Friday, October 19, 2007
Anna Porter is the author of seven books including the recently released Kastner’s Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust. It is the story of a Hungarian lawyer who negotiated with Nazi officials to aid in the forced emigration of Jewish citizens, thereby saving over fifty thousand lives from certain death. She began her career in
I loved stories, and had always written poetry. At an early age my poems were published in
I decided to stay in
There are many styles in Canadian literature, not a single style. It's hard to see what Mordecai Richler's and Margaret Laurence's styles have in common - except, perhaps, clarity.
For the head of a publishing house to have a personal relationship with the authors is quite unusual, and I am proud that I became good friends with many of them. That’s something I learned from Jack McClelland. Leaving it was the most difficult thing.
AP: It is difficult to focus on something when you have a full time job. So first of all, I had the time required to dedicate to this project. My kids are grown up and I have resigned completely from Key Porter Books. It is now in the hands of a brilliant young man who is thirty years old, the perfect age to be running a publishing house.
These things kind of grow on you. I’ve always been interested in how the Holocuast could have happened, and what people chose to do in their individual lives when faced with the overwhelming moral problems. When I learned about this story, from my friend Peter Munk whose parents were saved by Kasztner, I was totally taken by it. I was beginning to attract this kind of story. There were so many contradicting accounts; the more I learned about this man the more I wanted to learn. Finally, I had to write the story all in one piece.
I am distracted by my past lives as a publisher - by people with manuscripts who would like help, who need to find a publisher, who do not know how to package their own work so it will be looked at by an agent, etc. All those years in the business have
accustomed me to being helpful when and where I can be. I am inspired by people's stories; written and spoken.
TDR: What was the process like in writing this book and how does it differ from your past experiences?
I believe that I know more about him and what happened than anyone in the world, including his friends and family. He is a hero, and his actions can teach us something very valuable. I am very passionate about this, and it will be a great relief to have the book out in the world. The Canadian publication will give me a good idea of what to expect and then next year it will be published in
Published Danforth Review, October 29 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Style at Home looked inside itself for inspiration in creating an event to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The publication’s staff designed the affair, held at Festival Tower Presentation Centre, to resemble the pages of the magazine. Various editorial sections were re-created, including the popular High/Low column that compares the high-end and affordable versions of popular design trends. To bring High/Low to life, the staff assembled room vignettes and ran a contest in which guests tried to guess which items in the rooms were high and which were low—those who guessed correctly won the items and detailing in the room scene.
Bombay Sapphire provided a pairing menu, while Starbucks chipped in tasty treats. Amazing Food Service’s menu included small soup servings that guests helped prepare by pouring hot water into tiny white cups.
Published BizBash.T.O., October 19 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
When Irshad Manji wants you to understand something, which she does quite often, the colour of her arresting brown eyes seems to intensify. Their shade at once deepens and shines. Her posture remains perfectly upright, while her whole body leans in and lengthens itself to one finger pointing directly at your heart while she speaks.
“I do not live with fear;” she says clearly and slowly, “Not because I have nothing to be afraid of, nor do I invite violence or hate. I refuse to live with fear. It is not part of my life.”
Courage is often required for Irshad to speak publicly, but she feels the importance of her work outweighs personal risk. After all, she little more reason to be afraid today than she did as a young girl, abused by her father and threatened by her educators at a private religious school. She has also taken great risks in her career; first in following her elected member of parliament to
She is also defiantly loyal to a faith that provokes conscience-shaking acts. Irshad believes that the Muslim faith is an important and inherently good one, which can and will adapt to modern human rights and multicultural values. She prays every day and follows Ramadan. For her insistence on Western liberal values aligning to her faith, she is charged with disrespect and self-hate. She insists that the faithful must embrace and survive modern challenges to survive; that is the criteria for legitimacy that a global generation requires.
But since publishing and speaking about Islam’s relationship to the Western world (and vice versa), the nature of that risk has changed. Her home includes a top-notch security system and bullet proof windows. Death threats come in regularly - though mundanely by e-mail - from around the world and from within her own city.
“A book is worth more than a life,” Salman Rushdie once told her, providing the final push to write her controversial bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today.
She speaks freely and often, with engagements in over a dozen countries per year. A new documentary, Faith without Fear, follows Irshad at home with her Mom and in dialogue with Muslims around the world. In
While North American militaries are fully engaged in Islamic nations of the Middle East, Irshad’s talk is serious, her work is serious and there are, of course, serious reactions. So it is lucky for all of us that she’s got a wicked sense of humour. Her new documentary, for example, shows Irshad trying on a full burqa with the help of an Afghan tailor. “You know, I have always wanted someone to dress me,” she remarks dryly. Her comment escapes him and he removes her glasses in order to cover her face with a black veil. “Talk about blind faith,” she says, giving him a friendly nudge. He smiles and nods, though it’s hard to know if he understands.
Two very strong personality traits developed in those early years – a love of liberal democracy, and an insatiable desire to question the world around her. She quit her formal Islamic studies at the age of fourteen. Her mother, a guiding force and mentor throughout her life, was horrified by supportive.
At 22 years old, Irshad completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts, majoring in intellectual history, at the
Her role models, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, have taught her to be unafraid of ruffling feathers within her own community, a message she passes on in her public engagements and on her blog, IrshadManji.com. She is connected to an international network of academics and activists, and delivers free online translations if her work within censored nations. The feedback from young Muslims has been encouraging.
“You know,” she says suddenly, as we stroll down a quiet
Monday, October 15, 2007
Without a burlap sack or hemp sandal in sight, Toronto managed to produce a totally green runway show this month called Fashion Takes Action. Ten Canadian designers unveiled mini-collections of eco-couture, featuring sustainable fabrics, low-impact dye, and cruelty-free methods of production. The designs were showcased during a runway show and gala which boasted the "lightest eco-footprint possible" and benefited Environmental Defense.
The collections ranged from avant-garde to entirely accessible; three designs were sold at live auction from the runway immediately following the show. Models walked barefoot on a sod runway under LED lights; an open wall behind them displayed the sunset over the lush green belt, and allowed guests to enjoy fresh air. Farley Chatto, Annie Thomson, Thien Lee, Damzels in this Dress, Thieves and Juma were only a few of the designers involved. Each was forced to abide by strict criteria in creating their designs.
It began with Annie Thomson's recycled, almost gothic collection set to grinding, bass-heavy music. Trademark green and black stripes marked this collection, which seemed to play off the apathy and strength of a mainstream green movement. Damzels in this Dress and Thieves offered a more upbeat picture of eco-awareness. Set to remixed hip hop and pop music, the shapes were longer and more playful. The fabric of choice for all of the designers was bamboo; whether brightly coloured in stunning ballgowns from Thien Lee, or in a sleek, stylish
suit from Farley Chatto, the material was immensely versatile in shape, colour, and texture.
The final display of eco-fashion was a soulful, sensual operatic score behind Pat McDonagh's classic white designs. Her pieces featured wide skirts, empire waist lines, and a simple, repeated penguin design. All of the clothing was hand-made, but hers also featured a water-based
design was individually printed with low-impact dyes. The particular care and time that is required for such work makes the collection particularly unique. The signature piece, a white high-waisted, wide skirt with penguins dancing around the hem and load of crinoline
underneath, was sold at auction and will be re-made to size for the highest bidder.
Great care was taken at every stage of the event to ensure its green-ness, including offsetting the entire event with BullFrog Power and CarbonZero. The food was locally grown and organic, served with recyclable plates and cutlery. No electricity was used to style the model's hair, and the stylists chose organic make-up from Aveda. Like the green movement itself, there are aspects of eco-couture that remain far from reach for the general public; a Thien Lee gown sold at the gala for $900 but has a retail value of $6000. And of course, like the flirty designs from League of Lovers and Thieves (already available online) or the LED lights - there are many options already at our fingertips.
Published Green Living Online, October 15 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
October 11, 2007, Toronto, ON. - Canada’s largest online bargain-hunting community has launched a “Green Deals” section. RedFlagDeals.com now offers a unique resource for those looking to save money on eco-friendly products and services. Bargain hunters can go directly to the “Green Section” at http://www.redflagdeals.com/deals/main.php/green/
The new section is different not only in content, but in style. The signature red page design has been given a green makeover both literally and figuratively. In the Green Deals section, the usual information on sales, discounts and coupons has been supplemented with eco-friendly tips. RedFlagDeals.com is also “walking-the-walk” and plans to purchase carbon credits to offset the energy used to run the web servers that host the site.
The founder and President of RedFlagDeals.com, Derek Szeto, says the new section will remain true to the focus of the rest of the site. “There are many Canadians who would prefer to buy eco-friendly products, but find them too expensive. This section will help make it easier and more affordable for consumers to go green.”
Vice-President of Operations and Community, Ryan McKegney, agrees. “The Green Deals section was created in response to what our audience is interested in. We have over one hundred thousand registered community members whom we interact with and poll regularly,” he says, “That audience has grown to include people looking for organic baby clothes, LED lights, recycled paper, and other green products. RedFlagDeals.com is and always will be about saving money, but now our readers can do so in a way that lessens their impact on the environment.”
Launched in November 2000, RedFlagDeals.com uses the power of community to alert bargain-hunting consumers to Canadian deals via the Internet. The site currently boasts over 1.1 monthly unique visitors and over 20 million page views every month. According to Alexa.com, RedFlagDeals.com is one of the 100 most popular websites in Canada. In recognition of his achievement and innovations as an entrepreneur, the founder of RedFlagDeals.com and president of Clear Sky Media, Derek Szeto, has been nominated for the Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Visit RedFlagDeals.com at http://www.redflagdeals.com
Published by Clear Sky Media, October 11 2007