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LitLand: Margo LaPierre on July 24

The episode that marks my one year anniversary on the air. The 20th show landmark! Live in the studio with Margo LaPierre.

Margo LaPierre has been coming over the season to Tree Reading Series open mics leading people like me to come up to her and say, who are you and where did you come from? That was an amazing poem. Her poems have an intensity and a dexterity with metaphor.

I am happy/sad that she has a book coming out. Happy because I’ll get to buy it from Guernica. Sad because it won’t be out for another couple years. (These days, the publishing cycle can be 2-3 years from manuscript to binding.)

It’s called Braille Tattoo. All of the poems she’s read at the Tree Reading Series have come from this manuscript. That book is described as:

What happens when we believe in something that isn’t there? What happens when we believe in our unpublished poems? What happens to the mind maps of spaces we don’t live in anymore? What happens when we doubt our own history? We cling to the solidity of physical space. Our abstracted sense of being swells to its limits, presses against its boundary of skin, bumps up against the world, finds itself there. Braille Tattoo explores the idea that we as humans are undefined, chaotic, that we come to know ourselves through the spaces we inhabit. These are hungry poems that look feverishly outwards, fueled by animism, addiction, topophilia and human relationships.

She graduated from Ryerson University with a B.A. in Arts and Contemporary Studies and a major in Philosophy. She is a poet and visual artist. Her writing reflects a Canadian urban sensibility with a focus on the way language and physical space structure human experience. Her poetry has been published in Bywords Literary Quarterly, The Feathertale Review, The Antigonish Review, The Claremont Review and in EAT IT: A Literary Cookbook of Food, Sex and Feminism. Her first full-length book of poetry is forthcoming with Guernica Editions.

Also in the episode: 2 Things I’m Reading: Kevin McPherson Eckhoff’s ancestorge from Forge (Snare, 2013) and Nicholas Power’s untitled which was part of the John Newlove shortlist, now coming out of Melancholy Scientist, (Tekseditions, 2014)

Categories: CKCU.

Coming Up: Fotheringham & Morden

July 3rd on Literary Landscapes: talking with Avonlea Fotheringham (sample poems on Soundcloud) who is the feature at this week’s CPC Summer Slam. Avonlea will be launching a new collaborative poetry chapbook, Mythopoeia, with Chris Johnson there on July 5, 2014.

July 5th at the Mercury Lounge
56 Byward Market Square, Ottawa,
$8 cover
sign-up happening at 6:30pm.
All ages welcome…

Avonlea Fotheringham is an Ottawa poet and spoken word performer, and released her debut chapbook-CD combo, Acknowledgements and Poems, in February 2014. Having competed at Ottawa’s Capital Slam during the 2013-2014 season, she ultimately won a spot on the Capital Slam team, with whom she will be competing in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in October 2014. The team recently published its own poetry chapbook, Memory, featuring poems from all members.

She currently studies English Literature, Creative Writing and Applied Linguistics at Carleton University, where she also runs the English Literature Society. As of September 2014, she will be working as an editor for the student-run In/Words Magazine and Press.

I also will be talking with Brad Morden who did Poetry Slam with Brad Morden at the Hintonburg Public House on June 22, and was part of Hintonburg Happening Love. A regular in ukelele spots (and runs a class for it) you might remember him from his CBC Culture submission song, “It’s going to be a long warm bright sunshiny day. if it’s not I won’t let that get in my way…”

He’s got a big event coming July 11th. Tune in to hear about a big spoken word show featuring a legend, Buddy Wakefield, and Ikenna Onyegbula, aka OpenSecret the 2014 world poetry slam champion.

He’ll be hosting it at Hub Ottawa. Friday, July 11th
Doors 7pm, Show 7:30PM
Venue: Hub Ottawa, 71 Bank Street, 6th Floor
(Hub Ottawa is an accessible venue)

$10 advance (available online from House of PainT)

Morden is also the director of the capital poetry collective, runs the Patchwork Poetry House (their first book is coming out soon) and on the board of directors of Spoken Word Canada (SPOCAN), VerseOttawa and Tree Reading Series.

Also in the show: 2 Things I’m Reading. This week tune in for a sample of: Archibald Lampman’s Knowledge from Lampman’s Sonnets (Borealis Press, 1976) and Martha Solano’s After Reading there Might be an Infinite Number of Dimensions from The Little Office of Immaculate Conception (Saturnalia, 2011)

Categories: CKCU.

Advice to writers

At the Toronto Quarterly Angela Carr

What kinds of advice would you give to aspiring poets?

1. Read. Read. Read.
2. Don’t fall prey to the romantic image of the debauched poet. Take care of your body.

Categories: Uncategorized.

95books for 2014, list 6: sound (&) relationships

Another bit of the read this year pile, a stack of read I missed mentioning before:

  1. Nelson Ball‘s Three Letter Words (a reprint by Press-Press-Pull in 2014 of the 2006 book)
    is a mouthercize where there are tables of lists of possible words, and English words mixed alphabetically so they start to merge.

    san sen sin son sun
    sap sep sip sop sup
    saq seq siq soq soq
    sar ser sir sor sur
    sat set sit sot sut
    sav sev siv sov sov

    and so on thru the whole set of possibles.

    It reminds me of teaching phonics to literacy students. “deal eel feel heel meal peal real seal steal” and there was a chorus echoed on each word until a total volume drop on the word seal. Some women blushed. No one would say what just happened there. In break time a Somali woman shyly told me that seal is the word for cunt.

  2. Ker-bloom! 107, March-April 201Four from (artnoose, Pittsburgh PN) is a blog post meditation against the need to possess/hoard with a letterpress cover.
  3. Sandra Ridley’s The Counting House (BookThug, 2013)
    is a bit hard to quote with columns of texts, left and right justified which seems to be about living within domestic violence of territoriality, keeping up appearances and the neurotic stasis of second guessing reactions of an unstable person; people in a matchbox game of playing petty roles against each other. p. 50 “Assume this is based on this. Fact perhaps. Truthfully even. A response to the unembellished. (Recent.) This is why. That is why. This is unlamentable.[...] Brocade her.”

    p. 46

    A gentler lesson then. Deserved. Repeated as often as possible. Propose her more reasonable. Present her with a pleasant disposition. For most general acceptance.

                  A lasting positive impression.

    p. 48

    Never call her by her name. Your Darling. Clandestine.

         Such is not possible. Unless (of course). Such is possible.
         Continue to writhe. For there has always been curiosity. Strict inquisitions.
         You are insidious. Where have you been? With whom?

    Your permitted versus that unbidden.


         As if the encounter took place without you. (Denial of the witness.)
         The absolute privilege of unknowing. Impossible.

         There is no identity of even you.


  4. Steven Artelle’s Metropantheon (Signature Editions, 2014)
    I must have raved about this. The poems are tight and creative. The language is unexpected. Familiar scenes go from flat to whap such as p. 51 “monkey bars” which could have come from something so simple as calling a kid a monkey, affectionately and then thinking around the child on the monkeybars. If more people used modifiers so aptly, the poetry world would be a more beautified place. The conjointing of word, kneeskin highsummer add to the rush of exhilerated joy to the scene.

    you were born with your soul in the branches
    and a heart made of monkey bars
    all up and down Cambridge Street
    you sent kneeskin to the jubilant gods

    swinging blisterpalm in the iron vines
    anointed with chalk
    or pennyspit breathless
    blurred above the cement’s primary colours

    whoever you become
    clambering up through your heart’s scaffolding
    I’ll encounter you with the same wonder
    as the schoolyard’s wilderness of highsummer grass

  5. Adam Dickinson’s The Polymers (Anansi, 2013)

    It is a project book turning around the idea of plastics, the chemistry and repercussions of it, dire takes. All poetry comes in part thanks to the intellect but this also mixes in machined language. He gave an entertaining reading from it. As Jason Camlot put it for his own reading, a book has a lot of wallflowers that never get read at reading. The extrovert poems that can joke or entertain get airplay but what about the rest?

    In Dickinson’s books, there’s a lot of poems about being in a tired slog such as in “Hydroelectric Wax Museum” where “The line-up is good/for us./It privatizes patience,/demarcates the vector/of progress[...]plastic blue rain slickers[...] Niagara Falls is/the molecular/concourse/of one lake changing/into another,/and one culture/eating another’s/failed burlesque” and with the Charles Bernstein epigraph, the poem becomes a concrete poem of the falls.

    As you can see it is not just plastic but everything it touches, from rain slickers (and presumably everyone else calls up the microplastic beads from shampoo and hand lotions that also tumble from on elake to the next) to (p. 57) the indictment of the short-sighted consumer culture of “Hand Picked” where “I eat the tomato/and I have a debt/to the tomato//I eat the migrant/worker with neoprene/gloves”

    He’s in interview with fellow Trillium nominee Souvankham Thammavongsa

  6. at the National Post today.

  7. DH Lawrence The Daughter-in-Law
    A play set in a coal-mining town written in dialect which follows the node of the family of a mother and her two sons who remain at home as her help in old age, and the woman who would marry one of the sons. It is full of lively language. The characters seem real from the small-town boy who tries to accommodate and obey but breeds hopelessness in the act. The characters and view of them change and grow to a greater degree than most fiction seems to. It does a one-minute wrap up end that seems as if on deadline for commercial. I can’t offer a better ending myself but it seemed anti-climatic after so much good before it.
  8. Louise Carson’s Mermaid Road (broken rules press, 2013)
    A literary fable, novel mixed with poetry thread about a coming of age of the girl who was a mermaid born to humans.

    She secretly eats some smaller fish, sucks flesh from shells. She teaches herself to smash sea urchins or thorny egg-cases of rays between two rocks to get at the food inside.

    Her mother knows or guesses this is happening. Her daughter usually skips lunch on the days they visit the sea, then has a huge appetite for supper.

    When it’s time to go the mother calls, “Anne, Anne,” sometimes kneeling on a rock, lowering her lips to the water and shouting there. Once, Anne didn’t come and the mother had to sit and wait with a pounding heart, then called again, whereupon the girl reappeared, grinning.
    “What would I tell your father if you disappeared, you little monkey?” The mother scolded. “He thinks we’re in the pool at home.”

    Once she entered the world on her own, she herself sometimes birthed humans who she left as foundlings, and sometimes birthed mermaids who as some frogs do, let them into the world to fend for themselves. A story in itself it also seems allegorical for all the parenting where the child of different personality and capability must make their own path, leave when she needs.

  9. Diane Tucker’s Bonsai Love (Habour Publishing, 2014)
  10. The poems seek closure, emotional and grammatical. Each poem a story or analogy about resiliency, moving past all the nattering griefs. It reminds that every act and moment in life is potentially meditations. There’s a lot of star-watching, nature walks but also the occasional bus ride that travels a distance in the poem.

    Why Don’t You Take the Bus? (p.32-33) moves from a retort of why busses are distasteful, crowded, etc. moving to how-to of how to be present, from the silence of being jostled by strangers, how to sit with the “heavy/ round side against your own./Don’t break gaze with the toddler” “It is a benefit and a blessing,/bearing with broken others, the weight and heft of every/other rider towards the sinking west” but then a turn

    When you arrive home
    I will gather your small bones
    against me. I will shake you free
    of every lurching hesitation,
    free of every rush and rattle.

    And in the cloud of having touched,
    we will lie flat and motionless
    against each other’s bodies,
    hallowed and transported.

    That sounds like a good exposure therapy and reward training. :)

    And closer to the Mermaid’s tale,
    p. 47 Beach Glass

    All of us were born
    many times from this surf
    and sucked back in,
    our green and lilac
    white and ochre shine
    being scoured away,
    all our sharp edges
    rubbed strokeably smooht.

    We received the sun
    gratefully now, no longer
    bouncing it back at you.
    We let it glaze our skin
    softly, all of us etched
    with a thousand tiny
    light-collecting lines.

    We’re kept our curves
    though, each of us shaped
    like a human hand open
    and at rest; each of us
    carrying a little pool of
    brine, an icy mouthful,
    a doll-sized up of what
    the waves keep crying.

    Soft poems of controlled reflection, p. 46 in Coming Down with Something “I ought to sleep, but cannot.//Do I speak things too intimate for you?/Are there lines I don’t know I’ve crossed?/It’s been years since I remembered my lines//Are the shaking and the headaches/just the virus pounding to get in, or,/are they echoes, damnable afterimages/of the thing I wish I’d never said,/words I knew too smooth/as soon as they took flight to you,/or too rough, too raw, too much/like bare hands?”

Categories: Currently reading.

Roman Feuilleton reading

The Roman Feuilleton reading is in Gatineau tonight. It is poetry in response to Michèle Provost’s art which will be displayed at the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier, 9 Front Street, Gatineau (Aylmer), QC.

The show ROMAN FEUILLETON (“Serial Novel”) is based on a surrealist text which Provost herself has composed out of lines from 4 of Québec’s literary landmarks; Anne Hébert’s Kamouraska, Michel Tremblay’s La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte, Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés, and Une saison dans la vie d’Emmanuel, by Marie-Claire Blais.

She took the lines from the novels in French, alphabetized them by the first word of the sentence, collated them alphabetically, translated them to English.

Always interested in seeing how others will interpret her work, her ideas and the sources which inspire her, Provost has challenged a group of writers and poets from across the local literary community to use her ROMAN FEUILLETON text – French and English versions – as the basis from which to create literary art of their own.

Cameron Anstee and Grant Wilkins were in studio with Susan Johnston and Monique Desnoyers by phone this morning. Listen in starting at 20 minutes into the show listen to the 3 writers on Friday Special Blend here.

Grant looked at the interpretations thru translations. Monique took the approach from storytelling. Cameron went from CanLit perspective of poor translation to English of French Canadian literature, speech and silence shuffled. You can hear samples.

Each takes their own tack. The source texts are hundreds of pages in French and in English.

English and French poets responding to the work of Michèle Provost include: Glenn Nuotio, Monique Desnoyers, Lise Rochefort, Sandra Ridley, Pearl Pirie, Grant Wilkins, Cameron Anstee, Carmel Purkis, Guy Jean and Amanda Earl.

For myself, I worked from the French text and pretended I was hearing English spoken through a bad connection. I was doing homophonic translation of a few letters of Michèle’s French version of text but still the slant came thru and the novel syntax. I’m not sure how many pages it yielded for me but the short list was about 17 poems of ones to pursue.

The vocabulary came towards the original and away again like a game of whispers.

I started inverting things as well; gender flipping, god-excising, antonymizing (tired to energetic, hatred to compassion) and adding interjections as well so that made content more agreeable.

For example here is the starting text of one section:

Moi, je le trouve très joli homme, de taille moyenne, bien proportionné, des favoris noirs, le teint brun coloré. Mais Mastaï avait gardé le gros coup pour la fin, comme d’habitude. Mon Dieu! …je me sens défaillir de rage et il perd sa dignité d’un seul coup en faisant pipi partout sur les murs. Mon âme pour que cela n’arrive pas une seconde fois! Mastaï bondit littéralement sur le téléphone et compose un numéro. Mon insolence, ma facilité à collaborer à l’élaboration de sa démonstration le rassurent. Mon père, je me roule dans la fange !

Moi became moths
je le trouve became the reprove which became the reproach
tres joli homme became the trees, jellybeans
de taille moyyenne could have been detail oyying or the tale moulding
bien proportionné des favoris noire became bean portioned, the favorite noire which became the beans were portioned out, doled out, and the favorite ones were black.

in the end, if this is is it’s end point, this got a title and looks like this:

visiting Jolene Schmoe

moths are the reproach
of trees and of jellybeans.

their tales are dusty and mouldy,
their magic beans already doled.

the favourites were liquorice
and the brown-tinted orange.

hard things, like raw carrots, chewed once
guards the whole body twice.

what all are among blows against death
and against lock-stepped routine?

the moths putter, jimmy open
your senses by making strange

contemplating for a few flaps
in this purgatory of disarray.

she flies with the dignity of Pippi Longstocking,
murmurs something too quiet to catch.

she rests in my Kuala Lampur’s cellar,
continually arrives to chew me free of bonds.

literally on the phone, the moth
composes a number: one.

the moth is singular and helps me
elaborate on what I need.

she demonstrates self-assurance
and refuses the solitude of the room.

moth, we are a couple. let’s roll over
in the beds of each other’s mouths.

The event tonight is co-run with A B Series as the last event of the season.

The art show at L’Imagier is created with Provost’s trademark combination of the visual and the textual effusion. It comes in the form of a promotional campaign for a series of literary works. Comprising books, magazines, games, a recorded radio-play coming out of speakers around the room, there are also many other promotional items created in her intimately handmade and tangibly material style of stitch-work, fabric and paper craft.

The title comes from roman-feuilleton which is serial novel is a popular novel published in episodes in a newspaper.

A feuilleton is a type of journalistic fiction that is often humorous and satirical. The feuilleton is topical and deals with a variety of subjects. It is written without a preconceived plan and is free in structure. It parodies literary and nonliterary genres and styles. It is unique in that it is both literary and journalistic in its aims and its approach to facts.

Come and see what comes out of this iteration. With any luck, there will be a second iteration this fall in Ontario.

Categories: PSA, Poetry, Poetics.

LitLand: Casteels & Pinder

Talking about the small press fair and other things with Michael e. Casteels of Puddles of Sky about his new projects and writing life.Casteels was also interviewed at the small press fair by Liana where he was talking about his press.

First up on the show I was talking with Sarah Pinder of Coach House Bits of String who recently read with the A B Series. She talks about art at AGO and about the importance of accessibility in the literary world.

You can listen live over the air Thurs at 6:30pm at 93.1fm or online at CKCU. It will be available here within an hour after livestreaming.

Categories: CKCU, PSA, Poetry.

Casteels Chapbook: 6 Poems

P6060001 (1)


All fancy folded and yours for $5 with no shipping and handling charge if you pick it up at Jack Purcell, upstairs at the Ottawa Small Press Fair tomorrow.

Sage and mint are included if you ask in advance. ;)

Categories: Poetics.

Mini Chapbook: mclennan

rob mclennan
Coming to the small press fair this Saturday, poems from a forthcoming manuscript of rob mclennan, 4 little poems including this:

Prairie montage,

ive said it is as
i have told it
Dennis Cooley, abecedarium

Is this: glottal-growl. Rags-rap, rattle, narrate. Gravity occurs. Constant, consonants. Speak clear, chew. Particulate. What speech would make. A hardened spread. These fingers, thrum. A consequence of music; colour-spice, gymnastic voice. Dead, constellates. Spirals, slow to crawl. A wit for wings that. Misdirect. A dialectic spin. Hovers across bald prairie, devil-dust. Frequency, and speed. Whorl, baby. Pulpited, long pulped. Stinging, rain. Nevertheless. Warm spit and sound. An unwashed ocean of sky stretches, stretched. One lays out flat to dry.

Part of the fall 2013, spring 2014 lineup of mini poems:

Collect the whole set.

And there’s another chapbook coming. Watch here for details.

Categories: phafours press news.

Mini Chapbooks: Jessica Smith & Michael e. Casteels

Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith has brought forward to me— and therefore you if you want to get one—this lovely little hand drawn chapbook called Cicada Radio. There’s an essay by here here.

Michael e. Casteels
Michael e. Casteels of puddles of sky press has for us a set of micro fictions. “3 Chapters Towards an Epic.

We three were by chance both part of the vispo display at Cobourg

He’ll be at the Ottawa small press fair tomorrow with his new spring titles

aftermaths by LeRoy Gorman. Part minimalist poetry, part visual, and part mathematical equation.

Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead by Stuart Ross. A real surprise bag of a chapbook, inside you’ll find a sonnet, a prose poem, a list poem, a poem with a single word for each line, an elegy, a lament, a translation of a translation, and a whack of other wonderful poems.

sorrow is to row by Michael e. Casteels. A single typewritten poem with hand-stamped covers. After bpNichol. Only 26 copies.

You can get those at the fair or order them online. He’ll be with me on air, with any luck, on the next Literary Landscape along with Sarah Pinder.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Michèle Provost’s Roman Feuilleton: The Reading

Location: Centre d’exposition l’Imagier, 9 Front Street, Gatineau (Aylmer), QC.

ROMAN FEUILLETON: The Poetry Reading
A reading of poetry inspired by the art of Michèle Provost.
13 June 2014, 8:00 pm.
Centre d’exposition l’Imagier,
9 Front Street, Gatineau (Aylmer), QC.
Admission is free.

With ROMAN FEUILLETON, Michèle Provost’s latest border-blurring media-mixing visual art installation, the acclaimed Gatineau conceptual artist continues her tradition of using her work to inspire a response from and provoke a conversation with the literary artists in her community.
Created with her trademark combination of the visual and the textual, Provost’s new exhibition comes in the form of a promotional campaign for a series of literary works. Comprising books, magazines, games, a recorded radio-play and many other promotional items created in her intimately handmade and tangibly material style – ROMAN FEUILLETON (“Serial Novel”) is based on a surrealist text which Provost herself has composed out of lines from four of Québec’s literary landmarks; Anne Hébert’s Kamouraska, Michel Tremblay’s La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte, Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés, and Une saison dans la vie d’Emmanuel, by Marie-Claire Blais.

Always interested in seeing how others will interpret her work, her ideas and the sources which inspire her, Provost has challenged a group of writers and poets from across the local literary community to use her ROMAN FEUILLETON text – French and English versions – as the basis from which to create literary art of their own.

Among the writers who took up the challenge are: Cameron Anstee, Christian Bouchard, Monique Desnoyers, Amanda Earl, Guy Jean, Glenn Nuotio, Pearl Pirie, Carmel Purkis, Sandra Ridley & Grant Wilkins.

Please join the writers as they present and perform their work for the artist and the public in a reading at the opening reception for ROMAN FEUILLETON, at the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier in Gatineau on June 13th, 2014.

The Centre d’exposition l’Imagier is located at 9 Front Street in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, QC. The opening reception for the exhibition begins at 6:00 pm and the reading begins at 8:00 pm.

Both the reception and the reading are open to the pubic, and admission is free. The reading is co-sponsored by The AB Series.

For more information on the exhibition, please contact the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier at, or check their website at
For more information on the reading, please contact the AB Series at, or check their website at

Categories: PSA, Poetry.