Before this trip, all I'd known of Allen Gardens before this was from Lynn Crosbie, the poem "Alphabet City" from her selected poems, Queen Rat (Anansi, 1998), that includes:
Hoa Nguyen over at the house she shares with Dale Smith and their two sons. She made us smoothies (which Rose refused to touch), and I envied their garden. Apparently they were hosting a reading on Friday night in their living room, but there was no way we could make it (Christine and I read there moons back, when we were just pregnant enough to know, but not enough to start admitting). We gossiped about more than a couple of folk (including a particularly cranky American poet we both know), and Rose tore her way through much of the house (discovering some toys in one of the upstairs bedrooms). We talked about poems, and the speed one begins to write once the distraction of children appear. Everything takes so much longer to attempt, if at all. We spoke of the workshops she's been doing lately, both in person and online (check her website for information; they are pretty cool).We walked to Allan Gardens, and disagreed some more. Daniel's writingis economical and pure, I said. I thought he gave up after writing poetry,he said. He said some other things, and I didn’t see him again. I did not tellhim that the last time I saw Daniel he told me he had spoken in his sleep.He said: I hate lyrical poetry:
In both directions, the streetcar showed us a part of the city I hadn't really known about (including a very cool train station on Dundas East converted into bicycle rental), and Rose fell asleep on the ride home (see photo of such, above).
And what was that industrial building behind the swings? Intrigued; wish I'd time to better explore.
Literary Press Group and LitDistCo (who distribute our Chaudiere titles) visiting everyone there, who were kind enough to gift the wee lass a colouring book, a storybook and various other items. We were even able to see poet Chris Chambers in his offices right next door, as part of Magazines Canada. Did you know he finally has a new book of poetry?
Sharon Harris and Stephen Cain. I can't believe it has actually been five years since I helped move them into that house. Rose laughed and laughed, and Sharon presented her with a full plate of blueberries (I'm surprised Rose left any for them).
I asked Sharon about the two manuscripts she's been working on, and found out that Cain has a new book forthcoming with BookThug. Cain also mentioned that Allen Gardens houses (somewhere) a plaque for Milton Acorn, which we couldn't quite find (I should have attempted to look it up, but never managed to remember). After her first few minutes of hesitation, Rose began pulling on Cain to walk through the house, the back yard and a variety of other places, over and over and over. Hand, she says, reaching up.
On the way back, Rose and I caught some buskers in the Yonge/Bloor subway playing a variety of music (she responds very much to music), including an accordian player who noticed her watching, and switched to performing some kids songs. Lovely!
see a post I wrote on such in 2010; and a poem composed there a year or so later). Impressively, she ate far more of the fruit than the home-fries. I've been going to Futures for twenty years now, as my usual go-to spot to spend a couple of Toronto hours writing and what-not. I might not have been able to get any work done, but Rose did sign a birthday card for her Gran'pa McLennan, and a variety of postcards for others.
Oh, how I miss Book City on Bloor West.
Later in the day, finding out an Ottawa friend of mine was, at the same time, right across the street having a lunch meeting at the old By The Way Cafe. How random is that?
She was asleep, of course, before we returned to our hotel.
Lola Lemire Tostevin lives, spending some time visiting with her and her husband, who generously presented Rose with some animal masks and a big book of stories, along with some paper to colour on. I was able to hand over her contributor copies of Touch the Donkey #6 weeks before it releases (mid-July), as well as a mound of other items I've been working on lately.
I think Rose was more worked-up than normal, and even I was beginning to wear down from her tearing around, and guiding her husband out to the garden multiple times (much the way she led Stephen Cain around), and into their front room. Rose only calmed once she and Lola began colouring.
We spoke of writing and publishing, and the madness of industry. Literary publishing, I've decided, is like a bumblebee; it just shouldn't fly, and yet does. She has a collection of essays forthcoming with Teksteditions this fall, which everyone should keep an eye out for.
On the way back to the hotel, a brass band performing at the corner of College and Yonge Street. I was thinking that Rose must think Toronto is magical, given all the buskers and live music she's been aware of. We never wander into the places such is played back at home.
Derek McCormack was working. Did you know he has a book out this fall with Semiotext(e)? Extremely cool. Rose admired the books and the typewriters and the multiple ramps throughout the store. I picked up a book for her (after she had pulled down about a dozen or so from the shelves). Best I didn't get anything for myself, really. Not that she gave me much chance to look.
Mark Goldstein right by our hotel (apparently he lives two blocks away, with bill bissett between us). We were nearly running late, so had to slip Rose into the ring sling while she still slept (after a two-hour nap). She woke in the hallway of our hotel, and wrote postcards at the coffeeshop while we waited. Given she was wiggly once he arrived, we return to Allen Gardens, where, of course, she immediately made friends with some kids on the bouncy-see-saw thing (of course). They were bouncing and laughing and letting go occasionally (wasn't sure what I thought of that). And the kids didn't mind; it actually gave Mark and I a chance to talk about various things, including poems, screenwriting and birth-mother stuff (he's been instrumental in talking me through some of my experiences over the past year or so). Did you know he's another book forthcoming with BookThug? Very nice. He is such good people (even though he's cat-allergic and can't come over to our house).
Jay and Hazel MillAr, en route to father-in-law's house. Given we haven't a clue where our GPS disappeared to, I was amazed I managed to drive over without getting lost (there are parts of Toronto I know a bit, but mostly I've no idea), wandering the further-west of St Clair and Runnymede. Hazel made muffins and Rose was barely contained, managing to run and run and eat and run. And they were kind enough to pass along a BookThug totebag! We spoke of poems and pianos, and children and baking.
After, we drove up to father-in-law's house, where she slept and she slept, and waited for Christine to return. We were a night there, before heading off to Woodstock, Ontario for some further adventures...