Skip to content

Coming up in Ottawa: Ellen Jaffe at the RailRoad Reading Series

Skinny-Dipping MuseGuernica poet Ellen Jaffe will be making her way to Ottawa for a reading at the Pressed Café December 4th. The reading, as part of the RailRoad Reading Series, will feature Ellen Jaffe, as well as two Ottawa writers:  Frances Boyle and Murray Citron.

Frances Boyle’s poetry and fiction has appeared in many literary magazines across Canada and her awards include Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize, Tree Press’s chapbook prize, and This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt for poetry (with third place for fiction in the same year).

Murray Citron’s bilingual chapbook There is a Tree/ shteyt a boim, was published by Tree Press in 2011. He has also had several translations from Yiddish published in periodicals in Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom.

Born in New York City, Ellen S. Jaffe came to Canada in 1979. Her published books include Writing Your Way: Creating a Personal Journal; Water Children (poetry); Feast of Lights: a young adult novel; and Syntymalauluja/Birth Songs, a selection of poems translated into Finnish. She has also written and produced plays for children and adults. She lives in Hamilton where she is active in the city’s literary scene.

Grouped into four sections, the poems in Ellen Jaffe’s collection, Skinny-Dipping With the Muse, relate to the writer’s experience of diving “into the destructive element” (in Joseph Conrad’s words), 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. These poems are conversations with the living, the dead, and the world itself.

When: 7-10pm (doors open at 7, reading starts at 7:30pm) Dec. 4, 2014

Where: Pressed Cafe, 750 Gladstone Ave, Ottawa, ON

For more information about the reading, you can visit the RailRoad Reading Series website at:

Skinny-Dipping With the Muse is available on the Guernica website at:

Posted in Events, News, Poetry, Readings.

Tagged with , , , , , , , .

Breakfast Club with Guernica Authors

Breakfast Club

Four Jewish women poets– Karen Shenfeld, Baila Ellenbogen, Ellen S. Jaffe, and Elana Wolff–  read from their Guernica collections at Temple Anshe Sholom, Hamilton, on Sunday, November 23, 2014. The attentive and appreciative “Breakfast Club” audience listened to Baila read from Footsteps on the Ceiling (2010), Ellen from Skinny-Dipping with the Muse (2014), and Karen from My Father’s Hands Spoke in Yiddish (2010). Elana presented her work on translating Georg Mordechai Langer’s Poems and Songs of Love (2014)– the Hebrew/English half of Guernica’s first-ever flipside book; the other half is The Hunger Artist & Other Stories by Franz Kafka, translated by Thor Polson. The reading was preceded by a sit-down breakfast and followed by an author/audience Q&A. We thank Rabbi Jordan Cohen and the Temple volunteers and staff for sponsoring this event, organized by Ellen, a member of the Temple.

Posted in Events, News, Poetry, Readings.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , .

Keith Garebian Reviews A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love

Guernica’s first flip book and dual translation, A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love, has been garnering media attention for exploring the relationship between Kafka and Langer, and to offer English readers a first glimpse into the poetry of Kafka’s long lost friend and contemporary. Keith Garebian is the latest reviewer to write about the book and offers his take on the dual translation.

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories

Garebian mentions the complications associated with translating the text from its original Hebrew: “In their close collaboration, the Wolffs wrestled with the question of how to render ‘an idiom, colour a word, or untangle a syntactical ambiguity in order to correctly and effectively convey meaning and evoke the elusive quality of tone in moving from Langer’s Hebrew to English.’” Certain end-rhymes simply did not have English equivalents, which made translating Langer’s poems that much harder for the duo. The Wolffs were also confronted with the problem that English does not mark gender to the degree that Hebrew does. “You, “friend,” “companion,” and “lover” are gender neutral in English, but not Hebrew. As such, the Wolffs had to improvise and use alliteration and assonance to replicate end-rhymes. Garebian acknowledges that the “Note on Translation” greatly added to his understanding and appreciation of the poems, as well as the history behind them.

Garebian asserts that Elana Wolff “is radically correct in identifying [Langer’s] poetry as one of ‘deferment, substitution, spiritual reaching, and deep existential sadness.’ Moreover, the very fact of her drawing a link between Kafka and Langer is a significant contribution to both men’s biographies and writings, and one that deserves scholarly study.”

Although Garebian focuses his review on the Langer half of the dual translation, he does mention that “Certainly, the selections that Kafka translator Thor Polson has brought to the Kafka half in the flipbook—fourteen pieces from A Country Doctor; four from A Hunger Artist—display his indulgence in fantastical allegory, sharp political satire, close observation of human behaviour, and wry wit—often given a potent torque by his dry, elliptical style.”

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love includes the work of both Franz Kafka and Georg Mordechai Langer. Franz Kafka’s writings are characterized by an extreme sensitivity manifested in absurdity, alienation, and gallows humor. The 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. 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.

To read the full review, you can visit Garebian’s website at:,%20peoms%20and%20song%20of%20love.htm#hunger

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love is available on the Guernica website at:

Posted in News, Poetry, Reviews.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , .

Stan Rogal Talks about Inspiration, Leonard Cohen, and Sardines with Open Book Toronto

Open Book Toronto caught up with Stan Rogal to talk about inspiration and poetry as part of their Poets in Profile Series.

After Words“In high school our class was visited by a student teacher. She was young, blonde, beautiful and sporting a cast on her leg from a skiing accident,” Rogal recalls. “She played Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’ on a phonograph and said this was poetry.” The experience was the first one in which Stan Rogal realized that poetry was more than just “grey haired poets with all their pompous language and hidden symbolism.”  He confesses that that substitute teacher and her approach to poetry was what ultimately started his lifelong passion for the craft.

Of course, it hasn’t always been an easy journey. Rogal jokes that the best and worst parts about being a poet are one and the same: “Being alone in my room, writing.” He also does allude to the sheer hard work involved in getting a tough poem to work. “I generally manage to eventually beat the bastard into submission,” says Rogal.

The idea for Stan Rogal’s latest collection, After Words, was to offer a tip of the hat to people whose lives and/or works have influenced Stan Rogal over the years. Each piece is forwarded by a short background story as well as an epigram which provides some descriptive entry and flavour. The key was to construct these pieces in the author’s own style and voice and not fall into simple mimicry. Many names have been encrypted into the pieces as fractured homonyms, a sort of pun for the astute reader.

Stan Rogal was born in Vancouver and has resided in Toronto for 25 years. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in Canada, the US and Europe, some in translation. He has published 19 books, including four novels, four story and 11 poetry collections. He is also a produced playwright and the artistic director of Bulletproof Theatre.

To read the full interview, you can visit the Open Book website at:

After Words is available on the Guernica website at:

Posted in Interviews, News, Poetry.

Tagged with , , , , , , .

Giving Back to the Community: Elana Wolff and Kate Marshall Flaherty Read at Hesperus Village

On November 30, from 7:00 – 8:30, Hesperus Village will be hosting an evening of poetry and music for its residents, their friends, and other members of the community.

The evening will include music by singer-songwriter Layah Jane Singer-Wilson, guitarist Oliver Johnson, as well as a performance by Elisabeth Yetman & the Hesperus Choir. There will also be a dramatic reading by Alexandra Barbara Günther and friends, who will read “Guess We Beat The Odds”. The evening will also feature readings by two Guernica poets, Kate Marshall Flaherty and Elana Wolff.

Kate Marshall Flaherty will be reading from her latest poetry collection: Reaching V. The poems in the collection explore moments of epiphany. They investigate moments when supports crumble, and new patterns must emerge. They seek the spark in the ordinary, meaning in loss, and circle back to nature.

Elana Wolff will be presenting and reading from her latest translation, Poems and Songs of Love, from Guernica’s dual translation and first-ever flip book. A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love includes fresh translations of Kafka’s short stories, as well as the never-before seen poems of Kafka’s good friend and contemporary, Georg Mordechai Langer.

Kate Marshall FlahertyKate Marshall Flaherty has published in journals such as Descant, CV2, Freefall, and Windsor Review. She was short-listed for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, the Malahat Review Long Poem and Descant’s Best Canadian Poem. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three spirited children, where she guides yoga/retreats/writing workshops.


Elana Wolff Black and WhiteElana Wolff has published four collections of poetry with Guernica Editions, including You Speak to Me in Trees, awarded the F.G. Bressani Prize for Poetry. She is also the author of Implicate Me, a collection of essays on contemporary poems; co-author with the late Malca Litovitz of Slow Dancing: Creativity and Illness (Duologue and Rengas); and co-editor with Julie Roorda of Poet to Poet: Poems written to poets and the stories that inspired them. A bilingual edition of her selected poems, Helleborus & Alchémille (Éditions du Noroît), was awarded the 2014 John Glassco Prize for Translation (translator: Stéphanie Roesler). Elana has taught English for Academic Purposes at York University in Toronto and at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She currently divides her professional time between writing, editing, and designing and facilitating therapeutic community art courses.

When: November 30, 2014 from 7:00 – 8:30

Where: Hesperus Village Lobby & Hall, 1 Hesperus Rd., Thornhill, ON L4J 0G9

Posted in Events, News, Poetry, Readings.

Tagged with , , , , .

“Kafka’s Gay, Hasidic Hebrew Teacher”: Kenneth Sherman reviews Elana and Menachem Wolff’s translation of Georg Mordechai Langer’s Poems and Songs of Love

A Hunger Artist and Other StoriesPoems and Songs of Love is one of two titles that make up Guernica’s first-ever flipside book. This two-in-one work includes Franz Kafka’s late short-story collections A Country Doctor (1919) and A Hunger Artist (1924), newly translated by Thor Polson, and Poems and Songs of Love, Elana and Menachem Wolff’s first-time translation of Georg Mordechai Langer’s collection Piyyutim ve-Shirei Yedidot, originally published in Prague in 1929.

“Langer comes alive in the introduction Elana Wolff has written for the translation,” writes Sherman.

“Georg Mordechai Langer turns up from time to time as a curious sidebar to the life of Franz Kafka,” notes Sherman: “One biographer of Kafka describes Langer as ‘a medieval Jewish mystic born into the wrong century'; another refers to him as ‘the Orthodox fanatic.’”

In his Diaries Kafka himself describes Langer as the “western Jew who converted to Hasidism.” The two men met in 1915 and first connected over a mutual interest in Jewish folk and mystical  traditions.

Elana Wolff came to Langer through a study on Kafka for a biography course. She was intrigued by brief mentions of Langer in Kafka biographies as well as by references to Langer in Kafka’s own Diaries and Letters. She was particularly intrigued by an entry in A Franz Kafka Encyclopedia asserting that Langer’s importance in Kafka’s life had been “largely overlooked.” Also by references to an elegy for Kafka, written by Langer in Hebrew and published in a small collection at the Prague Jewish printing works in 1929. “Wolff’s search for the book,” relates Sherman, “led her to Israel’s National Library, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,” where she discovered (in storage) a copy of the original volume.

The 12th poem, “On the Death of the Poet—after Franz Kafka,” composed shortly after Kafka’s death,” [was] the elegy Wolff was searching for,” reports Sherman. “But Wolff made a more surprising discovery as she read through the poems…Langer was gay—an item not mentioned by any of Kafka’s biographers.”

Wolff calls Langer’s disclosure of his homosexuality through his poetry “a daring act of self-expression,” writes Sherman, and she “tantalizes by proposing that Kafka may have been the love interest in Langer’s poems.” Kafka is, in fact, the only person named in any of Langer’s pieces.

Sherman praises the Wolffs’ translations for their success “in capturing the tone of an alienated and at times desperate man on the margins of his community.” He lauds Kafka’s “anti-poetic” restraint, “but for the most part,” finds “Langer’s poems archaic… florid… abstract… and heavy-handed. “

Sherman is especially fascinated by the prose piece, “Something About Kafka,” written by Langer in Hebrew and published in the Tel-Aviv journal Hegeh in 1941. The Wolffs bring this piece to the English-reading public for the first time as well, appended to Elana Wolff’s Afterword. Sherman quotes from this article at length and closes by commending the overall investigation.

To access Kenneth Sherman’s full article, visit Tabletmag:

Copies of A Hunger Artist & Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love are available on the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Poetry, Reviews.

Garebian Secures Third Prize and a Win for His Poetry

Keith Garebian“Garebian, 71, is no stranger to winning awards; last year alone he won the Mississauga Arts Award (Established Literary) for his book Moon on Wild Grasses and the prestigious William Saroyan Medal, named in honour of the great Armenian American dramatist and author.” writes The Mississauga News about Garebian’s latest win: the Surrey International Writers Conference Poetry Award. This year, Keith Garebian is the winner of the 22nd annual Surrey International Writers Conference Poetry Award. The announcement was made on October 25th. The award was for a single poem (about 100 lines long), entitled “Armenian Elegy,” which is to be printed in the award anthology.

The topic of the poem – the 1915 Armenian genocide – is one that hits close to home for Garebian, who was born to an Armenian father and Anglo-Indian mother.

“I am particularly gratified that a poem about the Armenian half of my ancestry has touched a chord because as I get older, I seem to be exploring more deeply that part of my psycho-literary self,” he has said about his heritage, which he has written about before. Garebian previously wrote on the Armenia Genocide in his memoir Pain: Journeys Around My Parents, and poetry collection Children of Ararat.

In true Garebian fashion, the next day after the announcement, he won third prize for another of his poems at the 29th annual Canadian Authors Association (Niagara Branch).

Keith Garebian is a widely published, award-winning freelance literary, theatre, and dance critic, biographer, and poet. Among his many awards are the Scarborough Arts Council Poetry Award (2010), the Canadian Authors Association (Niagara Branch) Poetry Award (2009), the Mississauga Arts Award (2000, 2008 and 2013), a Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Award (2006), the Lakeshore Arts/Scarborough Arts Council Award for Poetry (2003), and an Ontario Poetry Society Award for Haiku (2003). This is his fifth book of poetry.

To read the full article, you can visit The Mississauga News at:

Posted in Awards, News, Poetry.

Tagged with , , , , , , .

Shab-e She’r Poetry Night on November 25 with Shaista Latif and Antonio D’Alfonso

On November 25th Beit Zatoun will be hosting its second annual Shab-e She’r Poetry Night. Hosted by Bänoo Zan and Guernia poet Kate Marshall Flaherty, the evening will feature both poetry and music, as well as an open mic session. The featured poets for the evening will be Shaista Latif and Antonio D’Alfonso, with music by Shahriyar Jamshidi and Raphael Weinroth-Browne.

Writer, editor, translator, publisher, and filmmaker Antonio D’Alfonso is the author of over 30 books. His novel Un vendredi du mois d’août won the Trillium Award in 2005. His feature film Bruco won best director award and best foreign film award at the New York International Independent Film Festival in 2010. His most recent film Antigone (an adaptation of Sophocles’ play) won the Bronze award at the Prestige Film Festival. Aside from his own award-winning writing, he has translated some of Quebec’s finest poets.

Shaista Latif is a storyteller, playwright and facilitator. Her play Graceful Rebellions was presented at the 2014 SummerWorks Theatre Festival. She has been awarded The Theatre Centre’s Emerging Artist Award and is also a facilitator for PrideCab (Buddies) and for Crossing Gibraltar (Cahoots).

Shahriyar Jamshidi was born in Kermanshah, Iran and is a devoted composer who works hard to preserve the ancient music history of Kurdistan. His works include Alvanati (2004), Call of the Mountain (2008) and A Yellow Flower (2014). He has performed at various events including the Iranian Heritage Day at Royal Ontario Museum on May 2013 and the Tirgan Festival in Toronto, Canada. He has also performed on several well-known Kurdish TV channels including KTV, Norooz, and Kurdsat.

Raphael Weinroth-Browne is a cellist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer who has performed at several renowned festivals around the world, including Nouvelle Prague in the Czech Republic. He recently placed second at the 2014 International Cello Festival of Canada in the finals of the Zara Nelsova Award for Canadian Cellists. Since 2009, Weinroth-Browne has composed and performed music on over 30 full-length albums (including the Juno Award-winning Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light) and has appeared in professional music videos with acclaimed artists such as two-time Juno Award-winner Gowan.

Non-alcoholic refreshments will be served. Tickets are $5 and all are welcome.

Time: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Place: Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham Street, Toronto, ON

Doors open: 6:15 p.m.

Sign-up for the open mic: 6:30 p.m.

Start: 7 p.m.

Posted in Events, News, Poetry, Readings.

Tagged with , , , , , , , .

The 2014 Bressani Award Winners at the Windup Bird Cafe: an Evening of Delicious food and Wonderful Prose and Poetry


On Tuesday, November 18th at 6:30pm, the acclaimed executive chef of the Windup Bird Cafe will be serving up a delicious three-course meal alongside the wonderful prose and poetry of the 2014 winners of the Bressani Award.

The winners for this year include Darlene Madott, Michael Mirolla, Eufemia Fantetti, and David Macfarlane.

Darlene Madott      

Darlene Madott is a Toronto lawyer and writer. Prior to law, she worked at Saturday Night and Toronto Life magazines. Her call to the Bar in 1985 coincided with the publication of a collection of short stories, Bottled Roses, (Oberon, 1985). A film script, Mazilli’s Shoes, was published by Guernica in 1997, then Joy, Joy, Why Do I Sing? was published by Women’s Press/Scholar’s Press in 2004. Included in that collection was “Vivi’s Florentine Scarf,” which won the 2002 Paolucci Prize of the Italian American Writer’s Association. Her short fiction has garnered literary awards, including the title story “Making Olives,” which won the Bressani Literary Award in 2008.

Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla is a novelist, short story writer, poet and playwright. Publications include two novels, the recently-released The Facility, and Berlin (a 2010 Bressani Prize winner and finalist for the 2009 Indie Book and National Best Books Awards); two short story collections – The Formal Logic of Emotion (recently translated into Italian and released in 2010) and Hothouse Loves & Other Tales; and two poetry collections: the English-Italian Interstellar Distances/Distanze Interstellari (2008), and Light And Time (2010), His short story, “A Theory of Discontinuous Existence,” was selected for The Journey Prize Anthology, while another short story, “The Sand Flea,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Eufemia Fantetti

Eufemia Fantetti is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and the University of Guelph’s MFA in Creative Writing. Her fiction, nonfiction and plays have been published in the anthologies ContoursBeyond Crazyeye wuz here and Fish 2012. She has won the 2009 Event Magazine Non-Fiction Contest, the 7th annual Accenti Writing Contest and is a two-time finalist for the Theatre BC National Playwriting Competition.

David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane has published several books to much acclaim. His first book, The Danger Tree, won the Canadian Authors’ Association award for non-fiction while Summer Gone, was nominated for the Giller Prize and won the Chapters / Books in Canada first novel prize. Currently, Macfarlane writes a weekly column for the Toronto Star.

The menu for the evening: Bressani Prize Menu

To book a ticket for the dinner, send an email to

Posted in Events, News, Poetry, Readings.

Tagged with , , , , , , .

This Weekend: Lorne Elliott at Mill Street Books

Lorne Elliott at Mill Street Books Poster

Posted in Events, News, Readings, Signings.

Tagged with , , , , , .