But before we get to who is reading at LitLive tonight (and what they look like -- and, yes, we do, Lena Dunham-like, have a $10,000 bounty for the unretouched photos of these writers), let's talk about Groundhogs.
Tonight's reading falls on Groundhog Day (Pennsylvania German: Grundsaudaag, Murmeltiertag) but it also falls on the less well known, Writers' Day (Pennsylvania German: Grumblesdaag, Mumurtag) According to folklore and the Paris Review, if it is cloudy on this day when a poet or novelist emerges from their crumpled paper-strewn burrow, their latte-cluttered coffeeshop, or even the gong-infested sea, then spring publication will come early and the miserable bitterness of life will recede if only for a brief moment, enough to get married in Vegas, maybe, pen a haiku about buttercups, or to stop weeping. Really. If it is sunny, the writer will supposedly see her or her shadow (cf. Carl Jung or how to make dog shapes with your fingers) and retreat back into his or her burrow, and the winter weather, existential alienation, bittersweet longing, and interminable darkness will continue for six more weeks.
Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the writer emerging from his/her burrow, but these are ridiculous. Writers never emerge in the morning. Unless they've been up all night, in which case, approach with caution.
Born in the US to Dutch immigrant parents, Patricia Westerhof moved to Amsterdam shortly after birth and then to Canada at age four. She spent her school years in Alberta and Ontario. Westerhof now lives in Toronto, Canada, where she writes fiction and teaches English and creative writing. Westerhof is the author of The Dove in Bathurst Station, a novel, and Catch Me When I Fall, a collection of linked stories. She also co-authored The Writer’s Craft, a textbook. Her stories have been published in The Dalhousie Review, Room, and the anthology Trees Running Backward. Along with fiction, Westerhof writes curriculum, and she has presented at education conferences in Canada and the U.S. www.patriciawesterhof.com
Born in Thunder Bay in 1947, Gordon Johnston taught poetry among other things at Trent University for forty years, until he retired in 2011. He co-ordinated the very successful Writers Reading Series at the university for a number of years. He served for more than a decade on the Advisory Board of House of Anansi Press. He published a poetic fiction, Inscription Rock, in 1981 with Penumbra Press and a poetry collection, Small Wonder, with littlefishcartrpress in 2006. His most recent book is But for Now, published last September by McGill-Queen’s Press in the Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series.
Natalee Caple is the author of five books of fiction and two books of poetry, including the novel The Plight of Happy People in an Ordinary World; the short story collection The Heart Is Its Own Reason, which has been optioned for film; the poetry collection A More Tender Ocean, which was nominated for a Gerald Lampert Award; and the novel Mackerel Sky. Her most recent novel is In Calamity’s Wake published by Harper Collins in Canada and Bloomsbury in the US. She is an assistant professor in the English Department at Brock University.
Shane Neilson is a writer and a family physician. His previous books include Meniscus, Gunmetal Blue, and Complete Physical, which was short listed for the Trillium Poetry Award. Neilson has published essays and reviews in many Canadian literary magazines and newspapers. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.
Paul Sutherland, Canadian-British poet, immigrated to the UK in 1973. He has seven collections and has edited seven others. He is the founding editor of Dream Catcher, a distinguished national-international journal in its 23rd issue. A notable performer, he’s read his poetry in public over a hundred fifty times including twice at Lit Live. He attends festivals and leads workshops in creative writing for all ages and abilities. His poems have appeared in journals and newspapers and anthologies.
Despite being advised as a teenager to pursue office work rather than writing, Janet Turpin Myers has been writing all her life. Her début novel, Nightswimming, published by Seraphim Editions, was released September, 2013. Her second novel, The Last Year of Confusion, will be released in the spring of 2015, also by Seraphim Editions. Her short story, Crashing, recently won 3rd place in the 2013 gritLit Short Fiction competition, and her poems have been published in Hammered Out and Tower Poetry. Currently, she is 168 pages into her next book, UnPredator—a genre-bending, three-planet dystopian/utopian sci/fi fantasy about the end of the world, vegetarians, and Genesis.
Our host for the evening is Laura Lukasik from the Hamilton Public Library. We've heard they know something about books and writing over there!