Thursday, June 30, 2005

silas & amanda

Pre-wedding celebration for Silas & Amanda. Silas, excellent poetry promoter and publisher of Nightwood Editions. Sonnet L'Abbe, Af Moritz, Adam Levin, Paul Vermeersch, Kitty from Brick Books and others cozied up at the Monarch south of College Street in Toronto's Little Italy. The city is sweltering even as it gears up for Canada Day manana.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Coney Island Girl

Well that was fun. Caught the tail end of the Mermaid events. Lots of wet, sequined merfolk up and down the boardwalk. Lots of squealing and face-stuffing as well. Corn dogs, clams, and the Cyclone...Slideshow coming. (This photo by Ruth!)
Okay, here's the slideshow.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Poets & Writers Bash

Poets & Writers Bash
Poets & Writers Bash,
originally uploaded by lemon hound.
Bash indeed. More photos to come, but 3 for now. Open bar, lots of youngsters with cocktails, and well, it was a good time. Met a few folks I had never met before--Major Jackson was one who I found particularly charming and now must get his book and catch up. My date, David Groff, was elegant as always. We noshed on olives and I had a whole conversation with Francine Prose that consisted of raised eyebrows. Billy Collins was distracted by a bevy of very young things--oh, and reminded me that he is part Canadian (yes, Billy, but what part?). Lots of excitement about Open Field, which is released generally early July. (Really, we're in danger of becoming the flavour of the season down here...) The PBQ folks were there, as were the belladonna folks (link to photos down below). It was elbow to elbow and the bartenders were spinning on their heels... Jen Benka rocks, oh, and so does the Bowery Ballroom.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Poets & Writers Magazine

Open Field is one of the poetry books to check out this summer. So says Poets & Writers Magazine. So, need I say more? Must I shamelessly self-promote? Go read it!

In a complete coincidence I will be going to the P & W bash at the Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. The Jonathans (Lethem , Franzen and Ames) are supposed to be there, as well as A.M. Homes, Francine Prose, Billy Collins etc., etc. Will there be dancing? I've heard there will be dancing.

Jeanne Beaumont

Curious Conduct is a great second book. It's much more experimental than Jeanne Beaumont’s first book, Placebo Effects, which I also really enjoyed. Hers is a playful, intelligent voice, completely and quietly confident. She's a poet who makes a decision and sees it through. That makes Curious Conduct a difficult book to put down. Beaumont’s world is fresh and sharp, imaginative, and dare I say fun? From “Corrected Proof”:

The Broom will now kiss the bride.

Let science sweep in and enrapture the every day

as the blue blue dress wraps the planet.

Don’t take nob for an answer.

Most theorems beg in on napkins...

Not surprisingly from one of the editor’s of Poet’s Grimm, there’s a fairy tale quality here too: this is a world where rocks talk and bowls are exceedingly hungry. There’s mischief here, and a bit of a twinkle in the “Metaphor Drawer” where “The shovel is ready/ The key turns in for the night” and “The Knife is desperate for friends”.

Beaumont is a poet who engages with the world around her as much as with the language she is using:

Can nothing be done about the air?

A man asks, pretending to unnoose his tie.

I edit the sentence down to seven words.

I think he could lose the sportcoat.

I love a poet who is thinking on the page, and yet still engaged in the familiar. But don’t let familiar fool you: there’s more going on here than meets the eye.

The Snail Garden

at one with nature 036 2
at one with nature 036 2,
originally uploaded by lemon hound.
Well, it isn't poetry, but I've been having a lot of fun with this was a great model.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Also in attendance last night was Orlan, who slipped into the Silo in the middle of the sound performances, and slipped out again before they were over.

Kenneth Goldsmith

Was finally able to hear Kenny Goldsmith read. He followed two sound poets, the first, Parisian artist Dominique Petitgand, was absolutely lovely. A blend of sound, text, and narrative. Moving and ambient. The second, sound sculptor Michael Graeve, with a dozen or so old turntables, produced sounds that culminated in an experience of feeling like you were in a plane crash. The turntables themselves were remarkable both physically, and in terms of the different sounds each made. There was a point in the middle of the performance where the artist ripped masking tape and it made me realize how gorgeous that sound actually is. It was enjoyable, and in some ways, quite moving, but it was too long, and if it had been shorter I think it would have been more successful.
Kenny Goldsmith read from FIDGET, a day after Bloomsday, so it was apropos. I had never heard him read from it, or anything, as I've said, and was struck by how poised he was. In a white suit with a red polka dot handkerchief and colourful tie, huge ping pong racket-like sunglasses, and slicked back hair, he looked quite the dandy. And his physical journey mirrored the text well. It was very clear how intensely his project would become a kind of prison very quickly. He read from 10 am, 6 pm, and then 11 pm.
The last section is the first section backwards, and I'm not convinced about this move. It certainly makes for interesting sounds, but in terms of the poetry? One could argue about its status as poetry of course, as the author of this review in Rain Taxi suggests. However, that's not what I find intriguing. In fact it's the parameters of the project, and then the honesty in its execution that I find so admirable. Not hiding behind the polish of time and multiple readings that so many poets rely on, this is refreshing. Yes there are failings in the piece, but here it is in its entirety, process, project, all there for the reader/audience to consider.
A note about the location. Issue Project recently moved from the East Village to a most intriguing space over in Carroll Gardens. The site itself has intense sculptural qualities to it. An abandoned swimming pool, pea gravel, trees growing in odd places, a silo. None of this is predictable, particularly given the location in residential Carroll Gardens, but it's on the fringe between residential and the industrialized Gowanus Canal. Folks have made a concerted effort recently to clean that up and it seems to be paying off.
However, the space itself--a former millionaire's love nest--is problematic. Two rectangular columns make viewing difficult, and, well, it's out of the way, and not capable of holding a large crowd. And a large crowd is what would make the space and location workable.

Flower pot urinals

Are we ready for this? I don't know guys, would it feel good to piss into an orchid? A Calla Lilly? If the artist could just get rid of the plumbing itself I could get behind putting these things all around the city, in Central Park, on the Lower East side. I don't want to see them in use you understand, but I want them in use... Thanks Jane, for the link.

Friday, June 10, 2005

In Fine Form

Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve have done a great job with this anthology. It’s comprehensive, instructive, and energetic. There are plenty of surprises here too. This epigram from Dorothy Livesay put me in mind of Stevie Smith:

I shall lie like this when I am dead--
But with one more secret in my head.

and one of my favourite Atwood poems:


you fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye

The Blues section is strong. No doubt thanks in part to Jan Zwicky and Brad Cran for their Blues anthology. Included here are great poems from George Elliott Clarke and Wayde Compton as well as a strong prose poem from Christine Wiesenthal whom I hadn’t heard of before.

The ghazal section provides a sense of the history of the form in Canada. The shadows of Phyllis Webb and John Thompson hang over every ghazal written it seems to me and I’m especially fond of the Thompson ghazal with its opening couplet:

Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats. Yeats.

Why wouldn’t the man shut up?

Shreve and Braid also trace the radical departures of the form in Canadian hands. Trish Salah and Andy Weaver’s ghazals would have filled this section out nicely.

In the “Haiku and other Japanese forms” section I was a little disappointed by the lack of range, but thankfully there is a haibun from Wah, and a great little haiku from Michael Redhill titled “Haiku Monument for Washington D.C.”.

Great villanelles from Molly Peacock and PK Page almost make me think I love the form—which generally I find as pleasurable as a Sunday sermon. But in these women’s hands, as in Bishop’s “One Art”, the repetition (one of my great peeves), becomes almost pleasant, at least not grinding.

I loved the McWhirter sonnet with its fabulous gravelly word play: “Where I ramble/by Jericho in the March/Mist and murk to take stock,/I glimpse and eagle perched/On a hemlock”, and I was very happy to see the sonnet by Paul Dutton—whom I had not heard of before but intend to find out more about.


Onset tense: to tone to set,

no sense to note-not one; no, none.

So one soon tosses on to net

tenses, notes, tones. One soon sees one

to ten senses. Soon one’s not too tense...

On the other hand I was disappointed not to see one of the excellent bp Nichol concrete sonnets. In fact that touches on one of the quibbles I had with this anthology. Although it’s great that Nichol and Bök (and Dutton) are included, the idea of form here is conservative on the whole. And given how innovative Canadian poets are, that’s a shame. It was a good opportunity to present the full spectrum of form in Canada and though it is a great effort, it does fall just a little short.

Nonetheless, this is a fabulous addition to Canadian poetry, bound to be a central text. It fills in some important gaps, and will be a great teaching tool. I have to confess that one of my ghazals is included and I’m happy to be part of the project.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Vancouver's slums

Is Vancouver ever going to be able to deal with the poverty and despair of the lower east side? Now they have the shit floating up in their face and still...I suppose at the very least we can say that Canadians don't sweep it under the carpet, or across the bridge as seems to be the case elsewhere.


VANCOUVER (CP) - The ripe stench of human excrement is getting stronger in downtown lanes, curling the stomachs of workers who no longer want to relax by the back door for smoke breaks.

"We're getting to the point where the need for public toilets is getting serious," said Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Gertrude Stein on Ebay

Things are winding down now but they've had quite a Steinfest on Ebay this past week. There's everything from bizarre mugs with Stein's face, to a copy of The World is Round. I admit to being tempted by a first edition of Everybody's Autobiography, but it was of course, too much for mere mortals to purchase.

Ron Silliman takes a look at Open Field

And it's a fair assessment. Some day I may well respond to some of the questions he raises, but not for now. At the moment it's just nice to hear a little discussion about the incredible poetry going on north of the border.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

CBC rocks

Check out CBC radio 3's slick visuals and a sexy podcast. Really, we've come a long way since Finkleman's 45s.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ubu Over

This from UBU.COM. A wellspring of poetics that is indespensible to contemporary poetry.
UbuWeb | 1996-2005

Dear Friends,

The UbuWeb Project -- a decade-long experiment in radical distribution of avant-garde materials -- has finished. Founded in 1996, the project has been a success beyond anyone's wildest expectations. As of Spring, 2005, it averaged over 10,000 visitors daily and hosts nearly a terabyte of artworks in all media by over 500 artists.

The site will be donated to a university shortly, where it will be archived intact for posterity. Please note that the site will no longer be updated. A URL linking to the archive will be posted on this page.

The editors wish to thank you for supporting this experiment and, as a result, may a thousand flowers bloom in its wake.

The Editors