Sunday 30 October 2011

Sunday Poem


It’s frank. The standoff ’s end,
pitch and gamble: a taunt. Shot
from the shoulder, the tightening
circumference of now. Oh

please. She’s bobbing
bravado and wrist wraps. Her guard
would let in a convoy of knuckles. It’ll be
a cinch, riding

the punchline into her
open mouth
through her forehead,
off her Vaselined

cheekbone. It goes to the head
like bad news, a word you wish
you’d never learned. Whore,
it smacks. Bitch. No good

cunt. It only takes one
to clear the way for all the hooks
and crosses you’re dying
to throw, screw

talking things through, touching up
the mascara. No more weeping
and gnashing in the change room.
Can you take it? My fist

wants to know. My fist
couldn’t hear you. How about now?

From Spinning Side Kick (2011) by Anita Lahey.

Wednesday 26 October 2011


Vancouver was fantastic. Everyone came ready to play. The panels crackled. And the conversations—which often went into the wee hours—were partisan and passionate. Some of the best four days I've had in a long time. I feel very lucky to have been a part of it. For the curious, I've gathered up some of the (mostly blurry) iPhone pics that have been circulating.

(Left to right: Gillian Jerome, Ben Doller, the back of my head, Sandra Doller, Melanie Siebert, Christian Bök, Silas White, Katia Grubisic, Srikanth Reddy, Matthew Zapruder)

(Left to right: Jeramy Dodds, George Murray, Ken Babstock, Helen Guri, David Seymour)

(Michael Lista, Ken Babstock)

(Christian Bök, Darren Wershler)

(David McGimpsey, Darren Wershler)

(George Murray, Damian Rogers)

(Ken Babstock illustrates Matthew Zapruder in action)

Sunday 23 October 2011

Sunday Poem


Our poor lemon tree is losing leaves,
letting them fall to the hardwood
we have stained watering it.
The sun pours hard through the curved
southwest window and the tree
looks out to the distant poisonous
lake, its leaves curled random and
unhappy on the floor's marred sheen. How
hot it gets and we forget to water. But
two small white puckered buds show
on a single branch. This is
the second time in sixteen years
it has flowered, tried to fruit.
We wait. We grew it from seed, our
early bet hardening over the years,
years longer than the decade bet on.
My husband as always siding
with abundance, optimism, and me as
always grim and certain, unbending
in the dry and difficult world.
From Mapping the Chaos (1995) by Rhea Tregebov.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Is there something fishy about this year's GG shortlist for poetry?

Zach Wells thinks so.

Sunday Poem


Queen and King, they rule side by side
in golden thrones above the clouds.
Her giggle and wide eyes remind him
of his first young wife, and his twang
never ceases to thrill her, so different
from the prim accents of men she's known.

She sings for him, "Hound Dog"
and "Heartbreak Hotel," and he turns
the Mock Turtle's song of beautiful soup
campier with each performance, hip-twists
till her eyes stream and she melts with laughter.

Sometimes they leave their airy realm
to share a strawberry shake at Burger King
in Memphis, visit the Tate Gallery in London
solemnly to ponder the Lady of Shalott
alone and adrift in her rowboat.

In rare arguments over fame, he cites
the Churches of Elvis, the Vegas tributes,
while she mentions the Alice shop in Oxford,
the Alice ride at Disneyland. He says more books
have been written about him, but she insists hers
are of higher calibre, her words are quoted
much more often than his. He calls up wax figures,
she teapots and tarot cards. Both delight
in their limited edition collector's plates.

For dinner they fry chicken, make tea and scones,
tarts filled with peanut butter.
He runs her a lavender bubble bath,
washes her hair, greases his own.

She lays her head against his chest
during late night TV, murmurs of the man
who gave her fame, and he of the woman for whom
he won his. She wants to sway
to the beat of his heart in her ear, slow
as "Are You Lonesome Tonight." In sleep
their tear-blotched faces could be anyone's.
From White Stone: The Alice Poems (1998) by Stephanie Bolster

Saturday 15 October 2011

CBC Interview with Mark Callanan

On the Sunday before his launch on October 11, Mark Callanan spoke with Mark Furlong at Weekend Arts Magazine about his book Gift Horse.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Sunday Poem


Jesse Quantrill, Miller

The toll taken, the grist drest:
Here the bran, the flour with Christ.

Mary Girling

Eighty years old and late November,
Hurry! I shiver—
Colder than I care to remember:
Throw the quilt over.

Matthew Weathly (1848-1882)
Matthew Weathly (1873-1882)

Since smallpox took all my wealth
I am forever beside myself.

Infant Travis

Ere we named him
Death had claimed him.
We would be giving
Names to the living,
So sleep, little son,
Without one.

Harry Kemp, Shoemaker

Long life passed
Where hammer and nail
Told bickering tale.
God hushed that sound
And Harry found
His toil ended,
His soul mended—
Peace at last.
From Ashbourn (1986) by John Reibetanz.

Saturday 8 October 2011

CNQ 82

My copy of CNQ 82 finally arrived last week. Hard to overpraise or even do justice to it. There isn’t a dull piece in the issue, from the Seth cover that goes bang in the eye to Marius Kociejowski's anecdote-brimming, name-dropping memoir about his life as a rare books dealer (his account of Annie Lennox walking into his shop is priceless). There are a clutch of dazzling poems by Laura Lush (full disclosure: I’m the CNQ poetry editor), as well as penetrating reviews by Nyla Matuk and Shane Neilson. There's also a shrewd, helpful piece by Nigel Beale on where to look for the penny-stocks of CanLit in order to build a book collection that might grow in value. Of course, It wouldn’t be CNQ if the magazine didn’t include some combat journalism, which this time comes courtesy of Darryl Whetter who provides a long annihilating essay on last year’s Giller shortlist and winner. Much of this material isn't available online yet (I hope that's remedied soon). But you can try to locate a copy in one of your better bookstores or contact the magazine directly. Or you could stop being such a cheap bastard and subscribe already.

Friday 7 October 2011

2011 QWF Awards Shortlist

How cool is this? The QWF announcement went out this morning and Vehicule snagged three nominations. Congratulations to all the authors.

Asa Boxer's Skullduggery (Signal Editions) nominated for the A.M. Klein Award for Poetry.

"Boxer delights in the creative powers of language: he infuses life into every object, he explodes and implodes those objects, he creates alternate histories and secret lives for them, he imbues them with progeny. –ARC Poetry Magazine

Sample poem here.

Dimitri Nasrallah's Niko nominated for the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.

"Nasrallah possesses superb powers of description. With a few deft strokes, he delivers a character’s essence and motivations. His idiosyncratically scarred landscapes shimmer in exotic hues. "– Globe and Mail

Judith Cowan's Meridian Line (Signal Editions) nominated for Cole Foundation Prize for Translation.

"Cowan offers not only a dependable reproduction of the prior receuil but an autonomous creation which engages by the freshness of its diction and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of its metrics." -- Books in Canada

The winners of all of the book prizes will be announced at the annual QWF Literary Awards Gala at the Lion d’Or (1676 Ontario E.) on Tuesday, November 22 at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the QWF Gala are $15 ($10 for full-time students with ID) and will be available soon at the following bookstores: Argo Books, Babar en ville, Bibliophile, Clio Bookstore, Paragraphe Bookstore, and The Word. Tickets will also be available at the QWF office and at the door (space permitting). For ticket information, call (514) 933-0878.

A Reminder

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Better Thought About Than Read

Kenneth Goldsmith gets my goat. He also gets my full attention. I always come across things in his essays and interviews -- such as the exchange in October's The Believer -- I wish I hadn't read, but then can't stop thinking about. He really is poetry's Prince of Darkness.
My favorite books on my shelf are the ones that I can’t read, like Finnegans Wake, The Making of Americans, Boswell’s Life of Johnson, or The Arcades Project. I love the idea that these books exist. I love their size and scope; I adore their ambition; I love to pick them up, open them at random, and always be surprised; I love the fact that I will never know them. They’ll never go out of style; they’re timeless; they’re always new to me. I wanted to write books just like these.
More here.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Sunday Poem


I should not have taken offence
when that tourist called my father's farm
a nice piece of real estate;
reciting deeds or vowing loyalties
will not out-shout the salesman's slap on a good commodity.

I should be like a hawk
shouldering a westerly to his advantage,
hanging over sweet clover and tall timothy hay,
scouting the field-fattened mice––
I need the distance of high air.

Sure, my great-great-grandfather sailed in the belly
of some disease-timbered ship,
beached himself and stood shoulder-hunched
beneath wet spruce in our crow-black wood,
but that's the extent of his claim.

For that matter, what's he to his grandfather's father?
For all I know, on a Ben Bouie shore Gillean of the Battle-Axe
may have grown a gorse-yellow beard and split granite
before the morning's taking of heads--
a bloodline trailing down to the Lochuy sea.

No, I need the arcs of the hawk, not the lines of a lineage,
not a surveyor's level, nor boundary wires
criss-crossing fields like a barbed plaid;
I need the air above the yellow oats.
A wind not a root is the land's best lover.

From Wind and Root (2000) by Brent MacLaine.