last night at the Ottawa Art Gallery’s Firestone Gallery was formidable in the French sense, which means fantastic and not formidable in English as in intimidating. Three DC Books affiliated authors read, two coming from Montreal and one from Toronto.
Angela Szczepaniak started off the evening with excerpts from her wonderful book Unisex Love Poems (Punchy Poetry, DC Books, 2008). She read a recipe for a honey combed heart, some deranged antics from the heroine of the book, Butterfingers, a typeface comic, appealing to all us font geeks in the room and there were many font geeks in the audience, i assure you, and a suite of etiquette advice. i was thrilled by the inventiveness of her work and also thrilled that there is a publisher out there willing to take on such fun stuff in Canada. Punchy is off to a great start. I've already really enjoyed Stuart Ross's Dead Cars in Managua (2008), another in the series.
Eva Moran read next from her novel Porny Stories (Punchy Writers Series, DC Books, 2008). the excerpt was crazy, original stuff with quirky characters and a kind of satire of Harlequin and chick lit at the same time. Eva’s writing had panache, imagination and skill. i was again enthralled by the inventiveness and unique character of the work. i wish i’d had a chance to talk more to Eva who has said in an interview with the Danforth Review that sex is her favourite subject. Since it is mine too, we had that in common. And I rarely meet anyone else brazen enough to say that out loud.
Lastly Jason Camlot, the editor of the Punchy Poetry Series, came up to read from three of his poetry collections: Attention All Typewriters (DC Books, 2005), The Animal Library (DC Books, 2000) and The Debaucher (Insomniac Press, 2008) as well as a new poem about playing Charlie Brown in a high school play and getting drunk and stoned with Linus. i have to say i loved Camlot’s work. it was playful, silly, witty, sensuous and provocative. I always say I’m not a big fan of rhyme, but when it’s skilfully done and playful as is Jason’s in The Debaucher, it can be exquisite fun. As he says in his long poem from the book: (and i apologize for not being able to format the spacing correctly):
Rhyme makes poetry debauch.
It leads a line regrettably astray.
It jars us off into apposite thought.
With sound, rhyme makes things touch that shouldn’t touch.
Caresses move from hand to knee to crotch
O so quickly when rhyme’s allowed to have its way.
And then everything changes instantly.
Adjacent thoughts that had been friendly and pragmatic,
now set aflame by rhyme, become dramatic.
A rhyme can give a word radical new meaning
When Byron rhymes bottle with Aristotle,
it makes me want to drink metaphysics
ice cold, on a hot day, without a glass.
It makes me want to drink beer until I’m sick,
I mean really puking so it’s coming out of me like
liquefied petroleum gas,
like those undergrads up in Montreal for the weekend from U Mass
(those guys are friggin’ hilarious)
who drink until they pass out on the grass
next day wake up with shards of beer bottle glass
stuck in their ass
you’ll have to buy the book to enjoy more…
i also really enjoyed the poem he read from the Animal Library, “Kit Schubert Meets Kitsch Man” It was so inventive and imaginative. I wanted to buy Attention All Typewriters too, but there weren’t any more copies, alas ;)
In his interview in Open Book Toronto, Jason says that the poems from the Debaucher "will appeal to readers who have been led astray, enticed into doing something stupid, at least once in their lives, and who look back at such moments with fondness." this describes me to a tee. we need more debauchers in Ottawa or at least regular visits.
In his Danforth Review interview from 2005, Jason says he hopes that readers will love a poem here or there the way he loved certain Beatles songs when he was twelve or certain Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Smiths songs when he was twenty-two. and i have to say, i’m there. i loved many of his poems when i heard them and i’m looking forward to a chance to read them at leisure. over and over again, just like i do with a Bob Dylan song, still, at 45. (my age and not the old 45 rpm singles)