Archive for November, 2005


S&S Toronto launch

November 30, 2005

On November 29, Shift & Switch launched at Supermarket in Toronto. What a powerfully lovely evening!! The launch featured all Mercurial fall titles, with readings by Gary Barwin, derek beaulieu, Mark Miller, Richard Truhlar, and Betsy Warland as well as Shift & Switch contributors Hugh Thomas, Gregory Betts, Suzanne Zelazo, Mark Truscott, Geoffrey Hlibchuk, Sharon Harris, gustave morin, Trevor Speller, Rachel Zolf, and Rob Read.

The first set of readers (Barwin, beaulieu, Miller, Truhlar, Warland) gave great insight and sample to their new books. Info about these books can be found on Mercury’s website.

The second set featured the Shift & Switchers. derek and I hosted the readings Pen and Teller style: I spoke, derek stood quietly (amusingly) onstage. We had a lot of fun with our silly hosting improv.

Hugh Thomas commenced the readings with “Launch Party,” a crowd-pleaser he’d written specifically to celebrate the launch of the book. Gregory Betts also delighted the audience by accompanying his sung version of the Canadian cities anagram (from the anthology and from If Language) with the guitar. Was that to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land?” Suzanne Zelazo chased this with a poem excerpted from the anthology, and Mark Truscott shared an anthology (and Said Like Reeds or Things) poem as well as new work.

Geoffrey Hlibchuk prefaced his reading by referring to the anthology by its nickname Shizzle and Swizzle (which reminded me of another nickname I’ve heard frequently: Scratch ‘n’ Sniff). Sharon Harris then read a new Fun with ‘Pataphysics. gustave morin read my favourite piece of the evening, a constraint-based love poem featuring the words most frequently employed in English.

Trevor Speller read “famous people./” from the anthology, as requested by derek. Rachel Zolf shared work from Human Resources, and Rob Read finished the evening with some Daily Treated Spam.

I’d given the contributors a rather tight (and unreasonable) stage limit of three minutes each, due to the volume of readers. I was so impressed with everyone for bringing their game, performing with grace and ingenuity, and sticking to the requested time. It was such a sweet sampling of the anthology, quickfire, with varied performances and texts.

Shift & Switch is now making its way into the world, and trickled responses are beginning to leak back to me. I’m greatly looking forward to the dialogue this book (and the many other anthologies from this year, including Post-Prairie, The New Canon, and Open Field) will elicit surrounding why/how/who we anthologize, submission/solicitation concerns, definition and diversity, and the many other topics sure to be raised!

I also can’t wait to hear how the Calgary Shift & Switch launch goes next Tuesday!


S&S Vancouver launch

November 30, 2005

On November 26, Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry launched at the Helen Pitt Gallery in Vancouver. What a tremendous event! The launch was co-sponsored by the KSW and featured readings by contributors Kedrick James, Natalie Simpson, Reg Johanson, Jordan Scott, Jonathon Wilcke, and me.

Jordan shared many similar sentiments about the evening here, but here are a few more…

Very cool gallery space, and I was so pleased upon entering to see people I know (the wonderful Aaron Peck and Lance Blomgren). Kelly-Ann, a close highschool buddy of mine, has recently moved to Vancouver and met me at the launch, too, so we had a blast catching up and meeting new people. Speaking of which, I was super pleased to meet many Vancouver writers, such as the super charming Jeff Derksen, Maxine Gadd, George Stanley, Jamie Reid, Nikki Reimer, and members of the KSW.

It’s been a beautiful yet challenging experience to co-edit an anthology, as well as plan promotional activities to usher the book into the world. The anthology was initially conceived as documentation of [younger? experimental? underpublished?] poets and their communities, and the response from contributors has fully heartened my belief that this book is an important one to have created. Many contributors have volunteered their time to help spread the word and organize events. Jordan Scott graciously housed Conor and me during our stay. Reg Johanson organized a talk at Capilano College about the ever-difficult subject of “How to Get Published.” And Jonathon Wilcke, superstar that he is, did a hell of a lot of work to organize the Vancouver launch. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

So, about the launch… Jonathon graciously opened the evening with a brief introduction for the event, book, and me. I then expanded on how the idea of the anthology came to be and touched on the last-minute mayhem surrounding the arrival of books at the launch (which didn’t come to pass — fucking Purolator). The audience was warm, engrossed, encouraging, and listened with aplomb. They laughed, they heckled, they held their breath. It was a packed house (50+ in attendance), and so pleasurable!

Kedrick James kicked the readings off with a high-octane performance (see Jordan’s blog for details). Natalie Simpson chased this up with a demure, metered reading that included one of my favourite lines from the anthology — “Language is speech less speaking.” Reg Johanson delivered a powerful, politics-heavy found text that was new and astounding; the audience loved this, and I was so happy to hear Reg read this. Jordan Scott took the stage next, his text snapping and gurgling with momentum. A stunning delivery, and one of the most pleasantly relaxed I’ve seen Jordan offer. Such a treat. I read next (how patient the audience!), and Jonathon Wilcke kicked the ass out of the readings’ end, playing the saxophone in lieu of white-space-on-the-page pause.

And to top it off, Vancouver’s new mayor, Sam Sullivan, showed up. Jaws dropped; excellent to see hands-on municipal support of arts.

I loved my visit to Vancouver, and was sad to leave so quickly. I hope to return in the next year, where hopefully I’ll have a longer time to commune with trees (yes, I gladly hugged one), hike mountains, and pop bullwhips along the shoreline.


emma beltran

November 21, 2005

tonight, writers in exile club will host readings at the gladstone hotel (toronto), 8 pm. steven heighton and emma beltran will share work. $5 suggested donation.

i’ll read the english translations of emma’s work. powerful stuff.



November 19, 2005

…shantung and tussah lungs, thick sheets of lungs…

i took a silkscreening workshop last year, part of audra‘s pre-wedding celebrations. the silkscreen i made has a couple of handwritten excerpts from Wide slumber for lepidopterists on it, as well as two neat dictionary definitions of ‘lepidopterous’ and ‘somni-‘. today, i decided to silkscreen. i pulled out a black dress and a raspberry scarf, and silkscreened the definitions in white ink. they’re drying currently, and i’m waiting to see if they’ll actually be wearable printmaking pieces, or if i just fucked up a couple items of clothing.



butterfly wings work like LEDs

November 19, 2005

“… slab of hollow air cylinders in the wing scales essentially version of a 2D photonic crystal.”



November 19, 2005

“When one becomes two.” – A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze & Guattari

“You must talk with two tongues, if you do not wish to cause confusion.
There is nothing so impressive as the number two.
You must be a duet in everything.
Why try and give the impression of a consistent and indivisible personality?
There is Yourself: and there is the Exterior world, that fat mass you browse on.
Sometimes you speak through its huskier mouth, sometimes through yours.” – Vortex No. 1: Be Thyself, Wyndham Lewis


going to BC

November 18, 2005

i’m feeling pretty good today. body’s detoxifying, ears are listening to alexis’ dmb medly she recently burned for me, dishes about to be done, and gym about to be visited. i rode my bike to mercury in the wet flurries today. it’s quite beautiful outside.

there’s a very intense euphoria that wells inside me when i’m confronted by natural majesty. i’m talkin’ thick winds, thunderstorms, large bodies of water, mountains, and impressive landscapes. i’ll visit vancouver next thursday, flying in just after 8pm. i anticipate missing the mountain view as we fly over, and waking on friday morning to that overwhelming natural intensity. i may sleep very lightly on thursday night as a result. i’ve never been to vancouver, and really can’t wait to see ocean, sky, and moutain at once. what wonder! i anticipate that heady ecstacy already and i wish to name it. any suggestions?


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