Saturday, August 16, 2014

New essay posted at Town Crier blog

I wrote the majority of this essay Forest For the Trees; Navigating a Space for Landscape Poetry in Canada in July but the inspiration came to fruition over a handful of months. In interviews and comments shared via social media, I became aware of a persistent tension surrounding the subject of landscape poetry. Some poets face it with scorn and consider it a dead form of expression. But none of these declarations have kept me from being deeply affected by landscape poetry, whether it’s written by a favourite author or shared in a journal launch for Hamilton’s own Tower Poetry Society. In this paper I walk loose circles around CanLit’s past glory as well as the Hamilton landscape itself. Interspersed along the way is a one-sided review of Tower Poetry Society’s summer issue, which I recommend checking out here. (Special thanks to Janet Turpin Myers for inviting me to the launch!) 

Word of warning: said circles are extremely loose. This essay originally dived into an even bigger pool, discussing how by fragmenting poetry into forms (concrete, avant-garde, landscape, etc.), we may’ve designed an easy method of identification but we’ve also enabled prejudices that malign one style (and its practitioners) in favour of others. Completely out of my league, I know. With these paragraphs cut, the title loses its intended meaning but oh well. Always trust your editors! It’s my hope to follow this social temperature-read with a hearty, critical examination in the future. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Curious links for August 2014...

1) Sure to resist the macabre humour that'll riff off a headline like Is Poetry Dead?, the New York Times instead published an op-ed extravaganza entitled Does Poetry Matter?. Among the debaters who’ve shared their own essays are Sandra Beasley, David Biespiel and Paul B. Muldoon, whose Is Poetry Popular? Who’s Counting? contribution proves wonderfully concise as a last word.

... & yet: Days later, Kate Angus wrote a piece for The Millions called Americans Love Poetry But Not Poetry Books, which acknowledges that "poetry's audience might be greater now than ever", even if book sales tell a very different story. The debate carries on.

2) It’s always heartening to see poets compiling their own #CanLit histories. Apt. 9 Press publisher Cameron Anstee has picked up his blogging pace of late with two posts of thorough insight; one an appreciation for Brantford, Ontario writer and publisher Kemeny Babineau, the other collecting over two decades’ worth of Ottawa poetry anthologies. The post on Babineau, which served as an introduction for me, is particularly enlightening as it leafs through many of his Laurel Reed chapbooks while offering personal insights about the author.

3) After announcing their return in late 2013, Chaudiere Books is set to unveil a promising string of titles by authors Amanda Earl, Monty Reid and Roland Prevost this fall. In the meantime, co-runners Christine McNair and rob mclennan are throwing a fundraiser to ensure that forthcoming lineups in 2015 and beyond offer the same stirring potential. Add a brick to Chaudiere Books' rebuilding year by contributing to their Indiegogo campaign. There are great books and memorabilia to be had!

4) This is a late-edition news brief: BookThug has taken 30% off their entire backlist but only for two more days. Do not delay!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A dollar for sunshine, a desert for free

I've noticed a strange phenomena that Blogger can statistically back up: July is awful. For whatever reason, I find the midsummer month almost unbearable to work with. Inspiration tends to falter and good ideas hit brick. I'm mired in a transitional life-phase or humidity drains me, or both. In the absence of either (for the moment), I've maintained a halfway decent work ethic this July. Just none of it is happening quite yet. So amid this drought I'll share some oases and acquisitions.

In the Annex's window-shopping paradise, BMV Books is a hub for U of T students and readers who prefer recent titles half-priced.
Photo credit: stylenorth dot ca
I was lucky to find John Newlove's Moving In Alone (Oolichan Books; 1977) for $4.99. The spine was slightly cut so I did some leg-work down to Balfour Books on College but ended up walking an imperfect square when no one else had it. I'm sort of enamored with the condition now; it suits Newlove well.
The Write Bookshop in downtown St Catharines is a bit of a gold mine, even by Toronto standards. With two storeys of books either organized in sections or crumbling in crevasses, the place offers a ton of hard-to-find poetry. (Just be sure to ask staff where to find it, as there's a small, accidental station of it on the first floor that, for a few visits, convinced me I needn't look upstairs. Big mistake.)
The semi-obscured Write Bookshop
While there I found a series of CBC Radio talks by Eli Mandel called Criticism: The Silent Speaking Words (CBC Publications) and P.K. Page's Cry Ararat! (McClelland & Stewart Ltd).
(not hardcover)
Finally, back in Toronto this week, I decided to take my first stroll down bpNichol Lane. 

Obligatory concrete poetry shot
bpNichol has a light that never goes out
While there, I stopped in to buy Daniel Jones' The Brave Never Write Poetry directly from Coach House Books. It was uncomfortable. After a promising start, being led by an enthusiastic bookbinder toward the stairs, I was expecting some sort of bookstore. But there was no bookstore and the staff upstairs were embroiled in private conversation, eating lunch. One woman kindly told me not to worry about my intrusion and said people wander in under false pretenses all of the time. (Probably because your website says to "drop by".) Regardless, it was great to see pages and jackets printing into piles and walk up those creaky steps. After some awkward rooting, they even found a copy for me to buy... I  really hope they worked there.