Showing posts from 2014

rEview/ Inching Back to Sane: My Years with Bipolar

Local author Leif Gregersen paints a raw and honest portrayal of life with a mental illness in his latest book Inching Back to Sane


Leif Gregersen is probably Edmonton's most prolific writer you may never have heard of. He writes poetry, short stories, freelance articles, and non-fiction based on his own struggles with mental illness.

The latter is the subject of one of his most recent self-published books, Inching Back to Sane. A sequel to his previous memoir Through the Withering Storm, which was about his teen years and initial diagnosis with bipolar disorder, Inching Back to Sane documents Gregersen's adult years, many of which were spent in and out of the hospitals and psychiatric wards while trying to get his condition under control.

Gregersen's writing is not polished, but it is honest. Inching Back to Sane is a fascinating look at mental illness from a first person perspective. He includes candid, personal, and often very revealing details of his l…

Top of the Pops

Once again, the Mayfield outdoes itself with this stellar expose of British pop and rock that has dominated the music scene for the past five decades


WHO knew that the Brits were some damn good at making music?! Okay, most of us did, or at least anyone familiar with the songs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, or even One Direction. But how soon we forget that across the pond there were so many talented folks making unforgettable music that has proven timeless and not limited to one generation or one nation in particular.

'Top of the Pops,' the latest extravaganza put on at the always fun Mayfield Dinner Theatre, reminded some of us of just that. From The Fab Four to 1D, 'Top of the Pops' belted its way through 50 years of great British songs, and performed by a group of ridiculously talented actors, singers, and dancers that could entertain any crowd.

Hilarious skits filled in between musical numbers that included everything from the song …

Zombies in Edmonton!

The River Valley? Fort Edmonton Park? The Transit? Where would you go if #yeg was overrun by zombies?!


THE probability of Edmonton being devoured by a zombie apocalypse is about equal to the likelihood of our humble hometown being entirely devoid of those pesky potholes. It just isn't going to happen! But, as morbid as it most likely will sound, it's kind of fun to think about, no?!

I'm not talking about the potholes, of course, because that's just too far out there; nope, I mean the takeover of the insatiable living dead. What would we do? Who would survive and who would parish? Where would we go to escape from having our flesh eaten alive by reanimated corpses? I bet you haven't spent much time going over these questions in your head, have you?! 

Well, that's okay, because I have, and I am more than happy to share my advice on how to survive just such a scenario. In fact, my buddy--let's call him 'Stupid'--and I have debated this ver…

E/view: kissing keeps us afloat

#yeg alumni Laurie MacFayden explores virtually all aspects of daily life in her sophomore anthology of poetry

Kissing keeps us afloat is the second collection of poetry from Edmonton writer Laurie MacFayden. With subtle shades of humour, vivid imagery, and often playful language, MacFayden explores themes of love, sexuality, growing up, broken hearts, and life in general. Many of the poems have a very personal feel to them, but are written with universal resonance. 

MacFayden uses a variety of poetic forms. Rhyme, rhythms, line lengths, and stanza structures are interchanged between poems almost seamlessly. Divided into three sections (“tides,” “echoes,” and “graces”), I came away from kissing keeps us afloat believing I knew more about MacFayden as a writer and person – and more about myself, as I laughed along with playful descriptions of love, empathized with the messiness of failing romance, and nodded in recognition with not fitting the expectations of …

E/view: Blind Spot

If Holden Caulfield was a 30-something Canuck in the 21st century, he may very well be the embodiment of newcomer Laurence Miall's Blind Spot debut


LUKE has failed to make it as an actor in Vancouver. He's alienated his own family, and seems to be going through the motions of a relationship with his girlfriend. He's lost and only begins to examine just how lost he's become when his parents are suddenly killed in a car accident back home. 

When he returns to his hometown Edmonton, Luke sees his current state from a whole new perspective, almost like he's outside looking in, at just how distant he's become from the life he had left behind when he up and left for the west coast years ago. But this is his chance to start over, to reunite with a past life he'd all but abandoned. 

Edmonton-born, Montreal-based Laurence Miall gets everything right with his premiere novel, Blind Spot, which is set almost entirely in Edmonton. Miall proves that he does…

Songs and Letters of WW1: 1914-2014

Local talent brings to life the fascinating stories and experiences of Edmontonians in the First World War

TO acknowledge the centenary of the First World War, baritone Clint Hagel, actor Faye Stollery, and pianist Emily Grieve will present 'Songs and Letters of WW1: 1914-2014,' a  recital of classical art-song, poetry, and prose from and about the war. The performance will take place Saturday, November 8 at 7:30PM in Muttart Hall at MacEwan University, Alberta College Campus (10050 MacDonald Drive). Tickets are available at Tix on the Square or by calling 780.420.1757, as well as at the door. 

Works of art create a record of an individual's experiences, thoughts, and emotions. This concert will share the stories of people who witnessed WW1 first-hand. Alongside works by well-known artists, like Wilfred Owen and George Butterworth, materials from the City of Edmonton archives and the University of Alberta archives will be presented to explore the role of average Edmontonian…

Creative Edmonton Presents Brewfest

Pop-up market phenomenon Creative Edmonton focuses on locally-made goods and homemade brew for upcoming Brewfest


Since 2013 the people of Creative Edmonton have been proudly focusing on high quality, handmade products from local vendors, assembling dozens of #yeg entrepreneurs for pop-up markets around the city.

This upcoming Friday is no exception to the rule, though you can expect a change in theme if you're accustomed to these quarterly events. Brewfest, which will take over the Edmonton Petroleum Club (11110-108 Street) on October 10 (6:30PM-Midnight), will also share the spotlight with some of the breweries that call Edmonton home, including Big Rock and Steam Whistle. 

But there are plenty of other things to see and do at Brewfest, including live music, silent auction, raffle, door prizes, photo booth, and an array of locally-made gift ideas from nearly 30 different Edmonton businesses. For a full list of the vendors that will appear at Brewfest click here.


E/view: Santa Rosa and North East

Edmonton writer Wendy McGrath invites us into the home of a struggling marriage, as seen through the eyes of their young daughter in her companion novels

SANTA Rosa is an unremarkable neighbourhood in 1960s North Edmonton, home to young Christine, her baby sister, and her stalemate parents. Santa Rosa is the fly on the wall of this young working class family that seems to be on the brink of falling apart, as Christine's parents struggle to sustain household civility.

Christine, despite her young age, is not oblivious to their subtle and scattered contempt, and it begins to affect her in ways she's still too young to understand or comprehend.

Wendy McGrath, who is originally from Saskatchewan, has this poetic proficiency for illustrating the seemingly insignificant details of childhood, in the underwhelming idiosyncrasies of youth and how they fathom the world around them.

The reader easily becomes intimately involved in the routine affairs of this numbed family, almost like we are…

E/view: Truth, Love, Non-Violence: The Story of Gurcharan Singh Bhatia

Saskatoon-born author Alexis Kienlen shines a spotlight on local human rights activist Gurcharan Singh Bhatia


GURCHARAN Singh Bhatia may not be a household name, but he is a known figure to many people in Edmonton's social justice community. Truth, Love, Non-Violence is the biography of this fascinating man, from his origins in India to his immigration to Canada and his involvement in working towards a society of equality and human rights for all. 

Written in a conversational style, author Alexis Kienlen spent countless hours interviewing Bhatia, his family, and associates. While mostly a positive look at his life and accomplishments, Kienlen by no means comes across as a sycophant. In particular, she explores numerous failed business ventures as well as observations from those with whom he has worked on projects who, while obviously fond of him, offer some criticisms as to the way he becomes driven in his passions. 

I should probably offer a disclosure …

The Edmonton Expo 2015!

The third annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo will take over the Edmonton Expo Centre later this month, and has invited many famous names to take part


THE 3-day Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo (a.k.a. the Edmonton Expo) is the City of Champion's greatest pop culture convention with a year two attendance of 25,000 people. Going into our year three show we'll be creating another out-of-this-world event with comic book artists, vendors, media guests, and of course, lots and lots of cosplay!

The Expo, which will take place at the Edmonton Expo Centre (7515-118 Avenue) from September 26 to 28, will feature appearances by some of your favourite television and movie stars, including Alice Cooper, Dean Cain, Noah Wyle (ER), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Amy Acker (Angel), Rachel Skarsten (The Vow), Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. (The Walking Dead), and The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar. For a full list of the celebrity guests, click HERE


E/view: The Occupied World

Established local poet and writer Alice Major explores how we occupy our space and time on earth in her collection of poetry The Occupied World.


SOME people have drinking buddies. I have writing buddies. We critique each other's work. Actually, I have drinking buddies also, but I digress. One of my writing buddies recently handed me a copy of Alice Major's poetry collection The Occupied World

Major is well known on Edmonton's poetry circuit. She was the city's first Poet Laureate and is a familiar face at the annual Edmonton Poetry Festival in April. Published in 2006, The Occupied World is a clear presentation of why Major is so well regarded. Her language and imagery is at once familiar and other worldly, juxtaposing the local and familiar with other times and places. 

Through her words, Major begins with the theme of building a city, using the framework of rituals used in Roman times to sanctify the ground before occupation of the city cou…

K-Days 2014

There's nothing better than K-Days to make you feel like a kid all over again!


I REMEMBER when I was just a kid and my parents would take my siblings and I to Klondike Days at Northlands. What more could a kid ask for than what was happening at the Midway? 

There were lights and sounds everywhere, coming from rides that spun you around, turned you upside down, or made you wet your pants. There was every possible junk food we could think of all in one place, and an endless supply of things to see and do. It was the ultimate playground for us.

As I got older K-Days, or Capital Ex as it became known, didn't hold that same charm as when I was a child, although that's not to say it didn't cater to folks who were now too old to be screaming for "MOM!" on the kiddie coaster. Now I was there for the live music, the beer gardens, and maybe to do a little people watching. But checking out the grounds was just not on my radar anymore.

Fast forward to now, …

E/view: Lightfinder

Known for his acclaimed visual art, Aboriginal artist Aaron Paquette tackles fiction for his next project


AARON Paquette is best known as an accomplished visual artist who incorporates his Aboriginal heritage into his work. Now, Paquette is emerging as a writer of fiction, and not surprisingly is also drawing upon his roots. 

Lightfinder is Paquette's first novel. Written for young adults, it is in the fantasy genre and centers on the parallel stories of two siblings, Aisling and Eric. Aisling, a young Cree woman, heads into the woods with her kokum (grandmother) and two other men who are practically strangers to her. Their journey is to find Aisling's younger brother Eric, who has gotten himself into a lot of trouble. 

As both young people head on their respective paths, each deal with battles of life and death and the future and various choices each must make (and their consequences). In Aisling's case, she discovers some of the tales of her ba…

Tom Petty Is Coming to Town!

Rock legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers return to Edmonton to promote their upcoming album Hypnotic Eye, sharing the stage with Steve Winwood


HE'S sold more than 80 million records around the world, he's an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he's won three Grammy Awards, he's scored 10 #1 rock hits, and he's performed with everyone from Bob Dylan and George Harrison to Johnny Cash and Bono. Makes you feel kinda shitty about your life, eh?! 

Here's where I cheer you up a little. Tom Petty and his probably aptly-named Heartbreakers are headed back to Edmonton for one night only! And he's bringing along long-time opening act Steve Winwood to start things off. See? Told'cha I'd make you feel better!

The legendary Florida-born singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and actor will rock Rexall Place on Sunday, August 17 (7.30PM), and tickets are NOW on sale HERE! But, you can take advantage of the "Hypnotic …

E/vent: Cavalia's Odysseo

The gleaming White Big Top is beckoning your name, inviting you to experience a spectacle like no other in the yourself a favour and don't deny it's enticing lure


YOU know when your friends tell you about the last movie they went to see, or some album you should listen to, because "OMG, it's so amazing!"?! They insist you check it out and get back to them as soon as possible, to make sure you're on the same page, right! 

Well, more often than not you're not on the same page; sometimes, not even the same book! Nope, the movie either sucked, or the album was only okay, but you usually go right ahead and let them think you're just as stoked about it as they are. That's how I thought this whole 'Cavalia's Odysseo' would go down, to be completely honest, but I was wrong, so wrong.

'Cavalia's Odysseo' is a production of epic proportions, to say the least, touring the globe as the world's only 6-D sho…

E/view: First and Jasper: The Love Story of Jasper Avenue

"This little booklet is a tribute in poetry and pictures to Jasper Avenue and the many reasons for loving the city of Edmonton and choosing to call it home."


FIRST and Jasper is a short but beautiful book that can best be described as a love letter to Jasper Avenue. With short, precise poetic lines and photographs that match the words, Christine Falk presents Jasper Avenue for its history, grittiness, and importance. 

Falk's writing is minimalist with precise use of language. Many of her verses are almost Haiku-like in style. Her photography, presented in black and white, feature numerous Jasper Avenue landmarks.

If it was larger, I would call it a coffee table book. Instead, it is more like an end table book, and a lovely one at that. This would make an excellent gift or souvenir.

Independently published, First and Jasper can be purchased through Audrey's Books, the Westin Hotel gift shop, and PageMaster. You can l also purchase the book and earn mo…

'I Heart' Turns FIVE!

As I Heart Edmonton turns five, we've hit a crossroads. Where do we go from here?


FIVE years! That's crazy when I think about it. It was July 5, 2009 when I posted my first "hearticle" (yes, I just said "hearticle") for the I ♥ Edmonton blog, titled "A Love Affair with Edmonton." 

"I don't know about you," I wrote, "but I'm getting pretty tired of people having nothing good to say about the city I've come to love." That's how this whole thing got started, me being fed up with the lack of love for my hometown, and the abundance of unwarranted criticism.

I knew that Edmonton had ALL kinds of things to see and do, but apparently there were plenty of folks who were unaware of our town's bustling arts and culture community, and the fact that we are one of the most sociable metros on the continent. So I made it my mission to discredit their taunts and attacks, and to prove that Edmonton is the best …

Cavalia's Odysseo in Town!

The world's most epic theatrical production is returning to Edmonton and has extended its stay due to heavy demand!

Odysseo by Cavalia is the only 6-D show in the world. The unique theatrical production is first and foremost a grandiose three dimensional show where spectators are taken to a live Hollywood-style movie set while the touching interactions between human and horse are at the heart of the action.

Layers of mesmerizing decors combined with gravity-defying acrobatic and areal stunts and the staggering effects created by state-of-the-art scenery makes this humongous stage a real 3-D feast for the eyes. 

To enhance this breathtaking experience, the production presents a splendid voyage with extremely high-definition computer graphic images, transporting the audience across the world’s most beautiful landscapes. To project these breathtaking 3-D graphic backdrops on an immense cyclorama the size of three IMAX screens, Odysseo uses projectors as powerful as those illuminating t…

E/view: White Shirt

From sex and broken relationships to dreams about Jackson Pollock, Edmonton artist and writer Laurie MacFayden gets personal with her premiere anthology of poetry, White Shirt


Laurie MacFayden is an Edmonton-based poet and visual artist. She moved here from Ontario in the mid-80s and since then has been active on the local poetry and art scenes, as well as having a career as a journalist.

White Shirt, published in 2010, is MacFayden's first collection of poetry. The first thing I noticed about the book is the Jackson Pollock-esque painting that illustrates the cover, which is a MacFayden original. Then, I got started reading, and the first poem was a dream about a date with Pollock. I was already hooked.

How can I best describe MacFayden's poetic style? Imagine poetry that is at times gritty and personal, that deals with love and lust and sex and broken relationships, that has a tone of a booze-filled night out before the hangover sets in, almost remi…

E/view: Rosina, the Midwife

The true story of an Italian midwife bares the same twists and turns of an epic novel at times, told through the words of Edmonton author (and great-great-granddaughter) Jessica Kluthe.


At first, I thought Rosina, the Midwife, was a novel. Upon further investigation, I realized it was a family history by Edmonton author Jessica Kluthe. However, with its drama, twists, turns, and revelations, this book has all of the creativity of a novel – except it’s a true story. 

Kluthe tells the story of her great-great-grandmother Rosina, the matriarch of her mother’s side of the family. She was the only member of the family to remain in Italy, as she watched other lived ones leave, one by one. Rosina was also a midwife, in an area where one doctor served three villages. 

Seamlessly moving back and forth between the history she presents and her contemporary life, Kluthe draws connections between how her past has shaped her, a past that she set out to discover through in…

E/view: 40 Below

Edmonton writer Jason Lee Norman takes a 'love it or hate it' approach to chronicling the one season that, sometimes, never seems to go away.


WHEN you live in Edmonton, winter is a fact of life. It’s long, it’s cold, and it’s often dark. It’s also the topic of conversation – we all talk about the winter at some point, even if it is just passing expressions of love or hate.

Such sentiments are expressed throughout 40 Below, an anthology of writing by current and former Edmontonians about winter. Edited by current Edmonton Public Library Writer-in-residence Jason Lee Norman, 40 Below contains a huge variety of voices: those who love it, hate it, miss it, reminisce about it, or who simply tolerate it. The range of writing styles also varies, from short stories, to essays, to creative non-fiction, to poetry, and even one piece of visual artwork.

Most of the submissions are short and sweet, which allows for a number of both established and emerging wri…