Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Review of Origins

Whetter’s work like a force of nature

WITH a crafted tidal force washing away unnecessary words, Darryl Whetter’s poems stand firm against the driving wind of loose language and (like) unedited drivel that has (like) infected so much of our culture.

If you love the Bay of Fundy, history, science and are fascinated by fossils, this book of poetry will enthrall. Origins is an unusual amalgam of evolution, geological history, cultural change and “the intersection of forces which both create and destroy.” If I may coin a new word, it is ethnoecogeo-science poetry of the highest calibre and may be, like the fossils described, the first of its kind to drag itself out of the tidal water and waddle on this new poetic beach. This, in itself, makes it interesting.

[...] My favourite poems from this section are from Joggins: “Jawbones, skeletons, entire ecosystems / exhumed by the ceaseless strike / and slip of nudged rock.”

From the poems on Darwin: “Your father’s bank account / the wind in your Beagle sails. “ (just to show poets can have a sense of humour) and from Marry, Not Marry the famous Darwinian ledger of the young bachelor scientist trying to decide: “MARRY — better than a dog / anyhow / charms of music / and female / chitchat. NOT MARRY — less money / for books etc / these things good for one’s / health but terrible / loss of time.”

[...] Although I respected and enjoyed the poems of the first Part, I simply loved most of the Counterpart because of this fresh perspective. For example, Burn the House Warm: “Each country house around Joggins / has its annual surrogate of firewood / not just heat but light / radiates from the cooked door / that window into orange / until the very air / erupts / flame chasing smoke / chasing flame for / this sleeping / winter house.” This sense of immediacy makes a stronger impact than history for most readers. Yet the combination of past and present is very powerful.

Origins seems to be part of a new integration of science and poetry that can only enrich our language and culture. For many decades the arts and sciences have been taught in separate university buildings, to the detriment of both. Perhaps this new poetry will shift the tectonic plates of culture. Darryl Whetter has nudged the rock. There will be tremors.

Read the entire review from The Chronicle Herald at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Writing Workshops offered in Kingsville

Registration forms are available at all Essex County Library Branches or online at

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review of Hummingbird in The Chronicle Herald

"John Wall Barger’s energetic book of poetry is like this in-your-face bird, demanding, hungry, courageous and insistent. I like the Portuguese word for hummingbird he teaches us, beija-flor, or flower kisser, but not so much the horrific Aztec name : Huitzilopochtli, the bloodthirsty god of war “requiring nourishment of constant human sacrifice so the sun will shine again.”Especially not on a foggy day in Nova Scotia. Although Barger currently teaches English at Saint Mary’s University, these poems were crafted during past journeys through Mexico, India, Taiwan and Italy. They evoke the “spirit of the hummingbird’s desire to survive, with the roving spirit of the poet.” While some poets revel in such roving, others illustrate a calm, soulful, stay at home reflection. If you prefer the latter, you may find all this flitting from flower to flower a bit exhausting. I enjoyed it but had to rest often to catch my breath. When this travelling bard stays long enough to kiss one flower thoroughly, the results are exceptional. Many of his poems are striking, original, arresting — and often surprise us with unexpected imagery... gritty, innovative work written with great impact, skill and mastery."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reviews of OSCAR

By Jordan Troutt and Sarah Preston
ISBN: 978-1-926794-09-9
9 x 10 Hardcover, 32 pages
Pub date: April 15th, 2012
$19.95 CDN

Oscar wants milk but his bowl is empty. In order to get some he must travel to outer space and visit the cats on the moon. In anapestic rhyming couplets, the narrative is fun, lively, and easy enough for young children to follow along. Filled with curiosity and a sense of adventure, children will love the illustrations of Oscar and his playful friends who help him on his way.


"The illustrations were fabulous. Big full page pictures with deep bold colors sure to catch any child’s attention and imagination. The quality of the book was definitely top notch. I guess I was felt like I was finally reading a book that was worth the asking price. There are no morals or lessons to be learned within the story but that was fine. Simply put it was a delightful romp" 
Cuzinlogic blog review

"From the lively text to the colorful and whimsical illustrations, it's a book youngsters will want to flip through again and again... Oscar's adventure into outer space and to the moon is fun and his return home to nap is the perfect ending, making this a delightful bedtime story for toddlers and preschoolers. Highly recommended." 
Kid Konnection

"Oscar is so bloated he drifts off into space before returning home, satisfied and sleepy. It’s good, simple fun, and Preston’s bright, stimulating illustrations, full of swirls and strong contrasts, will captivate children as the verses are read... Oscar is bright, jolly, and silly enough that youngsters will love it." 
Quill & Quire

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June Readings

-->Saturday June 2, 2012. 12-4:30. Anchor Archive Presents: Crowd Control Sound & Art Fair
DIY of all kinds - zines, record labels, artists+++
John Wall Barger poetry reading
Khyber Arts Society. 1588 Barrington. Halifax, NS.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 7pm
John Wall Barger launch of Hummingbird
The Agricola Project
2539 Agricola Street. Halifax, NS.

Friday June 8, 2012 at 7pm.
Poetry reading with John Wall Barger, Alice Burdick and Jaime Forsythe.
The Makery. 228 Lincoln Street, Lunenburg, NS.

Monday June 11, 2012 at 7pm.
Sponsored by the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia
John Barger with Alice Burdick and Jaime Forsythe
WFNS. 1113 Marginal Road. Halifax, NS.

June 12, 2012 at 7 pm.
Ariel Gordon reading with Brian Henderson, Méira Cook, Jan Horner,
Maurice Mierau and Jennifer Still
McNally Robinson Booksellers. 1120 Grant Avenue. Winnipeg, MB

Saturday June 16, 2012 at 7 pm.
Darryl Whetter, John Wall Barger and Cory Lavender
Argo Bookshop. 1915 Ste Catherine W. Montreal, Quebec.

Tuesday June 19, 2012 at 8pm.
John Wall Barger at the Art Bar Poetry Series.
Paupers Pub (2nd flr), 539 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON.

Wednesday June 20, 2012 at 7pm.
Laura Lush, John Wall Barger and Shane Neilson
Victory Café. 581 Markham St. Toronto, ON.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Steven Heighton's Paper Lanterns

10 September, Nara

At every historical site we visit we're impressed by the determination of the holidaying Japanese to record their day.  Everywhere families and groups of friends pose before temples or at the edge of ponds.  Single holidayers use self-timed cameras or politely approach strangers and ask for help.  The kind of shot that many foreigners prefer—views of famous structures or natural phenomena from which all sign of human presence has been banished by the frame—are almost never taken.
            I wonder if the reason for this is that the Japanese feel intimately involved with their culture—or in the case of this family posing behind the No Trespassing sign in the rock garden (most Japanese will violate rules only in pursuit of a good picture), because they don’t consider nature as something alien and exclusive.  Here nature is not so much associated with wilderness and natural forces—which in Japan, after all, are mainly dangerous: earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons—as it is a thing collectively altered, harnessed when possible, even miniaturized.  Moulded.
            She has another idea.  In a society so racially uniform, and exhibiting such unanimity of opinion and conformity in dress, people need to verify their identity at times, to establish their individual existence in the crowd.  They may derive their sense of security from inclusion in that crowd, that larger circle, extended family—yet even the most egoless citizen sometimes feels driven to picture and trace smaller circles within circles, concentric and secluding, until at the centre there is only . . . what?  A face, perhaps, a single eye: focused as if under a lens.
            The camera winks.  Producing at even the highest shutter-speed a stable record, a proof.  Millions of photograph albums tracing the progress of tiny lives through a huge subsuming culture and its holidaying crowds.  It may be that the weekend is largely for this: to authenticate an identity being developed by instalments, within a much larger frame.  This family standing by an old frogpond as I focus and frame them, invite them to smile.  Click.

From Steven Heighton’s Paper Lanterns: 25 Postcards from Asia
with photographs by Mary Huggard
Palimpsest Press 2006
Limited edition chapbook
ISBN 0-9733952-5-7

Hummingbird Book Launch


Wednesday, June 6, 2012 @ 7pm
John Wall Barger book launch
The Agricola Project
2539 Agricola Street.
Halifax, NS.