a (sort of) silaron year in review

2011 was a busy year for me, highlighted by the launch of my book in May, and the revival of the Dead Poets Reading Series in November.

It was also a busy year here on the blog, as it turns out that actual content makes a blog more interesting: silaron readership jumped by 56% from 2010 to 2011. Thanks, trusty readers/people Googling images of june bugs!

Earlier this year, I installed a new stat-tracking program that let me follow how many hits each individual post receives. It turned out the five most popular posts of 2011 were spaced out evenly across the year, and reviewing them seemed, for me, like a nice end-of-year recap. Maybe you'll think so, too?

Here then, in chronological order, are my five most well-trafficked posts of 2011:

January 26th, 2011: "an attempt at an online "works cited" for michael lista's bloom"

This post, originally concocted as an elaborate excuse to post a Dr. Strangelove clip on my poetry blog, attempted to trace the lineages of some of the poems in Michael Lista's Bloom.

April 1st, 2011: "James Moore comes clean (for a split-second)"

A second appearance by Michael Lista. Also, A.F. Moritz, the Fiddlehead, Chatelaine, Spanx, Ugg Boots and LMFAO (no, not that LMFAO). Oh April 1st, never stop being you.

July 12th, 2011: "urgency and simplicity - An Interview with Kae Sun"

My interview with Ghanaian musician and poet Kae Sun, before his show in Vancouver as part of his summer tour. Try to spot the cardboard cutout of a janitor!

October 17th, 2011: "hope too is an old and unusual growth - "The Bright Well" Book Launch"

This post featured a poem by Glenn Downie and an interview with "The Bright Well" editor Fiona Lam. The book has gone on to be a big success (apparently it's already in its third printing). This post isn't solely responsible for that, of course, but it certainly deserves at least half the credit.

December 8th, 2011: "five christmas ideas #3"

What list is complete without listing another list within it? This post on five of my favourite Canadian poetry books of 2011 featured Doug Ford, Peruvian haircuts, 88% meat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes, and the debut of the Unimpressed Zach Wells (UZW) rating system. To top it off, the post itself received the UZW seal of approval in the comment section (though the exact number of UZW heads awarded was not specified).

Happy holidays, everyone. See you in 2012!


come for a visit, maybe?

Green College at UBC is looking for a Writer-in-Residence for Fall 2012. Locals aren't eligible, but you out-of-town poets are. See, you knew I'd eventually reward you for wading through all my Vancouver event postings! The details:


Green College at the University of British Columbia invites applications from Canadian writers normally resident outside the Lower Mainland of BC, for the position of Canada Council Writer-in-Residence at the College. The term of the residency will be three months within the period between September 1 and December 15, 2012, subject to funding approval.

The Writer-in-Residence will work with the Green College community through consultations and workshops, and will create and coordinate a public series of literary events, as part of the College’s academic programming for the UBC and local community. She or he will be expected to live at the College for the term of the residency, and will be provided with reimbursement for economy-fare travel (within Canada) to and from Vancouver, room and partial board during the stay, and a stipend of $18,000. Additional funding will be available to support the public series of events.

For its 2012 residency the College seeks a writer of established reputation in any genre/s (at least two books in print or equivalent public recognition) and with significant previous experience of arranging and hosting literary events.

Only complete applications received by postal mail by the deadline are accepted. Please send applications to:
Writer-in-Residence Selection Committee
Green College, The University of British Columbia
6201 Cecil Green Park Road
Vancouver, BC
V6T 1Z1
Applications must include:
* A covering letter that includes a sketch of possible events for the residency
* A curriculum vitae
* 20-30 page writing sample
* Two letters of reference, signed by the referees and provided in sealed envelopes, which may be mailed separately
Please Note: Applications must be received by Green College on or before the February 1, 2012 deadline to be eligible.

Questions may be directed to Tatiana Tomljanovic, Communications Manager, at gc.communications(at)ubc.ca or 604-822-0676.


as if the ear is learning to feel

Curtis Fox: Do you find it easier to memorize poems [written] in metre and rhyme?

Dan Beachy-Quick: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I think that it’s memorizing poems in metre and rhyme that has, in certain kinds of ways, guided me towards experiments in metre and rhyme and more traditional form.

Fox: Really? Explain that. How does that work?

Beachy-Quick: Well, I think when you go through the work of memorizing a poem, the metre of it or the rhyme of it or the formal pattern that it’s in ceases to just be a kind of technology of the poem, and you begin to see the real necessity that might be underlying the choice of writing in the sonnet, or the genuine power of what it is to write a poem that takes as a genuine concern the need to find a perfect rhyme, or a slant rhyme. And because those things, too, metre and rhyme, are so absolutely bodily in part of their meaning. One feels a rhythm; rhyme is as much felt as it is heard. It’s almost as if the ear is learning to feel when it hears a great rhyme. Also, I think in a way, memorizing such poems helps one learn to read and take seriously very traditional values in a poem that in a post-modernist framework might be easily dismissed.

- Dan Beachy-Quick, in interview with Curtis Fox for the Poetry Off the Shelf podcast. You can listen to the whole thing here.


more details on tonight's subTerrain reading

It looks like tonight's subTerrain Marathon Poetry Reading/Magazine Launch will start at 6:00 PM, not 5:00 PM as previously posted.

George McWhirter will kick things off at 6:00, followed by subTerrain head-honcho Brian Kaufman at 6:05, and yours truly at 6:10. A steady stream of readers will follow, including Lionel Kearns, Heidi Greco, Kate Braid, Renee Saklikar, Nikki Reimer, Miranda Pearson, Daniela Elza, Jamie Reid, Joanne Arnott, Heather Haley, Peter Trower, Catherine Owen and, to cap off the night, everyone's favourite Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, Libby Davies.

The main information, again:

SubTerrain 125 Marathon Poetry Reading Event
Tuesday, December 20th, 6:00 PM – ? PM
Army, Navy and Air Force Veteran’s Club
3917 Main St. (at 23rd Ave.)

And if you don't feel like you've adequately trained your mind and body for the rigours of a poetry marathon, remember that I'm also reading at a more manageably sized reading (and for more than five minutes) in Burnaby, starting at 8:00 PM. The poster for that:

I hope to see you tonight!


TOSOO good news/bad news

Good news: the first print run for The Other Side of Ourselves has all-but sold out!

Bad news: it's done so on the week before Christmas...

A second run will come, but not until the new year.

If you are looking to pick up a copy, I know there are still a few on the shelves at Chapters locations in Greater Vancouver, and one copy left on Amazon.ca.

If you're in Vancouver, and want a copy before Christmas, the best way to get one is from me personally (perhaps at my readings tomorrow? Hint, hint!). Likewise, you can always shoot me an email at roblucastaylor(at)gmail(dot)com and we can work something out.

Thank you to everyone who has bought the book since it came out in May. Though this is a bit of a headache at the moment, knowing that so many people have taken interest in my book is as good a Christmas present as I could have hoped for.


master the middle ground

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

George Stanley: In third year high school (grade 11) my English teacher required all his students to write poems. At the end of the term he took three of us aside — me, my friend Manuel, and a boy named John. He told the three of us that we had talent as poets. (Actually only two of us had talent; Manuel was writing John’s poems for money.)

More than once I have tried fiction but could not master the middle ground, middle distance. For me everything was either cosmic or closeup.

- George Stanley, in interview with rob mclennan, as part of rob's 12 or 20 (or 21 or 19 or 45 or...) questions series, this time hosted at Dooney's Cafe. You can read the whole interview here.


keeping your eyes open

I’m very wary of this idea that poetry shouldn’t be political. I think that’s also a kind of reflexive opinion that a lot of people have, is that poems can’t be political or shouldn’t be political or should restrict themselves to the aesthetic sphere. I don’t believe that. I like that this poem that I just wrote attempts to engage with the issues that are happening right now. Most of my poems, in one way or another, do, but the way that they engage has more to do with trying to pay attention to language, and the way the language is used in these situations, and what’s happening. Being aware. Keeping your eyes open. And I think that’s very political, to pay attention.

- Matthew Zapruder, in an interview with Ryan Van Winkle for the Scottish Poetry Library Podcast. You can listen to the whole thing here.


two reading tuesday

I'm taking part in two readings next Tuesday (December 20th). First, I'm reading my poem from the Vancouver 125 issue of subTerrain as part of their Marathon Poetry Reading/Launch. The details:

SubTerrain 125 Marathon Poetry Reading Event
Tuesday, December 20th, 6:00 PM – ? PM
Army, Navy and Air Force Veteran’s Club
3917 Main St. (at 23rd Ave.)
Featuring: Oh man, many people. See the list of contributors for an idea.

I'll be reading at 6:10 and a bit later I'll head across town to participate in the December instalment of Spoken Ink. The details there:

Spoken Ink Reading Series
Tuesday, December 20th, 8:00 PM
La Fontana Caffe
101-3701 East Hastings Street (@ Boundary Road)
Featuring: Rob Taylor

I hope to see you at either event. Or you can make my day and go to both!

p.s. Anvil's 20th Anniversary Party is tonight at the Railway Club!


five christmas ideas #3

Here we are at year three of my little CanPo promotion project (you can read the last two years' entries here and here)! As always, I'm looking to make this year's list bigger and better than the last. And what's hotter among the industry's best at moving product (GGs, Griffin, I'm looking at you) than a whiff of "conflict of interest"? As you'll see below, I've done my best to pack in some scandal (really I just picked my five favourite books I read in 2011, but let's pretend, ok?). I even developed a numerical system to make clear my biases and underhanded allegiances, because I am nothing if not generous to my detractors!

Enough preamble. Here are my suggestions of five new-ish Canadian poetry books for poetry fans and maybe-possibly-soon-to-become poetry fans alike:

A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno by Matt Rader, House of Anansi, 2011

Matt Rader? Never heard of him. He's a Canadian poet, currently living in Salmon Arm (thanks for the update, Facebook nitpicker!). That said, he usually lives on Vancouver Island (thanks for the subsequent update, second Facebook nitpicker!). This is his third book of poetry. Here's more!

Does Doug Ford know this guy? Man, I'd look so dumb if he did and I didn't... No, I think you're safe.

What's so great about this book? Rader writes well-crafted, beautiful poems. As Ian Letourneau says, "Rader is a confident poet. There is no ponderousness here. The poems are direct, sure of themselves." The book really shines in its two sections that were previously published as chapbooks, Reservations and (especially) Customs, which explores the lynching of Louie Sam.

Ok, so the quality is there. But what about quantity? Am I getting good bang for my buck? It features 35 poems and costs $22.95, or a mere $0.66 per poem. Ok, to be honest, that's $0.16 cents more per poem than any book I've highlighted over the last two years. Anansi raised the price of their books by four dollars this year! But still, what would you rather buy for $0.66: a top-of-the-line Matt Rader poem or a Peruvian haircut? Ah, but before you answer, remember that the haircut cost excludes airfare. That's where the Peruvian barbers get you every time!

If I only have a minute in the bookstore, what one poem should I read? "Weeds", p. 47.

Should I buy this on Amazon? Please no. Here's a good reason.

What's in this for you? You promised me some juicy conflict of interest. We're from the same province? That's all I can think of. Oh, and Anansi is the only publisher that's had a poem on each of the three lists I've made. How I wish they were paying me under the table and/or I was owned by Scott Griffin, but it's just not true.

I'm not sure how outraged I should be by that answer. Can you compare that to another scandal, and rate it on a ten-point scale? The Griffin Prize's "Toronto/Anansi Bias" Thing, 2 out of 10 UZWs (Unimpressed Zach Wells').

Discovery Passages by Garry Thomas Morse, Talonbooks, 2011

Garry Thomas Morse? Never heard of him. He's a Canadian poet, living in Vancouver. This is his second book of poetry. Here's more!

Does Doug Ford know this guy? Man, I'd look so dumb if he did and I didn't... No, I think you're safe.

What's so great about this book? In Discovery Passages Morse blends his personal history, Kwakwaka’wakw history and legend, and the lives and acts of such controversial figures as Duncan Campbell Scott and Franz Boas into a powerful, sweeping, fierce (and often funny), suite of poems. Lorraine Weir thinks Discovery Passages should soon "find itself among the canonic texts of contemporary Indigenous and Canadian writing." I'm not big into sainthood, but I think it's a really good book.

Ok, so the quality is there. But what about quantity? Am I getting good bang for my buck? Discovery Passages delivers 30 poems for the low, low price of $17.95. That's $0.59 a poem, which is still more expensive than anything from the last two years, but looks pretty good next to Matt "Peruvian Haircut" Rader.

If I only have a minute in the bookstore, what one poem should I read? "BCP #95", p. 93.

Should I buy this on Amazon? Please no. Here's another good reason.

What's in this for you? You promised me some juicy conflict of interest. I know Garry personally. He let me read at his reading series last month. He's reading at mine next month. We tweet. I hope sales of his editions will reap largesse.

I'm not sure how outraged I should be by that answer. Can you compare that to another scandal, and rate it on a ten-point scale? The 2008 Governor General's Award Controversy in content, and The 2011 Governor General's Award Brouhaha in intensity, 6 out of 10 UZWs.

Where We Might Have Been by Don Coles, Signal Editions (Vehicule Press), 2010

Don Coles? Never heard of him. He's a Canadian poet, living in Toronto. This is his eleventh book of poetry. Here's more!

Does Doug Ford know this guy? Man, I'd look so dumb if he did and I didn't... No, I think you're safe.

What's so great about this book? It's Don Coles, in all his wandering loveliness. He's the king of the killer ending. Just when you think he's ambled way too far off track to be able to bring it all together, he pulls it off with one brilliant line. As Kenneth Sherman puts it, "It is difficult to think of another poet whose style is so unmannered, whose tone is so engagingly true." This may not be Coles' best work (he has a lot to compete with), but it's definitely his very-good work, which is still far better than just about anything else being written in this country.

Ok, so the quality is there. But what about quantity? Am I getting good bang for my buck? It's 16 (mostly long) poems for $18.00 or... wow... $0.88 a poem. Records are falling this year, it seems. Poetic inflation? Gone are the heady days of $0.16 John Newlove poems, that's for sure. Really though, $0.88 still isn't that bad. At that price your options are a long, "unmannered" Don Coles poem or an 88% meat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. I rest my case.

If I only have a minute in the bookstore, what one poem should I read? "A Walk in the Woods", p. 13.

Should I buy this on Amazon? Still no. Here's yet another good reason.

What's in this for you? You promised me some juicy conflict of interest. Absolutely nothing on this one. I guess you could say that the book should be disqualified because one of Coles' books was on last year's list. But I make the rules here and that's not one of them.

I'm not sure how outraged I should be by that answer. Can you compare that to another scandal, and rate it on a ten-point scale? The QWFLA "Actually, You've Already Got One" Incident, 0.5 out of 10 UZWs.

Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry edited by Robyn Sarah, Cormorant Books, 2011

Robyn Sarah? Never heard of her. She's a Canadian poet, living in Montreal. Here's more. But the writing in the book is by eleven unpublished (in book form) poets, including Amanda Jernigan, Daniel Karasik and Sarah Feldman.

I have a feeling Doug Ford doesn't know any of them. Right? Right.

What's so great about this book? As I hinted at above for the Rader book, I'm a big fan of chapbooks. And this book is, in essence (and by design, according to Sarah's introduction), eleven chapbooks of poems by poets you might not have heard of yet, but will be hearing from soon. I'm used to anthologies of new poets being mixed bags, but there really aren't any duds here. Jernigan, Karasik, Feldman, George Pakozdi and Margo Wheaton stand out particularly, but on a different day I could probably list the work of the other six contributors as equally, or more, enjoyable.

Ok, so the quality is there. But what about quantity? Am I getting good bang for my buck? Undercurrents comes in at 90 poems for $24.00, or $0.27 per poem. It's the value pick of 2011!

If I only have a minute in the bookstore, what one poem should I read? "October" by Sarah Feldman, p. 22.

Oh c'mon, please say I can buy this on Amazon? Look, you can do what you want. But maybe read this first.

What's in this for you? You promised me some juicy conflict of interest. I promised it, and now I'm delivering! Robyn Sarah was the editor for my book (yes, I weaseled a link in somewhere - I knew I could do it!) and Cormorant is my publisher. What can I say? My tastes overlap with theirs a bit...

I'm pretty sure I should be enraged by that answer. Still, just to be safe, can you compare that to another scandal, and rate it on a ten-point scale? The 2011 Governor General's Award Squabble in content, and The 2008 Governor General's Award Embroilment in intensity, 9 out of 10 UZWs.

Winter Cranes by Chris Banks, ECW Press, 2011

Chris Banks? Never heard of him. He's a Canadian poet, living in Waterloo. This is his third book of poetry. Here's more!

Doug Ford doesn't know anyone, it seems. I've been wasting your time with this question, haven't I? Yup.

What's so great about this book? Banks writes long, clean, satisfying sentences (the first one in the book, for instance, rolls over seven lines and moves from friends in a car, to a blizzard, to a description of the local farmland, to the sound a radio playing "Stand by Me" over all of it). In some ways this is much like Don Coles, but Banks usually stays more fixed in an individual moment or object. As Nick Thran says, Banks is "a maestro with the poetry of physical objects, able to stack just the right amount of cordwood, or to jimmy open the basement window just enough to achieve the desired tonal effect." Because the lines run so smoothly and the subject matter is usually clear, tangible stuff, it's easy to breeze through this book. It's also very easy to return to it over and over again, pulling out new moments of pleasure and insight each time.

Ok, so the quality is there. But what about quantity? Am I getting good bang for my buck? Banks gives us 33 poems for $18.95, or $0.57 a poem. Undercurrents is a tough act to follow, but he's still got the best value of any of this year's single-author books.

If I only have a minute in the bookstore, what one poem should I read? "Darkening", p. 11.

But Amazon is soooo cheap.... Look, there's a Wikipedia page dedicated just to their controversies. And it has fourteen sections. And subsections. You're killing me here.

I'm still looking for more conflicts of interest! Spill it. I'm a big fan of Chris' blog (which he doesn't update nearly enough), though we've never met. We've exchanged a couple emails.

I'm not sure how outraged I should be by that answer. Can you compare that to another scandal, and rate it on a ten-point scale? The "Was This Supposed to be a Controversy? I Can't Even Tell Anymore" 2010 Governor General's Award, 3 out of 10 UZWs.

That's it for another year - thanks for reading!

p.s. If you can't get enough CanLit book recommendations, be sure to check out the Advent Book Blog.


first drafts aren't writing

Audience Member: What do you do when you have writer’s block? Do you have any tips for that?

Michael V. Smith: You just suck it up. Somebody told me that they didn’t believe in writer’s block, and I really like to say I don’t believe in writer’s block. “Writer’s block” just means you don’t want to write something shitty... You can always write crap. Writer’s block is, I think, simply not giving yourself permission to write crap. My mother always said “It doesn’t have to be perfect, just done”... and I am very fond of that advice. You have to have permission to play. And playing means you get your hands dirty. And if you get your hands dirty, it’s because you’re mucking around in shit. So you have to give yourself permission to muck around in shit...

First drafts [aren’t] writing. That’s not writing. Writing is not creating a first draft. Writing a first draft is being an amateur. Revising the first draft is being a professional...

Really, it’s all about permission... I get to write crap. I can just make up crap right here. “Look here’s some crap. Look, I made it up.” Ok, what are we going to do with it? How are we going to make it better? So it’s not so precious, that’s the thing. It only gets precious with time and effort. But it doesn’t come out as precious. You know, a diamond isn’t made in a day. It takes eons. The earth has spent a long time investing in that carbon.

- Michael V. Smith, in the Q+A after a reading as part of the Robson Reading Series. You can watch the whole reading and Q+A here.


Dead Poets January Reading

The poets and readers for the January 8th, 2012 Dead Poets reading (3-5 PM at Project Space) have been announced:

Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), read by David Zieroth
Christina Rossetti (1830 - 1894), read by Diane Tucker
Stevie Smith (1902 - 1971), read by Miranda Pearson
Jack Spicer (1925 - 1965), read by Garry Thomas Morse
Edward Thomas (1878 - 1917), read by John Donlan

Also, we have a call out for contributors to a special reading in March for Irving Layton's 100th Birthday. More info on both can be found over at the DPRS site.

I was (very) late to the last one in November, but I'll be there this time. I swear! I hope to see you there.


sex, science and sweet sincerity - "Everything Water" Chapbook Launch

from Everything Water - Adrienne Gruber
Launching upright, I slip into the water.
Black lake tonguing the edges of doubt. Imagine

a held breath, a swirl of milky clarity. The remainder
of days are lonely as a motel ship painting.

Sky stretches; the toffee-flux of time.
Heart jeers; queer as a French Horn.

Moon billows and purges light, a shroud. The roundness
of full-figured flesh against gloomy trunks. I write myself

out onto a late night limb, scrambling
for some truth. I pull myself out.

Plunk these dumb feet into the lake,
wet back smacking against rough boards;

thighs fissured. The words will come
spit-shined and polished.

from Everything Water (Cactus Press, 2011).
Reprinted with permission.

Adrienne Gruber is chapbook-crazy in 2011 (some might say crazy as a cat lady?), publishing two different chapbooks with two top-notch Canadian chapbook publishers: Mimic (Leaf Press, 2011) and Everything Water (Cactus Press, 2011). She's launching the latter here in Vancouver next Thursday, with help from special out-of-townie guests Jim Johnstone (Cactus Press kingpin, from Toronto) and Zach Wells (from Halifax). The details:

(Click to Expand)

Everything Water Chapbook Launch and Reading

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
7:00 PM
Spartacus Books
684 East Hastings Street
Featuring: Adrienne Gruber, Jim Johnstone and Zach Wells

Earlier this week I got a chance to chat with Adrienne about the chapbook and the launch. It was early in the morning, so Adrienne was pounding back the coffees, but that didn't stop her from busting out her interview finest:

You thought I was joking about the cat lady thing...

Ok, the truth is we just corresponded by email. But I had to find a way to get that picture in there! Here's what she had to say:

Rob: Everything Water explores the glosa form, without ever including a "proper" glosa, but often coming close: sometimes two lines are quoted instead of one, sometimes the quote creeps up a few lines and finds a home in the middle of the stanza, sometimes the stanzas are broken up into more-or-less individual poems. I wonder here what inspired you to work with and around the glosa in this way? Was the project driven by the source material, or did your interest in the glosa drive you to seek out a source to play with?

Adrienne: The funny thing is that I never directly intended to write a proper glosa, I just knew I wanted to work with this particular chosen text. I realized once I had the first draft that I was playing with form, but I think I was too caught up with where the text was taking me to get what I was doing. Once I figured it out I tried to stuff some of the poems into proper glosa form, but they were terrible! I guess when you set out without a particular expectation you can’t really force it later on.

The project was definitely driven by the material I was working with. As much as I wished at times that my poems would adhere to official form, I eventually had to let go of that. I’m not usually the kind of writer who thinks of poems as personified and having their own specific form or voice or style that shouldn’t be changed or messed with. This particular collection did not seem to want to conform and I had to recognize that and be okay with letting them be slightly experimental.

Rob: The "glossed" lines in Everything Water are unattributed in the text (though they are sourced in the acknowledgements), leaving the reader to wonder, at first, if they are quotes from another writer, overheard speech, or the voice of one of the characters in the poem. Do you expect the reader to instantly flip to the back to locate the source, or do you want a bit of mystery to loom over the first reading?

Adrienne: It's interesting that you would mention this, as I did find myself hesitating to reveal the source of the "glossed" lines. This was partly because I wanted the lines to intertwine with my work and transform into something substantially different from their original context, but also because I chose the lines from such an odd source; an interview between Lidia Yuknavitch (author of the recently published memoir The Chronology of Water) and "Sugar", the advice columnist who responds to letters for the online newspaper The Rumpus. The interview is really more of a conversation between these two writers about bodies, sexuality, sexual identity and sexual expression. It’s beautiful and inspiring and I fell in love with their dialogue. I had also wanted to move into my own poetic dialogue around sexuality and sexual identity and this text seemed like the perfect jumping off point.

Rob: Considering the date of the source interview, Everything Water must have been gone from composition to publication in around six months. Is that a record for you? And is that expediency one of the things that drew you to publishing chapbooks? Do you think there are any drawbacks to moving at that pace (which seems lightning-quick in the publishing world, but probably glacial to outsiders)?

Adrienne: Ha ha, yeah. Quickest turnaround of all time. Ironically my first chapbook, Mimic, was accepted with Leaf Press in March of 2010 and was only just published in late September of this year, so I think chapbook publishers usually don’t have the time and energy to work at lightening speed, especially since everything they do is done voluntarily.

My experience with Cactus Press was, I think, fairly unique. I had a chapbook that I wanted to submit to Cactus, but ended up abandoning it because it wasn’t really excited about it. I ended up holing myself up at a cottage with writers Matthew J. Trafford and Linda Besner for two weeks and wrote pretty furiously. A rough draft of Everything Water came out of those two weeks. Since then it’s just been editing and revising.

This is definitely a record in terms of speed, but I’m also one of those writers who works in fits and starts. It’s certainly exciting to see the fruits of a more recent labour in published form. I’m still very engaged with the work, whereas by the time my first poetry collection came out in 2008, I was pretty tired of it. I still felt connected to some of the poems, but mostly I wanted to focus on what was new and compelling – with what I was writing at the time, not with work I had written five years earlier. I also have a ridiculously short attention span, so anything I’m working on today is much more interesting than what I was doing yesterday. Or even an hour ago. I think this might be why chapbooks are so engaging to me. I can sit down and read a chapbook in one sitting, but a full-length collection might take me days or weeks to really sink my teeth into.

Rob: You mentioned Mimic, which came out earlier this year from Leaf Press. As you now have recent working knowledge on two of Canada's best chapbook publishers, what have you found to be the major similarities between the two? Any notable differences (beyond, in your case, the publishing timetable)?

Adrienne: I think the similarities would be the quality of the books and the appreciation and encouragement of work that pushes boundaries. Both Leaf Press and Cactus Press produce gorgeous books and I was really excited to have work come out with both presses. Another similarity is how much time and effort both Ursula and Jim put into the final product.

I think the differences might be the chapbook ‘vision’. Cactus Press does not include any text on the cover in the hopes that the cover art will be displayed as its own piece and not simply used as a background for the title and author’s name. I asked my friend Zachari Logan (an incredible visual artist based in Saskatoon), if he would be willing to lend me a detail from one of his drawings for the cover. It’s a gorgeous piece and I’m glad it gets to stand on its own.

Rob: It's rare that three poets will come together from different parts of the country to launch a chapbook. How did the reading at Spartacus Books come together? What can people expect to see and hear if they come out to the reading?

Adrienne: Well, honestly, the whole thing is a bit of a fluke. I was living in Toronto for the past couple of years and got to know Jim fairly well. I moved to Vancouver in July with the intent of coming back to Toronto in the fall for the Cactus Press book launch. By the time the launch came around I was flat broke and there was no way I was making it to Toronto! Jim was invited to read at UBC [December 7th, 5 PM] and he suggested having a Vancouver launch. Jim found out that Zach was going to be in Vancouver at the same time and was looking for an opportunity to read while he was here. And, well... that’s how it happened. This has all been arranged over the past week, so it’s been a lot of emailing back and forth. I think people can expect a pretty eclectic range of content and poetic form. I really respect both Jim and Zach’s work and I think the reading will be well rounded. That sounded super wholesome. People can expect some poems about sex, science and sweet sincerity. Oh, and delicious cheeses.

Everything Water can be ordered by emailing Jim Johnstone at jim.johnstone(at)utoronto.ca, or, if you're in Vancouver, bought in person at the launch on December 8th. I hear there will be cheeses, people. Yes, plural. See you there?



I know, I know. I didn't think this day would ever come, either. But my wife, who has been doggedly promoting my book and readings on her own Facebook profile, has decided it's time for me to branch out on my own, and has set up a page for me:


Marta will be coordinating all the updates, which (I believe) will mostly be reading announcements and links to blog posts from this site (i.e. regular silaron readers won't be missing anything), but if you enjoy "liking" things on Facebook, I am now one of those things. Go at it!

Similarly, Diane Tucker has just set up a permanent Dead Poets Reading Series Facebook Page. Sign up there for all the no-longer-living poet news that you can handle - including a sneak peak at our January lineup!