Thursday, November 26, 2009

This week in review

Of course, this week is not technically over yet, but rather a lot has already happened. I think it was enough to occupy an entire week if it was spread out, and I am rather hoping nothing further will happen until next. Thus, I dare to pre-emptively summarize:

Tuesday: I attended the Writers' Trust Awards. It is a pretty glitzy event, with roaming waiters and lots of excited chat before the ceremony. At the ceremony, the Journey Prize was the first to be awarded, which meant co-presenter Anita Chong and I could get our moment of stress out of the way early and enjoy the show! I had perhaps 200 words to say, and really people just wanted to know who won, but I was very worried about flubbing it, or not even making it to the podium because I had spotted a gap between the top of stairs and the stage where I could easily wedge my foot.

But nothing happened like that, and I was able to present the winner, Yatsuko Thanh, for her story Floating Like the Dead with no trouble. What an honour to do so, and what an incredible story. I was charmed by how sincerely stunned Ms. Thanh seemed, and was really glad I got a chance to meet her. And the other two incredible finalists, Dave Margoshes for "The Wisdom of Solomon" and Daniel Griffin for "The Last Great Works of Alvin Cale." An evening like this one really makes me feel alive to all the wonder and diversity of wonders in CanLit.

I was also happy to see that Annabel Lyon took the fiction prize though I have not read the celebrated book, *The Golden Mean*. But if my intense love of her first book, Oxygen is any indication, I should. And I was pleased to hear that, though Ms. Lyon was also pretty stunned by the win, she remembered to mention in her speech all those smaller literary magazines where she got her start, and to please for no further cuts to arts funding in Canada.

Wednesday: On Wednesday morning I went out to University of Toronto Scarborogh to do a guest lecture in my fellow UofT Creative Writing alumni Daniel Tysdal's short story class. I did, as promised read the end of a story, "Massacre Day." When I told the students that I would read the last three pages of that piece, I had the extraordinary experience of watching a roomful of students pull out copies of my book and prepare to follow along.

But that extraordinariness did not all compare with the level discussion after my reading and (very brief) talk. The students were reading intently and speaking insightfully, not just about my work (although I appreciated that very much) but about everything they laid their eyes and minds on. What a fantastic way to spend a morning.

That evening, was the Biblioasis fall poetry party, featuring Zachariah Wells, Shane Neilson and Robyn Sarah. The non-present presence of a 4th poet was Wayne Clifford, whose work was read by all three of the others to make up for his absense. It was really cool to get three interpretations of one voice.

Also last night, I got to meet London, Ontario, novelist A.J. Somerset who just won the Metcalf-Rooke Award. There's a lot of literary winning going on this week!

Today, is the real American Thanksgiving, I'm pretty sure, so I am wishing you all a happy one of those--I remain as Thankful I was last week, on fake Thanksgiving. Also today, due to a minor incident, I was without tights for a portion of the day, and it was actually warm enough that I didn't mind dreadfully, temperature-wise. The upside of global warming. What was strange is that I felt like a total scandal, bare knees and nothing under my dress but panties, when of course that is how I spent the entire summer. I think winter makes me puritanical.

I also spent part of today talking books with Kerry Clare while I lay on the floor eating scones and playing with her baby daughter. That was, as you might imagine, delightful.

To continued, low-impact delight.