Poet plans to hit 100 venues in 12 cities

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - By Bob Arm­strong

VWith the tra­di­tional spring start ap­proach­ing for thru-hik­ing the epic Pa­cific Crest Trail, search-and-res­cue work­ers and vol­un­teers are brac­ing for an­other sea­son of “the Wild Ef­fect.” Last year, in­spired by Ch­eryl Strayed’s best­selling mem­oir, Wild, about a life-chang­ing hike on the 4,000-kilo­me­tre Mex­ico-to-Canada trail, a record 1,044 hik­ers set off to tra­verse the en­tire trail. The New York Times dubbed the phe­nom­e­non “the Wild Ef­fect,” and pre­dicted that it will get stronger this year as the film adap­ta­tion hits the­atres. On the Pa­cific Crest Trail As­so­ci­a­tion’s Face­book page, fel­low hik­ers have al­ready re­counted the res­cue of a dan­ger­ously un­der­pre­pared hiker who set off on the trail, like Strayed, with a se­ri­ously over­loaded pack and with­out ad­e­quate wa­ter. AN­COU­VER poet Kevin Spenst thinks big — even if he mostly pub­lishes small. The poet, whose chap­books in­clude Happy Hol­low and the Sur­rey Suite, Pray Good­bye and Re­tractable, is set­ting off this spring on a read­ing tour that will see him visit 12 cities be­tween Van­cou­ver and St. John’s, N.L. and read at 100 venues. Spenst will share the stage with lo­cal poets across the coun­try at venues rang­ing from the tra­di­tional (book­stores, cafés) to the one-of-a-kind (a den­tist’s wait­ing room). In Win­nipeg he’ll be joined at McNally Robin­son Book­sellers on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. by Ariel Gor­don, whose sec­ond po­etry collection, Stow­aways, will be pub­lished in May by Palimpsest, and An­ge­line Schellenberg, a poet whose most re­cent work is about rais­ing chil­dren on the autism spec­trum. Spenst is plan­ning eight other read­ings dur­ing his Win­nipeg stop. The win­ners of the fic­tion and non-fic­tion cat­e­gories of this year’s Na­tional Book Crit­ics Cir­cle Awards are also in the run­ning for an­other pres­ti­gious Amer­i­can award. Amer­i­canah, by Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie, the Na­tional Book Crit­ics Cir­cle-win­ning novel of two young people who seek to es­cape the chaos of Nigeria, joins Donna Tartt’s mas­sive best­seller The Goldfinch and Ed­widge Dan­ti­cat’s story collection Claire of the Sea Light on the shortlist for the Amer­i­can Li­brary As­so­ci­a­tion Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fic­tion. On the non-fic­tion side, New York Times re­porter Sheri Fink is nom­i­nated for her Na­tional Book Crit­ics Cir­cle-win­ner Five Days at Me­mo­rial: Life and Death in a Storm-Rav­aged Hospi­tal. Fink is joined by his­to­rian Doris Kearns Good­win, nom­i­nated for The Bully Pul­pit, her study of Theodore Roo­sevelt and the Pro­gres­sive era, and Ni­cholas Bas­banes, nom­i­nated for his cul­tural his­tory of paper, ti­tled On Paper. The awards were es­tab­lished in 2012 with a grant from the Carnegie Cor­po­ra­tion. A for­mer Win­nipeg­ger is wrap­ping up a se­ries of three nov­els on con­tem­po­rary Jewish life in North Amer­ica, with an un­ortho­dox ro­mance called An Un­ortho­dox Ro­mance. The novel tells the story of a rabbi, univer­sity pro­fes­sor and yeshiva teacher who flees Los Angeles for Is­rael to avoid deal­ing with her ex-hus­band, then ends up in a life-chang­ing ro­mance. Au­thor Brenda Bar­rie says she has been in­spired by her friend and men­tor, the late Carol Shields, and in fact the book bears a blurb from Shields’ daugh­ter, nov­el­ist Anne Giardini, who com­pares the book to Shields’ The Repub­lic of Love. Bar­rie re­turns to her old home­town April 24 at 7:30 p.m. for a book launch at McNally Robin­son Book­sellers.

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