amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

a round up of National Poetry Month stuff

April is National Poetry Month

in both Canada and the USA. I think it’s helpful that poetry is given the limelight for a change, but I am also against any kind of border or concept of ownership. numerous institutions celebrate the month and that is a great thing, but poetry belongs to all.

the first initiative I’d like to tell you about is my own, via my micropress, AngelHousePress.

AngelHousePress is pleased to present 2016, a month-long exaltation of poetry that transcends boundaries. In the next 30 days, please visit the site for sound poetry, visual poetry, asemic writing and poetry from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Finland, India, Italy, Romania, Tunisia, UK and USA. was established seven years ago to celebrate the nation of poetry as something that is without borders or constraints or authority of any kind.

2. Found Poetry Review: IMPROMPTU

is a thirty-day-series of experimental writing prompts. starting April 1, you can  go to the link and craft poems in response to a prompt by numerous guides. The Found Poetry Review has been offering interesting writing exercises during National Poetry Month for several years and has gained quite a following from poets and readers of experimental work.

Organized by Geof Huth, who refers to it as the smallest poetry celebration of the month. it is nine years old and going strong.

has the aim to encourage 301 Canadians, either individually or in groups, to read, recite or perform a poem that you love before the end of poetry month.

is celebrating poetry of the road. with funding by the Canada Council for the Arts, it has supported a number of readings and other initiatives. “Since 1988, the League of Canadian Poets has been bringing together schools, publishers, booksellers, libraries, literary organizations, and poets from across the country to celebrate poetry in Canada.” It has also joined forces with the Academy of American Poets Foundation to celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 21. If you’re in Ottawa, keep checking the calendar of events celebrating NPM 16. And please check the site for events happening all over Canada.

has several projects on the go, including Dear Poet,  “a multimedia education project that invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.”

If you know of other National Poetry Month initiatives, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Remember you don’t have to wait for anyone else or an official organization to allow you to explore and celebrate poetry. Go to readings, buy chapbooks, zines and books at indie book stores and from small press publishers. Write poems. Go beyond the limits of what you consider a poem to be. Read weird and whacky. Be a rebel. 

This just in: Justin Million is the Synapse poet in residence for April

Friday, March 18, 2016

until even now: a videopoem

in 2010, when i was still recovering from my health crisis of 2009 and awaiting a surgery that would take place in early 2011, Chris Turnbull invited me to take part in a project she had initiated, entitled rout/e, which Chris refers to as a footpress.

She invited me to send her a poem that would then be installed in the great outdoors and monitored over time to see how time weathers poetry, i guess you could say.  Like me, Chris is an avid walker. She says that she thinks best while moving. I am the same. At the time that she invited me, I was still not fully mobile, counting my steps and my breaths. The idea that a poem of mine would find its way into nature and be outside awaiting discovery by those who happened upon it whilst walking was wondrous and heartening for me.  It was a lovely project and I was happy to take part.

then this year, or it could have been toward the end of 2015, she approached me again, this time to allow her to play with my poem to create a video. i have never worked on such a project with anyone before. it was fascinating to me, made me think of the whole creation process of poetry in a different light. some day i would like to do this a different way, respond to a series of collaged videod images in the form of a poem, or perhaps even a song.

please enjoy this video, lovingly and carefully created by the talented Chris Turnbull. i thank her for her patience and skill. i enjoyed being part of it. take a look at the two other videos as well, an homage to Jamie Reid and Chris' own untitled piece from "o w n," a collaborative book she created with arawlings and Heather Hermant (Cue Books, 2015).

please also read her essay on the rout/e project on the AngelHousePress site.

Chris Turnbull lives near Ottawa, Ontario. She is published in o w n (CUE Books 2014), alongside work by arawlings and Heather Hermant. Her visual and multi-voice book continua was published by Chaudiere Books in 2015. Thuja Press published her chapbook Shingles in 2001; above/ground press published a selection of continua in 2010. Her work can be found online in (parenthetical), ottawa poetry newsletter, Spiral Orb, ditch, The Volta, Dusie 10, and ottawater, among others. She has a chapbook, Candid, forthcoming through Dusie Kollectiv 8, and additional work through Stroboscope, Nerve Lantern, and Touch the Donkey.

Friday, March 04, 2016

My Picks for VERSeFest 2016

VERSeFest, Ottawa’s annual poetry festival takes place this year from March 15-20. it’s one of the highlights of the year for me, along with the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which takes place in April and October, the Ottawa Small Press Fair in June and November and the Ottawa Zine Off. My that’s a lot of highlights. And this is one of the reasons why I love this city.

Staff and volunteers for VERSeFest have worked (and will continue to work) their asses off to bring the City this fabulous week of poetry. If you love poetry, are a fickle friend of poetry or just someone who has the occasional hook up with poetry, you need to go.
Passes are reasonably priced for the week or for the night. Most of the events are taking place at the Knox Presbytarian Church at Lisgar and Elgin, close to the Dunn’s for good smoked meat sandwiches and a mere stone’s throw from many a pub.
Here are a few of the poets who I need to hear this time around, either because I have never heard them read live or because I know of their work and love it. For full listings, please visit the VERSeFest site.

Tuesday, March 15


Amal El-Mohtar. I still haven’t read her poetry and prose book, the Honey Month, but have been intrigued about it for some time.

Gerður Kristný from Iceland. I haven’t heard a word about her before, but I am intrigued. Like Jeramy, the Poetic Edda, Dodds, she has a book that is based on Nordic myth. I haven’t read his yet either, but now maybe I’ll read both.


Yusef Komunyakaa. I read a poem by him a while back and I was blown away. Can’t for the life of me remember the title alas. He’s the poet laureate of New York, which feels like a bad ass post.

Wednesday, March 16


Liz Howard- Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent from McClelland and Stewart last year is so damn soundy. I was starting to wonder whether sound play had gone out of style for a while there, but this book tells me that it’s alive and well. And thank effing god for that. I want to hear Ms. Howard read from this and then I’m going to fangirl around here for an inscription. Dare I use the word “electric”?

Friday, March 18


Shannon Maguire, I haven’t heard Shannon read from her latest book, but I’ve heard her read from her above/ground press chapbook, Vowel Wolves and Other Knots, which I loved.

Phil Hall-I’m interested to hear Phil read from his latest book, Conjugation, published by Book Thug. My favourite of his works was the Little Seamstress published by Pedlar Press in 2010. It’s always a pleasure to hear Phil read.


Kevin Matthews is a local poet whose poetry works for the page and the ear. This is a rare chance to hear him perform his words. One of my favourite gingers.

Saturday, March 19


Factory Reading Talks with Anne Boyer and Ben Ladouceur
I always love these talks, a chance for poets to step a little bit away from their poetry to give us a bird’s eye view of what they’re up to, what they’re obsessed about, what drives them. I always walk away from this lecture series feeling invigorated about poetry and having learned something about the craft that will tickle my brain for future inspiration.


Natalie Hanna and I were in one of rob mclennan’s poetry workshop’s last year. I loved her work. It’s experimental, it’s heart-rending, it’s full of really cool imagery.

David McGimpsey is the one of the reasons I would love to live in Montreal. He’s funny, unpretentious and smart. I’m always pleased as punch to get a chance to hear him read and maybe hoist a glass or two afters.


The Irish poets, Leontia Flynn and Maurice Riordan. I know naught about these poets, but the chance to hear poets from away is wonder. I have never heard an Irish poet that I haven’t gotten a school girl crush on for a week or so at least.
Sunday, March 20


George Elliott Clarke – I love his word play, his energy and sense of whimsy.


Caroline Bergvall – I was really excited when I heard she was coming. I have Drift, which I love and have even done an assignment for one of rob’s workshops last year based on another of her works, Éclat (Ubu Editions, 2004).“ I love poetry that explores, pushes boundaries, doesn’t colour within the lines and that describes Ms. Bergvall’s work.

Christian Bök – I always enjoy Mr. Bök’s crazy sense of play and imagination. When he’s on stage he takes on this frenetic energy that fills the room.

Sixty poets in six days, folks. Get thee to the church.

And if I’ve spelled any names wrong or made any boo boos about anything here, please somebody let me know so I can fix.

the March Hare of the dog that bit you (aka readings, updates)

This Sunday, March 6, I read from Kiki at the venerable LitLive series in Hamilton. I'm excited to read with my fellow features, to see old pals & to meet new ones. I'll bring copies of Kiki for you, if you are going.

I've applied to several reading series in Toronto & Montreal, so wish me luck. If you know of a reading series within train riding distance of Ottawa, please let me know.

I have read so far in Ottawa & Toronto & wouldn't mind taking Kiki on the road. She will likely misbehave: c'est la vie.

I'm working on a couple of poetry chapbooks but i'll keep mum about their publication dates, if any.

I received a lovely grant from the Ontario Arts Council's Writers Reserve Program, thanks to a recommendation by Hamilton Arts & Letters for which I am very grateful.

I have a FaceBook fan page for anyone who wants to receive occasional notes on my writing, upcoming readings & publications, should you wish to join.

I hope to see you at VERSeFest, Ottawa's annual poetry festival. It takes place from March 15 to March 20. You can purchase early bird passes here. I intend to go to as many readings as I'm capable of & perhaps take place in a late night shenanigan or two.

In the meantime, I'll be riding the rails 500 kilometers to Steel Town. If you have music to recommend for the journey, please advise...

I leave you with this Train Playlist i made over on YouTube.

& here are 107 songs about trains on Spotify.