Monthly Archives: November 2014

November 21

“On the Other Side of the Berlin Wall”

A couple of weeks ago, I met Heike Kretschmer at a recent event marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. She told an amazing and tragic story about how the Berlin Wall destroyed her family. Heike’s story appears in today’s Swerve Magazine here.

Gratitude all around

Sunday marked the final event of the Calgary Public Library’s ‘One Book One Calgary’ program. I joined a panel of fascinating folks at Fish Creek Library for a telling of personal stories of ‘walls’ in our lives. My thanks to Hadeel Qazzaz, Hector Frias, Cheryl Dueck, Cory Cardinal and Kris Demeanor for sharing their remarkable […]

November 12

Final ‘One Book One Calgary’ Events

There are only a few days left in the Calgary Public Library’s ‘One Book One Calgary’ program, and two final events I am happy to be part of. On Saturday afternoon, I will join the CPL’s current writer-in-residence, the ever-charming Rosemary Nixon, for an event called “From the Authors.” Rosemary and I will be ‘talking […]

November 11

Amedeo Sorrentino, soldier

My grandfather, Amedeo Sorrentino, is 91 years-old and a veteran of the Second World War. He did not, though, fight for Canada. He will not be counted among those rightfully honoured at today’s Remembrance Day ceremonies. Nonno did not “fight for our freedom,” as we are so fond of saying every November. Still, I want […]

November 09

“The walls will continue to rise, and we will continue to tear them down.”

In 1992, on the occasion of Montréal’s 350th birthday, the City of Berlin gave the city a rough sliver of concrete about three metres tall and a metre wide salvaged from the Wall’s great fall in 1990. Vivid graffiti covers what was the western side of the slab. An orange sunburst. Swirls of green and […]

November 07

Walls Within Walls: A visit to Calgary’s Remand Centre

Yesterday, as part of the library’s ‘One Book One Calgary’ programming, I visited the Calgary Remand Centre where a group of around twenty inmates had been assigned to read Walls for their book club. I didn’t know what to expect from the men and felt nervous. I wondered about what their level of engagement might […]

November 03

Barghouti’s ‘Ordinary’ Jerusalem

  I just finished reading Palestinian author Mourid Barghouti’s excellent book I Saw Ramallah. The book was first published in Arabic in 1997 and the English translation I have dates back to 2001. Still, with the conflict going on in Jerusalem these days, I thought Bargouti’s description of the city bears sharing:   All that […]

November 03

The Berlin Wall Disease

As the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, I am reminded of Mauerkrankheit, or the ‘Wall Disease.’ In 1973, East German psychiatrist Dietfried Müller-Hegemann observed that his patients who lived close to the Berlin Wall showed higher rates of psychosis, schizophrenia, and phobias. Those East Germans who lived in the shadow […]