Optimisms One/Lowther and Lamperts
Tis the first of April. Meaning, among many other psychocultural shifts (towards gardening, towards birdsong, towards baseball) the beginning of the I-know-it’s-silly-but-buck-up-and-do-it-anyway tradition of National Poetry Month.
As followers of this blog are aware, I’ve hitched my wagon to The Torontoist’s Book Blog for the next thirty days for the shameless promotion of positivity we’ve decided to call “The Optimisms Project“. My introductory essay is up this morning, with the daily parade of new contributors starting after the holidays. A selection to follow, but really you should just go read the whole thing. It ain’t long.
Dear Whiny Poets: An Introduction
I am not an optimist.
I understand that as the point man for this operation, it is my duty to be an optimist for a single thirty-day period, and I can manage that, if I concentrate. But it’s not my default position. My worldview is tilted down. I stare at my feet when I walk.
To clarify, I’m fairly content. If my rent is paid and my friends are happy and there’s at least some faint idée of a poem tickling the inside edges of my brain, I can’t complain. But, if made to choose a single narrative for the world and all its ancillary dramas, my prediction tends to skew down rather than up. Shittiness, eventually, consumes us all.
So I approach this job as Quarterback of Optimistic Poets with all the focus of an aged lady sitting down to her morning crossword puzzle. I don’t do crosswords all day long, but I feel I should do them regularly, to keep my mind sharp. Such is how I feel about optimism. We can not let the patterns of thought that define us burrow deep holes in our brains.
In other exciting news, the shortlists for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Memorial Award (for best first collection) and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award (best collection written by a woman) are out. I have to say, forgetting a couple of snubs to books I thought had specialness in them (Moez Surani’s Reticent Bodies and Stephen Rowe’s Never More There for the Lampert, and Susan Holbrook’s Joy is So Exhuasting for the Lowther) this is a pretty strong list. Kudos to the six judges: for the Lampert, Barbara Pelman, David Seymour and Sheri-D Wilson and for the Lowther, Gloe Cormie, Maureen Hynes and Rhea Tregebov.
Gerald Lampert Award Shortlisted Poets, 2010:
Kate Hall for The Certainty Dream(Coach House Books)
James Langer for Gun Dogs (House of Anansi Press)
Marcus McCann for Soft Where (Chaudiere Books)
Soraya Mariam Peerbaye for Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (Goose Lane Editions)
Marguerite Pigeon for Inventory (Anvil Press)
Robert Earl Stewart for Something Burned Along the Southern Border (Mansfield Press)
Pat Lowther Award Shortlist, 2010
Elizabeth Bachinsky for God of Missed Connections (Nightwood Editions)
Ronna Bloom for Permiso (Pedlar Press)
Sina Queyras for Expressway (Coach House Books)
Damian Rogers for Paper Radio (ECW Press, a misFit book)
Laisha Rosnau for Lousy Exploriers (Nightwood Editions)
Karen Solie for Pigeon (House of Anansi Press)
In other-er exciting news, Thomas Hayden Church’s biopic treatment of the earlier years of the great Canadian nature poet, Don McKay, opens in select cities this weekend. Simply titled Don McKay, the film is a first feature from director Jake Goldberger and co-stars Oscar winner Elisabeth Shue and nominee Melissa Leo. Hopefully, this will widen its release in the coming weeks.