Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Tracking the progress of the sun

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Tracking the progress of the sun through McNally's atrium: a 2016 Authors for Indies event.

The conceit behind AFI is that authors step in and show their appreciation for independent bookstores by working in the bookstore for a day, hand-selling books or doing readings.

Last year, I was in Hamilton's Epic Books for AFI. I talked about Robert Kroetsch's The Studhorse Man and Roewan Crowe's Quivering Land and ate cupcakes and talked to bookstore patrons.

This year, I AFI-ed at Winnipeg's McNally Robinson Booksellers, which is of course probably one of the best independent bookstores I've ever worked with, read at, or bought books from.

McNally's chose to have nine participating literary authors take part in a reading on Saturday afternoon. The format was that each of us were supposed to choose a book to recommend. We each had eight minutes to read a passage from that book.

I chose Anne Szumigalski's A Peeled Wand: Selected Poems of Anne Szumigalski (Signature Editions). Here's what my recommendation looked like:

"This book includes work from twelve of the the late Saskatchewan writer’s poetry collections. It was published posthumously by Signature Editions and edited by Montreal poet Mark Abley, Szumigalski’s literary executor. But all of that is details: what’s important here is that the poems are so very good. Beginning with the publication of Woman Reading in Bath (1974) when Szumigalski was 52, she took on everything from sex to identity to spirituality. The poems that came out of those investigations are strange and smart and sad. They deserve to be read and re-read."

The event itself was fun. It was great to read a handful of Szumigalski's poems and to have eight of Winnipeg's best writers talk about books and writers they enoyed.

As you can see from the pictures, it was a sunny day outside, so writers slid in and out of patches of lights from the Atrium's windows.

My thanks to Authors for Indies and to McNally Robinson, for being the consummate host.

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