Monday, August 20, 2007

ongoing notes: late August, 2007

I've been monster busy lately, so not as much of this as I'd like to be getting to; late, late, late. Did you see this nice note Toronto writer/editor Alex Boyd wrote about coming to Ottawa for the Rob Winger book launch? Why isn’t everyone on facebook yet? Did you see what Amanda Earl and Marcus McCann (good to see him returning to his blog) had to say about the reading he, Nicholas Lea (with the photo Charles Earl took of him here) and I did at the Carleton Tavern at the end of July? Or what Pearl Pirie wrote about the Sharon Harris/Ian Roy Factory reading? What Amanda Earl thought of Monty Reid's TREE Reading (with Charles' photo here)? What McCann thought of my recent interview with Michael Holmes in filling Station (and what Amanda Earl thought about that)? The review that Gary Barwin did of the David W. McFadden selected poems [see my review here]? Will you be going to the above/ground press special at the last Factory of the summer, or my final going away party at the Carleton Tavern two days later? Did you see that Sina Queyras, writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary this fall, is already blogging from there?

Did you see this Alberta conversation between myself and Winnipeg poet K.I. Press, as a response to my original piece on "anticipating Alberta" in The Danforth Review, or the piece I recently posted on Myrna Kostash? Watch for more pieces there over the coming months… and my lovely daughter thinks the Flight of the Conchords are brilliant; who am I to argue? Apparently the University of Ottawa is running a symposium next May (organized by Rob Stacey) called "re: reading the postmodern," with various folk like Robert Kroetsch, Dennis Cooley and Christian Bök coming in to give papers; does this mean I actually have to fly back to go?

And this isn't me, by the by.

Ottawa ON: Toronto poet/fiction writer/publisher/editor Stuart Ross was here recently, doing a reading at the Ottawa Folk Festival and a couple versions of his Poetry Boot Camp (see Amanda Earl's comments on such here, and Stuart's own notes on his week, here and here), when I got to spend an evening in his company. Here's the poem he handed out during his week in Ottawa.


He touched her head
but people said,
Don't touch people's heads,
but it was just a head
on the lady's shoulders.

The president described himself
as "vigilant" and "bosomy"
and the media fell into step.
They helped him sort stuff out
for his big garage sale.

The monkey turned out to be
a furry fire alarm,
waking every American citizen
and chasing him out the door."Voluptuous!" said the headlines.

Ann Arbor MI: Lately I've been going through Ann Arbor, Michigan poet Aaron McCollough's third poetry collection Little Ease (Boise ID: Ahsahta Press, 2006), following on the heels of his Welkin (Ahsahta Press, 2002) and Double Venus (Salt, 2003). In the first paragraph of his "Author's Statements" (a feature of the press that I have to admit I look forward to as much as I do their books), he writes:

I like that the title Little Ease is hopelessly ambiguous, so I guess that is the place to start when describing the project. It's the name of a prison that promises no comfort (there is "little ease" available here, etc.), but it sounds in contemporary English parlance like a pretty decent state of affairs (a "little ease" would be welcome in my hectic day, etc.). The book—all my work, I guess—is very much about volatile subjectivity. It's not meant as a postmodern gesture, though, really. I'm imagining something more like a classical rending of self, a real power struggle between good and bad impulses and good impulses which are bad on top of bad impulses which are good. I have no gripe with postmodernist theories of the subject; I just don’t see them as "new" phenomena. Division of the subject strikes me as a fundamental feature of the creation of the subject, and many have been inclined to agree for centuries. With that in mind as a constant problem, my poems tend to be attempts at doing something in spite of or in collusion with the fractures and contrarieties that always seem to be threatening to reduce me to oblivion.
In six sections, McCollough's poems seem informed as much by classical relation, but knows how to break apart the lyric song and lyric gesture so he can then carve it together into what comes next; writing prologues, reformations, sonnets, Jan Vandermeer, restorations and penalties, through deceptive ease. This is a magnificent little book.


Outside the town on fire

My pension of her grief

As she's turning

All of the moments of grief

On the moment of grief ―

The woman draped in the featherbed

Her passion of the dead sea

In the monument

Bride for wither you go

I try

My porcelain of her grief

This residue of air

We mistook

the remnant

Or mistake of sediment

Orono MA: After meeting the Orono, Maine poet Jennifer Moxley during a reading I was doing down there in 2001 (thanks to Ken Norris and Steve Evans), I've been keeping an eye out for her books to appear, from her Imagination Verses (Tender Buttons; Salt, 2003) and The Sense Record and other poems (Edge, 2002; Salt, 2003) to the more recent Often Capital (Flood Editions, 2005). Recently she came out with another book, the small collection The Line (Sausalito CA: The Post-Apollo Press, 2007). Working a series of prose poems, Moxley works her sense in a form that reads almost deceptively simple, but deft turns. How prose is prose when the prose-line doesn’t feel like poetry but it somehow does?
The Line

True faith does not need the state to enforce it. It makes neither hope, nor a shroud. You will walk out of the visible and learn to accept the darkness. You will find the line. It extends backwards eternally into the past and forward into the future. The utterance cup, the gentle metric, old words new mind lost time and loves. You sensed it all along, but gaining the knowledge was hopelessly muddled by the inherent drive to author new life. Now cut the spittle line spun into reason and enter the grave alone.

In other words, write. Find time for words. Replace yourself cell by letter, let being be the alphabetic equation, immortality stay the name.

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