Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ongoing notes: ottawa small press book fair, October, 2006

Did you see that Max Middle has a blog now? Or the poem of mine on the Murderous Signs website, that appeared in the spring issue of his magazine? A poem written after a bowling game with Nathaniel G. Moore, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Jennifer Mulligan & Kristy McKay after one of the previous book fairs [see my note on such here, with bowling scores]. Or them "gifts" poems of mine up at Jacket? Currently putting final touches on my fall tour (full info soon), spending November doing readings in Prince George (with Stephen Brockwell), Vancouver (with Brockwell), Edmonton, Calgary (with Douglas Barbour), Winnipeg (with Ariel Gordon & Karen Clavelle; & staying to do research on Andrew Suknaski) & maybe Toronto, if I can find anything (If I can't find a venue, I might just float through without reading to have a drink & visit with Andy Weaver). Did you know that Dusty Owl just published a little chapbook of mine? The Chaudiere Books website is finally up; the blog is already there, but you know that. And then there's the launch we have on Thursday…

The small press fair here went well enough [see Amanda Earl's note], unfortunately I can't go to the Toronto one this time around, or this one in Hamilton, or Canzine this coming weekend, but that's okay. Hopefully someone making things for those will be nice enough to send things back to me in the mail (hint, hint). Here are a couple of things I picked up at this fall's ottawa fair:

Buschek Books, Ottawa: One thing I picked up from him was Christine Wiesenthal's Instruments of Surrender (2001). I know it's a few years old, but I know I know her name from somewhere. A graceful first poetry collection, I'm wondering if perhaps she's published something more recently since? I would certainly like to see more of what she has been doing; much of this feels connected to the point of being a single unit, whether suite or sequence, each poem merging slowly into the others. "There is no place like Saskatchewan," she writes, and I would believe it, where you can hear (to mis-quote Peter van Toorn) and see the poem in the thing for miles.

precious & inconvenient, the ragged dead

reappear out of the blue:

streaming eyes & hair &
tracking grave mud

they confront me in my kitchen
as ii peel the last unsuspecting
potato, or idle in my car
at uncontrolled intersections

sometimes they come with a stray
aroma of tobacco sawdust mildew
or caraway

a sharp surprise that sucks
the whole breath from my lips &
the cartilage from my knees

that undermines the arches of my feet,
the business of the day

but when the ragged reappear
really, there is nothing you can do

hail them with as many
flustered greetings as you will

mine never answer me & mine,
they never come clean

Don't forget the launch he has on Friday…

Artsy Type, Ottawa: Artist, fiction writer and former Concordia University creative writing student Tina-Frances Trineer has been producing more chapbooks of her own short fiction, as well as the anthology Fledgelings, with a piece by Ian Roy ("The Skull Collectors of Formosa"), myself ("Missing Persons (an excerpt)")(longer than most excerpts seen so far) and herself ("One of Those River Cats"). Part of what is entertaining about this collection is the fact that all three pieces are wildly different in scope and form, while their main characters are all roughly between the age of twelve and fifteen. As the back cover reads, "A good boy with a secret, a bad girl by the river, and a fish out of water." It probably couldn’t have been planned better if someone tried.

The scene slowly comes into focus. We see the boy stumble out of the theatre, looking like a miner after a twelve hour shift: blinking, surprised at the sunlight. He rubs at his eyes with his small fists and looks around. The other movie-goers emerge from the theatre and thin out across the sidewalk and street. A few of them linger long enough to light cigarettes, and begin discussing the movie. The woman in the booth is reading a paperback novel. She does not look up, but nods her head in his direction, acknowledging him there. She then turns the page of her book, and continues reading.

Down, and to the boy's left, we see his sister. He notices her now, as well. Joan is sitting on the sidewalk with her back against the wall, still in her Sunday dress, her white shoes. And she is throwing stones into the street, aiming for the sewer grate by the curb. Colin stands there, watching her. Soon, they are the only ones left on the sidewalk. Joan rises, brushes herself off. She looks at him and smiles mischievously.

"I saw you do it." (Ian Roy)
According to the back of the collection, "Artsy Type welcomes both established and emerging writers to submit fiction for us for possible publication in our upcoming chapbooks and/or collections. We're hoping to work with local writers, but would be happy to consider the work of other Canadians as well." For information on how to get a copy of this or any other of her small publications, email her at artsytypepress@yahoo.ca

Dusty Owl Quarterly, Ottawa: I've said for years, that they might not run the best reading series in town, but it's certainly the most fun. The new issue of their literary zine, The Dusty Owl Quarterly, vol. 2, issue 4 (September 2006) doesn't have much inside it; do they need to start getting more work? With only the short story "Until The World Stops Spinning" by Sarah Frances, the poem "The Tide of a Fall from Grace" by Peter Gibbon, and a review of Jay MillAr's False Maps for Other Creatures by Ottawa ex-pat Jesse Ferguson, the issue is still entertaining, but smaller than I would have expected. Do they need more folk to send them more work?


The raindrops assault the parking lot pavement.
When they strike, they are washed away—
The puddles meld and meet and form
A single living organism
Then they all just wash everything away.

Everything away
Like some floodgates have opened.
Stops poets pens short—
They don't even bother anymore.
They all just sit around
As if there's nothing important left to write about.
It's apathetic gesture
These post-Christian, post-punk rockers
These doubters
Clichés and wordplays,
Rhyme or rant,
It doesn’t really matter anymore,
They're just wasting space.

They're just wasting space.
And I'm just dissolving in this rain,
With a broken umbrella
Unable to withstand the tide
Of a fall from grace.

Puddle leaflets, Ottawa: Max Middle is still publishing these one-page handouts of visuals. You should try to get a copy.

40 Watt Spotlight, Ottawa: My neighbour, Adam Thomlison, has been producing strange bits of fiction for some time now, from his short story collection We Were Writers for Disastrous Love Affairs Magazine that came out a little while back, or his newest small (tiny) collection, the last thumbnail picture show (2006). One of the things Thomlison has going for him, is that he's got some of the best titles around, right up there with Ottawa ex-pat writer Grant Shipway, back when Matthew Firth published his fiction chapbook It Runs Around The Room With Me (Black Bile, 1996). The stories in the last thumbnail picture show have titles like "Ignoramus. (that's French for regret)," "Chuck Jones-Animated Travel Stickers on the Soul" and "Brief Notes on the Pleasant Aesthetic Nature of Shame." And they're short enough to include here in full:
Brief Notes on the Pleasant Aesthetic Nature of Shame.

Beautiful thing, this shame.

It's what sets us apart from the animals, you know. People can run off about their opposable thumbs and their self-awareness and what have you, but that's all theory. What's a fact is that humans are the only creatures on this green earth who've ever thought to do something knowing every step of the way that they'd regret it, and then immediately go about making good on that prediction. It's a subdividing of the mind, where one half of you says, "Only a sick bastard would do this" while the other half says "I'm gonna do this!"

The ability to disgust oneself is man's one great achievement.

The opposable thumbs: great. They're there to let us act on our shameful impulses.

The self-awareness: better. Lets us know where to dump the blame.

But this shame, man, is beautiful.
You can find out more about him and his stories by emailing him mail@40wattspotlight.com at or his website at www@40wattspotlight.com

No comments: