Thursday, November 27, 2014

Meet the Presses 2014; a recap

Residential or reading area?
Upon entering the Tranzac and veering left as per the signage, I was stricken by an acute pang of disappointment. The half dozen press tables, corralling three or four wanderers around a quiet semi-circle, had me temporarily blanking on the details of Meet the Pressesnot to mention the layout of this art-space I’d visited only once before. Did I seriously blow this out of proportion in my mind? Luckily, that first small room – which I happened to catch on a lull – led into an impressive T-shaped hall full of local and far-off Canadian presses. Yes, Meet the Presses was happening!

It kills me that I continue posting photos from...
I'd arrived at 1:30, meaning we were about thirty minutes shy of discovering this year’s bpNichol Chapbook Award winner, and chatter from the main hall was beginning to travel. Still I hung back in the smaller room, talking with Nicole Brewer and William Kemp of words(on)pages about their growing number of projects, including (parenthetical), already on issue #4. Really good vibes from the start. I also met Terence Go from OUTwrites and got a peek at his 2007 title UNgh, the first of many items I tried to mentally bookmark but failed to come back for.

Wading into the Indie Literary Market’s deep end, I spent some time marveling at BookThug’s glossy and limited chapbooks written by the likes of Lisa Robertson and Nelson Ball. (My plan to snag these titles also went amiss, although I hear they’re throwing quite the sale for Black Friday…) Mansfield Press’ table had its share of surprises as well, brandishing new titles that had arrived just two days prior. In a moment of psychic connection, Stuart Ross handed me a micro-chapbook I’d been curious about, called 4 Tiny Poems I Wrote on March 15, 2014. The immediacy of this two-fold sheet of paper, with its concealed (and yes, tiny) abstractions, resonated my own urge to publish on impulse!

After a series of introductions that had Hazel Millar, Paul Dutton and Jim Smith grace the podium, the bpNichol Chapbook Award went to Christine Leclerc’s Oilywood (as well as its publisher, Nomados Press). Onlookers around me seemed to support the decision. I’d wager a bit of excitement was lost on account of neither author nor publisher making the unreasonable trip from British Columbia, but Leclerc’s friend and fellow author Liz Ross accepted on their behalf. After a thoughtful speech, some applause and photos, the crowds returned to their rooting ways. iPhone when you can barely discern faces..
One of the day’s highlights was checking out serif of nottingham editions and Gary Barwin’s visual poetry. We discussed the limitations of language, or perhaps just a collective inexperience, when attempting to verbalize the ideas that vispo can conjure. I picked up an issue of Xerolage dedicated to Barwin’s the wild & unfathomable always. (You can watch visuals from the project here.)

Almost as curious is why I’m still so fascinated with the above/ground press table, manned by rob mclennan, when I can recreate much of his display at home. It isn’t just the visual appeal of seeing a rainbow of chapbooks draped over the table like a quilt, but picking out squares and revisiting favourites, unknowns. Arguably the most eye-catching of the latter category was mclennan's new book of poetry, If suppose we are a fragment (Buschek Books, 2014), which had me hooked within a few pages.

Across the room from above/ground press sat two other Ottawa outfits: phafours press and Apt. 9 Press. Pearl Pirie’s phafoursprofiled recently in Open Book Ontario, had Fall 2014 sets of micro chapbooks ready for sale, bundling brief, new titles by Phil Hall, Sanita Fejzic, Avonlea Fotheringham and Pirie herself at the no-brainer price of $4. I also caught a look at the much-talked-about design of Monty Reid’s Kissing Bug, its cover a decorated shaving of wood. (It felt as much like wood as it did paper, giving the chapbook a nice presence without much weight.) Next door, Cameron Anstee (whom I finally, formally met) sold me his first trade collection Five (shared between the five poets who toured in October as “An Accord of Poets”) and kindly offered me a chapbook of my choosing to review. Despite the Audubon-esque art that graces Dave Currie’s Bird Facts, I went with my gut and my gut said Ben Ladouceur’s Poem About the Train.

...or a crisp sense of environment beyond the haze...
If the occasion felt lacking in one regard, it was the absence of a reading attached before or after the market itself. As much fun as it is to network and leaf through each other’s hard work, it would’ve been special to have each press elect one of their authors, put their names in a hat, and draw a shortlist of ten or so readers. I’d be surprised if most presses didn’t have at least a few writers living in the GTA and willing to participate. Having said that, it’s clear that a lot of labour went into Meet the Presses as it was, and I’m sure the publishers who carried boxes and drove various distances were more than happy to call it a day.

Meet the Presses added a heaping of poetry and imaginative fiction to an otherwise rainy, windy Saturday. And although most of my purchases were planned in advance from a pool of already admired presses, I became familiar with other publishers I'd heard of only in passing. All of this is to say, the event more than lived up to its name.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quiddity nominates "Vulture Bay" for Pushcart Prize!

Update (11/26/14): “Vulture Bay” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Heartfelt thanks to Managing Editor Jim Warner, Assistant Editor John McCarthy and the entire Quiddity team for believing in this poem. 

Way back in February I shared news that Quiddity International Literary Journal would be publishing two of my poems, and that occasion has arrived. “Just in time for Thanksgiving,” Quiddity announced yesterday while revealing the above image on Twitter, and it got me thinking: Thanksgiving? Oh, right… this is the most significant publication I’ve had in the USA so far.

The excitement of being in an American journal is like being nonchalantly lost and bemused by how few signposts you see. As this issue first churned its way out of pulp and revealed a list of author biographies, it felt strange not to know any fellow contributors. After all, part of getting published in Canada is geeking out over who you're sharing paper with. But with Vol 7.2 now imminent, I’m emboldened to seek out some emerging, international poets.

Copies of Quiddity can be ordered via their website. Alternately you can subscribe or order single issues through this PDF. Watch these spaces over the coming weeks for Vol 7.2, in which “Vulture Bay” and “The Smyth Ave Nightly Migration” are set to appear.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

T-minus one week until Meet the Presses!

Meet the Presses is a collective of volunteers who write, publish and read. In a week’s time, they will hold their annual Indie Literary Market at the Tranzac Club in Toronto. If ”Indie Literary Market” reads like frilly synonyms for "small press fair", it’s for a good reason: this will not be your typical small press fair.

The forty or so presses gathering on Saturday, November 22nd have been selected by the collective, which not only ensures a certain benchmark for quality but for variety as well. Influential publishers such as Mansfield Press, BookThug and Coach House Books will share wares with emerging outfits like Apt. 9 Press, words(on)pages and Cough

The event will also reveal the winner of the bpNichol Chapbook Award from a shortlist featuring Jason Christie (above/ground press), Mat Laporte (Odourless Press), Christine McNair (Apt. 9 Press), matt robinson (Gaspereau Press), Christine Leclerc (Nomados) and Phil Hall (Thee Hellbox Press). The prize this year has doubled to $4,000, with the publisher of the winning chapbook also receiving $500. The judges are Sandra Ridley and Kevin McPherson Eckhoff.

There will be much to celebrate. Check out full details on the poster above and let me know if you’ll be attending!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Parting Shots" to appear in Tower Poetry

Nobody has been kinder to me this Fall than Hamilton’s literary scene. With a poem in Time and Place’s latest issue, a featured spot at Lit Live Reading Series and another poem forthcoming from a brand new journal (more on that soon…), I’ve immensely enjoyed the past few weeks.

This unusual streak looks to culminate with news that poem “Parting Shots” will be published in Tower Poetry’s Winter Issue. Updates to follow. As you may recall from the piece I wrote for Town Crier this summer, Tower Poetry is Hamilton’s longest-running literary journal and I'm happy to see a poem of mine accepted.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Curious links for November 2014...

1) See the poster up above? That's happening tomorrow, November 2nd. You should really come out.

2) For those of you missing Canzine (which is happening today), Meet the Presses is the next big "indie literary market" that'll take place on November 22nd in Toronto. The winners of the bpNichol Chapbook Award will be announced and so many presses will be in attendance. Definitely go.

3) above/ground press has opened their subscription service for 2015. Although I think it’s possible to sign up year-round, a reminder is certainly overdue. With Jason Christie’s Government making the shortlist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award and a number of really engaging titles arriving over the past month (from the likes of Jennifer Baker, Gregory Betts and Megan Kaminski), the above/ground press subscription service is really one of the best presents you can give yourself.

4) Sticking with Ottawa for two more unrequested plugs: Our nation’s capital will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair on November 8th. As is customary, the Factory Reading Series will host a reading the night before, with Jennifer Baker, Anita Dolman, Frances Boyle, Dave Currie and Stuart Ross.

Finally, Ottawa’s CKCU radio station is running their annual funding drive to keep quality, community-minded programming on the air (as it has been, 100% indie, since 1975). Please consider donating to keep programs like Literary Landscapes going. (Sidenote: Pearl Pirie has offered up some fun trivia about her year as co-host.)

5) Here’s something you don’t want to miss: The Puritan’s annual soiree BLACK FRIDAY 2014 will go down on November 28th at Loft404 in Toronto. As both an occasion to celebrate the winners of the Third Annual Thomas Morton Memorial Prize as well as launch Issue 27: Fall 2014, this BLACK FRIDAY will also host a bang-up series of readers (including Jonathan Bennett, Stevie Howell, Helen Guri, Jay MillAr, Sarah Pinder and many more). Plan an all-nighter for this one.

6) And now back to Hamilton: on Thursday, November 20th, Montreal poet Gillian Sze will be reading at Bryan Prince Bookseller. Her latest book, Peeling Rambutan (Gaspereau Press) has been shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry and is quite good. (I’m pushing to have a review of it published by 2015.) Cancelled, apparently.