amongst books

amongst books

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tree Reading Series Workshop by yrs truly ce soir (Tuesday, September 13, 2016)

6:45pm, Gallery 101, 51 B Young Street

In this workshop we will read a poem aloud & explore its non-semantic attributes to glean elements that resonate in order to write poems in response or simply to appreciate it. Too often in poetry, readers are focused solely on semantic surface meaning rather than considering other elements that make up a poem’s music and mood. Let’s see what happens when we focus on sound, shape (including line break, punctuation, line length), symbol (including imagery, free association with Jungian archetypes, mythology). Each participant will write something (a line, a poem, an image) inspired by the source poem and will share the results with the group.

We're going to be looking at Gwendolyn MacEwen's "The Red Bird You Wait For."

In the documentary, the Shadow Maker, the Life and Times of Gwendolyn MacEwen, her editor, writer Barry Callaghan says that people often dismissed MacEwen’s poetry because they didn’t understand the music of her lines or the music of the silence between her lines. 

I think it will be a fun & lively hour. Hope to see you there.

The main event, of course, is the 1st Tree Reading of the season featuring Jessica Moore & Margaret Christakos. Open mic begins at 8pm & features begin sometime around 8:30ish, me thinks.

Note that Tree is at a new venue now. If you're a bus rider/pedestrian like me, i highly recommend taking the 85, getting off at Beech, walking the coupla minute walk down Railroad which leads to Young. Gallery 101 is in a warehouse. Or you can always walk up Preston.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

City of Ottawa 2016 Creation and Production Fund for Emerging Writers

Much thanks to the City of Ottawa for the award of a grant as part of the Creation and Production Fund for Emerging Writers so that I can work on Grace, a poetry manuscript that explores a middle-aged woman's interaction with the city, young men, long life & gin.

Monday, June 20, 2016

why create a close reading service for new women poets?

AngelHousePress: Announcing A Close Reading Service for New Women Poets 

WHAT:  I will read five pages of your free verse or prose poetry, offer editing suggestions and possibly suggest poetry to read;

WHO:   new poets, not yet published with a press (chapbook or spine), who identify as women; must be avid readers of contemporary poetry;

HOW:   send poetry to; name a contemporary influence (poet, work of poetry);

WHEN:           anytime; work read on a first come first served basis, one poet per month;

WHERE:         wordwide;

WHY:             lack of chapbook submission by women; an attempt to encourage and mentor;

COST:             free.


The creation of this service may come as a surprise for anyone who follows me on social media or knows me personally. I despise stereotyping & prejudice of all forms. I have always seen the act of publishing based on gender as a form of prejudice, regardless of which gender. But I have also always believed in welcoming voices that are little heard in the mainstream. So those two ideals have been in conflict for me & I’ve struggled with them. Recently though, the evidence of a lack of women writers’ voices has hit home & I’d like to try, in my own small way, to do something about it.

Since starting AngelHousePress in 2007, our mission has always been to create a space for outsiders, those not published or published rarely in mainstream publications, who don’t win awards or get invited to be part of official verse culture. To offer a space where writers dared, a place where they could be free to try out oddball stuff, to risk. I believe creating an outsider space for rebellion against convention is what small presses are for.

I put out an open call last year for long poem/poem series manuscripts. I received 30 queries/manuscripts & only three were from women. I also put out calls for & for our essay series. I received a lot of work from men, but almost nothing from women. I had to send out individual requests to get women to send me stuff for NPM & for the chapbook series, even after sending out requests to women whose work I admire, but who aren’t well-published in the mainstream, I still didn’t get chapbook submissions.

When I asked some women why they didn’t submit chapbook manuscripts, I was given a variety of reasons, such as wanting to reserve the publication for spines, being too busy with work, children, etc, but the one that particularly stood out for me is that some women didn’t think their work was ready for publication.

I’m concerned about the lack of submissions from women. & I am fully aware that this is a problem for larger spiny presses as well. If a reason that women aren’t sending work out is because they need to receive more feedback, more encouragement, more mentoring, then perhaps I can help with that. I’ve been running for more than a decade. It’s given numerous poets a chance to have their work published for the first time. I’ve been running AngelHousePress since 2007 & am always on the lookout for art & literature from voices all over the world.

Now, given the lack of women writers sending us work, I’ve decided to make that a priority, so I’ve started this close reading service for new women poets.

Not because I’m some kind of authority on poetry, but because I also hear that little voice inside too, the one that says my work won’t be good enough, that I have no business putting it out there. I see women in ball gowns & men in tuxedos live streamed at literary award galas or receive invitations to pay money to hear polite talks in fancy hotels by well-published poets.  I don’t belong in that world. AngelHouse, & its transgressive prose imprint Devilhouse, is for people who don’t belong. So I’m reaching out to women who also feel like outsiders, who feel that their work has no place in the world & I’m telling you that it does. I’m going to find ways to support you & to mentor you. The reading service is one way.

I’m hoping that I’ll discover some new voices & that AngelHousePress will be able to share those voices with kindreds by means of our chapbooks, our online magazines & our essay series.

After a day, I’ve received only one query so far. It is possible that no one will send anything, I suppose. But I hope the service resonates for some out there.

Thanks to all who have retweeted the announcement. Please continue to do so. If this is of interest to you & you fit the criteria, please send me your work. If you don’t fit the criteria, please share the announcement

Saturday, June 11, 2016

All Hail Queen Christina

Queen Christina was a 15th C. Swedish monarch who abdicated the throne, some say to live as a man. This prompted a series of poems about historical and fictional characters who pushed boundaries, particularly gender boundaries, but also those who defied sexual convention or who I imagined defied convention.

The chapbook has been published as part of Ghost City Press's summer microchapbook series. Thanks to Kevin Bertolero for publishing my work.

You can download the chapbook here, along with others. You can either take the work for free or pay any amount you'd like. All proceeds go to the authors.

I read some of these poems last September during a reading with Daniel Allen Cox, Marcus McCann, Billeh Nickerson at Venus Envy in celebration of my husband's birthday. It was a great party. I hope this chapbook is a great party for you! With Pride coming up soon, let's take the opportunity to celebrate those who,  despite the merciless fucking treatment by this wretchedly conventional society, continue to push boundaries and make this a world worth living in.

Please watch this great documentary on Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

& a postscript: my heart goes out to those who have been brutally murdered and wounded in Orlando, to their families, friends & the entire LGBTQ+ community.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

All Hail Chapbookery

sung to the tune of the Mountain Goats The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton

I’ve been disheartened of late because for various reasons sending out book-length manuscripts to publishers has become nothing more than an exercise in masturbation without the happy ending. I don’t blame publishers. To publish books in Canada you need government funding. I just received a fucking survey from the Canada Council for the Arts on digital technology in the arts. That’s what these wankers are focusing on. I pointed out that if you don’t support the content creators & the publishers, you won’t have any thing to post on the stupid internet. So emerging publishers are not being given funding. Existing publishers are not being given funding. They can’t afford to take risks & publish umpteen spines by the same people, the ones with 20 books, 30 books…etc.

I had a beautiful & satisfying experience with Kiki, published by the wondrous Chaudiere Books in 2014. The book is gorgeously designed by Christine McNair, I received nothing but rave reviews & comments about it & when I read from it, everyone has a good time. Apparently it’s done pretty well from the point of view of sales, so I can’t complain at all about that experience.

But I have three/sorry two book-length manuscripts in the hands of publishers that are in theory still considering them/ignoring them. One has been in a Canadian publisher’s slush pile now for almost two years, another for an American contest that was recommended to me by a kind writer friend, only for a few months. Another book is supposed to be coming out this summer in a limited edition of 100 copies by an American publisher but the publisher is ignoring my e-mails, as publishers do, so that’s unlikely.

Meanwhile I have had the honour of having numerous chapbooks published both in print & digitally in Canada, the USA & the UK. I also publish chapbooks of others via AngelHousePress & our transgressive imprint, DevilHouse.

I love working with chapbook publishers. They make decisions quickly. They promote the hell out of the work & they don’t treat writers like a pile of shit because we want to get our work out there. They also aren’t timid about rejecting the work. We’re all in the same boat: we have limited time & limited funds, so when we choose to publish anything or when someone chooses to publish work of ours, it’s a big fucking deal.

So my plans from now on are to prioritize chapbook publishing for my work & every once in a while if I see a good fit for a book-length ms, I’ll send it, but I will have absolutely no expectations of publication anywhere. I will continue to envy amigos who have a bunch of books under their belts published by prestigious Canajun presses like Coach House, Anansi & whatnot, but that ain’t me, babe & it ain’t you either. We’re going to have to make our own world where the good stuff, the bad ass stuff, the gritty stuff, the impolite stuff gets published & disseminated in small runs or on line by people who aren’t having to jump thru the impossible hoops of the Canadian literary grant funding broken down machine.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

Buy chapbooks, sell chapbooks, review chapbooks, make chapbooks. Start now. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Update – near summer 2016

Now that my season of readings seems to be over for the nonce, I’m focusing on the following WIPs:

1. a new poetry series which uses the language & imagery of the poetry of Plath, Sexton & MacEwen to write about the onset of menopause & all the fun that entails;
2. a poetry series about  my 2009 health crisis;
3. a linked collection of short stories set in an apartment building;
4. a linked collection of fairy tales inspired by art & colour;
5. The Vispo Bible: working on Exodus & Revelation.

& reading books for above projects, with a detour into Virginia Woolf’s novels this summer, starting with  her first, “The Voyage Out”.

I’ll keep you posted on publications if & when they appear…

the above work entails a lot of hermitting, but I’ll try to make it out to a few readings when I’m in the right frame of minde. writing is a solitary business, but I can often be Bar Robo, my new darling neighbourhood café, or on my favouite bench in Dundonald Park, sky watching. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Kiki in Montreal

On May 3, 2016, I read at the Résonance Reading Series in Montréal with  Elee Kraljii GardinerJacob McArthur Mooney, and Alison Strumberger.

It was a splendid reading. My thanks to Klara du Plessis, my fellow readers, the lovely attentive audience & the café.

Afterwards, Charles & I took Kiki on a tour of the city...