Tour notes, day twelve; November 12, Edmonton AB
Safely Edmontoned, although more snow and cold since I’ve left home; the long underwear went on this morning (more a matter of climate shift on my end than any severe cold stuff here, although it’s supposed to be minus ten or something); I had forgotten, after my Vancouver week, that winter had existed at all… One should probably never head from Vancouver to Edmonton during this time of the year. My indirect flight stopped in Calgary for an hour, so freaked out a little about she-who-cannot-be-named; I could only use her name again last year, but couldn’t go near such in Alberta; the idea that the name brings who the name belongs to, like refusing to name the devil (not that she is/was the devil). My own little emotional complications and soap operas, even years after the show has long been cancelled…
Better once I hit Edmonton; Douglas Barbour [see my recent note on his poetry here] picked me up at that airport to Kristy McKay’s house; apparently here one night and back the rest of the week at Doug’s [see my note on his last poetry collection here]; apparently Fred Wah was here all last week, returning to Vancouver about the same time that I was just getting here; would have been good to see him, hear him read, which I don’t think I have for maybe five years; apparently Aritha van Herk from Calgary reads in Edmonton the one day Barbour and I are down in her city; what are the odds? I’ve never met her or heard her read either, very frustrating.
Most of last night just talking to McKay about what she’s doing, I’m doing; questions she has about the work of Fred Wah [see my recent note on him here], Steve McCaffery. Interesting that she’s been getting really into McCaffery lately, from that two volume collected/selected from Coach House Books… I’m intrigued to see what her writing will end up doing after being caught up in some of those considerations; we ate pizza and drank beer (a constant on this tour, it seems). Spent much of the day wandering around seeing what there was to see; worked on the laptop a while, bought a book on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Katie, and remembered briefly that I have a chapbook coming out on Tuesday for my Olive reading (I had forgotten about that), the poem “October” coming out as a chapbook.
The Olive reading series was originally founded as a monthly by Andy Weaver and other University of Alberta lit-friendly grad students [see my interview with Adam Dickenson on such here], now run by folk such as Theresa Cowan, Thea Bowering and Douglas Barbour; I was actually the second reader in the series a few years ago (2001, I believe), making the series an actual monthly, as opposed to simply a one-off (I don’t think they bought it…). Very good to be able to get back here and read for them again, specially to see what chapbooks they’ve produced over the past two years (I’ve barely seen a thing since Weaver left…).
In Barbour’s house as he watches football, a game he pre-taped; what else for wondering? It’s bloody cold in this province; I think I did get spoiled in Vancouver…
Tour notes, day thirteen; November 13, Edmonton AB
In Douglas Barbour’s house reading Planetary, reading Never on Sunday. Snow again, and waiting for the cold to end (which may be never). Hoping to do less on-line work today (yesterday was filled with it). Maybe finally some writing done?
The long walk down to Whyte Avenue; Doug lives further than Kristy does, what the hell? My half an hour walk down to the Second Cup on Whyte Ave.; in every city, I like to have a place where I go to get work done. In Edmonton, both that Second Cup and the Power Plant at the University of Alberta (I’m planning to make my way there tomorrow). Written a few pieces at that Second Cup, week-long pieces written over the years as specific Alberta projects (while staying previously with Andy Weaver) including the “death & trauma: a deliberate play of births & endings” [see my earlier entry that references such here] that ends aubade.
A short entry today, mainly because I left the laptop at Doug’s (so I could focus on writing). A few poems, here and there, some of which I’m even quite pleased with (although very early drafts).
short essay on literature
bendable; mind over matter straws or spoons
a texture daily lazy, self-blaming, root
of human anything; another and control, no longer
, comes alive; the taste of error, posing
privilege & demands; the page goes
longer, further; knows not
where the spelling out; an outcry naked, covered
Just before bed, watching clips from The Daily Show online…
Tour notes, day fourteen; November 14, Edmonton AB
The day at the university, wandering around; what the hell happened to the Power Plant? Used to be the grad lounge, now some sort of empty coffeehouse; embarrassing. Glad Andy Weaver got out of the province when he did (or maybe this is why?). Breaks my fool heart, it does.
Reading at Martini’s tonight, through the Olive Reading Series; looking forward to seeing copies of this new chapbook of mine, “October.” Did you know that Camilla Gibb is writer in residence this term at the U? I didn’t either, saw her on campus briefly; I very much liked her first novel, and various other pieces I’ve read by her in various places, but haven’t had a chance to pick up her further books. Did you know Aritha van Herk reading Thursday (when I’m in her city), or Sheila Heti next week? I wish I could be here when I can’t… someday I’d like to do one of those writer in residence gigs; catch me in another four or five years, when my girl is just a bit older, I think I would have quite a lot of fun with such as that. All talk and writing and reading and less worry (the money they’d have attached, right…).
Tour notes, day fifteen; November 15, Edmonton AB
The Martini's reading was lots of fun, although disappointing to hear that after seven years, the bar has thrown them out; my reading last night was the last ever Martini's Olive (Thea Bowering commented on the lack of my old Olive crew these days, headed off to universities far afield and gone...); apparently the December 12th reading with Sharon Thesen happens in their new location, Hulbert's Cafe (7601-115 Street). A good crowd, and finally got to meet Jars Balan, who not only did that visual poetry issue of Open Letter a few years ago, but has done a considerable amount of work on Andrew Suknaski [see my piece on Suknaski here] (I'm reprinting some of it for my Andrew Suknaski: Essays on His Works that I'm editing for Guernica Editions). Was able to hang out afterward with Theresa Cowan (Wayde Compton says she's doing the most interesting thesis on spoken word right now) and Thea Bowering, who I don't think I've seen for a few years. Apparently she's finally close to putting together a collection of short fiction; I saw a piece of hers a while back in The Capilano Review that I quite liked...
Found a copy of Jennifer Moxley's The Sense Record and other poems (Washington DC: Edge, 2002) at the University of Alberta bookstore, as well as a few other things. How could anyone leave such a thing on the shelf? I've been wanting this for years. Basically, since meeting her when I read down there at that University of Maine in Orono with Ken Norris, and having conversation with her and her partner, Steve Evans.
Should morning's snubbed forsaken purpose come
in love's complacent orbit to relent
and to our bid for endless time succumb
could we believe ourselves the more content?
Invention may give credence to a thought
ridiculous, or better yet banal
should in a wishful prison it be caught
dissembling fear beneath the bacchanal;
Alone the mind can store old years anew
with furnishings our Eros will forsake
without concern, the watchman's cry rings true
my love, we should no longer lie awake
but stellar-like in darkness drift compelled
our matter's myth in time shall be dispelled.
Reading later today for Thomas Wharton at the University; I haven't seen him since the ottawa international writers festival in 2001; there are some stories there, but nothing I will put online (for now). Heh heh.
Tour notes, day sixteen; November 16, Edmonton to Calgary AB
Another partial day yesterday at the Power Plant coffeeshop, working on work; some poems that are starting to find some sort of tangible shape, at last. What happened to that fiction I thought I was working on?
Realized yesterday morning that I didn't actually have a print out of missing persons to read in the afternoon, so I somehow managed to make a whole group of people's lives a little bit harder, as I tried to figure it out at the English Department; they were very generous and even graceful, and got the thing printed for me. Read to a small group including Jars Balan, Kristy McKay, Thomas Wharton and Cathie Crooks (who could tell somewhat where I was placing my fiction, being that she once lived in Regina...); read twenty minutes worth of missing persons and the same amount of avalanche before taking questions [see Wharton's version of same here]; had dinner and drinks after with Wharton at the Earls on campus.
I think I'd only ever previously been at an Earls with Dennis Cooley in Winnipeg; Earls is a strange western thing, I've seen them only from Winnipeg to further west. I think the Ontario version would be a Kelseys. Strange, but entertaining; Wharton is a pretty good guy, although doesn't look old enough to teach, let alone have three kids. I have yet to get a copy of his last novel, The Logogryph (Gaspereau Press).
Last night found a copy of Stan Dragland's Journeys Through Bookland (Toronto ON: Coach House Press, 1984) at the Wee Book Inn on Jasper, wandering over post-Earls to see Kristy's partner's band perform. A nice nice find.
Pretty funny, sitting in this club in downtown Edmonton with some Ottawa folk, some Thunder Bay folk, some Edmonton folk, and in walks fiction writer Melanie Little; she moved from Ottawa to Calgary a couple of years ago with her husband, Peter Norman, to be writer in residence at the University of Calgary. Spent most of the evening talking to her between songs and sets; apparently her Young Adult novel moving, but slowly; apparently Peter editing Alberta Views right now, as well as working on his own novel, slow and slowly. I remember hearing some of his fiction at TREE a few years ago in Ottawa, and being quite amazed by it. Apparently she and Peter in Edmonton for a conference of his, and she's on vacation; what are the odds ending up in the same Alberta club? Amazing sets by Rozalind MacPhail (who used to live in Ottawa), Jeff Stuart (I wanted to buy his cd but couldn't afford), and the most brilliant headliner, The Trevor Tchir Band (I actually did buy his cd...). Trevor's parents were even there, and grandmother; his brother played the most amazing mandolin during the set...
Today to Calgary, and whatever that might bring. Tomorrow back, and back to Kristy's, and a meeting I think with the University of Alberta Press folk, to follow up on a question they had...
Tour notes, day seventeen; November 17, Calgary to Edmonton AB
A lot going on today; a lot going on last night. Plenty of people (or at least enough of them) at the reading last night, hosted by dANDelion magazine lads Jonathan Ball and Jordan Nail, the reading Douglas Barbour and I did; thanks to an old Open Letter from 1965 that Robert McTavish gave me on Salt Spring, I was able to request Barbour read an old poem of his called "Demon Lover." Pretty funny. And then Nail managed to spill tea all over it (he's lucky I didn't have to pay for the thing...).
Some of the audience included ryan fitzpatrick (who thinks the lists I make of who I see at these things are unnecessary) and kevin mcpherson eckhoff; at the bar later, Wayman Chan, Christian Bok, Jill Hartman [she mentions it here] and Corey Wood (Monty Reid's stepson). derek beaulieu wanted to stay to the reading but couldn't, buried under a rockslide of work under deadline; would have liked a conversation with him, since it's been two years or so. I'll just have to come back and visit him for no reason at some point. Of course, during Doug's reading (he read second), a phone call from Corey asking what we were doing; I got to stand outside on the bar phone, just behind where Doug was reading, while the crowd wondered what the hell I was doing...
Three girls at the next table I kept referring to as "Charlie's Angels" (one was blonde, one was... you get the idea). Found out through conversation that two of them are writers, and part of a collaborative blog on writing (they also fight crime); started calling Ball "Bosley," since he could talk to them and they could see him. Ah me.
The best of the bar conversation, when through simple introductions, we got to hear poet Wayman Chan say in awe and amazement (to Corey), "Are you really Monty Reid's son?" Just before that, had just sold a copy of Monty's new book to Corey; then called Monty on Corey's cellphone and passed it around (yes, Wayman did get a turn...); apparently Wayman was shown around the Dinosaur Museum in Drumheller by Monty twenty years ago...
After the pub, Corey and I up until about four a.m. at his house with drinks, looking at old 1970s photos of Monty, et cetera. Heh.
The next morning feeling much less spry; took a while to find where Doug was, at kevin's house, which is only inches away from beaulieu's former housepress pad (across from where the ghost-like Jason Christie also lived for a while); had to get back to Edmonton for a meeting/visit with the University of Alberta Press, and a meeting/visit with NeWest Press. Just like going to Arsenal Pulp Press, I ended up getting so many books, UAP ended up offering me one of their magnificent tote bags. Ah, touring.
On the drive there and drive back, almost like an extended seminar, as able to talk with Doug and hear him talk about poets such as Phyllis Webb, John Newlove, Daphne Marlatt, Stephen Scobie (and their collaborations), Fred Wah as well as science fiction, politics, music, and all sorts of other topics. Extremely cool. And it was actually pretty cool watching how excited Doug got during/after the whole process of reading and travel...
Tonight quiet in Kristy McKay and Trevor Tchir's little house sans McKay/Tchirs. Tonight quiet with Rozalind MacPhail, overlapping slightly, afore she heads west touring and I head east. Tomorrow Winnipeg, Cooley, etcetera...