amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Please donate to VERSeFest 2013


VERSeFest is Ottawa’s annual international poetry festival.  It is managed by a collective of Ottawa poetry groups called VERSe Ottawa.  The festival is going into its third year and has been a great artistic success.  Last year’s festival brought spoken word poets of the calibre of C.R. Avery and Ursula Rucker, and written word poets such as Philip Levine and Rae Armantrout.  We’re looking forward to VERSeFest ’13, which will feature poets from Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands.  The festival promises to be even better than its predecessors.  But we need your help.

Staging an international poetry festival is a much more expensive operation than ‘keeping it Canadian’.  Travel costs are very much higher, as you might imagine; even the costs of accommodation and hospitality rise above those for Canadian nationals.  We have sought and obtained some funding from several Canadian funding agencies, but it isn’t enough to offset costs.

We need $5,000 to break even on VERSeFest ’13.  If we don’t manage to raise that amount, we will have to start cancelling international and Canadian poets.  We need $2,500 to bring two Irish and three Dutch poets to Ottawa, and we need $1,500 to bring Canadian poets from western Canada.  A further $1,000 will go toward accommodations and hospitality for other festival participants. 

Your contributions will go directly to funding the artists’ appearances.  VERSeFest is run completely by volunteers, so 100% of every donation goes toward making the festival happen.  Please give what you can.

You can help even if you can’t contribute financially.  Please pass the word about our campaign to friends and acquaintances.  Make some noise about VERSeFest and Indiegogo.  Use the Indiegogo share tools to get the word out.

Thank you!

poetry talk with Amanda Earl


been a while since I've done one of these, but I never claimed to be reliable.

Tonight the A B Series marks the new year with  poetry readings by dear pal, poet, publisher, fictioneer etc  rob mclennan & Torontonian Beatriz Hausner at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Speaking of the A B Series, I'm very excited to see that the great & dangerous evalyn parry will be paired up with the great & equally dangerous Luna Allison to perform at Raw Sugar in February.

so far the rest of the month is pretty quiet for me for literary events, but I'm glad to take it easy. January was packed with great events, including the Bywords Cornerstone Fundraiser with six poets & musician Jill Zmud. See Pearl Pirie's wonderful report & photos on the event. I'm thrilled to say we ended up raising $636 for Cornerstone. Ottawans, your generosity is amazing. I suggest to other reading series who aren't yet doing so to take up community outreach as part of their mandate. See my earlier post on Community Outreach.

Erín Moure recently read at the Tree Reading Series & knocked everyone's socks off. Speaking of Erín, she has kindly made available her entire series on translation  entitled "Translation's Homeopathic Gestures" published over the past few months at Jacket2. I've dipped in now & again, but it's going to be fantastic to read the whole thing thru. poets are translators, all humans are. we spend our days trying to make sense of things or place them in some meaningful framework. Erín's thoughtful work is a helpful guide to listening.

Matrix Magazine mailed me not just one but two new issues. I haven't had a chance to go thru both of them yet, but I'm enjoying #94, New Winnipeg Writing. I've always maintained that Manitoba is a wonderful place for creative folk. It seems to incite them to grand schemes & originality. Think of Guy Madden. In the New Winnipeg Writing Issue I've been enjoying Jonathan Ball's "What Rappers Are Saying" & discovering poets Christoff Engbrecht, Clarise Foster, who I only knew of from her role as an editor with CV2, Chandra Mayor, Catherine Hunter & others.

Speaking of Matrix, today's the last day to submit your poetry manuscripts for the Robert Kroetsch Innovative Poetry Award if you'd had two or fewer books. it's an award i find  hard not to submit to because it pays homage to one of my favourite poets, the late great Robert Kroetsch, who has been & continues to be a major influence on my writing & the writing of numerous others.

There's a new invitation only chapbook publisher out of Windsor, Ontario, Wrinkle Press run by poets Nicole Markotic & Louis Cabri. Nice to see chapbooks the primary focus of a press as they are for three A-list Ottawa presses (above/ground, Apt. 9 & AngelHousePress).

speaking of Cameron Anstee, lots of former In/wordians have been blogging of late, which is good to see. Being part of In/Words seems to have instilled in them a sustained sense of literary community.

Check out the blogs of Cameron Anstee, Jeff Blackman, Peter Gibbon (Conduit Canada, his new press), Ben Ladouceur. There are also a number of current In/Words editors with Tumblr accounts, but I'll leave you to find those on your own.

Bywords' 2005 John Newlove Poetry Award Winner, Melissa Upfold has begun a new zine, Nickel95, to follow up on her handbuilt & unique "Variations". 

Any day now, VERSeFest 2013 will announce its lineup. from what I understand there will be a variety of poets from all over the world & some repeats from previous year's festivals.

above/ground press is celebrating its 20th year this year with a plethora of new chapbooks & readings planned, possibly even another anthology. the first, GROUNDSWELL, the best of above/ground press 1993-2003 was epic. 


& finally, on Shawna Lemay's Canadian Poetries site, K.I Press offers a few whimsical & imaginative poems.
Witches flying on their broomsticks to attend orgies were experiencing astral 
journeys in which their repressed sexuality came vividly to life. 
[from 21 VENTOSE:  MANDRAGORE ]

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Importance of Outreach by Ottawa's Literary Community


Whether it's trying to put Canadian contemporary poetry in the schools, the current initiative of Arc Poetry Magazine, the Dusty Owl Reading Series' upcoming celebration of Black History Month & fundraising for the Ottawa Food Bank every year at its annual Chocolate House, Bywords' fundraiser for Cornerstone & participation in the AIDS/HIV Walk for Life, local press Phafours' anthology fundraiser for the Guatemala Stove Project, the spoken word community's activism for causes like the Haiti Earthquake a few years back, the Ottawa International Writers Festival's campaign for literacy or any other number of outreach initiatives by the literary community, such outreach is an important and not often recognized part of the activity of Ottawa's writers, storytellers, spoken word artists and event organizers.

Aside from all the work that goes into organizing a reading series, writing grant applications, & promoting events to help create a thriving national cultural capital, Ottawa's creative community has demonstrated through these attempts to help fellow Ottawa residents who are dealing with poverty, homelessness and abuse that they understand they are part of the larger community, that Ottawa is their home. 

Numerous members of the creative writing community volunteer at food banks, shelters, fundraising campaigns & can be found at rallies in support of causes, such as the recent Idle No More.

I think this says something about our creative community. There is care here and kindness and generosity of spirit and empathy. Numerous writers live below the poverty line. Many of us are fortunate to live comfortable lives, but the understanding that we are only a few pay cheques away from hunger is inescapable.

I recently heard that certain segments of the media don't bother to report on poetry readings taking place in Ottawa because they claim most of the readings bring in only small and regular audiences and therefore reporting on these events wouldn't serve the interests of the larger readership, viewers, listeners. I think this is misguided. The creative community of Ottawa is part of the larger community and affects it in numerous ways. This is an example.

I hope you'll join me on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 5pm at the Manx Pub to help raise much needed money for Cornerstone, an organization that provides shelter & support for Ottawa's homeless women. We will pass the hat while you listen to poetry by former & current Ottawa poets and music by the fabulous Jill Zmud. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ottawater 9 launch Thursday

greetings dear friends 
& casual acquaintances, 

i will be in the cavalcade of local poets reading as part of the launch of the ninth issue of Ottawater this Thursday, January 24 at the Carleton Tavern, 223 Armstrong, UPSTAIRS, 7:30pm.(doors 7pm)

i will read for just under five minutes: the two fairy tale collage poems from the issue plus a couple more recent poems i'm still fiddling with at this very moment. 


thanks to the very supportive & encouraging rob mclennan for including me in the issue & inviting me to read. 

The ninth issue of ottawater is now online, featuring new writing by Cameron Anstee, Steven Artelle, Gary Barwin, Jeff Blackman, David Blaikie, Frances Boyle, Ronnie R. Brown, Colin Browne, Murray Citron, George Elliott Clarke, Faizal Deen, Amanda Earl, Laura Farina, Jesse Patrick Ferguson, Mark Frutkin, Brecken Hancock, Carla Hartsfield, a.m. kozak, Ben Ladouceur, Nicholas Lea, Anne Le Dressay, rob mclennan, Cath Morris, Colin Morton, Alcofribas Nasier II, Peter Norman, Abby Paige, Pearl Pirie, Nicholas Power, Wanda Praamsma, Ryan Pratt, Roland Prevost, Monty Reid, Sonia Saikaley, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt, Rob Thomas, Lauren Turner and Vivian Vavassis.

i hope to see you there. at this point, i have no other readings scheduled for 2013.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

i'll tumble for you

in case anyone who wants to know, or doesn't yet know, i have a Tumblr account where i post Montparnassian spirited things, talk about writing, my insatiable appetite for men, my health crisis' reverberating effects & also, just started to share poems as well. i am, shall we say, coming out of my shell.

now back to memories of Boy George & Culture Club...

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Ottawater 9.0 is now live

i have two collage poems within. not everyone i would have liked to have seen is here, but there's a representative range of work by numerous Ottawans & former Ottawans. thanks to rob mclennan for including my bit of wild therein. take a look at the pdf here.

the reading will take place on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at the Carleton Tavern, doors 7pm, reading 7:30pm. & you're invited.