Category: Debra Martens

Richler in Jerusalem

In My Jerusalem, Bronwyn Drainie adds the name Mordecai Richler to a list of artists who lived in Yemin Moshe, the neighbourhood where she lived. Elsewhere in her memoir she mentioned that Richler and his wife were in Jerusalem in […]

A Maid and her Cow

A recent trip to Durham has caused me to spend more brain cells than I ought mulling over cows and maids. I grew up near Queenston Heights, which was deep in the War of 1812 battleground. Well before a Laura […]

Ashtead

Lit Trip: Duncan’s Grave

People flock to Westminster Abbey to visit the Poet’s Corner, where writers are either buried or have a memorial. What is the satisfaction of these literary pilgrimmages? I too indulge in this weird pleasure. When better to visit the burial […]

photo: Debra Martens

British Rite

British Rite of Passage for Fathers One of the many good things about being married is that I read things I wouldn’t otherwise read. Such as the humorous book How to be a Husband by Tim Dowling. I am embarrassed […]

“Canada Election”

Every so often the British attitude to Canada makes me cringe – yes, it seems still a colony, even if Canada unexpectedly and occasionally burps up something good like a bank manager (some Carney guy), or that small-town Gosling who […]

Pay the Rent

In the Spring of 2015, the Writers Union of Canada surveyed 947 writers about their income, and in May released their report on their findings: Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity. The title makes it obvious that their findings were not good. […]

Mulling Over Food, Writing

At the end of April we (DM, husband, daughter) took a short holiday on the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides. As this trip would involve a flight, a car rental, and a ferry ride, I felt we were going […]

The Bridge

For days before we left for France I was quietly humming “sur le pont d’Avignon l’on y danse, l’on y danse…” The jaunty tune reflected my hopes: I anticipated warmth and sun, olive oil and herbed salt, the slow pace […]

Rich Wives

In the National Portrait Gallery, in the room called Expansion and Empire, there is a small display: “Old Titles and New Money: American Heiresses and the British Aristocracy,” showing until August 1, 2015. (Copyright protected portraits can be seen on […]

Emily in Dulwich

Coming out of the Emily Carr exhibition, “From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia,” at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, I heard the family behind me speculating whether they could make a trip to British Columbia this […]

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey

School memories of William Wordsworth‘s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” caused us to rent a car and load in the dog and boots — thus joining a grand tradition of literary tourism to a site that has […]

Stones and Stories

The best thing about Manchester is that I walked around its streets by myself for a day and didn’t get lost. There was a moment when I realized I’d just gone in a circle, rounding back on the tombstones at […]

Fun at Foyles

There was a bookstore on Charing Cross Road in which you could get lost. Because the space was two buildings joined together, the books were to be discovered in cubbies or corner rooms, as well as on the expansive ground […]

Are Writers Unfun?

It’s Canada Day, and I am thinking about that poet at the Vancouver Olympics: Shane Koyczan, spoken word performer. I think that was brilliant, figuring out a way to put a writer into an international sports event. Although maybe a performance […]

Talent… Hustle

On April 28, I met Charlie Foran at his new office in Toronto, to talk about his book, Planet Lolita, and about his biography of Mordecai Richler —  Mordecai:The Life and Times. Among other things, we talked about why Richler […]

Elm Cottage, Penn, continued

We got back in the car and drove to the other end of Penn. We turned onto Beacon Hill (Margaret Laurence is pictured walking up it in the James King’s biography). And there it was, the white house hiding behind […]

Elm Cottage

Our search for the house where Margaret Laurence and her children lived for ten years in England began in a car on the A4 under a sky pregnant with water. The drive was not long, and was basically: get out […]

There and Not Back

Is it worth it? After two years of putting out Canadian Writers Abroad (CWA), that’s a question I have to ask myself. The other question is: should I continue? CWA eats time. Considering that time devours mountains, according to The […]

Fun words and not so fun

What is a tweeny? A faddist? Researching Sara Jeannette Duncan for an essay this summer, I came across some startling vocabulary, not quite as fun as boffin but interesting. During the First World War, Duncan wrote plays, the typescripts of […]

Allons-y!

Geronimo! Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary fell on the same day as the second anniversary of Canadian Writers Abroad. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read what I, and others, wrote on CWA. And thanks to the BBC for […]