amongst books

amongst books

Monday, June 19, 2006

Saturday's Small Press Book Fair

was fun galore and more. It's always a small fair but a goodly size for Ottawa with folks coming in from Montreal, Toronto and the locals. Our Bywords table did a brisk business and we got to chat with old and new friends all day long. I picked up wonderful gems from above/ground press, The Mercury Press, loose teeth press and 40-watt spotlight. The most popular item on our own table was Variations, the zine put out by Melissa Upfold of Sarnia. We had five copies and we sold out. There were just 40 copies made. The zines were typed on newsprint, sewed with and industrial sewing machine and each one included handpainted pages by Melissa. I bought the last copy. I believe the writers were all from Sarnia, but not certain of that. Can't wait to get Volume 3!

I kept meaning to pick up evergreen: six new poets (Black Moss Press, rob mclennan, ed, 2002) and I finally got my copy from rob at the above/ground press table. I particularly enjoy Laurie Fuhr's poetry, so it was good to read a bunch of them in this book. Other poets published therein (a bit of legalese thrown in gratis) are Jon Paul Fiorentino (His latest book Theory of The Loser Class just came out this year and it rocks), Meghan Jackson, Andy Weaver, Susan Elmslie, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Was nice to see familiar folks like John Buschek of Buschek Books. I bought Jan Allen's Personal Peripherals from him and got to meet her, which was very cool! Grant Wilkins of the Grunge Papers was triple-booked with the Canadian Book Arts Fair, the small press fair and a wedding, left all his stuff on his table and gave it away for free. The Dusty Owl folk had some kind of a spoken word impromptu thingy with Montrealer and poetry visionary/advocate Paula Belina of streeteaters, Sean Zio and Steve Curtis bursting out into poem.

j.w. curry's amazing bits and bobs from room 302 books /1cent (it's art really) are always a joy. I am waiting for him to sell a whole table of his one cent publications so I can buy them en masse. I have some wonderful wee chapbooks and poems inside hydro bills I bought from his table a few years back. (Later he rode by a bunch of us en route to the pub on his bike, giving us the raspberry and yelling out "poetry sucks!" which was the first time I've ever heard a drive-by raspberry poetry razz.)

New to the small press fair this year was the gang at In/Words from Carleton. Like the Grunge Papers, they gave away their publications for free too. (And the view from the Bywords table was spectacular) I'm always very impressed with the energy and creativity of David Emery et al. They have monthly open mics at the Avant Garde and they are tons of fun.

Nice to see Bywords published poets/volunteers come visit us. The rarely seen these days Nick Lee, the soon-to-leave-us for-New Brunswick Jesse Ferguson (whose new chapbook, Old Rhythms, is out from Pooka Press), Marcus McCann and Mike Heenan stopped by. Did you know that Marcus is the editor of a cool online poetry site called Onion Union?

One of the books I picked up from Toronto's Mercury Press was Betsy Warland's Only This Blue (Mercury Press, 2005) about a woman's daily dealings with her breast cancer. It touched me. This is a very personal book of poetry. I'm a tad tired of the prescription that poetry shouldn't be personal, shouldn't contain I. Yes...it should! Warland's book shows how to do it well.

As usual the fair was inspiring and a cool treat in the humidity. We vendors were cool, the customers were all hot and sweaty, poor dears. All we had at the Bywords table was candy. Wish we'd had a lemonade stand.

The Ottawa Small Press Fair is a great place to find out about different ways and means of publishing. It's also the best way to get books and mags at reasonable prices. I bought books at prices reduced by $5 or more from the cover price. The next fair is in the fall.

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