Thursday, October 23, 2014

new from above/ground press: Schapira, Brockwell, Baker + Touch the Donkey #3

Kate Schapira

See link here for more information

Images from Declassified Nuclear Test Films
Stephen Brockwell

See link here for more information

Abject Lessons
Jennifer Baker

See link here for more information

Touch the Donkey #3
with new poems by Gil McElroy, j/j hastain, derek beaulieu, Megan Kaminski, Roland Prevost, Emily Ursuliak, Susan Briante and D.G. Jones.

See link here for more information

keep an eye on the above/ground press blog for author interviews, new writing, reviews, upcoming readings and tons of other material;

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
September/October 2014
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy of each

and don’t forget about the 2015 above/ground press subscriptions; still available!

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9 or paypal (above). Scroll down here to see various backlist titles (many, many things are still in print).

Review copies of any title (while supplies last) also available, upon request.

forthcoming items by derek beaulieu, Jason Christie, Pearl Pirie, Gil McElroy, Gregory Betts, Kemeny Babineau, ryan fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Robinson!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Bruce Whiteman

Bruce Whiteman was born near Toronto in 1952 and was educated at the University of Toronto, Trent University, and UCLA. He has degrees in English literature, library science, and musicology, and until 2010 worked as a rare book specialist at McMaster University, McGill University, and UCLA.

He has published many books of poetry, including a long poem in several books entitled The Invisible World Is in Decline (1984, 1989, 2000, and 2006, with Book VII, Intimate Letters, just out in the fall of 2014 from ECW Press). A collection of shorter poems entitled Tablature is due from McGill-Queen's University Press in the spring of 2015. Whiteman has also published widely as a book reviewer in both Canada and the United States.

His other books include a study of English publishing in Quebec, a book on Group of Seven artist J.E.H. MacDonald, a descriptive bibliography of poet Raymond Souster, and editions of letters of the poets Ralph Gustafson and W.W.E. Ross and of critic and poet John Sutherland, as well as a major exhibition catalogue entitled The World From Here: Treasures of the Great Libraries of Los Angeles.

In addition to his own poetry, Whiteman has published translations from French (Québecois poet François Charron) and Latin (Tiberianus’ poem Pervigilium Veneris).

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

I cannot say that it really changed my life, although it was exciting to have in the world. I did two tiny self-produced chapbooks with a friend in the mid-70s, but I pretty much disown them now. My next two were small-scale affairs as well, but they feel more like my real first books. Cary Fagan did one in an edition of 300 copies, and the other I co-produced with my painter friend Milt Jewell in a larger edition, 500 I think. Those contain the first poems I acknowledge and am not ashamed of forty-some-odd years later.

As for how those poems relate to what I do now, there's very little connection, really. I gave up on the lyric poem in 1980, so the earlier work sounds quite foreign to me now, despite a recent reversion to traditional lineated poetry that Ken Norris fomented a few years ago when I was in a very difficult situation emotionally. The poet who writes The Invisible World Is in Decline has a tough time relating to the poet who in his twenties wrote pretty directly about the usual lyric concerns. Things like love and death are intergeneric, obviously, but my heart is in a different world from the one it inhabited in 1978.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

I was certainly reading in all three forms in high school. I was crazy about Joyce and Virginia Woolf, for example. But an older brother introduced me to Eliot's The Waste Land when I was around fifteen, and I was hooked immediately. Its range of reference and intelligence was impressive, but its emotional range was striking too, even if now I see its emotional assumptions as dark and unattractive, dangerous even. Poetry also seemed more accessible for the expression of teenage experiences like unrequited love, family divorce, and so on. Essays were what one wrote in school.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
It depends on what I am working with. The long poem is always there, asleep or dozing on my desk, and when I am ready to go on with it, it's more available than other writing because I am not forever starting from nothing, from scratch. That doesn't mean that individual poems can't be hard or problematic; but at least the greater context doesn't have to be invented each time. With every poem, it's always the opening line that is the hardest. Something has to occur, with possibility. Sometimes it does, more often than not it doesn't or gets written with extreme difficulty. But usually, with the first line on the page, the rest of the poem is not so exigent. The ending, again, can be confounding, hard to listen for.

I don't write a lot of drafts. I'm constantly correcting, adding, subtracting as I go along, re-reading what's there, editing on the fly. So usually, when I finish, while the poem may not be perfect, it's pretty close to what I want. I pay very, very close attention to poetic music, and as long as the music is in the poem, it will be close to right the first time.

Poetry rarely comes out of notes for me. It's grabbed out of what Yeats, I think, called "the live air."

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
Well again, with the long poem it's always a book from the beginning. It will not be pre-planned for the most part, not designed architectonically or anything, because I want the work itself to lead, not to follow. With the sequence that begins Book VIII that I am writing thee days, I did decide on a context, that the poems would engage with the Ovidian text Tristia, which he wrote after Augustus Caesar banished him to present-day Romania, because I needed to explore the idea of emotional exile. I even quite doggedly read the Ovid in Latin and did, for once, make a few notes, recorded a few phrases I wanted to invoke.

With the lined poems, well, they are more occasional and in some sense accumulate rather than being written within a sequence. I have a book of these coming out from McGill-Queen's in the spring of 2015 entitled Tablature, and the construction of the collection is not just random, not at all; but the poems were written more as sighs and groans and out of high blood pressure, so to speak, than to any plan made in advance.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I do like reading in public. In part it's because I think poetry needs to be vocalized in order properly to hear its music. But I also like the immediacy of reading to other people, especially to strangers. Feedback is always a good thing, and the questions that listeners come up with, while they can sometimes be banal or repetitive, can also be incredibly provocative. I was asked at a recent reading about melody, and I realized that I didn't really have a take on melody in poetry, despite my constant musical preoccupations. That was great. I'm thinking about it now.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
Theory. Well sure. I am never going to write an "Art poétique," but I do constantly think about what poetry is and what it does. I have a slightly dysfunctional relationship to the word "theory" because of its commandeering by the Academy over the last few decades in ways that, mostly, did not interest me much, or rather in ways that produced bad writing. My move from lyric poetry to the prose poem was definitely a theoretical alteration, undertaken because I wanted my poetry to stop witnessing little beyond my personal experiences and to come out of  an engagement with the body, with light, with language as discovered rather than imposed.

But poems that try to answer questions, or that are self-consciously engaged with "the current questions" are usually drab and almost always sound fanées fast. That said, poets, bless them, are usually alive to whatever is of concern to the culture or the zeitgeist, to use an old-fashioned term, and inevitably their poems will engage with "the current questions" even when they are not specifically designed to doing so.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Poets these days don't get much respect. The culture is quite adept at ignoring poetry. Just look at the book pages of the three Toronto newspapers: fiction reigneth supreme. I know it sounds dumb, but the role of the poet, really, is to write poems that are engaging and lasting. Poems that are passionate, musical, alive in their language.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
The editors I have worked with over the decades have always made my books better. I don't need to be told about comma splices and subject-verb agreement, but when poems are relatively fresh, it isn't always easy to hear them right. Another's perceptions are essential. I would never give a book to the world without having the benefit of an editor.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
I don't know about "advice," but I have always liked Basil Bunting's statement in the preface to his Collected Poems: "With sleights learned from others and an ear open to melodic analogies I have set down words as a musician pricks his score, not to be read in silence, but to trace in the air a pattern of sound that may sometimes, I hope, be pleasing." That's a very, very high aspiration for a poet. Hard work ensues.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose to children's poems to classical music writing)? What do you see as the appeal?

The genres fertilize each other really. My interest in classical music is older even than my recognitions in poetry, and I constantly listen to works, write about them sometimes, and let them train and shape my ear. That ear is the essential aspect of writing poetry in my view, so music and poems are forever in a conversation. I am interested in the neuroscience of hearing and recently talked to a poetry class about tone deafness, what scientists prefer to call a lack of pitch discrimination. It seems to be centered in the arcuate fasciculus and is bilateral. I also spent a day or two last month thinking about the possibility of writing a poem in a specific key. Can one write a poem in D-flat major? That may sound idiotic, but it's this sort of cross-fertilization that interests me.

Reviews come out of commissions mostly, but even reviews can be stimulating to the main work. It's good to read all kinds of writing. I recently reviewed Diane Ackerman's The Human Age for a newspaper, and was struck by how wonderfully she puts together sentences. Of course I am hardly the first person to notice that.

As for children's poems, they are a new thing for me, and grew out of wanting to write something that my four-year old twin boys could enjoy. I discovered that I have a talent, I think, for metre and rhyme, something I usually do not think about directly in my poems for grown-ups. It's awfully engaging to write poems that must be direct and comprehensible to children. Not easier, by any means! I go through more drafts of a kids' poem than I do for a piece intended to be part of my long poem, that's for sure.

I taught myself, late, how to write the lyric essay, or an extended version of it, by writing a 30,000-word memoir last fall. It won't ever be published, but it was a good experience in so many ways, not least because the writing itself fell into a genre I had not attempted before, and I learned the arc of a long prose form and how to tie it to lyric moments from a part of my life that was extremely painful. So, again, all kinds of writing feed each other, and moving among them is always a good thing.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beautiful Outlaw: Phil Hall and Mark Goldstein

Phil Hall and Mark Goldstein were recently in Ottawa to launch new titles with Goldstein’s own Beautiful Outlaw Press, a publishing house known for beautiful chapbooks produced in small editions that are gracefully designed, thrilling to read, and difficult to find copies of (unless you can find via publisher and/or an author). Phil Hall’s latest is Essay on Legend (2014), produced in an edition of 52 copies “in commemoration of the second annual Purdy Picnic at the A-frame, Roblin Lake, Ameliasburgh, July 26, 2014.” For some decades now, the late poet Al Purdy has been one of Phil Hall’s touchstones, starting, as he said, as a good Ontario “son of Al Purdy” poet, since shifting towards Louis Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers (1978); from stories and the anecdote to “that purse sound of the vowel.” And yet, this short sequence, cobbled and stitched together from a variety of threads, found and salvaged lines and objects, begins with an anecdote about a dog, utilizing such as a starting-point for a sequence of observations on poetry, anecdote and violence, each circling around the very idea of “legend”:

  Most days Al Purdy

wrote poems as good as Alden Nowlan
  but maybe 30 times Al wrote a poem we now call      a Purdy poem

as if some days his name were All     not Al

  Nowlan also     at times     sawdust flying     achieved a wider name
All-Done-Now Land     or Old In No Land

  they both wrote a lot of friendly crap that sounds the same

if read now     but who can stand to read them exhaustively now
  they were drinkers     & that will get a soul above itself some

as the booze digs under eloquence like surf

  but Purdy seems to have     seen & heard     his over-self
he caricatured Al as All     or was that us

  while Nowlan just kept writing down memories & impressions

without distinguishing small town talk from the bull moose secret life
  so we tend to forget him

What is evident over the past few years is just how fluid Phil Hall’s stunning meditative poems have become, and how he refuses to remain static; most likely, if any of this were to find their way into a trade collection, they would be completely reworked, edited, reshuffled and pared down. Nothing is fixed.

Schwarzmaut was inscribed by Paul Celan sometime after January 30, 1967, the date on which he first tried to kill himself “with a knife (or a letter-opener) that missed his heart by an inch.” The suspected cause, among many forces, was a “chance encounter at a literary event at the Paris Goethe Institute on January 25 with Claire Goll, the widow of the poet Yvan Goll, who some years earlier had wrongly accused him of plagiarizing her husband’s poetry, causing Celan’s first psychic collapse.” At the time of his suicide attempt Celan was “saved by his wife in extremis, and transported to Hôpital Coucicaut where he was operated on immediately” as his left lung was severely damaged. From mid-February until mid-October he was interned at the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital, where Schwarzmaut was written. Subsequently, it was first published by Brunidor, along with engravings by Gisèle Celan-Lestrange, in a limited edition of 85 copies under the title “Schwarzmaut” in March 1969. In 1970, published by Suhrkamp Verlag, it became the opening cycle of Lichtzwang just three months after Celan’s death.
Blacktoll is a continuation of my transtranslational experiments first begun in After Rilke (BookThug 2008) and continued in Tracelanguage (BookThug 2010). Where Tracelanguage exemplifies a “shared breath” that seeks to break with tired translational orthodoxies, Blacktoll attempts to embrace both old and new methodologies as singular. Whether one approach is wider or deeper than the other, I’ll leave to the reader to decide in full knowledge that there’s no “poem” there. By this I mean that words are encampments around an absence – a field of energy beyond description. (“A Note on the Text”)

Paul Celan’s Blacktoll Schwarzmaut, translated by Mark Goldstein (2013) continues, as Goldstein himself writes, his engagement with what Erín Moure refers to as “transelation”—a poetic translation that openly admits that there is no such thing as the possibility of direct translation, especially for poetry, and runs a gradient of directly including the translator as co-author of the newly-created text. I’m curious about Goldstein’s repeated return to the texts of Paul Celan, specifically, and if this might be an ongoing project of transelation, Goldstein writing himself through the cover of Celan’s own poems. Either way, the short, untitled, meditative poem-fragments, presented in the original on the left, and transelation on the right, are absolutely stunning. One could live inside them, fully.

HE RODE THE NIGHT, coming to himself,
an orphan’s smock as flag,

no more running astray,
he rode straight –

It is, it is, as if the oranges stood in the privet,
as if the thus ridden wore nothing
but his
mothermarked, se-

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Factory Reading Series pre-small press book fair reading, November 7, 2014: Baker, Dolman, Boyle, Currie + Ross

span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) presents:

The Factory Reading Series

pre-small press book fair reading

featuring readings by:

Jennifer Baker (Ottawa)
Anita Dolman (Ottawa)
Frances Boyle (Ottawa)
Dave Currie (Ottawa)
+ Stuart Ross (Coburg)
lovingly hosted by rob mclennan
Friday, November 7, 2014;
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm
The Carleton Tavern,
223 Armstrong Street (at Parkdale; upstairs)

Jennifer Baker
was raised in Exeter, Ontario, where she divided her time between town and her grandparents' farm. She is currently a part-time professor and PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa. Her new chapbook, her first, is Abject Lessons (above/ground press).

Anita Dolman is an Ottawa-based writer and editor. Her poetry and fiction have appeared throughout Canada and the United States, including, most recently, in On Spec: the Canadian magazine of the fantastic, Grain,, The Antigonish Review, ottawater and Geist. Her short story “Happy Enough” is available as an e-novella from Morning Rain Publishing (2014). Follow Anita on Twitter @ajdolman. Her second poetry chapbook is Where No One Can See You (AngelHousePress, 2014).

Frances Boyle [photo credit: John W. MacDonald] is originally from Regina, and maintains a yearning for both the prairies and the west coast where she lived for a number of years. She is the author of Light-carved Passages (BuschekBooks, 2014) and the chapbook Portal Stones, winner of Tree Press’s chapbook contest. Among other awards, she’s received the Diana Brebner Prize, and first place in This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt for poetry (with third place for fiction in the same year). Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Canadian and American literary magazines, both print and online, and anthologies on subjects from Hitchcock to form poetry to mother/daughter relationships. She serves on Arc Poetry Magazine’s editorial board.

Dave Currie’s Birds Facts is forthcoming from Apt. 9 Press, a sentence that fill him with bashful joy and quiet disbelief. His plays have been produced at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, Carleton University, Algonquin College and at small venues across the province. His origins in theatre transitioned into opportunities in television and film, most of which he accepted, performed adequately and then squandered.

He is currently working on a new play entitled “Clone-Hitler Goes To The Beach” set to be performed in 2015 and a film script simply entitled “Women.” His fiction will be available in magazines – some day.

Dave Currie is not now nor has he ever been a dog.

Stuart Ross published his first literary pamphlet on the photocopier in his dad’s office one night in 1979. Through the 1980s, he stood on Toronto’s Yonge Street wearing signs like “Writer Going To Hell,” selling over 7,000 poetry and fiction chapbooks. He is a founding member of the Meet the Presses collective, and is editor at Mansfield Press. He is the author of two collaborative novels, two story collections, eight poetry books, and the novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew. He has also published an essay collection, Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer, and co-edited Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Holiday Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament. His most recent poetry book is Our Days in Vaudeville (Mansfield Press), collaborations with 29 other poets from across Canada. Stuart has had three chapbooks published this year: Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead (Puddles of Sky Press), A Pretty Good Year (Nose in Book Publishing) and In In My Dream (Bookthug). Stuart is a member of the improvisational noise trio Donkey Lopez, whose first CD is Juan Lonely Night. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario.

[And don’t forget the 20th anniversary of the ottawa small press book fair, being held the following day at the Jack Purcell Community Centre]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chaudiere Books Launch with Roland Prevost, Amanda Earl and Monty Reid

Chaudiere Books Launch with Roland Prevost, Amanda Earl and Monty Reid
Hosted by rob mclennan
Ottawa International Writers Festival

Monday October 27, 8pm
Free event
Fox and Feather, 2nd Floor • 283 Elgin St.

For further information on this event, and other events in this year's Ottawa International Writers Festival, click here:
Ottawa’s Chaudiere Books was recently relaunched by rob mclennan and new co-publisher Christine McNair, and the Writers Festival is proud to be launching their 2014 poetry titles.

A riotous assemblage of long poems focusing on the crazy years of 1920s Montparnasse—a melting pot of artists and poets. Amanda Earl’s Kiki plays with language and form, taking the familiar first-person format of journaling to streams of language to snippets of visual imagery to present the wildness of those years, focusing on the persona of Kiki de Montparnasse, a maverick who—much like the poems presented here—cut across intellectual and artistic boundaries. Sexy and smart. Read more...  

An incisive and playful first book exploring language and space, Singular Plurals presents us with fictive—often surreal—images encapsulated in text that is layered in meaning, playful with language and polyphonous in tone. The poems explore the irregular spaces and tangential lines that separate and connect us, sometimes by gazing from a great distance, then zooming in for the close-up shot. Roland Prevost is a winner of Bywords’ John Newlove Poetry Award and a self-described “explorer of here/now’s edge.” Singular Plurals is his first full-length book of poetry.  Read more...

Garden is a cycling and recycling meditation on the garden, its edges and ecologies, throughout an entire calendar year. Award-winning poet and under-performing gardener Monty Reid explores and reinvigorates the possibilities of poetic meditation over twelve full months of his home garden in Ottawa’s east end. Read more...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kate Hargreaves, Leak


Windsor splints me. Splints shins—feet bat-battering asphalt cracks thud thud thwack thwack thwack thwack shoelace plastic tip clipping concrete. thfooooo—exhale fast against damp armpit air. Pause one foot on pavement, other shoe rolling over ants and grass and woodchips two feet from dog shit sizzle in the haze. thhoooo—exhale re-tie loop over around and through, tie the ears together and tap toe towards sneaker end. Stand. Sweat slips between vertebrae, over spine juts like waterfall rocks—slish slide slim. On feet and level with horse heads over sparse hedge over-pruned by ninety-five degree weeks and days, nights of dry roots, brown branches, crisp. Rind warming in racer-back lines, heat-dying Friday afternoon onto shoulders arms and calves. Out and back: laterals around perambulator pushers and camera couples pausing to snap the elephant and her babies. thfoooooothfoooooooo—hard breaths in time with glitter on the wet streets calves and quads suck blood and O2 from head spinning and concrete clumps cling to clay soles. Windsor sticks to my sneakers, sod, cement, gum, cast-iron eggs and birds catch on my laces. thfooooooo—exhale, and scuff rubber on road, to scrape off stones, cedar chips, Tim Horton’s cups and spare change. Shin splints. Cable-knit air chokes my out-breath. thf—bronze base casts over my shoes. Drags me toward river railings and drills toes into sod. Headphones pumping dance dance dance till your dead at path-side. Playlist over. Riverside runner: artist unknown. Bronze, textile and sports tape. Splint into the soil.

Windsor, Ontario poet Kate Hargreaves’ first trade poetry collection, Leak (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2014), is striking for the sounds she generates, allowing the language to roll and toss and spin in a fantastic display of gymnastic aural play so strong one can’t help but hear the words leap off the page. Utilizing repetition, a variety of rhythms and homonyms, Hargreaves’ poems mine the relationship between language and the body, and rush and bounce like water through seven suite-sections: “Heap,” “Chew,” “Skim,” “Pore,” “Chip,” and “Peel.” As she writes to open the poem “HIP TO BE SQUARE”: “Her hips sink ships. Her hips just don’t swing. Her hips fit snugly in skinny jeans. Her calves won’t squeeze in. Her hips check.” She manages to make the clumsy, awkward and graceful tweaks and movements of the body into an entirely physical act of language, bouncing across the page as a rich sequence of gestures. Given the fact that she also published a collection of short fiction, Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels (Windsor ON: Black Moss Press, 2012), “a collection of prose vignettes inspired by women’s flat-track roller derby,” this writer and roller derby skater’s ability to articulate text in such an inspired and physical way shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, but the fact that it is done so well is something of a marvel.


She pores.
She pores over her psychology textbook.
She pores over the late-night pita menu.
She pours water over tea steeps and pours.
She pore-reduces. She scours.
She scrubs.
She pores over her blackheads in the mirror.
She skins.
She skins her ankle with a dollar-store pink plastic razor.
She nicks.
She grazes.
She snacks at half-hour intervals throughout the day: trail-mix,
      dried cranberries, arugula, celery.
She scans the fridge for leftover spinach.
She pours olive oil and vinegar on lima bean salad.
She pours oil on troubled waters.
She waters the daffodils.
She never rains.
She showers.
She buzzes her head.
She hums.
She drones.
She counts. She sorts.
She: out of sorts.
She’s out on a limb.
She limps.
She wilts.
She droops.
She drips coffee on the floor.
She sips.
She slips on wet tiles.
She sinks.

Friday, October 17, 2014

'Poet pushes together fragments in new book'

I had a little article on my Ottawa book launch for If suppose we are a fragment (BuschekBooks) in Carleton University's weekly paper, The Charletan, recently.

For the sake of full disclosure, I include the text of the little interview the writer of the article, Phelisha Cassup, conducted with me, via email:

1. How did you chose the title? What inspired it? Is there any specific moment or story that it was derived from?

I’m not completely sure where the title of If suppose we are a fragment originated. It sounded good when rolled off the tongue, and on the page as well. Given that it was composed during a very early period in my relationship with my now-wife, the poet Christine McNair, one might make speculations on the nature of the fragment, and how relationships are about pieces slowly fitting together into each other.

2. What advice do you have to aspiring writers/journalists?

Just write. To aspire means nothing until you do.

Also, read as much and as widely as possible. Edits and revision are essential, but only after the first draft. Be fearless, but never reckless. Listen to the parts of you that aren’t often acknowledged. Be open to ideas that might not make sense at first, or at all to anyone else. And be patient: any craft takes years and some thousands of hours to perfect. You don’t have to solve it all in one day, or even one year.

3. Do you have any current projects on the go?

Multiple. I’m currently attempting to complete a manuscript of short stories, as well as a poetry collection. I’m also editing a selected poems by the Perth, Ontario poet Phil Hall, who is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa.

4. What was the hardest part of creating this work?

After twenty-plus years of writing full time, the work ethic is there, the patience is there, and the attention is there. The hardest part? Often, the hardest part is attempting to find a home for completed manuscripts. Publishing has shifted over the past decade or so, away from taking chances on riskier works and seriously reducing the possibilities for sales across the country (the reduction in bookstores and reviewing meaning fewer books are receiving any attention at all). It is making it hard for a great many of us to find publishers.

5. Is it hard to balance family, your new baby (Congrats again!!), with writing?

Thanks much! Balance is always a tricky thing, whether considering relationships, employment, schooling or anything else. This past year has been an enormous shift, certainly, going from full days of work to half-days, trading time with Christine until her maternity leave ends. Once she goes back to work, I’ll be attempting to carve writing spaces over the next few years around the occasional childcare, the uncertainty of naps and my own exhaustion.

6. What makes this piece unique from others?


7. Where can your works be purchased?

I’ve a number of works available for online sale at, and most of my publishers each have websites where one can purchase books. Failing that, one can simply visit my table at the semi-annual Ottawa small press book fair in November. The twentieth anniversary edition of the fair occurs on Saturday, November 8, 2014 on the second floor of the Jack Purcell Community Centre on Elgin Street. Otherwise, one can always send me an email at and we can do something more directly.

8. Any other things you want the students of Carleton to know/ read?

The In/Words Reading Series, run through Carleton University’s In/Words Magazine and Press, is perhaps the most fun reading series currently in town. For information on any and all Ottawa literary information, including readings, book fairs, calls for submissions and other such notices, one should constantly be paying attention to