amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tip of the Knife 10

Bill DiMichele's Tip of the Knife is celebrating its 10th issue. the first issue was published on May 28, 2010, just over two years ago with the mandate of "tearing down any and every artistic/literary wall in our way." its motto is draw blood or go home. in each issue you will find mostly visual poems & art with the occasional, what do we call it, non visual poem? poem poem?

the latest issue contains the work of 7 contributors, including the curator of TOTK. there are yellow faded texts by James Yeary with titles such as "transit world" & "must be other" which convey a sense of in-between.
Joshua Buckley gives us ghostly other worlds of charcoal-like scenes, a geometry that has gone from precise angles to the blur.

Andy Di Michele offers us text with an amalgam of languages both real & made up, references to Blake, unique contortions that fit with the visual art in that the text evokes image in the mind's eye. more otherwordliness here. in his statement (made under duress): "remind: "it's all been said…now to wake up and unsay it."
Leon 5's boxes are examinations of ordinary items like a wrench out of place & framed, a circuit board looking like it has been excavated alongside an earthenware pot at an archeological dig. wires & undug dolls with what looks like blood on their pudgy plastic faces, degraded detritus of ordinary life.

tentatively, a convenience gives us faded alphabets alongside heavily lined triangles worked over & over as if retraced, the alphabets less prominent & made up of a combination of random letters & words typed with a typewriter in red & black ink, the angles of the shapes are numbered & finally a hand traced around the text "fingerprint" with subtle charcoal rubs surrounding. his title for the series "connect-the-alphabet".
Ben Litman gives us alternative music notations, unusual shapes that you can imagine set to music, as a score.

finally Bill DiMichele offers us colourful compositions of text & shape, collages of torn paper & angles, text cut out of its context to give us wee slices of language isolated from commercial purpose.
if you are a colour addict as I am, you will love these. I recommend you also take a look at the earlier issues. in Issue 9, Bill says "I was, am, and always will be a surrealist.  Strange juxtapositions, automatic writing/drawing, the power of dreams, zero reason." This is, I think, the reason why I am so drawn to his work & to Tip of the Knife. there's a dream-like Jungian sense of play going on in the pieces Bill chooses to publish. full disclosure,  I have work in Issue 5.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ottawa Small Press Book Fair, Saturday June 30

find Bywords & AngelHousePress sharing a table at the forthcoming Ottawa Small Press Book Fair, but get there early. with Charles' vestiges of pneumonia & mine of flu, there's no telling how long we'll be able to stay. be there at noon.

Bywords will have the latest issue of the Bywords Quarterly Journal, plus a smattering of earlier volumes & Newlove chapbooks as always.
AngelHousePress will have the latest chapbook, "Steve Kulash & other autopsies" by Catherine Owen, Christine McNair's "Notes from a Cartywheel" plus other chapbooks & broadsides still remaining. There are very few copies left of these chapbooks. I will also have a basket of single editions from the AHP imprint Le Temps des Cerises for free to anyone who wants them. I am becoming more & more galvanized, I guess you'd say…by the idea of the ephemeral, one blink & then it's gone philosophy.  

Hope to see you at the fair.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

how to treat a cough

with regular doses of honey by the spoonful
a salt water gargle as often as you can as hot as you can
a bathroom full of steam & vicks vapo rub or eucalyptus
vicks on yr chest & throat
sleep when you can manage it
quiet in between the coughing fits
masala chai heated on the stove with milk then add honey
menthol lozenges carried around in yr pocket
orange jello, lemon pudding, quiche & other wet foods, if you must a nutrition shake
freezie pops
cool, humid air
water, water, water & more water

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Call & Response Mega Reading on Friday

7pm, Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Readings by Pearl Pirie, Amanda Earl (since i'm sick, Sandra Ridley will be reading my poem), Monty Reid, Sandra Ridley, Christine McNair, Claudia Coutu Radmore and rob mclennan.

Photographs by Leslie Hossack, John Hewett Hallum, Rob Macinnis, Pedro Isztin, Caroline Tallmadge, Olivia Johnston, and Greg Zenha.

The CALL AND RESPONSE project engaged two creative communities in a year-long exchange of images and words. Artists showing work in the Red Wall Gallery have had their photographic statements poetically responded to by writers curated by rob mclennan.

This interaction can be experienced as poetry and images come together in the Red Wall Gallery for the duration of each exhibition. There will also be scheduled readings, and a poem/image card for each pairing, as well as the inclusion of selected images and poems in the next edition of Push/Pull magazine.

CALL AND RESPONSE has been a nearly year-long project of poets responding to shows at the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa. Featuring seven Ottawa poets, each responded to a particular curated show showing at SPAO, with each response available in the gallery at the opening of their corresponding exhibits (as well as some or all of the poetic responses online).

On Friday, June 22, 2012, all seven poets will be reading from their responses, with a slide show showing the works they responded from. Lovingly hosted by rob mclennan and SPAO.

Author bios can all be accessed here.

The Red Wall Gallery is located in SPAO at 168 Dalhousie, at the corner of Bruyère, in the Byward Market. Viewing/reading hours are from Monday to Friday 10:00 -18:00, and Saturdays from 10:00-15:00.

For more info contact: 613.562.3824 or

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

a few thoughts on CWILA

"CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts) is an inclusive national literary organization for people who share feminist values and see the importance of strong and active female perspectives and presences within the Canadian literary landscape." (1st paragraph from the About Us section of the site)

I've been puzzling over the new CWILA organization. not its existence so much as some of the reasons that have been put forth for its existence. Canadian women, apparently, are not writing critically or sharing their critical work or being allowed to share their critical work in public.
part of the rationale for the founding of this organization came from a blatant example of gender disparity in the National Post poetry reviews written by Michael Lista. I'm not going to rehash all that, but it was a clear example of bias, whether intentional or not.

I have nothing very profound to say on the subject. if there are women who are writing critically & wishing to share that writing in a public space, I wish they would do so. I would very much like to read it. so often reviews, in my opinion, are mostly showcases of the reviewer's erudition or rather thinly disguised personal attacks or wee sound bites with a few hyperbolic phrases of praise or vitriol. they are seldom in-depth engagements with the text, which is what I would like to read & what I would like to write, what i try to write.
print newspapers & literary journals have space limitations & hence are prone to the short review. to me, it is on line where there is room for the critical engagement. the internet is the wild west; anyone is allowed to write whatever they please. there are fewer authorities guarding the doors to protect their own biases & versions of the truth. it's all out there.

as (fallen) angel of AngelHousePress, I give space thru an online essay series for people of all genders, races, sexual orientations, ethnicities, geographies & tastes to share their thoughts to the public. while the readership is not of the size of a newspaper, it is serious & the series is well-followed by art & culture enthusiasts throughout the world. & I have no idea how many people read the reviews in any national newspaper anyway.
if it floats your boat to share your work in some kind of mainstream public institution, then do so, go for it. that is not my way. I want to share my work with readers who will care, who actively seek out critical work & who will respond in an intelligent manner; all being well with an essay of their own. please don't tell me i'm wrong or timid for wanting to do things my own way.

as an aside: I don't believe for one minute that women are not sharing their critical work in public institutions because they are timid. never in my life have I heard so many insulting generalizations directed at women as of late & mostly by other women. I prefer to take the high road & believe in the indomitable spirit of my fellow women. I see their strength every day. But this strength often appears as independence, as a tendency not to be part of the status quo, especially in contemporary literature. this is the time to rebel against the status quo, not to join it.

CWILA, I believe is an example of that independence. it seems like a very fair & thorough organization & I wish the organizers well. never underestimate the power of women to be creative & to think outside of that boring mainstream box. They have a wordpress blog. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mother Tongue Books Is Closing

i am very sad to hear that Mother Tongue Books will be closing. Laura & Evelyn have been wonderful supporters of Bywords. every quarter we do our Bywords walkabout, delivering copies of the latest issue of the Bywords Quarterly Journal to a few local bookstores. our first stop for 10 years has been Mother Tongue Books where chapbooks & small zines have always been so wonderfully supported. Charles & i would chat with Evelyn & Laura for a good long time before moving on to Mags N Fags. It's a wonderful bookstore that has supported many a local writer by holding events in the store & been a great venue for writing workshops by Ivan E. Coyote & also the Creative Writing Playdate.

Please go to this site & support Mother Tongue Books in any way you can : financially or with your presence for events from June 22 to July 20 to help with the cost & trauma of closing the store.

To Laura & Evelyn, thank you for helping to make Ottawa a vibrant city. may good fortune come your way & new adventures abound.

Friday, June 08, 2012

PTWAE: June 4-8, 2012

Jamie Bradley is  showing his close readings of 20th century & contemporary poems on his blog.  So far he's done three, starting with John Berryman's Dream Song 29 last September & moving on to  Ghazal I from John Thompson's Stilt Jack & Frank O'Hara's "Poem" or "untitled" from "Meditations in an Emergency."  Here's an observation Jamie made surrounding the ghazal form of which he, himself, is particularly adept: "There are moments in our lives where the past and future are both rendered obscure or obsolete. We carry on tentative engagements with the world. We hedge our bets and choose a word or two, then the listening: the shape of the thing you're looking to find." Read the rest of the entry here. &  read the others on poems by FrankO'Hara  & John Berryman too. 

Did you know Apt. 9 publisher & local poet Cameron Anstee has a blog now?  it's rich with content about current & former small presses & poets. take a gander here.
Local poet Ryan Pratt has been writing over at the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter blog. & Colin Morton had an entry recently about the Montreal Poetry Prize  reading at Arts Court. Good to see that blog being used as more than a promo tool for events.
The final poet in the SPAO Call & Response series is rob mclennan who responds to Greg Zenha's photos. The vernissage is on June 8  at 6pm & the show continues til August 15. On June 22 there will be a group reading by all participants: Pearl Pirie, me, Sandra Ridley, Monty Reid, Christine McNair, Claudia Coutu Radmore & rob mclennan plus slide show from the participating photographers.

The brilliant local poet Stephen Brockwell is offering a free poetry workshop at the Ottawa Public Library, Carlingwood Branch on Saturday, July 7. I'll be there, how about you? Details are here.
Poetry is getting its sexy back. Witness the new $5k prize put out by the Walrus for a single poem. This just after the first year of the $50k Montreal International Poetry Prize. Judges for the new Walrus prize first year  will be Michael Lista & Karen Solie.   Deadline is July 31 via the web. I've entered a few poetry contests when the mood has struck me, when I've been inspired/challenged by the rules & it's always good to see a poet getting a bit more bread in the cake hole. Nice going, Walrus.

Speaking of prizes, for the first time ever, the GriffinPoetry Prize short listed readings were livestreamed on line. I have to say I really enjoyed hearing all the poets read. I had never heard of the international poets before. & Congratulations to the Griffin Poetry Prize recipients: David Harsent(International) & Ken Babstock (Canadian). well deserved
Now for some bad news: the Literary Press Group'sdistribution arm has lost its funding from the Department of Heritage, which means that the distributor for Canadian small press publications is up shit's creek with no paddle. & of course this means that small presses will have trouble getting their books into bookstores & into your hands. So start ordering books at your independent bookstores, start ordering from the presses  themselves  & promote them to the skies. Let's make sure everyone knows about the great small press books available. As to LPG, there will be serious layoffs alas. Big surprise that the Cons don't see a need for small press distribution either. How much damage can they do before 2015? yikes. The LPG response is here.

Speaking of small presses, the Wilfred Laurier University press has released its fall/winter catalogue. Its fabulous Laurier Poetry Series  includes  derek beaulieu's "Please No More Poetry: the poetry of derek beaulieu" with an intro by Kit Dobson & an interview with Lori Emerson. I'm very fond of this series; it offers a good overview of the poems of a writer you've been meaning to follow & insightful intros by the editors plus meaty backmatter. I have both the Dennis Cooley & Nicole Brossard books.  Take a look at the whole catalogue; there are some intriguing & eclectic titles.

See the gory insides of the alphabet & the making of it . You might like this if you've ever had surgery or if not.

The American online postmodern journal E-ratio edited by Gregory Vincent Tomasino is reading, and accepting, for issue 16, the fall 2012 issue. Please see the Contact page for guidelines and where to send.