amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

bidding adieu to national poetry month

last week i walked into the ottawa public library main branch and discovered that library staff had set up a shelf for npm. hurray! there are angels in that library.

from this shelf of local poetry on the main floor, i picked up one of rob mclennan’s poetry collections that i don’t own...The Richard Brautigan Ahhhhhhhhhh (not sure how many times the letter h appears ;) (Talonbooks, 1999).

i really enjoyed it. one of the reasons why was its feeling of one moment in time, its references to Somerset Street and surrounding area. for his poetic career so far, rob has really been a chronicler of his neighbourhood, his city and his time. this book too is one of the early intense books of rob’s. the poems tend to be very well-paced and compelling. i felt like i was reading something by a young man who didn’t know how much time he had left to live, to enjoy his youth.

i read the book while sitting on the patio of the Royal Oak II just before the lunch rush arrived, early last week.

to mark the end of national poetry month, i recommend you visit or revist the earlier collections of some of Ottawa’s poets. go back to Ronnie R. Brown’s first collection for instance: Re Creation. (Balmuir Books, 1987) or Stephen Brockwell’s The Wire in Fences (Balmuir Books, 1988), or an early work of Monty Reid’s or Colin Morton’s. It’s fascinating to trace the changes and the commonalities of a writer’s work.

it’s funny to me to see that a month celebrating poetry is ending. most of us here in this literary “blogosphere” (a new word i learned this month), celebrate poetry, creativity and art all the time. so don’t stop celebrating the stuff that inspires you, that makes life more beautiful or provocative to you.

i am looking forward to may, which is another exciting month for literature in ottawa, particularly due to the canadian literature symposium taking place at the University of Ottawa from May 9-11: re: reading the postmodern, and the public readings both from the A B series and from the conference itself, featuring Monty Reid, Sandra Ridley, Roland Prevost, Chris Turnbull, Nicholas Lea, rob mclennan, Shane Rhodes, Marcus McCann, John Lavery, Gregory Betts, Fred Wah and Kim Echlin, Robert Kroetsch, Frank Davey, Christian Bök, Dennis Cooley, Christine Stewart, Stephen Cain, Gregory Betts, Louis Cabri, Andy Weaver, and The Max Middle Sound Project...go to and click on events for all the time, place, date details.

the celebration continues (although i might not blog as often!).

thanks for your attention, inspiration and friendship this month.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

april has been a smashing month

here are just a few highlights of the poetry i’ve experienced in april. we all have our own ways of celebrating ;):

a visit from a good friend and lover from out of town

discovery of Steve Venright, whose writing i really enjoyed, thanks to the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which is in itself an inspiration and joy time after time (to quote Cyndi Lauper)

two concerts by my favourite singer, Ron Sexsmith

meals and conversation with wonderful lifelong friends

notifications of upcoming poetry publication in fillingStation ( a milestone for me because i have been trying to get in to that mag for ages!)

notifications of upcoming emo vampire erotic story publication on line at

rejection e-mails from a few publications; i’m always so glad when they actually respond

new writing projects in both poetry and prose thanks to all the inspirations of the month

an amazing four-day interlude with one of the most beautiful, sexiest and intense men i’ve ever encountered, the reason for my giddiness and glow at the festival ;)

the end of winter (hurray!)

days and nights with the always loving and constantly supportive Charles through the rollercoaster of it all

what will May bring?...i am very lucky and blessed and humbled by the beauty of life, including the tears and heartbreaks. i am alive. i am open to it all...

Monday, April 28, 2008


celebrated spring yesterday at Chapters with a reading that still leaves me feeling euphoric thanks to

Marie-Josée Houle’s both sad and uplifting life affirming live for today music, the talented and versatile readers, the supremely well-organized Chapters staff, who had our venue set up long before we arrived, the engaged and enthusiastic audience.

Given the beauty of the day, I wasn’t expecting a huge turn-out but there was a sizeable group and many Chapters customers stopped in to listen to both the music and the poetry. Usually after our readings at Chapters, we get a signficant increase in submissions. We also sold copies of the BQJ and gave away calendars. People were quite pleased to see how active the literary community is here and I know a number of people said to me that they would be attending more events and submitting their work to some of Ottawa’s other literary publications in the future.

Once again there were poets who had never read their work to an audience before; there were those who had never been paid for their work before or seen their poetry in print. It makes for an amazing feeling to be able to bring all this about. I am lucky to be part of an excellent team of literary enthusiasts, from those who submit their work to Bywords, to the editors who select it, to the supporters of our existence and to the literary community at large.

And speaking of the lit community in Ottawa, another joy for me is to see how supportive members of the literary community are for one another. In particular, one of yesterday’s featured readers was Peter Gibbon, a member of the Carleton University team of In/Words. And as always, the In/Words gang showed up. I love the energy of friends who support one another and work together. They showed up with a pile of new and exciting publications,which many audience members took home. There’s nothing you can’t accomplish when you have the support of a group to count on.

Most of all the reading, and post reading socializing reminded me how beautiful life is, how lucky I am to be involved in Bywords and most importantly to live in the moment, to celebrate today because life is too short not to grab hold of every moment and savour it.

I can’t wait for the next reading in July. I’ve already started planning and promise you it will be a celebration you won’t want to miss.

Friday, April 25, 2008

h (from the missing h poems)

the above poem is one of several poems i’m writing as a complement to my chapbook, The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (above / ground press, 2008), a response/dialog with the Robert Kroetsch poem “The Sad Phoenician” published as part of “Completed Field Notes” (University of Alberta Press, 2000)

it is one of several poems from the working title: the missing h poems (because i didn’t include the letter ‘h’ in the above chapbook, which like the Kroetsch book, is structured alphabetically). another one of these h poems will be published by Vancouver’s pooka press.

words, lines, phrases in italics come from “the Sad Phoenician” .
"The Sad Phoenician's Other Woman" was an exercise for me in writing narrative and in disjunctive narrative. It was also an exercise in the life poem, in including autobiographical details, but still trying to consider how to make the work artful or a poem.
these missing h poems have a slightly different consideration and that is the notion of "in media res" ....or my own variation thereof...writing about something as it occurs and not making changes to it after the fact. since the missing h poems will be about current rather than past experiences, but by the time the pieces are read, the current will have become the past, it makes for some interesting possibilities and inspirations.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

life as poetry, changes to this blog

up to now i’ve kept separate blogs for my literary reports (here), my poetry ( and my life (a live journal account which i’ve since discontinued). my rationale was always that readers interested in things literary would not necessarily want to know the details of my unconventional life and would also not be interested in reading a neophyte’s first poetry drafts. so i’ve kept stuff separate for five years. it made sense at the time, but perhaps not so much now for a number of reasons:

1. compartmentalization has created an imbalance of content with sometimes no blog entries on one blog for ages. as George Murray said when we spoke at the Ottawa International Writers Festival a year ago, when he talked about his blog, if you want people to read, you need to have an active blog, posting daily in his case.

2. life is an intrinsic part of things literary for me. i used to believe that people would be put off by my unconventional lifestyle and perhaps some are, but for the most part i’ve found the literary community to be intrigued and accepting of who i am and where i want to be in life. it feels dishonest of me to keep my literary life and my personal life separate. yes, i still believe in discretion as far as direct reference to individuals in my personal life, but my own life is an open book because i need it to be for the purposes of what...catharsis maybe, figuring stuff out, the ongoing quest for people of similar natures, and also inspiration. i always thought it was a bit cheesy to talk about my life so i apologized for that by keeping a separate live journal account. but those entries after a few years sounded unbalanced. i spent most of my time whining in the live journal and celebrating here on the literary blog. i’d rather give readers, who are hopefully friends and supporters, a balanced picture of me and my world. and maybe you can help me sort things out too. what i love about blogs is that they are icebreakers to conversation and friendship, debate and inspiration.

3. my poetry drafts were and are kinda crappy and i’ve been loathe to share them on this blog, but people sometimes wanted to read them, so i posted over on my poetry blog. i don’t know how much i’ll post drafts here days, since i’m working more in the long poem format, but we’ll see. again i think sharing the drafts along with my thoughts on literature and my disclosures and musings about my life help to present a more complete picture of who i am and of what i’m striving toward as both a writer and a lover of life. also i use the term poetry very loosely, since some of the stuff i posted on my poetry blog was my digital art experiments.

i’m not going to post my erotic writing here, but will keep it in its separate blog ( i also have another blog on myspace for music top tens monthly and i may add those to this blog as well.

basically i want to become more me, and this me is interested in all kinds of things and all kinds of people. the separation feels false to me now at this point in my life.

so that’s the plan. a renaissance blog.

get ready for the maelstrom of creativity and love i’m going to unleash. i hope you join me in the whirlwind.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Puddle Jump Thru Arc’s How Poems Work

When the Globe and Mail stopped publishing HPW a number of years ago, I stopped buying the Globe. Point final. I was very pleased when Ottawa’s Arc Magazine decided to host the feature on its site about five years ago.

Contributors submit short essays on a particular poem by someone else; usually the contributor writes a couple of essays, one per poem. The essay writers are both emerging and well known Canadian poets, many with published poetry collections, but not always. How Poems Work appears monthly on Arc’s site. You can either pop over to the site or become a subscriber and you will receive an e-mail with the HPW feature summary in your in box. Some of the poems discussed are very recent work by writers such as Lisa Robertson and some are older, such as John Newlove’s Death of the Hired Man by rob mclennan or Richard Outram’s Story by Amanda Jernigan.

Reading HPW (both the Globe and Mail and the ARC editions) has contributed to discoveries of poets I knew little or nothing about or has made me think about some of my favourites in a new way. I believe HPW is another tool that contributes to our ongoing conversation about poetry and I’m very glad that Arc keeps it going.

You’ll read essays concerned with the following (and the classifications are mine, not meant to generalize, just to touch upon and tempt...):

FORM, such as the ghazal (Yvonne Blomer’s on John Thompson’s Ghazal XXI, March 2004)

PUNCTUATION (Blomer’s essay on Phyllis Webb’s “Proposition” April, 2004

ENDINGS (Alden Nolan’s “In the Operating Room,” essay by Shane Neilson, May 2004)

THEME & EPIPHANY (Esta Spaulding’s “Notorious,” essay by Aislinn Hunter, August 2004)

METAPHOR and the role of language as the basis of myth (Gwendolyn MacEwen’s “The Mirage”, essay by Barbara Myers, November, 2004)

SYMBOLISM (Gwendolyn MacEwen’s “Dark Pines Under Water,” essay by Barbara Myers, December, 2004) In Barbara’s essays, I particularly like her technique of posting questions and doesn’t necessarily try to explain everything about the poem, leaving some musing room for the reader

POPULAR CULTURE (David McGimpsey’s “KoKo,” essay by Alessandro Porco, April, 2005)

the SHORT POEM (Richard Outram’s “Story,” essay by Amanda Jernigan, September, 2005)

VISUAL POETRY (bpNichol’s “Doors 1,” essay by Chris Jennings, May, 2006); on this one there was a bit of debate between Zachariah Wells and the author of the essay, which is always fun to see...a discussion about what constitutes a poem, about pushing boundaries and some info on Nichol)

the CONTEMPORARY SONNET (Peter Van Toorn’s “Mountain Leaf,” essay by Zachariah Wells, September, 2006)

RESISTANCE OF FORM (Robert Kroetsch’s “Sounding the Name-Sonnet 1,” essay by Shane Rhodes, January, 2007)

ON PUSHING LIMITS & RISKING (Lisa Robertson’s excerpt from “Thursday,” essay by Shane Rhodes, March, 2007)

i notice that the last of these is in January, 2008. i hope we’ll see more soon. do take a look at this wonderful resource, if you haven’t already or if you have, revisit. another of my favourite Arc features is the weblinks concept of Portage with its numerous routes. Paddle thru to find some great resources that are regularly updated.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Current Poetry Projects

so with all this blogging do i actually work on my writing?

somehow yes...

here are my current poetry-related projects:

the ordinary chronicles of xrkydqax, a series of characters, concepts and phenomena based on the odd combos of letters one is asked to fill out for internet passwords

pain / architecture, a type of plunderverse long poem, perhaps a plunder gloss or a collage plunder which combines text about the work of artists such as Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell, André Breton, Tristan Tzara with terms from a visual dictionary on architecture and variants for pain

Ursuala’s Artist Book, a continuation of an unpublished chapbook size manuscript, which was about a homeless woman who had visions of Saint Ursula. in the continuation, a stranger finds loose pages from her book of painting and collages and pieces together clues about her. inspired by Robert Kroetsch’s The Hornbooks of Rita K.

the missing h poems, unwritten and unexcerpted poems from the Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman (above/ground press, 2008), inspired by The Sad Phoenician by Robert Kroetsch

Kiki de Montparnasse, a long poem about an artist and artist’s model living in Paris in the 1920s who served as a muse and mistress for the photographer and silent film maker Man Ray and was friend, muse and lover of artists, playwrights and the Lost Generation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Puddle Jump thru

If you’re a reader or student of contemporary poetry, I highly recommend you take a gander at Edited by Ottawa-based writers Stephen Brockwell and rob mclennan and managing editor Roland Prevost, the site is jam packed with eight issues worth of interviews, essays, reviews, recollections and musings. Here are just a few of the articles that have tickled my synapses since began in November, 2002; what particularly excites me about the writing published on is when poets offer insight into their work. It is such an inspiring thing. Conversation and dialog between writers and between writers and readers can only lead to more dialog and more poetry. That is what does, it leads to dialog.

David McGimpsey, Sweet Poetry or Mystery Meat (Issue 1 )
an amusing musing on the popularity of poetry, the seriousness of it all:
“But, isn't the idea of a people's poetry just a sad will-o'-the-wisp? An externalizing of the shame about poetry's sensitive complexity and lack of commercial value? Why is it that nobody ever demands there be a people's trigonometry? There's thousands of wonderful, immediately accessible, uncomplicated, straight-to-the-heart, plain-speaking poems, and these poems are just as ignored by the people as the complicated ones that habitually refer to Antigone and Creon.”

Ken Norris and Stephen Brockwell , Spontaneous Speech Maps: A Discussion on Poetics (Issue 2)
musings on postmodernism and where poetry is going in the 21st century and Norris’ own poetics:
“I think a poet should learn everything they can about craft, in order to forget it. The knowledge of craft is more important than the demonstration of craft. If a free-form sonnet is haunted by the spirit of a highly formal sonnet, then it stands to become a somewhat interesting poem. More interesting than a sonnet written by someone who doesn't know what a sonnet is, or by someone who tries too slavishly to fulfil the dictates of the form.”

Susan Elmslie, Trailing Nadja: On Writing I Nadja, and Other Poems (Issue 3)
thoughts on how Elmslie’s book I, Nadja and Other Poems (Brick Books, 2006), the poems based on Andre Bréton’s lover and muse and the coincidences of how she ended up writing the book.
“Trailing the woman about whom so few details are known (not even her surname), I have become concerned with some of the implications that stem from the question, “Qui parle?” This question has developed into a preoccupation with voice and silence, and the difficulty of speaking for others.”

Steven J. Stewart, The Appropriation of Frank O'Hara (Issue 4)
Discussion of Frank O’Hara’s work and poetics with comparisons to mainstream free verse poetry and language poetry:
“I am mainly preoccupied with the world as I experience it" (page 500). O'Hara's is not the epiphany-laden experience exalted by today's poetic mainstream. The key to his work is its commitment to experience as it occurs, immediate and unadulterated, in the moment – its deflation of pretense. Later in the statement, O'Hara elaborates, saying "I don't think my experiences are clarified or made beautiful for myself or anyone else, they are just there in whatever form I can find them" (page 500).” [Stewart is quoting Frank O’Hara’s “Statement in Poetics.”

Gregory Betts, Plunderverse: A Cartographic Manifesto (Issue 5)
thoughts on the borrowing and appropriation of one another’s language and the way in which writers incorporate other’s texts and played with removing the overflow, extracting the buried poem, from Shakespeare to McCaffery and the creation of a type of poetry called Plunderverse:
“Plunderverse makes use of the wealth and waste of language by exploiting the unattended information in a source text. It makes connections and variations of a previous author’s words to create a different poem from the original piece. But, whereas found poetry and the like celebrate the random connections discovered by abstract rules or unconventional readings of source texts, delighting in the dissolution of communication and the disjunctive semantic fragments that survive, plunderverse celebrates the possibilities of speaking through source texts.”

Soraya Peerbaye, Interview with Souvankham Thammavongsa (Issue 6)
a discussion of the book Small Arguments (Pedlar Press, 2003); the role of minimalism and violence in her poems:
“I was taught that a good writer is one who uses a lot of description or difficult long words. I thought language was just text and that it should be arranged in the shape of a box. But I learned in writing Small Arguments it doesn't have to be that way. It took a long time to see that it was all right not to do what I was taught because what I was taught can be found in every important book of poetry, in every literary magazine across the country, and it's what gets awarded in grant money and prizes. But this is how I saw my work and when I tried be like everyone else, it just didn't look or feel right.” Souvankham Thammavongsa

John Newlove, Love, and other affairs (Issue 7)
this is a reprint of a talk John Newlove gave for the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild in 1988; it’s a gem of an essay which talks about his motivations or not for writing poetry; he incorporates his poems in the talk:
“Still, the question remains, What makes someone write poetry? I use the word 'makes' deliberately. I think that in this case there are two types of people: those who would and those who must. This has nothing to do with talent ― it may take as much labour and care and love to write a bad book as to write a good one ― although I do believe that intention governs result. That is, I believe, technical ability aside, that the difference between poetry and verse is the deepest intention of the maker, that a piece about trees by Joyce Kilmer is only verse while one by William Butler Yeats is poetry. You see my prejudice, when I say 'only verse'. I am not against verse. I merely dislike frivolity of intention.”

So many other interesting articles to read in and I’ve only landed on a few. I revisit the issues again and again for reference when I’m working on poems, for inspiration for the poems and for dialog with others on poetry. I have so much reading to do that resources like help me to discover what more I need to read. I find resources such as to be rare. I am very glad it exists.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

canadian poetry journals i enjoy – part 3

dANDelion is a journal i only started to read last year. it’s published by the dANDelion Magazine Society c/ Department of English at the University of Calgary; although it is a separate entity from the university. the managing editor is Jonathon Ball. Subscriptions are $18 for two issues. You can get subscriptions on line now and even get a free gift.

i have to say that i’ve only read three issues so far, but that i like the way this magazine includes articles on poetics as well as poetry, prose and images. i also enjoy the way the work within it tends to blur genre boundaries.

latest issue: volume 33 (number 2) the radical translation issue (december, 2007)

published following a conference on translation organized by Robert Majzels. the issue features works which transcend the conventional notion of translation as working from one language to another to explore the notion that “translation is somehow inherent in the practice of art in general” (quote from the Letter from the Editors: Jonathan Ball and Mike Robertson). The issue features text, images, essays and artistic statements by people such as Jesse Ferguson, Andy Weaver, Erín Moure, Nathaniel G. Moore, Angela Carr, Nicole Brossard, Nicholas Lea, Marcus McCann and Andrew Faulkner, Adam Dickinson and more.

Of particular interest to me were the following:

the front cover by Eveline Kolijin

Adam Dickinson’s Table of Contents, a series of paragraphs attached to section numbers, a kind of meta table of contents which muses on the nature of flames, comparison, variation,, chance. the text is fanciful and concepts are linked in non traditional and non linear ways, a translation of what is behind a table of contents and a great introduction to the issue. [but where was his bio & statement?]

the plunderverse experiments of Maxianne Berger and Jesse Ferguson. very cool to see Gregory Betts’ concept continued and interpreted by other writers.

the excerpts from “Complicatio/Explicatio (Folding and Unfolding),” the collaborative translations of George Moore and Mireille Perron from poem to object (long, unfolding books).

Carmen Light excerpted from Nathaniel G. Moore’s book of poetry, “Let’s Pretend We Never Met” (Pedlar Press, 2007), a tribute to the writing of Catullus. Moore’s work is informal, imaginative, witty and tight.

the fun and playful wall of hares by gunnar waerness, evoking the collage novels of Max Ernst.

the poems by Nicolas Brossard and their translations by Erín Moure and Robert Majzels, who have translated three books by Brossard. And if you haven’t read the latest: Notebook of Roses and Civilization (Coach House Books, 2007), you really should.

Jonathon Ball’s fascinating interview with Nicole Brossard about the translation of her books into English.

Really, this issue is so chock a block with wonders, I feel bad just mentioning these few. It’s still available here in Ottawa at Mags N Fags on Elgin and I’m sure you can also still get it directly from dANDelion.

finally, a contest (for those of you who’ve read this far down;)...i have an extra copy of volume 32, no 1 and will offer it as a prize. it’s a good issue, featuring work by Jenny Sampirisi, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Weyman Chan, Jason Christie, Daniel Tysdal, Stephen Cain and many more.

all you have to do is write a brief paragraph (no more than 200 words) about your favourite Canadian literary journal which features poetry and e-mail it to me: amanda underscore earl at storm dot ca by april 26. the paragraph can even be about a magazine i’ve already covered, but it would be fun if it was something different and especially fun if it was something readers may not have heard of. if i receive more than one entry, i’ll pick one that most inspires me to get the magazine. if i do get response, i’ll post the entries on my blog toward the end of April.

Friday, April 18, 2008

FestiPoem # 2

in honour of the amazing torpor vigilante, Steve Venright.

last night's poetry cabaret blog entry over at the ottawa poetry newsletter blog

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not about poetry this time

Last night at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, during the fantastic Writing Life #2, I was enthralled with the readings of Gale Zoë Garnett and Elizabeth Hay. Then Ahmad Saidullah took the stage and read from his short story collection. I was enjoying his work until he got to the title story “Happiness and Other Disorders.” The book won second prize in the 2005 CBC literary awards. In the story a very heavy woman falls on the main character. The character goes on and on about how huge this woman is, describing her at one point as a “human air bag.”

The night before, at the Secrets of Literary Publishing session with Stan Dragland, Beth Follett and Allan Breismaster, Beth Follet of Pedlar Press talked of how Pedlar didn’t accept hate literature.

Listening to Mr. Saidullah go on and on about how disgusting this obese woman was, describing the bucket of wine she drank and how much food she ate felt very hateful to me. On the other hand, she’s just one character and the role of satire in particular is to play with extremes and to exaggerate and me this felt like a cheap and easy thing to do. Fat people are easy to make fun of. That and making fun of the aged seem to be the socially acceptable forms of prejudice and stereotyping today. And as a piece of literature it wasn’t particularly original. After all Rabelais wrote of Gargantua in the 16th century so well and yet not cruelly and not without compassion. That’s what was missing here for me; I heard no compassion for the large woman, I just heard the kind of juvenile jokes that children tell in a schoolyard.

I heard only one part of the book, so it is perhaps unfair to focus on this one story and its effect on me. And was offensive and hurtful and I wasn’t the only one in the audience who found it so.

I am the first to argue that literature should shock us, should wake us up. This story reminded me how cruel some people can be. It made me muse upon what is considered to be hate literature. It made me ask myself about censorship. Would I say that a story such as this shouldn’t be published. Absolutely not. I want prejudice to be out in the open and not hidden. I hope that others at the reading last night thought about this character and her lack of humanity as described by the narrator. I hope that they think about how larger people are treated, how they are dehumanized as the character in this story was, the human airbag.

It also made me muse again about writers’ distance from their narrators. A writer is not a character. If a character in a piece of fiction says vile things and generalizes about a particular group, it is part of the technique of the writer, hopefully to give us insight into that character. And yet in this case, from this particular story, I didn’t get the impression that the reader was meant to see the main character as a cruel person, and I didn’t get the impression that we were supposed to feel compassion for the heavy woman who fell on him. It just felt cruel for the sake of cruelty, for the sake of judgement and belittlement. I didn’t like it and I’m saying so.

6 word memoir

Pearl tagged me on this meme based on all the books and stuff lately done with this 6-word- memoir concept. See her entry for more info on the meme, the book by Smith Magazine and the article in Wired. i'm supposed to tag other people, but i've decided not to do that anymore. instead, if this inspires you to write your own, that would be cool. i had fun with this. a poem? you tell me.

a reminder that today is Poem In Your Pocket Day; write out a favourite poem and give it to someone. this would be a cool thing to do at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, eh?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FestiPoem # 1

i can no longer stomach
beauty written down
yet another cormorant
causes acid reflux

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

6 ways to mark National Poetry Month

1. Go to the library and take out Canadian poetry books, better yet, books by local Ottawa poets. I’ve been told by Ann Archer, the Co-Ordinator of Adult Acquisitions, that poetry has a circulation which is lower than other books. I imagine that it would be hard to justify purchases if the books weren’t being taken out, so ....take out your local

2. Buy a copy of your very favourite book of poems by a living poet, especially if it’s buy someone local or published here in Ottawa and give it to a friend who is ripe for poetry.

3. Attend at least one reading this month.

4. Conduct interviews, write reviews or articles about living poets.

5. Write a response poem to the work of a living poet.

6. Treat your favourite local poet to a coffee or a beer or several beers.

If I emphasize living poets throughout all of this, it’s not because I don’t have respect for the dead (i'll be there soon enough), but rather because I believe that contemporary poets need our support now and that when the media talks about poetry at all, it’s almost always about the classics. I want to see contemporary poetry get some exposure. If I dwell upon local writers it’s not because I am not interested in the works of poets outside of Ottawa, au contraire. But part of my interest during National Poetry Month is to let people know that Ottawa is a vibrant cultural centre. We get a bad rap in the media too often and by others who repeat it ad nauseum without having experienced the bounty the literary community here has to offer.

ps: Check out Pearl's reports on the Ottawa Poetry newsletter blog about the Writers Festival!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Poetry Treasures in the Ottawa Room

How Can I Begin

How Can I Begin?
so many skins
of silence upon me.
Not that they blunt me,
but I have become
accustomed to
walking like a pregnant woman
carrying something
alive yet remote.
my thoughts,
though less articulate
than image,
still have in them
something like a skeleton,
a durable beginning
waiting for
unpredicted flesh
and deliverance,
I would ask
you: learn as I learn
patience with mine
and with your own silence.
--Pat Lowther, Milkstone (Borealis Press, 1974

the Ottawa Room is on the third floor of the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library and began in 1955.

here are just a few of the amazing treasures you can find there...

the old

Arthur S. Bourinot, the Quick and the Dead: Views and Reviews of Poetry, 1955

Bourinot was the editor of Canadian Poetry Magazine. Aside from a bunch of reprinted editorials from CPM about Archibald Lampman and Charles Sangster and the like, he also mentions a few well known writers who used to hang out at Kingsmere, including Alfred Noyes, Rupert Brooke and Duncan Campell Scott, the latter two in 1913. (and why are there so many chapbooks and books by Bourinot?]

Janet Pollock Graham, From Hill and Dell: Little Nature Sketches of the Ottawa Valley don’t know what year, but listen to this from the intro...

“[Janet Pollock Graham]... is a farmer’s wife and busy with congenial household tasks in her home on the beautiful banks of the Ottawa River in Argenteuil County, where sitting in the lovely garden, sipping afternoon tea, one may relax amidst the riot and fragrance of bright-hued flowers and watch the never-ending procession of motor cars on the broad highway across the Ottawa.”

the historical records: anthologies by creative writing classes at the University of Ottawa under Seymour Mayne over the years: Mythos, Booming Ground, Drum with early poems by Anne LeDressay and Mark Strand (that Mark Strand? the guy who wrote The Making of a Poem? did he live here?); Algonquin College in 1974, various high schools such as Darcy McGee in 1977 (alas i didn’t recognize any familiar names from the last two, but maybe someone else will, various anthologies by existing writing organizations and poetry workshop groups including “Strength for Tender Journeys: Prose and Poetry Celebrating Love (Tansy Press, 1999) with poems by Terry Ann Carter and Barbara Myers.

earlier works poetry by living and dead Ottawa poets, including chapbooks and anthologies such as “Auguries, a continuing anthology of the arts” (Commoner’s Publishing Society, 1976) edited by David Conrad and including poems by Marianne Bluger and poetry translations by George Johnston; Colin Morton’s “Printed Matter” (Sidereal Press, Camrose Alberta, sometime in the 70s??, republished in 1982?) i love the tomato poem. books by Henry Biessel, rob mclennan, Seymour Mayne, Susan McMaster, Ronnie R. Brown, Pat Lowther, John Newlove and of course, Archibald Lampman, including the wonderful collection of Toronto Globe articles from the 1800 assembled into At the Mermaid Inn in chapbook form, Elizabeth Smart’s poetry:

Pub Poem 2 : Treacherous Surfaces

I said : ‘All surfaces are treacherous
All depths are well.
Hold my hand while I tell.’

But he was lecherous
And broke the spell.

I see : all art is unnatural.
--Elizabeth Smart, Ten Poems, printed in a limited edition of 100 copies at Bath Place Community Arts Press, October 1981.

[an aside...we need an anthology of pub poems, particularly those inspired by or written about the Royal Oak II on Laurier; maybe we need to write them there, who’s in?]

the recordings: tape of the Bard Reading series called Bard Celebrates Ottawa Poetry from 1995 featuring folks such as Robert Craig, Seymour Mayne, Gwendolyn Guth, Juan O’Neill and more, tapes of Ronnie R. Brown “On Falling Bodies” and Michael Dennis “Only the Smoking Signs.” (i should have asked if they had cassette players)

the many Ottawa-based publishers over the years, including Commoner’s Publishing Society, the Golden Dog Press, Borealis Press, Tower Books with its Peace Tower logo, The Graphic Publishers in 1929 with its Thunder Bird Logo and slogan: “The Thunder Bird-A Mark of Canadian Quality,” and some still in existence including Oberon Press, above/ground press, pooka press (formerly of Ottawa, now in Vancouver), Bad Moon Books, not sure of Buschek Books was there, or Chaudiere Books either.

the ooh and aww

“bpNichol the cosmic chef, an evening of concrete” (Oberon Press, 1970, Ed. bpNichol) comes in a green box with work by many writers, including bill bissett, Nelson Ball, Barbara Caruso, Victor Coleman, Greg Curnoe, Seymour Mayne, Andrew Suknaski, Phyllis Webb & more! what’s neat is that the actual pieces are published without attributions. bpNichol’s notes in the back of the book are particularly interesting. he says “...confronted with the request to do an anthology i was tempted to refuse because it seems to me that concrete is just beginning to open..”

i wish i knew more about this particular book. you can see The Cosmic Chef by bpNichol in the Alphabet Game, a bpNichol reader (Coach House Press, 2007, edited by Darren Wershler-Henry and Lori Emerson..

Elements: Gravures de Vincent Théberge; Poèmes de Mario Pelletier; limited edition of 50 copies, all signed; loose sheets, each one folded twice and hand stitched; amazing prints.

a blue box inside which is a book with marble tile front and back covers: Bank Love and Dove by Childe Roland, 1976 (hmm a variation on the fairytale Childe Ottawa link to an old Scottish ballad and fairy tale of Merlin and the Dark Tower found inside the Ottawa Room...the place is magic, i tell you).

rare little chapbooks in envelopes such as Robert Craig’s Kukoo in the Great Outdoors, Friday Circle, 1996; “4 views” and “5 or 4 poems” by jwcurry (above/ground press, 1998); Anne Stone / rob mclennan “Inflections of Desire / Bridge of Sighs” (Is Been Books, Vancouver, 1991). this is a beautiful wee chapbook with red painted shadows of a man and a woman on the cover. who did that, i wonder?

All her lovely meat

I am lying in my bathtub, fluid with the loss of a stranger. In the last forty-eight hours, I’ve also managed to somehow misplace two lovers, but am lying here, sunk in the loss of a stranger that would be everything.
Anne Stone, “Inflections of Desire”

oh and William Hawkins, a lot of his books and chapbooks, including “Hawkins ....Poems 1963-1965 (Ottawa, Nil Press, 1966). In his introduction to Hawkin’s Dancing Alone, Selected Poems (Broken Jaw Press, 2005) and also on, Roy MacSkimming writes “Cleverly designed by Bob Rosewarne at his Nil Press, the poems looking raw in typewriter font, as if yanked straight from the manuscript, the book again received distribution through Shirley Leishman Books.” MacSkimming’s collaborative chapbook with Hawkins “Shoot Low, Sheriff, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies” can also be found in the Ottawa Room, as can Hawkins’ “Ottawa Poems” published by Nelson Ball’s weed / flower press in 1966 and many other volumes of William Hawkins’ poetry.

bill bissett, Medicine my mouth's on fire. Ottawa: Oberon Press, 1974, complete with a 45 single slipped in the back. amazing collages, typewriter font shaped text. is there a record player in the Ottawa Room?

if you haven’t been to the Ottawa Room or even if you have, you should go. and then go over to Druxy’s for a smoked meat sandwich. if we had a vintage clothing store in the area, we would almost feel like we were time travelling to the 60s. i love these indications of what a strong and vibrant community Ottawa had and how wonderful that it is strong again, n’est-ce pas?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Favourite Blog Entries with a Poetry Slant

Here are a few fun blog entries /web bits on poetry that I’ve enjoyed this month and thought I would share with you:

Mark Wallace on the value of poetry readings

Sean Moreland on the poetry of H. Masud Taj

the League of Canadian Poetry’s Words Without Borders Blog, which presents a different poem from various places in Canada daily during April...oooh, Alice Major’s poem “Matralia” on April 10.

Shawna Lemay’s feature on the poetry of Nina Berkhout

Ian Roy’s Chapter Project, his book Red Bird with video and music accompaniment.

the collages of Camille Martin

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Writers Festival Starts Sunday!

And here are a bunch of not to miss poetry events; I am not going to be at the festival Sunday and Monday because Ron Sexsmith, my favourite singer in the universe, is performing at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. [Since I won’t be there, I expect good reports from my fellow bloggers on the poetry events.]

Sunday, April 13

Eliot Katz (poet) & Vivian Demuth (novelist)

6pm POETRY CABARET #1 Fred Wah, Rachel Zolf and Stuart Ross,
hosted by Michael Dennis
[it kills me not to be here. i’m a big fan of Stuart Ross, Fred Wah is a bit of a poetry
mentor for me and i’ve heard Rachel Zolf only once and would enjoy hearing her
again; and of course, i’m a big fan of Michael Dennis]

8pm MESSAGIO GALORE TAKE V curated by jwcurry
performed by Alexander’s Dark Band (jwcurry, Maria Erskine, Nicholas Power,
Rob Read) & Auxiliary (John Lavery, Carmel Purkis)
[it is wrong, so wrong to miss this one. so very very wrong.]

Monday, April 14 is a day without poetry, boo hoo
but poets Stan Dragland and Anne Simpson will be there for Writing Life 1, doing double duty as fiction writers; maybe audience members can hijack the Q&A session by asking them questions about their poetry or the poetic elements in their fiction ;) and both will be in later events for poetry.

Tuesday, April 15

with Alison Pick and Anne Simpson, hosted by Sean Wilson

hosted by Rob Winger
[i don’t really get this one; poets have roles? or is it like “the role of the poet will
now be played by Adam Sandler”; i’m very curious about what Mr. Domanski has
to say; for some reason i keep mixing him up with Don McKay who is also
appearing on the same day at another non writers festival event along with others,
boo hoo]

7pm SECRETS OF LITERARY PUBLISHING: Why We Publish and How To Survive
and Thrive in Today’s Turbulent Marketplace
with Stan Dragland, Beth Follett and Alan Briesmaster hosted by Sean Wilson
[i’m very keen on this one; i really admire Beth Follett and what she’s done with
Pedlar Press]

with Anne Simpson, Alison Pick and Don Domanski, hosted by Stephen Brockwell

Wednesday, April 16 is another poetry free day
except that one of the participants in WL#2 is Gale Zoë Garnett who is a poet, author and actor. You can’t really have a poetry free day at the festival ;)

Thursday, April 17
Presented with the University of Ottawa’s School of Translation and Interpretation and
the Literary Translatators Association of Canada featuring Luise von Flotow, Mark
Fried, Antonino Mazza, Seymour Mayne, Marc Charron and John Woodsworth
includes readings from Pluriel, a bilingual anthology of poetry.
[i’d be there due to a former life as a translator and a graduate of STI but rob mclennan
is on at the same time either or and discussing two of my
favourite books, Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept and
Sheila Watson’s The Double Hook or launching his not yet released collection of
essays “Subverting the Lyric”]

with Steve Venright, Nathaniel G. Moore and RM Vaughn, hosted by Stephen Brockwell
[Nathaniel G. Moore is one my favourite Toronto peeps. the others i don’t know and am
looking forward to discovering.]

it’s also POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY: “Find a poem that you love, write it down and put it in your pocket. Share with friends and strangers all day long. Maybe you'll get lucky and someone will share back.” The event is listed on Facebook. i plan to do this at the festival and hope you do too.

Friday, April 18 is another day without poetry, but ME SEXY: AN EXPLORATION OF NATIVE SEX AND SEXUALITY with Drew Haydon Taylor and hosted by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm sounds like it could inspire poetry

Saturday, April 19

with A.F. Moritz, Elise Partridge and Kevin Connolly, hosted by David O’Meara
[we can almost say that the festival isn’t a festival until Kevin Connolly appears; he’s
a regular reader at the festival and i’m very glad he is.

after the festival, stay tuned for an entry with my updated all genders sexiest Canadian poets list.

see you at the festival! feel free to buy me a drink ;)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Follow up from the Ottawa Public Library

Michael Murphy, the co-ordinator of Adult and Readership Advisory Services, gave me a call yesterday and we had a lovely conversation. Apparently some of you sent my blog entry his way. Thanks for that!

Next year, there will be a display case of local poetry in the main lobby to mark National Poetry Month. Can’t happen this year because their display space is already booked this month.

As to readings, the auditorium is available but Michael explained that they usually have a co-sponsor, such as a publisher and that the turnout for poetry readings isn’t very high. It isn’t my favourite venue for poetry readings in the evening because it closes at 9pm and there’s no alcohol allowed on the premises, and yep, it’s a big space. is it too big for the kinds of turn-outs we see at readings? i don’t think so. but if that’s the case, it’s a question of leaders in the literary community using our imaginations to figure out how to make that space workable. i mean...a free reading space in the heart of downtown...geez. if you’re interested in using the venue, you should call Michael.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Congratulations Marcus!

Marcus McCann is the winner of the Rubicon Press Chapbook Award for his collection "The tech/tonic suite." The chapbook will come out in the fall of 2008. Go to for further information.

I first encountered Marcus through Bywords when we published one of his poems, “Hit the paydirt playground running,” in 2006. Since then we’ve become friends and he’s now a member of the Bywords Selection Committee.

I've had the opportunity to discover Marcus’ poetry and watch it develop starting with Bywords, then through a workshop we took together with rob mclennan and now an informal workshop we’re in together with Pearl Pirie, Nicholas Lea and Roland Prevost. Marcus is a master word player, an innovative experimenter whose poetry was recently published in Matrix: The New Underground. He has a great chapbook out with above/ground press called "heteroskeptical" and his collaborative work can be found in the chapbook "The Basement Tapes" with Nicholas Lea and Andrew Faulkner. There are still copies of the Basement Tapes available through the Bywords online store. I look forward to seeing what more he can achieve.

And speaking of poetry workshops, one good way to mark National Poetry Month is by taking one. They are an invaluable opportunity not only because they help you to improve your poetry, but also because they can help you discover fellow writers.

I like to say I’m a workshop slut. because I’ve been spreading my poetic fumblings all over Ottawa, taking workshops from the University Of Ottawa with Seymour Mayne (ENG 3264 & ENG 4398); Carleton University with Armand Ruffo (ENGL 2901 A); at Collected Works with both rob mclennan and Stephen Brockwell, even took part in a poetry bootcamp in my living room with Stuart Ross and once many years ago, a workshop with Colin Morton, so long ago I can’t even remember where it was.

It’s because of these workshops that I’ve found fellow writers who help me as editors of my work and vice versa, that I got involved with Bywords and that I got chapbooks published, using the opportunity to work on manuscript drafts and get feedback from instructors and students.

Finding the right group of people who you can share your work with is not easy, almost as difficult as finding a compatible lover, but there are so many poetry and other types of writing workshops available, why not give it a try.

There are spoken word poetry workshops in the valley, script writing workshops, a writers retreat in France with Kingston writer Leo Brent Robillard and local spring and summer fiction and poetry workshops with local writer and surfer dude Richard Taylor. i’m sure rob will offer more of his amazing workshops when he returns from Edmonton, too.

Check out under News / Workshops for information about upcoming workshops near you!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

National Poetry Month at the Ottawa Public Library

It’s great that the Sunnyside Branch is having its Canal Mug Poetry series featuring poets and fiction writers such as Ian Roy, Rhonda Douglas, Rob Winger and others (Next one is this Thursday with Susan McMaster and Paul Tyler.) , but what about other branches?

My neighbourhood branch is the downtown or Main branch. Currently in the lobby there’s a great section of new fiction and reference books but I saw no poetry. and I didn’t see a special display of poetry books to mark National Poetry Month either. one place i expect something like NPM to be marked is in a public library.

i love the library & it has a great selection of poetry, particularly Canadian poetry and even Ottawa small press works in the Ottawa Room. i think though that they need to make a bigger noise about poetry during this month. (stay tuned for a blog entry on the Ottawa Room!)

if you go to a particular branch and know it is doing something for NPM, please let me know in the comments section or by e-mailing events at bywords dot ca so I can add it to the calendar. here’s the email i sent to Barbara Clubb, the City Librarian and CEO.

Dear Ms. Clubb,

Is the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library planning anything to celebrate National Poetry Month (NPM)? I know the Sunnyside Branch is hosting the Canal Mug Reading Series, but I was hoping that NPM would be celebrated at my local branch and at other branches throughout the National Capital.

On a recent visit, I noticed the great display of new fiction and reference books in the lobby. I would like to suggest you add a display of Canadian poetry, particularly the recent collections of poets such as Colin Morton, rob mclennan, Susan McMaster, Seymour Mayne, Ian Roy, Terry Ann Carter, Ronnie R. Brown, Sylvia Adams, Shane Rhodes, Nadine McInnes, Betty Warington-Kearsley, Rob Winger, Monty Reid, Anne LeDressay, Nicholas Lea and more. This would be a wonderful way to mark the month and to raise the awareness of Ottawa residents that poetry is an available resource at the library.

If the OPL has any other plans to mark National Poetry Month, I would be pleased to hear about them and will add them to the literary calendar of events.


Amanda Earl


On another note, what’s up with Julian Armour, the head of the Canadian Tulip Festival’s Celibridée? Why is he going around and saying that Ottawa needs a festival of ideas? Wake up and smell those tulips, Mr. Armour. The Ottawa International Writers Festival has been holding a festival of ideas for eleven years now to sell out crowds. Yep, it is needed and we’re lucky that it exists. Now if only we could have an outdoor music festival in May again.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dennis Cooley, the prairies and mythology building

the first book of Cooley’s i read was “the bentleys” (The University of Alberta Press, 2006).

the book is based on a novel called “As For Me and My House” by Sinclair Ros (thanks, Victoria for the correction :) and has a cover of an old prairie looking couple on the cover. i never read the Ross book and it’s only because the prairie poets are so prolific that i have started to read more about and savour what i read about the prairies. as a kid in grade school, the only prairie related text i’d been exposed to was Little House on the Prairie and i absolutely loathed it. when i was five my father drove us across Canada from Toronto to Lethbridge, Alberta and all i remember were the blackflies and my uncle’s giant automobile. i thought we were in Texas. all this to say that something with a prairie theme or a prairie attitude had a long way to go to make me pay any attention. that’s why when a writer gets my attention with anything to do with the prairies, it’s damn impressive to me.

i picked up “the bentleys” shortly after it came out, reading it from cover to cover over Christmas, 2006. i loved the various voices of the different characters. this, along with Robert Kroetsch’s “the Hornbooks of Rita K.” use this similar technique, which for want of a better term, i’m calling characterization. if i were more well read i would probably know that this technique goes back as far as Tennyson or the Ancient Greeks or something, but i’m not so i don’t.

i loved the spacing in this book, the variety of line breaks, the easygoing not high falutin’ language and the fact that it is the book that is the unit, rather than a series of unrelated or very subtly related poems. i go thru phases and right now i’m in a whole book phase.

another of Cooley’s poetry books that i’ve read is “Seeing Red” (Turnstone Press, 2003), his take on the various versions of vampires in books and movies. i loved his language in this book and the humour and the way he mixed up modern ideas with the age old Dracula tale. “Seeing Red” is a fun and inventive book and not blood sucking in the least.

since reading the above two books, i’ve dipped a bit into his other books, particularly Bloody Jack (Turnstone Press,1984) about wrestler and outlaw John Krafchenko. i have the original and not the reissued version with the intro by Douglas Barbour, put out in 2002. it’s fun the way Cooley combines all kinds of different styles of writing, including newspaper articles. a poem doesn't have to be linear and skinny, which is what i used to think for some reason now unknown to me. that’s one of the things i got from reading Dennis Cooley’s work.

there’s an issue of Prairie Fire, Volume 19, No 1 (Spring 1998) edited by Rob Budde and Debbie Keahey that you should get a hold of, a special issue on Dennis Cooley featuring essays and tribute poems.

also i recommend his excellent article in “Breaking and Entering (thoughts on line breaks).” Open Letter 6 (Spring 1987).

there’s also a great concordance/bibliography here.

i’ve always said that i don’t give a rat’s ass about gender, but i have to say that reading all of these male poets of late who have cultivated this beautiful mythology of writing about men makes me want to do the same for women. not because i feel there’s an imbalance or an injustice that needs to be righted, but because i think it’s fun to do. i guess i already have part of that going on with a lot of my own poetry (Eleanor, my first above /ground press chapbook, which puts Eleanor of Aquitaine into a modern setting; Ursula a mostly unpublished series about a homeless woman who has visions of Saint Ursula,“Kiki de Montparnasse” my work in progress about the artist and model who lived in Paris in the 20s and was the lover of Man Ray. So much of my writing apparently about women, real or invented, famous and historical figures and characters created out of the air, “The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman,” the latest chapbook of mine a long poem about a woman’s sexual conquest of men, even my erotic fiction, much of it an unapologetic enuciation of women’s desires.

writers like Dennis Cooley inspire me to consider creating & adding to the body of women’s mythology with my own writing. just because i can.

Dennis Cooley, along with Robert Kroetsch, Fred Wah and others will be at the U of O symposium re: reading the postmodern, including public readings which you should go to... and Fred Wah is also going to be at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on the 13th of April with Stuart Ross and Rachel Zolf.

oops...i seem to be blogging when i said i wouldn’t. i hope you’re happy, John ;)

Monday, April 07, 2008

so much for that

i think i've celebrated nat'l poetry month enough for a while. my way of celebrating will be not to blog anymore this month; however, i will likely still blog a few of the writers festival poetry events over at the ottawa poetry newsletter.

so much for resolutions. le sigh.

Readings, Readings, Readings

This weekend felt like the start of the spring literary season in Ottawa with so many poetry readings taking place, you’d think it was National Poetry Month....and it is. Except that Ottawa is pretty much always a buzz of literary activity, isn’t it?

I attended three out of the five readings, all of which were exceptionally well-attended and from what others said who attended the readings I missed: Capital Slam and the Nick Lea, Anne LeDressay and Alice Major at Mother Tongue Books, the turn-outs were very high.

Saturday night saw me at the University Of Ottawa Faculty of Arts Building for the A B Series, which moves around so much, Max and I were calling at A Moveable Feast after Hemingway and Easter. This was the eighth in Max Middle’s new series and considering that the readings began only last fall, that’s pretty impressive. Saturday’s event was curated by Bywords’ John Newlove Award winner and recent PhD graduate Sean Moreland. The room was so full, that many chairs had to be brought in. Lindsay Foran and Jamie Bradley, both University of Ottawa students and Bywords-published poets opened the reading with poems that dealt with both the everyday and the surreal. I particularly enjoyed hearing Jamie read “Vermeer Window,” a poem published in the Bywords Quarterly Journal (Vol 4, No 2) with its accent on colour and geometry, its appeal to the senses and unusual juxtapositions, such as “sun-drenched accents, sweet dates and the shifting limestone-scour/surface of rent metal.”

I hope it’s ok for me to mention how happy I am to see those writers we have published in Bywords continuing to grow in their work and to get some well-deserved attention for it.

The final reader on Saturday night was H. Masud Taj, a Carleton professor of architecture and a well-known architect. What was interesting to me primarily aobut Taj’s poetry was that he memorized it and the associative method he used to remember what comes next. His performing style was quite mesmerizing. He moved all of the furniture at the front to create a makeshift stage area and then paced back and forth. His performance made me think about the role of personality and style in communicating one’s work to the audience. How much of a performance is style and how much of it is content? Taj mesmerized the audience with his performance.

The next A B reading takes place on Thursday, May 8 at the Mercury Lounge and features Monty Reid, Sandra Ridley, Roland Prevost, Chris Turnbull, Nicholas Lea, rob mclennan & John Lavery and Gregory Betts.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of hearing my good friend, pooka press publisher, Ottawa ex-pat, now Vancouver resident Warren Dean Fulton read at the Dusty Owl. Warren’s own style on stage is relaxed and fun. He read mostly from early work, except for a series of mostly one line poems. Like the writing of the Beat poets that Warren admires, his poems dealt quite a bit with philosophies, with the notions of good and evil and with religion. Of particular fun was a poem about swimming and religion called The Creed from his chapbook “Saints and Sinners” (the Kamloops Poetry Factory, 1999: “I believe in the purifying properties of chlorine...”.

He also read from “Bang,” a very cool looking chapbook with an explosive cut out cover and from Scrap Paper Poems, which were poems he’d written over the years on napkins and various scraps, evoking to me Jack Kerouac’s Book of Sketches. In the chapbook, one of the quotes is from Keroauc: “1. scribbled secret notebooks and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy.” #1 from Belief and Technique for Modern Prose; List of Essentials. The humour in Warren’s work is lots of fun, and perhaps a device to mask the depth of the ideas and the understated emotions in his poem. I noticed this particularly with poems where the speaker of the poem encounters himself as a stranger.

Interesting also his poem “at the end of the century” an early ecopoem from 1999 showing his care and passion for he environment. “right now, an urgency – atrocities / is & is & is, our obituaries.”

Warren won the Dusty Owl Object of Desire Contest (or DOOD, as I’m calling it) with an off-the-cuff poem about the afternoon’s cheap object, a plastic rain poncho. I think that was my favourite...the idea that putting on a raincoat could protect us from changes.

And then downing that last beer in a hurry and scurrying off to Plan 99’s End of Winter Series at the Manx Pub, another goodly turnout, goodly beer and goodly club sandwiches. The afternoon’s readers were Roy Miki and Ashok Mathur, coming to Ottawa from BC for a conference on multiculturalism.

Ashok read first. Of particular interest to me were his Hopsital poems, the title a typo that he decided to leave as is. He mentioned that he had read poems about hope at the conference, so at the reading he decided to read poems of death, yet these were still hopeful. His novel The Short Happy Life of Harry Kumar was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize.

Roy Miki has read at Plan 99 three or four times before. I enjoyed his humour and ease with the audience. His poems talked about civilisation’s nature to consume. I really liked his poem about Lulu Lemon, the store that sells yoga clothes and wanted to get people to wear them as day-to-day ware.

At the tail end of three full readings within just over 24 hours, staying up at the Oak until 3am the night before and various hijinx, I can’t quite remember if it was Roy or Ashok who read poems about society’s attempts to end death, saying that those with enough money will have eternal life, while those who don’t...

Dusty Owl’s next reading takes place at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on April 13 and the features are Vivian Demuth and Eliot Katz.

Plan 99’s End of Winter Series continues with upcoming readings by Adam Getty, Jaspreet Sing and John Stiles on April 26, May 3 and May 24 (I hope winter is long over by May 24!).

Please remember to check the calendar for more events.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

a celebration of rob mclennan’s blog

what could be more fitting to mark National Poetry Month than to examine and celebrate what will soon be (June, 2003) five years of blogging on poetry and poetics (& many other things, but i’m focussing on poetry) by rob mclennan.

as a newcomer to the study of contemporary poetry, i am always searching for a key and a way in to it, for mentors and influences, for references to poetry and technique, to works that might help me understand and poetry that might inspire me to write myself.

this is where rob comes in and most notably his blog. over the years his blog has jumpstarted my own investigations into poetry and added to my body of knowledge.

one of my favourite things about rob’s blog is the way he describes how reading of other’s inspires and influences his own writing, the way he provides information about his own poetic. it’s not surprising that rob also gives workshops; even here in his blog, like a good math student, he shows his work, the steps he takes, the questions that he has

another of my favourite things...his attention to writers who are publishing “below the radar” as he refers to it, people who have had poetry published in chapbooks or in journals, or first trade collections, but are not Atwood or Ondaatje.

poets i’ve discovered through reading rob’s blog include Lisa Jarnot, Nathalie Stephens, Lisa Robertson, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Nicole Brossard, Dennis Cooley, Artie Gold, Juliana Spahr, Fred Wah, Joshua Marie name only a few.

i like the way rob revisits writers’ works when a new publication comes out, compares and contrasts, traces the evolution and influences.

here’s a puddle hop thru his blog. no links included...go and discover.

musings on the work of George Bowering, the role of the familiar and the unfamiliar, calling Bowering a troublemaker and a trickster

a self interview in response to those who critique him for “publishing too much”, the reminder that he is not the first to publish at this rate

place and geography in poetry, particularly prairie poetry

the concrete poetry of Derek Beaulieu, Gary Barwin, Jesse Ferguson

a here and there history of former small presses, such as ga press out of Montreal in the 90s

the careers of writers with reviews not only of books, but of chapbooks, such as Karen Solie’s The Shooter’s Bible (Junction Books, 2004), Monty Reid--from “Fridays” (Sidereal, 1979) to the upcoming Luskville Reductions (Brick Books, 2008), first collections such as Mark Truscott’s “Said Like Reeds or Things” (Coach House, 2004), the return of Ottawa poet William Hawkins to publishing with Dancing Alone, Selected Poems (Broken Jaw Press / cauldron books, 2005)

the role of accident in poems, a mention of Fred Wah’s thinking of poetry as a drunken tai chi

descriptions and mentions of the activities of various reading series, such as Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series or the Olive Reading Series in Edmonton, the Belladonna /Chapbook reading series in New York

various poetic techniques such as the use of fragments as in American poet Lisa Samuels’ work, the North American version of the ghazal by John Thompson and others, including Cole Swensen, discussions of line lengths and spacing in poetry by Margaret Christakos, Sylva Legris, Rachel Zucker, new or rejuvenated techniques such as Gregory Bett’s Plunderverse, Victor Coleman’s Oulipo Lipograms, ecopoetics, the contemporary sonnet by Ted Berrigan, Geoffrey Young, the prose poem as something that seems to be more prevalent in the US than in Canada, the accumulation and the fragment

musings and considerations of his own poetics, the book vs the individual poem as a unit

discussions of the work of poets who’ve died such as Robert Allen, Margaret Avison, Robert Creely, Irving Layton, Riley Tench and Diana Brebner

discussions of both the birth, history and death of journals and presses, such as Queen Street Quarterly, the rebirth of imprints such as blewointment press, Matrix Magazine, which was founded in 1975, Brick, a literary journal, the Capilano Review, Conundrum Press’ 10th anniversary in 2006, greenboathouse books, which has become greenboathouse press, Raymond Souster’s Contact Press, the twenty fifth anniversary of Véhicule Press, the founding of Turnstone Press, the re-invigoration of Nightwood Editions, West Coast Line, Arc Magazine

various descriptions of rob’s tours & the hijinks he gets up to, the absence of info sometimes as intriguing or more of what he writes Canada, the US, Britain, his sojourn in Edmonton, the various people he meets, their writing, the readings he attends, the books and chapbooks and broadsheets they hand him and those he reciprocates with or vice versa (that reference years ago in the paper of rob as a poetic version of Johnny Appleseed, now he’s also the online version of such)

reviews and discussions of books about poetry, such as “poets’ talk conversations with Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Mouré, Dionne Brand, Marie Annharte Baker, Jeff Derksen and Fred Wah by Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy” and books of essays, such as the Guernica Writers Series, biographies and essays such as Richard Brautigan: Essays on the Writings and Life, edited by John F. Barber and Don McKay: Essays on His Works (Toronto ON: Guernica Editions, 2006), edited by Brian Bartlett, A Ragged Pen: Essays on Poetry & Memory (Gaspereau Press, 2006), Robert Bringhurst's The Tree of Meaning: Thirteen Talks, the Laurier Press Poetry Series, The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser (2006), Phyllis Webb and the Common Good: Poetry / Anarchy / Abstraction by Stephen Collis

all kinds of interviews, especially lately with his excellent 12 or 20 questions series. it’s interesting to look for instance at his interview with Jay MillAr back in March, 2005 and then look at his 12 or 20 questions interview in November, 2007

an overview of the various cities that allow poetry to be posted on their public transporation, such as poetry in motion in Montreal, Ottawa’s own Transpoetry # 1 and #2

the various writing communities and schools, such as Calgary, BC’s Kootenay School of Writing, the second generation of New York poets, such as Alice Notely

discussion of the works of local poets such as Stephen Brockwell, sound and visual poet, and publisher jwcurry, Nicholas Lea, Sandra Ridley, Rhonda Douglas, Shane Rhodes

anthologies such as Sina Queyras, ed., Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets
(2005, Persea Books), Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry (Toronto ON: The Mercury Press, 2005), and the history of anthologies of Canadian poetry, including such works as Al Purdy's Storm Warning: The New Canadian Poets (1971), Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier's Breathing Fire: Canada’s New Poets (1996) and Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets (2004), Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets, eds. John Barton and Billeh Nickerson (Vancouver BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007), A/Cross Sections: New Manitoba Writing, eds. Katherine Bitney and Andris Taskans

the poetic genealogies of writers, the works of others influencing their works

events such as the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Ottawa Small Press Fair, bill bisset at jwcurry’s hit n run lecture series, the Wave Books poetry bus tour in 2006

upcoming readings, book signings, contests, new publishers

the blogs of other writers and great websites like ubuweb, great online magazines like Jacket.

the tracing of themes thru the works of various poetry, like the theme of sleep in the work of Anne Carson, a. rawlings

the notion of poetry translation from one language to another or within one language

collaborations between poets, such as Douglas Barbour and Sheila E. Murphy

the untitled poem

poetry books that still linger long after they are published, such as The Night the Dog Smiled, John Newlove, 1986, ECW Press: Toronto ON

the notion of the edit or even the poem as a lie

open letters encouraging the support and promotion of the arts in Ottawa

musings on why to write


rob has written so much in five years of blogging and that’s not even looking at other blogs like the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter. it’s been an impressive, informative and inspiring almost five years. what i’ve talked about doesn’t in any way do justice to this massive body of work which contributes to our interest and learning about contemporary poetry...i’m very much looking forward to more.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

experiencing Robert Kroetsch’s poetry in a fever

i knew of Kroetsch, had heard references to him all the time, which is no surprise given his status as an influential and well-known Canadian writer, but I’d never read his work. Recently, I stumbled upon “Completed Field Notes, The Long Poems of Robert Kroetsch” (the University of Alberta Press, 2000).

I don’t know about you, but for me there are so many writers I hear about who I mean to get around reading some day. Robert Kroetsch was like that for me, and when I finally did get around to him, I was blown away.

I love his wit, his double entendres, his easygoing style. I felt, in part, like I was home, like I’d found an influence. I couldn’t help but write a poem of my own, inspired by “The Sad Phoenician.” I read Kroetsch in a fever (literally, due to a flu, I had a 100 degree temperature) and I wrote “The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman” (above/ground press, 2008) in a fever too over three days and three nights. I really did feel a quickening and a shiver as I read

This stone
becomes a hammer
of stone, this maul

is the colour
of bone (no,
bone is the colour
of this stone maul).

The rawhide loops
are gone, the
hand is gone, the
buffalo’s skull
is gone;

the stone is
shaped like the skull
of a child.

[I from Stone Hammer Poem, Prologue and reprinted as part of the Stone Hammer Poems in 1975 by Oolichan Books]

that was the first poem of Kroetsch’s i ever read, and i had to read more; i’ve never been so glad that i had a whole thick book of long poems to discover. we were in the middle of that crazy snow storm where the snow kept falling and falling and falling, I was sick and couldn’t go anywhere. and i didn’t want to.

in his author’s note at the back of the book, Kroetsch explains that the Completed Field Notes represents a body of work which appeared over a period of fifteen years, each long poem published individually over the years and later together as “Field Notes”(General Store Publishing, 1981), then by McClelland and Stewart as Completed Field Notes in 1989 and when that was almost out of print, reprinted by the University of Alberta Press in 2000 with an introduction by Kroetsch’s long time friend and another renowned Canadian writer, Fred Wah.

in the author’s note, Kroetsch writes “Since the eloquence of failure may be the only eloquence remaining in this our time, I let these poems stand as the enunciation of how I came to a poet’s silence. And I like to believe that the sequence of poems, announced in media res as continuing, is, in its acceptance of its own impossibilities, completed.”

i think this idea of failure, the poetics of failure is what draws me to Robert Kroetsch’s writing. i have always been intimidated by writing that seems to come from a voice on high from writers who, deliberately or not, portray themselves as having the answers. writers like Kroetsch (and there is really no one like him,) don’t promise answers.

in his introduction, Fred Wah talks about how Kroetsch’s poem “Mile Zero” “attempts to avoid design, to occupy an unresolved transition. The poem as field becomes a translucent white surface of trajectory, a field of particles that, above all else, seeks constant motion and resists rest.” and later...

“Think of ‘field notes’ as temporary, as momentary gestures that interpolate possibility. Perhaps even as investigations into the potential for narrative. Or at least the poem’s capacity for narrative. Then think of narrative not as a predictable line of action and consequence but as a maze of sudden twists, obstacles, impossibilities, possibilities.
Kroetsch’s Field notes are not only lessons in the naïveté of completion, lessons, in fact, on being lost, there are also a manual of field note technique.”

rob mclennan (& perhaps others) has talked about the long poem as a poetics of delay, which is one of the techniques apparent in Kroetsch’s poems, especially “the Sad Phoenician.” i loved the way he used the conjunctions “and” & “but” to cause a disjunction in the narrative and at times to misdirect the flow of the narrative, putting a rock in the river to change the tempo and movement of the water.

what other pieces in the book did I enjoy? all of them, all of them. i can’t give highlights or tell you about what fun i had in “The Winnipeg Zoo” or talk more about the contrasts in tone from one long poem to another. the whole book was one of the most joyful and mind opening experiences with poetry that i have experienced since i began to study contemporary poetry in earnest only three short years ago.

and just when i thought i couldn’t be more excited by Kroetsch’s poetry, when, after my fever broke, i continued to read his works, i discovered “the Hornbooks of Rita K.” (the University of Alberta Press, 2001). the book is written in the voice of Raymond, the intimate friend of the aptly initialled poet Rita Kleinhart, who disappeared from the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, or so Raymond tells us. i loved the way Kroetsch plays with reality here, and the sense of play all the way through.

as a rank beginner to poetry, i learn by example (actually i’ll always be a beginner and i always hope to learn by reading). i’m only just understanding, thanks to writers like Kroetsch, that it’s possible to write in a voice other than one’s own. the voice(s) in this book open up all kinds of possibilities for what can be done in a poem. same thing with the Snowbird Poems (the University of Alberta Press, 2004). these voices allow the writer to get away with things, he might not otherwise be able to, such as parodies in rhyme form.

what Robert Kroetsch has done for me is that he has given me a gift:

he has opened up my writing to endless possibility of play;

he has made me rethink my recalcitrant perspective on narrative poetry and find a way to write poetry using devices that i previously thought were only acceptable for fiction;

he has made me want to read other long poems, mentioned and discussed in his brilliant essay “For Play and Entrance: the Canadian Contemporary Long Poem in “The Lovely Treachery of Words, Essays Selected and New (Oxford University Press, 1989);
he has made me want to write more.

and i haven’t even started reading his fiction yet...

ps...rob mclennan has an excellent entry on Kroetsch's poetry here

Friday, April 04, 2008

Canadian poetry journals I enjoy-part two

Rampike (founded 1979, English Department, University of Windsor) publisher/editor Karl Jirgens “feature post-modern art and writing from around the world with a strong focus on Canadian expression.”

I enjoy this magazine because each issue feels like a constant reinvention. This is due to the fact that each one revolves around a theme and that theme provides the tone. The other thing I particularly enjoy is the space Rampike gives to visual poetry with large full pages. (I have to say that the large print of the publication is easy on these aging eyes, which is a bonus.)

Last issue read: Vol 16, No 1, special issue: Conceptualisms featuring fiction by Stan Rogal, and Neil Scott, poetry by Fred Wah, Steven Ross Smith, Paul Vermeersch, Natalie Zina Walshots and others, texts by Derek Beaulieu, Gary Barwin, Christopher Dewdney and more, graphics by Jesse Ferguson, bill bisset and others, reviews by rob mclennan.

When you pick up a copy of this magazine, you just know you are going to be exposed to some of the freshest, most innovative writing and text art today. Some of the highlights of this issue for me were

"Pays Maya" by Fred Wah for its fresh meanings, movement through colour and his deft touch;

Steven Ross Smith’s poems, particularly “When I get nervous, I’m narrative,” (if you haven’t read his fluttertongue series, you should);

Gary Barwin’s magnificently inventive “The Orthoscendant Yodel of the Megascule”;

Jesse Ferguson’s beautiful visual poem “Internal Medicine,” which is a full human skeleton with one side made up of letters;

Carol Stetser’s gorgeous visual poems from “Mappaemundi”;

an excerpt from “ARABY” by Tom Dilworth with starts brilliantly like this: “Already exhausted from penetrating 412 pages of tough, onion-skin anthology paper,/I swim through water lilies”;

Paul Vermeersch’s poem “Ode to A. Proteus” which seemed masterfully elegant and eloquent in its simplicity to me.

By referring to only a few of examples, I am nowhere near doing Rampike justice. It’s a fantastic journal with works from all over the world. The site features some extra content, including editorials from some of the issues.

How to Obtain: The annual subscription is $18 and individual journal prices are $5.00. Mags and Fags always carries this too, for you Ottawanonions.

One of my favourite recent issues was a special issue on Frank Davey (Vol. 15. No 1)
and since I wrote about Open Letter, the journal he publishes, in my last post on Canadian poetry journals, we’ve come full circle.

I also wanted to mention that since the last post, I have received a new issue of Open Letter, which is a special issue on bpNichol to coincide with the publication of The Alphabet Game by Coach House Press this year. In her introduction to this issue of Open Letter, Lori Emerson, one of the co-editors of the Alphabet Game, writes that in the 70s, Davey gave bpNichol a section of the magazine regularly to do anything he wanted. Very exciting!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rumours of the death of poetry

in today’s Ottawa Citizen. To mark National Poetry Month, columnist Robert Sibley fondly reminisces about the poetry of the dead, quoting text from Andrew Marvell and Wordsworth. He wishes people still read poetry and he quotes an American poet Alexander G. Rubio, who dismisses contemporary poetry with these words: “The sad fact is that poetry, as anything other than a private concern, or a parlour game between a closed circle of devotees, is a thing long gone.”

Sibley feels that people aren't reading poetry much anymore. To be honest, I don't really know what the vast majority of people are doing, but I have a problem with the way Sibley backs up his argument, by citing the above dismissal of contemporary poetry and reminiscing about dead poets.

I’ve ranted about this before, that in this attempt to supposedly celebrate National Poetry Month, Sibley and other Citizen journalists don't at all bother to seek out contemporary poets, local poetry or anything about the local poetry scene. In this case Sibley refers to dead poets and American articles about poetry.

Not only that, but this article is relegated to the on line edition only, and is damn difficult to find, even on line. The writer and the newspaper create a self fulfilling prophecy. He complains that few people are reading poetry, but he doesn’t bother to find out about local readings. With the popularity of the Writers Festival every year, brisk sales of poetry books by Nicholas Hoare at the festival, all the other events going on around town, the increasing number of literary journals and poetry magazines, the numerous blogs and review sites on line and yep, the sold out spoken word poetry shows, poetry isn't doing too badly.

Why does the media continue to perpetuate the myth that no one is reading poetry, that it’s just an insiders’ game? I guess that makes it newsworthy, but to me it’s just poppycock...based on what I experience in Ottawa and what I hear about activities in other cities worldwide. I am sure that it's not as popular as the latest violent movie or video game, but it's a part of many people's lives.

And frankly, tot all of the kids who were force fed poetry in school remember it with fondness now. Personally, being forced to read and memorize Wordsworth's Daffodils poem when I was in grade 7 resulted in my not even looking at poetry for years, dismissing it as sacharine and dull.

A few years ago, I visited a poetry enrichment workshop for high school students. Most of them weren't even studying poetry and if they were it was the dreadful Edgar Allan Poe, nothing Canadian at all. They had no idea that living people were even writing poetry, nor did they see the relevance of flinging open the shutter "with many a flitter and flutter" yada yada in their own lives. I don't blame them.

Why don’t these journalists actually talk to people who run reading series in Ottawa like Dean Steadman of Tree, rob mclennan of the Factory Reading Series and a ton of other poetry related stuff, Steve Zytveld of the Dusty Owl, local publishers like Chaudiere Books or Buschek Books, local poets like Stephen Brockwell and Monty Reid, magazine editors like Anita Lahey of Arc. Or even look at the activity of other cities like Montreal and Toronto. Why do journalists who try to write about poetry today exclude the living from their articles?

I believe National Poetry Month should be about the poetry that lives and breathes today. Yes, for sure, remember and respect what has come before, but there’s plenty of contemporary poetry out there to read and plenty of poets around to talk to. Why can’t the media, especially the Ottawa Citizen ever take that into account?

[i'm not putting in a bunch of links, since i plan to post every day during NPM...]

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Canadian poetry journals I enjoy-part one

they often include more than just poetry, but for Nat’l Poetry Month it’s the poetry & poetics I’m concentrating on...

Open Letter: A Canadian Journal of Writing and Theory (founded 1965 in Victoria, BC), Frank Davey, the University of Western Ontario. Provides a venue for discussion of poetics, fascinating articles, overviews of literary movements.

Last issue Read- Thirteenth Series, Number 4, Fall 2007
Artists’ Statements and the Nature of Artistic Theory, includes DVD supplement
a fascinating article by Frank Davey entitled “Artists’ Statements and the Rules of Art” presents an overview of the role of artistic statements in poetry, comparing the various stances of poets and critics with the tradition of contemporary art schools where students are taught how to professionalize and situate their work through the use of statements.

Another article that had resonance for me was Michael Jarret’s “How To Be Influenced” which is about “turning influence into a procedure for conducting artistic inquiry and producing art.”

How To Obtain: 3 issue subscriptions are $22 (Canada); go here...also you can subscribe thru Paypal according to the small print on the bottom of the journal’s subscription form, but it doesn’t say so on the site. buy a copy and then you’ll have the e-mail; i’ve also picked it up at the greatest magazine shop in Ottawa, Mags N Fags (254 Elgin Street, sorry folks, no website), but haven’t seen it in any other Ottawa stores. individual issues are $8.

Matrix Magazine (founded??, Montreal, Quebec)
Editor-in-chief: Jon Paul Fiorentino. Poetry and reviews from the not so main stream.

Last Issue Read: Spring 2008, Issue No 79, The New Underground
the whole issue is fun and provocative. i particularly enjoyed the work of Jenny Sampirisi, an excerpt from “iswas” her novel (it’s still poetry); the interview with Dennis Lee, Stuart Ross’s poetry and more.

How To Obtain: annual (three issue) subscriptions are $21 (Cdn) and include a complimentary book from a list; individual issues are $8. also in Mags N Fags, but nowhere else that I've seen in Ottawa.

stay tuned for more...i have this silly idea i’ll write a poetry-related blog entry daily during Nat’l Poetry Month....we’ll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Write about poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month

Kate Sutherland has issued a challenge; she would like folks to post entries about poetry. There are even prizes. See her blog here.

What else are you doing?

I’ll be attending a multitude of events, including this Sunday’s Dusty Owl featuring Warren Dean Fulton, all the way from Vancouver; the Ottawa International Writers Festival featuring a slew of poets and a murder of prose...(that’s right, isn’t it? or is it a gaggle of ...)

At the end of April there’s the Bywords spring reading too. And a bunch of other poetry readings and literary stuff taking place. Check the calendar of events for more.

It would be great to see posts about poetry, reviews, interviews, book recommendations, photos of poetry books and such on your blogs, if you have ‘em.

Happy National Poetry Month...where every day is a number and ain’t that poetic.