amongst books

amongst books

Friday, October 24, 2008

writers festival update of a sort

a cold has prevented me from being able to concentrate well enough at the festival to blog, but others are writing excellent entries. see Pearl’s blog and rob’s blog. tonight i’m meant to be at Transgress but instead settled down with Charles to a great dinner after a long nap and then a sports flick.

up to now, my favourite events of the festival have been the noon Master Class series with writers. the ones at noon have been very practical with concrete examples and tips from the writers and an opportunity to ask questions.

i’m looking forward to the Poetry Cabaret tomorrow night, provided i can last that long, particularly to Meredith Quartermain. if there was anything i would change about this edition of the festival, it would be that we would have more writing life style poetry events with readings and a Q&A. i love the opportunity to hear fiction writers talk about their work, but i could use a higher dose of poetry. on my wish list of poets i’d like to see & hear (some of whom have been at the festival before):

Nathalie Stephens
Robert Priest
Lisa Jarnot
Stephen Cain
Derek Beaulieu
Dennis Cooley
Steve McCaffery
Steven Ross Smith
Sina Queyras
Natalie Simpson
Rachel Zucker
Gil McElroy
Andy Weaver

i think the mix of poetry and prose changes from edition to edition and there have been other years where we’ve had more poetry cabarets. it’s my own preference, but i have enjoyed the threads of this edition’s festival and i tip my hat to the organizers for another excellent job. three more days to go! i’m hoping i won’t be so tired and will have the stamina to attend and soak it all in.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

opening day at the Writers Festival

was great fun.

the small press fair was a wonderful new addition to the festival. the Small Press Action Network (span-o) hosted half of the fair and the Ottawa Independent Writers Association hosted the other half. it was a pleasure to meet new small pressers, reunite with friends and tell passers by and vendors about Bywords and other small presses that we distribute.

the fair took place in the foyer of the Library and Archives Auditorium, which meant there was a lot of light and the bar was open. the marvelous Beau's beer was served in these funky mason jar glasses that everyone wanted to steal, but i hope no one did.

i acquired wonderful books from jwcurry's table, a neat pamphlet of visual poetry by Gustave Morin at Max Middle's table, a copy of the latest Ottawa Arts Review, the Puritan and new poetry by Ben Ladouceur and Cameron Anstee of In/Words.

after the fair there was an event called Meet the Movers and Shakers where a number of publishers, reading series organizers and writers groups were invited to speak. the most informative bit of the event for me occurred when John Buschek of Buschek Books spoke. He said that when he is deciding on books to publish, given two well-written books, he will choose the one whose writer has publishing credits because that shows that the writer's work is known in the literary world and may be an indication that the book will sell better. rob mclennan of Chaudiere Books echoed this.

it was the first time for this event and there were a few glitches, such as some people speaking too long and not giving the others much opportunity to speak (we were told in an e-mail that we had 3-4 minutes), but other than that i thought it was a good idea and hope the festival does it again with a few modifications and perhaps additions to the list of who moves and shakes the literary community. it was great to be invited to tell people about and the Bywords Quarterly Journal, but i was so rattled by the lack of time, i'm not sure i said anything useful, alas. there was a decent turnout in the room.

the final event of the evening was the City of Ottawa Book Awards / Arc's Lampman Scott Award for Poetry.

English fiction was won by Elizabeth Hay for Late Nights on Air
the L-S was won by Shane Rhodes for the Bindery. more on the latter award over at the Ottawa Poetry Newlsetter blog.
English Non Fiction was won by Tim Cook, At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914-1916.
Création littéraire en français Andrée Christensen, Depuis toujours j’entendais la mer. Unfortunately Ms. Christensen was not able to attend as she wasn't well. the publisher of Les Éditions David accepted on her behalf.

the event was hosted by Alan Neal, Host of CBC Radio’s Bandwidth and Canada Live and Anne Michaud, cultural reporter for La Première Chaîne of Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau 90,7 FM. there was a huge turnout for this event, which was great to see.

more festival bits and bytes as the week progresses.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meet me at the Festival

for the next ten days you will find me at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. i don't know how much blogging i'll have time or lucidity to do, but blogging on poetry stuff will happen over at the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter.

please come and visit the Bywords table at the mini small press fair at the festival, taking place from noon to six pm. Bywords will have a variety of chapbooks and journals available, including Sean Moreland's Lupercalia (Bywords John Newlove Poetry Award Series), Compositions by Jamie Bradley (AngelHousePress, 2008), the first six years of the Bywords Quarterly Journal, beautifully created chapbooks by pooka press run by former & oft return Ottawan Warren Dean Fulton, Marcus McCann's wondrous chapbooks by Rubicon Press, the Onion Union and so much more. other presses involved include above/ground press, Chaudiere Books, In/Words, the Puritan, Dusty Owl ...

at 6pm come and hear about the local literary scene at the Meet the Movers and Shakers Reception, then after that find out who won the Ottawa City book awards and the Lampman-Scott award for poetry. all for free!

and that's just the first day of the festival...phew...can't wait to see you there.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CNF: Help us find the best blogs-deadline Oct 31/08

CNF is seeking narrative blog posts to reprint in The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3, edited by Lee Gutkind, forthcoming in August 2009 from W. W. Norton.

We’re looking for: Vibrant new voices with interesting, true stories to tell. Narrative, narrative, narrative. Posts that can stand alone, 2000 words max, from 2008. Something from your own blog, from a friend’s blog, from a stranger’s blog.

The small print: We will contact individual bloggers before publication; we pay a flat $50 fee for one-time reprint rights. Deadline: October 31, 2008.

Nominate online:

Thanks for your help!PS--if we choose a blog you nominate, we'll send you one of our nifty "You Can't Make This Stuff Up!" mugs as a special thank-you!

interview with J.M.G. Le Clézio

It is said that you are a potential Nobel prizewinner. Let’s imagine that you are awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature tomorrow. What would you like to say at the award ceremony?

That’s a very hypothetical question! I don’t know for the Nobel prize but I know what I would like to talk about publicly. I would like to talk about the war that kills children. This, for me, is the most terrible thing of our age. Literature is also a means of reminding people of this tragedy and bringing it back to centre stage. In Paris recently, statues of women were veiled in order to condemn the fact that women in Afghanistan are denied freedom. That’s very good. In the same way, we should mark all the statues of children with a big red spot over the heart as a reminder that at every moment, somewhere in Palestine, South America or Africa, a child is killed by bullets. People never talk about that!

from France diplomatie

[i am excited and happy to learn of a writer i've never heard about before, someone who although he has written many books in four decades, has always been considered to have been an innovator and a writer on the margins of mainstream literature.]

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

October Top Ten + the All Bob Dylan list

in celebration of the release of The Bootleg Series, Vol 8, Tell Tale Signs

based on my own collection & including a few covers. esp in the case of Best of, the songs are available originally somewhere else, but i don’t have those albums. how foolhardy to rank Bob Dylan songs. i don’t believe this is set in stone because a) i haven’t heard his entire oeuvre and b) whims change, but still...these are the songs that i like best of Dylan’s right now. today.

1. Like A Rolling Stone (Highway 61 Revisited)
2. Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Best of Bob Dylan)
3. All Along the Watch Tower (Best of Bob Dylan)
4. Born in Time (The Bootleg Series, Vol 8, Tell Tale Signs
5. Series of Dreams (bootleg, 8)
6. In My Time of Dyin’ (Bob Dylan)
7. Idiot Wind (Blood on the Tracks)
8. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Best of Bob Dylan)
9. Most of the Time (Oh Mercy, because I don’t have Disc 3 of bootleg 8 and like this version more than the alternate on b8)
10. Red River Shore (bootleg, 8)
11. Shooting Star (Oh Mercy)
12. If You See Her Say Hello (Blood on the Tracks)
13. Tangled Up in Blue (Blood on the Tracks)
14. Make You Feel My Love (Time Out of Mind)
15. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (Blonde on Blonde)
16. What Good Am I (Oh Mercy)
17. Shelter from the Storm (Blood on the Tracks)
18. Desolation Row (Highway 61 Revisited)
19. You’re A Big Girl Now (Blood on the Tracks)
20. Working Man’s Blues # 2 (Modern Times)
21. Mississipi (Love and Theft)
22. Sugar Baby (Love and Theft)
23. Blood in My Eyes (Modern Times)
24. Standing in the Doorway (Time out of Mind)
25. Not Dark Yet (Time out of Mind)
26. Trying to Get to Heaven (Time out of Mind)
27. One of Us Must Know (Blonde on Blonde)
28. Man of Consant Sorrow (Bob Dylan)