Thursday, February 23, 2006

The fun is all here today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

For some reason, I'm thinking about reviews right now. Is it just me, or does it seem as if review editors are more or less wide-open valves these days?

Take a look at this review for instance. The publication in which it appears is barely more than a one-person show, so let's temper our criticism and stifle our guffaws. But isn't it incumbent on an editor to ensure his or her reviewers are informed and capable enough not to make fools of themselves (e.g., that the reviewer has thought to check a library catalogue—many are available online these days!—to see if the author he or she is considering has published anything else and that said reviewer is aware that "the message" isn't always the point)? Shouldn't review editors themselves, as Margaret Christakos pointed out once, do a little thinking about the books and ensure that the reviews in their publications serve some kind of critical function?

Just askin'.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I think the comments are working now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A weird thing I've been noticing lately: I frequently have memories (often dream-like) of text I haven't actually read by that is near text I have (e.g., I'll read an article on a left-hand page in a magazine and have the sense that I've already read something similar when I get to the article on the right). I imagine this kind of peripheral-vision reading is common (likely as a kind of unconscious prereading), but it's something I've noticed myself doing since I've been copyediting (I've found myself catching misspellings on right-hand pages while I'm editing the left). What's interesting though (at least to me) is that my peripheral-vision reading is often more playful—and, paradoxically, sometimes more attentive—than my focused reading, and I frequently come up with quasi-dyslexic readings through it (for instance, my now infamous reading of a sign in Ottawa that said "nicest cleaning" as "incest cleaning"). Today, while reading my e-mail and seemingly out of the blue, I had a vague thought that it would be funny if I were to get a message from Carmine Starnino with a subject line like "increased stamina." When I clicked on the arrow and went back to my main e-mail page, there was to my surprise a spam message with that very subject line beneath the message I had just read, but, alas, it was from someone named Carmine Santiago.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I couldn't help but think of one of the poems Stephen Cain read at last night's Lex as a mashup of Goodnight Moon (accurate) and Sun Ra's "Nuclear War" (this part is the product of my addled brain):
Originally Ra was so sure the funky dance track was a hit, he immediately took it to Columbia Records, where they immediately rejected it. Why he thought a song with the repeating chant "Nuclear War, they're talking about Nuclear War/It's a motherf***er, don't you know/if they push that button, your ass gotta go/and whatcha gonna do without your ass" would be a hit is another puzzle in the Sun Ra myth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Responses to the Four Horsemen Project here and here (and promised here). I tend to feel overwhelmed by all but the most minimal of live performances, so I don't have anything overly articulate to say, but I found this performance superficial in its push toward spectacle and pointlessly repetitive. I admit my attention was divided because I kept wondering how Paul Dutton, who was in the audience, felt watching what seemed to me to be a watering down and glitzing up of his and his collaborators' work (see Gregory's allusion to the Phantom of the Opera). It seemed to me as if, for the Volcano Theatre, the Horsemen are merely a 'weird' moment in Canadian literary history. There did appear to be something interesting going on relating to a reframing of the Horsemen's work by a culture that better acknowledges its diversity than the one the Horsemen worked within, but this didn't seem especially well worked out. Maybe strip the show down (i.e., consider what purpose the technology and stagecraft is serving), justify or lose the campy costumes, and go from there.

P.S. Maybe I'm dead wrong and Dutton loved the show.

Further note on the weekend: I did get a chance to see, and really liked, this. Also, I'm going to keep an eye out for more work by Adam Brown, whose hand-drawn and elongated foolscap (I think it was called Lines and Margins) at the Mercer Union members' show was both elegant and hilarious.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So I think I'm finally hitting on something again with my writing. My new focus, a series of ten-word poems or parts (five two-word lines), seems to have caught on something. I'm dropping the "Arts Week" newspaper project for now. I mean, I like the poems that are coming out of it well enough. I'm just not learning a lot from them. They're not carrying me anywhere I haven't already been, and I don't find them especially bewildering (or maybe astonishing). The title I'm using for the new series is "Infinite Formalism," though I'm not sure I like all of the implications of it. Yeah, it's supposed to be a bit ironic and provocative.
Does a suspicion of humanism keep us from seeking the authentic?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Work hard. Be lazy.

Lisa J. posts a nice Nam June Paik story that originally appeared on the Poetics List.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My big thought from this weekend arises from a conversation I had with Danielle Maveal, one of the contributors to Shift & Switch, who now lives in Windsor. She said (and I apologize if my memory has altered or embellished in its digestion) that she hasn't written in years because she doesn't feel the need and that to write would be to fall into a kind of routine. I'm always fascinated by stories of people leaving writing (George Oppen, etc.), I think because I'm concerned that this poetry thing is a bit of a compulsion for me (startling revelation of the week: I've mostly outgrown a case of adolescent OCD). Yes, poetry, as a way of life, helps me make sense of the world and seems a good way to conduct myself (I also feel inextricably connected to other people's work), but I'm attracted to what I sometimes think of as "the other side." (Is this some kind of mediated interest in death? I guess likely, not to get dramatic or anything.) What would I be doing if I weren't writing? (I'm guessing that I'd eventually end up running marathons.) I've planned for a while to force myself to take a month off in the summer: no writing, no reading poetry or anything related. I probably won't last, but I think it would be an interesting (if slightly perverse) experiment that might help me gain some perspective. This is just to fool myself into thinking I have a choice in all of this.

It was good to meet people like Louis Cabri and Sergio Forest. I also feel extremely fortunate to have spent some time with Gus Morin and his work. His reading on Sunday night at the Zemra Lounge felt like one of those once-in-a-lifetime events, you know? It was also good to hear more of Rachel Zolf's Human Resources, of which I'm a big fan.

The next post will be all about someone else.

Friday, February 03, 2006

From Apollinaire's Bookshoppe:

After ten years in hiatus, BafterC is back. In the early 90s, hidden amongst the nether regions of the York University undergraduate universe, BafterC published a single volume of four issues, edited by Jay and Hazel Millar. Now, with editorial headed up by Mark Truscott and myself [Jay], BafterC is back with the first issue of the second volume. It includes poetry by a.rawlings, Laynie Browne, Lynn McClory, Adam Seelig, Kemeny Babineau, derek beaulieu and Lisa Jarnot; it also includes writing by Julia Williams and Sandra Alland. CDN$6 for the issue, also available through Apollinaire's Bookshoppe. Who knows, maybe BafterC will stick around this time.
I might have copies next time you see me.

Also, check out the new Rogue Catalogue and the forthcoming spring BookThug titles.
I have been falling down on the blog job big time lately. Apologies to all who rely on posts in this space for their mental health (ha ha).

From the small-world department: Lisa met Anita Daher at the Ontario Library Association conference yesterday.

From the department of shifting and switching (cosponsored by the No-Fly Superb Owl):

4 February, 8:00 p.m.
Shift & Switch launch
Milk Bar Lounge
68 University Avenue West
Readings by Danielle Maveal, gustave morin, a.rawlings, and moi.

5 February, 8:00 p.m.
Shift & Switch reading
Diamond Cherry Reading Series
Zemra Lounge
778 St. Clair Avenue West
Readings by Sharon Harris, gustave morin, Rob Read, Trevor Speller, moi, and Rachel Zolf.

From the behind-the-scenes department: an ongoing investigation into the relationships among form, pattern, and the social.

From the just-heading-to-the-library department: going to check out Craig Dworkin's Reading the Illegible on Stephen Cain's recommendation.