Monday 28 January 2008

Robert Weaver: 1921-2008

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Robert Weaver this Saturday, January 26.

Robert Weaver worked tirelessly to discover, nurture and sustain several generations of Canadian writers, most notably through his work at the CBC. He was responsible for such shows as Canadian Short Stories and Anthology, which featured such unknown writers as Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Timothy Findley, Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen. He also founded the literary journal The Tamarack Review and created the CBC Literary Awards.

Montreal writer Elaine Kalman Naves recently published Robert Weaver’s biography, Robert Weaver: Godfather of Canadian Literature, with Véhicule Press. An appreciation of Robert Weaver, and a book launching, was planned for Wednesday, January 30, at Massey College in Toronto. It is the wish of his family that the event should take place as scheduled.

A two-part CBC Ideas program on Robert Weaver will air on February 12 and 13.

"I don’t know another person in the CBC who was as loved and as admired and as warmly felt about as Bob Weaver." —Eric Friesen

Thursday 17 January 2008

CKUT goes to Chabanel

Yesterday afternoon, author B. Glen Rotchin could be heard interviewed on the CKUT 90.3 FM show “Shtetl on the Shortwave.” Host Tamara traveled to 99 Chabanel, the main setting for Glen’s novel The Rent Collector, and talked to Glen about his book and about the shmatte industry (garment industry) that inspired it.

Listen to Glen getting grilled about how cutthroat he is as a rent collector, himself (or, more politely, "property manager"). The interview can be heard here (click on the Jan 16 episode).

More of Glen’s musings can be found on his blog:

Thursday 10 January 2008

The Avi Boxer Archives

After a gap of nine years, Montreal poet Asa Boxer returned to his family cabin in Val Morin where he unearthed a lost collection of his father Avi Boxer’s old photographs. Avi Boxer was himself a poet, active in the 1950s literary scene in Montreal alongside A.M. Klein, F.R. Scott, Louis Dudek, Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen.

In his essay, “The Avi Boxer Archives: Snap-Shots and Recollections,” Asa Boxer describes his discover and examines his relationship with his enigmatic father. Many of the photos have been included, including the one above of Al Purdy, Margaret Atwood, and Avi Boxer in 1970.

You can read the essay here in our online chapbook feature.

Asa Boxer is the author of The Mechanical Bird.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

Carmine's CanLit

The American journal of poetry criticism CPR (Contemporary Poetry Review) has written a substantial critical essay on our very own Carmine Starnino, editor of the Signal Editions poetry imprint at Véhicule Press. CPR examines Starnino’s poetry, criticism, and editorial work.

CPR writer Bill Coyle is impressed by what he calls Starnino’s “aggressive sanity,” and suggests that his level-headed and intelligent yet unapologetic and ruthless approach is shaping CanLit for the better:

"In concluding, I’ll risk the kind of statement that would have seemed foolhardy at the outset: Carmine Starnino is one of the most important writers and readers of poetry in the contemporary English-speaking world. America has no one like him. His talent, idealism, and ambition make his work exciting, and I would say necessary, reading."

Read the article here:

Wednesday 2 January 2008

Year-end Report

Seven Vehicule-related items from 2007 we’d like to bring to your attention.

Many of you will no doubt know that David Solway’s Reaching for Clear won the 2007 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. But you may not know that Solway actually published two books of poetry in 2007. The second, quietly released from Biblioasis in late November, is The Properties of Things. Originally intended as a Signal Edition -- before being switched with RFC -- the collection features the newest guest to the heteronymous dinner-party-of-selves Solway has assembled in his head: Bartholemew the Englishman. Curious? Here’s an early interview with Shane Neilson which includes sample poems.

Speaking of Biblioasis, a new issue of CNQ (the third under the editorship of Dan Wells) went live in October with yet another offering of vigourous critical prose. Worth a gander is Mark Callanan’s review of Mary Dalton's Red Ledger and Steve Noyes review of Don Coles’s A Dropped Glove in Regent Street.

TickleAce’s demise eight years ago left Newfoundland without a literary magazine. Riddle Fence, edited by Mark Callanan, seems intended to change that. The eye-catching, WANL-funded debut includes poems by Mary Dalton and Patrick Warner (who also contributes an appreciation of Tom Dawe), as well as an essay by Adam Beardsworth on John Steffler’s poetry. And who knew Michael Winter penned cartoons? Let’s hope this first issue isn’t the last. To order your copy of Riddle Fence, please send $12 (includes shipping and handling) to: Writers' Alliance, 102-155 Water Street, P.O. Box 2681, St. John's, NL, A1C 2L7.

As a follow-up to their Anglo-Quebec essay collection Language Acts, Todd Swift and Jason Camlot have put together a folio of new poetry by local mainstays. You’ll find it on the Jacket website, the venerable online lit mag from Down Under. The round up includes Signal poets from the past (Stephanie Bolster, Carmine Starnino, Andrew Steinmetz, Robert Allen) present (Asa Boxer, Peter Van Toorn, David Solway) and future (D.G. Jones: watch out for his Collected Poems slated for Fall 2008). There’s also superb new work from the founding editor of Signal Editions, Michael Harris and a reproduction of a rarely-seen chapbook called 5 Jockey Poems by the late Artie Gold.

Patrick McGuinness -- a good friend to Vehicule Press (he reviewed our New Canon anthology in the TLS) -- has fallen hard for Quebecois poetry. As a foretaste of the anthology he’s editing for Welsh publisher Seren, McGuinness has assembled a six-poet feature (Pierre Nepveu, Helene Dorion, Paul Belanger, Yves Prefontaine, Yves Boisvert, and Jacques Brault) for the Autumn 2007 issue of Poetry Wales. Alongside lovely translations by his hand and Judith Cowan's, the issue includes an essay on “Canada’s two literatures” by Signal Editor Carmine Starnino. For copies, see here.

Arc magazine, edited by Anita Lahey, has just published its Winter ("The Woozy") issue. Signalites might want to pay close attention to Abou Farman’s review of Christopher Patton’s Signal debut Ox, and Starnino’s review of Margaret Atwood’s Door.

And lastly, if you want a powerful taste of Shannon Stewart's upcoming Signal Editions book, Penny Dreadful (due out in Fall 2008) you need to buy Maisonneuve’s new food issue, and turn to page 47.