Launch of Careen!

Sometimes it’s important to reflect on where you’ve come from.

My weekly Friday post is a day late this week, on purpose, since I really wanted to talk about what I was up to today. (Dear students – if I try to use this kind of excuse for handing in an assignment late, I’ll just fail you. There you go, Bruce, my ass is covered.)

Today I had the great pleasure of heading down to Kingston for the launch of Careen, the latest collection from my friend and mentor Carolyn Smart. It was held at the Tett Center for Creativity and Learning, which if you’ve never been is easily one of the best venues for a book launch I’ve ever seen. The space was lovely, and the view of the lake made for the perfect backdrop. Carolyn’s reading, and the follow-up song from Georgette Fry, were both brilliant. And the book looks damn good – getting to be there for the launch was a thrill. I owe a lot to Carolyn, and so when she kept saying how incredible it was that I had come down from Ottawa, my response each time was basically, “How could I not?”

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The other fun part about today was seeing my friends and colleagues in the literary world. There were a number of familiar faces – my friends Stuart Ross, Michael Casteels, and Bruce Kauffman, and people who I haven’t seen since I was at Queen’s, like Kirsteen McCleod. People from the community who, like me, have left for other opportunities – Christine Miscione and Nick Papaxanthos, for example – were mentioned again and again. There was a tangible energy that you only get somewhere like Kingston, and now that I’m back home, I feel a familiar nostalgia for the place where I first decided that I was really going to be a writer, and the people that I met while I was figuring that out.

All of that began, though, with Carolyn. She was the one who admitted me to the Creative Writing program at Queen’s. It was in her class that I first started to develop my voice, and where I wrote “Remembrance,” my story that appeared in On Spec last year. It was Carolyn who told me to introduce myself to Stuart when he was Writer-in-Residence, linking me with another amazing friend and mentor. But most importantly, it was Carolyn’s example and her teaching that led me to think about my writing as something I was going to make a lifelong career out of. It’s no exaggeration to say that I would not be where I am right now as a writer without Professor Carolyn Smart, which is why a little thing like driving down to Kingston is nothing, if it means I got to be there for the launch of her next book.

So, once again – congratulations, Carolyn, on both an excellent launch and an excellent book. I already can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

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