Cousin dee – Wildness Rushing In

Last month, I met cousin dee – we are related through her attachment to my mother’s third (?) cousin, Dave; their grandmothers were sisters. Something like that.

Both dee and Dave are writers, and I met them as they each came to Toronto to read their work. dee has recently published Wildness Rushing In, a collection of poems, which she shared as part of a recent reading tour.

dee Hobsbawn-Smith reading her poetry at the Rower’s Pub reading series.

dee Hobsbawn-Smith reading her poetry at the Rower’s Pub reading series.

My favourite poem of the collection is At 15, which narrates her fifteen-year-old self and the surly angst and rage accompanying her.

But what I enjoyed most about dee was her generosity of spirit. She warmly welcomed me – and my four-year-old son – to the event, helped us get settled, and ensured we were comfortable. In fact, so comfortable were we that my little one fell asleep at the pub bar, allowing me to listen without interruption, babe in arms, to the poets in attendance.

Do pick up a copy of dee’s delicious collection; linguistic delight for the senses.

New Voices Publication

At the end of September 2014, the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative launched its sixth Voices anthology, in which is published my short story Paper Dolls.

Front cover of Voices 2014 anthology, a painting of an upside-down face, in pink and green hues.

I originally wrote Paper Dolls in French, following a talk with my grand-mother Jacqueline. When she told us about one of her favourite toys, growing up in Montreal in the 1930s, it painted such a picture in my mind that I couldn’t help but take her love of her paper dolls and insert it into my next short story.

I read an excerpt of Paper Dolls at the Voices book launch, voicing my main character both as a child and as an elderly woman.

A.M. Matte reading an excerpt of Paper Dolls at the Toronto Public Library Main Reference Branch, at a wooden podium.

I love this second life a reading gives characters, where an author can literally lend her voice to a story.

Looking for your own copy of Voices 2014? Find one at the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative website.

« The Art of Standing Still for Four Hours »

« For four hours, 28 “enthusiastic, clean cut and reliable” – part of the job description – young people stood at attention outside the eOne event in order to set a scene of a highly-guarded, exclusive, and perhaps a little dangerous, party. Let’s just say the enthusiasm waned pretty quickly and we wished we hadn’t been so reliable after all. »

– Excerpt from my personal essay « The Art of Standing Still for Four Hours », available at the Watts at the Movies blog

Thursday Throwback – Titania’s Table

When I was twelve years old, I wrote a one-act play based on Shakespeare’s, called A Child View of Shakespeare. In it, Juliet does not love Romeo and a Pharaoh – Cleopatra – is disinterested by her suitors. Viola is writing a tell-all book about her boss, and there is the obligatory identical twin quiproquo.

To my young ears, Shakespeare’s iambic pentametre sounded just as rhythmic and as rhyme-y as Dr. Seuss, so that’s what the play sounds like. Basically, A Child View of Shakespeare is iconic characters stirred up in Macbeth’s witches’ pot to deliciously silly results.

Fast forward two decades (ahem) later, when CBC Writes launched its Shakespeare Selfie Challenge to celebrate the playwright’s 450th birthday, asking Canadians to take a Shakespearean character, situate him or her in a present-day scenario, and write a new soliloquy or monologue (an old-timey selfie) for that character.

So, I dug through A Child’s View of Shakespeare and pulled out a passage to submit to the challenge. I recycled my twelve-year-old self’s banquet-themed monologue and breathed new life into it through Queen of the Fairies Titania’s voice. What if she were the host of a modern-day cooking show?

Click here to read Titania’s Shakespeare Selfie – do you see the Shakespearian and Seussian influence?

A Literary Cabaret, live literature and music

Literary Cabaret poster, highlighting the evening line-up of readers, including A.M. Matte

Literary Cabaret poster

As part of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative’s annual outreach efforts, I participated in the 2014 Literary Cabaret at Alleycatz Lounge last February. Eighteen members of the Co-op took the stage to perform their writing, accompanied by a varying array of musicians.

Though I’d never met him before we shook hands on stage, my reading of my short story  Paper Dolls was accompanied by James Faulkner on acoustic guitar. James’ spry yet mournful strumming was a touching backdrop to a story of a late-blooming friendship in the life of an older woman.

I will make a video of my reading available in April.

Under a spotlight and by a few microphones, A.M. Matte reads excerpts of her short story, Paper Dolls

A.M. Matte on stage, reading excerpts of her short story, Paper Dolls (photo courtesy of Omar Samara)


A Literary Cabaret

Very happy to participate in the Toronto Writers’ Cooperative’s Literary Cabaret next month. I even changed vacation plans in order to participate. How’s that for dedication to one’s craft? Details on the cabaret follow:

T.O. Writers’ Co-operative

Presents the 6th

Exchanging Notes: A Literary Cabaret

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, at 7:30 PM

Alleycatz Lounge

(2409 Yonge Street, 2 blocks north of Eglinton Avenue)

‘Exchanging Notes: a literary cabaret’ offers a unique combination of spoken word and live musical accompaniment.  A variety of instruments support authors in a variety of genres.  Rock! Blues! Jazz! Poetry!  Prose!

Our venue, Alleycatz Lounge, offers 2 menus, an exceptional kitchen and bar, great service!

There is no cover charge.

Further info:

For further info on Alleycatz:

French Book Launch – Ce que l’on divulgue

I have the privilege of launching my new collection of short stories in French, Ce que l’on divulgue (What we reveal), at the Toronto French Book Fair this weekend.

This short collection of stories is a study of upheaval and change – sometimes good, sometimes bad – in which characters must face a stranger, a revelation, or even a new lifesyle.

Join me:

WHAT: Ce que l’on divulgue book launch
WHEN: Saturday, December 7, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Toronto French Book Fair, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street, 2nd floor, Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, Radio-Canada Stage

The book is on sale for $10 for the month of December, and returns to the original price of $11.49 in January. You can get a copy at the book fair on Saturday, you can order it online through Amazon, or you can drop me a line and I’ll arrange for a signed copy to get to you.


Exchanging Notes – Alissa York at the Toronto Public Library

Had a great time at the Toronto Public Library yesterday, where writer Alissa York was a guest of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative, and interviewed by john miller.


Ms. York talked about her childhood, the inspiration for her books, her writing routine, the importance of naming characters well (with which I agreed wholeheartedly) and the role of animals in her life and in her writing.

I was struck by Ms. York’s dedication to her writing and the thoroughness of her research (Ms. York’s books are quite research-heavy), and at how one tiny detail such as a discrepancy in the number of survivors of the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre provided « just enough room » to allow her to write her novel Effigy.

It was an enlightening, entertaining and enjoyable evening. I wish I had taken notes beyond the few in my Twitter feed!

A.M. Matte and Alissa York standing side by side in an open space of the Toronto Public Library

A.M. Matte and Alissa York at the Toronto Public Library

Pigeons Go Wild – Book Launch

What better spot than a wing place to launch a book boasting a pigeon on its cover?

On Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., please join me as I launch my short collection of stories, Where Pigeons Roost, at Wild Wing, 431 Yonge Street in Toronto, just south of College subway station.

Those attending the launch will get half price appetizers with the purchase of a drink, and a copy of the book for over 10% off the cover price.

See you there!

Cover of short story collection Where Pigeons Roost, featuring a photgraph of pigeons strutting about on a sunny pavement.

The cover of Where Pigeons Roost.

Where Pigeons Roost – now available

Very excited to announce that I have approved the proof of my short story collection, and that Where Pigeons Roost and other stories is now available through me and through Amazon!

Cover page of short story collection Where Pigeons Roost, featuring a photgraph of pigeons strutting about on a sunny pavement.

The cover page of Where Pigeons Roost, designed by Maria Buscemi

In Where Pigeons Roost, four women trapped in worlds of their own making journey between obsession and redemption.

« Feather and Gaelyn reached the foyer, not yet knowing that each would remain disappointed by her life while being secretly pleased her twin would fare no better. They did not yet know that their final competition – whom would outlive the other – would be moot, the winner forever undeclared. » – Excerpt from Stalemate, from Where Pigeons Roost

The book’s official launch will be held in November in Toronto, Canada. Details to follow!