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Literary Landscapes Upcoming

I’m back hosting more poets at Literary Landscape on  June 4 with Rachel Eugster who has a fringefest play Whose Aemelia? about medieval poet, Aemelia Lanyer. June 25th is with Bren Simmers of Hastings-Sunrise. July 16th I’m talking with Rita Wong about her new book undercurrent (Nightwood, 2015).

Also, we’re rattling the bushes for sound bites of memories of 18 years of Literary Landscape. What do you remember?

Categories: CKCU.

Round Up

AllLitUp haas posted a Writer’s Block Interview with me today. Check it out.

Oh, all the albums of events — A B Series, photos from Authors from Indies Day at Beechwood, photos from Writers Fest, spring 2015, from Tree’s 35th anniversary party readings, from BookThug launches, from old computer of West Fest and writers fest 2004.

Hear that? The emu of a laptop sounds like it’s out of breath.

My hard drive failed during the last 95books cycle and now my battery is claiming near-death. Still, faster than handwriting you all…

Been a while since my my last post but soon(ish) books 31-50 of reading in 2015. Good intentions to blog that and all the recent readings.

Synthesis takes more energy than letting new wash over you. To absorb is a step, to reply another, to say something more, well…

But it’s almost the end of launch season. There will be cake & radishes tonight in Quebec And, yahzee, I got my writer theme music onto my phone & it plays. Maybe I don’t have to fogie on back to gramophone land.

Want more literary? Literary blogs in Ottawa, part 1, the mclennan empire, and Literary blogs in Ottawa, part 2, more people.

What to do with the thoughts that fit no where? They get divided between the sheep of tweets and the goats of poems. Like, finding the 100-page manuscript of homemade aphorisms I typed in high school. How does that fit.

Or how it seems a comic simulacrum of a symbolic knell when I search for a word like “joy” or like “love” in a document & get no results.

Okay, off we go…

Categories: Uncategorized.

Blogging a Voice

If you never risk speaking in public, to a public, then you may feel safe in your practice, but you may also feel alone and anonymous and mute. You might also not have a critical voice. It’s like not voting. And if you don’t vote you’re a hypocrite to complain about the outcome. If you don’t like the paucity of women taking up critical public space and you yourself take no risk to speak out, you are part of the problem.

Sina Queyras at the Poetry Foundation on blogging and publishing.

there are many more terrible blogs than there are good ones, but there are good ones, so many good ones. And what I mean to say, I think, is that there is something inherently womanly about blogging as I’ve come to understand it. Not just, of course, because it’s the latest in a long line of endeavours in which women have partaken in involving unpaid labour and undervalued craft. Or because the anonymity offered by blogs also offers a spectacular forum for women at their very bitchiest, though that’s a part of it too. But rather that the community-making that’s so essential to blogging seems like the kind of thing women have always been doing, whether historians saw fit to include it in the official record or not.

Kerry Clare on “the womanly art of blogging at Literary Women

Categories: Poetics.

A B Series, Literary Landscape, Literary Landscape, Prose in the Park

This Thursday the 14th I’ll be reading with BC poet Colin Browne. That will be at 8pm at Ottawa Art Gallery Arts Court. Of course I understand if you want to go to David Dollin’s celebration of life instead. I have no plans to read my own material in Ottawa again until Sawdust in December.

Browne’s a rare out of towner, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award and Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, nominated for the ReLit Award, co-founder of the Kootenay School of Writing, he’ll also do a matinee on the 15th from 4-6pm. These in depth small group times with poets can be fabulous. It’s also free, thanks to funding bodies.

Before then, on Thursday, from 6:30to 7pm I’ll be on 93.1fm on CKCUfm talking with David O’Meara about poetry as a sneak peak to his reading with Sawdust Reading Series on the 20th. That will be David O’Meara, Kiera Sandrock, and Jeff Blackman. Jeff Blackman won the blind poetry competition for the month. Kiera Sandrock won 2nd place in the nationals for the Poetry In Voice recitation competition. Details of those Pour Boy poets:

David O’Meara lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including Storm still (McGill/Queens, 1999), The Vicinity (Brick Books, 2003), Noble Gas, Penny Black (Brick Books, 2008) and a play, Disaster, nominated for four Rideau Awards. His books have been shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, the ReLit Prize, the Trillium Book Award, the Ottawa Book Award and he has won the Archibald Lampman Award three times. His poetry has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, quoted in a Tragically Hip song, and used as libretto for a pastoral cantata for unaccompanied chorus, written by composer Scott Tresham. His most recent book is A Pretty Sight (Coach House Press, 2013) won the 2014 Archibald Lampman Award and the Ottawa Book Award. He is director of the Plan 99 Reading Series, was a founding director and Artistic Director for VERSeFest (Canada’s International Poetry Festival) and was a jurist for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is listed in the Canadian Who’s Who (University of Toronto Press).

Kiera Sandrock is the 2nd place winner of the national Poetry In Voice competition. She is a grade twelve student at Canterbury High School. She has enjoyed writing as a hobby since she was seven, and has been enrolled in Canterbury’s literary arts program for the past four years. Poetry has always had a special place in her heart. Kiera also loves nature and science. She is excited to be studying biology at the University of Ottawa next year.

Jeff Blackman lives and writes in the same place (Ottawa). Over the last year he’s performed in Montreal, Toronto, Peterborough and Kingston as part of the Accord of Poets tour in promotion of the anthology Five (Apt. 9 Press). His poems have recently appeared in Blacklock’s Reporter, Bywords, and the Steel Chisel, and one’s forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2015 (Tightrope Books). Jeff also self-publishes and sometimes self-deprecates via his blog

In June, my Literary Landscape show will be with Rachel Eugster who is the playwright of Whose Aemilia?, which will premiere at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in June. She is one of the first and best known of female medieval poets, writer of Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. That’s June 4th.

She’ll also be at Prose in the Park, June 6th at Parkdale Park. 150 authors, 11 panels from 11am to 6pm.

Prose in the Park

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

David Dollin

David Dollin: A Celebration of Life
Thursday May 14th, 2015 5 – 8 PM
Christ Church Cathedral Hall

Those of you who have been part of our writers festival community for many years may have noticed an absence in our bookstore this spring. Our bookseller, David Dollin has been a member of our festival team and family for over decade, and it is with heavy hearts that we announce his passing on May 1st after a short battle with cancer. Our thanks go out to Nicole, Heather and Joshua for helping us through the spring festival, along with our heart-felt condolences.

At David’s request, we will be honouring him this Thursday evening and would like to extend the invitation to anyone who knew him. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Salvation Army or The Ottawa General Chemotherapy Unit would be greatly appreciated.

David Dollin: celebration.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Upcoming Events

Wed, May 2, 2015,
Authors for Indies Day, Ottawa

I’ll be on hand at Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa for Authors for Indies Day — over the course of the day from 10 a.m. onwards will be: Rachel Eugster, Allison Van Diepen, Susan Delacourt, Susan Atkinson, and Pearl Pirie.

Chat with some of your favourite authors, meet great new authors, and buy some fabulous books, but you’ll also get the opportunity to enter multiple draws for books, gifts and Books on Beechwood gift cards. Light refreshments and snacks will also be served.

I’ll be there 12:00-2pm and live tweeting it from

We will be kicking off this day-long celebration with a Story Time for
Children with local children’s authors Rachel Eugster, Susan
Atkinson and Elizabeth Todd Doyle. The day will continue with Author
Meet ‘n Greets from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. Be sure to stop by to meet
these wonderful authors, buy some great books, and celebrate
independent bookstores.

Here is our schedule for Authors for Indies Day:

10:00am: Story Time for Children with Rachel Eugster, Susan Atkinson & Elizabeth Todd Doyle.

12:00pm: Author Meet ‘n Greet with Allison Van Diepen, Max Turner, Pearl Pirie, and Sherrill Wark.

1:00pm: Author Meet ‘n Greet with Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Nicola Vulpe, Susan Taylor Meehan, and Sarah Jennings.

2:00pm: Author Meet ‘n Greet with Catina Noble, Benoit Chartier, and Jean Boisjoli.

3:00pm: Author Meet ‘n Greet with Susan Delacourt, Alex Binkley, Mike Young, and Barbara Fradkin.

Wed, May 14, 2015, 8:00pm, A B Series, Ottawa
Ottawa Art Gallery, 2 Daly Ave. Co-reader: Colin Browne of Vancouver. details.

Tues May 19, 2015, 7:30pm, Twigs & Leaves Reading Series
Café Twigs, 85 rue ste anne, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec

Mon, June 1, 2015, 7:30pm-10pm, Brick 40th Anniversary, Ottawa
40th anniversary celebration including several poets sharing favorite parts from The Grey Islands by John Steffler. Readers include: Susan Gillis, Pearl Pirie, Sandra Ridley, Deanna Young, Peter Richardson and Phil Hall. Upstairs the Carleton Tavern (223 Armtrong St) with music by Call Me Katie.

Tues June 23, 2015, 7-8:30pm
Word for Word welcomes Canadian Poets, NYC

Best Canadian Poetry launch as part of Word for Word featuring the Canadian Poets: George Elliott Clarke, Aaron Kreuter, Kateri Lanthier, Pearl Pirie, Wanda O’Connor, Medrie Purdham, Brent Raycroft, Carl Watts and Special Guest: Sonnet L’Abbe, 2014 Best Canadian Poetry Guest Editor. In case of rain, events are held under a tent at the Bryant Park Reading Room. In case of severe weather, please check for the indoor location.

See more at the author website and as always you can subscribe to my newsletter for a reminder of things every month or two here.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Sound Poetry Tonight

Platform Gallery
Platform Gallery, 51 A Young Street (around the corner from g101) will have abstract art by Dan Sharp, Ted Willis and Georgia Mathewson.

During the evening there will be a performance of The Quatuor-Gualuor a sound poetry group around 8pm tonight, April 30th. jw curry, Georgia Mathewson, Rachel Lindsey and Brian Pirie.

For She Was a Visitor and Glass on the Beach, a few extra voices will come in, Robert Rosen, Alistair Larwill, and Pearl Pirie.

beside Platform Gallery
That’s by the pedestrian bridge linking to Preston.

Platform Gallery owner
Here’s the gallery owner with the previous exhibit.

Platform Gallery
And Alistair looking at the previous exhibit.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Petrie Island rout/e installation

Friends of Petrie Island on Facebook has given an update on the poems put up at Petrie island as part of rout/e which I mentioned in October.

The poems are put on stakes behind plexiglass in a park/recreation area. The idea is ephemeralness, to plant poetry in the wild for the wild and world to do as it will. In other poetry installations, poems were stolen or graffitied over or eroded by sun and rain into less legible.

Of poems by Blaine Marchand, Roland Prevost, Sandra Ridley, myself and David Groulx: Sandra’s poem is “out to sea”, spring waters rising up its display post which is a appropriate since it is a water poem and we staked it close to the shore so that interaction with the environment might happen.

Blaine’s whole post and placard is gone. Roland’s and the David’s are intact and my post is there but the poem is snatched.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Authors for Indies Day

Authors for Indies Day is coming Saturday May 2. There are now 113 bookstores hosting 547 authors across Canada. Local stores, everywhere. Fiction writers, poets, non-fiction authors…

Here’s the Ontario’s list. If you’re by Almonte, try Mill Street Books, 52 Mill Street. It’s got a beautifully curated set of books so I always get a treasure or few. Jan Andrews, Susan Delacourt, and Lianne Shaw will be on hand.

The FB group and site are a big vague on particulars but what’s been conveyed to me is that over the day authors come in to a meet and greet.

Authors are on hand to speak to the reading public and the book stores have stocked titles that featured authors can recommend personally.

For Ottawa people, I’ll save you a first click.

I’ll be at Books on Beechwood with Rachel EugsterAllison Van Diepen, Susan Delacourt, Susan Atkinson, Sarah Jennings, and Elizabeth Todd Doyle.

Each person has a slot from morning to evening. I’ll be there noon to 2. That’s 35 Beechwood Avenue. If there’s someone you want to see, check with the store for when the author will be there.

Also in Ottawa, Kaleidoscope Kid’s Books, 1018 Bank St. (across from TD Place) with authors: Rachel EugsterCaroline PignatKate Jaimet Tim Wynne JonesAmanda West LewisFrances Itani, Kathy Clark, Don Cummer, and Eleanor Creasey.

Octopus Books, 116 Third Ave with authors: Monia MazighWaubgeshig Rice, and Peggy Blair.

Perfect Books, 258A Elgin Street with authors: Barbara FradkinStewart Dudley, and Nick Wilkshire.

Come out and rah rah the non-chain book store, get books signed, and see if there’s something new to pique your interest.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

95Books 2015, List 2, books 18-30

I feel confident that I’ve missed some, what with too much time passing, my hard drive seizing up and my spread sheet having to be retrieved from an older back up however as books resurface I can add them.

  1. Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer (Baen, 2013)
    I like every Wen Spencer novel and I think I only missed one. Hooked forward with a pantheon of gods and semi-earthly creatures, there’s a plot of young women with hyperglossia which her grandmother was institutionalized for. A need to write so strong that if there’s a bottling up with no outlet, she’ll write with her own blood. In all the chaos each female character has her own personality, personal history and in-road to solving the puzzle of wth is going on.
  2. puck bruise bloom black by Brea Burton (Jack Pine, 2014)
    A thick chapbook with vivid language. At first it seemed any given line was staccato but put all together it builds a picture in language of rough and tumble in action movement that fits the body check scene on the rink. Form a bit of one,

    Smitty says never apologize,
    never say sorry when you hit somone

    hard ice this dance
    romance of fists & love taps
    let’s hug it out bitch

    the steps—
    push me & I push

    Quick tussles of sound, non-serif font, hockey taped cover edges, rhythm and vocabulary, it all coheres perfectly to take you to place of being in hockey. Many sports books read as if for fans of remember when this occurred and most of it doesn’t make it to the page for a non-fan. This by picking language and the sounds in it, sentence structures, it all skates together.

  3. Yusef and the Lotus Flower by Doyali Farah Islam (Buschek, 2011)
    A lot of attention to beauty such as p. 64, “flute-hole that no longer knows its note to sing,/held by melodic bars within” or p 52, “longing constricts the vessel of self/until self becomes a seed”. Gentle care-built poems travelling the ZamZam well to Vishnu to yoga meditations.
    conceive of this:
  4. An Unexpurgated Translation of Book of Songs: translated, versified and annotated by Xu Yuanzhong (Panda Books, 1994)
    It must have been a lot of work. So many poems, all kept to some rhyme form. It reads like 1800s despite being contemporary because of word choice such as a poem in which torches are lit around the palace walls to call the princes and top men to crack of dawn council on the war, but what is lit in the clarification footnote to torch, are faggots. Some word order is convoluted for rhyme as if that era.

    The footnotes are wonderfully rich in detail but the tone control means that I have to check the notes to see if it was satire, or straight-up or a song of mourning or a drinking song, which is unfortunately. Still some things come through and you get a taste for the various eras represented. I can see the logic of various translators doing the poems so different voices and tones come across. After reading 6 or 8 pages I can see past the rhyme to the content each time. Although as rhyme goes, it doesn’t feel like predictable bad verse but reasonably good. Surprising number of poems of hunting and feasting. Also striking were the number of poems of waves of famine and waves of war. The first book was my favourite of songs of peasant life, navigating the seasons. This is from a later book,
    Book of Songs

  5. The Zurich Axions: The Rules of Risk and Reward used by generations of swiss bankers by Max Gunther (Harriman House, 2004)
    This was a fascinating read of principles that apply as well to life as to finances. The goal is to invest better, to take off the nonsense that putting money in a bank isn’t a gamble as any use of money. You have to know when to quit, have that point pre-decided. A strategy, say the investment went down 15%, you pull out. If you are putting money in, you will go to a pre-chosen limit, even if profit if still rising. You can reward yourself with something symbolic for feeling badly about pulling out too early. Yes, it might still double but it might crash any time and better to get out early. When the ship goes down, praying won’t help. Getting off will.
  6. For the Living and the Dead, by Tomas Transtromer trans by Don Coles (Buschek, 1996)
    It’s been a while since I re-read this one. They are dense poems, some dark. It is a pleasure to see the poems against the facing page of the original language even if I can’t pronounce it well let alone translate myself. Here’s a poem of his from there that I opened with at VERSeFest, thanks to Arc recording it.
  7. dog sleeps: irritated texts by Monty Reid, (NeWest, 1993)
    Although a while back it still sways like a Reid book, unexpected turns in a clear scene. On speaking of caves with ancient native paintings, observes that there’s “no habitable space in the rock, only outside it”. Even when you’re in the cave, you’re outside its skin even if inward skin of stone. Not pure surface anecdote, but some note of transcendent, and something pondering significance. Of a woman on the bus offering or requesting something unspoken on the bus, what to make of yourself or the other. “how would one represent an idea of oneself, a card with HANDICAPPED on it? [...] distance destroys plot”

    Three whole sections I had to read aloud to the hubby. One on a blizzard is scattered over the page like large flakes. Some are tight prose. Some are humourous such as memories of a dog as panty-eater.

  8. dark archive by Laura Mullen (University of California Press, 2011)
    I got Dark Archive when it came out and it got lost in the shelves from time to time. I made a burst at finishing it last fall, and it fell by the wayside again but the second half revs at a higher speed than the first. It meditates around agency. “lonely as a cloud” presents itself as lone poet in the world, made famous by a male poet but it was coined by his sister, who was there too, as they did a whole family walk through the scene but how did currency go to the brother in the end? she remixes the poem and its ideas, sifting it with their lives, her life, clouds, weather, the life of her aunt, grief and other less linear bits of the mind. It is diaphanous except in cloud breaks where we’re asked what we own of what becomes a public tragedy of a person murdered. In Message, p. 98 some interesting accumulation in language and ideas,

  9. Paper Radio by Damian Rogers (ecw, 2009)
    There’s a new book out that I’ve yet to get but this was a good read. Maybe I went too gulpetty fast. But it was a pleasure and the poems themselves move quickly. Some lovely pieces in there including Prayer Lesson that have a startling clarity “Open me like a hatchback./Empty me of all these rain-beaten scissors./Fill me with the light of your basement.”

    An antidote to all the poems written again as blandly as previous iterations, this fresh set of images, intercut and dissonant yet fitting. Here’s a favourite from it, p 98, In the Back of a Cab, a lovely moment of between that you want never to end.
    paper radio

  10. Uncle Tom’ Cabin by Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (1852)
    You can get the translation in various places and forms but what a ride of a story. Or rather stories since it follows a few individuals. Quoting from news of the day, songs, Bible, sourcing stories, the people are vivid. It is a treatise on human rights and human potential for good and clearly wrong. Not content with thumbnails of outcome, there’s the motivation out personal histories of people. One with a virtuous mom picked up the kindness, not the religion. Another with a similar mom was driven to superstition, violence, weak-minded paranoia. The characters are complex. Even the Quakers are not depicted as one spirit, but a man who married in has some of the speech and cultural habits but moves differently and shoves a man off a cliff, then, in human kindness brings the broken body of the slave hunter to be mended, and at the end of the convalescence of week, turns to hunting for fur not people. There’s no typical hero’s journey as some die before success. Some get to Liberia. One thing pointed out in the text is marking out the bodies of the free vs. owned people, how some slaves were fair and some slave drivers had dark eyes and hair. The very arbitrariness was called out. The back story of one woman. An owner married a young woman in the north for love and had children then died and had never written out the freedom papers so upper class raised kids, now adults, fluent in piano and a few languages were on the block in New Orleans with anyone of any birth. “Sold down river” has had a peculiar journey to one criminal selling out another out for getting leniency of cooperation in court when it used to be from the slave trade.
  11. 300 Selected Poems of the Tang Dynasty by Chiang Yee/Jiang Yi
    Vivid tight translations of poems. They seem contemporary from poems of monks wandering to people in battle to social criticism of the concubine of the the leader to poems of longing and separation of couples, a fascinating read. The choice each translator makes for a set is remarkably different. Common are mulberry bushes, travelling o horses and pain of duty to state vs duty to home vs duty to family, but there’s a keen detail or a flattening out in some translations, perhaps some attending to songs of praise and court drinking songs that are more public, thus more general and exaggerated. Quiet private poems are more picked out in the this set. For example from Zhang Hu

    If one in the forbidden city

    When the moonlight, reaching a tree by the gate
    Shows her a quiet bird on its nest,
    She removes her jade hairpins and sits in the shadow
    And put out a flame where a moth was flying.

    Two more. One from Li Pin

    Crossing the Han River

    Away from home, I was longing for news
    Winter after winter, spring after spring.
    Now, nearing my village, meeting people,
    I dare not ask a single question.

    Du Mu
    Compare this translation with the one in Poems of the Late T’ang trans by AC Graham, (Penguin Classics, 1965):
    Tu Fu

  12. abecedarium by Dennis Cooley (University of Alberta press, 2014)
    Just a romp. A delight of disintegration. Taking w or
    ds apart, lines, split
    tingtingtingling. Such utter fun to read. Aloud is a whole other business. Surprised he found ones that could follow a stream aloud to read at VERSeFest. Sometimes words make sense and sometimes they make sound. The typographer/typesetter either loved putting this together or must have pulled out hair over spacing and font changing. Like John Barlow’s poetry, why, just why should we use one font? A word might look better and more itself in OKAY CORRAL. And why apostrophes? We can read id as well as I’d in context. There are point-note essays of history of type scattered through and why not. If poetry is about ideas, let ideas take a logical form. a log i calcu late later marks itself as whose timbermill.

    A Slip of the Pen flickflacks back at the unchallenged assumption of poetry as solemn-only zone.
    abcedarium of dennis cooley

    Through the poems he looks like he’s having an awful good time. If words or cliché phrases stick, let them loop until they fly off like muck in the tread of a spun tire making a glorious spatter. p. 28.

  13. Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle (WavePoetry, 2012)
    This was a daybook of quotes in part. Some earnest, some self-effacing, some comic. A lot of heavy marginalia dotting of this, that, that. I was glad to see her outrage against Billy Collins creepy book title of undressing Emily Dickinson. And pointing out that he is not even up to his virgin-ruining aspirations since he doesn’t know clothes button front not back.

    I liked 2nd half better. It’s quite a crash course in literature with heavy use quotes which don’t necessarily hold together towards a point, such as Borges picking up some sand in the Sahara and dropping it further along “modifying the Sahara”, or Milosz saying “the purpose of poetry is to remind us/how difficult it is to remain one person.”

    They are essays in the sense of journeys and trying on ideas. To stimulate more ideas. p 260

    Short Lecture on the Nature of Thing

    (Turn vase into a hat and wear it)

    You think the vase has become a hat; it has not.
    My body has become an upside-down flower.

    Glad I bought it. People who called it game changer, mind-blowing may state things in higher wattage terms than me but a worthwhile read and one I expect I’ll dip back to.

Categories: Currently reading.