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Open Mic Season Re-Begins

The RailRoad Reading Series is going to host its first open-mic at 7:30 PM on 25 September 2014 at Pressed Café, 750 Gladstone. There will also be 2 features, rob mclennan and Ricardo Sternberg

Readers at the open-mic will have 3 minutes to read, which will allow people to read multiple poems or one long one. The more the merrier! Pass this along to friends. We’d like to see a veritable host of Ottawa Open-Micers!

Is that too far away or need a dry run? Sawdust Reading Series is Sept 17th at Pour Boy and has the open mic and a contest for having a feature set before then. You heard the interview at Literary Landscape on that, right?

Still too long to wait? Sept 9th Starting at 6:45, Peter Richardson is leading a round table workshop and there is an address at the workshops page if you want to send your poems ahead of time to Peter. April Blumer and Helen Guri are the 8pm features at Tree at the Black Squirrel. There’s an open mic attached.

If you’re chomping at the bit for an open mic, bet there’s one at the In/Words reading/launch this Friday, Aug 22 at Pressed Café, 750 Gladstone, 7:30 pm.

In/Words Magazine and Press is releasing our Summer Issue, along with our latest round of chapbook publications. The event will open with a performance by an amazing local band, Hungry Animals, and later on, the super-talented Suzy Pankhurst will perform! Following this we’ll hear readings from authors published in our latest magazine issue. Esteemed Ottawa poet Steve Artelle, hilarious writer and comic Dave Currie, and In/Words’ very own Chris Johnson will both be reading from their latest chapbook publications. The show will kick off at 7:30 on August 22nd at Pressed Café. As with all of our release parties, this is a free event. So bring a friend, or bring a partner, or bring your mom.

Feel free to read the following bios of several of the artists who will be featured throughout the evening. More information to follow on the poets who will be reading at this event.

Hungry Animals combine experimental elements with lyrics that carry passion and vulnerability, creating an enriched but accessible sound. Walking the line of angst and joy, the 5-piece outfit are devoted to making music with a palpable arc. Don’t be scared, they don’t bite… except when they’re hungry… which they are… always.

Steven Artelle’s first book of poetry, Metropantheon, was published by Signature Editions in 2014. His other work includes four hundred rabbits, a chapbook published in 2013 by AngelHousePress.

Dave Currie is a writer who writes in Ottawa. Ottawa is the city in which writer Dave Currie writes. As a writer in Ottawa, Dave Currie writes. Dave Currie has written in other places, though, now he writes in Ottawa.

Chris Johnson is finishing a Master’s degree in English Literature at Carleton University, concentrating in Canadian poetry. He is also a co-editor for Carleton University’s student-run literary magazine, In/Words Magazine and Press. Recently placing second in the George Johnston Poetry Prize for his poem “Begin in Water”, his poetry has also previously appeared in The Steel Chisel and Bywords

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

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Categories: phafours press news.

Literary Landscape: tonight Sawdust gets set to fly

Tonight at 6:30pm EST at 93.1fm or CKCU online I’m talking with Jennifer Pederson is in studio about the new reading series she’s starting. Jennifer Pederson is an Ottawa poet, musician, and teacher. Her life is filled with children, art, and pickled herring. She is also the director of The Sawdust Reading Series,


Where? Pour Boy on Somerset.


Who? Maybe you. Apply to be the first feature reader now. On your mark,

The Sawdust Series starts Sept 17.

To hear more, tune in.

Categories: CKCU.

Creative Writing Camps for Youth

Now it’s third week with a new crew each week, the Creative Writing Camps have one more week to go. If you know a kid ages 13-16 who could benefit from the sessions with instructors and guest speakers. The instructors are:

Sanita Fejzic is an Ottawa-based literary author and freelance writer. She freelances for a number of newspapers, magazines and blogs including rabble.ca, The Ottawa Magazine and Apt613. Fejzic’s first novella, To Be Matthew Moore, was shortlisted for the 2014 Ken Klonsky Contest, and she has published her poetry and short stories in various literary magazines including The Continuist, Guerilla, Byword and The Newer York.

Tara Ogaick is a graduate of the Masters in English Language and Literature and the Master of Design at Carleton University. She is a graphic artist and illustrator, a volunteer veterinary technician, website designer, and video game developer. She has created short comics in a variety of media — both digital and analogue.

Laura Gagnon is in the BA of Communications Program with a minor in Indigenous Studies at Carleton University. As a camp counsellor, she has been responsible for teaching Aboriginal culture, history and art to children aged 6-18. Her role at the camp was to encourage children to tap into their inner creativity in order to create their own masterpieces. As an Aboriginal Storyteller her aim is to pass along teachings and messages that promote kindness, selflessness and honesty.

Chris Johnson is finishing a Master’s degree in English Literature at Carleton University, concentrating in Canadian poetry. He is also a co-editor for Carleton University’s student-run literary magazine, In/Words Magazine and Press. Recently placing second in the George Johnston Poetry Prize for his poem “Begin in Water”, his poetry has also previously appeared in The Steel Chisel and Bywords. He has released two chapbooks with In/Words Press and will be releasing a third in June.

Andrew Connolly (Director) is a PhD. candidate in English Literature at Carleton University. His dissertation focusses on religion in contemporary American prose. Previous to this he completed a MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College in Vermont. His personal essay “Speaking in Tongues” has been published in the Experimental Theology anthology. He has also released a chapbook of poetry and prose.

This Friday I talk and do exercises with the teen writers.

Next week, August 18-22 is the next session. Registration is $250 and includes one lunch per day. Camp hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. See if you can squeeze them in or watch for them early next year.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

95books for 2014, list 10: Writers of History

In this set, memoirs and memories of writers reaching to the start of the last century in Canada, through 1400s France, through 1800s China and to the artist now. It’s rare for me to read a book, let alone 3 at the same time where I would considering stocking up copies and thrusting them at people but it’s true of Shen Fu and The Margaret Laurence Lectures and Making Your Life as an Artist.

Come to think of it all 4 books are about life approach. François Villon claims he is a robber because he was poor and born into a poor family. Shen Fu is extremely poor but insists on living with artistry informing his meals, walks, home decor (where ever he’s put up by indulgent friends) as he lives the high life of wandering with literati, painters and prostitutes and claiming a legacy of poets as well. Making your Life as an Artist talks about goals as well as duties of an artist whereas A Writer’s Life walks thru all the way life shook out in general form. That overlaps with the first two books as well.

  1. Writers’ Trust of Canada made A Writer’s Life The Margaret Laurence Lectures: 25th Anniversary of the Lecture Series. At that link you can get the book, see podcasts, or hear about upcoming ones.

    It’s 25 years of top of career writers reflecting on their writing life, giving advice, sharing memoirs. If you’re a Canadian writer and want a touchstone, you really should read this. If I taught CanLit, this would be on my reading list. Except for myself it took a year and a half to read so it might be onerous in a quick turnaround course. Part of that is the problem of good writing. It is rich and I don’t need to read more to be satisfied so its slow going.

    PK Page on her early years. Edna Staebler on her long road rewriting her book on Neil’s Habour from ’47 until published as Cape Breton Harbour in ’72. In ’95 Haven’t any news: Ruby’s Letters from the Fifties was published after 40 years in a filing cabinet.

    It’s a kind of a bonsai life, this writing.

    Acadian writer Antonine Maillet thinking about the stories of making identity stories. “The international is so far from being personal and singular”

    Janet Lunn in part was asking why do people never question her writing articles, histories, yet children’s books seems to be seen as a stage, rather than a calling.

    Alistair Macleod talked about geography and how “various kinds of geographies have an effect on central characters.”

    William Deverell recounted showing up at his McClelland & Stewart Press award conference drunk, in jeans and long hair and overheard the publicist say “Well, I guess he looks alright, but he’s a little West Coast.”

    It includes writers from novelists, biographers, historian fiction, article writers, poets. Peter C Newman on The Establishment. Some talked more about their writing, or their life around writing, others, the writing life generally. Farley Mowatt’s account passionate account of trying to speak for non-people nature.

    Josef Škvorecký talked about trials of life within censorship and wrapped up saying “one first has to entertain one’s audience, and after that, with a bit of luck, one miht also be able to say something meaningful about life”

    Margaret Atwood recounted early years and mentioned that in 1961…”there were twenty of so books of poetry but these included self-published memeographed and hand-set pamphlets”. What are we at now? That much per week?

  2. Norman Cameron‘s translations of Poems of François Villon including “The Testament” are poems from before the 1460s. They are mostly baudy jokes, pages of his last will and testament giving away his worldly possessions, including his sword which the person can get from a certain bar if they pay his outstanding tab because he hocked his good sword for drinks. To Prince of Clowns he leaves him a wish for a good afternoon. To the thief who stole his lockpick set “the louse,/may he find spittle in his wine”. To Friar Baude he wishes to leave a helmet and two guards in case someone tries “to rob his pretty cage” and adds a warning “though old he’ll set them all a dance, /he is a devil when in rage.”

    A double ballad says stay clear of women; they’re trouble throughout history, citing his own case at last, who, got friends together to insult the bride outside her window on her wedding night in chants. She had her revenge in having him “stripp’d and beaten like a rug” outside her window by the law.

    He had a lot of run-ins with law. “Money plagues me like a murrain” (that is, like foot and mouth disease, which is slant fitting since he was on the run and tending to shoot off his mouth.) Poems to kiss-up to people to give him a loan “with neither loss nor interest thereon, /’twill cost you but the time of waiting, Sire”. Living by wits and theft himself he admired a fellow because “his tongue was tied, but not his fists.” Among his possessions to dole are marked cards and to the double crosser, a wish for 10 lashes.

    A poet that I’d rather meet on the page with all his bluster than in person, not that I can time-hustle.

    I do admire the the rhyme of “et reliqua” (Latin for “and the balance still due”) to “et cetera”. No one rhymes with et cetera nearly enough.

    from p. 102,

    And all those other skulls, that bow’d
    One to another, in their day,
    Some condescending, some high and proud,
    And others stooping to obey,
    They give no greeting now, perfay!
    Assembled in a nameless muster.
    Their lordships have beeb reft away:
    Which is scribe and which the master?
    [...]
    This is my final benediction
    both on the dead and the quick–

    Without the footnotes, it would be a much harder text to read. Fart jokes are transparent enough but women preaching in the cemetery I wouldn’t have guessed, for example, is about the habit of prostitutes strolling Parisian graveyard for customers.

    Footnote 13 is my favourite footnote: “The original contains a joke the point of which is not known” which I should use as a sig line. I’m not sure why shift language, update spelling, punctuation, rhymes and some vocabulary but only bring it ahead to one century before.

  3. Andrew Simonet’s Making Your Life as an Artist (free download, $18 hard copy). Much useful food for thought about the how and the why of what we are doing. For instance,

    We live in a time when we are inundated by images: pictures, language, videos, stories, music, bodies.
    99% of those images are made for one reason: to get you to buy something. We artists are responsible for that tiny sliver of images that can be made for every other possible reason: cultural, spiritual, political, emotional.
    In an age of image overload, this is a sacred responsibility.

    or

    The success of other artists is good for me [...] Art isn’t a race where the winner erases the efforts of others.

    Art and entertainment do different things. Entertainment distracts our attention.
    Art focuses it.

    All kinds of interesting and inspiring ideas.

    Things you need (food, sleep, love, art) you can get enough of. Things you don’t need (sugar, cocaine, possessions, good reviews, adoration from random strangers) are addictive.

    Like A Writer’s Life it calls one’s attention to the bigger picture. Instead of laying one more stone on top of the last, there’s the possibility of being part of generations building a cathedral of culture. Heartening.

  4. Graham Sanders’ translation of Shen Fu: Six Records of a Life Adrift (Hackett, 2011).
    Written in the 1780s and translated by a University of Toronto prof, this is utterly readable. It is a remarkable vivid touching story so it’s no wonder it was well loved for over a century in China. Before it was first published the last 2 of the 6 stories were lost, or perhaps never completed. The chapter Charms of Idleness includes as detailed of treatise on the logic and intricacies of making bonsai as I’ve seen. For a year and a half the couple, who were without work for long spells, were put up in a friend’s house. They brought with them a servant, his wife and child and Shen Fu cut seals or did calligraphy for people while Yu embroidered on the cloth that the servants made. They added artfulness to the daily with picnics and flower arranging and enjoying each other’s company. While there friends who were painters would come hang out, amuse each other as they ate and drank and play poem games for days or weeks, a group “who would come and go from our place as swallows flit to and fro from the rafters.” Yu knowing this idyllic time couldn’t last sold her hairpins, pawned to buy wine before the habit “dispersed like clouds by the wind.”

    There are copious footnotes so you can read the main text of his life or learn, that poem line he just quotes was from such-and-such by so-and-so and read a paragraph of that poet. It’s kind of like a wikipedia for Chinese Literature. IAt that point if your poetry passed muster it was admittance to civil service. Poet and zither player Sima Xiangru (179-117 BCE) eloped with a rich man’s daughter which caused them both to be estranged from their families and “forced to open a wine shop to make ends meet until Sima Xiangru was called to court and awarded a post by the emperor, who admired his poetic talents.” (footnote 22 on p. 11)

    If you want to dive in there is a chronology ad family tree. The main characters are both poets but there’s an immediacy as if they are contemporary, although with strange-to-us-mores where women can’t leave the house. But she goes to the man-only temple with her husband’s help in his altered clothes so she can see the lanterns as well.

Categories: Currently reading.

Poet’s Journey

What are the parts of being a poet? Not every person has the whole skill set. It’s why cooperation is good. Some have an eye for this, others for that. Off the top of my head, here are some aspects. Some may be true, who knows.

  1. [composition] having an idea or sound or rhythm and communicating it well enough so it conveys
  2. [education] knowing what has been said and how so you know what’s tired and what’s fresh and can stand on the shoulders of others and make resonances that go deeper by connection with what people already read
  3. [editing] changing what you made so it gets better by some standard, both substantially for style, control, density, and copy editing and/or proofing/honing orally with an audience
  4. [presentation] learning how to read or show the poem in a way that you don’t block the poem’s comprehension by your tics or nervousness, the mechanics of how to use your voice, a mic or the white space and fonts of a page
  5. [audience] getting the poem to someone to consume whether in print or open mic or blog
  6. [community] a) finding people whose work you feel better for knowing b) finding poets who can appreciate your poem, reciprocally or not
  7. [pitching] knowing how a poem fits with others written by yourself or by others
  8. [marketing] getting others to broadcast your poem by printing with others in magazine or anthology, by digital, radio, video or book
  9. [poetry rather than poem] putting a poem with other poems so that parts and whole is enhanced
  10. [publicizing] expanding the reach of your poems to more people by putting it out there in ways people can find whether by knowing more people, making broadsides, entering contests, applying for grants, submitting to magazines or printing and handing out books or chapbooks, or printing with someone else to strategically giving review copies, or making your name more known by arts-related connections as columnist or whatnot
  11. [self-development] cultivating observation skills, seek insights, learn, research, look for interconnections, cross-pollinate with other arts and science, experience Things Not Poetry (they exist, sorta), and distill those awarenesses
  12. [pitching out] stopping to not pursue, drop bad time investments. writing is a discipline until the point where the discipline becomes to not write. to stop a poem or automatic habit of writing if it comes from your identity or your gig instead of a discipline to do new.
  13. [publishing] purely optional but a lot of poets seem to take a run on at it either on a selection board or hook-line-and-letterpress.
  14. [exploring] learning the amount of poetry produced and discriminating possible but not sure patterns of what might enrich you by reading, listening, meeting, etc towards clarifying what it is you are already given and giving to give and receive better.
  15. [sales] learning that it is not shameful to take cash and that it is not selling yourself cheap to give poems away either. cold calling, consignments at stores, tables at festivals, the works.
  16. [partnership] collaborating with others, keeping your radar out for things of interest to friends/peers and they’re watching out for things to hear that are relevant for you as well. because the product doesn’t matter, or the process exactly but the life and people, yeah. that.

Categories: Poetics.

95books for 2014, list 9: Edges of Poetry

So, the next edition of my reading, the 10 most recent books that are poetry/lit.

  1. bottle rockets, issue no 30 has all kinds if things in issue. Haibun is a way of combining prose and a haiku in a memoir, travel thru life fashion. My favorite in issue is Glenn Coats’ The Song of the Lark which contrasts memories of Sister Wendy unpacking classical paintings versus one own’s experience standing in a gallery “I stood in fron tof the pieces of art and expected stories to emerge like light breaking on the horizon. Nothing happened.”

    star upon star
    I cannot connect
    the dots

    The juxtapositon between prose and poem is done right where there is an analogous connection but not an overlap in content or subject.

    Later in the issue is a sweet piece by Michael Fessier called “Types of Haiku Now Trending in the Journals and Chapbooks: Classified, Simulated and Tweaked”. He counts 31 types from standard traditional to padded standard traditional, “my ex” variety to general indictment, “I-pretend-to-be-Japanese”, Pun Ku and Neo-Surreal/Dada/Gendai. It doesn’t cover everything but it gives a good poke at the barrel. Speaking of surreal…

  2. Martha Silano’s The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (Saturnalia Books, 2011)
    Martha Silano
    In my Belly, p. 12-13 is one of the poems that stopped me from riffling onwards to the next collection on the shelf.

    Delightful poems. A lot of humour. The sort of book I hesitate to read because then it would be all over.

    Martha Silano
    “Ours” streamrolls ahead, never knowing what will be said next but it will be baffling and somehow appealing. Even when she writes not of space and riffs and rips in space-time, or about sewing a dress, or time between that for kids and need for sleep, her angle is unique in being unified with the world at large without being overly fluffy or romantic about it. p. 82 “No refunds, no exchanges”

    Across the yard, despite a fierce unrest,
    I can’t help noticing the smudged chin

    of an English sparrow, ululations
    of cedar waxwings, robs slick

    in the sloppy rain. If there were footprints,
    they would be cloven. If this were an orchard,

    the apples would glow like the polished floor
    of my twenties and thirties. Not many hearts

    have lifted like sparrows to the cliffs
    above Pomme de Terre Lake, not many

    have lived much closer than five doors down
    from God. And yet I’m no girdle

    on this galaxy’s expanding waistline,
    and yet I’ve no sacred cows worth swimming

    to the South China Sea and back for.

    The smudged chin of the bird seems to pay attention and cherish. Such a small bird and the sense of noticing schmutz to rub off. Tempting to type the whole out for the re-pleasure of her odd connections. From floors polished like apples polished, from apple/pomme to pomme de terre, but not the potato but the lake. Pivot, pivot. But towards what? There’s a momentum in the mandala built.

    Living not floors below god, but doors down the hall. Why would you swim for sacred cows? Do they ask that? What do your sacred things ask of you that you aren’t willing to do?

    Nice cover image. From the information standpoint: baffling cover design. The author’s name is not on the front cover. Words in the cover art have almost as much weight as the title creating ambiguity of whether it is the title or a subtitle. Prominent on the cover is the title of the judge of a contest who liked the manuscript. Inside, the title of the press and its colophon/wordmark is more dominant graphically on the title page than the name of the book or author. It looks newbie press but their backlist goes back to 2002 and other covers don’t have such issues so don’t know what happened.

  3. Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-Wide, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks (Mosaic Press, 2000).

    (I really want to take the hyphen out of that title.)

    This is a standard classic of the big hitters such as Marlene Mountain, Michael Dylan Welch, Penny Harter, Margaret Chula and Nick Virgilio. A couple samples, p. 92 from Cor van den Heuval,

    by the lawn’s edge
    the dog barks at the darkness
    then looks back at me

    To keep on the dog theme, a haiku that many have memorized from Gary Hotham, p. 62

    letting
    the dog out—
    the stars out

    There are essays on the definition and development of haiku that are also worth a read.

  4. Christina Baillie & Nicholas Power’s Reeds and their Shadows (Gesture Press, 2013)
    Reed & Power
    Bilingual, Japanese and English, in something like but not dos-a-dos, I’m not sure which Japanese goes with which English or if they are more replies than translations. I don’t know if they are from deeply historical poems or contemporary.

    come near me no more
    what comfort do you bring me
    you don’t care for me
    lost in your nebulous thoughts
    my local bakery means more

    It seemed anytime history country song but then, the specifics of the last line could be far and long ago or here and now. Short poems, perhaps not tanka but emotional pangs and leaps like them, categorically I don’t know.

  5. David Collins & Otto Graser’s in twenty words or less (Black Squirrel Press, 1994) made a duo, Collins doing the comic verse and Graser making the illustration on the flanking pages.

    in twenty words or less
    Here’s Chutzpah which reminds me of 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School. There are object buildings which have civic function such as city hall, museums, churches and there are fabric buildings where people live that are the substance of the city. Fabric buildings don’t need to be set off in eye-catching angles and materials. Likewise poetry is the substance of living. All the poetry doesn’t need to be epic, ground-breaking, attention grabbing. It is the daily nutrition, not all heavy banquet food.

  6. Leigh Kotsilidis’ Hypotheticals (Coach House, 2011)
    It took me a while to get around to this one. The poems are akin to Daphne Marlatt’s Rivering that’s next in the list. There’s a swirling in language play. It takes various forms. Despite what Murray Citron complained at in a poem at open mic, there’s quite a lot of form poetry being published. For example, p. 80

    Grey Matter
    At the base of every brain sits the drain
    to the heart. A siphon that strains to part
    whiles from slain. Below is the jugular vein,
    then a slender valve where strays, catalogued
    and shelved as specimens, remind you to
    tend to the rends and breaks between solid
    and softer matter. Missed drifters slip by
    to the muscles’ upper room, where as dashed
    dories they slip under the hammering
    tide. Some clamour, some stride to the organ’s
    spongy shore, others, unmoored by amour,
    drop to the pith’s lower floor. And just when
    you think they can sink no more, what’s heard
    but a dirge, its shambling bass, storied purrs.

    A hammering sort of internal rhyme of extreme small scope of subject and phonemes. These poems too, like The Little Office of Immaculate Conception, tramp through nebulae as part of point of reference of perception.Walking through the woods, “Stars stampede though the canopy toward you. Nebulas’/ hands clutch at your elbow too tight.” (p. 82) Fit subjects for contemplation in poems include neuroplasticity by name as well as birds, not as particular nesting behavior or yellow warblers. The language is not grade school people’s poetry; it talks about cogitating not thinking, psychological damage, not hurt. When watch your stash is used, it is the part in italics as borrowed/overheard/other, not “support the hypocampus, the amygdala”.

    It plays exhorts, rather than lectures “polish/your cerebral corvette”. It drags a trail of sparks that can leave you marvelling if there is something meant past play or just to put pachinko balls in motion and see what comes of “Days are three-legged and prone /to wander off” (p. 39)

  7. Rivering: The Poetry of Daphne Marlatt edited by Susan Knutson (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2014) (on Kobo).

    It gives a good overview of her writing, taking from things in chapbooks to a play. Her writing isn’t about A-B linear narrative, playing in fragment and tends to loop around. The pieces are a collection rather than providing a smooth curve.

    An essay on her embodied language poetics and contemplation on Olsen in the 60s was interesting. A lot of the poems are about her local, so boats, cafes, salmon fisheries and displacement/interment of Japanese in WWII but also love poems such as This place full of contradiction,

    aflush with
    cappuccino and
    brandy and
    rain outside on
    that street we
    flash down,
    laughing with
    no umbrella, i
    see your face
    because i don’t
    see mine
    equally flush
    with being, co-
    incidence being
    together we
    meet in these
    far places we
    find in each
    other, it’s Sap-
    pho i said, on
    the radio, al-

    She is fascinated by the way language and meaning unclicks and reclicks like lego. Any point isn’t linear but omnidirectional potential.

    from Generations, generations at the mouth,

    verbing the
    noun out of its
    stuck edges and
    into its occur
    ence, currents,
    curre-… we’ve
    lost the verb in
    our currency a
    frozen ex-
    change stream-
    ing

    Paper is good. Don’t Buy Kobo for this. It’s all messed up. I don’t know what WLP did but each poem goes page 1-3 and restarts the numbering. There is a way to see where you are in the book overall but referencing is a headache. Clicking next page may send you back to the start of that poem, or the poem previous. It’s like reading in high wind. Depending on resizing the text, a stanza may disappear right in the middle of the page. Madness.

    Most Kobo books tell you at the end how many reading sessions it took and how long in all. I like that. This one didn’t.

  8. Marthe Reed’s Philip Whalen’s Tulip (NousZot Press, Dusie Kolletiv, 2014) also works fragments but uses the page as physical map to experience such as December ? which strikes me as rather ballsy in way.
    Philip Whalen's Tulip
    Just write down what you see taken straight up. Put on a page what was there. Let the reader’s mind embellish. Being all over the page, it forces a path and forces away from directed path both. Such as Sandra Ridley’s Counting House or the text it was inspired by, Robert Kroetsch’s The Ledger, the mandate to read stacked lines in a prescribed direction and rate is challenged.

  9. Robert Kroetsch’s The Ledger
  10. (Brick, 1975)
    The Ledger, Robert Kroetsch
    Nothing is more true than the details if they are the right details. It rings true. Documents don’t need intervention, to be the source material and the poetry to be tertiary from it. There’s a weaving of active reading and what is read. It isn’t texts in competition to make contrasts in texture and tone. It’s a presenting, there’s this. And I suppose like Sister Wendy’s art talks, it’s not raiding the material of the past for stuff to reuse, such as using Roman statuary as rubble for a church’s basement. There’s an informed respect and conveying a bit along such as

    arrivals: the stump fence
    arrivals: the snake fence
    arrivals: the stone fence

    There’s not an unpacking. Much is implicit. Some is didactic of

    departures: the trout stream
    departures: the passenger pigeon
    departures: the pristine forest

    but what option is there? To rhapsodize about the forest primeval we are in when it is a rag of a patch left, nice as it is with its specimen trees and regimen of biannual pesticides? Or to talk only of the pesticides and loss? How to acknowledge what is in front of us and decide what is worth mentioning above the infinite number of possibilities in the universe?

    I hope one day to examine family ledgers. My father in a dark fit between strokes burned what he had kept since the 30s of receipts, but kept the main books of sales records. My mother still won’t let me see his books. They are moved from where he had stores them for decades. She assures me they exist. Perhaps when I’m old enough? ;) Would I qualify on retirement?

    I notice the last ones she displays in what was his desk, but while she slept I opened a few and saw that she’d torn out every evidence of his handwriting. Only the unused pages remain. Will she burn all his papers before I ever get a chance to see. Useless, useless was his refrain for diabetic years. Mom speaks of her own papers and mentions she’ll give them all to an archive in Quebec perhaps. She won’t let me see any of them. None of anyone’s business but history’s memento. She also speaks of burning them all so they won’t outlast her. Naturally I hope she won’t.

  11. From Project Gutenberg, Forbidden Books of the New Testament which are more miracle-bent than the regulars and were booted out in early centuries but some used by gnostics or in eastern churches. Strange things. Devil possession being visible as dogs, snakes or dragons running out the body. In one story a woman refused to wear clothes which one one piece of evidence of devil possession. The other was that she stood at the crossroads and threw stones at men. The proper punishment would be to throw stones at her in god’s name of course. Because that would be different. But she touched the bathwater of the Babe and became ashamed of her nakedness so order was restored. Where to begin?

    In the First Gospel of the infancy of Jesus Christ

    11 Now it was winter-time, and the girl went into the parlour where these women were, and found them weeping and lamenting as before.

    12 By them stood a mule, covered over with silk, and an ebony collar hanging down from his neck, whom they kissed and were feeding.

    13 But when the girl said, How handsome, ladies, that mule is! they replied with tears, and said, This mule, which you see, was our brother, born of this same mother as we;

    14 For when our father died, and left us a very large estate, and we had only this brother, and we endeavoured to procure him a suitable match, and thought he should be married as other men, some giddy and jealous women bewitched him without our knowledge.

    Skip forward. (these are structured conveniently with a series of Cole’s notes verses then the expanded version of the notes.)

    24 Hereupon St. Mary was grieved at their case, and taking the Lord Jesus, put him upon the back of the mule.

    25 And said to her son, O Jesus Christ, restore (or heal) according to thy extraordinary power this mule, and grant him to have again the shape of a man and a rational creature, as he had formerly.

    26 This was scarce said by the Lady St. Mary, but the mule immediately passed into a human
    form, and became a young man without any deformity.

    Mary gets to do a lot more. But what to do with a Child who would kill another kid who ran into him accidentally?

    They cast the whole narrative of salvation in different light. Heaven was empty of formerly mortals except for 2 and hell was full and while Jesus was dead he broke into heaven and too all the dead. All went to heaven. No one left. Huh. Then he put Satan behind bars under the guardianship of Beezlebub who used to be second in command. Because Jesus was still annoyed at the whole tempting and torturing thing.

    Very odd stories. I like the ones of Thecla, being like a female Daniel with more conversion-charmisma. Some books are more dry or redundant to the New Testament.

    Mary’s Gospel contains the note:

    “That it was the occasion of the death of Zacharias in the temple, that
    when he had seen a vision, he, through surprise, was willing to disclose
    it, and his mouth was stopped. That which he saw was at the time of his
    offering incense, and it was a man standing in the form of an ass.
    When he was gone out, and had a mind to speak thus to the people, Woe
    unto you, whom do you worship? he who had appeared to him in the temple
    took away the use of his speech.

    Afterwards when he recovered it, and was able to speak, he declared this to the Jews; and they slew him. They add (viz. the Gnostics in this book), that on this very account the high-priest was appointed by their lawgiver (by God to Moses) to carry little bells, that whensoever he went into the temple to sacrifice he, whom they worshipped, hearing the noise of the bells, might have time enough to hide himself, and not be caught in that ugly shape and figure.”

    So let me get this straight….the high priest wears bells to go into the temple because you don’t want to startle god by creeping up on him when he is in the form of an ass. Because a startled god strikes people dead, or get embarrassed.

    Trippy. And this is the religion for which the Christian pastor would have it that Hinduism’s Ganesha is wrong. Because the Christian god is a shapeshifter not part-animal. Is that how it goes?

    And quite a different take on Mary who said nothing in the protestant version but held these things in her heart. This version she’s parading around, helpmate of miracles, a 14-year-old married to a senior ne’er do well woodworker who Jesus has to fix the carpentry of because Joseph cuts once after mismeasuring. Not exactly what Christmas Eve stories usually convey.

More on the horizon. Hard to predict when but 3 books on punctuation history being read in tandem. As well as, you guessed it, poetry.

Categories: Currently reading.

95books for 2014, list 8: Non-fiction

  1. Angela Gair’s The Beginner’s Guide: Acrylics (New Holland, 1994)
    I have a distinct memory of telling you all about this book but can’t find any digital evidence. So, I’m writing posts in my dreams, am I? What struck me is the amazing range of effects you can get with the same medium. I didn’t know you could water it down to make like watercolor. Things about masking, fine points on techniques. I didn’t know such detailed studies went into impressionistic broken color effects. “Alla Prima” is rapid one time and done with confident strokes. To improve, you do another, not fix the first.
  2. Takahiro Kurashima’s Poemotion ( Lars Müller Publishers, 2011). Here’s a good description of the monograph of moire animation. Each title like flatland, or birth of form or dna.
  3. Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned at Architecture School (MIT Press, 2007) has all kinds of applications to poetry, for example, regarding process, which he speaks to a few times, but point 29:

    Being process-oriented, not product- driven, is the most important and difficult skill for a designer to develop.
    Being process-oriented means:
    1 seeking to understand a design problem before chasing after solutions;
    2 not force-fitting solutions to old problems onto new problems;
    3 removing yourself from prideful investment in your projects and being slow to fall in love with your ideas;
    4 making design investigations and decisions holistically (that address several aspects of a design problem at once) rather than sequentially (that finalize one aspect of a solution before investigating the next);
    5 making design decisions conditionally—that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution;
    6 knowing when to change and when to stick with previous decisions;
    7 accepting as normal the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to do;
    8 working fluidly between concept-scale and detail-scale to see how each informs the other;
    9 always asking “What if . . . ?” regardless of how satisfied you are with your solution.

    Beautiful lucid prose and examples for understanding architecture better as well.

  4. Pearl Bailey’s The Raw Pearl (Harcourt, Brace, 1968) is a diaristic look at her life philosophy up to that point. 3 years later she did a second autobiography Talking to Myself, a cookbook then later on Between You and Me: A Heartfelt Memoir on Learning, Loving, and Living (1989). I haven’t read the others but would like to. She gives an interesting view on growing up in turbulent times in the U.S., singing at clubs as the daughter of a preacher. Singing where she wasn’t allowed to enter the main room or to stay in the white-only hotel.

    What struck me is her prevailing insistence on accepting people as they are. Even one of her ex-husbands who broke down her door at 2 a.m. after separation and pulled a gun on her. She just ordered him to sleep in the other bedroom because it was late and he needed rest. He was a binge alcoholic. Odd little things, like her closest female friend called Peet and her Pearl’s nickname was Dick. She organized the book by nodes such as the kids and the dogs, or her troubles with her ex, her love match with her third husband who never spoke to her but hello but they felt a connection so when he asked to speak to her alone 4 days later she said I know what you’re going to say and my answer is yes. Then they, him Italian, and her Native and black, got married. She once got a call to come collect an abandoned child which she then took as her own. A second she adopted through an agency and a third was her step-sister who she raised for a while. Her father had children like a staircase, each one taller than the next.

One of the next stacks:
reading
Most mind-blowing among them is Punctuation; Art, Politics, and Play by Jennifer DeVere Brody which I may have read in part before but it was when it came out in ’08 and I’m doing a cover to cover. Consider this tidbit: That language purity is political right wing, and a normative sentence, punctuation, spelling and grammar is a colonial force coming out the lineage of power goes to those with the most weapons. Sentence fragments, on the other hand, is post-colonial refusal of those forces. I may have heard that before but I didn’t get it before.

Categories: Currently reading.

New Interview

Touch the Donkey magazine, supplement #5: seven questions for Pearl Pirie. For other interviews see, here. For more frequent things than here, see pesbo on twitter.

Categories: Poetics.

Rebuilding Year

At this point The Chaudiere Books Rebuilding Year campaign is nearly halfway. $28 more will tip it past the halfway point for cash!

You can give donations directly or go for perks. A bunch are sold out. You could still get a subscription package, a book or few, such as calling dibs on titles coming this fall by Amanda Earl, Roland Prevost and Monty Reid, or the backlist, or the John Newlove documentary package, or harder to find chapbooks going back to ’98, hand bookbinding…

Categories: PSA, Poetry.