Friday, June 09, 2006

Toronto report:

Now that I'm finally back from Toronto, I can finally respond to a number of the adventures I had, while I was there (it is good to be home). The Toronto small press book fair: the first I've been to in some time, it was an amazing day. I'm currently working on a post of various publications I picked up while at the event, whether Taddle Creek, Spire, Carousel, or whatnot (I haven’t completely decided yet). I finally met Sina Queyras (& now know how to pronounce her last name), & we even traded books; various others at the fair, whether exhibitor or audience I got to interact with included Erin Moure, Hugh Thomas, kemeny babineau, Sue Sinclair, Sarah Ruffolo, jwcurry, Lisa Robertson, Dionne Brand, Gustave Morin, John Barlow, Beth Follet, Nathaniel G. Moore, James Spyker, Steven Zytveld & tons of others. Missed but not forgotten, Stuart Ross had to be somewhere else & couldn’t make it; when do we get a second issue of Syd & Shirley? But for a few quirks here & there, I even had a pretty good day. Still, it seemed funny at the post-fair reading (barely attended by anyone) that I saw none of the readers at the fair itself (it did seem pretty odd). All in all, still good. Priscila Uppal & Christopher Doda's new house: the Toronto couple spent Saturday night surrounded by friends & family celebrating the facts of her accomplishment of tenure as a Prof. at York University, his new job at York U as an archivist, & their ten years together (tenure/ten years…). Barry Callaghan gave a moving tribute to Uppal, to both her academic & personal achievements, & then to both as such a well-suited & lovely young couple. I won't even tell you who was there, but I spent moons talking to a young lady who is working on various writing projects, doing other work for Sumach Press, & then still didn’t make it to my reading on Tuesday… Paul Dutton's backyard: at a backyard garden get-together (parties only happen once something gets broken) with Dutton, Stan Rogal, Jacquie Jacobs, Gregory Betts, Lisa Betts & a couple of others, I met an man named Udo, long retired from the Ontario College of Art & Design; originally Estonian, I never got what his name originally means, but apparently in Japanese it means "useless creature," causing anyone in/from Japan to snicker whenever he gets introduced (he had a wonderfully charming ten minute story on the subject). If you get a chance to meet this person, take it. & did you know that Betts is working soon through Dutton's archive, to see what's there? It would be great to see something previously unseen of Dutton's appear in print… Margaret Christakos' house: easily the smartest human being I think I've met so far, Christakos could run intellectual rings around anyone, but is lovely & humble enough to never play that card. I had dinner in her backyard (& armloads of jellybeans as we talked in her kitchen), as various of her children wandered in & wandered around. There are three people that every time I talk to them, I feel as though I've learned something, &/or that my considerations have been shifted, somewhat: Christakos, Aaron Peck & Dennis Cooley. I need to spend time with each of them, more. Coach House Books in (minor) crisis: perhaps first thing Monday morning wasn't the best time to visit Alana Wilcox (read her first novel if you can find it, out a few years ago with The Mercury Press; will she ever have another?); the internet had been down for hours & somehow called 911 (causing the police to arrive), the post office had been giving them problems (packages sent out that have never arrived), & the beloved Coach House goldfish was found first thing, floating dead in the tank (it was still there when I showed, awaiting retrieval). Things are usually busy enough & stressful enough there, but Monday morning just had that added bit of something. Michael Ignatieff: apparently Betts' brother works for the Toronto office of Ignatieff, & told us we had to go have drinks with them, which was us really being tricked into going to a rally. In the end, it was still rather entertaining, as I hadn't ever been to a rally before. It reminded me of some of those rallies I saw on the CBC two-parter on old Tommy Douglas (the only reference I would have had to a rally, something on television & historical). We sat at the back & made snide remarks, before wandering off with his brother for a drink or two. Later on, we watched the end of the first game of the hockey finals at a place on Bloor Street, & I recognized our waitress (Miranda Black) from various short films I've seen on teevee, including one of those Canadian Comedy Shorts, or something along those lines; what the hell? Apparently she even appeared as Drew Barrymore's character's secretary in the movie Fever Pitch. What the…? Janet Inksetter's bookstore: The most charming used bookseller in all of Canada, I spent about two hours in Janet Inksetter's Annex Books on Bathurst Street on Tuesday; I kept her company (she wouldn’t let me leave) as she packed up a number of books for a large order. Her first question to me a few years ago was a request for me to empty pockets, to see what I had in there (she still retells this story). The last place I spent money in Toronto (buying far more books than I probably needed). The Art Bar Reading Series: I read from a new poem I was very uncertain of (nearly twenty minutes worth), but everyone seemed to like it. Based on what she's seen so far, I even have a publisher lined up in them United States for the thing (once I finish it). Got to see Adam Seelig again, John Barlow, Nathaniel G. Moore, Sarah Ruffolo, Rhea Tregebov (another of the readers), Roo Borson, Kim Maltman & Matthew Tierney, as well as the most adorable of maria erskines. Apparently Betts had left his groceries on his front step because he locked himself out (again), & we had to leave just before the open set. One of the best readings I've done in a long time & I didn’t sell a single book (ah well). Notes on book fair publications to follow. & in less than two weeks, the ottawa fair!

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