Author Archives: Ed Lemond

Call for Submissions to Frye Centenary Edition of “ellipse”

Frye as a 17 year old freshman at Victoria College, 1929-1930

The literary journal ellipse is calling for submissions for a special edition, to be published in the spring of 2012, to mark Northrop Frye’s centenary year.

Poems, stories, and essays are welcome, in English or in French. Stories and essays should be 4,000 words maximum.

Contributions do not necessarily have to be directly influenced or shaped by Frye’s thought, as long as they are submitted to honour Frye on his 100th birthday.

A section of the journal will also be devoted to Memories of Frye from former students, colleagues, and friends. Please submit in the range of 1,000 words or less.

The launch of this special edition, with readings by some contributors, will take place in Moncton in April, 2012, as part of the Frye Fest’s three-day celebration of the centenary.

Ellipse, under the direction of Jo-Anne Elder, is a journal that focuses on Canadian Writing in Translation / textes littéraires canadiens en traduction. Some of the selected pieces will be translated for this special edition.

Co-Editors for this special issue will be Ed Lemond and Suzanne Cyr, Co-Chairs of the program committee for the Frye Festival.

Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2011. E-mail submissions are preferred. Please send submissions to

By regular mail send to:

revue ellipse mag

180 Liverpool Street

Fredericton, NB E3B 4V5

Two Books from Frye’s Childhood Home

I recently acquired two books from Earl Johnson, a man now living in Nova Scotia who as a boy lived next door to the Fryes in Moncton, New Brunswick, from 1937-1943.   Earl is the source of some previously acquired items, including a typewriter Frye probably used during his high school years, now on display at the Moncton Library.  (Post here.)

The signature inside the first book, Lorna Doone, looks to be Frye’s when I compare it to the signature inside my autographed copy of The Great Code.  The “y” is the same, and the upward slope to the right is also the same.  Below the signature is written “Grade XIA,” suggesting that this must be Frye’s signature while still in high school.

The second book is Melbourne House by Elizabeth Wetherell (pen name for Susan Warner), and inside is a dedication to Frye’s older sister from their father, Herman: “To Vera Frye, from Papa.  Christmas 1910.”

There are enlarged photos of both books after the jump.

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New Frye Display at Moncton Public Library


For many years there’s been a room at the Moncton Public Library called the Northrop Frye room.  Various committees of the Frye Festival meet here on occasion, and we feel right at home.  Outside the room is a display case containing copies of Frye’s books.  This August we’ve added two items to the display: a clock and a typewriter that were originally the property of Frye’s parents.  We think it likely that this is the typewriter Frye used during his years at Aberdeen High School, in Moncton.  As such, until proven otherwise, it has the look and feel of a relic of the saint (to borrow a phrase from Michael Dolzani).

These items have survived and we have them on display at the library thanks to the care given them over the years by Earl Johnson, who as a young boy in the late 1930s was a next-door neighbour of the Fryes.  The library display includes an information sheet explaining Earl’s connection to the Fryes, which I’ve included a copy below.

Earl now lives in Middleton, Nova Scotia.  I visited him at his house on July 16, 2010, and brought back the typewriter, the clock, and a set of 6 books, Henry Coppeé’s The Classic and the Beautiful from the Literature of Three Thousand Years.  By the Authors and Orators of All Countries.  The books were given to Earl’s brother in 1940, with a note inside each book from Mrs. H.E. Frye.  Cassie Frye died in November, 1940, and is buried in the Elmwood cemetery in Moncton.  (The books will also eventually go into the display case.)

Here is copy of the information sheet included with the library display:

On Display is a Smith Premier Typewriter

Model No. 1, Manufactured in 1889

On Loan from Earl Johnson

Next-door Neighbour of the Fryes

From ca. 1936 to 1943

Earl was born in 1933, when his family lived on Dominion Street in Moncton.  Sometime in 1936 or 1937 the family moved to 22 Pine Street, next door to Herm and Cassie Frye, the parents of Northrop Frye.  Around the time of Cassie’s death in November, 1940, someone in the Frye household gave the typewriter, along with a clock and a set of books, to the Johnsons, hoping they would be put to better use.  Eventually they came into Earl’s possession, and he has kept them ever since, as a precious reminder of a long-ago time.  It is possible that Northrop Frye used this typewriter during the 1920s, while a student at Moncton High School.  Frye graduated in 1928 and that fall he studied at the Success Business College, improving his typing skills for possible future employment.  He was so good that on April 8, 1929 he competed in a national typing contest in Toronto.  On September 18, 1929 he left Moncton to study at the University of Toronto.  Though Northrop visited Moncton several times in the late 1930s, Earl has no recollection of ever meeting him.

After the jump, a photo of the clock.

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Frye Festival Newsletter


You can see the latest Frye Festival Newsletter here.  There is an update on the campaign to raise a sculpture of Frye in Moncton, as well as an update on the effort to save the Frye-founded Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.

We are of course attempting to provide a bridge to these two communities, so please join our Facebook page (top right corner of our widgets menu).  The more links we can make between the artistic and academic communities and Frygians everywhere, the better.

Harvey Pekar at the Frye Festival, 2007

Harvey Pekar3

Harvey Pekar autographing copies of American Splendor in Moncton in 2007

Here are some photos I’ve been able to find of a book signing with the late Harvey Pekar at a local comic book store in Monction.  This event was part of our festival in 2007.  Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have photos or any press clippings covering Harvey’s main event at the festival, a 90 minute appearance alone on stage where he took questions and comments from about 200 people, a very candid exchange during which he revealed a lot about himself and his creative process.  Sadly, I don’t believe we videotaped this event.  However, I retain the unforgettable image of him sitting alone on stage under a bright light, holding his head in his hands, patiently welcoming and answering all questions.  Like a character out of Beckett.  He said things like: I can’t believe this is happening.  Why do you care what I have to say?  I don’t deserve this.  You’re actually paying me for this?  He talked a lot about the movie American Splendor and the burst of fame it brought, along with the headaches.  The audience was made up of a lot of people we don’t usually see, and everyone was thrilled.

Our earlier post here.

New York Times obituary here.

More pictures of Harvey in Moncton after the break, along with a recent extended  interview with him at Penn State.

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Northrop Frye School, Cont’d


On the importance of children’s literature and early education Frye had this to say in 1980 when he gave the Leland B. Jacobs lecture (entitled ‘Criticism as Education’) at the School of Library Service, Columbia University:

In a book published over twenty years ago, I wrote that literature is not a coherent subject at all unless its elementary principles could be explained to any intelligent nineteen-year-old. Since then, Buckminster Fuller has remarked that unless a first principle can be grasped by a six-year-old, it is not really a first principle, and perhaps his statement is more nearly right than mine. My estimate of the age at which a person can grasp the elementary principles of literature has been steadily going down over the last twenty years. So I am genuinely honored to be able to pay tribute to an educator who has always insisted on the central importance of childrens’ literature.

Glenna Sloan’s The Child as Critic is a wonderful expansion of this idea.

So it’s appropriate, for this and other reasons, that Frye’s name be given to the new K to 8 school in Moncton.

Voting Starts Tomorrow!


Just a reminder that the Frye Festival needs your help to win $25,000 to create a bronze life-sized sculpture of Northrop Frye sitting on a park bench reading a book outside the Moncton Public Library. As part of a national competition presented by Pepsi Canada, the Festival has submitted a proposal to win the funds to create an enduring reminder of our community’s most famous son.

Vote to Refresh Moncton! Beginning on Thursday, July 1st and running until Tuesday, August 31, 2010, everyone is invited to visit the website daily and vote for “Feed your imagination” in the Arts and Culture section. The winner will be chosen exclusively on the number of votes it receives, so vote daily and get your friends and family to do the same!

Northrop Frye Sculpture News Release

Vote to Give Northrop Frye a Permanent Presence in Our Downtown!

LeBlanc Northrop Frye

Mayor George LeBlanc chats with Northrop Frye at the site of the future public art display.

The Frye Festival needs your help to win $25,000 to create a bronze life-sized sculpture of Northrop Frye sitting on a park bench reading a book outside the Moncton Public Library. As part of a national competition presented by Pepsi Canada, the Festival has submitted a proposal to win the funds to create an enduring reminder of our community’s most famous son.

Vote to Refresh Moncton! Beginning on Thursday, July 1st and running until Tuesday, August 31, 2010, everyone is invited to visit the website daily and vote for “Feed your imagination” in the Arts and Culture section. The winner will be chosen exclusively on the number of votes it receives, so vote daily and get your friends and family to do the same!

Public art plays a vital role in creating a liveable and beautiful city and enhances the quality of life of all its citizens. That is why Mayor George LeBlanc is all over this project: “The City of Moncton believes whole-heartedly in the value and importance of public art. A sculpture like this one would celebrate our most famous son’s legacy while helping to create a more visually rich downtown core.”

The Frye Festival, Canada’s only bilingual international literary festival, exists to “feed the imaginations” of all members of our community. While public art is not usually something that the Festival is involved in, Chair Dawn Arnold is excited about the project. “We have often thought about how nice it would be to give Northrop Frye an enduring presence somewhere in our city, and what could be more perfect than outside the Moncton Public Library? When Northrop Frye lived in Moncton from 1919 to 1929, books were scarce. For me, paying tribute to this great thinker and giving him a place of honour in our community also raises awareness of the importance of literacy in our society today. What a great opportunity for all of us to be involved and engaged in creating a more beautiful downtown and celebrating imaginations. Vote every day — every vote counts!”

People from across Canada will be participating in the voting process and competition will be tight. By registering and logging on to the web site, each person can vote for “Feed your imagination” daily. The contest is being presented by Pepsi Canada, who will distribute $1,000,000 over one year.

If the Festival is successful in winning the money, they will mount a national competition to find a sculptor to create the art. The goal will be to have Margaret Atwood, Canada’s most famous living writer and a former student of Northrop Frye’s, unveil the sculpture during the 2011 Frye Festival (April 25-May 1, 2011).

For more information, please contact:

Danielle LeBlanc

Executive Director, Frye Festival


Another photo after the jump.

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Frye Fest Day 7: Last Day


I hope you can link up to this wonderful photograph of author Beth Powning with the class of students she met on Thursday. It’s at

Sunday’s the last day.  It’s winding down fast now, beginning with a ‘Brunch and Books’ event with 2 authors, Beth Powning and Maryse Rouy.  The focus is on literacy and on the winners of the Adult New Writers Contest.  It’s always a moving moment when these adults, who have worked hard to improve their reading and writing skills, come foward to stand on a stage named in honour of the great writer and thinker Northrop Frye.  It’s probably happening just about now, as I write.  I lost an earlier version of this blog entry, or I might have got myself together in time to sit in on the event.

At 1pm, in about an hour, we meet at the Moncton airport to close down the festival.  Jesse Robichaud, the festival Poet flyé, will read the poem he’s created over the last several days.  We’ll hand out the first “Frye Academy Award” – the Frye Academy being a select group of English and French high school students who’ve read 6 books, half English and half French, and chosen one that they like best – a sort of Canada Reads format, but spread out over several months.  Finally we’ll have a draw to see who wins a free trip “anywhere West Jet flies.”

Yesterday was jam-packed, ending with an event called Frye Jam where we ask authors to work with musicians to create a unique blend of words and music.  The music is provided by a group called Les Païens, who have hosted this event the last several years.  We had a good audience of over a hundred.  Anglophones Fred Stenson, Annabel Lyon, and Steven Galloway read beautifully and seemed to enjoy the experience.  Steven’s reading from Cellist of Sarajevo, with Kenan having a vision of the city reconstituted and then suddenly hearing the music stop, brought tears to the eyes.  The francophone authors, France Cayouette, Biz, Ron Leger, and Guy Marchamps, were equally effective, though in a very different way, as they were poets and performers.  It was half past twelve when we emerged from the venue, to a spectacle we (my wife and I) had never seen – the streets of Moncton flooded with hundreds and hundreds of young people bar hopping.  Very scantily dressed, some of them, for the cold.  Mini-skirts, apparently, are back in fashion.

The dialogue at 6pm (yesterday), with Fred Stenson and Christian Bök, was wide-ranging, relaxed, and somewhat wild, thanks to Christian’s anything but straight laced approach to life.  Sparks flew at the end when audience member Steven Galloway took Christian to task for disparaging remarks about Yann Martel’s new novel.  Have you even read the book, Steven asked.  Christian said no, he hasn’t, but that doesn’t change his criticism: why such a huge publisher’s advance when the result, nine years in the making, is a small book, not immediately recognizable as great and worthy.  All that money could have gone to help young, talented, struggling writers.  It was good to see Christian and Steven at the bar after the public dialogue, in private conversation, healing their rift, one hopes.

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Frye Fest Day 6!


The last full day of the festival, and it feels like we’re winding down.  We need to wind down, because the exhaustion factor is taking hold.  I had a great moment last night talking with Christian Bök, after his smashing performance of about 10 pieces of sound poetry.  This is poetry that is all sound, noises, bits of words stripped of all meaning.  Sometimes soft, musical sounds, sometimes harsh and violent.  Everything held together with the rhythm and the music.  It’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years, in Christian’s mind.  I could have talked longer with Christian, but it was midnight, and my wife was waiting below, past the point of no return.  Ronald Leger, a poet of Acadia, had presented something similar a bit earlier, though not so extreme.  The event is called Night Howl, and this year it lived up to its billing.

Yesterday was very busy with writing workshops, school visits, dialogues, readings, and a roundtable, which was called “Writing Lives and Afterlives,” with Nino Ricci, Daniel Poliquin, Maryse Rouy, and Noah Richler.  The noontime roundtable was lively, with a somewhat shifting focus – from the demands of historical fiction, to the ethics of using real people as models for fictional characters, to the way narrative techniques are brought to the table when writing biography and memoir.  The shifting focus probably did, as Dawn has suggested in her blog, leave our class of high school students feeling adrift.  We’ll work on that for next year.

The highlight of the afternoon was a conversation / interview with Maurice Basque, an Acadian researcher and scholar at the University of Moncton, talking with Linden MacIntyre about The Bishop’s Man. Because Maurice knows the book so well, backwards and forwards, and because he knows the Acadian situation equivalent to the Cape Breton of MacIntyre’s book, the conversation was informative, serious, and deep, and also filled with so many funny moments that they had the audience in stitches.  Linden told about asking his 93-year-old mother what she thought of his book.  Was she upset with it because it undermined the faith that is so important in her life?  She replied: “My faith has never depended on what any man does or doesn’t do.”

At 5pm Marie Cadieux, Acadian writer and filmmaker, hosted a reading that we called “Beer and Books.”  There was plenty of beer available, though just as many chose wine or plain water.  The readers were Fred Stenson, Gracia Couturier, Biz (rapper and author from Quebec), and Steven Galloway, filling in for absent Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer.  What was nice was the way Marie engaged each author in a brief conversation after his or her reading.

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