OGOV poems o' the year

Marta and I are off to a cabin in the interior for a few days - and back mid-next week. This means possible reading. Possible writing. Possible editing. Possible reviewing. Possible all of the above. Quite possible none of the above.

Anyway, no posts for a while. To keep you entertained in the meantime, I've posted the results of the Best o' 2007 vote for One Ghana, One Voice on the site. You can check out the results here.

Happy New Year, y'all!


OGOV Poem of the Year

For those of you who are occasional readers of One Ghana, One Voice, I've just announced a "Poem of the Year" vote, in which readers can select their favourite piece from amongst the poems we've published in our first year (nine months, really) of existence. The voting details are here, and "back issue" can be read here.

Personally, I expected very little from our first year. Poetry isn't a big thing in Ghana anymore, and when it was a big thing back in the 60s and 70s, it was only so amongst an educated upper-class. With the crumbling of Africa's systems and structures of higher education, that group has withered away too. I wasn't even sure I could find enough poems, regardless of quality, to be able to post one weekly.

40 poems and 28 poets later, I can safely say that my concerns were unfounded. Yes, we've published quite a few poems that I wouldn't exactly classify as remarkable, but every once and a while a gem slips out - and that's happening more and more frequently these days. So if you haven't checked it out yet, and feel like trying something new in poetry, take a look. And if you like something you see, vote.


a shimmering

Myself, I listen and read and watch. Phrases come into my mind, usually more interesting for their rhythms than for what they say, and sometimes they can ignite an entire set of rhythms, poetic, dramatic, horizontal (the line), perpendicular (the stanza and the whole piece), and at the same time it becomes important that I find the meaning of what is being said as well and make it as plain as I can. Sometimes it is not plain at all; sometimes there remains a shimmering or a veil or a hint of magic about which it is impossible to be more explicit. I can only approach it as closely as my craft or art allow me; then it must be left to itself.

- John Newlove, from the intro to A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove, ed. Robert McTavish. See my recent post on Newlove here.


new site for local lit!

I recently came across this new site which lists lit events, submission deadlines, etc. for Vancouver writers:


So far many of the submission calls and contests are national or international (stuff that placesforwriters has covered pretty well). That's understandable, though, considering how few Vancouver-focused magazines there are out there. There is already content from local mags One Cool Word and memewar on Scene Not Herd, though, which is a good sign for things to come.

So check it out!

Also, take a look at these photos from RC Weslowksi's "Christmas Special" that were posted on Steve Duncan's Commercial Drive - Live! blog.



I was just informed that Shakespeare
wrote seven of the Top 100 Poems of
All Time, and that my share of those
top poems, though still at zero, could
increase dramatically if I entered this
contest, which, if I won, would not
only catapult me to the upper echelon
of poetic genius, but would also include
a $50 cash prize!

And this got me thinking
which got me dreaming
which got me worrying
What about the robots?

They're sure to crack the code soon,
invent a "Deep Blue" of verse
which will quickly be replicated into
thousands of compact, portable poetry machines
which will all sit atop their metal desks
tapping their digits and processing,

Soon, they'll be winning all the contests,
dominating the slams,
so we'll host a big "write-off" between
the top robo-poet and Maya Angelou.
It'll be held in Warsaw, or somewhere like that
and they'll serve those little triangular sandwiches.

It'll go seven round:
       Two wins each, two draws, and then
       on the seventeenth hour of the second day
       Maya will storm from the arena in disgust
       disqualified for misplacing a modifier
       (she'll later discover that is was
       in her jacket pocket all along,
       a mistake which she will carry
       to the grave, quite literally, as she
       will be struck down by a motorist
       less than a month later, the modifier
       still squeezed in her cold, black fist).

We'll write letters to the editors
protesting this new conquest of poetry
       (being robots, of course,
       they won't publish them)
but eventually we'll settle into this new arrangement.
We'll hear ourselves saying,
"I liked how all the words were in the right places!"
We'll forget a time when it was any different.

So I've decided I'd better submit to
this contest while I still have the chance.
I'm working on a piece that starts:
but I'm thinking that's a little too
wordy, and from a distance it sort
of looks like a caterpillar, which, I've
heard, most of the judges find off-putting.

from the 2007 issue of The Feathertale Review.
see my notes on the issue, and this poem, here.


next stop, hong kong!

The second issue of the Feathertale Review, an annual print supplement to Feathertale's great humour website, has been published. I'm fortunate enough to have a poem of mine, "Submission", included. My poem is accompanied by some fantastic robo-poet drawings by Anthony Swaneveld, and it looks really great - in my mind it competes only with One Cool Word's production of my poem "hook" for the nicest layout of one of my poems. In fact, the whole magazine is damn sharp. Just look at the cover:

Some sample pages can be viewed here, and copies can be bought online here for a mere 10 bucks. Apparently, the Review is available for in-store sale in Victoria, but not in Vancouver (Feathertale is based in Ontario). It's well worth the cost, with content from Greg Santos, Margaret "robo-pen" Atwood, and, most notably, the literary monstrosity that is Leopold McGinnis. It also features this hilarious maze by Matt Hammill, a copy of which has already been posted on the bulletin board at the Vancouver Maritime Museum:

I'll post my poem from the issue here in a day or two. I wrote it four years ago, during the period when we were starting up High Altitude at SFU and I was beginning to take this writing thing seriously. Needless to say, much of what I was writing then was pretty bad. The only two poems I have had published from that time (not that I submit that many of them to magazines) are "Submission" and "The Next Great Proletarian Revolution" - both rather playful, prose-y and heavily Billy Collins-influenced. I was a decent smartass before I was a decent poet, I suppose.

It's strange when something that's been kicking around for so long is finally published. Back when I wrote "Submission" I thought that it was pretty good, and that it could get published in some nifty magazine - and after four years of rejections it finally was! Now I'm submitting things I believe to be about ten-thousand times better than what I was writing four years ago and my result is a multicoloured sweater I knitted out of of all my quarter-page rejection slips. Maybe check back in four years? Forty-thousand?

Oh, and I almost forgot, THANKS, FEATHERTALE!!


these are the days of lasers in the jungle

When I was fifteen, I was just starting to develop an interest in poetry. I was memorizing "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost and listening to "Boy in the Bubble" by Paul Simon over and over again. I still had yet to write a poem that wasn't assigned by an English teacher.

At fifteen, Andrew David King not only writes some pretty sharp stuff, but he runs an online lit journal, Wings of Icarus. Thank goodness I don't measure my self-worth against the achievements of others...

He's just posted my poem "Haiku 1-4" in the Wings of Icarus poetry section. You can read it here.


i'm still too depressed to write about it...

but the picture needed posting:

Marta finally got around to uploading our photos from the CFL Western Final against the Roughriders. That's me, with my Mom in the background (Marta's paint-job was equally inspiring, I assure you).

I've written a few BC Lions-inspired poems, one of which I think is quite good (about injury-prone ex-Lion Tony Simmons). Another Lions poem of mine, "after the game," was published by HAP in September. If you're interested, you can read that here.