Dance Takes to The Road Wild, Wilde, Wedding
May 2009 Vol. 1 No. 3
George Clarke: In Conversation Atlantic Ink Lang Time
Explosive! Atlantic author Jon Tattrie chooses the Halifax Explosion as the backdrop for Black Snow
4 Love out of the ruins Halifax-based writer and journalist Jon Tattrie set his first novel against a backdrop of the Halifax Explosion. Our cover story digs beneath the surface. LEAP Magazine does not necessarily endorse the contents of websites mentioned in this publication. Use sensible judgement when viewing any website.
6 The Wedding of Bram Stoker When Bram Stoker stole the girlfriend of Oscar Wilde, married her and whisked her out of the country he could have set Dublin ablaze with scandal!
LEAP Magazine Editor: William Clarke Editorial Director: William Clarke Illustrations: William Clarke Design & Production: William Clarke Photography: Stephen Clare Estelle Clements William Clarke
9 Ink on paper Atlantic Ink celebrates the region’s best writing. Stephen Clare spoke with WFNS’ Jane Buss just prior to the gala awards evening. 10 Hangin’with Jason Lang Jason Lang made his solo debut in the Atlantic region this month and Stephen Clare cornered him for a few words. 12 I and I and my other I Multi-talented author, poet, playwright and scholar George Clarke blew through the CKDU studio last month. If you missed it live, here’s another chance!
14 Dance moves The second season auditions are wrapping up for So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Will the Maritimes amount to more than a whistlestop?
13 In the beginning Where Genisis Begins is a collaboration between poet Tom Dawe and painter Gerald Squires. You can get a preview of their new book on the page and over the air.
16 In studio with William Clarke William Clarke and Stephen Clare sat down, again, for The Book Club. Some surprising details were revealed to a global listening audience.
LEAP Magazine is published twelve (12) times per year by William Clarke Software. All content in this magazine and companion website are the sole property of William Clarke Software. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher. Any reproduction in whole or in part, in print or electronic form, without express permission is strictly forbidden. Please contact the publisher for permission to reproduce selected editorial content.Editorial contributions and letters to the editor may be submitted to LEAP at info@leapmagazine. ca. No responsibility will be assumed for the safety of unsolicited material. © William Clarke Software 2009 All Rights Reserved
Chasing the wagging paper I
’m tired of the newspaper industry crying poor. I’m not dispassionate about the industry and the hardworking people in it, but the industry has none to blame but itself. In the early days of web commercialization, circa 1994, none of the newspaper publishers paid much attention to what had gotten their business and technology editors so excited. The Internet was simply a place to post a corporate directory while advertising customers were simply using things like FTP to distribute catalogs. For newspapers, it seemed going digital meant they could buy a few cameras and computers and reap the savings from shutting down darkrooms and composing rooms. (I remember walking around the empty second floor of the former Bridgetown Monitor and being gob-smacked at all of the equipment computerization had made obsolete.) Instead of getting a lock on gaining eyes in the Internet world, inhouse IT departments were tasked
with running to and fro to keep the company’s systems online instead of being treated as partners in pushing the product online. The result is it hasn’t been 20 years since the first web browser appeared and the behemoth daily newspapers are just now beginning to drop like dry timber in a forest fire as time has run out for them to get into the game. They’re so financially-strapped now, thinning newsrooms have given rise to the traditional “wrapper” (e.g. Metro) as a “legitimate” medium! And without the local journalism between the pages of the local newspaper, that’s meant “wrappers” fluffed out with canned national copy. Even today, the rallying cry of the industry has been a belief that people will “always want” newspapers when there has been very little evidence to support that claim. In an April 13 Nieman Journalism Lab report by Martin Langveld, he states that 96 per cent of newspaper reading is still done the oldfashioned way. He says only three per cent hap-
pens online, but before you go happily forth bailing out your sinking newspaper, Langveld provides some sobering postscript. “The attention drift is toward online reading, but it’s not as rapid a drift as most of us have been assuming,” says Langveld. “Is this good news? No, because as pointed out in the comments, the printside problem is not readership, it’s advertising, particularly the loss of monopoly pricing power in most categories. And of course, nonnewspaper sites are grabbing a big slice of the migration of attention online. What the industry really needs to do is to develop a valid, independently-audited measure of audience attention. Who knows, it might even help them sell some print advertising.” And there you have it. Langveld hasn’t said more people read newspapers online, he’s said more people are reading things other than newspapers online. That’s why newspaper ad revenue has all but dried up. Of course, that loss of big money advertising hasn’t meant busi3
ness has stopped advertising, you will continue to find car dealers and other types of advertising in your local newspaper - they just won’t be there as often as they can better target their markets through online ads. Adding to newspaper woes are the ever-rising costs of paper, ink and distribution. While the Denver’s Rocky Mountain News shut its doors and the Boston Globe is just barely doddering along, the Seattle PostIntelligencer has opted to continue publishing an online-only edition. In other reports, several other publishing groups have filed for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, that “trickle up” economy has the nation’s largest paper company (Abitibi) teetering on bankruptcy because it can’t sell its paper for more than it cost to produce it. Yet the industry’s rallying cry continues to be a belief that people will “always want” newspapers when there has been absolutely no evidence to support that claim. In Sept. 2008, Transcontinental presi-
dent and CEO Francois Olivier told Canadian Printer, the bible of the print industry, that he believes most internet-only magazines will not succeed, that a print version is critical. Although I’ve been going on about newspapers, that’s not a surprising statement for the head of a printing company. If I were head of a printing company, I’d probably tell people they would always need print too, but the Guardian opted to zero in on the issue by reporting online products with rich and timely content would add value where many print model magazines and journals leave off. That’s some serious stuff. In the end, it’s up to each individual to decide which media mix is best for their environment and lifestyle. But it doesn’t look good for traditional print products.
The best book you ever heard.
Romancing Historical Halifax Jon Tattrie’s first novel finds base in history By Stephen Clare LEAP Magazine
THE BOOK CLUB with Stephen Clare
Airing Tuesdays 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. ADT on CKDU 88.1 FM. Online at ckdu.ca.
any people in and around the Halifax area are familiar with Jon Tattrie’s name, but few know much about him. The 30-something scribe has earned a solid reputation in recent years as one of the city’s premier working journalists, his byline appearing regularly in such publications as Metro, the Chronicle-Herald and the Weekly News. Last month, Tattrie brought those skills to light with the release of his first novel, Black Snow - a love story set against the Halifax Explosion. Recently, LEAP’s Stephen Clare caught up with the author to chat about the work and the craft of writing.
Vince Coleman TV commercials, the books, the movies. I was always interested in it and when I started to research the short story version that appeared in the Halifax Daily News, I thought, “What about a story where the explosion is the main character?” So with Black Snow, I focused on the 36 hours right after the blast. I approached it like a journalist, going after eye-witness, ground zero accounts of the devastation and avoiding the long-term recovery effort or a big build up of life in 1917 Halifax. Those are valuable stories, but they’ve been told many times.
leaving the country for a trip to Egypt at the start of April. I cleared my life of pretty much everything but the explosion and wrote it in a frenzy. I would turn on the radio and wonder why they weren’t updating the Allied advance on the western front. I had been thinking about it for a long time and had done most of the research, so it flowed pretty well. It took some work to blend the live-time explosion scenes with the flashbacks to the war, and then weave the secondary story of the reporter in with that.
SC: What was the most rewarding part of the experience? SC: Did the book come together JT: It was very rewarding. Writing is SC: What was the inspiration behind quickly for you? a lot like reading, only you have a little writing Black Snow? JT: It came together quickly – it had more say on how things unfold. It was JT: Growing up in Halifax, you to! I got a note of interest based on the a book I had always wanted to read. hear explosion stories – family legends, short story in early February and was Continued on Page 5 4
ways supported me. Getting published was great, in that it helped me to realize just how supportive they are. A lot of good friends pitched in to help edit the novel, to suggest designs for the cover and to bear with me while I disappeared into the explosion during the writing and re-writing phases.
“Writing is a lot like reading, only you have a little more say on how things unfold.” Jon Tattrie
Scotia to its unpublished history – and turn it into a book, hopefully for some time next I learned a lot about the explosion. I hadn’t year. The Chronicle-Herald is going to run a realized just how vicious it was. I knew the column version of it this summer and people numbers – 2,000 dead, 10,000 injured in a can check in on my blog: Payperhackwriter. city of 50,000 people – but I didn’t know the blogspot.com. full horror that followed. People died in the most awful situations and many wounded SC: What made you want to be a writer? ended up burning to death in their homes JT: I’ve always written. Until the last as the fire swept through Richmond. Add to couple of years, I wrote with a resounding that the blizzard that smothered the city that lack of success. I only started getting pubnight, and you’ve got the worst 36 hours in lished as a journalist in my late 20s (I’m 32 the old city’s existence. now) and this is my first novel. But even in the dark, depressing desert of my mid-20s, I SC: What has the response been like so far? kept writing. I realized that perhaps I wasn’t JT: Response has been positive – it was good enough to get published, but so what? sitting at No. 5 in the Chronicle-Herald’s I love writing and kept at it. Amateur musilist of Nova Scotian best-sellers at one point. cians can break out the guitar at the beach, One of the surprising aspects has been peo- but amateur writers have a harder time sharple approaching me to share their own fam- ing their work. I think that doesn’t have to ily stories of the explosion. Emotions are be the case. Not everybody can write Harry still raw – a lot of people have these terrible Potter, but only you can write your own stories that have not been widely told. story. Maybe it’s how your parents met, or the day your child was born, or your trip to SC: What are you working on now? Cuba. Writers should write, and they should JT: Now I’m planning a summer hitch- share. Don’t be shy. hiking book around Nova Scotia. I’m going to hitchhike, camp and couch surf around SC: How do the people around you feel the province, catching rides on tall ships and about your vocation? fighter jets, mix it with the people I meet JT: My family and friends have an apand the stories I hear – from modern Nova preciation for the creative life and have al-
It’s like meeting a stranger at the edge of a forest. She beckons you to follow on page one and if her smile is beguiling enough, you’ll let her lead you through the woods to tell her story. If it’s not, you turn away and move on to more alluring guides.
SC: Do you have any advice for younger writers? JT: To amateur writers, I say: write! Do it all the time. Write short stories, novels, poems, observations, character studies, whatever. Getting published is great, but getting published is not the reason we write. We write because we love words and the power of a good yarn. If you really do want to get published, study the publishers well. Learn what books they are putting out and try to figure out why. If you can find a house that publishes books a bit like yours, prepare a great pitch for them. Slush piles are huge and horrible – if the editor gets around to your pitch, she will maybe give it a minute, if you’re lucky. It is critical you grab her attention and have her wondering what happens next – so make the first page of your book sparkle like the Hope diamond. Don’t SC: What makes a good book? JT: For me, a good book has a good what trust she’ll read the whole thing and apprenext. You’ve got to care about the characters ciate it in its entirety. She won’t have time. enough to find out what happens to them. You’ve got her for a minute: use it well. SC: What books and authors have inspired you? JT: I love Stephen King. At one point, I owned all of his books. I’d read his grocery list – he’s a master story teller. He creates a whole world and has you desperate to find out what happens next. More recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut – the short chapters of Black Snow are probably inspired by his page-turning, what-next style. I’ve just finished Stephanie Domet’s Homing and have always been a fan of Lesley Choyce. I wore out my copy of Skateboard Shakedown when I was a kid. When I first approached Lesley with my own book, I was more excited as a fan than as a writer. Getting published by his company, Pottersfield Press, is a great honour.
Continued from Page 4
Jon Tattrie’s first novel, Black Snow, has gained a lot of attention. Check out the audio clip by clicking the microphone.
Wild, Wilde Wedding Maritime-born playwright offers sparkling twist on historical scandal By William Clarke LEAP Magazine
n Irish wedding with an Atlantic connection took place in Dublin last month - twice. The event was part of the Dublin City Library Service’s annual reading event, Dublin: One City One Book. The month long event encourages the city’s residents to read and discuss a particular book and this year’s selection was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although the expected vampiretheme appeared for many events, former Granville Ferry resident Estelle Clements wrote and directed a reenactment of Stoker’s 1878 wedding to Florence Balcombe. Through her research, Clements discovered Balcombe had been the lady friend of Oscar Wilde - along with a few other odd facts. “The first thing that jumped out at us is the fact that the bride lists Bram Stoker’s brother’s address as her maiden address in the register and
that the newspapers reported that she was at the balls with Thornley (Bram’s brother) and his wife,”said Clements in a statement. “There was such a short span of time between the break-up with Oscar Wilde and her marriage to Bram Stoker.” Clements included a number of historical figures in her script - including herself as Shakespearean siren, Ellen Terry - and as you might expect, a distraught Oscar Wilde appears at the church to add outrage to the already scandalous affair. Local media also got involved in the event with extensive coverage and the Irish Times printed copies of its 1878 page containing the original wedding announcement. By the time the re-enactment was performed in St. Anns Parish, the site of the original Stoker wedding, on April 2 and 4, it had become a mustsee event.
LEAP Magazine’s William Clarke caught up with Clements for a behind the scenes look at The Wedding of Bram Stoker. WC: Who were your influences as a young person? EC: My mind was shaped by a lot of people. But my father’s involvement in theatre was probably a large factor, and my mother’s insistence of being practical to back up my imagination were likely factors. My aunt always insisted on being calm as well- staying calm is a huge part of managing any situation. WC: Where did you grow up? EC: We moved to Port Royal when I was four, We lived around Port Royal and Granville Ferry ‘til I was 16. When Cornwallis base closed my father (and consequently our Continued on Page 7 6
Key Players: Annapolis Royal expatriate Estelle Clements (Ellen Terry) is flanked by Aodán O’coileain (Oscar Wilde) and Eddie Brennan (Bram Stoker) on the steps of St. Anns Parish in Dublin, Ireland. Clements wrote, directed, and acted in a re-enactment of Stoker’s wedding.
Continued from Page 6 family) was moved to Edmonton, but I returned two years later to go to university at Acadia. WC: Tell me more about Acadia. What did you do there? EC: I spent seven years at Acadia in Wolfville. I did a theatre degree, then an honours conversion in classics and an education degree. I taught for a couple years in Canada and England, then won a scholarship to study a masters in the history of medicine at the prestigious Northern Centre. My advisor was the world expert in the Hippocratic Oath and had three PhDs - it was terrifying. I’m currently working on a PhD in digital media literacy- looking at digital civics in Dublin, Ireland.
WC: How did you become involved in reconstructing Bram Stoker’s wedding? EC: I initially approached St. Anns with an interest in organising a youth drama society as a social works project. However, at the same time Dublin City Council had approached St. Anns and asked them if they could produce something for the One City, One Book festival. St. Anns asked if I could start with this project first.
The cast of Estelle Clements’The Wedding of Bram Stoker gather inside St. Anns, site of the original 1878 wedding.
WC: What was that all about? EC: Dublin City Council (in the guise of librarian Alistair Smeaton) approached St. Anns and asked them if they could be involved in the festival in some way. As it turned out, Bram Stoker had been married in St. Anns church so we were asked if we could do some sort of small re-enactment. However when I got into the archives (with research colleague Anne Sappington
- who had also arrived at St Anns because she was doing a year abroad at Trinity - she’s from Chicago) we discovered a fascinating love triangle between Bram Stoker, his eventual wife Florence Balcombe and Oscar Wilde... well, there was simply no way I could let that go without a fuss, was there? Literally, within a matter of weeks, Florence chucked her long term beau Oscar and ran off with Stoker - they immediately left the country for London... I mustered as much scandal as I could and started poking around to see what else was going on at the time... a pretty fascinating picture emerged of the who’s who of Dublin at the time. Lucy Jones (a jeweller from the north of Ireland also associated with St. Anns) came on board and so the three of us formed a pretty strong triumvirate to pull the show together. I went back to Alistair with the idea of a full production as opposed to a simple re-
enactment, we “found” a costumes designer with connection to Cosprop (the costume house in London who did Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, all the Merchant Ivory films...) and the money fell in our lap. At that point Dublin City council asked us to be the opening event for the festival. I dropped Kent Thompson an email back in Annapolis Royal to ask him his thoughts, as I knew he’d been very successful with this sort of theatre in the past. WC: Are there any juicy under stories? EC: The under stories for the production are literally unbelievable. There was so much serendipity that the cast and crew became utterly terrified by the end, maybe there’s something about working in a church that the miraculous happens, whatever it was we were very grateful! I knew no one when I arrived in Continued on Page 8
Continued from Page 7 Dublin 18 months ago so my contacts to help with the show were limited, we only had a piece of paper with the names of a handful of actors from the Gaiety School to start with - but every actor on that sheet physically looked like one of the characters from the show (holding up the photo’s next to them was extremely spooky). Our costumes mistress just arrived out of nowhere, she had grown up in the same cul-de-sac as Bram Stoker, heard about the project and wanted to help - she was more used to dressing Michael Gambon and Christopher Eccelston, so we were really lucky for her to volunteer us her talents. A random stranger at a pub approached me because he heard I was “doing some sort of show” and begged me to let him help out - he turned out to be the best theatre technician I’ve ever worked with. I sat down for tea with Lucy and said, “now all we need is the money” and instantly the phone rang and Dublin City Bids (Dublin’s business improvement group) called to offer us a grant we didn’t even know existed. The Gaiety Theatre gave us lend of a fog machine totally out of the blue. I commented that I wanted string instrument music to open and close the show, but we’d been unable to locate anyone - the day
before the show a cellist randomly walked into dress rehearsal and asked if he could play for us. When we told him we were rehearsing for a show he agreed to open and close both shows free of charge. Another stroke of luck - Cosprop had included an extra costume - which actually fit the cellist - that meant we could also costume him. (In fact, eerily, all the costumes fit perfectly and there were virtually no alterations required.) Even the weather cooperated as the show began with an hour of promenade theatre and improvisation in the city streets. We at least needed the rain to hold off, how we managed to get two August-like days at the beginning of April (when it does nothing but rain in Ireland) I’ve no idea - it rained every other day around the show but burst into sun for us. The two leads (Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker) were fabulous strokes as well. When I first saw the picture of Bram he was a dead ringer for my head of school at the university, Dr. Eddie Brennan... I also knew Dr. Brennan was extremely susceptible to bribery from my baked goods (though don’t tell him I said that!). Despite reservations, given that he’d never acted, his reserve crumbled under the weight of several batches of my chocolate biscotti. Even better, once he got into it he turned out to
be a marvellous actor. Oscar Wilde was an absolute Godsend, when I lamented my inability to cast Oscar to a friend, she remarked she knew who we needed. He was a film editor at the university who had already done some acting and the moment I clapped eyes on him I knew - he really was Oscar Wilde. More actors from the Gaiety School came on board, the Dublin Institute of Technology offered us lend of lights (so did Alistair Smeaton), the Dun Leogaire School offered to come in and do our make up for the show, David Marshall’s school of hairdressing offered to come on board, the flowers and arrangements were donated from the local florist - suddenly the national broadcaster (RTE) were asking us for an exclusive interview. It was just one thing after another really. People were excited about the project and everyone was thrilled to volunteer their time and talents- we could never have afforded a show like this, but it really goes to show what can happen when people believe in something and work together for their community. Some really brilliant partnerships formed during this production. And in this economic climate (particularly in Ireland) it is inspiring for people to see that life isn’t just about finance and that even without
REWRITE The Irish Times supported the show with a reprint of its 1878 wedding announcement.
money incredible things are possible. WC: So What’s next for Estelle Clements? EC: I certainly seem to have something about launching projects in April. This time last year I had Milton Chen (the executive director of the George Lucas Foundation), David Buckingham (leading scholar in media literacy) and Ian Prince (BBC producer) to Dublin when I organized Ireland’s first Youth, Media and Democracy Conference. This April has been the Bram Stoker project. Who knows what next April will bring? At this point I’m getting ready to launch my fieldwork for my PhD. It’s called “The Atlantis Project” and should start in September. I’ve also formed a small rep company with some of the actors from the Bram Stoker re-enactment and we’ve begun work on some Shaw plays. I’m also in collaboration with another writer with the intention of producing a film over the next two years. Certainly St. Anns Parish has been very supportive and are keen to have us continue working in the venue so we are making plans with them for future events as well. I have a few more plans for historical and experimental theatre here in Dublin, but those are just at the ideas stage.
SLIDE SHOW Irish Times photographer David Sleator put together this show at www.irishtimes.com. 8
tlantic Ink, The Writers Festival, was a weeklong literary fanfare that included author readings, signings, school appearances, workshops and panel discussions in all four Atlantic Provinces the first week of May. The highlight of the festivities was the gala awards evening May 8, where winners were announced in the following categories: Nova Scotia author Alastair MacLeod performed the keynote address. For more information and a full list of nominees, please visit: www.atlanticink.ca.
12th Annual Atlantic Poetry Prize Brent MacLaine, Shades of Green,Acorn Press, 2008
In Conversation: Writers Federation of Nova Scotia’s Jane Buss. Click the microphone to begin playing!
Credit: William Clarke
19th Annual Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature Jill MacLean, The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008 19th Annual Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize Douglas Arthur Brown, Quintet, Key Porter Books, 2008
32nd Annual Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Prize William Naftel, Halifax At War: Searchlights, Squadrons and Submarines 1939-1945, Formac, 2008
The Shadows Lang launches solo career in Atlantic region By Stephen Clare LEAP Magazine
blames his parents. Jason“It’sLang all in the genes,” says the award
winning singer-songwriter who is touring the Maritimes this month. “Unfortunately, I can’t take any of the credit.” As the son of Canadian folk music legend Penny Lang and the late American troubadour Dave Van Ronk, it is easy to understand where the native Montrealer gets his gift. “My songs certainly have their roots in that musical tradition,” he said. “But there is nothing I love more than a good, catchy hook.” Those pop sensibilities are at the forefront of his first solo release, Beautiful Disguise. “It was an album that I had been itching to make for the last twenty years,” says Lang, who recorded the disc last summer in his basement studio. “And I felt that it was the right time for me to do my own thing.”
After more than two decades writing, recording and performing as a sideman with the likes of Amanda Marshall, Roch Voisine, the McGarrigle Sisters and many others, the multi-instrumentalist concedes that he was hesitant to step out of those shadows at first. “It’s taken some getting used to for sure usually I am not the one who gets asked for an autograph.” Judging by the initial response from critics and fans, however, going solo was long overdue. “The feedback from fans has been a little overwhelming actually,” says Lang. “It makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have made this move earlier. “Ultimately, performing my own music is far more fulfilling than anything that I have ever done - And I have no problem taking a turn in the spotlight.” 10
An interview with Jason Lang SC: What inspired/motivated you to write and record Beautiful Disguise? JL: I needed a more inspiring creative outlet than that which being a sideman offered me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for having had such a successful career, but I really needed something more, and I couldn’t wait any longer. SC: Did the album come together quickly or did you really need to work at it? JL: Once I had made the decision to record an album, it came together fairly quickly. If you put all the days together in a block of time, it probably took about a month, but because most of it was recorded while I was on tour in Europe with Roch Voisine, it got spread out over the period of a year, on days off, when I had time to set up the studio in my Paris hotel room, which was aptly dubbed “studio 207” (my room number) by the other musicians. SC: What was the most rewarding part of the experience? JL: Apart from the writing and recording - two aspects of music that I love above and beyond almost everything else - it was being able to say “I did it!” As well, the thrill of leaving an old life behind and moving into somewhat unknown territory in terms of what lies ahead was very exciting. There’s always something exhilarating about going somewhere and not quite knowing what’s going to happen next. SC: What did you learn during along the way? JL: Being involved in practically every
aspect of the project, I’m still learning new things every day. Mostly out of necessity, but also because I am so completely enthralled by today’s technology. I’ve learned how to design websites, create posters, graphic design, handle manufacturing and distribution, my skills as a recording engineer have improved; it has really been my desire to learn every aspect of the music business through this project. SC: What has the response been like so far (critical, public, community)? JL: The response so far has been great. Particularly in the French media. My original intent was to have my CD available solely online, but following a few live television performances, the demand in Quebec for physical copies was so high (relatively speaking) that all of the major and independent stores (HMV, Archambault, Renaud Bray etc.) approached me via my website and subsequently ordered and re-ordered and re-orded CDs. My first single made it to number one on several radio stations in Quebec and is currently in the top forty here, and is still inching its way up the charts.
have most influenced you? JL: Though I rarely listen to the music that had the strongest influence on me any more, I can still hear this influence in my writing. Musically, Lennon and McCartney have been favorites of mine as far back as I can remember. Joni Mitchell’s album “Hejira” and her song “Paprika plains” on “Don Juan’s reckless daughter”. I’m a huge fan of Joni’s self searching and image laden lyrics. Early Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. There are so many more but I’ll leave it at that for now.
SC: What makes a good song? JL: There are so many levels to this question. A jazz musician would tell you one thing, while a pop musician might tell you something entirely different, and yet neither would be wrong. If you simply look at a song in its purest and simplest form, ie. one instrument and one vocal without the benefits and cool factor added by production, it becomes a little clearer. Personally, I don’t care if you can sing or play very well, the important thing is did you get the message across. Did you manage to put your thoughts and ideas into words in such a way that other people can understand and relate SC: What made you want to be a musito. In songwriting, or rather, lyric writing, cian? aside from the basics of structure, rhyme JL: Music was always happening back scheme, story, and - if it is of a poetic nature home when I was a kid. We had a house full - the cohesiveness of the imagery, there are of instruments, and someone was always two main questions that I like to ask myself. playing or singing something, so I kind of 1.What is it that I am trying to say, and feel like I’ve always been a musician, but have I managed to capture that? 2.Why that at fifteen I decided to make it my life. should I care, or why should anybody else care for that matter? I think if you can honSC: What songs/genres or songwriters/artists estly and satisfyingly answer these questions, 11
Take a Listen: Jason Lang’s single, I Can’t Stop Thinking of You. Click the microphone to begin playing!
you’ll probably find that you have a pretty good song, or at least one that is worth listening to. SC: How has the Internet helped/hurt the music industry and the nature of music itself? JL: Though there are of course problematic sides to the Internet and the music industry I feel that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Besides, problems are made to be solved. Right now, because of the Internet, we have so much more access to music and artists, people we may very well never have heard of otherwise are now available anytime. Sure CD sales are down, but how many times have you bought a CD and only liked one or two songs? I think we’re on our way back to the days when artists released singles and eventually put out a compilation of those singles. Perhaps the Internet will force songwriters to become better, and re-think their approach. I don’t believe that the nature of music has changed because of the net. I think that basic nature always remains the same, and that the net and today’s technology are simple the new extraordinary tools we have to work with. SC: What are your thoughts on the current state of Canadian music? JL: I think that like music everywhere we are in a transitional period, and it’s hard to say exactly what is coming next. We have a huge wealth of talent here in Canada and my only hope is that we can continue finding ways in this modern age of hyperchanging technology to keep up with the pace.
In Conversation: Dr. George Clarke oet, playwright, author and scholar Dr. George Elliott Clarke recently dropped by the CKDU studio during a swing through Nova Scotia. During his hour on air, Dr. Clarke covered a lot of ground with host of The Book Club, Stephen Clare. Now if you’ve ever wondered what jazz means, why Canada won’t have
a Black PM, or what Prince has been up to in Toronto, here’syour chance to check it out for yourself. Click the cover of Dr. Clarke’s latest book, I and I, and check it out. Don’t forget, The Book Club airs live on CKDU every Tuesday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (ADT) and live online at ckdu.ca.
Credit: William Clarke
In Conversation: Gerald Squires chats with Stephen Clare. Click the microphone to begin playing!
The Poet and the Painter By Stephen Clare LEAP Magazine
here Genesis Begins is a collaboration of two of Newfoundland’s foremost artists; Tom Dawe, a profoundly visual poet, and Gerald Squires, a profoundly poetic painter. The book contains 71 artworks by Squires and 37 poems by Dawe, 29 of which have never been published before. Released last month by Break-
water Books, LEAP Magazine’s gested the title, one of his major Stephen Clare recently spoke with paintings inspired by lines from both men about the project. Patrick Kavanagh’s To The Man After The Harrow. Suddenly it made SC: Tell me about the genesis of perfect sense. I had a dozen poWhere Genesis Begins. ems already completed and dozens TD: Gerry and I talked about more in my head, so I got to work. a book for years, not sure exactly We planned a collaboration of art what that book might be – until and poetry, though the paintings about three years ago when he sug- and drawings would not necessar-
ily be exact illustrations of the po- Gail Squires. ems. SC: What did you learn during SC: What were some of the chal- the process? lenges of putting a work of this scope TD: I learned much, but the together? best of it resides in that way of TD: For me, poetry is always knowing St Augustine was talking challenging. Deep in my bones, about when he said: “I know until I know what Auden meant when you ask me.” he said that, upon finishing a new poem, he felt like someone who SC: What has the response to the might never write another. In the work been like so far? last year of the project, I worried TD: The critical response has even more, especially with a deadbeen excellent – and those who line from our publisher. I knew Gerry had an abundance of qual- know us, friends and community, ity work collected from his prolific are hailing it as a work long overcareer, so I was determined not to due. disappoint anybody. SC: What happens now? Are you SC: What was the most rewarding working on something new? TD: We are always thinking part of the process? about new projects. Right now TD: Aside from the satisfaction of creating a new body of poetry Gerry is working on seven new and watching a beautiful art book drawings for a small, special limtake shape, the most rewarding was ited edition of my light verse, Cala closer friendship with Gerry and igula’s Horse and Other Creatures.
Dance hits road for second season SYTYCD Canada wraps auditions this month Can Maritimers expect better in season two? By William Clarke LEAP Magazine
uditions for the second season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada wrap in Montreal just days after its older U.S. sibling launches its fifth season. Although season one saw an Atlantic audition stop in Halifax, the remainder of the broadcast and post-show tour have left Atlantic fans wondering if there have been any changes for season two. Some watchers ripped the Canadian judging in season one and felt hip hop wasn’t as appreciated by Canadians as the voting audience south of the border. Others complained the auditioning process itself wasn’t truly Canadian as it favoured central Canada over the prairies and Atlantic Canada. Of the top 20 dancers, 14 hailed from Ontario and Quebec and seven of those landed in the top 10. With telephone voting also favourably weighted toward the country’s population centres, it might have proven difficult for an Atlantic dancer to break out of the top-20. Of course, had that Atlantic dancer been from Newfoundland, they probably wouldn’t have received any votes from 14
home. For Newfoundlanders, their chagrin was a little deeper than not being picked as the Atlantic audition stop. Newfoundland audiences were treated to the same SYTYCD promo spots as the rest of the country, but they couldn’t tune into the live show as the local CTV affiliate (NTV) failed to pick up the series. Hardcore dance fans either waited for torrents to be uploaded, well past the two-hour voting window, or caught the Sunday afternoon rebroadcast on MuchMusic. An Atlantic stop of the much-anticipated top10 dance tour, a two-hour extravaganza of 33 dance pieces, would have gone a long way to salve those wounds, but as a further embarrassment to show producers, the tour never made it beyond Montreal for its eastern swing. At the forum on dance.ctv.ca, moods went from elation at the announcement of a tour to disappointment at the selected locations. One writer couldn’t believe Sudbury and Thunder Bay were both included in seven Ontario stops Continued on Page 14
of the 15-city tour. “I was so excited to check the dates of the tour and SEVERELY disappointed to find no tour dates east of Montreal,” wrote CheekE. “This has soured me on the show and I’m a HUGE fan!” Another said she would have attended with her daughter if it had included St. John’s while others expressed similar feelings that Atlantic Canadians just didn’t count. “This is an embarrassment to our country to think that the east coast is not worthy of a tour stop,” wrote Chipperocu. “I cannot believe it. You have a coast to coast search for talent but when it comes to actually displaying this talent to the country you do not travel to the east.” “Dancers on the east coast will fill a stadium, not to mention the thousands of non-dancers who watch the show.” Needless to say, Maritimers in general, and Newfoundlanders in particular, had a reason to feel a little chagrined after season one. They were able to recover somewhat with season one runner up being Calgarian ballerina Allie Bertram. She had made her way onto the show through the Halifax audition stop as did St. Bruno top-20 finalist, Francis Lafreniere. Of course, miscues and missteps are a hazard of any live
production and producers have stayed with their choices for judges in season two. They also moved their Atlantic audition stop to Saint John from Halifax with other stops in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton. It’s highly doubtful the representative mix of dancers would change according to region. It would be as unfair to vault a dancer into the top-20 because they’re from Fredericton as it would be to keep them out because they’re from Toronto. In fact, a similar strategy used by contestants in other reality shows has been employed by the dance hopefuls of SYTYCD season two. That is competing in a region other than your home. At the April 21 Saint John stop, a Toronto ballet dancer with impressive credentials was the first in line. “I thought the odds would be better in a smaller city instead of in Montreal and Toronto,” Matthew Chiu told CTV. “I’ve never been to the east coast of Canada and it’s nice to refresh myself as a person and as a dancer.” As far as the top-10 tour from season two’s finalists, it’s way too early to speculate on stops as CTV has yet to announce when the show will appear this fall. But if producers have been paying attention to the season one feedback from Atlantic Canadians, it won’t be a shock to find at least one date close to home.
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Calgary’s Allie Bertram auditioned in Halifax in season one and eventually finished second to Nico Archambault. Both are pictured here performing an Amy Wright waltz from Episode 15.
In Conversation: William Clarke B
ehind bars? Not always, but digital publisher William Clarke has broken more than a few barriers over the course of his career. The original bad boy of Nova Scotiaâ€™s Black middle class gatekeepers, Clarke recently visited The Book Club and chatted with host, Stephen Clare about the death of newspapers
and the future of traditional communication. Is there room to be successful and innovative tackling old ideas? Click the microphone, sit back, and formulate your own impression. Donâ€™t forget, The Book Club airs live on CKDU every Tuesday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (ADT) and live online at ckdu.ca.
Contributors Stephen Patrick Clare
Joining the LEAP team as a frequent contributor in March 2009 is Stephen Clare. Stephen is probably the most recognizable person around the magazine and brings scads (is that a word?) of experience. Stephen is a freelance journalist, author, poet, musician, photographer and television and radio show host in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His work has appeared in over 120 local, regional, national and international publications. A native Montrealer, he arrived in Halifax in 2002, where he now lives with his wife Federica and his two beautiful children, Dylan and Sofia. He is currently working on his first full-length novel.
Atlantic Canadian Arts and Culture