Sunday, October 31, 2004

A note to WestJet

Real fun is something that arises spontaneously when your attention is focused on whatever it is you're doing. It's not something you can 'add on' to other activities.

Real fun is what I had in Calgary thanks to my hospitable hosts Julia and Dan and their friends, especially Jill, Arran and Jenny. I'm sending out some good vibes to my friends in Alberta. They're in the middle of a provincial election campaign in which Ralph Klein, the premier of one of Canada's wealthiest provinces, has targeted the $850 a month people get through the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program, noting that a few of them he met "didn't look severely handicapped" to him.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Some Canadian poets, etc.

I seem to be getting some international traffic today, thanks to Lisa J.'s generous mention. Since you're here, I figure I should introduce you to an incomplete list of Canadian poets you may not know but who you should check out. I'm guessing you're already familiar with the likes of Christian Bok, Margaret Christakos, Darren Wershler-Henry, and Louis Cabri.

You might think of Stuart Ross as Ron Padgett of the north, but there's something all his own in his simultaneously hilarous and mournful poems. He started (with Nicholas Power) the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, writes fiction and runs a micropress, Proper Tales.

Jay MillAr is showing himself to be something of a protean poet, reinventing himself (and perhaps poetry) with each book. He has a micropress called BookThug, an imaginary bookstore called Appolinaire's Bookshoppe, and a monthly talk series, the Speakeasy.

Angela Rawlings is a tireless community builder and a writer of startlingly grainy lyrical poems. She and Bill Kennedy run Toronto's most interesting reading series, Lexiconjury, and the city's most vital annual literary festival, The Scream.

Jon Paul Fiorentino writes confessional poetry that operates on a molecular level. He edits Matrix magazine and lives in Montreal. I gave him the autographed 7" Suede record my university roommate left behind. I was never too big on Suede.

Daniel f. Bradley seems, unless I'm missing something, to have moved away from concrete poetry and into dense works of lexical and psychological association.

Prize Budget for Boys is an art terrorist collective with a new book out from Roof. Check out Pac-Mondrian.

Julia Williams of Calgary's new book is called The Sink House, a whimsical meditation on a love affair between a house and a riverbank. I love what she does with sentences.

Alana Wilcox, Jason "Fancy Pants" McBride, Christina Palassio, Stan Bevington, Rick/Simon, Ollie, John, Nicky, and the rest of the pressmen and binders at Coach House Books work tirelessly to make good books (well, I don't know about that Said Like Reeds or Things one).

More Canadian poets soon. Off to Calgary.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

More from Montreal

No one brought Doritos, but Mark sat on the doughnuts. Jason wore funny pants the whole time. Contrary to popular opinion, they were not Scotchguarded.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Dateline Montreal

In a busy day on the hustings, Rob Benvie charged that Mark Truscott "sucks" at Ghost (a game authors play in vans on the way to gigs in Montreal). Poetry commentators expect a rebuttal from Truscott today when he addresses supporters at the McGill Bookstore.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Weekend listings


Sunday, 24 October, 7.30 p.m.
Rob Benvie, Heather Birrell, Geoffrey Brown, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Mark Truscott, and Julia Williams
Casa del Popolo
4873 St-Laurent Blvd.

Monday, 25 October, 5:00 p.m.
Rob Benvie, Heather Birrell, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Gail Scott, Mark Truscott, and Julia Williams
McGill University Bookstore
3420 McTavish


If you're in Toronto, you've gotta check out Jay Millar's reading with Tom Pickard.

Sunday, 24 October, 3 p.m.
New Works Studio, 319 Spadina Avenue, second floor
(a few blocks north of Dundas)

Just picked up Joseph Kosuth's Art After Philosophy and After from the library.

Today's linguistic category

A contranym is a word that is its own antonym. My favourite, because its such a boring, everyday word, is "last." There's a bit of asymmetry in the antonymy, but that makes it even better.

Another reason to think that language doesn't really work the way we want it to.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Okay, so maybe not.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Mark goes out on a limb


Bush will pull some dumbass flightsuit stunt this Saturday.

Kerry will win the election by a decent margin.
(Okay, so I know he's a bit of a dork, but the other guy will kill us all given four more years.)

Coming soon: a report on tonight's TPL Young Voices launch.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Okay, so I haven't figured out how to post more than one photo at a time through flickr, so this is going to happen piecemeal.

"Pop" was the watchword at last night's Lexiconjury. Brian Joseph Davis punctuated his game of Portable Altamont Jeopardy with skeins of reference to CanRock and multiplex flicks. Neil Hennessy commandeered the open mike for a PacMondrian infomercial, later to reveal the PBFB's plans for mondo merchandise, a Koons-inspired glass-cased PacMondrian vaccuum cleaner, and world domination.
Brian Joseph Davis
Bill Kennedy with his favourite pop icon.
This is where the Pop thing ends. I can't take it any further. The rest of the evening was entirely academic. (Kidding.)

Daccia Bloomfield and Katy McGown quieted things down, with only the (miked) sound of Daccia's marker on acetate and the gentle whir of Katy's sewing machine accompanying Daccia's fanciful yet gritty drawings and Katy's thread-bordered texts, which culminated in a gentle revelation of accumulation. Okay, so there was the occassional drunken snort from the stage, too.
Other highlights: probably the best open mike (Michelle) I've seen, including Daniel f. Bradley, Karen Sohne, Kyle Buckley, and a guy who had memorized a fairly lengthy Yusef Komunyakaa poem.

Oh yeah, I read too. It was fun.

Jeopardy contestants Angela Rawlings, Jesse Huisken, and Bill Kennedy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Possible upcoming topics

The anxiety of blogging.

A shocking photo exposé on the Coach House trip to Montreal. Get a glimpse inside the van. Find out who steals whose Doritos and whose CDs don't get played.

Your questions answered: Is there a real cure for Heidegger?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Congrats to Lisa and Thomas

Another hightlight of our recent trip to New York was our brunch at Oznot's Dish with Lisa J., where we met Thomas Evans, Laynie Browne, Deirdre Kovac, Lee Ann Brown, Tony Torn, and little Miranda.

When asked about Toronto's poetry scene, I didn't feel like a particularly qualified ambassador but said that I thought it much like New York's, except on a smaller scale.

Since then a difference has struck me. We have fewer supporting institutions. While the work people do is similar (I'm thinking of Bill Kennedy and Angela Rawlings, Jay Millar, and Katherine Parrish), we have no Poetry Project, no Teachers and Writers.

I'm thinking of Jay's idea of a space for innovative poetry. Is this an idea whose time has come?

Something I'm thinking about

The internal kinetics of sentences.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Book City window

It's new technology day on saidlikereedsorthings. Here's a picture of the aforementioned window display.

Thanks again, Leah, Pat, and everyone at the Danforth store.

I Scream, Youth Scream

Stu Ross signs books for adoring fans at the I Scream, Youth Scream reading last night. (I'd post more pictures, but I figure I should have asked for permission. Stuart is such a public guy, he won't mind.)

Anyway, the reading was a tremendous success. I must say, it was tough as an allegedly adult poet to hear young people read better poems than mine. Kudos to Katharine Parrish and friends for organizing.

Overhead projector night at Lexiconjury

I'm not exactly au courant as far as projection technology goes, but I'm guessing the overhead projector is to public presentations what the Moog synthesizer is to popular music. And besides, what better way to give Billy Corgan the extended middle finger than to join the friendly folks at Lexiconjury on Tuesday night? Below is the typically hillarious and illuminating e-flyer from the Lex crew.

First, a nutritional quiz. Please answer truthfully.

( y / n ) I avoid poetry within one hour of a meal.
( y / n ) I have speculative fiction or chick lit available for snacking instead of fantasy or romance novels.
( y / n ) I read when I am hungry, not when I am bored or lonely.
( y / n ) I prefer euphony to end-rhyme whenever possible.
( y / n ) Creative, leafy green non-fiction is an essential part of my daily literary intake.
( y / n ) I vary my genres so that I get different nutrients from different books.
( y / n ) I rarely listen to blanched white spoken word, preferring whole performances instead.
( y / n ) I do most of my reading at home instead of attending high fat readings and book launches.
( y / n ) When forced to attend a reading, I choose series that are low in pretension and salt.
( y / n ) I read back cover copy carefully to find "hidden" fats and low wit-to-calorie ratios.

If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, then you may be leading a lifestyle of literary excess. For instance, did you know that books such as Rat Jelly, Cat's Eye, Waiting for Saskatchewan, Autobiography of Red and The Empress Has No Closure may seem to have nutritional value, but are far too high in sugar and other empty calories? A steady diet of books like those and you'll greatly increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and terminal unpopularity.

Thankfully, the Lexiconjury Reading Series is here to help. We're dedicated to making your literature both tasty and healthy, even for reading after school or at the workplace. There's no time like now to improve your reading habits, which is why you should attend our latest seminar:

LEXICONJURY XXV: Reading Your Way to a Healthier You
Tuesday, October 19th
The Cameron House Backroom
7:30 for 8pm

featuring Brian Joseph Davis, Mark Truscott and a collaboration between Daccia Bloomfield and Katy McGown. Also featuring an Overhead Projector.

Here are some of the tasty treats you're in for when you attend Lex XXV:

History is filled with fad poetry movements, but none quite took hold like the BRIAN JOSEPH DAVIS diet. In 1979 Davis published his first book, "The Brian Joseph Davis Medical Poetry Diet" to great acclaim and popularity. Davis' diet was counterintuitive, advocating the use of popular culture over heavy symbolism, television imagery over traditional imagery, and artificial verse forms over free verse. Critics were quick to stem the effects of the Brian Joseph Davis diet, contesting its slimming effects as "mere water loss" and stating that a reliance on junk culture not only created the basis for poor writing habits but was also medically dangerous. Still, The Brian Joseph Davis diet had its notable advocates, including V.C. Andrews, Venom drummer Abaddon and Canadian film director Bob Clark. At the time, Davis was quoted as saying "If my literary legacy ended with Flowers in the Attic, Venom's Black Metal and Porky's I'd still die a happy man." Davis himself will present an updated form of his diet, and will field questions from medical professionals who will challenge his assertion that poetry can survive entirely on the pseudo-science presented in C.S.I. and its derivatives C.S.I.: Miami and C.S.I.: New York.

Lexiconjury in association with The Food Network and Nabisco Foods are pleased to bring you our cooking demonstration "Appetizers For Living: Tricky Treats with Truscott’s Brand Snacking Crackers". What makes Truscott’s so good, and what makes them perfect for your halloween happenings? First, there's MARK TRUSCOTT, who is synonymous with poetry flavour. Truscott’s have singlehandedly changed people's perceptions, proving that low-fat short verse forms can not only be tasty, they can retain their shape and crunch even when microwaved or baked with cheese. Second: it's the ingredients, silly. Low-fat Truscott’s are made with the best... just check the package! No preservatives. No artificial flavours. Just all-natural reeds and things. So good you'll want to say it out loud! Whether going upscale or downscale, with Truscott’s brand snacking crackers you'll never have to settle for your standard halloween haikus again.

The key to healthy living is moderation. What good is poetry if you can't sneak a peek at some visual art every now and then? Here's Lexiconjury's secret recipe for a little indulgence, Sugary Bloomfields with Drizzled McGown. People believe that DACCIA BLOOMFIELD is hard to make from scratch and often resort to store bought brands. Not true! Simply mix bulk biomorphism with 1 cup of prose narrative and 2 separated perspectives and sketch with ink or charcoal. Next, form the mixture into individual entities and place on a greased acetate. Preheat E-Z Bake overhead projector to 350 degrees and cook for 15 minutes. While the Bloomfields are baking it's time to prepare your KATY McGOWN. Knit three honeyed hymenoptera into fisherman's ribs or elongated chevrons. Reduce heat, add utensils and install. When Bloomfields have cooled drizzle your McGown installation and sprinkle with sugar until well disciplined. Don't forget to share!

There will also be a reduced carb open michelle (6 readers). Get there early, and bring your cover diet. 1+1 rule in effect. Grandstanders will be treated like trans-fats in the Atkins diet.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Fiery Wilson

A few days ago, I was going to write that I couldn't get my head around the Fiery Furnaces. Carl Wilson's column in today's Globe and Mail does nicely in, via Derrida, explaining their appeal.

Also, great to hear that Sheila Heti has a novel due out this spring. I'm secretly hoping she'll draw me back into reading the form.

If the Globe's Review section published only writing that engages its subject as vigorously as Wilson's does, we'd have an arts section and not a consumer's guide. Imagine that.

Friday, October 15, 2004


It's catching-up time here on the blog. Wednesday night, Lisa, Julia, and I watched Rob Benvie relaunch his novel Safety of War to musical accompaniment. Additional highlights: Chris Murphy and friends served up some only-slightly-ironic covers of easy listening hits like Hall and Oats's "Out of Touch," before Murphy returned to the stage with his D.C. hardcore outfit, Reaganomics, who, complete with anti-capitalist rants against the merch table, lampooned the soundtrack of my early youth. I admit that on returning home I dusted off my copy of Minor Threat's single-CD Complete Discography and had a listen.


Contrary to what the listings in the "Review" section of today's Globe might imply, I am trying to write the most mundane and boring poetry imaginable.

I'm not kidding either.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Thanks to everyone who came out last night. It was great to see you. Thanks also to those who e-mailed congratulations or talking cats. And for the phonecalls, too.

Apologies for any stupid inscriptions (Howard and Susan's copy comes to mind). I was getting a little punchy as things were winding down.


The idea of intelligibility as sole poetic value has been raising its unquestioned head lately. Yes, we all need it and to a large degree live by it. It is not, however, the limit of language's behaviour. Think about the crossword puzzle in your weekend newspaper. Or the chart on your optometrist's wall. Now take another look at the text you're reading.

Think about the moment of weightlessness before the thud in your heart when you read a fresh metaphor.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Coach House launch

Please come to the fall Coach House launch.

Tuesday, October 12, 7:30 p.m.
Revival, 783 College Street
(more info:

Launching books by Rob Benvie, Geoffrey Brown, Mark Truscott, Julia
Williams, James Reaney and John Beckwith, and Steve Venright's
long-awaited soundscape collaboration with Christopher Dewdney.

Trip highlights 2

Ellen Gallagher adds plasticine prosthetics to advertisements from mid-20th-century black journals and uses the resulting textures to create relief maps of imaginary continents.

Trip highlights

Our discovery of Tom Bamberger's photoworks at Leslie Tonkonow. Bamberger seizes on repetition and extends horizon lines just-short-of-ridiculously through digital manipulation.

Expect more on Bamberger soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Leah at Book City on the Danforth has done a kickass window display for my book. Come check it out (348 Danforth Ave.).

Thanks, Leah. And thanks, Pat.

Excellent sentences

"all that belonged to we soaked and fell in perfect pieces"

"This creek makes a string makes up the distance turns on me every time dial tones."

from The Sink House, Julia Williams

An explanation from the formerly overwhelmed

My take on BafterC (Jay's probably differs): something like an acknowledgment that letters are both members of a structure or economy and participants in particular events, or words.

Books and mags acquired in New York

Bennett, John. Making Little Boxes from Wood
Berley, Peter. The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen
Browne, Laynie. The Agency of the Wind
Browne, Laynie. Pollen Memory
Browne, Laynie. Two Sonnets
Champion, Miles. Three Bell Zero
Coolidge, Clark. Far Out West
Davies, Kevin. Comp.
Lubasch, Lisa. Vicinities
McCormack, Derek. Grab Bag
Oppen, George. New Collected Poems
The Poetry Project Newsletter 200
Saroyan, Aram. Day & Night: Bolinas Poems
Tolling Elves 18
Wagner, Catherine. Macular Hole
Waldrop, Keith. Analogies of Escape

Sunday, October 03, 2004

First Post

Okay. Hello. Hello. This is my new blog.

This blog will explode with activity after Oct. 9.

Possibly coming soon: reviews of the October 5 Wilco show at Radio City Music Hall, art shows within walking distance of 23rd Street, the Anselm Hollo and Basil King reading at the Poetry Project, our dinner with Hedda and family, the Free Radicals party at the Poetry Project, and our brunch with Lisa J, Thomas, and Lisa J's friends.

P.S. Rob Snider designed my website. Isn't it great? He's still working on the styling, so it will look even better soon.

Happy birthday, Wally.