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Posted in Reading
Contributed by Christopher Jones
08/21 2014

Toronto Book Fair Aims to INSPIRE!

INSPIRE!, the Toronto International Book Fair, pulled the trigger on its inaugural season yesterday with a packed media preview at the Gardiner Museum. The fair, the first of its kind for Toronto, boasts 300 hours of programming with more than 400 Canadian and international authors over three and a half days. Big names on deck include Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Day, Jim Gaffigan, Lisa Genova, William Gibson, Lev Grossman, Jeff Kinney, Jon Klassen, Dav Pilkey, Kathy Reichs, Anne Rice, Meg Wolitzer, and many more. Pictured above from left are fair Executive Directors Rita Davies and John Calabro, Director of Programming and Operations Nicola Dufficy, and Executive Director Steven Levy. INSPIRE! touches down at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre November 13 – 16.

Posted in Reading
Contributed by Christopher Jones
08/13 2014

Poetry Lifts City Hall Audience

Toronto’s inimitable Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke (second from left), kicked off the 2014 Beat Cafe on Nathan Phillips Square today with a thunderous welcome to the lunch hour audience. It was a hard act to follow but each of the writers rose to the challenge: Dave Bidini (second from right) read a poignant chapter from his latest book, Keon and Me; Mustafa Ahmed (far right) poured out his soul with two rousing incantations; Honey Novick (front and centre) lightened things up with some audience participation and a cappella singing; and Tanya Davis (far left) accompanied herself on guitar as she mused aloud about art and religion. Clarke pulled it all together with a final reading from his latest long-form poem, Traverse (Exile Editions, 2014). It was a stirring session and not just because of the stiff West wind.

Posted in Music
Contributed by Christopher Jones
08/11 2014

Tanya Davis Brings the Beat

Poet/singer/songwriter Tanya Davis is the only out-of-towner appearing at this year’s Beat Café on Nathan Phillips Square Wednesday (August 13). She joins Dave Bidini (Bidiniband, Rheostatics), Mustafa The Poet, Honey Novick and Toronto’s Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke, the man behind this lunch-hour celebration of poetry and song.

Davis is a natural fit for the gig; she’s been mixing poetry and music for a decade, and blends the two on CDs and in delightful videos, some of which can been seen on her website. One of those videos, a clip for the poem How To Be Alone, brought Davis a lot of attention and helped propel her into a gig as Poet Laureate of Halifax, 2011/12.

“The poems I did for occasions like the 2010 Canada Games [before a live audience of 12,000] are more like rhyming speeches, I’m like a town crier,” says Davis, on the line from Halifax. “I wanted to make the point that poets can be called upon during public process. In my mind, the poet’s job is to observe and then reflect back those observations. I think poets are good people to call upon when we need a voice, a representative, an opinion. Because that’s the job of poets.”

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Posted in Art
Contributed by Christopher Jones
08/6 2014

A Wash and Set for The Archer

Today on Nathan Phillips Square I ran into Alex Gabov, above, the conservator charged with restoring Henry Moore’s iconic sculpture, The Archer, and Oscar Nemon’s imposing statue of Sir Winston Churchill, around the corner in the north-west quadrant of the square.

Gabov has been professionally cleaning and conserving bronzes in the City’s public art collection since 2000. He detailed how the statues are cleaned and then gently heated with propane to a very high temperature so wax can be applied and hand-rubbed into the surface.

Gabov clearly has a deep love for his work and for the sculptures he conserves. “I’ve touched every square centimeter of this bronze,” he told me proudly. “I feel as if it’s my own.”

“A tourist who saw me working on it once asked me if I was the artist and I paused for a second, debating whether or not to take credit for Henry Moore’s great work,” he laughs.

This is the third time Gabov has worked on The Archer, which was unveiled in front of City Hall in 1966. It is the subject of Murray McLaughlin’s 1975 hit song, “Down By the Henry Moore.” Gabov says The Archer, also titled Three Way Piece No. 2,  should be good for another five years or so and will certainly be looking its best for the 2015 Pan American Games.