Tuesday, November 30, 2010

LAUNCHING BETWEEN SISTERS: December 4, 2010, Guelph

I am very excited to launch my book "Between Sisters," published in both hardcover and paperback, by Groundwood, House of Anansi Press. The date for my event is December 4, 2010 at 3 Watson Road South at the River of Life International Fellowship, at the intersection of York and Watson Rd South. The time is 3pm-5 pm. This book has been a labour of love and learning for a period spanning two and a half years. I will be talking about the book and my intimate connection to it. I will be selling and signing copies. Please be there to buy your own copy and purchase one for a friend. You will not regret it.
The story is set in urban Ghana, where Gloria, a sixteen year old struggles to find her way forward into the adulthood of her dreams as she is beset with the perennial problems of family poverty, difficulties in school, temptations in town and the true meaning of relationships.
This book is full of the flavours and aromas of Ghana but deal with universal themes that anyone can relate to. It is a step forward in African literature as pertaining to the Young Adult genre and also African Canadian literature. It is definitely well worth reading by youth worldwide and all those who have some interest in Africa, developing countries and the girl child.
Please come and celebrate with me. We have a wonderful program planned to give you a boost for December!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Different BookList presents Between Sisters, a workshop with the author.

I was very honoured to present a workshop on my new book, "Between Sisters," at A Different BookList, a book shop that has supported and sold not so usual books in Toronto. The shop is co-owned by Itah Sadu who is an eminent storyteller in Toronto, as well as an author of several acclaimed children's books.
I first met Itah in Guelph, where she presented her stories at the River Run Centre. What struck me about her then was her compelling voice and her enunciation in the telling of her stories. Itah grabbed your attention and kept it, just by her voice. She has a true in-your-dreams storyteller's voice and is a storyteller to the her bones. Itah is compelling even during a regular conversation.
In 1998 my picture-book, The Queen's New Shoes was launched at A Different BookList, and my friends, family and I all trouped down from Guelph and Kitchener for the celebration. Since then Itah and I have met at festivals and at literary conferences, namely, the large "Reading for the Love of it" conference in downtown Toronto and the Toronto Festival of Storytelling. In 2007 Itah was very instumental in the selection of my book, "The Pot of Wisdom: Ananse Stories," for the bicentennial celebration of the abolishment of slavery. I was very honoured to speak at a Toronto District School Board Schools Event with the amazing actor, playwright, storyteller and writer, Richardo Keens Douglas. I am a fan of Itah Sadu, whose passion for the youth, stories and books energize me to do more for the arts and for the youth.
On Wednesday November 17th, Itah and I visited Brookview Middle School to speak to the book club of Ladies for Life. After that we went out for the tastiest Corn soup on the planet at the vegetarian restaurant on Bathurst Street. We enjoyed Chai Latte with honey instead of sugar, and then we returned to her shop to await our guests.
Itah is amazing at pulling the most interesting of guests, being a storyteller, writer, volunteer, activist and book store owner. I sat in wonder as her guests poured in, some of whom I knew well. I was greatly honoured by the presence of Dan Yashinsky, Rita Cox, Ken Setterington, Mariella Bertelli and Celia Barker Lotteridge. I met new authors, Jody Nyasha Warner, author of "Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged"and Angelot Ndongmo who has written the cutest books for boys and girls, the first of which is, "Loving Me." I met educators, youth workers, artists, academics and the nice people who attend Itah's events. To put the icing on the cake, my old schoolmate Diana Knol dropped by with her daughter to have her book signed.
I was too full and too focussed to try Doubles, a Caribbean treat, but I saw everyone else chomping down and I knew I was missing something good. That evening, I learnt to my great amusement how much Itah loves those Nollywood movies with sequels and parts from one to five. Oh, how we laughed!
I think my book talk went very well. Certainly the faces were very friendly and the audience was generous in buying books. I am very fortunate that Angelot took photos with her Blackberry which means I get to share a photo with you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Keep Right! The dream starts here.....

three of my books on display

Keep Right is the sign one sees on the walls of the large corridors of Brookview Middle School where I met the Ladies Forever Book Club. The sign is an attempt at traffic control, but the school motto is, "The dream starts here." I walked in with wirter, storyteller and entrepreneur, Itah Sadu of A Different Book List, a unique book shop on Bathurst Street, Toronto. By the time the day was done, I discovered how passionate Itah is about the schools in the city.

In the library we created something of a circle with chairs and I was invited to talk about my book. Soon I was up on my feet trying to engage thirty girls in a discussion. I discovered to my amazement, that my having qualified as a doctor was of great interest to the girls, and typically it is the one thing I hardly speak about in my incarnation as an artist. We live to learn!

After the discussion, several little sisters were selected to receive my book "Between Sisters," as prizes for good listening, good participation and good questions, which meant several young ladies got to take the book home. J was the best contributor. She is the president of the club and she also got to see us off to the office. She has promised to email me to share what she thinks of "Between Sisters." It was of interest to me that J has Ghanaian parents.

The Ladies Forever Club seeks to inspire, motivate, educate and support young sisters in Brookview Middle for success in life. The club is organized by highly motivated teachers, one of whom I met, Ms. Thompson. Then I discovered that the principal of Brookview, whom I met, is the dad of Montreal Canadiens hockey star, Subban! How's that for a school boy's dream?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


photo by Fule at Words Worth Books, Waterloo, ON
HAVE you ever stopped to ask why people attend a reading? It's not a show as such, no theatrics or high performance, just an individual reading their own writing. Of course, I do my best to read well with expression, and my skills at storytelling help me a lot. Basically, the book is in hand, one's eyes are following the lines and one looks up only now and then in an attempt to engage the eyes of one's audience. And yet reading is thrilling.
On Saturday, November 13th, I read at Words Worth Books, Waterloo. I arrived early with Fule and Maureen which was nice because I got caught up with my old friends at the bookshop, Tricia, Bronwyn and Mandy. I even got to browse through several books and I met some of the book lovers who were there to attend the reading.
I started by introducing the book, the idea and themes, and then I introduced my reading glasses to my audience. (A joke is always a good ice breaker, and soon everyone was invested in Gloria's world, spun by my words.)
It is my desire, when I read, that we see through Gloria's eyes, taste the flavours on her tongue and smell the odours of her world. I hope my audience can get to know her and like her enough to want to know her journey.

When I read, I usually invite questions from my audience. People ask me about my process and motivation. They ask about my inspiration. Sometimes we discuss my characters or themes or what I plan to do next. When the questions end, I tell my listeners I'm happy to sign books and I invite them to buy a book and another for a friend.
At Words Worth, I enjoyed the private exchanges while signing books. There was a teacher who surprised me by buying a book for each of her fifteen students. There were friends I hadn't seen in a while, whose kids had grown so big. There were people I had never met until then, and some people who had heard me read or perform somewhere else.
People attend readings to know a bit about the writer. This makes it a little more special when one reads the book. The book becomes distinctive with the writer's autograph and the experience leaves a memory as well as inspiration. After today, there may be just one person in the audience who will write and publish a book someday, because they heard me read.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reading at WordsWorth, Waterloo, Saturday Nov 13, 2:30pm

I first met Bronwyn in 2002 at Victoria Park in Kitchener. It must have been late summer or early Fall because the event was outdoors. I had been invited to read at the Word on The Street Festival, where I was promoting my book,"The Pot of Wisdom: Ananse Stories" published by Groundwood Books.
The reading was a blast and Bronwyn and I hit it off well. She was there on behalf of Words Worth, the famous bookshop in Waterloo and I sat and signed and greeted kids and parents. In between we chatted. Bronwyn had returned only a few months ago from a trip to West Africa including Guinea and Ghana. In Ghana she had met the man who was to become her husband, Nii and she couldn't wait to tell me about him.
Since then I have read at WordsWorth events during February and Black History Month. I have also performed Spirit Alive, as a special solo dance at an author and book signing event. Bronwyn and her family have taken some dance classes with me and I have had Bronwyn and her wonderful parents to dinner, where they met my mom.
Last May, at the Canadian Booksellers conference in Mississauga, I was invited to sign promotional advance copies of my book Between Sisters and did bump into Bronwyn who had just delivered a speech at the conference. She was sporting a new haircut and looking quite chic. Our shrieks of joy subsided and I told her about my book. She took one copy and promised to be honest with me after she had read it. Bronwyn reads a lot of books for herself and also because of her job in the book trade. I knew she would be honest.
When I saw her email, I opened it with some trepidation. Hers was the second email to tell me how much she liked the book. The first such complimentary email had come from Ken Setterington of the Toronto Public Library, another well read gentleman.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew then that I would be reading at Words Worth before the year was over.
On Saturday, I am looking forward to seeing Bronwyn, Nii, and their children. I am also looking forward to seeing familiar and not so familiar faces. In the past, I have done much performance, reading, storytelling and dance in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and do hope my fans will turn out to support us. I am expecting a great reading experience, tons of questions and comments and of course a pre Christmas sales boom of my book "Between Sisters" and all my other books, too.
I think Between Sisters is an important book because the story tells really well. Set in Ghana, the themes are universal, the story is modern and the social issues described are worthy of discussion.
I write for children and young adults because it is important that we do so. They are curious and smart and desirous of fairness. They like to laugh and they enjoy a good story. And the next great advancements in society will come from them. As a teenager, I read the book, "The Citadel", a gift from my father. That book influenced me positively in my practice as a physician in Ghana. Books are important and particularly books for youth. Bring your teens out to Words Worth on Saturday November 13th at 2:30pm. I promise you it will be fun and most engaging.

where you can read from Bronwyn's own words and find another photograph of me.