Tuesday Reading Extravanganza

The Lower Mainland will be home to two killer readings next Tuesday (and I'm only biased in saying that about one of them). First, at 1 PM in Abbotsford, Jordan Abel, Bren Simmers and Kevin Spenst will be reading at the University of the Fraser Valley's bookstore.

I'm currently teaching a poetry workshop at UFV, and these three's books have played prominent roles in the class, so it will be a pleasure to have them out to speak with students and give a reading (which I'll be hosting!). If you're out in the Valley, come say hello:

That evening, in Vancouver, local poets Aislinn Hunter and Danielle LaFrance will be joined by Patrick Warner (St. John's) and Robyn Sarah (Montreal) for one hell of a knockout lineup of readings:

I hope to see you at one or the other (and a BIG gold star if I see you at both!).


Vancouver Reading - Tomorrow at Twisted Poets!

I'm very happy to be featuring at Twisted Poets tomorrow, alongside Danny Peart. Danny is a heck of a guy, and Twisted Poets is like a home to me. Also, it was at Twisted Poets a year and a half ago that I first publicly read from my draft manuscript of The News (at that time, I was about 14 weeks in). The encouragement I received from the audience helped keep me going to the finish line.

It should be a special night. I hope to see you there. The details, in non-poster form:

Twisted Poets Literary Salon
Thursday, November 24th, 7:00 PM
Cottage Bistro
4468 Main St, Vancouver
Featuring: Danny Peart and me!
By Donation


The best/worst part of a book tour...

is coming home with more books than when you left. Five years back, on tour for The Other Side of Ourselves, I picked up an absurd 24 new books along the way.

This time around I was determined to restrain myself, and in my five-day tour I managed to buy only 12 new books. I know, right? I am a strong and capable man.

In keeping with the style of my last tour-book-haul post, here are the mighty twelve, with notes on their city of acquisition:

Digressions: Prose Poems, Collage Poems, and Sketches, Robyn Sarah (Montreal)

Slow States of Collapse, Ashley-Elizabeth Best (Montreal)

All The Gold Hurts My Mouth, Katherine Leyton (Picton)

The Last White House at the End of the Row of White Houses, Michael Casteels (Picton)

Model Disciple, Michael Prior (Montreal)

Forests of the Medieval World, Don Coles (Toronto)

The Prinzhorn Collection, Don Coles (Toronto)

What if red ran out, Katia Grubisic (Toronto)

A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent, Stuart Ross (Toronto)

How Festive the Ambulance, Kim Fu (Toronto)

Beautiful Country, Robert Wrigley (Toronto)

Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, Liz Howard (Picton)

The tour itself was grand - it was really nice to reconnect with people I met on my first spin out east (or "out middle" as the transplanted Maritimers liked to point out), and to gain a number of new friends and readers.

AND I got to be part of not one but two reader collages (at the Resonance Reading Series in Montreal, and the Pivot Reading Series in Toronto):

Resonance Reading, w/ Margaret Christakos, Michael Prior,
Ashley-Elizabeth Best and Michelle Winters. 
Pivot Reading, w/ Stevie Howell, Leesa Dean and Erin Wunker.

Thanks to all who organized, attended, hosted, ferried, welcomed, etc. It was a wonderful, if blurry, five days!


Ubyssey Review of The News

The Ubyssey's Curtis Seufert has written the first (of hopefully many) book review for The News. You can read it here:

The News is a powerful meditation on birth and empathy

Curtis came to my Vancouver launch, and followed up with a short interview with me as he prepared his review. It's a very thoughtful, very generous piece. My favourite part:

"While other works might choose either to be only a personal journal, or simply a critique of the state of the world and humanity, it is Taylor’s journey towards a more empathetic perspective that allows him to transcend both."

Thank you to Curtis and The Ubyssey for the coverage!


Escaping After All

Leonard Cohen on Hydra, with Nancy Bacal. 1964. Source.

In July, Marta and I hauled our son, Lucas, up and down the near-endless narrow stairways of the Greek island of Hydra, looking for Leonard Cohen's house - the house where he lived with Marianne, and where he lamented as the town's first telephone wires were installed: "I would stare out the window at these telephone wires and think how civilization had caught up with me and I wasn't going to be able to escape after all." From this came Bird on the Wire.

That day in July it was +35° and we all nearly sweat to death. We found no house, no Leonard, but instead came upon unforgettable views, and donkeys cooling in the shade of abandoned buildings, and at door after door and window after window, his quietly welcoming former neighbours.

Now I think of Lucas growing up in a world without Leonard Cohen, and Marta and I growing alongside him. The man will forever be as elusive as his house was to us that day. Even following closely behind his poems and songs we won't catch him, not really, not ever (he's finally eluded us, and our civilization). But it will be a good journey, nonetheless, and what we will find will be as beautiful and sustaining and open-hearted as what we will miss. Maybe more so.

Thank you, Leonard, for the poems, the songs, the path you've left us, snaking up into the hills.


your precise allergy

15. To me the most profound point of integration between experience and art is in rendering faithfully and resonantly a well-known trope. To do so is to surrender, to submerge the ego in something greater than itself. The ego wants to be iconoclastic and “experimental” and puts up a hell of a fight. If you can allow yourself to commit the pedestrian sin of employing a recognizable trope, or somehow sneak a recognizable trope into your work by accident (then, upon seeing it, realize you like it, and feel reluctant to strike it), the reward of seeing something universally understandable drawn by your own hand, which then becomes not recognizably your hand at all but a vessel of culture and humanity, is one of the sovereign experiences, I think, of being alive.


27. One of the many reasons why “giving up” and “being lazy and insincere” is necessary to create good art (cf. Wilde, Nabokov) is because once you have internalized a trope to the point where you can employ it at the drop of a hat with no effort, it feels to you fake and insincere. But if you maintain your precious allergy to something that feels easy and understandable, you’ll never allow yourself to employ this trope which, despite being pure math to you now, once meant so much to you, and still has power for others who don’t spend all day every day dissecting art.


93. You find what works for you. However, you cannot choose what kind of (good) artist you will become. Be humble enough to share the gifts you actually have with the world (even if they don’t feel cool), be nimble enough to follow your genius, and be open enough to dabble and discover it.

- Three of Stephen Thomas' "14 Notes on Tropes" (itself an excerpt from a presumably much longer essay) over at The Puritan's Town Crier blog. You can read the whole thing here.