Yesterday was one of the hottest June days in the history of the Detroit-Windsor region. Temperatures reached well into the 90s. But on the lake in Kingsville, just outside the concrete sprawl of the city, it was cool enough for at least one woman to don a sweater. She was the exception among the fifty-plus people who came to enjoy readings from authors Diane Schoemperlen, Marty Gervais, and D.A. Lockhart—yet everyone felt the difference. A lakeside breeze makes even the swampiest summers tolerable.
In all, we really couldn't have asked for a better afternoon. Each of our guest authors entertained in their own way, while everyone socialized and kept refreshed during breaks. Our friend Tim Swaddling played old 78s from the 30s and 40s, dutifully flipping sides and changing records every few minutes, while the folks from Biblioasis served pie.
D.A. Lockhart started us off with some light poetry. He read pieces from a previous collections, then a sonnet from a forthcoming book he and other poets in Windsor's so-called "Group of Seven" are publishing this fall, under Black Moss Press, in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary. Much of Lockhart's work seems grounded in the traditions of the Leni Lenape, which I find fascinating. A member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation, located outside of Chatham, he currently lives in Windsor with his wife Emily and their young son.
About a half-hour after Lockhart read, historian Sharon Hanna introduced Windsor's Poet Laureate, Marty Gervais. Always a crowd favorite, he told anecdotes and recited a few of his more recent poems, then turned to a fascinating passage on how Windsor's car culture contributed to the destruction of the city's architectural treasures. The section was read from his forthcoming memoir, The Disappeared: Five Days Walking the Five Towns, out from Biblioasis this fall.
Finally, our guest and headliner, Diane Schoemperlen, read the preface of her newest full-length book, First Things First: Early and Uncollected Stories, also published by Biblioasis. The essay brought us through Diane's career as a young writer, ending with a reflection on the lessons she's learned. Chief among them: Be stubborn. "Whereas confidence is a flighty temperamental quality that will always wax and wane," she read, "stubbornness is a good solid thing, not always wise but certainly reliable, steadfast, and dependable."
In addition to the launch of First Things First, the event was also (in an appropriately relaxed way) the launch of our new press, Woodbridge Farm Books, and its first title: One Thing Leads to Another: An Essay on Collage, also by Diane. They all came with hand-made collage bookmarks by the author herself. Each is unique. Both her book and chapbook sold well, as did titles by Daniel and Marty. Always a welcome thing to see people loaded down with new reads.
Couldn't make it out? Want a copy of Diane's chapbook? You can order it here. Only the next 20 come with bookmarks—those are all we have left. And once the limited run of 100 copies is finished, it's finished for good. So snap these collectable items up. All the other authors' books are available online and at independent bookstores near you. Thanks again to Biblioasis for partnering with us on this event and providing refreshments.
Many asked when our next lawn party is taking place. Mark this in your calendars: Sunday, August 27th from 3 - 6 p.m. We'll be joined by 2015 Giller Prize-winning author André Alexis, best known for his novel Fifteen Dogs, as well as local author André Narbonne and poet Dorothy Mahoney.
Big cheers for the authors. Big cheers to all those who came out. It was an excellent way to cap off a rich, successful weekend of literary events, following the sold out, full-day workshop on memoir writing that Diane held on Saturday.
Now time to spring back to the desk, with some pauses for tending the farm. More news soon.