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On Tour Blog

April 24, 2008

Posted by Meg Tilly

We are sitting in the pub at the Mount Baker Hotel in Cranbrook.  I had a delicious poutine with really good gravy.  All five of us are typing away on our laptops.  Music blasting, guitars squealing.  Loud raucous male laughter from the table behind me, the dialogue interspersed with a lot of bulls__t.  Bulls__t?  Bulls__t!  No kidding me?  Bulls__t.  And then, “HA…HA…HA…HA…HA!”  These guys know how to enjoy life.  It makes me smile listening to them.

But on to more important matters.  The reason I feel compelled to write on this blog before I write on my own personal blog is I want to talk for a moment about Amy Woodland Elementary.

I LOVE this school.  Love it.  The minute you walk into the school, you can feel the commitment and dedication of the teachers.  These kids are so lucky with this staff.  I got such a wonderful feeling from every single person I met on the staff.  And you can feel it with the children.  Their enthusiasm, their eagerness to ask questions, the way the teachers were there supporting this event, involved.  It is a wonderful heart-warming thing to see.

And then, to make this visit even more special…

Bryan had driven by the school around 45 minutes before we were due to make sure we knew where it was and didn’t get lost.  And to my delight, we were treated to the sight of kids running, playing, swinging, in their pajamas.  PAJAMA DAY!  My favorite!  Then when Bryan drove back into the part of town where the shops were, I saw a Salvation Army and it seemed like a sign if I ever saw one.  So I decided to forgo the coffee shop and went into the second-hand store and bought myself some pajamas instead. 

How much fun is that?!  When we got to the school, I disappeared into the Staff bathroom and changed out of my carefully chosen authorly clothes into some lavender pajamas and a wonderful fluffy pink robe that was so soft.  I love that robe.  It is definitely coming home with me.

I feel such gratitude to the organizers of the BC Book Prizes for giving me and David the chance to experience this wonderful school.  I feel so happy that we were able to be here.  Talk to these kids, slip a few life lessons in on the sly.  Feel so fortunate.


Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 1 Comments | Permalink

April 24, 2008

What to Read?
Posted by Heather Burt

Figuring out what to read at a public event is always an interesting challenge. In the case of novels, you want the reading to be interesting/exciting, but you don’t want to give away too much ... something that’s self-contained but that will inspire the audience to track down the book and read more. Some scenes work just fine on the page but don’t translate very well to the spoken word. Scenes with dialogue require a certain amount of acting — a special challenge for solitary, writerly types! I had a couple of readings that I was happy with, but yesterday I was feeling itchy for a change (I have great admiration for theatre types who do long runs — night after night of the same role). Anyway, with David’s suggestion of a particular scene (he’s very kindly read my book) and Meg’s coaching in the area of making distinctions between different characters, I decided to try out a new reading — a tense scene with a lot of dialogue. I rehearsed at the back of a café in Creston, and last night’s event at the Creston Library offered the perfect audience — intimate, friendly, and very welcoming. I had a great time trying something new and am psyched to do the same scene again tonight in Cranbrook.

The event at Prince Charles Secondary in Creston ended with one of our best Q&A sessions so far (one student wanted to know if Rita had been influenced by Allen Ginsberg), and I’m indebted to Lynn the librarian for rescuing the new thermos I’d left behind at the school. Thanks, Lynn!

At Mount Baker Secondary this afternoon I got to try out another new presentation. The group was small enough for an interactive, creative writing type activity, and, considering it was last block of the day, with a Pro-D day tomorrow, the students were very kind to us (not to mention the very groovy librarian and English teacher who hosted us)!

Signing off from the Colonel Baker Lounge in Cranbrook, where we’ve got five duelling laptops set up (nothing anti-social intended ... we really dig each other ... we’re just incorrigible email/blog addicts) ....


Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 24, 2008

From Oliver BC
Posted by Ruth Campbell

Finally get to contribute to the blog, and probably the only time I’ll do so, since my laptop exploded just before our departure on the southern leg of the tour. Today is Thursday and everything is a blur. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent too many late nights sitting in restaurants and hotel bars, listening to Ron Smith insult me. I’d repeat some of his devastating remarks, but I don’t like to use that kind of language in print. Last night I told him that he could lose ten pounds of ugly fat by cutting off his head. He criticized me for my grade two level humour, but that’s okay because most of our audiences are actually in grade two. Ron had to leave the tour this morning to go back to Vancouver, and I’m continuing without him for the next two days. Overall, we’ve been fortunate with our elementary school audiences; young kids are so enthusiastic and bursting with questions. We also had a terrific audience last night at the public library in Kelowna, which consisted of some of Claire Mulligan’s friends and even a couple that I used to know in high school and hadn’t seen since the ice age! All the readings have been done eloquently, and sometimes I feel like the inarticulate illustrator of the group, grunting and pointing at my pictures. Right now, we’re killing time in a quaint little coffee shop in Oliver,stuffing ourselves with ginger cake and tea, after which we’ll saunter down to the local Indian restaurant to stuff ourselves some more.
On the road in the Okanagan,
Ruth Campbell

Filed under: Southern Leg 2008 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 24, 2008

lover’s leap
Posted by Arleen Pare

if this is thursday.  this must be the cock and bull cappucino bar which is part of cantalope annie’s caffe breakfast lunch best brunch.  i am sitting on plastic patio chair.  there’s a large zebra skin on the floor.  i have just ordered lover’s leap tea.  claire ordered the buckingham palace tea and jamie is drinking chocolate mint. 
i have resisted this blogging thing all week.  i am not a blogger.  i have been a blogee, but never a blogger.  but jamie has caught up wuith me over tea and scones and devonshire cream, she is insisting i blog, now in this place of only two scones, which we will share now.  they have run out of scones.  they have run out of cabbge rolls too.  this must be a popular lunch place.  i am slightly shellshocked.  all around me on the road, the desert landscape is amazing.  tonight is our last night on the road.  tomorrow we are back in vancouver.  blessed be.

Filed under: Southern Leg 2008 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 23, 2008

On the road in the Okanagan
Posted by Jaimie Tait

We had a busy day yesterday.  We visited schools in Salmon Arm in the morning and then hit the road to Vernon, where we visited two schools in the afternoon and then the Vernon Public Library at night.  We had time for a relaxing dinner together at a great local Vernon restaurant.
BCBP Tour Salmon Arm and Vernon 025
Ron Smith talking about Eagles at South Broadview Elementary

BCBP Tour 08 Salmon Arm
Don asked the students to help him write his biography at Salmon Arm Secondary

BCBP Tour 08 Vernon
Don, Claire, Ruth and Arleen at The Vernon Public Library

Filed under: Southern Leg 2008 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 23, 2008

Adopt a Library donations in Nelson
Posted by Bryan Pike

Bryan Pike

Mike Berg from Columbia Basin Trust with Donation to Redfish Elm in Nelson

Mike Berg from Columbia basin Trust with Donation to Redfish Elm

Nelson and District Credit Union donation to LV Rogers Secondary school in Nelson

Nelson and Distract Credit Union donates to LV Rogers Secondary School

Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 23, 2008

drinking green tea and blogging
Posted by Meg Tilly

Rita and Heather are at Prince Charles Secondary in Creston and Bryan had a bite to eat with David and me at A Break In Time Cafe.  It’s funny how on the road we choose where we want to eat, not by by the delicious smells that pour out of the doors, but by whether or not the place has free-wireless Internet.  Luckily we’ve been pretty fortunate and many of the coffee places that are forward thinking enough to install free-wireless are usually geared towards a younger more hip, multi-piercing, flowing skirts and have home baked foods with thick multi-grain bread. 

Okay, actually, that’s not true at all.  The free-wireless the day before yesterday, dealt out huge stacks of homemade french fries and thick chocolate shakes.  Delicious, but not exactly healthy.

Hmm…I just realized I am blogging about food again.  I do not have a one track mind.  I am in control of my fingers.  On to another subject.

I am very thankful that I was thrown into a van with this particular group of authors and Bryan.  It’s like our stories and poems and life perspectives, have woven this diverse multi-colored huge hammock that is stretched out under a vast canopy of trees.  And then there we are taking risk, learning to fly, sometimes falling, but not far or fatally because the rest of us are there, arms, hearts outstretched, holding, gently cradling the others to the ground. 

David.  I really appreciated our talk in the van when Byran walked Rita and Heather into the school.  Heather, I admire your generosity, and the fact that you decided a couple years ago to learn how to swim.  That says so much about how you live your life.  Rita, thank you for the quiet comfort it brings me by just being in your company.  And Bryan…I don’t know how you do it, but I am grateful.

Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 0 Comments | Permalink

April 22, 2008

Wigeon Wal-Mart
Posted by Heather Burt

Nelson is a great town. Having feasted on organic goodies from one of the many fine Baker Street eateries, and window shopped for a while, I set off on my run (which morphed into a run/walk ... should have window shopped and digested a while longer!). I followed a beautiful waterfront trail, with Kootenay Lake and snowcapped mountains to one side, parkland and more mountains to the other.

A few highlights ...

1) Spotting a group of young people sitting in a circle on the grass, playing guitars together (one guy stood with an upright bass).

2) Possibly spotting the charming young novelist with whom I chatted at L.V. Rogers Secondary this morning. I’m not sure if it was him, but I think sitting on a bench with a friend, watching the water, is a fine thing for an aspiring writer to be doing. (Rita and I had an excellent time at the school, by the way, and very much appreciated the hospitality and interest of staff and students!)

3) Experiencing first-hand Rita’s poem “Recognition/Identification Test.” This needs some explanation. The poem pairs up names of plants and names of corporations and implicitly asks the reader/audience to think about which are more familiar and why. Rita and I read it together this morning: she read the plants; I read the corporations; we said “blackberry” together at the end (“Blackberry” in my case). Anyway, at one point during my walk/run, I paused to read an information board titled “Know Your Ducks,” from which I learned that the bird swimming down below me was a wigeon — a local duck with reddish-brown and grey plumage. Never heard of it, I said to myself ... then I glanced across the park at the all-too-familiar Wal-Mart and thought Hmmm

A lively and fun reading at the Nelson Library this evening. Thanks to all those who came out! Away to Creston tomorrow ....


Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 4 Comments | Permalink

April 22, 2008

A proper desk
Posted by Meg Tilly

I know that many of the readers of this blog are already published authors and people in the book world.  But I imagine that there are quite a few followers of this blog, who perhaps hope to be published and what-not, and perhaps there is a reader or two.  So, I thought, in the spirit of building community and breaking down the gap between the mysterious world of the author and the rest of the world, that I would let you see how a right, proper writer’s desk should look.

On the off-chance that someone might think that is too much candy for one person to have managed to accumulate in the only two and a half days on tour.  I shall not sign my name.  I shall be…the mystery blogger!

Hmm…I wonder if they put our names at the bottom of these things.  I should have looked before I wrote this.

Oh well.

Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 5 Comments | Permalink

April 22, 2008

Tough Acts to Follow
Posted by Heather Burt

My tour mates are mighty impressive folks. Yesterday and today I had the pleasure of watching large groups of high school students groove to the poetry and inspiring commentary of Rita Wong. I think my sense that thoughtful, thought-provoking poetry might be difficult to pitch in a contemporary high school setting reveals my underestimating of both teenagers and poetry. At the same time, I think it took Rita’s passion and warmth to make the connection between her poems and her audience happen. And happen it did! I was too gripped by Rita’s words to be studying the audience very carefully, but even my brief glances found many sparks of excitement and recognition in their eyes. That was tough-act-to-follow number one. The next was Meg Tilly’s reading from her novel Porcupine. I’d been getting to know Meg as my very kind, funny tour mate (funny as in good sense of humour!) and had sort of forgotten that she’s also a stunning actor — that is until she launched into her reading last night at the Cornerstone Café in Trail. Holy captivating performance, Batman! She read an extremely tense scene with a lot of dialogue, and she so completely inhabited each of the different characters, through voice and gesture and a certain je ne said quoi I can only imagine, that there seemed to be five completely different people battling it out on the little stage. Wonderful imagery in the prose as well — I remember in particular the vivid image of a character’s eyebrows coming together in a storm cloud over her face. Ooh. And, last but not least, I’ve spent some of my most enjoyable free time over the past couple of days devouring the novel of my third tour mate, David Jones. Baboon is terrific — totally compelling. This novel achieves something that never fails to amaze and impress me: it tackles important philosophical/existential questions in a page-turning narrative. A boy turns into a baboon! It’s such a weird and wonderful idea, and David has tapped into all the practical and philosophical implications in striking and often hilarious prose. I could go on ... but it’s a sunny, warm(ish) day here in Nelson, I’ve got a few hours off, and I need to justify the space being taken up in my backpack by my running gear. But first ... lunch.

We’re reading at the Nelson Municipal Library this evening, 7:00, and if you happen to be in the vicinity, we’d love to see you!


P.S. Happy Earth Day!

Filed under: Kootenays Leg 2008 | 5 Comments | Permalink

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