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Arts & Culture

Ed Riche on satire and our capacity for self-delusion

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Ed Riche is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and more. However, he’s perhaps best known for his humour, and especially his satire. But according to Riche, we are now living in a “post-satiric” age. It’s one in which the seemingly satirical often turns out to be true; and in which there is a feeling in some quarters that speech which hurts should be shut down. How does a satirist ply their trade in a post-satiric age? “You just get ready to absorb more blows,” he says. “We’ve got the unthinkable – Donald Trump in the White House. That’s a punch line. It’s beyond all comprehension. Every day we look at that same reality and go ‘How could this have ever happened?’ He’s a horror clown, he’s a con man, he’s a grifter, he’s an idiot, he’s a crook, and yet he’s the most powerful man in the world. “And on…

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‘You’re not this and you’re not that’: author Lorri Neilsen Glenn

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A few years ago, an aunt told writer Lorri Neilsen Glenn  about her great-grandmother’s tragic death in a steamboat fire in 1908 in northern Manitoba. Wanting to know more, she started a journey that led her to histories she didn’t know were hers. Neilsen Glenn learned that she had roots in northern Indigenous and prairie Métis communities. The haunting account of her journey became Following the River: Traces of Red River Women, a book that gives the reader insight into uncelebrated histories, including the stories of Neilsen Glenn’s ancestors and their contemporaries. The book mirrors the fragmented nature of these women’s lives, Neilsen Glenn says. She shows us who these women are in a mix of evocative poetry, documentary material, and narrative prose. Together, these pieces offer the reader incredible glimpses of the lives of Neilsen Glenn’s ancestors based on what she could find in newspaper reports, archives, and museums. I wanted…

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Coming out and finding a home in music: Gays of Our Lives comes to NL

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I was in my early twenties when I told my happy-go-lucky uncle Jim I was gay. He froze with a look of shock and horror on his face, he even started to cry, which utterly bewildered me because he, too, was gay. This was not the reaction I was expecting. Wait this isn’t about me. It’s about the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. Let me refocus. I live downtown in one of the densest areas of North America and if I leave the house I have almost a 95 per cent chance of seeing someone from the chorus. Actually, as I was told, Sandra Oh was in town and she almost collided with one of us named Yogi; that alone would be a tale, be like her bumping into Vancouver’s very own Kevin Bacon/Glinda the good witch. So, frankly, we are literally everywhere. There’s a 130 plus guys engaged in what I’d…

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War in Comics: ‘the training, the waiting, and the growing fear of the approaching invasion’

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Given the chance to interview Canadian cartoonist Scott Chantler, I was both thrilled and filled with angst. Scott has made quite a name for himself in the comics world. His most recent work, Two Generals, (the graphic biography of his grandfather’s experiences in WW2) was nominated for two Eisner Awards, distinguished by the CBC as one of the 40 best Canadian non-fiction books of all time, and was selected by comics powerhouse Françoise Mouly as one of the Best American Comics of 2012. And his comic series for children, The Three Thieves and his graphic novel Northwest Passage were also nominated for multiple prestigious awards. Chantler agreed to chat with me about Two Generals, a comic, based on the 1943 diary of his grandfather, Law Chantler. It tells the story of Law and his best friend Jack Chrysler during World War Two. At the beginning of the book, the two young men from Ontario travel to England…

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Bypassing Dystopia could free Canada from the clutches of neoliberalism

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The people in Canada who are intelligent, open-minded, and not ideologically conservative would probably number at least a million. But if only one in twenty of them—50,000—were to read Joyce Nelson’s latest book—Bypassing Dystopia: Hope-filled Challenges to Corporate Rule—the outcome could be a grassroots uprising that would free Canada from the corrosive clutches of neoliberalism. Canada would become the idyllic country of economic, social, and environmental well-being that our corporate and political leaders hypocritically boast it already is. For anyone who hasn’t read this book and doesn’t intend to do so, my prediction of its revolutionary effects may seem impossibly grandiose. Most of those who do read it, however, will almost certainly share my enthusiasm. Its stunning exposure of how neoliberalism has worsened poverty and inequality, while supplanting democracy with plutocracy, will both infuriate and motivate readers not yet aware of these and many other “free market” iniquities. A brief…

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“There’s no worse feeling in the world than feeling all alone in a city of seven and a half million people.”

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Seamus Heffernan is not the first Newfoundlander whose background in journalism led him eventually to fiction. But finding his home in crime writing has been the culmination of a long-held dream. “Some kids dream of wanting to be an astronaut, some kids dream of scoring a Stanley Cup overtime winning goal, but for me, I always wanted to be a writer,” he recalled, the day after the launch of his debut novel Napalm Hearts. “So I guess last night was my overtime winning moment.” Throughout years of working for newspapers, magazines, and policy think-tanks, Heffernan yearned to write a serious piece of fiction. “I knew if I did that it was going to be in the crime genre, it was always the one I was drawn to. That was the format I was most comfortable with and I thought you can have fun with it while also saying an awful…

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Does your voice chafe? A book launch, a crowd of people, and two dentist appointments

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I went to the book launch to see what Helen Fogwill Porter had to do with the the world I lived in. It was one of those things. I’d clicked ‘going’ on a facebook invite without actually knowing if I’d be able to attend. Like a lot of people, I have a lot on the go and I never know how my day will shape up until it arrives. But when my husband stepped up to take our daughters to their dentist appointments, that Thursday afternoon became unexpectedly clear. So I went.  I googled her name on my phone in the cab on the way there. She was born on the Southside  of St. John’s (and wrote a memoir about it). She’s been writing since the 1960s, novels, stories, and poetry. She’s a feminist. She was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2016. The year before that,…

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As ArtsNL funding crisis deepens, province’s arts organizations fear for their future

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Several of the province’s arts organizations are in a bind after ArtsNL—the body which adjudicates grants and disburses provincial arts funding—has cut their funding over what the arts organizations say are very minor errors in online reporting forms. Last week the Folk Arts Council—which puts off the annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, one of the province’s premiere music and culture festivals—learned that the second and third years of a pre-approved three-year funding grant had been cancelled due to reporting errors. They have since announced they’re suing ArtsNL over the decision, since funding was supposed to be guaranteed for three years and they say minimal effort was made to alert them to the reporting discrepancies. Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival and Gros Morne Summer Music have also had their funding cancelled, and on Tuesday the provincial arts and culture magazine Riddle Fence made a public statement announcing their funding was…

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What could happen if the province increased funding to libraries?

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An event featuring three of the city’s top poets last week doubled as an occasion for library supporters to raise their voices in demanding an improved public library system for the capital city—and the province. The second event in The Once and Future Library series—organized by the St. John’s Public Library Board—took place on March 14 in the AC Hunter Public Library, and proved to be as lively as it was literary. All three poets, and the writers and librarians who introduced them, read from their works but also reflected on the value of libraries to themselves personally, as well as the role libraries play in the broader community. George Murray is a well-established poet. Author of eight books of poetry, as well as a published author of fiction and children’s literature, Murray has served as poetry editor for the Literary Review of Canada and contributing editor with Maisonneuve. In…

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‘Wounds don’t need to be closed’

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Mi’kmaq poet and writer Shannon Webb-Campbell was living in Halifax in 2014, the February that Loretta Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk woman from Labrador, was murdered. “I felt devastated and I wondered how I could help in any way. And so I started thinking maybe I could write a poetry book about this,” Webb-Campbell said. Who Took My Sister? explores the different kinds of trauma Indigenous women live through, with, and alongside. I invited Webb-Campbell to join myself and two other women as we talked about her new book (to be released March 20). So, in the middle of February, at an office in the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, three women met to talk with Webb-Campbell by phone about trauma, murdered and missing Indigenous women, and love. Métis cultural support worker with the Friendship Centre, Amelia Reimer, musician and community arts organizer Kate Lahey, and myself, a Métis writer and…

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From Newfoundland to the edge of the galaxy: Encountering Ursula K. Le Guin

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Le Guin’s worlds reshaped our own

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Street corners and court rooms

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Documentary explores the state of prostitution laws in Canada; producer to speak at St. John’s screening

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Flouting convention: new release explores flutes, films and the unknown

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St. John’s flutist’s newest release a unique DVD collaboration with filmmakers

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Rekindling an intimate relationship through film

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The ‘People and the Sea’ film festival is here to remind us who we are and how we’ve survived in the North Atlantic for so long

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Fishy business

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Documentary seeks answers to dwindling salmon stocks

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Book Review: ‘Caught’ by Lisa Moore

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Lisa Moore’s recent novel Caught is in contention for this year’s Giller Prize, and it should come as no surprise if this Newfoundland author wins

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Showcase celebrates Aboriginal cultures, aims to foster unity

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The St. John’s Native Friendship Centre presents its first annual ‘Spirit Song’ showcase and fundraiser Oct. 18-19 at LSPU Hall

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Bee-wildered

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Honeybees are disappearing, bee colonies worldwide are collapsing, and there’s very good reason to be concerned.

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Showcasing diversity, shattering expectations

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Festival of New Dance celebrates its 23rd year

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