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Goodbye, 2011

Most of you will be sad to hear that today is my last day at the Quill before Christmas vacation. Though, most of you are also probably already on your holiday vacation and not wasting your time reading silly literary blogs like this one. To you I say bitterly, I hope you have been enjoying your time off. For the rest of you still rattling around with me on cyberspace, I welcome you to my last blog post of the year.

I thought it would be nice to end the year off with a look back over everything we have been through in 2011. It has been a pretty good year for the Quill, I think, and I would like to distil some of the highlights here for you, dear friends. So sit back and enjoy as I take you through the ten top Quill moments of 2011.

Astronomer, wood engraving, The Devil's Artisan

Is that you Santa Claus? This goofy dingbat looks a lot like jolly old Saint Nick.

1. Laurie Lewis appeared on Canada AM. Laurie Lewis was invited on Canada AM over the summer to talk about her debut novel Little Comrades. We were all delighted here at the Quill to see our author getting so much recognition—and no one could deserve it more than the fantastic, formidable Laurie Lewis.

2. Frank Newfeld honoured by Alcuin Society. Frank Newfeld, long-time book designer and former vice president of publishing at McClelland & Stewart received the Robert R. Reid Award from the Alcuin Society in 2009. This year on October 3rd he was given a medal to commemorate that honour. Frank Newfeld is well known for his illustration of Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie. He is also the author of Drawing on Type, a personal memoir, which I am actually reading right now.

3. Joyce Wieland cited by the Alcuin Society. This year at the annual Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design, Joyce Wieland by Jane Lind received an honourable mention. Published in 2009, this book follows the development of renowned Canadian artist Joyce Wieland through a series of diary entries and stream-of-consciousness sketches. It’s a beautiful book, beautifully arranged, and we were tickled by the mention at the awards.

4. Sheree-Lee Olson’s Bookmark at Port Colborne. Project Bookmark Canada installed a Bookmark for Sheree-Lee Olson’s debut novel, Sailor Girl, on the Welland Canal in Port Colborne on October 12. Port Colborne mayor Vance Badawey came for the unveiling and Sheree-Lee read the excerpted passage from her book. We even managed to get some media coverage!

Sheree-Lee Olson, Tim Inkster, Sailor Girl, Project Bookmark Canada

Sheree-Lee Olson and Tim Inkster at the newly installed Bookmark on the Welland Canal.

5. Literary luncheon in Port Colborne. After the unveiling, we all went to a local restaurant for a lovely literary luncheon. Publishers Tim and Elke Inkster were there, Project Bookmark staff Miranda Hill and Kate Burgess joined us, and so did author Sheree-Lee Olson and the mayor’s administrative assistant Nancy Giles.

6. Sheree-Lee Olson invited to the prestigious Roselawn Reading Series. Before the unveiling of the Bookmark, Sheree-Lee was invited to talk at Port Colborne’s Roselawn Reading Series. Sheree-Lee said that this was one of the most fun events she’s done to date, and she was well received by the people of Port Colborne. She even managed to sell 100 books!

7. Shane Neilson’s debut collection of poetry, Complete Physical, shortlisted for the Trillium Prize. Erin village resident Shane Neilson published his first collection of poetry with the Porcupine’s Quill in 2010. This year we are happy to report that it was placed on the Trillium Prize shortlist. This collection has a special place in our hearts for its probing lyrics and its slightly disturbing, comically arranged nineteenth-century anatomical engravings.

Complete Physical, lungs, wood engraving

A nineteenth-century anatomical wood engraving of lungs, which appears in Complete Physical.

8. Book of Hours generated noteworthy buzz in the literary scene. Published by the Quill in 2010, Book of Hours by George A. Walker is part of our wordless novel series. Though considerably different than many other titles on our list, the series of wordless novels has been getting a great deal of recognition in the art community. The immense success of Book of Hours is likely partly due to a very fun event we had in November featuring Book of Hours and Beasts of New York at the Gladstone Hotel, but it is probably mostly due to George’s moving depiction of this very sensitive subject matter.

9. Marta Chudolinska attended the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. This year for the first time a Porcupine’s Quill author attended the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in New York. As with Book of Hours, we are finding that our wordless novels are constantly providing new opportunities for the Quill and for Quill authors. Marta’s book Back+Forth is an affecting collection of engravings, depicting the struggle of a young woman to find place in this world, both physically and emotionally. It was shortlisted for the Doug Wright award in 2010 and apparently drummed up some interest at the Brooklyn festival as well.

10. Laurie Lewis placed on The Globe and Mail’s top 100 books of 2011. We were delighted earlier this month when we learned that Laurie Lewis had earned herself a spot on The Globe’s top 100 list. Laurie is a tireless promoter and part of a fairly large community of writers in Kingston, where she now lives. But despite all that, I am convinced that the success of her book is entirely due to the quality of Laurie’ writing, and the integrity of her stories. I found this book particularly touching for its quiet assertion of female strength.

Father Time, Dingbats, The Devil's Artisan

A classic representation of Father Time with his hourglass and scythe.

And that’s all folks! Happy holidays from all of us here at the Quill. See you next year, and until then … Porcupette out!

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.