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George Elliot Clarke Discusses Len Gasparini’s Mirror Image

Writing for the Maple Tree Literary Supplement, George Elliot Clarke compared Guernica author Len Gasparini’s Mirror Image with Niki Koulouris’ The Sea with No One in It. He begins by asserting that “both employ a Mediterranean heritage that reflects trans-oceanic influences, the Pacific for Koulouris and the Atlantic for Gasparini.” Drawing on a line from The Sea with No One in It, “’I’ve come to expect / Guernica on the / street,” “Koulouris…provides an inadvertent segue to Gasparini’s newest book, Mirror Image, published by Guernica.” Clarke observes that “Gasparini has also been a traveller, but very much anchored in the real, the workaday, pop culture plus literature.” Gasparini manages to weave together “a ‘jailbait blonde,’ a ‘whole lotta neckin’ goin’ on,’ losing virginity at a drive-in movie, and other rock’n’roll hoochi-koo in lines that are clear, fresh, and vigorous.” Gasparini’s verse provides “the Beat-bravura style of Kerouac, but also the resolute, classical clarity of Dante’s ‘La Vita Nuova.’” Although “it’s easy to overlook Gasparini’s excellence because he pens seemingly simple lyrics about diurnal reality…one finds simplicity that has been zealously won.” Gaspirini’s “tales are fine renderings, evocations, limning, again, that specific, Gasparini combo of grace and guts.”

George Elliot Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He has published numerous groundbreaking verse and dramatic poetry collections and anthologies, most recently Illicit Sonnets. He has won the Governor General Literary Award, the Portia White Prize, and is the E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto.

Len Gasparini was born in Windsor, Ontario and is the author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry, five short-story collections, including The Snows of Yesteryear, The Undertaker’s Wife, and A Demon in My View, which was translated into French as Nouvelle noirceur. He has also written two children’s books, a work of non-fiction, and a one-act play. In 1990, he was awarded the F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for poetry and in 2010 he won the NOW Open Poetry Stage event.

To read more about Len Gasparini, visit the Guernica website at:

To read more about Mirror Image, visit the Guernica website at:

To read the whole review, visit the Maple Tree Literary Supplement website at:

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Ian Thomas Shaw Reviews Caroline Vu’s That Summer in Provincetown

that summer in provincetown

Ian Thomas Shaw recently reviewed Guernica author Caroline Vu’s new novel That Summer in Provincetown for The Ottawa Review of Books. Shaw’s review emphasizes Vu’s “ostensible calm thinly obscuring subliminal passion, if not compassion”, a quality that distinguishes Vu from “other authors writing on the Vietnamese-Canadian odyssey.” Instead, “there is no self-pity in Vu’s writing, no regret for a country lost and no rationalization for the very human failings of her characters…Caroline Vu tells it as it is.” That Summer in Provincetown focuses on three generations of a Vietnamese family through various major events of the 20th century. The story is told from the perspective of Mai, a Vietnamese woman now in her fifties, with a single incident at the novel’s core – the death of the narrator’s half-French, half-Vietnamese cousin from AIDS. Shaw explains that Vu manages to tell the story in such a way that “readers may wonder whether this story is biographical, perhaps the author’s act of contrition, of punishment or a simple commemoration of a life extinguished before its time?” Shaw ends his review by stating “That Summer in Provincetown is not a tale written out of vindictiveness. It is one where Vu’s eloquent voice and deep authenticity create beauty out of social disgrace and levity out of domination.” That Summer in Provincetown will be launched on June 6th at the Prose in the Park Literary Festival in Ottawa, where she will be joined by Guernica author David Joiner in the panel Under the Papaya Tree – Remembering Vietnam.

Caroline Vu was born in Vietnam and spent her childhood in Saigon during the height of the Vietnam War. Her childhood memories of war-torn Vietnam and integration into North American life have inspired two novels: Palawan Story and That Summer in Provincetown. Her stories and articles have been published in The Medical Post, The Toronto Star, The Montreal Gazette, The Geneva Times, and The Tico Times. Caroline Vu is also a family doctor, who currently works in Montreal.

To read the whole review, visit The Ottawa Review of Books website at:!That-Summer-in-Provincetown-by-Caroline-Vu/cu6k/E449CA04-7CDD-4EAC-B4E7-6B498A993FB3

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Fabiano Alborghetti Representing Switzerland at 1st edition of Bay Area Book Festival

Bay Area Book FestivalThe first edition of Berkeley’s Bay Area Book Festival, where 225 national and international authors will be reading, presenting and debating on various panels, is coming up this June.

The event will take place in Berkeley’s Downtown Arts District on June 6th and 7th.


We are happy to announce that Guernica author Fabiano Alborghetti (Directory of the Vulnerable, 2014)  has been sponsored by the Swiss General Consulate to represent Switzerland at the festival.

He will be participating in the following presentations and readings:

“Poetry from There and Here” with John W. Evans, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, and Tess Taylor.

“Longing to be Understood: Language and Story”, with Jonas Hassen Khemiri and Sjon. Moderated by Stephen Sparks.

“Round the World Taste of Fiction” with four other international writers. The focus of the presentation is to discuss the following questions: “How do location and nationality influence their work? Is one first a nationality, secondly a writer?”


Fabiano Alborghetti is the author of five collections of poetry, including Directory of the Vulnerable (Guernica Editions, Spring 2014), as well as numerous limited editions art-books and plaquettes. His poems are translated in 10 languages, and he is considered the most influential Swiss representative of the “novel in verse” genre. For the past ten years he has written original plays, literary criticism and book reviews for periodicals, newspapers and online media, and poetry for journals, web, and radio. He has promoted special poetry projects in jails, schools and hospitals. He has represented Switzerland at literary festivals and cultural events worldwide.

Fabiano Alborghetti Directory of the Vulnerable

The Directory of the Vulnerable is a book in 43 cantos about vulnerable human beings whose feelings and experiences are watched and recorded. By showing the actions and reactions of a credible cross-section of contemporary society, Alborghetti seeks not universality but to stand in the shoes of his subjects.

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“Seeing Clearly, Looking Deeply” Patricia Keeney Reviews Len Gasparini’s Mirror Image

mirror imageAuthor and professor Patricia Keeney recently reviewed Len Gasparini’s Mirror Image for Arc Poetry. In the review, titled “Seeing Clearly, Looking Deeply: Len Gasparini’s Mirror Image,” she describes the works in the collection, and elaborates on Gasparini’s fluidity as a writer and on his attentiveness to craft.

Mirror Image was published by Guernica Editions in 2014.

Keeney writes: “Guernica has produced a portrait of veteran writer Len Gasparini that is by turns droll, lyrical, wistful and artlessly attentive to craft”.

She explains that “atmosphere builds as you read [the] pieces” and that the poems “exemplify Gasparini’s fidelity to individual perception”.

Furthermore, she stresses Gasparini’s attentiveness to his subject matter, and his ability to shift between tones and styles to suit his purpose.

“Where monotone and obsessive one-dimensional lives seem to take over, Gasparini feels no need to embellish… These straight-talking but strikingly ironic texts give as much as we want to take and are as forthcoming as Gasparini feels they need to be.”

Keeney portrays Gasparini as a writer who is both knowledgeable and versatile. Moreover, she explains the effect that this has on his writing.

“Gasparini’s versatility is a reflection of the life he wants to portray, a life lived in many forms. There is something simultaneously tender and tough about all this writing, a sense that it knows more than it is saying.”


About Mirror Image:

In Mirror Image, Len Gasparini conflates lyrical poetry and prose into one voice, a voice that recalls the rock-and-roll Fifties, and then segues into a woman’s dramatic monologue, followed by two maverick poets philosophizing on women and sexuality, and concludes with a narrative tinged with nostalgia and tempered with irony.

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Coming up in Toronto on May 31: Presentation by Elana & Menachem Wolff at the Narayever Synagogue

kafka_langer_flyer_narayever copy

On Sunday, May 31, authors and translators Elana and Menachem Wolff will be giving a presentation of their two-in-one flip side book: A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love. The presentation will take place from 11 am-1:30 pm at the historic Narayever synagogue in Toronto.


Franz Kafka’s writings are characterized by an extreme sensitivity manifested in absurdity, alienation, and gallows humor. These two particular collections of short pieces, A Country Doctor (1919) and A Hunger Artist (1924), newly translated by Thor Polson, represent later works in the corpus. Poems and Songs of Love is a translation of the collection Piyyutim ve-Shirei Yedidot by Georg Mordechai Langer translated from the original Hebrew. Published in Prague in 1929, it contains an elegy to Langer’s friend and mentor Franz Kafka, and other openly homo-romantic poems. This collaborative translation by Elana and Menachem Wolff brings the fascinating work of Langer–poems as well as an essay on Kafka–to the English-reading public for the first time, and sheds light on a hitherto unexamined relationship.


The First Narayever Congregation is located at 187 Brunswick Avenue in Toronto.

All are invited. Talkback session and refreshments included.

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The Vancouver Sun Reviews Calvin White’s Letters from the Land of Fear

letters from the land of fearIn his recent review of Calvin White’s Letters from the Land of Fear for the Vancouver Sun, Brett Josef Grubisic speaks about Calvin White’s experiences in Central Asia working as a mental health specialist with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients. He comments on White’s purpose in traveling to Central Asia, on the difficulties he encountered while there, and on the beauty he witnessed within a context of fear, suffering and death.

Grubisic speaks about White’s difficult and uncertain circumstances as he arrived in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan, and on his strong resolution to assist the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients as a mental health specialist.

He explains that despite “suffering from travel fatigue, virtually uninformed about his new temporary home, [White had] a sobering certainty of purpose — ‘to work as a mental health specialist with the [Doctors Without Borders] team there to address an epidemic of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis’ ”

Furthermore, Grubisic elaborates on the psychological difficulties that the patients encountered during the long and difficult treatment, and on the importance of White’s role in alleviating their worries and fears as they battled the disease.

“When the TB drugs do work, they have debilitating side-effects that discourage continued use (and the full treatment takes years) while encouraging folk remedies like pounding back slaps and drinking toddler urine. As a consequence, a pattern quickly emerges: through translators White talks with — consoles, advises, entertains — terribly thin and deeply ailing (and, often, quite young) patients, and aids as well as he can.”

Nevertheless, despite the severity of the fear and suffering which he witnessed, White was able to find beauty and intimacy in his surroundings.

“Unexpectedly, White calls Letters a story of beauty and intimacy.”

Grubisic elaborates on White’s account of the “gloriously transcendent” moments he shared with patients despite being “immersed in a ‘plague of misery’ ”.

“While the disease makes them all face the certainty of their undeniable limitations and temporariness, as White writes, the instances of loving communion are potent reminders of what actually counts.”

For 11 months Calvin White worked for Doctors Without Borders as a mental health specialist in the off-the-radar region of Karakalpakstan in western Uzbekistan. Unlike the higher profile emergency situations which draw that international humanitarian organization’s attention, the milieu for White’s mission was the quiet, slow death in an epidemic of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. White takes the reader inside the daily heartbeat of humans we’ve never heard of but come to see as sharing the same pulse. It is a remarkable journey of intimacy and hope, one that reconfigures our understanding of sadness and, ultimately, reaffirms the common spirit of humanity.

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Dolly Dennis’ Loddy-Dah Nominated for the Exporting Alberta Award

Loddy DahWe are happy to announce that Dolly DennisLoddy-Dah (Guernica Editions, Spring 2014) is one of eight books nominated for the Exporting Alberta Award by the Canadian Authors Association.

The Exporting Alberta Award consists of a $1000 prize given to a CAA Alberta Branch member or current contractor who has the best overall book published in 2014. The prize money is to assist with out-of-province book promotion.

On Friday, May 15th, Dolly Dennis will be taking part in the Exporting Alberta Award Presentation and Gala which will be held at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church (10037 84th Avenue) in Edmonton. The doors open at 7:30 PM, and the Gala begins at 8 PM. Refreshments and cake will be served.

The winner will be announced at the end of the program.


Dolly Dennis’ Loddy Dah follows Loddy and the troupe from The Garage Theatre as their lives unfold against the backdrop of political events in Montreal starting with EXPO 67 and ending in 1970 with the October Crisis. With the city as background, Loddy-Dah explores issues of self-identity and self-acceptance, the magic of friendship and love, and the power of resilience in the face of adversity.

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“A Hell of a Ride”: Michael Dennis on Edward Nixon’s The Fissures of Our Throats

fissures of our throatsIn a recent post on “Today’s Book of Poetry”, Michael Dennis reviews Edward Nixon’s collection The Fissures of Our Throats, published by Guernica Editions in Fall 2014.

Dennis comments on the collection’s theme and tone, and includes a few of Nixon’s poems —“We Told Stories as We Ran”, “Cariboo Ghost Town” and “Film Theory or I Miss the Way You Kiss”— to illustrate his poetic thought process and writing style.

He explains the dichotomy that appears in the collection between a tight, brewing verse and something that is more loose and flowing:

“Nixon can write a tight, almost alchemical poem and then turn around and loose the hounds.”

Furthermore, he describes the way in which the collection mixes humour with stirring emotion:

“There is humour to be found in The Fissures of Our Throats but it is not doled out lightly.  Every time I try to type The Fissures of Our Throats I have to erase The Fissures of Our Hearts.”

Dennis sums up the collection as a “literary YouTube of endlessly entertaining poetry” and assures readers that The Fissures of Our Throats “is a hell of a ride, a thoroughly enjoyable roughed up ride.”


Edward Nixon was born and grew up in British Columbia. Since 1984 he has lived in Toronto and is the proud father of a 19-year-old son. Having stumbled inconclusively in the thorny woods of academe, Edward currently toils in the private sector as the founder and Managing Partner of EN Consulting Group, a boutique public outreach consultancy located at the Centre for Social Innovation in downtown Toronto. He has hosted and curated the monthly Toronto reading series Livewords since 2008. He is the author four poetry chapbooks – Nights in the City of the Dead, Arguments for Breath, Free Translation, and Instructions for Pen and Ink. The Fissures of Our Throats is his first full collection.

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Anne DeGrace Discusses Celebrating National Poetry Month With a Reading by Ellen S. Jaffe

Anne DeGrace compares poetry to food in a recent article entitled “Poetic deliciousness at your library”. She begins by considering “the collective sigh/murmur that happens at the end of a poem”, explaining that “it’s not unlike the sound you make when you bite into something particularly delicious, or set down your fork when it’s finished.” DeGrace states that April is National Poetry Month, and this year the Poets League of Canada has declared a theme of Food and Poetry. In order to celebrate National Poetry Month, there will be a special reading on Tuesday, April 21st at the Nelson Public Library with poets Ellen S. Jaffe and Jane Byers, both of whom draw on “a surprising number of references to food, kitchens and cooking.”

Ellen S. Jaffe’s newest poetry collection, Skinny-Dipping with the Muse, was published by Guernica Editions in 2014. Her previous books include her book of poetry Water Children, the young adult novel Feast of Lights, and Writing Your Way: Creating a Personal Journal. Her poetry, short fiction, and articles have appeared in journals and anthologies. Ellen currently teaches writing with “Learning/Living Through the Arts” and has received Artist-in-Education and writing grants from the Ontario Arts Council. She is Hamilton contributing editor of Great Lakes Review.

Skinny-Dipping with the Muse is a collection of poems that have been described by Heidi Greco as “flowers planted to remember those who have gone before…steeped in the importance of family. This book tracks a life – its losses, discoveries and joys”. It is grouped into four sections and relate to the writer’s experience of diving “into the destructive element”, naked, vulnerable, stripping off clothes, masks, and preconceptions in a process of connecting with the ‘creative spirit’ in a way that is playful, loving, emotionally rich and wet, care-full, and spontaneous.

For more information about Ellen Jaffe, visit the Guernica website at:

For more information about Skinny-Dipping with the Muse, visit the Guernica website at:

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Montreal Gazette Reviews Marianne Ackerman’s Triplex Nervosa

triplex nervosaIn his recent review of Marianne Ackerman’s Triplex Nervosa, Jim Burke comments on the plot of the play, and explains both the comedic and artistic qualities which it successfully displays.

The play follows a young woman who has maxed out her credit cards and put a promising music career on hold to buy a triplex in Montreal’s trendy Mile End, only to find that the charming but stubborn Hassidic previous owner and her motley crew of tenants won’t co-operate with her needs. When she and her handy-man conspire to make one particularly difficult tenant’s life less comfortable, things go terribly wrong.

Burke explains: “the triplex, designed by James Lavoie as all existing on one level with a door apiece for the three floors, is peopled with a wacky array of characters, whether they be renting, squatting, visiting, or investigating a possible murder.”

Moreover, the play has a prominent musical component and includes the music of Mile End musician Patrick Watson.

“Director Roy Surette soaks the production in the plangent ballads of Mile End musician Patrick Watson which, as well as standing in for Lonnie’s songs, act like keening laments for the young man’s lost potential. Watson’s music makes for an intriguing contrast with the mood of the play”

In addressing the play’s mood and characters, Burke explains its feel-good confection: the ability to embrace the comedic genre all the while offering characters which are rounded and well-crafted.

“Triplex Nervosa is a big-hearted feel-good confection that has real affection for its characters. If Daniel Brochu’s Aaron Klein starts out like a stage Fagin, he finishes as far more rounded while still, in Brochu’s lively performance, retaining some enjoyable comic tics. And Cat Lemieux’s Sgt. Tremblay is a real hoot, whether disconnectedly grilling suspects in bad-tempered Québécoise or bagging leftover pizza as “evidence.””

Furthermore, he explains that there is a strong artistic component in the play, which comes out alongside the many humorous scenes.

“Ackerman comes down on the side of art, and there’s a nice coup de theatre which literally places the means to pursue this end in Tass’s hands. If it seems like implausible wish-fulfilment, it does at least suggest that Mile End is still a place where artists can dream.”

Triplex Nervosa will be running at the Centaur Theatre until May 17th. Cost of tickets: $27- $49.50

Click here to read Jim Burke’s full review of Triplex Nervosa

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