Saturday, February 3, 2018


Elizabeth Pszczolko, new President of the Northwestern Ontario Writers' Workshop

Where do you get your ideas? How do I find an editor? What is the difference between indie and traditional publishing?

Ready to answer your questions about writing at this free event are: Marion Agnew, Ma-Nee Chacaby, H. Leighton Dickson, Michelle Krys, Jordan Lehto and Jean E. Pendziwol.
 Their writing ranges from children’s books to young adult fiction, autobiography to fantasy, adult fiction to playwriting.

Six authors. Three hours. Twenty- minute conversations. You can sign up ahead of time for a private 20-minute session with one or more of the writers by calling the library at 684-6816. Some time slots will be kept open for walk-ins.

For more information and bios of these six local authors visit the NOWW website at

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Reviewed by Margie Taylor

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs . . .”

So begins The Bell Jar, with an opening sentence that foreshadows events to come. Such a sentence promises the reader we are in for a remarkable story. If only the book lived up to that promise. If only its author had lived to write other, better books. If only.

The Bell Jar was first published in London in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Ostensibly, Sylvia Plath didn’t want her mother and other family and friends to be hurt by the way they were pictured. Friends have said she would never have wanted the book to come out under her own name while her mother was alive.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Arthur Black Blogs about his Pancreatic Cancer

Arthur Black, who was a long time Thunder Bay resident, is remembered fondly by many local people.  His humorous columns and books were popular and widely read. As this excerpt from his blog reveals, Arthur was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  His humour and great writing style have not been affected.

I, ARTHUR BLACK, being of sound (sort of) mind, stable-ish judgement and having achieved the venerable age of three score and fourteen...

....have decided to become a druggie.

Forced into it, really. Last month my doctor told me I have pancreatic cancer. PanCan is not one of your cuddly, curly-haired cancers. It's aggressive and remorseless. It does not respond to incantations, infusions or an apple a day.

Drugs? Well, yeah, pancreatic cancer sort of acknowledges drugs. That's why I am currently taking magnesium, Omega 3, B12, milk thistle, curcumin, vitamin D and something my bookie swears by called Coenzyme Q10.

But that's just the over-the-counter stuff. I am also, by perscription, throwing back recommended daily doses of multisyllabic intruders with names like Ramapril, Rabeprazole and Metformin.

Oh, and there's one other chemical kick that I'm treating myself to these days. Cannabis extract. If you bought it in the park you'd ask for hash oil. (Though chances are you'd end up with a rusty cap full of WD40.) I prefer to get my dope from an establishment a little more bricks-and-mortar than a park bench, so I went to the legit storefront in my hometown.

Where I purchased a slim plastic syringe-type pump full of something that looked like a gob of road tar on an August afternoon.

That's yer hash oil, my friend. Just take a tiny, tiny dab – on the end of a toothpick, say – and tuck it under your tongue...

A dab about the size of a rice seed, they advised. Well, I squeezed too hard, the hash oil oozed up. I took a dab about the size of a dried raisin.

An hour later – nothing – I dig out my hash stash and lever another dab onto a new toothpick. Under the tongue. Yuck. Tastes sour and sappy all at once.

And STILL the hash oil isn't work....wor....wo....Whoa....Wheee.....Whatthe....

The hash oil worked, although it was hardly a euphoric, flowers-in-your-hair experience.It was a body stone, where every limb feels heavier than a bag of turnips and every decision up to and including shoe laces – especially shoe laces – feels impossible to initiate.

But here's the thing: the pain in my back and my belly – gone. And it stayed gone for hours. Word on the street is that this hash oil takes away more than pain. The handout claims hash oil has been successfully used to treat major illnesses “including all forms of cancer...”

Yeah, well, that and a couple of bucks will get you a Starbuck's Grande...

Still it can't hurt – and as medicine goes, it's more pleasant than castor oil. In fact the only downside I can see to Cannabis therapy is the fact that a headful of Cannabis tends to make life


more slowly.

That's it for me and Episode 4...If I can just finish

this senten....

You can follow Arthur's blog at

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A neat short short story sent to me by William Appleby who lives in Moretonhamstead in Devon England.

By William Appleby

Ever since he went on the office coach trip to Scotland he longed to make a whisky still. Not that he was a whisky drinker but more the desire to make something that worked, something that, in his imagination, had a life of its own.

He read numerous books about whisky and searched antique shops for a still. In his local watering hole, he became a bore with his talk about whisky and its manufacture.

Difficult to know if his latest trip to the council dump was guided by some hidden force or just an accident, but whatever it was, he found an old metal still. It was too large for his car or trailer so he hired a pick-up and bullied two friends to help him.

A month of so later, he had a working still heated by gas cylinders set up in his timber-framed garage.  His ingredients were ripe barley, yeast, and spring water plus heat. He went to bed a happy man, his wife relieved that he achieved something though what it was she was not sure.

It was one in the morning when it happened. A tremendous noise, a fountain of boiling liquid and a garage on fire. The bedroom window which faced the blast scattered broken glass onto the bed and floor.

His dream of crates of whisky shattered as well.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Margie Taylor Review. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

Right off the bat I have to tell you that A Confederacy of Dunces is not – I repeat, not – about the American presidency. How could it be? Its author died in 1969, when Donald Trump was 23 … long before anyone could have predicted that this draft-dodging ladies’ man would one day be the 45th President of the United States.

No, for an inside look at the chaos and confusion of Trump’s presidency you’ll have to read Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff. It’s mesmerizing. As is John Kennedy Toole’s posthumous best-seller, published in 1980, 11 years after his suicide, thanks to the unrelenting efforts of his mother and the writer she successfully badgered to read the manuscript.

Since then, Dunces has won the the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, sold 1.5 million copies, and been translated into 18 languages. This for a book that was considered, by almost every publisher, editor and literary agent, to be unpublishable. (Take heart, all writers striving to get your books in print – and be kind to your mothers!)

In Dunces, Toole created a handful of intensely memorable characters, all of them failures in one way or another. There is Darlene, the B-girl who dreams of being an exotic dancer; Mancuso, the patrolman in danger of being kicked off the force for incompetence; Gus Levy, who inherited his father’s clothing business and allowed it to fall into ruin; and Mr. Clyde, the owner of Paradise Vendors, who sells hot dogs consisting of “rubber, cereal, tripe. Who knows? I wouldn’t touch one of them myself.” Burma Jones, the floor sweeper at the Night of Joy bar, compares himself to a plantation slave – working for less than minimum wage, he risks being jailed for vagrancy if he quits.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Janus Reading

Great readings last night (january 18 2018) at the Mary J. Black Library. First up was Donna White who read a moving excerpt from her book Arrows, Bones and Stones: The Shadow of a Child Soldier. This is the second book in her Stone Triology. (Available at Chapters, Amazon etc)

Donna, a world traveller, told us about meeting Ugandan child soldiers who had escaped captivity. Many suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome. They experienced nightmares and sometimes day visions which stopped them in their tracks.

Sixty thousand children were abducted by the war lord and subjected to terrible suffering. She read about a short ceremony that one woman used to help a little boy whose trauma overwhelmed him.  A very moving experience for those of us in the audience.

This was followed by three powerful poems by Annette Pateman. The first was called Women Left Behind. In many developing countries the men have to go abroad to look for work. Promises are made. He will send for you. But for some women the summons never comes. They see others get the promised letter and "gyrate with joy" but for them-- nothing.

Marion Agnew, well known local writer, is working on a novel titled Making Up the God. She read a short selection, very peppy, about a family and especially one little boy and his aunt Simka. The excellent dialogue from both the aunt and the child gave the work interest and  energy.

The final reader was Debbie Metzler who read a story called Ping. An unpopular and bullied little boy dreams of super heroes, makes drawings of super heroes and then, finds a super hero. A heart breaking and heart mending story.

I always enjoy these readings and I could see the audience did too. We have so much talent in Thunder Bay.  Many thanks to NOWW, Mary J. Black library and the readers themselves.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Workshop on Sonnets

Sonnets ...

Presenter: Holly Haggarty
Date: January 25, 2018         
Time:  7:00 pm
Venue: Waverley Library Auditorium

Admission:  Free for all participants

As Holly says: Why do I offer a workshop on the sonnet, that 'little song" of poetry that began eight centuries ago in Italy?

Sonnets are a realm unto themselves, with transferable skills such as focusing an idea, playing in and out of rhythm, developing skill in the use of form, appreciating poetic tradition, and cultivating connoisseurship.

 I'm not interested in teaching how to write a sonnet; rather with the experience of writing a sonnet teaches.  

I think poets should be well versed (haha) in all forms.
If you think so too, then roll up your sleeves, ink your quill, and join your fellow poets