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Live in Studio

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

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

And a picture by Susan Johnston here.

Categories: CKCU, Poetry reading write-up.


When: Friday April 11th at 8pm

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

April 12 Book Fest & launches

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Poetry on Spines

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

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

How to play?

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

spine poetry

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The potential for poetry is everywhere.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Textual Artivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Poetry reading write-up.

fw: League of Canadian Poets award news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

more info?

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

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

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

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

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Versefest – Day 2 – Books

The book table. See if you can spot something familiar or intriguing from left to right.

book table

book table

book table

book table

book table

book seller David
And at the end, bookseller David Dollin (and crew who jumped aside camera shy) are there to get you your books.

More as I have time.

Day 3 at Versefest: 7pm is old guard: David McFadden, Sue Goyette and Karen Connelly, and 9pm is soundful: with Scottish poet Sandra Alland and Ian Ferrier’s For Body and Light.

Categories: Uncategorized.

The Journal Project

the Journal Project
Have you heard of The Journal Project yet? Versefest is helping to promote the program to get people to donate unused journals to women in maternity support homes, domestic violence shelters and other such community organizations. Their story.

Becky Halton & Arwen Faulkner
Becky Halton & Arwen Faulkner are helping this non-profit get new journals, bound notebooks and hardcover scrapbooks to people who are transition in lives and could use somewhere to verbalize what they’re living. “Writing heals. Writing inspired. Writing empowers.”

They also accept inspirational books, chapbooks, CDs or cash. There’s a dropbox at Knox Presbyterian church at Elgin, 120 Lisgar while Versefest is on. After that, check their site for how to find a home for notebooks to people who could put them to good use.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Versefest, 2014, Day 1

in the book area breaktime Kevin Matthews welcoming
People on Day 1 of 6 of Versefest, including David O’Meara who now has an album with the Hilotrons. Right, Kevin Matthews welcoming people.

Nina at table
There’s table where you can put out your wares if you’re there — magazines, books, chapbooks, CDs, flyers and Versefest will look after selling it as free extra service to the writing and reading community.

versefest tshirt & concession
So, Versefest is off to the races: there’s the t-shirt and canteen, the book table with all the new releases and some back list items of featured poets.

And poets — 6 read last night. Liz Lochhead cancelled due to illness, but if you want her books and I’m told they can be hard to get in Canada, there’s at least 3 titles of hers that arrived.

Sarah de Leeuw
Sarah de Leeuw was the opening reader. She read from new work & Geographies of a Lover (NuWest, 2013). She has poems forthcoming with above/ground and at Arc Magazine.

She works in accumulation for effect. There may be the odd article or adjective or verb but there’s mostly a piling up of nouns. “…heat muscle saline salmon daughter…” It was interesting to hear live the text that I had read. She inflected more, varied more in pitch and speed than the list poems did in my head. I got distracted for a while with the word “calving”. I didn’t realize some don’t pronounce the L and some due so my linguistics brain got derailed for nearly a poem musing that.

She writes about place, including Herschel Island which was a major point of Inuit whaling, back when they were plentiful. Her poem, funnily enough hooked forward to Mary Pinkoski’s poem of bones and their significance. While de Leeuw describes the absence “the quiet is rich, thick, almost fatty”, Mary Pinkoski presented the bones of history to different scenes, as memories, heat, lessons, permanence, to the kid’s binder in school, to the couple in the high rise having sex, to the mother who worries, “these are what you can hold if you let yourself burn”

If geography and place are poetically sparking for you, the Toronto New School of Writing has fieldworks April 5

Lytle Shaw’s most recent critical book, Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics. Students will participate in a guided discussion of a number of poets (from William Carlos Williams to Lisa Robertson, which hopefully will suggest the wide spectrum of examples available) who have explored the notion of place in their work. The goal is to reframe their work as experiments in both historical thinking and ethnography, and to put that into dialog with the slightly quainter “poetics of place” as a means of repositioning a “site-specific poetics” in a world that is becoming ever more porous and borderless. Students will also have the opportunity to share and workshop their own original work in relation to the guided discussion.

Mary Pinkoski
Second was spoken word poet, Mary Pinkoski who is Poet Laureate for the City of Edmonton. She grabbed the room by the lapels as if she were hundred-fisted. And shook the room ever so gently. She’s doing a degree in interviewing people for collecting oral histories. This collecting of stories reminded me of Magpie Ulysses who was at the fest last year.

I heard several people afterwards asking, does she have a book? Are they all sold? Were there CDs and I missed them? She’s got some youtube and soundcloud but not those performed in Ottawa.

She is working on the idea of how we all have stories within ourselves. If we can speak, we must. Her mother and grandmother held silences. In a poem which was a list poem “my throat is” it was everything from an alley to “a library haunted by the books I grew up on”, “flint tongue against steel teeth, there’s a spark”. And somehow over that poem she covered everything from non-violence to fracking to how not to “make the body a coffin” but to speak up or risk being silenced. It had an uplifting tone and encouragement and reminder, “a different way of knowing is a miracle”.

She spoke of the desire to protect but having no switchblade to protect her sister, she made these words. A lot of poems that are more from the bent of cherishing, valuing, unity, rather than acerbic dismissing or distancing.

She also had a poem about olive trees and how in a “perfectly pruned olive tree a sparrow can fly though the libs without hitting its limbs” and how we are not perfectly trimmed and yet the birds keep coming.

Mary has presented her unique style of spoken word throughout Canada in numerous live performances and on radio programs including CBC Radio One’s Radio Active and The Key of A, and CKUA’s The Road Home.

In 2013, Mary placed third at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam and in 2011 at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Mary was voted Most Valuable Poet of the festival and won the national championship as member and captain of the Edmonton Poetry Slam Team. Mary was the winner of the 2008 National CBC Poetry Faceoff. When not performing, Mary runs spoken word workshops for youth and adults.

Matthew Tierney
Matthew Tierney read from two books past including Probably Inevitable (Coach House Books), & one future which he joked he might entitle Metaphysics since his last book was about poetry about physics.

He gave all appearances to being uncommonly at ease at the podium. He was wearing his Star Trek T-shirt and made a poem of a conversation between himself and Wesley Crusher. He got a good tickle out of the audience.

His poems are sharp and dense but more in the sense of instruments than switchblade. The intellect is present but also humour without being cleverness for its own sake. For example, “That we use only 10% makes good copy but bad Einstein” or in a poem about people who wake during their operations, naming “pain as illusive saves none of its throb”. There’s a driving intelligence that makes tight lines “Hindsight is hunch in reverse” and also self-examination of what have I done with my life. is there anything that would cause a future scholar to declare “that’s a grave I’d love to exhume.”

Max Middle introducing Andrew Faulkner
Max Middle introduced the A B Series sponsored readers; first up Andrew Faulkner reading from his Coach House book, Need Machine. The warned possibility of choir practice sound leaking into the space came as he said “watches our sister from a webcam no one knows is there” and again at “It was the year Heidegger walked among us and seemed especially deep.”

Peter Richardson
Peter Richardson reading from Bit Parts for Fools (Gooselane, 2013). I was almost though the book before Versefest arrived. I was surprised to see the poem about bird watchers, wife upstairs in her office, husband in the basement office, convening to share stories over tea, was about a particular couple, both chemists and the woman the first to receive a degree in chemistry in 1900, who effectively, he said, became her husband’s secretary from dynamics the prevailed. That seems a more interesting backstory than the front story. Sometimes patter pays off.

He also read his poem wherein a family member resurfaces as a moose. There’s a special moment of communion with the moose who walks out of and back into the forest. “You roved and your roving included me.”

Copies of his previous book is also out for those who missed it.

Suzannah Showler
Lastly but not leastly Suzannah Showler was was launching the book for the first time ever, Failure to Thrive from ECW. They are not yet in stores, direct from the printer to the event. Living in Toronto now, Ottawa was her hometown and where her family still is and she had a poem about being drawn back to where you came from “drawn back by whatever is mediocre and true”.

Her poetry was quite striking from the point of view of metaphor. They run around navigating vitality vs. imminent armageddon. “I’m just a little worried about the aperture that lets in amazement”.

She also has a chapbook out with Odorless Press.

And tonight 8 more poets, the women’s slam showcase and those who in/words present.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Past and Upcoming on Literary Landscape

Jenna Tenn-Yuk
Literary Landscape was with Jenna Tenn-Yuk (right) who will be at Versfest which starts tomorrow. That show will be up here for a few more weeks.

This week, Thursday, 6:30pm, tuning into 93.1fm will find Dave Currie.

The next time I’m on is April 10th and it will be with Kevin Spenst about the small press. In a later show I’ll be talking with Philomene Kocher about her new collected of haiku, tanka and haibun.

Categories: CKCU.