Poet plans to hit 100 venues in 12 cities
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.