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!

 

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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!

 

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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).

 

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Microlit review of Zane Koss’s Warehouse Zone at The Town Crier

Hi everyone,

I’ve already shared this on social media, but I wanted say a few more words about the “microlit” review of Zane Koss’s Warehouse Zone I wrote for The Town Crier (The Puritan‘s “bloggy appendage), which was published last Wednesday. The review is part of (the first part of, in fact) an ongoing series of microlit reviews the blog introduced last week; rather than try to define the term “microliterature” or the mission of the series myself, I’ll refer you to this introductory post written by The Town Crier’s editor, Jason Freure, which does a really excellent job of framing the extended project. It’s probably needless to say that I’m 100% behind it.

If you haven’t read it already, I hope you do take a look at my review of Warehouse Zone, which is really an amazing work of post-conceptual writing. I also hope the review might lead a few more people to read the complete chapbook, however difficult that may be; the project was printed in a very limited run last summer by Publication Studio Guelph and has not been widely advertised since. I’ve been told that the book will be available at the brand-new Publication Studio webstore very soon, so you should definitely be on the lookout for it. And if you’re really anxious, you should be able to get a copy sent to you (for only $5, + shipping and handling) by emailing PS directly, as noted on the book’s listing here.

Aside from the opportunity to review Warehouse Zone specifically, I’m also super-proud of the strong showing Guelph is making in the microlit scene, at least as far a The Town Crier defines it. It so happens that the blog’s second microlit review was written by my friend Jeremy Luke Hill at Guelph’s Vocamus Press on the fantastic Fenylalanine Publishing, who I released a chapbook with earlier this year. It’s also worth pointing out that Zane Koss is a founding member of the &, collective, a really excellent bunch of young poets I’ve been working with since September and will be releasing a chapbook with very, very soon (so stay tuned for that).

As usual, it won’t be long before I have more news. Until then, keep reading microlit!

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Rusty Talk with Paul Dutton

Hi everyone,

I’ve already been spreading word about this a little bit, but I wanted to write a few notes here about The Rusty Toque‘s newest interview, my Rusty Talk with Paul Dutton, which went online just a few days ago. Most of the context should be clear in the interview and its introduction, but the “talk” (or, more specifically, a kind of email questionnaire, as Paul stressed) was mostly organized around my reading of Sonosyntactics, Paul’s selected and new poetry (edited with an introduction by Gary Barwin, and with a fiery afterword by the author), which I thoroughly enjoyed from a variety of angles. I also read a few of Paul’s past interviews, though I truly believe he came up with some of his best responses in this one…especially on the themes of choice (both readerly and writerly) and the relationship(s) between art and politics.

In any case, reading Sonosyntactics and working with Paul on the interview was truly a privilege, both because of his stature as an artist and because of the incredible uniqueness of his artistic style(s). If you haven’t heard his soundsinging, it’s definitely worth a watch or a listen at his website, pdutton.ca. Or you can check out an excerpt of his writing in the interview!

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12 or 20 questions with rob mclennan

Howdy everyone,

A quick update about a great opportunity with one of CanLit’s most recognizable voices: I’ve had the pleasure of being “interviewed” by rob mclennan for his 12 or 20 questions series following the launch of Players, and the results of that interview have just been posted on rob mclennan’s blog.  If you want to read some of my thoughts on writing poetry, my multiple relationships with theory, writing and privilege, and videogames, you should check out the interview here.

I say I was “interviewed” because the 12 or 20 questions series doesn’t take the form of a conventional interview; instead, every writer is asked the same series of questions, to which they may respond to all, some, or none. In fact, so many writers have been featured that the series might offer one of the best opportunities to compare your favourite author’s views and personalities…keeping in mind, of course, that they may have changed since the time of the interview (I have, for example, shaved my head since responding to one of rob’s questions).

Happy Reading!

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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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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!

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