Barbara Rooke Travel Prize Winner 2016: Simon’s Adventures in Florence (Part II)

My last two full days in Florence, I visited the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Museo Casa di Dante.

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Barbara Rooke Travel Prize Winner 2016: Simon’s Adventures in Florence (Part I)

Thanks to the Barbara Rooke Travel Prize, I am currently in Florence, Italy. Yeah, it’s pretty incredible.
I wanted to come to Firenze because besides being one of the important arts and cultural centres of the world, it’s the central location of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View.

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Mark Kingwell with special guest Andrew Forbes

Public Texts: Public Talk
Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 7PM, Bagnani Hall, Traill College:
Mark Kingwell, author of Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters
Andrew Forbes, author of The Utility of Boredom, Baseball Essays

A message from Lewis MacLeod…

Full Disclosure: I was a middling philosophy student.  There seemed to be so much knowing going on. Like, you had to understand what these guys were talking about all the time  and they didn’t seem especially helpful as regards the helping with the knowing.

Let’s just say that literature found me rather than the reverse.

One of the things I learned in lit classes (from MH Abrams, in fact) was to differentiate between “the mirror and the lamp.” The mirror, you see, is a mimetic supposition. In mimetic works, the thing in the book reflects  something in “real life” (like a mirror, get it?).  A lamp, however, illuminates something that might otherwise be shrouded in darkness.  Its impact is derived not from recognition (“That exact thing happened to me!”) but revelation (“I’ve never noticed/seen anything like it before!”).

I was thinking of this yesterday, after my home-made crackerjack experiment “failed to satisfy program expectations” and caused a minor kitchen fire.

I still wanted to give you guys a verisimilitudinous ballpark experience. I’d failed at crackerjack, but was I undaunted?

No, I was gonna “Fail Better.”

Did I find you an authentic cringe-worthy hotdog dispenser?

Yes I did!

Check it!

Did I get involved in protracted Kijiji negotiations about comparatively small amounts of money and time?

Sadly, yes.

Did I manage to pick it up?

Well, no.

That’s called failing worse. (If you’re wondering, I think he’ll probably sell it for $40 now that I’ve softened him up)

I did, however, get you an old school popcorn popper which you’re invited to operate (4 teaspoons oil, one cup popping corn) when you’re not involved in the pitching contest (starting, say 6:30).

Patricia got us a real radar gun.

I digress, however!

The point about the mirror and the lamp is this: some books show you what you already know in detailed and convincing ways; others enlighten otherwise mysterious topographies you never knew you didn’t know.

I watch a lot of baseball. I’m sure I know  how it all works. I can reflect its workings back to you any time you like.

Then this, from Fail Better:

“Only the pitcher can regard the ball as an ally; it does things for him and to everyone else…In baseball vulnerability and security follow closely on one another; and one may be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time…Success cannot be gained without risk– no runs are scored if I do not venture onto the basepath–but defeat can be swift. The ball returns with a vengeance, agent of my defeat: if it touches me I am out; I cover space as a mortal while the ball flies over it, a winged harpy of destruction.”

Got it?

Now watch this:

Success and Failure? Security and vulnerability? That’s the lamp, people.

That play happened Monday.

Kingwell and Andrew Forbes happen tonight!

You’d be sort of a failure if you missed it.


PS: Wear your baseball caps and whatever other arcane gear you’ve got at home. Prizes for anybody who shows up in full uniform. Hall of Fame induction for anybody who shows up in full uniform with high socks!


Call for submissions of Trent students’ creative writing

Hi there student writers. We hear you. You’re composing brilliant stanzas and muscular prose all by your lonesome, then reciting it to the clouds and the squirrels. We get it. You’ve got things to say. And we have a cure: publication!

Following up on the fortune-making, fame-inducing success of last year’s anthology, The Writers’ Block (the Department of English’s student creative writing group) is once again seeking submissions, this time for the second, annual volume of Chickenscratch, an anthology of student writing, to be professionally designed, edited, printed by Coach House Books, and launched at both Trent campuses (with fun events!) in the spring of 2017. All current Trent students are welcome to submit.

Please send previously unpublished poems, short fiction, and creative non-fiction as attachments in PDF with regular margins and font sizes to no later than Friday, January 20th, 2017. All submissions should include your name, email address, and a list of titles included.

For prose submissions:

·      please limit your submission to a maximum of 1500 words

·      fiction, creative non-fiction, and other forms are welcome; no genre fiction, please

·      please double-space

For poetry submissions:

·      please include a maximum of 4 poems

·      all genres of poetry are welcome

·      please single space

All submissions will be read, vetted, and considered by our editorial board, which will get back to you by the beginning of February about your work. Since we’re a non-profit outfit, payment will be a copy of the publication. All contributors will also be invited to participate in launch events for Chickenscratch near the end of the Winter semester. Good luck!

Winners of annual James Middleton Essay Prize

A final hurrah before they enter the classroom as teachers, fourth-year concurrent education students Julie Hockridge and Emily Frost certainly know how to kick off their final year at Trent University. Ms. Hockridge and Ms. Frost are this year’s winners of the James Middleton Essay Prize in Humanities.

The James Middleton Essay Prize in Humanities was established in 2004 as a way to appreciate the humanities as the core of professional studies. The prize recognizes the top two essays by second or third-year students in the humanities, alternating each year between History and English Literature, and Philosophy and Ancient History and Classics. This year the prize was presented to students from the departments of History and English Literature.

A special luncheon and award ceremony was hosted recently at Alumni House to honour this year’s winners. The ceremony offered the opportunity for prizewinners, friends, family, and department heads to come together in celebration of student achievement and strong academic discourse.

“As a student studying English Literature, this award has encouraged my love of writing,” explains Ms. Frost, whose essay Memory and Myth: Unraveling the Past in Margaret Laurence’s A Bird in the House and Alistair MacLeod’s As Birds Bring Forth the Sun, took the prize for English Literature. “The recognition of hard work and passion that accompanies such a generous and respected award is an honour.”

This year the prize has additional meaning for both Ms. Frost and Ms. Hockridge as the prizewinners have been good friends since their first year at Trent University and motivated each other to submit their winning essays.

“Sharing the experience with a good friend further enhanced a wonderful event, and I am so happy to succeed together in doing what we love.”

Writers Reading – October 13: Linda Besner!

Join us in the Traill College Junior Common Room (Scott House) at 7:00 pm this Thursday, October 13 for Linda Besner’s reading! As usual, a reception will follow in The Trend.


A message from Lewis MacLeod…

Linda Besner‘s debut collection of poems is called, The Id Kid, which (I get it!) is a pretty punny and funny and provocative title. The book, according to Arc Poetry (and our very own Rob Winger – who put me in touch with Linda in the first place), “displays a wry matu­rity and aes­thetic self-aware­ness most debut poets can only dream of.”

That’s obviously true. It’s a fun, interesting book, a National Post, book of the year.

Good, good, supergood,  but at the risk of being a bad host I feel compelled to add, “Title’s also a bit redundant, no? Ever met a kid who wasn’t governed (wrong word?) by  id?”

I thought we all knew this already.

Compare, if you will, the average 4-year old birthday party with the most hedonistic, appetite-driven, unrestrained, rockstar hotel party you can envision.

Things you’re likely to witness: 1) somebody peeing his pants and passing out in a chair 2) somebody laughing/weeping for reasons nobody else can ascertain, 3) food and drink all over the floor/ceiling, 4) vomit, 5) “generalized” rather than “targeted”  hugs and kisses, 6) people intent on leaving but unable to find their clothes for protracted periods of time.

Unprovoked violence is, sadly, not unknown.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  The kid is the id. The rest of your life is just one prolonged struggle to keep a lid on all that stuff: to keep (first!)  the crayon and (later!) the minivan inside whatever lines the super-ego draws up for you.

Reconcile yourselves, people! It ain’t going to change.

Except, that is, for brief, eruptive moments of intense, expressive, joy and pleasure.

Of which an opportunity this very Thursday evening!

The Malahat Review hails The Id Kid, for its “wunderkind, gap-toothed, off-kilter charm.”

Yes, but I’d just add that it also kicks a considerable amount of… well, you know what I mean.