Beth Follett has always done things her way. She is a publisher, who has created a list of integrity, featuring books of literary meaning and substance. As a figure in Canada's book world, she has kept to her credo: to acquire works of exceptional literary quality which also break silences regarding widespread failures of social and political systems: to make books with serious intellectual and emotional content, in other words, that are also works of art. So much injustice cries out for attention, so much suffering, so many affronts to human dignity need to be met with strong literary force. Pedlar combines high aesthetic standards with a praxis of action; it means to foster humane social and political ends.
Now that she will no longer acquiring books, the literary world in Canada will be a smaller place. In order to say goodbye properly, many talented writers and musicians will be performing on June 10. They'll be playing for Beth and her audience.
Words and/or readings by Stan Dragland, Maureen Scott Harris, Zab Hobart, Souvankham Thammavongsa
Music by Andy Maize & Josh Finlayson
Open mic for spontaneous words / Show & Tell
Words from Beth Follett
Beth Follett is a novelist, essayist and poet. She is the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press. A long-time resident of Toronto, she is now happily ensconced in St. John's Newfoundland.
Stan Dragland fell for Newfoundland like a lover. The Alberta-born writer was an Ontario-based English literature professor on sabbatical when he got to know the island, and found a place unlike anywhere else in the country. Dragland took early retirement and relocated to St. John's, a move that surprised him as much as anyone. His most recent book concerns master NL-based artist Gerald Squires (Pedlar, 2017).
Maureen Scott Harris was born in Prince Rupert, grew up in Winnipeg, and has lived in Toronto since 1964. She has a BA and a Library Degree from the University of Toronto, and worked until 1993 as a rare books cataloguer and in other capacities at the University of Toronto Library. Since then she has worked as an author, poet, editor, reviewer, freelancer; and has worked in a bookstore. In 2005 she won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry for Drowning Lessons (Pedlar, 2004).
Zab Hobart holds an MFA in Design from the Nova Scotia College of Art. Since 1988, Hobart has owned and operated Zab Design & Typography Inc. The firm specializes in book design for museums, galleries, and artists across Canada and internationally. Her clients include Pedlar Press, Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal, Canadian Centre for Architecture, The Banff Centre, The Salgo Trust for Education in New York, and Gallery 44 in Toronto. As Zab Designs principal, Hobart is an accredited member of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD). She has received numerous awards from the Alcuin Citation for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, the Blue Sky Best of Show Award, and Blue Sky Judge's Choice Award in 2004 from Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), Manitoba.
Souvankham Thammavongsa was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand in 1978, and was raised and educated in Toronto. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper's, Granta, Ploughshares, NOON, and Best American Non-Required Reading. She is the author of three poetry books, most recently Light (Pedlar, 2013), winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, Small Arguments (Pedlar, 2003), winner of the ReLit Award, and Found (Pedlar, 2007), now a short film by Paramita Nath, which screened worldwide at festivals including TIFF, L.A. Shorts Fest, and Dok Leipzig. She has been awarded residencies and fellowships by Yaddo, the Canada Council for the Arts, and has performed her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Andy Maize is a singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Canadian roots/rock band, Skydiggers. The 'Diggers have been writing and playing their way across Canada for over a quarter-century. Skydiggers have sixteen records to their name, including their debut Skydiggers (1990), and more recently, Here Without You: The Songs Of Gene Clark (Latent Recordings). In celebration of their 25th year, Skydiggers released No. 1 Northern (2013), a covers album of classic Canadian folk and rock songs. Toronto-born and bred, Maize co-founded Maple Music, a record label and e-commerce platform for Canadian artists and markets. Maple's successes are many, and include bolstering the careers of Sam Roberts and Kathleen Edwards, and distributing Radiohead's three most recent records in Canada.
Josh Finlayson is a founding member of Skydiggers. “It all started in the beverage room of the Spadina Hotel. That is essentially when the band came together.” says Finlayson. “Andy and I performed there as a duo as part of Andrew Cash's Monday night series called Acoustic Meltdown. When Andrew released his debut album and could no longer host the night, we took it over. We put an ad in Now Magazine answered by Ron Macey, and together with Wayne Stokes and Andrew's brother Peter Cash, who was quietly writing some amazing songs, Skydiggers were born.” Finlayson attributes their ongoing growth and successes to chemistry, not only of the band but also the experiences of sharing the stage with so many other great Canadian musicians. In summer 2014 Finlayson played with Gord Downie at the St. John's Folk Festival and at Woody Point Writers Festival in Newfoundland.