Friday, December 09, 2011

Ongoing notes: early December, 2011

[Toronto's Bloor West, Nov 22, 2011; why is Red so darned sad...?] Recently, I completed a collection of short short fiction, and even sent the manuscript out. I’m pretty chuffed about it. I’ve been poking at a manuscript of somewhat-Ottawa poems as well—writing pieces on Stewarton, Ottawa construction and various historical elements, including the War of 1812—but now that the short stories have left the building, I’m working to complete “The Last Good Year,” my post-mother creative non-fiction manuscript, as well as another short novel. I think I’ll be lucky if any of these are completed by summer. Who knows?

Otherwise, I’m gearing up for a whole other round of above/ground press items by Rae Armantrout, kemeny babineau, Sarah Mangold, Phil Hall and Andrew Burke, derek beaulieu, Nick Ravo, Amanda Earl, Marilyn Irwin, Fenn Stewart and others. 2012 subscriptions are available now. Keep watching the blog for further details, and further publications.

Boston MA: I’m very taken with the small chapbooks produced through Brave Men in their “Brave Men Coin Library” series, now that I finally have copies of Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s In the Trade of Alive Letters Mis-sent (2011) and Lily Brown’s Being One (2011). Each tiny book is “printed in an edition of 100 / 50 of which are dedicated to the Brave Men Press Coin Library.” What does that even mean? What is this “Brave Men Press Coin Library”? I’ve long been a fan of Wilkinson’s trade books [see his 12 or 20 questions here], and more recently, what I’ve seen of Lily Brown [see her 12 or 20 questions here], so any new publication by either is exciting, let alone both.
History is a series of apologies, unmet by the eyes of the forced-down—a cold donor of blood in search of a talker to listen with.

stone bridge
cropped in the
photograph out

Skunks in the yard teemed to shrubs as snowy slop fell against the sky’s foundry. I hold the lantern. You hold my hand not holding the lantern. The moon flinches, flickers. We right ourselves verses the hedge of glowworms. Stalks loosened from the correct thresher. Shown out along the roseate passenger bridgeworks with a flashlight for dome light, or a match as a watery headlight.

A crease in the field where foxes slow to gauze. White fetid wind over the carriers of lanterns & manured soil. I start the story like the roof of a buckled house.

candle penlight
mouse eye
floodlight to red radar blips
There is something fantastic about the way Wilkinson blends lyric prose and short lyric poems, weaving them across and around each other, and through trade collections that include Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms (Portland OR: Pinball Publishing, 2005), lug your careless body out of the careful dusk (Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2006), the collaborative Figures for a Darkroom Voice (with Noah Eli Gordon, Tarpaulin Sky Press) and Selenography (San Francisco CA: Sidebrow Books, 2010), most of which I’ve already discussed in these pages. His poems are composed, it would seem, as fragments that hold together magnificently as whole units, composed aspects of an ongoing poetic dialogue with himself, a contemplative and serious abstract play that reads almost like an abstract narrative combined with lyric philosophy.
(A Practical Collaboration)

Pleasure is a page you
feed through the phone;

is your hum,
oval orange;

is a stutter; is the dots
in the plastic that grab

onto your voice;
is the S’s ugly hiss. (Lily Brown)
Lily Brown, on the other hand, is author of far less, including the chapbook Old With You (Kitchen Press, 2009). I’m not sure what else she has published, but I am always hoping for more. Didn’t I see her recently short-listed for a book-manuscript prize? The thirteen short poems that make up Brown’s Being One play with perception and short phrases, focusing deeply on images and moments seriously small. I think its long past time someone seriously publishes a book by Lily Brown.
(The Moon Creeps Up)

The image is a train stop.
Or the image is production.
Your arm is a shelf

quartering the image,
or the ocean’s
dump-branded water.

The ocean’s name or
the ocean’s anonymous.

Your name an image you
can’t see, except through
another’s perception.
Vancouver BC: I’m intrigued in the collage-effect of Vancouver writer nikki reimer’s that stays news (Vancouver BC: Nomados, 2011), a poem/collection made up of fragments:
a large crowd of black clad youngsters

all hell broke loose in toronto

mayhem erupts around him
Originally from Calgary, reimer is a member of the Kootenay School of Writing collective, and the author of the trade collection [sic] (Calgary AB: Frontenac House, 2010), as well as a chapbook with Nicole Markotić’s Wrinkle Press. Since leaving Calgary, reimer’s work has become more active, as this work seeks to take apart political statements and social commentaries, removing them from their original contexts and strapping them up against each other, turning and twisting their intentions, with echoes of Jeff Derksen and Louis Cabri through her accumulated statements. Specifically focusing on recent public actions and newspaper reports, the poems in reimer’s that stays news appear to want to call out every sentence, and take apart every presumed belief of, for example, “Canadian content,” arts funding, urbanization and the occupy movement. These poems refuse to take anything at face value, and work to question everything, including itself.

the initial group that started with evil intentions

the fastest urbanization in human history…[t]hat’s
where the future opportunity lies

in the bowels of an east Toronto hospital

a cost-centre ripe for cutbacks

red herrings

gets halfway around the world before the truth has its
trousers on

perhaps what al-Qaeda really needed was a fresh
start under a new name

no matter what his name, or whether he is a stray, the
street-savvy dog has captured the public’s

you’re bound to return again and again for the food

we are focusing more on education when responding
to chicken complaints

part of a shadow generation that is American in every
way except one

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