Skip to content

95books for 2014: list 13: Poems & other histories of the future

Here, mostly poetry, some local history, philosophy and a novel. Underway to finish are various histories and biographies.

  1. distinctions: (rob mclennan, above/ground, 2014)
    The fragmentary pieces play towards and away from narrative. For example while not without subject or central density, it teases parts of external and internal and multiple readings. Yet as “not presently”, and as “but”. Quirky concrete details. Who would wish a child to be born an Eeyore, hold that up as a masculine ideal? The foetal as moving thru all the species of fish to bird to mammal to independent person. Each phrase cantilevers so the movements are dense and economical.

    No way of knowing, yet. But she might feel. Dentist predicts: a boy. Gifts an Eeyore toothbrush. Kim dreamed: a girl. Fade, remain, entire weeks. What have we to offer? Wings, detach. Break free. The black thick space of mouth, collapsing.

  2. Nickel Gambles [from] carcino¼Ґ!Y#86Øi‡ſß™86Ł*,´≈μðm‰г]³4¤±_gen (16 Pages Digital Chapbooks ed./curated by Daniel Zomparelli, 2014)
  3. To quote from it confuses my html into crashing with junk characters such as in its title.

    I adore the pace of the text, and how it emulates how conversations sound, some clear, some as if muffled through a watery tunnel. I love the play in spelling “we admit plane enough”. It mixes slack passing the time conversations and randomized content. It kicks out phrases like “something to benign upon” The presentation is another level of delight so check out the link while it’s live.

  4. Robert Bly: Selected Poems (Harper & Row, 1986)
    I enjoyed how he introduced each sample from various projects. The preface of what he was aiming to do, what he was reading and writing at the time, how projects overlapped I found fascinating and plain-spoken.

    Somehow when people talk about poetry, their own or that of others, they get all tangled in some unnecessary script. It is interesting where he said, such as in this I threw over what I’d done before and embrace strict syllables but the tone and effect is much the same. He has in the poems some wonderful moments “our bodies jointed as calmly/as the swimmer’s shoulders glisten at dawn”

    The Hockey Poem is perhaps the funniest poem I have read in a good while. People on the train were beginning to get curious about my laughing aloud. Now let me ruin the joke by saying it’s the unexpected comparisons he makes. Here’s from the first quarter,

    Robert Bly
    The combination of comparisons surprised greatly along with being such gentle images for such towering roughhousing boys.

    Admittedly I have a soft spot for ants but this Winter Poem is simply lovely,
    Robert Bly

  5. Images from Declassifed Nuclear Test Films by Stephen Brockwell (above/ground, 2014)
    YouTube channel for those nuclear test films It is a hard task to talk about incomprehensibly heinous things flatly and lightly enough that the reader can draw the horror instead of being told second hand.
    The last poem is a list poem on nothing, on silence, absence and it accumulates in a moving way of all the things that are in nothing.
  6. Thou by Aisha Sasha John (BookThug, 2014)
    She rages against female as petit asexual shy and scared. From “Forcing a blush out of them”

    Help me understand

    as a social apparatus

    so I just swam.
    And feel so nice. [...]
    The black hole of your
    sweat stain.

    I put on my $300 bathing suit
    to swim the old water.
    To see it.

    A lot of poems are of checking out guys. She battles the embedded culture that has gobbled out the romantic fear culture of Hitchcock. p. 21

    Alfred said: are the dark trees at war with the darklike trees?

    People want to be scared.
    And then you scare them.
    I want to embarrass
    you. To crouch
    my my stupid swollen body.
    It’s getting longer.
    Because I talk.
    I rest
    my hand on my own belly kindly
    when I’m
    being tender with myself.
    The romance capable
    only of girls
    as girls.

    The binary of binding roles is false. It is a struggle to get to what is, rather than what is imposed on top. Not the oversimplified but the simple present when so much past and imagination is internalized. Wheat and chaff. p. 57 “Men who know about women understand there aren’t/any”. It’s unfortunate that has to be said but since it needs reiterating, it’s good to see someone voicing it.

    In p. 53-56 “Okay I skimmed the book; that’s enough” she says

    If I am the same as other people, why don’t they like poetry. I love poetry.

    And I am the same as other people. I’ve checked.

    Sometimes I watch a video and feel good that I am the same as other people.

    Somewhere in a reading pause after that it occurred to me why people match each other in posture, mimic tone and terms, perhaps even the dress code. Not to conform but in recognition of the impossible chasm between each individual and to signal they wish to make an effort despite the odds to communicate anyway.

    It’s mostly poetry as a blunt instrument, talking about ideas. “I do not prefer the neatness my imagination offers the future” (p.59) but it is isn’t uniformly hammering a new present. Lyrically sweets slip in “you have a bib/of sunburned skin” or (p. 135) “I want t smekk the armpits of the line//like how the unit of a poem/is your mouth” or “May we bathe/ in the waters of our enoughness” (p. 77).

    Many of the poems seem to align with Stuart Ross’ principle of “write uncleverly”. Or take a page from Kenneth Patchen’s The Artist’s Duty such as,

    So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame
    To extend all boundaries
    To fog them in right over the plate
    To kill only what is ridiculous
    To establish problem
    To ignore solutions
    To listen to no one
    To omit nothing
    To contradict everything
    To generate the free brain

    It’s a fresh kind of beauty. It has a resistance to itself that goes higher and lower, rather than forming a rut of itself, if that makes sense.

    It makes for a quick read since there’s a sense of blurt rather than carefully constructed intricate sonic web to ooh and ah over. Poems detail digestion, or slang clichés do so knowing. The talk of “physically” meaning, I guess, being in the body and the experience, not the should of the mind wore on.

  7. The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol reader, edited by Darren Wershler-Henry and Lori Emerson, (Coach House, 2007)
    Some chapters are the most invigorating fun poetry I’ve read in a good long while. The full range of emotions and intellect get engaged. It can go from anecdote to playing in a build universe where letters of the alphabet are characters. There’s a dance of sound and ideas, exploring but the dance of someone who knows various kinds of dance and brings that to new steps.

    I may never get why people like his Billy the Kid, for example. The autobiography of train series was interesting. I admire his desire for dexterity.

    Poetry doesn’t get encoded as lines stacked thus with an upshot of feel sad and maybe with a twist of mildly surprised or sharply sad. They are more open and filled.

  8. 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)
    The book goes into great detail of the wild years of Bytown such as (p. 29-30) when the Shiners ruled as a vigilante mob for a decade. In one case a group attacked a carriage with wife and children of an Orangeman who they beat. They dumped the people, stole the horses, cut off the horses and ears of the horses. The family recovered, the horses were recovered. A revenge gang was formed against Gleeson, but was put off by officials who assured them that they would look after justice, while after spreading a rumour that the Orangeman would attack so Catholic families got arms ready. Gleeson was fined. It seemed to blow over. But a year later Orangeman Hobbs found Gleeson and cut off his ears. IMG_2291

    The data in the book is all fairly primary with quotes or images direct from archives. Did you know most stores had free samples of wine or whiskey from the keg in the back.

    Whiskey & Wickedness
    Every holiday was a reason to be drunk and disorderly. Authorities had problems such as kids horse racing down main street. Early dragging.

  9. An Acre in Time by Phil Jenkins (2002)
    I have meant to read this since it came out. I stalled there a couple times before. It starts precambrian and goes to debates on what to do with Lebreton Flats. Fascinating stuff, except perhaps for the detail of geology. Did you know the first electric stove was invented and first installed in Ottawa?

    An Acre of Time

    The chapter I found most interesting was on Constant Penency who was a native leader who lived through early European trappers moving in, claiming land, his in particular, to it being forested and being settled and his grave.
    An Acre of Time

Categories: Currently reading.

Rout/e at Petrie Island

The rout/e poetry installation in the ecological reserve of Petrie Island was a poem planting event on Oct 10th. The park is on the east side of Ottawa. It went up on Thanksgiving weekend and stay up until they’re gone.
This, as with the first manifestation of the footpress, was a sort of ‘nature note’ mockup – poems placed under plexiglass on plywood and posted with 2×1’s on the trails. There are actual nature notes there too:

fern descriptor

Katherine, the native flora program coordinator, fits the laminated sheets in behind the plexiglass sheet.

Poems in this installation were by: David Groulx, Roland Prevost, Pearl Pirie, Sandra Ridley, and Blaine Marchand.

a wheelbarrow of poem material
Poem material, ready to move.

poetry load
Poems being hauled by Brian Pirie.

the descent of the paparazzi
At one point there were 5 of us photographing. Some of a poem paparazzi scrum captured by Janice Tokar here as Sandra Ridley’s poem about high water is planted at the edge of the waterline that will rise in spring. This is by Turtle pond on Turtle trail.

Turtle Lookout, no turtles sunning today
Turtle hide lookout.

pounding the first stake, Ridley's poem
A closer shot.

Sandra Ridley's poem on Turtle Trail
Each has a little code so if you have the app and device you can get bonus material, like Roland’s poem having background music as he reads it.

Roland with his poem
Here’s Roland with his poem.

Ottawa River by fern trail
It’s out by the shore edge of the Ottawa river west of the education building.

It’s a relatively new protected area. On one part there’s trails for hiking or skiing. Other area have boardwalk style seating to watch the pond.

kids learning area
There’s also an education centre, a picnic area, a white sand beach and pontoon rentals. Someone should rent a pontoon next summer and have a poetry on the Ottawa river reading.

A little more westward,
the maker of the posts, Groulx's poem
Al Tweddle (Chair of Friends of Petrie Island) and some of the other FOPI Board members were the ones who built the signs. Here is puts up the David Groulx poem set in the wildflower walk area. It is a romantic poem from his latest book about finding a quiet hideaway spot with a dead moose to make love by.

Chris Turnbull adjusts the cover on David’s poem (picture by Jan).

Blaine Marchand's poem on Bill Holland trail
Blaine Marchand’s poem is by the chain gate at the end of the nearest section of Bill Holland trail. The poem references stones and there shore there is rocky.

screwing it to the case
Rocky enough that there was some debate on whether a stake could be hammered in.

Blaine Marchand's poem
Once it was in, it is a poem with a view.

Pearl with poem
Here I am with my poem which is further east towards the parking lot of Turtle Pond trail. I thought the idea of cleft of rock and the two trees collapsed into each other (which I didn’t photograph) made the poem fit the site.

the assembled
And here’s everyone who came except Al who is taking the photo.

I’m not usually one to give occasion poems but afterwards this,

flushed cheeks in a breeze
Petrie Island, Oct 10, 2014

couches are fine. commodious.
if leather, initially autumn-cool.

how did I forget the outdoors’
greatness? um, am I not even 

a homebody so much as a 
chairbody? my knees, willow,
in the wind, bending, harrum,
straighten, swing a thrum.

painted turtles on that
log? nope.
brisk walks with no direction to 
talk towards. 
no instrumeant al conversation sung, 
no violins, no drums, Jan, Rol, Al,
Chris, Brian, Katherine and I. what’s past the 
next corner by the butternut? silver 
ripples lap gravel maps
taking turns at mallet whacks next stake from the wheelbarrow

poems for sparrows, for the plein-air painters,
for the asian hikers of 3 generations who paused to ask.
grey-haired stroller to buckskin fringe-boot-swing daughter over stroller

granddad duck-nods
very good. poemwords sun fern
blend in and out like redmaplecloudsun.

painter along the trail

Other installation of rout/e have been at (g)roving, situated between the campus of the University of Guelph, Kemptville, and the AgroForestry Centre with poems by Monty Reid, Sandra Ridley, derek beaulieu, and at Cornerbrook, Newfoundland in the Glynmill Pond section of the Cornerbrook Stream Trail with collaborators/participants Adrian Fowler, Stephan Walke, Holly Pike, Beth Follett, Adam Beardsworth and Shosh Ganz.

In winter as with the other ones the poems catch the attention of skiers at the Glynmill Trail. Previously and still there are poems up at the Marlborough Forest trail with poems by rob mclennan and Amanda Earl.

The next version of rout/e is a large poetry installation at Baxter Conservation Area, placed as a panel in a solar array near Kars, Ontario. So far this has beaulieu’s Translating Apollinaire.

Categories: Poetry history.

Getting Authors On Air

Time attracts no fruit flies. pesbo has been going since August 2005. Next year it turns double digitals.

But Literary Landscape turns 18 next year! It can’t vote yet but you can.

This isn’t the Ottawa election. Voting with your wallet is allowed.

Want to support the show?

$10 minimum gets an income tax receipt. There’s no max. No penalty for coming back and stuffing the ballot box with more cash. You can pledge to pay later or donate thru paypal now.

Mark “Literary Landscape” as the focus for the cash flow when you go here: CKCU

No widow’s mite?

Mention it on social media with the hashtags #supportckcu and #LiteraryLandscape and spread the world.

Here are some of the people I interviewed or shared poetry from over the past year, my first year as host. It feels like we made something special of the show’s 17th years.

Shery Alexander Heinis (A Greater Whole) and Roland Prevost (Singular Plurals, Chaudiere), Gil McElroy (Touch the Donkey 3), Rachael Simpson (Five, Apt 9), Wanda Praamsma (a thin line between, BookThug), Tomas Tranströmer (Sound Ideas: Hearing and Speaking Poetry), Erin Mouré (The Green Word, Oxford), Paul Dutton (Mouth Pieces), Helen Guri (Match, Coach House), Robert Priest (Waging Peace, Penumbra), Susan Holbrook (Touch the Donkey 2), Jennifer Pederson (Sawdust Reading Series),
Derek Walcott (Noonday), Beth Follett (A Thinking Woman Sleeps with Monsters, Apt 9), Margo LaPierre, Kevin McPherson Eckhoff (forge, Snare), Nicholas Power (Melancholy Scientist, Tekseditions), Avonlea Fotheringham (Mythopoeia, Capital Slam, in/words), Brad Morden (Versefest), Archibald Lampman (Borealis Press), Martha Solano (Saturnalia), Michael e. Casteels (Puddles of Sky), Sarah Pinder (Cutting Room, Coach House), Diane Tucker (Bonsai Love, Harbour), Peg Bresnahan (Press 63), John Pass (Railroad Series, crawlspace, Harbour), Aisha Sasha John (Thou, BookThug), Jane Munro (Blue Sonoma, Brick Books), Philomene Kocher (Singing in the Silo, Catkin), Stanford Forrester (Bottle Rockets), Lee Ann Brown (In the Laurels, Caught, Fence), Robert Earl Stewart (Something Burned Along the Southern Border, Mansfield),Kevin Spenst (small press national tour), Amy Clampitt (Selected, Knopf), Jenna Tenn-Yuk (Words to Live By Series), Nelson Ball (In this Thin Rain, Mansfield), Czandra (radish ~ a singularity, obvious epiphanies press), Souvankham Thammavongsa (Light, Pedlar Press),
Danielle K.L. Gregoire (Versefest), Amanda Earl (Kiki, Chaudiere), Rory McIvor on Robbie Burns, Shane Rhodes (X Poems and anti-poems, Nightwood), Marco Fraticelli (Drifting, Catkin Press), Stephen Brockwell (Complete Surprising Fragments of Improbable Books, Mansfield Press), David O’Meara (A Pretty Sight, Coach House), John Buschek (Buschek Books), Spencer Gordon (Cosmo, Coach House, Puritan), Richard Truhlar tribute, Deanna Young (Tree Reading Series, and since House Dreams, Brick), and Steve Artelle (Metropantheonand, Signature Editions).

All the hosts, Kate Hunt and Dave Currie and every guest host have also done roaringly successful shows with people listening in locally and international covering storytelling, people and events of various genres of writing: Zaccheus Jackson, Prose in the Park, Landline – digital interactive theatre, Postscripts to Darkness launch, Rising Science Fiction stars, ChiZine Publications, (un)told: Live original storytelling, Ray Besharah and Craig Calhoun the Accord of Poets tour, children book’s author Rachel Eugster (The Pocket Mommy), and the new Coordinating Editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, Chris Johnson.

All the hosts and shows going back a few months are still in podcast here.

Categories: CKCU.

95 books for 2014: list 12: from biography to bp

  1. Complete Sonnets of Archibald Lampman, edited by Margaret Coulby Whitridge (Borealis, 1976)
    1892 was exceptionally productive with Lampman writing 17 sonnets. From 1883-1899 he wrote over 450 poems; about a quarter of them were published. He received $25 per sonnet published in the dollars of that day while his full time government job paid $1000 per year. (Proportional to income that would be a $500 haul for a poem assuming only a $20,000 income.) He also wrote essays, reviews, a newspaper column, part of a novel and lectures. He has few sonnet in French in there. (The son of Anglican clergy he had studied English, French, German, Latin and Hebrew.) The introduction is quite interesting. I’d never thought of Poe and him in the same breath but they wrote analogous styles and subjects The City at the Edge of Things to Poe’s “The City in the Sea”. 177 sonnets are included in this selection from his notebook manuscripts in chronological order of first drafts. It is a book that I couldn’t dip in and out of since the old language impedes until the ear is accustomed to hearing it again.


    She laughs with all, but none hath seen her weep,
    A tender stoic, beautiful and wise.
    What sorrow or what passion she may keep
    Behind that full pale brow, those veiled grey eyes
    I know not, none shall know; but the tide
    Of all her being is softly set to truth.
    In brown and breast and dainty foot abide
    The strength of a woman’s years, the grace of youth.

    What gentle power, I wonder, in her moods
    Sustains her, what unvexed philosophy;
    For when I think of her, I seem to see
    April herself among the sunny woods
    With laughing brooks and little clouds that pass;
    I dream of bluebirds and hepaticas

    They are generally gentle poems, easier to read in the countryside than amid internet-haste. Mostly he was tramping about in forest in the late 1800s, yet he was happiest when out in the woods. Back then there were far more birds to note. Clouds of them. The actual birds that is. He was no biologist and using them as devices for projecting human emotions. Nature was there to project from. Town he reports as dirty and full of crones nattering.

    Yet his truths bridge over to now such as “beauty, the lost goal, the unsought cure.”

    The introduction quotes a letter from 1897 to Edward Thomson

    You must not be dissatisfied with me because I am not always up to my high water mark. A man does a good deal of secondary work, which is certainly useful to himself and I believe may be useful to others although not prompted by the full stream of inspiration. [...]We shall all get the same amplefold of oblivion one day.

  2. A Clearing by Louise Carson (forthcoming Signal Editions, 2015)
    The poignant series of the old man, his solitude and wood chopping, the hard decisions of whether to garden again or not are tend portraits in one section.

    The hand is sure and acknowledges that rough edges and the necessity for beauty. There’s more completeness of vision and variance of tone than most. There’s a sharp awareness of human nature and outdoors nature, and the transience of life in lines like “smelling lilacs in the rain we can’t believe in winter.”


    Planting spring in autumn
    as cool wet chlorophyl recedes,
    as day length crisps each minute and hour,
    and living things darken and thin.

    Waiting for green to poke up
    through rough earth, dead leaves;
    hopeful seven months are enough
    to pay for one month’s beauty.

    Trying to believe a spring follows this winter.
    Struggling with the images
    of what it might look like.
    Imagining the flower.

  3. The Color of Water: A Black Man’s tribute to His White Mother by James McBride (1996)
    I intended to read this long ago, and started a couple times but this time, got thru. It’s funny how it says it’s about the strength of family when it’s account of a lot of distance. I should have kept track of the number of times it related the mom beat the kids bruised.

    One whole side of the family disowned when the woman who called herself “light skinned” married a black man. They said kaddish and she was done. It is mostly the story of the mother of her parents and the son towards his mom. Everyone else is kind of fuzzy.

    The parallel structure of alternating chapters where mom tells from her first memories and son from his until their histories cross again is interesting. It means a lot of reading of italics but it does help keep the narrator clear.

    Crazy times existed with a street riot happening last century for the mixed race couple to walk down the street. Yet it is living memory. She ate with the woman who remembered her family member as a slave. And who invited her into her home as a fellow Christian anyway despite in the race-divided times never having been so close to a white woman before. The cover talks about her starting a church but the church only get a few pages afternote at the end of the book.

  4. Very Special People by Frederick Drimmer (Citadel, 1971)
    The capacity of people, and wage earning of people who ran with or from PT Barnum was surprising. All the ways that a foetus can bind with another foetus in conjoining. The variety of lives and reactions by “normal” from saying everyone’s different and getting on with life to crossing themselves and crossing the street, or in the case of one woman, selling her child to the circus while the doting dad was out of town on business. The father tracked down his kid and got her back and sent her to his mom where she’d be away from his wife. As it turned out the farmer kid next door was a circus strongman and she still ended up in the travelling life.

    Imagine to be cooped indoors and never know a forest.

  5. Singular Plurals by Roland Prevost (Chaudiere, 2014)
    There’s a bias at work here since we workshopped together and I blurbed his book. It launches Oct 27th at the Writers Festival and he’s one of my guests today on CKCU Literary Landscape at 6:30pm. The book covers the best of his chapbooks and in 6 sections ranges from purer language to (I won’t say easily but differently) accessible anecdotes like p. 49

    Red Anchors

    Your operation’s later today.

    A white lab coat
    plays doctor well, soon
    to sew you up.

    Ragdoll you. Patch you up.

    We’re all under the coin,
    tossed, flipped, now or later.

    Everything hums in my room whispers
    hums unknown hymns.

    There are little sonic beauties of sound and sense thru like “silk of raindrops/sound umbrellas” where the expected noun verbs and makes it remind how the echo bounces and tells us the shape of the whole environment in the rain. Language also takes time to play such as in one of my favourites “His Coloured Concrete Pieces” “Black&White tv comedies/demi-century artefacts/pretending to sleep. Possum ously.”

    A fun read even the third time thru in part because of the good-naturedness informing the poems. Not a bitter witty screed but looking to what is possible in world and people. Heartening.

  6. Sound Ideas: Hearing and Speaking Poetry by B Eugene McCarthy and Fran Quinn
    A textbook on poetry. Like most it relies on poetry by the dead which encourages the notion that it is a practice from decades or centuries ago. That said it is one of best texts I’ve seen. Poem examples introduced me to new writers. Readable, grounded. The ideas on rhythm vs meter finally let me click to understanding meter better. It adds a different scale from the scansion I’m liable to do on any poem. The mediation around different uses of the line were also valuable.
  7. Astrophel and Stella by Philip Sidney, a translation by A.S. Kline, (2003)
    I’m not sure how many re-reads I’m at. This time I read only the translations which largely keep the sonnet form. It doesn’t bring it ahead more than a couple centuries. For example, sonnet 99, with Sidney and Kline,

    When far-spent night persuades each mortal eye,
    To whom art nor nature granteth light,
    To lay his then mark-wanting shafts of sight,
    Clos’d with their quivers in sleep’s armoury;
    with windows op then mot my mind doth lie


    When the depths of night persuade each mortal eye,
    To which neither art or nature grants light,
    To lay down its arrows of sight that lack a target
    Shut with their quivers (eyeballs), in sleep’s armoury:
    My mind most often lies with windows (eyes) open,

    It brings it along somewhat. To culturally translate would need a change of metaphor base since archery isn’t a contemporary point of reference for the average reader. How much to translate without being too far non-literal. Even small things like “give” instead of “grant” wouldn’t change the soundscape that much.

  8. a thin line between by Wanda Praamsma (BookThug, 2014)
    For a sample of the long poem, I’ll refer you to audio at interview with her. The poems bridge internal monologues and external conversations transcribing the inflections and habits people have in the rush and tumble and gaps of conversation.
  9. The Vignelli Canon by Massimo Vignelli
  10. (Lars Muller, 2010) talks about the principles of design, broadly in typography. “White [space], in typography, is what space is in Architecture” and later adds “It is the white space that makes the layout sing. Bad layouts have no space left for breathing” He talks about using intention, grids, fonts, color and more. ” To master the notion of scale is a lifelong search that involves interpretation of functions, both tangible and intangible, physical, and psychological. Scale applies to everything.”

    It is strongly worded and with many examples.

    On desktop publishing:

    A cultural pollution of incomparable dimension. As I said, at the time, if all people doing desktop publishing were doctors we would all be dead!

    On page design:

    I strongly believe that design should never be boring, but I don’t think it should be a form
    of entertainment.
    Good design is never boring, only bad design is.

  11. Theseus: A Collaboration, bpNichol & Wayne Clifford (BookThug, 2014)
    An adrenaline pleasure read, linguistic, typograhical exhilarating fun. How to excerpt to give any sense? Part of it is the dexterity of headlong singzag. Tone isn’t kept poised as a mannequin.

    2. The last meaningful part    eff to ell    to fell fool

    amon stumps the season’ll
    root up, nose over into architecture.

    Cities between, yes, and
    between cities, rootless

    the fool falls one way, his shadow

    opposed across a line in the mantle’s local endeavour.
    Sagging bedrock, a rift in the strata, tripping him up.
    Adrift?    Hey ace, did you think this act was free?
    That because the fool sports a nose ring, he’s housebroken?

        In the unflowered mind the landscape

            Whaaho, posits idiot.

    To feel fool, fall
    back into the seat of the mind
    unmend ego, let it go.

  12. The Green Word Selected Poems, Erin Mouré (Oxford University Press, 1994)
    A lot of dead animals, hunted or accidentally dead, and lab animals and loss. Heavy book for its size. It shows how much changed in style Erin Mouré’s poetry is. There’s some fracturing and looping but it is more anecdote and narrative than now. p. 50

    Ocean Poem

    I am the one who lies, slowly, closer
    to your arm.
    I insinuate.
    The trip trip of the rain into wet earth &
    the traffic noise.
    This kind of hush1, she said.
    Lifting her arms over her head so gently
    in a gesture of, longing.
    We are all innocent beings with out bathtubs2 & literary
    pure enforcement.
    I don’t know if there’s any difference between men & women3
    is just a lie.4
    The word human being has stood for me
    until now.

    Until now.

    When she puts her arm down, in innocence, 5
    I’ll show her6.

    1 There’s a kind of hush, all over the world, tonight
    All over the world, you can hear the sound of lovers in love.

    Herman’s Hermits, 1966

    2Places to get clean. Large, enamel, clumsy. “Bathtub gin.”
    3The poets who sat this believe that the standard of poetic excellence is just excellent & not male.
    4This should not be done in any poem, accusing someone of lying.
    5In no sense.
    6Reading “shore”. This is an ocean poem.

    Love the broken box of the poem. It gives itself a going over. A few poems do. A literal anecdote story of remembering mom’s fur coat then flip the page and an alternate deep symbol reading.

Categories: Currently reading.

Funding Drive Season

It’s gearing up. Privately owned radio comes from private citizens.

Categories: CKCU.

95books for 2014, list 11: Classic to Classy to New

I haven’t updated the list in a while so I’m a month or two behind my own curve. I think I’ll post in segments rather than a mega-post. Throwing a curve in my curve is realizing I forgot from my summer list a book. The numbering may not match my list from twitter anymore. Ah well.

  1. Marshall Hryciuk’s In Search of Tatiana (LyricalMetrical Books, 2014)
    He’s all over the place and having a grand time doing it like Food for Verse,

    Marshall Hryeiuk

    Here’s another piece from a long poem Deseronto:

    Marshall Hyreiuk
    Ideas jostle among themselves in a joyful sport and spurt.

    Peculiar, there’s also all caps in poems and it doesn’t bother me here. There’s a lot of texture. Poems in columns, poems as conversation anecdotes, ones that break down into sound and concrete poetry, false etymologies and sonic cousins across languages. It doesn’t have confines. It’s kind of madcap like You Can’t Do That on Television, like “Essai un Rimbaud” where sounds bounce unpredictably,

    Mounds of fleece
    and a circumference of félicitations
    escape the valise of my fleeing.

    Fleeced enough? Obscene enough?
    Sit down. Shut up.
    You’ll do.

    A fun zip to read that doesn’t take itself so very seriously. It is a poetry that’s here to inflict its group social conscience borrowed pain. Story-schmory. There is story, here and there. It breaks against itself which amuses me. It doesn’t become tedious chase to nail a point. What all can language do?

  2. Desperately Seeking Susans: An Anthology of Poetry edited by Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang (Oolichan, 2012)
    Susan Holbrook and Sue Goyette pieces were worth the price of admission. (And if you borrow it from the library does that mean it’s like getting free cash?)

    Good to see another by Susan Holbrook. I enjoy her way of moving through ideas. She plays with other ways of splitting the world into binary sets of mutual exclusive knowledge but there are so many rings in these venn diagrams

    Susan Holbrooke
    It somehow keeps hooking forward, mixing humour and pathos, recognition and who, what? of being in neither binary. Interesting head hop. It was originally published as a Nomados stand-alone chapbook.

    Sue Goyette’s Alone moves and connects unexpected things as well. Things that happen in the night all wash together from the “Ryan’s glow-in-the-dark stars/ on the closet door” to alone “the ceiling is its own universe, a blank expanse/of sleeplessness” to the cat

    It’s not that I forget
    the cat outside. She just wants to stay out
    all night. And it’s her cry,
    plaintive and despairing: forgotten, forgotten
    each morning that wakes me.
    And each morning, I open the door
    to her joy at finally being remembered.

    and then somehow by the end the plastic stars, astronomical stars, cat and forgotten all lightly tie together in the gentle universe.

  3. Milton Acorn’s I Shout Love, edited by James Deahl (Aya Press, 1987) A pretty hard slog for the first round. Better the second. There’s a lot of adjectives, with the ratio of more direct telling, less implying. The best of it to my filter is when I see is something like “Pit Accident” where he reports understated, the external for people reading/hearing to decide on what the internal or implication for action should be.

    “I liked him,” said the small man
    with coal seaming his hard little hands,
    “because he never stood in your light.”

    “It must’ve been a bad twinge,
    in the bone, not the muscle,
    that made him shift and lift his head,
    riding down to work, and
    that beam came too quick to blink at.”

    “He never stood in your light, poor guy.”
    He was pale, tough as a root at bedrock,
    but tears squeezed out his ridged face
    and even the rain tasted of coaldust.

    How elegant and understated for a maudlin grief. Only at the end can you see the narrator is also a miner perhaps, but a witness tasting his own tears.

    There’s often a lot of all caps, exclamation marks and florid bias in the outward looking poems that leave it to the reader to feel what’s inward. Still, I feel like I’m reading the wrong side of history with wildly caricatured knocks on black people and women who are mentioned when swooning at his poetry or sitting on his lap. Not that that would be different among some contemporaries in a man’s bell jar world.

    In ‘Belle” the woman even when she gives commands is silenced to offscreen and her reference is a joke more about the henpecked,

    Edwin with his glasses, is pipe
    and freckled, spare-tipped fingers
    she married at twenty-nine, had to,
    (everyone had to, but she
    claims that weakness like a certificate)
    hums to himself, makes
    the best cider in the settlement, hangs
    doors that open to one hooked finger,
    says four words in a day
    and two of them are “No Ma’am!”

    But he’s varied, or as some say, uneven. The preface says, “the most complex and varied body of work to be produced by a Canadian author in this century”. Seems hyperbolic. Of course these are his early poems of the 50s for the most part, sketches of what was to come more than full finesse. Maybe it is more intended as a counterpoint to later works in other books.

    I’m more than 30 years late for the debate but the thing with paper-text is that it is archival and can wait.

    Yeah, can’t say I always appreciate what Acorn is fuming about. He has a desire to make change but points to problems and leaves solutions to others.

    We’re on the same side in some things, but not in the same side of the side. I can see he’s anti-war such as “The Dead” “Must young men’s lives, our country’s richest store, /be stubble for a parliamentary plow?” The shoulder-chip of anti-government generally is there throughout. The artifice of the common man as having a plain and honourable distinctive muted inner life that is real is a hard bias to swallow. He’d be doing slam if practicing today with his justice stance.

    The first and last version of I Shout Love are included which show a transition. I’ve heard people recite parts of the later version so it appeals so some. It’s got a Walt Whitman, make self, make nation sort of soapbox ego roll going. “La marche à l’amour” by Miron is much more triumphant, moving and riveting. Compare the two, both of the same era talking nationalism with an allusion to romantic love: Acorn’s:

    Milton Acorn
    From Acorn’s I Shout Love

  4. Gaston Miron’s Ember and Earth (Selected Poems), translated by D.G. Jones and Marc Plourde (Guernica Editions, 1984)
    Gaston Miron
    From Miron’s long poem, “La marche à l’amour”
    I read goodly portions of this book aloud in “want to hear a poem” sharing because of the power and beauty of the dense phrase. There’s a sensuality and momentum that isn’t linear. There’s a more direct vulnerability. The poems are public but a more inward-looking at the same time. For example, “A Glass of Water, or the Unbearable”

    the thirst buds in my pores
    are not for the glass of water I drink
    but for something beyond water
    something we think about as the hours tumble past
    like a man who’s been had through and through
    all day the whole blesséd day

    He goes on to say “I’ve always had the lump of fire in stomach/and I say no down to the balls of my two feet”. Perhaps it is a little smooth yet there’s something like a steel guitar heart race sort of effect.

    Gaston Miron
    Concrete, palpable and encountering new. More a sense of willingness to transform. A desire to be changed.

  5. Portal Stones by Frances Boyle (Tree Press, 2014)
    Lovely to finally get a collection of poems from Boyle. At this point it is holding us over until her first trade collection from Buschek Books this November, to be launched at the pre-small press fair reading November 7th. It’s been a marvel seeing her poems develop over the last several years from internal shy vague poems to crisp tight, more sure and musical and wilder. Here’s a sample from Exhortation, p27

    A blackbird calls, piercing bright. Another
    replies like recollection. The current
    exhorts their song, urging you along, calling
    forth in you wings or gills to carry on.

    There’s human nature and outdoors nature that are the canvas for many that are about expansion, opening. It’s a wonderful balm when many poems are clever and jaded. Consider this last stanza of Quest, p. 19, that gave my scalp tingles:

    Unfolding the story like a map, you trace the roles:
    victim, hero, dupe. Disbelieve them, if you can, but try not to become
    wary of coincidence, connection. Seek out and find the route to where
    X marks the spot, where the green fuses you lit in your
    youth finally ignite the furious light of fireworks
    zipping through you, ripping through you, harmless in the end.

    Chameleon (p.9) I would have to quote in whole since it is how it all moves and comes together. Come to think of it many poems are less excerptible, more the path the individual phrase. The unit is the sweep in a way similar to the way David McGimpsey’s poems act.

  6. Sandra Alland’s Naturally Speaking (Espresso, 2012)
    The poems come from a method of playing with the constraints of the software that transcribes from spoken speech. It comes pre-loaded with a commercial-minded default of vocabulary. She fed in her own thoughts, translations of Nicannor Parra and sound. We only see what comes out, not what was fed in. What came out included from ii/, which fittingly enough, I hold open to the page to transcribe with the weight of more chapbooks and because that wasn’t heavy enough, my wallet.

    To the reader
    eBay us, so is that okay?
    No way through need.

    Be a really dollar,
    one dollar me.

    and from poem vi/

    But it’s not as they seem. They came back at me with an Audi Bentley. Signal surely? Us the meaty and doubled. Let them in, and their will.

    About a gay: that she penned it at the expected; that the meeting in the Apple meant I was a bit single.

    It lets the fractures in grammar stand as if fitting with the fractures in sense that a commerce-mind does to living sense.

  7. Rob Winger‘s Old Hat (Nightwood, 2014)
    It’s good when a collection comes together. I enjoy his readings, their cadences and turns, and looked forward to having a transcript of ones I’d heard.

    His spin on the pristine nature poems and his relating class is perhaps Milton Acorn updated for our era.

    He allows seriousness and comedy, both satire and less pointed. There’s an intellect engaged but with a sharp mind for how human nature works, including the effect of listening to the spiel by a contractor and only recognizing the grammatical slots but pretending you followed all that. The accumulation to preposterous is what he does well

    “Another lake poem” sits on the line between questioning and authority as authority erodes. What do we think we know. A literature of nature poems and yet can we tell our burr from our butt? Half way thru the winking elegy to the great outdoors it is more like an Irish wake than an English one,

    Canoes rust under beech trees.
    At least I think they’re beech trees.
    They’re near the beach.

    His poem spoofing prefacing patter to poems in a reading is a must read. Likewise re/covering Champlain Trail should make it to his collected whenever that happens. Here’s a bit of that poem,

    one-dimensional wildlife bursting into our special conditions
    of postmodernity: bearclaw cherry tree, beaver dam,
    sugarbush woodpeckers, golden hawks gloating

    in the turgid updraft, and our plucking of the first
    red trilliums from the syrupy undergrowth
    with a triumphant squeeze of pliers;

    the apex, where we edit out a flawless man-made
    bench, cut a tattered copy of The Idiot:
    diction dimmed, pages drenched, spine reeking fungus;

    It’s at the interview link here. It’s in my favourite chapter, re/set.

Categories: Currently reading.


New at LitLand if you missed it tonight, a conversation with Wanda Praamsma, who has a new book called a thin line between (BookThug, 2014) where she talks about her book, the long poem and about rooting the external in the internal.

She writes at She is reading with the next station call of the Railroad Series, on Oct 30th

Categories: CKCU.

Blink Gallery: Something Leads to Something Else

Something Leads to Something Else considers how artists conceptualize their research, of how their work comes to be. It is not a definitive account, but rather allowing room for different approaches, across different media, including collage, drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, poetry and video.

Martin Golland’s paintings describe a fictional meeting point between built environments and the natural world, resulting in imaginary architectural spaces. At Blink, his multi-media collages have been gleaned from a large archive of material he uses to establish the subjects and multifaceted spaces eventually found in his paintings.
Lynda Hall is also concerned with culture and nature, shown in photographs that are unflinching and unsentimental. There is a shifting interplay in the relationships she establishes between multiple images of animals, shown in two and three-dimensional situations. What she evokes fluctuates, not unlike the roll of a dice.
Lise Rochefort is a freelance writer, poet, parent and researcher, as well as an Associate Poetry Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. She has created a new, experimental work for the exhibition combining poetry with video.
Hilde Schreier’s work encompasses a variety of media. Her paintings and drawings are concerned with the human condition, whereas her weavings are richly coloured, textured embodiments of imagined landscapes. Here, a meticulous multi-media drawing undertakes to describe a complex system destined to be a large weaving.

Finally, on loan from an Ottawa clay studio, are a series of ceramic glaze samples, promising endless colour combinations.
(Text by Deborah Margo)

Exhibition dates:
First week: Friday, September 26 through Sunday, September 28 from 12 to 5 pm
Second week: Friday, October 3 through Sunday, October 5 from 12 to 5 pm.
Please join us for the exhibition reception on Thursday, October 2 from 6-9 pm at Blink Gallery, Ottawa.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Various and Sundry, also Sun-dried

Ottawa writer Deborah-Anne Tunney has a short story collection coming this fall. Enter at GoodReads to win a copy of The View from the Lane.

Also this fall: a call for Making Contact: Circulating Small and Micro Press Poetry in Canada organized by Cameron Anstee. There’s also calls for postmodernism, Women Writing North by Alana Fletcher (Queens University) and Canadian Writing Beyond the Book-Machine by organizers: Christopher Doody (Carleton U), Eric Schmaltz (York U). From a different direction there’s a call for The Canadian Alternative: Canadian Cartoonists, Comics, and Graphic Novels.

Today’s the homestretch to easily get into the workshop on bookmaking with Christine McNair thru the Chaudiere Rebuilding Year Campaign which surpassed its funding goals days ahead of the target. A couple days to go.

Sept 15 is the next deadline to submit to Bywords.

An album of the most recent Tree.

Part of the show with Helen Guri was broadcast in mono instead of stereo. I fixed levels and made a new copy: Listen to the show with Helen Guri here.

The Literary Press Group of Canada Festivals round-up.

A list of Best Canadian Book trailers

Woxikon finds synonyms, abbreviations and rhymes across multiple languages.

I forgot about google books Ngram viewer (and it’s remarkably hard to google up) but Poetic Meter peaked in 1984.

I think I’m in love with Zalgo text generator.

Who is Russell Edson and why have I not seen him before?

via Gallaher,

Russell Edson
A Letter from an Insomniac

Dear Mr. Furniture-Maker,

The bed you have made for me is a very difficult one. When I pull on its reins it rears up protesting the road. And it seems to fear heights, for when I ask it each night to jump from the window, it hesitates. It is impossible to sleep in a bed that is afraid of heights . . . I dream so often of the mountains. I believe this bed is a valley creature.

I’m way behind the curve on his blog but he also has an interesting post about Mary Ruefle who said, “wasting my life making idle comparisons between things that could not and need not be compared”

Yale University has an open university session with videos, pdfs and assignments on Modern Poetry like H.D. and Wallace Stevens.

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival happens every 2 years. The next one is Oct 23-26 in New Jersey. Their lineup is up. I think each one has Billy Collins and Rita Dove but this year also has Gary Snyder, Mark Doty, January Gill O’Neil, Alice Oswald and Robert Pinksy…and a few dozen more.

I’m curious about this British anthology, Blame Montezuma, dedicated to chocolate. The one sample poem is verse and there’s no list of poets. Anyone know more?

Speaking of food poem, came across this Black Truffle by Stephen Brockwell that starts,

Nothing on the tongue more subtle; from the earth,
not of it; of garlic, clove, oak, air,
and stars if stars were small enough to taste
and sprinkle on risotto.

You saw that the A-Frame residency is now open for applications?

I chanced across via twitter Jennifer M. Hecht on her “transliteration”—a meaningful sound-alike—of William Blake’s “The Tyger” The Spider.

In the purpose of your art
twist the neurons of my heart.

A Lorine Niedecker interview with Cid Corman.

I think I’ve read enough of Peter Norman to know he thinks interesting things and this interview on process and editing is no exception.

Susan Holbrook is interviewed and talks among other things about lists and less narrative forms of poetry,

Q: What is it about the accumulation that appeals?

A: I think of a traditional paragraph as a dogwalker holding a bunch of leashes, each sentence-dog tethered to the main man. In a more cumulative structure, dogs just keep running into the park, one after another—you never know when they’ll stop! There are interesting relationships among the units, but they do not involve cause/effect or subordinations so much as resonances—it’s democratic. No alpha dog. And there’s a nice processual, self-generating energy that gets going.

Jonathan Ball in recounting his making of Clockfire said, “If you always trust your instincts, you’ll always repeat what’s safe.”

And you saw this article about Biblioasis who turns 10.

If you follow me on twitter you’ll have seen most of this.

Categories: Link Dump.

Come Let us Workshop Together

Tree Seed Workshop with
Some Tree Seed Workshop participants earlier this week where Peter Richardson did a round table of poems sent ahead and brought in on the day. He gave a couple exercises and an essay of notes on his process.

examining a poem

Next time, next Tree, is September 23, workshop doors open 6:30 at Black Squirrel Books, 1073 Bank St, Ottawa.

I’m on deck. What will I be talking about? Rhythm Method: We’re talking tempo. Workshop for 8-18 participants to think about how rhythm is motion, a potion, a pause and a pace in the space. Looking at the speed of sound.

Pearl Pirie is the facilitator at this Tree Seed Workshop looking at contemporary examples of how rhythm works with Lorine Niedecker, Steven Zultanski, Adeena Karasick, Nelson Ball, Rae Armantrout, Laura Mullen, Derek Walcott and e.e. cummings.

Looking how the effects of poetic devices of using speed, pause and how to make speed and pause with density of ideas and word stressed. Exercise your tempo.

Free drop in. No registration required.

Followed by an 8pm feature of David Groulx and Jordan Abel and the open mic.

Categories: PSA, Poetry, Workshops.