Events & Reviews at This Ain’t The Rosedale Library

A second update to our situation.

Posted in Events, Upcoming events by thisaintblog on June 24, 2010

We are sincerely touched by the outpouring of sympathy and understanding that so many people have shown us over the last few days. It is overwhelming that such a diverse group of people all feel strongly about the books that we stock, the place that we create for them, and the way that we champion them. We offer our thanks to each one of you, and have trouble finding words to repay this kindness.

We are, however, in the disappointing position of having had our formal proposal to our landlord rejected. Our proposal to work for her to liquidate our stock was dismissed with the argument that the cost of paying security or a bailiff to observe the process would outweigh the gain. Our proposal did not include security or a bailiff’s presence during the process. Clearly we are not trusted. With no negotiation of our terms of payment available to us we have to accept that the store has no future at this location. This might seem anti-climactic, and some of our supporters may feel that there must be something else that we can do. We ask for your trust that we have, for some time now, considered all the options, and have had the support of a lawyer in formalizing them. Our only hope is to imagine that the store may reemerge in the long-term. At this point a fundraiser could only be a Pyrrhic victory. We encourage all those who have shown such enthusiasm for the store to consider helping us and stores of our kind but in the future.

While we are open to suggestions, we are hoping that our own unfortunate case might offer others the opportunity to seriously consider the factors which combine to make creating and running a bookstore such a challenge in North America. Predatory pricing of Amazon, inflated rents in urban centers, remaindering of excessive print-runs demanded by big-box stores and corporate publishing have had a devastating effect on smaller entrepreneurs. We are still of the feeling that without big changes the best and most satisfying way to support indies is to explore the stores in your city, browse their selection, trust your own curiosity, and buy gift certificates if nothing suits you.

We cannot help but feel guilty for disappointing everyone who has demonstrated their hope that we might resolve our difficulties in the short term. We invite anyone who might feel that we have breached their trust in this respect to contact us at

Jesse & Charlie Huisken

An update on our situtation.

Posted in Events, Upcoming events by thisaintblog on June 23, 2010

Our situation, which could be told as a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities, is really quite a simple one. At our new location in Kensington Market we found a space with lower rent and overheads which thus represented an enticing solution to the difficulty of inflated rents facing many stores of our kind. For a year we worked in this space happily, until the recession hit with full force and we began to fall behind with our rent. Our response to this situation was similar to that of any small retail business. We bought shrewdly, held regular events, did book tables for small press launches, conferences and author appearances, did not invest in advertising, fixtures, signage or renovations, kept only minimal staff (the store has one part-time staff person), and most importantly worked full-time or more with long store hours, while drawing the absolute minimum for our own rent and expenses. In this way we were able, albeit very gradually, to pay our back-rent, and maintain an amicable relationship with out landlord. While the space presented a number of challenges, including our basement flooding whenever there was heavy rain, and though we heard many stories of rent reductions in our own neighborhood we were not offered this option, but continued none-the-less to enjoy working at the store and feel inspired by our customers’ enthusiasm for the books that we were selling. Quite suddenly this changed. Our landlord became impatient with the rate at which we were able to pay her and made demands for large repayments, without providing a precise accounting of what was owing. In light of our workload and the proliferation of other causes in this city, a fundraiser remained only an idea. Instead we responded to these unrealistic demands with an informal proposal which would not have been profitable to us, but to our landlord. We received only further demands which we attempted to meet within our resources until the locks were changed on Friday June 19th. We are once again offering our landlord a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner.

Jesse & Charlie Huisken

Sub Rosa: A Novel by Amber Dawn: Toronto Booklaunch

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on April 27, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010 9pm – In store, and FREE.

Come out for an intimate night of readings as AMBER DAWN travels from Vancouver to launch her debut novel Sub Rosa (Arsenal Pulp Press) — a speculative fiction narrative about an underground society of ghosts and magicians, missing girls and amnesiatic sweethearts: a place called Sub Rosa… happening on Friday, April 30, 2010 at 9 p.m.

DEBRA ANDERSON will also read from a work-in-progress and share some Toronto love.
“Amber Dawn’s Sub Rosa is a masterpiece of imagination. It’s haunting, chilling at points and then just so sweet. Her writing is stealthy and seductive, wise and witty and clever. Lock Mary Gaitskill in a closet with Francesca Lia Block and they might emerge with a map to Sub Rosa: a glorious mystery that creeps you out and then totally enchants.”
—Michelle Tea, author of Valencia and Rose of No Man’s Land

AMBER DAWN is a writer, filmmaker and performance artist based in Vancouver. She is the editor of Fist of the Spider Woman (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008) and co-editor of With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2005). Her award-winning, genderfuck docu-porn, Girl on Girl, has been screened in eight countries and added to the gender studies curriculum at Concordia University. She has toured three times with the infamous Sex Workers’ Art Show in the US. She was voted Xtra! West’s Hero of the Year in 2008. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Currently, she is the director of programming for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Sub Rosa is her first novel.

DEBRA ANDERSON is the winner of the Dayne Ogilvie Grant (2009), a grant awarded to an emerging gay Canadian writer for a body of work. Debra’s writing has been anthologized in Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity, Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws, and Bent: On Writing. She recently read at Word on the Street (2009), facilitated a Creative Writing Workshop at Word on the Street (2007) and in 2007 was the guest author at Pink Ink, a SOY Writing Group for queer/trans youth. Code White (McGilligan Books) is her first novel, which Herizons Magazine described as “…a book that meets your eye, has a good handshake, and looks killer in a pair of fishnets.” For more info visit or join her on Facebook.

Woodstock Rising: the Toronto launch of a novel by Tom Wayman

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on March 12, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 8pm – In store and FREE

This booklaunch will be accompanied by a slide show prepared by Laura Jones and the family of the late John Franklin Phillips. Laura and John founded the Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography in the late 60s in Toronto. John assisted Cabbagetown film-maker Clay Borris as cinematographer for “The Paper Boy” and “Rose’s House.” Clay Borris, Laura Jones and Bennett, Laura and John’s son will be in attendance at this combination booklaunch / photo retrospective. A series of photos taken by Clay of The Woodstock Festival of 1969 will be shown.

“Woodstock Rising,” a novel by Tom Wayman:
It’s late 1969 and Communist China has successfully launched its first satellite. Inspired by this feat, a group of college students in Laguna Beach, California, set out to put their own satellite into orbit in homage to the recent Woodstock Festival. A young Canadian graduate student at the University of California finds himself at the centre of the mayhem when he and his friends break into a mothballed missile silo and commandeer everything they need, including a nuclear warhead, to blast the Woodstock Nation into the space age. The activists have big plans for their loot, schemes that may well culminate in the Light Show to End All Light Shows in the Nevada desert.
An extraordinary black comedy shot full of the social and political issues of the time, Woodstock Rising is a coming-of-age tale couched in free love, rock anthems, and revolution as well as a chronicle of an era whose causes continue to speak to us.
Tom Wayman was born in Ontario in 1945, but has spent most of his life in British Columbia. He has worked at a number of jobs, both blue and white-collar, across Canada and the U.S., and has helped bring into being a new movement of poetry in these countries – the incorporation of the actual conditions and effects of work. He received his MFA in English and writing at the University of California in Irvine has been awarded the Canadian Authors’ Association medal for poetry, the A.J.M. Smith Prize for distinguished achievement in Canadian poetry and first prize in the USA Bicentennial Poetry Awards competition. His poetry has been published in literary magazines across the world, including The Paris Review, Saturday Night, The Hudson Review and Canadian Forum. He currently teaches at the University of Calgary and remains Squire of “Appledore,” his estate in the Selkirk Mountains of southeastern B. C.

Donations may still be made to honour the legacy of John Franklin Phillips to the War Resisters Support Campaign:

North America: A Prophecy with Sparrow, Peter Dube, Steve Venright

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on March 7, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – 8pm, event takes place in store and is FREE

Sparrow created quite a stir in 1995 when he picketed The New Yorker magazine, holding a placard reading, “My Poetry is as bad as yours.” His poetry has since appeared in that magazine as well as The Quarterly, The New York Times and other erudite journals.
“One of the funniest men in Manhattan… Over and above everything else, Sparrow offers something to believe in.”
—Robert Christgau, The Village Voice
“America: A Prophecy” ranges from a hilarious spiritual guide to New York City–written after Sparrow tried meditating at a dozen high-traffic landmarks–to the scientific and religious significance of the sky, Sparrow’s unique blend of wit and wisdom gives readers a whole new way of seeing our country at the crossroads. The author of Republican Like Me, Sparrow challenged Bob Dole for the presidential nomination in 1996 and, remarkably, lost. America: A Prophecy is his follow up, a fantastical look at a country in flux by a mischievous poet and iconoclastic comedian.
Written over a period of several years,”Yes, You Are a Revolutionary!” is a collection of six works by the renowned street poet Sparrow. He reveals how to be a happy revolutionary, offers haunting poems on the underside of the class struggle, and includes tonal pieces celebrating adolescence. In addition to the title piece, the book includes “Dinosaur Haiku,” “Cooking with Ice,” “Marxist Rhythms,” “Jealous Cops,” and “Morning Poems.”
“A cult hero…Look for this pocket-sized volume to turn up in the back of SUVs as often as at Washington Mall protests.”
—Publishers Weekly on “Yes, You Are a Revolutionary!”

Peter Dubé is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and cultural critic. He is the author of the chapbook “Vortex Faction Manifesto” (Vortex Editions, 2001), the novel “Hovering World” (DC Books 2002) and “At the Bottom of the Sky,” a collection of linked short stories (DC Books, 2007). He is also the editor of the anthology “Madder Love: Queer Men and The Precincts of Surrealism” (Rebel Satori Press, 2008).
His fiction — informed by surrealism, queer and “popular” cultures, as well as a whole host of heretical and apocalyptic visions — deploys dense verbal surfaces to investigate the narrative construction of experience, particularly at the points where imagination, desire and the body politic intersect. In other words, his writing is often weird, sweaty and lush.
In addition to his fictional work, his essays and critical writings have been widely published in journals such as CV Photo, ESSE, Hour and Ashé, and in exhibition publications for various galleries, among them SKOL, Occurrence, Quartier Éphémère and the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery of Concordia University.

Steve Venright is the author of several books of poetry including “Floors of Enduring Beauty” (Mansfield Press). As well as being an author, Steve Venright is a visual and sound artist whose Torpor Vigil Industries record label has released such remarkable cds as “Songs of Elsewhere” by Samuel Andreyev and an album of spoken dreams called “The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor.” He was born in Sarnia in 1961 and now resides in a large consensual reality domain called Toronto, Ontario.

Readings by Fred Wah, Camille Martin, Jim Smith

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on February 20, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
8:00pm – 11:00pm – In store – FREE

In Celebration of “The False Laws of Narrative: The Poetry of Fred Wah” and Camille Martin’s “Sonnets”

In her second book of poetry, Camille Martin breathes fresh life into the sonnet in a collection that is at once edgy and lyrical. The word “sonnet” comes from “song,” and the musicality of Sonnets is not surprising, given Martin’s background as a classical musician.

These poems demonstrate a virtuosic range of approaches and themes; some are inspired by texts as disparate as nursery rhymes, theories of cognitive science, a history of street names, and her own dream journals. The chorus of voices in this collection sing confidently and fluently, proving the sonnet to be an ideal vehicle for Martin’s love affair with language.
—Shearsman Books

Camille Martin’s Sonnets bring the old form into the 21st century. In some ways, they are almost traditional; the speaker addresses a not-so-well beloved, a figure who occupies a “fraudulent elsewhere,” an elusive lover or, more likely, another version of the poet herself. Identity theft is an issue here where we find ourselves “comatose in paradise but happy happy/feet! is this where I want to go? thrust/into an age unfavourable to being/a guest in one’s own home?” In these taut, fast-paced, self-aware poems, the lyric meets 21st century paranoia and sparks fly.
—Rae Armantrout

“The False Laws of Narrative” is a selection of Fred Wah’s poems covering the poets entire poetic trajectory to date. A founding editor of “Tish” magazine, Wah was influenced by leading progressive and innovative poets of the 1960s and was at the forefront of the exploration of racial hybridity, multiculturalism, and transnational family roots in poetry. The selection emphasizes his innovative poetic range.

Wah is renowned as one of Canada’s finest and most complex lyric poets and has been lauded for the musicality of his verse. Louis Cabri’s introduction offers a paradigm for thinking about how sound is actually structured in Wah’s improvisatory poetry and offers fresh insights into Wah’s context and writing. In an afterword by the poet himself, Wah presents a dialogue between editor and poet on the key themes of the selected poems and reveals his abiding concerns as poet and thinker.

Fred Wah has been involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as “Open Letter” and “West Coast Line.” Recent books are the biofiction “Diamond Gril”l (1996), “Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity” (2000), a collection of essays, and “Sentenced to Light” (2008), a collection of poetic image/text projects. He splits his time between the Kootenays in southeastern B.C. and Vancouver.

Camille Martin, a Toronto poet and collage artist, is the author of “Codes of Public Sleep” (Toronto: BookThug, 2007). She was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, and spent her childhood in Lafayette, Louisiana. A classical musician from an early age, she earned graduate degrees in both music and English literature. After residing in New Orleans for fourteen years, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 she moved to Toronto, where she teaches writing and literature at Ryerson University.

Jim Smith is the author of “Back Off, Assassin! New and Selected Poems” recently published by Mansfield Press. Smith moved from his birthplace, Niagara Falls, to Kingston in 1952. He started writing seriously in Grade 8 in 1963. His first published story earned him $5 from “West Coast Review” in 1972. His magazine, “The Front,” lasted from about 1972 to 1980, and the spinoff Front Press published books and pamphlets in the ’80s by writers like David McFadden, bpNichol, Wayne Clifford and Stuart Ross. Between 1979 and 1998, Smith published about half a dozen books of poetry, plus a number of chapbooks and ephemera. In the mid-’90s he diverted himself to law, and has been a civil litigator for the last decade. He continues to live and write in Toronto.

Readings by Pasha Malla, Lisa Foad, Jeff Parker

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on February 20, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010
8:00pm – 11:00pm – In store – FREE

Pasha Malla is the author of “All Our Grandfathers are Ghosts,” a collection of poems, and his first book of stories, “The Withdrawal Method,” won the Trillium Book Award and the Danuta Gleed Literary Prize, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Award, longlisted for the Giller Prize and ReLit Award, and chosen as a Globe and Mail and National Post book of the year. His short fiction has won the Arthur Ellis Award for crime writing and twice appeared in the Journey Prize anthology. Pasha spent the summer of 2009 as writer in residence at the Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, and is currently on faculty at the Banff Centre’s Wired Writing Studio and the University of Toronto. His first novel,”People Park,” will be published by House of Anansi at some point in the near future.

Lisa Foad’s debut story collection, “The Night Is A Mouth,” won the 2009 ReLit Award for short fiction, and was named among the Globe and Mail’s First-Fiction Top Five of 2009. She lives in Toronto and is at work on her first novel.

Jeff Parker is the author of the short story collection “The Taste of Penny,” (Snare Books) and “Ovenman: A Novel” (Tin House).


Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on February 5, 2010

Get Lucky in Love and Lit this Friday February 12 2010 – 9:00 PM– in the store.

Join the Vagabonds for a sizzler of a night with readings
from literary heartthrobs:

With your foxy hosts Darrah Teitel, Blair Trewartha and Kathleen Brown

Some Kind of Cheese Orgy: a poetry reading with Linh Dinh, a.rawlings and Angela Szczepaniak

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on January 20, 2010

lindinhTuesday, February 2 – 7pm, in store. Admission to this event is FREE. But we will pass the hat – the magical hat. Join us for a special literary event at This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, featuring Vietnamese-American poet Linh Dinh and local poets a.rawlings and Angela Szczepaniak.

Linh Dinh is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and five books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006) Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009). His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007 and Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, among many other places. Linh Dinh is also the editor of the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and Three Vietnamese Poets (2001), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004.

“Reading Linh Dinh is a tonic and a revelation. His poems might have taken off the top of Dickinson’s head, and then some. Linh Dinh raids and reinvents the language with an ardor bordering on delirium.” — Rachel Loden

“Linh Dinh’s is a unique voice in contemporary American literature. He writes with the raging wit and the soul of a poet.” — Jessica Hagedorn

“Linh Dinh is one of the most consistently surprising writers around. One can find sources & roots for his writing, explain the traces of surrealism through the presence, say, of the French in Vietnam (tho they were driven out a decade before he was born), note that he is hardly the only good or successful Vietnamese American poet, let alone the only poet to come from a working class background, yet he is not writing “about” or even “toward” nor “from” any one of these contexts so much as he is through them – they are lenses, filters, that condition his perspective on everyday life. Imagine what any other poet with this strong a sense of form would have had to become in order to write such poetry. Ted Berrigan, for example. Berrigan shares Linh’s class background, which enables him to be as ruthless in a different way as Linh is in his. But the comparison stops there. Linh is writing straightforward poetry, but from a perspective shared by almost no one else. This kind of exile is far deeper than mere geography. Reading Borderless Bodies, you can feel Linh’s deep loneliness on every page & realize that there are aspects of his poetry that you can’t find anywhere else. We probably haven’t had a writer this singular since the death of William Burroughs.”
— Ron Silliman

a.rawlings is a poet, editor and multidisciplinary artist. In 2001, she received the bpNichol Award for Distinction in Writing upon graduating from York University. rawlings co-organized the Lexiconjury Reading Series, worked for The Mercury Press, and has lead copious writing workshops. Her first book, Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006), received an Alcuin Award for Book Design. rawlings recently received a Chalmers Arts Fellowship; she has used it to spend time in Belgium and Iceland developing three new manuscripts and collaborating on sound and kinetic poetry. rawlings continues to split her life experiences between Belgium, Canada, and Iceland.

Angela Szczepaniak’s writing has appeared in Mad Hatter’s Review, Pilot, P-Queue, Phoebe and FOURSQUARE, among other journals and anthologies. She recently participated in a hygiene-themed poetry-art project with LOCCAL, and as a result some of her work can be found on placards in the better public restrooms of Seattle. She studies and teaches at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and lives mainly in Toronto. Szczepaniak’s debut poetry collection, Unisex Love Poems, combines fiction, poetry, etiquette advice, slapstick legal antics, and gruesomely illustrated recipes for sweetbreads and love letters into a parody of manners and conduct. An autopsy of language, it makes you savour the visceral, tangible quality of the word.

Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto by Liz Worth

Posted in Events, Past events by thisaintblog on January 17, 2010

Monday January 25th, 7pm – Admission is FREE – Takes place in the store.
Liz Worth, who was born in 1982, was inspired by fiction to compile a book of interviews with first wave punk rockers from the Toronto scene: “It actually wasn’t until I came across a novel called 1978 by Daniel Jones of Toronto that I learned there had been a first wave punk scene right here. While the story of a group of downtown kids living in chaos is fictional, the bands and venues referenced are all true. After reading names like the Diodes, the Viletones and the Poles, I took a trip to my favorite music store.” And the rest, as they could say, is oral history.

This Ain’t The Rosedale Library was founded in 1979 and its first location shared a front door with The Record Pedlar which was a source for recordings from Toronto as well as imported items and was a punk hangout. The New Rose was a store located at Queen and Parliament just east of the book store and record store. The New Rose was home to a number of the colourful characters who spoke to Liz Worth about the 70s punk scene. The owners of This Ain’t The Rosedale Library were and are personal friends of many of that scene’s figures, especially the late Jones. Dan Bazuin, partner emeritus of the bookstore, organized the light shows for the 70s band Oh Those Pants! “Treat Me Like Dirt” was published by Ralph Alfonso’s BongoBeat Records. Ralph was the doorman/manager for the punk club Crash ‘n’ Burn and managed the Diodes. So the gathering on Monday, January 25 may be a reunion of sorts, but it will not indulge in nostalgia. There will be musical and writerly mystery guests. There will be a punky Q & A. Liz will sign copies of her book.
Fun will be had by all.