Monthly Archives: March 2010

Changing of the guard at A Different Drummer

According to last weekend’s Burlington Post, one of the things that Richard Bachmann is looking forward to in retirement is having more time to read books.

Hearing about Richard’s retirement, and about Ian Elliot’s new role as owner of A Different Drummer bookstore, led me to reflect on some of the things I learned in the nine months I worked at the best little bookstore in the GTA.

Simplify your life. Live where you work, or work where you live. Don’t lose valuable reading or writing time to long commutes.

Take long lunches whenever you can. This is especially important in the summer. And if you can get a craft beer named after your store, á la “Different Drummer Ale” as brewed by Pepperwood Bistro, enjoy a pint with your midday meal. Just don’t count on getting any work done in the afternoon.

Politeness counts. On my first day working the cash register, Jane taught me to say hello whenever a customer came into the store and to say thank you whenever a customer handed me their payment. It’s amazing to think that such little things can make a difference in a person’s day, but they really do.

A cat makes every space better. I still think fondly of Manda, the bookstore’s recently departed torti, but Abigail, the new(ish) kitten, is quickly stealing my heart.

Canadian authors are larger than life. Literally. Pierre Berton was really tall and intimidating, and I was honoured to have met him at a Different Drummer event.

I’m looking forward to reading Richard’s memoirs if he ever does write them.

Best wishes to both Richard and Ian.



Leave a comment

Filed under Author events, Books and stuff

Overcoming my “prejudice against poetry”

I had a wonderful meeting with the other two winners of the BPL all-night short story contest over the weekend. Karen Kachra, Jennifer Mook-Sang, and I met up at CJ’s Café in Bronte to get to know each other and read our prize-winning stories. (Which were lovely, by the way! I’m looking forward to reading more of their work in the future.)

Child covering eyes

You can't make me read it!

We chatted about what we liked to read for pleasure, and Karen mentioned feeling like she had a bit of a “prejudice against poetry”. (Love that phrase, Karen!)

The three of us agreed that poetry made us feel a bit dense. We expect it to be full of symbolism and deep thoughts and references that we just won’t get. Poetry seems like a lot of work.

Being required to take a graduate seminar on the long poem (think T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound) during one dark, Montreal winter may have ruined me for poetry. By that time, I had already finished my undergraduate degree in English Literature and published a few poems—I had had my fill.

Ten-plus years later, and I still generally skip the poetry in the literary journals I read. I’m drawn to the stories, the dialogue, the action.

But every once in a while, I’ll catch a word or a phrase in one of the poems I’m passing over—“violet night”, “vainglorious”, “this gritty pearl”—and sigh over the sensual power of language. I remember being amazed, way back when, by how poets more than anyone else get to play with words and use them in surprising ways to elicit emotional reactions.

It’s time I started reading poetry again. I’m looking for recommendations to help me get over my poetry prejudice. Jennifer and Karen recommended Billy Collins. Any others I should check out?



Filed under poetry