Recommended Books

The books that have come my way recently would make ideal gifts for yourself or others during gift-gifting season. They represent a celebration of  British Columbia writers and all but one are published by BC publishers.

Mother Tongue Publishing recently celebrated five years of publishing baeutiful and bold regional books on Salt Spring Island. Their latest is one that is bound to be a favourite for writers and readers.

111 West Coast Literary Portraits ($48.) with black and white photographs of writers who have lived in British Columbia by Barry Peterson and Blaise Enright also features text by each of the authors and an introduction by Alan Twigg. The cover honours Alice Munro and inside are portraits of beloved authors no longer with us such as P.K. Page and Jane Rule. Other writers include Nanaimo’s Kim Goldberg and Gabriola Island’s Katherine Palmer Gordon.

There is an opportunity to meet many of the writers included in the book and to see thirty of the portraits at a reception on Saturday, November 24 at the Nanaimo Museum. The exhibition of portraits will continue to January 31.

Mother Tongue also publishes The Unheralded Artists of BC Series.  Publisher Mona Fertig wrote a moving memoir about her father in the third of the series: The Life and Work of George Fertig ($36.95). The latest, number five in the series, is The Life and Art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff ($32.95) by Christina Johnson-Dean. It’s a wonderful tribute to Uhthoff who was a friend of Emily Carr and founder and principal of the Victoria School of Art.

Mother Tongue also publishes poetry as do other BC publishers. Leaf Press, now in its eleventh year in Lantzville, publishes poetry exclusively. What a delight it was to discover the handmade chapbooks from Leaf Press when I moved to Nanaimo seven years ago. Since then, publisher Ursula Vaira has been publishing full-length books of poetry as well.

The Wild Weathers: a gathering of love poems (Leaf Press, $16.95) is an anthology of poems on love which sustains all kinds of weather. The book gets its title from “A Wild Girl to Walk the Weathers With” by poet, novelist and former logger Peter Trower.

Here’s a chance to discover and enjoy the work of many poets, near and far. Immerse yourself in “A Night Full of Talking” by Nanaimo’s Leanne McIntosh or daydream with “Were She My Lover” by Michael Kleiza. He’s from Guelph, Ontario where I fell in love.

Living Artfully: Reflections from the Far West Coast (The Key Publishing, Toronto, $33.) is a book of essays and full-colour art by people who live, love and create here on the wild, west coast. It’s a personal and spirited celebration of living creatively and artfully in this magical part of the world. The co-editors, Anita Sinner and Christine Lowther, have essays in the book as well as Nanaimo storyteller Margaret Murphy; Victoria’s poet laureate Janet Rogers; and Haida Gwaii author Susan Musgrave.

Many writers are publishing their own work, in fact, many well-known books started out this way. Self-publishing means the author gets to make all the important decisions about what they’re putting out into the world.

You’ve got to love the inventive mind of Andy Sibbald of Nanaimo who has written and published Grease My Hooves: Politics in Canada (Lunatic Publishing, $19.95). This is a work of fiction for people whose political leanings are left of centre.

Some of the seventeen stories feature animals which means you can enjoy their shenanigans because after all, they’re simply innocent animals. However, when you read the satirical stories with human behaviour in mind, you’re bound to sit bolt upright in your chair because you’ll get the point.

You can purchase Grease My Hooves at or at Best Choice Quality Used Books at 1300 Waddington Road in Nanaimo.

Mary Ann Moore is a Nanaimo poet and writer who leads weekly women’s writing circles called Writing Life.