The poem entitled "&" has been published in Zouch Magazine this week. Thank you Zouch! I’m pleased to see it featured for a number of reasons and at this time of year, specifically. As both the elegy to a narrative in my life that has held strong for ten years and, incidentally, the last poem I wrote prior to getting married in September, "&" touches on some things I found important to say right. The timing of the publication just happens to coincide with the hometown scene I envisioned while writing it – those south-end, St. Catharines bungalows smoking over a winter solstice. I reckon the approach of New Year’s signals a cause for navel-gazing in each of us, on some level. You can read mine here. What a year it has been.
At this time last December I made the DeadLetterBirds blog, with the most immediate purpose being the online publication of Afterlight - a collection of misfit poems executed over my two years living in Toronto. In many ways, that intention neatly sums up my 2010 as one slow but effective cleansing period which gradually distanced me from the fog of 2009. Whether the twenty-four poems of Afterlight ever echoed the veering instability of that time, I can't say, but the memory of writing them makes clear that I've little interest in reliving those triggers anymore. That's why all of the Afterlight poems have been removed, as of today.
I began writing again in the spring of 2011 and haven't stopped. At present, DeadLetterBirds may boast nothing but a string of fresh starts but I'm hopeful that a new year will find me chronicling some additional news and poetry here. With those two-year-old poems now removed, it feels as though a burden has been lifted from this humble space. A burden the weight of cobwebs. It feels good to clean up sometimes.
Bywords Quarterly Journal’s fall launch may have been weeks ago but the provocative poetry and impassioned music of that afternoon have me in a reflective mood tonight. So I thought I’d share a photo or two from the Collected Works reading as well as our walk through Major’s Hill Park afterwards. This was my first public poetry reading since 2005. Naturally, my nerves were on edge but by the time I began reading some newer, unpublished pieces, I'd settled in comfortably. In addition to the three poems selected for the Bywords Quarterly Journal, I read Of Degrees, Ivy Peers In Your Window and An August Sepia. Past and present Bywords poets (including Daniel Boland, Brigette de Pape, Jean Van Loon and Carol A. Stephen) contributed tremendous variety to the afternoon while Marie-Josee Houle's livewire songwriting gave the event some kick. Another reason this day stands so fondly in my memory is because of some great friends who came out to show their support. Thank you to Shane, Jess, Emily and especially Vishal, who rented a car for the afternoon and drove in from Montreal for the reading! Lastly, thanks again to Bywords for putting on a great launch. The Journal's available to buy from their website as well as several bookstores in downtown Ottawa.
Writer’s Fest may have just ended but, to literary supporters in the Ottawa area, this weekend represents another flurry of activity. Alongside the launch of Bywords Quarterly Journal’s fall publication on Sunday, the writers featured in that latest volume – Carol A. Stephen, Jean Van Loon and myself – will be interviewed alongside poet/Bywords' managing editor Amanda Earl on CKCU’s radio program Studio 1402 this Friday, November 4th at 8:30am. There might be time for each poet to read one or two of their Bywords’ selections as well, so check it out.
If, between those two Bywords-related events, you thought Saturday might offer a chance for this city’s literary novices and giants to sleep, you’d be forgetting Ottawa’s Small Press Book Fair. On the eve of that event, recent John Newlove Award-winner rob mclellan will host a pre-Small Press Book Fair reading and, on the Saturday, lovers of the written word will find themselves surrounded by some of the best small presses and literary magazines in Canada.
After attending the Spring 2011 edition, I planned to have my collection finished and a half-table to place it upon by the time this weekend arrived. It was a lofty goal that paid no mind to the countless hours I’d end up working and wedding planning this summer. All excuses aside, my current poetry collection continues to grow and shape itself. Next spring, perhaps, I'll participate in more ways than as a keen customer.
Three poems from a forthcoming collection have been selected for publication in Bywords’ Quarterly Journal. Alongside Imaginary Moats, which first appeared in their online August edition, the Ottawa-based journal will feature A Memory On the Bluff and Arson On Princess Ave. The photo above features this year's Spring Issue. I can't wait to walk downtown and pick up a few copies!
To launch their Autumn issue, Bywords will be hosting some readings and music at Collected Works (1242 Wellington Street) on Sunday, November 6th. It’ll be my first time reading any of these poems aloud as well as my first time reading in Ottawa. Fans of poetry, Bywords and singer Maria-Josee Houle ought to mark this event on their calendars.
Upon moving to Ottawa in January 2010, Bywords.ca was the first literary titan I came across. In March of that year I submitted a few pieces that were rejected. I hardly blame them; I’d arrived in this city muse-less and burdened by outdated poems kept to clutter otherwise bare corners.
This city changed all of that, by way of its culture, its stretches of greenery, its people. I’ve read Bywords’ monthly issues faithfully throughout the transition, often trying to mentally map the avenues and bedrooms that inspired these poets so. I can’t stop now; it’s habitual. It’s how I revel in a town full of strangers.
Imaginary Moats, the first poem to see daylight from a developing collection, has been published in Bywords.ca’s August Issue alongside works by L.A. Paveling, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Tim Mook Sang, and Jamie Bradley (who reviews rob mclennan's Glengarry). I’m honoured and excited to join such fine company.