amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, December 02, 2017


as part of AngelHousePress, i'm offering a free close reading service. the service was active from june 2016 to august 2017 and i took a break over the autumn because it's a busy time. but mentoring is important to me and i'd like to do my part.

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 or genderqueer writers; must be avid readers of contemporary poetry;
HOW:             send poetry to as pdf, doc, docx file; 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 & genderqueer writers; an attempt to encourage and mentor;
COST:             free.


 If your work resonates with me, I’ll invite you to submit a chapbook (20 pages or fewer) for consideration to AngelHousePress, which publishes limited editions of 50 copies, no reprints. You receive 10 copies and can buy additional copies at half price.

 You are under no obligation to submit a chapbook.

I reserve the right to suspend the service if I get overloaded, but wouldn’t that be great if that happened… I see this as a great opportunity for AngelHousePress to discover new writers and to share that discovery with the world.

I've edited the original call to clarify that I am also thrilled to read work by trans writers (FTM and MTF and gender fluid writers). And I want to make sure that people of colour, differently abled and indigenous peoples feel welcome to ask for help with their poetry as well. Basically I want to help to create a world where artists that are not heard or paid attention to as much as they should be have every possible tool in their arsenal to get their creative work out there and be heard. 

Cis men, I adore you; you send queries, you send chapbook manuscripts; you are courageous. I appreciate your support of AngelHousePress and I hope that you continue to support the press with your work and by sharing our calls and information with others. 

 In 2015, in response to our call for long poems and poetry series, out of thirty submissions/queries, only three were by women. I want AngelHousePress to be a place where all poets feel welcome to send work for consideration. This is an experiment to see if mentorship and encouragement will lead to more women sending work our way. And we have received more work by women, so it’s going well. Perhaps other presses could consider a similar idea or have other mentorship methods they would like to share.

AngelHousePress, together with its transgressive prose imprint, DevilHouse, publishes two to four chapbooks a year in the spring and fall, but that depends on our schedule. We sometimes publish more chapbooks. We also have an online essay series, and a monthly podcast, we host in April and in November. We publish raw talent, ragged edges and rebels. We are always interested in essays, rants, manifestos, interviews, reviews and poetic statements for the essay series. For more information on the press, please visit

In particular I’d love to read dark and playful work in unique voices. I enjoy work that engages with art, film, literature, music and the world. Everything I do is for whimsy, connection and exploration...and...of course...for love.


Amanda Earl is a Canadian poet, fiction writer, visual poet and publisher. Her most recently published work includes Kiki  (Chaudiere Books), The Book of Esther (Puddles of Sky Press), wintered (shreeking violet press), Lady Lazarus Redux (above/ground press and poems in Arc Poetry Magazine, Matrix Magazine, the Windsor Review. Her poetry has also been published in American, Australian, British, and French publications on line and in print. Amanda is the managing editor of and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. Her manuscripts have been shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Innovative Poetry Award. She was inducted into the VERSeOttawa Hall of Honour in 2014. More information is available at Or connect with Amanda on Twitter @KikiFolle

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Kiki goes to Toronto - Notes from IFOA +:- October, 2017

 From October 18-23, I had the pleasure of visiting Toronto for the purposes of reading at the International Festival of Authors, a grand writers' fest that celebrates writers and the world of publishing from all over the globe.I was invited to read from Kiki, the poetry book Chaudiere Books lovingly published in 2014. I was featured at two events: A Conversation with Amanda Earl and Chantel Acevedo; and Poetic New Worlds. Here are a few notes and  highlights.
[And if you see any omissions or errors, please let me know and i'll fix.]

1. Riding the train in style on VIA 1. Those spicy non peanut snacks are delish, as is the G&T. I brought along one of my fav Kiki books to prepare for my first IFOA event, which was a reading and on stage conversation.
 I arrived on IFOA eve and had the pleasure of attending Toronto's first zine off at the Steady organized by Maxx Critical and JM Francheteau, former Ottawan and organizer of zine offs here.I had the chance to chat with former Ottawans, Craig Calhoun and Cat Belshaw, which was a pleasure. I'm sorry to hear that the Steady is closing. It was a fun place to hang out and reminded me a bit of Pressed in Ottawa, where the Ottawa Zine Offs were held.

Next day I checked in at the IFOA office in Harbourfront Centre where I received my red folder full of information, money and a list of events, dinners and parties I could attend. The staff was super friendly and I felt very welcome. The Green Room was next door where participants could enjoy food and drink throughout the festival.
 I met a lot of great people in person who I got to talk to previously only via social media, or had met briefly in Ottawa. Pictured here: Phoebe Wang, the host for the 2nd event I read at: Poetic New Worlds; Kateri Lanthier and Canisia Lubrin. Photo credit: Catherine Graham. Phoebe was an amazing host for the Poetic New Worlds event, going over all of our bios with us beforehand.

At the hospitality suite I had a great conversation with American writer, Kia Corthon, who read at the opening event on October 19. Her book, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, sounds wonderful and I intend to read it soon. We ran into each other again just before she left. She was very kind to me about Kiki and had read it over dinner one night. I was thrilled. 

I spent a good few hours with Bywords selector Wesley Babcock in the sunshine at a cafe at Harbourfront. We talked writing and theatre and a bunch of other stuff for ages. My face was red from the sun all week.

Dane Swan and I - this is the third time I have met Dane and he's always friendly and also a great reader. At the Poetic New Worlds event, he sang! He has a wonderful voice. Photo credit: Michael Fraser.

I couldn't resist the allure of the great U of T Trinity College Book Sale, even though I was taking the train and really shouldn't purchase too many books. It was amazing. A room full, full, full of books, some of them only $1. i bought four collections of essays by women and resisted the photo book on Paris (heavy as a brick!) and all kinds of poetry, not to mention fairy tales, religious books...ahhhhh. Other people walked out with big boxes full of books. I looked daggers of envy at them.
 One of my most favourite parts of going to Toronto this time around was spending time with my dear friend, Ally Fleming, a talented poetesse and whimsical kindred sister. Here we are at Knife Fork Book at Dark Side Studio in Kensington Market, where I had the pleasure to meet Kirby for the first time and enjoy the readings of Nightwood authors, David Alexander, Spencer Gordon and Owain Nicholson. We had to take off our shoes! Mat Laporte had the best socks, because they were unmatched. I kept explaining to everyone that I've known Spencer since he was a little boy. Heh. Not really, but I've known him since the first days of the Puritan here in Ottawa and have been a fan of his writing from the get go. Photo Credit: Kirby

Michael Fraser, also read brilliantly at the Poetic New Worlds event and took lots of great pics, including this one which is backstage at the Studio Theatre. All readers had handlers that escorted us backstage and to our signings. It was silly and sweet and super cool to be treated this way, as if I was famous or something. The IFOA staff and volunteers were delightful and very helpful.

I spent time with fellow writer and Bywords-published poet, Paddy Scott, which was also lovely.

Here  am at my little signing table. I was surprised to discover that people not only purchased my books but also wanted me to sign them. Photo credit: Ally Fleming.

Not pictured here is the amazing reading I went to on Friday night at Grossman's Tavern where Gillian Wigmore and Ted Nolan were launching their books from Invisible Publishing. A jazz band played; the alcohol flowed and I got the chance to meet a whole bunch of people I've only talked to on social media before. Gillian and Ted were amazing. Gillian sang as part of her reading and Ted read a poem with the jazz band accompanying him. I chatted briefly with David James Brock, Stevie Howell, Sean Braune, Mat Laporte, Bardia Sinaee, Carleton Wilson, Spencer Gordon, Caroline Szpak, Leigh Nash...the list goes on. It was the kind of reading I could imagine taking place in the 70s. A who's who of great writers all drinking together and having a few laughs. I have just started Gillian's novel, Glory, and I am already enthralled.
Here's me in conversation with host Susan Cole from Now Magazine and delightful and talented writer, Chantel Acevedo, who read from her latest novel, the Living Infinite. I don't know what my hand is doing or why I have it out like that. It was a lot of fun to chat with both these women on stage. I haven't been interviewed live on stage before; although I have been the interviewer in the past. I was nervous I'd say something stupid or inappropriate. I didn't. I was just me and it was a great experience.  You can see my red steel-toed Wolverines peeking out from below the table. Photo credit: Ally Fleming
IFOA generously put us up at the Westin Harbour Castle and I enjoyed the room and the hospitality suite, getting a chance to sip Scotch with David Bouchet, chat with James, an agent from London, make small talk with American, German and French publishers and spend time with good pal and amazing writer, Stuart Ross, who also read at the Poetic New Worlds event and a Poetry and Process event.

I walked to the Toronto Music Garden and ran into a couple from Catalan who were also attending IFOA . They both had been at my reading at Poetic New Worlds and heaped praise upon me and the other writers, which was lovely. Post script, it was the writer Eduard Marquez and his wife. We talked about Lorca and Duende while walking back to the festival.

I can't even begin to write about all the events I attended that were amazing, but one of my favourites was the Basement Revue, hosted by musician Jason Collett and writer Damian Rogers. Music (Jason, Simone Schmitd and Jennifer Castle) Comedy (Mark Billingham), Fiction (Damian Rogers), Poetry (Canisia Lubrin). It was a helluva great night. And this after I'd been at the festival since noon, done two readings as well. It was a pleasure to spend time with Nicholas Power and his fiancee, Rachael and one of their dear friends that evening. We shared zany moments over the table squash.

My final event was the International Voices party at the Penguin Books headquarters. There was lots of food and drink, a bunch of interesting people to chat with. It was pretty cool. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in flat shoes. For a week in Toronto, I got to feel like a minor celebrity. Now I have to buckle down and get working on a new manuscript that came to me while I was listening to great readings. There are a bunch of things I'm forgetting to write about. Thank you to the International Festival of Authors for such an amazing opportunity and thank you to my publisher, Chaudiere Books, without whom Kiki would not exist. This was my final reading of Kiki. (and least that's the plan). I have other local readings still to come this year that I'll talk to you about later...Thanks dear friends for your support and enthusiasm about my adventures, literary and otherwise.

Friday, October 06, 2017

A Cover Letter Template for Submissions

This may apply to other publications as well.
Place the cover letter in the body of your e-mail

Mailing Address
Telephone Number

Dear Editors,

Please consider the five unpublished poems attached in"lastname_firstname.docx."
[ preference is one file per submission; other publications have other preferences.]

My biography is as follows:

[Version 1 for those with publishing credits]

FirstName LastName has had poetry published in X Journal of Poetry, Y Journal of Poetry. She won the XYZ Award in 2015.

[Version 2 for those with no publishing credits]
FirstName LastName is influenced by the poetry of X, Y, Z. She is a member of the ABC Poets Association and has an Honours Bachelor of Whatzit in Whathaveyou.

Please note that I am a former resident of Ottawa. [if you don't have a current Ottawa mailing address.]

Thank you for considering my work. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


FirstName LastName

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Kiki at the International Festival of Authors - October 21, 2017

I will read from Kiki for the final times at the upcoming International Festival of Authors in Toronto on October 18. I have the pleasure of participating at two events, both of which are taking place at the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West: 

1. In Conversation: Chantel Acevedo & Amanda Earl 2pm -  Reading/ Interview; Participants: Chantel Acevedo, Susan G. Cole, Amanda Earl, Alexandra Grigorescu
What does it take to change one’s life? What price is one willing to pay? Chantel Acevedo and Amanda Earl discuss the stories of resilient and free-spirited women with Susan G. Cole. Hosted by Alexandra Grigorescu.

2. Poetic New Worlds 4pm
Spend an afternoon with poetry and discover new worlds. Enjoy readings by Roo Borson, Mireia Calafell, Amanda Earl, David Goldstein, Jennifer LoveGrove, John Nyman, Nicholas Power, Stuart Ross and Dane Swan. This event will feature 2016 CBC Poetry Prize winner Michael Fraser. Hosted by Phoebe Wang.

Copies of Kiki will be available at the University of Toronto Bookstore's table at the Festival. I will be available to sign the book after each event.

For tickets and to see the entire schedule where you'll find other extraordinary literary events, please visit

Photos of Amanda Earl in the style of Man Ray's photos of Kiki by Charles Earl. 
Other books shown are some of the source books and influences for Kiki.
I am grateful to rob mclennan and Christine McNair of Chaudiere Books for publishing Kiki in 2014.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Concerns about my writing…

at a recent reading I was blown away by a featured reader who shared poems that dealt head on with racism. the writing was strong, the delivery was powerful, and the audience was suitably affected, as was I. these are poems we need to hear right now.

while a lot of my poems in the last few years are in their way dealing with subjects such as ageism and sexism, love and death, etc. they don’t do so in a straight-forward way. the way I’ve needed to write mostly, not always, but mostly, has been to tell the truth but to tell it slant, as Emily Dickinson has written. the word truth gives me pause. by truth I don’t mean facts. fact-based writing isn’t what I do, I don't think I do anyway... but getting to the heart of things and universal truths are of interest to me, writing from the point of view of an explorer rather than a prophet or someone who has answers is the perspective that I feel comfortable with.

I am fascinated with the word, both written and spoken. I am concerned with language’s inability to communicate and to articulate. I am interested in engaging with various techniques to reach the depths of the human psyche, to uncover and share feelings of anxiety, fear, despair and alienation because these feelings are not easily communicated. I often try to move away from surface in order to reach those depths.

For my writing, play is a strategy I use to uncover these feelings, to articulate the human condition. Yet play can seem trivial and even unnecessary, especially in these times.

I write to explore and to connect with fellow misfits, but does my writing really connect? Am I taking up too much space? Is my voice shutting out other, more relevant and effective voices? These are my concerns right now.

I have two more readings scheduled for 2017 and I don’t know whether hearing my poetry will be of use to anyone. So I worry.

I suspect these are concerns that other writers and artists are having right now. I’d like to know how you are addressing these concerns.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Social media and photos: let’s question and rethink

I’ve been on a tear of late about photos taken at literary events. I don’t like seeing myself in photos by most people. I’ve also seen awful photos of others, especially audience members, which often make people look bad.

Documentation of readings is sometimes used to help show a large attendance, to show how great the reading was, etc. These are all valid. So how do we document a reading without infringing on privacy?

Could organizers ask permission before posting photos? Could they include a statement at the beginning of a reading asking photogs in the audience to ask permission before posting? It’s not the law in Ontario but I think it would help make people feel more at ease if they were asked.

Privacy is something that needs to be thought about and treated more sensitively, in my opinion.

I’m avoiding most readings these days, in part because I don’t want to find an awful photo of myself later in my feed. I have at least one friend who won’t attend readings for this reason.

Photos of authors are different. If I’m on stage doing a feature, I expect to have my photo taken and used to promote the event. It’s possible, however, that organizers could offer authors a choice to not have their photo included or to have a photo of the work they are promoting shown instead. Photos of the young and beautiful are used as commodification, to show how sexy a reading is, how cool. That’s exploitation, isn’t it?

I’m asking organizers to think twice about posting photos and to ask permission. I get teased a lot about this issue. I’m asking you not to apply peer pressure to make me or others feel like jerks for not wanting photos of ourselves posted online. 

Update (August 20)

I want to make sure that it's clear that my main objection is photographs of members of the audience at public events and posting these photos on social media without their consent. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chapbook Contracts? Hell, no.

Recently after a chapbook of mine was accepted by a small press, I received a formal six-page long publishing agreement, giving them carte-blanche to use my name for promotion, to an exclusive right to the work without any kind of a term stated and a fairly ambitious marketing and promotion plan for a chapbook. To be fair to the press, they did mention in an earlier e-mail that their plan usually includes a written agreement, but either I didn’t notice that or I thought it was some kind of blanket form letter e-mail not relevant to chapbook publication because I sometimes deal with presses that publish both perfect-bound books and chapbooks.

While I have signed contracts for paid publication in literary magazines and once so far, for a perfect bound book,I see no reason to sign a chapbook contract.

Is this a double-standard? No. In the case of the chapbook, the run is limited to a small number of copies (so far the maximum run I've seen is 200) and there is rarely payment. I've never received payment for a chapbook myself.

In a decade of publishing others and more than a decade of having my own work published in chapbooks, I have never before encountered chapbook contracts. After withdrawing the chapbook, I canvassed a few writer pals and small press publishers informally. I found out that at least three small presses in Central and Western Canada provide a formal contract that the author is expected to sign. And I am unsure in each case, whether the author was paid for the work. If so, that's a different story. In one case, the contract was limited to a promise made by the author on length of time before republishing the work in the chapbook. 

A contract for unpaid publication is not the standard so far and the micropress publishers I talked to felt that the practice was excessive. 

Proponents of chapbook contracts expressed the idea that it’s good to lay out all conceivable terms and that the contract protects the writer. This is going down a rabbit hole for a very small and time-limited publication opportunity. 

The terms for a chapbook are very limited: number of copies published; number of free author copies; price to author for additional copies and possibly, but not essentially, a request from the publisher for the author not to republish the work for a limited time.  These are simple terms and can be dealt within an e-mail. 

For instance, for AngelHousePress we do a print run of 50 copies, give 10 comps to the author with an option to buy additional at half price. We don’t do reprints and we don’t publish any of the person’s work from the chapbook without seeking permission first. If someone doesn’t like those terms, they are free not to publish with our press. 

Once the work is out of print, they can do with the work whatever they like. To be frank, in our case, if someone immediately republished the work right after we published it, we wouldn’t have any recourse. Or if they published another chapbook at the same time as the one  they’ve published with us. So the worst thing that happens for us is that we don’t sell as many copies as we might have or it takes longer than we thought. That’s really not a big deal because our expense is not that high in the limited runs we produce. Therefore the risk to us is low and the risk to the author is low. 

If we don’t publish the work by the time we’ve promised and we haven’t communicated to them a reason, it’s their work; they can publish it elsewhere. This hasn’t happened to us ever. But if for some reason, such as death or ill health or the world’s impending end, we cannot publish a manuscript, we will kindly let the author know and apologize profusely.

Contracts are in formal, legal language and usually contain stipulations regarding exclusive print and electronic rights either for North America or World-Wide. I’ve signed plenty for writing that I’ve been paid for. For a story or a poem, these contracts have been a couple of pages in length and have been limited to a particular term.  For my only poetry book so far, the contract was a bit longer and I received an advance for the work with the promise of royalties if revenue exceed the amount I was advanced.

Micropresses function based on good will and reputation. Authors or presses who don’t keep their word are simply not dealt with again.

Here’s a question to small presses who insist on contracts: if your author signs the contract and then breaches it, are you going to sue? For a chapbook given to you for free that you will likely already cost you more in expenses than you will gain in revenue?  

If you’re an author and the chapbook publisher goes back on your agreement, are you going to sue? Or are you simply going to move on and not publish with that press again and let all your fellow writers know what an asshat the publisher is? The risk to both author and publisher in the case of a chapbook is simply not great enough to cause the need for a complicated contract.

I’ve dealt with 15 micropress publishers to date (2003 – 2017). Other than one misunderstanding about print run, which was settled via e-mail, I’ve never had any other problems with any of these publishers. Micropresses are usually run by one or two people out of a labour of love and the urgent need to get great and uncommon work in the hands of those who would appreciate it.

I love chapbooks, but they are penny candy. They are there to be bartered and exchanged and mailed around and enjoyed. Small presses come from a tradition of anti-establishment, non-conformist, independent thinking.  If you’re going to require me to hire a lawyer to negotiate a complicated contract, you’d better be paying me some serious dollars.

I worry that signing a contract for a chapbook might open authors up to legal risk and to difficulties in getting the work republished because they will have to disclose the contract to subsequent publishers, should they want to publish it later. 

Contracts are always written to protect the organization that created the contract, not the other way around. When payment is received, the author has a valid reason to sign away some rights, as long as they are limited, but otherwise, why bother?

My own philosophy is to embrace the ephemeral, uncomplicated nature of the chapbook and move on. I am not so excited by the chance to have my work published that I will agree to constraints that may cause issues later.  

I have a request to publishers who require a contract for free chapbook publication, please include this information in your calls for submission, so that I know to avoid you. Thanks.


Sorry for the addition to the post, but I thought of something else that seems germane: Rather than presenting the writer with a fait accompli in the form of a legally binding contract, why not treat the process more as a dialogue, a consultation for anything that's more than the basics. Work with the author rather than against.