Archive for May, 2006


wolfe island literary festival

May 31, 2006

june 3rd: in the kingston area? join me at the wolfe island literary festival.


sound library: where my head is

May 28, 2006

Toronto Public Library’s Young Voices Magazine 2006

May 27, 2006

I recently finished adjudicating a portion of the Young Voices Magazine 2006 (poetry, ages 12-14). I was involved last year, when entrants participated in a contest. This year, the Toronto Public Library switched the format from contest to magazine. Other adjudicators for this year include Jay MillAr (15-16, poetry) and Mark Truscott (17-18, poetry). It’s neat to see youth’s work develop year to year (I’ve had a couple of excellent recurrent entrants), and I’m curious to see if any of the fourteen-year-olds I encountered last year re-entered this year.

My favourite part of the adjudication involves writing a letter to poets whose work has been accepted for publication. I typically use a paragraph to provide feedback on the entrant’s poem, and a second paragraph to recommend other poems/poets whose work may be of interest to the young writer. Last year, I recommended Stuart Ross’ and Souvankham Thammavongsa’s work to several people. During a later workshop, we had copies of recommended titles available for poets to browse.

Letting the poems dictate what I’ll recommend, it’s sometimes surprising to me what comes up. This year, I’ve recommended work by Lillian Allen, Klyde Broox, Louise Gluck, Joy Harjo, Shane Koyczan, Leviathan, Lisa Robertson, Stuart Ross, and d’bi.young. I also recommended one very political young poet check out the anthology Common Sky: Writers Against the War.


TESTing 1,2,3: cain and robertson

May 25, 2006

last night’s test reading series was prefaced with a lovely late spring day in toronto. this has been one of the kindest springs weather-wise, though it looks like this weekend may usher in summer.

audience: sizeable, chatty. folks in from st. catharine’s and buffalo.

stephen cain kicked off the readings with a short list poem called “listen for odd noises.” there were, indeed, odd electronic, machinistic, and human-based noises filtering through the readings, so it was nice to have a schafer ear-cleaning directive right off the top, and to incorporate said noises into the evening’s narrative.

cain zipped through several american standard / canada dry sequences. i listened to cain’s intonation of sentence not sentence but sentience, sensate, concensus? consensual or consenting. he read several bird poems, which were also published in an attractive chapbook by in case of emergency press. during his route poems, i drifted into serious consideration of cain’s interest in movement: assembly lines, commuting, “the road poem”… heavily using left-to-right lines, how can writer/reader merge into, out of lines? add content to a line by scanning nearby lines? … you know how sometimes, when you’re reading, a word from the line above or below will catch your attention, drift into your narrative? peripheral reading. merging lines. building sentences repetitively but each sentence is no true repetition.

cain finished with “viagra monologues” and we took a break. i handed out flyers for the nicole brossard launch on tuesday (this ain’t! 7:30pm!) and met tim conley, who reminded me of hawksley workman. andrea strudensky and geoffrey hlibchuk were there, too!, but i only had a chance to visit briefly with them.

lisa robertson read several passages from her excellent new bookthug book, The Men: A Lyric Book. i should mention: during steve’s reading, i took notes. steve’s a tight, quick, confident reader, and consistently ends sets before i’m completely satiated. during lisa’s reading, i was so transfixed, caught in waves of rapt attention / daydream, that i only paused to write a few short notes.

there is a section of gertrude stein’s amazing “Identity A Poem” that rushed to me last night while robertson read.

A man coming.
Yes there is a great deal of use in a man coming but will he come at all if he does come will he come here.
How do you like it if he comes and look like that. Well anyway he does come and if he likes it he will come again.
Later when another man comes
He does not come.
Girls coming. There is no use in girls coming.
Well anyway he does come and if he likes it he will come again.

i want to ask robertson if she’s read this, too. i wondered if katherine was thinking of “Identity A Poem” as robertson read from The Men. i know this: i want to read this text again, again, again and i want to hear robertson read again. there is much that is coy, humorous, daring, matter-of-fact, twisting, twisting in the plain beauty of direct statement. how do i eye the text; how do i eye insert myself into The Men or do i eye sit nearby as a friend or an acquaintance or wary or curious?

robertson will read the entire book at the scream literary festival on july 7th (EXCITING!); i am so glad for this next engagement. last night’s reading whetted my appetite. i am ready to dig in. i am ready to be ready for discovery.

“I glimpse the little teeth in their passion.” – Lisa Robertson, The Men

the evening finished with a lengthy, intriguing Q&A. i’m hopeful that mark truscott recorded that night, but there are some real gems of Qs and As. truscott’s remarkable question about identity formation of “Canadian Poet” was rock-solid. when asked pedestrian questions about where they write, how they write, with what tools, cain offered a description similar/identical to my own experience (and i saw rachel zolf’s heading nodding, which leads me to believe there may be shared similarity, intriguing to discover)… and robertson said she writes in dirt. !!!!!!!!! she then made language work for her (“Whenever I make a word work really hard, I always pay it extra” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) by describing the sexiest writing practice ever. again, i hope that’s captured on audio. mark, can you confirm/disconfirm (love that Lebowski-ism)?


deep wireless festival

May 22, 2006

at gary‘s recommendation, i attended trevor wishart’s performance at the music gallery last saturday, which is part of the deep wireless festival of radio art. wishart shared three recordings (red bird, two women, and another) that held varying degrees of interest for me. all work was pre-recorded (some in the 70s); the gallery held all the hushed-church wonders of a teenager’s basement, which took some getting used to. you know how, in the basement, you can giggle and talk while your friend is sharing her absolute favourite seven minutes of “thick as a brick”? in the music gallery, that giggling and talking probably wouldn’t have been cool…

some moments, i wholly appreciated wishart’s skill in sifting, cutting, editing, manipulating recorded voice, though i found at times i became distracted as i would drift into narrative constructions that may or may not have been intended listening reactions. at other times, i was downright bored by wishart’s noodling. all in all, though, a worthwhile experience. i had a brief chat with w. mark sutherland, who recommended some international sound poets to me, and a longer chat with richard windeyer, who may play with ciara adams and me as we develop wide slumber performance (!!).

speaking of richard, he has a couple of upcoming gigs that are part of the festival’s finale. i’m going to check out friday night’s (note: christine duncan also involved). anyone else care to join?

may 26, 8pm: radio theatre 1, drake hotel
may 27, 8pm: radio theatre 2, ryerson university student campus centre
not in toronto? it’ll be simulcast live; listen here.


genderography /|\ my aunt’s sisters are the wright brothers

May 20, 2006
two texts :: many questions, gifts, questions :: resonance, questions

maybe you, too, have been circling the relationships between writing ~ community ~ gender ~ commutiny ~ language and would appreciate a soft landing, solid ground, fuel for thought, muscles stretched before lift-off. i would wholly encourage checking out each article; the excerpts below are gentle indicators of the rigorous thought you’ll find on the other side of the links.

“One little attitudinal (and therefore methodological) practice that one might learn from the practice of feminist criticism–whether or not one likes, admires, cathects to, or loves any individual woman writer–is the necessity to offer at least as much empathetic understanding to the products of women as to those of men. This is linked to the historical responsibility to examine what women did and are doing, and why: motives, constraints, their own reigning ideologies as they entered the world to speak. (These reigning ideologies need not be attractive; they can involve self-disparaging, resistance to other women, brilliant rage, saccharine charm and so on.) This point comes from my historical experience of the notable erasure, disparaging, and undervaluing of women’s cultural products and testaments. This point must not be misunderstood as being uncritical of nor sentimental about women. No more empathetic understanding than one offers the work of men-just approximately the “same” calibration. This statement comes from a feminism of “equality/ sameness,” not one of “difference.” At the same time, because the literary products of women are still a bit rarer than those of men, one might offer a tiny dollop of identification, going beyond the extra mile. This statement comes from a feminism of “difference,” not one of “equality /sameness.” Watch out-I just somewhat contradicted myself. Look at the oscillation, the dialogic shimmer, the wobbling, the wavering, the fluidity, the tacking between semi-contradictory positions! having A and not-A coexist-both/ and thinking (as I said in “For the Etruscans,” written 1979). Or speaking, as Anne Waldman does, immediately in Iovis I, of “both/both,” beyond even “both/and.” There’s the blue studio of my feminism.”

Blue Studio: Gender Arcades” (2001) by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, written in response to an unpublished letter from Barbara Cole, is available in HTML and PDF formats on SUNY’s Electronic Poetry Center.

“Whose goal is it to usher anything into the canon? And how, as a writer to engage actively and publicly in literary practice without turning oneself over to false representations? I am by the way talking less about achieving public fame or notoriety than I am about fantasy structures of power that are silencing, that prevent writers for instance from addressing critically their own and other writers’ works. Women must be able to speak critically and analytically about each other’s and others’ (men’s, writers’ different from “herself,” critics’, and theorists’) works or we will be misrecognized. However, if such writing about is about canon-formation, then the misrecognitions will persist along with an endless series of misnamings.”

“A tangle of knots.”

Women’s Writing: Hybrid Thoughts on Contingent Hierarchies and Reception” (1999) by Carla Harryman is available online in How2.

ready for lift-off?

hatchlication and book trade

May 19, 2006

just completed an application for hatch; first time applying. seems quite competitive (eee, not a fan of competition), but i know others who’ve previously participated and greatly enjoyed their experiences. won’t have a chance if i don’t try. thanks to ciara for advice and derek for proofread!

jessica smith proposed a book trade with me! she’s recently received wide slumber, and her organic furniture cellar is soon to come.


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