Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Ann Lauterbach, Door



And then the dream was assessed
across a black-and-gold screen. It warned
not to look out a the veiled air, not
to recall the room
where she slept as a bear
came down the long dark hall.
This occurred in the retelling,
under the present image:
a smiling woman clutching her scarf
in front of blue mountains
and scant drifting clouds. It seemed
something had happened to give her joy.
In the dream, she was neither pardoned
nor included, trudging along the path,
dragging the pelt, as the young Icelandic man
pounded away at the partita, his fingers
routing the keys, hair agitated in wind.
As she reached the crest of the hill
she lay down on the stone cap
and began to hum, to tally the day
into the vertigo of the night’s cold vengeance.

The latest from American poet and essayist Ann Lauterbach, following ten previous collections of poetry and three books of essays, is the poetry collection Door (Penguin, 2023). Hers is a name I’ve heard for some time, although this is the first collection I’ve seen. There is something of the clarity and the tone across these poems that echoe, slightly, that of the work of American poet Caroline Knox, although each poet works with an entirely different kind of sharpness across their narrative lyrics. “So blind to consequence,” Lauterbach writes, as part of the poem “SYNTAX,” “wondering / what the difference is between care and trust.” Lauterbach writes syntax, gardens, dunes, apparitions, horizons and ethos, all through the framing of that particular image of the door, and there are ways through which her narratives float into the surreal, simultaneously anchored and seemingly-untethered, riding a fine line of possibility amid a shifting of perception. “The long rain of men keeps raining.” she offers, as part of “THE MINES (MAGRITTE),” “Have they looked down? Have you?” A few lines further on, writing:

The north wind, you were saying;
blisters on your heels? You
ran too far in the moonlight
under the sign of Magritte
and the petty grievances of small
river towns. The trees blacken,
high hills ram a backlit sky, bottles
fill with cloud, the same clouds
the big bird sets alight, the big eye
comes. […]

She seems to compose across a sequence of precisions across a wide landscape of narrative, allowing for a further subtlety, one might say, for not structurally highlighting phrases that other, lesser poets might have brought further into the light. Perhaps even to highlight a line out of context for the purposes of this review is to potentially reduce their remarkable power. And yet, how to provide without quoting whole poems? “Good we have eternal / so the gigabyte and its multiplication // can endure,” she writes, as part of the title sequence, “the motherboard / go dim without consequence.” Her lines are stronger for sitting as they lay, within those structures. Through forty-four first person lyric narratives, she writes through and around the image and suggestion of a door. As a further part of her eleven-part title sequence, she offers “Is Door a wound?” and it reminds of British Columbia poet Fred Wah’s own is a door (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2009) [see my review of such here], both of which echo, perhaps, a particular translation of Rumi, that reads: “A wound is a door through which the light comes in.” Indeed.

Monday, February 27, 2023

VERSeFest (Ottawa) 2023 : Volunteer Appreciation Night, March 4, 2023! w readings by Latour, Dumont, Andrews + Roach,

VERSeFest, Ottawa’s glorious poetry festival returns!

Join us Saturday, March 4, 2023 (6:30 door/7pm reading) at Cooper's Creative Kitchen, Embassy Hotel & Suites, 25 Cartier Street, Ottawa, for an evening of poetry and drinks on us! (Yeah, we said drinks). Every year, VERSeFest is a huge success because of the tireless work and effort of our amazing volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you. This is our way of giving back and saying thanks for all that you do, you incredible beings you!

lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
With readings by:
current Ottawa poets laureate Gilles Latour and Albert Dumont
and poets Kimberly Quiogue Andrews and Leslie Roach

Now thirteen years old, our 2023 festival runs from March 18 to 26!
(details to appear on the website soon)

Win PRIZES! Books, tickets, and more…

Why volunteer for VERSeFest? Not only will you get to attend the planet’s most exciting poetry festival FREE on nights you volunteer, but you also get to meet your favourite writers, work with a fun crew, and attend awesome events like this one. Oh, and if you volunteer at more than one event, you get a free pass to the ENTIRE festival. Sweet, right?

We're looking for people who are willing to help out during the reading, tend bar, (wo)man the door and merch table, etc.

Bring your friends! Bring your flatmates! Bring your loved ones!

Author biographies:

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews is a poet and literary critic. She is the author of A Brief History of Fruit, winner of the Akron Prize for Poetry from the University of Akron Press, and BETWEEN, winner of the New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. She teaches creative writing and American literature at the University of Ottawa.

Albert Dumont, Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi: Presently Albert is Ottawa's English Poet Laureate. He is an activist, spiritual advisor, volunteer and a poet who has published 6 books of poetry and short stories and 2 children’s books. Initiated poetry contest 'I am a Human Being' as English Poet Laureate for Ottawa in 2022, resulting in an anthology of the poems submitted. Albert has dedicated his life to promoting Indigenous spirituality and healing and to protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Gilles Latour, poète franco-ontarien né à Cornwall (Ontario) a grandi à Ottawa, à Montréal et à Paris, a étudié la littérature et la linguistique à l'Université de Montréal et à l’Université McGill, et a travaillé pour des organisations humanitaires et de développement international en Afrique, en Asie et en Amérique Latine. Il a aussi travaillé dans l’enseignement, comme expert conseil en développement international, et comme traducteur et rédacteur technique. Et aussi, brièvement, comme opérateur technique dans une raffinerie, comme plongeur dans un café, et comme chauffeur de taxi. Il vit à Ottawa depuis plus de quarante ans et a dirigé la collection Fugues/Paroles (poésie) aux Éditions L'Interligne (Ottawa) pendant quelques années. Après avoir publié des poèmes dans quelques revues québécoises pendant les années 70, 80 et 90, dont Éther et Trois, il a publié Maya partir ou Amputer aux Éditions L'Interligne en 2011, Mon univers est un lapsus (L’Interligne, 2014), Mots qu’elle a faits terre (L’interligne, 2015, finaliste au Prix Trillium de poésie, au Prix de la Ville d’Ottawa et au Prix Le Droit), de même que À la merci de l’étoile (L’Interligne, 2018, finaliste au Prix Trillium), et Débris du sillage (L’Interligne, 2020), finaliste su Prix de la Ville d’Ottawa et Feux du naufrage (L’Interligne, 2022). Ses poèmes ont également paru dans plusieurs recueils collectifs dont, entre autres : Poèmes de la Cité (David, 2020), Poèmes de la résisance (Prise de parole, 2019), et Cohues (Paris, 2014). Il est actuellemet Poète lauréat francophone de la Ville d’Ottawa (2021-2023).  

Franco-Ontarian poet Gilles Latour was born in Cornwall (Ontario), grew up in Ottawa, Montreal and Paris, and studied literature and linguistics at the Université de Montréal and at McGill University. He has spent most of his working life with humanitarian and international development organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but he has also worked as a teacher, a consultant in humanitarian affairs, a technical translator and writer and, briefly, as an oil refinery operator, a café dishwasher and a taxi driver. He has lived in Ottawa for four decades, where he was poetry editor for Les Éditions L’Interligne for a few years. During the 70s, 80s and 90s his poems appeared in Quebec Literary journals such as Revue Éther and Revue Trois. His first collection, Maya partir ou Amputer, was published by Les Éditions L'Interligne in 2011, followed by Mon univers est un lapsus in 2014, Mots qu’elle a faits terre in 2015 (nominated for the Trillium Poetry Prize, the City of Ottawa Book Award and the Prix Le Droit), as well as À la merci de l’étoile in 2018 (finalist for the Trillium Prize) and, most recently, Débris du sillage in 2020 (finalist for the Ottawa Book Award), and Feux du naufrage in 2022,  all published by Les Éditions L’Interligne. His poems have also appeared in several collective publications and anthologies, most notably in : Poèmes de la Cité (Éditions David, 2020), Poèmes de la résisance (Éditions Prise de parole, 2019), and Cohues (Éditions Cohues, Paris, 2014).  He is currently Ottawa’s Francophone Poet Laureate (2021-2023).

Leslie Roach is an Ottawa-based poet and writer. Born and raised in Montreal to thoughtful and loving parents who immigrated to Canada from Barbados, Leslie has lived and worked in Italy, Mali, Tanzania, Kenya and Senegal, shaping her perspectives and worldview. She then moved to Ottawa, working for the International and Interparliamentary Affairs directorate of the Parliament of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada and the National Gallery of Canada.

As a lawyer, she previously worked for the United Nations for 10 years in law and HR, specializing in conduct and discipline related to sexual, physical and psychological abuse.


She started writing and journaling at a young age as a form of therapy to process the racist experiences she had growing up.


In 2020, she released her debut book Finish this Sentence, a collection of poetry about healing from the effects of racism, finding one’s voice and power, and claiming your human right to be happy. She has been featured on major media platforms, including CBC and CBC Books, and has partnered with national brands like DeSerres.


Today, she is an advocate for finding your power through practicing mindfulness, both at work and at home, as a way to respond effectively to situations. She is also a workshop facilitator on journaling and mindfulness at work, and journaling to find one’s true calling and purpose.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Capilano Review : 50th Anniversary Issue(s) : 3:46-3:48


Last year, in anticipation of our 50th anniversary, we invited over a hundred of the magazine’s contributors to submit a term of their choosing to our special anniversary issues, the first of which you now hold in your hands. These terms would be collecting, we said, alongside notable selections from our archive into an experimental glossary—a form we hoped would index the creative practices that make up our literary and arts community while elucidating, as our invitation explained, “some of the questions, shifts, antagonisms, and continuities that have marked five decades of publishing.” Returning to our prompt now, I can’t help but also consider the term “experimental,” itself a point of ongoing discussion at the magazine and one that has generated lively debate: What are our criteria for “experimental” writing? What does it look like on the page, and how does it sound? Who does it include? What kinds of risks does it take, and how does it take them? (Matea Kulić, “Editor’s Note,” 3.46, Spring 2022)

Anniversaries, much like birthdays, are a good time to assess, reassess, examine and celebrate, and Vancouver’s The Capilano Review did just that last year, offering all three 2022 issues as a single, ongoing 50th anniversary celebratory project. Across a period that also included the shift from Matea Kulić to Deanna Fong as the journal’s main editor [see then-editor Jenny Penberthy's 2010 "12 or 20 (small press) questions" interview on the journal here], the three issues were released as “A – H” (Spring 2022; 3.46), “I – R” (Summer 2022; 3.47) and “S – Z” (Fall 2022; 3.48), producing a self-described triptych “featuring newly commissioned work alongside notable selections from our archive by over a hundred of the magazine’s past contributors.” The range and the ambition of this year-long project is stunning, providing an overview of contributions in a loosely-thematic alphabetical order that offers a vibrancy across each page. If you haven’t yet, or haven’t much, interacted with the journal, this might be the place to begin: the three volumes offer a combined four hundred and fifty-some pages’ worth of essays, poems, stories, visual art, statements, interviews and other works in a wild incredible wealth of material (and contributors too many to list across this particular space) that ripple from the journal’s core of Vancouver out across Canada and well into the international.

Introducing a special double issue (Nos. 8 & 9, Fall 1975/Spring 1976) to memorialize the loss of Bob Johnson, “the man responsible for the original graphic design of The Capilano Review,” then-editor and founder Pierre Coupey wrote: “When we first proposed a magazine at Capilano, I wanted one that would not only print good work, but also one whose design would treat that work with respect.” I would say that such a consideration has remained, thanks to the solid foundations that Coupey and Johnson (among others) originally set up, way back in 1973 over at Vancouver’s Capilano College (the journal and since-university have since parted ways).

The problem with defining yourself by the centre is that you are working backwards. That which is earlier is supposed to be better. Because it was before the erasure, its reinscription is sacrosanct. This is a handy cudgel for authoritarians. Look to the Duvaliers in Haiti for Afrocentrism as policy, where it served to quiet social criticism, where it was at first used to smash the Left, and later to smash democracy altogether. Let them eat Egyptology.
Fanon excorcised all this in “On National Culture,” espousing an anti-colonialism that is a pragmatic synthesis of old and new in the form of a “fighting phase” of the culture. Returning to previous tradiations is no panacea. The modernity of Fanon’s position leaves room for social change and challenges to old thinking—in other words, Fanon’s position makes space for innovations that Fanon could not himself yet imagine. Ideas are not good just because they’re African. They are good if they lead to liberation.
And liberation always needs the future. (Wayde Compton, “Afrocentripetalism & Afroperipheralism,” 3.46)

Even beyond considering the amount of other presses and journals that appear to be falling by the wayside lately (Catapult, Bear Creek Gazette, Ambit), it is important to acknowledge those journals (and presses) that are not only still around, but managing to consistently publish an array of stunning work, let alone for fifty years and counting [see my review of their 40th anniversary issue here]. And The Capilano Review isn’t the only one to celebrate, as Arc Poetry Magazine (b. 1978) will soon be releasing their special 100th issue, Derek Beaulieu recently produced an anthology celebrating twenty-five years of publishing through his combined housepress/№ Press, and even my own above/ground press (b. 1993) is working on some exciting project for this year’s thirtieth anniversary, including a third ‘best of’ anthology out this fall with Invisible Publishing (and don’t forget the pieces posted five years ago for above/ground press’ twenty-fifth, or even the array of pieces published not long after, to celebrate forty years of Stuart Ross’ Proper Tales Press). I wonder what Brick Books, as well, might attempt in two years’ time for their fiftieth?

I haven’t seen a copy of the debut issue of The Capilano Review (despite my best efforts over the years), but as part of the “20th Anniversary Issue” (Series 2:10, March 1993), then-editor Robert Sherrin offered both a sense of quiet humility and forward thinking in his preface that seems the lifeblood of the journal’s ongoing aesthetic: “It is traditional at such a time to present a retrospective issue, but on this occasion the editors of TCR decided that while it is appropriate the acknowledge those who have contributed significantly to our culture, it is equally important to present those who will extend, transform, and renew our culture. The present issue is our attempt to acknowledge the past and to welcome the future.” Too often, it seems, journals begin with such good and even radical intentions, and become tame as the years continue, some to the point of self-parody, something The Capilano Review has managed to avoid, remaining as vibrant, or perhaps even moreso, than it has ever been. Consistently working beyond the bounds of the straightforward literary journal, The Capilano Review has always seemed a space for a particular assemblage of shared aesthetic approach and rough geography, occasionally branching out into features on and by works by predominantly west coast writers and artists. Whether produced as combined or full-issues, some of these over the years have included features on George Bowering, Daphne Marlatt, Michael Ondaatje, Brian Fawcett, David Phillips, Barry McKinnon, Gathie Falk, Robin Blaser, Roy K. Kiyooka, Gerry Shikatani and Bill Schermbrucker, among numerous others, as well as a sound poetry issue, “With Record Included,” guest-edited by Steven [Ross] Smith and Richard Truhlar.

The Capilano Review has always been unique in Canadian literature through offering, from the offset, an ethics of exploration, resistance and experiment; offering an aesthetic influenced by west coast social politics, critiques of colonialism, issues of race and environmental concerns, all of which have been shared with others in their immediate vicinity, including The Kootenay School of Writing, Writing, Raddle Moon and Line (and later, West Coast Line), and more recent journals such as Rob Manery’s SOME. And yet, unlike most of those examples, The Capilano Review is still publishing, still evolving, exploring and pushing, and seeking the possible out of what otherwise might have seemed impossible. Welcoming the future, indeed.

They will ask you what you ate. They will ask you where you walked, what you saw. The trees, for instance, so copious we assume they are free.

Take account, they will say. They will not ask who you are. Who you were. Were you queer. Did you matter.

Dear question mark you mark me.

It is a mix and match of images leading to a vanishing act. Expect the best is it evasion. It is a way of reversing fortunes.

I want to tell you the story of Lori because it is the opposite of nation-building. It is the opposite of canon.

She was in her room; it was just before midday in her life when the word opened.

How did she look. It was a hooked glance. it would not rhyme. It was another time.

Under the sun a hook of green eyes. No one wanted to be recognized. We all wanted to be seen.

Every day I do a now, and then it passes.

What is asking. An animation of statement. A transformation of intent.

I reach for my phone and vanish. (Sina Queyras, “DEAR QUESTION MARK,” 3.48)