Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ongoing notes: Toronto + Ottawa small press fairs,

I recently attended the Toronto Small Press Fair, as well as our own ottawa small press book fair [a snapshot of part of the Ottawa room]. Here are a couple of items I picked up, between the two. Each fair holds two events per year, and there are various other fairs around Canada (Toronto's Canzine in the fall, Montreal's Expozine, and Toronto's upcoming Meet the Presses, etc), many of which post to the (canadian) small press fair blog, so be sure to check back regularly for updates for future events!

Ottawa ON: It was good for Toronto author Jim Smith to be able to come through the pre-fair reading in Ottawa to launch his newest chapbook of poems, Exit Interviews (Ottawa ON: Apt. 9 Press, 2011), a collection of pieces composed in tribute to a series of dead, male poets, including bpNichol, Jack Spicer, Ed Dorn, David Aylward, Frank O'Hara. Vladimir Mayakovsky and Federico Garcia Lorca. There was something compelling about the way he read, also, ending the pieces before the end, giving the closure of each piece its own soft edge, tied up in subtle ways.
Ted Berrigan

I'm dead.
& you can't keep me here
As is mine
Great mud intelligence
That icebox I hadn't read
You cant keep me
Davy Crockett is right on
What thoughts I have
Smoking a pipe
You cant keep
Sober dog
White powder
Ron Padgett said
Me here
Go back to speed
It's made of everything!
[Jim Smith, seeing his Apt. 9 Press chapbook for the first time] Interesting to think he might have twigged on the idea, possibly, after a similar series by Toronto poet Victor Coleman, who wrote poems for a series of his late poet friends, each piece dedicated to another, his “Eulogistics” series (originally published as STANZAS #20), which appeared in his trade collection ICON TACT : Poems 1984-2001 (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2006). 

In both authors' series, the writers weave in echoes, slight traces, of the poets they write on, write for, small tributes to each, and the legacy they might have left behind. 

Of Jim Smith's work I'm aware of (which is, admittedly, quite little), these pieces strike as some of the more interesting of a mid-length (so far) career, from his One Hundred Most Frightening Things (blewointmentpress, 1985) to his most recent trade collection, Back Off, Assassin! New and Selected Poems (Toronto ON: Mansfield Press, 2009).
Federico Garcia Lorca

At five in the afternoon.
I will not see it.
Spain is the only country.
Yet the Milky Way
Has filled the valleys of Spain.
The rest was death.
Now, archer, now
There are newly crated things,
There are jellyfish,
There are angels who never attack.
I love the song
I love the cartwheel
I love the rooster.
Que pasa, rooster?
The best bullfighters fall,
Torn apart by the horns
Of their mothers.
Spain stretches out
At five in the afternoon
All is finished
The bull
Loses itself, the fighter
Scares himself.
Ottawa ON: I've only been requesting review copies from In/Words Magazine and Press editor David Currie [that's him in the middle, there] for six months, so it's good to finally see a small stack of publications, including two poetry chapbooks from jesslyn delia smith, her so it's the first really warm day (In/Words, Chapbook Series 8.10, February 2009), edited by Cameron Anstee, and rescue poems (In/Words, Chapbook Series 10, January 2011), listed as, since she was about to end her fourth year as an English student at Carleton University, “her last in/words chapbook.”
behind mike's place in january,
thinking about the future

from where i stand
the flag is lit
on brilliant fire
cold stone pillars,
rising with smoke,
our flourishing minds
Whereas the poems in the first of this pair of chapbooks seem unformed, unfocused and with so very little happening, the poems in her second, some two years later, read like koans in comparison, short, thoughtful poems that reveal by what they manage to hold, so briefly, back.
love lines.

decisions have been
made, unlike before, white
tea seeps from sponges,
creases of your skin,
love lines
and yellow bruises
on the backs of both
my knees, my ankles, from
kicking them in slip-on
princess shoes
There's a gaze here that focuses inward here, and considers, and is considered. The first chapbook might not have been much to grab the attention of too many, but smith's rescue poems intrigue. She might have moved away from publishing with In/Words, but one can only hope that this doesn't mean the end of her publishing. That would be a shame; she should keep going. I'd like to see where she goes.

Toronto ON: I've long been a fan of the small chapbooks produced by Sarah Pinder [see a previous entry on her here] through her bits of string, and the Toronto Small Press Fair provided copies of COLLAPSE (May, 2011) and THE RYE HOUSE, a suite (October, 2010).
one street named after a saint or a mountain, another after blood, pealing bells, loose live gerunds strung across, pitched in hum, every eye a question, a pan, an establishing shot

the alternate ending: wreck this, move with speed, a leash, obedient, the click and what follows, wagging, eager, all breath

after the foot lifts, the cloud of upper sound in the flat wet warmth of the afternoon, you want the drag in chorus, field spent, the clench of taking aim at exhausted scrap, blowing it all – the name of a pocket, a hand carved tattoo (COLLAPSE)
What I like about her writing is the cool clarity of the lines, whether the prose or short line-lengths, and the smooth way that these chapbooks so wonderfully seem to exist outside the boundaries of trade publications. I don't know what her goals are, but I think I almost prefer that I haven't seen any of her work outside these small items; it gives her work a kind of credibility, stepping outside the mess of publications, journals, funded book-length works.
Lake Ontario

New York State on the other side,
but you had turned away,
flicking a match into
the velvet frozen sand (THE RYE HOUSE, a suite)
[Here is Sarah at the most recent Toronto fair] Hers are small, lovely poems that require extra thinking, that require attention of all sorts, for the reader to enter slowly, and live inside for a while, listening.

There's a part of me that would love to see her writings collected into a larger form, and another part of me that just wants to leave the whole of it alone. 

Go find her work, please. Give her your money, and ask, politely, for some of her works. 

If you can't find her, you should be able to at the next Toronto fair.
Son-in-Law Tony at Home, Sept 1973

before he embarrasses himself
with the axe. (THE RYE HOUSE, a suite)

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