amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, December 30, 2006

a new erotica blog

people are curious; some want to read my smut. i've written a lot of it, but not all of it is published. you can find it here. Note that I haven't posted anything that is currently submitted elsewhere, but I'll likely delete stories when/if they get published. happy reading and do let me know if anything....affects you.

Friday, December 22, 2006



Bookthug Pyrotechnics, Richard Fitzpatrick Books, April

bill bissett, the factory reading series, Arts Court, June

j.w. curry’s reading of b.p nichol’s martyrology,
Gazebo, Parliament Hill, July

Synaesthesia, Arts Court, August

Phil Hall, above/ground press’ Lucky Thirteenth Birthday,
Mercury Lounge, August

Max Middle, Lumière Festival, August

Wave Books Poetry Bus Tour, Blink Gallery, September

Daphne Marlatt, Tree, OIWF, October

Hunkamooga’s Return, Stuart Ross, OIWF, October

George Elliott Clarke, Dusty Owl, November


Je Nathanaël, Nathalie Stephens, Bookthug

Personal Peripherals, Jan Allen, Buschek Books

Aubade, rob mclennan, Broken Jaw Press

Disappointment Island, Monty Reid, Chaudière Books

Types of Canadian Women, Volume II, K.I. Press, Gaspereau Press

Black, George Elliott Clarke, Polestar (Raincoast Books)

name , an errant, rob mclennan, Stride Publications

Movements in Jars, Meghan Jackson, Chaudière Books

The Theory of the Loser Class, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Coach House Books

Lemon Hound, Sina Queras, Coach House Books

(favourite reads in 2006, not necessarily published in 2006)

3 Day Road, Joseph Boyden [in progress, but bloody fantastic]

Fingersmith, Sarah Waters

Still Life with June, Darren Greer

Tyler’s Cape, Darren Greer

The Swimming-Pool Library,

A Map of Glass, Jane Urquhart

The Mark of the Angel, Nancy Huston

Suburban Pornography, Matthew Firth

Houdini’s Shadow, Leo Brent Robillard

The Collected Stories, Reynolds Price

(likely not a complete list-additions if you have them)

Irving Layton (Montreal) March 12, 1912 – January 4, 2006

Joe Sherman (Charlottetown) 1945- January 9, 2006

Juan O’Neill (Ottawa) April 14, 1933 - March 15, 2006

Robert Allen (Montreal) 1946-November 3, 2006


Ron Sexsmith, Time Being

theBetween, Anthems for the Lonely

Jon-Rae and the River, Knows What You Need

Hawksley Workman, Treeful of Starling

Cat Power, The Greatest

Tom Waits, Orphans, Brawlers and Bastards

Mélissa Laveaux, Camphour and Copper

Bright Eyes, Noise Floor (Rarities 1998-2005)

Ember Swift, The Dirty Pulse

Serena Ryder, If Your Memory Serves You Well


Lumière Festival

Andrea Simms-Karp

rob mclennan’s Poetry Workshops

the Wild Oat Café

A’Roma Meze Small Plates & Wine

Hartman’s Independent Grocery delivery service

Joshua Bartholomew


Darren Greer

Seen Reading Blog

Friday, December 15, 2006

Superheroes Rescue Metropolis from Christmas Doldrums

Last night at Arts Court, Ottawa’s literary dynamic duo, Jennifer Mulligan and rob mclennan leaped from a tall funding chasm and battled fiendish foes of culture to bring us Decaloque: ten Ottawa poets, the latest work published by Chaudière Books.

Our capeless crusaders freed ten writers from the fortress of solitude for a provocative and thoughtful evening of some of Ottawa’s finest and oft undiscovered literary talent.

Some of the most memorable bits of the evening for me were …

Shane Rhodes, whose poem “To Elizabeth Bishop” with its repetitions, accumulations and wordplay is just the right thing to entertain a crowd. Rhodes blends wit, humour and precise language adeptly.

Monty Reid, whose writing is brilliant and touching at the same time. His poem “For A New Kitchen” with these lines “There is always a space//where the new world wants/to be made…” His series “Some Little Songs”—how can a poem be so memorable and so minimal at the same time? His voice too…resonant, melifluous and damn sexy. One of the highlights of the reading for me.

Max Middle, first with his meandering opening about whether or not poets are just writing and reading for one another. Yes, Max makes you think and then he bounces off into wondrous wordplay and if you listen carefully, he’ll still make you think…”beauty can be found / b being still.”

rob mclennan whose poems manage to be distant and passionate all at the same time: “the fucker who stole my bicycle.”

Una McDonnell, ah Una McDonnell’s poetry is a find, a discovery, a jewel. I couldn’t believe how beautiful her language was and the movement within those poems she read was just so slidy perfect. The poem “Grieving Knife” is an excellent example of the power of understated language and the strength of a good line break. This poem was so lonely. I felt every movement. Exquisite. Before this, I had read some of the poems in Decalogue in Ottawater 2.0 and another of her poems from Written in the Skin: A Poetic Response to Aids (Insomniac Press, 1998). I'd love to have a collection of her poems to read and linger over.

Michelle Desbarats is always wonderful to listen to. Her writing is more whimsical than any other local writers, makes me think a bit of Robert Priest’s poems. “Saturday Morning Reentry” with the lines “but some wake too soon for / a Saturday morning and find the blue stuff / still below them”…the image lingers. Desbarats has this breathless way with line breaks that quickens the pace of her poems and makes for a compelling read. I’d love to see her try her hand at a book of kids’ poems.

I should say more about the others, who were also wonderful, but you’ll have to buy the book to find out. Stay tuned for another episode of Super-rob and Wonder-Jen as they unleash their publishing superpowers on a world desperate for good writing and good logs. And what will Lex Luthor do?

[A side note: this is my favourite of Chaudière Books' designs so far. I love the bold and comiclike cover artwork by Bhat Boy, the larger print poems (old eyes, alas) and the overall design. I congratulate the publishing house on its hard work. Shows you what talent, hard work and dedication can do.]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

0 Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree

Last night's Tree Reading Series event was an all open mic with two sets of ten. I haven’t been to Tree since summer, but this was the first time in ages I’d seen so many people there. The all open mic night is your chance to read from your own work or from the poetry of other writers, “cover poems” as they’re called. Most people read their own; although a few such as Mark (aka Max Middle) and Josh read stirring stuff from others too. Mark read some very fine William Blake poems, showing us all perhaps where his love of the sound of words might spring from.

The readers last night included old familiars: Baird, Bob and folks I’ve never heard read before: Patrick, Leslie, Craig and Chris; emerging poets like Rona, Sean, Heather, Roland and me, and well published writers like rob, Shane, Anita. Michelle Desbarats and Rhonda Douglas in particular really blew me away with their poems. Roland even brought in his guitar, performing a passionate composition about Charles Bukowski.

Those of us who read got to choose blind from a bag full of great fiction and poetry. I scored “Whatever Happens” Stories by Tim Conley, Insomniac Press, 2006, which is apt right now as I’m writing a lot of short stories with an emphasis on the experimental, pushing boundary stuff.

The feeling I got when I read was that people were really paying attention to what I was saying. I don’t know if it’s true, but it felt good and I haven’t read at an open mic for some time, so it was a great experience and one that made me realize I have to get out and read more in public again.

This was Tree’s final reading of 2006. I tip my touque to Rhonda and Dean for doing a great job in their first year. Next Tree will be Greg Frankson (aka Rittallin on January 9) and the usual shorter open mic of 8 people at 4 minutes each. It will be a fun time. Greg is on my sexiest male Canadian poets list.

And don’t forget to attend Chaudiere Books’ launch of Decalogue on Thursday, featuring Stephen Brockwell, Michelle Desbarats, Anita Dolman, Anne Le Dressay, Karen Massey, Una McDonnell, rob mclennan, Max Middle, Monty Reid and Shane Rhodes.

Oh one more thing…Charles took some great photos and I’m sure they’ll be appearing on his blog sometime in the near future.

And then we walked home in the unseasonably warm December night.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Meme Me Up (Poetically)

Pearl tagged me so on this. I guess if we’re playing, I’ll pass the ball to rob, Marcus and Heather. A list of who has participated is here:

The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to wasan old Victorian nursery rhyme by William Brighty Rands my father recited, aimed at improving a child’s self discipline. Also in about grade 7, we were given the Wordsworth poem, The Daffodils.
I remember feeling physically ill when I read this poem. It was so saccharine and sickly sweet. I thought then and there that if this is poetry, it isn't something that interests me. It wasn't until university when I read Les Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire and poems by Rimbaud that poetry caught fire for me.

I was forced to memorize numerous poems in school and…
Actually I was never forced to memorise poems in English per se. I remember having to learn a few soliloquies from Shakespeare’s plays and that always reduced me to tears. I ended up learning a lot of old chestnuts from my father, but most of that has been eliminated from my memory, thank the heavens.

In high school French, I had to learn Le Corbeau et Le Renard, one of La Fontaine’s fables, and I loved that. I’ve always been able to memorise French better than English.

I read poetry because…I like the originality and freshness of a good poem. I’m really really bored with all the nature poems and most of the love poems out there that seem to chew up, swallow and then regurgitate old stuff. Thank heavens for folks like Fred Wah.

A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem isGwendolyn MacEwen’s The Red Bird You Wait For. She had such a command of language and her ability to create mesmerizing symbols was incredible.

I write poetry, but… I’m not sure what I write is poetry or that I want it to be called that at all these days. I’m going thru a what is that word…watershed? experience where I’ve realized the word “poem” messes me up. If I try to write something called a poem, I end up creating hamhanded syntax and precious words and it’s all so unnatural and forced.

This is the kind of stuff I’ve been doing lately and I can’t call it poetry. People like Nathalie Stephens impress me because they blend poetry and prose and don’t worry about what they call it. I’m also enamoured of visual poetry and perhaps will explore that more. There are just so many colours in our palates, why can’t we use more than just words on a page, left justified and capitalized?

My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature because… when I read poetry I can become overwhelmed by the strength of the language and imagery at times, so that I have to stop. Sometimes I have to write the poem out to really enjoy it. Sometimes I have to read it out loud over and over again. I guess poetry makes me stop.

I find poetry… to be a word that causes odd reactions. People get defensive when you use the word. They say poetry was better in previous eras and trot out some poem they were made to memorise in the 1800s. Then they say…now that was poetry. So just saying I write it brings out a lot of sneers and derision from the universe. Kind of like the attitude about my writing erotica.

The last time I heard poetry was… last night in rob’s workshop (which you should take in the new year, by the way). Marcus’ “Carbon Dating v3” was spectacular.

I think poetry is like …a gift for those with open minds.