I Got Drunk and Went Mountain Climbing: A Photo Essay

Posted August 10, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: Travels, What Jake Did

Hi kids.

I turned 28 today. I celebrated this by taking a day-long break from the novel mines to scale the Midnight Dome. The Midnight Dome is a mountain that overlooks the Klondike at its meeting with the Yukon River.

I started my trip by watching some Breaking Bad and having some delicious Yukon Reds. You’re a lucky person if you can get these at your local liquor establishment. They’re very similar to Mill St.’s Tankhouse brand, except they’re better.

Radio stuff. Approximately 1/3rd up the mountain.

Same radio stuff, 2/3rds of the way up.

Success! Disclosure: I had the headspins when I shot this.

This bench is called the "Top of the World Bench". The "Top of the World Highway" is across the river. It ends at a town in Alaska called "Chicken". Chicken was previously called "Ptarmigan" before it was declared too hard to spell. Lol, toponymy.

Dawson and the rivers. See the mining operation at left? It's hydro-mining mostly, which is very notgood for the environment. If you bring up hydro-mining at a bar in Dawson, you will get the same murderous stare from locals that you get when you bring up the seal hunt in Newfoundland.

These young girls came a fucking long way to pick berries. Seriously, parents. This is what we call 'unnecessarily woodsy'. There's a lot of this in town.

Alaska in the distance. I can see a place that sees Russia from my house.

Straight back over the marble dome. It's a cloudy day. On a bright one, you'd get four or five more mountains in the distance. I'm thirsty.

Q: Jake, you having a good time in the Yukon? A: Does a bear shit in the woods? Note my footprint.

How lost did I get on the walk back down? So lost that I came upon this sign FROM BEHIND. End adventure.

Trotter Interview Now Up at The Walrus

Posted July 5, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: Canadian Literature, Interviews, Poems in the Wider World

Hi kids.

My interview with Joshua Trotter, author of All This Could Be Yours, is up presently on The Walrus site. The interview took forever to do. Seriously. Between my work and his work and Folk coming out the possibility of the world ending for a bit there, it was a long haul.

Normally I’d tease a bit of the interview here before providing the link, but whereas The Walrus’s blog just makes things look so pretty and professional and this page looks like a Transformer fingerpainted it, I’ll forgo the tease and tell you to just click right here for the interview.

The Thirty-Eight Books That Made My Suitcase for Dawson City

Posted July 3, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: Fiction, Poems in the Wider World, Travels

Hi everyone.

So I’ve been in Dawson for a few days now, after a 72-hour layover in Whitehorse to start my travels. It’s nice here at Chez Pierre. Lots of comfy rooms and comfy people and even a fainting couch, which is something I’ve always wanted. I’m teaching myself to bake. So far I’ve made biscuits (from scratch, and incredibly well) and cornbread (from scratch and, er, from scratch). I’m hoping to return to Toronto when my travels are through with the title of “World’s Perfect Man” sewn up for the rest of the decade.

Packing books was an immense undertaking for me. Obviously, I couldn’t take very many, and even the much-edited booklist I eventually put together cost me about $70 in heavy luggage charges first from Air Canada and then Air North. I had to throw three heavies poetry anthologies to the roommates on my way out the door because I couldn’t get my suitcase to close all the way. They were this one on early 20th Century Canadian poets and this collected Ted Hughes (said Latosik: Thanks. Um, didn’t I give you this Hughes book as a gift?)

I thought people would like to know what made the cut. I finished a lot of books in the lead-up to leaving, in an attempt to keep things reasonable. Here’s a list, divided into my standard three categories of book:

The view outside the Berton House at 45 minutes after midnight on June 2nd.

Line Breaks:Looking it over, this section is dominated by books I’ve already read but wanted the opportunity to get into again. When I’m supposed to be writing, I tend to use poetry collections as reference books, things to dip into on occasion in search of inspiration or distraction. Re-reads are good for this.
A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People by Gabe Foreman
Campfire Radio Rhapsody by Robert Earl Stewart (The last book I bought before leaving Toronto, at the Mansfield launch last week.)
The Collected Poems of J.H. Prynne (I’m coming around to the realization that Prynne is the guy I’m going to spend my life obsessive over and trying to emulate. Not a bad choice, for that.)
Hole in the Wall, Selected Poems by Tom Pickard
How We All Swiftly, Selected Poems by Don Coles
Mask by Helen Guri (Needed to give this one a re-read with a little less background noise in my life)
Mirabel by Pierre Nepveu
The Mourner’s Book of Albums by Daniel Scott Tysdall
Open Letter, The Humour Issue, ed Ball & Fitzpatrick
Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry (This is a cool idea, a sort of subject/chronology switcheroo with the standard 20th C. Poetry anthology. Anyone else ever read this?)
Selected Poems by Earle Birney
Slant Room by Michael Eden Reynolds (Michael took me around Whitehorse a bit when I was up there. He was gracious and funny. His book is really exceptional, in particular the second of its four parts– the long lyrical elegy done right.)
Penned: Zoo Poems ed Bolster, Grubisic & Reader
The 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology ed Tim Lilburn
The Best American Poetry of 1992, ed Charles Simic (Why 1992? Because that’s the version the used bookstore had in stock.)
Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry ed Robyn Sarah

No Line Breaks, Fictional: The theme here seems to be books I haven’t read by authors I love. Whereas fiction is what I plan on working on up here, this part of the list was kept light.
20 Grand: Great American Short Stories ed by Bantam Pathfinder Staff (This book is begging to be left behind on a park bench when I return Southside. It will get its wish.)
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Flight Paths of the Emperor by Steven Heighton
In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje
Mao II by Don Delillo
Samuel the Seeker by Upton Sinclair
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima
The State of Constraint, New Work from the OULIPO ed by McSweeney’s Editorial Staff
Young Romantics by Daisy Hay

No Line Breaks, Not Fictional: Tends to be the major part of my reading, and it is here too, though poetry outnumbers it in titles, those slim volumes get massively outweighed by their denser cousins.
Aesthetics and Politics: Adorno, Benjamin, Bloch, Brecht & Lukacs (Amazon link not intended ironically, was all I could find.)
Aesthetics: From Classical Greece to the Present, Monroe C. Beardsley
Essentials of Home Cooking, Bonnie Stern
Europe on a Shoestring and Europe through the Backdoor (For my further adventures this year. I’m going sneak in the backdoor on shoestrings.)
Europe: A History, Norman Davies (The greatest living English-language historian. Fight me over it.)
Heart of Europe, a History of Poland, Norman Davies (I’m reading this not because I love Polish history, but because I like how this book is ordered. It’s written in reverse chronology, from Solidarity backwards to the Barbarians).
A History of Pornography by H. Montgomery Hyde (What? It’s history.)
The Critical Object (Digital Redux), by Jeanne Randolph (My predecessor at Berton House, she does philosophy-meets-pop culture exceedingly well.)
Lapham’s Quarterly, the “Sports & Games” and “The City” Issues (This periodical is the caviar of bathroom reading.)
Turco’s Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics by Lewis Turco (Only the classics for me, thanks.)

I had also loaded up a few dozen titles on my Kobo eReader, thinking that such ethereal digital things would take up less space than print and paper. And they did, but they are also kidnapped by their own devicehood, and when the device breaks, as mine did as I took off from Whitehorse on Friday, the texts become unreadable. Joke’s on you, modernity. Or I suppose modernity’s joke is on me.

Exhibit A:

That's cool. I didn't need the words in the bottom left-hand corner of every page.

Exhibit B:

In this wider-angle shot of the above, Pierre's old Remington typewriter can beseen smirking.

Go See the E.E. Cummings Thing at Soulpepper

Posted June 8, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: 2011, Poems in the Wider World, Theatre

Since I was just a little wolf cub, I’ve been lucky enough to know a great deal of things about a great deal of things. However, I won’t say that Le theatre is one of them. Of the last, say, ten shows I’ve attended in Toronto, a majority-mandate-winning percentage of them have either been adapted from poetry (as was Mike Ross‘s Dennis Lee cabaret a couple years back) or about poets (as was “Futurists”, and the excellent “After Akhmatova”).

The newest 3D Motion UnPicture Event I saw was the Double Bill being presently put on the Soulpepper Academy, the first half of which is called (Re)Birth and is basically a loose, vaudeville-inspired cabaret of song and dance inspired by the work of American poetry’s favourite rumoured-spy-turned-McCarthyist, e.e. cummings.

It sounds like it could be awful. But it’s not. The work is listed as a collaboration, but the music sounds too similar to Ross’s Civil Elegies score (he’s the musical director of the company, and performed in the cabaret dressed in a very in-charge looking admiral’s jacket) to ignore what may have been a dominant source of input. The music is incredible, the staging both invested in the poetry and winkingly irreverent, and the efficiency of the event’s choreography closer to dance than to theatrical blocking.

The strength of Civil Elegies was in Ross’s ability to cobble together something resembling a balladic vision from Lee’s massively diverse prosody (he drew on the title book, obviously, but also elements of The Gods and the “children’s verse”). That trick is maybe even a little tougher with cummings, so the company did really well to avoid biting off more than they could chew. The poems selected skew to the poet’s younger years. Whereas Ross’s solo show was ordered and almost narrative in its scope, the group effort of (Re)birth is more of a straight cabaret, with the various instrumentation (electric bass, stand-up bass, violin, beatbox, children’s xylophone, pennywhistle, um, rubber frog toy…) leading the way, even at expense of the words. The celebration, here, is of the aw-shucks American vernacularism that inspired much of cumming’s diction, and likely much of his popularity. The youthful, playful, anarchy-facing subversiveness of the project is more than enough.

(Re)birth is presented as a double bill with the farcical experimental piece, Window on Toronto, which is set at a hot dog cart, has maybe 100 characters, and moves as fast as anything I’ve seen in my limited theatrical viewership. It’s a great chaser for the meatier, if equally madcap, (Re)birth. I’m hoping one day to see Ross’s Civil Elegies remounted as double bill with (Re)birth as its follow-up.

The Soulpepper Academy’s Double Bill runs until the 22nd. We scored rush tickets for $20 a head. Worth it at twice the price. Which I imagine is what they cost, now that there’s no more rush shows left. Go see it. Seriously. This is the very most I’m capable of recommending something.

Griffin Math, 2011 Update

Posted June 2, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: 2011, Awards, Book Industry, Canadian Literature, Events, Poems in the Wider World

I have hangover. I have gritty club-faced hangover. I have dirty, twitchy, turn-the-brightness-down-low-on-the-laptop hangover. I have ShowMeNoFood with a touch of WhereAreMyPants. I have hangover.

That being said, I wanted to update this old Griffin Math post to reflect the winners (Gjertrud Schnackenberg and Dionne! Fucking! Brand!) and shortlistees of the 2011 version of the award. I also want to remind you, dear internet, that on the day the judges were named, I told you that Dionne was going to win this year’s Canadian prize for Ossuaries. I do this not to pat my ego or anything (what’s the value of getting such a thing right?) but to suggest, calmly and supportively, that if a mildly-engaged observer such as myself can correctly guess the winner ten months in advance, the Griffins may have a slight predictability concern. That’s all. Canonization can be boring work I guess, even when the poet being canonized is among your very favourites.

So anyway, here are the breakdowns I brought out last year, broken down anew with the fresh information from the 2011 lists.

Canadian Griffin Awards by Gender
Women: 7 wins off 18 shortlistings
Men: 4 wins off 14 shortlistings
Mixed: 0 wins off 1 shortlisting

The Canadian Griffin Award continues to be (thusfar, anyway) that rare thing, a female-leaning major literary award. The women almost have it a 2-1 ratio at this point, and have returned to their winning streak after a brief three-year period owned by the men, wherein the prize went McKay 07, Blaser 08, and Moritz 09.

International Griffin Awards by Gender
Men: 6 wins off 29 shortlistings
Women: 4 wins off 14 shortlistings
Mixed: 1 win off 1 shortlisting

The international award has skewed male. Or, alternatively put, the international award has skewed in same manner as most international poetry awards. Still, three consecutive women have won it (CD Wright, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, and now Gjertrud Schnackenberg) so perhaps we are in the midst of an evening-out.

Canada Griffin Award Shortlistings by Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart (8)
House of Anansi (7)
Coach House (6)
Brick Books (3)
The Porcupine’s Quill (2)
Vintage Canada (1)
Douglas & McIntyre (1)
Frontenac House (1)
Polestar Books (1)
Exile Editions (1)
Insomniac Press (1)

Canada Griffin Award Wins by Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart (4)
House of Anansi (2)
Coach House (2)
Vintage Canada (1)
Brick Books (1)
University of California Press (1)

The above tables are for the “Anansi always wins, because they’re owned by Scott Griffin” goldfish. Anansi does not always win, though they did the two previous years. Lots of great presses have gone untouched by Griffin benevolence, but if I had to name just two: Hello Vehicule? Hello Nightwood?

International Griffin Awards by Nationality:
USA: 8 wins, from 27 shortlistings
UK: 1 wins, from 11 shortlistings
Ireland: 1 wins, from 2 shortlistings
Australia: 0 wins, from 2 shortlistings
Barbados: 1 win, from 1 shortlisting
Libya: 0 wins, from 1 shortlisting

The above table counts the translator’s, and not the original poet’s, nationality. There’d be a lot more diversity there, otherwise (including an addition this year of rows marked “Belgium” and “Syria”). Still, if we were to take Khaled Mattawa’s adopted homeland as his nation, instead of his birthplace of Libya, we’d see in this year’s shortlist a repetition of the Grffin’s default international shortlist: 3 Americans, 1 European, with the American winning the prize. Those UK/Ireland numbers will look out of whack to some, and to those I’ll issue the reminder that Northern Ireland (home to Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon) is still a part of the former. This is the Griffin’s most significant cultural bias. They like Americans a great deal, even when those Americans are acting as translators and not originators.

Canadian Griffin Awards by Region of Birth:
Ontario: 4 wins, from 12 shortlistings
United States: 3 wins, from 4 shortlistings
Manitoba: 1 win, from 2 shortlistings
Atlantic Canada: 1 win, from 2 shortlistings
Saskatchewan: 1 win, from 2 shortlistings
Trinidad: 1 win, from 2 shortlisting
Alberta: 0 wins, from 4 shortlistings
Quebec: 0 wins, from 3 shortlistings
UK: 0 wins, from 2 shortlistings
BC: 0 wins, from 1 shortlisting

I remember last year when I was making these lists wanted to do something on geography to deal with the perceived Toronto-centricism of the domestic award. It’s tough to do, though, as Canadian poets have a frustrating tendency to not stay still, and most of them file through Toronto at some point in their lives. So the above is very imperfect (for example, it doesn’t list Brand as a Toronto poet, as she was born in Trinidad, but does list Mr. Newfoundland Ruralism, John Steffler, as one). So, don’t take the above too seriously. Still: only three shortlisted authors from Quebec so far, including Suzanne Buffam? Only the one (George Bowering) from BC?

I know this is an imperfect scicence, but here goes: I’d suggest that, of the eleven previous Griffin winners in Canada, six of them could be rationally described as “Toronto poets” at the time of their winning: Bok 02, Avison 03, Borson 05, Moritz 09, Solie 10, Brand 11. So, six out of eleven, and at least two of those (Borson, Solie) were writing poems with a distinct geographic lilt quite distant from Toronto. Whether or not you think 6/11 is evidence of an eccentricity or bias is likely wrapped up in your own eccentricities and biases towards Toronto (as cultural capital, or not) and the country (as federation, or not). I’ll leave you to them.

With that, I’m going out into the repressive, hateful, sunlight, to try and get my day started. I ate some yogurt. I feel okay.

Reviews in, Reviews Out, Trillium, Sunburn, Thursday

Posted May 30, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: Awards, Canadian Literature, Events, Newspapers, Reviewing

Hi everyone.

To bring you up to date: I quit my job. I am going to spend June doing a lot of reading, some writing, and a great deal of wandering around the city. I’ve done so much of this third thing already (including a 25km quest from Parkdale to Folk’s spiritual homeland of Malton, Mississauga) that I’ve already developed a case of the official sunburn of my people. I’m going to write an essay about reading books while walking down a public sidewalk. I feel I’m good at this, and it’s a skill that’s underutilized and seen as eccentric or antisocial. It’s not.

My review of the Fall 2010 chapbooks from Cactus Press is in the newest reload from Alex Boyd and company at Northern Poetry Review. I liked them all. Go read them. Also, the review of Folk by Adebe D.A. from the May issue of Quill and Quire is now online and here is the link I promised earlier.

Trillium shortlist came out today, and it was a good morning here at headquarters with both roommates scoring nominations. Well deserved, gentlemen. That poetry list is superb, really. Books that I was worried were coming in under the radar, brought back to the radar’s blip (Couture, Norman). Someone even got shortlisted despite insinuating that he doesn’t submit to awards. Magical. The Globe ran a halfway interesting think piece on awards culture last week. The takeaway thought, for me, is the idea George Bowering had about how prizes have taken the place of reviews in the ordering, canonizing, extracting work of new literature. Seems wildly inefficient, really (reviews are inexpensive, iconoclastic, various, while prizes tend to be expensive, idolatrous, monolithic and loud). Also, reviews used to have the democracy of numbers (a book would get 10 or so, says Bowering, and it matters less what one well-placed individual thinks of your work), while awards are few enough to put a great deal of weight on the lucky or unlucky arrangement of jurors around juries. Not that it’s the fault of any of the awards themselves. Anyone wanting to give money for books is on the side of angels. Full stop.

The solve for this imbalance seems simple enough: more reviews. Better critics. More space for reviews in the unconfined space of the internet. A democracy of shouting. And the rest balances itself out. I’m trying to pitch in here and there. I’ve taken to reacting to people who introduce themselves as “aspiring poets” with a friendly, “Oh really, have you reviewed anything I might know?” To that end, massive props go out to E. Martin Nolan for his review of the new Babstock in The Puritan. The first decent reading that thing has gotten, the first to approach it excited and unafraid. The first to get into, and then over, it’s “difficultness”. Everyone reading this sentence has more difficult books on their bookshelves. Stop panicking. Let’s not overreact, you know? Let’s be readers.

Speaking of all that, I’m stoked for the Griffin readings tomorrow. I’m going to spend the day getting liquored up so I can introduce myself to Don Patterson. After that circus packs up for another year, I’d recommend the launch of what I’ve been told is the final issue of Misunderstanding Magazine on Thursday. Both Cactus Press and Misunderstandings are Jim Johnstone creations. Cheers to Jim, say I. A pretty solid crew of readers await us at the Black Swan on Danforth at 7:30. Two Moritzs, Paul V, Sam Cheuk, the Toronto arrival of Vancouver’s Rob Taylor, and a bunch of others. Really great line-up. Now that I don’t have a job, I suppose I’ll get there early, even.

Can Someone Recommend Some Good New Short Fiction for Me, Please?

Posted May 28, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: Fiction

See above.

I just finished my friend Carolyn Black’s book The Odious Child and before that I read Stuart Ross’s Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew and before that I read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Devon Code’s In A Mist. I liked all four very much. I’m thinking short fiction could be the next thing I get into, reading-wise. Can someone suggest me some more? As an aide, here are some things I’ve noticed I like.

1. Stories that serve in some part as excuses for fucking around with the material of stories.

2. Stories that do not hold “the story” up as the default sense-making paradigm for the activity contained in a human life.

3. Stories that have jokes about sex.

4. Stories in which the main characters, such as they are, do not act like the main characters in a novel. I say this because I don’t want to move in with them, I just want to be entertained by them for five to thirty minutes.

5. Stories in which the main characters, such as they are, do not act like the main character in my life, or in “real life”. This has always bothered me about stories, in part because I don’t *believe* in them in the way I believe in the lyric or the novel or the play. I don’t believe that their propensity to accurately reflect the true nature of human life is reflected by the faith we put in their ability to do that. I like my stories shifty and unhuman. I want to make use of the fact that short fiction is, at present, the scariest kind of reading I can imagine.

6. Stories that tell larger stories, with a general but not oppressive thrust towards a shared narrative arc. The Ross and Egan books did this especially well, methinks.

7. Stories in which none of the characters have names. Or in which all of the names are adjectives. Or in which all of the characters are adjectives.

8. Stories by authors who give off the sense that they could have been poets if they wanted to.

9. Stories that are not stories but actually glossaries, or inventories, indexes, lists.

10. Any story set within a fifteen block radius of my apartment.

Your help here would be muchly appreciated, internet. It’s been so long since we talked.

I Went Away Nowhere

Posted May 17, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: 2011, Canadian Literature, Events, Reviewing, What Jake Did

Hi all.

I took some time off. Quite a bit of time, actually. I wasn’t vacationing. I was reading (in public, aloud) and reading (in private, quietly) and going to baseball games and visiting family and trying to be as good a subject I can manage as friend/family/co-worker/associate/boyfriend/neighbour. It went okay.

So what have I missed? A lot, right? Some good books out there now. If I had to throw my megaphone behind just one new 2011 title, I’d offer Linda Besner’s “The Id Kid“. I read with Linda in Toronto at the beginning of the month, liked her book enough to pick up a copy, then took it home and came to like it a lot more. She does a breathless list of things very well in this book. It’s playful, formally adventurous, and carries a variety of interests. I liked it good. You should buy a copy and read it for yourself.

I’m still pretty busy. I quit my job in a month. Then the Yukon for three months. Then a quick sojourn to Winnipeg to read at Thin Air this year, then the Vox Sister and I are running away to Europe in October. Fuck you all, I’ll see you in 2012. I suspect blogging activity to increase over the summer, and then drop low again during the fall. And by blogging, I mean actual blogging, not just this silly drop-in updating garbage. I’ll use adverbs and everything.

I’ve been piecing together what I want to work on while at the Berton House. I’ve got a novel I could fiddle with, and a handful of poems. But really, all I want to do is read. Read for like 10-14 hours a day. Read all the books. Read everything I’m 1,500 pages away from understanding well enough to carry on: aesthetics, economics, European history, Marxist literary criticism, recent Canadian short fiction, the history of The Worlds Fairs, the history of baseball, the history of Russian philosophy. I have a list of thirty or so things I’d like to know 400% more about, and that’s what I really want to do. Read and read some more. As I mentioned online last month: All I want to do is read books until I puke.

And if I could sneak some poems out, or rewrite the novel, while doing that: balls. Bonus balls. But mostly I just want to read. These retreats are supposed to be about “making time” for your art. I can always make time to write. But I can’t always make time to read.

Speaking of reading: I’ve got a handful more of those before leaving the city at the end of June. I’m at NYU with Thran this Friday, then I’m in Burlington on the afternoon on June 5th with Anne Simpson and in Hamilton that evening for Lit Live. Then, I’m road-tripping to Niagara with local short story mavens Carolyn Black and Rebecca Rosenblum for the Niagara Literary Festival on June 12th. Rocknroll. I’ll send details on those last few when I know them.

A number of you have mentioned the Globe review from Saturday. I like that. It’s good to be noticed in the newspaper read by, say, that English teacher I had who once told me I had no knack for writing and should probably be an engineer. What’s up, Mr. D? Say hi to Hebbville for me.

There’s been a few notices for Folk of late, actually. The Quill and Quire had a very generous evaluation in their May issue. When that goes online, I’ll show it. Here’s one from the Halifax’s Chronicle Herald (you may need a login to read it) and quick hitters from The National Post and the New Brunswick paper, the Telegraph. Mark Sampson writes a nice one for his blog here, and I’ll add a link to this blog review that liked it a lot less, though her points are fair and the review is well-assembled. I’d be willing to call her opion of the book “mixed”, right up until that last paragraph. Ouch.

Be cool, internet.

-Jake

Must Be April

Posted April 27, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: 2011, Book Industry, Canadian Literature, Events, Poems in the Wider World

Hi kids.

It’s been forever since I’ve updated this self-promotional engine I call Vox Populism. Apologies. I’ve been busy doing things and then not discussing them here. Anyway, I wanted to hop back into it for a quick hitter on two exciting launches this week. Maybe you already know about them?

1. The Coach House Launch is at Revival, on College, tonight at 8. I’ve managed to get my unclean mitts on their two poetry collections (A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People, by Gabe Foreman and Match by Helen Guri). I liked them both, for very different reasons. Coach House once again produces the most purely enjoyable poetry titles of the year, for like the third year in a row, that I can think of (after Sue Holbrook in 2009, and Jonathan Ball last year) Cool on CH for doing two new poets. They surely don’t have to. There’s also prose being launched of course, Sean Dixon has a new book, and the gloriously well-titled Monocerous, by Suzette Mayr.

2. The Anansi Poetry Bash is back this year, and will be at the hipsterific Levack Block (on Ossington) tomorrow at 8pm. I have a reading at The Magpie that night, so might not make it, but I want to. I’ve read the new Babstock and Rader books and enjoyed them both. Haven’t gotten the Thesen yet, but will. I think Methodist Hatchet might be my favourite collection from Ken, I feel like he’s more firmly in control of the wild ontological leaps that characterized Airstream Land Yacht, and that he’s accomplished that magic trick without much slowing down or simplifying of his palette. There’s a couple poems in the second half of the book that take place a couple gears back from his peak (can’t remember titles of the top of my head…), and seem like remnants from earlier collections, but generally speaking, he’s figured out how to move faster through diverse content than any of his peers, and is doing so with a smoking confidence. The joy of metaphor, really, is its life in the unrevealed bloodlines between seemingly disparate objects, and Ken sees that genealogy like nobody else. Call it: The Wikipedia Lyric, and let that be a compliment. It’s a fucking great book. Nice when things live up to your unfairly high expectations.

Of course, this all pales in comparison to THE major Toronto event happening this week, but people get all harrumphy when I talk fights in public, so I’m not going to. Except to say: GSP in 5, Aldo in 2. Machida in a reverent (and boring) 3.

Cheers,
Jake

PS-I almost forgot to mention, my local bookstore, Type on Queen, is turning Five Years Old on Saturday, and I and a number of local authors will be dropping by for impromptu readings throughout the day. It’ll be a blast. Type are good people, noble people. Except for the one of them who is Kyle Buckley.

To Type:

Eirin Moure Piece Up at The Afterword

Posted April 19, 2011 by Pivot Readings
Categories: Book Industry, Canadian Literature, Fellow Bloggers, Newspapers, Poems in the Wider World

I have to say it, I had my cringe-face ready to go when this project started rolling, but the essays my fellow panelists have come up with for the CBC/National Post “Canada Reads Poetry” project have been really strong. You’re reading along? You should be. Here’s a link to the five.

My post on E(i)rin Moure’s Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person landed today. It’s right here. Hope you like it. There’s a typo in the third graph. I’d volunteer that I’m the source of the typo, and not the editors at the NP, but I imagine that if you’re at all familiar with this blog, you already guessed that.

There’s a panel discussion about poetry tomorrow featuring all five essayists. Could be fun. 2pm EST, at The Afterword, if you’re interested.