[Gregory Betts, post-purchase at jwcurry's Room 302 Books] I’ve been distracted lately, by many things. Where are all the review copies of chapbooks I used to get in the mail? I get so few, it seems, now. Are there simply fewer being produced? Are they all and only coming out of Toronto? Don’t forget our Peter F. Yacht Club reading/Christmas Party, December 30, 7pm at the Carleton Tavern; I mean, you’re coming, right?
And recently, I’ve been sending out further review copies of Chaudiere Books titles; let me know if anyone is interested in receiving a copy of any of our titles for review, or wish to interview a particular author. Ottawa poet Sandra Ridley was nice enough to recommend Pearl Pirie's been shed bore (Chaudiere) on the Advent Books Blog recently.
Toronto ON: It’s good to see something new from Beth Follett, author of a novel produced by Coach House so long ago we can barely remember. Where have you been, Beth Follett, writer? Her new collection of ten poems, Bone Hinged (Toronto ON: espresso, 2010) is produced by an imprint of another lost-name, Bernard Kelly’s Paperplates, that “magazine for fifty readers.” Might this be, two-fold, the beginning of something new? Follett’s poems have the narrative element of a finely-tuned short story, carved down to its sharpest essence.
Geese haphazardly assemblingfall down through darkand wild swans neck and neckfly lowin the early morning parabola of this broken bowl.
Cargo straining in the harbourshiftsand the thing that thumps lifts the bloodhound’s head.
If morning were written under duresswould human beings utter words like‘trippy’ and ‘untie me’as the world awakes in dénouement?
Not that I cannot wade outover my heador wander far beyondthese losses you cannot see.
Not that I cannot shoulder wonderor this fine swanny light.
Produced in an edition of 150 copies, you can order through paperplates.org or c/o paperplates books, 19 Kenwood Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6C 2R8 or email email@example.com
Toronto ON: I’m intrigued by the deliberate misspellings, alterations, runs and spaces in Frederick Farryl Goodwin’s Buber’s Bag Man (Toronto ON: The Gig, 2010), produced in April 2010 “on the occasion of the post_moot conference, Miami University of Ohio.” Do you remember when The Gig used to exist as a journal? Alongside Queen Street Quarterly, perhaps the least-known and most-missed of all the small journals in Canada over the past twenty years.
I was running into a problem in the with the Heat. The awful energy of the counterweights in the form of like the sky. There was “a primitive in a blue serge suit” [said by a critic of Imamura/the eel], a bizarre litrary gorilla [the bosoton globe ideas section long piece about literary scholars Sunday 5/12/08]. indeed to eat in the tinfush diner which soshi kamikaze ran in his spare time after work. I flew the ccop of the once-overs the voiceovers inside of me I cooked for spare parts. Then the tumor grew big as a yew so my mother and brothers used it for stew. i mikd the barley at midnight to hear the cricket s calling to the crum bums in cadillacs. At 2 in the morning I ate flapjacks & played craps between wall w/ in the wallpaper flypapered over my knuckles. Bolts of unusable cloth beating wet song with bird song. Then the dawning of [what see m ,ed& I hoped were] the final days.
In Goodwin’s mix of right margined and centred poems, its as though he constructs his pieces precisely to keep the reader’s perceptions off-balance, from cohering into something narratively false, through the connections that words can’t help but make. His poems are made of the shifts language make, and the spaces between, as opposed to poems constructed from accumulated or combined meanings, whether his poem “Iraq,” ending with the couplet, “Olde Catullus w/ his off the cuff riffs & one liners / Gaius Valerius Catullus w/ his off the cuff riffs & one liners,” or the poem “Gloucester,” that reads:
Three sirens, peacock landlubbers in blue chiffon, all poor dancers with carnival pitchforks,
entice him [to] by the razor of the river’s edge / their ragged reedy
cacophonies soaking jasmine roots to determine if his ancestors had a space for him in
their cemetery. in the end so what was the point of stuffing my mouth with
sugar ants. Even my eyes haunted me when I put them out with lye. For a while, I survived
as a preacher, then tried my hand at emotional extortion along with my
sidekick Sirk. But in the end something callous and calamitous would happen to everyone I
knew. But, never having been, I would not be one of them.
Toronto ON: After a silence of some time, comes Toronto poet Stephen Cain with the small chapbook Stanzas (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2010). Where might this poem fit inside his eventual larger ouvre? For a poet who builds collections (often) of tens, is this one of a sequence of nine further pieces? The poem begins:
Perform without a spotlight.Fat belt tightening.A mix for the masters.Starve the saccharine smiths.Apparent apartheid.
Attired for the execution.A speaking sacrifice.In chancery.
Minimal music, rapid repetition.Soft fidelity circular saw query accepted.
Cain’s is a poem of short, clipped phrases, something his poems have been increasingly made of, these past few years, and constructed as “an allusive referential reduction of ‘Rooms’ by Gertrude Stein.” I’m intrigued at how Stephen Cain’s writing repeatedly returns to Stein. But where do his accumulations take us? Is this simply a poem of short, sharp stanzas, writing out a piece of staccato musicality, or is there something else, there, inside Cain’s essence of Stein’s compact lines?