Thursday, August 30, 2007

A obit written by Lynne Alsford, coordinator of the Sasquatch reading series.

Ottawa's literary community has lost one of its icons. Jane Jordan passed away on Tuesday, 28 August, after a battle with cancer. She was 81.

Sometimes referred to as the godmother of poetry in Ottawa, she was instrumental in developing the poetry scene in this city.

Jane was born in Toronto on August 6, 1926. Having written her first poem at age 7, it wasn't until age 40 that she began writing seriously, producing work under her married name Jane White until 1972. Being rather self-effacing about her own poetry, she preferred to promote the works of others. So Jane is best known for her other contributions to the literary scenes in Toronto and Ottawa.

While in Toronto, she established a series of programs named Folk & Poetry in a number of locations there and in North York, promoting other poets and artists from across Canada. She also co-established The House on Gerrard Street with Ted Plantos.

After moving to Ottawa in 1971, she changed her name to Jane Jordan. Here she
established the Folk & Poetry - The Underground Up programs, which were held at local libraries, community centres and a number of notable venues, such as Le Hibou, Wallack's Gallery and Pestalozzi College. When Jane retired from active involvement with the program in 1982, she turned it over to Juan O'Neill, who renamed the reading series Sasquatch based on Jane's assertion that "Often, the artist is like a hairy beast hiding in the forest..." The program continues to this day under the same name.

Through her poetry programs, Jane brought many renowned Canadian poets to audiences in Toronto and Ottawa -- Milton Acorn, Dorothy Livesay, Cyril Dabydeen, Bill Hawkins, Al Purdy, Patrick White, Alden Nowlan and Gary Geddes among them. And even in retirement, she continued to appear occasionally at Ottawa's various poetry readings, offering encouragement and advice to emerging local writers.

In 1988, the Tree Reading Series established the Jane Jordan award to honour a living Canadian poet, which has been done for only one other poet, and held competitions on an annual basis until a few years ago.

Despite her reluctance to self-promote, Jane published two chapbooks, in 1974 and 1976, and her poems appeared in a number of periodicals and anthologies, and were broadcast on CKCU-FM, CHEZ-FM, Q101-FM and the CBC. In 2004, Penumbra Press published her book of poetry - A Signature of Leaves.

A few days earlier, the email from Chris Sorrenti:

I'm afraid the inevitable has finally happened. Ronnie Brown phoned me this afternoon to say that Jane passed away earlier today.

She was in and out of coma and in a lot of pain these past few days, so probably for the better, considering her diagnosis/prognosis.

I did manage to send a letter to Jane via her daughter Barbara, thanking her for her friendship with both myself and Sasquatch, however I don't think she had a chance to read it to her in light of the above. Needless to say she will be missed, especially at the Oak on Laurier Avenue.

As with previous friends I don't as yet have any information on the service, so please check The Citizen for funeral arrangements.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

new (finally, slowly) from above/ground press above/ground press slowly works its way through backlog...

by Marcus McCann (Ottawa)

E l e a n o r
by Amanda Earl (Ottawa)

the black prince of bank street
by William Hawkins (Ottawa)

Marcus McCann is an editor and writer at Capital Xtra. His poetry debuted in the The Antigonish Review at age 18. He is the editor of, a selector for Bywords and a former selector for Yawp. With Nicholas Lea and Andrew Faulkner, he is the author-translator of Basement Tapes (The Onion Union, 2007), a chapbook of homolinguistic translations. As winner of the 2005 University of Ottawa 48-Hour Novella Writing Contest, his So Long, Derrida (UESA, 2006) was published by the university. Heteroskeptical (above/ground press, 2007) is his first solo poetry chapbook.

Amanda Earl's poems appeared most recently in 3.0, and the Ottawa Arts Review. Amanda is the managing editor of and the Bywords Quarterly Journal. She blogs about literary stuff on and She also writes fiction and has been published in anthologies with the word sex inthem.

William Hawkins was born in Ottawa. After side trips to the West Coast and Mexico, he resides in the Capital, pursuing enlightenment or a reasonable alternative thereto. Hawkins has worked as a truck driver, cook, journalist and musician before settling on the taxi profession as a means of preserving integrity and ensuring near-poverty. His collections of poems include Shoot Low, Sheriff, They're Riding Shetland Ponies (Ottawa), Two longer poems (Patrician Press, Toronto), Hawkins (Nil Press, Ottawa),Ottawa Poems (weed/flower press, Kitchener), The Gift of Space (New Press,Toronto) and The Madman's War (S.A.W. Publications, Ottawa). In 2005, acollection of his work, titled Dancing Alone: Selected Poems 1960-1990,was released by Broken Jaw Press (Fredericton) and cauldron books (Ottawa). He has also recorded a CD of his best songs titled Dancing Alone.

To order any of these little books, add $1 for postage, & in Canadian currency; if sending from outside Canada, send in American, payable to rob mclennan, c/o 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1R 6R7 (after September first, write rob c/o writer-in-residence,Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, 3-5 Humanities Centre, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E5); above/ground press subscribers receive (honest!) a complimentary copy; calendar year subscriptions available for $40 (currently taking advance orders for 2008), & include chapbooks, broadsides, STANZAS magazine & The Peter F. Yacht Club.

more information on above/ground press (founded in 1993) can be found here and here and here and here and here (don't forget the 14th anniversary reading/launch); regular notices are also sent out through an email list of Ottawa-area literary events. to get on the list, email me at

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prairie Fire Press in conjunction with McNally Robinson Booksellers is hosting its annual poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction contests at the end of November 2007. We would greatly appreciate it if you would include the following information in any newsletters or bulletins that you might have circulating.

Janine Tschuncky
Operations Coordinator

2007 Writing Contests.
3 contests.
$6,000 in cash prizes.

1. Bliss Carman Poetry Award (1-3 poems per entry, maximum 150 lines). The Poetry first prize is in-part donated by the Banff Centre for the Arts who will also award a jeweller-cast replica of poet bliss Carman's silver & turquoise ring to the first prize winner. Judge: Barry Dempster
2. Short Fiction (one story per entry, maximum 15,000 words). Judge: Bill Gaston
3. Creative Non-Fiction (one article per entry, maximum 5,000 words). Judge: Mark Anthony Jarman
1st prize $1,250, 2nd prize $500, 3rd prize $250, in all categories

Contest Rules Entry fee $27 (per category). This entitles you or your designate to a one-year (4 issue) subscription to Prairie Fire. Make cheque or money order payable to Prairie Fire and enclose with your entry. Deadline for all contest entries: November 30, 2007

Do not identify yourself on your entry. Enclose a cover sheet with your name, address, telephone number, the title(s) of your piece(s), and word count (prose) or line count (poetry) along with your entry fee. No faxed or e-mailed submissions please. Your entry must be typed on 81/2" by 11" white paper and the pages clipped, not stapled. Prose must be double spaced. Entries will not be returned. If you wish to be informed of contest results, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Each piece must be original, unpublished, not submitted elsewhere for publication or broadcast, nor entered simultaneously in any other contest or competition for which it is also eligible to win a prize. You may enter as often as you like; only your first entry in each category will be eligible for a subscription. Winning pieces will be published in Prairie Fire magazine, with authors paid for publication.

Send entries to: Prairie Fire, 423-100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 1H3 - Phone (204) 943-9066 -
2007 Prairie Fire Press - McNally Robinson Writing Contests Bliss Carman Poetry Award - Judge: Barry Dempster, Short Fiction - Judge: Bill Gaston, Creative Non-Fiction - Judge: Mark Anthony Jarman. $6,000 in prizes. First prize in each category $1,250, 2nd prize $500, 3rd prize $250. Deadline: November 30, 2007.
For information contact: Prairie Fire Press, 423-100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 1H3. Phone: (204) 943-9066, E-mail:, or check out our web site for guidelines at -- Prairie Fire Press, Inc. 423-100 Arthur St. Winnipeg, MB R3B 1H3 Tel.: (204) 943-9066 Fax: (204) 942-1555

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.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ariana Reines' The Cow


The day is a fume. At starboard, a white kirtle which is the moon. The day has a hallmark, the night also.

Blue winter air. The chief leaf, which is a firm clasp on the smoke of days that keep on destroying my mind. It is not easy to be honest because it is impossible to be complete.

The end.
How could I resist a poetry collection called The Cow (New York NY: Fence Books, 2006)? Winner of the 2006 Alberta Prize (newly renamed the Motherwell Prize, annually offering a cash prize and the publication of a first or second book of poems by a woman), American poet and filmmaker Ariana Reines' first poetry collection works through the name of the livestock meant for food against a disparaging remark used against girls and women as her focal point, and working out from that into magnificent poems that challenge, push and even punch their way through the page. An exciting, vibrant, passionate and highly intelligent first poetry collection, first poetry collections rarely get as good as this; a clean sense of self, a clear sense of goals, and a smart, clear sense of how the poems fit together as a whole unit.


Does a resemblance really mean anything.

The world rhymes too much. Maybe.

A situation of the similar kept aloft by an air that is hating.

I spell it like that because I mean it.

Well, maybe a situation can find a way to be a family against your will.

Or maybe that's just psychoanalysis, I was going to write.

All this "meaning." It is rhyme. Is just rhyme.

And this, this could be it. Liberty.

I am harassed.

Tonight three guys in a car said we can help you with your hardon.

That was the most genderfuck catcall I ever pretended I wasn’t hearing as I walked by it.

I am so tired, deep deep inside. I am tired.

This ceaseless squabble. What Mandelstam said.

What. Now what. Go on. Go on.
From the bodies of ruined animals to the bodies of ruined women, the poems in The Cow push hard against prevailing winds that somehow feel less strong after the push; this is a fiery and powerful "fuck you"; this is a book about hope. As she writes, "I have to get to the other side of the animal" (p 63). This is a book that makes its points by tearing you a new one (knowing that it's the only way you'll learn).


In the night you might as well not be in a country.

I feel like a sandbar sucking whiskey from a taser gun or brill cream. Finally your cock reimburses me.

"The best way is the hardest."

My sea of love. I want to tell you. My sea of love. I want to tell you.

Cannot have a "the world" but can have millions of guts through which the maize and antibiotics of "a world" are forced to pass.

I feel about you secondly, or secondarily, succeeding.

Succeeding is only going on. A second's not an instant it is simply not the first. All counting means not being at the origin.

"They call me the Meat Handler. Among other things."

I cannot count the altering that happens in the very large rooms that are the guts of her.

World translated. Words that could have been voles falling assfirst out her face.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Naomi Guttman's Wet Apples, White Blood

As former Montreal poet Naomi Guttman wrote as part of her inclusion in the anthology Sounds New (Dorion QC: The Muses' Co., 1990), edited by Peter van Toorn:
I have opted out of a statement on my writing because, I'd like the work to speak for itself.
If you've been paying attention to a particular kind of Canadian poetry long enough, you'll have noticed that it's been quite a while since expat-Canadian poet Naomi Guttman has had a poetry collection out. With the appearance now of her second collection, Wet Apples, White Blood (Montreal QC: McGill-Queen's University Press/The Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series, 2007), it officially makes sixteen years between titles, after her Reasons for Winter (London ON: Brick Books, 1991). It also makes it fourteen years since Guttman did a reading in Ottawa, since she launched her first collection at the long-late Stone Angel coffeehouse on June 16, 1993 (when she signed a copy of her first collection for me). With one of the loveliest book covers I've seen in a while, it exists as a single crimson red with a white drop of liquid edging slowly down from the top.


Cupid's season has expired.
The city breathes like one who's eaten well.
Past blue tongues of streetlamps, past bicycles
propped on garden rails, giant sunflowers,
and the grizzled neighbor pitting prunes
in his swept courtyard, you make your way.
From the park across the street children shout,
unwilling to come in, not caring how your luck
will run ― Whoever has no house now will never have one.

How long since a hummingbird danced
deep in your voicebox? You lust after every honeyed
every box of dripping vines. When your gaze falls
on a button in the gutter, takes in graffiti on a wall,
you think of them as signs. Remember how it fells
to fold a blanket one last time? Whoever you once were
has come and gone. Wrong number says the phone.
Whoever is alone will stay alone.

Tomorrow children will wake
and dance to freshly minted tunes
strung like sheets across the alleys,
not caring for your pleasures ― a radio
quartet, a book, a cup of tea.
Who then will do the work, will read,
write long letters through evening?

Tonight you slid the drapes across your window
and banked a blaze to heat the belly of a stone.
And when you tired of the hum of question and regret,
when you felt your power leaking in a mist,
you pushed yourself from the table,
grabbed a hat, forgave yourself for what you own,
and went to wander on the boulevards, up and down.

In her second poetry collection, Guttman writes a tight lyric than in some places feels restrained and even constrained, so tight that in some poems no air escapes.


Morning's palest hour wakes me ―
the baby takes my dripping lumen
then sleeps again.

I open the door to hear the tide.
Nothing moves, not even the rabbit
paused by the clothesline,
not the beach grass, cool in the dew.
The sky is close.

Copernicus displaced us
sending Earth adrift ―
no more circles, but ellipses,
no crystal spheres,
but planets tethered to the sun.

I want to hear sky music, a concerto
made of partial light and shadow,
available to all who wake
between two stillnesses, to climb
into Orion's outstretched arms,
lean my head against his giant shoulder,
and be lit within ―
a brand new constellation
nursing the stars.

What has she been doing in all that time between collections? At least in the recent past, the poems read as though Guttman has had a child. New parenting poems are always difficult, as so few of them are even interesting (I will refrain from listing failed attempts, as there seem far too many over the past decade or two, with Rachel Zucker as a magnificent exception). The question is asked, but never enough, how to write in a new way on what so many of us know so well? Why is it ordinary poems on new parenting or parenting in general are forgiven far more than ordinary poems on falling/being in love? At what point does subject somehow transcend quality? Not to say that this is a collection of bad parenting poems (consider Guttman perhaps a trigger for a far-flung issue). Instead, these are poems that have moments of being quite interesting, but I would somehow like far more out of; I would like to see her have pushed some of the pieces so much further. Still, the poems in Wet Apples, White Blood are far tighter, structurally complex and more compelling than her previous work, and the issue of mothering certainly isn’t new for Guttman's poetry, with pieces in her previous collection that tweak upon a gaze that looks both ways.

Whose Child

Whose child lives in a tin
box, no light in the dark,
never says her name.

Whose child, left by the door
every day in his basket,
the note printed large.

Whose child is that, her face
thick as ice, dress too tight.
But has a home ―
a mother stays home.

Whose child hunts bullets,
sleeps in the flag, fights by the book
that says he is right to die.

Whose child is shut
in the drawer, skim-milk and water
hushing her spidery cries. (Reasons for Winter)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pumping Irony Poetry Workshop by Stephen Brockwell
at Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeebar

Stephen Brockwell will host an intensive 8 week poetry workshop at the Collected Works Bookstore on Wellington Avenue near Holland. The Wednesday evening workshops will start September 26 and run until November 28 with a break for the Ottawa International Writers Festival. The two-hour sessions will involve close readings of poets from antiquity to the present, exploring ideas of line, form, constraint and voice. Each workshop will start with a discussion of work from the reading list and continue with readings and discussions of student work. Attendees will practice their chops on forms as diverse as the epigram, sonnet, ode, prose poem and, for lack of a better word, the contemporary poem-of-constraint. We will work collectively to think about and articulate our particular poetics. The group will edit and produce an anthology of their best original work from the workshop. Optional attendance at occasional pub gatherings will be rewarded with special prizes. The $200 fee will include the purchase of a selection of books from Collected Works.

The reading list will include work by
Francois Villion
William Shakespeare
Ben Jonson
Sir Philip Sidney
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
Francisco de Quevedo
Alexander Pope
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poetry and criticism)
John Keats
Charles Baudelaire
Wallace Stevens
Marianne Moore
Fernando Pessoa
A. M. Klein
W. H. Auden
Philip Larkin
Robert Lowell
Al Purdy
Irving Layton
Margaret Avison
A. R. Ammons
Mark Strand
b.p. Nichol
Robert Kroetsch
Paul Marie Lapointe
Peter van Toorn
Daphne Marlatt
Anne Carson
Robyn Sarah
Christopher Dewdney
Erin Moure
George Elliot Clarke

For more information, contact Stephen Brockwell ( or 613 3214177).

Stephen Brockwell is the author of The Wire in Fences (Toronto: Balmuir, 1988), Cometology (Toronto: ECW Press, 2001), Fruitfly Geographic (Toronto: ECW Press, 2004), winner of the Archibald Lampman Award, and The Real Made Up (Toronto: ECW Press, 2007). His work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies since theearly 1980s. Brockwell has read in the U.S., England and Ireland. He has been an editor of Short Poems, Rubicon, The Rideau Review, and currently edits with rob mclennan. Brockwell lives within walking distance of the Collected Works bookstore.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

above/ground press 2008 subscriptions (starting today)

I'm trying to get my above/ground press backlog figured out, and I'll be able to do a bunch of it once I get west in a couple of that (and I also have a couple of other publishing schemes that start once I get out there); if anyone out there is interested, I'm offering my usual annual $40 above/ground press subscription for 2008 (but starting now, to get some of the good stuff that begins in September); for a while, I was the most active poetry chapbook publisher in Canada, but then about 18 months ago I ran out of money (Alberta should solve most of that); details here:


current & forthcoming & recent publications by Phil Hall, Margaret Christakos, rob mclennan, Andy Weaver, Jesse Ferguson, Nicholas Lea, Lea Graham, Max Middle, Jessica Smith, John Newlove, Stephanie Bolster, Stan Rogal, Gil McElroy, Jennifer Mulligan, Sharon Harris, Jan Allen, bpNichol, ryan fitzpatrick, Julia Williams, Shauna McCabe, Jordan Scott, George Bowering, Barry McKinnon, Cath Morris, Karen Clavelle, Amanda Earl, Marcus McCann, Wanda O'Connor, Kate Greenstreet, Rhonda Douglas, William Hawkins, Sandra Ridley, Fred Wah, Anita Dolman, Stephen Brockwell, Mari-Lou Rowley, Monty Reid, Rachel Zolf, Gwendolyn Guth, Natalie Simpson, derek beaulieu, Rob Budde, etcetera.

give $40 to rob mclennan, or mail:
c/o (until end of August) 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa Ontario Canada K1R 6R7
c/o (starting September 1st) writer-in-residence, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, 3-5 Humanities Centre, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E5

more information on above/ground press (founded in 1993) can be found here and here and here and here and here (don't forget the 14th anniversary reading/launch); regular notices are also sent out through an email list of Ottawa-area literary events. to get on the list, email me at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sylvia Legris' Nerve Squall

Why has it taken me so long to finish this review? From her home base of Saskatoon, poet and visual artist Sylvia Legris knows all about weather, and all about space. She not only resides in it, but has built it around her where she is. In her third poetry collection, Nerve Squall (Coach House Books, 2005), Legris' poetry is very familiar with the important prairie notions of long lines, long poems and play, falling into similar territories of others such as Dennis Cooley, Rob Budde and Jon Paul Fiorentino, although there isn't a writer that exists whose work you can really compare hers to, without failing.

Always an arm's length of line between you and the shore. An ocean of measure and wait,
each syllable a long-drawn lap, treading water wider and …

Land-driven, on your fingertips and imprint of sand and on the tip of your tongue
(just the tip) buds of brine and nostalgia, sepia and silver

gelatin: and fins and scales -- a fine dip-net separating inside from out (reticulated skin,
a scar-
montage, sole a mosaic; splintered palm and touch
mediated by sky by) … ("1. [DEAD DRIFT]," FISHBLOOD SKY)

Surprise (to many) winner of the 2006 Canadian category of the Griffin Prize for Poetry, Legris was part of an extremely strong list, along with poets Phil Hall and Erin Mouré. Writing of Sylvia Legris work in Open Letter (Eleventh Series, Number 7, Spring 2003), Steven Ross Smith wrote:
At the time of this writing, between late 1999 and early 2002, Sylvia Legris who writes in Saskatoon, has published: two books with Turnstone Press of Winnipeg -- circuitry of veins (1996), and iridium seeds (1998); two chapbooks -- ash petals, (1996), and pathological lies & other disorders (1994); several other alternative forms (texts related to visual arts); and she has a third manuscript (dysrhythmic sky) to be published in 2002. Legris is well-published in periodicals.

Of her book-length work, Sylvia Legris has written: [My] "poetry has gone through several shifts: from expressing, in circuitry of veins, profound disquiet in relation to disease and imminent death to, in iridium seeds, articulating, by increments, those places of relative quiet lodged within the language and experience of grief. In contrast to circuitry of veins in which there is a rather conspicuous tangibility of flesh and in which death has an immediate, unquestionably harsh presence (corpse and all), the poetry of iridium seeds radiates from a deeper place, of body, mind, and imagination; death here inhabits more ghostly territory -- glimpses of insight hovering on the periphery or poems that are now more obviously meditative and
musical in tone and pace. The poetry of "leaf margin" [unpublished, but which led to dysrhythmic sky], further removed as it is from the actual experience of death, from the materiality of body, has as its starting point a place that is relatively contemplative. The movement of this work is deliberate, fugue-like in its considered repetition…" This is an accurate description, primarily from the perspective of content -- although formal considerations are implied. It is in the formal and material mode that Legris stands on new poetic ground.
Legris' poetry has always known how to stretch itself w i d e , writing and writing long against the small moments that she has pulled until she can pull no more, and stretching out again.

Neuro-fault line; nervequake; hemicranial. Wind rips into you -- a tree split mid-trunk. Blast
of sheet-metal lightning, two plates of a skull pried apart. You are frayed optics,
mind a double edge.

The curve of your sight mimics the night as it surrounds you: dark-domed, thick-tongued
drift into sleep (you liken this to the embrace of the planetarium -- ten years old every spark
igniting sky or mind, each kern or turn of exotic syllable, held a minute point of departure,
a bright speck far away,

far off in the future). Here, the moon is cut in half … No, the whole universe is a thought

A new area that Legris has been working in (apart from a previous collection that featured, on the back cover, a drawing titled "self-portrait with a rice-krispies square") are the wonderful little drawings she has scattered throughout the collection.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Margaret Avison (1918-2007)

In a review article about The Dumbfounding (in Canadian Literature 38), Lawrence M. Jones makes reference to an unpublished essay that Margaret Avison composed about her relationship with Christ and its effect upon her work. Looking back on her early poetry, she announced "how grievously I cut off his way by honouring the artist" during her "long willful detour into darkness." Readers of Miss Avison's work will know that such a confession does not lead to her abandoning poetic care and plunging into artless canticles of devotional verse. She is not compulsively looking for security, as Germaine Greer would put it. Of all our poets, Margaret Avison is the most artfully daring. In the same article she speaks of the progress of her personal belief from the "will to be good," to "getting to be where Christ's suffering goes, terribly on."

Like the "metaphysical" poets, Miss Avison plays on paradox, and like theirs, her belief, religious or artistic, depends on the paradox not being that at all. She does not abandon the artist—she just does not any longer honour him. Honouring an artist is for non-reading people or poetry commissars to do; or if the artist is Christ himself, for church ministers to do. Honouring a prophet in his own country is to kill prophecy. There is no honour in that.
George Bowering, "Avison's Imitation of Christ the Artist," A Way With Words (Ottawa ON: Oberon Press, 1982)

It may have been just a blip on the television news last night, but poet Margaret Avison, two-time winner of the Governor-Generals' Award for Poetry and recent winner of the Griffin Prize, died last week at the age of 89 in Toronto. The author of numerous poetry collections over the years, and still publishing well into her eighties, Toronto poet Margaret Avison's work was admired greatly by a wide range of writers, readers and academics alike, from George Bowering to Margaret Atwood to Gary Geddes, and was even recently featured by Pam Brown in an issue of the Australian online journal Jacket magazine (being only the second Canadian feature in Jacket, after George Bowering).


Nobody stuffs the world in at your eyes.
The optic heart must venture: a jail-break
And re-creation. Sedges and wild rice
Chase rivery pewter. The astonished cinders quake
With rhizomes. All ways through the electric air
Trundle candy-bright disks; they are desolate
Toys if the soul's gates seal, and cannot bear,
Must shudder under, creation's unseen freight.
But soft, there is snow's legend: colour of mourning
Along the yellow Yangtze where the wheel
Spins an indifferent stasis that's death's warning.
Asters of tumbled quietness reveal
Their petals. Suffering this starry blur
The rest may ring your change, sad listener. (Selected Poems)

Her most recent collections were Concrete and Wild Carrot (London ON: Brick Books, 2002), which won the Griffin Prize, Momentary Dark: New Poems (Toronto ON: McClelland & Stewart, 2006), and the three-volume Always Now: The Collected Poems (2003-5). As editor Geddes wrote of Avison in his 15 Canadian Poets x 3 (Oxford University Press, 2001):
Margaret Avison was born in Galt, Ontario, and educated at the University of Toronto. She has been a librarian, a secretary, a research worker, a lecturer in English literature, and a social worker at a mission in downtown Toronto. She is one of the finest but least prolific poets in Canada. During the early forties and fifties she contributed to Sid Corman's Origin, along with Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, and Robert Creeley. Apart from giving occasional readings and participating in a writers' workshop at the University of British Columbia, she has remained at the edges of the literary arena in Canada. Avison is an enthusiastic supporter of other writers and has translated a number of poems from the Hungarian, which appear in The Plough and the Pen: Writings from Hungary, 1930-1956 (1963), edited by Ilona Duczynska and Karl Polanyi. Sunblue appeared in 1978, Winter Sun/the Dumfounding: Poems 1940-1966 in 1982, No Time in 1989, Selected Poems in 1991, and Not Yet But Still in 1997. Her work has been discussed widely in journals and is now the subject of several critical studies, including Ernest Redekop, Margaret Avision (1970), David Mazoff, Waiting for the Sun (1989), David Kent, Margaret Avison and Her Works (1989), and David Kent (ed.), Lighting Up the Terrain (1987).
For the judges citation for her Griffin Prize win, one of the judges wrote:
If beauty, as Alfred North Whitehead defines it, is 'a quality which finds its exemplification in actual occasions,' and if beauty is more completely exemplified in 'imperfection and discord' than in the 'perfection of harmony,' then Margaret Avison's Concrete and Wild Carrot is an occasion of beauty. Avison's poetry is also alive in its sublimity and its humility: 'wonder, readiness, simplicity' ― the gifts of perception Avison attributes to her Christian faith ― imbue every poem in this book with a rare spirit of disorderly love. Margaret Avison is a national treasure. For many decades she has forged a way to write, against the grain, some of the most humane, sweet and profound poetry of our time.

Whoever longs for spring to come,
be stayed by winter's hamper-hued
but choicest—russet apples.

Though it still feel iron hard
its seeds are black, its juices sweet.

Aroma? in the seeds?
There is a fragrance of the one-day flower;
later, a tang of fruit; sharper in peel.

Where else is the aroma hid?
and how much more of good
sense, anticipated,
or understood. (Not Yet But Still)

As she wrote of her own work (from the University of Toronto website), Avison said:
(NOT Prescriptive) Initiate a poem only under compulsion. Hear the meaning, writing with a fix on the focus. Monitor the voice of the piece. If the focus lingers, overnight e.g., add or cut to clarify or simplify or complete the statement of the focus. After time has elapsed, reread vigorously, and revise--learned late from not doing it enough.
And too, I will let the last word be hers, from her Momentary Dark: New Poems:



Stocky, sturdy, the sun-
seasoned old man
craned his neck at the spectator's
hole in the boards
on yet another construction site.
He had not budged when I
glanced back.


"After a full day's work
home for more coping: he is
so ill, and failing;
then it would vex us both
if the livestock weren’t
seen to. My, what you can
do when it's called for!"


Expecting a baby, the woman
figures, with her friend,
how to adapt the apartment
to a family of four.
Her little boy, who's been playing
under the window, suddenly
shouts, "I know
BABY!" his body
eerily remembering. He lies
on the carpet, half-
lifts his head.
Vaguely waving his arms
he pumps with his legs. Then runs
to his mother, and
nuzzles as though
for a final time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

*dANDelion presents --- Radical Translations*

dANDelion magazine is seeking submissions for a special issue on Radical Translation. The issue will feature the proceedings of the "Translating Translating Montreal" conference at the University of Calgary, including poetry and essays by Oana Avasilichioaei, Angela Carr, Robert Majzels, and Erin Moure.

dANDelion is seeking accompanying works (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and visual art) that engage with this theme of Radical Translation. Submissions may include, but are not limited to:

- existing works translated through employing radical poetics
- existing works appropriated or adapted in some radical fashion
- original works engaging in some way with the notion of translation
- original works exploring the spaces between languages or on the cusp of language

The deadline for this special issue is October 1, 2007.

Please e-mail submissions to * *with *"TRANSLATON" in the subject field. dANDelion pays an honorarium of $50 on publication. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please notify us promptly if you place your work elsewhere.

dANDelion Magazine

Thursday, August 09, 2007

a slate of (Ottawa) readings

Knowing that I'm going away, I've been finding it interesting to keep to specific projects over my past few Ottawa readings, as opposed to mixing up new against newly-published. When I read for that Imagine Ottawa benefit a few weeks ago, for example, I read only from the unpublished "apertures" manuscript, keeping the reading to a singular unit; at the Carleton Tavern, read only from a small new publication, After Spicer (draft) and most of a longer piece, "sex at thirty-eight: letters to unfinished g."

Today going through a few options for the reading tonight, considering they're expecting me to read for forty-five minutes, after all (I only found this out yesterday); I've done long readings before, so I'm not that worried; last fall at the University of Alberta doing same with 20 minutes of my unfinished novel "missing persons" (the novel I hope to finish while west) and 20 more of the long poem "avalanche." Perhaps I might dig out that long poem again?

There is something pretty entertaining about keeping to a single piece or maybe two pieces for a reading of such length. I used to spend a long time worrying that a reading needed to represent the range of where my writing was going, had been; why not simply represent the work instead?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An Uncollected Andrew Suknaski poem

While going through 1970s-era issues of The NeWest Review (thanks to Monty Reid), I found this uncollected poem by prairie poet Andrew Suknaski. Too late to go into the selected poems that we're working on (it should be out in September/October), Monty suggests there are probably piles of uncollected Suknaski out there in the world. Found in Volume 2, No. 4, December 1976, this piece also responds to a piece by Myrna Kostash in another issue a few months earlier [see my blog entry on Kostash that explains the connection here].

There Are No Ukrainian-Canadians

today as usual
i am pothering pothering pothering around
unable to find my favorite cracked clay pipe
and the last time this happened
just like my father
snarling his old slavic gypsy curse
i softly swore "slock troff!
ahbeh tehbeh xhoolehrah zahbrahlah fykoo!"
and my pipe fell to the floor shattering
into a hundred hopeless pieces
me cursing again even softer "slock troff!
ahbed tehbeh dgeetko zahbrow!"
and today a young woman who lost 20 pounds and anglicized
her ukrainian surname
to become an instant aircanada success
telle me "there are no ukrainian canadians!"
no this lovely woman whom i adore will be no babah
stealing anything for her geedo
to lay it at his feet
she will never wash her geedo's feet
or even dream of drinking the water
and ah…for this i adore her

and like small children packing hay with their feet in a hayrick
my saskatoon friend greenwood this very moment
is trahmp trahmping a half kilo of cabbage rolls
and pehrooheh smothered in sour cream
while his willowthin wife dunia radiates a smile
as bright as golden wheat shimmering against dark blue
unbelievable sky of the ukraine's babskeh lehto*
and this very moment dunia's dneiper father
has just finished his borsch
and with his shirttail is wiping his father's ornate silver spoon
before hiding it once again in a crack
beneath the round oak table bought in the thirties
this a habit beginning when all wood and earth dried and cracked
while noon skies turned into night and lanterned dreams
and aye "there are no ukrainian canadians"

yet my friend sefaras the north battleford greek dentist
speaking perfect classical greek to 50% of his patients
once said to me "we ohr conodions
we mhost cease these othnic hungups
your phoms bhot rhumonions un ukrunions
mean nhothing toh me ahz ah conodion…"
and my friend sefaras whose name means baker of bread
became a full canadian citizen
and after 8 years of immigrant nostalgia
returned home to southern greece to visit his parents
for a few weeks one summer
and upon returning to canada via new york
by an olympic airlines 747 where he savored sweet ouzo
sent away the first patients
and cancelled all appointments for one week
he said "win i rethorned to my worrk on delicote thols
on hod toh lhok ought my first mhoth
after seeing thoh ahcrhopolite ahgen
thah mediterrhoneon on where it ohll beghon
i shok like on alcoholic
thoh humhon mhoth seemed ahz smholl
ahz my mhother's sholver thimbol…
i did nhothing ulse fhorr dhot whol week
bhot cost ah few fhols teeth"
ah…there are no ukrainian canadians

but there is my polish doctor friend pozhalski in edmonton
pozhalski whose name means "have pity" or "brother to sorrow"
and who for several days twice a month practices medicine
aiding indians near lesser slave lake
and he still believes there are indians or indian canadians
and he has learned to think like an indian
pozhalski tells a story an indian chief once arriving to say
"doctor…my daughter was ill once for days
and i phoned the clinic leave a message
asking the nurse to come to my house
and i waited and waited for several days
no one came
no doctor…no nurse
i don’t understand it doctor
fortunately my daughter got better"
and pozhalski replied
"chief…once there was a hudson's bay post near this spot
where we are now sitting
and the good trader had this understanding with the old people
when some of them were not well and needed provisions
they only had to send a message
with one of the younger men
and he the old trader would snowshoe out in the gathering storm
to bring them food
and other things left in exchange for furs
if there were none to be had
he always said he could wait…and now
in that exact spot stands a hardware store
and everyone comes to it
paying for everything in cash
and there are no bills or home deliveries…
it is all different now chief"
the chief nodded his head
"yes doctor…i see"
ah there are no ukrainian canadians

though my poet friend morrissette has just kissed goodbye
his beautiful redheaded social worker /he sometimes lives with in regina/
and once again is on his way to winnipeg
his young balding head humming ole time fiddletunes
while he slowly falls asleep at the wheel to dream
of his female jewish new york psychiatrist
who once told him when he was 30
"love your metis stepparents you must
but you are white
and their world…is not yours
we must find out who your real parents are
or you will never be happy and know where you belong
and what you are…" and in several hours morrissette
will be stopping again at the same gulf station
owned by a greying man in east kildonan
and young morrissette will be murmuring the usual
"fill it up…please" being very careful
as always
to never slip and say "…father"
then morrissette will continue again a few more blocks
into st. boniface to his metis wheelchaired stepfather
in a house still home
and share with him a few more intravenoused days now numbered
yes… life is not so easy as a walk across a field
no there are no ukrainian canadians
only the young aircanada woman
of whom i grow more and more fond each day
for i have had enough of hating
and in the yelloworange poplars on the edge of the garden
buried deep in my chloroformed boyhood memory
a young woman cries while she digs a small hole
with a coalpail shovel
and a young man returning from the barn
hears and sees her
and goes over to help her
"don’t cry don’t cry…there will be others
and no one will ever know" he says holding her close
where they kneel

and deeper still in my chlorophylled boyhood memory
there is a man tearing legs from dolls
before casting them into the heater in the middle of the night
following christmas eve
and after he leaves the heater lid slightly open
beyond the ceiling's laughing crescents of light
move the shadows of a rolling pin
eclipsing both the straight razor and the axe
and the moon becomes a baby's death certificate
i cannot read
while the wind turns the dead grocer's ledger page by page
in the wood mountain nuisance ground
till something dark inside me assumes form emitting a muted cry
from its earthfilled mouth
"MAMMAH! TAHTOO! peter…our first born
i do not know you peter
where you lie in your unmarked grave in the corner
of the cemetery high in the southern hills
peter…i do not know you
your father
our father
and do not want to
they have all paid for it a million times
their tea and tobacco stained dreams and lined faces
etched with tears of a thousand nightmare nights
and the place thereof
prairie grass and straw barn
only a home for mice
and there are no ukrainian canadians
save me!"

*babskeh lehto means "woman's summer" ukrainian for indian summer
ottawa international writers festival; here are upcoming August/September events:

1. August 22 @ 7:30: Where War Lives
An evening with Paul Watson
Hosted by the Ottawa Citizen's Kate Heartfield
Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street
$12 General / $10 Student or Senior / Free for Members

A Pulitzer Prize — winning journalist takes us on a personal and historic journey from Mogadishu through Rwanda to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Paul Watson was born a rebel with one hand, who grew up thinking it took two to fire an assault rifle, or play jazz piano. So he became a journalist. At first, he loved war. He fed his lust for the bang-bang, by spending vacations with guerilla fighters in Angola, Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia, and writing about conflicts on the frontlines of the Cold War. Soon he graduated to assignments covering some of the world’s most important conflicts, including South Africa, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Watson reported on Osama bin Laden’s first battlefield victory in Somalia. Unwittingly, Watson’s Pulitzer Prize—winning photo of Staff Sgt. David Cleveland — whose Black Hawk was shot down over the streets of Mogadishu — helped hand bin Laden one of his earliest propaganda coups, one that proved barbarity is a powerful weapon in a modern media war. Public outrage over the pictures of Cleveland’s corpse forced President Clinton to order the world’s most powerful military into retreat. With each new beheading announced on the news, Watson wonders whether he helped teach the terrorists one of their most valuable lessons.
Much more than a journalist’s memoir, Where War Lives connects the dots of the historic continuum from Mogadishu through Rwanda to Afghanistan and Iraq.

2. September 10 @ 7:30 pm:
Celebrate Ottawa Magazine’s Summer Fiction Issue
with readings from Elizabeth Hay, Alan Cumyn, Scott Randall and Jean Van Loon

Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street
A Free Event

3. September 17 @ 6:30 pm
Book Launch: Boot Crazy
by JC Sulzenko

Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street
A Free Event

4. September 22 @ 7:30: Spook Country
An Evening with William Gibson

hosted by CBC Radio’s Adrian Harewood
Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street
$12 General / $10 Student or Senior / Free for Members

An evening with one of the most acclaimed writers on the planet celebrating his latest novel, Spook Country. In a Starred Review, Publishers Weekly said “Gibson's fine ninth novel offers startling insights into our paranoid and often fragmented, postmodern world... Compelling characters and crisp action sequences, plus the author's trademark metaphoric language, help make this one of Gibson's best.”

5. September 30 @ 7:30:
Random Illuminations: Eleanor Wachtel on Carol Shields
Hosted by CPAC's Ken Rockburn
Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street
$12 General / $10 Student or Senior / Free for Members

A great conversation can offer insight into the hearts and minds of its participants. In Random Illuminations, an intimate, wide-ranging collection of conversations (and some correspondence), writer-broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel and her friend, author Carol Shields, touch on both the personal and the professional. Eleanor Wachtel brings together her rich collection of interviews with Carol from that first occasion to Shields's death in 2003. Disarmingly direct, Carol Shields talks about her writing, language and consciousness, and her interest in "redeeming the lives of lost or vanished women," all the while touching on topics as diverse as feminism, raising children, the metaphorical search for a home, and the joys and griefs of everyday life.

Become a Festival Member

Become a Festival Member with a minimum monthly donation of $20 or more. Your important annual contribution supports both annual Festivals, our free Children's Literacy Program: Step Into Stories and a wide range of other activities and programs throughout the year, including literacy programs for the homeless, outreach with women's shelters and programs for new Canadians. 2007/08 Memberships are valid from September 1, 2007 until August 31, 2008.
Festival Members are rewarded with:

Free access to an entire year of programming - that includes access to the 2007 Fall Edition, the 2008 Spring Edition, PLUS all our year-round events including special events like this year's evening with The Right Honourable Jean Crétien which are not included with regular Festival Passes.

Front of the line: Be the first to know what's coming up and no need to wait in line for tickets ever again.

Reserved Seating: Call ahead for exclusive reserved seating for you and your guests at any Festival event. Give us at least 48 hours notice, and we'll guarantee you one of the best seats in the house!

10% off book purchases during the Festivals and at Nicholas Hoare on Sussex Drive
Special invitations to exclusive events and celebrations like this Fall's 'Members Only' reception prior to the Ottawa Book Awards.

Your name will appear in the 2008 Spring Edition Program (with your permission).
To become a Festival Member, please email Leslie Wilson or call us at (613) 562-1243.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

another weekend in old Glengarry Another long weekend Kate & I on the homestead, Thursday until last night, for our usual twice-a-year jaunt, but this year, foregoing the Glengarry Highland Games; too much to do! My sister got married on Sunday (even though she & Corey have been together ten years, own a house & have two little kids), so Kate & I spent much of our first two days there hanging out with their older girl, Emma (3 1/2; see a whole slew of photos I posted from same on facebook). My mother apparently spent most of the last two months adding to my sister's stress (more stressed about my sister's wedding than she even was about her own).

Piles of family that we never get to see, family that Kate barely knows but I know too well (from when I was very young; a slew of cousins & others that used to visit all the time, until my mother got too sick in the late 1970s). Why is it only weddings & funerals?

Kate & I even spent part of Friday erranding with Emma (before we went to the park, of course), picking up a gift for their Hawaiian-themed wedding, a garden gnome that looked like a holiday Santa, complete with Hawaiian shirt (Emma didn’t like it; thought we should have purchased the pink birdhouse instead). At least her mother liked it.

Throughout the weekend, we kept seeing deer slip quietly through the bushes; where have all these deer come from lately? Wild animals are few & far between out there (at least the larger ones being seen), but I can recall growing up with sightings of deer, fox, wolves and even a bull moose at one point. There was even the year Dad lost a cow & there were sightings of her on the next road for over a year before she simply disappeared (she survived the whole winter in the bush by herself).

It's probably the longest we've stayed on the farm without really doing too much of anything; despite all my plans & my work, I didn’t crack a single book, do any work on the computer at all (his monstrously slow dial-up had much to do with that).

Kate goes off to PEI for two weeks with her mother on Wednesday; strange to think that I might only see her once or twice more before I head west; strange to think of me west at all. I don’t completely believe it, it still seems so abstract (partly because I'm still overloaded with deadlines, editing, introductions to write, final edits to go through, proofing of books, etcetera). Will I only start believing it the night before I fly out?

Wanted to get a blog entry written on Caledonia Springs (like this one I did last year), a little bit of research, some photos during a day trip, but simply couldn't find any information ,which is too bad (I haven't given up; the only book on such was written in French, so I can't even read it). Where the hell are the ruins? I wrote the guy who wrote the book, but he hasn't answered yet...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

poem for my sister's wedding

A whole marriage passed through.
Ronna Bloom

is you there a blue sunless; sundress
mark a tracery of leaves.

the same thing we would make for compact.

a beauty of trees. sly greening they hide in the bushes. if you could remember
she waiting. he out of ideas.

a living, vascular thing; the two girls would small.

who is more & who less; when you could from a kind.

the difference between wedding & weeding, an inverted slip. a sole letter.
when one a reduction, a thinning out, an edit, & the other, a collaboration of

built on. demand words; a corporate layer.

as in added, one to each side; a brother in law, even after two.

you would use out a composite. composing symphony of acreage.

the greenspace that surrounds the same colour.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Multi-Art Show OTTAWA ART BAZAAR Benefits Ottawa Art Community

The organizers of new multi-art extravaganza the Ottawa Art Bazaar announce the show's premiere three-evening benefit scheduled for Thursday, August 9th through Saturday, August 11th at the Arts Court Theatre at 2 Daly Ave. The show welcomes talent from various artistic disciplines in a single setting. All proceeds will be donated to the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation.

Featured in the inaugural outing are Montreal musical outfit The Luyas, an act comprised of talented members of Bell Orchestre, Torngat and Arcade Fire. Completing the musical lineup are locals Glenn Nuotio and Bear Claps, along with Texans Peter and the Wolf and Peterborough's own Jonas Bonnetta.

The Bazaar also features a talk by local literary icon rob mclennan, a performance from Ottawa's Capital Slam team, and a Q&A panel comprised of local small presses. Nightly visual art, video screenings and live theatre will round out what is sure to be a diverse array of today's best artists.

Tickets for the Ottawa Art Bazaar are $10 for a one night admission and $15 for a three night pass, on sale in advance of the show at the Arts Court box office (2 Daly Ave.). To charge by phone, call 613-564-7240. Tickets may also be purchased at the door each night. The event is all ages and licensed.

Visit the newly launched website for up-to-date lineup information. For additional information, please contact show coordinator David Emery at 613-322-3737, or via email at

About the Ottawa Art Bazaar

The Ottawa Art Bazaar is a three-evening fundraiser for Arts Court, a municipal arts centre operating in Ottawa that allows opportunities for local artists of all disciplines to showcase their talent. Proceeds from the event will go to the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation to help meet the centre's collective goal of strengthening Ottawa's arts community by providing resources and performance/showcase space for local artists and organizations. The show is a cooperative effort on behalf of local promoters and welcomes the support of sponsors Mocking Music, Steam Whistle, Wine Rack and industry images.

Media interested in covering the event may arrive at the Arts Court Theatre anytime after 5 PM as rehearsals and setup are underway. Parking is available on the street (metered parking) or at one of the adjacent paid lots (Rideau Centre and Novotel). There is no public parking on site. For more information about the Arts Court facility and foundation, visit or call theatre manager Sam Awwad at 613-569-4822 ext. 231.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Noah Eli Gordon's A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow

Yes, I've said
or thought to say

Yes, I've said
nothing & then not

nothing, nothing
of our dusty thoughts

their harmonious

of a girl

into an

of a boy
covered in mud

under an ash tree

For years I've been seeing individual poems there and here by American poet Noah Eli Gordon, and finally had a chance to go through his most recent poetry collection A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow (Kalamazoo MI: Western Michigan University, 2007). His fourth trade collection, it follows his previous works The Frequencies (Tougher Disguises, 2003), The Area of Sound Called the Subtone (Ahsahta Press, 2004) and Inbox (BlazeVOX, 2006), as well as a number of other chapbooks. This fall even sees the publication of two other titles, including the poetry collection Novel Pictorial Noise (selected by John Ashbery for the 2006 National Poetry Series) and, with Joshua Marie Wilkinson [see my note on him here], the forthcoming collection Figures for a Darkroom Voice (Tarpaulin Sky Press). On his list of other titles, one of the titles that does really jump out is the ongoing "whalebone essays" he's been working with Eric Baus [see my review of his first book here], Nick Moudry and Travis Nichols that has resulted, so far, in the chapbook Untitled (Whalebone) Essays; what is this project all about?

Built in eight sections, the poems in A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow project a mature work, and leaps ahead of what I've seen in The Frequencies and Inbox, but continuing the poems from his collection The Area of Sound Called the Subtone. One of the highlights of this collection is the four poem "Four Allusive Fields" that each begin from a repeated first line, and seem to leap out of the quote from Roland Barthes, "Who is Cy Twombly? What is it he does? / And what are we to call what he does?" Listen here to the second poem of the small quartet:

Cy listens absently to absent Homer
explaining himself away. Boring as a canvas
to a waterfall, as a splotch of red to equations
lifting a helicopter, injured by a display of attentiveness
can you believe this humming anonymous light
The light is anonymity. Break it against
an electron, smear it with a magpie's
greenish-black tail feather, cast it on a sheet
of orange vellum pasted inside a brown leather book
A cricket's ankle is not fragile to the cricket
Dab it there. It has nothing to do with the sun
The sun is a system free from authority
& you sweet shy Achilles have already worn
through your shoes & the pedestal beneath

Gordon uses repetition again in a further section, with the long sections that make up "A New Hymn to the Old Night," using the line "afar lies the world" as first in a few places, but more as a beginning point, a bouncing off point into further places, deliberately seeming to use the line as a way to extend himself further away from it than the previous series, and eventually abandoning the line altogether.

Cy listens absently to absent Homer
regards a useless allegory spreading its human shape
across inaudible dirt. Sparse, porous, scattered
any moment's fringe epicenter is irredeemably stalling
& you move away like a building or a horse
The useless allegory adheres to logic, the first principle
of representation: if you walk to the bridge & refuse the view
clouds of blue steam still billow from a grate
below a green dumpster. Ask grime on a limbless statue
surrounded by tulips in May & hope for an end to winter
who doesn't age absently ignoring unhinged flesh
Nakedness is a carriage & I'm in love with impossibility
for its dynamic body. A shard of twilight smashed
on the cyclotron. If you can see the fibers don’t say so

This is one of the few collections of poetry I've seen in a while now that really comprehends not only a sense of mature movement and a tightness you could even bounce a quarter off, but a sense of play that too often gets removed. This is an exquisite collection by a fine writer with the sense enough to have a good time; I would recommend this highly.