amongst books

amongst books

Friday, February 15, 2008

A B Series # 5

featured Jay MillAr, Monty Reid and Emily Falvey tonight while the cold was raging outside.

Emily read three short poems and her story, "Swamp Water," about a man’s childhood reminiscences of his rebellious friend. Emily paints vivid pictures of the awkwardness of childhood in her story and packs a punch with provocative and tight prose such as this:

“Hair-lipped Billy Bolivar was proud of three things: a scar above his left temple, which he got in a knife fight (actually, his brother threw a rock at him for shooting his ass with a bee-bee); a brown, imitation leather jacket with Motley Crew scrawled on the back; and the age of his mother at the time of his birth (she was only thirteen). Billy seemed to derive a slight conceit from this last fact, like he had impregnated her himself and was thus the rapist author of his own creation. It was compensation for his father, who didn’t seem to exist.”

Her poetry was also great to hear. In her interview with Click Here radio host Mitchell Caplan on Wednesday, Emily mentioned that she adored words and especially unusual vocabularies. One of her poems was a sonnet based on a book of paperweight art.

Her fiction can be found in Decalogue II (Chaudiere Books).

Monty read a few apropos poems from “These Lawns” (Red Deer College Press, 1990), one about near-Valentine’s day called “February 12,” another called “Spring Weather” and five poem sequence called “Pre-Maturity.”

He then read from a new manuscript which is an approximate translation of “El Gran Zoo” by Nicolás Guillén. The zoo is a place where one finds the ferociousness and beauty of humanity and nature. I was particularly affected by a poem describing the North Star as ice melting down on us. This image stayed with me as Charles and I walked through Confederation Park and contemplated the Winterlude ice sculptures in all their frozen colours.

Jay was the final reader. He used his education in information science to structure his reading according to the various methods his information was organized whether it be numbers in the Small Blue (Snare Books, 2007), letters Lack Lyrics (Book Thug, 2007) and “Sporatic Growth, being a third season of fungal threads” (Nomados Press, 2006) and "Double Helix," the micro-fiction book he co-wrote with Stephen Cain (Mercury Press, 2006). Jay’s work is dry and witty at times, and at other times very poignant.

I have an earlier version of the Small Blue (Bookthug, 2003) in which numbers are skipped. I was pleased to get the updated version with poems written in the space where the blanks once were. In his interview with Mitchell Caplan, Jay mentioned that the title came from a line of Apollinaire’s “le petit bleu.” To update “The Small Blue,” Jay researched various things with that name, including a type of butterfly and a set of constellations. Jay’s writing is creative and unbound. It was a pleasure to hear him read.

It was a pleasure to hear everyone read!

The next A B will feature Ottawa writers. There are a pile of interesting A B events coming soon. Check the blog for more info.

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