Friday, July 15, 2011

Ongoing notes: mid-July, 2011

[Gary Barwin and Gregory Betts reading from their collaborative BookThug collection at the final Scream in High Park, July 11] Really wishing I could have made the recent Chapbook fair in Toronto run by Scream/Meet the Presses, but that didn't quite work out, and apparently derek beaulieu is heading soon to some small press fair in Oslo; what the hell? Envy, envy. At least we were able to make it to the final Scream in High Park event on July 11, ending nineteen years of Scream annuals; but sad that my first ever Scream event was also their last. Memorable lines included Shawn Micallef's assertion that the appearance of cupcake stores heralded an end to civilization, announcing: “I'm pretty sure when Rome fell, Nero wasn't fiddling, he was eating a cupcake.”

Dani Couture said all that was needed to be said about the final reading, when she reminded us that “Tomorrow's just going to be Tuesday.”

A fantastic night of readings. At least we had that.

Watch for above/ground press activity. Recently, I've been posting a couple of “poem” broadsides on the blog, reprinting from nearly-out-of-print handouts, including Michael Blouin, Christine McNair and Nicole Markotić; and, a chapbook by Robert Kroetsch, a handout at various recent memorials for him in Calgary and Ottawa (as well as at the Scream), is now available for sale. Just throw $5 at me via paypal and email your address, and I'll send you one.

Kāne'ohe HI: Susan M. Schultz, Tinfish Press publisher and editor sent along a packet of the Tinfish Retro Series chapbooks, including No'u Revilla's Say Throne (#1), Adam Aitken's Tonto's Revenge (#2) and Stephen Collis' The Primordial Density Perturbation (#3). The series originally caught my eye for the sake of new work from Vancouver poet Stephen Collis, but I'm quite glad for the other chapbooks as well, the first three produced to appear monthly in a year-long series (with subscriptions available). For Say Throne, her bio reads that “ No'uhakau'oli is rooted in Maui, while pursuing her Cultural scholarship in O'ahu at the University of Hawai'i-Mānoa. Her palapala is based on Native women's voices and indigenous storytelling.” Her small chapbook is a mix of poems, written in a mix of styles, from a short playscript, to a very compelling visual poem, and a number of lyric offerings, ranging from the fragmented, longer pieces, and this small lyric:

I rinse fists
of brown grain with water
that comes from the faucet,
and—even if I can't afford it—
I take the time to watch
the hard pellets
squeeze through my fingers,
as good Happy Valley children
squeeze through holes
in fences on private property.
Dirty water pours out,
tap water shoots in,
but I never lose that piece of rice,
because that
could be my daughter.
Stephen Collis' The Primordial Density Perturbation is a five-part, five-page piece continuing his engagement with social and economic movements, part of a long tradition of critical engagement with politics and language poetry, furthering the works of various Vancouver and Vancouver-area poets (many of whom, like Collis, have been engaged with the Kootenay School of Writing), including Dorothy Trujillo Lusk, Michael Barnholden, Jeff Derksen, Peter Culley and Gerald Creede. For Collis' poem, it reads quite ominous that it begins with a quote by Sven Lütticken, that reads “The true drama of contemporary culture lies in the fact that it has become almost impossible to imagine social change that is not cataclysmic.”

You you Egypt Tunisia Libya
so swept up clutter world
ideo-faith pathology—West?
underbid the Euro-waste
nostalgic trench war
poncho draped gringo films
swagger but huh? rope-a-dope
republicans once fenced their
lives on brick lingo
the blood they lapped
exploding buddha style so
fringe fest margins all
dregs and drag nets
and then the like of their
halo politicians all
grenade handed and rifle
economics proclaiming origins
as expropriations the bulge of
oil just under earth skin
rip! the jib of
state's sail snapped open
the numbers flying up
like camel train the
sonic boom of events
and big-bang pants
in fashion again this season
Philadelphia PA: I'm very pleased to start seeing publications from Hailey Higdon's what to us (press), including Lisa Hollenbach's chapbook SPECULUM (Philadelphia PA: what to us (press)), January, 2011), produced in a numbered edition of fifty copies as part of “The Dimes,” a series of short chapbooks by women writers, with future plans including, possibly, a series of short chapbooks of poetry and/or essays.

As if in a circle

[ ] gave me an eye to hold
up to or against

Let your vision be the ghost of what

Falls from the window, voice

Over and over
As her interview on the press' blog furthers, Hollenbach writes out small specks, pecks of words, letters and phrases, sprinkling big meanings in fragments and tiny spaces. What can be made from such broken speech, broken words? Hollenbach's poems are small and very lovely things.

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