Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Cover, Two Looks

The image used on the cover is taken from an 1890 lithograph by Calvert Litho. Co. entitled Trapeze Artists in Circus. I really like this image as it speaks to friendship, and the women reaching out to each other is quite lovely. I cut out these figures using Photoshop and layered them on top of a grainy background that gives a vintage feel. In the first cover, the focus is clearly on the women with the eye sweeping upward. I used a script font, with the red in the author’s name at the top right acting as a counterbalance to the focus on the bottom left.

The second cover has a more modern look. Here, the blocked text is the focus with the eye sweeping down and around, following the curve of the woman’s legs and arms. The modern font is in stark contract to the vintage looking black and white image. The background is blue, suggesting the sky.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hummingbird Video Book Trailer

A mesmerizing promo for John Wall Barger's collection of poems, "Hummingbird," coming out spring 2012 with Palimpsest Press. Made by the talented ZZalgrn0n. Music by Drudkh.

Or you can watch it here:

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Review of Ariel Gordon's Hump

Ariel Gordon's Hump was recently reviewed in CV2 (winter 2012). An excerpt of the review is below. A link to CV2 can be found here.

"Ariel Gordon’s Hump is replete with poems that evoke the intricate textures, sounds and colours of nature.  In the opening poem, “Spring in Assiniboine Forest”, the narrator clambers through the moss, roots, mushrooms, spores, roots, and mud to the sound of the bullfrogs’ “balloon-rub chorus”.  The other poems in the section continue delving into the fecundity of the natural world, exploring the shifting seasons and the borders between city and countryside.  The book then moves into the intimate realm with poems flecked with humour.  “Tit Poem” portrays a sister’s feistiness before and after a mastectomy. “Somniloquy” and “Pre-conception” depict the narrator’s tender exasperation at her husband’s vocalizations and snoring that wake her at night."

"Hump’s second section is devoted to the gestational countdown before giving birth, from two months of pregnancy to nine.  The sense of abundance in this section mirrors that of the first, as Gordon carefully layers image after evocative image to vividly convey the sensations of a body irrevocably transitioning into the maternal. For example, in one poem the narrator’s body is described in terms of “loamy curves of battered clay”, and in another poem, it is a “dip & dunk tank, the basin overflowing”. The title of one of my favourite poems in the book, “Eight months: what to expect when you’re expecting”, plays on the title of a popular textbook for expectant mothers..."

"Gordon has already received accolades for the book, including the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry in 2011. Brimming with finely crafted poems that thrum with life and love, Hump is indeed a very promising debut."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring poetry titles 2012

Hot off the presses.

The Portuguese word for “hummingbird” is beija-flor—flower-kisser. In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli is the hummingbird god, the bloodthirsty god of war, requiring nourishment in the form of constant human sacrifices to ensure that the sun will rise again. In this book, Barger documents his recent itinerant years in closely observed, honest, and sometimes surreal episodes: on the filthy streets of Delhi, inside a statue of Buddha in Taiwan, and on the back of a Vespa in Rome. The hummingbird is a territorial, aggressive creature whose life depends upon its quest for fuel, compelling it to taste up to one thousand flowers per day. Its pulse, as it flies eight hundred kilometers across the Gulf of Mexico, can rise up to twenty-one beats per second. In these gritty poems, the furor of the hummingbird’s desire to survive and the roving spirit of the poet merge to compel a reading of life in flux that is at once breathtaking, agitated and fragile.

ISBN: 978-1-926794-10-5 
Entombed within a thirty-kilometre-deep seam of rock, the fossils of Joggins, Nova Scotia are pried from a cliff-face by a version of the ocean out of which their creatures evolved—for the first time on Earth—more than three-hundred-million years ago. With probing metaphors and a keen eye on science, the poems in Origins create a multi-faceted portrait of evolution, extinction and climate change. Centered on the powerful Bay of Fundy, Origins compares the displaced, prehistoric marks of fossils with cultural marks like art and books. These varied poems observe eternal traces and lingering residues, from fossilized footprints to landscape sculpture to pollution and industrialization. With only one bone in a billion fossilized and a perpetually changing planetary surface, these celebratory yet cautionary poems also investigate chance, loss and ruin. The intersection of forces, which both create and destroy, are echoed by poems devoted to transitory art, the human addiction to energy, and an evolving media history (from nineteenth-century field drawings to twenty-first-century digital libraries). Origins is a nuanced ledger for a troubled world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dream: Bifurcation

This poem was published in the latest issue of The Antigonish Review 168 (2012). The dream which inspired this poem can be found on this blog here.

Dream: Bifurcation

We’re getting ready for a wedding, although I don’t know who
is getting married or where we are. I step out of the shower

and you walk in, offer to help me study for my biology test.
You slice your foot open to look like the anatomical drawings

in my textbook. For ease in displaying the veins, you explain.
I wrap a towel around my wet body, not alarmed in the least.

You take a large serrated knife, slice your head from crown to chin.
No blood—a clean separation like using a comb to part one’s hair.

You say, I’ll do anything for you, talking out one side of your carved face.
In the morning I tell you about your cleavered head and foot, the strange

calmness, lack of pain or blood. Me, freshly showered, studying anatomy,
while waiting to attend the wedding of an unknown couple.

My mind tries to make sense of the strange in the ho-hum everyday
when epiphanies are disappointingly rare. I need signs,

the kind that wave a red flag in my face, like when the groom’s identity
is unknown and the man pledging devotion

is a bloodless, butchered, two-faced instructor of anatomy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

John Wall Barger's Pain-proof Men


Acetylene dawn. Coalbutton eyes
blink, first time. Tongue cool, heart charred
in its nest, the moon sinks. Canvasmouth
shifts in gumboots on a broomstick spine. Back!
scream crows. He hears breath
in his tweed vest. A plane birrs over a cow
two pastures down. He shakes
from the pole into a heap, gathers
hunting shirt & mangled jeans, hands shaking.
Nervous system. New flesh dress.
Lightning in the nails. He looks down
at the torment. Skin’s a loose fit. And this loneliness.
Am I old? He steps calm as a dream
toward the road, head high, past
the awful birds that pecked his straw
every day since he was made.

From John Wall Barger’s Pain-proof Men
Palimpsest Press 2009
Trade paperback
ISBN 978-0-9784917-7-2

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dinner with Atwood

A couple years ago my mother and I were sitting around the kitchen table when she said in hushed tones, “I know something about Margaret Atwood and I’ll tell you but you have to promise not to say anything to anyone about it. It is a secret.” My curiosity was definitely peaked. Being a poet and publisher in the small town of Kingsville, four hours away from the publishing mecca of Toronto — I am quite often out of the gossip loop and learn things well after the fact. What could my mother have heard about Margaret Atwood? Her conspiring tone was intriguing. My mother made another plea for the utmost discretion and then revealed that “Atwood has a house on Pelee Island and spends some of her time there in the summer.” Well I broke out in raucous laughter, “that must be the worst-kept secret in the world then.” I explained that she regularly is involved with charity events to raise money for Pelee Island’s conservation efforts.

Here is the latest one:
"An Evening With Margaret Atwood on Wednesday, May 9th at Beach Grove Golf and Country Club. Margaret has done readings in Windsor before, as she spends a fair bit of time on Pelee Island, but nothing quite so intimate and accessible as this dinner. From what I’m told, the numbers will be limited to around 100 attendees and the tables will seat six apiece.” Link here.

Tickets cost $100 and you will receive a charitable tax receipt for the portion of the ticket price that goes to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. The evening begins at 6:30pm. After dinner, Atwood will give a reading and sign books, which will be available for purchase. You can email Paul Vasey at paulvasey@gmail.com for tickets or information.