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Poets in Profile: Lesley Battler

Lesley Battler's debut collection of poetry, Endangered Hydrocarbons (BookThug), tackles big subject matter with the confidence of a poet with countless collections under her belt. Using the language around the sometimes controversial process of oil extraction, Endangered Hydrocarbons cleverly draws on texts created by a multinational oil company. In addition, the poems incorporate found sources as diverse as video games and home decorating magazines. A witty, brainy take on the environmental, economic, and human impact of the process that provides our everyday lifestyle, the collection is a debut to be reckoned with.

Spotted: TIFF Kids International Film Festival to feature Great Book to Screen Adaptations!

Looking for some fun for the littler book and film lovers in your life? This year the TIFF Kids International Film Festival will feature several fantastic book to film adaptations amongst its programming. Watch international titles come to life on the screen, including a closing night screening of the newest film from Japan's beloved Studio Ghibli.

Book to film adaptations at the 2015 TIFF Kids International Film Festival:

Video of the Week: Book Trailer for Mr. Frank by Irene Luxbacher

It's Mr. Frank's last day in a long and happy career as a tailor. He's got just one more outfit to make, and it's the most special one he's ever created. But what is it, and who is it for? So begins the latest story from award-winning children's book author and illustrator Irene Luxbacher.

Mr. Frank (Groundwood Books) has been called an "Outstanding mixed-media collages and a thoughtful text create a distinctive book that rises far above most tributes to grandparental love. . . . a perfect book."

Check out this trailer to get a glimpse into the world of Mr. Frank!

Ekphrasis Strikes Again!

The Guinness Book of Records probably doesn't have a category for it, but a group of writers and artists in Toronto has likely set a record for the longest-running, largest-scale collaboration anywhere between writers and visual artists. This eighth annual National Poetry Month exhibition and reading on April 26 features visual art by studio members of the Women's Art Association of Canada and associated poems by the Long Dash group. Some poems are responses to paintings or photographs; others share a common set of images or emotions. Similarly, some of the visual art is created, or altered, in response to poems.

Writers' Groups I Have Known: Part III, The Everything Else

To finish up my month here as Open Book's WIR, I'm giving thanks and paying tribute to the writers' groups I've been fortunate enough to be a part of.

***

There are two more group who I owe a great credit to: one that helped me figure out that short fiction was definitely not for me, and one that has helped me to establish my voice as a writer for kids and teens.

That first distinction sounds like a negative, but it really wasn't. The Flaky Lushes were a group of mostly poets who gave me my first notes on what would become my first book, When We Were Good. We were known for being stragglers, and were all working on vastly different pieces, but the summer we spent meeting regularly was a really special one.

Writers' Groups I Have Known: Part II, The Dewburying

If you're just tuning in, I decided to wrap up my month as Open Book Toronto's Writer in Residence by paying tribute to the writers' groups I've been a part of that have helped get me where I am today.

Because if you, dear reader, take nothing else away from the nearly 10K (!) that I've written as this month's WIR, I hope it's that there is nothing more important for a writer than finding other writers who will tell you that what you're doing is no good. No good at all.

***

While every writers' group I've been a part of has taught me something, the group that I took part in at the end of my time at the University of Toronto is the one I give the most credit to for helping me develop my inner critic.

Is Originality (Whatever That Is) For Sale To The Lowest Bidder?

By Dalton Higgins

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Martyn Burke

Where do you go when you've lost the girl of your dreams? If you're Danny and Hank, the protagonists of author and filmmaker Martyn Burke's new novel Music for Love or War (Cormorant Books), you head straight to a Hollywood psychic. Even though you're supposed to be in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

By turns heartbreaking and comic, Music for Love or War whisks readers from encounters with the Taliban to the pathways of High Park in Toronto, and incorporates characters as diverse as Hugh Hefner and a menacing cardboard cutout of Liberace. Unmissable, witty and timely, the novel is a perfect spring read.

On Writing, with Shane Neilson

What represents a person's identity more strongly and fundamentally than his or her face? This idea of the face as the inescapable representation of a person is explored in Shane Neilson's evocatively titled On Shaving Off His Face (Porcupine's Quill). Shane delves into the experience of pain and illness, both physical and mental, through the image of the face.

Today Shane tells Open Book about the inspiration behind the collection, including his experience as the parent of an ill child, his work as a physician and its influence on his writing process, and seeing himself in the faces (and experiences) of others.

Open Book:

To Descant, With Gratitude

Tonight Descant Magazine - after 45 years of publishing - is celebrating its last-ever issue with a goodbye party at The Revival.

Many things have been said about Descant's demise by writers and literary folks whose resumes are a whole lot more impressive than mine. Still, I owe Descant quite a lot, and it'd be pretty crass of me not to say thank you.

Descant - specifically their Ghosts and the Uncanny-themed issue, published a few years ago - was my first paid publication credit.

Which, if you've ever been a newbie writer dreaming of validation, you know is a big moment.

Being published in Descant allowed me to apply for the Toronto Arts Council's granting program, which in turn gave me the confidence to revise and submit my first novel, When We Were Good, for publication.

Video of the Week

Video of the Week: Book Trailer for Mr. Frank by Irene Luxbacher

It's Mr. Frank's last day in a long and happy career as a tailor. He's got just one more outfit to make, and it's the most special one he's ever created. But what is it, and who is it for? So begins the latest story from award-winning children's book author and illustrator Irene Luxbacher.

Mr. Frank (Groundwood Books) has been called an "Outstanding mixed-media collages and a thoughtful text create a distinctive book that rises far above most tributes to grandparental love. . . . a perfect book."

Check out this trailer to get a glimpse into the world of Mr. Frank!

Writer In Residence

April 1, 2015-May 1, 2015

Julie Joosten »

Julie Joosten is originally from Georgia but now lives in Toronto. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Program and a PhD from Cornell University. Her poems and reviews can be read in like starlings, Lemon Hound, Lit, Jacket 2, Tarpaulin Sky, the Malahat Review and The Fiddlehead. She recently guest edited an issue of BafterC, a journal of contemporary poetry. Her first book, Light Light, was shortlisted for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and the 2014 Goldie Award.

You can reach Julie throughout the month of April at writer@openbooktoronto.com

Whazamo

Random reads

The Shunning

(Moonstone Press, 1994)

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