Mark Abley is a poet, a cat lover, a poker player, a recovering journalist, an inveterate traveller and a diehard social democrat. A winner of both a Rhodes Scholarship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he grew up mostly in western Canada, spent several years in England, and settled in Montreal in 1983. He has written books in several genres, ranging from a children’s picture book (“Ghost Cat”) to oral history (“Stories From the Ice Storm”), and from literary travel (“Beyond Forget: Rediscovering the Prairies”) to poetry (“The Silver Palace Restaurant”). Along the way he discovered the recipe by which the great artist and poet William Blake made his own white paint. One of his newspaper columns was translated into Nepalese.