Archive for the ‘Poetry Education’ category

Retail 2012: Mansfield Press

February 11, 2012

Something of a consistent source of surprise, the little press that is based in Toronto, but does its poetry from Cobourg. The list this season is decidly Atlantic-centric. Which I’m into.

Title: In This Thin Rain
Author: Nelson Ball
Release Date: April
Collection Number: Hard to Quantify. Let’s just go with “many”.
Time Since Last Collection: Eight years
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “In his first full-length poetry collection since 2004, Nelson Ball, Canada’s most renowned minimalist, offers up compressed meditations — ranging from the whimsical to the mournful — on clouds, birds, insects, trees live and dead, water-stained walls, crumbling windmills, and hyphenation in the Globe & Mail. Ball’s poems are meticulously polished gems that move through the seasons, finding beauty and depth in the most banal and simple things.”
Google Says: One of the poems included in the Mansfield Press catalogue for this book is exactly eight words long. You can find something of Mr. Ball’s life work in this detailed CV I found. Nelson is a bookseller by day, and his unique business model can be explored in this little piece on his store. By-appointment. I work the same way. You can catch some selections from Ball’s Mercury Press book, The Concrete Air, in this three-way review. His stuff comes up somewhere in the middle.

Title: Holler
Author: Alice Burdick
Release Date: April
Collection Number: Third
Time Since Last Collection: Four years
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “In her follow-up to 2008’s Flutter, former big-city-dweller Alice Burdick explores nature and the small town, taking a cue from children learning their voices: “All I see are trucks, / trucks and ducks.” With a blend of playful narrative and a collage approach reminiscent of John Ashbery, Burdick paints a portrait of our world as one of continuous wonder, and full of relationships — between people, and between people and things — that never die but continually transform, even in death.”
Google Says: Alice lives in Mahone Bay. Which is the town next to the town I grew up in. The first time I got drunk, it was on Jack’s Hard Lemonade and we drank it in the playground of the elementary school. The cops showed up because we were being crazy loud and when everyone scattered, I climbed onto the top of a jungle gym and when the officers found me I shouted out something like, “You can’t see me! Your visual acuity’s based on movement!” Well, that’s neither here nor there. Moving on to Alice Burdick, here’s some poems from her last collection on the oddly aggressive “ditch” website. Meanwhile, these three all date from 2009. Meanwhile again, if it’s reviews you’re after you can see one of Burdick’s last collection from one-man review machine and capital letter phobic, rob mclennan or one up on the Northern Poetry Review site. Seems like a well-liked book. I liked it well, too.

Title: Sympathy Loophole
Author: Jaime Forsythe
Release Date: April
Collection Number: First
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “This lively first collection, often both creepy and hilarious, serves up an image-laden universe where contortionists, womanizing ventriloquist dummies and pickled sharks compete with the everyday for airtime. Forsythe’s poetry is full of wit, mystery, and surprise — a contemporary inventory of pop culture and human experience.”
Google Says: While this is Jaime’s first collection, it’s not technically her first book, as she previously edited this really great and criminally under-read book of short fiction for Invisible. Jaime and I did the MFA at Guelph the same time, and new poetry collections from fellow whatever-the-school-mascot-is-at-Guelph-ers always gets my pom poms out of the closet. Jaime took the same poetry workshop as me on a lark, apologized for being a newcomer to the art form on day 1, and by the end of the semester was among the most exciting people in a really talented class. Here’s three poems from her in This Magazine. Here’s a bit on Elisabeth Bishop she wrote for her day job working for The Coast. And here’s her blog, featuring a photo of her cat picking out the poem order in the book. As good as anything, I suppose.

Title: What’s the Score?
Author: David W. McFadden
Release Date: April
Collection Number: Again, as with Nelson Ball, I’m going to say something like “a lot”.
Time Since Last Collection: Four years.
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “The often outrageous and always wise follow-up to 2008’s Governor General’s Award–nominated Be Calm, Honey shows David W. McFadden at his most inquisitive and provocative. Here you’ll find ninety-nine poems full of surprises by a Canadian long-distance poet in his sixth decade of writing, a writer who never rests on his laurels or allows himself to become complacent. This is a book full of mystics and Golden Age movie stars, friends of McFadden and long-dead philosophers, and their tales are all told in the poet’s deceptively plainspoken voice.”
Google Says: This is the official follow-up to Be Calm, Honey, the 2009 GG nominee I really loved. You can check out a review of said book right here. Or, if you don’t know how to read, you could just listen to him read from one of his longer pieces right here. There’s six pieces from various points in McFadden’s career branched off of this U of T site. And, as a Griffin nominee, there’s all kinds of archived stuff with Dave’s name on it here at the Griffin Trust site, too.


Lampert, Lowther Shortlists

April 4, 2011

The Finalists for the 2011 Gerald Lampert Award for best debut collection of poetry in English by a Canadian poet are (the parentheticals are author’s home, press):

The Crow’s Vow by Susan Briscoe (Montreal, Signal/Vehicule)
That Other Beauty by Karen Enns (Victoria, Brick)
Tiny, Frantic, Stronger by Jeff Latosik (Toronto, Insomniac)
[sic] by Nikki Reimer (Vancouver, Frontenac)
Here Is Where We Disembark by Clea Roberts (Whitehorse, Freehand)
The Nights Also by Anna Swanson (Vancouver, Tightrope)

Lampert jury: Lori Cayer, Jacob Scheier, Todd Swift

and the Finalists for the 2011 Pat Lowther Memorial Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman are:

Ossuaries by Dionne Brand (Toronto, M&S)
Walking to Mojacar by Di Brandt (Brandon, MA, Turnstone Press)
Living Under Plastic by Evelyn Lau (Vancouver, Oolichan Books)
Memory’s Daughter by Alice Major (Edmonton, University of Alberta Press)
Cathedral by Pamela Porter (British Columbia, Ronsdale Press)
La luna, Tango, siempre la luna (The Moon, Tango, Always the Moon) by Nela Rio (Fredericton, Broken Jaw Press)

Lowther jury: Magie Dominic, Eric Folsom, Yvonne Trainer

Spare thoughts re: the Lampert
There was really an embarrassment of riches this year for first collections. This isn’t a bad list. Some real diversity to be found. I’m glad to see [sic] get some attention, it being one of my very favourites of the past year, and obviously a big Wilson Park Road shout-out goes out to Vox Pop roommate and local superhero, Jeff Latosik. Anna Swanson is a friend, too, who wrote the kind of good, well-rounded debut that tends to sometimes get lost in these cattle calls. The only book here I haven’t read is Clea Roberts, but I’ll get on it. As for omissions? There’s lots. Leigh Nash would have been nice to see, also Melanie Siebert has to be a surprise after making the GG shortlist. Joshua Trotter? Or would his book be under 2011? I’d argue that the most obvious omission here, though, is Michael Lista’s. I think Bloom is that rare poetry collection that garners both critical excitement and (soon thereafter) the first inklings of an early critical backlash. Ninety-eight percent of first collections, including the great majority of Lampert winners, acquire neither in their time. Bloom will have to settle for being the most-discussed first book of the year, despite not making the LCP’s list of “best”.

Spare thoughts re: the Lowther:
I’ve read fewer of these, so I’ll tread lightly. Nice to see Dionne Brand out there for Ossuaries. I haven’t read the Brandt, but usually follow her work, so I’m surprised I’ve missed this one. That’s two book buying missives handed down to me by the League this afternoon…Omissions? I would have liked to see Sharon McCartney make it. Dani Couture’s “Sweet” was also wonderful. There’s always two to three deserving lists worth of options for this prize, I’m sure everyone has a pet book they’re disappointed to see miss out, but those two are probably mine, these two and the any number of other titles I can’t presently remember…Edit: I just woke up today and asked myself, “Wait, is Suzanne Buffam’s book on that list?” It is not. So there’s another surprise.

How about the League showing their diversity stripes on the publisher front? Twelve books, twelve different presses, and I count only 2 Toronto outfits in the whole batch (M&S and Tightrope). The League awards have sometime of a decentralist’s reputation compared to the Griffin and whatnot, and that’s displayed here.

Ah, awards season. That blessed time of every calendar year where we pause for a moment to express art as integers. Griffins drop tomorrow. You’ll know ’em when I know ’em.

Influency’s Return

April 2, 2011

Good morning, everyone.

I just saw that the University of Toronto’s Cont Ed centre is going to offer the Influency Salon again. I’d like it very much if somebody saw this post, read facilitator Margaret Christakos’s founding document over here on the program’s website, and registered for the course. I’ve had the opportunity to participate once as a guest, and would likely be signing up this time around as a student if I wasn’t leaving the city mid-way through. Influency is the perfect literature course. All the paraphernalia and overconfidence that tends to accrue when four or more people come together to discuss poetry, washed away by engineering or the force of the personalities involved. I can’t recommend it enough. I’m not sure who the poets to be studied this semester are, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the conversation.

The registration page is right here. Sign up. You’re not going to live forever.


Harbourfront/NOW Magazine Open Stage Night 3

March 3, 2011

Hi everyone.

Just a heads up, Harbourfront has posted the readers for its third annual open stage night. This is a fun evening, it feels like something akin to poetry speed-dating: very retail, very quick-n-dirty.

The list is picked at random from a larger pool of applicants, which depending on who you ask either results in a fairer final twenty, a more variegated final twenty, or just a worse one than if it was filtered through a panel of judges. I’m in camps one and two, but understand the position of #3.

I’m hosting again this year. Come and watch me wear a suit. It costs $8, but most of you reading this (students, publishing people, authors) can probably get in for free. March 30th, at the Harbourfront Centre. Get your tix here.

Here’s the list. Apparently there’s one more reader that’s yet to be revealed. I hope it’s Robert Frost.

Gloria Alvernaz-Mulcahy
Gary Barwin
Jill Battson
Ronna Bloom
Heather Cadsby
Edward Carson
Kildare Dobbs
Rocco de Giacomo
David A. Groulx
Aurian Haller
David Hickey
Inge Israel
Jim Johnstone
Kath MacLean
Nathaniel G. Moore
John Oughton
Ruth Roach Pierson
Souvankham Thammavongsa
Zachariah Wells

Retail 2011: Insomniac Press

January 25, 2011

Next on the list is little Insomniac Press. Insomniac tends to do one book a season, with the occasional second title added for veteran poets launching collecteds or selected. This spring is one of those selections, with a short selected coming out from Stan Rogal called Dance, Monster! But, the major concern of this series is new work, so we move forward to there.

Title: Love Figures
Author: Sam Cheuk
Release Date: March
Collection: Le Debut
What Bumf Say: “In his debut poetry collection, Sam Cheuk attempts to invent a new way of truth-telling. Borrowing disparate techiques from self-censorship, identity performance and phenomenology, Cheuk reverse-engineers the parlance of postmodernism in search of the primal motivation behind expression, all the while asking the question: is a lie a lie if the liar shows you how he lies?”
What Blurb Say: Yusef Komunyakaa says: “Cheuk’s wit shows in the movement of each trope and through moments of adroitness where both pain and joy meet in the same line. Get ready for Love Figures, as the poet aims continuously and hits the mark slantwise.”
What Google Say: Here are Cheuk’s very first four published poems, from a 2004 issue of Exile. Sam did his MFA at NYU, with the above-quoted Komunyakaa as a prof. Lastly, here’s a somewhat clumsily-retrieved poem (more recent than 2004) than the Exile quartet, this one being from the LRC.

It continues tomorrow. Maybe. Or the day after.

Retail 2011: Coach House Books

January 21, 2011

The Coach House is next. Just two titles from nichol lane this season. CH has, quite admirably, started to really spread out their new collections. They did three last fall. Both of their two (non-reprint) offerings this year are debuts. That’s also a surprise.

Title: A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People
Author: Gabe Foreman
Release Date: April
Collection: Le Debut
What Bumf Say: “Gabe Foreman’s A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People is not your average reference book. It turns a series of sociological case studies into a functional encyclopedia that doubles as a unique, achingly funny, always engaging collection of poems. ‘Bridesmaids,’ ‘Day Traders,’ ‘Entomologists’ and ‘Number Crunchers’ are all dutifully catalogued in a series of luminously strange, compellingly original lyric and prose poems. The resulting field guide to our disparate humanity is often absurd, sometimes sad and frequently a mix-ture of both, as each entry unravels according to its own spidery logic.”
What Blurb Say: Jeramy Dodds keeps the tongue in the cheek with, “This compendium of bipeds makes all others obsolete.”
What Google Say: Here’s some poems from the book in the online journal with the tagline so planet-fuckingly obnoxious I won’t even say their name. Here’s Foreman and others (including yesterday’s Joshua Trotter) in audio on Career Limiting Moves. And here’s a rare online poem from Grain, which looks like it’ll probably also make it into Foreman’s Encyclopedia.

Title: Match
Author: Helen Guri
Release Date: April
Collection: Le Debut
What Bumf Say: “Robert Brand has given up on real women. Relationships just haven’t ever worked out well for him. He has, however, found a (somewhat problematic) solution, a new feminine ideal: the 110-pound sex doll he ordered over the internet. Showing an uncanny access to the voice of the rejected, unimpressive, emotionally challenged modern male, Helen Guri’s debut collection explores Robert’s transition from lost and lonely to loved, if only by the increasingly acrobatic voices in his mind.”
What Google Say: I’m into this strange conceptual piece, which is old and probably not in this book, from Science Creative Quarterly. Alternatively, this issue of CanLit will let you peek at her poem. Guri is also among the poets from a certain issue of Event discussed by rob mclennan over here.

Retail 2011: Biblioasis

January 19, 2011

We continue on our merry parade over the 2011 Canadian poetry horizon. Despite getting some exciting future-Vox news today, I shall keep my eyes on what’s in front of me.

What’s in front of me is the upcoming publishing plans of Biblioasis, another press I missed last time out. After a delay in getting their publication schedule together, the poetry titles listed as “Fall 2010” are actually only getting out to stores this month. So, the friendly Biblioasis marketing lady asked me to include them here, as a sort of Spring(-ish) 2011 list. And I said yes. So, we’ll do that first.

Title: Sunrise in the Eyes of the Snowman
Author: Goran Simic
Release Date:
Collection: September 2010. And by that, they mean around now.
Timespan Since Last Book: Six years since the last English collection.
What Bumf Say: “In this book, we find the world-renowned poet visiting familiar themes in fresh ways. Not only is Simic now writing in English, but many of these poems also embrace the constraints of rhyming quatrains. Simic seems to comment on this in on of those poems, “Walking Backwards”: “When I asked the old frames to embrace me freshly cast, / I was walking backwards. And I was dead wrong.” But what we have here is a middle-aged poet rising like a phoenix from the ashes of his past, moving forward with power and precision, forging new frames and speaking, as always, with an exiled voice as doubtful as it is authoritative.”
What Blurbs Say: Ken Babstock says: “Simic’s voice comes to us from a severe elsewhere,”
What Google Say: Here’s the man’s personal website, for starters. I’d recommend, within that site, his excellent essay “Sleeping with Poetry.” Here’s a Words at Large interview with the CBC from a couple years back. There’s also a (not wildly positive) review of Sunrise in the new Quill & Quire, I believe, but it’s not online yet. They usually trickle that stuff out over the month, so keep looking around.

Title: All This Could Be Yours
Author: Joshua Trotter
Release Date: September, 2010 (but not really)
Collection: Le Debut
What Bumf Say: I award 1,000 points to this, the most succinct, least-pretentious bio ever written for, or by, a debuting poet, and probably the shortest bio this side of “Ann Carson lives in Canada”: “A long-time resident of Peterborough, Joshua Trotter recently moved to Montreal. He is the author of one previous chapbook.” The bumf itself goes like this: “Like the promise of its title, All This Could Be Yours is full of elusive gifts. Joshua Trotter’s debut collection is a metaphysical hall of windows that seem to be mirrors and mirrors presenting themselves as windows. Trotter’s poems – which could be the bastard love-children of Stevens and Frost – refract, reflect and deflect with canny puns and rhymes, the rigour of their forms belying the rogue trickster twists of cockeyed logic they take and the po-faced near-sense in which they speak. ”
What Google Say: Here’s Joshua jumping through rob mclennan’s usual hoops. Trotter (along with the two Vehicule poets from yesterday) took part in this delightfully weird canoe-based poetry tour last year. And, perhaps most famously and controversially, the National Post recently declared this not-really-released-in-2010 2010 release The Very Best English-Language Poetry Collection of the Year, Among Those Not Published By Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.

Title: Lost Luggage
Author: Salvatore Ala
Release Date: About now.
Collection: Third
Timespan Since Last Book: Seven Years
What Bumf Say: ” Lost luggage and the efforts to find the things of this world retrieved and redeemed are central to Ala’s poems. In his new book he presents a unique group of poems about the world of soccer: “The Goalkeeper,” “Pelé,” “The Soccer Ball,” and others, show Ala’s openness and refusal to accept the sterility of modern trends. Lost Luggage has many examples of his unique sense of style, his particular blend of candidness and depth. A rare commodity today.”
What Google Say: Those unacceptably sterile modern trends apparently include most of the internet, so I’m scrounging here. I found this thing called “Windsor Communities” offering a profile, and I found a very persistent suggestion from the internet that I was probably actually trying to type “Salvador Allende“. Thanks, internet, for proving the man’s point.

That’s it for the lapsed past. Here’s what Biblioasis lists as its official “Spring 2011” lineup.

Title: Open Air Bindery
Author: David Hickey
Release Date: April
Collection: Second
Timespan Since Last Book: Four Years
What Bumf Say: “David Hickey’s sophomore collection of poetry, Open Air Bindery, builds upon the myriad strengths of his first collection to offer a tightly fantastic collection of songs, stories and covenants ranging across everything from art and astronomy to snowflakes and suburbia, each poem a small instance of colliding light, playful and humorous and profound. These poems, like the flakes in Hickey’s poem- sequence “Snowflake Photography,” take their “time/ Covering the roadside trees in forms of (their) careful willing … gesturing down to earth, unveiling new shapes/ for all that (they) find/ here in the oldest of botanies.”
What Google Say: This is another book that, had I known it existed, would have probably made my list of titles I’m most looking forward to. Hickey’s last book is one of my favourite recent debuts. That book was introduced to me via this interview in NPR. Adorable little province “P.E.I.” keeps a pretty good database of pages on their native children, of which Hickey is one. Finally, here’s a review by Alex Good on his blog that brings up a lot of the same ruralist questions In The Lights of a Midnight Plow left behind in me, when I read it.

Title: The Illustrated Edge
Author: Marsha Pomerantz
Release Date: April
Collection: Le Debut
What Bumf Say: This isn’t really a Canadian book (Pomerantz is American, via Israel), but I’m just so tickled by the idea of a Canadian publisher doing a book by a non-Canadian (“What? What? There’s no CC money for that shit! What foolishness!” cry the provincialism police) I’ll mention it anyway. The bumf says things like: “Marsha Pomerantz’s The Illustrated Edge is as close to a perfect first collection of poetry as you’re likely to find: long-distilled explorations of the human heart mixed with linguistic and formal exuberance and playfulness.”
What Blurbs Say: Daniel Bosch, in the Boston Review, says Pomerantz “offers a participant-observer’s portrait of the state of the heart”
What Google Say: Here’s the rest of Bosch’s piece in BR. Pomerantz’s day job is at the Harvard Art Museum. No biggie. And, to show you just how internationalist they’re being, here’s a link to the Amazon.Co.Uk page for The Illustrated Edge. There you’ll see that they’re not only taking up Canadian publishing, but are actually the only way you can get The Illustrated Edge, even if you live on another continent.