Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ongoing notes, November 2006

Is it possible to blog while travelling? I seem to think so. Max Middle recently showed me where a poem of his appears on Geof Huth's blog. Did you see the nice things Amanda Earl wrote about Tina-Frances Trineer's fiction? Where am I writing from? I can just never tell (still in the middle of this fabulous tour). Where am I writing from? Apparently five more poems from my "gifts" are up in the third issue of Olotoths; & this guy called me a dynamo. Who am I to argue the point? Do you know of this new literary journal out of the University of Ottawa, to publish poetry & fiction? Where am I writing from? Did I tell you that the Diana Brebner Prize (for best unpublished poem by a new poet in the Ottawa area without a book out) that I judged has been announced? This year's winner is Rhonda Douglas [see my previous note on her here], with honourable mention going to Sandra Ridley. Did you see this notice for the Calgary reading? Did you hear that the book of essays I've been working on by prairie poet Andrew Suknaski [see my essay on him here, or the review I did of his recent Wood Mountain Poems reissue...] was just accepted officially for the NeWest Press Writer as Critic series? Where am I writing from? Did you see this note where Tina-Frances Trineer said lovely things about myself and Mulligan, for our Chaudiere schemes? Where am I writing from? Where am I going? Did you see that Ariel Gordon mention of the reading we're doing soon in Winnipeg? Will you be there? Will I be there? Anyways. Here are a few of the things that I've picked up on this jaunt to the far west:

Prince George BC: Barry McKinnon (one of my favourite Canadian poets) gave me copies of two new Gorse Press chapbooks of his, in the millennium, part 3; joy ( an epithalamium )" and Head Out: a letter. essay. poem. McKinnon has been producing these chapbooks for years, with previous pieces by George Bowering, Robert Creeley, David Phillips and tons of others to coincide with readings and other events; over the past decade or so, he's pulled back, producing almost exclusively his own work. Written as a response to the Phillytalks McKinnon did with American poet Cecil Giscombe, McKinnon writes in his preface:
I’ve decided to let Head Out: a letter, essay, poem to Cecil Giscombe stand alone as part 5 of a series of poems I’m working on called In the Millennium. I do, however, prompt any interested reader of this chapbook to see the full context of Philly Talks18 – which as a whole consists of the poems, essays, statements, e-mails, queries, and written post responses that arose out of the live web cast discussion. (The Philly Talks # 18 and Philly Talks Post Response #18 are at

I’m not sure that during the talk/discussion part of the event Cecil & I made any teleological advances – even without the pressure to do so; however, we both agreed the next day of feeling – the word we simultaneously blurted out in laughter – was: stupid. When in the range of intelligent, huge, hairy, and difficult questions that we were asked – concerns of place, race, meaning, form, content and the intents of
poetry – our answers, or at least mine as I remember them, went out by the seat of my pants. If only had we more time to think! To say what we really mean! To revise the spontaneous inaccuracies with felicity! etc…


never apologize, I once heard it said:

risk to let the voice and writing stand.
Beautifully produced in an edition of 126 copies, the book includes photographs of Giscome, British Columbia by Barry’s wife Joy, as well as a number of appendices, writing the death of a town and furthering the linkages between McKinnon and Giscombe and Giscome. I like the working of an idea that, for whatever reason, hadn’t let McKinnon go yet, working and reworking his consideration of the north end of the province through these new threads, still going long after the Philly Talks event was done.

dumbly / head out

as early miners packing each thing for a journey into vast unknowns, up the physical canyons,
thru miles of bush I can barely walk a block thru ( Cecil, that day on the Giscome Trail in the
sheer and wonderful context of the “historical” moment, being with you, I was also being bled
by many species of carnivorous bugs – and in fear noted trees shredded by recent hungry bears.
How far did we go until we got the idea: this, now, here, the literal Giscombe Trail/ his portage

to Summit Lake/the water
shed divide at 54/40 – longitudes and latitudes of history. I watched
you swim out quite a way.

our subject? What tools, what corporeal/ mind/ necessity let us start with an agreement, spit out
without a thought, yet a thought we continuously return to by virtue of its curiosity – to a
“theme” of sorts: “this is a place we decided, but there’s nothing here.”

right and wrong

the name’s the last thing to disappear

To get copies of these or any other Gorse Press item, email Barry McKinnon at

Vancouver BC: Apparently Vancouver writer and troublemaker George Bowering, author of the new trade poetry collection Vermeer's Light: Poems 1996-2006 (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2006) [see my review in an upcoming issue of The Antigonish Review] is working a sequence of sequences, one per month for a full year, and working to publish them all individually as chapbooks. One has already appeared, his A Knot of Light (Calgary AB: No Press, 2006), as well as one from Toronto's BookThug I have yet to see. Published in a handout edition of fifty-two copies as No #33 by the anonymous No Press, his A Knot of Light is the February poem. Where will he be putting the others?


There is nothing
so much to desire
as the Montreal
smile in your

And if there is
a problem in composition
there is still the
picture, and you
are so much in it.

Vancouver BC: Warren Dean Fulton has been working Pooka Press for year, making chapbooks and postcards for quite some time, but I hardly ever get to see them, since he left Ottawa for Kamloops moons and moons ago, and even further into Vancouver. While I was staying with him, I got copies of various chapbooks and postcards by George Bowering, Kate Braid, Fulton, bill bissett, Jesse Ferguson, Mike Weltz, Michael Elton Crye, John Rupert and others (he even produced a small postcard by Robert Creeley, mere days before he died), as well as producing regular items by various members of the Kamloops Poets Factory when he was still in the interior (although his most published authors remain himself and his wife Nancy). I don’t know how or where he distributes Pooka Press items these days, but you can certainly email him to find out more at

Dover Beach (Again)

The waves keep at it,
Arnold’s Aegean Sophocles heard,
the swell and ebb,
the cresting and the falling under,

each one particular and the same—
Each day a reminder, each sun in its world, each face,
each word something one hears
or someone once heard. (Robert Creeley)

For more information, check out his website here.

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