Category Archives: performances

Tree Reading Series in Ottawa next week, and “Min” in oratorealis

Hi everyone,

To begin, I’m very excited about the fact that I’ll be a featured reader (alongside Shoshanna Wingate) at next Tuesday’s edition of Tree Reading Series in Ottawa. In all honesty, there’s not much I can say about the series (since I’ve never been before!), but I do know it has a long tradition and an important place in Ottawa’s literary scene, both of which I’m happy to have a role in. It’s also a little flattering (though also intimidating!) to be described as a conceptual poet “known for fresh takes” (as Tree’s website points out)–I hope I don’t disappoint! In any case, I should thank Pearl Pirie and Nina Jane Drystek (who I met, by happenstance, at an art opening during my visit to Ottawa last February) for helping set up the reading. If you’re in Ottawa, it’s taking place on Tuesday, May 23, 6:45pm at Black Squirrel Books (and here’s the event’s facebook page).

Recently, I also got to see the text of my poem, “Min,” in this spring’s issue of oratorealis, a new-ish West coast literary journal with the provocative mission of publishing spoken word and experimental poetry. My piece definitely falls into the latter, since (as I’ve admitted to folks who have seen it) I have no idea how exactly it would be performed orally. The piece itself is a kind of textual medley, comprising poetic summaries of the verses of Cab Calloway’s big band jazz classic “Minnie the Moocher” as well as redacted transcriptions of the original verses, which reduce them to something resembling the song’s famous call-and-response scat choruses. As long as I’m on the topic, I might as well add that my process for writing the piece involved downloading every version and cover of the song I could find, then listening to them on loop until the lyrics (and their multiple musical renditions) were etched in my head. It’s a very, very good song.

Anyway, I think that’s all for now. Happy reading!

 

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Poetry London reading next Wednesday, April 19

Hi all,

I’m here to post a quick (but passionate!) note about my upcoming reading at Poetry London in London, Ontario. You probably already know that I’m a PhD student at London’s Western University, and that I lived in the city for several years while I was doing coursework. During that time, I was also lucky enough to attend a slew of Poetry London readings (not to mention other poetry events around the city, like the London Poetry Open Mic), to officially introduce Sandra Ridley (who’s shortlisted for a Griffin Prize as of, like, today) when she performed there two years ago, and to meet many of the series’s organizers, hosts, and regular attendees.

I really can’t overstate that the London poetry community is excellent, and that they’ve been excellent to me. Moreover, Poetry London is probably my favourite reading series anywhere: it’s well-curated, professional, immersive, well-attended, and includes expert introductions and (usually) interesting Q & As, plus a workshop the hour before each monthly event. All of this means I’m incredibly honoured to be there; I just hope I have enough new (or new-feeling) material to intrigue and entertain an audience that’s already been following my work for several years.

The reading takes place at the Landon Branch Library in London’s Wortley village, Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 pm (with a workshop at 6:30). All the details are currently on the series’s front page, here. Finally, I should mention that my co-reader for the evening is Ulrikka S. Gernes, whose CV is simply incredible…I’ll definitely be the upstart artist next Wednesday, but fortunately it’s a role I’m comfortable with. If you’re in London, I hope to see you there!

 

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Gerald Lampert Award shortlist / IFOA Poetry NOW recap

Hi all,

Most of what I have to say has already made its social media rounds, but I think it’s important to step back and reflect on the last few weeks. They’ve been a little overwhelming–full of new connections as well as the re-emergence of unanswerable-as-ever questions.

First, I want to thank the League of Canadian Poets for continuing to sponsor and promote the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for a first book of poetry published by a Canadian, for which Players has been shortlisted this year. There’s probably little to say outside the many congratulations and thanks that have already been offered, although I do want to express my deep appreciation and respect for those who administer the LCP and its awards, those who have served as jurors (both this year and in past years), those who read and spread the news of this year’s shortlist, those who were shortlisted, and those who weren’t–basically, everyone whose contributions of attention, expression, and acknowledgement help support a community of which the 2017 LCP awards shortlists are only one of many centres. I’ve been telling friends outside the poetry community that awards like these are really about creating dialogue and (where necessary) solidarity in the artistic and literary landscape; I just hope I’m not alone in thinking that.

Second, I wanted to drive home what a great time I had at the International Festival of Authors‘ Poetry NOW reading at the end of last month. Aside from making new friends and acquaintances (and reconnecting with some old ones) among the poets and patrons I had the opportunity of spending time with at the event, I was also privileged enough to have a front row seat for some of the best readings/performances I’ve ever heard/seen. Pretty much everyone was good, even though the group represented a massive variety of styles that leaves me no less confused about the performance genre of ‘page poetry’ reading than I was a few weeks ago. Still, I came away with the feeling that I’d learned a lot. Stuart Ross’s victory was very well-earned–Ross has definitely perfected a unique style of performance well-suited to his writing, which may be just the thing that makes a reading memorable–although I was also delighted to see that the IFOA invited a generous helping of the evening’s performers back to give readings at this year’s festival in October. Of course, I’m also excited to say that I was one of the poets invited, which means, I guess, that we’ll be having this conversation all over again in the fall. See you then!

(Finally, I couldn’t help but finish this post off by poaching another of the IFOA’s super-sleek promo photos for Poetry NOW. Congratulations again to all the readers!)

 

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Poetry in Motion on All Lit Up / 5 Questions with… on IFOA blog

Howdy everyone,

Two big pieces of news this week. First (and just in time to get in on the hype for my performance at Battle of the Bards next Wednesday), All Lit Up has generously featured me and my book, Players, on the newest contribution to their Poetry in Motion blog series. The post includes a pretty sweet write-up and a poem from the book, “Love Song for Kazoo,” but the main event is a pair of videos of me reading two other short poems: “Lush,” and the ever-popular “for MF DOOM.” You should watch them, right now, here. Though I’ve performed both poems at readings a bunch of times, these videos were shot especially for All Lit Up (with many thanks owed to Amanda Boulos for help with the filming, and for letting me stand and yell in front of her artwork).

A quick word about performing ‘page poetry,’ and the film medium…. The whole idea of performing poetry that isn’t specifically written for performance is both something I’m seriously interested in and something I’m largely baffled by. For their part, All Lit Up’s Poetry in Motion features do a great job of showcasing the huge variety of approaches people take to the genre (that is, the ‘poetry reading’ as a performance genre), especially because combining it with the film medium only seems to exacerbate the variance: if you look through the archives, you’ll notice that Poetry in Motion videos range from recorded live readings to staged, for-the-camera performances to produced and edited video poems (an established sub-genre in its own right). In my videos, I tried to mix together some (very) basic theatrical principles, something of the emotional vibe of spoken word, and some of the from-the-book authenticity and intellectualism of lecture-style readings. But I’m still really curious about how this kind of presentation comes across. Is it entertaining? Engaging? Convincing? Is it any better or worse than reading the book? I’ve always felt that public readings are somewhere in between a unique experience of the art form and a largely artificial gimmick for organizing the literary community; perhaps that in-betweenness isn’t going anywhere, but I’m still always wondering whether it can or should be pushed in certain directions.

In any case, all of this only leads me closer to the aforementioned Poetry NOW: Battle of the Bards, which I and 19 other poets will be performing  nexatt Wednesday at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. As part of the build-up, IFOA has just posted a “5 Questions with…” interview with me and three other contestants–Julie Cameron Gray, David Goldstein, and Lisa Richter–on their blog. You can check it out here. It’s a pretty interesting smattering of poets’ opinions about poetry, and the format (each of us answered the same five questions, without knowledge of each other’s answers) gives it a kind of rapid-fire effect. Also, it continues to amaze me that David Goldstein was one of my professors (and a great one at that!) during my undergraduate creative writing days at York; some of the poems in Players were even first written for his third-year poetry workshop. Seeing our names together makes me feel (accurately) like a total fraud. But there we are (see below).

Finally, here’s a ballin’ promo pic from IFOA’s Instagram to cap things off. As always, happy reading!

 

 

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CFRU 93.3 Guelph interview with &, collective, and Battle of the Bards March 29!

Hi all,

Although this winter has been fairly sleepy, I’m looking forward to a miniature flurry of updates to post about in these last few weeks of March. One of these updates’ subjects, in fact, has already happened: last Sunday I had the pleasure of joining Lauren Lavery on her International Art English talk show on CFRU 93.3 (Guelph campus and community radio) alongside two other friends and &, collective (website to be updated soon, I hope!) poets, Mike Chaulk and Sierra Paquette-Struger. The four of us had a pretty rewarding conversation about the collective’s current and past projects, making books at Publication Studio, the poetry scenes in some Southern Ontarian cities, and wood ducks. We even read a few of our poems on air. If you’re interested in sampling the interview, you can find the archived recording here.

Next up, I wanted to take a second to announce that I’ll be participating in the International Festival of Authors’ 2017 Poetry NOW Battle of the Bards competition! Even though my participation in this was based on a random draw (so don’t get too jealous), I’m pretty damn excited to be taking part. The competition features short readings by 20 poets, with the winner receiving an invitation to read at the International Festival of Authors this fall and an ad for their book in NOW Magazine. But who cares about winning, right? In any case, this year’s lineup includes some folks I’m very excited to read with, and others who are sure to offer up some stiff competition…I’m just hoping to put on a good show. The event takes place at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room, 7:30pm on Wednesday, March 29. Admission is $10 (but free for students!).

Happy listening!

 

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Buffalo, NY: Center for Inquiry / Just Buffalo Literary Cafe

Hey folks,

I’ve been pretty beat this week, mostly from riding the bus out to Buffalo, NY to perform at the Center for Inquiry / Just Buffalo Literary Cafe last night, but I wanted to take some time to thank some of the great folks who made the event happen. First and foremost thanks go to Josh Smith, the incredibly well-travelled Buffalo poet known to many (including me) for his frequent appearances in the Toronto scene: aside from guest-hosting the reading and inviting me to it in the first place, Josh also delivered an impressive tour of the city, took me out to lunch at the bar that invented Buffalo wings (or, as I was later informed, “chicken wings”), and was a pretty great conversation partner for the day. At the reading itself, I was really impressed by the writings/performances of co-features Justin Karcher and Benjamin Brindise, who I definitely hope to see/hear/read again soon (I owe thanks to them, especially, for making me look good, though I also got a lot out of their distinct styles and poetic approaches). Finally, I can’t thank The Buffalo News enough for printing one of my poems from Players, “The Mole Rat,” in their paper’s Sunday edition. I kind of still can’t believe that happened. (Though you can also see the poem for yourself here.)

Overall, it was a privilege to visit the city, and to add another line to the list of places where I’ve been able to share my writing. For a little while at least, I’ll be sending dreams and love in Western New York’s direction.

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Carousel Guelph launch this Wednesday, and a new interview at Vocamus Press

Hi everyone,

Beginning with the second topic, I wanted to take a second to wholeheartedly thank Vocamus Press (Guelph’s champion of local literature) and especially Sheri Doyle, Friends of Vocamus Press’s Director of Communications, for posting Sheri’s interview with me on the Vocamus Press blog just last week. Sheri’s readings of some poems from Players (including some that didn’t make it into the final interview) are really incredible, and I think we opened up some great discussions around things like found poetry, the question of “meaning,” Players‘s road to publication, and even what it’s like writing from the perspectives of my ex-girlfriends. Check out the interview here (and don’t be afraid to skip to the juiciest-looking questions!).

For those in the physical (and not only thematic) vicinity of Guelph, I’ll be reading at Carousel Magazine‘s annual Guelph launch this Wednesday, November 23, starting at 7pm at Silence (46 Essex street, near downtown). (Here’s the facebook event page.) If you haven’t heard of Carousel…well, you should check it out. Aside from readings by me (potentially including some projected visual accompaniments, confirmation pending) and Mark Connery, the event also features sound performance by William Davidson, a projection-performance by Mark Laliberte, and an open mic (!). Alongside the magazine, Mark will also be launching the first issue of his collaborative 4PANEL experimental comic arts project. I don’t think you need any more than that description to realize how cool this is, but you should still check out 4PANEL’s website and instagram.

Happy reading, hearing, and seeing!

 

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&, 2 and XAGGERA launches this week!

The very tail end of this week will be a pretty big one for me! First up, this Thursday I and the other amazing members of Guelph’s &, collective will be launching the collective’s second chap/book, this happened to one of us. The book’s been in the works for a while, and I think it’s pretty exciting: the project came from writing and workshopping we did together around the theme of confessional poetry, where one of us would come up with a confessional-style prompt and everyone else in the group would write a poem as if they’d actually had that experience themselves. The result is a bunch of poems about things like getting a flat tire, cheap motels, drunken teenage birthday parties, coffee dates, and (of course) sex. We’ll even be filling up this week’s launch with prizes for audience members who correctly guess which poet actually wrote the prompt for each set. Several of us in the collective have been working with Publication Studio Guelph to plan the launch and actually make our own books (see photo evidence below), and the book layout (wickedly designed by yours truly) also includes illustrations by the Guelph-based artist group SADSADDERDAZE, which will be hand-coloured for the launch editions–so, the whole thing definitely feels like a community effort. Which is why you should come celebrate with us: 7pm at Boarding House Arts (6 Dublin St. South) this Thursday, September 29! Check out the facebook event. Or look for the book (which, as per PS’s amazing distribution model, promises to be pretty damn cheap) over at the PS web store.

 

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Second, and the very next day, I’ll be hanging out with David Knight and friends of Fenylalanine Publishing and Ed Video to celebrate Ed Video’s 40th anniversary and launch FP’s new art magazine, XAGGERA (which will be on sale for $10 a copy). I’m definitely not as in-the-know about this project, but a quick look at the event’s facebook page promises a series of probably insane visuals and music that’ll be nowhere close to ordinary. I can also let you in on the fact that my contribution to the magazine is a bizarre pseudo-advertisement for the special erasure/asemic font I created for The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis: A Selection, which I’ve been uploading in parts over at my new instagram account. In short, the magazine is something to watch out for. And if you’re up for something on the weirder side of normal, come join us at the ANAF Club (32 Gordon St.), 9:15pm this Friday, September 30.

 

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Performance at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival with Vocamus Press

Howdy all!

I just wanted to check in to mention how excited I am to be performing at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival this weekend! I managed to make it out to the festival last fall and was pretty much swept off my feet–it was amazing to see so many writers and readers gathered to celebrate literature on the gravel roads and riverside lawns of pretty much the most picturesque village you’ll find in Southern Ontario. (Plus, I’ve heard that I’ll get a chance to schmooze at gala dinners on Saturday and Sunday night.) If you can make it out to Eden Mills (just down the road from Guelph) this Sunday, I highly recommend checking out the festival; aside from a tonne of authors reading at different times throughout the afternoon (here’s the schedule), there are also book tables staffed by a bunch of publishers, and a pretty strong chance you might run into someone you know from the Toronto-area literary scene.

I’ll be reading at 1:30 on Sunday (the main festival day) at the Rivermead site along with three outstanding Guelph-area authors: James Clarke, Candace de Taeye, and Andrea Perry (you can find us all on the authors page, too–just scroll down!). Many, many thanks to Jeremy Luke Hill of Vocamus Press, who organized the set and will be introducing us. Of course, I’ll also have some copies of Players for sale if any listeners happen to take an interest. Hope to see you there!

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Reading at The Secret Handshake this Sunday, Danny Jacobs’s review of Players, and an upcoming interview with Michael Prior

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since my last update! Over the last few months I’ve spent time in London (the real one), Beirut, New York City, and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and I have certainly brought back some stories. At Cornell I had the opportunity to talk extensively with Canadian poetry hotshot (and unbelievably kind human) Michael Prior, and if all goes well my interview with him will be published very soon over at The Rusty Toque‘s Rusty Talks section. (UPDATE: the interview is now online, and you can read it here!) I can say honestly that I learned a great deal talking with Michael, so I hope at least a fraction of his wisdom and insight comes through in the written piece.

Another excellent learning experience came in the form of Danny Jacobs’s review of Players, which appeared online last month in Hamilton Arts & Letters. The review, titled “Praying to Articulate” (an unacknowledged quotation from the book), is just about everything I could have hoped for: Jacobs is curious, thorough, and generous, yet also critical in ways that define the book’s place in the wider literary landscape quite sharply. My thanks to Jacobs.

All of this is in the past, however. Coming up, I’ll be reading at The Secret Handshake art gallery in Kensington Market this Sunday, August 28. The show is at 170a Baldwin Street (second floor), with doors opening at 1:30 and readings (by me, Judith Chandler, and Robert Priest) at 2:00. Back in the day, The Secret Handshake was one of the first reading series I had the opportunity to perform at (thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of David Bateman), and I distinctly remember my experience there being one of the first things that pushed me towards preparing the manuscript for Players. Needless to say, I’m pretty much overjoyed to return there (this time with continuing thanks to David as well as to bill bissett) with a bound collection in hand. Here’s a poster for the event; I hope to see you there!

 

Secret Handshake poster

 

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