Retail 2010: Brick Books

I’ve decided, after a couple months spent looking backwards, to take some time before the glut of Spring poetry releases to start listing the new titles, and new authors, we may all be reading and talking about this coming year. The idea is to take it press by press, in no particular order. Or more specifically, in the order I get my hands on their promo material, or get an email from someone at the company, or go to their website and see what I can suss out. First on the docket are the nice folks at Brick Books, who are putting out a book a month from February to May. If Brick has a house style, it weighs to the personal and the narrative, and also seems to be Vox-Pop approved as, much to my surprise, 3 of the ten books in last year’s 10 Favourites of the Decade list came from London-town. Taking a look ahead, then:

Author: Lorri Neilsen Glenn
Title: Lost Gospels
Date: February
Collection Number: Third
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “Her new collection confronts the deaths of dear friends and family members, returns to her prairie childhood and youth, and engages hard, hard questions of mortality, and of existence in a world fraught with suffering and violence (both global and domestic).”
Other Notes: Lorri has recently stepped down from her position as Halifax’s poet laureate after being so good at it they offered her a second term. She is likely among our least-academic “academic poets”; her work sticks close to the bone while she spends her days at Mt. St. Vincent University in the Halifax suburbs. She has tried on several occasions to tell me what it is, exactly, she studies, and I haven’t really figured it out. “Educational sociology” is as close as I can guess. Glenn’s first book, all the perfect disguises (2003: Broken Jaw Press) is really great, if you can get your hands on it.

Author: Eve Joseph
Title: The Secret Signature of Things
Date: March
Collection Number: Second
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “If epiphanies are for theologians, perhaps the little steps towards them are for poets like Eve Joseph, and for all of us who attempt to see beyond the names we give things to the names they give themselves.”
Other Notes: Joseph is from BC, which is apparently a whole other part of the country. I’m not really familiar with it, just as I’m not really familiar with her or her work. It (and presumably her), are somewhere west of Toronto, apparently. I’m guessing it’s out past Mississauga or something. I don’t know, I’m not ever going to go there. I dislike the suburbs. Let’s let Eve speak for Eve, shall we? Here are the poems that won her second prize in the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest.

Author: Antony di Nardo
Title: Alien, Correspondent
Date: April
Collection Number: Le Debut!
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “His arresting first collection is, in part, a delicately balanced look at Beirut from the perspective of a Westerner who lives and works in that remarkable city. Whether writing about the Middle East or about domestic life, Di Nardo refuses to romanticize; he doesn’t moralize about the causes of perennial conflicts. He is that rare thing: a clear-eyed witness.”
Other Notes: This might be pretty good. Di Nardo has the feel of one of those “adventurer/poet” types who can carry intimacy with them wherever they go, who can set up shop in newer and newer places and still come across as piercing and honest. He isn’t shying away from the politics of his situation(s) either. Which makes that line about a “clear-eyed witness” in the bumf kind of suspect. I like this poem in nth position.

Author: Steve McOrmond
Title: The Good News About Armageddon
Date: May
Collection Number: Third
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “The title poem has, as its narrative background, the encounter between the narrator and a young door-to-door missionary, one who sets his worldly and jaded scepticism against her innocence and faith…his is essential poetry for our time – astute, informed, bitingly satirical, yet grounded in its quest for words that, like Cordelia’s, reverb no hollowness.”
Other Notes: McOrmond, a fellow “transplanted Maritimer now living in Toronto with an Irish name”, is a versatile and dextrous poet. That being said, if the suggestion in that bumf is that this book is a little more thematically wrapped than his past efforts, I’m all for it. The idea sounds interesting. I reviewed his last book for Eyewear a couple of years ago, and I remember most clearly a really striking poem about the erection of the suicide-prevention net at the Bloor St. Viaduct. The argument against it was pretty great, and not lessened by its obvious debt to Ondaatje: like the people who went there to kill themselves would fall into the net, immediately forget about why they were there or the nature of their troubles, and continue on with their lives, newly refreshed and made happy (it’s a more elegantly put argument in the poem, I promise). That kind of dark wit seems well-represented in the new title.

Anyway, that’s what Brick has for us this Spring. Publishers, Editors, and Publicists: Feel free to send me a pdf of your catalogues, or a link to the online version. The email address is on the Contact Page.

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