Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ongoing notes: some (more) magazines;

After my initial report [see it here], a small smattering of other literary journals I've seen recently (don’t worry, I'll be back at my desk in Edmonton tomorrow…). Have you seen the recent updates to the Chaudiere Books blog, by the by? Buy our books so we can pay our printers and make more!

Vancouver BC: I'm very taken with these two new issues of West Coast Line, #49 (IntraNation) and #50 (Staging Vernaculars). Two very different theme issues dealing with the multi-disciplinary, each come out of conferences, with the first edited by Ashok Mathur and the second by Glen Lowry. The IntraNation symposium was held at Vancouver's Emily Carr in 2002, and began with something very simple, as Mathur writes in his introduction:

I thought back, then, to an earlier time at the Banff Centre when a friend, Ian Rashid, and i sat in the coffee shop of what was then "La Palette" and jotted down a similar but different list. That piece of paper or napkin or notebook fell away somehow, but remained in my consciousness such that i figured ian was in the studio with me as i scrawled notes and names on the wall. And then, circled in the middle, lines going everywhere, that one word, interfered with and disrupted by a mid-way uppercase letter: IntraNation. All these names, i reasoned, were attached to creative bodies who inhabited complex spaces, multiple nations, some of which existed wholly within another, others that contested the very being and logic of the attendant nation state. The notion of nation still loomed large in this consciousness, but what seemed to hold sway was what was simmering beneath the surface. How did racialized, indigenous, queer, classed subgroups of any particular "nation" work through and beyond those putative borders? And, more to the point, what process did our variegated art practices go through when we worked, lived, and played at that "intra" space?
With contributions of writing and visual art by various artists such as Roy Miki, Sylvia Hamilton, Hiromi Goto, Karin Lee, Shirley Bear, David Bateman, Michelle Forsyth and Nhan Duc Nguyen, he works not necessarily to answer the question but to further open it.

It began with a turn
of a cheek

the blend
of air and palm

fastened on the
stroll in a tunnel

graffiti free
tonic splurges

shrug off the
shore babble

The decibel range
spreads out

Letting out the seams
worked to an extent (Roy Miki, "Of Sentient Beings")

The subsequent issue, edited by Glen Lowry, has some magnificent moments in it, including in his own "OF—IF NOT IN—A VERNACULAR," writing a piece that writes through its own saying:

New geographies written. The kinesis of mass migrations, international urbanizations, diasporic exiles. Accent, expat or a poet's slant vernacular? One doesn’t always get to choose, is not necessarily chosen.
Contributors to this issue include Erin Moure, Denise Oleksijczuk, Steven Shearer, Erin Moure [see her 12 or 20 here], Bruce Baugh, Antonia Hirsch, Walter K. Lew and Michael Baers.

The vernacular is enacted in the tension between the everyday and the distinctive, the common and the particular, and this tension, possibly, in some senses, constitutes "staging," is the very stage on which a vernacular is enacted.

That this tension is productive. That the staging is temporary always. That "native" is "exposure" here too.

As in Giorgio Agamben's sense of singularity, the native is always that which is exposed to its own outside, which is ever "adjacent to." Otherwise, how would we identify it as native? How would native as singular be staged? (Erin Moure, "Staging Vernaculars")

Tokyo, Japan: Who doesn’t love NOON, the journal of the short poem? With the fifth annual recently in my mailbox (yes, some folk still mail me things), I've been able to read a whole slew of small pieces, including by John M. Bennett, Jesse Glass, Alistair Noon, Bill Freind, Joseph Massey, Kit Kennedy, William Cirocco and others.

Further Ascension (after Celan #2

as the outward life is laid off
send in login, for remaining logos
ringtone, nokia ringtones, one to
one, orange, mobile, phone, mobile
phones, tone, tune, music, free
entwcikeln logos entwickeln free
sms sending logos entwickeln free sms
sending insanities reveal themselves (David Baratier)

Contact Philip Rowland at for information on subscriptions/submissions.

Calgary AB: At the recent Calgary Extravaganza [see my report on such here] I was able to get a copy of filling Station issue #thirty9; I've always had a soft spot for filling Station, now nearly a teenager, and including the work of familiars and unfamiliars such as kevin mcpherson eckhoff, Evan Broens, Donato Mancini [see his 12 or 20 here], Kim Goldberg [see her 12 or 20 here], Joel Katelnikoff, Adam Bateman, Hye-Seung Jung, Jaspreet Singh and Changming Yuan.

Human History

five eleven
one seventy
and six or seven
thirty four
twenty nine
and thirty five
approximately equals
three and
indefinitely more

(point six one eight?)

eden as the function
for the whole world
uncertain (Changming Yuan)

filling Station has always maintained an interesting mix of new authors, both Calgary and otherwise, as well as interesting writing by more mature writers, including visual poems (one of the few Canadian journals that seems to take the form seriously), a real dialogue with visual arts (not just reproducing images) and author interviews.

A Natural History of Sailors

A mature sailor sustains a hard outer covering.
Head covered with small pits & elaborate side bristles

resembling feathers, ferns.
Eye piercing a single, reasonably clear image.

When not feeding, tongue is kept
curled up inside face.

In winter millions navigate vast distances
to hibernate in the highlands. At night they cluster.

In spring they mate.
In most cases this ritual is brief.

The sailor holds his partner tightly
drawing the tips of their abdomens together.

If threatened the pair can fly away, maintaining their embrace.
Afterwards he dies.

Driving at night you might collide with certain sailors
attracted to the headlights of your car.

To sail north they keep they rising moon over their right shoulders
and, spellbound by a proxy moon

such as a headlamp or porch light, draw closer.
On a moonless night your porch could well be crowded

with more bewildered sailors
than you have time or inclination to net. (John Wall Barger)

Ottawa ON: I'm very taken with the artwork on and inside the new issue of Arc Poetry Magazine (#59), by Gerald Vaandering. Is it only recently that literary journals (there are plenty of examples, including The New Quarterly) have just figured out the best of visual arts?

Poem for Holly

She pilots a cruiseliner down the canal,
banking it off the narrows' rocky walls.
She died in a car crash at age eighteen
near my home, only to reappear now
as the failure of this ship. She is alone
at the helm, above muffled piano song
and passengers' tinkling glasses, above
the scrape of concrete and steel. "It always
amazes me," she says, "what we can live
without knowing," jarring her vessel into
another perfect dusk. She loves the feel
of the vibrating hull in her hands. Below,
a passenger sloshes a neck of champagne
across her dress front, shrieks. (Michael DeBeyer)

One of the strengths of Arc over the years has been the annual reviews of poetry books by Ottawa residents, and one of the strengths that former editor John Barton (now in Victoria running The Malahat Review) brought to the table. It's been two issues since the last example of such [see my review of the issue they published in-between], and the only review by an Ottawa writer in this issue is Rob Winger (a very good book, but since he's an editor, it doesn’t really look good on them) [see my review of same here; see his 12 or 20 here]. Since they're pretty much the only trade journal that cares about poetry between Toronto and Montreal (with Queen's Quarterly as a notable exception), what happened with that?

I have to admit I find the longer critical piece that Carmine Starnino wrote on Margaret Atwood's new poetry collection, The Door (2006), somewhat interesting. Too often our mature writers get critically left out in the cold…

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