Tuesday, June 1, 2021

a big day in the life of Beth

Funny how a day can start normally and then turn into something else. It's beautiful today, hot and bright. This morning I was awake at 5.30 and was worried - I couldn't hear birds. Usually they start at around 4.45, the dawn chorus, much noise and chatter, but this morning, silence. I thought for a moment I must be going deaf and snapped my fingers beside my ear to check. And then, 5.45, there they were. Why the one hour delay? Who knows? Some bird event. I stopped on this morning's walk to listen to a robin on a fence only 4 or 5 feet away, looking me in the eye and telling me a very long musical story. The robins are fearless. 

Taught a fabulous U of T class midday. During our break, I checked my email to find some welcome news. Months ago I entered "Loose Woman" in the Whistler Independent Book Awards. It's a juried award of some prestige, at least in Canadian independent book circles, which is admittedly a SMALL circle. But still. They were announcing the shortlist, and there, to my disbelief, was my name, my book. It's one of six listed for the nonfiction award. 

How much this means. Somebody - several people, I assume - read my book and liked it enough to set it aside and consider it for a prize. It's been a long time, folks. I've won exactly one literary award, the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Award, decades ago. I was long listed twice for the CBC nonfiction award, and am proud of winning the Excellence in Teaching Award from U of T. 

But this is an award for my lovely book that almost no one knows about. Winning would help a lot. It might mean more readers, which is what matters. Even being shortlisted helps. It was noticed. It was chosen. Thank you. (Below, from Iguana Books, my publisher, on FB.)

And - might as well announce it all now - my nearly 3000-word essay on Alice Neel will run in The New Quarterly, probably in the fall issue, online and in print. It's about Alice's friendship with Dad, the portrait she painted of him, and my visit to her in 1980. Thrilled that it will appear in TNQ, one of the best of the Canadian literary magazines. Another yes. Music - birdsong - to my ears.

And - by sheer chance, "Loose Woman," with a few others, was featured today on BookLife's Indie Spotlight. 


So, a big day for moi. It's five, I'm pouring some celebratory rosé. (At the same time, I just got an email, "CBC to cover announcement of the Leacock Awards." I entered the Leacock Awards and did not even make the long list. It's for funny books, and I knew mine was not funny enough. I didn't enter the Jewish Literary Awards because it's not Jewish enough. But it's good enough for something.)

My Crone friends Annie, Terry, and Nancy came for a late lunch on Sunday, an afternoon of reminiscing and laughter; Nancy brought photographs of our shared past nearly fifty years ago. This is me with my dear friend and acting colleague, Peter Blais, now a wonderful visual artist in Nova Scotia. https://www.paintedsaltbox.com/

As you can see, we were very serious people. How could we have known then one of us would grow up to be a successful visual artist and another a SHORTLISTED AUTHOR? 


  1. Congratulations, Beth. What a great start to Summer!

    1. Thank you, my friend! Yes, it's a great boost, for sure.

    2. This is wonderful news, Beth. There's humour for sure so too bad about the Leacock. (Their loss.) Fingers crossed! Toes too.

    3. Thank you, Theresa! As you know better than I, with your own prize nominations, it's wonderful to have one's work noticed.