amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Social Media Censors local sex shop Venus Envy

& more tales of sexual repression:

Apple limits self expression by making the IPad supposedly “free from porn”. It has a Playboy ap, but that ap contains no nudity. Some magazines are made to photoshop nipples from breasts on their covers.

FB removes photo of two men kissing.

FB removes a sex shop’s ad account because it is a sex shop. What the hell?

Censorship abounds. Is it just me or is this world becoming more uptight, more afraid of sex? What happens when we are censored? We become ignorant. Our teens don’t learn about safe sex, contraception and more. You can’t repress sex. Baby, you can’t stop the people.

If you disagree with FB’s censorship policy, I urge you to go to the Venus Envy Ottawa Page and join by pressing “like”. Not only will you receive great info about workshops, events and sales, but you’ll also be showing your support for education, awareness and yes, joy when it comes to sex and sexuality. By the way, Venus Envy has a wonderful books section with educational books about sex, erotica and more. They have a reading coming up on August 25 at 8:00 pm called Reading Out Loud, a celebration of GLBT literature. Note that this event is in its 6th year at the Ottawa store. This year’s event features Jeremy Dias, Karin Galldin, Marcus McCann, Oliver (Ghaida).

Let’s be proud of our sexuality. Let’s not go back to the dark days of repression and shame. Let’s give FB the finger. Join the page.

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. ~Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959

Monday, July 25, 2011

Literary Reading Series in Ottawa

I am excited about upcoming readings and the coming fall literary season.

my ideal reading series

takes place in a well-ventilated room;
is physically accessible to all;
has excellent sound and light;
includes poetry and prose;
includes locals and non locals;
is funded, so able to pay features;
has no more than one hour of readings at a time;
takes place early on a weekday evening or on a weekend afternoon;
has a good site/blog that provides supplementary info about features;
advertises its events well in advance in order to provide for planning;
doesn’t charge a cover to the audience;
has a books table;
is fully plugged in to social media to create interest for the general public.

We have great literary reading series in Ottawa and they have their strengths and weaknesses. One of the main obstacles for me is late night starts, particularly on weekdays and long duration of reading.

I believe readings should last no more than one hour with time to socialize at the venue or at a nearby pub after. I believe that introductions should be kept to a minimum of a minute or two per reader. I enjoy open mics but they have to be strictly limited for time. Only a few series include all genres in their line ups.

I enjoy meeting writers I have long admired, and discovering new ones. I enjoy hearing people read their own work.

Here are our literary series in Ottawa. I am glad they exist.

For more information on these series, click on the links or go to and look at the calendar of events and links page.

A B Series
5th season starts with Stuart Ross & Peter Norman on Oct 1, 2011

above/ground & Factory Reading Series
Janice Williamson at Mother Tongue on July 27, 2011

blUe Mondays on summer haitus

Bywords Quarterly Journal Launches
John Newlove Poetry Award reading at the fall Ottawa International Writers Festival.
Fall launch at Collected Works on November 6, with music by Marie-Josee Houle.

Dusty Owl Reading Series
Storyteller Jan Andrews performs as part of Ottawa Pride on August 21

El Dorado, Ottawa's only multi-lingual reading series

In/Words Reading Series
Cameron Anstee is the feature on July 27, 2011

Plan 99 on summer hiatus

Sasquatch Literary Performance Series on summer hiatus

Tree Reading Series
Phil Hall is the feature on July 26, 2011

Voices of Venus
next season starts soon

also the Ottawa International Writers Festival which takes place in the spring and fall & VerseFest which takes place in the spring.

Also local bookstores such as Collected Works, Mother Tongue hold readings,
and the Raw Sugar Café and Venus Envy occasionally has readings.

If I am forgetting other literary series in Ottawa, please let me know.
& i'd be interested to know of what you think makes for a good literary series.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gems from Apollinaire's bargin bin

these are books i covet, already have and love or am intrigued by based on buzz. check out these bargoons and more over at Apollinaire's Bookshoppe (selling books that no one wants to buy):

Nathalie Stephens, the Sorrow and the Fast of It (Nightboat Books, 2007) - $10

Jenny Sampirisi, Is/Was (Insomniac Press, 2008) - $10

Alfred Purdy, the Cariboo Horses (McLelland & Stewart, 1965) - $25

rob mclennan, Bagne or Criteria for Heaven (Broken Jaw Press, 2000) - $5

rob mclennan, harvet: a book of signifiers (Talonbooks, 2001) - $5

Barry McKinnon, the Centre (the Caitlin Press, 1995) - $6

Michael Holmes, 21 Hotels (above/ground press, 1998) - $10

Kyle Buckley, the Laundromat Essay (Coach House Books, 2008) - $8.50

stop by the shoppe and spend some ducats and florins on these beauties and more...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tree's Open Mic Prize: hunka hunka frying love

so the theme was "Ultimately, why Elvis left the building." my poem tied for the win with Jennifer Pederson's poems, and i particularly enjoyed her lithium villanelle. i had fun responding to the challenge. i love whimsy and sillyness. if you want to get me going, give me a challenge. thanks to Tree for the incentive and the dough. and don't forget to come to Tree on July 26 because Phil Hall is the feature. huzzah. here's the poem...

a hunka hunka frying love

Elvis stands at a stove
in his blue suede shoes
in Satan’s kitchen cooking up
infernal batches of deep fried
peanut butter & banana sandwiches
for the demons & the succubae

This is the Las Vegas Elvis
in his suit of lights
crooning Blue Hawaii as he wields
his spatula like a microphone
swivelling his hips in between bread flips
& shaking loose strands of his palmanade locks
off his forehead & into the frying pan

Afterward he splits a bowl of candy-coloured
barbiturates with Townes, Janis & Kurt Cobain
& they hop a damned train to Memphis
to sing in Beelzebub’s choir

The crypt at Forest Hill stands empty
his loving fans like to tell the tale
not too far from the graves of confederate soldiers
if you stand at the gates of Graceland
in Tennessee on the 4th Chicksaw Bluff
on August 16 at 3:30 in the afternoon
hold yourself still
take a deep breath
& you’ll smell another sandwich frying
especially for you…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meet the Presses booty

Apt. 9 Press

Jeremy Hanson-Finger,
The Delicious Fields (apparently the last copy)

Emergency Response Unit

Gil Adamson, an untitled broadside beautifully designed by Scream organizer Bill Kennedy
Carey Toane, Stowaway (exquisite old fashioned wallpaper cover)
Dinosaur Porn (with Ferno House)

Gesture Press

Nicholas Power, the Steady Pull of a Curious Dog with drawings by Camilla Burgess

Horse of Operation

Martin Hazelbower, You Can’t Get There From Here: twenty inventions (pictured above)

Serif of Nottingham Editions/Gary Barwin

a two-sided Basho green froggie t-shirt by Gary Barwin, Flying Camel Press

Toronto Poetry Vendors

stuck two loonies in the machine and got a yellow folded work
by Pasha Malla: Bad Humanitarian Aid Organizations (huzzah!)

Underwhich Editions/Paul Dutton

Ballet of the Speech Organs: Bob Cobbing on Bob Cobbing
as interviewd by Steven Ross Smith
Sandra Braman and Paul Dutton, spokesheard, longspoon press
Paul Dutton, Hair (chapbookpublisher)

especially keen on Junction Books, sunnyoutsidepress & Red Iron Press, which had some fantastic stuff, but i ran outta dough.

At the AngelHousePress table, we had a $1,2,3,4, 5 sale and sold out of many chapbooks we brought with us and completely sold out of rob mclennan’s house, a (tiny) memoir and my signs of the apocalypse magazine, issue 1-A; now i can move on two the 2nd issue. we didn’t sell that many broadsides this time around, but a lot of conversation revolved around them, which is great.

The Meet the Presses Screaming Chapbook Fair was a great opportunity to mix with fellow chapbookers and witness various methods of production. It was also fun to see many of my Toronto friends again or for the first time. I also enjoyed gawking at some lovely young Torontonian men. Gosh they make them pretty over there by the lake.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Come celebrate summer with Bywords on July 17

Dear Ottawa poetry and music enthusiasts, I invite you to spend the afternoon of Sunday July 17 enjoying great poems and songs at our summer reading, which will take place at the newly renovated and spacious Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee Shop.

The festivities begin at 2pm and admission is free. We will pass the hat and give you a copy of the summer Bywords Quarterly Journal. This is also a great time to stock up on your summer reading and indulge in your caffeine addiction.

Ottawa is blessed with a number of fine independent bookstores and I’m thrilled that Collected Works will be the home of our readings this year.

Come listen to the poetry of
Allison Armstrong, co-host with Faye Estrella of the excellent series Voices of Venus;

Steven Artelle, Ottawa’s literary historian and talented artist (see the covers of the Bywords Quarterly Journal for his Parliamentary line art);

L. Garrison, who is an emerging writer and recent University of Ottawa graduate;

and Sean Moreland, co-host along with Aaron Kozak of the blUe Mondays reading series and recipient of the 2008 Bywords’ John Newlove Poetry Award. You can still find a few copies of his chapbook, Lupercalia through the Bywords online store.

On the 17th it will also be a pleasure to welcome spoken word sensation and musician Brad Morden. If you love the ukulele and big smiles, you’ll love Brad. Listen to some of his music here.

One of our mandates is to promote local writing, music and art. This month’s cover of the Bywords Quarterly Journal features the artwork of local artist Colin White whose wonderful series of Ottawa confectionary stores has been on display at Raw Sugar on Somerset West. Come by to the reading and pick up the summer issue of the BQJ to get a taste of his art, and some of Ottawa’s finest poetry.

And if you’d like a preview what’s in store, tune in to CHUO’s Click Here on Wednesday, July 15 at 5pm. Mitchell Caplan will speak to me and Brad Morden and we'll hear some of Brad Morden’s music. And on Friday, July 15 at 7:30 am, have a listen to Susan Johnston’s Friday Special Blend on Carleton’s CKCU for some poetry by Sean Moreland and Allison Armstrong. And a happy anniversary to Susan who has been hosting the show for nine years.

Come celebrate the summer with Bywords on Sunday, July 17 at 2pm at Collected Works. Take in some poetry and music, sip some coffee, buy some books. It'll be grand!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ron Sexsmith Shortlisted for Polaris 2011

i couldn't be happier to see Ron Sexsmith on the Polaris 2011 shortlist for Long Player Late Bloomer. for those who haven't had a chance to listen to Sexsmith or who dismiss his work as easy listening, i think you should take a listen (again) with an open mind. music enthusiasts and song writers understand the complexity and memorability of his melody constructions. his voice has a broad range and he takes chances with a lot of the songs he creates. i think he will be considered to be one of Canada's most brilliant song writers of this era.

Long Player Late Bloomer is a strong album. it is hope mixed with risk. every album Sexsmith makes is about risk and taking a chance, something so many recording artist are afraid to do these days, pumping out the same old plonk that zooms to the top of the charts, whatever they are. (think Nickelback).

there is variety in his style, there is an earnestness and darkness mixed with light in his lyrics and his melodies communicate what is often difficult to articulate in words.

coupled with Love Shines, the recent documentary's portrayal of the road to creating Long Player Late Bloomer with producer Bob Rock, the album is even more meaningful. those who love the music of Ron Sexsmith feel his struggle in a business that is more about the sound byte than craft, the bling of a repeated catch phrase than original lyrics.

here's Believe It When I See It from Long Player Late Bloomer

Cafe Nostalgica, 603 Cumberland to be demolished

I arrived at the Café Nostalgica yesterday for the blUe Mondays reading series (a magical night of sound and words) and there was a big honking sign out front:

“This building to be demolished to make way for a cold, generic building with no history or humanity.”

Ok, that’s not what the sign said exactly. I may be paraphrasing, but it might as well have. Am I not the only one who is horrified by this pending demolition?

These days U of O is tearing down buildings left and right. Here’s footage of 178 Laurier being demolished, and a bit of its history.

I don’t know the history of 603 Cumberland, the site of the Graduate Students Association & Café Nostalgica, but I do know the café has been in operation since 1995 in that location and has been the centre of the U of O’s art and culture scene more than any place else on campus.

Café Nostalgica is where I cut my poetic teeth, so to speak, standing at the open mic as part of Trevor Tchir & Kristy McKay’s Thursday night open stage and staying for incredible music and poetry til the wee smalls.

Kristy and I were taking Seymour Mayne’s Advanced Creative Writing Poetry Workshop at the University of Ottawa in the fall of 2001, after having taking the first workshop in 2000/2001. Kristy recruited a bunch of us to help her add poetry to the evening, which was mostly an open stage for music.

This is where I first encountered the late Steve Sauvé, whose hilarious and poignant poetry both make me laugh and broke my heart.

This is where I first heard the Max Middle Sound Project, with Max, Melanie Little and Peter Norman doing Moon Potatoes.

This is where I first heard the amazing music of Trevor Tchir, Rozalind MacPhail, John Carroll, Kevin Grant, Mélissa Laveaux, Peter Webb, the Lighthouse Keepers, the early pre-Soul Jazz Orchestra Phil Lafreniere and so many more.

This is where Lenny served Charles and I jumbo rumbos and the reason why we staggered out of there at 1 am, sadly missing out on even more music and poetry because we had to get up to go to work.

To commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the open stage in 2003, Trevor had a bunch of us gather at the café one evening to record a live CD called Thursday Heroes: Live at Café Nostalgica. I had the pleasure of performing my Drum Song poem with the help of Phil Lafreniere on the drums.

The café continues to put on great nights of music and poetry and display artwork by local artists. A few years back I even reviewed its food for Cheapeats Ottawa.
I will miss the old red brick house on Cumberland, and I know many of you will too. I wish Ottawa U would consider the heritage of its buildings and their history. Too many of its buildings are cold, concrete and uninviting.

“Set a candle on every table in this room,
The Thursday Heroes are bound to be here soon.”
Trevor Tchir, Thursday Heroes

Monday, July 04, 2011

July 9: Toronto's Meet The Presses Screaming Chapbook Market

We, the (fallen) angels of AngelHousePress, shall be at the fair with copies of limited edition chapbooks, broadsides & possibly a bit of brimstone. Hope to see you there.

I'm chuffed about this particular fair because it is a "chapbook" fair. there may be a few spines there, at least among the vendors; although angels have no spines, but primarily this is a fair that celebrates the chapbook: those wee unsung pages put together with thread or staples or bolts or glue, somewhat ephemeral, booklets for zines, poetry, prose, manifestos, soup recipes, comics and what have you. to my mind, there is no form more flexible than the chapbook, which can be any shape, any size, any colour, any style from letterpress to manual pencil scrawlings.

if you're in Toronto, please come by and help us celebrate the chapbook.

Women writers in Ottawa

suggestions for future Ottawa Women’s Worlds conferences

i noticed that the conference, which is taking place now, has a variety of Arts & Culture events featuring local and out of town women. i thought i would offer some suggestions for future organizers of such. now if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know i don’t cotton to gender segregation, but since this event is happening anyway, might as well help with suggestions:

Sandra Ridley, poet & author of the award winning collection Fall Out (Hagios Press);

Pearl Pirie, poet & winner of the Robert Kroetsch Innovative Poetry Award, a book forthcoming with Snare Books, been shed bore out with Chaudiere Books;

Rhonda Douglas, poet and fiction writer, Some Days I think I Know Things (Signature Editions);

Elisabeth Harvor, poet, fiction writer & essayist, most recent poetry collection An Open Door in the Landscape (Palimpsest Press);

Gabriela Goliger, fiction writer, most recent novel Girl Unwrapped (Arsenal Pulp Press);

Elizabeth Hay, multiple award winning novelist, recent book Alone in the Classroom (McClelland & Stewart);

Jennifer Whiteford, fiction writer, Grrl (Gorsky Press), zine creator;

Nadine McGinnis, award-winning poet & fiction writer, most recent book Two Hemispheres (Brick Books);

Susan McMaster, poet & literary editor, most recent poetry collection Paper Affair (Black Moss Press);

Ronnie R. Brown, award winning poet, most recent poetry collection Rocking on the Edge (Black Moss Press);

Terry Ann Carter, poet & haikuist, most recent poetry collection A Crazy Man Thinks He’s Earnest (Black Moss Press)

note that i’ve included only those with published books & haven’t included women who do spoken word. the latter because there is one event in the program called Breaking Sound on Wednesday (see the calendar of events) and i’m not sure which have been included. there is a graphic novella launch on Tuesday night, so words have not been entirely forgotten. most of the Arts & Culture events from what i can see seem to be multi-media and music.

& there are probably a whole pile of other women writers i have forgotten or don’t know of. it just seems a shame that at a conference specifically celebrating women’s voices, the audience is not getting a chance to hear some of Ottawa’s strongest and most creative voices. perhaps another time? & if other cities are having similar conferences, i urge you to take a look at the literary talent in your city and be sure to include in your program. the program is fairly complex; perhaps some of these women or women authors from other cities appear in the plenary sessions. if not now, in the future, please.