Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ariel Gordon reads "Tit Poem" from Hump

The fabulous Ariel Gordon performs at the Words Aloud Spoken Word Festival at the Durham Art Gallery, Durham, Ontario (November 4, 2011). Visit the festival at www.wordsaloud.ca.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeAtvazWhjM&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

John Wall Barger radio interview

John Wall Barger was interviewed at the University of Tampere in Finland, which was published by Radio Moreeni. Listen to the interview through Soundcloud. He also reads poems from Pain-proof Men. Link below.

http://soundcloud.com/festusminimus/radio-moreeni-interview

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What would happen if typographers went Hollywood?

Helvetica Bold Oblique Sweeps Fontys

"LOS ANGELES—Helvetica Bold Oblique was the big winner at Tuesday's 73rd Annual Fonty Awards, taking home 11 statues, including those for Best Sans Serif and the highly coveted 2001 Best Font prize. Helvetica Bold Oblique designer Oliver Rudd accepts one of his font's 11 awards. The gala event, attended by the biggest names in the publishing and graphic-design worlds, was held at the Shrine Auditorium and followed by a post-ceremony bash at the recently refurbished Linn Boyd Benton Printing House. 'A million thanks to all the wonderful folks in the font community who believed in Helvetica Bold Oblique,' said an ecstatic Oliver Rudd, designer of the font, in his acceptance speech. 'Without your faith in my vision, I would not be here before you tonight. I'd also like to thank Helvetica Regular designer James T. Helvetica, the giant upon whose shoulders I stand. And, of course, the designers of the Visa Card Terms & Conditions booklet, who brought my font to the forefront of the American typeface scene this year.' With its victory, Helvetica Bold Oblique takes its place in a long line of Fonty-winning Helveticas. In the awards' history, three other variations of the typeface have won Best Font: Helvetica Condensed Light in 1960, Helvetica Ultra Compressed in 1981, and Helvetica Black in 1988"[...]

"Despite the plaudits heaped on Helvetica Bold Oblique all night, some questioned the academy's choice. 'A bold as Best Font?' said Christopher Rankley, editor of Typography Today. 'They may as well have handed the award to Chicago, for God's sake. Or, better yet, Chicago Shadow Underline.' Rankley said he was rooting for the more traditionally tooled Palatino—which snagged just one award, for Best Display Font—to take home top honors this year. 'Palatino is one of the most popular Oldstyle revivals in existence, blending classical Italian Renaissance letter forms with the crispness of line needed for 20th-century printing processes. Yet it has never won Best Font,' Rankley said. 'I think a lot of Palatino fans out there were thinking maybe this would be the year.' A common criticism of the Academy Of Fonts & Typefaces is that it is out of touch with the cutting edge, favoring fonts with mainstream, commercial appeal. Academy members have little awareness, detractors say, of today's more challenging fonts, such as the daring, highly ornamental Blackletter." [...]

Read the entire Onion report at: http://www.theonion.com/articles/helvetica-bold-oblique-sweeps-fontys,263/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Haunting of Amos Manor in Calgary

Richard Stevenson will be reading from The Haunting of Amos Manor

November 26, 2011 at 2pm
Monkey Shine Children’s Books
113, 2215 - 33rd Ave S.W.
Calgary, Alberta.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

12 or 20 questions with Laura Lush

Rob Mclennan interviewed Laura Lush for his 12 or 20 questions series. Below is the first two questions and answers. You can be read the entire interview at http://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2011/11/12-or-20-questions-second-series-with_18.html

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

Good question.  My first book, Hometown (Vehicule Press, Signal Editions, 1991) was written mostly at the Banff Centre over three summers.  And some of the poems were written when I was a creative writing undergrad at York University between 1984-87.  So, I was very fortunate that my first attempt to publish a m.s. was successful.  I don’t think this is a very realistic experience for “new” or “emerging writers.”  In fact, finding a publisher for my most recent book, Carapace (Palimpsest Press, 2011) took over a year.  Also, my first book was nominated for a GG---and that scared the hell out of me.  I wasn’t ready.  Of course, I didn’t win.  And that has been a good thing.  I always have a great fondness for Hometown as the poems were about my childhood and my family.  The memories/images were very very raw.  My work today is a bit more removed.  There is more of a “buffer” between the narrator’s voice and the actual material.  And I think the work tries to grapple with more abstract/metaphysical complexities rather than just speak of past memories.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

I had very little interest in poetry in high school.  I’m not sure why this was.  But shortly before I applied to the creative writing program at York, I went into see Don Coles, who, of course, is one of our best---if not best---modern Canadian poets.  Something in that initial conversation turned me towards poetry.  It was very very subtle, yet powerful enough to make me want to explore poetry further.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

12 or 20 (small press ) questions

Rob Mclennan interviewed me for his series on small press publishing. A snippet can be found below. Read the entire interview on rob's blog at http://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2011/11/12-or-20-small-press-questions-dawn.html

1 – When did Palimpsest Press first start? How have your original goals as a publisher shifted since you started, if at all? And what have you learned through the process?

Palimpsest began in 2000. At that time I was publishing a literary journal called Kaleidoscope. It wasn’t until 2004 I began to publish trade books and then later chapbooks. It was a very gradual process for me. It took me a long time to view myself as a publisher, and then even longer to do things like get proper distribution, hire editors, and apply for grants. It wasn’t until 2008 that I first applied for a grant. I was very conflicted about this leap. Funding meant that I could afford sales representation, warehouse storage, and hire editors and designers. When I received funding I started doing more and more, because I could, and then when my funding was decreased, I was left with a lot of debt. My first four years of relative calm anonymity in publishing suddenly turned into a thrilling and terrifying rollercoaster. It’s a lot of ups and downs and I never know what is around the next corner. At this point, I am just trying to hang on. In the beginning I had no business savvy, no five year plan, no funding — I did it because I loved it — but I had to learn to strategize, create marketing plans, do inventory valuations and balance sheets. I’m exhausted all the time. The stakes and expectations are higher, and yet I still do it because I still love it. My original goal was to find and publish great poets, and although publishing great authors is still my overriding goal, the growth of Palimpsest has paradoxically made survival much more precarious.

2 – What first brought you to publishing?

My love of poetry and books. I’ve always admired the writer/ artist, who both writes and produces his own beautiful editions. What a lovely bringing together of talent and vision, to be able to make the object, the book itself, say something about the words it contains. The way the design, typography, and materials all work together to communicate the author’s voice truly fascinates me. I started a press to learn more about the process, to be involved in something I found exciting and important.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A "Poetree" in Support of Libraries

"Last spring, Julie Johnstone, a librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, was wandering through a reading room when she saw, sitting alone on a random table, a little tree. It was made of twisted paper and was mounted on a book..."

Read this incredible story about an artist who gave these beautiful treasures to libraries in "support of libraries, books, words, ideas", and who wished to remain anonymous.

The complete story and more pictures can be found at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2011/10/28/141795907/who-left-a-tree-then-a-coffin-in-the-library


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Laura Lush in Newfoundland

November 14th, 2011 at 7:30pm.
Jennifer’s Bar Room. 48-50 Broadway.
Corner Brook, NFLD.

November 15th, 2011 at 2pm.
Dr. Shoshana Gan’s Contemporary Canadian Poetry Class.
Department of English, Grenville Campus, Memorial University.
CornerBrook, NFLD.

November 15th at 2 pm.
Dr. Stephanie McKenzie’s Creative Writing Class.
Department of English, Grenville Campus, Memorial University.
CornerBrook, NFLD.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bookfest Windsor 2011

Bookfest starts today — Thursday November 3rd. The below is copied from the official Bookfest Windsor site, which can be found at http://www.bookfestwindsor.com/node/344

BookFest Windsor 2011 Schedule

Program, artists, and schedule subject to change! Except where noted, all events take place at the Art Gallery of Windsor. This is a preliminary schedule: be sure to check back here for updates. (Note: Where this schedule differs from the printed brochure, this website should be considered more up to date.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

7:30 pm: Girls' Night Out, with Karen Mulhallen, Rosemary Sullivan, Mary Ann Mulhern, and Terry Ann Carter. Moderator: Marty Gervais.
Wilkinson Room
7:30pm: All Together Again. Howard Pawley reads from his new autobiography.
Valiant Suite

Friday, November 4, 2011

4:30 pm: Never Give Up. Ray Robertson reads from Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live. Moderator: Julia Beard DeBono.
Wilkinson Room
4:30 pm: Kill Shakespeare. Anthony del Col and Conor McCreery present their graphic novel.
Rodzik Gallery
6:00 - 7:00 pm: Buffet Dinner.
8:00 - 10:00 pm: IFOA Authors. Clark Blaise, Will Ferguson, Brian Francis, and Sarita Mandanna . Moderator: Karl Jirgens. Cash Bar.
Wilkinson Room
10:00 pm: Live Words. Klyde Broox performance poet, and Laurie Smith. Moderator: Braydon Beaulieu.
Phog Lounge

Saturday, November 5, 2011

9:30 am: Coffee, Tea…and…Literary. Writing workshop with Marty Gervais. Coffee and muffins.
Valiant Suite
10:30 am: Looking Beyond the Veil. Ava Homa, presenting her new book. Music and visual art. Moderator: Sara Elliott.
Wilkinson Room
11:30 am: Author, Author…. Stories about Storytellers with Douglas Gibson. Moderator: Martin Deck
Valiant Suite
11:30 am: It Doesn't Have To Rhyme. Robert Earl Stewart, Antony Di Nardo, Tammy Armstrong, Salvatore Ala, Jenny Sampirisi, Bill Harris, Klyde Broox. Moderator: Stephen Pender. Poetry, coffee, and nibbles.
Rodzik Gallery
2:00 pm: Getting the Word Out. Aspects of the Book - Publishing. Jack David, Jack Illingworth, Douglas Gibson, and Alana Wilcox.
Moderator: Dan Wells.
Valiant Suite
2:00 pm: lu et approuvé. David Homel, Melchior Mbonimpa, and Philippe Porée-Kurrer. Moderator: Judith Sinanga.
Explorations Gallery (3rd Floor, south side)
2:00 pm: A People's History. Karen Flynn, Natasha Henry, Adrienne Shadd, Virginia Schwartz. Moderator: Kenn Stanton.
Wilkinson Room
4:00 pm: The Experience. Prose and Poetry. Rosemary Nixon, Antanas Sileika. Gail Scott, Alan Davies, & Karl Jirgens (who will also moderate).
Wilkinson Room
7:00 pm: Champoems. Poetry Contest Winners from regional schools. Moderator: Irene Moore Davis.
Valiant/Rodzik
7:30 pm: Young at Heart. Martha Brooks, Evan Munday, Drew Hayden Taylor. Moderator: Susan Pedler.
Wilkinson Room
9:00 pm: Knights of the Read Table. Alistair MacLeod, Michael Crummey, Ray Robertson, Peter Behrens. Moderator: Percy Hatfield.
Wilkinson Room
 All day: Working Books: Writers' and Artists' notebooks. Including: Michael Marcon, Nadia Ionta, Bill Harris, Carole Harris, Karen Klein, Arnold Klein, Louis Cabris, Hal Neidzviedki, and Sarah Beveridge. Susan Gold Smith.
Concourse
PRESENTATIONS FOR CHILDREN AT PUBLIC LIBRARIES - THE PUBLIC IS WELCOME
Local children's author, Shelley Awad, will be reading from her series, The Greenhouse Kids. For more information, please contact (519) 255-6770 ext. 3310.
Thursday, November 3
Sandwich Branch
Time: 1:15 - 2:15 PM

Friday, November 4
Central Branch
Time: 2:00 - 3:00 PM

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ontario Readings

Laura Lush launching Carapace with Ariel Gordon
November 3rd, 2011 at 6:30pm.
Toronto Women’s Bookstore. 73 Harbord St. Toronto, ON.

Ariel Gordon reading from Hump
November 4th, 2011 at 7:30pm.
Words Aloud: Poetry, Spoken Word & Storytelling Festival.
Durham Art Gallery. 251 George Street E. Durham, ON.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A review of Gunmetal Blue: A Memoir


A dream review of Shane Neilson's Gunmetal Blue: A Memoir.

Below is a snippet. Read the whole review at http://freerangereading.blogspot.com/2011/10/review-gunmetal-blue-memoir-by-shane.html



"Perhaps the best way to describe what Gunmetal Blue is, is to describe for you what it is not. Poet, critic and family physician Shane Neilson has not written a pat memoir making pat connections between medicine and literature. Nor has he written a densely academic treatise about the role poetry plays in healing. He hasn’t written a sensationalized tell-all about his patients and how their suffering informs his poems. He hasn’t written a feel-good story about a depressed young man who overcomes adversity.

What he has written is a raw-boned, devastating, unflinching, uncomfortable and fiercely honest portrait of his life as a doctor and a poet. Neilson describes these duo careers (it’s unfair to call them hybrid careers, since he works so hard at them both) without a hint of sentimentality or pretension. Medicine is a matter of life and death, but for Neilson, so too is poetry. He weaves its importance into the very fabric of his life, treating it not as a pleasant adjunct to his existence but as a core component of it. Gunmetal Blue is about a man finding his voice both as a physician and as a scribe. It is cold-eyed and elliptical. This is a memoir as memoir should be..."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Haunting of Amos Manor Halloween Events

Halloween-themed book launch with musical accompaniment
Children are encouraged to come in their Halloween costumes
Thursday October 27th @ 7:30pm
The Crossings Branch Library
255 Britannia Blvd. West, Lethbridge, Alberta.

Halloween Eve Story hour with Halloween treats and costume prizes
Sunday October 30th @ 2pm
Janice MacDonald will be reading from Ghouls Night Out
Richard Stevenson is readings from The Haunting of Amos Manor
Audrey’s Books. 10702 Jasper Ave. Edmonton, Alberta.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reprint: An Interview with John Barger

John Wall Barger’s second book, Hummingbird, is forthcoming with Palimpsest Press for Spring, 2012. He divides his year between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Tampere, Finland.

Dylan Riley: The first things that jump out from your bio are the divergent locations – but maybe that’s two questions.

First, what’s Finland like? What brought, or continues to bring you, there?

John Barger: I fell in love with a Finnish woman! This summer we lived together in Tampere, in the south, for four months. The whole country is eerie and gorgeous. So much dark. So much light. We visited a birch forest in Lapland, in the Arctic Circle, with five others in a cabin beside a frozen lake. It took two days to heat it. We chopped a hole in the lake for water, cut wood, had saunas at night. One night there were northern lights that looked like green flamenco fingers. The eternals (Vainamoinen, the eternal singer) and demons (Hiisi, the goblin who drowns children in lakes) you read about seem very close up there.

DR: I’m from the Maritimes myself, and I noticed a bit of a pattern. Young people seem to move from an obscure, small, Maritime city to Halifax, then from Halifax on to Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver. How do you feel about this, and do you plan on living permanently in Halifax?

JB: I did that: moved to Vancouver at twenty. I love Halifax, but I’ve always felt separate from it. I’m envious of “regional” writers like Faulkner or Margaret Laurence, who can write about a community and have it stand for the world. I don’t feel like I’m from anywhere. My first book, Pain-proof Men, mostly takes place in Halifax, but my next book, Hummingbird, does not have a single poem set there.

DR: But do you feel regionalism can be a trap sometimes, that in a way you better of as a writer without it?

JB: Maybe it’s a case of the grass always being greener – because I lack it, I want it. But I love [Charles] Olson’s Maximus poems, and his connection with Gloucester, Massachusetts. It seems like knowing where you are from is a beginning point, rather than an end. Like, once you have place, then you can jump off into the cosmos. I know most of the world lacks this sense of place these days – I’m not unique for this.

Read the rest of the interview at http://soliloquies.ca/2011/10/13/halifax-to-helsinki-the-john-barger-interview/

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review of The Haunting of Amos Manor

CM Magazine highly recommends our new Magpie Books juvenile fiction The Haunting of Amos Manor by Richard Stevenson. 
"The Haunting of Amos Manor is a wonderful mystery filled with suspense and foreshadowing. Through Mark's detective skills, readers will be intrigued in finding out the buried secrets of Amos Manor. As they follow Mark in uncovering the mystery, readers will also feel the tension and nervousness the characters feel."
3 1/2 stars out of 4!
Read the entire review here:

http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol18/no7/thehauntingofamosmanor.html

Friday, October 14, 2011

Too Obvious?

I know marketers use sex to sell but in this case it is so obvious I find it funnier than anything else.

Hungry? Well, for the women, BK promises at least 7 inches. And for men, they not so subtly hint that it is better than a blow job!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reprint: Eat Your Cake and Read it Too

"Cakes were in abundance at Willistead Manor yesterday as Windsor’s Pediatric READ program hosted it’s charity event 'Have Your Cake and Read It Too!'. The event was a charity auction of over thirty cakes made by local businesses, bakeries, and schools. All of the cakes were literacy themed, having been based off of a book or story, and were sold through silent auction..."

See more cakes and read the rest of the article at the link below:

http://windsorite.ca/2011/10/eat-your-cake-and-read-it-too/

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Carapace Book Launch

October 15th, 2011. 7pm.
A Different Drummer 
with Shane Neilson
and Robyn Levy
513 Locust Street.
Burlington, ON.
http://web.me.com/diffdrum/a_different_drummer_books/Home.html

--> The poems in Carapace explore the tensions between life and death as they battle for equal play in the natural world. As in her last two collections of poetry, The First Day of Winter and Fault Line, Lush returns to the themes of loss, death, birth, and rebirth, but with a more unforgiving eye and savage vision, exploring the dualities and ironies of experiencing these states simultaneously. At times, these poems are told through the eyes of a new mother as she attempts to balance the complex and often-times conflicting emotions that accompany motherhood: joy, anger, uncertainty, awe and fear. At other times, they are told through the eyes of a bereft narrator as she comes to grip with death and loss. Driving these poems is an often random and unexplained energy that arises from nature, the life force that underpins the natural world as it gives way to both regeneration and degeneration, and the surrendering to these forces as the narrator tries to arrive at some sort of understanding. The results are short lyric-narratives written in a highly imagistic mode.
PRAISE FOR LAURA LUSH:
“Lush’s ability to articulate by not saying gives her work a spiritual depth, an insight into the winters of the soul.”
— Books in Canada

“Adept at developing fresh images and metaphors that do what the best kind of writing should, Lush makes us take a second look at the world, makes us feel as if we are seeing things for the first time.”
— The Malahat Review

“Laura Lush…excels in flash fusion, the implosion of disparate materials into sudden metaphoric unities.”
— Essays on Canadian Writing

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

1st Annual Windsor Essex Open Studio Tour

For four days in September-October, local artists will open their studios to curious visitors, inviting them to talk, check out how they work, and buy artwork if interested.

Tours are free and self-guided, just follow the map. With more than 30 artists participating, there’s a wide range of arts and crafts to take in, from painting and photography to ceramics, and more. Artists will display works of art in their studios and at local community centres, inviting the public not only to see what they create, but how and where they create it. Artists will talk about their work and give demonstrations.

Dates:
Friday September 30 and Saturday October 1
Friday October 7 and Saturday October 8

Times vary depending on the studio. For the locations of all the participants please visit http://www.weopenstudiotour.com/ for a tour map.

Palimpsest will be taking part in the studio tour. Please drop by between nine and three to see a demonstration of our Gordon oldstyle platen press. During studio hours Dawn will be working the letterpress and putting together some hand-sewn chapbooks.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ottawa Book Awards

The City of Ottawa is pleased to announce the 2011 Ottawa Book Awards Finalists. Congratulations to Elisabeh Harvor, whose book An Open Door in the Landscape, has been shortlisted for The Ottawa Book Awards. The award recognizes the top English and French books published in the previous year. Both awards have separate categories for fiction and non-fiction. All shortlisted finalists receive $1,000 and each winner receives a prize of $7,500.

The awards will be presented on October 27, 2010 at 8 p.m. at Library and Archives Canada. The event will be hosted by Lucy van Oldenbarneveld, co-host of CBC News Ottawa and Isabelle Brisebois, Cultural Reporter for Le monde selon Mathieu, Radio–Canada.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Word on the Street

Richard Stevenson will be reading from his new juvenile fiction book, The Haunting of Amos Manor, at the Word on the Street Festival September 24th and 25th.

See the website for details: http://lethbridgeword.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/local-poet-richard-stevenson-set-to-enchant-wots-audience/

“An Old House With Possibilities,” the Real Estate advertisement had read, meaning, one supposed, a fixer-upper. For the Waldmans at least, that would be half the pleasure, for the house did indeed offer possibilities. The large upstairs bedroom would make a wonderful painting studio for Mrs. Waldman, for one thing, and Karen and Mark would certainly have fun decorating their rooms the way they wanted them. For Mr. Waldman, a little rural respite from the duties of managing the new Safeway in Chilliwack would be just what the doctor ordered... except that things start to go wrong from the moment the Waldmans move in. Karen is having strange dreams and someone keeps moving things. Then there is the strange crow – some would say a spirit familiar – keeps appearing and disappearing at the most inopportune moments. Do ghosts really exist? Are the ghosts of the former inhabitants still claiming resident status? Twelve-year-old Mark Waldman is determined to find out. A self-confessed science geek and amateur sleuth, whose silly sister is obviously just a nervous Nellie, he sets about looking for a scientific solution. Join Mark as he solicits the help of his family, and, yes, even the assistance of his nerdy sister, in uncovering the mystery. Some things never die or stay hidden for long.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Carapace by Laura Lush

 Released September 15, 2011

The poems in Carapace explore the tensions between life and death as they battle for equal play in the natural world. As in her last two collections of poetry — The First Day of Winter and Fault Line — Lush returns to the themes of loss, death, birth, and rebirth, but with a more unforgiving eye and savage vision, exploring the dualities and ironies of experiencing these states simultaneously. At times, these poems are told through the eyes of a new mother as she attempts to balance the complex and often-times conflicting emotions that accompany motherhood: joy, anger, uncertainty, awe and fear. At other times, they are told through the eyes of a bereft narrator as she comes to grip with death and loss. Driving these poems is an often random and unexplained energy that arises from nature, the life force that underpins the natural world as it gives way to both regeneration and degeneration, and the surrendering to these forces as the narrator tries to arrive at some sort of understanding. The results are short lyric-narratives written in a highly imagistic mode.

ABOUT LAURA LUSH:
Laura Lush has an Honours B.A. in English and Creative Writing from York University and an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from The University of Calgary. She has also done several writing workshops at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts, where she was awarded the Bliss Carman Award for poetry. Currently, she is working on her M.Ed. in Teacher Training and Curriculum Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She teaches academic English and creative writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She has also taught numerous creative writing workshops in Toronto and was one of the creative writing mentors for the University of Guelph’s inaugural Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in 2007. Her books include Hometown (Signal Editions, 1991), which was nominated for the 1992 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, Fault Line (Signal Editions, 1997), The First Day of Winter (Ronsdale Press, 2002), in which selections of this book tied for second place in the 2002 CBC Literary Contest, and a collection of short stories, Going to the Zoo (Turnstone Press, 2002). Her poems have also been widely anthologized in Canada, the United States, and Ireland.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A review of Turning Left to the Ladies

Published in Fernie Fix (July 2011) Part of the review can be found below, written by Angie Abdou. The on-line version can be found here.

"I could throw adjectives at Kate’s work (genuine, original, important, honest, brave, risky, and beautiful are the first to pop to mind), but instead I’ll recommend that you read it.

Start with Turning Left to the Ladies – a 2009 book of poems inspired by Kate’s experiences as a construction worker and carpenter in the 1970s and 80s when such labour trades were very clearly delineated as “men’s work.” Kate Braid was the first female member of the Vancouver union local of the Carpenters and the first full-time woman teaching trades at the BC Institute of Technology. Turning Left to the Ladies chronicles these years with cutting insight, sharp humour, and an ability to transform intensely personal experiences into art. These are not raged filled poems complaining of the hostility, the sexism, and the lewd sexual innuendo in the work place. All those things are present, but the poems surprise with their humour, humanity, and compassion – for all sides. Kate Braid treats a heavy topic with a perfectly light touch.

One could say that Turning Left to the Ladies tracks the immigrant’s experience – a woman immigrant in the world of men. She is a “Spy” in a nation not her own: “I parachute into man’s country/ hoist a beer in the bar as if a native.” But no matter how deft the female carpenter becomes at imitating the ways of men, she can never assimilate entirely: “It’s only a small slip under the radar/ when I turn left to go to the Ladies.”

Don’t, though, think this world of hammers and nails and lack of male hospitability will be one without music. There is music everywhere in these poems. Braid brings us the song of construction: “Got the rhythm, kid, you got it now?/ You’ve got to love a job that’s got/ this much rhythm,/ this much swing.”"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Logo Design

The Friends of Fort Malden, a non-profit group, hired me to create a logo mark for their organization. It had to be friendly and inviting, since their volunteers work with children much of the time, but it also had to pay homage to the military history of the Fort. The clients specified that they wanted a soldier, and he had to be in a military uniform appropriate for 1812.


Since 1988, volunteers have worked in conjunction with Fort Malden to create programs and special events that foster interest and help preserve the unique military heritage of the Fort. The annual Military Heritage Days are in August. Please come out to Amherstburg and get all fired up as you discover 200 years of military life. There will be tactical demonstrations by period re-enactors, military bands, and activities for the kids.

Art by the River will take place August 27th and 28th. It is held annually the weekend before the Labour Day and has grown into the largest Arts and Crafts show in Essex County. Stroll the grounds of Fort Malden and browse the selection of work available from over one hundred talented artisans from across Essex County and Ontario.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Poetry in Transit

Congratulations to Cynthia Woodman Kerkham, whose poem "In Praise of Mushrooms" has been selected for this year's Poetry in Transit Program. Soon her poem can be read on buses across British Columbia. The poem, found below, has been excerpted from her collection Good Holding Ground.

Here is what Patricia Young had to say about Cynthia's book: “Reading Good Holding Ground is like entering a lush and sensuous garden filled with fruit and flowers, animals and birds, bodies and sex, a garden at once in splendid bloom and in the process of decay. In thrall to the sounds and shapes of things, Kerkham crafts her words with exquisite precision. Yes, she says, there is regret and sickness and death but there is also healing and love and compassion. By turns, tough, tender, elegant and disturbing, these spirited poems address the complicated business of being human. A debut collection well worth the wait.”

Image provided by Ariel Gordon

IN PRAISE OF MUSHROOMS

My boot almost crushes domed towers dew-beaded,
sprung in the night through loamy ground,
knobbed umber caps on vellum stocks
frilled gills underneath to breathe in the deep.

Mushrooms surprising sprouted bright
white buttons on blackened logs, or fleshy
ruffles from ruin where tub and tiles meet.

Precious fungus—shitake, chanterelle,
oyster, portabella and truffles—
sponge-tongued taste of earth.

Spores float like words,
take hold in the cold and wait
to bloom in the dark.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ReLit Awards

The ReLit 2011 longlist has been released, and I am so happy to see both Palimpsest poetry titles there alongside with so many other great books. Congratulations to Elisabeth Harvor and Ariel Gordon. Palimpsest titles have made the longlist before, so it would be fantastic to see at least one make the shortlist.

The entire list can be found here. The shortlist will be announced at the end of August.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A review of An Open Door in the Landscape

In Elisabeth Harvor’s An Open Door in the Landscape, the poems “open” on moments of narrative and lyrical intensity and humour. The collection is divided into sections without titles to focus theme and category, leaving the reader to ascertain the order and balance among poems. Rather than strictly by chronology or subject matter, the poems or clusters of poems are arranged according to some more subtle choreography of image and story, with longer narrative pieces interspersed with short lyrical poems. The poems are at once sensitive and honest in the ruthless way of adolescence, but often with the ironic perspective of hindsight and maturity that adds something funny or at least satisfying...

For a poetry collection that begins with adolescent ardour and romanticism, it ends on just the right note of self-irony. In “For: Dear Companion in Night Sorrow,” the speaker commiserates with a fellow sufferer in a neighbouring room left lighted all night, only to find out later that the occupant was in fact out of town, and so the speaker’s sympathy was misspent. Nevertheless, through the power of the juxtaposition and its effect as a foil, the poem ends on a true romantic note with the speaker in her bed reaching for the letter that has caused her own sorrow and led her in this way to project her pain on a stranger “night companion in sorrow.” This is a strong collection, romantic but never soppy, at times hard but always honest in feeling and sympathy, and sometimes even downright funny.

Read the entire review at The Prairie Fire Review of Books

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reprint: Shane Neilson discussing his memoir

Originally posted in The Winnipeg Review. Read the post http://www.thewinnipegreview.com/wp/2011/06/posters-for-the-book-launch/

When I was ill, I never looked around at the hospital, a hospital that was dispensed to me in increments of freedom, and thought: I will write about this place. I looked at a mammoth painting of a malignant sun setting behind a blackening mountain, the word BELIEVE written in huge letters along a desert plain. Many newcomers have stopped at that painting, awed or annoyed. I passed by it, unaware, inert. I had nothing to believe in, only something to remember. The memory was simple: a memory of arrival. I was here, and I was not free. I needed poetry. I desperately needed sense.

Some writers would look upon committal as an opportunity. I’ve even read one deliberate account of committal (Voluntary Madness, by Norah Vincent) as an act of journalism. Being a loony is good material! I looked upon committal differently, for I was a doctor, accustomed to signing the forms that made incarceration legal. Standing in one of two day’s worth of clothes, I was reduced by irony; I possessed the irony of reduction. I looked upon the hospital as perhaps the last one on earth. The BELIEVE sign needed OR ELSE graffiti. But then this place was an or-elsewhere.

Yet I did come to write about the hospitals I frequented and lived in. As I made the effort to remember, I realized that I was shot through with belief: that the poetry I knew and had lived with had kept me alive, and that I never turned my back on it. I wrote about the link between mental illness and poetry, and it was only years later, after the book had arrived on my doorstep, and after plans were underway for me to launch it, that I realized I would have to go back into the hospitals as a strange emissary. Not as a doctor, which I’ve done many times since my release. In this case, I had no patient to treat. Not as a patient either, which I’ve done since too, albeit as an ambulatory one. As a poet, well, I didn’t have poems in my mind when I walked through the Homewood Hospital and the Guelph General Hospital that evening, copies of the poster for my launch in hand.

I walked through those hospitals as if I belonged in some other, new way.

I walked up the stairs to the Homewood, past smokers not obeying the minimum distance line. I pushed through two sets of entrance doors and I walked down the hall, past the reception area where security and secretaries keep the place safe. The floor was tile, the hallway green. Potted plants were installed at corners. Because the hospital consists of components, built as haphazard additions over the years, I walked down the next corridor, descending gently down. There were photos of previous inmates and staff on the walls, all in black and white. There were photos of several classes of nurses the Homewood had trained in the early 1900s. Some disturbed people were pictured standing over plants. Old doctors with moustaches looked sternly out, and past, the onlooker.

Still further to go. I entered another hallway at an angle. Just past where I had to turn was the library. It stocked my first book, a chapbook, a few weeks after I first became a patient. I believe I was quite ill, but well enough to migrate, and I asked to speak to the librarian. I have never asked a bookstore or library to stock my book after that first experience, but not because of that librarian, who looked on me then as an honoured guest— far better than I deserved. I had to be sick to ask her to get my book because I had other things I should have been doing and caring about, other sense-making things. But it did help that the book did come, and was something to touch. I kept coming back to it. I still look at it on the shelf, and consider it the best copy.

I turned and walked down a stairwell. There was another hallway. The walls were an institutional grey, the floor indestructible. The meeting rooms were numerous. Outside the largest of these, where I had spent over 300 hours over seven years, was a bulletin board. On this board the ill posted recovery group meeting times, phone numbers in case a voice was required, advertisements for local shelters. I had stared at this board on many occasions before I went into the appointment room. It is a kind of tea leaves: look at the board, see the swirling energies, the places people frequent in order to survive.

I placed my poster on the bulletin board. It announced the publication of a new book, Gunmetal Blue, with a Venn diagram of a heart and brain at opposite poles. I felt like writing graffiti on it: BELIEVE.

I walked out of the hospital and moved up Delhi Street. Just a few hundred metres on was the medical hospital. Situated on the other side of the street! This is the place I visit my patients who, mostly, are about to die. I recall my time in residency in Newfoundland, speaking to patients, many of whom conceived of hospitals as the place one goes to die. (In Ontario, hospitals are seen as places to get checked over.)

To get into the medical hospital, one requires access. The mental hospital is perversely freer. Once the mental patient is allowed to escape his small confines, he can roam about. In the medical hospital, areas are sequestered. No administrator wants patients and others frolicking around the MRI machine. I walked past the emergency department, past the radiology department, and towards the window that looked upon the parking lot still charging a quaint flat $6. Down a set of steps, these far wider than the mental hospital, and past a locked door requiring a badge to enter.

In the doctor’s lounge, there are very few posters on the bulletin board. The most recent rounds poster was there, as was a summer barbeque proposition. The hospital pharmacopeias demanded physicians take notice of a recent change of IV antibiotic policy. I affixed my poster to the board as an omen to myself. I knew that some would look at it and say, Can you believe this?

In asking that question, they would indeed know a part of me quite well. But not the part that walked into this hospital, on this day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spa Logo Design

The client wanted a logotype with a mark that would be elegant and organic looking. I chose a font that was graceful and sophisticated, and also had a curvaceous feel that mimicked the curvy lines in the heart. The heart is a symbol of affection and care, quite appropriate for a body and health spa. The shape of the heart is made organic by the stylized foliage. The spa itself displays vintage inspired wallpaper and this heart has the same damask look. The colours of the type are muted and calming, whereas the heart gives a pop of colour, a deep burgundy, which is a historically appropriate colour to the Victorian building the spa is housed in and also complimentary to the greens used in the logotype.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Patron Saint of Bookbinders and Poets

St. Columba of Iona

Ever since reading the Deptford Trilogy, I have found hagiology fascinating. I recently came across Columba, who is the patron saint of poets and bookbinders, and inexplicably also invoked against floods. Born in Ireland, Columba was also a poet and is believed to have written the latin poem "Altus Prosator".

Best known for his love of books, Columba went to great lengths to obtain or make copies of valuable manuscripts. In 540 his first master procured a copy of St. Jerome's Vulgate. Columba got permission to view it and made a copy of it for his own use. His master, Finnian, on being told of this, laid claim not only to the original but also to the copy. Columba withheld this copy, made by his own hand, and the question of ownership was put before the King of Ireland. Columba lost, the trial ending with King's decree: "To every cow her calf, and to every book its son-book" (an interesting early case of copyright infringement).

Columba's skill as a scribe can be seen at the Irish Academy, where the oldest surviving example of Irish majuscule writing and the earliest existing example of a Celtic illuminated manuscript is on display.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bahamas

Some pics from our trip to the Bahamas (May 2011):





Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Curious Case of Plagiarism

I was looking at vintage book covers on the net and came across Fires of Youth (1968) by James Lincoln Collier. The cover is titillating for the time it was published, the naked woman posing in a bottle, as if manufactured and ready to be consumed. But I was also intrigued by the subtitle, “With a forward by Robert Lusty about a curious case of plagiarism.” So I did a little research and it is indeed quite curious.

In 1962 Arthur Koestler announced that the newly founded “Koestler Prize” of 400 pounds would be awarded to an inmate for his contribution to art, music and literature (yes, you read that right). The British government endorsed the project, and a manuscript entitled Young and Sensitive by Dartmoor inmate Don Robson was awarded the first ever Koestler Prize.

Hutchinson & Co published Young and Sensitive in 1964, and launched a promotional campaign centered on Robson winning the Koestler Prize. The book was received to great critical praise. The Sunday Telegraph called it “a work of outstanding merit.” An Observer reviewer wrote that it was “the best account of an adolescent affair I have ever read.” Vogue described it as one of the “most poignantly written novels.” And Mordecai Richler, in The Spectator, stated that it was “a work of outstanding merit… [and] strongly reminiscent of the best of Sherwood Anderson.” The author, Don Robson, finished his jail sentence and then got married. He even appeared on television doing interviews about the book.

A year later, an unnamed man checked out a copy of Young and Sensitive at a library. This man realized that he had read the story before. He had indeed read Fires of Youth by Charles Williams, and noticed that it was, with only a few discrepancies, the same book. He informed the publisher by letter. The Robson book was, without a doubt, a plagiarism. The publisher pulled the planned paperback, and attempted to find the original author, Charles Williams, without success. Don Robson never tried to deny his guilt and returned the prize money. His story was that he bought the manuscript from an inmate for fifteen ounces of tobacco. The publisher released a statement explaining the fraud and gave notice that the book would be pulled from circulation. Robson was never prosecuted.

The New York Times picked up the story of the on-going search for Charles Williams. The American publisher Magnet hadn’t been in business since 1960 and had also gone AWOL. That is when a New York writer named James Lincoln Collier contacted Hutchinson & Co. He told them he had written the novel and sold it to Magnet under the pseudonym Charles Williams.

Penguin, in 1968, published the first British paperback edition of Fires of Youth (the cover pictured above). It was the third time the book was published, but the first time published with the correct author’s name printed on the cover. James Lincoln Collier went on to write over twenty books. My Brother Sam is Dead won the Newbery Honor and was nominated for a National Book Award. I always find it interesting how we, as an individual or culture, assign value to literature, and this story leaves me with many feelings of contradiction and compunction. Why is it that the original American version received no attention or acclaim? Was it that an award was given to an unlikely source of literary merit, which in turn created the sense of value? I’m curious to see what the reviews were like after the third publication came out. In any case, it makes an interesting, and yes, curious, study of how books are published and perceived.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Author Insults

Authors can be cruel to each other but it sure is funny! Check out this post for a laugh: http://flavorwire.com/188138/the-30-harshest-author-on-author-insults-in-history

My favorites are:

21. Lord Byron on John Keats (1820)
“Here are Johnny Keats’ piss-a-bed poetry, and three novels by God knows whom… No more Keats, I entreat: flay him alive; if some of you don’t I must skin him myself: there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin.”

9. Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac
“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

6. W. H. Auden on Robert Browning
“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

4. Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898)
“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Typography Humour

I found this on the net and find it immensely funny, although I suppose that makes me a nerd.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poems and Fiction of Place

Yvonne Blomer
Anne McDonald
Cynthia Woodman Kerkham

TUESDAY JUNE 21st, 7:30 pm at CAFE MONTMARTRE (4362 Main Street, Vancouver B.C.). The food and drinks are excellent at Cafe Montmartre, bring cash as they don’t accept cards of any kind!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gunmetal Blue Book Signing

June 14th and 15th, 6-9 pm
Stone Road Mall
435 Stone Road
Guelph, Ontario

Please join us for the LAUNCH of Shane Neilson's NEW book Gunmetal Blue: A Memoir.  He'll also be signing his Trillium Book Award-nominated Complete Physical (Porcupine's Quill).

Gunmetal Blue is an investigation of how to be in the world—how to be a doctor, how to be a poet, and how to be both. Tempered with memoir and populated with poetic case studies, Neilson learns about himself as his patients reveal their frailties. Medicine might be considered the more productive activity by society, but Neilson found poetry in every office visit. Taught to research clinical questions, he took this scientific practice and made it a literary one: how can a doctor better know his patients, and how does this translate into self-knowledge? Poetry and medicine are topics intertwined since the time of the Greeks and, in this case, the connection between the two literally becomes his lifeline.

Shane Neilson is a physician who practices Family Medicine in Erin, ON. He has published two poetry collections, Mensicus and Complete Physical, which was recently nominated for a Trillium Book Award. In 2010 he won Arc's Poem of The Year contest. Gunmetal Blue is his second nonfiction book, his first being a collection of essays entitled Call Me Doctor.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chiropractic Logo Design

Kingsville Chiropractic Clinic wanted a logo with mark that was professional and classic in feel while also demonstrating its natural approach to health. The client also indicated that he didn’t want it to be excessively serious, as he has a friendly personal relationship with his patients, and yet not too quirky since he is held in a position of authority.

During my research I came across a quote: “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” The chiropractor later told me that this was a quote most chiropractors are familiar with. This quote became the inspiration for me to create a graphic that used a tree trunk to depict a spine. Above is a singular leaf. The tree speaks to a holistic approach to health, while the leaf above the text indicates protection. The text is done in a modern sans-serif humanist font. The script font at the bottom gives the logo a more casual feel and the grass line has a grounding effect while bringing everything together.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Letterpress Wedding Announcements


I have been doing letterpress periodically for a few years in my basement laundry room on a tabletop unit. Since I've moved into this studio space, I've set up a full sized Gordon press. This is my first job on the Gordon and I love it! The wedding announcements in silver ink with red blossoms are pictured here drying on type drawers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Palimpsest author is now wallpaper!


Do you see her? Yes that is Palimpsest author Ariel Gordon as wallpaper, right there above the 30. Get an up close view at McNally Robinson bookstores.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Balancing Domestic and Creative Work

My poetry collection, the challenging and long overdue Beata Beatrix, has finally been accepted for publication. I am thrilled that it has found a home with Tightrope Books, a press that does such fine work. I began this manuscript, not knowing where it would take me, in 2000 when I took my first creative writing course at Humber College. I have always been fascinated by the 19th century and so I began writing poems about people I found intriguing. It seemed easier to me to write about other people, rather than myself. It gave me a bit of distance from the work. The finished manuscript is based on the life of Elizabeth Siddal, who was married to the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Although an artist and poet in her own right, she is best known as a Victorian muse and the inspiration for her husband’s paintings. Although some supported her artistic development, including her husband and the art critic John Ruskin, they did so while upholding the doctrine that a woman’s primary duty was to her family. And so what began as an ekphrastic study of Rossetti’s art transformed into an account of the female artist’s struggle, and as a result folded me as a female poet into the content. The notion of distancing the “I” through a persona became harder to maintain and something I no longer needed. As my confidence increased as a writer, I found that I didn’t require a buffer. This process led me into more questioning and personal territory since the issue of how female artists value their own work is one that I still struggle with. I have always written, and still have the bad high school poetry to prove it, but it wasn’t until I started to take my writing seriously that the issue of balancing creativity and domestic life became very real to me.

The infamous Gloria Steinham statement, “I have yet to hear a man ask how to balance family and a career”, cuts to the heart of the issue of how we value labour. A career is paid labour, a necessity for survival, but also socially valued through its participation in industry and commerce. Raising a family, housework, carpooling to soccer, may also be a necessity, but as unpaid labour it is socially devalued. In today’s society the discrepancies between men and women in the workforce and at home are eroding, and so the balancing act is one that both sexes must negotiate. My point is, then what, if the statement is “I have yet to hear a man ask how to balance family and creativity.” Women typically spend more time with small children, feeding and diapering, and then when they are older, being on school committees, attending teacher conferences, and driving them to practice. I hear many female writers talking about how they divide their time, giving each other advice on how to manage it all. It is true I hear men discussing a similar issue — how to divide time between the unpaid labour of writing and the paid labour of a job. Do you write early in the morning before work or after work when you get home? In the evenings after the kids are in bed? Weekends? But for female writers the issue is a bit different. Since taking care of the kids and house is unpaid labour and then writing is also (for most of us) unpaid labour, the female author is saddled with a double guilt. And by “the female author” I mean me. Not only do I have no income-producing career, I am spending my free time on a labour that brings in no additional household revenue. When I am writing, there is also the guilt that I am taking time away from my daughter. This was especially true when she was younger. And for the first few years of her life, I pretty much stopped everything and focused solely on her. Getting back into it afterwards was hard and I still flounder at times. I have to remind myself that my writing time is not to be compromised and I have to remind others that I am working, which is not an easy thing to do when work is writing poetry.

Most of my family and friends view my writing as a hobby and something that can be easily postponed for more important things, like talking to them on the phone. They would never call their husbands at work and expect them to drop everything to have a little chat about the funny thing their cat just did. But in their defense, it is hard for them to see writing as “real” work. Hell, it is hard for me to see it that way sometimes. A necessity of my life, most definitely, but something that takes time away from other responsibilities and domestic duties is hard to validate. As with any art, people see it as work when you get paid for it, otherwise it is a hobby that has to fit around everything else. Unpaid labour is seen as wasted time, art an indulgence. An equal division of labour is, in fact, in many cases an unattainable ideal. For my part, I consider myself lucky that I had the opportunity to spend so much time with my daughter when she was young and the opportunity to publish so many excellent poetry books. In the last ten years or so I have published over twenty books through Palimpsest, yet I have written only one. It is hard to justify time for writing when the process for me is so slow going. Most people like to see the tangible results of work, such as a published book in hand, but for many writers this is a lengthy process and one that is unquantifiable.

I have been told, more than once, a statement that begins, “it must be nice that you have the time to…”. The truth is that I didn’t and still don’t have the time. But for people that are driven to create art, whatever their medium, they just do it. There are times when the dishes are heaped in the sink, the laundry piled on the floor, and I am writing at four in the morning. And it makes me wonder about Elizabeth Siddal. Here I am, in the 21st century, with all my conveniences, a microwave, dishwasher and so on, and I am struggling to find the time and to give myself permission. I’m in awe of this woman who faced such enormous challenges. How did she, in the Victorian age, find the strength to move out of her father’s house as an unmarried woman and pursue her own artistic interests? After her death it is true that biographers whitewashed her reputation and put her more in line with that of a domestic Victorian muse, but she wasn’t so passive, at least not in the beginning of her romance with Rossetti. This was a woman who had the audacity to have business cards printed that identified her as an “artist.” This, in a time, when male artists had a precarious reputation at best. All this is to say that in the past women’s creative lives demanded fearlessness and a certain amount of spunk, and yet even now they continue to be a challenge. The question of how to balance creativity with domestic life remains an important issue. Having supportive family and friends is vital, and yet I find it difficult to ask them to give me the time needed when I have to convince both them and myself that my creative life is more important than ironing.

The one creative act that women have been honoured for is childbirth. And this is where the Siddal story becomes so fascinating. Siddal was sick with an unknown “female malady.” She became weak and suffered recurrent bouts of depression. There was no known biological root to her illness, and recent historians have suggested everything from anorexia to bi-polar disease. Physicians suspected that she was draining her energy through the creation of her art, and when she became pregnant she was strictly ordered not to work on her drawings and to remain in bed. She was not to direct her creative energy into anything other than the new life developing in her body. As a poet in the 21st century it is easy to see the death of her stillborn child as a metaphor for her repressed creativity. Her art was dead and so was her child. Of course, as a human story it is much more tragic. A woman with so much potential, driven to a life of volatility, filled with personal betrayals, depression, drug addiction and suicide. I am left wondering how many others there were like her. So many other women, then as now, who crave a life of fulfillment, a life filled with art and passion and love, and they end up defeated, both metaphorically and literally. Certainly Siddal’s Victorian world played an important role in her gradual deadening, but that isn’t the entire explanation. Is it the artistic calling itself? Do artists possess a certain disposition that leads to self-destruction? Am I romanticizing tragedy? Am I complicit in idealizing the muse? What makes a person creative? How is value assigned to works of art? These are just some of the questions I grapple with in my collection. And in many ways the questions go unanswered, and yet I feel they are important questions for any writer to wrestle with. At some point all writers should look back to those creative individuals who came before and try to answer basic questions about art and living as an artist. While I don’t think there are definitive answers, looking to the past demonstrates how the artistic life can take its toll and reveal the sacrifices that have been made. While some have suffered for their art, others have been able to negotiate this slippery terrain with determination and grace.

Perhaps lessons can be learned, and at least for me, my exhumation of the past has shown me that repressing who we are has tragic outcomes. I am no longer going to be a closet poet. My creative life has value, even if it is merely a personal one, and I should nurture it and protect it as I would something else of great value. I have never doubted where my passion lies, and yet I have struggled to find acceptance in who I am and the choices I have made for as long as I can remember. This inner conflict is due in no small part to the labels I have been saddled with over the years — emotional, melodramatic, unstable — in other words, a 19th century description of woman. I now realize that other’s opinions don’t really matter. I have always been raw in my emotions, and as self-defense, I have unsuccessfully tried to bury them. People will always label behaviours they don’t understand. I shouldn’t expect others to understand why I invest in a business that consistently looses money, why crowds of people cause me anxiety, why nightmares stalk me in the daytime, why I write poetry at four in the morning, or why I write poetry at all. The truth is that behind the façade of normalcy we all have our particular brand of insecurities, fears, passions and compulsions. It is a matter of habit now for me to hide behind my own well-crafted façade of distancing silence. But if I have learned anything over the years, it is that trying to explain myself to others is a useless endeavour. Living a life of authenticity has always been of the utmost importance to me, although I haven’t always been able to live up to that ideal. I should view myself as fortunate that I live in a place and a time that gives me such opportunities. I can list dozens of female artists who had to face overt sexism and overcome family objections to their artistic pursuits. My small tribulations and inner conflicts seem minimal in comparison. It’s true that my family and friends haven’t always been supportive of what I do, and yet I have never tried to impress upon them how important it is to me. Siddal’s story continues to remind me of that importance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pain-proof Men in Freefall Magazine

Here is a snippet of the review in Freefall (21.1):

"The title poem, 'Pain-proof Men,' which is in part about the fakir who gives both the poem and the book its title (the title is a literal translation of the word fakir), provides the book with both a mantra and a solid pun; 'In here,' notes one speaker, 'you'll find no fakers!' (70) True to this line, Pain-proof Men is for the most part a very earnest, observational book about the intermingling of the other-worldly and the everyday."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mayworks Poetry Festival

 Kate Braid reading from her poetry collection, Turning Left to the Ladies, May 11th at the Mayworks Poetry Festival of the Working Arts in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Reprint: In Defence of Poesy

This article first appeared on the blog That Shakespearean Rag. The link is http://www.stevenwbeattie.com/?p=2494

Elisabeth Harvor is a poet and novelist. Her most recent book of poetry is An Open Door to the Landscape. Below, she shares with TSR some sense impressions about poetry, poetic imagery, and poetry’s lifeblood.

Words on an Abandoned Church, Feral Roses, a Bird Stepping out of a Limousine, and Troubled Eyes

In the liner notes for 1975′s The Best of Leonard Cohen, an album that includes his classic song “Famous Blue Raincoat,” Cohen says that the raincoat actually belonged to him, not to someone else. (And not, as we’ve always suspected, to his brother, his killer.)
I had a good raincoat then, a Burberry I got in London in 1959. Elizabeth thought I looked like a spider in it. That was probably why she wouldn’t go to Greece with me. It hung more heroically when I took out the lining, and achieved glory when the  frayed sleeves were repaired with a little leather. Things were clear. I knew  how to dress in those days. It was stolen from Marianne’s loft in New York sometime during the early seventies. I wasn’t wearing it very much toward the end.
The above quote is itself poetry, intimate and declarative and revelatory in an offhand sort of way. When I got into the habit of bringing a tape of “Famous Blue Raincoat” to the poetry workshops I used to lead at York University in the late 1980s and at Concordia University in the 1990s, I wanted my students to particularly listen for the pause between the socially grateful “thanks, for the trouble you took …” and the stunning free fall to the inspired surprise of “from her eyes.” (The lines in their entirety read: “Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes / I thought it was there for good so I never tried.”)

Much later, the swerve of the thrillingly anthropomorhpic poem about a heron walking out of a river through the tall river grasses appeared on a Guardian U.K. website: “Long-legged, she steps out of her limousine of weeds.” I’ve long since lost the name of the writer, and if anyone can supply it, I would be extremely grateful to know it.

Then there’s the opening of Plath’s great “Morning Song”: “One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and  floral.”

And a finally, in the most recent issue of Fiddlehead, a poem by Bruce Taylor called “Left  Behind,” which contains the following lyrical but ominous evocation of  an abandoned church in deep country, “There it stood, at the far end of our  road / in a damp and bosomy luxuriance / of lilacs and feral roses.”

Jolts, swerves, contradictions, anthropomorphisms, riffs on illogic … These – for  me – are the lifeblood of poetry.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Speaking Volumes and Hatchets

Ariel Gordon taking aim Lizzie Borden style. The hatchet throwing contest took place at Prairie Fire's Speaking Volumes benefit at historic Fort Gibraltar. Not every poet can say that hatchet throwing is part of a reading, at least not in the literal sense.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reading in B.C.

The Malahat Review will launch its Spring issue (#174) soon:

Tuesday, May 3rd
7:00 - 9:30 p.m.
UVic Fine Arts Building
(readings in room 103)

There will be readings by Open Season Award winners Cynthia Woodman Kerkham (poetry) and Philip Huynh (fiction), as well as Patrick Friesen, Barbara Stewart, Iain Higgins, and Rhonda Batchelor (reading Michael Larson).

Friends of The Malahat, please come and enter your names in our draw for one of two prizes: a one year subscription to Arc Poetry magazine, or a book from the Overleaf Cafe-Bookshop.

On Monday, May 2nd, tune in to CFUV 101.9 FM from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. to hear Cynthia Woodman Kerkham and Patrick Friesen talk about their writing on Wild Orphans. Cynthia's first poetry collection, Good Holding Ground, has now been released and is available for purchase.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dream big poets!

A wicked bit of satire from the Onion. We can all have a group cry now.

"CINCINNATI—Shortly before her reading Tuesday at local bookstore Word Mentality, author Francine Massey told reporters that she does her absolute best for everyone who comes out to see her, whether it's just three people or a much larger crowd of nine people..."

Read the entire article here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Manitoba Book Award Winners


Palimpsest Press congratulates Ariel Gordon who has WON the Aqua Books Lansdowne Poetry Prize for Hump.

Here are the judges' comments:

"Hump is Ariel Gordon's first book, coming on the heels of a variety of magazine publications and two chapbooks. The focus of Hump is the rich experience of motherhood and marriage on the one hand, and of city life in the integrated context of the natural world, which is everywhere engaging, fierce, beautiful, and unstoppable. This is capable, exuberant writing, at once passionate and meticulous. Hump is a worthy first book indeed."

—Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry / Le Prix Lansdowne du poesie jury, composed of Michael Harris, Kenneth Meadwell, and Serge Patrice Thibodeau.

Friday, April 15, 2011

MAGPIE BOOKS


Palimpsest Press has previously published two picture books, The Naming Book of Rascally Rhymes and Eanie Meanie Hate Zucchini. We intend to continue publishing picture books while expanding into juvenile and young adult fiction with our new imprint Magpie Books.

The first book to be published under the Magpie imprint will be a picture book entitled Oscar, written by Jordan Troutt and Sarah Preston. Oscar is a curious cat who must travel to the moon in order to get milk. In anapestic rhyming couplets, the narrative is fun, lively, and easy enough for young children to follow along. The second book is The Haunting of Amos Manor by Richard Stevenson. “An Old House With Possibilities,” the Real Estate advertisement had read, meaning, one supposed, a fixer-upper. For the Waldmans that would be half the pleasure... except that things start to go wrong from the moment they move in. Karen is having strange dreams and someone keeps moving things. Then there is the strange crow that keeps appearing and disappearing. Do ghosts really exist? Fourteen-year-old Mark Waldman is determined to find out. Join Mark as he solicits the help of his family, and, yes, even the assistance of his nerdy sister, in uncovering the mystery. Some things never die or stay hidden for long.

The website is now on-line http://www.magpiebooks.ca/