Friday, November 26, 2004

It feels so good when they pay attention

Recently, Ottawa writer Melanie Little wrote a neat little piece about the website that Stephen Brockwell and I edit (, for a local newspaper, The Centretown Buzz ( Absolutely lovely, Melanie published her first collection of stories last year with Thomas Allan, the highly-praised Confidence ( that everyone in the world should read, or at least own (it helps increase her royalties).

As she writes in the online version, "Some pieces focus on the work of other poets, like Jon Paul Fiorentino’s provocative essay on the work of George Elliott Clarke in Issue No. 2 (June 2003), or are more general, like Peter van Toorn’s brilliant meditation on the sonnet, "A Goose in the Caboose," in No. 3 (Fall 2003). There’s also a healthy handful of interviews, more like full-fledged conversations than the clippy, predictable Q&As favoured by most publications. There is an obvious desire here to encourage actual exchange between and among writers in lieu of plain old pontification. Writers can get on their soapboxes if they want to, but they have to share the park.

You’d think, given the quality of the result, poets and writers would be banging on’s virtual doors to join its ranks, but, according to Steven Brockwell, not so. "It’s like pulling teeth," he says. Though the journal has already attracted a multitude of readers from around the world, contributors are harder to come by. He and mclennan speculate that part of the problem might be a dearth of contemporary models. Writers just don’t seem to know how to talk about their work anymore, at least not intelligently or usefully."

Unfortunately, we in Ottawa lose Melanie and her husband, the writer Peter Norman, for at least a year to Calgary, where she is the writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary starting fall 2005. They also recently edited the third issue of The Peter F. Yacht Club, our own little writers group magazine. To order a copy ($5 CDN, or outside, $5 US), send me an email ( To read her article in full, go to

Another nice moment was by Nathaniel G. Moore, gadabout, now living in Toronto (he was previously in Montreal and New York), who wrote this in the most recent issue of Broken Pencil ( about the anthology Groundswell: best of above/ground press, 1993-2003 (Broken Jaw Press) (

"If you only buy one Canadian poetry anthology culled from broadsides andchapbooks, created by the most dangerous (in a good way) and hardest workingpoet in Canada, let it be Groundswell. An eclectic buffet of Canadian poetry with too many stars to list, Groundswell also includes a lengthy bibliography that fascinates, plus a superlative introduction by Stephen Cain."

Nathaniel G. Moore, Broken Pencil, issue 26 (Nov 2004)

Superlative? Hmmmm. Anyway, everyone is waiting for Moore to have a first book published, whether poetry or fiction, both of which he is trying to find homes for, including his novel on the poet Catallus (strange). But enough about me, what are you doing?

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