I’m not entirely sure when or why the Toronto Small Press Fair turned into the Small Press of Toronto (SPoT), but there it is (with the most recent one at University of Toronto's Hart House on December 10th), with the implications continuing to broadcast further and forward from the schism of a few years ago, none of which the current incarnation of fair organizers know anything about, but for second or third-hand reports. Why the continued schism?
Kingston PA: I don’t know if this series exists anymore, but I was recently given a copy of Fredericton poet Hugh Thomas’ heart badly buried by five shovels (Kingston PA: paper kite press, 2009), produced as part of the “Supernova Tadpole Editions” series, edited by Hamilton, Ontario writer and musician Gary Barwin. How many chapbooks were produced? Why did it stop? Thomas, who lives in Fredericton but keeps appearing in Toronto, begins his chapbook with the dedication-line, “The last revision is a glass of water.” I don’t entirely know why, but that might be a line that sticks with me for quite a long time.
THE GUITARISTIn pieces, the lamentof the guitarist.Romping the scopeof the madrigal.In pieces, the lamentof the guitarist.It’s useless to call her.It’s impossibleto call her.Laura monotonous,Laura like water,Laura like the windover Nevada.It’s impossibleto call her.Laura for distantcauses.Arena of the South calling her,paid in white camellias.Laura, flesh covered in blankness,Trades in tomorrows,the first package of mortarunder her arm.Oh, guitarist!Heart badly buriedby five shovels.
Unlike much of Thomas’ work that I’ve seen over the years, there is something more emotional about this small collection, something more concrete than his usual-surreal, anchoring the poems in a particular way, even as “THE CITY” (a poem dedicated to Stuart Ross) ends with the lines “Yesterday, this city was named Toronto, / and today, it will be named Toronto.”
Toronto ON: After years of his work at co-founding/editing The Puritan, a fiction journal that moved from Ottawa to Toronto a few years back, as well as the Toronto small press Ferno House, Spencer Gordon has released his first poetry chapbook, FEEL GOOD! LOOK GREAT! HAVE A BLAST! (Toronto ON: Ferno House, 2011). Impressive for a first offering, one might have thought Gordon wrote poems like a fiction writer would (there are so many bad examples of such), but these pieces certainly can’t be mistaken for prose, and Gordon has a good sense of the line, such as in the poem “THE YOUNG BAROQUE PAINTERS,” or “A BILLIE HOLIDAY KINDA SUNDAY.” The poems here might be slightly uneven, but there is a clarity here that comes through, and a humour that allows entry where one might not have been able, otherwise.
WHEN YOU ARE OLD
Life is a long time grieving, especially the first time.The second time you try, and it’s alright, there’s less tears;it’s a reunion you never thought would happen. Thenthe call comes back: the hard line in the head that said
don’t kiss, don’t dance, don’t do that. And even drinkingis easier, somehow, like each sip was watered down withberries and pills and ice. You never dreamed itwould be so easy. But this is your second time around,
and you’re used to feeling used, and you want to seethe people you thought were gone for good, and so youlean toward the fat neck beside you, and you say kiss medarling, I’m back for you, and you alone, and the trees
aren’t sad, are they? The air is a calm mourner, you say;it doesn’t need a wake to drink at. It doesn’t need friends orfamily. You’re like the wind, you think. You don’t need a friend.You don’t need another life. And so it ends.
Gordon also recently announced that his first trade collection of short stories is forthcoming next year with Coach House Books, which is pretty exciting. What might those look like?