amongst books

amongst books

Monday, March 22, 2021

Please support our campaign to publish Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry forthcoming from Timglaset Editions


Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry, the Video

Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry, the Video We are raising money to fund the publication of Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry, a 21st Century Anthology to be published by Timglaset Editions this spring. With your help, we will center and celebrate the vast contributions of women making visual poetry, open up and create new spaces. Back the campaign here. We invited women making visual poetry to send us a video saying “I make visual poetry” in their own language. Thank you to the women who star in the video: Rosaire Appel, Kimberly Campanello, Angela Caporaso, Paula Damm, Johanna Drucker, Amanda Earl, Cinzia Farina, Claudia Frau, Naoko Fujimoto, Carmen Herrera Castro, Ava Hofmann, Satu Kaikkonen, J.I. Kleinberg, Dona Mayoora, Lina Nordenström, Mary Olivanti-Duerksen, Astra Papachristodoulou, Amy Rodriguez, Silje Ree, Imogen Reid, Mado Reznik, Viviane Rombaldi Seppey, Karen Sandhu, Shloka Shankar, Kate Siklosi, Kristine Snodgrass, Ana Verónica Suárez, ayşegül tözeren, Seet van Hout, Ankie van Dijk, Terri Witek. Thank you to Sara Riis Hasselskog - video, Testbild! – music and Jennifer Pederson - voice over.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Bank Street to Gladstone to Knife Fork Book to Last Year's Troubles

 today I walked outside for a longish ramble. I seldom do these anymore. I was glad to be out. From my apartment I walked west to Bank Street. I noticed that Connors Pub has closed and there’s a notice that says it’s going to be the home of the Gilmour, an ordinary Canadian pub. This is a pub Charles and I occasionally stopped into, in the Before Times. We would go there on a Saturday afternoon and end up not going grocery shopping. Procrastinating and ending up so into our conversation that we would wander about and just celebrate the day.


There seem to be numerous weed shops and vape shops now on Bank. I went to the LCBO at Bank and McLeod to pick up chardonnay. I had a craving. It happens in the spring. I got Wolf Blass Yellow Label, which is ok, but a tad too sweet and not oaky enough for me. I drink so seldomly these days, if I’m going to imbibe I want it to be extra good. Do you know of a truly oaky, substantial chardonnay? Give me a shout.


That’s my new favourite expression: give me a shout. Not a holler or a call, but a shout. Drop me a line? Send me some frangible tokens.


In the LCBO, I was asking the clerk where the WBYL chardonnay was. As she was telling me, and we were at the appropriate distance, wearing masks etc…I choked on my own saliva and coughed up a storm. The horror. The poor woman. I backed away slowly, as did she. I was frozen. Mortified. What could I say?


I went to the Shoppers to pick up my semi-monthly goods, applying my Seniors (55+) discount to eye drops, body wash, emery boards, a pair of scissors with a red handle, some mini Scotch tape (no mini whisky bottles attached alas), a box of travelling Lactaid, a bottle of roll on aromatherapy oil for curing headaches. I use this by my bed at night. It helps me to sleep. I roll a little on the inside of my wrists and my temples. It’s like rolling peace over them. And calm. This one is spearmint.


I walked along Gladstone. The White Monkey antique store is closed. It’s been there for years. I used to love to look in the window. I chatted with a gent who came out of what I think was a barbershop. He was standing there. We were both wearing masks. I asked him how his day was going. He said it was good and asked about mine. I said it’s going fine, if I behave myself. I have no idea why I sent that.


I passed a bread place, a chicken place that has looked closed since I moved to the area, and a new Indian restaurant, that I think was called the Curry Place. I turned up North to my street and looked for crocuses, but it’s too soon. The snow is mostly gone but the ground is solid khaki green/mud brown. There was a bit of ground cover and a few shoots from bulbs.

This evening I tuned in to the Knife Fork Book reading JESSI MACEACHERN A NUMBER OF STUNNING ATTACKS LAUNCH w/Special Guests KLARA DU PLESSIS + JESSIE JONES – on Zoom. I kept my video off, my sound on mute and I closed my eyes and listened to phonemes, rising and tumbling into pictures. This is my favourite way to attend a virtual reading. I lay on my couch for an hour in the dark. I may have dozed off now and again, just because I was so at peace. I love voices. If I love anything about poetry it is its sound. To have it given to me so purely without any demand from me at all. It was a luxury. I felt surrounded by good folks too. There’s a companionship in being together that way.


Kirby is a gentle, supportive and welcoming host. Knife Fork Book is a haven. These days we need all the havens and gentleness we can get.


I came home. Ha! See what I did there? I was at home already.


I listened to the Spoken Web podcast for a bit. An episode about women and sound, silence and abuse. I drew. I made three faceless girls in pencil. The Grey Girls. I gave them an alphabet of trauma.


Tomorrow Ottawa is back in the red zone, a new way of saying – restrictions again, don’t ask me the details. It’s a harrowing time.


Here’s Last Year’s Troubles from Suzanne Vega, Songs in Red and Gray


Monday, March 01, 2021

Welcome to Upper Zygonia, a reading from an excerpt from my current work in progress now online

 Thanks to the League of Canadian Poets for funding this reading from my current work in progress. We made the video inside my apartment and around my building.

Welcome to Upper Zygonia is my current work in progress, inspired by my early attempts at escape from reality. Over the years, I have daydreamed about Upper Zygonia while waiting for doctors and nurses, lying on a stretcher in a hospital outside operating room #3 awaiting surgery, waiting for bad hospital food, and most recently as an escape from fretting over this god damn pandemic. In 2020 I spent a lot of time using magic markers to doodle and I found myself doodling the world of Upper Zygonia. Upper Zygonia is a planet in the Zygonian Galaxy below Lower Zygonia and larger than Greater Zygonia. Its first beings are dream beings: sea dragons, floating letters with wings, catterflies, flowerfish, and fire birds.

 Later the planet is populated by those seeking refuge: Sparrow who flies to those in need of relief from pain; Silver, who was burned badly in a fire and lost parents and siblings; Lilac, a playful genius who is a nonbinary character, Willomena, the willow tree; the Leaflings, who turn into trees when they die; the Flowers: Ivy, Orange Blossom and Violet, who are burlesque dancers, Saint Asemica of the Holy Order of Whimsy, Mt. Glyph, the River of Codes, the Library of Whimsy, Little Green, one of the many multi-coloured cats who roam around Upper Zygonia, airships, hot air balloons,  and other whimsical characters, places and spaces, events.


Monday, February 22, 2021

how to survive times of disenchantment

 i don't really have any answer to this. but something of mine keeps getting rejected time and time again. i was thinking about all the things i would do: quit writing. self-publish, blah blah blah. why? some kind of revenge to all those who won't publish the thing? that's pretty silly. 

i'll keep sending the thing out, revising it, looking for its eventual home and i'll keep working on stuff because i need to do it, not for reasons of validation. dear Ego, go make a cup of tea and sit in a corner.

and when i do feel that disenchantment, i find making something so truly outrageous that it is impossible, unpublishable and makes me smile ... this makes me feel better. you can do anything as a creative person. skies the limits...however, it doesn't mean publishers have the money or time to support your weird. if you're lucky, once in a pink polka dot moon, your weird corresponds with a potential audience's weird and hence a publisher's willingness to publish. look out for those moments. they happen. 

take your disenchantment and make it weird. that's my answer...

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Coping: living in the now and counting my blessings

 I don’t know if this is helpful to others or just frustrating to read, but the way Charles and I cope with this time is to treat it as if it is how things are, to live in the now. We don’t plan for “after the pandemic” or “after the lockdown.” We try to find joy somehow in life as it is. And we have a lot of reasons to be joyful. We adapt to the changes we have had to make: wearing masks when we’re out, and Charles wearing masks on transit and at the office. We have some colourful and silly masks. We order most of our food via online services. I rarely go to any public spaces.

 We are also quite fortunate and don’t want to take that privilege for granted. For those with loved ones in long term care or those with children there are some incredibly difficult worries and experiences, not to mention those who have Covid-19 or who have close loved ones with the virus, and those with job issues, economic, housing and food insecurities.

 I worry about all those dealing with the pandemic and its consequences and that is always in my mind and heart, but the best way for me to not get overwhelmed is just to live in the now and adapt to the times as they are.

 I have vague hopes of doing a bit of touring in a few years to go to readings and celebrate my 60th, all being well, but these are not set in stone and they are not essential to my inner peace and happiness.

 I have a darling husband. I have food, shelter, financial security (for now) and health (for now).  I have many books to read, markers to doodle with, friends to keep in touch with and an imagination that keeps me occupied. I have a comfortable bed, an apartment I love and even fitness via Zoom with a great instructor and in a great community via the Carleton University’s Senior Ravens program when I choose to attend.

 I do look forward to a day when I can sit in a café and enjoy a chai latte and the conversation of those around me. I look forward to jumping around in the pool in my building again, taking aquafit at Carleton again and spending time in person with dear friends. All those experiences will be all the richer then. But I don’t pine for them. I just want to get through this time as sanely and safely as possible.

 I am grateful for the creative gifts so many artists, musicians, and writers have made to make it possible for me to feel joy. To all of you, I wish you a happy solstice and a joyous holiday season. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Covid-19, Schools and the Need for Government Plans and Accountability

 Dr. Shushiela Appavoo MD FRCP(C) Associate Clinical Professor, University of Alberta Co-chair, Canadian Association of Radiologists Breast Imaging Guidelines Working Group and member of the Masks4Canada group spoke today with Alan Neal on CBC’s All In A Day about whether it was necessary to shut down schools. Alas there isn’t a recording of that segment on the site yet, but if it is posted, I'll add it to this piece.

She made a valid point. She said that closing schools was only one tool in the arsenal. She talked about making schools safe by ensuring they follow Covid 19 protocols. She said that class sizes of 25-30 students was too large. In the press release there are a series of demands, including the enforcement of 2-metre distance as opposed to 1-metre which is currently the case.

Masks4Canada is a volunteer grassroots group made up of physicians, media, data scientists, marketing specialists, technologists, lawyers, engineers, students, teachers, parents, and advocates. Their goal is to raise awareness about the necessity of wearing masks.

 On their site, they feature a Canada Covid 19 School Case Tracker in order to provide transparency and increase safety in schools. The map has a live tracking feature and a form for Canadians to report cases. They say that schools “violate the 3C’s of social distancing: they are crowded, closed spaces with prolonged close contact.”

 They advocate the use of masks for K-12 students, and they also advocate strengthening schools by ensuring that the schools are following the protocols.

 I have argued over and over since the schools were reopened that children can be asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 based on information from testing where those tested positive can show no symptoms. I have said that the most recent change in the Northern Hemisphere that has coincided with a surge in case numbers has been the fall openings of schools while there has been a decline in cases in the Southern Hemisphere, where schools are closed.

 I have not denied the importance of schools. I recognize that governments need schools to be open so that they can continue to keep money moving, parents need to work and can’t do so if they have to handle childcare. I recognize that schools are often havens for children who are victims of abuse at home or dealing with issues such as housing and food insecurities. I recognize too that for many children schools are a place for society and friendship. I see that it would be better at this time if the schools could remain open.

 However I also see a myth being spun by health authorities and governments claiming that schools are following the necessary protocols. 

Teacher and support staff unions have been up in arms since news of the planned opening about the lack of preparation, overcrowded classes, poor ventilation, over crowded buses, lack of teachers, lack of proper physical distancing recommendations. These issues are, in part, due to long term and systematic budgetary constraints of governments that have placed profit over people as a priority. I’m still looking for a resource with some kind of list of Ontario Education budgets and cuts over time, but in the meantime, take a look at this opinion piece by Ricardo Tranjan, in Education Action Toronto, which shows the effects of some of the Ford government’s recent cuts in education. Here’s a link to their editorial board and mission so you can check any possible biases, but it sounded straight-forward to me.

Meanwhile businesses and individuals are being called out with claims that they are disobeying protocols. And I’m sure some might be. Small businesses and individuals who have little or no money are being fined and shamed. I don’t know how this method is expected to result in an adherence to protocols or lead to a reduction in Covid-19 cases. It reads like a bad Victorian era morality poem. "I speak severely to my child, I beat her when she sneezes, she only does it to annoy, because she knows it teases."

Anecdotally only, I have heard of businesses who have not reported a member of their staff with Covid-19 because they can’t afford to shut down their workplaces for 14 days.

The only info I can find about Ottawa businesses and Covid-19 is vague about reporting requirements on this issue, so I am not sure of the veracity of what I’ve heard; however I have heard this from several workers.

 I have heard of workers going in to work when they have symptoms because they can’t afford to take time off, even with the emergency 14-day benefit offered by the federal government for sick leave.

Once more, anecdotally only, I have heard of testing centres where the staff is simply too overworked to provide the codes necessary for the contact tracing application to be effective.

The system is broken and it’s broken because money is in short supply and governments don’t have a plan to deal with the issues, as we’re told by Dr. Joseph Gans, an economist with the Roterdam School of Management and the author of the book, The Pandemic Information Gap: The Brutal Economics of COVID-1 in a recent conversation with Rita Celli on CBC’s Ontario Today.  Governments prefer to put the onus on business and individuals.

 When a third of Covid-19 sources cannot be traced in Ottawa

and we are able to trace sources of Covid-19 from large gatherings, restaurants etc, when the only major change that has happened since the surge in Northern Hemispheres began in late summer is the opening of schools, doesn’t it make sense to at least consider the possibility?

Doesn’t it also make sense to make sure that schools are following health protocols to keep children and staff safe and to ensure that community transmission through the schools is minimized?

The science on transmission from children is not clear yet, but Ontario’s science advisory table has said it may play a bigger role than first thought.

 Anecdotally only, some of our friends with kids are talking about situations where classes are being merged due to lack of available teachers, resulting in 30+ students in one class, or windows having to be opened due to poor ventilation systems. How many teachers are in ICU? How many family members of teachers or kids in school have tested positive for Covid 19? Are they even being tested?

 A reminder: in one third of Covid 19 cases in Ottawa the source is “unknown.”

"No known source means the person with a positive case was asked about risk factors and exposures, but "no source of exposure was able to be identified." 

No information available means people who test positive "have not been asked about risk factors and exposures yet," and they haven't been identified as a close contact to another person with COVID-19." Priscilla Hwang, CBC News, October 13, 2020

Given the lack of interest or due diligence regarding tracing asymptomatic transmissions from schools, i'd say we have our smoking gun.

You can take a look at the Covid 19 Canada School Case Tracker live map here.

I would rather not see schools closed; however, I would also rather not see them remain open if there is even one possibility that transmission is occurring via the schools where educators are not able to follow protocols due to budget cuts.

 I would also rather we end the fining, blaming and shaming of individuals and businesses unless we hold institutions equally accountable.

 Governments need a plan, rapid testing, a pause on rent payments and other strategies to help businesses and individuals. This blaming and fining has got to stop. Individuals will always find a way round a broken and unjust system. This is not the best idea in the times we are in. Transparency and following protocols, a just and equitable application of the rules for everyone is.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

getting the details right - a handy primer Amanda not Angela, Earl, not Earle etc

 i just thought i'd do a roundup of stuff relating to me and to my activities as a publisher. i won't freak out if you get this stuff wrong, but here's a handy primer for those who might find it helpful.

it's Amanda, not Angela.

it's Earl, not Earle.

although i'm thinking of an alter ego named Angela Earle ;)

unless you are putting everyone else's name in lowercase, my name is not lowercased: Amanda Earl.

it's not Bywords or Bywords magazine or Bywords x or y, it's (Month, Year).

we ran a monthly poetry magazine from 2003 to 2013 called the Bywords Quarterly Journal (BQJ). if you are published in that you would write Bywords Quarterly Journal (month, year). 

it's AngelHousePress (one word)

it's Experiment-O Issue plus number (AngelHousePress, year)

it's (AngelHousePress, year)

if you have an essay published online in the essay series it's published by AngelHousePress (month, year).

AngelHousePress chapbooks are published by AngelHousePress (year)

DevilHouse (also one word) was a prose imprint of AngelHousePress. Chapbooks published should be credited as published by DevilHouse (year).

i make all kinds of terrible typos and spelling errors for people's names etc. i wish i didn't. as i'm ageing this is happening increasingly. i don't fault anyone for making errors/typos. but i'm sharing this now, so that i can point it out if asked.

my pronouns are she/her.

i'm a cis-gendered pansexual polyamorous woman.

i'm a romantic non-monogamous slut.

i'm a feminist who is against fascism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia.

i'm married to Charles Earl (18 happy years and counting). we are in an open relationship.

i almost died in 2009. i am grateful to be alive.

i write poetry, visual poetry and prose (both fiction and nonfiction).

i am the managing editor of and the (fallen) angel of AngelHousePress. 

I host an art and literature podcast called the Small Machine Talks. 

Links to all my stuff

i hope you are coping somehow. 

what can i do to help you when i'm capable?