The Writers' Life. Toronto Events. Spring 2017

If you are in Toronto, please note you are invited to my appearance on May 10th at the Brockton Writers Series (BWS) along with Ayesha Chatterjee, Ian Keteku, Gregory Scofield and a special guest talk, “From Tarot to Creativity”, by Hoa Nguyen. The Brockton Writers Series event is on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 6:30 the new home of the BWS, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, (PWYC). If you are not in the area, I thought you would be interested in this event as an update to what I am doing these days.

I did a talk about my writing for the Friendship Force Toronto Club recently as well as reading and speaking  at the Rowers Reading Series and a Toronto book club in the winter. If you have been a follower of the Moosemeat Writing Group annual chapbook launch, or if you are interested in coming out to it, that event will occur on June 2d, Friday from 5:30 - 8:30 The Supermarket at 268 Augusta Ave.,Toronto

And...on a personal note, a new granddaughter was born to Therese and Phil in Montreal on April 23rd and joins my two grandsons, Max (Andrea & Mark) and Maurice (Phil & Therese).

Daniel Perry writes (on the BWS blog): Mary Lou shared a sample from an unpublished memoir ahead of her May 10 visit to Brockton Writers Series. Enjoy!

Excerpt from a chapter titled “Graveyard Shift”

 The mine was twenty miles from town and on the graveyard shift, the bus driver picked me up on the highway near our house and dropped me off on desolate mine property at close to midnight along with all the men who worked underground.

On the first day, I was introduced to Alice, an older woman who would train me. She spoke no English so my facility in French improved quickly. Before the end of the summer, I had started to dream in French most of the time.

On two of the shifts, I often worked with women other than Alice who spoke openly about their lives. They were not much older than me, but they were either involved with boyfriends or married and their conversation was quite lurid, replete with the kinds of jokes and descriptions that most people imagine happen only in men’s locker rooms. I soon learned that women  could also be  crude in their discourse, telling their own off colour jokes, competing over the length of their partners’ penises, using  words like ‘cock’ to  describe them.

“You ought to see it,” one woman was fond of saying in quite a loud voice. “Must be 7 or 8 inches. Never saw anything like it before.”

They exuded pride, a significant sniff with head thrown back, if they could give a measurement larger than the colleague who had just spoken.

At first I was not sure what they were talking about, but I was not going to let anyone know that. Or I did know really, but had never experienced what they were describing and did not have a clear idea of what such a cock would look or feel like, not like the little dinkies I saw in the younger boys like my brother, running to the bathroom trying to hide their private parts.

At the assay lab, I also learned some useful things about mining from testing the samples and even knew the value of what was being dug out under the surface.  In the days and evenings, I always worked with others, probably because there was more work to do then. On the graveyard shift, from midnight to eight in the morning, I was alone. And I was aware that anyone could break into the small building across from the mill on this isolated mine property and attack me. It took a while to stop jumping nervously when I heard any sound. But the only man who ever came to the door that I locked from the inside during those long nights knocked first with a sound that I soon learned to recognize. He always arrived at the same times, twice during each shift. As soon as I opened the door, he greeted me.
Bonjour,” he usually said before handing over small brown paper bags that contained the samples I was to process.
As soon as he left, I weighed out tiny quantities from each bag on an old scale with a pan on one side and the weights to be adjusted on the other and put them into separate beakers. There were precise amounts required, as well as certain acids to test for lead, zinc and copper.
Posted on April 21, 2017 .