Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ongoing notes: early early July

Something in writing makes me want to get up, avoid, and walk around to no purpose. Perhaps this will be a big book of very little definition.
Clark Coolidge, Mine: The One That Enters the Stories (Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 2004)
Another Canada Day hangover; on July 1st drinks while watching soccer at Pubwells with Susannah Smith (before she moves to Vancouver) & friends, before the arrival of Corey Frost & talking about everything/nothing…

I was part of Pauline Michel's Parliamentary Poet Laureate Poem of the Week a few weeks ago (apparently); my review of various BookThug items also just appeared in the new issue of The Antigonish Review, both in print & (soon) on-line, writing Margaret Christakos, Stephen Collis, Steve Venright & Jay MillAr; & did you see the piece I wrote on John Newlove? & don’t forget The Factory Reading Series with Stephanie Bolster & Monty Reid, coming up on July 6th. Summer plans are steady; get as much work as possible done before my fall tour for the Stride book (a week in the UK with readings in London & Exeter with Stephen Brockwell), the ottawa international writers festival (where we launch the first season of Chaudiere Books on October 1st) & a cross-Canada tour for my Broken Jaw Press title, aubade. What else to tell you?

Would you like to hand over some money as investor to help our little publishing venture, Chaudiere? First titles this fall include a poetry collection by Monty Reid, a first poetry collection by meghan jackson & a first novel by Clare Latremouille… other plans for next year include a new & selected poems by Andrew Suknaski, & a larger new & selected John Newlove

I could never be your woman.

Calgary AB: I got another package from Calgary's mysterious No Press, including a little thing called shooting blanks: No press, issued as a bibliography, & the press' thirtieth publication, as well as Sarah Birl's s e w a g e r y (21), Jessica Smith's Telling Time (24), her essay The Plastics of Poetry (25), fractals of conversation, by Jason Christie, Natalie Zina Walschots, Jordan Scott & Jill Hartman, with derek beaulieu (26), Melissa Buzzeo's In the Garden of the Book (26; I love when a press mis-numbers an item; at least it isn’t just me), Natalie Zina Walschots' christening (28) & derek beaulieu's Flatland No. 1-10 (29). Part of what appeals of the little No Press publications is the focus on concrete & visual, which make it difficult for a computer-illiterate lad like me sans scanner or know-how to include anything as example except the most straightforward of text; will there ever be a trade volume of collected/selected No?


sandflea gape whickers
kelp knotted shale
klepto biter
grin stalls crablegged

driftwood wail puckers
clump spurted drink
humpback sower
mouth swum sideways

goiter swell darkens
salt gutted pike
coral shriven
glare slaked lengthwise (Natalie Zina Walschots, christening)

Part of what appeals to any part of the process of the No Press series is not only seeing new work by writers I take great pleasure in following, such as beaulieu, Smith, Christie, Fiorentino, fitzpatrick, Hartman, etcetera, but in discovering the work of writers I previously hadn't heard of, as in the small chapbook s e w a g e r y by Sarah Birl (which could, I admit, easily be a pseudonym; if the press is anonymous, why not?). A seventeen-part poem made up of small fragments, here is but a small example:


fecund vanities statically swirl. reptilian
slews slough conscious conscience.
macabre tombal hang. (s e w a g e r y)

There have been elements of Calgary all over American poet Jessica Smith lately, with appearances in filling Station magazine, No Press chapbooks, & beaulieu's review of her as-yet-forthcoming first trade collection of poetry. Her magnificent essay, for example, The Plastics of Poetry, appears in her any-day-now-forthcoming first trade collection, but we're still hoping to include it in the next issue of Poetics.ca, so it can get out to a wider audience. Moving all sorts of context around to work her considerations of the form, she writes:

Historically, "plastic poetry" has been conflated with terms like "concrete poetry," "calligrammes," and "visual poetry." The term most often denotes poetry that has simply been made of materials other than paper, like the poem inscribed in concrete on bpNichol Lane in Toronto, or the sculptural poems of Ian Hamilton Finlay. However, the material three-dimensionality of poems should not automatically grant them the status of plastic poetry. This term must be reserved for works that disrupt the reader's visual field in the same way that architecture and sculpture disrupt an active person's real, physical field. A plastic poem must change the reading space in such a way that the one who reads is forced to make amends for new structures in his or her virtual path. The words on a page must be plastic in virtual space as architecture and sculpture are plastic in real space. In other words, plastic arts disrupt an agent's space: to have plastic poetry we must disrupt the reader's space. I will argue that this rupture does not stem from, as in the ordinary plastic arts, a real physical occupation of space, but rather from the disruption of the virtual space that one moves through when reading a poem.
For further information on the press, attempt them at nopress2005@hotmail.com

Ottawa ON: Sandy Hill poet and professor Seymour Mayne just sent me an English-Spanish edition of his chapbook of word sonnets, Hail, originally published by Friday Circle in 2002; this edition, HAIL/GRANIZO, was published in an edition of 400 copies for something involving the "Universidad Nacional de La Plata, mayo de 2006" (the information in the chapbook appears in Spanish only).

The word sonnets, fourteen lines a word or so per line, is some of the most interesting work I think he's done in decades, since he got into the University of Ottawa in the late 1960s and moved beyond all the strange things he was doing out west, including those chapbooks of visuals produced by Very Stone House, the little publishing house he did with Patrick Lane and bill bissett (can you imagine?). Here is one of the sonnets, in both English and what I presume is Spanish (although, what do I know from Spanish?).

December Flight


Vuelo de diciembre


Calgary AB: Toronto poet/editor Stephen Cain doesn’t seem to publish a great deal in journals, so it was good to see new poems of his in the new issue of Calgary's dANDelion magazine. Is he working his way through the alphabet? Are these four poems, "HIDE," "INSTRUCTIONS," "QUARRY" & "ZED" all part of something larger, longer? We know he has that collaborative book out this fall with The Mercury Press, the one he wrote with Jay MillAr; what else has he been keeping from us?


Quiet in Kingston tonight. Although not unusual for this season or setting.

Unless it's homecoming, or unless those across the street start breaking windows and hitting their kids. The not-so-subtle reminders of the contradictions that exist in this sleepy Protestant town.

And there must have once been a limestone quarry here from which the oldest buildings still carry evidence. Also a magazine with a polysemous name—suggesting that which is hunted down, or pursued and given no quarter. An appropriate nomination for a journal from a city which houses army bases, prisons, mental institutions and edifices of higher learning. Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?

Regional quarrels, of which the very topography is witness, abound here.

Across the waters of Lake Ontario lies New York, only an hour by bicycle passing over Wolfe Island. The presence of Fort Henry to the east, a testament to the dangers of too close proximity to Americans. The Martello towers that span the lakeshore further reminders, but also providing a comfortable backrest as I write these lines—or else, something to wake up against some morning as drunk as Joyce.

Yet I believe that Odysseus once touched these shores sometime on his way to Ithica. And tonight I write in anticipation of his eventual return. (p 85)

Toronto ON: And what's happening with David W. McFadden, Toronto's finest poet? According to the biographical information he included in Al Purdy's Storm Warning anthology (Toronto ON: McClelland & Stewart, 1971), "His collected works in 1999 will contain 10,000 poems." Hey, uncle Dave, whatever happened with that?

Please send me chapbooks, journals & other ephemera (as I seem to be running low on smaller things to review) c/o 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa Ontario Canada K1R 6R7

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