Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tour notes, day twenty-six; November 26, Toronto ON

The morning on a sad note; opening the email first thing to Mark Frutkin telling me that Riley Tench had died the day before; I remember a piece by Robert Creeley a few years ago, realizing that the past few years (at that point) of his careers had been predominantly spent writing obits; is this what happens eventually to us all? (If we're lucky to live that long...) Worked to get emails for Richard Harrison (Calgary) and Maggie Helwig (Toronto) to at least let them know (etc), since they knew him from the Peterborough days...

Otherwise, a quiet day reading comic books in Andy's apartment, including The Ultimates and Spider-Man: Blue; Andy has a whole bunch of Jeph Loeb stuff, which is extremely interesting, and the same guy partly responsible for the Smallville and Heroes teevee shows, which I quite like. Saw the 3pm showing of Borat at the theatre; oh my... I admire anyone who is willing to commit to a joke that fully; an extremely brave actor/writer, fer sure... it was great but not as outrageously great as we had expected. Is it a matter of this cultural criticism we all expected something that isn't spoken of inside the US, but a critique we as Canadians are already mostly aware of? I wondered if it simply didn't shock us as much as the American media claims it shocks them...

After that, headed out solo (Andy and Kelly both had early mornings) to the Fictitious Reading Series, with readings of fiction and on-stage interviews with John Degen and Jennifer LoveGrove. A good event, organized by Kate Sutherland (who finally has a second book of short fiction out next spring with Thistledown Press) and Stuart Ross, and hosted by Stuart. I was very taken with what Degen was reading, from his first novel; he has a very good dramatic sense. Interesting, too, that he recommended Ivan Klima during the onstage q+a (conducted by Sutherland), since his novel seems to fit very much with that European tradition; I very much want to read it now. LoveGrove's novel-in-progress dealt with very interesting things as well, but Stuart told us not to talk about it...

After the reading, drinks with Ross, Sutherland, LoveGrove and Sharon Harris; after everyone else left, Sharon and I drinks for another two hours or more. Geez. Wonderful to be able to spend time with her and get a good sense of conversation; had conversation about all sorts of things, a small tiny fraction of which was her new poetry collection brand new from The Mercury Press; might even have lunch with her and Stephen Cain tomorrow...

Should I even mention the homeless man that offered me a hug on Church Street if I gave him money? Or that he hugged me anyway unless I'd give him money? Sharon finally gave him a dollar... apparently I'm very huggable...

Tour notes, day twenty-seven; November 27, Toronto ON

Today wandering around Toronto just a little bit, just a little bit. Went to the Future Bakery on Bloor Street (near Bathurst) to get work done; where I always go in Toronto to get work done, half between Coach House Books and Annex Books. Ended up seeing fiction writer Leon Rooke there with University of Toronto MA creative writing student Rebecca Rosenblum, as apparently Rooke her mentor for the book of short stories she's working on; one just appeared in the next issue of Exile, and another forthcoming in The New Quarterly. He says her work is great; how could I not believe him?

Speaking of Coach House, went by to visit with Coach House Queen Alana Wilcox, and to see what the newish titles are. Got very good advice from her and poet and ECW Press editor Michael Holmes today (called him earlier in the day) on things related to our Chaudiere Books stuff. Always good to talk to either of them about anything, but would like both of them to publish more; I know Holmes has another poetry manuscript, and Wilcox's first novel from The Mercury Press a few years ago was quite lovely (everyone should own one). Will there ever be another? Will this happen to me too, now that I'm publishing things? I hope not...

Hoping tonight drinks with Stephen Cain [note that he has started posting on his blog again...]; worrying about things like arriving home, money and the funeral on Saturday; I hate when folks die.

Tour notes, day twenty-eight; November 28, Toronto ON

What's going on today? Might visit the League of Canadian Poets office, later on today going to hear Steve McOrmond, Ann Shin and Rocco de Giacomo at the Art Bar Reading Series. I was quite fond of Shin's first poetry collection, The Last Thing Standing (Toronto ON: The Mansfield Press); will there ever be a second?

Last night drinks for a bit with Weaver and Cain; haven't seen Cain in a while, so good to catch up, however brief. Apparently he's finishing a novel these days (although, who isn't); got a copy of Andy Brown's brand new Insomniac Press novel from him, which is pretty cool.

Might wander over to Annex Books again; afraid of spending money there I might not have...

Tour notes, day twenty-nine; November 29, Toronto ON

Last night; reading was grand, had fun hearing all three (mostly); Shin and McOrmond were great! McOrmond even better than on Friday; maybe it was just the lack of 38 hour train for me to pay attention? He had some ghazals I think I quite liked. Shin, too, who I haven't heard read in a few years. Got to spend time before the reading with David Clink (who has a first poetry collection forthcoming) and Diana Fitzgerald Bryden, which was pretty cool. Apparently she has a novel we're not allowed to talk about. Hmmmmmmmm. A lot of that going around... Cain too, hey.

At the Future Bakery on Bloor Street, saw Jim Munroe and friend, making a short film; felt very embarassed, didn't recognize him. I actually thought he looked too young to be Jim Munroe; felt very foolish, really.

Otherwise, just read a bunch of books during the day and scribbled some things in my notebook. At the Art Bar, saw Mary Elizabeth Grace of all people, who I haven't seen in moons and moons; she read in Ottawa at the whiplash poetry festival I organized back in 1996, when a whole slew of poets stayed in my little house on Rochester Street; meeting her today for coffee at that Future Bakery before she has to go back to work. Apparently a novel in the works (what, another one?) and some bluegrass music (I'd like to inquire more about that...).

Called cousin Erin a few times and kept getting her husband Wayne, who(m) I quite like. Again, always the problem, our schedules are completely opposite when I'm in town, working evenings and weekends, the only time they seem to be home. It seems to take five years just to visit with them (luckily I don't give up easily). Erin's father, my mother's younger brother, apparently entering a gated community with his wife; what? He's barely 65 (actually born in 1942). Is shovelling snow that difficult? But what do I know...

Always when I come to Toronto, so many people I should be calling, contacting, that I feel overwhelmed and barely contact anyone. maria erskine, Phil Hall, Nath G. Moore, Robin Hannah, Margaret Christakos, John Barlow, Stan Rogal, Chris Doda + Priscila Uppal, etcetera. I just let accidents happen; I could be all day on the phone. Why do I do that?

Perhaps the main reason I end up staying with certain people; the only way I know I'll end up seeing them. Prefer my days to be free to wander around, get work done, that sort of thing. Evenings: what?

On the way back home from the Art Bar, a last drink at that Fox & whatever right near where Weaver lives, at St. Clair and Yonge; if I lived here, I think I would completely make it my local. Made me miss my Pubwells, which I hope to get into by Thursday night... And was all that fog/smog outside that last night Toronto a regular thing? That doesn't seem right.

Otherwise, tonight my last night here afore I get back home, so Weaver and I doing something somewhere, maybe calling McOrmond and Tierney etcetera to see what's what. Maybe Cain too, even.

Later: met up with that lovely Mary Elizabeth Grace for coffee at that Future Bakery (apparently she's doing bluegrass stuff these days, which is pretty cool), and Nathaniel G. Moore wandered through; he just quit his job today at Indigo. What next? He has a poetry collection in April with Pedlar Press, which is pretty cool. Will they ever get a website?

On the way back to Andy's, accordian player in the subway playing a version of "You Are Like A Hurricane" by Neil Young. Very strange.

Drinks later on with Andy and Kelly Weaver, Steve McOrmond and his wife (I can't remember her name; what the hells wrong with me?) who told me they wanted me to move to Toronto cuz I'm so much fun (wouldn't it be cheaper for them to move to Ottawa?) and Matthew Tierney (Cain was home parenting so Sharon could go out...). Lots of open discussion/argument about poetry and reviewing and poetry and poetry battles and all sorts of things. Isn't it great to have a discussion with folk not always on the same page but who are willing to listen as well as argue, and still have a beer after/during? Most things would be solved if things could be figured out that way. I hate the poetry battles; refuse to participate in most of them (but for that piece on, and even then I wanted to keep it out of "battle" mode...).

Late late late getting back in. Ugh. So late.

Tour notes, day thirty; November 30, Toronto to Ottawa ON

Will be nice to get home. Will be nice to be home.

I hate that I have a funeral to go to on Saturday. At least I'll be back at Pubwell's by tonight...

I might never leave home again...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

above/ground press, 2007 subscriptions

For those who have been waiting, I am doing a large mailout in December (once I'm back from this grand tour); otherwise, 2007 above/ground press subscriptions are now available for $40 (outside Canada, $40 US), including chapbooks, asides + broadsheets, drop magazine, STANZAS magazine (for long poems/sequences) + The Peter F. Yacht Club (our writer's group magazine). The next issue of STANZAS features a poem by Margaret Christakos, and the next issue of The Peter F. Yacht Club is a Calgary special edited by Laurie Fuhr.

Recent and forthcoming publications by Phil Hall (Toronto), Margaret Christakos (Toronto), rob mclennan (Ottawa), Andy Weaver (Toronto), Jesse Ferguson (Ottawa/Fredericton), Nicholas Lea (Ottawa), Lea Graham (Worcester), Max Middle (Ottawa), Jessica Smith (Mid-Atlantic), Nathaniel G. Moore (Toronto), Sharon Harris (Toronto), Jennifer Mulligan (Ottawa), John Newlove (Ottawa), Stephanie Bolster (Montreal), Stan Rogal (Ottawa), Karen Clavelle (Winnipeg), Barry McKinnon (Prince George), Wanda O'Connor (Ottawa/Montreal), Gil McElroy (Colborne), Shauna McCabe (Charlottetown), Cath Morris (Vancouver), Dennis Cooley (Winnipeg), Monty Reid (Ottawa) + others. Some recent titles can be found here.

Payable to rob mclennan, c/o above/ground press, 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa Ontario Canada K1R 6R7.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

new poetry workshops at Collected Works Bookstore, Ottawa

If anyone is interested, I've just booked a series of dates for my new seasonal poetry workshops at Collected Works Bookstore, Wellington & Holland, Ottawa, happening on Mondays -- January 8, 15, 22, 29; February 5, 12, 19 & 26 (around both bookstore & my wacky schedules)

$200 for 8 sessions. 7pm to 9pm. for information, contact rob mclennan at or 613 239 0337; an eight week poetry workshop, the course will focus on workshopping writing of the participants, as well as reading various works by contemporary writers, both Canadian & American. the end-goal of the course will be a collective chapbook publication. participants should be prepared to have a handful of work completed before the beginning of the first class, to be workshopped.

Here's a nice note Amanda Earl wrote about one of the previous workshops...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ottawa poet Riley Tench, d. November 2006

A sad email yesterday morning from Mark Frutkin:
Hi Rob,

I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind sending around an announcement on your Ottawa literary list. Not a happy one, I'm afraid. We just heard this morning that Riley Tench died yesterday of a heart attack. His wife (Wendo) called to tell us and asked that we inform the Ottawa literary community. I'm not sure how old he was (early fifties, I think), but he was a fine poet and a gentle man, as well as an old friend.

Thanks for your help.
Predominantly active as a poet and publisher throughout the 1980s, Tench [see John W. MacDonald's photo here] was part of a group of poets that included Michael Dennis [I reference same in my note on Michael here], Maggie Helwig, Dennis Tourbin and others in a scene in the early part of the decade out of Peterborough, Ontario and Trent University; in this interview, Calgary poet Richard Harrison (at Trent the same time) even cites Tench as an influence. Moving to Ottawa from Peterborough around the same time in the 1980s (roughly) as Tourbin and Dennis, Tench performed at numerous venues around town, and was both an active poet and small press publisher. From what little I'd heard of his literary activities, he was both writer and instigator (in the good way), getting others to do things that they might otherwise might not have.

I knew Riley through the ottawa international writers festival, since he was a friend of Neil Wilson's, and was hanging around for a couple of years before I even knew he had written/published. He was even starting to hang around a number of jwcurry events (including this bill bissett reading; Tench said he'd first heard bissett perform in the 1970s at Collingwood...), and was always interested, engaged and willing to be supportive, even with that trademark snarl. He hadn't produced anything publicly in years, and had a rough go of existing during the last year or so, but he and I had actually been negotiating not only bringing out a number of his previously published work, but potentially a chapbook of new material he claimed he had been working on, slowly and quietly, over the years.

I always liked seeing him. I will miss seeing him. I really should have returned his call before I left home, nearly a month ago...

Arrangements, according to Frutkin, are "this Saturday at St. Martin's Anglican Church behind Carlingwood Mall [map here]. We don't have the exact time yet, or even if it will be morning or afternoon." It would be nice, perhaps, in a week or two to hold a memorial for him somewhere in Ottawa, with some readings of his poems, I think.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tour notes, day twenty-three; November 23, leaving Winnipeg MB

A lovely morning of early departure, Clavelle coming over around 10am, and the three of us going off to pick up Kroetsch for breakfast at the Pancake House, before delivering me to my noon train. Clavelle insisted on Cooley’s digital camera for these shots of us, sitting and standing around, to prove that we had been there, or been together, I suppose, in that particular place. She brought me a chapbook of poems by a few of them, and Kroetsch mentioned the book he has coming out with Kalamalka Press, from the BC interior; they’re restarted after a number of years, thanks to that John Lent out there, with books to appear from writers they bring in as writer-in-residence; it’s how Cooley had his Country Music: New Poems [see my review of such here] appear, which is apparently part of that much larger project, love in a dry land, that also includes his new trade collection, The Bentleys, out any minute now from the University of Alberta Press. An earlier section of same appeared in Cooley’s selected poems, Sunfall, so many years ago. How long do we have to wait for the whole thing? Is it simply too large to ever appear? I know his projects aren’t ever secrets, but why don’t more people ask him about them?

Kroetsch and his enduring kindnesses, or any of them, really; gave him a copy of aubade and he bought Monty Reid’s new book from me (I've actually sold quite a few of them on this trip; Mulligan was smart enough to instruct me not to give any of the Chaudiere Books away, but for review copies, knowing that I’d probably trade a handful of any of them for magic beans…), and had him sign a couple of his own books I’d picked up, one for myself, and two more for two other people at home (I won’t say who, just let them be surprised…).

On the train now, reading Birk Sproxton’s Phantom Lake, North of 54 (Edmonton AB: University of Alberta Press, 2005). Since reading and reviewing his Headframe 2:, I’ve been intrigued by his work, and even found a copy of his Headframe: (Winnipeg MB: Turnstone Press, 1985) [see my review of the second volume here] while in Winnipeg. A benefit now to reading his Phantom Lake while working the Canadian Shield; I’ve shifted my sense of my “sex at thirty-eight” [see my essay on the original series here; keep in mind McKinnon and I still accepting submissions for our forthcoming Collected Sex anthology...] to a poem about the Canadian Shield. Listen, then, to the opening of the first piece in Sproxton’s book:

I AM WRITING TO YOU from the edge of the Canadian Shield. More precisely, I am sitting with my daughter Andrea in a fifty-year-old cabin on the east shore of Phantom Lake, about three kilometres south of Flin Flon, Manitoba. You can find the town and a tiny blue splotch to mark the lake, if you have a Saskatchewan highway map. Look up, about 800 kilometres north from the US border. Though I am due south of a Manitoba town, I am actually in Saskatchewan, one province to the west of Manitoba. This phenomenon can be accounted for by the correction line, a device that makes the boundaries between the provinces a zigzag rather than a straight line. The correction line is designed to allow for the curvature of the earth and it zigs east in the southwest corner of Flin Flon. Local lore says that the line zigs through the middle of one house, and the family sleeps in Manitoba and eats in Saskatchewan—or the other way around. A house divided, you might say, if you hold imaginary lines to account for something. (p 3)
I am trapped now in Kroetsch’s Seed Catalogue, picking up, and merely picking; I am working my “sex at thirty-eight” prematurely; do not let it be said, please, that I have been, or that I am, premature…

completed shield notes:

the bone across the soft flesh
is only bone

a completeness of virtues spread
from tree to distressed tree, compressed

into a boundary of north

what is the impulse of barriers
& transformation

into violated frontiers? what would
your father

think of me? the chinese wall
of ontario, shield

an endless, sudden relief

rice lake: how could any cold lake
in such a province

otherwise be filled

Tour notes, day twenty-four; November 24, training all Ontario, arriving Toronto ON

Extremely difficult sleep. Extremely difficult awake, too. Looking forward to being back inside a bed and not sleeping sitting up. Wrote out my fifty-some pages of my “sex at thirty-eight” piece, first draft now at thirty-eight pages (what are the odds?). Probably cut that down by a third or so more, once I can actually get the thing printed and start scribbling all over it; find it difficult to write and edit on a machine such as this… currently working on a short piece on reading lists for Dani Couture [see my review of her first book here], who requested such for their Northern Poetry Review; god knows why. The one thing with reading lists, I can always think of one or two or three more titles that are almost essential and required reading, and suddenly have dozens of books there listed; when is one supposed to stop?

Dani’s original email: Good afternoon, folks: I'm currently putting together a
reading list of poetry books for Northern Poetry Review [] and a short essay on the importance of reading lists. Where am I getting the titles from? You. Well, hopefully. On November 21, I will assemble the list of books and a second list of those who contributed. No one person will be matched up to the book they suggested. Visitors to the site will only be able to guess who suggested what. If you're interested, please reply with the title of a book of poems that you think is an essential read. Thanks for your time, thoughts. All the best, Dani Couture, co-editor ::Northern Poetry Review:::
How am I supposed to pick only one? Here is the list I gave her (I won’t tell you which single title I finally picked, since she only wanted one…) (it could probably have been quite different, although not completely, had I compiled this yesterday, or tomorrow, or even from my little apartment and not a VIA train…):

rob’s recommended reading list (hundreds of miles away from my bookshelves), in no particular order:

Barry McKinnon, The Centre: Poems 1970-2000
John Newlove, The Night the Dog Smiled
Judith Fitzgerald, lacerating heartwood
Sharon Thesen, The Beginning of the Long Dash
Christian Bok, Eunoia
Robin Blaser, The Holy Forest
Jack Spicer, The Collected Books
Fred Wah, So Far
Juliana Spahr, this connection of everyone with lungs
Monty Reid, these lawns
Lisa Jarnot, Black Dog Songs
Kroetsch, Completed Field Notes
Rob Budde, traffick
George Bowering, Delayed Mercy and Other Poems
Lynn Crosbie, Queen Rat
Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Dennis Cooley, Bloody Jack
Michael Redhill, Lake Nora Arms
Michael Holmes, james i wanted to tell you
Steve McCaffery, Seven Pages Missing, Vols. 1 and 2
John Thompson, Stilt Jack
Phyllis Webb, The Vision Tree
Artie Gold, The Beautiful Chemical Waltz
Alice Notley, The Mystery of Small Houses
Anne Carson, Men In The Off Hours
Barry McKinnon, I Wanted To Say Something

(I'm not going to put links to these; I could be here all day if I started doing that... just believe me when I say these books would be a worthy start...)

On a whole other note, I have to remember to call my cousin Erin when I get into Toronto; I never really get a chance to hang out with her. Two months older than I am, she lives in Bramalea (a Toronto suburb) with her husband Wayne and their two kids, right by where her parents live, my mother’s younger brother Don and wife Lyn; why is it family only gets together for weddings or funerals? Also, usually when I’m in Toronto, I’m busy all weekend and not during the weekdays, completely opposite to their schedule. This trip, I don’t really have anything specifically planned for the weekend, and Andy Weaver claims he’s busy until about Wednesday night. Maybe see what they’re doing Saturday; maybe see the Fictitious Reading Series Sunday night, although I probably shouldn’t worry about any of this until I actually arrive in that city by the lake…

In Capreol, northern still from Sudbury Junction, a half an hour for payphones and the end of my calling card; why is almost no one there when I call? Must be the lunch-hour, Jennifer not at her desk, for example. Called home, got my dad, who said my mother at a doctor’s appointment in Ottawa; always something. He has one himself on Wednesday, an MRI for his leg, a problem he’s had now for some time, bringing up my months of mail as he drives by.

Continuing to read the Sproxton book, there is much in here I like, much I admire, and even understand. Here’s another passage from Phantom Lake that I’m quite fond of:
TRAVEL AND ARCHIVES, riding and reading—they all go together. Barry Lopez tells a story of writing letters while on a plane and being asked by his seatmate about the writing life. The man had a daughter keen on writing. What should the girl know about being a writer? What might she do? Lopez said the girl must do three things. She must read widely and at her own direction; she must learn what she believes; and she must get out of town.

That advice seems straightforward. First, you get out of town and then circle back. Go back to see what you’ve missed and to see if you’re missing. (pp 18-9)
And what to say about the train ride itself? Long and long and long and long; intermittent reading, sleep and work; various passengers wandering around. I’ve done this train more than I’d like to admit, probably eight of my ten tours done on the VIA Rail home to Vancouver, and only one hasn’t been the coach class sitting up while sleeping, taking the first class ride during the 1998 Great Canadian Via Rail Tour as organized by the ottawa international writers festival; oh, to be able to do that again…

Tour notes, day twenty-five; November 25, Toronto ON

Last night the train actually got in on time; what are the odds? Weaver and I ran stuff back to his new digs, before we ran back to the IV Lounge Reading Series; Steve McOrmond was reading, and had even offered me a space there moons back for the same night, but I knew I'd be trapped on a train. Luckily, we even got there in time to hear him read... other readers included Dani Couture (speak of the devil! finally got to meet her) and some other person who's name I not only didn't get, but ran off with their stack of chapbooks before I could even more over there to inquire. Ah well. Drinks after (as with all things) with Weaver, McOrmond, Matthew Tierney and assorted wives (I'm terrible with names, but had wonderful conversation with Tierney and McOrmond's lovely wife) as well as IV Lounge Reading Series host Alex Boyd.

McOrmond apparently also reads on Tuesday at the Art Bar; apparently he'll be reading other things than last night (he thinks Weaver and I should read in the open set). Already made fun of him that he really should be reading every night that I'm in Toronto...

Today, hunger-over than I probably should; Kelly's birthday last night too, which added to drinks (Weaver's lovely wife). I remember around the time they met, Jason Dewinetz and I making fun of Andy "Mustang" Weaver for the girl we knew he liked... as Paul Dechene once said of Kelly, "Does she know the debt-load she's getting herself into?" But now he's all respectable (sort of), teaching at that York University place.

Today, somewhat heartbroke; Janet Inksetter is closing down her Annex Books (but leaving the on-line store in place); I've been making a point of visiting her on pretty much every Toronto jaunt for years; she even gave me a charm to help me on my first big tour back in 1997, back when she would entertain herself by making me empty my pockets (she still remembers the array of strange things I felt the need to carry). Always my favourite Toronto place to stop; now folk will have to go by her house for books. She started her 1/2 off sale today, and apparently I was one of but a few "preferred customers" to get the email last week (she says she didn't even know I was coming): dropped $100 on her today for books, including a whole slew of poetry books for folk at home. And that's at half off! ("that cheque" I'd been waiting all month to arrive finally did...) Today, too, she said she always asks me questions, knowing that the answers might not be informative in the way she would like, but that they're always interesting. I will miss her lovely store; I look forward to her house... I gave her a copy of my new Stride poetry collection, since there's a poem in there with her name in it, written right after I purchased an old Coach House Press poetry collection by David Bromige.

keats, at 206, is very old
(after bromige

out into that,
wingless view

over annex, &
janets store

of books

true, this only comes
w/ that

or is it time

& then to keep time,
w/ any age

an appreciation
of fact

& this autumn part
of bloor

one loves life
for all the living (from name, an errant)

Later on: An evening with dinner at Pauper's (on Bloor at Bathurst), and then seeing a bunch of bands with Murray and Julie Sutcliffe at Clinton's (I even bought a CD by one of them...); Murray was one of them original QWERTY magazine guys with Weaver & Tierney & Dechene & McOrmond & Rhodes (etcetera) out of the University of New Brunswick how many years ago; the magazine started in 1996 I think, thanks to Jan Zwicky and Don McKay being at the U. Joe Blades originally put me in touch with them, so I managed to not only get into the first issue (they just put out a 10th anniversary retrospective recently), but they all did a two city reading tour back in 1997: Ottawa and Elliot Lake (figure that one out). Imagine: a van-load of surly, drunken poets (the first time I got to meet Weaver, Dechene etc as well as the first and only previous time I'd met Murray and Julie...) arriving to stay at my house for a few days for a reading in Ottawa. One of them (I won't say who) threw up in three provinces on the drive over, arriving twelve hours later than they claimed they would; who knew throwing a party the night before that they left at 5am would prevent them from arriving in Ottawa by noon? Oh, those were the days... There's a video of the event (I hope to never see it), including a younger and haired Mr. Weaver passed out on my back room floor after we covered him in, what, 300 stickers? Oh, youth. Oh oh oh.

Did I mention I'm somewhat looking forward to getting home? Did I mention I'm gone from home a whole 28 days? That's as long as rehab...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Here's a photo Corey Wood shared with me in Calgary, from Monty Reid's collection; a slide of George Bowering that Corey seems to have scanned backwards (look at the text of the newspaper); just a little bit older than that other photo I posted of George recently...

Friday, November 24, 2006

P. K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry

The Malahat Review is pleased to announce the establishment of the P. K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry in honour of the celebrated Victoria poet’s contribution to Canadian letters.

The P. K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry is made possible by a financial donation to The Malahat Review by P. K. Page in recognition of her long association with the magazine and as a gesture of her deep appreciation of her peers in the local and national literary communities on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday later this month.

The P. K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry recognizes the excellence of The Malahat Review’s contributors by awarding a prize of $1000 to the author of the best poem or sequence of poems to have appeared in the magazine’s quarterly issues during the previous calendar year. The winner, to be chosen by an outside judge who is recognized for his or her accomplishment as a poet, will be announced annually in The Malahat Review’s Spring issue. The judge of the inaugural award is Marilyn Bowering of Sooke, B.C.

“It is a great honour,” says John Barton, editor of The Malahat Review, “for the magazine to have the opportunity to give out an award in P. K.’s name. She is one of Canada’s most respected and truly iconic poets whose accomplishments have been an inspiration to several generations of writers. It is a great pleasure for me to see her long association with The Malahat Review formalized in this significant way, an association that will be recognized and celebrated each time the winner of the P. K. Page Founders’ Award is announced in the years to come.”

P. K. Page was born in England in 1916 and came to Canada in 1919. Educated in England, Calgary, and Winnipeg, she studied art in Brazil and New York. She first came to the attention of the readers of Canadian poetry in the 1940s through her association with and regular appearances in Preview, a Montreal-based literary magazine key to the establishment of modernism in Canada. Her first important publication, Unit of Five, an anthology published by Ryerson in 1944, was followed by an impressive series of books of poetry, fiction, and memoir that display a characteristic love of ideas and adistinctive use of language that have won her admirers around the world. Her contribution was recognized early, when The Metal and the Flower (McClelland and Stewart) won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for 1954. Her recent books of poetry include Hologram (1994), The Hidden Room: Collected Poems (1998), Hand Luggage (2006), The Filled Pen: Selected Non-fiction of P. K. Page (forthcoming in 2006), and Up on the Roof (short fiction, forthcoming in 2007). Under the name P K. Irwin, her paintings and drawings have been exhibited widely and are held in public and private collections across Canada.

The Malahat Review, the University of Victoria’s internationally known literary quarterly, publishes poetry and fiction by emerging and established writers from Canada and abroad. The magazine is read across North America and in sixteen other countries. In 2007, it will celebrate its fortieth anniversary. Since 1967, the magazine has published poetry and fiction by emerging and established writers from Canada and abroad, often at crucial points in their careers. Many internationally respected writers made their first important forays into print in this beloved magazine, including Victoria native Susan Musgrave and Man Booker Prize-winner Yann Martel.

For more information about the P. K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry and howyou may support it through a donation, please contact: Karen Whyte at250-721-6696 or by email at

John Barton, editor of The Malahat Review, is available for interviews bycalling 250-721-8524 or email at

The Malahat Review

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tour notes, day twenty; November 20, Winnipeg MB

Another quiet evening in; Cooley and his wife Diane out for the evening, catching up on weeks of missed television. Why aren’t any of my good shows on?

What can I say about Cooley? Remarkably sweet and generous and humble and just filled with good feeling. It would be difficult not to feel great around such a person. Spending a good deal of the day on campus at the University of Manitoba floating through the Andrew Suknkasi archives, to finish up that book of essays by him for NeWest and the selected poems, as well as (eventually) the book of essays on his work for Guernica Editions. Less a matter of the amount of material but trying to get a shape of it all in my head, somehow. The note taking and almost obsessive revisions to pieces; one in particular I kept finding final after final after final draft without (seeming) end; term papers for his classes with poet and professor Lionel Kearns. What must that have been like?

Things I didn’t know, that he had submitted a piece to the CBC contest; quite an interesting poem. That he was included in the 50th birthday publication (an edition of thirty) made for John Newlove in 1988 by John Metcalf. Including pieces by Judith Fitzgerald, Allan Safarik, George Bowering and others. An interesting list, and almost certainly a Metcalf version of who appreciated Newlove (I would think). There's a great story of Metcalf on Newlove's doorstep presenting the publication to him, and being told, great, now I'm going to have to thank these people...

Fun to even find that Suknaski had published part of that Barry McKinnon long poem, I Wanted To Say Something in 1973 (the only piece not in his selected/collected that needs to be read), the prairie long poem that began a number of other prairie long poems; since it wasn’t available to the larger public until the Red Deer College Press edition in 1990 (where Suknaski tried to give credit in his intro), it got the attention without really getting the attention.

Thinking a lot, going through these essays and pieces by Andrew Suknaski, about that thing called (for lack of a better term), region. The prairie is very much its own geographic thinking space, as are parts of British Columbia, Quebec, the east coast. What does Ontario get? Greg Curnoe played with his southwestern Ontario, sou’westo, notions in the 1960s and further; what do the rest of us get? The only province without a provincial writers guild; if you’re not in Toronto, does any of it mean anything? Is there an Ontario besides Ontario Gothic, moons behind? Thinking about this notion of “region” and “ethnic,” and wondering how they might apply to my Glengarry, my essay/memoir I’ve been five years working on. Are such things translatable? There’s a book Jars Balan gave me from a conference they put together on such, published as a book in 1981 that even referenced previous notions of “ethnic,” including Ralph Connor; does that mean anyone in Ontario (etcetera) isn’t dealt with as such because it’s already been done? Or are there simply other considerations in other places that haven’t been dealt with yet, whether properly or at all?

Tour notes, day twenty-one; November 21, Winnipeg MB

Reading tonight, with Karen Clavelle and Ariel Gordon; I haven’t yet met Ariel Gordon, but I hear she’s quite tall, and recently had a baby. What else will I find out later? Last night drinks and then dinner with Clavelle; she’s done quite a lot of work on prairie lit, specifically Cooley, over the past few years that should soon hopefully catch light. It would be good to have some more work done on him (I know Nicole Markotic did one of those Wilfred Laurier University Press critical selecteds on him, but I don’t know if its out yet…). For the sheer amount of work he’s done, and generated/supported of others, there should be a whole pile more material on him; why isn’t there? Even that Prairie Fire issue on him is nearly a decade old…

I’m only three or four years behind on a chapbook I’ve been producing of Clavelle’s; for some reason, whenever I start working on that one or the Barry McKinnon chapbook (they’ve been waiting the same amount of time), my IQ points suddenly go down about fifty points. I haven’t given up on them yet, though… we spent a few hours in conversation, including brainstorming on a conference happening here next year that Lea Graham and I might come out for. Ended up, after my hours of research (I found some very cool things) and Clavelle drinks/dinner, doing a 9:30pm brief reading and Q&A session for Cooley’s creative writing class. Some interesting folk, and we even went for drinks after, at that usual Boston Pizza joint that Cooley seems to be so fond of (they’ve had a usual Friday afternoon appointment for years, much like the Bowering etc. Tads/Dads stuff in Vancouver at Shenanigans…). Ended up getting a ride from a fella who said he knew Suknaski and Newlove, back in the Regina days (circa 1980); first cousin of David Arnason (whom I haven’t seen here yet).

Was thinking about that Lea Graham last night, so called; just kept getting her answering machine. She was here in October, and folk like Cooley and Clavelle still talking about her. Even called her from Cooley’s office, with Clavelle right there, and got just the machine. Lots of folk in town I would like to see, not sure if it’ll happen this trip; still have to get in to visit Turnstone Press, CV2 magazine, Charlene Diehl-Jones in the writers festival office. Alison Calder is here somewhere, on-campus; she had the most magnificent poem in the most recent issue of Open Letter; I’m accidentally over a dozen pages into a critical piece responding to her poem that I think I’m going to put out in my issue of Open Letter (scheduled for 2008, at this point). Karen Press and Adam Levin live in this town now; Catherine Hunter is around here too, but haven’t seen her in some time; she keeps telling me I look like her brother Rocky (Rockafeller). Every time I see her, I lose hours rapt in conversation, the most recent time being that League of Canadian Poets AGM back in Montreal, what, three years ago?

Where does the time go…

Realizing that there’s so much unpublished Suknaski material in here that it reaffirms my consideration that I should just be focusing his new and selected on published work; there’s far too much unpublished to simply put on the side. It could easily be its own separate project(s). Here’s an Andrew Suknaski poem included in St. John’s Report, August 17, 1979, with an uncredited article on prairie writing, Greg and George Melnyk, etcetera.


time poet
to put aside what you came to
leaving all else

time to unsaddle
this lame horse ridden
into ancestral dust
and cease living like an Indian
of old

time to do things with the hands
working all seasons
with pride
and three weeks vacation
each year

time to tie this dream horse to a star
and walk
ordinary earth

Going through old Sukasnki Elfin Plot issues and Deodor Shadow books he produced, including one called Carbon Copies by Barry McKinnon; the bio mentions too, The Cat Poems of McKinnon’s but a few weeks old from Ganglia/Gronk. Howcum he never mentions these things? It’s fun to see such early work by writers one admires, to remember how young they were, attempting all of these strange things…

Tour notes, day twenty-second; November 22, Winnipeg MB

The reading last night was a lot of fun; Ariel Gordon is taller than I would have expected, from reading her blog. A wonderful energy from her. Good to finally hear both her and Karen Clavelle read, after knowing their work only on paper. My last actual reading on this whole tour thing; what am I supposed to do now? A few days with Andy Weaver doing foolish things, perhaps. Attempted to contact a cousin in Toronto to see what she’s doing this weekend, but nothing yet.

Heard the best phrase last night: “hang a beating off him.” Who says things like that? Magnificent.

Ariel Gordon read some poems abt being pregnant, and apparently a chapbook of such appearing next year with old pal Palimpsest Press; Clavelle read her Mother Goose pieces. There will be a chapbook of hers someday, I swear...

Today my last full Winnipeg day; was hoping to get to Prairie Fire, Turnstone Press and such, but thinking I just don’t have the time; have to spend the day researching. Meeting Cooley on campus at 11:30 or so first…

And tomorrow the 300,000 hour train to Toronto; get on in Winnipeg around noon, and arrive the next day around midnight. Geez...


So worried about working the archival stuff on Suknaski, was forced to say no to a few things, including reading to a couple of Clavelle’s classes at the University, and Ariel Gordon’s kind offer to make me lunch at her house; if I only had one more day I could have done it all. Brief lunch with Cooley before heading into the archive, and found out (from him) that poet Jan Horner works in the library. Spent a while finding her and left her a phone message, and she even came to visit for a few minutes as I worked. I remember having a very good conversation with her after I read at the Winnipeg writers festival back in 1998; some kind, generous comments she had made about my reading, and I remember liking her second poetry collection, then recently new from Turnstone; apparently she’s working on a third; apparently (according to Cooley) she has some great poems in the most recent issue of Prairie Fire. An email thismorning, Karen Press an apology for missing me last night, wondering what the rest of me is doing? I also wonder the same; should be completely here working, can’t imagine anything else. Asking if maybe an evening of drinks? Horner asked same; god knows. One plan at a time... Apparently Cooley a breakfast before train that might include Kroetsch, if we can find him…

Also, wondering whatever happened to Winnipeg writer Todd Bruce? Was a student round these parts same time as Rob Budde and Mark Libin; had a fantastic first poetry collection moons and moons ago, and then a second that was still good, but not as great. Apparently (finally) a chapbook forthcoming from Budde’s wink books chapbook series…

In Suknaski’s correspondence, various letters back and forth, including folders on Eli Mandel, John Newlove, Charles Noble, Monty Reid and piles of others. The end of a letter from Newlove (dated writes:
I begin an Ottawa job with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages the middle of July. Well paid. To hell with poetry.
God-damned calling card not working today; all these calls I have to return, and can't afford a new one yet. Calls I can't make now until Toronto; why can't everyone just have email?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ongoing notes: mid-November 2006

Where am I now? Did you notice that Gregory Betts' above/ground press post has been repeated? Old pal Brendan Hodgson (who has taken my poetry workshop a few times) said some nice things about Chaudiere Books on his blog. And did you see the Monty Reid review in the Ottawa X-Press? Hopefully it'll get more folk to his readings in December... musician Emm Gryner has been doing well for herself lately; apparently she plays at Ottawa's infamous Zaphod Beeblebrox before I get home... Have you seen Tom Fowler's blog lately? And did you see that the Winnipeg reading I'm doing got bumped a day, on the 21st instead of the 22nd (apparently there are some conflicts on that original day)? Apparently Toronto poet Aleah Sato just got poems up on latchkey; she emailed me to let me know. What's this poetry video stuff that Mulligan emailed me? Give me penn sound any day... kemeny babineau's Laurel Reed Books now has a website. Did you read Tina-Frances Trineer's post on the most recent ottawa small press book fair? And Max Middle posted this Ottawa Citizen post-Chaudiere launch photo online; does anyone know why?

Pearl sent me this link too (she must be online constantly); apparently this blog of mine nominated for some other "best of" -- I can barely keep track!

Some very interesting posts on Saint Elizabeth Street, including a review of Kate Greenstreet's new book (I've been carrying the same book around for a couple of weeks now), and asking the question "why don't women poets blog more?" (a question that Sina Queyras has also asked...). Oh, and everyone knows that Jennifer and I are trade publishers now (we apparently also have a myspace page); did you know that Wayde Compton is a trade publisher now too, out there in Vancouver, under Commodore Books?

Some guy emailed me and told me I should read this:, although he didn't tell me why...

Did you see this new poem of mine up on Sidebrow? Apparently Ottawa writer Mary Borsky is doing a fiction workshop at Collected Works Bookstore starting in January; her notice reads:
Discussion on the craft of writing fiction.
Feedback, encouragement, new ideas.
Led by Mary Borsky, author of three books
of fiction and experienced writing teacher.
Collected Works, 1242 Wellington Street
8 consecutive Tuesday evenings 7-9 pm,
January 9 to February 27
call 613-730-7005

My own poetry workshops will be happening on Mondays starting January, but I still haven't figured out which dates... watch here or email for further info...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tour notes, day nineteen; November 19, arriving Winnipeg MB

Just leaving Edmonton last night, starting and finishing Stan Dragland’s Journeys Through Bookland (Toronto ON: Coach House Press, 1984). Dragland, of course, reads in Ottawa (through the TREE Reading Series) the same weekend I arrive by train into Toronto from Winnipeg; how does it always work that way? I haven’t heard or met him yet; even a few years ago, a legendary reading at Carleton University by the now-late poet Robert Creeley. Apparently Chris Turnbull has a recording of it, but hasn’t loaned me a copy yet.

From Dragland’s Journeys, a section that references my Glengarry County, writing:
Now the rat scrabbles around over our heads and we exchange different smiles than we did when we thought it was a squirrel. The dog and cat don’t seem interested. Should we do something? There’s disease, after all, and there’s a story I read in Greg Curnoe’s Coke Book of the time ‘at the pipeline warehouse a guy killed a rat. He stepped on it. Guts oozing out of the right eye. The guy was scared, he was carrying it out of the place and it pulled itself up and bit at him, grabbing the fur at its sides with its claws to lift itself.’

But there’s also what a friend says in a letter: “Ron’s brother took the year off once to think it all over by himself at the family farm through the winter with only a Quebec heater (later a little oil stove) for heat. It was pretty isolated there. The only people he saw were the old next door neighbours. He had a rat in the attic who became his friend and it’d come down and chat with him in the evenings, and we got pretty excited because he looked like he was living deep enough to catch onto a rhythm or two. I had a lovely little paper maché goddess I made out of newspapers and stuff (you may have seen the picture) and I sent it to Bill for Christmas and his rat ate it. All except the candle that was stuck in its tail.’

The farmhouse of the rat and goddess is near Williamstown, Ontario. The letter came from London, Souwesto (the term for Southwestern Ontario that Greg Curnoe heard on CHLO radio and, not without irony, adopted) and so did the pipeline warehouse story. The squirrel-become-rat lives with us this winter on a farm near Bellrock, Ontario. We were brought up in Alberta, but we leave the rat alone. (p 24-25)
Is this a story from Don McKay, when he was still in London, teaching at the University of Western Ontario? That family cabin near Williamstown, written in so many places and so many times by McKay and even Jan Zwicky, there and here. Written too by his first wife, Jean McKay, I wonder? When we read at the same Windsor Festival of the Book a couple of years back, she said she had an unpublished short story referencing the Lancaster Chip Truck that I still haven’t seen. I still can’t find copies of any of her books. Why is that? Why haven’t I written her yet to ask?

Later on in the same book, Dragland talking about the painter Norval Morrisseau, who recently had the most magnificent retrospective at the National Gallery in Ottawa, the same one I saw with Lea Graham and my lovely daughter, Kate. Does everything connect to everything else?

How many years ago, my eventual ex-wife so very frustrated with me, saying how I never saw just how everything did connect with everything else; I so completely understand her now (at least that part). I know now just how little I knew then; I know now just how less I have understood since.

Started reading Robert Kroetsch's What the Crow Said (1998), part of the reissue series from the University of Alberta Press. I read it through Alberta to the Saskatchewan border; read it into Saskatchewan and in toward Manitoba; read it all the way to Winnipeg. I know I'd read Completed Field Notes (2002) before; I know I'd read Words of My Roaring (2000) and The Studhorse Man (2004). Realized around 10pm or so that I'd even read this one before, and also on the same damn train. The card game that lasted for weeks gave it away, suddenly making me aware that I'd not only read the novel before (possibly back in 1999 or 2000), but that I possibly even have a signed copy of the damn thing on a bookshelf at home. The University of Alberta Press really need to reissue some more of his novels... or maybe he should just write up another one?

Did I mention Sheila Watson? [see my review of her biography here] The U of A always makes me think of the late great writer Sheila Watson; Ann-Marie who suggested I read The Double Hook when we were till in high school (back in the 1850s). Sheila Watson, who taught at the U of A; her desk is still there, in one of the offices in the english department, with a small plaque. Go see if you can find it. You already know you have to read her novel, and everything else of hers you can get your hands on... (not that there was a huge bunch...)

Slept sitting up; slept in these clothes. What will Cooley find when he gets me, an hour lost somewhere during the unspoken story of Saskatchewan night? The hours I picked up at baggage claim, Vancouver airport. Am I losing or simply putting them back where they originally belonged?

I accidentally started what might be a "sex at thirty-eight" poem last night; even though I am a year and a half away. We already know every edit is a lie, is every poem a lie as well?

Why do I get so ahead of myself? Why am I in such a hurry? Why am I in such a hurry to start a poem that might take me two years to finish?

Two deer on the wild prairie, running endlessly away from the come and gone train.

Is it too late to ask them what province I'm in?

Later on, Portage la Prairie; finally, I am at the centre of Canada...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Tour notes, day eighteen; November 18, leaving Edmonton AB
How does one get from experience to a story of that experience? And again, how does one get back from the story of that experience?
-- Robert Kroetsch, Alberta (1993)
A day of quiet, of listening to Iron & Wine; of packing boxes and packing boxes for mailing home; I've already mailed back two boxes of books, from British Columbia. I was hoping to not have to do same again until Winnipeg, but there's just too much. Last night quiet too, after Happy Joe's Pizza & Bar on 109th; very quiet. I like the sort of place where you get to turn the lights and television on yourself, since no one yet has gone upstairs.

A lovely quiet day; feel completely refreshed, et cetera; a third box mailed today to myself c/o Jennifer, and that book finally off to Kate. A bag of groceries for the train and breakfast/lunch at Friends & Neighbours Cafe on Whyte Avenue at 109th, just near where Kristy McKay lives. Bought one of Trevor's cds in his absence (luckily I remember how much, leaving money on a table for him with a note). Just what exactly is an Old Strathcona sandwich? I could have told you, but I don't want to. Coffee and Kroetsch, coffee and Kroetsch. Sitting on Whyte Ave reading the second edition of his Alberta, the new section he wrote for it, and the afterward by his pal, fiction writer Rudy Wiebe. Will I see Kroetsch [see my note on him here] when I get to Winnipeg?

Wrote a short poem in the Kroetsch style:
short essay on the variations of love

I had forgotten it; she

showed me. I


After the first draft, wondering if I should add:
I never forgot again.

She and she and she; a whole other she from previous years and years behind me, finding out she now has two children. Strange to think about. Today the first time I used my Air Miles and Safeway cards in the same purchase since those days, that affect me less and less with each passing visit (although I haven't managed more than a day at a time in Calgary since). Where am I writing from?

Another line from the new section Kroetsch wrote for this book (originally published for the Canadian Centennial year, 1967), "Monty Reid is one of the finest poets anywhere." (p 3). From the Wiebe section, mentioning "Writing-on-Stone rock art in the Milk River Badlands [...]." (p 294). Is this what Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan poet Andrew Suknaski was referencing when he named his self-published collected visual poems that in 1966?

Found out today that T.L. Cowan (as she so generously dropped off a stack of previous Olive chapbooks for me) was the one a few years ago who wrote that piece on the poetry of former Alberta resident Shane Rhodes (a third poetry collection happens in the spring with NeWest Press), referring to him as "Robert Kroetsch's gay son." I would love to read that piece; apparently it was written for a conference a few years ago in Scotland that also included Barry McKinnon and derek beaulieu (I remember McKinnon mentioning it before he left...), and coming out soon in a book I want to get my little hands on. If she's doing such work, maybe I should ask her for something for

Barbour coming by at 4pm to pick me up for that train outta town; an email from American poet Lea Graham, envious that she can't hang out with me + Cooley in Winnipeg [see the poem Graham and I wrote for him here, a while back]. I'm envious too... Preparing myself for long train travel with books on Alberta, Saskatchewan and various other places, poems, fictions...

Douglas Barbour who is the finest human being in the world...

Friday, November 17, 2006

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 BooksI’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.

Against Aubade

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...