Fri, 27 May 2011
According to Wikipedia: Alex Ross was born in 1968 and has been the music critic at The New Yorker magazine since 1996.
He graduated from Harvard University in English summa cum laude for a thesis on James Joyce, and was a DJ at college radio station, WHRB.
His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, a cultural history of music since 1900, was released in the U.S. in 2007. The book was a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, and placed on the New York Times list of the ten best books of 2007,
He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, three ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for music writing, and a Holtzbrinck fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2011 he will receive the Belmont Prize for Contemporary Music at the pèlerinages Art Festival in Weimar.
His second book, Listen to This, was released in the U.S. in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. We met recently in Ottawa to talk about his approach to criticism, why he writes about music, and the connections he makes between classical, modern and popular music. Please listen here:
Wed, 18 May 2011
Professor, poet, editor and critic, Michael Gnarowski was born in Shanghai, China in 1934. He received his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Ottawa in 1967. While an undergraduate at McGill, he contributed to, and co-edited, Yes (1956-1970) magazine. He also wrote for and/or edited Le Chien d'or/The Golden Dog (1970-1972), Delta, Golden Dog Press (1971-1985), and Tecumseh Press, and was series editor for McGraw-Hill Ryerson's Critical Views on Canadian Writers Series (1969-1977) and co-edited Canadian Poetry (1977- ) with David Bentley.
In 1970 Gnarowski wrote a brief history and checklist of the Contact Press. Here's his entry on Contact in the Canadian Encyclopedia:
"Contact Press (1952-67) was founded as a poets' co-operative by Louis DUDEK, Raymond SOUSTER and Irving LAYTON, who were generally dissatisfied with the slight opportunities for publication available to Canadian poets. Contact went on, in the course of its 15-year history, to become the most important small press of its time. Launched at the mid-century, it published all the major Canadian poets of the period, and transformed literary life and small-press activity in Canada by its openness to a variety of poetic styles and its assertiveness of the poet's role in the production of his own work. Beginning before subsidies and government aid to Canadian book publishing had become a mainstay of such activity, Contact was a self-financed act of faith on the part of its founders.
While its main thrust was in publishing the new work of individual poets, it produced a milestone anthology, Canadian Poems 1850-1952, co-edited by Dudek and Layton in 1952, and an avant-garde manifesto of young poets published as New Wave Canada: The New Explosion in Canadian Poetry (1966). This was a successor to Souster's Poets 56, which had featured young poets in response to Dudek's query "Où sont les jeunes?"Essentially a "no-frills" press, Contact published handsome, workmanlike books with, on occasion, a mimeographed pamphlet. Its writers ranged from F.R. SCOTT, one of the early moderns, to the newest wave represented by Margaret Atwood, George Bowering and John Newlove."
I met with Gnarowski recently at his home in Kemptville, Ontario to talk about the history, and collecting of, Contact Press. Please listen here to our conversation:
This interview is part of our Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.
Mon, 9 May 2011
Vincent Lam is a Canadian born member of the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. He is an emergency physician in Toronto, and lectures at the University of Toronto. He has also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine in the Arctic and Antarctic. His first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize. We met recently in Ottawa, during the federal election, to talk about his most recent book, a biography of Tommy Douglas, part of Penguin Canada's Extraordinary Canadians series.
Of many interesting observations made during our conversation: two government programs by which Canadians define themselves (old age pensions and universal health care) were introduced during periods of minority government, when the CCF/NDP held the balance of power, and Tommy Douglas's 'socialist' government in Saskatchewan produced balanced or surplus budgets in every one of the seventeen years it was in power.
Listen here for more: