I wouldn’t say I’m drowning in poetry. Or if I am, I am content with it and bring on the rain but I am far behind in reading most of it.
I took an evening and read half of the top of pile:
The currrent issue of Magma Poetry. As Rob Mackenzie remarked, there’s a stellar article in there by Maitreyabandhu on writing poetry. I’d want to quote it extensively. And re-read. One of the things I love about this magazine is their columns on poetics. Like La Scena Musicale, there’s a column that goes deeper than surface in every issue.
What else have I got on the go? The treasure trove of books and ideas from the fall Ottawa small press fair:
Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets by Carol A. Stephen (Bondi Studios, 2011). This is the first single chapbook by Stephens and I have to admit I’m biased from a few directions. One, because she has a sense of wordplay and humour paired with dark vision, which are uncommon among people I read. Her poem envisioning death on the highway walks that line without being maudlin nor fluffy. And two, one of her poems in there I published last year in Chromatic Beliefs. Three, she uses language like “Our hair blows in the faffering wind”
 by Amanda Earl (SPAO Call and Response poetry postcard)
I got to the exhibit just in the nick of time before it closed. She’s extending that use of pause and punctuation using a different method to the same end as Peter Riley. He used paragraph form and slashes to compress and separate simultaneously. Here, Earl controls pauses and presses onwards simultaneously. The enjambments are there and off-kiltering the pace yet run smoothly at an angle. It’s a kind of tension like pushing the brake and gas pedal at once.
here. a tree. the ghost. of a
tree. we hurry. towards &
away. old souls. keep
Royal Jelly, Back to my old Self and Mutt, a package of 3 poems from Odourless Press.
All sealed inaccessibly as grab lot. Normally I’d pass on those in principle, like those magazines that come in newsstands in a shrink wrap, but for $1, why not. Still, haven’t opened them. Although the one packaged with a package of matches will have to have something done with it before all the jostling about of boxing books lest the very off possibility of igniting something. Ideas are only tinder to a match.
Arc Poetry Annual: Poet vs. Poet
It has 15th Annual poem of the year. It’s always interesting to see the poem picks of different editors and interpolate how troublesome consensus must have been in processing the submissions into keep and slush pile. The issue also profiles contest listing and questioning the idea of the poetry competition. (In any of the promo of the issue, that didn’t come thru. I took it as a rehash of the tiresome caged match concept.)
Once I get settled at a new address I can subscribe. A square magazine in a long envelop and Canada Post do not mix well. It came with envelope torn open and looking like a lucky ‘Nam vet.
Sri Chinmoy books I meant to cycle back to but missed. There’s a post-humous book with a foreword by Desmond Tutu called The Jewels of Happiness. I picked up a card with the quote from Sri Chinmoy “The power that dominates/Cannot solve world problems./The power that loves/Can solve world problems.”
Bark by Czandra, R. de Smit and erika n. white, (Broken Rules Press, 2010). The cover is a reproduction of birchbark that is printed full-bleed and iridescent on nice paperstock. Haven’t read it all yet but there’s this by R. de Smit in Pastichio.
there is a line between
parody and homage
which I think I have lost
perhaps only misplaced
its so hard to keep track
of where everything goes
This side uP by Czandra (sitting duck & Broken Rules Press, 2011) Handstitched in a batch of 120 and launches Tuesday, November 22 · 7:30pm at Cafe TWIGS, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec.
I haven’t read it all but I have to say I love “10,000 Buddhas” for Louise Carson, a poem about a commissioned Buddha statue that took 10 years to make because
The 10,000th one eclipsed
all the rest, and is seated now
in the temple.
My friend has been carving
nine thousand nine hundred ninety seven,
gifts of gifts.
You and me, we sand burrs, extrusions”
Looking Into It by Ken Norris (above/ground, 2011)
This was disappointing. The last chapbook I read from him was sharp and lucid. These are poems about trying to write, diaristic and glum. I suppose if a poem is a part of a conversation, there will be dips, silences and moods will vary, otherwise one is holding oneself to being a caricature of performance.
If Leaf, Then Arpeggio by Camille Martin (above/ground, 2011)
Haven’t cracked it yet. Heard much of it at the AB Series tho.
Li’l Bastard by David McGimpsey (Coach House, 2011)
Heard excerpt from it for a couple years at various readings. Thought I already owned it. Seems I didn’t. There’s a smoothness to anecdote, off-handed grace that I want to reread more carefully.
Notes from a Cartywheel by Christine McNair (AngelHouse Press, 2011)
This materially absorbs me. Lovely design, paper stock, interspersion of scanned images thru the pages. I’ve only yet flipped thru but it is McNair’s usual compression of non-linear “non-meaning” into sound that caused the Versefest mixed audience this spring to go back on their heels and feel it, whether they were haiku poets, slam poets, traditional form verse or free verse or tag-along spouses of writers.
Buschek Books was there. And I scored the coup of the first two of the series by Pato. I’d read out of order but now have m-Tala by Chus Pato, translated by Erin Moure (Buschek/Shearsman, 2009) and Charenton by Chus Pato, translated by Erin Moure (Buschek/Shearsman, 2004). Look forward to having a long sit to go thru these.
Didn’t know that was going to be there but the surprises are part of the appeal of the small press fair. There’s a variety of things and usually time to chat if you’re visitor or vendor. As a vendor I was very happy with sales. $20 for a full table and I made that back more than tenfold.
Ethan Rilly: An illustrator and the cartoonist behind Pope Hats. His first comic was the winner of a 2008 Xeric Foundation Grant and the 2010 Gene Day Award. His second book was published by AdHouse Books. Rilly currently lives in Montreal but was at the Ottawa Small Press Fair, Ottawa, Nov 5, 2011
In the mail I recently got:
Haiku Canada Review, Vol 5, Number 2 with a couple inserts of haiku sheets. Also good for a long sit.
What an Elephant Looks Like by Edward Nudelman (Lummox Press, 2011) arrived. Promising to be quirky and surreal and super blurbed and promoed, I’m curious to see where Nudelman went to after poetically we last workshopped together 5(? 6?) years ago.
Geist, Issue 82, Fall 2011.
It looks at the Vancouver Literary Scene in the 70s. A sort of CanLit primer of an issue.
This one is long awaited. I have the luck of having met his poetry and a piece is in Air Out/In Air. His is a poetry that isn’t sound byte hyperactive but builds bit by bit. His poems have a hallmark of compassion to them. The world he builds is a kind one. “Wish for Him” p. 53 is about a woman with erratic behavior, perhaps senior ill, perhaps senile. We don’t know but it is about the negotiation of being the sandwiched generation. Likewise “At Spirit Lake”, p. 65, has the sense of making sense into life, realizing ones future actions are a nod to one’s past inactions. Strikingly worthwhile reading.
Rules for Poetry by Rick Lupert is a new e-chapbook he put together in May and I’ve just come across it.
Addie discovers another caterpillar walking up her arm.
We’re not sure if they’re coming from the farmer’s market produce
or if they’ve set up a civilization in our house.
Three caterpillars this week alone
each one found walking up some part of Addie.
I can’t blame them really. If I were a caterpillar
or any living creature That’s exactly what I’d be doing
“Caterpillar Poem” is just so filled with tenderness of love and yet not sappy somehow, not overdone. It catches me by surprise especially since some of his poems are blunt conversational, or unapologetically goofy, like “For Robert Wynne” in there or his How to Kiss.
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