If you love to read, I'm sure you have two kinds of landscapes stored in your mind: the real ones you live in or visit, and the imaginary ones that writers create to support their stories and poetry. Many of these imaginary ones, of course, are closely (sometimes explicity) modelled on their real-life equivalents. Think of Leopold Bloom's Dublin in Joyce's Ulysses; W B Yeats's tower at Thoor Ballyee in the Irish countryside; Virgina Woolf's London; or Michael Ondaatje's Toronto. If you don't know the last reference, Ondaatje (best known outside Canada for his later novel The English Patient) wrote a fictional account of the people who built some of Toronto's most enduring landmarks, like the bridge over the Don Valley that joins the major east-west arteries Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue.
But an interesting new project underway in Ontario is erecting physical reminders of the landscapes or landmarks chosen by writers. Each ceramic plaque has a passage from a book discussing the spot on which the plaque is placed. Imagine going by William Faulkner's old residence in New Orleans and finding a page from the early novel he wrote there on the wall. Project Bookmark Canada will be giving readers of Canadian literature the same sensation thanks to the Ontario Read it Here Project. Works by Ondaatje, and eventually seven other writers, will be installed around Ontario, honouring the writers and their inspiration from the site. This is a good way both to interest new readers in books with local relevance, and to give readers a reason to visit sites featured in their favourite works.
There's more information at: http://www.projectbookmarkcanada.ca/.
Causes John Oughton Supports
PEN International, Amnesty International, League of Canadian Poets, POR AMOR, Greenpeace