We asked Jean Pendziwol five questions about her new international bestseller, The Lightkeeper’s Daughter, and how music played a role in writing the book. You can find her at IFOA 2017, and IFOA Thunder Bay on October 30th.
By Ayesha Chatterjee
People often ask me if my new collection, Bottles and Bones, has a theme running through it, and I was surprised the first time I found myself saying that it does. I usually have the attention span of a fruit fly and can’t stick to a topic for longer than three poems (if you read my poems, you’ll see how very short they generally are, so that should give you an indication). But a few years ago, I stumbled across a term used in perfumery, fougère, which is a class of fragrances and is also French for ‘fern’. Think Drakkar Noir or Brut. Think oakmoss (a species of lichen. It’s all right, I had to look it up too) and sharp and spicy. But also soundless and green and soft and new. I was hooked.
IFOA Director, Geoffrey Taylor, and IFOA Associate Director, Christine Saratsiotis, have been on the road a lot lately.
Many know about IFOA’s mission to present the finest contemporary international novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and biographers at our annual 11-day festival at the end of October (October 19 – 29, 2017). Many may also know of the Lit On Tour: IFOA Ontario provincial touring programme, which runs this year from October 3 – November 23, 2017 and will include IFOA pop-up events at 19 locations across the province.
But did you know that IFOA does international touring as well?
By Ann Y.K. Choi
As an outsider looking in, our neighbourhood in the 1980s could be perceived as sketchy with the Madonna-inspired prostitutes sitting on the side steps of the imposing Ukrainian church at the corner of Queen and Bellwoods, and the homeless asking for loose change outside our variety store. Our best sellers really did include cigarettes and condoms.
But for my family and the characters in Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, the neighbourhood was a vibrant reflection of the residents and our working-class background. The store allowed us to connect with everyone from immigrant families to starving artists–writers, musicians, and actors–who lived on white bread and cola but paid for brand named foods for their pets. And, although we were robbed frequently and our home vandalized, we felt a strong sense of belonging. People looked out for each other. One vivid memory of this was when someone set the entrance to our apartment (above the store) on fire in the middle of the night. One of the prostitutes who worked on our street corner called 911 and rescued us.