Monday, June 23, 2008

ongoing notes: the ottawa small press book fair

Sure is strange to be home. If you want, check out this podcast of the reading I did recently at the Dusty Owl Reading Series, or these features on me online at Other Voices International and at Poet's Corner - Fieralingue, with recent-ish poems and such, and check out the new fiction chapbook Departures (above/ground press) I'm part of, released for the fair as well. Otherwise, come see me kick Nathaniel G. Moore's ass this Friday at the THROWDOWN IN O-TOWN (check out the youtube links; I still don’t remember agreeing to do any of this…). And don’t forget, if you want to know about small press book fairs happening in Canada, refer regularly to the Canadian small press fair blog; and check out what Amanda Earl wrote, or Charles Earl posted...

Toronto ON: A book fair isn’t a book fair without the presence of Toronto writer/editor/publisher Stuart Ross, one of the inventors of the Toronto Small Press Fair, way back in 1987. He came to Ottawa with a number of publications large and small, including this handout made for the fair, and the pre-fair reading he was part of the night before:


American volanologists often hang their
prey on barbed-wire fences. Only a dozen
or so skeletons are easily recognized by
their roller-coaster flight and clear song.
Migrating birds pass over a smothering
snow of ash and pumice, fish sauce and
wine, severely charred by the glowing
avalanches. One is deeply moved by the
postures and is now a serious pest, a
collective groan across the ages. Pliny's tale
of the catastrophe, on the other hand,
varies its insect diet with bayberries. Thus,
many died at Pompeii, fleeing in a zigzag
path, as they fed on flying insects.

Another publication he appeared in Ottawa with was Toronto writer Tom Walmsley's small poetry chapbook concrete sky (Toronto ON: Proper Tales Press, 2007). Walmsley has been publishing for years, known more for his fiction and plays (including the novels Shades and Kid Stuff, both from Arsenal Pulp Press), his poetry collections also include Rabies and Lexington Hero (Pulp Press), Honeymoon in Berlin (Anvil Press), Sin (Lyricalmyrical) and What Happened (BookThug).


look — a concrete sky

don't tell me not to worry

earth is wet cement.

A small chapbook of a fifteen-part sequence, each poem repeats itself in three line haiku-like stanzas, repeating like a mantra the same first line, enough times that you begin to see the small differences between each piece, and just how powerful they are.


look — a concrete sky

who do i remind you of —

you fucking asshole.

Do you remember that part of the movie Smoke (written by the novelist Paul Auster), where the character who owned the smoke shop showed off his decades of photographs, each from the same position outside his front door at exactly the same minute every morning. After the first few dozen they look exactly the same, but once you keep going, you begin to see the differences and understand their importance. It makes me wonder, should Walmsley have kept going?


look — a concrete sky

and the cosmos upside down —

up is gone for good.

Another Stuart Ross publication was the fourth issue of Peter O'Toole: A Magazine of One-Line Poems [see where I mentioned a previous issue here]. Is Ross actually mailing these to the actor O'Toole? I really think O'Toole should be made aware of such a thing. Would he even submit something? Here are the three lines by east coast writer George Murray:

The head of this pin has left holes in my feet.


Everyday: unremembered anniversaries of eye contact.


The fly owns just enough life to crunch under your shoe.

Ottawa ON: Another publication I picked up at the fair was the seemingly-untitled chapbook of poetry (the publication has a card-deck theme) by Amanda Earl (ice of hurts), Marcus McCann (spleen of demons), Nicholas Lea (whore of spaces), Pearl Pirie (hive of clouds) and Roland Prevost (whack of spaces), produced in an edition of fifty-four by Earl's own AngelHousePress, specifically for the fair.


one sounds cornered
one touches the real
one spends months in concrete
one portends or wars
one found a forest forever
one is cajoled by oddness
one sucker-punches his own landscape
one escapes
one eats many crepes and is glad
one owns nothing and is glad
one listens to ancient music and is glad
one lives with the ultraist
one is survivalist for some reasons
one is trivialist for—who cares
one mutters in an unwierd way
one stumbles
one crumbles
one disassembles the dark room
one resembles every rock
one rocks
one talks and talks
one records the event as it re-folds
one goes home and is glad
one severs ties and is glad
one severs tiers and is glad
one severs tears and is glad
one is expecting expectorating expatriating
one found their guitar-sound
one dishevels the dark room
one experiences the boom
one is heavily in love
one says love
one says one
one said one (Nicholas Lea)

Apparently they started meeting (according to the "afterbit") "to work together on poems in January, 2008 [… and this] chapbook is a small sample of what results, inspired by camaraderie, imagination and wordplay." Considering they all came out of poetry workshops I've been running in town the past few years (something they also acknowledge as their "main commonality," which is neat to see), it's fascinating to watch just where some of their work has gone over the past couple of years. These folk are some of those around Ottawa that prove, yet again, just how much can be accomplished through what is called "community."

5 more hours of economy class

till lunch. it's like standing over a toaster
waiting 500 miles for the pop up

a card deck drawn on lined note page
a dozen per serrated pull from coil

lessons from KD scarcity of scissors
rewards again;

paper licked on the fold
to weaken, tear a strip straight off

heart upside down, flip
scribble in a stick for a spade

realize in dealing what
I don’t remember;

rummy rules and UNO meld
one queen is naked, missing her suit

a laugh, puff a hand
out of hand

light deck
new set of tricks (Pearl Pirie)

related notes: the last fair; the one before;

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