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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ongoing notes: early November, 2011

[last week's McLeod Street maple off our backyard stoop, the loveliest candy apple red] Another ottawa small press book fair, November 5 (with the pre-fair reading the night before, featuring Lillian Necakov, Leo Brent Robillard and a rare appearance by Nicholas Lea, with special mystery guest); just a matter of days. By then, might you have recovered from your ottawa international writers festival hangover?

Of course, coming up as well, two launches of my most recent poetry collection, A (short) history of l. (BuschekBooks); in Toronto at the Art Bar, November 22, and in Ottawa at Collected Works, November 23. And have you seen my blog posts starting to appear on The Capilano Review blog? I'm posting alongside George Bowering, Lisa Robertson and Pauline Butling for another two months or so.

Ottawa ON: For her recent forty-eighth birthday, Ottawa poet, editor and publisher Amanda Earl gave out copies of this new, intangible something (Ottawa ON: AngelHousePress / le Temps des Cerises, October 15, 2011), produced in an edition of forty-eight copies “for dear friends / on the occasion of my 48th birthday.” Written in a montage of prose-blocks and lyric sweeps and breaks, the poems build into something that stops just short of explanation, letting the poem make sense on exactly its own terms. In this newest work, the prose blocks feel as though they are the meat of the sequence, with the other sections existing almost as the “Greek chorus,” the mortar that somehow holds it all together.
there are many lost. socks in the
laundry. cotton blends. with holey
heels. empty & expectant. for feet.
for their homologue. kindred soles.
i like. the idea of a pun. it is silly. i
am delighted. by unexpected
twists. in language. they are
harmless. i take on the quality of
doing no damage. of being
undamaged. i wear body armour.
Earl's writing over the past couple of years has emerged in the form of larger projects, each with another element of the magpie, picking up structural elements and incorporating into her own repertoire. What is this new, intangible something, and is it the beginnings of another larger project, alongside book-length works on Kiki of Monparnasse, “All the Catherines,” and her more recent sequence-in-progress of ghazals? Part of what has always appealed about Earl's writing is her ability to explore, and her willingness to try on different structures, to see what works. There are very few poets around with her sense of daring, and her curiosity.
on the tombstone there were no
flowers. it was unmarked &
dateless. i like the idea of
November. there is something
about seeing the bare bark of a
tree. i listen to Pachelbel's canon. a
rediscovered. i like the idea of art
being immortal. the basso
continuo. i take on the qualities of
a voice. i speak into the
megaphone. everyone walks by. i
have something important to say.
but no one is listening.
Kāne'ohe HI: The fifth in Tinfish's monthly “Retro Series” of chapbooks (check here for my review of some of the previous in the same series) is Yellow by Margaret Rhee, a wonderful mix of sound and image. As she writes in the last stanza of the poem “Nectarines,” “My parents made love sometime in the year of 1983. I was born in the Hollywood hospital. I have dad's / mouth & mom's eyes. I'm a crossbreed. Or a hybrid. Magnificent mixed breed. Am I a nectarine?” I love the mix and mash of this, the stylistic variety in such a small space, and wonder what she might be able to do on a larger canvas. Who is this Margaret Rhee, and is there a trade collection of some sort on the horizon?
At The Blue Moon Cafe

We met at the Blue Moon Cafe Friday
Behind his seat was a blue painted moon
A date or not a date I think I pray
I gaze into his eyes and think of June
The gurl I used to love, whose brown eyes mowed
My heart into lumps of red wet clay
His eyes were still the same—as Derrida
Would say—only body part that never
Changes, even as you age. June now Pete.
Pete, with his hands folded strong, like men do.
Pete, who doesn't like most people, but me.
Pete, who has a partner, but isn't happy.
Keeping options open, I see no inch
Of gurl in him anymore, only man
Who sits before me, smiles like the moon
Some things you cannot change
Some things you just have to hope and pray
France: There is something of the poetic style of Fredericton poet Joe Blades in Swedish poet Lars Palm's trade collection, road songs for (France: Corrupt Press, 2011), specifically the notetaking journal entry poems of Blades' open road west (Fredericton NB: Broken Jaw Press, 2000). Writing shorthand as poem, Palm's collection, unlike Blades, exists more as a montage of considerations, travel and other experiences, travelling through not only geography but his own experiences as a reader.
it feels like
friday. it feels
like ridicule. it
feels like hanging
out to dry. it
feels like fishing
lines. it feels like
a hook. it feels
like captain or
doctor. it feels like
a reverend father
& his ill begotten
reverend son. it
feels somehow like
a hammer
In a collection of travel poems that move their way across various ports of Europe, many of these pieces feel directly like shorthand journal entries, and Palm seems most effective in the shorter poems, the tighter ones. Still, these aren't only poems composed in response to travel, but in response to other writers, dedicating poems to Charles Bernstein, Christian Hawkey, Eileen Tabios and others while adapting their forms, making this a collection composed in direct response to various kinds of exploration.
(small treatise on
the habits of balls)

bouncing. paris was closed cold dark & rainy. more annoying than romantic. another jumper writing notes on how to fly dogs out of the islands. entry blocked by elephants. their drivers say nobody here even heard of mutual aid. or wolves. rolling. the navy base is quiet. a little too quiet. let's riot. & possibly general health. or cathcart. if he ever got himself promoted. not with a bang. but with fangs bared. barred the door. flying over fences. barred the door. flying over fences. fending off airplanes. he fancies himself the bane of all things winged. & rosie rings. a ring of roses. hoses pose as toasters. causing a small diplomatic brouhaha. all but forgotten three days later. when finally the ball is set rolling. bouncing all over the square. where had it been made of metal instead of leather. perish the thought. though the thought was tougher than that. just sat down on the ball & said diddly squat. hurting when squeezed or kicked. swear by your nearly extinct balls. calls back immediately. rosie says she rang a bell. bell calls from his resting place saying do not disturb him. he will get back to work when he feels like it. in the meantime do what you will with the roses. or go to paris in the spring. & spring that trap. now clap. one hand

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