The Defiant Mind Longlisted for George Ryga Award

DefiantMind_FCThe Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke by Ron Smith is longlisted for the 2017 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness.

The George Ryga Award has been presented since 2003 to a British Columbian author who has “achieved an outstanding degree of social awareness in a new book published in the preceding calendar year.”

In The Defiant Mind, Smith takes the reader on a breathtaking journey—from the carpet bombing of the brain to a renewed and purposeful life—providing insight and support to survivors, families, and medical professionals navigating the fear and bewilderment that accompanies a stroke.

The shortlist will appear in the Spring issue of BC BookWorld.

For more information on the prize and the other longlisted titles, visit:

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 at 11:39 am and is filed under Blog.

Serge Alternês & Jim McDowell Win IPPY Awards

We are pleased to announce that two Ronsdale Press titles have won Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs): IPPY

Conducted annually, the Independent Publisher Book Awards honour the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. The awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles published each year.

Live SoulsLive Souls

Live Souls presents 210 of the numerous photos that Alec Wainman took in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, and his personal story of his time as a volunteer member of the British Medical Unit. Until the present only a small number of his photos have appeared in a few historical books, where they have been valued for their insight into the troubled period. After much research by Serge Alternês, the entire corpus of the photos was discovered — in excellent condition.

In Live Souls, Alternês has selected the best of these photos and imparted valuable detail with his introduction, captions to the photos, a timeline, as well as an overview of the international implications of Spain’s civil war from a contemporary perspective. Alec’s photographs and story bring revolutionary history to life, offering a complement to what George Orwell described in Homage to Catalonia and what the volunteer medical teams achieved with Drs. Norman Bethune and Reginald Saxton. Alec’s humanitarian ideal as an apolitical Quaker persuaded him to volunteer in August 1936 at the outbreak of the war to defend the ideals of liberty. His lens reflects his compassion for the citizens, volunteers and the civil war itself. The story and photographs keep the souls of the Spanish citizens and volunteers alive. More information here.



UnchartedWatersUncharted Waters

Jim McDowell’s new biography of the little-known Spanish explorer José María Narváez, reveals his significant discoveries during the European exploration of what is now Canada’s Pacific Northwest Coast. Narváez was the first European to investigate a Russian fur-trading outpost in the Gulf of Alaska in 1788. The following year he became the first Spaniard to reconnoitre Juan de Fuca Strait. In 1791, he charted the interiors of three large inlets on Vancouver Island’s West Coast, discovered a vast inland sea to the east (today’s Salish Sea), mapped the entire gulf, made first contact with Aboriginal peoples in the area, and found the site of what became western Canada’s largest city — Vancouver, British Columbia. Narváez also undertook diplomatic missions around the Pacific Ocean, charted the waters of the Philippines, and engaged extensively in the political upheaval that transformed New Spain into Mexico between 1796 and his death in 1840. More information here.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 12:58 pm and is filed under Blog.

Weeping for Words: Guest Post by Howard Richler

by Howard Richler


The Oxford Dictionaries 2015 “word” of the year was a pictograph: this emoji.

What’s a word? Of course, what qualifies as a word lexicographically has always been somewhat problematic. For example, we can’t assume that just because a word is found in one dictionary that it will be listed in others. For example, Merriam Webster includes confuzzled (confused and puzzled at the same time), chillax (chill out/relax, hang out with friends), gription (the purchase gained by friction) and lingweenie (a person incapable of producing neologisms), but none of these entries are found in the Oxford English Dictionary.

On the other hand, the OED lists athame (a double-edged knife used for ritual purposes in Wicca and other neo-pagan movements), chav (a young person characterized by brash and loutish behaviour), Enviropig (a genetically modified pig that is able to produce manure with reduced environmental impact) and studerite (an arsenic-rich variety of tetrahedrite), but these entries aren’t to be found in Merriam Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

It would appear, judging by recent decisions, that a word can be anything that is said or expressed in any manner whatsoever. For example, in its inaugural 1990 contest, the American Dialect Society (ADS) voted bushlips (insincere political rhetoric) as its word of the year, yet to my knowledge, no dictionary has ever included this term.

In 2014, the ADS’s word of the year wasn’t even a word as we understand the term. The winner was the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. (The word hashtag itself was the word of the year in 2012.) ADS spokesperson Ben Zimmer said that “although #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message.”

Given the Oxford Dictionaries choice for 2015 word of the year, the definition of a word is becoming even more confuzzled, for the “word” that won is not a word at all, but rather a pictograph (see above).

Officially called “Face with Tears of Joy,” this pictograph is an emoji, which is defined by the OED as “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communications.” Emojis have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use – and use of the word emoji – increase hugely.

This year Oxford University Press has partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emojis around the world, and “face with tears of joy” was chosen as “word” of the year because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that it comprised 20 per cent of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17 per cent of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4 and 9 per cent respectively in 2014. In an interview, Casper Grothwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries said that an emoji was selected as word of the year because it highlights how we have become a visually obsessed culture.

Emoji is a loanword from Japanese and marries e (picture) with moji (letter, character). Its similarity to the English word emoticon has probably enhanced its popularity; however, the resemblance is totally accidental as emoticon blends emotion and icon. Like it or not, emojis are no longer the preserve of those who tweet or text, and have been embraced by many as a nuanced form of expression that transcends language barriers. For example, in August 2015 Hillary Clinton tweeted, “How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” (We’ll forgive her for not using “fewer.”)

By the way, Oxford Dictionaries did have some more conventional words as candidates for 2015 word of the year (probably to assuage old fogeys like me who aren’t totally enamoured by picture words). They included: ad blocker (a piece of software designed to prevent ads from appearing on a webpage), Brexit (a term for the possible exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from British+exit), and Dark Web (World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing for total anonymity).

Also included were on fleek (extremely good, attractive or stylish), lumbersexual (a young urban male who cultivates an appearance typified by a beard and checked shirt suggestive of a rugged, outdoor lifestyle), sharing economy (an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet) and they, in the singular (used to refer to a person of unspecified gender).

Personally, I won’t be shedding tears of joy over the selection of a pictograph as word of the year. I guess I’m just not on fleek. How, I wonder, do those at Oxford who chose this image as “word” of the year propose to list it in their dictionaries?

This article first appeared on Lexpert. View the original post here.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 18th, 2016 at 4:16 pm and is filed under Blog.

March 30: Garry Gottfriedson at Incite

Date: March 30, 2016, 7:30pm (doors at 7:00pm)
Location: Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
Alice McKay Room


“Incite: An Exploration of Books and Ideas” is a twice-monthly series hosted by the Vancouver Writers Fest. The free events include readings, interviews and discussions with authors. The March 30 event features four authors: Alexandra Oliver, John Pass, Rachel Rose, and Ronsdale’s own Garry Gottfriedson.

View the event page and register here.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 18th, 2016 at 3:52 pm and is filed under Blog.

April 13: Ronsdale Spring Poetry Showcase

Date: April 13, 2016, 6:30–8:00 pm
Location: Vancouver Public Library, Dunbar Branch
4515 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC

Deaf Heavenloosetothe-cov_Layout 1FootstepsPast

Join us for an evening of poetry with three award-winning B.C. poets. Garry Gottfriedson explores the First Nations experience in Canada today in Deaf Heaven; Henry Rappaport reveals a balancing act between the familiar and the mysterious in Loose to the World; and Philip Resnick reflects on the modern human condition with cool detachment and relentless honesty in Footsteps of the Past.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 11th, 2016 at 2:17 pm and is filed under Blog, Events.

February 6: Doris Gregory event at Nanaimo Museum

Doris Gregory event at Nanaimo Museum

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 at 12:05 pm and is filed under Blog, Events.

November 5th: Serge Alternês launches Live Souls at St. Anselm’s

Live Souls

Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m.

St. Anselm’s Church

5210 University Blvd.

Vancouver, B.C.

Join author Serge Alternês as he presents the b&w photographs that Alec Wainman took as a medical volunteer in the Spanish Civil War (1936—1939). The photographs, long thought to be lost, give a stirring account of the opening act of WWII. Alternês will also read from and discuss Alec’s account of the bombing of Madrid, the Barcelona uprising, and the heroic work at the Ebro Front cave field hospital as well as with Spanish exiles after the Civil War. Admission is free, refreshments will be served, and ample parking available.

For more information, please contact: 604.738.4688 or


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at 1:19 pm and is filed under Blog.

Serge Alternês presents Live Souls at VPL

Live Souls


Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Hastings Branch Library

2674 East Hastings St.

Vancouver, B.C.

Join Serge Alternês at the Hastings branch of the Vancouver Public Library where he will offer a presentation on his book Live Souls: Citizens and Volunteers of Civil War Spain.

Live Souls offers 210 of the photos that Alec Wainman took during the Spanish Civil War, along with his personal story of his time as a volunteer member of the British Medical Unit. Until the present, all but a handful of these highly valued photos were assumed missing, but after much research Serge Alternês discovered the entirety of the collection in excellent condition.

For more information, please contact: 604.738.4688 or



This entry was posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 1:40 pm and is filed under Blog.

Jim McDowell presents Uncharted Waters at VPL

Jim McDowell’s new biography of the little-known Spanish explorer José Narváez, reveals his significant discoveries during the European exploration of what is now Canada’s Pacific Northwest Coast. In 1791, Narváez discovered what is now known as the Salish Sea and explored Vancouver harbour (before George Vancouver arrived). The city of Vancouver could rightly be called Narvaez.

Join Jim McDowell from on 3:00 pm-5:00 pm on November 15 for a presentation on the life and impact of José Narváez at VPL Central Library.

Central Library, Alice MacKay Room
350 W Georgia St, Vancouver BC
November 15, 3:00-5:00pm

With Jim McDowell, Author

UNCHARTED WATERS: The Explorations of José Narváez (1768–1840)


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 1:37 pm and is filed under Blog.

Philip Resnick launches Footsteps of the Past

Footsteps of the PastPlease join UBC Professor Emeritus Philip Resnick in launching his new poetry collection, Footsteps of the Pastpoems that probe the cultural and political underpinnings of the modern human condition with cool detachment and relentless honesty.

The launch will take place at Green College, UBC, on Monday, September 21st at 5:00 pm. Refreshments will be provided.

Green College, UBC
6201 Cecil Green Park Rd,
Vancouver, BC

For more information, please contact Ronsdale Press at (604) 738-4688 or

This entry was posted on Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 2:33 pm and is filed under Blog, Events.