Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My "Hometown" Book Launch and a Literary Wake for Kerry Schooley

Greg Betts, John Abrams, Beth Bromberg, & Gary Barwin (Photo: K. Garneau, The Spec.)

The Hamilton Spectator did a nice article about my book launch. (I'm after the discussion of moustaches, a speaking mouth below the 'stache's hairy slash.) Jeff Mahoney wrote that the book was
classic Barwin, effervescent with wit, startling imagery and delightful strangeness.
 If I'd shaved and become moustache resplendent, one can only imagine what he might have written.

When Little Red Riding Hood wrote a book, she didn't have to travel with a basket full of nibblies through those nasty woods all the way to Grandma's House. She had the launch at her own house. Grandma read about it in the paper and the wolf took the shortcut and read about it on a Twitter feed.

Well, last Tuesday, the local independent bookseller of record, Bryan Prince, Bookseller, held a "hometown" book launch for my The Porcupinity of the Stars James St. N., and, as I mentioned above, the Hamilton Spectator covered it--as part of their "Scene and Heard" beat. The Three Bears weren't able to come -- they texted me their regrets but the place (the Mulberry St. Coffeehouse -- part of the new artsy urban resurgence--surgence?--on James) was packed with friends, neighbours, family, and other fairytale characters such as some of the local writerati.

The launch was lovely. Bryan Prince, the eponymous bookseller of Bryan Prince, Bookseller, and a tremendous supporter of writers, local, live, and reading-willing, introduced me. After having seen the trailer for the book where I do something of a Subterranean Homesick Blues word-on-a-sign rendition of a poem, he decided to introduce me in this Dylanesque manner, holding up cards of a poem of mine and then adding some very flattering descriptors of me. The audience as a chorus, read out the words on the cards as he held them up. Bob-like, Bryan dropped each card after it was read. My friend Anne, sitting in the front row, had to dodge the falling cards. "I've often been struck by your good qualities," she quipped, "but not quite like this.

I was delighted that the parent of one of my former students, brought that student, now in Grade 8, and his little sister. Good thing I only mentioned two kinds of genitals during the reading.

As the article mentions, the next day, we held a memorial performance for our late friend, Kerry Schooley, at the fantastic Pearl Company. (And thanks to Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci for donating the space for the event.) It was a marvellous thing. A whole bunch of writers read from Kerry's work, as well as reading some other things of their own, in tribute to him. They also shared some memories--funny stories and touching anecdotes.

We read some of his crime fiction (where he wrote as John Swan), and some of his poetry (where he wrote as Slim Volumes.) Kerry's wife and daughters were there, and one of his daughters spoke very movingly at the end. She was always, she said, "proud to be a Schooley," as, indeed, we were proud to be his friend, colleague, and to be part of the vibrant community of which he was a catalyst, enabler, facilitator, and supporter. I was struck how the writers in Hamilton, a diverse group of people, came together to celebrate Kerry. How they appeared to appreciate each other. Readers included Chris Pannell (who was the eloquent MC), Bob Megans, Susan Evans Shaw, Bernadette Rule, Jeff Seffinga, Klyde Broox, John Terpstra, and Eleanore Kosydar. I only remembered to take photos toward the end and I've posted them below.

Chris Pannell

Klyde Broox

Susan Evans Shaw

Jeff Seffinga

1 comment:

Eccentric Scholar said...

Great report! By the way, that newspaper column's wordplay is only half-full: it would better be called "Scene and Herd," eh?