Cathedral Village Arts Festival

2016poster (2)Prairie Dog has partnered with the Cathedral Village Arts Festival since 2000 to produce the festival’s official program guide. The guide for the 2016 festival went out in our May 12 issue. The CVAF is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and our issue also had look back with author Ken Mitchell and CVAF staffer Deb Jones on how the festival got going way back in 1992.

The 2016 CVAF kicks off with the traditional parade and picnic on the holiday Monday May 23, and features a variety of arts and culture events that run each day until Saturday May 28, when the always popular street fair is held on 13th Ave.

One anniversary highlight is a 5X5 gala that is being held on Friday night that will showcase five different arts disciplines: visual art, music, dance, theatre and literary arts. CVAF artist-in-residence Evie Ruddy has also created a walking tour of the Cathedral neighbourhood that can be accessed by downloading an app. You can read more about it in this CBC report.

You can get more information on all the Cathedral Village Arts Festival activities here.

Saskatchewan Book Awards

dumontThe Saskatchewan Book Awards are creeping up on their 25th anniversary. That won’t happen until 2018, but until then there will be plenty of great literature to celebrate.

The 2016 SBAs are being held at Conexus Arts Centre on Saturday April 30. Among the nominees are two writers — Saskatoon’s Guy Vanderhaeghe and Regina’s Dianne Warren — who have won national and international acclaim for previous novels and short-story collections. Here, Vanderhaeghe is nominated in three categories for Daddy Lenin and Other Stories while Warren has two nominations for her novel Liberty Street.

You can find more information on all the 2016 nominees on the SBA website. The gala begins at 5:30 p.m. with a prairie buffet, with the awards at 7 p.m. The emcee of the proceedings is Saskatchewan author and columnist Dawn Dumont (pictured), and as an added feature there will be live music by members of the Regina Andean music group Andino Suns.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through the SBA website or by calling 306-569-1585.

RPL Readers’ Summit

Timed to coincide with the Saskatchewan Book Awards which are being held at Conexus Arts Centre on Saturday April 30, this event features a variety of writers — most of whom are nominated for SBAs.

The summit kicks off at Central Library on Thursday April 28 at 7 p.m. with a reading by Regina poet Cassidy McFadzean who is nominated in the First Book category for Hacker Packer. 

Friday April 29 at 7 p.m. there’s a reading by Canadian author Will Ferguson, who is an award-winning novelist and travel writer.

On Saturday April 30 at 11 a.m. Judith Silverthorne will read from her young adult novel Convictions. She’ll be followed by current RPL writer-in-residence Nilofar Shidmehr who will read from The Gordian Knot at 1 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., award-winning Saskatoon author Guy Vanderhaeghe will read from his short-story collection Daddy Lenin and Other Stories which is up for Book of the Year.

On Sunday May 1 at 1 p.m., Harold Johnson will read from his futuristic novel set in northern Saskatchewan called Corvus. Then at 2:30 p.m. a SBA winner who will be announced once the awards have been doled out will read. Then finally on Monday May 2 at 7 p.m. Maggie Siggins will read from her novel Scattered Bones which is set in a town loosely based on Pelican Narrows and examines the relationship indigenous people in the area and the explorers and settlers who began arriving in the 18 century.

Vertigo Series

This monthly reading series with a guest musician goes Monday March 14 at Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar. The readers this time are all authors nominated for 2016 Saskatchewan Book Awards (which will be held April 30 at Conexus Arts Centre in Regina).

First up, David Carpenter will read from The Education of Augie Merasty which he co-authored with Jospeh Auguste Merasty. Then MacKenzie Gallery curator Timothy Long will read from his catalogue essay for an exhibition by Saskatoon artist Amalie Atkins called We Live on the Edge of Disaster and Imagine We are in a Musical. Finally, Judith Silverthorne will read from Honouring the Buffalo which she co-authored with Ray Lavallee, and which also included illustrations by Mike Keepness.

Musical guest is country/roots artist Rye Noble, and things should get going at Crave on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Weekly Reckoning: Things That Happened Edition

weekly-reckoningEvery week things happen: things: events and people colliding off each other into ever-more complex concatenations of what ends up being just more things happening. And every week, we sit quietly in a corner and wonder whether the ever-expanding cloud of happenstance points to some design, or whether, once again, it’s nothing but a random whirlwind of flux and death and sadness with the occasional ice cream cone thrown in to keep us around for another week. Then we take a nap.

1 IT’S A MAN’S MAN’S MAN’S WORLD (BY DESIGN) In news that shouldn’t surprise anyone, everything from seatbelts to medicine is designed by men – to the detriment of women. If ever there were an argument for more women in STEM fields, here it is.

2 MILLENNIALS AREN’T RUINING HOTELS Hotels are ruining hotels.

3 GOODBYE TO MISS DAVIS Nancy Reagan died at 94, reminding us that the Reagan presidency actually happened. But what did she do before she and Ronald entered a life of politics? She was a Hollywood actress from 1948 to 1962. Yes, I’m sure you knew this already.

4 “THEY PREFER NAMES LIKE RUTH, PETE, BOBBY, CHARLOTTE AND PEARL” Two professors of language and literature ran computational tests to determine the differences between contemporary novels by authors with an MFA and those without. The results were… well, let’s just say that you can take your tuition money and spend it on a writing studio somewhere.

5 SOMEONE TELL THE SASK PARTY THAT CHILDRENS’ FACES ARE FULL OF OIL Do you like language schools in Saskatchewan? Well, sucks to be you then.

Banned Books Cafe 3

Held annually to promote the Canadian Charter rights of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, Freedom to Read Week runs Feb. 21-27 in 2016.

To commemorate the week, the Regina Public Library is holding its third annual Banned Books Cafe. What that involves is local notables reading excerpts from books that have previously been challenged as obscene, blasphemous or on some other grounds.

People who will be reading this year include current RPL writer-in-residence Nilofar Shidmehr, journalists Ashley Martin and Merelda Fiddler, and educator Randy Lundy.

Banned Books Cafe 3 goes at the Central Library Film Theatre on Wednesday Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. You’re ask to register on the RPL website.

Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Fall Conference

Dianne Warren Photo Credit: Don Hall
Dianne Warren Photo Credit: Don Hall

The highlight of the year on the Saskatchewan literary calendar is undoubtedly the Saskatchewan Book Awards which occur in April. But that’s not the only major event.

Each year, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild hosts a fall conference that alternates between Regina and Saskatoon. In 2015, the conference is being held at the Travelodge Hotel (4177 Albert) in Regina on Oct. 23-24. The conference theme is Great Expectations, and the focus of the various panels and presentations that are being held will be surviving and thriving in our current literary landscape.

Presenters include Dianne Warren (pictured), Daniel Scott Tysdale, Edward Willett, Anne Lazurko and current Regina Public Library writer-in-residence Iranian-Canadian author/academic Nilofar Shidmehr.

You can find out more information on the conference on the SWG website.  Most of the events are limited to registered participants, but the annual Caroline Heath Memorial Lecture is open to the public. It will be at the Travelodge Friday at 7:30 p.m. Dianne Warren, who just released a new novel called Liberty Street, is the guest lecturer, and her talk is titled “Writing Local, Writing Global: Random Thoughts on Regionalism”.

Vertigo Series is also holding a public reading in conjunction with the SWG conference. It will be at Crave Restaurant on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and will feature authors Connie Gault and Elizabeth Philips.

Madame Bovary

First published in serialized form in a Paris journal in 1856, Gustave Flaubert’s novel about the wife of a country doctor who engages in all sorts of extra marital shenanigans to escape the banality of her small town life was attacked by public prosecutors as obscene. Flaubert was subsequently acquitted in a 1857 trial that drew further attention to the novel, and established his reputation as a writer of note in France.

Madame Bovary is now recognized as a literary classic, and an early example of the realist school of storytelling. The novel has been adapted numerous times for movies, TV, and even opera.

Today at 2 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Sunday July 26 at 7 p.m. a 2015 German/Belgium adaptation starring Mia Wasikowska in the title role is screening at the RPL Theatre. Here’s the trailer

Saskatchewan Festival of Words

If my math is right, this annual summer festival devoted to the written/spoken/sung word is creeping up on its 20th anniversary. That should happen next year, and as far as 2015 goes, you can get a complete rundown on the festival, which goes July 16-19 in Moose Jaw, on the SFW website.

Names that jumped out for me when checking out the list of over 20 presenters include Saskatoon novelist/short story writer Guy Vanderhaeghe, musician Andy Shauf, performance poet Moe Clark, fiction writer Lisa Bird-Wilson, thriller writer Andrew Pyper, non-fiction writer James Daschuk and Sean Michaels who scooped the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize last November for his novel Us Conductors.

Again, you can find out more about the Saskatchewan Festival of Words by checking out the above website.

Queen City Catch Up: The Special Two-Part Finale!

This is it! The eighth and final instalment of Queen City Catch Up! And it’s a special double episode. I ended up with two interviews recorded so instead of using one and tossing the other I mashed them together.

In the first half, I interview Dr Sharon Acoose from First Nations University. We talk about the Truth And Reconciliation Commission and about her book, An Arrow In My Heart: A First Nation Woman’s Account of Survival from the Streets to the Height of Academia.

Then, in the second half, I talk to Adam Martin, the director of the Sakewewak Artists’ Collective. We talk about the Storyteller’s Festival and some of the other projects they have on the go.

And with that, I’m done. I’m totally caught on absolutely everything of substance that happened in Regina over the last nine or ten months or so. I can now get back to the business of whatever it is I do in this city. Many thanks to everyone who took part in the podcast. I enjoyed all these conversations.

You can find all the earlier episodes on the Queen City Catch Up archive page.

Music for this podcast is from the album Malta’s Lost Voices — which I love! — and it’s all used with permission. Many thanks to Filfla Records for letting us use these tracks. You can get your own copy of the album and check out their other projects at their website.

Saskatchewan Book Awards

The 22nd annual Saskatchewan Books Awards are being held at Conexus Arts Centre on Saturday April 25 at 5:30 p.m. Fourteen awards are up for grabs this year in various writing and publishing categories. You can find a complete list of the nominees on the SBA website.

As I noted in a blog post when the short-list was announced in mid-February, the awards will be preceded by a prairie buffet, and Saskatoon novelist Arthur Slade, who is just winding up his term as writer-in-residence at the Regina Public Library, will be the emcee. Tickets to the gala are $50.

Before Saturday roles around, the RPL will be hosting a Readers’ Summit from April 23-26. Readings will be held April 23 at 7 p.m. (Linda Biasotto), Friday April 24 at 7:30 p.m. (Anthony Bidulka), Saturday April 25 at 11 a.m. (Anthony Bidulka), 1 p.m. (Arthur Slade) and 2:30 p.m. (Edward Willett/E.C. Blake), and Sunday April 26 at 1 (Trevor Herriot) and 2:30 p.m. (SBA winner t.b.a.).

Vertigo Reading Series

I’ll have more on the Saskatchewan Book Awards, which are being held this Saturday at Conexus Arts Centre, in a April 23 blog post. But this event qualifies as a bit of a prelude, that’s because the three writers who will be reading are all nominees for SBAs in 2015.

Robert Currie is nominated in the Young Adult Literature category for his novel Living With the Hawk, Ken Dalgarno is nominated in the First Book category for Badlands: A Geography of Metaphors and Paul Hanley is nominated in the Non-Fiction and Saskatoon Book categories for Eleven.

Vertigo Reading Series goes tonight at Crave Restaurant (1925 Victoria Ave.) at 7:30 p.m. Music will be provided by the Quarter Tones Flute Ensemble.

Publication Launch & Bad Art Night

On Saturday, March 28 the Dunlop Art Gallery will host a launch for four catalogues that have been published for exhibitions that were at the gallery in the last year.

Three of the publications are in-house productions. These include Who’s Afraid of Purple, Orange and Green? which was held at the gallery last May/June; Tragedy Plus Time  which was on last summer; and Material Girls which is on at the gallery now.

The fourth publication, the Bill Burns biography Hans Ulrich Obrist Hear Us, is published by XYZ Books with the support of the Dunlop and Rodman Hall Art Centre. Burns’ show Beatrix Ruf Protect Us was at the Dunlop in December. All four publications contain full-colour illustrations, critical essays and commissioned artist projects.

As part of the launch, the Dunlop will host a party that includes complimentary food and drinks and an opportunity to participate in informal drawing and colouring sessions. The launch and party go at Central Library on Saturday starting at 7 p.m.

Talking Fresh 13

This annual event is sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. It goes March 6-7 at RIC119 at the University of Regina.

As always, there’s a theme. This year, it’s Getting Lucky: Writing And Luck. Through a mix of lectures, panel discussions and workshops, writers Angie Abdou, Tara Beagan, Michael Helm, Christian Bök and Connie Gault will explore the role luck can play in the creative process and in the development of a writer’s career.

On March 6, things get going at 4 p.m., while on March 7 start time is 9:40 a.m. with events happening until late afternoon. Included is a book launch for Regina writer Connie Gault’s latest novel A Beauty. For more information on Talking Fresh 13 visit the SWG website.

Bedtime Reading

FarsideAbove is an excerpt from a Science Fiction novel that I picked up at the library yesterday for light bedtime reading. It’s by a master of the genre who has been active as a writer since the 1960s.

The novel was published by a leading New York SF publisher in 2013, and is set in the late 21st century when humanity is on the cusp of establishing an observatory on the far side of the moon.

To the author’s credit, one of his central characters is a female astronomer (a Canadian, no less). True, he does describe her as “mousy” when he introduces her, and has her fretting over her appearance when she meets a hunky fellow passenger on the flight that delivers her to the moon’s far side.

Then this passage popped up a few chapters later as part of the character’s back story. It reads like an excerpt from the memoirs of a certain comic who’s been in the news a lot lately. I’m not far enough into the book to know if the author has the character revisit the sexual assault in a more substantive manner in future chapters (perhaps by seeking justice against her assailant) but I’m not holding my breath. The “that” that the character is referring to, btw, is losing her virginity.

Bizarre that a scene like this could appear in a book published in 2013.

Banned Books Cafe 2

Freedom to Read Week runs Feb. 22-28 this year. To commemorate the occasion, Regina Public Library writer-in-residence Arthur Slade has organized a selection of readings from books that have been challenged at various times on various grounds in Canada.

Helping him out will be several celebrity readers including CBC’s Jill Morgan, Gord Barnes of Amnesty International, and former RPL writers-in-residence Gail Bowen, Kelley Jo Burke and Edward Willett.

Banned Books Cafe 2 goes Wednesday, Feb. 25 at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. You can register for the event, plus find more information, on the RPL website.

Storytellers Festival

February is Aboriginal Storytelling Month. For a number of years now, the local arts organization Sakewewak Artist Collective has held a Storytelling Festival to celebrate. Typically, the festival incorporates traditional oral storytelling, along things like music, film and visual art that also have narrative angles.

You can find out more about the 2015 festival, which runs Feb. 24-28, on the Sakewewak website. Here’s some highlights:

Tuesday 24

Featured is a screening of Welcome to Kanata at Artful Dodger, 7 p.m.

Wednesday 25

Workshop at the university’s Aboriginal Students Centre with Ryan McMahon from 2-4:30 p.m., followed by a poetry slam and music by InfoRed at Artful Dodger at 8 p.m.

Thursday 26

Storytelling by Ryan McMahon, Shauneen Pete and Kevin McKenzie at Artful Dodger, 7 p.m.

Friday 27

Performance by Peter Morin at the MacKenzie Gallery from 4-8 p.m., followed by music at Artful Dodger with Kinder Scout and Snake Oil Salesmen at 9 p.m.

Saturday 28

Reading of work by Bill Stevenson and storytelling by Ryan McMahon and others at Sakewewak Artist Collective (2150 Albert) from 3-6:30 p.m., followed by an art opening for Indigenous Survivance at 7 p.m.

Saskatchewan Book Award Nominees Announced

Yesterday at the University of Regina a press conference was held to announce the nominees for the 2015 Saskatchewan Book Awards. According to SBA administrative director Courtney Bates-Hardy, 90 titles were entered for consideration in 11 writing and three publishing categories. Because some titles were entered in more than one category, the total number of entries in the 14 categories was 196.

You can find a complete list of the nominees on the SBA website. By my count, the book that received the most nominations was Rose’s Run by Dawn Dumont. Published by Thistledown Press, it’s up for four awards: Book of the Year, Fiction, Aboriginal Peoples’ Writing Award and Saskatoon Book.

You can find a synopsis of Rose’s Run on the Thistledown Press website. But in a sentence it involves a single mother of two with some sketchy lifestyle habits who decides to turn things around by running in her rez’s annual marathon — which inadvertently spawns a whole bunch of humorous situations, along with a demon known as witikow.

Among the remaining nominees, there’s shout-outs for three catalogues produced by the Mackenzie Art Gallery for the exhibitions The Vaults: Art From the MacKenzie Art Gallery and University of Regina Collections; 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc.; and Wilf Perreault: In the Alley (published by Coteau Books). Trevor Herriot’s The Road is How: A Prairie Pilgrimmage Through Nature, Desire and Soul was another multiple nominee for Best Book, Non-Fiction, and Regina Book.

The 22nd annual Saskatchewan Book Awards will be held Saturday, April 25 at Conexus Arts Centre. The evening begins with a prairie buffet at 5:30 p.m., followed by the awards at 7 p.m. Current Regina Public library writer-in-residence Arthur Slade is the emcee, and tickets are $50.

The awards will be preceded by the RPL’s Readers’ Summit which will be held at Central Library from April 23-26.  You can find more information on that event here. It involves readings and keynote addresses by different SBA nominees, along with Slade and Saskatoon mystery writer Anthony Bidulka.

We’ll have more on the summit and the SBAs in mid-April.

Wilf Perreault Catalogue

Perreault CatalogueIn the review I did of Wilf Perreault’s exhibition In The Alley in the Nov. 27 issue of Prairie Dog I mentioned the 225 page English/French catalogue Coteau Books had published to accompany the show.

That’s a picture of it above. As I noted in the review, the catalogue has a critical essay by MacKenzie Gallery curator Timothy Long on Perreault’s development as an artist and his fascination with painting back alleys. It also has 11 prose pieces where Saskatchewan writers such as Connie Gault, Gerald Hill, Judith Krause and Robert Currie respond to Perreault’s work.

Visually, there’s dozens of full-colour plates of Perreault alley paintings dating back to the mid-1970s. There’s also a number of personal photos from the Perreault family archive. So if you’re a fan of the artist, it’s a definite keepsake.