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95Books CWILA Self-Audit

Alright, I admit I’m bogged. I have a couple dozen books left to summarize from last year and the year is getting on. I don’t know if I can pare out the time before February.

Following it is the breakdown on self-audit on categories of reading.

In 2014 I read 144 titles, which is only a couple a week. For a while it looked like I might average out to 3 a week.

3/4 were books, the rest chapbooks. In previous years I left out chapbooks unless I wanted to give one a shout out. To a degree I did that again. The push is to read paper and to finish a book rather than browse about. The push is to read wider. I didn’t count online reading but did count ebooks. I don’t tend to read all of magazines so again they don’t make the list.

Invisible are people who are writing who are presenting as one gender but may be genderqueer. If the pen name is one gender, I tick that box. With gender, what counts? I If there is a female translator of male work, which gender is the book? I counted that as multiple as with anthology.

If I count only the book-books and not chapbooks or magazines I get this.

Instead of looking only at gender this year, I added a few more elements into the reading audit including whether it was Canadian or international. It didn’t vary much if I count only the books and not books and chapbooks together. These are the numbers of all together:


And just the books:
Of domestic vs non-Canadian. With a Canadian writer with an American press, which side do I fall on? f it is a Canadian writer translating a European writer, which way to fall? All kinds of fuzzy zones. Maybe next year I should add a column for multiple for nationality as well.

For books vs. chapbooks.

I added genre, generation, and genes.

I added a count, very rough of genre of writing, poetry, or non-poetry. (What finer discrimination does one need? ;) ) Mostly the non-poetry was history, essays, non-fiction on typography and memoir/biography.


For generation I added year of composition to consider how much is classic vs new and the shelf drop off after something is over 5 years old.


For what I’ll call here, genes, I also added a count of the proportion of visible minorities. How do we measure? Is there a pantone for that? A century ago Irish, dark Italians, Turks, Greeks southern European Jewish were excluded from white. Do we decant to South African’s 1/64th black blood? Here’s a blog list of racialized Canadians. Bloggers of colour. But it’s a complex business. An ugly sort of business when fine-tuning. But without hard numbers how do we know individual or context? Instincts are wishes.

Of course skin tint shouldn’t matter. Do we presume an exoticism that a skin tint brings a different content? But does it? If you read who you know and only know a white enclave, isn’t something amiss in your sense of writers as tribe if there are visible color lines? What’s perpetuated at individual minute to minute level is responsible for the global picture? (See comic, who wants change? Show of hands from everyone. Who wants to change? No one raises a hand.)

Why is that with Canada’s population of declared being 16% of visible minority [StatsCan] (next census due next year cancelled) I was reading 7%-9% (depending on books and chapbooks or books only by UN definition of books)? Seems disproportionally fewer. although if we consider my geography Ontario visible minority is 6.6% as of a decade ago. But if we look at Ottawa-Gatineau, we’re back up to 16% visible minority.

What’s visible? How to count? Am I asking the right question yet?

There may be people who self-define as native but I am unaware of it. Race being a construction and identity, what do I have to go on for someone’s colour? Malcolm Gladwell presents white to some eyes but self-defines as half-Jamaican. How many do I presume white because I have no data? It feels wrong to make up lists and cross-check cultural background. Here’s my list of Irish Writers, and South African Boer writers, and Scandinavian and Jewish and Australian Aborigine. What ghettos do we paint ourselves into and does it make it better?

To be aware that I’m reading mostly white Anglo Canadian is good to note and inquire into why and how. It would seem reasonable for demographics to consider French vs. English. I read slower in French but i pecked away at some french poetry and am working on reading more. Some I read in translation. I could do more. Goodreads has a list of French CanLit in English but it’s all novels: French CanLit Novels in English. Canadian Literature has recommended French Poetry in translation and the anthologies cover dozens of poets.

What other categories of voices? invisible minorities? Stories by people with strokes, or cerebral palsy or depression. Depression as a swatch would probably cover so many writers that would not be salient.

There are gaps. For some books I have no clue to sexuality or gender. Some authors I could google around for the data, some not. What of writers that are bi but not politically so like myself, or it hasn’t percolated as part of public bio? These are presumed het. If one isn’t writing about sexuality issues is it relevant for demographics or only people writing about sexual dynamics het counted against someone doing the same while in the GLBTQQ? And what to do with poly? Is that under GLBTQQ?

So, for paying attention to whose stories I am listening to, I added a count of queer writers. Here’s a list made by Casey of 2014 in the CanLit queer writers section: 2014 of queer CanLit.

The whole shebang was:

  1. Chinatown Zodiac by Steve Artelle (self-published, 2013)
  2. Ignite by Rona Shaffron (Signature Editions, 2013)
  3. Leaving Howe Island by Sadiqa de Meijer (Oolichan Books, 2013)
  4. The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton (1911)
  5. fur(l) parachute by Shannon Maguire (BookThug, 2013)
  6. micro haiku: three to nine syllables by George Swede (Inspress, 2014)
  7. glottal stop: 101 poems by Paul Celan, translated by Nikolai Popov & Heather McHugh (Wesleyan Poetry, 2000)
  8. Jail Fire by Julie C Robinson (Buschek, 2013)
  9. Surge Narrows by Emilia Nielson (Leaf Press
  10. Desire Lines by Glen Downie (Wolsak & Wynn, 2002)
  11. Strangely Happy by Joan Margarit, translated by Anna Crowe, (Bloodaxe Books, 2008)
  12. Black Suede Cave by David Reibetanz (Guernica, 2013)
  13. The Loneliness Machine by Aaron Giovannone (Insomniac, 2013)
  14. The Blue Tower by Tomaž Šalamun, translated by Michael Biggins (Houton Mifflin, 2011)
  15. Road Trip River Voices: Canada Liminal: A Travelogue of Longing Across Two Continents by Lynne Pearl (Snell, 2013)
  16. Muse by Dawn Marie Kresan (Tightrope, 2013)
  17. Believing the Line: The Jack Siegel Poems by Mark Silverberg (Breton Books, 2013)
  18. Dewey The Library Cat by Vicki Myron (Grand Central, 2008)
  19. White Piano by Nicole Brossard translated by Robert Majzels and Erin Moure. (Coach House, 2013)
  20. The Sea With No One In It by Niki Koulouris (Porcupine’s Quill, 2013)
  21. The Monument Cycles by Mariner James (Talon, 2013)
  22. The Sky The by Michael Sikkema (Serif of Nottingham Editions, 2012)
  23. Not Quite the Classics by Colin Mochrie (Penguin, 2013)
  24. Acknowledgements and Poems by Avonlea Fotheringham (Self-published, 2014 with design by Stephen Watt)
  25. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor Books, 1994).
  26. heart badly buried by five shovels by Hugh Thomas (Paper Kite Press, 2009)
  27. The Hottest Summer in Recorded History by Elizabeth Bachinsky (Nightwood, 2013)
  28. The House is Still Standing by Adrienne Barrett (Icehouse poetry/Gooseland, 2013)
  29. Laws of Rest by David B Goldstein (BookThug, 2013)
  30. Incarnate by Juleta Severson-Baker (Frontenac, 2013)
  31. Uncertainty Principle by rob mclennan (Chaudiere, 2014)
  32. Fidelity by Grace Paley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)
  33. radish ~ a singulaity by Czandra (obvious epiphanies, 2014)
  34. Works and Days by Edward Kleinschmidt Mayes (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)
  35. Arrhythmia by Janice Tokar (above/ground, 2014)
  36. from Lamentations by Robert Hogg (above/ground, 2012)
  37. in the laurels, caught by Lee Ann Brown (Fence Books, 2013)
  38. Love-Lyrics with Life Pictures by James Whitcomb Riley (Braunworth & Co Bookbinders & Printers, Brookley, NY, 1899)
  39. Shouting Your Name Down the Well: Tankas and Haiku by David W McFadden (Mansfield, 2014)
  40. moon baboon canoe by Gary Barwin (Mansfield Press, 2014)
  41. Blue Sonoma by Jane Munro (Brick Books, 2014)
  42. The Energy of Slaves by Leonard Cohen
  43. The Radiation Sonnets by Jane Yolen (2003, Algonquin Books,North Carolina)
  44. My Journey by Joseph Jurman (self-published, undated).
  45. In a Country None of Us Called Home by Peg Bresnaham (Press 53, 2014)
  46. Singing in the Silo by Philomene Kocher (Catkin Press, 2014)
  47. You must look hard to see what is there by Nelson Ball (press-press-pull, portland oregon, 2014) [end of list 5]
  48. Three Letter Words by Nelson Ball (a reprint by Press-Press-Pull in 2014 of the 2006 book)
  49. Ker-bloom! 107, March-April 201Four, (artnoose, Pittsburgh PN, 2014)
  50. The Counting House, Sandra Ridley (BookThug, 2013)
  51. Metropantheon, Steven Artelle (Signature Editions, 2014)
  52. The Polymers, Adam Dickinson (Anansi, 2013)
  53. The Daughter-in-Law by DH Lawrence (1912)
  54. Mermaid Road by Louise Carson (broken rules press, 2013)
  55. Bonsai Love by Diane Tucker (Habour Publishing, 2014)
  56. School by Jen Currin (Coach House, 2014)
  57. The Selected Poems of Shuntarō Tanikawa, trans, Harold Wright (North Point Press, 1983)
  58. What Maisie Knew, Henry James (1897)
  59. Flurries by LeRoy Gorman (Timberline Press, 1999)
  60. Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing, collected letters and notes of Thomas Merton (2007)
  61. Melancholy Scientist by Nicholas Power (Tekseditions, 2014)
  62. The Beginner’s Guide: Acrylics by Angela Gair (New Holland, 1994)
  63. Poemotion, by Takahiro Kurashima ( Lars Müller Publishers, 2011).
  64. 101 Things I Learned at Architecture School, Matthew Frederick (MIT Press, 2007)
  65. The Raw Pearl, Pearl Bailey (Harcourt, Brace, 1968)
  66. bottle rockets, issue no 30
  67. The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception by Martha Silano (Saturnalia Books, 2011)
  68. Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-Wide, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks (Mosaic Press, 2000).
  69. Reeds and their Shadows by Christina Baillie & Nicholas Power (Gesture Press, 2013)
  70. in twenty words or less by David Collins & Otto Graser (Black Squirrel Press, 1994)
  71. Hypotheticals by Leigh Kotsilidis (Coach House, 2011)
  72. Rivering: The Poetry of Daphne Marlatt edited by Susan Knutson (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2014) (on Kobo).
  73. Philip Whalen’s Tulip by Marthe Reed (NousZot Press, Dusie Kolletiv, 2014)
  74. The Ledger by Robert Kroetsch (Brick, 1975)
  75. Forbidden Books of the New Testament (1820)
  76. A Writer’s Life The Margaret Laurence Lectures: 25th Anniversary of the Lecture Series (Writers’ Trust of Canada, 2011)
  77. Poems of François Villon translated by Norman Cameron (Jonathan Cape, 1952)
  78. Making Your Life as an Artist by Andrew Simonet (Artists U, 2014)
  79. Shen Fu: Six Records of a Life Adrift, translated by Graham Sanders (Hackett, 2011).
  80. In Search of Tatiana by Marshall Hryciuk (LyricalMetrical Books, 2014)
  81. Desperately Seeking Susans: An Anthology of Poetry, edited by Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang (Oolichan, 2012)
  82. I Shout Love, by Milton Acorn, edited by James Deahl (Aya Press, 1987)
  83. Ember and Earth (Selected Poems) by Gaston Miron, translated by D.G. Jones and Marc Plourde (Guernica Editions, 1984)
  84. Portal Stones by Frances Boyle (Tree Press, 2014)
  85. Naturally Speaking by Sandra Alland, (Espresso, 2012)
  86. Old Hat by Rob Winger (Nightwood, 2014)
  87. Complete Sonnets of Archibald Lampman, edited by Margaret Coulby Whitridge (Borealis, 1976)
  88. A Clearing by Louise Carson (forthcoming, Signature Editions, 2015)
  89. The Color of Water: A Black Man’s tribute to His White Mother by James McBride (Penguin, 1996)
  90. Very Special People by Frederick Drimmer (Citadel, 1971)
  91. Singular Plurals by Roland Prevost (Chaudiere, 2014)
  92. Sound Ideas: Hearing and Speaking Poetry by B Eugene McCarthy and Fran Quinn (Hobblebush, 2013)
  93. Astrophel and Stella by Philip Sidney, a translation by A.S. Kline, (2003)
  94. a thin line between by Wanda Praamsma (BookThug, 2014)
  95. The Vignelli Canon by Massimo Vignelli (Lars Muller, 2010)
  96. Theseus: A Collaboration, bpNichol & Wayne Clifford (BookThug, 2014)
  97. The Green Word Selected Poems, Erin Mouré (Oxford University Press, 1994)
  98. distinctions: (rob mclennan, above/ground, 2014)
  99. [from] carcino¼Ґ!Y#86Øi‡ſß™86Ł*,´≈μðm‰г]³4¤±_gen (16 Pages Digital Chapbooks by Nickel Gambles, ed./curated by Daniel Zomparelli, 2014)
  100. Robert Bly: Selected Poems by Robert Bly, (Harper & Row, 1986)
  101. Images from Declassifed Nuclear Test Films by Stephen Brockwell (above/ground, 2014)
  102. Thou by Aisha Sasha John (BookThug, 2014)
  103. The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol reader, edited by Darren Wershler-Henry and Lori Emerson, (Coach House, 2007)
  104. Whiskey And Wickedness: Lower Rideau River Valley of Carleton, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties (Whiskey and Wickedness, #1) Larry D Cotton, (Larry D. Cotton Associates Ltd., 1997)
  105. An Acre in Time by Phil Jenkins (Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2002)
  106. Time Was Soft There: A Memoir A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co by Jeremy Mercer (Picador, 2005)
  107. The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deaus Rex Judaeorum (1611)
  108. Five (Apt 9 Press, 2014)
  109. The Pleasure of Text by Roland Barthe (1973)
  110. Polyamorous Love Songs: A Novel by Jacob Wren bookthug, 2014)
  111. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 2008)
  112. Hallellujah Anyway by Kenneth Patchen (New Directions, 1967)
  113. Brood by rob thomas (Bywords, 2014)
  114. Punctuation: Art, Politics, and Play by Jennifer DeVere Brody (Duke U Press, 2008)
  115. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss (Gotham, 2003)
  116. Bird Facts by Dave Currie (Apt 9, 2014)
  117. Klee Wyck by Emily Carr (1941)
  118. Another Bad Haircut by John Sheirer (Riverstone Books, 1997)
  119. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 2005)
  120. Love the Sacred Raisin Cakes by Sarah Burgoyne (Baseline Press, 2014)
  121. O My God of Apes and Apples by Paul Mackan (Publish America, 2011)
  122. Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston, (Norton, 2013)
  123. Sonnet in a Blue Dress and Other Poems by Sarah Tolmie (Baseline Press, 2014)
  124. Tiny by Marilyn Irwin (in/words, 2014)
  125. is…fog….is: Algonquin Park Haiku by Grant D. Savage (Éditions de petits nuage, 2014)
  126. Cloudy with a Fire In the Basement by Ronna Bloom (Pedlar, 2012)
  127. Surreal Estate, edited by Stuart Ross (Mercury Press, 2004)
  128. Malaria Poems by Cameron Conaway (Michigan State University Press, 2014)
  129. Capital Poets: An Ottawa Anthology, edited by Colin Morton (Ouroboros, 1989)
  130. Garden by Monty Reid (Chaudiere, 2014)
  131. Doxologies by Gil McElroy (above/ground, 2014)
  132. Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer by Stuart Ross, (Anvil Press, 2005)
  133. Whisky and Wickedness No 3 by Larry D Cotton, (self-published, 2008)
  134. Ocean by Sue Goyette (Gaspereau, 2013)
  135. What the World Said by Jason Camlot (Mansfield, 2013)
  136. Take Out Window 2014 Haiku Society of America Members Anthology (Haiku Society, 2014)
  137. Light Carved passages by Frances Boyle (Buschek, 2014)
  138. Surfaces of Sense by Nicole Brossard, trans Fiona Strachen (Couch House Quebec Translations, 1989)
  139. The transparent Neighbour by Wain Ewing (Proper Tales Press, 1984)
  140. Helen Vendler: The Given and the Made: Recent American Poets TS Eliot Memorial Lecture (Faber & Faber, 1995)
  141. Ora Ga Haru, Mon Année de Printemps by Kobayashi Isa, trad, Bridgette Allioux, (éditions cécile defaut, 2006)
  142. Secret Leopard: New & Selected Poems, 1974-2005 by Rosemary Nissen-Wade, (Alysscamp Press, 2005)
  143. Personals, poems by Ian Williams (Freehand, 2012)
  144. How to Tell Lies: G8 (Handbook, ed by Robin Bell (Bluechrome, 2006)

Categories: Currently reading.

Tags: , , , , ,

fw: Feel The Love, Cobourg

Wherever you live on this big old planet, we invite you to submit a love poem that we can consider including in our February 14, 2015 {piCs} project, which is called:
poets ♥ downtown Cobourg

This is a repeat of last year’s very successful collaboration between {poetry in Cobourg spaces} and the DBIA (Downtown Cobourg).

It will occur Saturday, February 14 to coincide with:
the DBIA’s “FEEL THE LOVE” event; and,
Valentine’s Day; and,
the holiday weekend (Family Day falls on Monday, February 16); and,
Cobourg Tourism’s Winter Festivities event; and …
… wow! Just WOW!

Last year, 200 poems from all over the world were presented to the public in our wonderful town, widely known as “a poetry place.”

For our 2014 event, an even larger number of poems will be shown in a public display throughout the downtown of Cobourg, Ontario. We hope to use 500.

Also, pairs of poets will wander around downtown asking passers-by, “Would you like me to read you a love poem?” and if the answer is “Yes” that’s exactly what they will do.

Again, the way the poetry is exhibited will invite the public not only to stop and read (or stop and be read to) but also to “TAKE ME” “SHARE ME” “LOVE ME”

Yes, anybody can take away any copy of any poem they like … to show people at home … to read later … to keep forever … whatever moves them.

The only “Right” extended to us for the poems is for this one-time only usage: copyright and all other uses of the poem is retained by the poet.

If you submit, you will not receive feedback from us about your poetry; we could not possibly develop a critique for each poem we receive. Our experience last year taught us that it is not feasible for us to give individualized replies to poets who submit. Thus, our responses will be in a generalized format and will sometimes be limited to a broad-swath-type reply, either by email or via social media. (Last year, we grew to feel completely swamped. But we still think it is wonderful to be swamped by poetry; it’s just difficult to give everyone personalized attention..)

We will (again) present to the public still photography and video (with audio) of the Saturday, February 14 event. Last year, a big group of poets out there were quite delighted to either see an image of their poems on public display or, perhaps, to have video of a poet reading their work to passers-by. Again, that will be presented both on youtube and on Facebook.

We hope *YOU* send us poetry. (Be sure to review the criteria below. We do not want you to waste our time BUT even more than that, we do not want you to waste your time.)

James Pickersgill, Secretary,
{poetry in Cobourg spaces}

* ** *** ** *

The poems that are displayed will be selected from the submissions we receive. The poems read by our wandering poets to passers-by are taken from those on display.

ONLY submissions received by email will be considered. Use this email address to submit:
pics [at]

Do *NOT* submit your poem(s) using this Facebook event page. Do *NOT* submit your poetry using Facebook messaging. If you do so, the poems will not be considered.

ONLY submissions received before the end of the day Monday, February 2, 2014 will be considered.

ONLY poems that fit within our criteria both for the number of lines and for maximum line length will be considered.

ONLY poems that are submitted already formatted –BY YOU so we can copy-and-paste them without any re-formatting– will be considered.

Note well:
Submission does *NOT* guarantee inclusion in the project. An editorial process will be applied to ensure that the poems are acceptable for display to the general public (for instance, we are asking for “love” poems, not “lust” poems).

Last year, approximately 500 poems were submitted. From those 200 were selected.

Also, we will not include any poems that are NOT love poems (if you send us a poem that only expands on semiotics or Monsanto seeds causing health problems in humans and cows or the taste of the eggs laid by free-range chickens you raise on your urban farm or who you would pick as the President of the newly-proclaimed break-away Democratic Federation of Flebisque, etc, we will enjoy reading what you have written but we will NOT include it in this particular project).

Note too: no poet is restricted to submitting only one poem or having only one selected. As stated, we hope to collect and present 500 love poems.


The length of the longest line in a poem will be 75 characters maximum (spaces and punctuation are considered to be characters).

The maximum length of the poem is 25 lines. If the poem is titled, the Title counts as a line; if the poem is broken into stanzas, each space between stanzas counts as a line.

We are able to use 2 columns side-by-side as long as the above two criteria work in combination, that is, poems up to 50 lines in length can be used if the longest line is 35 characters or less.

For your information: our experience last year showed us that the poems that worked best were 14 lines or less. (That would be 28 lines if they would fit into a 2 columns side-by-side presentation).


Last year, we found that formatting all the poems to fit our presentation template was extremely (extremely!) time consuming. We will not be able to do that again this year, especially because we want to increase the number of poems used from 200 to 500.

You must format your poems before sending them.
Use “Georgia” as your font.
Use 16 pt as your font-size for the body of the poem.
Use 18 pt for the poem’s Title (if it has one but a title is not a requirement).
Put your name at the bottom of the poem also using 16 pt.
If you submit more than one poem, put your name at the bottom of each one and put a page break between each poem. (That is, do not put more than one poem per page.)

* ** *** ** *
We hope you send us a poem (or thirteen).

James Pickersgill, Secretary,
{poetry in Cobourg spaces}

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

PoeTrain Readings

When? Wed April 15, 7-9pm
Where? Pressed Café, 750 Gladstone Avenue. Ottawa
What? Great Canadian PoeTrain Launch Event.
Who? An opening ceremony (blessing by elder Albert Dumont), poetry by Pearl Pirie, Max Middle add Dennis Reid who presents Vimeo poetry. An open mic.

If you’re Toronto-based there’s a fundraiser reading sooner with Max Layton, Cathy Petch and Robert Priest Feb 12 at The Hot House Café, 35 Church St, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1T3.

What’s the PoeTrain? The PoeTrain is a few days in April in a train carful of poets. You can do it all or legs going from Ottawa to Vancouver with stops in Toronto and Edmonton for the writing festival there. It is doing a boarding call for tickets Jan 31.

More information on the PoeTrain.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

This Week’s Literary Landscape: Ottawater 11

This Thursday I’ll be talking with a couple of the poets in Ottawater which launches annual issue 11 Fri Oct 30th.

Catherine Brunet is a high school teacher in the Ottawa Valley. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in Arc, Prairie Fire, Grain, The Literary Review of Canada, The New Quarterly, The Dalhousie Review, Queen’s Quarterly, Vallum and other Canadian literary journals. She lives with an engineer and an elderly bulldog.

Vivian Vavassis is a Montréal ex-pat who currently lives in Ottawa and calls both cities home. Her poems and essays have appeared in Arc, ottawater, Peter F. Yacht Club, Montage, A Crystal Through Which Love Passes: Glosas for P.K. Page, Phafours Press publications, and Studies in Canadian Literature, among others. Once upon a time, she co-founded and ran a little ‘zine called incunabula. Her work has been shortlisted for the Diana Brebner Prize and featured as part of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate’s Poem of the Month Program (Canada). She also has a chapbook forthcoming with Textualis Press and will be reading on Feb. 7, 2015 at the Factory Reading Series.

That’s on 93.1fm or on the internet at CKCUfm

Categories: CKCU.

AB Series

A B Poster - Ferrier
Coming this Thursday

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Poems at Play

What is the unit of composition? The line? The phrase? The sentence? The argument? The image? Life-wide? Sound? Form? Metaphor? Rhythmical unit?

When I look at how I think poetically, or generally, there’s a lot of constraint, but also a pattern of deconstructing and reconstructing strategies. I like to take words apart, dissect ideas. What I write is about what tickles, matters to me in some way, both in process and in result.

Incorporated into some poems in the pet radish, shrunken (BookThug, 2015), and Well That Puts generator page (or some autoposting to twitter on the hour), I am looking for words embedded in words that aren’t the root word. These give a little pleasure burst. These matryoshka words may break across the original syllables or change the vowel sound like, “Well, at the heart of improper is rope.” or “Well, that puts the cane in buccaneer.” The bot phrases it as if it has found a truth of the roots. This amuses me because of how sure people are in general about perfectly foolish things, mixing up cause and effect and coinciding events, but are equally sure of etymology because the dictionary vouches for it as real. The bot questions the real, tongue in cheek.

I have had a chapbook underway for years which plays false etymologies of words or phrases. For example, to stagnate: to be like a stag deer. How that metaphor would expand if we pretend a folk anecdote of etymology were true? The nonsense appeals partly because sensical narratives don’t make sense without a shadow of everything chaotic around it.

It seem like nonsense yet you can’t fully step outside of sense. Even the most absurd thing reads as symbolic truth, foils it, is tea leaves of it. It is obliquely true as much as it tries to be false and I find that a little fascinating. The back door friendliness of it, the casual friendship with language instead of trying to make it be your mouthpiece. We are always the mouthpieces of things bigger and older than ourselves.

I like surrealism partly because things are more fluid than fixed. There’s a dream state of possibilities where I can transform things from un œuf into un neuf into a 9 into a 6 into a comma or back (as a poem in the pet radish, shrunken). I like where boundaries blur between what is, what is something else, what is believes and what is make-believe.

I guess that framing started further back with Boathouse (above/ground, 2008), (pronounced oath in the boathouse). No, wait, it started further back in playing scrabble and trying to extend words from other words.

And that migrated to poetry. When I scrape word combination that come from different purposes, such as scrabble boards, I may use 20-40 boards and how words cross and touch each other as if saying a prayer. What could the combinations mean? There’s a rhythm. There’s a skew, depending on who one is playing with, towards uncommon words or monosyllabic words. If you collect words as the game proceeds, you get matryoshka words. If you play anti-scrabble you can mix in words and “non-words”. You can scaffold by affixes to know grammatical structure and put new parts of the world in juxtaposition. It gives a semblance of meaning.

I played with rhythm units and scrabble word combinations and spin-off debates in making polyphonic choral of civet tongues and manna (unarmed, 2014). The mind argues for resolution with itself regardless of input given. It tries to make sense from random incongruity because that is the same process as living globally.

In poems made for 2nd Iteration of Roman Feuilleton with AB Series, I used homophonic translation of Michele Provost’s surreal text. Roman Feuilleton, 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.

The results of that will be in a reading with several of us and how we each responded is on January the 29th.

For my part I tried to reconcile sounds as if heard by a deaf person, a sort of whispers game where the assumption is that there is a narrative when the source text has no narrative or continuity. I presumed I am listening to an English text when the text is French. What doesn’t make sense to the confirmation bias is distorted or thrown out.

So here, for example, is part of texte-s, heard on slant, aided by the computer reading with its anglo software that gets confused by any diacritic.

1. Soudain, de proche en proche, le ciel est ébranlé. « Silence ! » crie le prêtre, et il
1.0.1. susan the brioche of the brioche, the seal is buttery silence. gruel was prepared and it
2. referme son livre. Sa main éprouvait la vibration de la sonnerie par petits coups
2.1. reaffrimed our life. some man proved the vibratio of the sound in little hits
3. décroissants. Ses sœurs au regard sauvage et aux lèvres boudeuses approchaient sur
3.1. of croissants. hunger regards us all as savages and the lip buds that approach tehm
4. la pointe des pieds. Six d’entre elles étaient dans le début de la vingtaine et ne
4.1. like tiptoes. six appraoch them like stars in the bright sky, like Susan Sontang and
5. savaient pas ce qui les attendait, et la septième, qui aurait pu être leur mère, le leur
5.1. a savant who seems not to pay attention but on the september 3 orally put butter’s mother and lemur
6. expliqua. Sera-t-elle fidèle pour si longtemps ? Sa piété excessive, les privations
6.1. who explained that sara will fiddle for as long as she can, a pity would be an undue a privacy for a family meals
7. qu’elle s’imposait, attiraient l’attention de la Supérieure, qui n’aimait pas que l’on
7.1. which impose themselves and attract extra attention (for this isn’t Paris where good food is taken as a rule) the love of rot
8. dérange l’ordre établi par des élans personnels. Surtout ne pas passer en jugement !
8.1. that destabilizes the order with corn sugar, part of one’s personal touch. over everything. but who passes judgements
9. Sur le balcon, Thérèse, Richard et Philippe riaient comme des petits fous.
9.1. on the bacon. theresa, richard and philip react by scarfing back petit fours.

And then the second step of transformation to a more internal consistency.

hunger regards us all as savages

on the high end of the flakey scale, Susan,
the brioche of the brioches, was sealed
in her buttery silence. Sara would fiddle
as long as she could with her little hits
of croissant and crossness. pout faces tire.
at least she didn’t have to take recourse
to coarseness or crassness, but for the lower classes
of the poor, outcasts, freaks, a gruel was prepared
and that would reaffirm our pale lives. our lip buds
approach the spoon like stars in the bright sky,
lean like Susan Sontang under trailer fluorescents.
she observes the spillage, corn syrup strands
as part of one’s personal touch over everything.
theresa, richard and philip react to her hand, steady
cam, by scarfing back grocery store petit fours.

An interesting side effect of it is that some of the poems read with a French flavour. Because I am mapping to match syllable stress and directly or by effect the grammar I get a lot of prepositional phrases. I get a structure that isn’t typical for me as I tend to have more stressed syllables per line than English and this makes it all softer, more floating with less stressed syllables.

It is new for me and yet within the normal of how I process. I like looking at components. I like scavenging for elements. I like using what is there to collage. What is there may be any content. In over my dead corpus (AngelHouse, 2010) I ran search strings through years of my reading notes files, for example, every instance of “ack” was collated, the grab going around the words on either side.

In that process I’m selecting for interesting word combinations without an eye of how it could all possibly fit together. Dragged elsewhere, making a new context it works agains the original intent, works as material. The logic is that if something stood out to me, surely the end product using that material will also be interesting to me if I mix all the elements. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a sauce with too many ingredients. As a by-product, the poems that result have built-in a higher than odds assonance or consonance because of the root.

To demonstrate, I went thru half a current notes file and pulled out “ack-strings”,

• the market isn’t going to offer anything affordable off the rack that varies enough
• feedback animation
• young when he died. wonder what I can pull back.
• seems to mean a backhand compliment
• indicate on package: Ottawa
• videos here will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
• all is white noise and background radiation
• isn’t somewhere you can get back to
• pack, to silent again,
• Mackenzie shared
• black comedy but it’s terribly earnest
• stuck onto the back of
• The instructor’s adorable, a snack of chocolate pretzels
• still tarp as a shack
• acknowledge resistences
• lack of trust in
• get your vegan snack attack on
• flashback by refusing to release from
• paperback backwards
• Not that I have anything against the fine and noble animal, the jackass.

The puzzle gets shuffled until a click. Maybe all the pieces aren’t the same puzzle. Maybe it’s 2 or 3 pieces. Maybe it generates something else interesting, sparking a springboard idea that becomes a lyric poem. Or a pwoermd. Like, right there in the penultimate string, “paperbackwards”.

I’m also doing a couple week chapbooks from portmanteaus I’ve done; these pwoermds are as addictive as puns.

And there’s puns. The word play, visual or sonic litter my poems. And come out elsewhere. For the food blog I pun a headline whenever I can “beware all who lentil in” or “pretty content” or “grit and bear it” for grits. Taking what is there and twisting it like a lemon is part of the basic elements of poetry but it may be the take-away line, jamming the knife home, or widening to cosmic significance that does the spin. In pwoermds it’s turning around on a time of nanoseconds instead. It’s a variant on pleasure of play.

But back to the exercise of corpus searching, what would I do with an ack-string? The poem by my rules should rate to the core sound, so while ack would be dismay, if the search string were ooh, it would lead a tone of surprise or pleased. So ack:


Mackenzie shared black comedy
but it’s terribly earnest. nothing is more
solemn than satire. non-plussed
at the lack of trust the government
flushes from us, our trust back
seems a backhand compliment.
who all packs themselves to silence
again, aims to become hiss in this context
where all is white noise and background
radiation, set dressing of signal lost.

except that boosted and glossed
by the corporations for public cooperation
with government service. you heard
that videos here will be tracked by
YouTube/Google. their track record is clear.
indicates on the digital package: Ottawa.

yet we ride on, stuck onto the back of the fine
and noble animal, but the jackass market
for information isn’t going to offer anything affordable
off the rack that becomes tortuous grind
of google showing results only of what
was previously primed. a feedback loop
borne for a pessimist who builds
dungeons in the iClouds. what can I pull back
while I’m still tarp as a shack
and remember what danger is.

The sound gives a seed star then a constellation to shape a myth around. Some things drop. Some things give structure to other things. Sometimes it falls flat. It gives time to look at language up close, to consider ideas, to look at language syllable by syllable which allows me to appreciate its strengths and qualities, to emulate or move away from. It allows the ideas to be tasted longer.

In been shed born (Chaudiere, 2010), I did plunder verse and used a poem’s word bank as my set of materials to work with. It is like anagramming at word level. Some of you may recall we made a shuffler game for that that was in line with the composition methods of some poems.

I also did reverse infill plunder verse, where I take a poem by someone else, reading it backwards word by word, taking a phrase from each of that poem and leaving the rest as blank. Some poems under this fell apart, and some were as tightly dovetailed in reverse as forward. That was illuminating of the craft being read.

The phrase from the last line of the original poem is in the first line of mine until we work our way (the poem and I) to the original poem’s top line and my poem’s bottom line. An example of the technique for going somewhere using e.e. cummings, [love is more thicker than forget]

Step 1, find a seed poem, such as his,

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

I might proceed (to poem on the fly) to step 2:

sky the __________
___sky the __________
___cannot it _______
__________most is

_____litter less
begin least _______

And so on. then using it as a framework to in-fill to write towards the phrases as one would with glosas.

With a longer lined poem there’s more wiggle room. To make it work the phrase can be in the line but not the same mirrored place, depending on the needs of the poem that comes. A syntax has embedded possibility. As in If, a collaborative chapbook where we have the grammatical frame of one person writing if something and another writing then something, blind of each other, it adds together into a sort of horoscope-general-true sensical.

What to extrapolate from the syntax here?

By the inversion of phrase, I verb some nouns, and for the sake of this exercise, pretend the original was 6 lines long:

sky the face that pillow-rises
and sky the traces of that yes
narrowed into sleep. cannot it lift itself
centipedal race to maybe. most is
a crack, a hole unseen. litter less
begin least, become wholly seen.

To poem is to think and I like starting with something. A form is just a construction strategy of how to take something large and amorphous as the world and find pieces that fit something so small as a poem’s constraint for what sense is. It may be rules governing a formal structure of haiku or sonnet or cento.

I like cento because is shows just how skewed each eye sees. It demonstrates how we are all blind men with an elephant. Given any texts, we will pull out ourselves. The bane of weak anthologies or magazines where all the content seems all written by the editor’s voice. Or a collection where there is a overriding uniformity to the degree that it all seems one poem. What reflects the fragmentary nature of self, perceptions, nation? Maybe we don’t need to reflect that. Maybe we can’t step outside selves enough to make something unlike self. Maybe that’s good. But with a cento you can be a bower bird and see the poem form before you, surprise you with its reveals as you take chunks of language at the line-level instead of the usual word level, or for some mood level.

If you start with the conscious mind and aim where you want with a poem, not allowing in any leaks or sploogies, you may end up with something hermetically sealed, artificially homogenized, but you want to balance to have order enough that it is signal not noise. If you let too much in, it may be a slippery mess that needs a mop. How much leaping or leading a person can tolerate is part of a person. No poem suits all. But the aim is to be in the writer’s happy medium where you go somewhere you didn’t know you were headed, enjoying the journal and getting something out of the destination. That can come from any process, any compositional method. Hope the ones here sparked some possible routes.

Categories: Poetics.

Cash Value for Time

None of this enter a contest for free business. MyTimeHasValue is kickback against the government competition to design a logo for the anniversary of confederation. Bet that surprised the planners of the feel good about your country campaign.

It fits in nicely with a poem I’ve been ruminating through.

The economics of time is money

“distance is dead” ~ Amy Clampitt

in 3 hours we could be in Cuba. beach and back
in the time it used to take by horse to get to the homestead.
not that I’ve done either. it would take 18 hours
to bicycle home or I can call and fold time.

we’ve made, from a page, a paperless airplane.
poke. it nosedives against your forehead.
its wings are still with me across the city. instant.
like a door thru space. the everyday miraculous.

space may be dead but time is very much kicking
divided across territory left slack by space, doubling
at least, the province of time. the workload.
time as a colonial power is more harassed.

we’re sharecroppers of time. my space pokes you
leaves a trail of x and x and x across your eyes
yet drunken and alive, we live apart but space is moot.
this is not time’s fault. time is off managing time.

the email is unattended, will sit until forgotten
in knotweed clocks and comets of long grass, suckers
of tree’s spring closing over its meaning left derelict.
what’s this big green thing blocking mental space? it’s time.

so the light bulb is out of stock or not carried
in walking distance shops. distance is dead.
China is equidistant with Home Hardware
hometown pride. a skew where ease equals time.

it doesn’t matter who delivers. it is the doing and done
not the personal who. it’s the pace not the place. we’ve
given away our “l” and live in a post-haste-heaven of time.
UK or US or here are equal so long as it’s looked after.

a bookstore is a forty minute bus ride each way
plus the lost geometries of rearranged space.
dead to me. the map of sections changed places.
clerks on breaks. an hour and a half or a click of time.

If we value our life in opportunity cost of dollars, there’s a certain predictable fallout, outsourcing to places with less secure protected labour force, where the cost of living is lower. Labour is the most expensive part of a product because we don’t place much value on non-human lives. In Hollywood some animal actors are paid to a fund to ensure their retirement and health rather than the money going straight to the owner. But all kinds of new considerations in these systems we support.

Categories: Poem draft.

For the love of cocoa

This call for chocophiles only: Poems that rhapsodize the holy bean. Any style. End product would be an anthology chapbook to cocoa by April 2015. So, a.s.a.p. by Valentine’s Day, Send 2 poems maximum in .doc or .rtf to the contact address with the subject: “chocolate”.

Categories: phafours press news.

The State of the Writing Industry

Have you read Pasha Malla’s report?

Some interesting thoughts in his 27 thoughts on CanLit including,

7. Part of the reason for this dismay is that there seems to exist a tacit, unchallenged compact among those of us who work in the literary arts that we are all on the side of good[...]

9. Is a book somehow innately good just because it’s not an app? How does reading a book that extols the virtues of, say, Pol Pot, or regurgitates the same old vacuous narrative and thematic clichés (“unlikely friendships,” “the power of the human spirit,” “World War Two,” etc.) in lazy, insipid sentences, or seems a deliberate ploy to win a prize, qualify as best practices over watching The Wire on your iPad? Is a book still good even if it’s a bad book?
27.. I do think books are good—but if they are to continue to be written and published and read, even in a negligible way, they must offer something that other media cannot. Movies will always do a better of showing-not-telling. The Internet will always allow for greater direct involvement and agency.

The idea that if it poetry it must be healing or building society or new futures is a lazy thinking. It depends. Some isn’t done to those ends but to reinforce the familiar, to comfort in confirmation bias that all is well and divine-purpose-driven. Literacy can give options but it closes options. It shifts things culturally on individual level.

Writing is just head from inside the head as stuff outside the head, not anything more. It’s not more curated any more than everything is, presentations, sense of identity tribe. It isn’t distinct and apart from the any of the forces driving every other conscious and unconscious expression.

Developing a market for reading, for books, why? People read more than any time in history. Text comes in every direction in junk mail, in signs, in phones, in work, at home. People are reading on screen earlier than before, coming to school literate so what is the school to do? Not ABCs to start. What are we aiming to make? Self-reliant beings with the cognitive equipment to make distinctions, be self-informed, to up the collective game to fix the problems without introducing an exponential load of more problems. To be critically aware. The physical book is a lovely useful, no-electricity, potentially untrackable cultural package to move around ideas but the bigger scene is to share information, in a format that people can digest and access. Call it a book, call it a blog, call it an essay, call it a-text, extract cash from it if you can. Fighting over the idea of book is too basic tho.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Morris and Babineau on CKCU

Tonight at 6:30pm on Literary Landscapes: two poets livestreamed or on playback at CKCU 93.1fm.

Tracie Morris is my first guest this evening. She’s at AB Series,

Jan 15th
The Ottawa Art Gallery | La Galerie d’art d’Ottawa
2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6E2

Tracie presents her work extensively as a poet, performer and scholar around the globe and has presented, performed and researched in almost 30 countries and 37 US States. She has contributed to, and been written about in, several anthologies of literary criticism including I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing By Women, American Women Poets in the 21st Century  (2011, Les Figues Press). She also leads her own eponymous band and is lead singer for Elliott Sharp’s group, Terraplane. Tracie is the recipient of NYFA, Creative Capital and other grants, fellowships and awards for poetry and performance.

Eco-language Reader and An Exaltation of Forms. Her most recent poetry collection, Rhyme Scheme, (Zasterle Press, 2012) includes a sound poetry CD. She is also the author of Intermission (Soft Skull Press, 1998) Her next book, Eyes Wide Shut: A not-neo-benshi Read will be coming out in 2015 from Kore Press.

She’s talking about new book, Kubric and performance. In the second half of the show Kemeny Babineau talks about starting in small press and how he got to writing a chapbook about Paul Blackburn. He will be launching The Blackburn Files (2014), his second above/ground press chapbook o the 9th.

He’s Babineau edits an independent literary rag called The New Chief Tongue that appears courtesy of Laurel Reed Books. Babineau’s most recent work is After the 6ix O’Clock News published by BookThug. Kemeny Babineau has been doing Laurel Reed Books since the mid-90s. The bookseller, micro-presser, and poet is reading tomorrow as part of the next Factory Reading:

- Kemeny Babineau (Brantford)
Jason Christie (Ottawa)
+ Chris Johnson (Ottawa)
Friday, January 9, 2015;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Categories: CKCU.