Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ongoing notes: late April, 2013

I’ve been going through boxes upon boxes, continuing to send my literary archive to the University of Calgary (recently I received from them a healthy-sized tax receipt for the boxes I sent them last year), and discovered this letter from Calgary’s own Jason Wiens, which I quickly slipped into a folder and tucked into a banker’s box, ready to make its way west into the bowels of archive.

What a strange process all of this is.

Might we see you at the Ottawa international writers festival this spring? We’re missing a good part of it, unfortunately, due to Christine’s reading in St. Catharines, and then the Skanky Possum reading we’re doing together in Toronto.

Denver CO: From Future Tense Books comes Sommer Browning’s The Presidents and Other Jokes (2013), an odd collection of terrible jokes and comics.

16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

After John Wilkes Booth shouted sic semper tyrannis, bystanders reported hearing a dying Abraham Lincoln mutter, That’s what she said.

The author of a trade collection of poems and comics, Either Way I’m Celebrating (Birds, LLC, 2011) [see my review of such here], Browning blends a sharp wit with groaners, she writes a terrible joke for each American President, and includes further terrible jokes.

20. James Abram Garfield (1881)

James A. Garfield served a mere 200 days in office, yet consumed the most lasagna of any president.

The jokes for the Presidents seem the strongest of the collection, but even the terrible jokes through the rest of the small collection make this chapbook more than worth it. The deadpan humour and strange twists remind a bit of Sarah Silverman, but without all the cursing, and some even have the echo of koans.

            True or False: Michael Jackson.

I am very grateful for Sommer Browning.

England: I’ve read a couple of works by European writers over the past few years, each of whom remind me a bit of Fredericton poet Joe Blades; might there be an overlap of influence there? Certainly something worth looking into. I recently got my hands on Nigel Wood’s chapbook N.Y.C. Poems (Newton-le-Willows UK: The Knives Forks And Spoons Press, 2011). Wood is the editor/publisher of the British poetry journal Sunfish, one of my favourite European poetry journals.

            we hit the Brooklyn Bridge
at 90 miles an hour
                                    a mesh of steel
                                    & white light
            flashing by
                            a lonely jazz
                            satellite transmission
            through my heart

                        on the sidewalk
            the ghost of Albert Ayler
                shuffling by,
    running from his shoes

                        folding the fading
                                    shreds of dawn
into sonic prayerbooks
            to leave inside our skulls

& offering the creator
                                    a beauty no-one
                  has ever
                        heard before

Wood’s N.Y.C. Poems is exactly what they claim to be, poems written as sketched journal entries, wandering through this foreign, famous city and writing postcards to himself as poems, much in a similar vein to Joe Blades’ Tribeca (above/ground press, 1997), a chapbook produced while Blades lived and worked in New York. Wood’s chapbook-length poem sequence, nearly forty pages in length, maps the city through various means, and through the entries, come the occasional gem, a line that makes the whole piece worthwhile.

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