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Few permanent wounds

By far the great majority of the people who go through even the severest depression survive it, and live ever afterward at least as happily as their unaffilicted counterparts. Save for the awfulness of certain memories it leaves, acute depression inflicts few permanent wounds. There is a Sisyphean torment in the fact that a great number—as many as half—of those who are devastated once will be struck again; depression has the habit of recurrence. But most victims live through even these relapses, often coping better because they have become psychologically tuned by past experience to deal with the ogre.

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Colette Maitland

If you read literary magazines in Canada, Colette Maitland is likely a familiar name, as her fiction has appeared widely in many of Canada's most acclaimed publications. Now she has followed up her short story collection Keeping the Peace with a new novel, Riel Street (Frontenac House). Riel Street tells the story of the Bouchard family, living on a military base in Kingston during the late 60s and early 70s.

The Proust Questionnaire, with Elizabeth Greene

Poet, professor and editor Elizabeth Greene's newest book of poetry
Understories (Inanna Publications) has been called "a layered, compelling collection". Poet Jeanette Lynes reflected on the collection, saying: "Thank goodness Greene has, in her fine poetry, dared to disturb the universe."

Today Elizabeth speaks with Open Book as part of the Proust Questionnaire series. The questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

Invisible damage

  I’m an addict. There’s no way to know what I will do. Most of the time I don’t know what to expect from myself. I have lots of evidence that proves this.
  While drinking, in the morning, on waking up, remorse already eating away at me like rot, I would beg. I would beg and plead for a good day. I would promise my god, your god, the gods of worlds, and all the godless world that I would not drink.
  I would be drunk by the end of the day.
  This is why I don’t know the end.
  …
  Do I stay sober?
  Oh, how would I know? I’m still here. But how can I be sure of anything else?

  —Jowita Bydlowska, Drunk Mom

Poets in Profile: Janice Tokar

Janice Tokar is the author of the poetry chapbook Arrhythmia (above/ground press). The collection has been praised for its "spare, pulsing poems [which] beat with the irregular rhythms of life, death, love and loss".

Janice speaks to Open Book today as part of our Poets in Profile series. She tells us about growing up in a small town, recommending poetry to aliens and writing in one's sleep.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

Still illegitimate

In this first-person novel I’m working on now, I told myself I wouldn’t write about clothes, I wouldn’t write about vanity, I wouldn’t write about depression, and I wouldn’t write about feminism, because these are all the things that I kind of got taken to task for in Heroines. And I find in my next book, which is called Switzerland, I’m doing all this more intensely, but in framing it as a novel, I’m allowed to play more with the unreliable or heightened narrator, that was already present in Heroines. It was Cocteau who said: “Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don’t like—then cultivate it.

Patti-Kay Hamilton of Northwest Territories Wins CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize!

The jury for the 2014 the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize had a difficult job; they had to select a single winner from over 1,800 submissions received from across Canada.

In the end it was a story that had travelled from far away that won over jurors Carolyn Abraham, Denise Chong and David Macfarlane. The Grand Prize was awarded to "The Hunter and the Swan" by Fort Smith, Northwest Territories resident Patti-Kay Hamilton.

Video of the Week: Paula Todd, author of Extreme Mean, on Online Trolls & Predators

The first rule of internet sanity is, of course: Don't read the comments. Why? Because comment sections, message boards and any interactive forum online seems to inevitably be full of vitriol, sexism, racism and other bullying, trolling behaviours.

But why is the internet a place where the social contract is abandoned, and is there any solution to the problem of online behaviour? Investigative journalist Paula Todd tackles these questions in her new book, Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online (Signal Editions).

The Dirty Dozen, with Debbie Ridpath Ohi

After the success of I'm Bored, the hilarious picture book written by comedian Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, kids and parents alike were eager for more. The wait is over with Naked! (Simon & Schuster Canada), Black and Ohi's second collaboration.

Debbie has also illustrated covers for Simon & Schuster's recently reissued Judy Blume collection. You can check out the fantastic covers here.

Trash

  I have entered middle age.
  I am overweight, and I live with a little dog and two cats. I have been alone for more than seven years.
  I keep a journal, as Jenny Craig suggests, about what I eat and how I feel about the things I eat: it is emotionally exhausting.
  The entries include the following sad arcana:
  —The delicious white border of a bad steak, what the sea leaves when it drags its waves back.
  —Fat, as yellow as custard, but sweeter than that. I touch and caramelize my glowing flesh.
  —The livid red marks that jag like lightning below my stomach are a fire I cannot extinguish.
  I have let myself go….

Video of the Week

Video of the Week: Paula Todd, author of Extreme Mean, on Online Trolls & Predators

The first rule of internet sanity is, of course: Don't read the comments. Why? Because comment sections, message boards and any interactive forum online seems to inevitably be full of vitriol, sexism, racism and other bullying, trolling behaviours.

But why is the internet a place where the social contract is abandoned, and is there any solution to the problem of online behaviour? Investigative journalist Paula Todd tackles these questions in her new book, Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online (Signal Editions).

Take a moment to listen to Paula speaking on Extreme Mean and what new format of online life means for our social relationships.

Writer In Residence

July 1, 2014 - August 1, 2014

Brecken Hancock »

Brecken Hancock's poetry, essays, interviews and reviews have appeared in Event, CV2, Grain, The Fiddlehead and Studies in Canadian Literature. She is Reviews Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine and Interviews Editor for Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. Her first book of poems, Broom Broom, was published by Coach House Books in 2014. She lives in Ottawa. Visit www.breckenhancock.com for more information.

Send your questions and comments for Brecken to writer@openbooktoronto.com

Whazamo

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