Readers of OPN probably know that Mother Tongue Books, just south of the Rideau Canal on Bank Street, is one of poetry's homes in Ottawa, one of its living rooms, where local writers and readers frequently meet to talk books and, more than occasionally, to listen to poetry readings.
When my book of poems The Local Cluster was published this fall -- poems mostly about my yard, my neighborhood, and my community, Old Ottawa South -- I felt strongly that the book's Ottawa launch should be at my local. Mother Tongue's proprietors, Laura and Evelyn, were as welcoming as ever, and we sent out notices about a Sunday afternoon launch on October 5.
So I was alarmed, a week before launch Sunday, to see that fire had gutted the Mud Oven, the store next to Mother Tongue, and that firefighters had smashed windows in both stores in putting out the blaze. Thanks to their efforts, the flames didn't spread to Mother Tongue's books, but smoke poured out of the ventilation system, causing a lot of damage to the stock of books and gifts. Once the carpet and ceiling tiles are replaced, and the whole store given a cleaning in an ozone tent, the store will be back with its new stock for seasonal sales.
Of course, with the ventilation shut off, there was no possibility of going ahead with the launch of my book. But I still wanted my book to make its official appearance at Mother Tongue. So we postponed the date, but still intend to celebrate The Local Cluster along with the reopening of the renovated store, sometime in November. Watch for the announcement.