Another Spring – A Renga in 27 Parts

Thanks to Sachiko Murakami for including me as one of the 27 poets involved in creating Another Spring, a renga written in response to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. You can watch the video below. 

April 25, 2011 at 12:06 am Leave a comment

Recommended Read: Guesswork

It’s poetry month, and as such I’ve purchased an inordinate amount of books, the best of which I’ve decided to recommend here over the remainder or April and into early May. I did something similar a while back (it’s hard for me to tell years apart these days, so it could have been 2009 or 2010), and was prompted to take up the practice again by the sheer brilliance of the first collection I’ll be featuring. Without belaboring any further, here’s the best collection of poetry I’ve read in 2011:

Jeffery DonaldsonGuesswork (Goose Lane, 2011)

I came by Donaldson on a tip from Marc di Saverio, so I have Marc to thank for Guesswork, an astonishing collection that jumps from hockey to John A. MacDonald to the origin of the book while still maintaining thematic unity. I was struck by Donaldson’s sense of rhythm and and the way in which he was able to surprise within a formal context. Check out Torso, an extended meditation on the headless sculpture of Apollo, for Guesswork at its finest.

April 19, 2011 at 12:35 am Leave a comment

Poetry Month

Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing several readings in Toronto to promote both Patternicity and Sunday, the locusts. If you’re in town, I’d be delighted to see you.

Battle of the Bards (March 30)
Where:  York Quay Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West)
When: 7:30 pm
With: David Hickey, Robyn Sarah, Zach Wells, among others.

Carousel 27 Launch Party (April 7)
Where: Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Ave.)
When: 7:30 pm
With: Julie Cameron Grey, Christine Walde, Natalie Zina Walschots, among others.

Art Bar (April 12)
Where: Clinton’s (693 Bloor Street West)
When: 8:00 pm
With: Ruth Roach Pierson, Jeanette Lynes

March 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

An Interview with Patrick Connors

This past week, Patrick Connors interviewed both Julienne Lottering and I for in regards to our new book Sunday, the locusts. It was interesting to hear Julie’s take on our collaboration, since I’d never asked her formally.

If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

March 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

Michael Lista, literary magazines and the future of MM

Michael Lista tackled a topic close to my heart on Friday, discussing the future of Canadian literary magazines in his latest column for the National Post. I’m passionate enough about literary magazines to have run one (Misunderstandings Magazine) for the past 7 years, and was pleased to see the drawbacks of the new Canadian Periodical Fund discussed as they relate to literature.

Of course, my own enterprise is much too small to have ever qualified for government assistance, nor have I sought it. The goal of Misunderstandings Magazine has been to straddle the line between zine culture and Toronto’s more mainsteam literary community, positioning itself as an alternative to what Jacob McArthur Mooney describes as the “beige standard of mainstream literary publishing“. From the outset, Ian Williams, Vicki Sloot and I envisioned MM as means to foster emerging writers alongside some of Canada’s best. It’s been a delicate undertaking, and I have no problem admitting that the quality of our publication varied significantly over the course of 15 issues – however we’re proud to have stuck close to our mandate.

I’m of the firm opinion that the quality of writing that Lista mentions in the Post is one of the lesser considerations as it relates to literary periodicals. To me they’re learning grounds as much as places to find a “comprehensive, concise survey of our very best and freshest work.” I do agree with his thesis however, and feel it’s time to scale back the number of literary publications that exist in Canada at the moment – or at the least the number of literary publications that do the same thing. Mooney is right when he espouses ripping the cover off copies of The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review to compare: you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them.

All of this is a roundabout way of getting to the fact that as of June 2, I’m folding Misunderstandings Magazine. My decision has nothing to do with competition or the CPF, but more to do with what plagues all magazines that exist as labours of love: time. Instead of working with a large number of writers on an issue by issue basis, I’d like to put my time into fostering specific writers through Cactus Press, a chapbook imprint I run with Devon Gallant. So, I’m bidding literary magazinedom adieu for the time being. I do, however, hope that the mantle of the small and in-between continues to be held high in Canadian letters.

March 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm 4 comments

Not Anyone’s Anything

Ian Williams’ first collection of poetry, You Know Who You Are (Wolsak and Wynn, 2010), may be the most underrated book of poetry published in Canada in the past year. I suspect this has something to do with both the vast number of talented poets writing in Canada at the moment and the fact that Ian teaches in the States, however his work isn’t to be missed. I highly recommend catching him on April 19, 2011 at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto where he’ll be launching a book of short stories titled Not Anyone’s Anything (Freehand Books).


Read. Dance. Repeat: launching And Me Among Them by Kristen den Hartog, A Description of the Blazing World by Michael Murphy, and Not Anyone’s Anything by Ian Williams

Time: April 19, 2011 – 7pm-11pm
Location: The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West)

About Not Anyone`s Anything:

Ian Williams’s Not Anyone’s Anything is a trio of trios: three sets of three stories, with three of those stories further divided into thirds. Mathematical, musical, and meticulously crafted, these stories play profoundly with form, and feature embedded flash cards and musical notations, literal basements, and dual narratives, semi-detached. Roaming through Toronto and its surrounding suburbia, Williams’s characters wittily and wryly draw attention to the angst and anxieties associated with being somewhere between adolescence and more-than-that. They are disastrously ambitious, performing amateur surgery or perfecting Chopin; they are restless and bored, breaking into units of new subdivisions hoping for a score; they continually test the ones they love, and, though every time feels like the last time, they might be up for one more game.

March 16, 2011 at 3:41 am Leave a comment

Sunday, the locusts Launch

Sunday, the locusts, a book-length poem that I’ve been working on with Julienne Lottering since 2007, finally made its way to the printers today. So it’s with that news that I invite you all to the launch, which will take place  at 7:00 pm on March 24, 2011 at The Ossington (61 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario). In the collaborative spirit of the project, Julie and I will have three friends opening for us: Julie Cameron Gray, Kathryn Mockler and Daniel Tysdal.

My sincerest thanks to Shirarose Wilensky and Karen Correia Da Silva at Tightrope Books for putting up with all of my last minute edits. Here’s a cover preview:

March 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

CBC Book Club Awards

I’m firmly opposed to competitions like Canada Reads that require authors to hustle for votes to support their books. So it’s with hesitation that I post a link to the CBC Book Club Awards, where Patternicity has been nominated for Best Poetry Collection. Of course, I’m thrilled to have been nominated, I just don’t like the idea of pestering friends (who won’t have read the other collections) to vote. Here are the five shortlisted books:

Michael Lista: Bloom
Jon Paul Fiorentino: Indexical Elegies
Sharon McCartney: For and Against
Anne Carson: Nox
Jim Johnstone: Patternicity

Congrats to all the other nominees!

February 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

Lit Live

On Sunday, February 6th 2011, I’ll be sharing the stage at Lit Live in Hamilton with some fantastic poets: Chris Banks, Chris Pannell, R. W. Megens, Kildare Dobbs and David Seymour. This excludes the evening’s MC Adam Getty (one of the most underrated poets in Canada) – so come and join us for 7:30 pm for what’s sure to be a terrific night.

Lit Live
The Sky Dragon Centre
27 King William Street

January 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment

Misunderstandings Magazine #15

Happy New Year! After a busy Christmas, Cactus Press is pleased to announce the launch of MM15 this Thursday (January 6, 2011) at the Black Swan Tavern. Come help us celebrate with readings from:

Greg Bell
Lisa Devries
Anya Douglas
Catherine Graham
Adrienne Gruber
Katie Jordon
Mike Lipsius
Elisabeth de Mariaffi
John Nyman
Brandy Ryan

The particulars:

Date: January 6, 2011
Time: 7:30 – 10:30 pm
Location: The Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Ontario)

January 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm 2 comments

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