New Binbrook Library Welcomes Author of Autumn’s Grace 

I was thrilled to be the first visiting author to speak at the brand new Binbrook branch of the Hamilton Public Library. It’s a welcoming, open, and modern space that pays tribute to the agricultural heritage of the community with large sepia toned photo murals on several walls. Toward the back of the building, tucked in behind some stacks, is a place I would make my own if I was a Binbrook library patron. That’s because there’s a fireplace with some comfortable reading chairs.


Librarians Laura Palumbo and Denise Besic flanking author with the closed eyes.

Rather than curl up to read, I followed librarian Denise Besic into the events room. Floor to ceiling windows look out onto the main street with electronic blinds managing the amount of sunlight. The chairs for attendees are modern red pops of colour, and the space for the guest author is the most inviting I have encountered to date.


An inviting set-up.

Binbrook Library was the perfect venue for a talk that combined the back story on how the novel Autumn’s Grace came about, with readings, and discussion. I loved the sensitivity and maturity of the audience; palliative care is a complex subject. I hope they had as fine an afternoon as I had.


Volunteer, Kylie Miron, with author.

Independent Book Sellers – We say “Thank you!”

Authors for Indies poster outlines

I’m stoked for our upcoming, cross Canada, Authors for Indies book fest!  On Saturday May 30th, authors will be congregating in their local book stores for a national shout-out to independent booksellers.  This day is our way of saying, “THANK YOU!” to the people who hand sell our books to you.

In Hamilton-Burlington area the participating booksellers are: Bryan Prince, Different Drummer and Epic Books. Authors will be on-site for a few hours chatting with customers and acting as guest booksellers — a risky business for this author who is likely to purchase more books than she sells! At Bryan Prince, authors will also be doing flash readings from a favorite book. My choice is Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. Do drop by. I’ll be at Bryan Prince between 12:00 and 2:00.



The Show Must Go On – Concussed Author Reads at the Lit Live Reading Series



photo (6)

John Lennon’s observation that “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans,” was an apt mantra for me during the last 4 weeks. Nobody plans a concussion, but life happens. The holiday schedule had included conducting a family Christmas, hosting a post-Christmas gathering of neighbors at the cottage, celebrating a three day family New Year’s event, and then finishing off with a reading on January 4th at the Hamilton Lit Live Reading Series. Nothing went quite as planned.

My amazing husband and sons stepped in to to make Christmas happen; our sons hosted the neighbors up north on the 27th; and my wonderful family (husband, sons, mother, sister, nieces, and brother) made New Year’s an example of team effort.

With more than a little trepidation, I did manage to read at the Lit Live event in Hamilton. What you will see in the attached photo are the very big, and very red Vuarnet sunglasses (circa 1985). They have been perched on my nose for the past 4 weeks even as I lay in a dark bedroom. It’s not possible to overstate the sensitivity to light that one experiences with a concussion.

The Lit Live Committee has recorded the last two months of readings. Click  Lit Live Reading Series – Sunday January 4th, 2015 for the audio. Do listen to the clips from the poets. Their readings ranged from quirky and funny, to cerebral and spiritual. One of the delights of this series is the exposure to poetry.

What you will hear when you get to my clip is a rather strained voice. I was anxious for the better part of the day about the lighting, and about my ability to stand for 15 minutes. If I had thought about it, I would also have fretted about multi-tasking: holding a binder, reading words, and turning the pages. So… in the clip you will hear me fumbling at the end of the first page as I try to speak, read, hold the notes and turn the page. Fortunately my brain found an ‘e’ word (extemporaneous) before it found the ‘f’ word.

I dedicated the reading to the memory of Eric McGuiness, the Hamilton journalist who reported on environmental issues for the Hamilton Spectator. Eric provided an informed external voice to our community’s fight in north Flamborough. As we battled a quarry, he was fighting cancer. This past October he wrote:

I’m resigned to the fact that it [cancer] will kill me. What worries me most is how I will die.

If I wind up in a hospice rather than a hospital and if the symptoms can be controlled, perhaps a dignified, quick and peaceful death is possible. Or I could be one of the people who die slowly and painfully: unable to care for myself, pleading for an end to my suffering. Some people who are terminally ill see no choice but violent forms of death that are horrific to contemplate.

Eric died in Switzerland this past month where he could be assured of dying “as easily and humanely as a beloved family pet.”

I started writing Autumn’s Grace in the early 2000’s because I was profoundly disturbed by the state of palliative care in Canada. Fifteen years later, not much has happened to ease my worry. We talk about the subject, but I have yet to see substantive systemic change. Until end of life care is considered as important a public health issue as preparation and support for pregnancy and child birth, people will be faced with challenging choices at end of life. 

Photo credit: Gary Barwin



Remembering Alistair MacLeod


Alistair MacLeod & 2003 Creativing Writing Class

I met Alistair MacLeod during the cocktail reception for Humber College’s week long Creative Writing Workshop. The year was 2003. Alistair had corralled his seminar students to meet them and to establish the reading plan for the first two days

Up until that evening, I believed that I was in Alistair MacLeod’s group because he had been my first choice for a seminar leader. What I learned after talking to fellow students terrified me. He had been the first choice of more than half of the students I was meeting. They had arts degrees; I had two science degrees. Clearly there was a problem. Why would I be given my preference over others who had been writing creatively all their lives? Self-doubt crept in and settled in my gut.

So, it was with an uneasy feeling that I met Alistair MacLeod with my fellow seminar students.

“Which one of you is Lendrum?”

Oh no. This was it. My stomach lurched. “I am sir.”

“Good. We will start with your submission tomorrow.”

I was as close to fainting as I have ever been.  With absolute certainty I knew I had been placed in Alistair MacLeod’s seminar group to illustrate how not to write. I approached the next morning with trepidation.

Alistair chose to begin the class with a discussion about writing, and deferred our reading of each other’s material until the next day. Perhaps he had seen my look of terror.  If so, I was grateful. Alistair set the tone early on by saying, “Some of you have good beads but don’t yet have a necklace.”  Had I been less caught up in anxiety, I would have known that nothing bad was going to happen in this group. We would be safe to explore our own and each other’s creativity.

My fellow students were an accomplished group and eager to share their work. They were bright, generous, and inquisitive. I listened intently to how they asked questions, provided affirmations, and I scribbled furiously whenever Alistair spoke. Somehow I managed to manoeuvre my way down the presentation roster, which only delayed the inevitable. It was not until Wednesday afternoon, with my presentation behind me, that I began to relax—a little.

I have kept my notebook from that week, and they are full of Alistairisms.  The admonition that keeps me going on slow writing days is, “Write what you care about. Write about what worries you.” Or something like that. My handwritten notes from the first two days are tight and cramped. I had not yet unclenched. If I had been able to muster the confidence, I would have said to Alistair that the week had been special, memorable, and that his encouragement left me convinced that someday I would be a writer.

Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, published by Inanna Press in 2013.

(Photo – Front row L-R: Mary Jo Morris, Helen Du Toit, Alistair MacLeod, Bonnie Lendrum.  Back row L-R: Rob Marsh, Ian Colford, Sally Moore  . James Bartleman, Michelle Butler- Hallett, Rod McDonald)

Two Springs Times Two


If there is anything on earth more luxurious than having two springs in the same year, I have not yet encountered it. The burst of landscape colour is exhilarating. The bird song is uplifting. The sunshine after the grey days of March is welcome.

We left Canada, mid-March, between two major winter storms. Eight hours later we arrived in Nice, France to warm, golden light and and yellow-green grass in its early shades of post dormant recovery. As we drove west toward Entrecasteaux we marveled at daffodils in full bloom. We have been here now for three weeks which means we have watched the flowers fade and then develop their seed pods. As we have toured from town to town in search of yet another fromage du chevre and vin rosé we have seen cherry trees in full blossom, forsythias in batch plantings brightening the hillsides, and naturalized irises poking elegant purple heads through the roadside fescues, We have enjoyed watching the trees come into leaf with the the willows in particular being most advanced for their shiny new leaves and downy green blossoms. Yesterday as we drove near Toulon we were delighted to see the first sight of green sprouts from the rows of gnarled grape-vines.

To say that a year with two springs is wonderful is an understatement. Our first year with two springs was twenty-five years ago. Our departure from Montreal had been fretful. Seven days before D-day I had had an amniocentesis, and had stupidly not realized before the procedure that a risk, albeit low, was a mis-carriage. While I was in a state of heightened anxiety and protectiveness, my husband was having difficulty breathing. Four nights before D-day Kenn was in the hospital emergency with “searing hot knife-like” pains in his chest. (This was the description from a man who usually is incapable of describing discomfort in words other than “It hurts.”!) A diagnosis of pleurisy was made and medications were prescribed. The much awaited vacation seemed almost out of reach, yet we mustered our courage and left Montreal in yet another a snow-storm. When we arrived in Paris it was spring, and while we knew that would be so, we had not realized the impact it would have on our spirits. Chest pains disappeared; breathing became easier; anxiety abated. For the next four weeks we cycled through the Loire and Dordogne Valleys reveling in the warmth, the colours, the tastes, the fragrances, and novelties such as sturdy iron frames covered with wisteria in full bloom. Toward the end of our trip we were in Lyon, sitting beside a pool when I first felt the baby. My best description is a sensation of champagne bubbles followed by a flip or somersault-like movement. It was a moment of bliss. A few days later we were back in Montreal where the snow had melted, and winter coats, wool hats and boots had been replaced with trench coats, ball caps, and leather shoes. That August, our son, Luc, was born in what we say was “Our year of two springs and a baby.”

Twenty-five years and two sons later we are encountering our second year with two springs. This weekend we are joined by Luc, who is studying in Prague. True to the first experience of him, he enjoys drinking champagne and while he may still be capable of somersaults, he prefers to snowboard or play basketball. This evening the three of us will head into the village for a night of jazz held in a former Moulin d’ Huile.

It sounds perfect, and it is … almost. However, we are missing our second-born, Mathew, who is Sackville, New Brunswick trudging through snow and writing his fingers to a bone as he wraps up his under-graduate degree. Were he here with us, the family circle would be complete.

Next week, the end of week four and the middle of April, we return to Canada. The last patches of snow will be melting under the evergreens, the crocuses will have started to sprout in the back yard, the maple trees will be in full bud, and I will begin making regular forays to garden centres. I will spend the next several weeks  digging in the garden, pulling weeds, and amending soil. There will be days when my fingernails will be as dirty as the knees of my jeans, and it is likely that my back will hurt from all the digging, pulling and lifting. I hope on those days that I remember to pause, sip some vin rosé and say “Merci!” for the privilege of being able to enjoy two springs in one year. May there be many more.


Why A ‘Good Death’ Matters

Chalk it up to my age and life experiences if you will, but I do find that I spend more time now than I did in my thirties and forties thinking about how we die. Trust me. I am not being maudlin, nor melancholy. Angry and frustrated are more apt descriptors. So I have to say I am encouraged when I see more articles in the press on dying and death, like Sandra Martin’s in the Globe and Mail .

It’s through citizen action that we can raise awareness that our health care system, by and large, does not support good deaths. That is not a statement against doctors and nurses and all the other caring professionals. It’s a statement about how the system is organized, and how it is funded.

If we gave as much societal attention and funding to dying as we do to pregnancy, birthing and early childhood development then few of us would fear dying. And more of us would be equipped with the knowledge to help the people we love to die with grace. Margaret Mead once noted, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Her observation is as true today as when she wrote it in the last century. We need a quiet, or maybe not so quiet, revolution to support good deaths.

Toronto Book Launch for Inanna Authors and Toronto’s Word On The Street

I had two delightful experiences in the same week. The first was to attend Word On The Street  and spend time behind the tables at The Writers’ Union of Canada  and the Inanna Publications booths.  And if that was not enough, the week was topped off by a Launch hosted by Inanna Publications for five of their authors, Vancy Kasper, Katerina Vaughan Fretwell, Cecelia Frey, Sky Curtis and me. In both instances I had the pleasure of talking with other authors. It was a very good week!

Click the links below….

Fall 2013 launch invite rev – The covers of the 5 books – A reading

See: Photos of Friends at Various Celebrations