Archive for November, 2006


artists in ed.: 2/6

November 30, 2006

victoria park secondary school’s the second school participating in my 25-hour poetry toolbox workshops. the school’s fantastic librarian set the workshops to reach two groups (divided as juniors and seniors), and i will spend five full days teaching between november 2006 and april 2007. for our first day, we worked with stream-of consciousness, ear-cleaning, personal definitions, and neologisms. i brought in just over 15 books of canadian poetry and 5 anthologies, which students spent time perusing for vocabulary and potential epigraphs. neat conversations arose from poems that intrigued the readers; excited and surprised to see crystallography engaged so immediately and knowledgably. venright’s and alland’s work popular with both groups.

next workshop: collaboration (multiple writers and writer/computer).


conversations in the book trade

November 29, 2006

finn harvor’s interviewed bev daurio about the mercury press and canada’s current publishing climate for his new blog, “conversations in the book trade.”


Wide slumber in Globe 100

November 27, 2006

Wide slumber‘s listed in the Globe 100, published in yesterday’s Books Section. Here’s the poetry excerpt.

The Globe 100: The ninth edition of the top books of the past year

Liar, by Lynn Crosbie, Anansi
Lynn Crosbie recollects her seven years of life with another poet, not in tranquillity, but with excoriating reproof. This depiction of a folie à deux is a book-length poem whose long lines and many words are accommodated by wide
pages and small type. Remarkably little is said about sex, but a lot about everything else that can go wrong in the unmade beds of a romantic partnership. Throughout, Liar’s energy is impressively sustained, the cadences assured, the line turns expert, the barbed images exact. — Fraser Sutherland

Momentary Dark: New Poems, by Margaret Avison, McClelland & Stewart
Margaret Avison’s work belongs to the line of great religious poetry from the Hebrew Bible to Rumi to George Herbert. Her poetry is prayer and praise. Though she’s fully aware of human evils, and of how fragile are the shelters we build for ourselves, she doesn’t wrestle with such perennial primary mysteries as why, for indiscernible purposes, a loving God makes His creatures suffer so abundantly — and through no fault of their own. But with poetry of this quality, it would be churlish to complain. — Fraser Sutherland

Strike/Slip, by Don McKay, McClelland & Stewart
This work from Don McKay is an astonishing exploration of a concern that has
increasingly informed his poems and essays: how to live responsibly in relation
to nature. He remains as joyously intoxicated as ever with the natural world,
and committed to the fraught but necessary enterprise of paying homage to its
inhabitants in language. He affirms the interconnectedness of all things in
poems that argue gracefully for a passionate response to the world we inhabit. — Margo Wheaton

Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists, by a. rawlings, Coach House
“A hoosh a ha.” These not-quite-words float in the middle of a blank page. On the next page, “a hoosh a ha” is scattered five times. The last page of the section is nearly black with these onomatopoeic brushes of wings. Wide Slumber then moves through six sections that explore states of sleep in counterpoint with the life cycle of butterflies and moths. That juxtaposition is interesting enough, but rawlings’s ability to reproduce the frankly copulative energy pulsing through both worlds is often breathtaking. This is one cool collection, a fresh combination of unashamedly brainy and unabashedly horny. — Sonnet l’Abbé

Airstream Land Yacht, by Ken Babstock, Anansi
As Auden was to the English 1930s, Ken Babstock is to the Canadian 2000s: the key figure of the under-40s generation, around which other younger poets circle or swoon. Part of what makes Airstream Land Yacht perhaps the most important poetry book yet from any Canadian born in the 1970s or beyond is its verbal glee. Poet-critic Carmine Starnino has demanded that Canadian poetry be written in a style lucid, energetic and enlivened by a sense of tradition. Well finally, someone has. — Todd Swift

Inventory, by Dionne Brand, McClelland & Stewart
War in the early 21st century streams through flickering yet persistent TV screens in Dionne Brand’s book. Inventory pushes into intentional violence, staring at the seeming endlessness of humans’ capacity to kill one another. Opening oneself to that capacity can lead to anger and numbness, which Brand explores. It is also a register of possible responses from those living at a geographic remove from the death-lists. The book is damning without being superior, sorrowful without falling into self-pity, joyful without becoming naive. — Meg Walker

Swithering, by Robin Robertson, Anansi
Robin Robertson is a straight-ahead naturalist, coming simply to the task of capturing his subject, with the force and discipline of a master and the precision of a keen, fearless sensitivity that risks declaring: This has weight. His command of metaphor stuns. His simple language collides against itself in such sparks that the reader must nod, or sigh, at the immediacy of his images. Yet what sets him apart is his ability to capture, in longer pieces, strange, unmeasurable paces and the feel of vast, dark currents of energy, as in weather, or time. — Sonnet l’Abbé

The Anatomy of Keys, by Steven Price, Brick Books
Steven Price, a young B.C. poet, has imaginatively recounted Houdini’s life in a gripping volume that travels through a mind stricken by his parents’ deaths to the point where the idea of escape becomes the driving image: the pilgrimage, the grail. It is a psyche that is always a part of a body, and a body always part of its own ending. This dark, compelling book may have you looking over your shoulder for something lurking in a dark corner. There is a poetic adroitness here so knowing that it often hits you only afterward how deliciously chosen each syllable has been. — Patrick Watson


gone to press digital mercury buffalo poetics children

November 17, 2006

highlights from the past week:

  • i can’t stop singing sir mix-a-lot’s classic. whatever happened to sir m-a-l? whatever happened to wondering whatever happened to people?
  • thursday: facilitated instant anthology workshop at MGCI’s going to press fair in the morning; katherine details changes from last year’s fair. then, mark and i drove to buffalo to read (with james hart III) at just buffalo reading series. greatly enjoyed making friends with matt chambers.
  • friday: avatar and cathedral women arrive at mercury.
  • saturday: exclamatory preparation for york u digital poetics lecture with katherine. then, test reading series with bill, darren, and jessica.
  • sunday: brainstormed pop songs with the word ‘baby’ for mel’s shower. watched monster house with daniel for his 6th birthday.
  • tuesday: sent letter to karen hannah’s temple u class, responding to their creative reading responses to wide slumber.
  • wednesday: co-lectured on digi-po @ york. rundown of projects mentioned / demo’d here. definite highlight to witness katherine’s deft teaching skillz (phenomenal, truly) and to encounter so many of her former students (she was a minor celebrity on-campus today, which was so cool to see). finally figured out how to convert VOB file into MPEG4.

looking forward to:

  • tomorrow: mercury launches seven new books by lovely souls stephen cain, terry carroll, sharon harris, david lee, carol malyon, jay millar, mark miller, and mobashar qureshi. 7pm @ supermarket (268 augusta ave., backroom). be there or be… there.
  • this weekend: sound and movement workshop with susanna hood.
  • following wednesday: full-day creative writing workshops at victoria park secondary school.
  • next weekend: 1st day off since october 8. i’m becoming ursine; have already sussed out my hibernation den.
  • sunday, december 3: calcu-lator and the oral presentation perform at supermarket in toronto. that’s right. they’ve been apart for over a year, but now they’re back together (one night only) and opening for buck 65. w00t!

reading & interview: buffalo

November 16, 2006

Mark Truscott and I are reading in Buffalo tonight at Just Buffalo Reading Series. Kevin Thurston, the series’ curator, recently interviewed us for Artvoice (Buffalo’s alternative weekly). I had a suspicion Mark would answer Kevin’s one-question interview with thoughts surrounding community, so I decided to move laterally with my response. Reading Mark’s response, though, I empathize with the feeling of writing slower while curating a series. I’ve had this experience with every series or literary event I’ve (co-)organized (from CASS Cafe to W.A.Y. readings to Lexiconjury to Scream in High Park and even to the most recent Impromptu). I would enjoy hearing Mark expand on his assertion that he likes “focus and applying pressure to things until they break” and how that relates to his series, Test.

Here’s my Artvoice answer:

I approach both my curatorial and creative works with palm flat to avoid bitten fingers. Bearing gifts. Head-on, as their eyes are side-mounted and possess only lateral visual acuity. With a chair and whip. In an orderly, single-file manner. With an idea for a feature-length film that would require further funding for development. Slowly in the standings, over the course of a long season. With the love of a parent. Brandishing a torch and pitchfork. With calipers to assess physical fitness. With disbelief.

On all fours. Hungry for more. On the third Tuesday of every month. When the bell rings. With a hohoho and a hahaha and a couple of tra-la-las. When we’re together. With tongue pressed hard against my teeth. With a shuffle-ball-change. After dark. Before applying pressure to the wound. With side-of-mouth precision. Leaning into the mic. As a form of activism. While gesturing. In the heat of the moment. While shaving the underbelly of a goat. With questions for the audience. While humming the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada. Guilty of jay-walking. Fresh from a morning run. Worried about rent. Occasionally. Frothing at the mouth. Frustrated by the 51-card deck. Blessed with the ability to read minds.

At the five ’n’ dime. When I feel like it. After the dishes are done. Instead of learning the metric system. During calculus exams. With a four-inch inseam. Second-guessing my decision to drink pomegranate juice. Under bizarre circumstances. Wickedly hung over. While wondering whatever happened to Sir Mix-a-lot. Full of pesto. Often. While striking flint against rock. Shimmering in the moonlight. Hot for teacher. Fit to print. While resigning from the House of Representatives. While wondering how the Republicans will justify their statement that “the time is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.” Sleepy from a hard day’s work. Full of vim and vigor. Confident the safety net is securely latched. Fumbling with my keys.


eye’s heads up

November 16, 2006

last week, eye magazine featured wide slumber for lepidopterists @ hatch in its heads up header. this week, it’s a tasty double-header with test reading series and one little goat.


Wsfl@HATCH: Complete

November 15, 2006

What an exhilarating, exhausting seven days! Saturday night featured the culmination of our week-long workshop: a performance for an audience. We’d finished exactly one run-through of our show prior to the audience’s arrival, and we found ourselves quite jittery as a result. The performance went smoothly considering the frenetic energy surrounding the show, and we received some excellent feedback later that night. Sunday afternoon, we had a chance to incorporate some feedback into the show. Our major changes included taking more time (more breath) as we performed, exploring character-revealing moments during our subtitle/glossary sequences, and completely changing the initial mic check (“Is this on? Can you hear me?”) to a surreal stutter through the book’s title (“Wide slumber for lepodiatrists… Wide slumber for ledopter… Wide slumber for lipidopt… Wide slumber for leopardopterists…”)

Sunday night, we completed our second and last performance of Wide slumber at Harbourfront Centre. I love working with others in a creative capacity like this. I want to do it again and again. Not to mention the abandon, the sounding, the movement, what challenge what stretch. This has easily been one of the happiest and most rewarding weeks of my life.

Thank you, absolutely, to everyone who gave time and resources generously to this project. Thank you to everyone who attended! Thank you to all who’ve offered verbal and written feedback on our experiment. If you have (more) thoughts, I’d/we’d love to hear them; post ‘em here or e-mail

As for everyone’s favourite question — “what’s next?” — I have no idea. Grant app due tomorrow. MGCI’s Going to Press on Thursday. Reading in Buffalo Thursday night. Test Reading Series on the weekend. Mercury Press launches and tour next week. What’s next for personal creative projects? Find rest.

What are you working on right now?


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