Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Lauren Kirshner

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Lauren Kirshner is the author of Where We Have to Go, a novel published by McClelland & Stewart in June, 2009, and forthcoming from btb in German translation. Lauren’s short stories, arts reviews, interviews and poetry have appeared in newspapers and literary journals such as The Toronto Star, Now, The Hart House Review and Exile. Her creative non-fiction chapter “Twenty Poems for Claudia” about the maquiladoras of Juarez, Mexico appeared in the paper documentary I Live Here, published by Pantheon in 2008.

Lauren is a 2007 graduate of The University of Toronto’s Masters of English in the Field of Creative Writing, where she was mentored by Margaret Atwood. In 2005, Lauren received the Arthur Irwin Award for Distinction in Journalism, and in 2006 an Eden Mills Literary Festival prize for short fiction. She has twice won the Hart House poetry award and been the recipient of various grants from the Toronto and Ontario Arts councils. Since 2009, Lauren has been involved with The Parkdale Street Writers, an inner-city creative writing initiative.

Lauren grew up in Toronto, where she continues to live and write. She is currently at work on her second novel. Her website is Join Where We Have to Go on Facebook.

Ten Questions with Lauren Kirshner


What was your first publication and where was it published?


I was 12 and it was a poem in the Toronto Board of Education literary journal Writing/Ecrits. It was about a man I used to see near my junior high, who had piles of newspapers with him all the time, but never seemed to be reading them. At the time I was obsessively cutting Tiffany jewelry ads from my Dad’s copies of the New York Times for a “collection,” so I made some kind of weird identification with this newspaper man. Soon after my poem was published, the school librarian gave me a collected Emily Dickinson. I think she suspected I didn’t get out much.

Where We Have to Go

By Lauren Kirshner

Where We Have to Go is a luminous and sassy first novel about the last days of childhood in a family coming apart at the seams. At once wryly humorous and deeply affecting, this sparkling novel follows the irresistible Lucy Bloom as she searches for her place in the world.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Goodbye For Now

I've had a great time being W.I.R on Open Book Toronto -- thank you to everyone for reading my musings and watching my new-wave video clips. I'm not disappearing entirely, though.

Dorothy Howarth

Dorothy Howarth had guts. In the dark heart of the depression, she resigned from her teaching job and set out to become a bona fide female journalist, eventually becoming the first woman to win a National Newspaper Award. You can read about Dorothy Howarth's brave life in The Globe and Mail by clicking here.

Eavesdropped Streetcar Conversation

Q) Is that another book on writing?
A) Yeah. It's by this woman named Natalie Goldberg. She used to be a teacher and she's a Buddhist. I think that's why her writing's so clear. The style is like...she caught the words in a cup from a stream."
Q) You really think a book can teach you how to write?
A) Yeah. It's working.

livewords presents the MM 12 Launch Party Tonight

This is going to be a great event -- check it out if you can!

Date: Thursday, July 23, 2009
Time: 7:30pm - 10:30pm
Location: The Central
Street: 603 Markham Street

On Thursday July 23 livewords presents the Misunderstandings Magazine Issue 12 launch party!

With readings by contributing authors:

Clara Blackwood is a Toronto-based writer. Her first poetry collection, Subway Medusa (2007), is the inaugural book in Guernica Editions’ First Poets Series, which showcases first books by poets thirty-five and under. From 1998 to 2004, Clara ran the monthly Syntactic Sunday Reading Series at the Free Times Café.

The Sylvan Apartments

There's a very old and beautiful apartment block in my neighbourhood that's been boarded up for years, and I've always been curious about it. Called The Sylvan Apartments, it's an L-shaped brick low-rise on Havelock Street in the College and Dufferin neighbourhood. It has pillared verandas and acanthus leaves carved into the plaster trim near the roof, and in the backyard are climbing pink roses. I love this place. It reminds me of a city residence for the ladies of the film Grey Gardens.

Making Polaroids

The last few days have been so gray and rainy that I'm beginning to feel like it's October, and the garbage is just adding to the surreal Grand Theft Auto feeling in the streets. Last night I stepped out for a quick coffee with a friend, and the first thing I saw outside my door was the city garbage bin overflowing with trash. People had even stuck milk cartons, cans, and other detritus inside the tape that covers the receptacle's litter-bottles-newspapers openings.

Who Knows Norman Levine? (and other musings)

I read a lot of first-person novels narrated by women. It’s a predilection of mine, maybe even a habit. There’s just something about hearing the “I” of another woman’s voice that affects me viscerally, an old pigtail-trigger response I blame on Sylvia Plath. I was fourteen the first time I heard Esther Greenwood’s empathetic, electrifying voice on page one of The Bell Jar and since then I can’t pass Wychwood public library without thinking of that sound.

Q & A with Poet Angela Szczepaniak

A doctoral candidate at the University at Buffalo, Angela Szczepaniak is neck-deep in a dissertation on innovative poetry, detective fiction, and comic books. Her first book is a novel-in-poems, called Unisex Love Poems. In addition to publishing poetry and critical essays, she recently participated in a hygiene themed poetry-art project with LOCCAL, and as a result her visual poetry can be found on placards in some of the finest public restrooms in Seattle. At the moment, she lives in Toronto, where she thinks about being ravaged by time’s withered claw.

Steven Wells 1960-2009

Richard Meltzer. Nick Kent. Julie Burchill. Michael Azerrad. Steven Wells. Of all the music journalists to use sleight of pen to squeeze the strutting power of rock and roll into words, Steven Wells was the icon, the vitriolic voice of dissent in an age of press-release-driven journalism. He died on June 24 at the age of 49.

Happy Enough to Wear Fishnet Gloves

This was my mood after I read my first-ever review in The Globe and Mail yesterday.

Comics to the Rescue: Comic Writers and Writers Save Literature

I'm sitting in a cafe that used to be an auto garage listening to Interpol, a band that makes me imagine cinematically brutal break-ups in clubs where people are very creative and also very wealthy, and the guy beside me is wearing a hand-drawn "I'm huge on Twitter" T-shirt and typing on his MacBook, and I'm having an "Am I in LA moment?" only I know I'm in Ocean City, NJ, because I'm sunburned and thinking of hermit crabs ("Free with Purchase of Carrying Case!"). And oh yes, today is the last day of my vacation.

Q & A with Poet Michael Lista

A few days ago I met poet Michael Lista at the Cafe Diplomatico on College Street, where we talked, among other things, about Canadian poetry, Bloom, his soon-to-be-published debut from The House of Anansi Press, and a preview of that collection which appears in this month's issue of The Walrus, or here.

The Vagabond Trust - Tonight at 8:00 PM

Host: Darrah Teitel and Kathleen Brown
Type: Music/Arts - Recital
Network: Global
Date: Monday, July 6, 2009
Time: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: This Aint The Rosedale Library
Street: 86 Nassau Street in Kensington Market
Phone: 6476370977

Hobos, drifters and fugitive poets take note!

The Vagabond Trust
A Reading Series
Monday, July 6, 2009 - 8 PM
At This Ain’t the Rosedale Library in Kensington Market
86 Nassau Street *

Readings by
Rose Bianchini
Stuart Berman
Stewart Cole
Rebecca Houwer
Richard Rosenbaum
Blair Trewartha
Dean Vargas
with musical rar-rar! by DJ BRONSON LEE
and visualART! by Lisa Moses
Hosted by Kathleen Brown & Darrah Teitel

Writing in the Hometown

The literary myth that writers must leave their hometowns in order to write about them played a big role in my teenage imagination. I fantasized about doing dishes in Paris like Orwell or risking it all for Europe like Mavis Gallant (only I pictured myself as Patti Smith off the A-train in Manhattan). But I did neither escape and I think I am better for it.

Hello Animal Alphabet

I’ve always found introductions hard, going way back to my days of sweatpants and $9.99 velcros. In elementary school, on the first day of classes, we used to play a game called Animal Alphabet, which was basically twenty of us going around in a circle making faces at each other and eyeing the clock, then naming an animal that began with the first letter of our first names. Brett the Baboon and Angela the Ant are reoccurring motifs in my 1980s imaginary. When it came to my turn I would twist like a screw on the spot and say, “Lauren…uh…” And I am a crazy animal lover.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.