James’ Brand New Blog

More good words on Words fest

- October 23rd, 2014

Joe Sacco Somme

 Maltese-American cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco poses at the Thiepval WWI Memorial, northern France, on June 6, 2014. For Joe Sacco, a recognized master of the war reportage or documentary cartoon, whose success goes back to his work exposing very subtle and deep human realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“Palestine”) and Bosnian conflict (“Gorazde”), the WWI centenary was an opportunity to address a clash of titanic dimensions. He did with his latest and unconventional book “La Grande Guerre, Le premier jour de la Bataille de la Somme” (The Great War), which folds out to form a 24-foot-long panorama. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN

 Working on the theory you can never have too many good words on something as great at the first Words fest, JBNBlog is happy to pass along  this fine lookahead from Western’s media relations aces . . . the AFP photo of Joe Sacco, one of the distinguished guests, is a bow to his admirers including ace graphics novelist Diana Tamblyn. Sacco is one of may icons in London for the fest weekend.

O ver to the media release:

From the page to the stage, Words takes over the Forest City this weekend. London’s inaugural literary and creative arts festival is set to bring the community together for a celebration of creative ideas, artistic expression, and cultural diversity.

During the three-day event, visitors will experience a spectrum of artistic forms including poetry, fiction and nonfiction, film, drama, children’s literature, new media, spoken word performance, graphic novels, storytelling, video games, and much more.

Giller Prize-winning author Vincent Lam kicks-off the festival on Friday, October 24 with a public reading at Western University at 2:30 pm, followed by the opening night reception at 7 pm at Museum London.

Saturday features family-friendly activities at Central Library and the Covent Garden Market, and a stellar literary line-up at Museum London including such names as Guy Vanderhaeghe, Joan Barfoot, Mark Kingwell, Joe Sacco and James Bartleman. Guerrilla poetry, Mad Libs, book-making, a Twitter bot, and a pop-up speakeasy are just a few of the other ways to immerse oneself in Words throughout the day.

Words continues on Sunday, October 26th at 2 pm with Stories of Illness and Health at Wolf Performance Hall, and wraps-up at Museum London with #PoetryLab at 5:30 pm, featuring 2014 CBC Poetry Prize finalist Laurie D. Graham, and London’s poet laureate, Penn Kemp.

All events are free and open to everyone, with the exception of the opening night reception at Museum London. Tickets for the opening night event are $20 and can be purchased in advance through www.wordsfest.ca or at the door.


Words, London’s inaugural festival of creativity through the written and spoken word, features emerging as well as established artists and creative thinkers from London, Canada, and beyond, showcasing new works and world-leading ideas to spark debate and ignite the imagination.

For more information and a complete schedule of events visit: www.wordsfest.ca

Ace poet Tanis MacDonald @King’s on Monday

- October 23rd, 2014


Tanis MacDonald,Tanis(AuthPhoto,RueThDay)

Undated image of Tanis MacDonald, courtesy of canadianpoetries.com

One of JBNBlog’s most enjoyable involvements is being part of the group helming the King’s centre for creativity. That keeps me in touch with things King . . . & in the wider community.

King’s prof Ian Rae, a colleague in the group, has sent along the following … which is a good reminder that poets & other great voices will be heard in #ldnont even as the first Words fest (which is gathering so many of them) winds up on the weekend.

The poet Tanis MacDonald will be reading at King’s on Monday, Oct. 27th, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. in Labatt Hall 105A. It’s on the King’s University College campus at 266 Epworth Ave.

The centre is combining forces with the King’s modern languages department in sponsoring the reading.

Here’s a Tanis MacDonald poem & details about her via canadianpoetries.com

After Borges

A woman who lets the chickens into the garden, as Alice Walker wishes.

She who is grateful for an hour of silence.

She who takes pleasure in tracing a dress pattern and running it up on the machine.

Two waitresses playing, in a cafe downtown, a grinning game of gin.

The baker of tarts, adding raspberries to crust.

The poet who reads this page with generosity, though it may not please her.

A woman and a man, who read all of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

She who strokes a sheet smooth while wearing a polyester uniform.

She who speaks calmly about a wrong done her.

She who is grateful for the existence of Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson.

She who sees when others are right and sees when she is.

These women, wide awake, are saving the world.


Tanis MacDonald

Tanis MacDonald’s poetry has appeared in many journals, including Prairie Fire, Grain, PRISM International, The Malahat Review, Event, The Fiddlehead, Contemporary Verse 2, The New Quarterly, Dandelion, Henry Street, Room, Arc, The Weary Blues, and more. Her three books of poetry and three chapbooks include Rue the Day (Turnstone, 2008), Fortune (Turnstone, 2003), Holding Ground (Seraphim, 2000), and This Speaking Plant (Unfinished Monument, 1997).

She won the Bliss Carman Poetry Prize in 2003 and the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge for the City of Waterloo in 2012. Her scholarly publications include articles on poetry, film, graphic novels, memory, mourning, pedagogy, the national imaginary and literary canonicity, and she is well-known as a personal essayist and speaker.

She is also the author of a groundbreaking study in Canadian elegiac literature, The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012) and the co-ordinator of the Elegy Roadshow. After living in Toronto, Winnipeg and Victoria, she now lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with too many books and a mad genius. She is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.



Alain Trudel & Gene DiNovi: #ldnont jazz concert of year

- October 22nd, 2014

Alain Trudel Serenata


The magnificent Alain Trudel quartet with Gene DiNovi, left, Trudel, centre forward, Neil Swainson & Ted Warren . . . in the Serenata 2014-2015 series opener at the LPL’s Wolf Performance Hall on Oct. 18, 2014. Taken w/ trusty BlackBerry

The #ldnont jazz concert of the year — unless Sonny Rollins drops by with Santa Claus — was at the Wolf Performance Hall on Saturday night … the most-often classical Serenata series, helmed by Renee Silberman, invited Alain Trudel to bring his trombone &  jazz friends to the Wolf . It was terrific. Any time Alain Trudel plays trombone is an occasion — even by his world-class standards, this was splendid.

Trudel and pianist Gene DiNovi are good friends & the setlist choices had such DiNovi gems as Have A Heart and I Can Hear The Music   . . they signed off after standing ovations with Goodbye by Gordon Jenkins.

Bassist Neil Swainson had ace solos & drummer Ted Warren was deft on the ballads and drove the faster tunes … what a band … probably the only time you’ll hear a quartet with someone who worked with Artie Shaw (DiNovi) & Woody Shaw (Swainson).

As for Artie Shaw, one of their showstoppers was a tribute to the Shaw version of Stardust (or Star Dust as it was back in the 1940s) with Trudel playing Artie Shaw’s clarinet solo on the trombone (!)  & visiting the famous trombone solo . . . DiNovi & Trudel had done this with Orchestra London when Trudel was music director … in my LFP advance for the Serenata show, their Shaw  hit then & now was (mis)identified as Begin The Beguine. Which it wasn’t (though that would be fine indeed) . . . it was Stardust all along.




Alexis Gordon in Carousel at 2015 Stratford Festival

- October 21st, 2014

Alexis Gordon

Alexis Gordon . . . undated image courtesy of The Talent House

JBNBlog’s excitemen this week t over local heroes who will be at the 2015 Stratford Festival mentioned Anita Krause, Stephen Ouimette and Deborah Hay … thanks to the good words of Wufoo at lfpress.com here’s at least one name that was missed — Alexis Gordon who will be Julie Jordan in Carousel … anyone know of any other names we should have on the list … if so, more details gratefully received …

now over to Wufoo & congratulations to Alexis Gordon . . .

Recent entertainment piece on the new casting announced for the Stratford Festival – piece by James Reaney – listed Anita Krause, Stephen Guimette and Deborah Hay as home town heroes – you missed one. Alexis Gordon was born and raised in London – sang for 5 years with Amabile, 3 years with Original Kids, attended Medway High School- got her acting degree in 2012 at the University of Windsor and has just landed the lead role of Julie Jordan in Carousel at Stratford, at the tender age of 24 – two years out of acting school-  no mention of her being from London or that London is her hometown ?? She was last seen in London, in Edges – the OKTC alumni show – during the summer. Not sure what more you have to do than being born and raised in a city to call it their hometown.

over to The Talent House for more on Alexis Gordon . . .

THEATRE (Selected)
OBEAH OPERA Chorus Nightwood Theatre/ Weyni Mangesha
RECURRING JOHN John’s Mother SummerWorks Festival/ Jeff Madden
CANADA SINGS Vocalist Victoria Petrolia Playhouse/ David Hogan
EDGES Woman 2 Original Kids Theatre Company Alumni/ C. Carver
…OF BERNICE TRIMBLE Iris Factory Theatre/ Obsidian Theatre Co./ Philip Akin
PARADISES LOST Chorus SummerWorks Festival/ Liza Balkan
CANADA’S NEXT TOP TOKEN Herself Acting Up Stage/ Elenna Mosoff
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM Titania/ Hippolyta Driftwood Theatre Group/ Jeremy Smith
GODSPELL “Learn Your Lessons Well” Victoria Petrolia Playhouse/ David Hogan
SOME GIRL(S) Lindsay University of Windsor/ Brian Taylor
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Hero University Players/ Brian Taylor
HAIRSPRAY Dynamite Theatre Alive/ Brian Raisbeck
LION IN THE STREETS Joanne/ Christine University of Windsor/ Brian Taylor
THE 25th ANNUAL … SPELLING BEE Rona Lisa Peretti Original Kids Theatre Co/ London Fringe Fest/ Dale Hirelehey
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Ronette Musical Theatre Productions/ Angela Southern
MOTIVES & MURDERS Principal Cineflix/Discovery ID/ Mark Mainguy
THE WORST THING I EVER DID Principal Entertainment One/ Discovery ID
[TITLE OF CABARET] Creator/ Director Green Bean Café/ Carner & Gregor
… OUR SHOULDERS Playwright/ Actor Studio Theatre/ Uni. of Windsor/ with Aisha Bentham
BANKS PRIZE FOR EMERGING ARTISTS 2012-2013 Acting Up Stage/ Mitchell Marcus
ROB WELLAN SCHOLARSHIP FUND 2009 The Grand Theatre/ Susan Ferley
EDUCATION University of Windsor: Bachelor of Fine Arts- Acting
INTENSIVES NYC’s CAP21 Summer Professional Musical Theatre Training Program;
Shakespeare Stratford Academy; One Song Glory; The Grand Academy;
The Shakespeare School
ACTING Lee Wilson, Brian Rintoul, Lionel Walsh, Larry Arancio, Jim Warren
SINGING Marie Baron, Dr. Christopher Roselli, Dr. Pamela S. Phillips, Steven Henrikson,
Jennifer Fagan, Brenda Zadorsky, Susan Eichhorn Young
DANCE Marilyn D’Honau, Michael Raine, Amy Wright
MUSIC THEATRE Aimee Francis, Bill Daugherty, Thom Allison, Randy Graff, Lily Ling
SHAKESPEARE Ian Watson, Michael Keating
VOICE Michael Keating, Janine Pearson, Ann Skinner
ON CAMERA Lynne Cormack, Bruce Gooch, Brian Taylor
MOVEMENT Gina Lori Riley, Meaghen Quinn, Ellen Lauren & J. Ed Araiza of SITI Company
Soprano (F3-C6), Dialects (RP, Cockney, Southern), Ukulele, Basic Piano, Jazz & Contemporary Dance, Contact Improv, Viewpoints, Suzuki Training,
Period Movement, G2 License
HEIGHT: 5’7”
HAIR: Black
EYES: Brown

The fifth annual James Reaney Memorial Lecture report

- October 20th, 2014

Sarah Polley archives

The Porcupine’s Quill couldn’t afford an image of Sarah Polley as Alice for the cover of the Alice book back in the day . . . so here’s one courtesy of the Stratford Festival archives, taken with trusty BlackBerry

JBNBlog thanks Tim & Elke Inkster of Porcupine’s Quill  for Sunday’s terrific James Reaney Memorial Lecture at Stratford. The annual series celebrates the legacy of my late father, Canadian poet & playwright James Crerar “Jamie” Reaney … Tim’s talk was fascinating.

Deepest thanks to the series organizers, Charles Mountford of Poetry Stratford, & the Stratford Public Library, represented by collections & outreach librarian & topnotch fencer Robyn Godfrey, who handled tech issues deftly  … & to all those who joined us on Sunday.

Tim’s talk with the fifth in the series. Previous speakers include my late mother & London’s greatest poet Colleen Thibaudeau, London author Jean McKay, London creative aces Marion Johnson & Peter Denny, Canadian actor, teacher & impresario David Ferry . . . just fyi, & because it so kewl, David Ferry has been touring Australia in a production of The Last Confession starring David Suchet, a.k.a. PBS-TV’s Poirot.

Next year, it will be Tom Gerry(whose The Emblems of James Reaney is published by The Porcupine’s Quill) on his study of dad’s emblem poems & in 2016 the iconic composer & Canadian hero John Beckwith.

Over to QMI Agency colleague Laura Cudworth for the details from Sunday … a bow to Laura & all Beacon Herald allies for their

contributions to arts coverage & so much more in Stratford & Perth County. Yay.

Laura Cudworth

Straford Beacon Herald Staff Reporter

The late James Reaney was a creative writer to be sure, but few may realize he was also a creative typesetter.

Tim Inkster, co-owner of The Porcupine’s Quill with wife Elke, was the speaker at the annual James Reaney Memorial Lecture Sunday afternoon. Inkster’s talk was an “anecdotal bibliography of Reaney’s career in print.”

Fans of Reaney’s work – perhaps many new ones now after a successful production of Alice Through the Looking-Glass at the Stratford Festival this season – may not be aware he had a press in the basement of his Huron Street home, where he put together copies of Alphabet magazine and printed two books–one of his own and the other his wife Colleen Thibaudeau’s work.

It could be argued his dedication to getting the word out is unmatched. He assembled full pages of prose one letter at a time, Inkster said.

In fact, there’s one story about his running into difficulty when he ran out of “Ws” while putting together an essay about being a twin for Alphabet. He had to rewrite parts of it in order to avoid the word, Inkster said.

There are also stories of Reaney transporting monotype precariously on buses and dumping the letters.

Inkster knew Reaney and was in the process of publishing a new edition of the Governor-General’s Award-winning A Suit of Nettles with wonderful illustrations when the poet died. Reaney died in 2008 and never saw the edition.

Inkster called that one of the great disappointments of his career.

He also recalled when Alice Through the Looking-Glass was deep in rehearsals before its debut at the Stratford Festival in 1994. It occurred to Reaney a book might be a good idea. He approached the Inksters to print it in May. The play opened in July.

Inkster was in Stratford opening day delivering copies to bookstores.

“The ink was still damp,” he said.

They couldn’t afford to put actress Sarah Polley’s face on the cover – she played Alice – so a design sketch was used instead.

Reaney didn’t like cars or highways. He preferred bikes. He had a sense of the past and certainly a sense of place. While he may be best known for his trilogy about the historic Donnellys, he had a deep understanding of the present.

Inkster recalled the stir that erupted after he wrote The Box Social.

“The story introduced the theme of date rape 30 years before the term was invented.”

Reaney won the Governor-General’s Award three times. In addition to A Suit of Nettles, he won for The Red Heart and Twelve Letters to a Small Town and The Killdeer and Other Plays.