Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Andy Jones' "Queen of Paradise's Garden" Puppet Show, St. John's, Newfoundland, December 28-31

Kids making you crazy this Christmas? Of course they are: Santa's come and gone, your (ex) best friend gave your six-year-old a drum set and school is never going to open again.

All you need is a little bit of magic to overcome those homicide/suicide impulses, magic that will stick around for a while after the spell has been cast.

Best bet is to let the kids up out of the basement, remove the duct tape, wrap them and yourselves up in something cosy and go to the LSPU Hall some afternoon in late December. That's when Andy Jones' puppet show, based on his book, The Queen of Paradise's Garden, will be casting its glamour over burnt-out parents and permanently wired children (God love 'em!). Click on the LSPU Hall link for information about tickets and times and so forth.

The story is a free adaptation by Jones of a Jack tale told by Albert Heber Keeping of Grand Bank, which he got from Billy Quann of Sagona Island. Billy Quann had it from . . . never mind. The tale goes back a long way, to "olden times, when quart bottles held half a gallon and houses were papered with pancakes."

(Of course, the kids are going to start up again sometime. It might be a good idea to have a copy of The Queen of Paradise's Garden to fend them off with. Follow this link to its place of purchase.)


Andy Jones wears many hats — many heads, actually. Listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' audio book edition (available as an audio CD or MP3 download) of Jones' Letters from Uncle Val (Uncle Val being an outharbour gentleman who finds himself adrift in the suburbs of St. John's).

Check out Rattling Books' new holiday prices: thirty percent off everything until Old Christmas Day (January 6).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Annual "A Feast of Cohen" Festival, St. John's, Newfoundland, December 27 - 29

All around the world, a fat jolly old Gentile is about to make Christmas rock. But in these parts, Santa has a special helper. An eternally middle-aged Jewish man has been putting the a for angst in Christmas for more than a decade now.

Jesus's dad? Nope. Leonard Cohen. C'mon — surely you're familiar with that old Yuletide classic: "Rudolph takes you down/To his place by the ice fields/And he feeds you elves in honey . . . ." No?

Well, perhaps it's time you headed out to Vicky Hynes' annual A Feast of Cohen. Every year Hynes gathers Newfoundland's finest musicians for a tribute to Old Grinch Face himself. This year's concert features, among other star lights, Amelia Curran, Jenny Gear, Brian Hennessey, Colleen Power, Sean Panting, Jill Porter, Liz Solo, and Des Walsh.

For information about tickets, time and place for A Feast of Cohen, click here.


Listen to an excerpt from Robin McGrath's Donovan's Station featuring the voice of Liz Solo (a.k.a. Liz Pickard). Donovan's Station is available from Rattling Books as an unabridged audio book MP3 CD or an MP3 audio book download.

Check out
Rattling Books' new holiday prices: thirty percent off everything until Old Christmas Day (January 6)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

30% Rattling Books did give to me

from now until Old Christmas Day
30% off
 all of our audiobook CDs

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may happiness betide you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Author Catherine Hogan Safer: Mom's The Word

Catherine Hogan Safer is obviously in the Christmas mood; she has even succeeded in imagining snowflakes for herself despite the torrential downpour of the past few days.

Hogan Safer's imagination is her most powerful attribute (besides her ability to charm grocery store plants and pound puppies into blooming). Her debut novel, Bishop's Road (Killick Press, 2004), was nominated for the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Her children's book What if Your Mom Made Raisin Buns (Tuckamore Books, 2006) was a runner-up for the Marianna Dempster Memorial Award and the Bruneau Family Children’s/Young Adult Literature Award.

Listen to an excerpt from "Mom," a short story by Hogan Safer which features a not-exactly-the-raisin-bun-making kind of mother. This story is available from Rattling Books as an MP3 download, and it's also part of the EarLit Shorts 2 collection of short fiction (MP3 audio book CD or MP3 download.)

Check out Rattling Books' new holiday prices: thirty percent off everything until Old Christmas Day (January 6).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Canadian Author Beverly Akerman Reveals All: Santa Gate Exposé By Renta Yenta

If you want to discover the connection between dirty letters written by Santa, cash payments to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the Guess Who reunion tour, randy goats, sustainable development and Gilbert Gottfried, click here to read Beverly Akerman's . . . um, unusual . . . Christmas story, featuring "intrepid tabloid reporter" Renta Yenta.

Montrealer Akerman, a molecular geneticist in a previous life, is now a full-time writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The Antigonish Review, Maclean's, The New Quarterly, Descant and the National Post. She recently won the David Adams Richards Prize for her short story collection The Meaning of Children.


Beverly Akerman's short fiction will be featured in Rattling Books' upcoming collection of short fiction, EarLit Shorts 5. Follow this link to listen to excerpts from the works of other fine Canadian short story writers (click on the EarLit Shorts images).

Rattling Books audio books are available as MP3 downloads, audio CDs and MP3 CDs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poet Leanne Averbach Launching New Book In St. John's, Newfoundland, December 21

Canadian writer, performance poet and experimental filmmaker Leanne Averbach will be launching her latest book of poetry, Come Closer (Tightrope Books), at the Leyton Gallery in St. John's on December 21. Music will be provided by Mary Barry and Charlie Barfoot.

Her debut collection of poems, Fever (Mansfield Press, 2005), was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Its companion CD is a fusion of her spoken words and the blues/jazz accompaniment of the group Indigo.

Averbach's video-poem Carwash (below) was screened at the Visible Verse Film Festival in Vancouver.


If you're in the mood for poetry, click here to listen to excerpts from poems by Canada's finest poets. If you're in the mood for singer and musician Mary Barry's compelling speaking voice, follow this link to hear an excerpt from her narration of Helen Porter's Below the Bridge.

Rattling Books' audio books of poetry and prose are available as MP3 downloads, audio CDs and MP3 CDs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mummers Parade, St. John's, Newfoundland, December 18

It's that time of year again, when grown men can don dresses, paint their faces or put nylon stockings over their heads and parade in public, without fear of ridicule. (Women too.) Mummering, or janneying, is a centuries-old English Christmas tradition which survived export to the New World, at least to Newfoundland and Labrador. (And apparently to Philadelphia as well: the mummers in the photo are residents of that city. For more about mummering, click on the green, yellow and black guy.)

This year's St. John's Mummers Parade will be held on Saturday, December 18 (storm date is Sunday, December 19). If you don't have a disguise at hand, you can rig one up from bins of clothing at MacPherson Elementary at 40 Newtown Road, between one and two p. m. The parade begins from MacPherson at two, and there will be a concert and jam at The Rooms afterwards, beginning at three.

All are welcome. So are nonperishable food items.


Rattling Books' unabridged audio version of Mary Dalton's poetry collection Merrybegot contains a poem called "Janneying." To hear poems from Merrybegot, narrated by Anita Best, click here and here. Merrybegot is available as an unabridged audio book CD, or an unabridged MP3 download.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Second Birthday Party for Newfoundland and Labrador's Journal of Arts and Culture "Riddle Fence," December 14

It hasn't been all beer and skittles for young Riddle Fence, Newfoundland and Labrador's journal of arts and culture, which turns two this current issue. Or Baby Einstein and plush toys either. But mostly it has.

To celebrate its second birthday, staff and aficionados of the little whippersnapper are getting together at the Ship Pub in St. John's on Tuesday, December 14, for cake and beer (no skittles, but there will be a raffle).

The fun starts at eight p.m.; everyone is welcome. Randy Drover, Patrick Warner and Shoshanna Wingate will be reading.

To find out more about Riddle Fence, click on the image of Grant Boland's Mother and Child, featured in the journal's sixth issue.

Listen to an excerpt from Patrick Warner's "Doubleness, the Disease of Life," narrated by the author. This short story is available as an MP3 download, and it's also featured on the EarLit Shorts 3 audio book MP3 CD.

Friday, December 10, 2010

CFA Spotlight: Leslie Vryenhoek

Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the best writers in Canada; more than its fair share, in fact. For a province that has the population of a medium-sized town in Ontario, its writers cut a large swath on the Canadian literary landscape.

Some of these swath-cutters are "Come from Aways" (CFAs); that is, they were not born here. And although Newfoundland and Labrador suffers perennially from out-migration, its literary community seems to attract rather than lose members.

Leslie Vryenhoek is one of our CFA writers, and she has been busy swinging her scribbler's scythe. The former American citizen, now a resident of St. John's, is a critically acclaimed poet and short story writer. Her debut collection of short fiction, Scrabble Lessons, was published by Oolichan Books in 2009. "It all works and leaves an uneasy smile. Perfect," said The Globe and Mail.

To find out more about Leslie Vryenhoek, click on her photo.


Listen to excerpts from Leslie Vryenhoek's short stories "All She Swallowed" (read by the author) and "Cycle" (read by Joel Thomas Hynes). These stories are available as individual MP3 downloads, and they are also featured on the EarLit Shorts audio book MP3 CD.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Rebecca Rosenblum: "Christmas with My Mother"

Christmas is supposed to be the best time of the year, which is why it often ends up as a big disappointment. Or somewhere in between. Especially if you've left childhood and adolescence behind, and are knee-deep in the "real world."

Canadian short-story writer Rebecca Rosenblum is very good at describing the vagaries of the real world, without diminishing the ideal one in the process. Listen to an excerpt from her short story "Christmas with My Mother," available from Rattling Books as a single MP3 download.

"Christmas with My Mother" is also featured on the EarLit Shorts 4 audio book MP3 CD, which contains another of Rosenblum's fine pieces of short fiction, "The Weatherboy."

Canadian audiobooks from Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Newfoundland's RCA Theatre Company Call For Submissions: Christmas Monologue Contest

The Resource Centre for the Arts Theatre Company is holding another round of its popular Christmas Monologue writing contest. The monologue must be about Christmas in Newfoundland past, present or future and run no more than five minutes.

The contest closes December 10, 2010, at 5pm. For more details, click on the image of "the Hall."

Rattling Books has a fine selection of Newfoundland monologues. Listen to an excerpt from a Joel Thomas Hynes rant about provincial icons. Hear "Uncle Val" (Andy Jones) bemoan his lot in the suburbs of St. John's. Click here to listen to Frank Holden's Judge Daniel Woodley Prowse rail at both felons and plaintiffs in a nineteenth-century Newfoundland courtroom.

For these and other voices of Newfoundland and Labrador, visit the Rattling Books website. Our audio books are available as audio CDs or MP3 CDs, and as MP3 downloads.

Canadian audiobooks from Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Griffin Prize's Scott Griffin Funds New Poetry Contest

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "The very rich . . . are different from you and me." (That hair, that skin, those teeth, that bank account . . .)

Canadian rich guy Scott Griffin is different even from most of the other rich guys. He is the director and volunteer advisor of Canadian Executive Services Overseas (CESO), and he helped re-organise the AMREF Flying Doctors Service for East Africa. Griffin, who has an M.A. in English and philosophy, is also a notable supporter of Canada's writers, particularly its poets.

Yes, he's the Griffin in the Griffin Prize. The Griffin Prize is Canada's most prestigious poetry award, and the world's largest prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in English. And now Scott Griffin is funding another poetry prize: a new bilingual recitation contest that will award $10,000 to students and school libraries. Read Quill & Quire's article on the new prize for details.

Scott Griffin has been quoted as saying, "The best way to know a poem short of writing it is to memorize it." At Rattling Books, we think one of the best ways of knowing poetry is to hear it read aloud.

Canadian audiobooks from Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador

Monday, December 06, 2010

Jessica Grant Writer In Residence At Newfoundland's Memorial University

Canadian short fiction writer and novelist Jessica Grant will be Memorial University's writer in residence during the 2011 winter semester. MUN alumnus (M.A., 2003) Grant won the 2003 Journey Prize for her short story "Her Husband's Jump." Her debut novel, Come, Thou Tortoise, garnered her the Winterset Award, the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Evergreen Award. It has been nominated for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Former MUN writer in residence Lisa Moore calls Grant's novel, the story of a girl and her turtle, a "tortoise de force."


Listen to an except from Jessica Grant's short story "The Princification Process." "The Princification Process" is available from Rattling Books as a single MP3 download, and it's also featured on EarLit 4, an MP3 audio CD collection of short fiction.

Canadian audiobooks from Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador

Friday, December 03, 2010

Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador To Announce Winner of 2010 Heritage and History Book Award, December 7

Robin McGrath's The Winterhouse and Andy Jones' The Queen of Paradise's Garden have been shortlisted for the 2010 Heritage and History Book Award, which will be presented next Tuesday, December 7, at the Ship Pub, during the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador Christmas party. Everyone is invited; admission is free. Authors of shortlisted books will be reading from their works.

Winner of a 2010 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award, The Winterhouse is a novel about the marriage of a fourteen-year-old Newfoundland Gentile orphan to a Jewish remittance man. "The Winterhouse (Killick Press) is a lovely book, full of memorable characters, sharp writing and plenty of history, folklore and rustic charm." (The Canadian Jewish News; for the rest of the review, follow this link.)

According to Quill & Quire, The Queen of Paradise's Garden is a Good Thing from beginning to end. "The ample delights in store are evident from the first line – 'Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, not in your time, indeed not in my time, but in olden times, when quart bottles held half a gallon and houses were papered with pancakes and pigs run about with forks stuck in their backs seein who wanted a slice o’ham . . . .'" To read the entire review, click here.


Listen to an excerpt from Robin McGrath's lovely short story, "The Birchy Maid," read by the author. "The Birchy Maid" is available as an MP3 single download, and it's also included in the EarLit Shorts 4 short fiction collection, which can be purchased as an audio book MP3 CD or an audio book MP3 download.

Listen to Andy Jones reading from Letters from Uncle Val, a comic masterpiece from Newfoundland's King O' Fun and Rattling Books. Letters from Uncle Val is available as an audio book CD or an audio book MP3 download.

Canadian audiobooks from Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Margaret Atwood: Hockey Night In CanLit

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Canadian poet, novelist, critic and all-round literary icon Margaret Atwood mentioned that she'd accepted an offer earlier this year from Rick Mercer of the Canadian comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes to suit up as a goalie. "Atwood whispers an aside: 'He's from Newfoundland,' as if this explains everything."

Watch the result of the Mercer/Atwood collaboration:


Being from Newfoundland may not explain everything - why the sky is grey (hereabouts, anyway), for instance - but it's self-explanatory when it comes to comedians and other people who like to express themselves in strange and wonderful ways. Writers, for instance.

Rattling Books has an ocean of Newfoundland literary talent on tap. Mainland Canadian talent too. Visit the Rattling Books website and sample some.

Canadian audiobooks from Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Kathleen Winter, Michael Winter's Novels Make "Globe" Best Of 2010

Brother and sister literary lights (and former Newfoundland residents) Michael Winter and Kathleen Winter's critically acclaimed novels The Death of Donna Whelan and Annabel have made The Globe and Mail's Best Canadian Books of 2010 list.

To read the Globe's review of Annabel, click here . To read its review of The Death of Donna Whelan, follow this link.


Listen to excerpts from Kathleen Winter's short stories "The Destination," "His Brown Face Through the Flowers," and "Sleep, Little Baby." These stories are available from Rattling Books as individual MP3 downloads. They are also part of the fiction collection EarLit Shorts 1, available as an audio book MP3 CD or an audio book MP3 download.

Click here for an excerpt from The Big Why, written by Michael Winter and narrated by Robert Joy. The Big Why is available from Rattling Books as an unabridged audio book MP3 CD or an unabridged audio book MP3 download.

Canadian audiobooks produced by Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like "Crumbfest" . . .

"Crumbfest" is what the mice call Christmas in David Weale's classic story The True Meaning of Crumbfest. Recipient of the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature, Crumbfest is the tale of Ekhart, a young mouse, and his family. As winter approaches, the mice are forced to leave the bountiful natural world for the shelter of a farmhouse, where pickings are slim. The adult mice start talking about something called "Crumbfest," but Eckhart thinks it's all hooey. Until . . .

"The mystery of Crumbfest is the mystery of the Outside and the Inside. When the Outside comes in and the Inside comes out, it is a special time, for when the Outside and the Inside meet, Crumbfest happens."


Listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' unabridged audio book version of The True Meaning of Crumbfest. Antonia Francis, who was five years old when she narrated Crumbfest, won an AudioFile Earphones Award for her performance. The True Meaning of Crumbfest is available as an audio book CD or an MP3 audio book download.

Canadian audiobooks produced by Rattling Books in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ron Hynes Documentary at Empire Theatres, St. John's, Newfoundland, December 2

The Man of a Thousand Songs, a documentary film about legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Hynes, will be showing for one night this week at seven Empire Theatres across Atlantic Canada. If Hynes' songs make you want to know more about the man who wrote them, take a trip to the Avalon Mall in St. John's this Thursday to see William MacGillivray's intimate portrait of Hynes' rich and rocky life.

MacGillivray used something Hynes' calls a "limbo box" for the three-day interview that comprises the film's core. The result? "When Hynes opens up about his life to the camera with warm but haunted blue eyes, the film digs into an uncomfortable darkness that regular interviews can rarely reach." (National Post)

Read what The Toronto Star, Hynes and MacGillivray have to say about The Man of a Thousand Songs.


Everyone knows Ron Hynes can sing, but there's a strong and sensitive narrator in there too. If you'd like to hear that side of Hynes, click here to listen to a sample from Hard Light, in which the Man of a Thousand Songs, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings and Michael Crummey read thirty-two "little stories" by Crummey. Hard Light: 32 Little Stories is available from Rattling Books as an audio book CD or MP3 audio book download.

Death on the Ice, Cassie Brown's iconic book about the 1914 Newfoundland sealing disaster, also narrated by Ron Hynes, is currently in the Rattling Books works. Stay tuned . . .


The Man of a Thousand Songs also features Joel Thomas Hynes, Ron's literary nephew. Like his uncle, Hynes the Younger is multi-talented: follow this link for samples of Hynes' work for Rattling Books, which includes his own writing and also the skillful presentation of works by other fine authors, available as MP3 audio book downloads, audio book CDs and MP3 audio book CDs.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Best-selling Author Simon Winchester Live Interview, St. John's, Newfoundland, November 26

Simon Winchester, OBE, British journalist, broadcaster and author, will be talking about his latest book, Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, in St. John's, Newfoundland on November 26, during an onstage interview at the Johnson Geo Center Reception Hall with Angela Antle, host of CBC Radio's Weekend Arts Magazine. (The interview begins at seven o'clock; admission is free.)

Winchester, "one of those maddeningly gifted British writers who could probably write the history of mud and make it fascinating" according to a review by the Washington Post of his new book (click here to read the review), travelled the Atlantic Ocean from north to south and east to west in the process of writing Atlantic.

Having studied geology at Oxford University, Winchester likely could make mud fascinating; he made it rather fetching in his 2003 bestselling book about a volcano, Krakatoa.

Oceans are already fascinating, but Winchester's book reminds us just how fascinating, and how important the Atlantic Ocean in particular has been to the history of the West. Winchester, who fell in love with the Atlantic on his first trip across it as a young man, by ocean liner, bemoans what we are doing to it these days. "There has been a steady lessening, some would say an actual abandonment, of humankind's duty of care toward it," he says.

This video features Simon Winchester talking about his novel The Man Who Loved China. (If you want to know who invented the hysterectomy, listen up.)


When it comes to the history and culture of the Atlantic, the North Atlantic anyway, Rattling Books is no slouch itself. Listen to excerpts from Sir Wilfred Grenfell's Adrift on an Ice Pan, George Allan England's Vikings of the Ice, Chris Brookes' Great Circle: The Viking Discovery of the Americas, Robin McGrath's Coasting Trade and Michael Crummey's Hard Light, available from Rattling Books as unabridged audio books (audio CD or MP3 CD format; also as MP3 downloads).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Joel Thomas Hynes Winner of Newfoundland's Cuffer Prize

Novelist, playwright and short-story writer Joel Thomas Hynes seems to be having a pretty good November. Earlier this month, the British and Irish press waxed enthusiastic about Down to the Dirt, his 2004 debut novel, which has just been released in the UK and Ireland. Last week, Hynes won the Cuffer Prize, a short story competition sponsored by St. John's newspaper The Telegram and Creative Book Publishing.

His winning entry, "Conflict of Interest," is an excerpt from a work in progress, which will be published by Beth Follett's Pedlar Press. To read Hynes' sharp glittery shard of Cuffer-awarded fiction, follow this link.

The Cuffer's second place award went to Michael Collins, also no mean hand at putting nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives exactly where they should go. Collins garnered second place for his short story "Mrs. Wakeham." Another of his stories, "The Last Islander," was shortlisted for the award.

Scene from the movie version of Down to the Dirt, with Hynes in the title role.


Cuffer judges Ramona Dearing, Joan Sullivan and Russell Wangersky thought they might have been dealing with a Hynes wannabe when they read his story. Hynes' said (tongue glued to cheek), "That was because I watched my language and peeled back some of the darkness." If you'd like to hear Hynes when he's not being shy, listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' MP3 download of God Help Thee: A Manifesto, first published in Riddle Fence and read live by Hynes.

Rattling Books is pleased to have Michael Collins on offer as well. Listen to an excerpt from his short story "Slip," narrated by Joel Thomas Hynes. "Slip" is available as a single MP3 download, and is also featured on the MP3 audio book CD EarLit Shorts 4.


Click here to listen to Helen Porter's interview with Angela Antle on last week's Weekend Arts Magazine about Rattling Books' new audio version of her 1970s memoir Below the Bridge. Below the Bridge is the story of Porter's childhood in the 1930s and '40s on the South Side of St. John's. It is also a rich memorial to a community that disappeared: the homes and places of work of the South Side were demolished in the late '50s and early '60s to permit harbour development. In the process, the grave of Shawnadithit, the last known survivor of Newfoundland's indigenous Beothuk, was lost.

Below the Bridge, narrated by Mary Barry, is available from Rattling Books as an unabridged audio book MP3 CD or MP3 download.

Robert Chafe Wins 2010 Governor General's Award For Drama

In 2004, Newfoundland playwright Robert Chafe's Tempting Providence and Butler's Marsh were shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Drama (English). Last week, Chafe won the prestigious literary award for his stage adaptation of noted Canadian poet, short story writer and novelist Michael Crummey's short story Afterimage.

Chafe says Afterimage is an "amazing kind of spare, sad, beautiful, story about this family of outcasts who have, at their core, a little boy who is . . . not an outcast." The mother of the family, Lise Lacoeur, a nurse, has psychic powers, for which her community shuns her. The father is a burn victim, who fell in love his fortune-telling nurse. Two of their three children are also psychic. One can predict the weather and the other can see the future. One child has no powers.

Read the Montreal Gazette's interview with Robert Chafe about his GG win.

Watch this video of Artistic Fraud's performance of Afterimage, in which the actors are all wired. (For electricity, that is.)


Listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' audio version of Michael Crummey's Hard Light: 32 Little Stories, a selection of poems based on stories told to Crummey by his father and other family members. Narrated by Crummey, Ron Hynes and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Hard Light is available as an audio book CD or an MP3 audio book download.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Journal Of Arts and Culture "Riddle Fence" Looking For Submissions

With about-to-be-hot-off-the-presses issue number seven, Newfoundland and Labrador's Riddle Fence celebrates its second birthday. As one of its editors notes, "We, the editors of this labour-of-love journal, have endured sleepless nights and teeth-cutting, and with jubilation witnessed a distinctive personality emerging, one that is multi-faceted and perhaps shifts issue to issue as we try to pinpoint it."

Young Riddle Fence is definitely a prodigy: although it doesn't sing and dance, its talent for literature and the visual arts are doubtlessly the envy of many older journals. (And even singing and dancing may be found in its pages, in the form of articles about musicians and votaries of Terpsichore.)

The journal's latest deadline for submissions of previously unpublished poetry, prose, creative non-fiction and artwork is December 10, 2010. For submission guidelines, click on the Riddle Fence image.

Riddle Fence interview with authors Bernice Morgan and Joan Clark.


Mark Callanan, a Riddle Fence editor, is also a talented poet, critic, novelist and narrator. Listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' audio version of Kathleen Winter's short story "Sleep, Little Baby," narrated by Callanan. "Sleep, Little Baby" is available as an MP3 download, and it's also featured on the audio book MP3 CD, EarLit Shorts 1, which also contains short fiction by Carmelita McGrath and Joel Hynes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don McKay, Songs for the Song of Creation

Two-time winner of a Governor General's Literary Award, winner of the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize, Member of the Order of Canada and co-founder (with Stan Dragland) of Brick Books, Don McKay has been writing and publishing some of the best eco-poetry in Canada for nearly forty years. He used to do this in places such as Ontario and British Columbia, but these days McKay is praising the natural world from Newfoundland and Labrador.

McKay has been quoted as saying his poetry is “nature poetry in a time of environmental crisis.” Here is one of McKay's superlative hymns to all things bright and beautiful:

Song for the Song of the Loon

If that’s the word:
the song’s already gone
before it’s uttered so the ear is left
full of its emptiness,
It seems the loon
opens its throat to some old
elemental wind, it seems that time
has finally found its syrinx and for a moment
lets itself be voice.
what perilous music!
Surely, like Odysseus, we ought
to stop our ears against this feral
MRI with its dreadful
diagnostic reverb?
But no, we would rather
be stricken, rather suspect
that the spirit also is a migratory species,
that it is right now flying to star river —
as the ancients called the Milky Way — that in
fact it is already there,
yodelling for no one and
ignoring us, the collectors,
with our heads full of closets,
our hearts full of ovens,
and our sad feet.


Listen to Don McKay read a poem from Songs for the Songs of Birds, which contains poems selected for Rattling Books and read by the author on the theme of birds, birding and flight. Songs for the Songs of Birds is available as an MP3 download or an audio CD.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rick Boland, CornerBoy

For many of us, the sound of Rick Boland's distinctive Townie drawl conjures up the early, heady days of theatre and film in Newfoundland. If Boland didn't make at least a cameo appearance on the boards or the celluloid, chances are whatever you were watching wasn't a local product.

A founding member of Rising Tide, Boland was also involved with the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre Company and the Mummer's Troupe. He and Mary Walsh developed the RCA Theatre Company, an early supporter of Canadian actors such as Walsh, Cathy Jones, Rick Mercer and Gordon Pinsent. Boland played the role of a revolutionary cabinet minister in Newfoundland's first full-length feature film, The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood, nominated for three Genie awards.

More than three decades later, Boland is still one of the prominent faces of Newfoundland theatre and cinema. He and Mary Walsh are currently involved in CornerBoys, a company that presents interactive theatre at historic sites in St. John's. Boland's poker face and impeccable timing, comic and otherwise, can be seen recent films and sitcoms such as The Breadmaker, The Bingo Robbers, Young Triffie’s Been Made Away With, The Republic of Doyle ("A Horse Divided") and Diverted, a made-for-TV movie about Gander's role in 9/11.

In 2008, Boland was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's Hall of Honour for his distinguished lifetime contribution to the province's culture.

Watch this clip to see some of what's on offer by Walsh and Boland's CornerBoys Productions.


Listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' unabridged audio edition of Robin McGrath's Coasting Trade, featuring the voice of Rick Boland. Coasting Trade, narrated by Boland, Robert Joy and Anita Best, is available as an MP3 download or an audio CD.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Canadian Author Richard Cumyn Publishes New Collection of Short Fiction

In 1991, former researcher for Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, uranium prospector, short-order cook and able seaman Richard Cumyn decided to take up writing full time. What was undoubtedly a loss to his other professions became a boon to Canadian literature: Cumyn's critically acclaimed fiction has been nominated for the Journey Prize and the ReLit Award, his nonfiction shortlisted for a National Magazine Award.

“He is one of our finest story writers,” says author Steven Heighton, “exacting, surprising, deftly attuned both to language and to character, tough-minded and large-hearted at the same time—often within the same sentence.”

Cumyn's latest collection of short fiction, The Young in Their Country (Enfield & Wizenty, 2010), was a finalist for the inaugural Colophon prize. Besides being a prolific producer of short fiction, Cumyn is also the author of an elegant jewel of a novella, The View from Tamischeira, the story of a turn-of-the-twentieth-century quest in the Caucasus Mountains, "fabled land of Argonauts, Amazons, and Cossacks." Click here to read an interview with Cumyn, in which he discusses the origins of his novella, and his own origins as a writer.

Follow this link to view Cumyn's favourite rejection letter.


Listen to an excerpt from Rattling Books' audio version of Richard Cumyn's short story "My Future in Insurance," read by Charlie Tomlinson. This story is available as a single MP3 download, and it's also featured on EarLit Shorts 3 (MP3 CD).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Anita Best At The Ottawa International Storytelling Festival, November 18-21

Newfoundland musician, singer and storyteller Anita Best will be one of the headline acts at this week's Ottawa International Storytelling Festival, along with some of the best raconteurs in Canada, Europe and the US. Best has made a career out of collecting and relating the traditional stories of Newfoundland and Labrador and singing its songs, and she will be doing both at the festival.

Watch this video of vintage Best caressing an old Irish folksong, along with former Figgy Duff band mate Pamela Morgan.

Listen to an excerpt of Anita Best reading from Rattling Books' unabridged audio version of poet Mary Dalton's award-winning Merrybegot. Click here for other Rattling Books' MP3 downloads and audio or MP3 CDs featuring Anita Best.