amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

VERSeFEST: sketchy notes from day one

unfortunately I was feeling wonky yesterday, a bit of a stomach upset & then sinus pain/ear ache, so I couldn't stay for the whole evening, but enjoyed the first reading with poets Paul Tyler, Suzanne Buffam & Dennis Lee. & the fabulous host, Alan Neal from CBC Radio's All in a Day. he was funny, kept things rolling, was respectful & complimentary to the features without rabbitting on or heaping on the praise to the point of idolatry.

Of note to me were

Tyler's poem about maple trees & their roots encroaching on everyone's property, acting like monsters;

Buffam's wonderful reading. I particularly enjoyed her beautiful words for hideous things list poem [I'm sorry for paraphrasing the title.] She read mostly new work, but also a bit from the Irrationalist. It was interesting to learn that the book had been jointly published by Canarium Books, an American publisher & House of Anansi.

Lee's Melvis & Elvis poem for kids that will be in a children's book later. His reading from Testament (House of Anansi Press, March 2012 [but Collected Works had copies last night!]). & his air guitar blues, which had a few members of the audience joining in on the chorus. I'm looking forward to reading Testament, which is a reworking of his two previous books Un and Yes/No. self-plunder. huzzah. [I doubt anyone noticed, but if you saw me slumping down in my front row theatre seat during Lee's reading, it was only because I had finally found a position where my ears didn't ache & that had nothing to do with the reading, just with my damned sinuses.]

A word of praise too for the Collected Works book table, which had copies of the books of the features for the night but also other books by poets who wouldn't be at the festival & older books which are now difficult to obtain. In addition to Testament, I also picked up Lee's Civil Elegies and Other Poems (House of Anansi Press, 1972, reprinted 1994), Stephanie Bolster's White Stone, the Alice Poems (Véhicule Press, 1998, Fifth (!) printing, 2005) & Erín Moure's newest, the Unmentionable (House of Anansi Press, 2012). There was just one copy of the latter on the table. Exciting!

I enjoyed brief conversations with the writers, & old friends & new. & then returned home for meds, magic bag & hydrasense. I shall have to pace myself so may not be at as many events as I'd planned. We'll see how the week goes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

a VERSeFEST Primer

a round up of sites, reviews, videos, interviews. consult for full bios, schedule, ticket & venue info…

also pick up the Peter F. Yacht Club Issue #16 VERSeFEST Special (above/ground press, 2012) featuring 22 contributors, including VERSeFEST features Paige Ackerson-Kiely, Rae Armantrout, Tim Lilburn, Barry McKinnon, Pearl Pirie, Shane Rhodes & Fred Wah.

Paige Ackerson-Kiely

INTERVIEW with rob mclennan in 2007


A Book About A Candle Burning In A Shed (above/ground press, 2011)


My Love is a Dead Arctic Explorer (Ashata, 2012)

Rae Armantrout

Custom (above/ground press, 2012)

VIDEO: PBS interview in January, 2012


Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -interview on CLICK HERE with Mitchell Caplan, CHUO FM 89.1, 5pm Listen live here.


Money Shot (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)

rob mclennan's review 2011

C.R. Avery


VIDEO Dungeon of Love

Roo Borson

INTERVIEW with rob mclennan in february, 2012


rain; road; an open boat (McClelland & Stewart, 2012)

VIDEO from Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida

Tim Bowling



Tenderman (Nightwood Editions, 2011)

Suzanne Buffam

INTERVIEW with Alessandro Porco in 2010


the Irrationalist (Canarium Books, 2010)

VIDEO: from the Irrationalist

Afua Cooper


VIDEO: Dub-Poet "Lisa"

Poems published in Canadian Poetry Online

Festrell (performing as part of Voices of Venus Women Slam Winners event)

VIDEO: Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Ottawa, 2010- My Story

Shauntay Grant


VIDEO: Life Lessons

Danielle Gregoire


VIDEO: the Maternity Poem

Phil Hall

Killdeer (BookThug, 2011), winner of the 2011 Governor General Award for Poetry

ESSAY by rob mclennan


VIDEO: from Killdeer

Helen Humphreys


Magdala “D-LightFull” Joseph (performing as part of Voices of Venus Women Slam Winners event)

VIDEO: Love Stinks

Ian Keteku


VIDEO: Right Side Up

VIDEO: Something you might not know about Canada

Dennis Lee

NOTE about latest book
Testament (House of Anansi Press, 2012)

ARTICLE by Jacob McArthur Mooney

IMMINENT: Interview on CBC Radio's All in a Day with Alan Neal between 4:30pm-5pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 RADIO ONE 91.5 FM. listen live

Philip Levine

VIDEO: Poets in Person INTERVIEW from the Cortland Review 2009

INTERVIEW on Poets & Writers from March/April 2012 issue

ARTICLE in LA Weekly from February 2012

Tim Lilburn

Assinaboia (McClelland & Stewart, 2012)

REVIEW OF LAST BOOK Orphic Politics (McClelland & Stewart, 2008) in CNQ June 2009

REVIEW by Priscilla Uppal in the Walrus Magazine, April, 2008

VIDEO: Inanna From the Great Above She Opened Her Ear to the Great Below

Pura López-Colomé

PUBLISHER'S NOTE on latest book
Watchword (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 2012

REVIEWS of previous book translated into English

No Shelter (TR Forrest Gander)

VIDEO: Agua (Water)

Mike McGee


VIDEO: Dear Neil Armstrong

Barry McKinnon

INTERVIEW with rob mclennan 2008

Into the Blind World (above/ground press)

REVIEW of latest book

In the Millennium (New Star Books, 2009)

Susan McMaster

VIDEO: Three Poems at Lac Vert

Christian McPherson


PUBLISHER'S NOTE on latest book

The Sun Has Forgotten Where I Live (Now or Never Publishing, 2011)

Ikenna 'OpenSecret' Onyegbula

ARTICLE from 2011

VIDEO: Engineering World Poverty, performed with Team Capital Slam

Ottawa Fountain (Ottawa Youth Slam Team)

FaceBook page

Elle P. (performing as part of Voices of Venus Women Slam Winners event)

VIDEO: Capital Slam Finals 2011 Round 1

Taqralik Partridge


VIDEO: Profile


Pearl Pirie


INTERVIEW with Sean Moreland

LATEST CHAPBOOK: Mammals of Hoarfrost (Corrupt Press, 2011)

Thirsts (Snare Books, 2011)

VIDEO: Tree Reading Series Poetics Talk 22 Sep 09 - Pearl Pirie on Authorship

Shane Rhodes

ERR (Nightwood Editions, 2011)

ARTICLE: Trading Poems for Booze, 2011

INTERVIEW with rob mclennan in 3.0, p. 110

12 or 20 questions with rob mclennan from 2008

Ursula Rucker

INTERVIEW from February 2012


VIDEO: Supa Sista (unplugged)

Gregory Scofield

Louis: the Heretic Poems (Nightwood Editions, 2011)

Keeping It Riel, CBC Books' the Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers, February 2011 (a panel discussion)

Rachel Simpson

Poems from's Canadian anthology

Sepideh Soltaninia (performing as part of Voices of Venus Women Slam Winners event)

ARTICLE in the Ottawa Glue, the Ottawa Student Magazine

VIDEO: In Flanders Fields

Bruce Taylor

REVIEW of latest book

No End In Strangeness (Cormorant Books, 2011)

a CONVERSATION in Maisonneuve Magazine about Taylor's poems by David Godkin and Mathew Henderson

Paul Tyler

REVIEW OF 1st book in Maple Tree Literary Supplement
A Short History of Forgetting (Gaspereau Press, 2010)

VIDEO: Tree Reading Series Dead Poets' Feature: Ted Hughes

Fred Wah

The False Laws of Narrative, The Poetry of Fred Wah edited by Louis Cabri (Wilfred Laurier University Press, October 2009)

REVIEW by rob mclennan of is a door (Talonbooks 2009)

Poets TALK about Fred Wah: On the other side of the tracks (PoemTalk #44) in Jacket2
Fred Wah, "Race, to go" "Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, and Bob Perelman joined Al Filreis to talk about a poem in a sixteen-poem series by Fred Wah going under the title 'Discount Me In.' "

SITE: the new Parliamentary Poet Laureate


this is an evolving list. if I find more recent interviews, press releases, videos etc, I'll put them up & if you have any to add, please let me know. i might not put up everything, but if you add to the comments, it'll be seen.


Friday, February 24, 2012

new poetry in 3 mags

a few ghazals in the Black Moss Press e-magazine offside thanks to managing editor Kate Hargreaves.
some new poems from a relatively new manuscript called the Coffee House Studies, pt. 2 RADIOWORKS in the VERSeFest special of the Peter F. Yacht Club Issue # 16. thanks to editor rob mclennan; above/ground press for publishing.
4 excerpts from All the Catharines in the winter issue of the Prose-Poem Project. thanks to editor Ellen Clay & thanks to the Ontario Arts Council Writers Reserve in 2010 & 2011 & the recommenders for providing funds for this ongoing project.

Poetry Talk with Amanda Earl

feb 18 - 24,2012
VERSeFest begins on Tuesday. Are you excited? I am.

Interview with Philip Levine, who's coming to VERSeFest for the Summit on March 4. so many poets, so little time. hence the fest. one week of complete poetic immersion. i intend to focus very singly on the festival, meaning that i will be listening, reading & possibly writing inspired by the works i hear. this will be a feast!

"But mainly, I think the concerns of any good writing tend to be the same: to capture the experience of being human, to inhabit the curious realm of living. There’s a Neutral Milk Hotel lyric that says it well: 'How strange it is to be anything at all.' " Poet Debora Kuan answering rob mclennan's [12 or 20 questions ] question about theoretical concerns in her writing.

"Poems that don’t know what their point is take risks, explore. Poems that know their form but not their content or their content but not their form have places to go. They aren’t a spindrift repeating the same notion you went in with until you leave with the same. They broker in the bank of ‘why would you write that?’ with the best answer of ‘because.’" Pearl Pirie, the Adequate Answerable Why.

& here from the way back machine...Leonard Cohen reads his poems (in 1966) (in America)

speaking of Mr. Cohen, Michael Lista offers a wee note on the Hallelujah lyrics over at CBC Music…

Edmonton poet & essayist & photographer Shawna Lemay reminds us about connecting & being moon eyed on her lovely blog.

Prisila Uppal talks about the Malahat Review in celebration of its 45th anniversary over on Radio Canada International. The launch took place at Victoria's Planet Earth reading series with over 100 people attending. Happy Birthday to the Malahat Review. Just a few years younger than me...& take a look at their Far Horizons Poetry contest, deadline May 2, 2012.

Stephen Morrissey muses about the transformative quality of poetry & its connection to psychology here. i am leery of & nervous about any writing with claims of "the truth" or gives the impression of having some special insight. as for me I fumble along…I explore, observe & play. no big pronouncements or insights chez moi. micromovents.

Danielle Cadena Duelen talks with Brain Brodeur about one of her poems over at How A Poem Happens I liked what she said about not believing in inspiration & writing poetry being like learning an instrument, practising the scales.

Jacket 2 gives us Samba-poesia from the streets of São Paulo, Brazil.

"the woods are full of police/90% Khalil Gibran, 10% carved wooden men" in Poetry Poems About Trees By K. Silem Mohammad

Rachel Blau DuPlessis offers a handy summary of questions for those who read poetry (useful also for the writers of poetry too)

a review of Juliana Spahr's A Catalogue of Us All (Black Sparrow, May 2011): "She writes in an avant-garde line of post-Language poetry which traces its heritage from Gertrude Stein’s modernist experiments and Ezra Pound’s dancing intellect to Lyn Hejinian’s avant-garde life-writing and Ron Silliman’s “new sentence.” Read a bit of Stein’s The Making of Americans or a section of Hejinian’s My Life and you might recognize something akin to Spahr’s incantatory, recursive, verbal accumulation, which lets words become tones and patterns as well as meanings and premises." says Siobhan Phillips.

the first manifestation of FLOOR, a new magazine from the University of California at Berkley & edited by Lyn Hejinian and Christopher Patrick Miller is now online of aesthetic practice. Its aim is critique & calling into question or broadening the structure of critique. "We seek works on all scales that stake themselves as living experiments and not just ideological arguments, political allegories, etc. This can range from the noise rippling through an everyday task to a diagram for a 21st century collective housing project." & "6.How does art elaborate the necessity of public life, resources, and spaces? When the commons have become constricted, instrumentalized, or obliterated, can aesthetic practices recover or define some kind of common potential?" [as a side note, have you noticed how beautiful & polished on line magazines are becoming of late? Floor is an example of such.] take a look at Ryoichi Wago's "Silent Salute of Poetry," one of his serial poems after the Tohoku Earthquake in March, 2011.or "Angel" [excerpt] by Nathaniel Mackey. I'm loving this magazine already, reminds me a bit of Canada's own Influency Salon in its aesthetic & concerns.

VISUAL/CONCRETE/ASEMIC/SOUND/ART & other uncategorizable things

Sonja Hinrichsen's beautiful snow drawings.

Helen Hajnoski's Street-po (from January, but discovered by me now)

A teaser of the bleed 0.2 is out with a wee commentary on what asemic writing is. i have work in 0.1 along with the online publication.

& isn't it lovely to revisit Apollinaire's Calligrammes, some early visual poems: . for people hearing about visual poetry for the first time, I send them off to these poems first. because the first reaction to anything we haven't heard of is to dismiss it as a recent innovation.

the AWARD of the WEEK (a new category on Poetry Talk with Amanda Earl) goes to the busy & visionary Centre for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania with 15 fabulous projects including Jacket2, Penn Sound & more. their on line library is full of rare wonders. take for example, SOCKLESS IN SANDALS, Collected Poems, Volume 6 by Bob Cobbing from 1985. "SOCKLESS IN SANDALS contains all the poems written between 1976 and July of 1985 which can be adapted to the typewriter." The Man with the Megaphone adds Spice to the Party {& please take a look at Van Gogh's Annotated Paintings, which begin on page 51 for your dose of WHIMSY}

There's so much on this site. It's madness. Hannah Weiner's the Clairvoyant Journal is here. works by Robin Blaser & Charles Bernstein are here. Leslie Scalapino is here. Ezra Pound is here. woooo. Catriona Strang's Low Fancy is here. Charles Bernstein's Visual Poetry anthology is here.

& you can also link to the EPC's sound poetry page with links to MP3s by Hugo Ball, John Cage & more.

please try this amazing mashup device of Jhave Johnston who's taken PENN sound files (various works being read aloud by the authors) & made it possible for us to listen to multiple voices together. I did a mashup of Bill Bissett, Victor Coleman & bpNichol. soooo fun!

a big thank you to Eric Baus who is this week's Harriet tweeter. he's been tweeting great poetry links.

rob mclennan profiles AngelHousePress in Open Book Ontario.


a whole pile of delicious chapbooks from above/ground press, starting with Barry McKinnon's Into the Blind World, a response to an emerging poet's engagement with Dante's Divine Comedy. do you have your subscription yet? (not to the circles of hell, but to above/ground press!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a month of letters

for the month of February, I have been participating in the Month of Letters Challenge launched by American writer Mary Robinette Kowal. I decided to participate because I have always loved corresponding by mail, hadn't done it much in a while, & i realized i missed writing letters to dear friends. There is something intimate about writing someone a letter, something very physical & tactile.

You can write a letter anywhere, in any room, in a café or a pub, even in a moving vehicle, if you have good hand-eye co-ordination. What you need is very minimal. You can write on any kind of paper, using any kind of ink. You can include a love poem, a collage, or just write a few pages of friendly banter. Of course you can do most of those things using a computer, but the act of pushing pen across paper feels less hurried, more focused & thoughtful.

When I'm on the computer, I'm usually doing many different things at the same time, but when I'm writing a letter, it's all I can do. all my attention is on the recipient. Hand writing slows down my thoughts.

With e-mail we're used to fast or almost instant responses. With the mail, you have to expect slow or even no response at all. What is meaningful to the letter writer may have no meaning at all to the recipient. Or like with spam, the letter could get lost in a sea of junk mail.

What I have enjoyed particularly about this exercise, aside from the ritual of daily writing & regular trips to the post office is connection, which is what I am looking for in everything I do, especially writing.

I enjoy reading the correspondence of famous writers, of lovers. letters, above all, feel like a site for revelations & confessions.

So far all the responses to my letters have been via e-mail. People have been happy to receive a personal letter; it has reminded them of the past when this and the telephone were the only ways to communicate with distant friends & family.

I still write letters to my mother. I find it more comfortable, calmer & less distruptive than the telephone. Recently her husband died. I found sending her letters & cards a better way to offer condolences & to read about her grief than e-mails or even the telephone. My mother just turned eighty on Monday. She was born in 1932 in Yorkshire, & lived thru terrible bombings during the war in Sheffield.

I was also born there. I remember when I was growing up the link to the past, to that land of stories more than anything was those thin blue envelopes with thin blue paper & the British postage stamps on them. it was exciting to receive these letters, to find out all the details about my English cousins. Parcels were even more splendid. a kilt, perhaps or a soft yellow sweater, hand-knitted by my grandmother. Brown paper packages tied up with string.

dear Eloise

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poetry Talk with Amanda Earl

[photo by Camille Martin]


Christine McNair has written "materia prima," poems in response to "By Hand, the Arcana of Trades Explored and Revealed," the photography of Caroline Tallmadge for another instalment in Call and Response, a collaboration between poems & photography curated by rob mclennan and hosted at the School of Photographic Arts Ottawa. Check out Christine's poetry here or read it in conjunction with the photos at SPAO. Vernissage is TONIGHT! Friday, Feb 17 & exhibit continues til March 12.

In her interview with Susan Johnston on CKCU's Friday Special Blend, Christine talked a wee bit about the non-linearity of her poems. The concept of linearity/non-linearity has plagued/fascinated me for a number of years.

Here's my QUESTION OF THE WEEK[I hope to make this a sporadic, but regular feature & may offer a reward of some kind or boon to a respondent]:

What does linearity mean (within the context of poetry please)? Can you find poems that provide examples of linearity? Of non linearity? [don't be limited to linear responses ;)]

above/ground press releases the VERSeFest special of the Peter F. Yacht Club, featuring many regular contributors plus some of VERSeFest's scheduled readers.

Michael Blouin talks about the contents of his good old desk here. he always writes with music playing. with me it depends on the project I'm working on [see my poetry playlist made as part of Dani Couture's feature on writers & music here.] Mike's a feature at tonight's Factory Reading Series, along with Deanna Young & Robin K. MacDonald. 7pm (doors) at the Carleton Tavern.

Kevin Matthews' love poem animated & in colour here & dedicated to his lovely wife Lee Ann for the big V & generously shared with all uv us.

have you bought your passes/tickets for VERSeFest yet? do so here.


Winnipeg's Aqua Books is not shutting down after all. It has been given a new lease on life & will be moving. If you're in Winnipeg, March 3, go to the fundraiser. I don't know if they'll keep up their Writers-in-Residence program now, but at least they'll continue to sell great books, including poetry.

George Bowering writes about reading difficult poetry in his latest blog post on the Capilano Review site. I especially like the anecdote about Gertrude Stein attending a football game & equating it to experiencing art: "If you enjoy it you understand it". As David McGimpsey said once in side/lines (Broken Jaw Press) & I'm retrieving from my addled memory, "No one ever demands a people's trigonometry." Dear poet, please take me out of my comfort zone. Oddly when it comes to fiction, I prefer writing to be very straight-forward. That's because I read fiction for escape & poetry for turbulence. Maybe that will change as I age. I used to read poetry for solace.

Speaking of the Capilano Review, the new issue is out. its theme this time round is ecologies. I haven't begun to spread its beautiful pages, but as usual I will spend a week or so with it on my futon & enjoy such pieces as Larissa Lai's "Bolo!" from Flower Factory Riot & Raymond Boisjoly's "the Writing Lesson," visual art made from sunlight, construction paper & plexiglas. TCR is one of the most eclectic CanLit Journals around.

Rae Armantrout talks about L*A*N*G*U*A*G*E P*O*E*T*R*Y & her work & her recent cancer diagnosis in this video interview. Her latest book "Money Shot" deals with financial crises & the language that is used in such. I am very much looking forward to her appearance at VERSeFest. rob mclennan talks about Money Shot here. & his 12 or 20 questions interview with her from 2009 is here . I hadn't realized people were still writing language poetry per se. I treat contemporary poetry as a big jumble hybrid rather than a this or that either or situation. (perhaps) you know how I hate binaries. I have observed that terms such as language poetry & post-modernism, which were valid & useful stages in the evolution of poetic thought, are now sometimes being evoked today in an insulting or dismissive manner . i am disenchanted by dismissals & insults & closed minds.

BookThug's Department of Reissue has rereleased a prose collection by renowned poet H.D. Details here. I keep meaning to read H.D.'s poetry…Just renewed my subscription. I've been a BookThug subscriber for several years now & while I don't enjoy or even read every book, I appreciate what they do & these books have enriched my own writing & reading experiences just as Ottawa's above/ground press does with chapbooks.

if yr in Toronto, or near by, take Camille Martin's Sonnet Workshop offered by the Toronto New School of Writing. it's happens from February 21 to March 27. Six weeks of sonnetry for $175. I wish TSNOW would start an Ottawa branch.

the good news is that TSNOW/Book Thug founder Jay MillAr comes to Ottawa as part of the Tree Reading Series on March 13 to give a workshop on the long poem. & in April soon-to-be Book Thug poetesse Christine McNair gives a two-part workshop on chapbook making. glory, glory.

Kevin Prufer talks about sentimentality & complexity in poetry here. & he also links to an introduction to "A Symposium on Sentimentality" in which various writers, such as Rachel Zucker, weigh in on the subject. I found the intro helpful. I've been struggling with the issue of conveying emotion in poetry & worried about sentimentality in my own work. The poets in this article offer specific examples of poems that are emotional, how they convey these emotions & whether or not they feel what is conveyed is overly sentimental.

Echolocation, U of T's graduate student English Dept. literary journal is looking for poetry, deadline Feb 29.

Eleven Eleven, journal of literature and art out of California is looking for poetry & other stuff, deadline March 1. [tip for Cdns living in Ottawa: to get the American stamp for the SASE, go to Ian Kimmerley Stamps on Sparks St.]

the New York Review of Books talks about William Carlos Williams & the latest bios on him here. the man seemed as insecure and humble about his writing as any of us, here's an excerpt from a letter to his son:

"You say you’d like to see my book of poems. What the hell? Let ‘em go. They are things I wrote because to maintain myself in a world much of which I didn’t love I had to fight to keep myself as I wanted to be. The poems are me, in much of the faulty perspective in which I have existed in my own sight—and nothing to copy, not even for anyone even to admire."

Michael Kelleher talks about Lisa Robertson's "the Weather" on his Pearlblossom Highway blog here. I have gone on at length about this book, my introduction to Lisa Robertson's work & an inspiration for the validity of many voices other than the I, , including the inanimate object.
Kelleher, by the way, has been writing regular commentary on the books in his library under the heading "Aimless Reading." there are many great anecdotes (I word I always confuse with antidote) herein. quite a lovely blog for bibliophiles. especially those who enjoy art, culture, literature. (& if you don't, what are you doing here?)

Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities shows envelopes with the last known addresses of folks like Kurt Schwitters, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound here.

Jacket 2 features a very meaty essay by Patrick F. Durgin called "New Life Writing" which explores the link between conceptual and autobiographical writing by focussing on a range of writers from Jackson Mac Low to Christian Bök, some beautiful examples of Mac Low's writing in long hand plus manuscript pages from "A Daily Life." also makes me think about chance operations & the role of interpretation. been some time since I attempted cut ups in that way. perhaps it's time to get out the I Ching.


Clint Burnham blogs about a recent event featuring dirty concrete here & how we wish we could have been at the Concrete Poetry symposium recently. [I have no idea why I'm invoking the royal we here…]

There's a wonderful asemic writing group over on FaceBook called "Asemic Writing: the New Post Literate." you probably have to ask to join, but if you do, you'll be rewarded with a plethora of wild & crazy & whimsical & beautiful works of art that will challenge your concept of art & writing.

over at my vispo & visual stuff blog, I have a list of links related to visual poetry, book arts & art.


still same books from last week…Matt Rader's Miraculous Hours is blowing me away. a poem called "Firesetter." does this ever happen to you? I'm reading along & enjoying a book of poetry, but then a poem just shatters me, in this case with its emotion & vulnerability, with its unique imagery or soundplay. when that happens I have to go back to the beginning of the book & reread all of the work in light of this poem. I guess this is a turning point, not analagous to the turning point of the novel, but similar. it is the point at which time I am on the side of the speaker of the poem. it is where my compassion & understanding or awe begins. & so I start again.


Thank you to all of those who have unwittingly provided information for my reassembly here. I regularly visit sites such as UBUWEB, Harriet, rob mclennan's & Pearl Pirie's blogs, the Capilano Review blog to learn interesting poetry tidbits...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

fillingStation 51: small of july excerpts

happy to have 2 poems from "the small of july" in issue 51 of fillingStation. excerpts from this manuscript have also appeared in the Windsor Review, and the on line magazines Otoliths & Moria.

the issue includes poetry, fiction & reviews by Holden Baker, Michael Chadwick, Nancy Jo Cullen, Derrik Stacey Denholm, Amanda Earl, Dave Eso, Jon Flieger, Matthew Heiti, Abigale Louise LeCavalier, Amanda Leduc, Paul Margach, rob mclennan, Joel Monea, Peter Oliva, Robert Pearson, Zarmina Rafi, Natalie Simpson & Chuqiao Yang.

i also rec'd issue 52 which has some fine poetry by Gary Barwin, rob mclennan & Christine McNair, to name a few. plus issue 24, fS was handing out to subscribers as well.

if yr published in fS, you get three complementary issues & a discount on subsequent subscription.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

anti-ghazal for v.


confined in shadow
she craves fire

to burn away
the childhood palette

of linoleum green floors
& wainscotted off pinks

it's not
that the moon

was full

by thick branches
breaking against

the walls
of the red brick

house in the wind
all day & all night

the angels
continued to circle

refusing to land
on the sill

of the sad child's
bedroom window

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ottawa's Sexy Creatives 2012

let's celebrate the creative energy radiating from our city. not on this list but should be are various chefs, bookstore-resto-pub- &-café owners, more theatre folk & visual artists. Ottawa is great fun with a lot of arts & culture to offer.

honourable mentions to organizations such as VERSeOttawa, the Ottawa International Writers Festival & web sites such as Apt613, Spacing Ottawa & Open File Ottawa where you can keep up to date on much of what is happening in the city. in no particular order here are some of the sexy Ottawans (or near Ottawans) who contribute to that environment, whether they are in the public eye or toiling obscurely in attics, they make this city hum with creativity & inspire the rest of us. [the list is by no means complete. I welcome suggestions from you.]

Charles Earl, photographer, web designer, chapbook designer
Nadine Thornhill- sex educator, spoken word artist, blogger
Allison Armstrong, spoken word artist, co-host of Voices of Venus
Wajdi Mouawad-playwright, director, actor
Patrick John Mills-artist, gallery owner
Megan Butcher-sex educator, smut writer, blogger
Shelly Taylor, proprietor of Venus Envy, the best sex shop in Ottawa & possibly the world
Chris Carroll, Collected Works Bookstore worker, writer
Jamie Bradley, poet
Sandra Ridley-poet
Andrea Simms-Karp-musician
Marie-Josée Houle, musician
Faye Estrella-spoken word artist, co-host of Voices of Venus
Christine McNair-writer & rob mclennan-writer, publisher
Luna Allison-spoken word artist, jazz poet, performance artist
Brad Morden-musician, spoken word artist, host
James Missen-musician
John Gillies-musician, poet
Christian McPherson-poet, novelist
Michael Blouin-poet, novelist
Michèle Provost, visual artist
Glenn Nuotio, musician & rabble-rouser
Pearl Pirie, poet, workshop facilitator, blogger & Brian Pirie-web designer, sound poet
Ruthanne Edward-storyteller & Rusty Priske-spoken word artist
Kevin Matthews-spoken word artist, designer, visual poet
Matthew Firth-writer, publisher
Adam Thomlison, writer, publisher, future journalist
Susan Johnston, radio host
Bardia Sinaee, poet, radio host
Kate Maxfield & Jeff Blackman, writers & publishers
Christopher Doyle, karaoke host & business owner
Sean Wilson & Kira Harris, Writers Festival organizers
David O'Meara, poet & host of Plan 99
Adrian Harewood, journalist & news anchor
Alan Neal, radio host
Mitchell Caplan, radio host
Kim Barry Brunhuber, journalist & news anchor
John Carroll & Birdie Whyte, musicians & hosts
Lynn Miles, musician
Kate Heartfield, journalist, fiction writer
Brigette de Pape, activist, poet
Monty Reid, poet, musician, & Sarah Hill, musician
Scott Fairchild, maker of Creepy Go Lucky stuff & barkeep at the Dominion Tavern

Friday, February 10, 2012

Talking Poetry with Amanda Earl

i've often thought it would be fun/interesting/provocative to have a talk radio show about poetry. sometimes I catch the last few minutes of CKCU's Red Zone, a sports talk radio show on Friday mornings because it is just before Special Blend.

I think it's fascinating the way the hosts talk about all the different sports & teams & players. It's a mix of opinion & info. not being capable of hosting a radio show, I thought I would offer such about poetry, but in writing, right here on this blog, possibly weekly but more likely occasionally. these entries will not be the be(e) all end all of what's going on in the world of poetry, but will include whatever has come to my mind/eye/hand in the past week. here's my first offering…


a fairly quiet week for poetry readings. Abby Paige read at Voices of Venus this past Wednesday. Abby read for Bywords at our January event & it was a pleasure to meet her & hear her work. she's a newcomer to Ottawa & you can read more about her on her blog here.

this week the City of Ottawa approved a new arts & culture six year funding plan (see page 26). it seems that we may have a poet laureate in 2014, if council approves it then & there's money in the budget. ... in 2014...

above/ground press has been wildly prolific these days, publishing numerous chapbooks. check out the recent titles here.

& rob mclennan, editor of both above/ground press & Chaudiere Books, has lots of great reviews, interviews & links over on his blog. these days he seems to be concentrating on American poets. his Factory Reading Series will bring some great & lesser known by the mainstream poets to the upcoming VERSeFest (Feb 28-March 4, 2012)

Pearl Pirie has written a report & provided photos on the recent first Ottawa women's slam at VERSefest's pre-fest event over on her poetry blog here. I am not into slam myself but for those who enjoy...sounds like it was a heck of a good time.

Speaking of all women's initiatives, did you know there's a new & dynamic young women of colour collective in Ottawa? They are called Project Reclamation & combine spoken word, music, dance & other artistic activities & will have an event coming up later this month. Here's their site.

Terry Ann Carter has a new blog dedicated to her forthcoming Black Moss Press title Day Moon Rising, poetry from Cambodia. Terry Ann has also announced that she is the new president of Haiku Canada. Congratulations, Terry Ann.


Joyland, a hub for short fiction has begun a new poetry site which is region-based. I am assuming Ottawa is lumped in with Montreal Atlantic but am not sure. we could be in the Toronto section? it's still very much in progress, with most areas not yet filled in by anything but lorem ipsum, but it sounds promising.David McGimpsey is the editor of the Montreal Atlantic & Toronto regions while Jon Paul Fiorentino is the editor for the Prairies. To start, he offers us selections from Lyrics & Poems from the Weakerthans' frontman John K. Samson.

Coach House Books will now offer free downloads when you buy print editions of books. I think ECW is doing the same. It makes sense, but means nada to me, since I'm not into the whole e-book thing. but if it helps booksellers & publishers get books into the hands of those who want them, good. & if it gets folk talking about the press, that's good too. i understand they are changing/have changed from a single poetry editor (Kevin Connolly) to a board(Connolly, Susan Holbrook & Jeramy Dodds). More info here.

Canada Reads was all nonfiction this year. on occasion they include a poetry title. I'd love to see an all poetry Canada Reads. hey, if they could do it for nonfiction, they could do it for poetry. imagine the panelists they'd choose: Don Cherry, Jan Arden, perhaps Chef Michael Smith…(yes, but what does it mean!?...all poets are terrorists of language…I can imagine the battle now…) [note that the National Post had a three-week online Canada Reads Poetry segment with an all poetry pannel last April; see here.]

Concordia University's student journal Soliloquies (a word I can never spell right) has a new issue launching this evening & a call for submissions. emphasis for poetry seems to be on the minimal.

Mansfield Press poetry editor Stuart Ross has announced the new spring poetry titles over on the FB group. Particularly excited to see a new work by Nelson Ball on the list.
In This Thin Rain, by Nelson Ball
Holler, by Alice Burdick
Sympathy Loophole, by Jaime Forsythe
What's the Score?, by David W. McFadden

Duration Press, a small press out of California, has made out of print books available as free pdfs. it's a goldmine. so far I've been enjoying Cole Swensen's It's Alive She Says & am looking forward to going thru Juliana Spahr's book, Norma Cole & more. it's madness.

This week, thanks to either Harriet or UBUWEB, I discovered the Third Coast International Audio Festival, which offers a roundup of recordings available on the Internet. I listened to a disturbing set of recordings of Anne Sexton's sessions with her therapist & comments by her daughters. disturbing but fascinating, including listening to Sexton read from her own dark, mad & evocative poems. I worry sometimes that I am not mad enough or disturbed enough to write poetry. the first bit of the show is about Hopper's painting Nighthawks, so it takes about 10 minutes or so before you get to Ms. Sexton.

Speaking of Ubuweb, they have posted a fascinating documentary on Brion Gysin .


Finnish virtuoso visual poet Satu Kaikkonen is looking for visual poems centered on light on her monthly Time for a Vispo blog.

Jim Wittenberg's work is featured over at the New Post-Literate.

derek beaulieu is coming to Ottawa in March to talk visual poetry at the A B Series. & he has a new chapbook that will be out with above/ground press. he's also been shortlisted for Calgary's poet laureate. good luck, derek.


Miraculous Hours - Matt Rader (Nightwood Editions, 2005)

loving the man/nature tension. these days I need the wilderness

Against Paradise - Shawna Lemay (McLelland & Stewart, 2001)

Ms. Lemay is the queen of beauty & stillness in her poetry, her essays & her photography & musings on her blog. I love her fascination with objects & with beauty.

Calm Things - Shawna Lemay (Palimpsest Press, 2008)

These are essays by a poet who meanders beautifully into all kinds of territory, centred particularly on her life with still life painter Robert Lemay & her daughter. I have already learned that Zeuxis is the phenomena by which animals think art is real: a bee flies into a painting of lilacs…


you tell me…

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

the poly situation: update

for want of any other place to put this, I offer up a status update post health crisis. I realize this has nothing to do with things literary. I told you I was a rule breaker.

my body is healing well. my scars are still pinkish, stomach still somewhat swollen but for the most part I am strong & vibrant again, & able to be bounced around playfully on a bed or other apt surfaces.

but since my health crisis, I have gone from being poly in practice to poly in spirit only. my eye still roves to the beautiful men in the cafes & those sexy visiting & resident poets, but when it comes to physical encounters, I haven't been involved with lovers outside my marriage since my health crisis.

I am not entirely sure of why, but I have a few thoughts:

1. priorities

in the hospital I came so close to death & I felt very frightened & alone in my delusions, once I was back at home with Charles again after almost a month of being apart, all I wanted to do was be with him. [I am just now starting to go out again on my own in the evenings by going to a weekly pottery class.]

2. body image

I am happy with my body. I still think I am beautiful. I love my curves & sexy legs & bum etc. I am proud of those scars, but, but… I am shy about how others will perceive my body. I don't want to reveal my naked self to a man only for him to be repulsed by this pink & swollen flesh with its scars and stomach wound. I am too vulnerable for that.

3. risk

after the health crisis, I don't want to take any chances of rejection, of trauma or complication. I want things to be smooth & turbulent free.

4. age

strange for me to say, but at 48, I don't feel that men notice me. I have pretty much always had to take the initiative anyway [pretty intimidating to put the moves on a married woman] & now I simply don't & they don't see me. my libido is as strong as ever, if not stronger, but I am not as brave, not as confident.

In summary

the men in my life have been wonderful, starting with Charles of course (& I don't take his passion & love for granted, believe me, I adore him & our time in bed), & dear friends who have been lovers as well seem to be fine with the intimacy taking the form of conversations in cafes & pubs. some men have disappeared, but that's the nature of life. we get busy, immersed in our lives.

but yes, my eye roves. so many sexy men out there. there are moments when I am at a reading or a café when I just want to take one (or several) of them by the hand & lead him (them) straight to bed. I still think it's silly how much drama & analysis is associated with sex. I don't see why two (or more) people can't just express their lust for one another & go to it. but I guess for now at least, I won't be expressing such in the form of my usual solicitous & licentious e-mails or come hither looks.

a very sexy writer recently told me that he appreciated how open I was about my polyamoury. hearing that my openness was a help to others inspired me to write this post, even though it's a bit of a touchy subject (oh dear, a pun).

perhaps there are others out there who have gone thru major health crises or surgeries & are having similar thoughts or experiences. if so, let me know. i'd love to hear about how you're doing.

for me, being in an open relationship means embracing fluidity & change. the health crisis taught me to appreciate the moment I am in. & I do. I also appreciate having dear friends of all genders. life is good.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Help this man make music

Today is Glenn Nuotio's 40th birthday. He is one of Ottawa's talented creatives. he is a piano player, song writer & peformer from Newfoundland who we are lucky to have in Ottawa for the last few years. He writes songs with intelligent, playful & witty lyrics. Glenn Nuotio is a wee bit of Montparnasse or Berlin of the 20s/30s reborn.

His EP made a few years ago is beautiful. Go listen to Crazy in Biloxi & other songs.

& then, donate a few dollars to his campaign here.

here are a few words on the project from Glenn:

"This February, I turn 40 . Rather than sit and think of 40 as the "Old Age of Youth" as Victor Hugo wrote, I'm glad to have a great music community around me, a wide circle of friends and a lot of love in my life. I'm going to use this year to make my so far elusive debut album. I've performed in Canada for many years now, including events like Ottawa Bluesfest, Halifax Pride, The Ottawa International Writers Festival, WestFest, and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, but this year in Ottawa , I've found the best possible creative team I can think of and I realize it's time. My new project, a full debut album will be an incredible project involving some of the best musicians and engineers in Canada."

happy birthday, Glenn Nuotio. thanks for coming to Ottawa & helping to make our city a lively & creative place to live.

Friday, February 03, 2012

My VERSeFest Picks : Feb 28-March 4, 2012

If you are a poetry enthusiast in Ottawa or simply an explorer with an urge for the exquisite & the new, I highly recommend you go to VERSeFest. the 2nd annual poetry festival takes place from February 28 to March 4, 2012 & features a variety of poetic styles. Here are the poets I'm particularly looking forward to, either because I've read their work & have never or rarely heard them read in person, or because I have heard them read before & am a huge fan, or because they are unknown to me & I want to know more. Check the full schedule at & buy your passes & tickets. From edgy language play to classic narrative confessional to lyric beauty to humour to cathartic battle cries, you will find it all at VERSeFest…


Suzanne Buffam: rarely has read here in my time. My copy of Past Imperfect (Anansi, 2005) has numerous dog-eared pages.

Paul Tyler: haven't heard Paul read since a reading at Plan 99 a number of years ago, if my recollections are correct.

Dennis Lee : a wordsmith extraordinaire whose neologisms & linguistic acrobatics blend with ecosensitivity in a most gratifying way. & after all the man did create Alligator Pie. You can take away my rainbow take way my sky, but don't take away my…


sadly I will likely miss Christian McPherson whose humourous slices of life are wonderful. i will also miss Gregory Scofield & Helen Humphreys due to another engagement, but I have heard them both read before & enjoyed their work immensely. I know Helen more for her fiction, but once long ago heard her read poetry at a Tree event. what I remember was that she mesmerized. I have heard Gregory read at the Indigenous Erotica event at the Writers Festival many years ago & have enjoyed his book Singing Home the Bones.

Roo Borson-i have never heard her read before. I have a copy of Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida (McLelland&Stewart, 2004), which i am opening now for the first time.

Fred Wah-a rare pleasure to meet & hear Fred Wah. although now that he is the Parliamentary Poet Laureat perhaps he will be reading here more often.


Pearl Pirie: I still haven't heard Pearl read from her new Snare Books collection, Thirsts. I am intrigued by Pearl's writing because it is unique, but also has a way of getting to the heart of universal concerns, such as the connection between humans we are all searching for. Pearl isn't a smarmy sentimentalist, but a skilled technician with heart.


Tim Bowling: I have never heard him read & am just now cracking open The Thin Smoke of the Heart (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000) but i am enchanted already by the title & by the blurb which talks about beauty in the rough.

Shane Rhodes: always a pleasure to hear Shane read. his last book Err (Nightwood Editions, 2011) was great fun, & if it wasn't on my best of 2011 list, it should have been.

Tim Lilburn: I have never heard Tim read in person. I have read & been provoked deliciously by some of his essays, & somewhere in my apartment is his collection Kill-Site.
Rae Armantrout: It's not often that American poets come to Ottawa. I haven't read barely a scrap of writing from her, so I'm interested to listen & perhaps buy her books. I am hoping the festival has an excellent & full bookstore on hand with titles from all the readers. I keep seeing her poetry described as "chilling," which is one of the oddest epithets I've heard used for poetry. I shall bring a sweater.

Paige Ackerson-Kiely: I loved her above/ground press chapbook, "Book About a Candle Burning in a Shed," intriguing chunks of spell-binding prose: "Her name starts our real low and rises to an ee…" I wouldn't have heard of Paige if it hadn't been for rob mclennan who thru his workshops & reviews has introduced me to exemplary poets throughout the years.

Barry McKinnon: another poet whose work I first read thanks to rob mclennan. I enjoyed The Centre: Poems 1970-2000 (TalonBooks, 2004): "I long to talk with you. walk across town/wih a bottle of whisky, and not to stop." There's something straight-forward about his writing, humble, matter-of-fact, but/and beautiful. I love the Sex at 38 series in The Centre & have read snippets of Sex at 31. I also have a wee book entitled Stamp Collection from blewointmentpress, 1970, which I am hoping to have signed.

Note that the Ackerson-Kiely/McKinnon event is free. yes, FREE! what better way to spend an afternoon. go to the Mercury Lounge, have a few beers & listen.

Phil Hall, Philip Levine, Pura López-Colomé as part of the evening's Summit Reading. I always love hearing Phil Hall read. am so glad he'll be part of this. I admit to having never heard of either of the other two. so many poets, so little time. this is a great opportunity to extend my horizons.

Of course there are lots of other readings to take in & I will pack as much of the festival in as I can, & I suggest you do the same.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

RANT: Centretown Doctor Shortage

Since my doctor retired in December, 2010, I have been trying to get a new family doctor. I signed up with Ontario Health Care Connect, but after a few months of waiting, when I called my care connector, I was told that Centretown had a gap & my best bet was to ask my friends & keep an eye out for doctors taking patients. If I lived in Barrhaven or Bell's Corners I could get a doctor more easily because new clinics had recently opened up. If my health was poor or urgent, I had more of a chance of getting a doctor also. But thanks to some great urgent care when I was deathly ill in 2009, I am hale & hearty for which I am grateful.

I am not the only one who has had trouble getting a family doctor in Centretown. One friend and her family drive to Barrhaven for medical treatment. Another has bounced around from clinic to clinic.

Local community health care centres which support residents in my area are not accepting new patients. Their waiting lists aren't even open. I have been advised by one to try again in the autumn, & another to call back every month or so.

And it would seem that the problem is also nation-wide. Friends from Edmonton, Alberta & other Canadian cities have told me that they too don't have family doctors.

The answer then is to go to walk-in clinics. My experience with those has been horrendous, & they aren't really a good idea for regular checkups. One doctor at a local clinic suggested that the answer to my chronic sinus pain was not to blow my nose. Another didn't diagnose lung issues properly in 2005, leading to serious respirator ailments. Staff don't know your history well & it's a bit of a factory with quick solutions to get you out the door.

As a woman in my late 40s in particular, I am very concerned with not getting the regular checkups I require, such as pap smears & soon breast examinations. I made a joke that I guess the provincial government wants us all to end up in the Emergency Room, but the fact is, if they don't concentrate on preventative care, that's what will happen.

Is this also a problem for the local government? I believe it is. With more and more new housing being built in downtown Ottawa, you have to also provide services to the residents. We don't need another condo, we need more medical staff & clinics.

A friend gave me links to a rate the doctor site & another site where you can search for particular doctors. So the answer is to go thru the entire list & question each doctor's office. Try to investigate their professional reputations. This seems ridiculous & not effective.

We have a serious problem, Ottawa & Ontario & Canada. What are we going to do about it?

A Short Guide to Writing Bios for Publications


1. Write in the third person.
2. Keep it short.
3. Ensure that the publication title is accurate.
4. Follow the specific publication's guidelines about biographies.
5. If you are submitting to a publication that has published your work, include the credit in your bio.


1. Remember that these bios are being assembled into a publication to be read by someone. If all the bios were in first person it would make no sense. If some were in first and some were in third it would be jumpy and inconsistent. Yes, the editors can do the translation into third themselves, but that's additional labour that can slow down the publication process. They don't have to do that just for you but for the thousand or so poems they receive a year (using as an example).

2. The temptation is to list everything or send the publication a CV. Don't do it. Send a few lines about your latest publications & a highlight, such as an award & add a site or blog that includes your credits in full. If you don't have any publication credits, you can include your location, perhaps a writing workshop that you have taken or a series where you've read, for example open mics.

3. If you aren't sure, go to the publication's web site or pick up the journal. With web sites, it can be tricky. For Bywords, cite for our online magazine & the Bywords Quarterly Journal for our print magazine. For AngelHousePress, note it is one word. For our online publications:,

4. This seems obvious, but many people don't bother to read the guidelines. This makes work for those having to enter the info & could slow down the process.

5. I suppose this isn't essential, but if I've published someone, I expect them to acknowledge it.


These guidelines based on my own experiences as a small press publisher. If you are in doubt about how to write a bio or what to include, it's best to take a look at the bios in the publication itself & to read the guidelines. If you have questions, you can always query the publication directly, but make sure you've read those guidelines first, folks. & the rules change when submitting grant applications. Often organizations such as the Canada Council for the Arts have very specific requirements for biographies & C.V's. The more you can adhere to these, the better your chances will be of acceptance. If you're a rebel &you don't like to follow any rules, don't apply, don't submit, start your own press & do what you like.


Some people don't understand the point of biographies at all. They think the work should stand up for itself. Ok. Fair enough. Except that the information from a bio can be helpful in many ways. I've discovered other journals to submit to via bios. Personally I like to learn about a person's background. It doesn't affect my reading of their work, it just adds a human element of connection.