BC Poetry 2017: An Introduction

It's nearly April, and that means it's once again time to celebrate new BC poetry books here on the blog! Last year I ran BC Poetry 2016 (and the corresponding #BCPoetry2016 hashtag on Twitter), featuring a new poetry book (and poem) each day throughout the month. This year I'm bringing it back with BC Poetry 2017 (and the corresponding #BCPoetry2017 hashtag), and it's grown: 20 participating presses compared to last year's 12.

Rocksalt: An Anthology
of Contemporary BC Poetry
In my intro to last year's series I spoke about judging the 2014 Dorothy Livesay Prize (BC Book Prizes), which was an eye opening experience for me (So many BC poets! So little coverage!). Lately I've been thinking about another BC institution: Mother Tongue Publishing and their 2008 anthology Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry.

At the time of its publication, it had been 31 years since the last effort to group together the poets of BC in one book, and to the best of my knowledge no one has taken up the task in the nine years since (though Vancouver-focused anthologies have been published, along with a couple Cascadia anthologies and Mother Tongue's own Forcefield: 77 Women Poets from British Columbia).

Rocksalt pulled together 108 BC poets, both established and up-and-coming, and - as one of my first publications early in my writing life - opened my eyes to the potential of being a poet in this province. It showed me the wealth and range of talent in BC, and - more simply - that we're damn well everywhere (from Massett to Smithers to Nelson to Richmond to...). I read the list of contributors now and am taken aback (Barton, bissett, Blomer, Blythe, Bowering, Braid... and we haven't even left the Bs!). I'm equally struck by the thought of the BC writers not included, and the writers who have started publishing in the intervening years - a list as long, or longer, than Rocksalt's.

This little project is no anthology, and it's far less exhaustive than any of the publications mentioned above, but if you stick with it over the next month, BC Poetry 2017 will give you 30 new poems from 30 new (and good-as-new) poets. I hope they inpsire you as Rocksalt did for me: get you reading and writing and appreciating anew that all these talented poets are hiding out so near to home!

Details on the Project

A new book will be profiled each day throughout the month. To be eligible, the book must have been written by a BC poet or published by a BC poetry publisher (ideally both!), and must have been released in either Fall 2016 or Spring 2017. Sundays will be "wild card" days featuring books that wouldn't ordinarily qualify - you'll have to check in to find out what they are!

Participating Publishers

Anstruther Press
Anvil Press
Arsenal Pulp Press
Brick Books
Caitlin Press
Coach House Books
ECW Press
Freehand Books
Gaspereau Press
Goose Lane Editions
Leaf Press
McGill-Queens University Press
Mother Tongue Publishing
New York Review Books
Nightwood Editions
Quattro Books
Thistledown Press
Wolsak and Wynn

Some publishers were contacted and did not reply.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.


Four Events to Kick Off Poetry Month

Here comes April... Everyone ready?

Saturday, April 1st (No, really. Not an April Fools joke!): My BC Poetry series returns! Last year's version featured a new BC poetry book a day here on the blog and on Twitter at the #BCPoetry2016 hashtag. This year we're bigger and brighter - jumping from 12 participating publisher up to 20 (and possibly more by Saturday), with bonus special features each Sunday!

I'll be posting more on this tomorrow, and jumping into things the next day, so keep an eye on the site and on the #BCPoetry2017 hashtag.

Monday, April 3rd: I already posted about this a few days ago, but as a reminder: I'm hosting an amazing poetry reading in Abbotsford on Monday! Check the poster, or click here, for all the details.

Wednesday, April 5th: Next Wednesday the BC Book Prizes host their annual Soirée to celebrate the finalist books for the Prizes (winners will be announced at the Gala at the end of the month). In past years, I've mostly huddled near the snack table stuffing loose appetizers into my pockets. This year I will be doing the same while wearing a "Finalist" name tag, which is very, very cool but also might result in less snacks for the bus ride home...

The party this year is at The Emerald, which is where all the cool kids hang out these days. If I'm not turned away at the door I'll see you there!

You can get more details from the poster below, or here.

Thursday, April 6th:
On Thursday I'll be part of "a flotilla of poets" (my first poet flotilla!) celebrating the launch of Christopher Levenson's new collection, A Tattered Coat Upon a Stick. Jane Munro and I will be warming the room before Christopher, the aged, paltry thing himself, hits the stage.

You can read an interview that I conducted with Christopher, about his 2014 collection (and GG finalist!) Night Vision here, and get more info on the event here.


Elrick, Czaga and Fernandes in the Valley! Next Monday!

I'm very happy to be co-hosting (along with Jordan Abel) a reading featuring three Nightwood Editions authors, Kayla Czaga, Raoul Fernandes and Michelle Elrick, whose debut collection then/again has just been published.

As discerning poster readers already know, the reading will take place at the UFV Bookstore in Abbotsford on Monday, April 3rd at 2:30 PM. It will be worth taking the afternoon off work and driving out to the Valley, Vancouver folk!

If you aren't familiar with their work (your house = under rock), you can read my interviews with Kayla and Raoul here and here.

I hope to see you there!


The News - Shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

Goodness it was fun waking up yesterday to the news that The News has been shortlisted for the BC Book Prizes' Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize!

The winner will be announce on April 29th, though I'm not holding my breath - the competition is stiff, with the latest (and in some cases, first!) books from Juliane Okot Bitek, Adele Barclay, Anne Fleming and Richard Therrien all on the shortlist as well (you can read my interview with Juliane, about her shortlisted book 100 Days, here). My money's on Juliane, for what it's worth...

You can read all about the shortlisted books, and the finalists for the other six categories at the BC Book Prizes, here.

Thank you to the jurors for thinking my book Top-Five-Worthy! It's an honour to be in the company of such fine poets.

The finalists for the seven categories. Go little green flowers, go!