Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photography Exhibition in Mauritius






















Wishing you all a Happy New Year. Hope we all get one step closer in achieving our dreams ...

I'm starting the year 2010 with a photography exhibition that opens on January 12th. For those who live in Mauritius or will be there in January, please do drop by. I'm looking forward to meeting you all. It will be such a treat to reconnect with friends I have lost touch with since I left over 30 years ago for Canada.

I was so thrilled when the museum director, Tristan Bréville invited me to exhibit my work at the museum. Such a wonderful opportunity to share what I love about Canada, while going back to my roots. It comes at a time when I've been doing a lot of soul searching ... growing up on the island seems so distant and yet it's still so much part of who I am.

I wish I could bring all my Canadian friends with me ...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wishing you joy ...

















As December descends upon us with all its shopping madness, exuberant parties, family gatherings, I would like to wish you a happy holiday with all your loved ones.

I've been preparing for a photography show and coping with many other challenges that left me no time to write on this blog. I would like to quote a friend who has guided me through many difficult times: Find the joy in the moment. No matter how difficult things are, there are precious moments to be enjoyed ... it could be the smile of a stranger, the glistening droplets of melting snow, the uplifting beat of music, the comfort of friendships ...

I'm looking forward to a new year filled with creative projects. All the best for 2010.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin











Time just flies and I've been meaning to write ... Spent Halloween night at Harbourfront, listening to the Giller Prize finalists at the International Festival of Authors. Truly inspiring.

I was so thrilled that Kim Echlin was nominated. She was one of my favourite Creative Writing teachers at U of T. Kim's calm confidence, enthusiasm, pertinent comments on our writing, and her warm encouragement left an everlasting impression on me.

Just finished reading The Disappeared. I've always been partial to Kim's writing style. Kind of haunting, intense, and lyrical. In my opinion, this book is her best. The main character is a Canadian woman whose passion for a Cambodian man is obsessive. She learns to speak the language of her lover and searches for him in his country. As the story unfolds, we discover a world of atrocities, of helplessness, of lives squashed like flies. It's a powerful story of love and loss. I can already imagine it being made into a movie.

Here's the Globe review of The Disappeared.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall at the farm















I've always loved fall, its colourful carpet of dry leaves spread along sidewalks and parks, the cool air that lifts up the damp smell from the warm soil, the melancholy of trees shedding their lacy pattern of leaves. Fall seems to be a time to reflect, and it was with much anticipation that I left the city to spend a few days at Judy's farm.

We went for long walks. Along the lake, we sat down and listened to waves lapping against the dock, against the rocks. Their gentle rhythm is mesmerizing, bringing calmness to agitated minds, clarity in complicated thoughts.

In the forested area, it was fascinating to see perfect dots of dew sitting on bright red maple leaves. Those pearly dewdrops have something so magical about them when they shimmer. I held one leaf and saw an enchanted world through the clear droplets, reminding me of a verse from Blake's poem, Auguries of Innocence:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Observing the wonders of nature brings such a visceral need to connect to ourselves, to let go of pressures, worries, and let nature's self-sufficiency inspire us to trust our instincts. If we do listen, perhaps we'll hear the heaven within us.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Insularitudes de Paul Comarmond













"Près d’une personne sur dix sur la planète habite une île soit près de 600 millions d’individus. Peuplées au fil des siècles par des migrations maritimes et la réalité des exigences du moment, ces îles et ces archipels forment aujourd’hui près d’un quart des états souverains du monde. Un sixième de l’espace habitable et leurs zones économiques est composé d’îles. Elles sont les points chauds de la biodiversité mais aussi de tensions politiques; elles offrent des sociétés et des espaces distincts dans un monde de plus en plus homogène et sans géographie particulière.

Cependant, les sciences humaines et sociales ne semblent pas s’être intéressées à la dimension artistique de la réalité îlienne. Or, Paul Comarmond est né dans une île; ses ancêtres sont venus d’autres régions en cabotant d’île en île. Et finalement, là où il se sent bien, où il puise son inspiration, c’est surtout dans une île. Insularitudes, concept créé par l’artiste il y a près d’un an, est le fruit d’un périple allant de l’Océan Indien à Terre Neuve jusqu’au Labrador. Une trentaine d’aquarelles pour voyager et tâter le pouls de ces régions, tantôt tropicales tantôt glacées mais toujours intenses."


Paul Comarmond, a talented Toronto artist and friend, is showing his watercolours at the Francophone Centre, 20 Lower Spadina from October 5th to 31st.

Paul paints islands, their lopsided houses, their expressive people, their fishing boats, and the ever-present sea with simplicity, yet with details that show his sensitivity to their uniqueness. From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, from tropical Seychelles, Madagascar, to freezing Newfoundland and Labrador, he takes us on a pleasant and engaging adventure with his confident brushstrokes.

Paul's love of islands goes deeper. He was born on one. Mauritius. But he also sees islands from a global perspective. In his invitation above, we are told islands occupy one sixth of habitable land, that one out of ten people in this world lives on an island, that they are hot spots for biodiversity, and offer distinct societies ...

Food for thought. So, let's embark on this journey and discover these islands with Paul. The Francophone centre is only steps away from Harbourfront. After you feast your eyes and perhaps buy one of his paintings, and you still haven't had enough of islands, you can take the ferry and head off to Centre Island, our own Toronto one ... yeah!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Open Mike with Anthony Abbatangeli


















Anthony Abbatangeli, a very kind friend and excellent guitarist is hosting an open mike at Regal Heights Bistro every Thursday evenings from 8 pm to midnight. His band Double A Jazz also performs there during Sunday brunches.

For those who live in Toronto and surrounding area, whether they're aspiring musicians, singers, or just want to have a fun evening filled with music, here's the chance to let it all out.

I'm dusting off the old guitar, and doing some voice exercises - embarrassingly pathetic right now but hey, it feels good singing ... takes the blues away. See you there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

















September seems to be for book reviews. Here's one more on my friend Terry Fallis's book.

It's been over a year since Terry won the Leacock Award for Humour. You can read more on his blog about his incredible journey. I've been slow to post a review but I think Terry will forgive me as he knows I'm a big fan and have sent his book around the world to friends in Mauritius, Paris, Washington and Shenzhen.

Terry's climb to literary stardom is the kind fairy tales are made of. I read The Best Laid Plans when it was self-published, and tentatively making its way into the literary market, way before the euphoria of the Leacock Award, before it went mainstream with McClelland and Stewart.

I'm usually not keen about reading books on politics. But since our sons are on the same hockey team, and Terry is such a nice guy, the quintessential Canadian man, so polite, smart and witty, I thought I should read it. And I'm glad I did.

The political background of the book was just the kind of stuff I could handle. Irreverent, and sometimes stretched to the absurd. I had such good laughs, even feeling some kind of fellowship with melon throwers - I bet many readers share the secret desire to throw melons at pompous and vacant political figures. The satire that ran throughout the book brought much insight into the bungling political machine while infusing a feel-good fantasy about how a country should really be run. There was also the comforting feel of familiar Canadian scenes, the small town, the eccentric professor covered in snow. And to top it all romance, yes with sex scenes and all ...

Now, this is to tempt you not only to read TBLP but to look forward to the sequel that Terry is working on diligently.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Devina par Alain Gordon-Gentil















Félicitations à Alain Gordon-Gentil, un ami Mauricien qui m'impressionne par ses innombrables talents. Son nouveau roman Devina a reçu le prix littéraire Lauriers Verts de la Forêt des Livres 2009 dans la catégorie Révélation. Je suis très fière de voir un auteur Mauricien si bien apprécié en France.

Voici une chronique qui décrit le livre mieux que je n'aurais pu le faire.

J'ai lu Devina en quelques heures. C'est le genre de roman dans lequel on se plonge et ne peut en ressortir qu'après avoir lu le livre d'un seul trait.


Congratulations to Alain Gordon-Gentil, a multi-talented Mauritian friend, for obtaining the French literary prize 'Lauriers Verts de la Forêt des Livres 2009'. It's with much pride that I see a Mauritian writer so well-respected in France.

The novel was so engrossing that it was impossible to put down. The story revolves around the murder of a white woman, and it exposes the underlying tension in the social and racial structure of Mauritius, the island where it takes place. The writing style is succinct, fast-paced, keeping us on edge with the threat of impending violence, yet it moves easily into romantic and feverish overtones when delving into the passionate feelings of the main characters.

The book is in French only but after this success, it will perhaps get translated in English.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Au gré des ondes avec Jean-Paul Léger















Au gré des ondes est un livre que j'ai lu avec avec beaucoup d'intérêt car j'ai vu ses débuts et suivi ses progrès avec beaucoup d'enthousiasme.

Mon cher ami Jean-Paul Léger nous raconte ses expériences de voyage quand il était officier de la marine française. C'est un témoignage écrit avec tant de perspicacité et de détails imagés sur le monde de la mer que c'est facile de s'y laisser emporter. Bien que les descriptions techniques de son métier de radio me dépassent parfois, c'était fascinant de lire les aventures qui l'attendaient à chaque port. Parfois comiques, parfois tragiques, parfois étranges, elles sont toujours écrits avec tant de bonne humeur et sagesse.

Je trouve très émouvant les parties où il parle de sa passion pour la mer, une passion qui commence quand il était encore enfant, quand il aimait partir à bicyclette avec son père pour regarder les effets de tempête sur la mer, et ".. sentir la pluie et le vent cingler" son visage.

Jean-Paul est le mari de ma très chère amie Catherine, une amie d'adolescence avec qui j'ai passé des moments mémorables à l'école, sur les plages .... Notre amitié a subi le temps et les océans qui nous séparent et c'était un grand bonheur de rencontrer sa petite famille. C'est elle qui a captivé notre auteur dans le chapitre sur l'île Maurice: "le rayon vert! Je l'ai découvert dans les yeux d'une jeune Mauricienne..." C'est si romantique ça ... il est très doué, cet auteur.


This book hasn't been translated in English yet, but I hope it will. It's an excellent narrative about life at sea told from the perspective of a young French man who travelled around the world while working for the navy. One of the countries mentioned in his book is Mauritius, the island where he met his wife, a very dear friend of mine.

When Jean-Paul sent me the first chapter of a book he was writing for his sons who wanted to know more about his work, I was so impressed by his writing and his adventures at sea that I knew it would one day become a published book for a wider audience. It was such a wonderful feeling to hold the book in my hands. Jean-Paul's dedication and hard work are inspiring.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Alexander Moyle at Sidespace Gallery















Mobile sculpture by Alexander Moyle


Here's a review that I wrote on Alex Moyle's exhibition at Sidespace Gallery.

I've known Alex Moyle for a few years. We've met over coffee with other creative souls from the neighbourhood. As artists, we have much to talk about, but what impresses most about Alex is his ardent dedication to his art. One can almost feel an aura of creativity floating around him.

It was so inspiring to see his imagination at work at Sidespace Gallery.























Alex talking about his sculpture at opening of Unbalanced

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Understanding China






















Nathan Street, Hong Kong


My first visit to China. A bit of a culture shock that hit right through the heart. Even though I blended easily with the homogenous Chinese population, I felt like an outsider looking in. Partly because I cannot speak the language. Partly because I grew up in a multicultural island and Canada has been home to me for over 30 years. Cities I visited, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shaoguan, and Meizhou, felt like never-ending Chinatowns.

















Danxian Mountain, Shaoguan


With the kind help of relatives and friends who live there, I immersed myself into Chinese lifestyle, eager to feel the pulse of this country. As the trial-by-fire visit progressed over three weeks, it became easier to adapt to the shouting style of talking, lack of concern for aesthetics, different sense of hygiene, and overwhelmingly generous and self-effacing sense of hospitality. Slowly, the essence of Chinese culture seeped in.

In Shaoguan, it was a moving encounter with the family of Siv Lan, a half-sister who moved to China before I was born. I could only communicate with her in Creole while she translated for the rest of us. She and her husband conveyed their joy of seeing me by feeding me all day, taking me shopping, and went out of their way to accompany me to Meizhou.
















Musician in Lychee Park, Shenzhen

Life in China seemed to be all about working, eating and shopping until I witnessed the most exhilarating part of the culture, something that I could finally identify with. In many parks and open spaces, people danced and played music openly, expressing themselves without inhibition. A free form of entertainment and relaxation for a huge middle class society that seemed to be everywhere, on the streets, restaurants, packing trains full, even willing to stand for a 5-hour ride. At times, I felt as if I was in a Fellini-inspired movie.















Dancers in Lychee Park, Shenzhen


Rivers that run through cities like Shaoguan, Guangzhou, and Meizhou infused a soothing, meditative pace against the effervescence of busy streets. And the mountains were awesome, the way they imposed their calm presence against jutting skyscrapers, rice paddies and countryside lush with tropical vegetation. Often shrouded with mist, they spread their ethereal melancholy across the landscape, reaching a part of my soul that yearns to paint flowing watercolours and write sad poems.















Meizhou















Along the Han Jiang River, Meizhou















Rice paddies, Meizhou


The trip was really a sort of pilgrimage to understand my ancestral roots. Even though China is described in details by my father in a story he wrote about his life, it's always been foreign, a nebulous entity to me. Being there brought a new awareness and appreciation for father's childhood environment. There were emotionally-charged moments when I walked through the village of Pak Koon in Meizhou where father grew up until he moved to Mauritius at the age of ten.















One of the entrances to the house where grandfather lived. Also where uncle Lin Fengmian, the famous painter grew up.

Even though the house had whiffs of mouldy smell, was run down, virtually abandoned, used mostly for storage, with garbage strewn all over, dust covering every inch, I felt a strong connection to its quaint architecture, its courtyard, tiled roofs with peaked corners, and the numerous rooms that grandfather, his brothers and their families occupied.

I could imagine it fully inhabited, a happy place instrumental in forming the father I knew, a traditional man who always put the extended family's needs above his own.






















The old part of Meizhou


I had planned to be in China in October when, I was told, the weather is most pleasant. But I moved my trip so I could join on my third week, the film crew of Alain Gordon-Gentil and David Constantin, the co-producers of Venus d'Ailleurs, a series of documentaries on immigration to Mauritius. China is the last in the series, and I was thrilled to be invited to participate.

Even though I did spew a few expletives at having to endure the suffocating heat, sauna-style in which the body sweats without moving, it was truly amazing to discover Meizhou, not only through father’s eyes, but also those of the documentary crew. To dive not only into my Chinese roots but my Mauritian ones also.











Film crew at work in ancestral home


The crew was very professional, yet very spontaneous, and with such a wonderful sense of humour, which I do miss a lot. They were so funny that Jack, the serious, helpful, efficient Chinese government official accompanying us, even relaxed and smiled.

It was neat to watch Alain Gordon-Gentil and David Constantin’s creative input, cameraman Mahen Bujun’s deep concentration, sound technician Bhimsen Conhyedoss’s quiet efficiency, and assistant Pascal Pierre Louis’s enthusiastic readiness with equipment.

And what a relief to have translator Charles Ng Cheng Hin help us find our way through Meizhou, a city that speaks only Chinese, even in 5 star hotels and restaurants. When he wasn't with us, we had to resort to sign language or drawings.

















This music is very much how I feel about China. And this quote defines my visit, an introspective journey that may take a while to digest and fully understand:

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. "
Lao Tzu

















Au revoir les amis. Saying goodbye to the little family away from home. From left to right: Bhimsen, Pascal, Alain, David, Charles, Mahen

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Menwar at Toronto's Afrofest











































What a treat to see Mauritius on stage at Queen's Park. Menwar and his band were performing at Afrofest last Sunday.

The crowd cheered and danced, among them many Mauritian fans waving the national flag. When Percy Yiptong with his booming, theatrical DJ voice, introduced Menwar and his musicians with drums beating in the background, it sent shivers down my spine, as if the island were claiming my heart back ...

I've left Mauritius over 30 years ago and haven't kept in touch with its music scene. It was such a thrill to hear Menwar's innovative version of the sega. The numerous musical instruments he uses, from the waterdrum to a percussion device made from a sardine can ... infused an exotic melody to his songs. Menwar is an original percussionist and a passionate singer who can reach into one's soul. He deserves to be applauded for making his country proud. He was named Artist of the Year by Radio France Internationale.

Way to go Mauritius!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Paris, dear Paris ...

Paris has a way of holding on to me, to my clothes, my hair, my heart. It's a pleasantly cloying feeling. I was there a few months ago to take a break, get some inspiration for my work, and of course spend time with some wonderful friends.























Strolling through Paris is always a feast to the senses, making everything a bit surreal. It's not just the fabulous architecture of old buildings, the calm presence of La Seine with its rippling water and bateaux mouches, the large, open, green areas along the Tuileries, Champs Elysées, Luxembourg, it's also the people. A busker's smile as he reaches out to passers by during his performance en plein air. A woman, sitting alone, reflective, watching people across the pond.

Yes, all the people-watching in cafés, on the streets, all the eye-contact are like thin, invisible wires that emit some kind of charge and make me feel connected to the city.























Had some great laughs watching the play Les homos aiment les blondes. It was also a wonderful experience to discover Caveau de la Huchette, a neat jazz club that has seen some of the greatest, like Count Basie. Surprisingly, it's also a club where you can dance the night away.

Paris felt so comfortable, like elegant, well-worn gloves that never lose their cachet.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dreams

"Fais de ta vie un rêve, et d'un rêve une réalité."
Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Make your life become a dream, and your dream a reality.

"Si un peu de rêve est dangereux, ce qui en guérit, ce n’est pas moins de rêve, mais plus de rêve, tout le rêve."
Marcel Proust
If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.

"Man will never stop dreaming. Dreams nourish the soul like food nourishes the body"
Paulo Coelho

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Mark Twain

"I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
Henry David Thoreau

I've been fascinated lately by dreams. They are the product of our imagination, our soul, but are often seen as useless distractions from reality. Yet, dreams have often been channelled into wonderful achievements, and have inspired some of our greatest minds.

Having the courage to follow one's dreams is the first step in making them a reality. It takes incredible faith in ourselves, as well as passion, patience and perseverance but the exhilaration and sense of well-being is worth it even if the journey is sometimes long and arduous. I'm all for making dreams come true.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Website

Self-promotion is often a daunting task for us, artists, as we'd rather be creating. It's a perpetual challenge to flaunt our work, and keep our ego up there as we constantly search for truth within ourselves. But promoting our work is a necessary cog in the wheel of survival, especially in our wired world.

So, here's my website, another dot in the sea of dots that populate cyberspace. Please, click here to view it.

Thanks for your help Mondo, you wild artist/photographer and website guru. Thanks for being such a patient friend.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May slow down

It's the time of year when spring brings too much eagerness and colds attack ruthlessly. I've been flattened with a bad one, and it's forced me to slow down and take a break from stressful situations.

Spent a weekend at a friend's country home. When time stretches lazily in the contemplation of rippling water, shimmering trees, colourful birds flitting around, it helps to replenish the soul and put things in perspective

Wrote a review for the show Rendezvous-when Sight meets Sound.

Happy Spring to all ...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Terry Fallis's writing workshop

It was such a wonderful treat for the lucky ones who could make it last weekend to Terry Fallis's workshop at Lakeview Inn. Terry showed us how to be more methodical, efficient, and disciplined about our writing. We even managed to do some creative writing, and also learned how to outline, podcast and self-publish. It was a privilege to hear him read a few paragraphs from chapter 5 of his sequel, freshly written in the morning, in the calm, reflective atmosphere of the farm.

Terry's talents did not cease to surprise us. He picked up a guitar that was lying around, and started strumming along and singing. Talk about bonus entertainment ... He even knew old French songs by Harmonium. And he was so good and it was all so magical that Judy joined in with her mandolin, and Diane, Julia and I were singing along and dancing. Terry also sprinkled some humour and a few witticisms as he kindly listened to the stimulating "women-geared" topics of conversation initiated by Suzanne, our renaissance woman. He even offered to help in the kitchen and made delicious scrambled eggs.

Thanks Terry for being such a gentleman. You made the weekend so special for all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Washington

Last week, I spent a few days with my friend Pam, the best hostess I could wish for: organized, easygoing and fun-loving. Visiting Washington is like walking into American history. You can stand where Martin Luther King made his famous "I have a dream ..." speech and watch Abraham Lincoln's statue towering over The Mall. After strolling in that area, numbers are swirling in my head: 18 million books at the Library of Congress. Over 58,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Japan's 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the city of Washington ...

It was awesome walking under the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. There's this romantic thing about cherry blossoms, their soft pink petals so lush and sensual, yet so fragile and ethereal when they scatter on the ground, on water, like confetti.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Le Chercheur d'Or

" Il y aurait la mer, l'odeur de la mer portée par le vent, le bruit de la mer, et nous écouterions en frissonnant sa voix oubliée qui nous dirait: ne partez plus, ne partez plus." Le Chercheur d'Or par J.M.G. Le Clézio

"There was the sea, the smell of the sea drifting from the wind, the sound of the sea, and we would listen, shivering, to its forgotten voice telling us: don't leave, don't leave."

There is something haunting about Le Clézio's description of the sea in this novel, part of which takes place on the island of Mauritius between 1892 and 1911. But the presence of the sea, the way it seeps into the novel, and latches on to the reader's mind feels so overwhelmingly real that I'm there gliding along the waves with young Alexis. It makes me realize how much I miss the sea as I sit here in my studio looking at the CN tower bathed in the pink glow of dawn.

Le Chercheur d'Or (The Prospector) is the story of a man searching for treasure buried by corsairs on the island of Rodrigues. His long journey gains spiritual meaning in the end when he discovers that the real treasure is love and beauty around him.

So true how we often can't see what we have until we take a long, arduous journey that puts things into perspective.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mauritian and Indian writers
















Snowfalls like these can be so beautiful and romantic and yet so sad ...

But ah, March is here. A whiff of spring wafting tentatively. A few days ago the cutting cold would discourage any form of life to venture out. But we Canadians have developed thick skin. Come snow or ice, we're out dancing, going to theatres, concerts, hockey arenas ... I've been warding off the cold by devouring books that spill with warmth and sunshine in spite of their heart-breaking themes. My latest passion: Mauritian and Indian writers.

Le Dernier Frère by Nathacha Appanah is a story that moves with wonderful fluidity and rhythm. Appanah's ease in expressing strong emotions without being too sentimental makes Raj so real that we feel as if we're right beside him throughout the book. Raj is a young boy whose father, a prison guard, comes home drunk every night and beats him. Raj finds solace in his friendship with a boy who lives in the prison camp. David is one of the 1500 Jews who were not allowed to enter Palestine and were detained in Mauritius by the British during the Second World War. David's parents died in the camp and Raj's two brothers died in a storm. Their shared sorrow is palpable. It's a moving story of friendship, loss, and the courage of survival in the lush tropical island where I grew up. Appanah's writing is sensual, poetic, rich in details. She gets the reader involved with her characters to the point of being moved to tears. I needed a lot of Kleenex.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is a fantastic book my friend Chris gave me. Thanks Chris. The book is a little treasure chest of words strung together in an emphatic style that makes every detail jump out. Roy's lavish use of similes, and metaphors sometimes brushed with humour, is brilliant and shows a quick and creative mind constantly on the move. "The sky was orange, and the coconut trees were sea anemones waving their tentacles, hoping to trap and eat an unsuspecting cloud." is just one example of her evocative descriptions. Reading her feels as if I'm walking in an exotic market place with an abundance of colours, sounds, smells, movement. I'm so taken by her writing style and the profusion of images that the story almost seems secondary. But of course it's all perfectly interwoven. The compelling story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, as they shift from innocence to tragic journeys in life, also exposes the politics and social disparities of India. It is an amazing read.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Writing workshop with Terry Fallis















Have you always wanted to write a short story or a novel? Or would you just like to get your creative writing juices going? Here is an opportunity to learn the art of writing from award-winning authors in the inspiring atmosphere of Lakeview Inn, a renovated farm surrounded by 70 acres of rolling pasture and forest.

My friend Judy and I are thrilled to offer a series of writing workshops. The first one, on the weekend of May 1-3, 2009, will be led by Terry Fallis, the 2008 winner of the Stephen Leacock medal for humour. Terry will talk about structure, outlines, editing, podcasting and self-publishing. You can read more about this talented writer here. Prices includes meals, accommodation, and workshop. For more info , please e-mail me at peggylampotang@yahoo.ca


Saturday, January 31, 2009

About winter, books, escapism















I love winter, especially on a walk during a fresh snowfall, when tiny white dots twirl around and change the city into a spectacular winter wonderland. Cold months are also perfect for reading away, snuggled cozily in bed, while storms rage outside. Some books I've truly enjoyed:

Quartiers de Pamplemousses, a novel by Alain Gordon-Gentil, is a collection of stories told candidly by a teenager who grapples with a world of eccentric and lovable personalities. Gordon-Gentil writes with great economy of words, and sensitive attention to details. He brings out the absurd with humour and kindness. It was a pleasure to read the quirky things people do in Mauritius, things that I had forgotten, but now seem so precious and uproariously funny. I laughed so hard that I felt as if I was floating, you know that good feeling when your spirits are up. Some of the stories reminded me of Stephen Leacock's Sunshine sketches of a little town.

La révolte du pronétariat, written by Joël de Rosnay, a well-known French scientist with family ties to Mauritius, is a fascinating book that challenges us to look deeper into the internet revolution, the way it has democratized our information system, giving power to the mass, which De Rosnay aptly calls the "pronétariat". The book analyzes the positive as well as the negative aspects of the communication power we now have in our hands. Many ethical questions are raised, and their ramifications overwhelming, even scary. I'd like to believe that goodness of humankind will prevail, that we will use the web as a collective conscience to better our world. Vous pouvez voir De Rosnay parler de son livre ici

Mister Pip by Loyd Jones was another book that I read avidly. The story is told from a young girl's point of view. Matilda lives on a small island during a civil war, and finds a most unlikely friend in Pip, a character in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Jones' novel is a tribute to the power of books. He takes us into the innocent, yet fertile imagination of Matilda who absorbs Dickens' story to the point where it becomes part of her life, guiding her through difficult situations while providing solace and hope from the horrors of war.

As we face the gloom of a sinking economy, deteriorating environment, ongoing wars, and our own personal problems, it's therapeutic to indulge in books as a form of escapism. Perhaps, while we're stimulating our mind, dreaming of happier times, who knows, creative solutions may sprout up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sidespace Gallery Exhibition

Sidespace Gallery is holding a group exhibition titled Life in the Cemetery. I'm taking part in it with a few photos and a poem. Please drop by if you're in the neighbourhood.

Cemeteries have always been a mystery to me, a bit overwhelming with all the past lives they represent. For this project, I happened to be at Prospect on a foggy day. I felt as if I was walking into a giant cloud, its mistiness softening contours of scraggly branches, people visiting graves of their loved ones. It was eerie yet peaceful, a cemetery yet a pleasant garden to stroll by.















Invitation from Schuster Gindin, curator of Sidespace Gallery:

LIFE in the Cemetery

January 18 – February 20, 2009

Opening Sunday, January 18, 3 – 6 pm

Prospect Cemetery is the largest greenspace in our neighbourhood. It is a stop along the flightway for migratory birds. It is an arboretum where trees mature uncrowded, and expand to their natural shape. Within it are gravestones with slowly fading inscriptions, fading silk and top-heavy plastic flowers inclining toward the grass, a beech grove, stilled artillery and candles fizzled in the rain.

What here is transitory and what permanent? In a group exhibition of painting and photographs, artists consider life amidst the dead.

1080 St. Clair Ave. W www.sidespacegallery.com