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#10 Sailor Girl


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#10 Sailor Girl


BOOKMARKS 1–5     |      BOOKMARKS 11–15    |    BOOKMARKS 16+


Bookmark #10 Port Colborne, Ontario

Sailor Girl, by Sheree-Lee Olson


It was a sailors’ phone booth, smelling of tobacco and desperation. She held the receiver away from her face as she dialled Hazel’s number. Imagining the ring pealing through Hazel’s little house from the heavy black phone in the hall.
— from Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson, published by The Porcupine’s Quill. Bookmarked in Port Colburne, Ontario on October 12th, 2011.

 

About Sheree-Lee Olson and Sailor Girl

Sheree-Lee Olson was born in Picton on the shores of Lake Ontario and grew up across Canada and in Europe as the eldest child in a military family. After earning degrees in visual art, philosophy and journalism, she joined The Globe and Mail as an editor in 1985. In 2007-08 she was a Canadian Journalism Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. She has contributed fiction and poetry to numerous literary magazines, as well as contributing personal essays to the Globe.

Sailor Girl was inspired by Olson’s own experiences working on Great Lakes freighters to finance her education. It was published in 2008 and is Olson’s first novel. Set in 1981, Sailor Girl follows Kate McLeod, a nineteen year-old art student on the run from a violent boyfriend, who packs up her camera and her vodka and goes to work on an aging Great Lakes grain boat. Kate eventually settles in to this new world peopled by male sailors and their female cooks, and finds consolation the rhythms of water and hard work. Sailor Girl is a love poem to the elemental forces—wind, water, desire and love—that drive a young woman’s voyage of self-discovery.

Sailor Girl is published by The Porcupine’s Quill. This excerpt is used with the kind permission of the author.

Banner photo credit: Isaac Pennock.


The Passage

It was a sailors’ phone booth, smelling of tobacco and desperation. She held the receiver away from her face as she dialled Hazel’s number. Imagining the ring pealing through Hazel’s little house from the heavy black phone in the hall. Thinking she should have just called a cab, because now she would be making Hazel come all the way downstairs, worrying.

But she let it ring on; she didn’t want to be hanging up just as Hazel got there. When the voice came it was a shock, not least because she had ceased to expect it, had begun listening to the ring as an end in itself, its rhythm, its relentlessness.

Just one word, barked out breathless and harsh. ‘Yeah?’

‘Hazel?’

‘Who’s that?’

‘It’s Kate.’

‘Who?’

She clutched the greasy receiver tighter, smelling the aftershave from the last caller. ‘Kate, the porter. I’m in the Canal. Can I come and see you?’

‘Wha’ for?’

Realization dawned as she heard the slurring. ‘Hazel, are you okay?’

There was a blast of static, then a series of thumps, before the receiver was clattered into the cradle. The dial tone blared.

It was no surprise Hazel was drinking, but alarming all the same. Kate dragged up the tattered directory from where it hung chained to the phone. It opened itself onto the taxi listings; the pages creased and tattered, covered with scrawls and jottings, fragments of addresses, dollar figures, women’s names. She called Seaway Cabs.

‘Where will you be?’ the dispatcher asked.

‘Right here,’ said Kate. ‘At the phone booth.’

The dispatcher said they were busy; someone would be there in fifteen minutes. Kate lit a cigarette, watching the massed shape of the Huron Queen looming above the holding wall. The deck lights came on, making little cones of yellow in the fog that was now rolling in from the lake. The lake effect, the softening of the air when warm meets cold. All the cities crowding around the lakes, poisoning the water, ignorant of their debt. She longed for the wind on Superior, scouring everything away.

Calvin would be up there, smoking at the top of the ladder. It was too dark to see him now, but he would be able to see her. She thought of what he would see: Kate lighting a cigarette, Kate on the phone, like a doll in a glass case by the supermarket exit, waiting for someone to come along and win her.

He would see someone waiting for something better to come along. He wouldn’t see the homesickness in her, the darkness curling up like fog through the gaps at the bottom of the booth. She felt it climb into her belly like the opportunist it was. People could get homesick for anything. For a school where no one really knew you, for a bad boyfriend, for parents who found you wanting. For a bunk as wide as a yardstick in a cabin smelling of soup.

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#9 Giants


#9 Giants


Bookmark #9 Hamilton, Ontario

“Giants,” by John Terpstra


There used to be giants,
and they loved it here. They’d sit
their giant hinds in a row along the top edge
of the escarpment, and pick at the loose rock
— from “Giants” from Two or Three Guitars by John Terpstra, published by Gaspereau Press. Bookmarked in Hamilton on October 6, 2011.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

Photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

 

About John Terpstra and Giants

John Terpstra was born in Ontario two years after his parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands. The family spent eight years in Edmonton before returning to Ontario, settling in Hamilton. Terpstra graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto, and began a career in carpentry, cabinetmaking and writing poetry and non-fiction.

Terpstra has won a number of awards for his work, including the Arts Hamilton Book Awards, a CBC Literary Award and the Bressani Prize. He has been short-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, BC Award for Canadian Non-fiction and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

The poem “Giants first appeared in a book of non-fiction about Hamilton, called Falling Into Place, and was later reprinted in the poetry collection, Two or Three Guitars, published in 2006. Whether in non-fiction or in poetry, Terpstra’s theme is often place, and the place in question is likely to be Hamilton: its geography, its history and, as he says, “the way it gets into your head.”

Banner photo credit: Jeff Tessier.

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The Poem

Giants

There used to be giants,
and they loved it here. They’d sit
their giant hinds in a row along the top edge
of the escarpment, and pick at the loose rock
with their hands or their feet, then throw or skip
the smoothest stones across the bay, to see who could land one
on the sandstrip, three miles away;

or they’d spring themselves off the scarp top
like you would off a low wall, and go running
all the way to the end of the sandbar,
and jump across the water to the other side,
or jump in, splashing and yelling up the ravines,
chasing each other’s echoes.

This was only a few thousand years ago,
and the giants were still excited about the glaciers,
which were just leaving; about not having to wear
their coats all the time, and what
the ice and water had done, shaping and carving
this gentle, wild landscape!

They loved it here.

I’m telling you, they absolutely loved
every living minute here,

and they regretted ever having to leave.

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#8 The Queen Unforgetting


#8 The Queen Unforgetting


Bookmark #8 Midland, Ontario

The Queen of Unforgetting, by Sylvia Maultash Warsh


I stay on the sidewalk because there are more cars on William Street than pedestrians, though few enough of either. Toronto this ain’t. The sun is warm on my back, the air fresh as it flies past my face, a pleasant change from Van’s smoky house.

from The Queen of Unforgetting by Sylvia Maultash Warsh, published by Cormorant Books. Bookmarked in Midland, Ontario on October 4th, 2011.


 

About Sylvia Maultash Warsh and The Queen of Unforgetting

Photo credit: Jessica Warsh.

Photo credit: Jessica Warsh.

Sylvia Maultash Warsh was born in Germany to Holocaust survivors. She came to Canada as a child and settled in Toronto. Warsh attended the University of Toronto, where she earned a BA and an MA. Today, Warsh is best known as the author of the award-winning Dr. Rebecca Temple mystery series, set in 1979 Toronto.

The Queen of Unforgetting was published in 2010 and is Warsh’s fourth book. Set in Midland in the 1980s, this historical novel explores the parallel themes of the 17th century tragedy of the Hurons and the Holocaust of the Jews. These comparisons are examined through the eyes of Mel, a young doctoral student from the University of Toronto who must confront her own history and personal choices while mending ties to her family and building a new, more mature, life for herself.

Warsh developed a love for the Georgian Bay area as a child, when she spent several summers in Midland. While researching this novel, she renewed her connection to Midland, and eventually purchased a cottage nearby. When she is not at the cottage, Warsh spends her time in Toronto.

The Queen of Unforgetting is published by Cormorant Books. This excerpt is used with the kind permission of the author.


The Passage

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a bike and I’m wobbly, trying to keep from speeding downhill. At least I’ve had the foresight to gather my hair into a ponytail. I stay on the sidewalk because there are more cars on William Street than pedestrians, though few enough of either. Toronto this ain’t. The sun is warm on my back, the air fresh as it flies past my face, a pleasant change from Van’s smoky house. The best part is Midland Bay — on the horizon, a shiny silver line right at the bottom of the hill.
The houses on William Street become middle class closer to downtown. More recent paint jobs, daffodils bobbing in garden beds. I make a turn automatically — I’m surprised my body remembers — into a street that is uphill and forces me to put into service muscles unused to the effort. The distance is longer than I recall and by the time I reach King Street my calves and thighs sing with pain. I stop when I see the sign: LITTLE LAKE PARK. The rear entrance. I’ve been heading here all along without realizing it. My subconscious remembers there’s a concession booth in the park selling the World’s Best Fries. I need some right now.
I cycle past the huge wooden sign painted in white letters, HURONIA MUSEUM. I’ll be spending some time here, but not today. The paved road into the park is all downhill, thank God. It winds in an easy arc around the little lake that used to be called Contarea by the Hurons. I pass an empty playground with kiddie swings, a slide, and a roundabout. Two mothers with young kids are sitting at a picnic bench, handing out sandwiches. Heart hammering from the long ride, I keep pedalling. Past the closed-up miniature golf course, past the oak tree that must be a hundred years old, its fat base a mound from which multiple trunks stretch.
When I reach the building with the fries concession, my pounding heart falls. My stomach growls. The hand-lettered sign says it’s now only open on weekends before Victoria Day, two weeks away. I’m too winded to start a new search.
Disappointed, I walk the bike across the paved road, heading to one of the picnic benches near the water. A noise, like branches breaking, makes me turn my head. A huge figure is descending the steep incline behind the concession building, manoeuvring between the tall old beeches and pines. The momentum brings the man down heavily, though the slope levels out around the building.
Am I dreaming? He’s wearing a black robe, a long chain around his neck with a cross bouncing against his massive chest. The cloak isn’t long enough to hide his running shoes. He’s too busy keeping his balance to notice me, but once he’s on level ground he looks up. The large handsome face I’ve seen before, when I was thirteen. No, my imagination is playing tricks.
He shakes the dust from his cassock and smiles at me. “Hi there. Nothing like making an entrance.”
I half-smile but I’m wracking my brain for the memory of his face. It can’t really be. For one, he’s too young. He steps closer.
I have to look up. Way up.
“Did I startle you? It’s the getup, isn’t it? Hard to get past. Just a costume.”

#7 Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School


#7 Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School


Bookmark #7 Mississauga, Ontario

“Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School,” by Jeff Latosik


The field that stretched beyond
goalposts. The field that redrew
lines in us.

— from Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public Schoolfrom Tiny, Frantic, Stronger by Jeff Latosik, published by Insomniac Press. Bookmarked at Mississauga Valley Public School on September 30th, 2011.


 

About Jeff Latosik and “Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School”

“Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School” is from Jeff Latosik’s first collection of poetry, Tiny, Frantic, Stronger, which was published in 2010 and for which he received the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. Before the publication of this first book, Latosik had already won the P.K. Page Founders’ Award from The Malahat Review, placed first in THIS Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt and been a finalist for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award, which honours promising young writers.

Tiny, Frantic, Stronger is concerned with durability, and asks what aspects of our lives will last, beyond the here and now. “Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School” explores how memories widen and alter, eventually meshing with other recollections to become something new.

Jeff Latosik was born in Mississauga and grew up in the Bloor and Cawthra area, where he attended Valleys Senior Public School. At university, he studied English and received a BA from Wilfred Laurier University and an MA from the University of Western Ontario. Jeff Latosik lives in Toronto and teaches English and writing at Humber College.

Tiny, Frantic, Stronger is published by Insomniac Press. This poem is used with the kind permission of the poet.

Photo credit: Elyse Friedman

Photo credit: Elyse Friedman


The Poem

Song for the Field Behind Mississauga Valley Public School
The field that stretched beyond
goalposts. The field that redrew
lines in us.
Like the field in a glove save.
A high-five. The field in a radio hit,
its raised seating.
Or, the field in waiting. The field in hunger.
The field in a fifth beer, a wrong turn,
the field in the little scar
on your neighbour's forehead.
The field in every abandoned thing
we found in that field. In every bent putter.
Torn jacket. Set of keys.
The field in forgetting. In debt.
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#6 Fugitive Pieces


#6 Fugitive Pieces


Bookmark #6 Toronto, Ontario

Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels


Up Grace, along Henderson, up Manning to Harbord I whimpered; my spirit shape finally in familiar clothes and, with abandon, flinging its arms to the stars.

from Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, published by McClelland & Stewart. Bookmarked at College and Manning Streets, Toronto on October 28, 2010.


 

About Anne Michaels and Fugitive Pieces

Anne Michaels was born in Toronto in 1958, and that city has become a setting and an inspiration for both her poetry and her fiction. Fugitive Pieces was published in 1996 and was Michaels’s first novel. It generated a devoted readership and critical acclaim around the world and was published in over 30 languages. It won many Canadian and international awards, including the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, the Orange Prize, the Guardian Fiction Award and the Lannan Award for Fiction.

The novel was made into a feature film directed by Jeremy Podeswa, and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008. Fugitive Pieces is about the life and relationships of Jakob Beer, a child who survives the murder of his family during the Second World War. Jakob is smuggled from Poland to Greece and then moves with his rescuer and adopted father, Athos Roussos, to Toronto, where he must discover what it means to belong in more than one place.

Fugitive Pieces is published by McClelland & Stewart.

Photo credit: Marzena Pogorzaly

Photo credit: Marzena Pogorzaly


The Slow Now is a downloadable audio walk that takes place in Little Italy, and uses Project Bookmark Canada’s physical Bookmark for Fugitive Pieces as its launching point.

Produced by Angela Shackel of Lipstick Studios, the audio guides you through a narrative, lyrical, and imaginative experience of the neighbourhood, stemming from the seminal book. The rich history of Little Italy, the rich tapestry of the book, and a new original narration by Mark Mann will be voiced by local figures and Anne Michaels herself. The experience may or may not include some surprises and a hidden gem or two.

 

 

The Slow Now is presented in partnership with Koffler Centre of the Arts. Project Bookmark Canada would like to thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for its support. Read about the creative team here.

 

The Passage

One evening I walked up Grace Street, a summer tunnel of long shadows, the breeze from the lake a cool finger slipping gently under my damp shirt, the tumult of the market left blocks behind. In the new coolness and new quiet, a thread of memory clung to a thought. Suddenly an overheard word fastened on to a melody; a song of my mother’s that was always accompanied by the sound of brush bristles pulling through Bella’s hair, my mother’s arm drawing with the beat. The words stumbled out of my mouth, a whisper, then louder, until I was mumbling whatever I remembered.  “‘What good is the mazurka, my heart is not carefree; what good’s the girl from Vurka, if she does not love me….’” “‘Black cherries are gathered, the green are left on the tree….’”  All the way through to the opening verses of “Come to Me, Philosopher” and “How Does the Czar Drink His Tea?”

I looked around. The houses were dark, the street safely empty. I raised my voice. “‘Foolish one, don’t be so dense, don’t you have any common sense? Smoke is taller than a house, a cat is faster than a mouse….’”

Up Grace, along Henderson, up Manning to Harbord I whimpered; my spirit shape finally in familiar clothes and, with abandon, flinging its arms to the stars.

But the street wasn’t empty as I thought. Startled, I saw that the blackness was perforated with dozens of faces. A forest of eyes, of Italian and Portuguese and Greek ears; whole families sitting silently on lawnchairs and front steps. On dark verandahs, a huge invisible audience, cooling down from their small, hot houses, the lights off to keep away the bugs.

There was nothing for it but to raise my foreign song and feel understood.


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