Friday, January 23, 2009


The Order of the Dusty Owl's mic. Loved reading into this one -- not invasive, like those phallic ones.

Photo (c) Copyright 2009 Michelle Butler Hallett.

Bytown -- Joy, by Bruce Garner

One of my favourite sculptures: Joy, by Bruce Garner, on Sparks Street in Ottawa. Taken Sun Jan 19, 2009, after dark. Photo (c) Copyright 2009 Michelle Butler Hallett.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sky Waves -- errata

Chapter 37, "On the package" should have the dateline "February 17, 1999" and not "February 17, 1979."

I fucked up a bit on the Sputnik program in chaper 65, "Ohm 2," implying that Laika the dog has gone up Sputnik 1. Laika blasted into orbit in Sputnik 2 and died shortly after leaving Earth.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Baha'i Question -- Cultural Cleansing in Iran

A site that explores the outrages committed against the Baha'is in Iran.

Dusty Owl notes

Best time I've ever had at a reading, guaranteed.Also the best mic I've ever used -- pic to come later. The Order of the Dusty Owl is packed with sweet and generous people.

I met two photographers, Charles Earl and John W. Macdonald. They each took shots of me -- me, who normally coagulates into mud before a camera -- and put me at ease. I;m flattered to be part of their work.

Charles Earl:

John W. Macdonald:

Reasons I am proud of my daughter

My older daughter turns eleven today. Here's a short list of why I'm proud of her.

1) She's eager to take the Red Cross Babysitting course so she can help others.

2) She wanted very badly to watch Barack Obama's inaguration speech because she sensed the historical importance.

3) After watching the speech, she asked intelligent questions about segregation, "expediency" and Guantanamo Bay.

4) She informs her class at school of the continuing abuses and harassment of the Baha'is in Iran. Not only is she aware of issues -- she cares.

She cares. The start-point for change.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dusty Owl Reading venue -- correction

Swizzles is NOT in the Byward Market. Yep, I'm embarrassed.

Swizzles Bar and Grill, 246B Queen:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Upcoming Dusty Owl Reading -- thoughts

Bytown or Ottawa? Michelle or Nichole?

I never wanted an alter ego, a character who might be identified with me, who had enough in common with me for a reader to think Look! Autobiographical stuff. But Nichole Wright in my novel Sky Waves kinda came out that way ... Nichole worked in radio, studied at Carleton University in 1989 and the early 1990s – majored in English, too, the copycat – even took a job in a downtown Ottawa mall, just like me. Okay, I get silly at that point, having Nichole work at an office supply store called Bigge and Wiggles, whereas I worked for Grand and Toy, but still, Nichole's course arcs close to mine. Until we get to her destructive coke habit and unplanned pregnancy and connected breakdown – fiction, right? So beyond asking the question of why we tend to privilege art that we think we know it autobiographical, I feel almost queasy about travelling to Ottawa to give a reading as part of the Dusty Owl Series. Excited, too -- Ottawa's a second home, a city where I lived for nearly ten years and put down taproots. My first daughter was born in Ottawa. A puntload of friends live in Ottawa. And that winter cold, that dry smack upside the face with microscopic ice – I'll be striding off that plane with arms open wide ... well, metaphorically ... craving the familiar and strange, old and new, and not minding how Nichole hovers along for the ride.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Sleep a fog that settles and dissipates on unseen whims. Dreams elusive and troubling -- two nights ago, an enormous brown crow attacked my head -- talons -- and then my back where the neuralgia registers, tearing out chunks. My jaw: trap-tight. Someone watches.

NLAC Featured Project

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council now aims extra spotlight on "Featured Projects" they have funded.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council recently awarded me a travel grant of $630.00 for my upcoming trip to Ottawa to read at the Dusty Owl Reading Series.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Be sure and make note of your sensations."

Post-herpetic neuralgia continues.

Today, despite increased doses of Lyrica, my sides burn ... char ... blister ... the skin looks normal. Barbed wire crammed against scalds. Tears.

Upcoming reading -- Dusty Owl series, Ottawa

Sunday, January 18th at 2pm, Swizzles Bar and Grill in the Byward Market ... the Order of the Dusty Owl honours Michelle Butler Hallett by shoving her -- she'll stumble -- towards the mic to read from her latest novel, Sky Waves, plus some older stuff and some in-progress stuff. Yeah, stuff, yeah.

Official dirt follows:

Butler Hallett's work, at once striking, memorable and difficult to categorize, has been praised by Books in Canada for "economy and power," while The Globe and Mail notes that "demons are at work - the kind that lurk in the subconscious and surface, depending on the individual, as either despairing visions or acts of outright brutality. ... Butler Hallett seems often to be creating from a subliminal place, riding on intuition, unencumbered by the counsel of editors." Speaking of Butler Hallett's first novel, Double-blind, the 2008 Sunburst Award Jury said: "Sanity, madness, torture in the name of science -- Double-blind is wonderfully original while chillingly based in history. ... The writing is incredibly layered, with metaphor and symbol perfectly balanced against the hard neutrality of scientific language."

With Sky Waves, her latest novel, Butler Hallett draws on her radio background and her troubled relationship with history to create her most ambitious work yet. Described by the author as "a demented 'aural' culture novel," Sky Waves is told as a drew, that is, as the ninety-eight meshes in a row of a fishing net. Throughout ninety-eight non-linear but interconnected chapters and several different narrators, characters and storylines are networked together, almost as a mural against a timeline of 1901 to 2008. Sky Waves explores the often funny and often sad human need for - and fear of - meaningful communication.

Asked recently to describe her work, Butler Hallett replied: "a blistering fusion of history, New Romantic sensibilities, stubborn Cold War angst, steampunk and hope. Categorize that."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grab bag at

From time to time I'll be adding (and taking away) draft bits, new stuff and God knows what to the Grab Bag section of my site. Drop by for a gawk.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Support Wikipedia

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

A cool site -- incredibly useful -- and free of advertisements. Also free. As in, you don't pay to use it. As in, access ... and with that, freedom.

Spark-gap transmission / Michelle Butler Hallett

Spark-gap transmission / Michelle Butler Hallett
in progress