Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Ongoing notes: early September, 2012

Where does all the time go? I’ve been saying this for years, it seems. Currently, we’re on the final of six days (again) in Sainte-Adele, Quebec, hiding out in Christine’s mother’s cottage, quietly working on various projects, just we and our wee cat, Lemonade. Sainte-Adele, where we witnessed the blue moon, what Peyo claimed brought about the birth of another new Smurf (we so far have seen none).

I just had a chapbook manuscript accepted by Gaspereau Press! Watch for spring 2013 for the appearance of Mother Firth’s, a poem I wrote on old Bytown history, my finally own Devil’s Whim

Vancouver BC: After I complained in the previous “Ongoing notes” about receiving so few Canadian-made chapbooks by Canadian writers, it was a relief to see Vancouver poet and interview Kevin Spenst’s self-published Happy Hollow & the Surrey Suite (2012). As he writes in the colophon:

This chap-book bricolage was finished August 2012 at the Sage Hill Writing Experience: the energy in these poems was siphoned from my fellow writers. Special thanks is due to my workshop instructor Ken Babstock and fellow poets Margot Lettner, Cassidy McFadzean, Ruth Asher, Jacob Scheier, & Brian Campbell. Thank you for helping me get the right mix.

I’ve always liked small workshop chapbooks such as these, and/or works produced when the writer is on any kind of away-trip, whether retreat, vacation or whatever else. The chapbook even reminds me of when I used to receive envelopes of chapbooks from Robert Kroetsch moons ago, works by himself and various students during a previous Sage Hill Experience. It was where I was long ago introduced to the work of K.I. Press, I believe.

In Spenst’s chapbook, the poems run the gamut, and a number work in the immediate “I did this, I did that” mode, with poems for “Lumsden,” “Qu’appelle Valley,” “St. Michael’s Retreat” and “SaskEnergy,” using the material at hand to trigger poems. Still, the poems here that resonate most are the ones that exist beyond these pieces, with all the action sometimes taking over, distracting from what might really be going on; once the material of the immediate has been utilized does the writing happen, where the deepest action occurs.

Uncle Willy’s Buffet

believe it or not was once the stomping grounds of the only Canadian sumo wrestler who’d thrown in the mawashi and come back from Japan never acclimatized to wiping the derrieres of senior sumos but instead ended up at Hans and Willy’s establishment where they charged him for two and he ate like three sittings at Surrey’s very own Mount Fuji in the middle of the restaurant next to Craig and his skater-buddies from Cloverdale with their backpacks stuffed with chicken breasts when no one was looking and around the corner from them was the girl with the “what-the-fuck-are-you-looking-at” hair lip and her “well-don’t-fuckin’-look-at-me-I-gotta-deal-with-her-all-the-time” boyfriend and then through the swinging doors was the dish-pit drop and then the closet with the two-liter of sweet cooler which we took turns chugging and then through the thump-thump doors again, looking at Surrey’s Mount Fuji who was in fact smaller than the glass pyramid atop Guildford Mall, but bigger than the cloth I’d used to wipe my first table under the tutelage of Hans who’d just come from East Germany to start a business with Willy who was from West Germany and who liked my Germanic looks enough to forgive my first wipe of crumbs from the table directly onto the floor and next to them was the manager with hair like Roger Daltry who sold coke on the side and my friend Sigsworth who started a month after me and was always coming down from acid and there I was with my free plate of buffet at the end of the day and all the ice-cream I could stomach.

Davis CA: Every time I think the slew of dusie chapbooks that once flooded my mailbox are over, another one slips its way through, this time equinox (2011) by California poet and publisher Jill Stengel. Equinox, as the title suggests, was “written on the autumnal equinox, 2011 / inconsistencies included with intention.” As she writes:

dear equinox—what will you
bring me—or, rather, what will
I make of you—enough with
the waiting—I move ahead
outward onward into—passive
chalice ruptured

This is a lovely, short sequence: “I am out here raw as the / night sky waiting for you”

New Orleans LA: From New Orleans poet and 17 Poets organizer Megan Burns comes the chapbook a city / bottle boned (Chicago Il: dancing girl press, 2012), a short sequence of etchings on her home town, scratched in small phrases across the white page. As her thirteen-part/page poem begins:

[in the anatomy]

here             rivulet of sweat pathing
a maze of goosebumps
    night flesh
listen to the thunder      deep in no rain
think about a wind that bends bodies
picks up bones       discard:

      rush of featherless flight
      rumor of pretty birds

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