closely you'll see that Patricia Young, whose name also graces the Biblio-backlist, is nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for her collection Night-Eater. Congratulations all round.) 

About "C.P. Boyko" and Psychology and Other Stories
C.P. Boyko ... or so we're told. When
asked if this was a self-portrait he
replied: "No, I can't draw that well."
(By a 6-year-old friend)
Perhaps Biblioasis's most elusive author, Boyko's biography reads as follows:
"Clearly Mr. Boyko has read too much; no doubt he was sickly as a child. His distrust of psychologists is also easily explained: his parents were therapists, and did not give him enough affection; or he took an undergraduate degree in psychology but failed to make any friends in the department; or he had a bad experience with an analyst."
He offers us no pictures. He frequently declines interviews. So rather than attempt to profile the man & his staggering genius, we shall instead turn to the critics, who sank their teeth with great relish into his satirical collection. 
"C. P. Boyko takes as probing a look into the world of psychology as any doctor might into the confused mind of a patient, and comes away with a similar diagnosis: narcissism, delusions of grandeur, flights of fancy, logorrhoea ... The author bucks current trends in fiction like invisible narrators and single-character focus, preferring instead to soar omnisciently above the human fray, until such time as he deems it necessary to dive-bomb, raptor-like, into the backstory and motivations of a particular character. Occasionally he addresses the reader directly to make a point, a satirical take on the industry he excoriates in this book: don’t worry, I’ll tell you what to think. The style, reminiscent of an earlier time in fiction when authors sometimes played God, takes some getting used to in these days of sparseness and minimalism, but once the reader understands where Boyko is coming from, then, unlike the subject of psychology, it all makes sense. And the explorations drill so deeply into this mysterious medical science that they make the effort worth the reader’s adjustment."—The L.A. Review of Books
 "A smart, funny book, and possibly therapeutic as well."—Toronto Star
"These six stories are all written around the single unifying theme of psychology, which—if you take the time to read these satirical and heartbreaking narratives—is itself perhaps just a story we tell ourselves about the way the human mind works ... Fans of satirical fiction will love this book; so will anyone who has reclined on a therapist’s couch, or taken a psychology course from a larger-than-life professor with obvious neuroses, or read a self-help book by an author whose biography reveals them to be a total mess. Yet the mockery here is never mean-spirited; the book is impeccably researched and unflinchingly intelligent."—The National Post

About Anakana Schofield & Malarky 
Readers of Thirsty have long been won over by Vancouver's most vacuum-friendly, weather-loving Irishwoman, but now for the first time it seems the Mrs. is winning the hearts of awards bodies as well. Nominated two weeks ago for the First Novel Award (and yes, we're still celebrating in the aftermath of the Afterword, because bloody hell is it a good book!), the Ethel Wilson will be the second major prize nod for the tale of Our Woman.  I've included a few recent blurbs from across the pond that you may not have seen yet. From Mr. Mc-What-Now? McCann? Yes indeedy. Yes yes indeed. Congrats to all.
"Anakana Schofield is part of a new wave of wonderful Irish fiction—international in scope and electrically alive."—Colum McCann 
"Malarky is a terrific read, a brilliant collision of heartbreak and hilarity written in a voice that somehow seems both feral and perfectly controlled. Anakana Schofield's Our Woman takes a cool nod at Joyce, then goes her own way in one of the most moving and lyrical debut novels I've read."—Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
"We become comfortable saying that there's nothing new, and then something like Malarky comes along, which is new and old and different and familiar, but ultimately itself, comfortable in its own skin, wise and smart and crazy-sexy or maybe sexy-crazy—well, you just have to read it to understand. It's a novel that sets its own course, sure and steady, even when it seems like it might be about to go over the edge of the world."—Laura Lippman

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Anakana Schofield at Words on the Water Festival

For those of you enjoying life on the west coast, we've got an event recommendation for you. The Words on the Water festival in Campbell River, B.C. takes place March 15 and 16 (yes, this weekend!) at the Maritime Heritage Centre.

Malarky author Anakana Schofield will be one of the featured authors at the festival, which will also host Charlotte Gill, Madeleine Thien, Fred Wah, JJ Lee, Rawi Hage, Matthew Hooton and Janet Marie Rogers.

Anakana will be participating in the Writers in Conversation panel 7:30pm on March 15th, as well as reading at 1pm on the 16th.

For more details on scheduling, tickets, and location, head to the Words on the Water website.

Monday, March 11, 2013

From the back of the bookshop: Canary, start to finish

In the back of the bookshop at Biblioasis, a lot of what I do is come up with cover concepts and designs for our forthcoming books. Sometimes these come relatively easily: a concept works, I tweak the type treatment or the image a bit, make sure that the files are all of good resolution, and call it a day. Most of the time, however, a book cover takes several drastically different concepts before it reaches the state where it suits the book, has enough appeal to grab the attention of someone browsing a bookshop, and is visually pleasing to everyone involved in the process.

I've been posting a lot about book covers in our Book Spotting series, taking a look around the Biblioasis store and finding covers that really work or do something interesting. In this post, we're going into the publishing offices to look at a lot of book covers that don't work, and one that (finally!) does. 

Nancy Jo Cullen's debut book of short fiction, Canary, will be released by Biblioasis this May. It's a book of stories that roams from the seedy bars of East End Vancouver, to the communal showers of a hot yoga studio, to the movies for a sing-a-long screening of The Sound of Music. They're quirky, often-queer stories of families threatening to fall apart, yet somehow they're also full of humour. 

In coming up with a cover for Canary, my initial instinct was ABSOLUTELY NO BIRDS! Where did I go from there? At first, try the obvious: coal mines.
Yep. Went for the obvious. Didn't work out so well.
 Clearly, this one isn't working. Beyond being eye-rollingly obvious, the image isn't particularly striking. The title is hard to read. The type treatment is uninspired. NEXT.

More coal mines. This one's got a bit of a 1970s feeling.
 Next I went for an image that was a little more dynamic. Still a coal mine, but this time a cross-section of one. Mainly I was drawn to the colours, which felt sort of 1970s kitchen to me. I tried a font that didn't compete with the image, and had an architectural drawing feeling to it. But there was still something not right about it. It didn't stand out enough. The image might have been too busy. So I moved on.

Keeping with the idea of architectural drawings and sketches, I mocked up something with the same type treatment, but with this drawing of a coal mine in 2D. I liked that the lined paper showed through and the muted colours made me think of a school book sketch. But the old type treatment from the previous cover didn't fit. I thought maybe going with the sketch book theme might help. But as you can see, it didn't.

getting sketchier...


sketchy. Too sketchy.

 At this point I took some time away from the cover. Everything was becoming a bit of a muddle and I wasn't getting anywhere, or achieving what I was hoping to achieve. A few days off and I was ready to re-approach the cover from scratch. I found this cute little canary image, made up of pieces of electronics (it is a bit hard to see, but he has circuit boards running through him!) I echoed this in the background with a subtle circuit motif and went with a couple typefaces that together gave off a vibe of retro but also suggested the harshness of technology. Looking back at this one, it's not great, and it doesn't really fit the book at all, but I can't help but love that little canary.

 Since I had already broken my own NO BIRDS rule, I decided to allow myself to incorporate birds in my future attempts. Still fighting the literalism, I opted for a piece of a bird instead of the whole canary. This one was a cross-stitch, and I decided to just use his tail. I finally got to make use of my favourite cross-stitch typeface as well. Fantastic. However, it came to my attention that with just his tail on the cover, this canary didn't look so much like a bird. It actually looked more like a fish. And since the book isn't called Carp, I moved on.

I moved on to a cover that was my absolute favourite for quite some time. As I am constantly dealing with things like CMYK conversions and Pantone colour swatches, a little bit of design nerd crept into this design. Instead of representing Canary as a bird, I wanted to represent it as a colour. And what better way to do that than to emulate the iconic Pantone colour swatch. The type treatment was obvious as Pantone's swatches all look the same. Clean, crisp Helvetica. There was no bird on the cover. I loved the simplicity of it. However, it gave off textbook vibes to some people, and that was not what I was going for, so unfortunately, the swatch had to go. 

TADA! Finally something works!

However, that swatch led me to this. The final cover for Canary. I ran with the simplicity, the emphasis on the white and yellow palette from the swatch. The bird silhouette is crisp enough in my mind to make up for the sin of putting a bird on the cover, and the fact that it replaces the A, which its shape doesn't really resemble, but is still instantly readable, gives the book the kind of interest that demands a second look.

So from NO BIRDS ABSOLUTELY NO to a bird on the cover, there you have the progression of Canary to its current and final form. Grab your copy this May when it is released by Biblioasis.

Salty Ink goes "Behind the Book" with Best First Novel Finalist Anakana Schofield

For those who haven't heard, Anakana Schofield's Malarky is up against four other Canadian novels for's Best First Novel Award. 

Along with a hearty congratulations to Anakana, we're happy to be able to share Salty Ink's "Behind the Book" feature on Malarky. Find out about the role of interruption, and why Malarky is a novel in episodes when you read the full article here.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Like Centurions into Battle...Tara and Chris go to AWP

Driving through the night, our fearless warriors of the written word Chris and Tara headed toward Boston. Headed toward the book fair battleground that is AWP 2013.

They started the day by challenging all other book fair vendors to defend their honour by constructing the most sturdy (and attractive) fortresses of books. 10 points to Biblioasis for this Circus Maximus masterpiece.

Chris stepped out from behind the wall of books in the company of David Starkey himself to fearlessly protect our fearless author from...paper cuts perhaps?

This evening, David Starkey, centurion Chris at his side, will present a reading in Hynes Convention Centre Room 207, at 7pm. Stop by for some poetry, refreshments and good conversation.

Monday, March 04, 2013

One More for Tuner

Two new reviews to report today, one for Tuner of Silences, and another for a book that launched around this time last year: Doug Glover's Attack of the Copula Spiders. "The book has stayed on my mind ever since I read it," wrote Joe Ponepinto of the LA Review in an email to me this weekend, and he's not the first person I've met to feel that way. I'm perpetually amazed by how many people make a point of telling us how much this book has changed their approach to writing. And Joe, bless him,  decided to write about the experience in a (copula-free!) blog post this weekend, where he says: "I reviewed a book a while back that has stayed with me for many months and has affected the way I write and read, and it’s opened my eyes to a weakness in much creative writing, even in published books."

So. There you have it. No small praise. As for Tuner, well, the indefatigable M.A. Orthofer at The Complete Review has rated it and compiled a helpful list of links to previous reviews. You can check it out here, & discover for yourselves why he calls the book "starkly poetic"; "a novel of damaged souls in a damaged country, The Tuner of Silences is an eloquent tale of loss."

Happy Monday, folks! Stay tuned for the latest BiblioNews as we head to Boston this week for AWP. If the gods are kind, there may even be gladiator costumes to report on ... 

Friday, March 01, 2013

"A true tour-de-force of modern African writing"

The high praise keeps rolling in for The Tuner of Silences, with new review published in Words Without Borders by Anderson Tepper of Vanity Fair. "Couto’s language is rich, fertile, and often full of riddles that turn reality, as we know it, on its head," Tepper says: "His stories straddle African and European worlds, and his preoccupations range across issues of race and identity, national culture and legacies of the country’s civil war ... translated into shimmering prose by David Bradshaw, The Tuner of Silences is a true tour-de-force of modern African writing ... Couto’s literary cosmos is unforgettable."

Read the whole thing here. In fact go read the whole issue. Co-presented by the SPAIN arts & culture program, the March WWB examines the work of 12 Spanish prose masters whose work is largely unavailable in English. Fantastic. Fantastíco. Feliz viernes, everybody!