[Michael Blouin, above] Last night was the annual reading of the eligible titles for the Archibald Lampman-Duncan Campbell Scott Award for best poetry book by a resident of the City of Ottawa, sponsored and administered by Arc Poetry Magazine (see here for list of all the eligible titles). Held at Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeebar in Hintonburg/Mechanicsville (which will soon be swallowed up completely by Westboro), there was a small but attentive crowd; highlights included Shane Rhodes, Stephen Brockwell and Michael Blouin, especially since I’ve started reading Blouin’s first novel, Chase & Haven (Coach House Books), which he launches in Ottawa tonight, and again next week at festival.
Lovingly hosted by former TREE director and current member of the Arc editorial board Rhonda Douglas, I wondered, where were all the other Arc people? I never understand this magazine, how so few of them seem to show up for their own events; what’s that about? Also, the shortlist was announced some time ago, so the idea of the longlist reading was a bit sticky, and for whatever reason, some of the authors on the longlist weren’t able to appear, including Ian Roy, Anne Le Dressay and Nicholas Lea. The winner will be announced on Saturday night on the first day of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, with winner to take home $1,500.
Hunt (Wallace Stevens in the Kootenays)
Here the shagged pines not of Connecticut,
Here the huntsmen and their fireside dances,
their disembodied shadows on the rocks
where granite glistens as if a mirror for each spark.
There is no silver stream but black, the moon
behind the pines and craggy peaks, stars
hidden by slow-moving clouds, the stream reflects
no light, it is a harp of rock and water playing
the chatter of a crowded marketplace,
or of the wolf packs hunting in the dark,
or of cicadas in the heat of summer,
which are each the same chattering
tuned by the stream. (Stephen Brockwell, The Real Made Up)
I’ve been wondering for a while, is it worth starting up some sort of small press / chapbook award for Ottawa-area authors as well? Is there enough activity happening to warrant such a thing, and would it even generate more (which may or may not be a good thing)?