amongst books

amongst books

Friday, August 31, 2007

a temporary goodbye

to my friend and literary mentor, rob mclennan.

i’ve known of rob since i first became involved in ottawa’s literary community in 2000/2001. i don’t think it was really until i started taking his workshops in 2006 that we became friends.

i got to know how dedicated rob is to promoting the strong and original poetry, especially by those who don’t seem to get a lot of notice in the mainstream. he is a discoverer and a hard worker.

i know rob isn’t going for good. he’d better not be! but in the meantime, i can’t help thinking that there will be something missing, an energy, a vibrancy to this community while he’s gone.

it’s up to us to fill that in. how do we do that?

promote great writers through reviews, blog entries, essays of our own
attend and organize readings
start our own micropresses to publish ourselves and others
attend the small press fair and writers festival
get together and talk about poetry and writing as often as we can
visit rob in Edmonton! (something i’m unlikely to do myself, but maybe YOU can)

before i get complaints, i’m not saying that no one else in the community does this kind of thing. but we’re not leaving and he is.

i expect that by the time rob returns, the Edmonton scene will be even more vibrant than it is now, Ottawans and Edmontonions will have closer ties through the sharing of our writing. i think it is a fantastic thing for Edmonton and for rob that he is off to be the U of Alberta Writer in Residence. i know that his creativity, vigor and initiative will result in wonderful things for him and for all of us too. but in the meantime, he will be missed. most especially by me.

have a safe flight and happy landings in Edmonton, rob.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

this week's poetry must sees

or miracle discoveries....

The Holy Life of The Intellect by George Bowering (thanks to Ron Silliman)
which leads you to William Carlos Williams and Philip Whalen

Nathalie Stephens' new book: The Sorrow and The Fast of It (Nightboat Books, 2007)
I think this might be the most pulse quickening collection i've read all year.

This catalog of concrete poetry. (thanks to Derek Beaulieu who posted the link)

This essay by Derek Beaulieu on Concrete Poetry (thanks to the new and fantatic alternative poetry site Ditch, which has an amazing library of useful links and references)

This visual poetry site initiated by Dan Waber (i believe)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Marcus McCann, Amanda Earl, William Hawkins

read last night at the Factory Reading Series in celebration of the fourteenth anniversary of above/ground press.

Marcus debuted his very first solo chapbook, Hetroskeptical (above/ground press, 2007) and read from other pieces including poems from the Techtonic Suites and from his collaborative chapbook with Nicholas Lea and Andrew Falkner, the Basement Tapes. i particularly enjoyed his poem Whoa and the beautiful word play combined with sexual jubilation based on the first (i’m assuming) experience of a hand job. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Marcus McCann is a dexterous and agile manipulator of poems having to do with sex and sexuality. His work is highly erotic and at the same time he manages to push languages boundaries. I have read few poets today who do this.

William Hawkins read from Dancing Alone: Selected Poems 1960-1990 (Broken Jaw Press / cauldron books, 2005) and from his newly printed chapbook “the black prince of bank street” (above/ground press, 2007). his poems were very well received by the audience. they have a real life grit to them and yet at the same time are poignant without being overly sentimental. He opened a poem with the line “Donna was a cocksucker” (A Pimping Analogy” and with that, he had everyone’s full attention. There’s something wonderful about hearing poems that talk about our own neighborhoods: Hintonburg is mentioned in the above poem. There’s a poem called “King Kong Goes to the Shawville Fair,” another in his ongoing King Kong series. There are poems about drugs and alcohol and the loneliness of being old. Poems we could all understand and relate to: “How strange this growing attachment/To minor keys...” (Elegy for Everybody). After Bill read, the audience clapped for a very long time, the longest I’ve ever heard an audience clap at the Factory Reading Series. rob reminded us that the launch for Dancing Alone at the Ottawa International Writers Festival a few years back, the event was sold out. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to hear William Hawkins read last night.

I read too, but I’m not likely to say much about that from the point of view of an audience member. I read from my second chapbook, “Eleanor” (above/ground press, 2007). if you’d like to hear me reading it, please go to one of my numerous other blogs, here. Much thanks to Susan Johnston of Special Blend for allowing me to publish the recording of our recent interview.

Finally, i offer my congratulations and thanks to rob mclennan, above/ground press publisher, who continues to publish and promote poetry through chapbooks and broadsheets and distribute them, despite financial hardships and a shortage of time due to his busy schedule. i am very honoured to be included in the roster of above/ground press writers.

It was a lovely and touching evening, the memories of which I will cherish. Thank you to all my friends who came to the reading. It was heartening to look out into the audience and see you all. Thanks very much to Emily Falvey, curator of the Ottawa Art Gallery and close friend, who had the good sense to move us all to a different space when the rambunctuous punk rockers in Club Saw tried to drown us out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

come hear me read this Thursday, 7:30 pm

at the Factory Reading Series, The Ottawa Art Gallery, Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue.
along with Marcus McCann and William Hawkins.

The Factory Reading Series 14th Anniversary above/ground press Reading and Chapbook Launch: Thursday 23 August 2007, 7 pm (doors open)
Presented by span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) and The Ottawa Art Gallery.
New Publications and Readings by
Amanda Earl launching "Eleanor,"
Marcus McCann, launching "Heteroskeptical"
and William Hawkins, launching "the black prince of bank street"

Lovingly hosted by rob mclennan.

Information
rob mclennan
az421@freenet.carleton.ca
613-239-0337

also, please have a listen to Mitchell Caplan interview Marcus and me on CLICK HERE, CHUO FM 89 on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 somewhere between 5 & 6 pm.

Friday, August 17, 2007

boot camp, pumping irony and more

Wednesday night, Stuart Ross set up his boot camp chez moi. Four other campers and I learned all kinds of cool techniques to shake up our poetry. I wish I could tell you about the exercises, but you should really take a workshop yourself if you get the chance. We did about seven excercises in the space of two and a half hours or so and everyone wrote some dynomite poems. We also got an excellent reading list and tips on how to create our own chapbooks.

I’m a big believer in taking workshops, regardless of whether you are a beginner or at a more advanced stage. They introduce you to poetry you might not be familiar with, they give you the opportunity to have different sets of eyes on your work and they give you the chance to meet fellow writers.

One poetry workshop that will take place this fall is Stephen Brockwell’s wittily titled “Pumping Irony Poetry Workshop” at Collected Works starting Wednesday, September 26.

Stephen’s workshop is in the same space and time that is usually reserved for a poetry workshop by rob mclennan, who will be out of town for 8 months. I’ve already sung the praises of rob’s workshops here.

I hope to see you at upcoming workshops in the city.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monty Reid

read to a very packed basement at the Royal Oak II as part of the Tree Reading Series.
I always enjoy hearing Reid and I’m a big fan of his poetry. Last night he read a few poems from his latest book: Disappointment Island (Chaudiere Books, 2007), his upcoming book: "the Luskville Reductions" (Brick Books) and a work in progress called "Host".

My favourite of last night’s poems were the Luskville Reductions, which I’ve heard some of before at previous events. Some of them appear in Ottawater.com 2.0. These sad poems deal with a break-up, but not in any sappy way. The image of a dress and its various accessories on the floor remains with me.

The poems from "Host" deal with the fact that humans are hosts to a rather large number of flora and fauna. It was hard not to scratch at imaginary itches during this section of the reading. A particularly interesting poem concerned the idea of symmetry in humans and other species. Humans are bilaterally symmetrical because when we are divided in half, our parts are mostly the same. Some plants are pentamerous, meaning they have five similar parts. Aside from being an excellent poet, Reid is also a great teacher.

I’m happy to hear he has another book coming out soon and another one in the works. If you haven’t read his writing, I recommend it highly. Apparently he’s also an essayist, but I’ve never laid hands on any of his essays and I’d like to.

I should also mention that the open mic was excellent with a lot of familiar faces and a few new ones.

The next Tree takes place on August 28 and features Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Marcus McCann's blog entry on e-mail interviews

is most interesting this week. he discusses the effectiveness of e-mail interviews over more traditional methods and uses as his example an interview of Michael Holmes by rob mclennan in filling station magazine.

don't forget to stop by Collected Works on Thursday at 7:30 pm to hear Marcus read. Other performers include Sky Gilbert and Mackenzie MacBride and the Super Model Syndrome.

there are a lot of readings this week, many of which are the appetizers to the upcoming Capital Pride. check out the bywords.ca calendar of events for more information.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Small Press Panel Tonight, Arts Court Theatre

as part of Art Bazaar, featuring above / ground press, Bywords.ca, Dusty Owl, In/Words and the Puritan. come chat, ask questions, buy us a beer and support Arts Court, for which this event is a benefit. admission is $10, if you didn't buy the $15 pass for the whole three night shebang.

for more on what's going on on the last night of Art Bazaar, go here. the evening starts at 6pm.

note tha David Emery, t former In/Words editor and one of Ottawa's most creative young visionaries (and the instigator of Art Bazaar) is off to Toronto soon for school, so it's a great opportunity to bid him adieu.

see you tonight. august...who knew it would end up being one of the busiest months for literary events?