Another helping of Porkpie

If you like writers, you’ll love Porkpie. Every couple of months, we serve up a handful of writers reading new works, all for a mere five dollars.

The next seating is Thursday, June 4th at 7pm at The Company House in Halifax. Tara Thorne and I co-produce and -present this sucker, and we are very excited about the line up for this one:

Sue Goyette (amazing poet and writer and teacher and all round good egg), Charles Crosby (author of extremely ribald and entertaining book, Backspin. One of my favourites of last year), Jackie Torrens, writer of astonishing depth and humour and pathos, plus, comedic actor extraordinaire, Jessica Marsh, stalwart of the old-school Blowhard reading series, plus massage therapist to the stars. Oh, and I’ll read, too. We were chasing a fifth, but he’s not going to work out for this time, so I’ll step into the breach.

For god’s sake, don’t miss it.


The Common touch

There was a moment during our retreat to Morden. We were gathered outside, near the picnic table. It was Friday night… or Saturday maybe? God, it’s blurred together already. In any event, the Nova Scotian members of The Common were all there—Sean, Sue, Ryan, Sarah and Carsten. Sarah had something to say, she insisted we all get our drinks. We did. She proposed a toast, holding out her Carlsberg (of all things). She said, “it’s so awesome that this writing group has turned in to five such awesome friendships.” We clinked our drinks, and then she said, “damn it, I practised that in my head, and it did NOT have two awesomes in it.”

It was appropriate though. The retreat had way more than two awesomes in it. First of all, she’s right… it is awesome, the awesome friendships that have grown out of that writing group. We have such interesting discussions, and take the piss out of each other so naturally. We are so well balanced, the right blend of hilarity and sincerity in all we do and say to each other. We can all live in a two-bedroom cottage for two and a half days and still like each other at the end of it.

So that’s a lot of the awesome. Then there’s the beauty of Morden. This was my first stay by the Bay of Fundy, and it was incredible. The way the sunlight slanted across from New Brunswick, the rocky rocky shore… how many millions of years till it’s a sandy beach, I wondered as I picked my way along it, wishing I could take every single rock home. The incredible verdant freshness, the rolling hills. The lightning show to which we were treated on Saturday night; the way it rained with wild abandon.

And then the writing. I’m not sure most of The Common got actual work done, but I sure did. Pages and pages and pages about Dacey Brown, the female singer songwriter in Fallsy Downsies, the lone wolf who’s lost her voice, but thinks she might find it if she hops a ride with Evan Cornfield and Lansing Meadows. Plus, a section that’d been missing, a section that connects the night that Lansing and Evan meet, and the roadtrip that takes them to Antigonish together.

Plus, with a little help from my friends, I figured out the ribald game at the heart of the novel. All in all, an awesome, awesome weekend.

Still here…

Good god, the busy-ness lately. And not with anything particularly riveting. In fact, I’m not sure that I could tell you what, exactly has been occupying my time lately. But I have that hunted dog feeling, that feeling of the world and all its demands nipping at my heels, relentless. Which is hilarious, because compared to a lot of people I know, I have few duties. Work, meals, groceries, the odd workout, the occasional conversation with my husband. So what has me on the run? Who knows? Monkey mind, maybe.

I mean, sure, I’m editing a book, and jurying a competition, and it’s the inaugural Atlantic Ink Festival…but beyond that, not much on the go.

I did just register for this. The Google Book Settlement thingy. It was surprising to discover they’d scanned not just Homing, but also Oral Fixation, an anthology I was published in more than ten years ago. Wow, they’ve been busy. Well, now they can get busy sending me a little cheque, and oh, I do love those.

What else? The Atlantic Ink Festival, that’s what. Tonight I went to Outside the Lines, which is a lovely little bookstore on Quinpool, for a reading and reception with Sara Tilley, whose book I am loving, Ian Colford, who cannot stop racking up nominations for prestigious awards, and Stephen Kimber, whose storytelling always at once soothes me and makes me envious. So, it was a great night.

Tomorrow, the Common heads to Morden, to Sarah Mian’s family cottage, for a weekend writers’ retreat. I am planning to get rather a lot done on Fallsy Downsies, and also to drink rather a lot of wine, and maybe stay up all night or most of it, singing Meatloaf songs. Because THAT’s how we roll.

Last night and next week

Kev has been on tour the last month with Steve Bowers, Norma MacDonald and Christina Martin. They call it the Whisky Hymnal tour and it’s been amazing. Four great singer songwriters, singing their great songs, telling stories, playing on each other’s tunes and taking pot shots at each other. I made it out to four or five of the dates, and each was amazing in its own way.

Last night’s gig in Amherst was something else all together, though.

It’s Kev’s hometown, and so in a way it’s mine too. The place was packed, with friends and family and Amherstonians of various descriptions. Thom Swift was on the bill for this one, replacing Christina for one night only. Kev was in fine form, so happy to be playing his first theatre show in Amherst. His songs were great, his hosting was great, the crowd was great. Great, great, great.

On a whim, I’d grabbed a few copies of Homing on my way out the door. Steve, who liked the book so much not only did he give me a fantastic blurb for it, he also named his album after it. very graciously invited me to perform the song Homing with him and the others for the night’s finale. I should say that my father in law prompted him too, and after being asked point blank about it, Steve graciously invited me etc.

Anyhow. Nervous! I never get nervous, but I was super nervous about this one.

But it was such a blast. We did this at the CD release party back in August. The song has two parts; the first is the songwriter writing about the pigeon, the second is the pigeon’s response. Between those parts is my part…I read a bit of the book…in which Harold shows up at Henry’s house and just won’t leave, and Henry receives a message that may or may not be meant for him. Meanwhile the band plays on…and then I get to sing on the pigeon’s response part, the part of the song that truly breaks my heart (there is such a part in every song Steve Bowers writes) the part that goes “always homing and never home.”

So amazing to feel those nerves, to feel totally alive and awake and to sing out those beautiful words. There’s actually some video footage of the performance from August. Watch this space for that, soon.

Oh, and one last chance to catch these guys together. The tour wraps up tonight in Antigonish at the Dragonfly Cafe… go if you can, you won’t regret it.

And I should note, next Saturday, I’ll be a celebrity book seller at Frog Hollow Books from noon to 2pm. I can’t wait! It’s been many years since I had the pleasure of selling books, and Frog Hollow has been so, so good to me in so many ways for so many years, so I am delighted to be able to hang out in that fine establishment and maybe recommend to you some of the books I have loved most lately. Drop by and see us Saturday April 18, noon to 2pm. Park Lane Mall. Don’t forget to bring your paperback money!