Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ongoing notes: late August, 2006

Everyone around is having babies, it seems. Congrats to blogger John W. MacDonald & his lovely wife Julie for the arrival of Matthew Alexander MacDonald on July 31st, Stephanie Bolster & Patrick Leroux (a playwright Clare Latremouille & I met in high school...) for the arrival of Madeleine Florence Leroux on August 8th, & Pubwells regular Chuck Double & partner Jill for the arrival of their little girl Leila just last week. & then there's QWERTY co-founder Paul Dechene (we no longer talk about the novel he's writing, apparently) & his wife Karen (math-whiz), who have moved away from Ottawa & into Waterloo for her math post-doc, who have a blog for pictures of their own new little baby. Will I see you in England or Wales in a few days? & will I see you at the ottawa international writers festival in a few weeks? Or at the two events they're also hosting on October 30th (where I launch aubade with George Bowering & tba; did you see the images posted recently by cover artist David Cation? I pre-launch the book at an art opening of his in Ottawa on October 20th....) & October 26th (where we officially launch the first three titles of Chaudiere Books -- Monty Reid, meghan jackson & Clare Latremouille)?

More than a few comments have been made lately about me & my new poetry collection, including here & here by Heather Cardin (who took my last poetry workshop; did you see Pearl Pirie's comments on my comments? or the photos she took at Heather's house?). Did you see these comments by Kathryn Hunt on my lovely singing voice? Did you see me on Jessica Smith's website? Did you see this other photo from the anniversary party by John W. MacDonald? & what's this all about? & why is Mr. Moore so strange? Or that Laurie Fuhr doesn't think I'm old anymore? Did you see I'm running another poetry workshop, as soon as I get back from the UK? Apparently while I'm there, I go back in time for some reason ("it's a buddy picture, with a talking pie…" "Ron Howard, you've done it again…") & end up at this guy's party. What?

Ottawa ON: At the most recent Art in the Park in Strathcona Park (Sandy Hill), I picked up a copy of two small chapbooks by Ottawa writer and musician Ian Roy, the fiction chapbook She Really, Really Does (2006), and the small poetry chapbook Some Poems About Birds (2006), both of which Roy recently self-produced for a reading he was doing at a music festival on the east coast. The author of a writing and photography collaboration, The Longest Winter, with musician and photographer Julie Doiron (Fredericton NB: Broken Jaw Press, 1999), and the fiction collection People Leaving (Ottawa ON: Buschek Books, 2001), the poems in the small chapbook are also included in his forthcoming poetry collection A Run of Bad Luck (Buschek Books, spring 2007). Because he produced them in such a small run for a particular reading, you can't actually get a copy (they're not for sale, really; unless you know how to find him yourself and just beg). You might just have to wait for his poetry collection in the spring, or his next book of fiction.

Birds Hitting Glass

There were nights we would lay awake,
silently watching rain or stars through the window--
or birds hitting glass.
The mornings following those nights
involved silent burials next to the garden,
a shared but separate grief.
Those nights were replaced by darker, longer nights.
You, stumbling down the dark path to our door,
listening carefully for my breath before entering.
And me, pretending to sleep, until sleep found you.
I would open my eyes then, try to make out the shape
of my shoes in the dark, the dim halo of light around the door,
the curve of the handle, the dark path leading away.
We carried on like this until we both got too tired;
and then it was just me, and the birds,
and the closed window.

Vancouver BC: Former/current greenboathouse books editor (it's hard to tell) Aaron Peck (now moved to New York City for schooling) finally has that promised chapbook out with our friends at Nomados, the short fiction Crepuscule on Mission Street (2006). The author of previous poetry chapbooks with greenboathouse books and above/ground press (as an issue of STANZAS), his Crepuscule on Mission Street is a fiction built out of a series of alluring fictions, written in parts as a casual conversation, smooth essay and narrative blend of story over story. I've known for a while that Peck has been working on a longer prose work, and if this is any indication, I hope very much that this is it, considering just how good it is.

What makes the work so successful is not only the smooth, ongoing flow of the prose, but the twists and turns, even turning in back on itself, seeing a thread well after you might have forgotten, instead pulling you back a reminder, and the story together through the remaining lines. The fiction/non-fiction elements even remind me somewhat of Andrew Steinmetz's brilliant memoir Wardlife: The Apprenticeship of a Young Writer as a Hospital Clerk (Montreal QC: Vehicule Press, 2000). I've always liked the poetry of Aaron Peck, what little I've seen, so am now extremely excited and looking forward to whatever the shape of this work of fiction becomes, once the full-length version appears.
"The Mark," writes David Maurer, "is thrown into an unreal world which very closely resembles real life; like the spectator regarding the life groups in a museum of natural history, he cannot tell where the real scene merges into the background." The escape of Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin from Alcatraz in 1962 was aided by an ingenious set of masks. The men placed replicas of their heads attached to dummies in their bunks. The view from the mess hall was agonizingly beautiful. Authorities thought all three men were asleep as the escapees snaked their way through the piping of Alcatraz. No one knows if they survived the swim. At closer inspection the masks were atrociously constructed, hideous, almost as if they were props in a 1970s Italian horror film. Their success depended on the guards not entering the cells in the same way a film's success depends on the fear and anxiety, the credulity, of the viewers. I looked out over the cliffs of Alcatraz from where I was perched like a haughty seagull. The waters of San Francisco Bay were rough, but the sky was an austere blue; there wasn't a cloud in the sky. For a moment I thought I'd lost my friends, and I could almost forget the clamour of the tourists. Kevin was talking to one of the attendants to see if they'd momentarily lock him in solitary confinement. Tariq wandered back toward the old playing field, and Jonathan walked toward me. It was almost as if he had started into one of his monologues before he reached me. I recently watched a PBS show on art forgeries, he said. A collecting couple purchased a painting that resembled a Van Gogh. He lit a cigarette. (pp 17-8)
Ottawa ON: Lately, Ottawa poet Max Middle has been making little leaflet handouts, starting out with visual pieces of his own, and now a derek beaulieu piece, "flatland #21," as his "Puddle leaflet #3," after his own #1 "two one line poems" and #2 "Moon Potatoes."

According to a recent email, he is currently looking for "combinations of verse & visual poetry (yes… in whatever form such combinations may occur). Submissions of work resembling simply either 'linear' or visual poetry are also welcome! Printing format: one sheet of 8.5 x 11" paper, one or both sides, black & white."

He says to email him in the body of message or as .jpg, .doc, .wpd to, or mail Griddle Grin, 377, 532 Montreal Road, Ottawa Ontario K1K 4R4. for copies of the three leaflets published to date, send an SASE (8.5x11 sized envelope with $1.05 Canadian postage; abroad send $3 in Canadian funds payable to Max Middle).

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