amongst books

amongst books

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...

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