Category Archives: Toronto

“for my african violet” in Carousel 38 and “Conscientious Conceptualism” post at The Town Crier

Hi all,

With National Poetry Month (a.k.a. April) on its way out, I wanted to retroactively ‘announce’ two publications that haven’t yet made their way onto the blog.

First, another of my houseplants poems, “for my african violet,” was published in this month’s new issue of Carousel (which has been kicking around for a few weeks now). I’ve raved about Carousel and its publisher, Mark Laliberte, before, but I did want to add that both are also involved with the LitBang! Small Press Pop Up Store, which has been featuring a variety of magazines, books, and book-like ephemera all month long at Queen and Ossington in Toronto. If you haven’t made it over to the pop up yet, you’ve got one more weekend to check it out. (Do it now!)

Second, I’ve had the pleasure over the last month or so of writing a contribution to Andy Verboom’s guest editing stint at The Puritan‘s bloggy appendage, The Town Crier, which has taken the form of a series of posts on “Conscientious Conceptualism and Poetic Practice.” I knew as soon as I saw Andy’s call for submissions that the series would hit close to home, and that it was an opportunity for me to seriously think through (or, more accurately, begin to think through) some parts of my poetic practice and social presence in the literary scene that have troubled me for some time. What I didn’t know was that Andy would turn out to be an incredibly thoughtful, dedicated, and hard-working editor, and that his efforts with the series would give me no end of things to think about, both in print and in camera. Mostly, then, I wanted to thank him for his extraordinary attention and expertise. Otherwise, I’m still waiting to see what kinds of effects (if any) the post and the month of posts will have on my thinking and writing…. As with many projects of this kind, most of what I take away will likely be the lessons I’ve taught myself over the course of researching and articulating my ideas. Still, my ears remain open to any responses, positive or negative, public or private, that anyone might be interested in sharing with me. If you’d like, you can read what I’ve written on the topic of whiteness and conceptualism here.

That’s all for now, although I’m sure I’ll be back here before long with more news. Until then, happy reading!

 

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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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“for my boston fern” in Hart House Review Winter Supplement, launching Friday!

Hi all. Happy New Year!

I know we’re already a few weeks in, but with the sleepier parts of January now long past, I’m happy to announce that one of my poems, “for my boston fern” (one of many with that title, as you might have noticed by now), will be appearing in this year’s Hart House Review Winter Supplement! A launch party for the supplement will be taking place this Friday, January 20 in the Debates Room of University of Toronto’s Hart House…Even though I won’t be able to make it, I really think you should check it out; the last time I was at one of the Winter Supplement launches, the combination of venue + fancy cheese made it one of the classiest poetry readings I’ve ever attended. Also, the fantastic and charismatic poet/musician Rasiqra Revulva will be performing, so you’d be a fool to miss it (personally, since I’m missing it, I’ll be wearing my fool hat proudly). Here’s the facebook event.

Aside from the aforementioned Rasiqra Revulva, I’ll also be sharing space in the Winter Supplement pages with (unstoppable CanLiterary force) David Huebert, as well as many others whose work I’m super-excited to read. One of my favourite things about HHR’s Winter Supplement is that it also centres its design on the work of a visual artist (this year it’s Dahae Song), which tends to produce a pretty unique reading experience. In any case, I hope you enjoy it.

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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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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.

 

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Upcoming readings in Toronto and Coburg

Hi everyone!

I have two readings to announce, both of which are coming up in just over a week’s time.

First, I’ll be reading at the Art Bar reading series in Toronto next Tuesday, May 31. Art Bar has been one of my favourite reading series for many years (in fact, it was the first series I ever attended regularly), and I’m always more than pleased to read there. At the same time, it’s been rare to hear the series brought up without a touch of melancholy over the past few months, since the Art Bar organizers have announced that it’ll be coming to a close (after 25 years of weekly readings!) later this summer. Despite its problems, I always thought the series did a great job of bringing together poets from different traditions, communities, and generations, and they almost always put together an impressive card. Even more impressive, they did it every freakin’ Tuesday, without fail. I’ll be sad to see them go. But I’m also happy to get a chance to celebrate their accomplishments with them during one of their last shows…and this looks like it’ll be a good one, with Dane Swan and Paulina O’Kieffe (both dynamic performers) featuring alongside me. The event starts at 8pm next Tuesday, May 31 at the Black Swan tavern (near Broadview station). Check out the facebook event page here, and don’t forget to bring something for the open mic!

Second, I’ll be reading at Coburg, Ontario’s monthly open mic, lay your WORD down, next Thursday, June 2. I don’t imagine many of you have a good sense of the small town of Coburg, but I’ve had the pleasure of discovering that it’s a kind of poetry haven in Ontario. The poets and audiences there really blew me away when I visited last year to take part in their T E X T ual A R T ivity visual poetry show, so I’m really delighted to get the chance to visit again as part of my launch tour for Players. If you can make it out , I’ll be sure to put on a good show. You can check out the lay your WORD down facebook event here.

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Palimpsest Press interview, + upcoming launches and readings

Hi all! Here’s another quick update, in two parts:

First, I’ve just had the pleasure of being interviewed by Palimpsest Press’s Liz Ross about Players (my new, debut poetry collection, if you’re new to the site); that interview is now up on the Palimpsest Press blog. The interview is fairly short, but I think I managed to come up with some bold answers to Liz’s very thoughtful queries about everything from metaphysics to dessert. Check out the full text of the interview here.

Second, aside from my reading at the Underdog Poets Academy TONIGHT in Toronto, I have several readings coming up this week in several Southern Ontario cities. On Wednesday night I’ll be launching Players with Andrea Perry’s Rise (Vocamus Press) at the eBar in Guelph; on Thursday night, I’ll be launching with Palimpsest authors Mark Sampson (Weathervane) and Dorothy Mahoney (Off-Leash) at Brown & Dickson in London; and on Friday, I’ll be in St. Catharines reading at the Border Blur Reading Series’s offering for the In the Soil Arts Festival, Blur Blur Blur, at the Niagara Artists Centre. You can find further details about these and other readings on my full list of Players launch events here.

As always, happy reading and happy listening!

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Players events updates, + TV appearance on Inside Guelph!

Hi all,

Just a few quick updates for you today, with more to come soon! First of all, did you catch my appearance on Rogers tv’s local cable program Inside Guelph yesterday at noon? I’m guessing you didn’t, so here’s a link to the video. It features me and the incomparable Andrea Perry talking about poetry and, most importantly, the launch of our recently published poetry collections next Wednesday, April 27 at Guelph’s eBar. (You can find more details about the event at the facebook page.)

Aside from next week’s Guelph launch, I’ll be performing at readings and launch events in several Ontario cities over the next two weeks. All of these events (including readings in Hamilton, Toronto, and St. Catharines, and the London launch of Players) are listed (with links and details) on my previous post, Players launches and readings, spring and summer 2016.

I’ve also just added a few updates to that list, including: (1) full details and a facebook event page for the Palimpsest Press London launch next Thursday, April 28; (2) a link to the facebook event page for “Blur Blur Blur,” the Border Blur Reading Series’s instalment at the In the Soil Arts Festival in St. Catharines next Friday, April 29, as well as a link to purchase tickets at the In the Soil Festival’s website; (3) details for this Sunday’s Underdog Poets Academy, which I’m delighted to discover will include a reading by dalton derkson, who’s probably one of the brashest and most experimental performance poets in Ontario.

As mentioned, I will have more updates on a variety of themes very soon. Until then, happy reading, watching, and listening!

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