Category Archives: Players

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!)

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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!

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

 

14991377_1765018073750707_4771085451741914686_o

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Guelph Book Bash!

Hi all,

I’m here with yet another message for my Guelph friends: this Sunday I’ll be participating in the city’s annual Book Bash Festival, a celebration of Guelph authors hosted by Friends of Vocamus Press and made possible by the tireless efforts of Jeremy Luke Hill. I’m involved with the festival from (at least) three angles: first, this year’s edition of Vocamus Press’s annual collection of Guelph creative writing, Rhapsody, featuring my poem “for my boston fern,” will be launching at the festival; second, I’ll be promoting my debut collection of poetry, Players, which was released with Palimpsest Press this past April; third, I’ll be helping my friends at the &, collective promote our second collection, this happened to one of us, which we launched with PS Guelph only two weeks ago (!). The whole &, 2 launch has been quite a rush over the past few weeks (I’ll actually be over at PS Guelph tomorrow helping bind and stamp copies of the book), and I’m pumped to see it continue at Book Bash this weekend, where we can hopefully get some copies out to new and returning readers who missed our launch. Of course, I’m also super-happy to have a chance to introduce Players to some new audiences, and I may even have copies of some of my more experimental projects on hand to show off, as well.

If you’d like to stop by to see me, the &, collective, or anyone else writing anything else in the Guelph area, come to Book Bash at the Red Papaya restaurant in the Old Quebec Street Mall this Sunday, October 16, between 1pm and 4pm. You can also check out the Book Bash facebook page. Finally, as always, happy reading!

 

14409643_1741393749455207_443292129633702584_o

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Group Huddle reading and chapbook

Hi all,

I’ve been fairly busy these last few weeks travelling through various parts of the planet, although most recently I’ve been hanging out at Cornell University in upstate New York. Nonetheless, I wanted to take a minute to highlight the newly founded Group Huddle reading at Topos bookstore cafe in Queens, New York, which I performed at last Thursday. At the invitation of the incomparably generous Parker Menzimer, I had the opportunity to read from Players alongside Madeleine Braun, Michael Anzuoni, and Tom Haviv, all of whom have been working on some incredibly fresh and urgent writing. I really can’t do justice to how thankful I am: it was a great room full of great people, and there was plenty of enlightening conversation afterwards. I should thank Zane Koss especially, both for his irreplaceable help setting up the reading (even though he’d never met me before!) and for being such a generous host in Brooklyn.

As if all this wasn’t enough, I also managed to take home a souvenir from the reading: a limited edition chapbook featuring work from all four of the evening’s presenters. I especially love the design on the cover, and the use of translucent paper (something I’ve dabbled with quite a bit). Moreover, I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to include a small excerpt from a visual/conceptual project I’ve been working on since last fall: a re-setting of Jacques Lacan’s The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis using a custom font composed of partially erased letters. Overall, I also love the idea of creating limited edition printed ephemera for a reading…not only because I’ll jump at any opportunity to make a chapbook, but because it showcases an otherwise inaccessible visual and spatial dimension of the readers’ work without sacrificing the particular spirit and energy of the reading-as-event. The format definitely gives me some ideas for the future.

In any case, the chapbook also looks spectacular (this picture isn’t mine, though it’s probably better than any I would have taken).

 

Group Huddle 4

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spring 2016 wrap-up

Hi all,

I’m still reeling this weekend after two great readings this past week: at Toronto’s Art Bar poetry series, and at Coburg’s lay your WORD down! open mic. As always, Art Bar’s readers and audience were diverse and surprising, and I was happy to have lit up at least a few folks’ nights with references to Jay Z, Jackie Chan, and MF DOOM in my reading from Players. In Coburg, though, I couldn’t help but feel like I was the talk of the evening; not only did I find my face on the Human Bean’s window (I just had to snap a pic) along with Wally Keeler’s review of Players, but I also got to make my mark (however temporary) on the “Stanza Room Only” section of downtown Coburg’s sidewalk. It was a strange scene: a group of poets gathering in public, quite late, and with a car pulled up half onto the sidewalk to make a writing lamp of its headlights, all for the ceremony of scratching out a few words in chalk. There’s something inspiring about this that I haven’t quite put my finger on yet. Many thanks, in any case, to Wally Keeler for the photo, and to James Pickersgill for being such a welcoming host.

And now, I feel like the summer is opening up in front of me. Spring is over: Players has found its foothold in the world, and I’ve made some good memories and some good friends over the course of the launch events and readings I’ve taken part in over the past few months. For now I’ll be travelling, perhaps not to return to Ontario until August. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to carve out some new audiences for my work over the course of my journeys (and I know for sure that I’ll be reading from Players on at least a few more occasions over the coming months), but I’ll also be looking, with as much concentration as I can muster, toward the future.

 

20160602_192839

 

13310577_1087013004714011_5225266324251673883_n

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Players review in Northumberland Today

Hi all,

If you’ve got a second, I want to draw your attention to an excellent review of Players in Northumberland Today, written by Wally Keeler. There isn’t much I could say to supplement Keeler’s insights, but I do want to thank him (and the other folks working behind the scenes in Coburg’s poetry community) for his insights, and especially for touching on some of the aspects of Players I’m most proud of. To my eyes, at least (and I really have no idea how meaningful that is), the piece was incredibly illuminating.

If Keeler’s review whets your appetite for more from Players, make sure you catch me at one of my upcoming readings in Toronto (May 31) or Coburg (June 2)!

Happy reading!

Tagged , , , , , ,