Retail 2011: Bookthug
I thought I’d start off this year with the thugs, as I missed them last time around. Bookthug’s major addition in 2010 was a physical one, namely the clubhouse/meeting space above Of Sparrows on College St. This little annex is home to the Toronto New School of Writing, where Vox himself took a class in the fall. It was good. You should do one too. Anyway, below is what’s on tap:
Title: Appolinaire’s Speech to the War Medic
Author: Jake Kennedy
Timespan Since Last Book: One year only. Kennedy won the Robert Kroetsch Award in 2010 for The Lateral (Snare). They move quickly at Bookthug. It’s how Appolinaire would’ve wanted it.
Release Date: Unmentioned in the catalogue. Amazon says May 30th.
Editor-approved bumfspeak: The back cover copy for this one opens with perhaps the most Bookthuggy sentence ever written: “Apollinaire’s Speech to the War Medic is to Canadian poetry what Francis Ponge’s steaming brioches are to Parisian cobblestone.” Luckily for people who hate Dennis Miller, the very next sentence begins with “In other words…” The book seems concerned with the worklives of the bohemian class, circa 1920 through 1970. Apparently, there’s some George Bush references in there too (no word on whether it’s H.W. or W.) To conclude: “Metaphor is plundered as a doorway into the attic of the basement of objects and animals and phenomena, and inside you’ll find poem-studies about hammers, tigers, grass, fire, cat piss, killing floors and many other oh my’s.”
Google Pie: Lemon Hound has Kennedy on M. NourbeSe Phillip’s Zong! Here’s a couple prose poems from an online journal, published in 2007. Here’s the CBC, quite surprisingly, doing a news report on his winning the bpNichol award. And here’s a longer thing in Jacket about Robertson’s The Men.
Title: The Shining Material
Author: Aisha Sasha John
Collection: Le Debut
Release Date: Unmentioned. But let’s assume it’s the same day as the Kennedy, until someone corrects us.
Editor-approved bumfspeak: “These poems stage intimate encounters as they work against the language of the banal. Dancing across, between and at the interstices of the self, no poem is a single statement: they all recognize language as a perpetual subject of inquiry. The Shining Material is an opportunity to trace a fresh sensibility that will continue and make the work of this young innovative woman writer a powerful force in avant- garde writing around the world.” Sounds good to me. The bio and I would both like you to know that John is a graduate of the MFA program at Guelph. I consider the publication of debut collections by classmates from Guelph to be celebration-worthy events. Aisha’s work is playful, intelligent, and full of mouthy rhythmic surprise. You’ll like it.
Blurbery: Beyond my recommendation, Lisa Robertson says: “Miss John here reminds, in oddly comely poems of direct address, “how small the aesthetic is” and how ravenously transcendent the human woman. The mouths of these poems adore phonemes and are unafraid of their important difference: they say the woman as the linguist of thinking.”
Google Pie: Here are some poems from an online journal called Dear Sir. And, here’s her blog. Maybe. Or someone else’s blog with the same name. It’s a strange, strange place.
Title: The Monotony of Fatal Accidents
Author: Richard Krueger
Collection: Le Debut
Release Date: Again, unmentioned. Let’s continue to assume May 30th unless someone says otherwise
Editor-approved bumfspeak: Not a lot of aboutness to be found in these Bookthug blurbs. But perhaps that’s for the best, I’d prefer accurate vagueries over inaccurate teasers any day. To wit: “Though at a passing glance it appears to deal primarily with geography and animals, The Monotony of Fatal Accidents in fact deals with neither; rather, it is an internal journey through the body of the poet. This body is a scene of violence, and this violence is mapped out across the hinterland of the poet’s mind.” and “This is not landscape poetry; indeed, what is presented is an anti-landscape, an anti- geography, a rejection of the belief that the body travels through the land: an affirmation that it is the land that travels through the body.”
Google Pie: Here are some poems from wayyyyy back in 2002 courtesy of the student journal at Krueger’s alma mater. I bet he loves me posting these. I only do it because I’m having trouble finding other online sources. I should state, then, that Krueger’s credentials include a recent McKinnon Chapbook Award, and the ability to craft perhaps my #1 favourite poetry book title of the year. If anyone sees something more recent out there, let me know and I’ll add it in.
Title: The Obvious Flap
Authors: Gary Barwn & Gregory Betts
Collection: Hard to count for either dude. I have Gary at four solo collections and one collaboration, plus a tonne of chapbooks, kid’s books, and fiction. He’s also a loyal Vox Pop reader, so if I’m wrong I’m sure he’ll come say so. As for Gregory Betts, he’s also done four collections, and three non-fiction titles. He’s got a fourth of those coming up this year, as well.
Timespan Since Last Books: One year for Betts and maybe half that for Barwin. Guillaume approves.
Editor-approved bumfspeak: “Sometimes language, thoughts, and emotions are a fixed structure like a warehouse. Sometimes they are fog, waves, light, or music. This is LSe: Language as a second english. english as a grammar of ghosts. Words as the snowfall of ideas. The Obvious Flap is a musical, poetic flux of recurring and recursive images exploring language’s luminous fringes” I’m not sure if that means anything, but I don’t care. Betts and Barwin each wrote one of my favourite books last year (Barwin’s The Porcupinity of the Stars and Betts’s The Others Raisd in Me), so I’m picking this up at the launch regardless. They had me at “Fixed Structure”.
Google Pie: No lack of stuff out there on either. Here’s Gary’s homepage. Here’s the page for his micropress. Here’s his answers to rob mclennan’s questionnaire, and here’s his recent contribution to Paul Vermeersch’s They Will Take My Island project. There’s lots more out there. As for his collaborator, here’s Betts winning the Torontoist Poetry Contest back in 2007 (The Torontoist had a poetry contest? Why don’t we do that anymore? Oh.) and for anything else you may want, here’s his extensive listing at Buffalo’s EPC page. I should also say that if you’re willing to wait, The Others Raisd in Me is one of the two books I look at in an essay coming out in the next Poetry is Dead magazine on procedural writing derived from Shakespearian sonnets.
Other stuff from Bookthug this season includes a translation by Roger Greenwald of the Danish poet Niels Frank, plus a fiction text by poet Angela Szczepaniak, the fourth in their series of collected criticisms (this time it’s Phil Hall), a reissue of Erin Moure’s Pillage Laud, and (this is such a good idea…) the launch of a children’s poetry series with Stephen Cain, complete with illustrations by OpenBookToronto’s Clelia Scala.
That’s it for Bookthug. Thanks to them, and all the other publishers who have sent in info. Keep that coming. Once I get a few of these up, I’ll make another master list.