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Ken Turns Up at the Centre of the Universe

Three events loom in downtown Toronto.
They're billed as readings, but let's face it, I do more talking than reading.
And wouldn't have it any other way.

The KAMA Reading Series, signature event for World Literacy of Canada, finds me "performing" with Joseph Boyden, Mary Lou Finlay and Dan Hill. The event happens at McKinsey & Company on Charles Street West, and launches a spectacular five-evening reading series that has, alas, already sold out (

Commensal Restaurant hosts a popular literary series (it merely threatens to sell out) at 665 Bay Street. Starting around 7 pm, I'll do a turn with Andrew Pyper (The Killing Circle) and Sally Armstrong (Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots). The trick is to come for dinner and stay for the festivities, which include door prizes. Advance tickets are at Commensal Vegetarian Restaurant and Ryerson University Bookstore. Also 905-271-9917. (

The Toronto Reference Library celebrates Freedom to Read Week with an extravaganza called Closer to the Land: Freedom of Expression and the Environment. At this event, which I'm warned is going to television, I'll take the stage with Trevor Herriot (Grass, Sky, Song, Promise and Peril), Taras Grescoe (Bottom Feeder), musician Sarah Harmer (I'm a Mountain) and host Matt Galloway of CBC Radio One. Advance tickets are at Book City and all proceeds got to PEN Canada.
Ken McGoogan
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Robbie Burns at Port Credit

Ken McGoogan
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Polar Bear Swim for Robbie Burns

On January 24, Adventure Canada will hold a Polar Bear Swim in Port Credit,
Ontario, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robbie Burns (Jan. 25, 1759). From 1 p.m. onwards, Ken will be there, along with Doug Gibson, Graeme Gibson and Margaret Atwood, dispensing drams to those in need. The anticipation alone has inspired him to poetry . . .

Robbie Burns at Port Credit

Robbie Burns was brave and bold.
He did not shrink from getting cold.

To mark his birthday, Robbie said it,
He’d take a plunge in Old Port Credit.

When mortals, trembling, said, “Let’s scram!”
Our Rabbie called for one more dram.

Then in he dove, the people swear,
And swam off like a polar bear.

No icy swim, though sages dread it,
Could keep Our Rab from Old Port Credit.
Ken McGoogan
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My letter to Michael Ignatieff

Eh, voila: me writing to Michael Ignatieff.

Hi, Michael.

Suggestions for the economy:

How about some infrastructure spending that will put money into the hands of Canadians who will spend it, while paying dividends across the country, and especially in Quebec?

I recommend increasing support to artists.

1. Change income tax provisions to exempt royalty income (to a fixed limit of, say, $20,000). This puts money in the hands of those who don’t have a lot of it, which means it gets spent right away. Model the exemption on the Quebec example – a strategy that makes Quebecers feel good, because once again they are showing the ROC how things should be done.

2. Increase the overall budget of the Canada Council. Again, put more money in the hands of those who need it and so immediately spend it. This also clearly differentiates the Liberals from the Harperites.

3. Within the monies flowing through Heritage to the Council, target a specific amount to increase the Public Lending Right program (, which has been losing ground steadily since Marcel Masse made it a reality almost 25 years ago. Again, here you get a high-profile return, both economically and politically, for a relatively small expenditure. Full disclosure: I am currently serving as vice-chairman of the PLR Commission. Also true: I am doing so because I believe the PLR is important.

Sincere best wishes,

Ken McGoogan


Ken McGoogan
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Creative Non-Fiction at University of Toronto

In other news, I'm leading an advanced
workshop in Creative Non-Fiction at U of T
starting in February. This means dealing mainly
with YOUR work-in-progress, though I do tend to have
an awful lot to say about craft. Details are at . . .
Ken McGoogan
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Chasing Kane to the High Arctic

So, two clips have turned up in Cyberspace
as a result of our most recent Arctic voyage with Adventure Canada.
The first is more tell than show, and vice versa, but hey,
together they contribute to the requisite fifteen minutes of fame . . .

one is at,

the other at . . .

Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.