Tag Archives: Jim Johnstone

The Devil on HOWL (10pm Tuesday on CIUT 89.5FM), and available for pre-order

Hi all,

Anyone who follows knife | fork | book on Twitter has seen the hype around this spring’s upcoming batch of chapbooks, and I’m damned happy to be nestled in beside long con editor Andy Verboom, Hamish Ballantyne, and a full-length debut (!) from Michael Cavuto. My contribution, The Devil, includes poems about the Prince of Darkness himself, li’l ol’ me, and whatever semblance of God I’ve found in the midst of it. I’ve been working on these poems for a while now, so I’m pretty pumped for the launch (which will be on March 27 in Toronto, by the way, although I’ll announce that again closer to the date). You can also pre-order the chapbook at the k |f |b shop if you’re anxious to nail down your copy–and if you can’t pick it up at the launch, you can get it shipped for free to anywhere in Canada!

More pressingly, I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be on the radio with Nancy Bullis and Valentino Assenza of HOWL (Tuesdays 10pm-11pm on CIUT 89.5FM) tomorrow night at 10pm, broadcasting out of U of T’s Hart House. I’ll be joining my illustrious friends / publishers / editors Jim Johnstone and Kirby to read a few poems from The Devil–so if you’re even a little curious about my own twist on Satanic ritual, I’d highly recommend keeping your ears perked.

As always, happy listening!


back cover of The Devil chapbook



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New Brunswick tour (readings at UNB Poetry Weekend, Attic Owl Reading Series, and the Petitcodiac Public Library)

Hi everyone,

I’m posting today to pre-celebrate my first foray into New Brunswick (either as a poet or as a person), which I’ll be embarking upon next month from October 3rd to October 8th. Thanks to the unyielding acumen of superstar poet/critic and OG New Brunswicker Shane Neilson–as well as the enduring friendship of fellow poets Jim Johnstone, Kevin Heslop, and Jeff Kirby of knife | fork | book–I’m looking forward to a car ride crowded with poetry and pals.

We’ve got a few stops planned for our tour, and I’ll be reading at a few of them. The main event, of course, is the University of New Brunswick’s annual Poetry Weekend festival in Fredericton, which will feature us five Ontarians alongside a slew of other poets spread across two full days of readings (plus affiliated events, a house party, and who knows what else). Based on the Poetry Weekend stories I’ve heard in the past, I’m both excited and terrified, but odds are it’ll be a great time for most involved.

Before the weekend, though, I’ll also be reading at the Attic Owl Reading Series the day we drive into the province, October 3rd, in Moncton. Heslop and I are preparing some kind of collaborative set for the event (something about faith in the contemporary world–it’ll be good, I promise), and we’ll be reading alongside Neilson, Kirby, Danny Jacobs (who I still owe some in-person thanks for writing a wonderfully well-thought-out review of Players some years ago), and Claire Kelly (who I also had the pleasure of featuring with at Toronto’s Common Readings in the spring), plus musical guest Bruised Orange. If you’re around, or if you might be, check out the event here.

Finally, Neilson, Heslop, and I are also slated to read at the Petitcodiac Public Library in the afternoon of Saturday, October 5th (poster below). This is also thanks to the fine work of Danny Jacobs, who, you can probably guess, I’m pretty stoked to finally meet! Neilson and Heslop are fabulous presenters, and while I can’t speak for myself, I think it’ll be a pretty good reading.

Of course, my compatriots will also be engaged in other events over the extended weekend, but it’s a little beyond me to gather all the details here (and besides, Shane already summarized everything beautifully in his own post about the tour). In any case, whoever you’re thinking of coming out to see, I hope to catch you next week in the Maritimes!


poster for Writers on the River at the Petitcodiac Public Library (October 5, 2019)


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The fourth J: reading at knife | fork | book this Friday

Hi all,

Although there’s been quite a bit going on over at my Instagram, it’s been a while since my last blog post. Nonetheless, I wanted to take a second to say how excited I am to be reading for a second time at knife | fork | book, which has pretty quickly become my favourite poetry venue in Toronto. While my last reading there coincided with the launch of my Anstruther Press Manifesto Series chapbook, this one is owed mostly to an accident of birth: Kirby (k | f | b’s lovely proprietor) had the wonderfully weird idea of booking a sausage party (his words) with four J-named individuals, and I happened to fit the bill. (Although, as James Lindsay pointed out on Twitter, the quartet of himself, Jimmy McInnes, Jim Johnstone, and me is more precisely three Jameses and a John, so perhaps my being there wasn’t predestined after all?)

In any case, I have a great deal of respect for each of my co-readers and the various dimensions of their poetic work, and I’d highly recommend coming out to see them. For my part, I’ll be seizing the opportunity to present a mix of old favourites and new, unpublished poems that I hope will make for a good show overall. And besides all that, knife | fork | book is just about the coziest place you could find yourself in the early hours of a summer Friday night; just remember you’ll be asked to take off your shoes!

The show takes place this Friday, June 15th, with doors opening at 6:30 and poetry beginning at 7:00 (sharp!). Knife | fork | book is located at 244 Augusta Ave. (second floor) in Kensington Market. See you there!


The 4 J's at knife fork book event poster


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Slogan, Substance, Dream: keywords for a responsible poetry at the Anstruther Press Spring Launch

Hi everyone,

It’s been a long winter. I don’t think I’m quite ready to pull myself out of hibernation on my own, but it looks like the forces of the spring launch season are beckoning me into the limelight: this Friday, I’ll be reading from my new manifesto chapbook, Slogan, Substance, Dream: keywords for a responsible poetry, at the Anstruther Press Spring Launch at Jeff Kirby’s much-beloved Kensington Market bookstore, knife fork book. I’ll be launching alongside the venerable authors listed on the poster below, and though I only have a few minutes, I’m looking forward to offering some of my thoughts on the new chapbook and reading from a section or two. Doors open at 6:30pm this Friday, March 9th at knife fork book at Kensington’s Dark Side Studio (244 Augusta Avenue), and the poetry begins at 7:00; check it out on knife fork book’s blog or facebook.

If you’re planning to come, it’s best to keep two things in mind: (1) bring cozy socks, since the shop/studio is a shoeless space; (2) kfb events, at least as far as I understand, start ON TIME!


Anstruther Press Spring 2018 Launch poster


Slogan, Substance, Dream is something a little special; rather than a book of poetry or creative fiction, it’s a concise prose manifesto written for Anstruther’s Manifesto Series. The series is edited by Shane Neilson, and Jim Johnstone and Erica Smith also contributed immensely to the chapbook’s execution; I owe them all great thanks for helping me get it out into the world.

Slogan, Substance, Dream (cover)

Shane first asked me if I’d be interested in writing a manifesto at least two years ago (perhaps even longer), and although I’ve been committed to the project since then, my thoughts and beliefs about poetry and my role in it have transformed many times since I began writing. Several people who have read the final version of Slogan, Substance, Dream have told me that it is very much a poetic text–full-blown poetry, even!–but even as I take their evaluation seriously, I can’t stress enough that it isn’t the case for me. Even at its most abstract and imagistic, the manifesto is my best attempt at honestly expressing what I believe my and others’ poetry should strive for.

The manifesto (like much of my PhD research, which, though distinct, has greatly inspired it) is about responsibility, and part of the process of writing it has involved grappling with the question of whether expressing my “should” (or, indeed, writing anything called a “manifesto”) could ever be a responsible act. In truth, I’m still not sure it is. However, my work on the project has led me to the conclusion that, in order to present myself as a writer at all, I can’t help but strike a balance between acceptance and assessment, absorption and imposition, listening and speaking out. In other words, to respond ethically to the world in an act of creative expression, I also have to be confident enough to expose the person I really am and the thoughts I really think. And if this means that, ostensibly, I sometimes pursue the fantasy of imposing my beliefs on others, I only hope they realize that I’m just one person, that the power I have over them is only that of one person in a world of very many, and that I have no interest in presenting myself as anything else.

One of the ways of summarizing the argument of Slogan, Substance, Dream would be to say that this is all a manifesto–or perhaps any piece of writing–can or should do. With that in mind, there’s nothing left for me but to leave it to its work.



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I’m (co-)hosting Livewords July 4th!

Howdy all,

I think it’s about time to share some very exciting news on this blog: along with the illustrious Edward Nixon, I’ll be co-hosting the July edition of Livewords on July 4th! Livewords is one of my favourite reading series in the city, and this is in no small part due to Ed’s excellent planning and hosting month after month. It goes without saying that I’m super-hyped to be co-hosting (and running the open mic) in July.

Aside from taking on some of the hosting duties, I was also invited to help schedule our readers for the evening. Basically, this means that our lineup includes some of my favourite poets ever: Jeramy Dodds, Jim Johnstone, and Ian Williams. I’ve posted their bios below…but seriously, if you have any faith at all in my taste in poetry, you have to come check these guys out. The event takes place on July 4th at the Black Swan Tavern (on the Danforth near Broadview station). Doors open at 7:30, readings start at 8:00. You can also check out the facebook event page here.

Finally, one last reminder that the launch of The Quilliad happens at 8pm TOMORROW (June 17) at Tequila Bookworm. I hope to see all of you out at both events!

Oh, and here are those bios:

Jeramy Dodds grew up in Orono, Ontario, Canada. He is the winner of the 2006 Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award and the 2007 CBC Literary Award for poetry. His first collection of poems, Crabwise to the Hounds (Coach House Books, 2008), was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Gerald Lampert Award, and won the Trillium Book Award for poetry.

Jim Johnstone is the author of three books of poetry, including Sunday, the locusts (Tightrope Books, 2011) and Patternicity (Nightwood Editions, 2010). Frog Hollow Press published his latest chapbook, Epoch, in 2013. He’s a former winner of the CBC Poetry Prize, Matrix Magazine’s Lit-Pop Award and The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize. Currently, he’s the Poetry Editor at Palimpsest Press.

Ian Williams is the author of Personals, shortlisted for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award; Not Anyone’s Anything, winner of the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada; and You Know Who You Are, a finalist for the ReLit Prize for poetry. He was named as one of ten Canadian writers to watch by CBC.

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