Sunday, April 3, 2016

Some news until there is news (+ #NPM16!!)

View to an abyss
I didn’t plan to go silent on this blog for three months; it was more like an agreement that firmed up over time. Shortly after the new year, I was invited to work on something new and decided to commit myself to it. No writing on the side, no reviewing. January and February became a blur of cafes and blinking cursors. 

Once March crested and the project (which I’ll detail soon enough) needed less of me, I realized I wasn’t through with this whole non-doing thing. So instead of wincing at a to-do list of my own making, I’ve continued basking in one thing at a time – oftentimes undermining our collective assumption of what being productive means. Being still is productive, and perhaps a healthier activity than scouring Twitter feeds. Less distraction = less mental clutter?

If this equation holds true, it should benefit a new project in time for National Poetry Month: a practice of writing minimal poems, one for each day in April. Unlike last year’s erasure series, The sulk crow cull, I won’t be posting these online but instead compiling drafts with the month as a disciplinary metric. After all, I don't want to confuse non-doing with actually doing nothing.

So while I'm pretty much minding my own business this NPM, friends and colleagues are having all kinds of fun via the following links: 

Amanda Earl's Angel House Press is once again curating NationalPoetryMonth.ca. We've already been treated to work by Gary Barwin and Jason Christie, and the next twenty-eight days promises material from poets representing no fewer than twelve different countries. 

The League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets have assembled to celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day. Besides featuring poems by Canadian and American writers, the initiative encourages people to select a poem, carry and share it throughout the day of April 21. Follow the link for lots of ways to get involved.

Although not formally connected to #NPM16, rob mclennan has unearthed and compiled a massive backlist spanning twenty years of above/ground press poetry. Lots of nearly unavailable chapbooks to collect; get your fill via the link.

Finally, there's nowhere better to celebrate poetry than at Hamilton, Ontario's very own gritLIT 2016. Lots of workshops, lectures and readings to behold, beginning today (Sunday, April 3) with Lit Live Reading Series, featuring Jon Chan Simpson, Lydia Perovic, Janet Turpin Myers, Daniel Scott Tysdal, Duana Taha and Brent van Staalduinen. Not to be missed!

I'm sure there are countless other festivities happening at #NPM16 and beyond.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Favourite Poetry of 2015

Gore Park, 6am. #hamont

Here are the ten best books I read this year, selected from 2014-2015 releases and organized alphabetically by author. For each book or chapbook I’ve included either a micro-review, a blurb or, in rare cases, an excuse about why I did not write more. Read on!

You’ll notice several of these selections hail from Ottawa, and all of them are Canadian. (The roots of my literary gaze on full display.) A big thank you to the authors and publishers responsible. 

All the best in 2016!

1) Small Waterways - Nelson Ball (Fave Poetry of 2015)



Small Waterways (Apt. 9 Press, 2015)

Is it possible that Nelson Ball hadn’t written a poem called “Fall” until now? Hard to believe, given the author’s knack for seasonal changes and brevity. But knowing what to expect from a new Nelson Ball collection doesn’t dull its anticipation. With each recent title from the prolific, Paris, Ontario based author, we’ve been gifted stunningly clairvoyant poems in Ball’s minimal style. And Small Waterways is perhaps the sharpest, accenting stark vistas with almost imperceptible, existential flourishes that balance his explicit sadness with a renewed acceptance. 

Beyond the smidgeon of verve added to these immaculate lines, Apt. 9 Press delivers something really unexpected: an addendum of notes in which Ball discusses the background of several poems, his relationship with Catherine Stevenson and her resulting film, Nelson Ball & Barbara Caruso | Home Project | A photo documentary. Rarely do we get to read so much from this author’s pen in one sitting — and all in a chapbook, no less.