7 September 2022

I’m delighted to say that from Nov. 10 to 13, I’ll be leading a workshop for emerging writers at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan. Grateful thanks to the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild for the invitation.

2 August 2022

My essay on Duncan Campbell Scott, Stephen Leacock, and other ‘hard-to-read’ figures from the literary past has appeared in the September issue of The Walrus.

13 July 2022

Strange Bewildering Time is now ready for the printer. It can be pre-ordered at your local independent bookstore, on the Indigo website, or (if necessary) via Amazon. Here is a link to the Indigo page:

26 April 2022

Happy to say that I’ve finished the rewrite of Strange Bewildering Time. The book will soon enter copy-editing.

19 March 2022

Less than a year from now, my next book should be available. Its title is Strange Bewildering Time: Istanbul to Kathmandu in the Last Year of the Hippie Trail. I’ll be saying more about it on this site in the months to come, but if you’d like an advance look, go to:

7 November 2021

My article on the new Field Notes series of Biblioasis Press will be appearing in the December issue of The Walrus. 

4 October 2021

The poetry reading I gave the other day can be found at

29 September 2021

On Saturday, Oct. 2 at 4 pm, Virginia Konchan and I will be giving a (virtual) poetry reading for the Stanstead Arts Centre. Many thanks to Gabriel Safdie and to the host of the event, Shelley Pomerance.

19 August 2021

The American website asked me to choose five favourite books about language. Look for my choices, and my enthusiastic explanations, at:

4 June 2021

A recent experience of serving on an arts council jury has brought home to me again the precarious conditions under which many authors write. A few thousand dollars means the world to many writers: it gives them the temporary ability to spend time on the work they yearn to do. Most readers would be astonished to know how little writers tend to earn from their work.

13 April 2021

I’m keeping my head down, waiting for the pandemic to wind down, and working hard on my new book. It requires a lot of research, a lot of thinking, a lot of remembering, and a lot of imagining.

3 January 2021

Like many friends and acquaintances this week, I’m mourning the death of the writer Joel Yanofsky. He was a close friend, a brilliant poker player, a wonderful father and husband, and a man who gave his all for the literary community in Montreal.

6 November 2020

That new book of nonfiction I mentioned in my last update will be delivered to House of Anansi Press, one of Canada’s finest publishers. It will be an honour to join their lists.

4 September 2020

Very pleased to announce that I’ve received a grant from the Access Copyright Foundation to research a new book of nonfiction.

21 August 2020

Next week I will be retiring from my part-time job as an acquisition editor for McGill-Queen’s University Press. Back to full-time writing!

2 June 2020

I’m pleased to announce that later this month, The Organist will officially be released in paperback. It can be pre-ordered now from the University of Regina Press website and the usual online vendors.

11 May 2020

The website is one of several now highlighted on “The World’s Video Wiki,” a lively American site:

27 April 2020

The lethal spread of COVID-19 has affected many writers far more than me. Even so, I lament the cancellation of some festival appearances, book club invitations, and library readings. While the virus continues to rage, let’s keep behaving gently to each other (at a distance!) and let’s keep on reading.

2 March 2020

Today for the first time I saw a copy of Fish Wrapped, a new and often hilarious collection of essays by former Canadian journalists, edited by David Sherman and published by Guernica Editions. I’m proud to be one of the contributors.

19 January 2020

In the first half of this year, I’ll be acting as a mentor in the annual mentorship program run by the Quebec Writers’ Federation. I look forward to working on a regular basis with the poet Andrew Gordon Middleton.

10 December 2019

Good news from London: The Organist is now featured on a best-of-year list of five-star reviews of books dealing with classical music, as featured in BBC Music Magazine.

16 November 2019

I’ll be taking part in Montreal’s annual Holiday Pop-up Book Fair, to be held this year on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in the atrium of Concordia University’s McConnell Building, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Admission is free.

9 October 2019

Very pleased to find The Organist on the short list for the Mavis Gallant Prize in Non-Fiction, offered each year by the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

3 September 2019

I’ll be making a couple of Organist-related appearances this month (in addition to visiting two book clubs whose members have been reading the book over the summer).  On Sept. 17, at 7 pm, I and several other Montreal writers will be reading our work at the Visual Arts Centre, 350 Victoria Ave., Westmount. And on Sept. 22, at 11 am, I will be talking about my book on a panel at the Jewish Public Library. Events like this may not sell a large number of copies, but they play a crucial role in keeping writers in close touch with readers.

29 August 2019

My hour-long conversation with Nigel Beale, host of the podcast “The Biblio File,” can be found here: — It’s a discussion arising from my 2013 book Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott.

23 August 2019

In October, I will be the keynote speaker at the 50th anniversary conference of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, taking place this year in Regina. I’ll give a workshop about writing and truth-telling on Friday, October 18, and then on the evening of Saturday, October 19, I will deliver the Caroline Heath Memorial Lecture. The title (a phrase from one of Caroline Heath’s poems) is “The Warmth of the Sun Swooping.”

12 July 2019

On the evening of Monday, August 1, I’ll be doing a joint reading at Argo Bookstore in downtown Montreal with the distinguished American poet, novelist and editor Mark Yakich, author of The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine among other books.

23 June 2019

Very pleased to say that The Organist has received a five-star review in BBC Music magazine: “a fascinating and often beautiful portrait … finely wrought insight … brilliantly unites the personal and the musical.”

2 June 2019

On June 9th, I’ll be in Saskatoon, talking about The Organist at the Word on the Street literary festival. It’ll be 11 am when I take to the stage on Broadway Ave. in my old home town. And my father’s town, too. He loved Saskatoon more than anywhere else in Canada. It will be a privilege to be back.

3 May 2019

I’m proud to be part of the annual Blue Metropolis literary festival in Montreal. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking in a panel on memoir-writing and also giving a short reading from The Organist. The festival is full of good writers again this year — all it needs are listeners and readers!

24 March 2019

Today would have been my father’s 102nd birthday. It’s a delight that “The Sunday Edition,” one of CBC Radio’s flagship programs, is airing my conversation with Michael Enright this morning.

15 March 2019

I will be one of the featured speakers on Saturday, March 23, when the new issue of Montreal Review of Books is launched. The event will be held at 7 pm in Drawn & Quarterly’s Petite Librairie, 176 Bernard W., Montreal. I’ll also be reading at 7 pm  on Thursday, March 21, at the Lawn Chair Soirée (Espace Art Lounge, 160 Saint-Viateur E, #108, Montreal).

14 March 2019

This website crashed last week (mainly because of my failure to install updates) and has now been updated and rebooted with the generous help of Craig Hartley. Apologies to anyone who came looking for information and found only a screen the colour of dark blood.

27 February 2019

Very pleased to say that I’ll be taking part in two panels at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal on May 4th. I’ll also be reading in Saskatoon’s Word on the Street on June 9th.

25 February 2019

The Organist: Fugues, Fatherhood, and a Fragile Mind continues to receive praise from readers and reviewers. For example, Mike Doherty in Maclean’s said: “The Organist’s intimate scale and unstinting, probing honesty give it what should prove to be … lasting appeal.” Marian Botsford Fraser, writing in Literary Review of Canada, called the book a “remarkably transparent record of a writer’s lifelong efforts to understand and love his male parent.” And Shauna Powers, of CBC Radio in Regina, described it as “a very beautifully written and deeply moving book.”

2 February 2019

To hear my conversation with CBC Radio host Nantali Indongo, and to listen to my four choices of music, you can go to:

19 January 2019

An essay I wrote for The Globe and Mail about depression and the arts appears in today’s paper. See

17 January 2019

The Organist: Fugues, Fatherhood, and a Fragile Mind will be officially launched this evening at 7 pm in the reading room of Montreal’s Atwater Library. All welcome; refreshments served. Many thanks to Adrian King-Edwards and Donna Jean-Louis of The Word bookstore for taking care of sales.

11 January 2019

A wonderful beginning to the public life ofThe Organist:  a great review by Ian McGillis in the Montreal Gazette.

11 November 2018

This morning I’m proud to be taking part in the 101st edition of “Books and Breakfast,” organized by Paragraph Books in downtown Montreal, in the company of Esi Edugyan, Rawi Hage, and H. Nigel Thomas.

3 November 2018

Watch Your Tongue receives full-page treatment in the Opinion section of today’s Globe and Mail. See

14 October 2018

Watch Your Tongue has just been featured in the New York Post. The article featured eight idioms from the book, including “blonde bombshell,” “steal your thunder” and “Bronx cheer.”

3 October 2018

On the morning of Tues., Oct. 16, I’ll be at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, thanks to one of Canada’s finest independent bookstores: A Different Drummer. The store hosts a regular Books & Authors event in the auditorium of the gardens, and I’ll be taking part.

16 September 2018
Very pleased to say that on Tues., Nov. 6, I’ll be one of the speakers at “The Walrus Talks Disruption” in Toronto. For more details, see

10 September 2018
Watch Your Tongue will receive its Montreal launch at 6 pm, Tues., Oct. 30, at Paragraphe Books in downtown Montreal. Everyone’s welcome! There will also be a launch at the Pointe Claire Public Library on the morning of Sat., Oct. 20.

28 August 2018
I’ll be launching Watch Your Tongue at the Knowlton Festival in Quebec’s Eastern Townships on Friday, October 12. I’ll also be giving writing workshops at the festival on Oct. 13 and 14. For more information, go to

9 August 2018
Honoured to be asked, again this year, to organize and host “Pointe Claire Celebrates Local Writers” at the central library in Pointe Claire, 1:30 pm, Saturday, Sept. 29. There’s a surprising number of good authors to be found in the city!

27 June 2018
At 7 pm tomorrow evening (June 28), I’ll be giving a poetry reading at Argo Bookshop in downtown Montreal. The store is located at 1915 Ste. Catherine St. West. Honoured to be sharing the reading with the English poet Robyn Bolam.

11 June 2018
“On a Welsh Island,” a sequence of poems that I began to write in the summer of 2017 on Ynys Enlli, off the northwest coast of Wales, was shortlisted for the annual Vallum chapbook prize.

28 May 2018
My essay on language issues and policies in Canada has appeared in the June issue of The Walrus, as the O’Hagan Annual Essay in Public Affairs. See:

29 March 2018
I will be participating in several ways in the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, to be held in Montreal in late April. I’ll be representing PEN Canada at two events; taking part in Blue Met’s Rendez-vous poétiques; and serving as the master of ceremonies at an event honoring the 45th anniversary of Véhicule Press.

24 March 2018
Very happy to announce formally that The Organist will be published in early 2019 by University of Regina Press.

20 Feb. 2018
I’ve now completed the copy-edit for Watch Your Tongue: What Everyday Sayings and Idioms Literally Figuratively Mean, to be published by Simon & Schuster in October. (Yes, that strikethrough is part of the subtitle!)

16 Nov. 2017
My review of the new Leonard Cohen show at the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal has now been posted on the website of:

26 Aug. 2017
Today is the final appearance of the Watchwords column in the Montreal Gazette, the newspaper having decided in its wisdom to eliminate the column as a cost-saving measure. Many readers complained about the decision, and I’ve tried to cheer some of them up by describing my forthcoming book on idioms and cliches, Watch Your Tongue, to appear in October 2018.


27 January 2017
In a full-page article in the 27 January issue of the Times Literary Supplement, Mark discusses a new book by Michael Engelhard entitled Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon.

1 January 2017
In late January Mark will be visiting Edmonton, to give two readings from his work at MacEwan University (Jan. 26 and 27) and one at the University of Alberta (Jan. 26).

10 November 2016
Mark’s obituary for the great Leonard Cohen:

18 September 2016
Mark will be appearing twice at the “Words Aloud” literary festival in Durham, Ontario. This year the festival will take place from November 3 to 6.

26 August 2016
The Tongues of Earth, Mark’s 2015 collection of new and selected poems, has received a wonderful review in the British journal London Grip. The author is the Indo-British poet Shanta Acharya. To read the review, go to:

3 May 2016
Next month in Toronto, an essay collection entitled Measures of Astonishment: Poets on Poetry will be launched. The book has just been published by the admirable University of Regina Press, and is presented by the League of Canadian Poets. Mark is delighted to appear in the company of Margaret Atwood, George Elliott Clarke, Don McKay, Anne Simpson, Tim Lilburn and other terrific writers.

23 April 2016
To see Mark’s new article on a very old controversy, go to

11 April 2016
Mark is excited to be taking part in a literary event in Calgary later this month. Entitled “School of Thought: Languages Lost and Found,” it promises to bring poets and social activists together to share ideas and experiences in a lively, unconventional spirit. Mark will be speaking at events on the evenings of April 22 (“Dangerously True”) and April 23 (“Ways of Seeing the Lost”).

16 March 2016
At 7 pm Mark will be taking part in a reading at The Word bookstore (on Milton St. in Montreal) in honour of the anthology Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets in Solidarity with Iraqi People. He’ll be reading from his own essay in the book.

1 March 2016
Mark will be leaving in a few days for Halifax, to spend a week as writer-in-residence at Saint Mary’s University. He will give a public reading there at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 9. On Monday, March 14, he will be reading and speaking at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.

5 January 2016
A terrific article about the Montreal melon — in which Mark plays a significant role — can be read online at:

20 August 2015
To read Mark’s poem “Parade,” which has been longlisted for the 2015 Montreal International Poetry Prize, follow this link:

12 July 2015
Another great review of The Tongues of Earth, written by Bill Robertson of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, is at:

22 June 2015
A fabulous review of The Tongues of Earth, written by Shelley Leedahl, can be found online at

She writes, among other things: “If you are a master poet and thus possess the literary chops, numerous book publications, and the lifetime inquisitiveness that’s required, one day a publisher may honour you by releasing your ‘New and Selected Poems.’ This is the pinnacle, and I commend Coteau Books for recognizing that Montreal poet, journalist, editor and non-fiction writer Mark Abley is worthy of such a title. The Tongues of Earth represents the best of what poetry can do: enlighten, entertain, empathize, and lift us from our familiarity for moments at a time to offer a bird’s eye view – or an insider’s view – into what it might be like to live a different life.”   

14 May 2015
A feature interview with Mark, conducted by poet and editor Carmine Starnino, is now online at:

 6 Feb. 2014
An excellent review of Conversations with a Dead Man, written by Marianne Ackerman, is now posted on the Rover Arts website.

15 Dec. 2013 
An excerpt from Conversations with a Dead Man appeared in today’s Toronto Star:

18 Nov. 2013
Mark’s interview with Shelagh Rogers aired today on CBC Radio’s “The Next Chapter,” and will be broadcast again on Sat. Nov. 23. To hear an extended version of the conversation, go to 

9 Nov. 2013
The early reviews for Conversations with a Dead Man are great! Here’s a link to a feature / interview by the novelist Ian McGillis in the Montreal Gazette:   A shorter version of this piece also ran in the Ottawa Citizen.

Here’s a link to Kimberly Bourgeois’ review in the Montreal Review of Books:

And here’s a link to a glowing review in Maclean’s: