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Casteels Chapbook: 6 Poems

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All fancy folded and yours for $5 with no shipping and handling charge if you pick it up at Jack Purcell, upstairs at the Ottawa Small Press Fair tomorrow.

Sage and mint are included if you ask in advance. ;)

Categories: Poetics.

Mini Chapbook: mclennan

rob mclennan
Coming to the small press fair this Saturday, poems from a forthcoming manuscript of rob mclennan, 4 little poems including this:

Prairie montage,

ive said it is as
i have told it
Dennis Cooley, abecedarium

Is this: glottal-growl. Rags-rap, rattle, narrate. Gravity occurs. Constant, consonants. Speak clear, chew. Particulate. What speech would make. A hardened spread. These fingers, thrum. A consequence of music; colour-spice, gymnastic voice. Dead, constellates. Spirals, slow to crawl. A wit for wings that. Misdirect. A dialectic spin. Hovers across bald prairie, devil-dust. Frequency, and speed. Whorl, baby. Pulpited, long pulped. Stinging, rain. Nevertheless. Warm spit and sound. An unwashed ocean of sky stretches, stretched. One lays out flat to dry.

Part of the fall 2013, spring 2014 lineup of mini poems:

Collect the whole set.

And there’s another chapbook coming. Watch here for details.

Categories: phafours press news.

Mini Chapbooks: Jessica Smith & Michael e. Casteels

Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith has brought forward to me— and therefore you if you want to get one—this lovely little hand drawn chapbook called Cicada Radio. There’s an essay by here here.

Michael e. Casteels
Michael e. Casteels of puddles of sky press has for us a set of micro fictions. “3 Chapters Towards an Epic.

We three were by chance both part of the vispo display at Cobourg

He’ll be at the Ottawa small press fair tomorrow with his new spring titles

aftermaths by LeRoy Gorman. Part minimalist poetry, part visual, and part mathematical equation.

Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead by Stuart Ross. A real surprise bag of a chapbook, inside you’ll find a sonnet, a prose poem, a list poem, a poem with a single word for each line, an elegy, a lament, a translation of a translation, and a whack of other wonderful poems.

sorrow is to row by Michael e. Casteels. A single typewritten poem with hand-stamped covers. After bpNichol. Only 26 copies.

You can get those at the fair or order them online. He’ll be with me on air, with any luck, on the next Literary Landscape along with Sarah Pinder.

Categories: Uncategorized.

Michèle Provost’s Roman Feuilleton: The Reading

Location: Centre d’exposition l’Imagier, 9 Front Street, Gatineau (Aylmer), QC.

ROMAN FEUILLETON: The Poetry Reading
A reading of poetry inspired by the art of Michèle Provost.
13 June 2014, 8:00 pm.
Centre d’exposition l’Imagier,
9 Front Street, Gatineau (Aylmer), QC.
Admission is free.

With ROMAN FEUILLETON, Michèle Provost’s latest border-blurring media-mixing visual art installation, the acclaimed Gatineau conceptual artist continues her tradition of using her work to inspire a response from and provoke a conversation with the literary artists in her community.
Created with her trademark combination of the visual and the textual, Provost’s new exhibition comes in the form of a promotional campaign for a series of literary works. Comprising books, magazines, games, a recorded radio-play and many other promotional items created in her intimately handmade and tangibly material style – ROMAN FEUILLETON (“Serial Novel”) is based on a surrealist text which Provost herself has composed out of lines from four of Québec’s literary landmarks; Anne Hébert’s Kamouraska, Michel Tremblay’s La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte, Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés, and Une saison dans la vie d’Emmanuel, by Marie-Claire Blais.

Always interested in seeing how others will interpret her work, her ideas and the sources which inspire her, Provost has challenged a group of writers and poets from across the local literary community to use her ROMAN FEUILLETON text – French and English versions – as the basis from which to create literary art of their own.

Among the writers who took up the challenge are: Cameron Anstee, Christian Bouchard, Monique Desnoyers, Amanda Earl, Guy Jean, Glenn Nuotio, Pearl Pirie, Carmel Purkis, Sandra Ridley & Grant Wilkins.

Please join the writers as they present and perform their work for the artist and the public in a reading at the opening reception for ROMAN FEUILLETON, at the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier in Gatineau on June 13th, 2014.

The Centre d’exposition l’Imagier is located at 9 Front Street in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, QC. The opening reception for the exhibition begins at 6:00 pm and the reading begins at 8:00 pm.

Both the reception and the reading are open to the pubic, and admission is free. The reading is co-sponsored by The AB Series.

For more information on the exhibition, please contact the Centre d’exposition l’Imagier at, or check their website at
For more information on the reading, please contact the AB Series at, or check their website at

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Another Notch Up: Workshop

Bring your poems to Westboro and we’ll have a look. This Wednesday I’m leading “Another Notch Up – Poetry Workshop”, Wed. Jun. 4, 7-8:30pm, $8

Poetry is learning to refine your words. A poem from each participant will get detailed comments for density, sharpness and energy. A reading list of links to tips to tighten and torque, and to poetics articles will be handed out. Each participant gets a chance to consider what shines or needs polishing in each other’s work in a cooperative environment moderated by the workshop leader Pearl Pirie. They’ll be time to do an exercise together to (optionally) share. Pearl Pirie has two poetry collections (Thirsts, 2011 and been shed bore, 2010), and a third forthcoming with BookThug in 2015. She has a few chapbooks, a micro press, several blogs, a gig as literary radio host for Literary Landscape and irregular gigs to teach poetry. She has run the Tree Seed Poetry Workshops series since 2009.

Location: Board Room, Dovercourt Recreation Centre

Register in online, by phone (613-798-8950 ext. 0) or in person at 411 Dovercourt Ave, Ottawa, or online with course code 91959. Register with The Westboro Brainery. It is a social recreation program where the community teaches and learns together. Powered by Dovercourt Recreation Association, the Westboro Brainery connects the subjects and the teachers so you can learn cool stuff without a long term commitment. Classes are inexpensive, a couple of hours long, and taught by hobbyists, experts, nerds and academics. They can be mainstream, slightly strange or downright wacky.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Tree: Sol, Johnstone and French-Canadian

This week’s Tree is at a special location tomorrow a couple doors south of where Mother Tongue Books used to be.
Black Squirrel books
The new 2nd location of Black Squirrel Books on 1073 Bank across from the Mayfair Theatre, near the Sunnyside Branch of the Library will be this week’s location of Tree. If you’re there extra early, you should know that’s only a few doors down from the best gelato in town at Stella Luna. They also have sandwiches and waffles, coffee, y’know, non-gelato.

At 6:45 p.m. Come and take a closer look at French-Canadian poetry with Stephen Brockwell. We will take a read through and discuss poems. No need to speak French. Specifically: Saint -Denys Barneau, Claude Gauvreau, Gaston Miron, Paul Marie Lapointe, Jacques Brault, Michel Garneau Nicole Brossard, Anne Marie alonzo, Dominique Robert, Martine Audet and possibly Anne Hebert and Marie Claire Blais

8:00 p.m. An open mic limited to 10 people, 2-3 minutes each. First sign, first read, followed by:

Adam Sol is the author of four collections of poetry including Crowd of Sounds (Anansi Press, 2011), winner of Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry, and Jeremiah, Ohio (Anansi Press, 2003), a novel in verse shortlisted for the 2013 Trillium Award. His fourth collection, Complicity (McClelland & Stewart, 2014), was published this spring.

Jim Johnstone has published three books of poetry including Sunday, the locusts (Tightrope Books, 2011) and Patternicity (Nightwood Editions, 2010). He most recently published the chapbook Epoch in 2013 with Frog Hollow Press.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

95 Books for 2014, list 5

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Or start where I am and work my way back?

among May reads
Among the books finished this month.

  1. Works and Days by Edward Kleinschmidt Mayes (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)
    This was a quick but absorbing read. He had organized his poems as an abcedarian, only so far as subject of the poem (Ago (needle), Buii, Campo, Dove, Erbaccia, Fabbro, Giorni, Io, Lavoro, Macchina, Notizia, Oliveto, Porca Miseria, Qua, Raccolta, Sfuso, Terreno, Uva, Verita and Zappa, which means hoe. Who knew.) Towards the end of each, if not on the last word, is a pass over of to the next subject. The poems all surround running his vineyard in Italy. Italian is mixed in freely with English, but in italics with footnotes. Each poem is 1-4 pages long which says little except indicates my knuckle’s reluctance to retype that length.

    Works and Days
    Works and Days
    It continues in part,

    “One can have passion only
    for the moment, and the moment

    passes. But then we go,
    we catch up, and then, more passion.

    The poems have a lovely cadence and sense of immediacy. They sample all kinds of local expressions. I read a goodly portion of it aloud for the pleasure of sound.

    This is his fifth book but also most recent still. What happened to him? (googling deeper) Oh, he married Frances Mayes who wrote Under Tuscan Sun and they wrote a cookbook together from the Cortona area. Ah, guess he’s too content for poetry now. He’s 63 and living the ex-pat dream.

  2. James Whitcomb Riley‘s Riley Love-Lyrics with Life Pictures (Braunworth & Co Bookbinders & Printers, Brookley, NY, 1899)
    His is one of the first poets I read. As a child I loved his transcribing the dialect. It slowed down the reading but made it more real. There’s a lot of names named so I wonder if it is commissioned poems or he was a skirt chaser.

    When she comes home again! A thousand ways
    I fashion, to myself, the tenderness
    Of my glad welcome: I shall tremble — yes;
    And touch her, as when first in the old days
    I touched her girlish hand, nor dared upraise
    Mine eyes, such was my faint heart’s sweet distress
    Then silence: And the perfume of her dress:
    The room will sway a little, and a haze
    Cloy eyesight– soulsight, even– for a space

    Interesting mix of modern and old. Quite a preoccupation with eyes, hair and hands untouched but that was the audience appropriateness of the era of pang I suppose.

    Some are plot-driven such as Farmer Whipple-Bachelor who tells the story of meeting his step-sister and the journey to finally marry her at age 54 and adopt the kids she had before being widowed. Quite the point of view for a story. Some of them made me laugh aloud but which at what, I can’t quite sort just now. Wait, it was this:

    A Variation

    I am tired of this !
    Noting else but loving !
    Nothing else but kiss and kiss,
    Coo, and turtle-doving!
    Can’t you change the order some?
    Hate me just a little—come !

    Many of them are reminiscing on people long dead and treasuring the few that remain like from a 6-pager of smokes and drinks and fireside

    Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    All the pleasures we have known
    Thrill me now as I extend
    This old hand and grasp your own—
    Feeling, in the ride caress,
    All affection’s tenderness;
    Feeling, though the touch be rough,
    Our old souls are soft enough.[...]

    Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
    I grow prosy, and you tire
    Fill the glasses while I bend
    To prod up the failing fire.

  3. David W McFadden’s Shouting Your Name Down the Well: Tankas and Haiku (Mansfield, 2014)
    Elegant, deceivingly simple. Good eye. Reading the book was something of an education. Let me back up the train. It was akin to the anonymous haiku workshop at Haiku Canada Weekend where one of the haiku was utterly shred to bits. People started wincing. Nick Avis did the big reveal at the end. This “obvious newbie” of a poet does a checklist of how not to haiku, tells, not shows, explicitly names emotion, uses personal pronoun, and both I and my, and writes a baggy poem with too much punctation, and having too much material, so it should perhaps be a tanka. And that first line, or two, could go. And maybe she or he got the species of bird wrong…Who was it? Basho. And then Nick explained this is why it is a good poem. People were embarrassed and laughing and chastised. To comply with rules are not the objective. Once we start to learn something, we get a kneejerk response that there is a right to be doing. At the same time McFadden’s haiku reads (p. 121) “Form is the signal/That the content is worthy/To be cared about.”

    Funny the things we think that matter. I am insistent on not caring about upper vs. lower case except in haiku. These haiku use upper case at the start of each line and periods at the end and 5-7-5 which frustrated me. As well as the word “haikus” in the book.

    That is short-visioned. What is essential to haiku isn’t syllabics but vision. Where haiku fail most often is in vision. These have the vision but the syllable count as well. Many of his poems are epigrams, anecdotes but by any standard well-made and many succeed as haiku despite the 5-7-5 because they are alert, observant, pivot, an have a clarity and humour in succinctness, being aware of foibles of human perception.

    or p. 75

    Why am I climbing
    Imaginary mountains?
    Because they’re not there.


    Why do we worry?
    We’re merely leaves on a tree.
    Let the tree worry.


    Big mind is the fog
    That socks us in and the light
    Guiding us from grief.
    Little mind doesn’t notice
    Any fog or light-just grief.

    Not to give the impression that these are typical. The tone and subjects range a lot

    from traditional, p. 101

    Come quickly! I have
    in my hand a flower that
    Blossoms and then fades.

    to winky humour p. 62

    Strange that fish don’t sleep.
    Must be all those coffee grounds
    Going down the sink.

    I had the pleasure of hearing from the book twice, once at Versefest, once at the Mansfield Press spring launch in Ottawa. A video of poems from that. Reading and rereading the book aloud was worthwhile.

  4. Gary Barwin’s moon baboon canoe (Mansfield Press, 2014)
  5. His poems are fun. Sonnet, for example. Or differently fun, psalm which is the 24th psalm hijacked by the sheep “they led me down garden paths that were not ironic/or filled with worrisome garden gnomes/but lit upon the shed of happiness”. The video of the title poem was up 4 years ago. Here’s a video from Wally in Cobourg of the reading tour for the book so you can see it directly:

  6. Jane Munro’s Blue Sonoma (Brick Books, 2014)
    Blue Sonoma, Jane Munro
    My favorite of these were the chapter of ones on the couple aging. They have complexity played simply. The dream poems I wasn’t so taken by except for one about a red doll dress floating on water and the pov of being disturbed by how a man looked at it.
  7. Leonard Cohen’s The Energy of Slaves
    Energy of Slaves coverEnergy of Slaves cover
    from way back when. On one hand, juvenilia where he mostly sexually boasts of being better in the cloakroom with a girl, than as a writer. Girl literally. An awful lot of poems of sex with the 12-15 year old set. The rest are about the violence of war. So something of a blunt hard slog and snog.

    Here and there you can see the density he develops “to make love with the tooth of a saw” or “gone back into the world/to be with the ones/who labour with their total bodies/who have no plans for the world/They were never entertainers”.

    Energy of Slaves, Cohen

    Energy of Slaves, Cohen

  8. Jane Yolen’s The Radiation Sonnets
    Radiation sonnets
    The book was written, one sonnet at a time at night after her husband had radiation treatment. It was published in 2003 by Algonquin Books in North Carolina and sold by the Chapel Hill cancer clinic as a fundraiser.

    Radiation sonnets
    The sonnets move thru the journey sometimes poignantly, sometimes buoyantly such as one in which the encouraging the patient to eat is likened to the wife dominmatrix.

  9. Joseph Jurman’s My Journey (self-published, undated).
    My journey, self-published

    My journey, self-published
    In the universal nature of self-published memoirs everywhere salient details are skipped because that is known to the family who are the intended audience. Or to the author, leaving off I’ll never forget my school teacher’s face. I can see it as clearly as if it were in front of me now. And then he moves on without a detail for us.

    This summary page covers a lot. It is a fascinating look into one person’s perspective and the details that stick as pre-Nazi era becomes the Nazi sweep. He talks with a lot of verve of training as an army cook, of being on an illicit refugee ship, of receiving his last ever letter from his family who all disappeared.

    There are small details such as arriving in the “Promised Land” to find out the Jewish people call Jewish people sneaky dismissive names just like he endured living among Poles. Or the life hidden with the ballast, running out of food and water as they try to sneak past patrols. Finally fishing boats come out for them that are so decrepit that by the time the patrols catch them, they determine it would be murder to not let the small boats land.

  10. Peg Bresnaham’s In a Country None of Us Called Home (Press 53, 2014)
    But for hours I would have made it to her reading in North Carolina. It’s in the memoir school of poetry where they are all sentences and one subject anecdotes. Which is not to say inarticulate. In her mother’s home mom sings along with the tv “hymns so pumped/with radiance they gild the plaques//and crystal sculptures of eagles”

    In writing anything there’s a glossiness that can come once we try to head hop into our ancestors, like the difference between drawing out of our head or drawing a still life before us. So much detail is lost when the story isn’t or own, or when it is. What you fill back in and assemble takes as much of an eye as when it is direct experience to pull salient element. She does it in, for example, “Decoding my Mother’s Ledger from July 20, 1940″ the carnival has come to town with its diverting lightness

    a pitcher of beer, the news:

    fore pouring from the Spitfires
    and Heinkels in the Battle of Britain,
    yellow stars swallowed in clusters
    by German and Polish
    black holes, while Mother

    wheels in in white wicker
    around Twelfth Street, stops
    at Schmidler Drugs, Gustav’s
    Butcher Shop, our lives nearly normal.
    The carnival comes to town.

    Long wands of light scour the sky,
    pull people from porch swings
    and couches. The calliope’s whistle
    pulses the leaves of chestnuts
    and elms like a callithumpian band[...7 lines...]

    Midgets snake charmers, a tattooed
    king with continents stitched
    to his skin. He flexes his muscles,
    countries rise and fall.

    callithumpian. isn’t that a wonderful word.

    She curates a moment “At the Jordan Street Café” where a woman by the boot tray begins to sing Puccini’ “Vissie D’arte” from Tosca. A worker turned off the CD player.

    every face translated its grief.
    The aria froze us like a tableau— forks

    in midair, a waiter with a full tray held high,
    the bartender in front of the mirrored wall
    of bottles and glass about to pour a draft.

    Everyone heard her music.
    Some from cages. Some winged.
    Some tethered to a fire, to ropes of ash.

    I can’t access her voice, but a transcendent music that stops time and bumps all other programming. It is universal in its particulars.

    Once I figure out what time signatures are in music, if indeed I’ve just used the right term, I have to try to the tip from “The Ballerina at Ninety” (p. 20) “If you walk/in waltz time/you won’t limp, she instructs./ I fall in meter/beside her,/,my own hitch/vanishing.” If that works, we can erase the claim that poetry never did something useful.

    Such striking poems thruout. Did that really happen? Person beside her at the funeral slumping onto her, also dead. She told it well or maybe I should say, sang it well.

    The title poem:

  11. Philomene Kocher’s Singing in the Silo (Catkin Press, 2014)
    Despite it gathering together 25 years of her tanka, haibun and haiku she seems to not call it her collected. p. 53

    prime of life
    I hear the bitterness
    in my voice

    p. 28,

    tiny shadows
    of spilled sugar
    on a white couter
    I gather the sweetness
    I missed before

    She was recently on Literary Landscape. Listen: The first interview (starts at 04:27 minutes) is with Philomene Kocher whose new book of haiku poetry, Singing in the Silo, has just been published by catkin press. The second interview (at 18:27 minutes) is with Stanford M. Forrester, a haiku poet and publisher of bottle rockets press. Both poets gave readings at the recent Haiku Canada conference in Ottawa.

  12. Nelson Ball’s You must look hard to see what is there (press-press-pull, portland oregon, 2014)
    A slim but beautifully made chapbook the poems are characteristically straight forward but not superficial with a good eye for interesting bits. For exmaple

    E-Mail Enquiry
    “Do you have a book by William Guy Carr
    titled Games in the Pond?”

    Sixteen minuts later
    a second e-mail:

    “Sorry, the name of the book
    is Pawn in the Game.

    Keen observant eye for the place and out of place.

Categories: Currently reading.

Haiku Canada Weekend

thanks to you
Gradually photos are surfacing from the weekend. Here are 118 of my photos. Anyone who attended who is on Flickr is welcome to add their photos to the Haiku Canada Group. Like you?

Liana Voia uploaded videos of some events and interviews including the launch of a new magazine of Canadian Punjabi haiku named Wah. Amarjit Sathi Tiwana and Dr. Jagdish Kaur were among the organizers.

People came in from all over, Quebec….

A video featuring Nick Avis, in from Newfoundland.

She has shot lots of video of events including central to Quebecois haiku poet, Janick Belleau:

Guy Simser who gave a talk on war poetry:

Interview with train enthusiast Rich Schnell

Stanford M Forrester came up the U.S. It is he who I interviewed on the previous Literary Landscape.

Pamela A. Babusci who runs Moonbathing a U.S. tanka magazine for and by women.

There was even a live radio program/theatre version of Marco Fraticelli’s book Drifting with TA Carter playing the role of Celeste who came in from the WWI-era.

There’s also footage of her at Haiku Canada reading.

Marshall Hryciuk!

And our conference chair, Claudia Radmore!

Categories: Poetry reading write-up.

Poems: Rod Pederson

Rod Pederson's chapbook
This now exists, with copies still being folded and cut. To come out fully at the phafours table at the Ottawa Small Press Fair, upstairs at Jack Purcell by Elgin St. June 7th.

The 6 wonderful little potent poems by Rod Pederson includes this one:

bent into untimely sorrow

someday he’ll die and I will
bitter the Montreal winter and keen
and memory’s aching issue will twist
some small channelled bit
of comparable elegance

Leonard was a victim you could be
sure of

Categories: PSA, Poetry, phafours press news.

Poems: Catherine Brunet

Change in their Pockets
New chapbook by Catherine Brunet at the reading tonight. 7:30pm, Pressed Café. I’ll bring 20 copies so get it while you can.

Here’s a sample poem from it:

John Coltrane Redux

Avant-guard jazz on my ride home:
saxophone incursions deep into
John Deere clang and guitar twang
of country-western territory.

Coltrane would get punched in the face at the
tavern with his strange hue, sound concepts,
Carolina drawl – looking at folks funny,
ordering a daiquiri.

His split lip of un-belonging would
swell and buzz for days like diatonic
scales on broken AM frequencies
somewhere down a gravel sideroad.

I’m also reading with career-long poet from out west, John Pass. Here are some of his poems at Terrain.

Categories: PSA, Poetry, phafours press news.