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Poetry on Spines

The top winner Glenn Kletke for the English side of ‘Poetry on Spines’ and the honorable mentions are there with the images of poems made from book spines.

Likewise, Gagnant “Concours Poésie sur dos” are there.

Congrats all. There were dozens of good entries.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

My Writing Process: Blog Tour

Step one: Acknowledge the person and site that involved you in the blog tour: Ryan Pratt’s blog tour tap

Step two: Answer the 4 questions below about your writing process:

1) What am I working on?
As of March 30- April 9 when I’m writing this:

There’s a phrase that bothers me as wrong in Quebec Passages (Noun Trivet Press, forthcoming 2014). Need to fix. I’m trying to stare it out. I keep blinking first.

P.S. And it has arrived

What else?

  • working on getting copies out to the right eyes of Vertigoheel for the Dilly (above/ground 2014) and spread word of poem videos of last two books.
  • lining up people to interview for Literary Landscape for the May 22nd show.
  • setting up compatible interview time with Stanford Forrester of bottle rockets and Massachusetts who is coming in to talk at Haiku Canada Weekend in May.
  • reading books by Philomene Kocher to interview her shortly for the May 1st show.
  • remixing video clips to go to the sound of a poem video trailer for Quebec Passages and one other poem trailer. (If all the files are open, it counts as still being worked on right?)
  • getting the food blog done ahead so that I can build in another vacation from blogging so they run without me while I do other things in to-do list.
  • lining up the notebooks of notes to make more posts on Versefest.
  • doing an event poster.
  • processing photos and inviting the camera and computer to be on first name basis with each other.
  • waiting for a chunk of time to build my trebuchet for the Factory Reading Series reading with Kevin Spenst and Sneha Madhavan-Reese on the 23rd. Because medieval war machines should be turned towards the good of Finnegans Wake and ghazals.
  • prepping a handout to give to the good people of Canadian Author’s Association.
  • looking around at the book stacks to choose what to record for the next segments of Two Things I’m Reading This Week.
  • adding the new published items to the author blog. (some day I’ll have to go thru & prune dead links.)
  • looking at vocabulary lists of constraints of words to play with for a project with Michele Provost and shifting words about listening for the combination lock’s click.
  • doing prototype layouts for a new chapbook from Phafours to come out (knock wood) by this summer.
  • trying to hammer out and humour out a very long poem until I grok its aboutness. Lost count of iterations now. Most poems seem to clock in at around 4-7 pages now.
  • doing final look over of Quebec Passages before it goes to press.
  • designing the little scraps of paper with poem bits that wrap around mints to be launched in a trebuchet. Which is yet to be built. This may or may not involve sparkles.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Poetry has many sub-genres. Like Duke Ellington said of kind. It doesn’t matter. There are really only 2…the good and the other kind.

I play in various traditions of them. I like vispo, haiku, senryu, avant garde, trad forms, surreal and things that are less straight forward. or straight forward if it is deeply considered and well-wrought and short. By volume I tend to do the most words in poems that are called “experimental” wherein different source texts are juxtaposed not making for a clear narrative.

Maybe its more distinctive factor is its volume. I don’t publish a great deal but I write daily and sometimes huge volumes. Over 5 hours recently I wrote 2000 words. Something had come to a head enough so that I could access at least around it. Or over 8 days in October I wrote 6-7 sonnets per day. Ones which will get tinkered and the project finished after a cooling off period. I’m not sure what its half life is. Most days I get parts of a poem or few.

I tend to let a little more chaos and word play in. The style depends on the purpose, subject and audience. I don’t see the point of essentialism in voice being one’s nature. It would only make sense for “branding” if there was money to be had from poetry but mostly there’s the living as one must. Brand doesn’t apply in this domain.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Now we get to the real questions. What and how are easy. Motivation is more interesting. Also wildly speculative.

What makes words salient and sensical? What stands out to you, what you can’t filter out if the analogy hold must clog the filter. So, to clear the filter, dump it so I can move on.

To remix, to get past the dust of Peanut’s Pigpen and get to something real, which isn’t to say emotionally charged because that’s another variety of smoke and mirrors.

Writing to explore what is possible, what stretches and snaps, what stretches and holds. Who can leap with me. Who thinks similarly enough that we can build on each other and make a new tower. Or is that too phallic? To tunnel together an make a mega yoni?

Why do I write? I ask that of myself when I don’t want to. I don’t know how to stop. Hubby looks at me when I suddenly go to point. (Apparently the wheels turn visibly.) Carefully he asks, “is there something you need to write down?” uh-huh.  ”Alright, but remember to come back.” And I always do.

4) How does your writing process work?
It depends on the stream.

For haiku I steep in reading hundreds or thousands of haiku in a day then it seeps out in response with that shape of thought imprinted in the head. Or other Japanese forms come out in response to reading them in workshops or thinking about them as we do renga. Aiming for haiku sometimes I tip into tanka.

For vispo a poem arrives sporadically, more out of autobiographical urge, with long gaps between pieces, then bits of gut feel arriving over a series of weeks of the sense of space and sensation of it then sitting down and finding out what the concept looks like by making it.

For form poetry it comes from a challenge, a set of prompts, exercises, and/or wanting to see how far I can push a concept and what it causes. In my Apostrophe and Semicolon series, what happens if I stage Sydney’s characters of Astrophel and Stella as typographical elements in a modern social context? What does that allow? Talking about gender as a construct that in various species are not binary. The urge to make gods. What if other species have a theistic system. Caste and dominance and what economic forces drive those. Like Flatland, what if these things we make are creations with their own lives independent of us.

For freeform verse, it is a way of thinking and exploring language. I don’t know what I’m on about until I examine what I wrote and speculate. It comes from jangled nerves and inexpressibles. Too little sleep, too much stress, desire for play.

It may come in doing processes on my words, such as linking all the words on a scrabble board, or searching my corpus of jot note file for a letter combination and stringing those together. It may come from reacting to a poem that I think is off-base or so badly written that I could fix. Usually in the process seeing what it was they were saying and why. It may spark off a sound combination like “strum” and “trauma” which I think also were juxtaposed on a scrabble board. As were “fun” and “fauna”. Mouth feel of words of how they relate to another. It comes from resisting the tiresome direct sharings of life stories that are called poems. It comes from wanting to dialogue instead of being told what to think, feel, perceive.

Some quieter freeform may come from a rhythm in the head, especially while walking, pieced together over weeks. It comes from wanting to hold onto something beautiful and ephemeral and to draw someone else’s eye to be more informed and pay attention to world outside of the human world.

Step Three:

At the end of your blog post, say who is on next week (your own chosen three) – give a 1-2 line bio and link to their website. You’ll need to find three other writer mates to ask to do the same a week after you, and so on and so forth…

There’s a #mywritingprocess Twitter tag we can use, as well as linking to the blog post from our Facebook pages.

Rosemary Nissen Wade was born in Tasmania, lives in Australia. She helped start Poets Union of Australia in the late seventies. Pioneered poetry workshops in prisons in the early eighties. Formed Word of Mouth Poetry Theatre with Anita Sinclair, Ken Smeaton, Malcolm Brodie, 1986. Her most recent book is her Secret Leopard: New and Selected Poems 1974-2005 (Paris, Alyscamps Press, 2005).

Two other want to hop on and post in a week?

Categories: Poetics.

Versefest 2014: Sister in Slam

Way back on Day 3 of Versefest there was a woman’s slam performance.

KaylaCandice Bruchhaeuser
Kayla Fraser (left) organized and MCed the event where there was a roller coaster of arc with poets cycling from topic to topic on aspects of being female from dating, to assault or fear of, friendship and love, from politics to motherhood and hopes for kids. They passed seamlessly from one to another to give a faceted collage of snapshots of young women in terms of their relationships among themselves, to love, loss, family, politics and the future.

Candice Bruchhaeuser (right) was first up at mic in the many rotations over 80 minutes. She started with poem interweaving Mama said they’d be days like this.

Candice Bruchhaeuser Philosi-Fire
Candice and Philosi-Fire

Light Billie Jane Kearns Light
Light and Billie Jane Kearns.

Billie Jane picked up the theme and and connected to other things that mother said, like “be kind, but not stupid” and the frustrations of navigating internal and external walls of the the possible and the passible doors. “How am I supposed to makes decisions is I’m afraid of my own power?”

Light said on being judged by one’s outside as being innocuous. “Call it whatever you like but I don’t have time for that.” Black women are from governor general “to head of state yet they still expect me in a strip club?”

“I couldn’t understand my parents worryig about me until I started worry about myself”

Philosi-Fire had a poem about walking alone and feeling paranoid about being followed and starting to walk faster but then “slowed down because fast steps are louder” and then realized the shadow from behind her was herself.

She implored why is it that every time a woman is raped or killed they describe her age, description, job and clothes as if that made any difference?

Candace hooked in and questioned what it is we understand in terms of numbers from a newspaper like stock exchange or crime stats. And how is it that “this society where there’s a difference between stepping on a centipede but playing with a kitten while both are carnivorous.”

Light did one of her regular pieces that’s a crowd pleaser “you don’t need a man to be mistreated”. Treat yourself well. In a later poem “afro this, afro that. I’m an afro-desiac [...] stop scratching the surface to determine the depth of my soul—black and beautiful.” A later poem talked about the failed American dream and how every avenue of “entertainment” sells violence and guns and then pretends surprise when people become violent. Was it the American dream or a nightmare or “was I never asleep”?

Philosi-Fire turned it wider to political and asked why is it not unananimous to sign petitions to end domestic violence? [UN Trust fund to educate on.] In a later poem she said, we’re taught that sexuality is a flower and if it is torn away from us we didn’t grip tight enough but “why was I taught self-defence but he was not taught consent”. And later an anti-war poem that said that if we go to war we have to write the history ad hoc to make it justified and make us victorious. In a later poem she addressed America and their various colonial aka peace/protection invasions. “How is that you come to make things better but when you leave there are scars that weren’t there before?”

Candace then turned the tune to a love poem, but love gone wrong and a chastising a furtive boyfriend playing around. “you are the big dipper but even while spooning me you are scooping another deep dark matter” and and “I’m tired of being a pillar, a lesser figure to you”. “unlike you I can’t survive on salt water. unlike you, I need a lid. do you know what a lid is?”. In a later poem she said I have been eating fire for so long is it any wonder my stomach is full of ash?

Billie Jean came back with a tribute to her best friend. “I had a text book case of new kid syndrome.” and related special memories and concluded “I know this phrase has been turned to candy corn but never forget that I here for you, dear.” She later did a recital of

Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Each performer had a distinct way of performing with Philosi-fire holding very still and the room quieting to attentive as strength came though her words. Billie Jean moved around the room making dramatic gestures and poses like theatre. Candace reenacted/relived her poems pouring herself into the emotions again. Light was extremely animate of face, and held postures and conversational inflections.

I think the last poem was by Philosi-fire and the letter to her future daughter: “I can’t promise you many things but I can promise you this: you’ll make mistakes.” I’ll tell you to be wary of people who tell you what your dreams are”
and “just because you look up to someone doesn’t mean that they can look down on you. It just means that they’re a little taller.”


This month, Words to Live By Series will be showcasing a talented and up-and-coming poet, Philosi-fire Tuesday April 29th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm Pressed Café, 750 Gladstone.

Roua, also known as Philosi-fire, is a free spirit. She spends most of her time creating schedules only to not follow them so that she can make new ones. Roua has a habit of daydreaming at unsuitable times and gets excited about spring, birthdays, and watching the current of the Ottawa river.

Despite her optimistic views Roua’s poetry expresses the bitter and unspoken side of life. Roua’s goal is to have a positive impact on the world even if the world means just one person.

Doors and open mic sign-up is at 7:00pm and the show starts at 7:30pm. $7 at the door or free for performers.

Categories: PSA, Poetry, Poetry reading write-up.

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Word Tools

You already know about Reverse Dictionary which is a kind of an online thesaurus and RhymeZone but did you notice Rhyme Zone now has not just perfect rhymes, near rhymes, similar sounding words but in the same drop down “find word in poetry excerpts“. I’m pretty sure that’s new.

Also new is an oulipo of univocalism by Amanda Earl .

An OULIPO talk by Lee Ann Brown for 40 minutes include procedures such as taking a text and changing every 7th word to the 7th word after it in the dictionary. can use many dictionaries to get most interesting or do it with software

NYT (delightful) Article on Ann Carson

Carson even use a random integer generator to reorder her work. “It saves you a lot of worry,” Carson says about randomness. “You know, all that thinking.”

Updates of people doing national poetry month of oulipost are here which lists techniques and results here.

Bernadette Mayer’s classic list of processes

If you’re looking for more prompts:

Poetic Asides
Daniel Scott Tynsdale samples of his textbook
we write poems
Poetry prompts

or search on twitter for the pwoermd play with #InterNaPwoWriMo

Categories: Link Dump.

Live in Studio

4/5 of Messagio Galore’s Quatour Gualuor were in studio this morning. Brian, jw, Rachel and Georgia were on the radio in a Messagio Galore promo for tonight’s show with Susan Johnston’s Special Blend this morning on CKCU. It is archived here for a few weeks: here. It’s about 20 minutes long of conversation and a few short pieces, about 15 minutes in.

Six-Four by Alastair Larwill, Breath Is by bill bissett, A visit to the Aviary by various, Mescal Rite 1 by Tomahawk, anacyclic poem with two shouts by Dom Sylvester Houédard, and East Wind by bpNichol.

And a picture by Susan Johnston here.

Categories: CKCU, Poetry reading write-up.


When: Friday April 11th at 8pm

Where: Gallery 101, 51B Young St. Ottawa.

What: an adventure in segéëtude via John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing.

Sound poetry, somewhere between music and poetry framed inside John Cage’s Lecture on nothing a reading of things from concrete poetry to visual poetry to song. A lot of the pieces are from the 60s and 70s, but one from Hugo Ball in 1916 and some contemporary pieces.

Hearing the passing of words of a sentence from person to person, the sounds of a word from person to person, it’s like the cooperation of a madcap, sometimes randomly German, French or birdsong small choir.


Who: performed by the Quatour Gualuor: jwcurry, Rachel Lindsey, Georgia Mathewson, Brian Pirie, & Robert Rosen

Featuring work by Richard Beland, bill bissett, Jaap Blonk, Victor Coleman, Dureau de La Malle, Fortunato Depero, François Dufrêne, Paul Haines, Raoul Hausmann, dom sylvester houédard, ernst jandl, Cøghdur Krübben, Alastair Larwill, F.T.Marinetti, Tomahawk, Richard Truhlar, David UU, Don Van Vliet, Frank Zappa & more

How much: $20 at the door (a deal after over 250 hours each of practice.)

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

April 12 Book Fest & launches

I was happy to meet this good folks of the Canadian Author’s Association last night thinking about remixing poetry and source materials. Fun was had all around. (A few people out of shot.)

The Canadian Authors Association of National Capital Region will hold its 1st Annual Book Fest this Saturday — April 12, 2014. That’s at the RA Centre by Billings Bridge.

There will be book for sale by a few dozen writers, 2 minute flash readings, and a panel.

Date: Saturday 12 April, 2014, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (lunch break 12:30–1:00 p.m.).
Place: Clark Hall, RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive, Ottawa (free parking).
Entry: $5 coupon which can be used towards purchase of any book!
Raffle: Raffle of donated books, to be held during inter-panel breaks.
Food: Full restaurant/bar within the centre.

A few of the books that will be there:
travel: Called to Egypt on the Back of the Wind
Called to Egypt on the Back of the Wind is a travelogue and history of Anne McLaughlin’s travel thru the ancient parts of Egypt. It will also be at the signing, naturally.

murder mysteries by Phyllis Bohonis
Two murder mysteries by Phyllis Bohonis: Fire in the Foothills and the new release, The Wilderness, which will have launches at the Arnprior Bookshop as well, but on May 24th. April 30th she will have a book signing from 11-3 at The Miller’s Oven in Manotick.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Poetry on Spines

OPL’s first ever ‘Poetry on spines’ contest takes place April 7-11

The Ottawa Public Library is running a 5-day contest contest called ‘Poetry on spines / Poésie sur dos’ to celebrate National Poetry Month.

How to play?

The subject of the photo should be book spines. Align them in a creative way to make poetry with the found titles. Here’s one:

spine poetry

Quirk Books has some stacking your books examples. Need more inspiration? 100 Scope Notes did spine poems in 2011.


English and French entries will be accepted from April 7-11. Take your own photo of a stack of books from your shelves or what you find at the library.

Send your picture (in a decently sharp legible size) to

Include your name, phone number, home branch and Twitter handle (if you have one) in the email.

Submissions will be judged over the April 12-13 weekend by Pearl Pirie (English) and Gilles Latour (French).

Winners, one in English and one in French, will be announced/contacted Monday, April 14.

last temptation, courage my love
Last Temptation, Courage My Love

Two stores in Kensington Market make a kind of poetry side by side.

The potential for poetry is everywhere.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Textual Artivity

Small town doesn’t mean mall town nothing. At the Human Bean on the main drag of Cobourg all month is an installation of vispo.

I took some phone snapshots while we went thru Cobourg.
photo 5-1 (1)

photo 3-6 (1)
bill bissett on right and consensus was that right is Judith Copithorne. Which is another funny overlap since we just saw her in The Line has Shattered.

photo 1-12 (1)
Beside me on the right, Michael Casteels.

photo 2-12 (1)
Wildly blurry photos but it was the whirr of suddenly there being 7 of us there at once. By carpool multiplying the poet/artist population of the town with Stuart Ross, Laurie Siblock, Sandra Alland, jw curry, Rachel Zavitz, myself and Brian Pirie all descending into the same coffee shop all at the same time. What’re the odds.

Had we been there earlier we could have seen The 3 Ferretpersons in person. But alas, we had no car access then and were in a city far away.

Here’s More details about the show at Human Bean.

Categories: Poetry reading write-up.

fw: League of Canadian Poets award news

The League of Canadian Poets (LCP) is pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2014 Raymond Souster, Gerald Lampert and Pat Lowther Memorial Awards. Congratulations to all of the authors for their fine work, and many thanks to the jurors for their dedication to this year’s awards.

Winners of these awards will be announced during a special ceremony at the LCP Annual Poetry Festival and Conference to be held at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in downtown Toronto on June 7, 2014.

Raymond Souster Award:
The Raymond Souster Award is given for a book of poetry by a League of Canadian Poets member published in the preceding year. The award honours the late Raymond Souster, an early founder of the League of Canadian Poets. The award carries a $1,000 prize.

seldom seen road by Jenna Butler (NeWest Press)
Alongside by Anne Compton (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects by Catherine Graham (Wolsak & Wynn)
Rebel Women by Vancy Kasper (Inanna Publications)
Brilliant Falls by John Terpstra (Gaspereau Press)
Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain by Russell Thornton (Harbour Publishing)
2014 Jury: Bruce Hunter, Laurence Hutchman, Sheila Martindale

Gerald Lampert Memorial Award Shortlist:
The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award is given in the memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized authors’ tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers. The award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year. The award carries a $1,000 prize.

the place of scraps by Jordan Abel (Talonbooks)
Rove by Laurie D. Graham (Hagios Press)
Light Light by Julie Joosten (BookThug)
Surge Narrows by Emilia Nielsen (Leaf Press)
The Survival Rate of Butterflies in the Wild by Murray Reiss (Hagios Press)
Incarnate by Juleta Severson-Baker (Frontenac House Poetry)
2014 Jury: Keith Garebian, Carl Leggo, Pearl Pirie

Pat Lowther Memorial Award Shortlist:
The Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman published in the preceding year, in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $1,000 prize.

The Hottest Summer in Recorded History by Elizabeth Bachinsky (Nightwood Editions)
Alongside by Anne Compton (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Leaving Howe Island by Sadiqa de Meijer (Oolichan Books)
Whirr and Click by Micheline Maylor (Frontenac House Poetry)
Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway by Alexandra Oliver (Biblioasis)
Status Update by Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang (Oolichan Books)
2014 Jury: Elizabeth Greene, Cornelia Hoogland, Betsy Struthers

Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award Winner
The League of Canadian Poets and Calgary Spoken Word Festival are thrilled to announce the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award: bill bissett!

We are pleased to honor poet and artist bill bissett for his influence and impact on spoken word in Canada.  The award will be presented to bill at the League of Canadian Poets’ Annual Poetry Festival and Conference award gala on June 7th, 2014.

This $1000.00 annual award was created by Sheri-D Wilson—a pioneer of spoken word poetry in Canada—to honour a Canadian spoken word artist who has made a substantial contribution to the development of spoken word, through the originality and excellence of his or her own writing/performance works, and through involvement in—and contributions to—the expansion of the spoken word community. The Golden Beret Award was first presented at the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival in 2007. For more information see /

more info?

Michael Dennis’ Blog,
For the month of April his blog will be looking at the nominees for the 2014 Pat Lowther Memorial Award, Raymond Souster Award and the Gerard Lampert Memorial Award. Visit:

rob mclennan’s blog,
Between now and June long-time member rob mclennan will be posting interviews with the authors on the Pat Lowther, Gerald Lampert and  Raymond Souster Memorial Awards:

Open Book Toronto Poetry Coverage
Open Book Toronto has some great coverage of the National Poetry Month launch event and an interview with Executive Director Joanna Poblocka.

Poetry Readings & Events Across Canada During April
The website for a full listing of the 50+ National Poetry Month events taking place across Canada.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.