Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Wilfred Grenfell Special - Reminder

Don't forget, Today, February 28th is Wilfred Grenfell's Birthday and Rattling Books is celebrating with a Special.

40% off / 1 Day only(from now until midnight February 28)
on the unabridged recording of Adrift on an Ice Pan by Wilfred Grenfell

A Blog excerpt from Ireland on the March Hare Tour

the following is an excerpt from a Blog found at

"There were ten performances in all. Everybody was great, but the energy of the second half ran especially high, starting with poems from Michael Crummey and finishing with Ron Hynes, who brought the house down with “Sonny’s Dream” and “Dublin with Love”. Joel Hynes was also electrifying.
We had a mad bus ride back to the hotel pub. Imagine fifty or so Irish and Newfoundland writers, musicians and entourage barreling down the twisting road together. It was the Mad Hatter’s tea party on wheels. In fact, when Patrick and I were debating over breakfast the pros and cons of heading to Cork today, the thought of a two-hour or longer reprise of last night’s commute was a moment for serious second thought! Fifteen minutes was a great bit of craic.

Fifteen minutes more would probably have me hitching it on the side of the road.Back at the pub, a music session got underway. I felt about six years old, wanting to stay awake for the music so badly, but falling out of my chair with sleepiness. My coach was about to turn into a pumpkin. I called it a night, and was glad for it this morning. The crowd went on well into the wee hours. I heard they even hauled out “Danny Boy” in the end, which you know is the beginning of a downward spiral.

At that point, “even Des went to bed,” someone reported. Far gone, for sure."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rattling Books is now on

This weekend I was sucked into the time warp that is and became one of those people who avoided everything else they were supposed to be doing while sampling the wares of potential "friends" and checking back every other hour to see how many new ones Rattling Books had. I would walk into the house and announce to my family that I now had 35 friends, then 43, 49 ..... My daughter looked at me quizzically and said "like you didn't have enough already."

But now I'm driven on behalf of Rattling Books and Rattling Books Authors to win as many friends as feasible. So if you're a myspacer check us out and spread the word.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

March Hare 20th Anniversary Tour Program Notes: a little background by Nick Avis

The following is reproduced verbatim from the introduction to the March Hare 20th Anniversary Tour Program Notes (Feb/March 2007: Toronto, Ireland, Newfoundland):

The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps, Alice said to herself, it won’t be raving mad.
Lewis Carroll

The March Hare was created by Al Pittman, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best and best known poets, and his dear friend Rex Brown.

The March Hare began in 1987 as a gathering of poets and musicians, most of us family and friends, in Corner Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland, as something to do on a freezing cold night in the middle of our long and unforgiving winters.

Within a few years the club in which the Hare was being held was filled to capacity. By its tenth year the Hare had expanded from one to four venues, and six years ago it moved across the island to include Gander and St. John‘s. The program also began to include prose.

This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the March Hare with over 80 performers from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Ireland and Japan and some 22 events at locations in Toronto, Ireland and Newfoundland. And to commemorate this occasion, an anthology of poetry and prose, and a CD of song and music have been created.

The March Hare was organized by Al, Rex and me and at some point we began to call ourselves the March Hare committee. When Al died five years ago, Randy Maggs joined us as artistic director. The committee has always recognized, however, that Rex has been the main driving force behind the Hare.

Al’s eldest daughter Kyran, a poet herself, rightfully called her father the people’s poet. Al believed that poetry, indeed all art, belonged to the community and the March Hare was his way of making this a reality.

Even though it has grown substantially over the years, the March Hare, especially in Corner Brook (the home of the Hare), has always been true to its origins as a gathering of friends and family, and a sharing of words and music.

It is this spirit, the spirit of Al Pittman himself that makes the March Hare the unique festival that it is. And it is in his memory that the March Hare committee, with the help of its performers and its patrons, does its best to keep this spirit alive.

nick avis

Saturday, February 24, 2007

If you're in Toronto: March Hare event this afternoon Brass Taps

The March Hare at Brass Taps on College , Toronto
Saturday February 24, at 12:00p.m.
Host: Stephen Brunt Emcee: Rex Brown

Randall Maggs / Stephanie McKenzie
Pamela Morgan / Daniel Payne
Nick Avis / Des Walsh
Michael Crummey / Joel Hynes
Lisa Moore / Ron Hynes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One week left to avail of Rattling Books February Short fiction Special

Rattling Books has four great collections of short fiction.

In the Chambers of the Sea by Susan Rendell is one of them.

The others:

Montreal Stories by Mavis Gallant

Open by Lisa Moore

on the beach in spanish room by Janis Spence

Until the end of February you can save 5$ off the price of any of these titles (MP3-CDs or as Digital Downloads). Visit and check out the listening clips.

March Hare at the Brass Taps in Toronto: Joel Thomas Hynes, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummey, Ron Hynes et alia

The March Hare
at Brass Taps on College,Toronto

Friday February 23, 2007 at 8:30 p.m.
And Saturday February 24, at 12:00p.m.

Host: Stephen Brunt Emcee: Rex Brown

Michael Crummey / Joel Hynes /Lisa Moore / Ron Hynes / Randall Maggs / Stephanie McKenzie / Pamela Morgan / Daniel Payne / Nick Avis / Des Walsh

A celebration of words and music.
Get turned over.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Love Songs at the Ballad Session: February 22, Crow's Nest, St. John's, Newfoundland

Join Anita Best et alia
this THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22 at 8 p.m.
THE CROW’S NEST BETWEEN WATER AND DUCKWORTH, St. John's, Newfoundland where like every place else, Love is often Lost but may be Found again and between the two, a trail of ballads.

Come along and sing a song or just sit with your pint and listen. If you don’t want to sing, you can recite. Anything goes!

A small donation is requested to cover the costs of renting the space.

Hosted by Linda Byrne, Eleanor Dawson and Anita Best

To get in the mood, listen here to Simone Savard-Walsh singing the ballad ( Fair Fannie Moore). This recording of Simone comes from the Rattling Books poetry CD by Agnes Walsh In the Old Country of My Heart.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Shore Pebbles from Author David Weale: Stairway to Heaven, a meditation on sex

Stairway to Heaven

We all know that the incandescent stage in sexual pairing is at the very beginning, and doesn’t last very long. It moves, all too quickly, in the direction of the dreaded ‘relationship,’ where the initial carbonation dies down, and what remains becomes increasingly tepid and routine, often fizzling out altogether. The soaring ends, and the trudging begins. I also believe that, contrary to much conventional wisdom, it is in the beginning that we experience the deepest sharing and confidentiality. It might suit us to believe that after the intensity of the ‘merely physical’ aspect of the pairing diminishes the couple can then begin the more important process of getting to know one another; but that, in my view, is a post-romantic rationalization. The deepest, most glorious knowing, is in the beginning.

A man returning from the arms of his lover is a man full of grace, and there was a night when I was seventeen when I was so filled. It was the night of the senior prom. Over the objections of my puritanical parents, who regarded the dance floor as the Devil’s playground, I attended the prom with my girlfriend, Sandra, whom I had been dating all through grade twelve. That evening she seemed especially beautiful in her low-cut, spaghetti-strap gown, and all night long as we danced together my hormones were in a state of rock and roll excitation. The song Great Balls of Fire, popular at the time, would have described my condition precisely. We were travelling with my friend Jimmy Hogan and his girlfriend, Diane, and after the dance we all went to Andy’s Downtown restaurant for a meal, then headed directly for the Experimental Fox Ranch, a fairly secluded spot north of town where everyone went to neck.

The word necking was an apt description for my level of sexual behaviour at the time, and even though I wanted very badly to push my hands beneath that prom gown, I was prevented, by her scruples and mine, from any type of direct exploration of the territories south of the necklace. When I think today of how many scores of hours I spent entwined with that girl, without so much as laying a hand on her breasts or thighs, it underscores just how great was my parents’ control over my life at that time. Two months later, the night before I left for college, I gave it a tentative try, but she didn’t seem to think the historical nature of the occasion called for more liberty, and I was gently dissuaded.

The night of the prom, in the back seat of Jimmy’s car, I confined my attentions to the neck and above, but experienced, nonetheless, a marvellous intimacy. At some point, I told her I loved her, and she told me the same, which we had never done before, and I thought my heart would burst.

The girls had to be home by three, but after we dropped them off we drove to the end of the railway wharf and just sat together for a couple of hours talking quietly, listening to an American radio station, and teasing out for as long as possible, the delectable, erotic buzz that the evening had created in both of us. As the sun came up slowly, and Holman’s Island emerged from the darkness, I thought it one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, and was filled to the brim with a wondrous serenity. I was in love, Jimmy was the best friend a guy could have, the music on the radio was perfect, and the world was radiant with loveliness. And all that without a drop of booze. If it wasn’t a spiritual experience then I don’t know the meaning of the term, and anyone who is bothered by the role of the hormones in the epiphany is surely being prudish.
One of the greatest travesties of Christianity was the attempt, by the Church, to demonize sex. Its teachings on the subject weren’t just cautionary; they were defamatory. Many of the austere fathers of the church, like Augustine, would have preferred a world entirely without sex, and went so far as to declare that, even within marriage, it was a sordid activity and a venial sin, and that it debased a man by drawing the blood away from the brain to the gonads. Not everyone was that extreme, and we know that over the centuries many of the churchmen failed repeatedly to live up to their own celibate standards. But while there was always dissent, there was never any clear, corrective voice of protest against the gloomy maligning of sexual behaviour by the church; no acknowledgement, as in Hinduism, or the discredited pagan religions, that the coming together of a man and a woman is more than a mechanical act of giving and receiving seed, but a mystical experience of self-transcendence and ‘oneing,’ a term the mystics borrowed from lovers.

And are we to suppose that this correspondence in language is a mere coincidence, and that spiritual ecstasy and sexual ecstasy are two entirely separate experiences? I don’t think so, and suspect, as some research has already indicated, that the part of the brain that is activated during the spiritual epiphany is the same part that glows during foreplay and orgasm.
What I experienced that night, in the back seat of that big brown Buick, was a swift ascent up the stairway to heaven: an intensification of awareness which delivered me out of the mundane; made me more poignantly aware, not just of my girlfriend, but of everything around me; and put me in touch with the deep, procreative urge of the universe. The whole world became the beloved, and what could be more righteous than that?
David Weale writes his Shore Pebbles from Prince Edward Island. He is the author of The True Meaning of Crumbfest, the unabridged audio edition of which is available from Rattling Books and the print edition from Acorn Press.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Excerpt: The Chosen Husband, a story from the collection Montreal Stories by Mavis Gallant

To start your Valentine's Day we take you to a 1950's courting scene in Montreal. This Listening Clip is from the story The Chosen Husband, by Mavis Gallant. It is one of fourteen stories selected by Russell Banks and printed in Canada by McClelland and Stewart Ltd. in 2004 under the title Montreal Stories and simultaneously in the United States by The New York Review of Books under the title Varieties of Exile.
The unabridged audio edition of Montreal Stories is narrated by Margot Dionne and published by Rattling Books. It's part of our February Special on short fiction.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

AIN'T POETRY GRAND: an LSPU Hall event on Feb. 14, St. John's, Newfoundland

If you're lucky enough to be in St. John's on Valentine's you can languish at the LSPU Hall to the sound of six decent poets while wearing a Hear a Poet / Heart of Poet button over your left lung (see back a few posts)


David Benson, Michael Crummey, Joel Hynes, Carmelita McGrath, Agnes Walsh, and Des Walsh

Hosted by Lois Brown and Ruth Lawrence
LSPU Hall (Resource Centre for the Arts)
Showtimes: February 14, 8 pm.
Ticket prices: Tickets: 2/$20 in advance, 2/$25 day of show

And if you're not lucky enough to hear the crowd at the Hall you can hear three of them at

Valentine's Eve Reading from Down to the Dirt by Joel Thomas Hynes

Not to let you get away with being too sweet over it all.

Listen here to Joel Thomas Hynes reading from his novel Down to the Dirt in which the love of a girl drives him desperate.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Deidre Gillard-Rowlings with Bareboards Theatre Presents Marion Bridge by Daniel MacIvor, St. John's, Newfoundland

Bareboards Theatre presents

The St. John's premiere of Marion Bridge by Daniel MacIvor
What is family? Three estranged sisters: a struggling actor, a disillusioned nun, and a social misfit discover an answer when they are brought together at their mother's death bed in this touching contemporary drama. Directed by Varrick Grimes

Featuring Melanie Caines, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, & Nicole Rousseau /
LSPU Hall, St. John's, Newfoundland
Friday - Sunday, February 16-18 @ 8pmSunday, February 18 @ 2pmPreview Thursday, Feb. 15 @ 8pm ($10)Tickets: $12 adults / $10 students & seniors ***Buy a ticket for yourself, bring your sister for 1/2 price***Sunday's matinee is Pay-What-You-CanCall the Hall @ 753-4531 for tickets(There is a $1 surcharge per ticket for the LSPU Hall building repair fund)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Excerpt: With the Approach of Valentine's, a Heart related listening clip from Lisa Moore's Open

Valentine's Readings (each day from now until Feb 14):

The unabridged audio edition of Open, a collection of short fiction by Lisa Moore published by Rattling Books is narrated by Lisa Moore, Mary Lewis and Holly Hogan.

Listen here to Mary Lewis reading a heart related excerpt from the story Grace.

To find out more about the Rattling Books audio edition or to order it as an MP3 CD or Digital Download visit

Friday, February 09, 2007

Robin McGrath wins St. John's Round of CBC Radio Poetry Face-Off

Robin McGrath has won the St. John's round of the CBC Radio Poetry Face-Off for 2007.
The theme was Made in Canada but since it's almost Valentine's we figure you might like to hear a love poem penned by Robin.
This recording is available on Robin McGrath's latest release, Coasting Trade, an audio CD with Rattling Books narrated by Anita Best, Robert Joy and Rick Boland and produced by Chris Brookes.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Heart of a Poet : not just the name of a Rattling Books Button but also a TV Series

Who knows what you have in common with the world until you Google yourself. I was Googling Heart of a Poet to see if our shiny new Button would come up and mainly what I got was stuff about a television series profiling Canadian Poets. I don't have TV but for those of you that do and want to check it out the link to their TV schedule is below.

Heart of a Poet, a television series in 13 verses on Bravo and Book TV

And for those of you without TV you can always console yourself with a Button from Rattling Books - that is if you support some poets by doing one of the three things listed in the last blog post.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Heart of a Poet Buttons from Rattling Books

February Poetry Button from Rattling Books

If you're in St. John's, show up and cheer on Rattling Books authors Joel Thomas Hynes, Agnes Walsh and Robin McGrath at the CBC Radio Poetry FACE-Off on February 8 at the Ship Inn

or do the literary languish at the LSPU Hall on February 14 when Joel Thomas Hynes and Agnes Walsh appear again

or if you live on a computer order a Poetry title from

Three Ways to Get one of these Buttons and start your Rattling Books Poetry Button Collection. Now. There.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Poetry, the next Latte. Get your Button now!

Don't wait for Poetry Month. Start your Poetry Button Collection now. Order a Poetry title from and we'll send you one of our Poetry Buttons.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Poetry is coming: less than three days to the St. John's CBC Radio Poetry Face-Off

This Thursday night at the venerable Ship Inn in St. John's Newfoundland an entire handfull of gifted Poets will joust for the entertainment pleasure of a live audience and later, a CBC Radio audience. People will clean the wax out of their ears, stash their gum in their shoes and flock to the Ship to be beguiled by the spoken word.

It's starting to smell like, like, LATTE. That's it.


You can Hear some Here at

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A new Shore Pebble from Author David Weale: Everyday Mystics

We are, most of us, most of the time, small-minded, but every now and then that changes, and our knowing becomes profound. In those moments the door to the hut swings open, and we experience an unexpected shift into a type of consciousness that, for a time, delivers us outside the confining walls of the little place we live day to day.

There are many words and phrases sprinkled throughout the literature of religion and psychology to describe such experiences. The Quakers call them “openings;” the psychologist, Abraham Maslow, called them “peak experiences;” L.M.Montgomery referred to them as “flashes;” Jean Vanier speaks of “blessed moments” when, for an instant “we are no longer controlled by fear, anger, indifference, vengeance, or feelings of despair and unworthiness;” John Milton testified that in such moments he experienced the “enormous bliss of Eden;” C.S.Lewis said he was “Surprised by Joy;” and the great Spanish mystics, St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila spoke of “consummation” with divine love. Many others refer to them as epiphanies, or mystical experiences, or as moments of awakening, ecstasy or self-transcendence. In my own work with students over the past fifteen years I most often referred to them as “thin moments:” moments when the veil, or curtain, of ordinary consciousness lifts, or becomes thin, and we are able for a time to escape the limitations of everyday perception.

The problem with these descriptors, including my own, is that they can sound so elitist and esoteric, or so sanctimonious, that most people outside a religious studies class wouldn’t be caught dead using them, and simply assume they have no relevance in their lives. That’s a great shame, because the expansive experience to which they all refer is not the special prerogative of a spiritual elite, or of especially gifted writers and thinkers, but of every human being, and has nothing to do with being religious, or even intelligent.

Many individuals have become convinced that the key to spiritual wellness is something they must acquire from outside themselves, not realizing that the Holy Grail is right there, in their own experience, and that they need to reclaim what has been usurped by institutional religion, or devalued within our materialist culture; namely, the realization that all of us, in the midst of all kinds of everyday activities, experience a direct connection to the grandeur of Life Itself, and that we do it without the mediation of priests or preachers. Further, when we pay close attention we discover we already have everyday vocabulary to describe such experiences.

Consider, for example. the doorways to the eternal that are discovered at the hockey rink, on a basketball court, or at any number of other sports venues. It may sound far-fetched, yet most individuals who have participated in athletics know what it is to be “in the zone.” I have been there myself, and have heard the experience described by dozens of others. What they invariably say is that on certain occasions during a game, or even a solitary run, they achieve a level of performance that is so effortless and automatic that it seems some greater force has taken over their minds and bodies, and that they can do nothing wrong. It might be sports lingo, but it is also the language of spiritual alignment. Further, every fan can recall the immense joy of those moments when the finesse and grace of a superb athlete shattered the barriers of what seemed humanly possible, and made everyone in the stands feel for a time enlarged and liberated, as if they themselves had accomplished the feat.

Then there is music. It seems almost all of us can recall times when we were listening to a CD of our favourite band, or attending a concert with thousands of others, or enjoying a beloved symphony, or playing the piano, or singing in a choir, and became utterly “lost in the music.” In the elation and awe of such moments self-consciousness dissolves, along with every care and worry, and we are delivered out of our ordinary selves, and out of time. And is being lost in the music the same as being united with the divine? Of course.

Openings to holy awareness also are discovered frequently amid the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one. Time and time again I have heard individuals testify to an experience of unanticipated acceptance and serenity in the midst of their sorrow, and of a clear and certain knowledge that everything was just exactly as it should be. The people who related these experiences were not necessarily religious folk, yet claimed that an awareness filled them that was unlike anything they had ever experienced before, and that for a brief time they were able to comprehend “the big picture.” As one woman said to me: “I don’t really know how to describe it, but for a little while it was as though a window opened up for me, and I could see that everything okay.”

Then there is lovemaking. The language of romance is filled with words and phrases that describe ecstatically the temporary loss of individual identity that often occurs when two individuals melt together so completely they feel they have “become one.” When that state of oneness is reached it is no longer a dance of egos, but of deep identity uniting with deep identity; which is to say, of being coming together with itself. And everyone who has ever been in love knows that the experience radiates, and creates a sense of deep intimacy, not just with the beloved, but with the whole world, and everything and everyone in it. It’s not surprising to me, therefore, that when the individuals we know as mystics attempt to describe their experiences, they often borrow the language of eros, and when St. Teresa speaks of how she was “ravished” and “penetrated” by divine love she was, in my opinion, merely employing religious terminology to describe what every lover has discovered.

These moments of ecstasy are, literally, moments of finding oneself outside the small field of ordinary consciousness, but are not considered by most in our society to be of any spiritual significance. Indeed, most individuals, when asked, are quick to disavow awareness of any spiritual experience in their lives. The very question makes them nervous and defensive. In their minds it would be terribly presumptuous to admit to such a thing, yet my sense is that such experiences are commonplace, and that most of the activities we enjoy deeply, and return to again and again, are enjoyed precisely because they offer the promise of temporary deliverance outside the straight-jacket of ego-absorption into a wider realm. Whether dancing, drumming, reading, cooking, cuddling, golfing, gardening, skiing, swinging, swimming, sky-diving, star-gazing or just walking the dog, when we get our minds off ourselves and our troubles, we find ourselves at home in a larger reality.

Ego, with its exaggerated sense of the individual self, creates in us the illusion of being small, and fragile, and mortal, but despite its tyranny, from time to time a deeper truth breaks through. It’s why the moments of being “in the zone,” or “lost in the music,” or “at one with nature,” are so precious. Not just because they feel good, but because they are revelations of what we are, and of our deep connection to the holy power. And that is the heart of mysticism.


David Weale writes his "Shore Pebbles" from Prince Edward Island. You can find others in the Archive of this Blog. He is the author of our favorite Christmas story The True Meaning of Crumbfest. The unabridged Earphones Award winning audio edition of which is available from Rattling Books (print edition available from Acorn Press).

Saturday, February 03, 2007

6th Annual CBC Radio Poetry Face-Off - Newfoundland and Labrador event February 8, 2007

Poetry Face-Off St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Host: Angela Antle, host of the Weekend Arts Magazine
Venue: The Ship
Event Date: Thursday, February 8th
Time: 8:00 P.M.
Musical Guests: Duane Andrews and Brad Power
Broadcast Date & Time: TBA
Poets: Joel Thomas Hynes / Agnes Walsh / Robin McGrath / Sara Tilley / Alison Pick

Three of the five Newfoundland Contenders have audio titles with Rattling Books.

Check em out:

Down to the Dirt by Joel Thomas Hynes
In the Old Country of My Heart by Agnes Walsh
Donovan's Station and Coasting Trade by Robin MGrath

Friday, February 02, 2007

Janis Spence Between the Covers Broadcast archived on CBC site for one month

If you missed hearing Janis Spence reading her story The Painted Ladies on CBC Radio's Between the Covers last week you can listen from their archive for the next few weeks.
The Painted Ladies is one of six interconnected stories published by Rattling Books under the title on the beach in spanish room.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New online Review of In the Old Country of My Heart by Agnes Walsh (audio edition, Rattling Books)

There is a new review of the audio edition of Agnes Walsh's In the Old Country of My Heart at by Maria Scala.

Speaking of the poem Oderin, Scala says "You have to hear Walsh read these sorrowful lines, in that voice that moves seamlessly from dead-pan to tender to ironic, to feel the full impact"

Listen to a clip of Agnes Walsh reading from In the Old Country of My Heart. Available as an audio CD from