4/24/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "a place called No Homeland" by Kai Cheng Thom (Arsenal Pulp Press)


autopsky
someday they’ll cut this body open
and discover that my flesh is made of sky:
azure, sapphire, cerulean, turquoise, ultramarine
indigo
violet
black
cirrus and cumulus clouds stirring behind my eyes
cumulonimubus, alight with lightning,
crackling through the capillaries of the heart.
i am oh so full of rain
you could fall through me into forever. 
please,
dear scientist, mortuary explorer, search me thoroughly
tenderly catalogue all my wayward parts.
find somewhere in me
the forgotten moon, the faded stars.
re-member, reassemble, this tattered heaven, this
shattered
celestial thing.


Who?

Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performance artist, and psychotherapist in Toronto. Her novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir was released by Metonymy Press in 2016 and her picture book for children From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea (illustrated by Kai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li) will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in Fall 2017.


What?

In these fierce yet tender narrative poems, Kai Cheng Thom draws equally from memory and mythology to create new maps of gender, race, sexuality, and violence. In the world of a place called No Homeland, the bodies of the marginalized—queer and transgender communities, survivors of abuse and assault, and children of diaspora—are celebrated, survival songs are sung, and the ancestors offer you forgiveness for not remembering their names.

Descended from the traditions of oral storytelling, spoken word, and queer punk poetry, Kai Cheng Thom’s debut collection is evocative and unforgettable.


When?

Arrives May 2017


Where?

Book Launches: Sounds Like Fire: Femme4Femme, April 25th (Tomorrow!), 8PM, Verses Festival, The Cutch, Vancouver. Get tickets here!

Purchases: From the Arsenal Pulp Press website or at your local bookstore. $14.95.


How?

Creating new maps of gender, race, sexuality, and violence.



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

4/23/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Bad Engine" by Michael Dennis (Anvil Press)


in the backyard
a lie is a lie 
is sitting on your couch
eating out of the cat’s dish
hiding in the backyard
between
garbage cans 


Who?

Michael Dennis has been hammering his love, his anger, his grief, and his awe into poems for over forty years. With seven books and nearly twenty chapbooks to his credit, Dennis isn't exactly a household name in Canadian poetry, but he is a natural heir to poet like Canadian icon Al Purdy and American legends Eileen Myles and Charles Bukowski. His poems are his life made into poems: direct, emphatic, honest.


What?

Bad Engine brings together mostly revised versions of about one hundred poems selected from Dennis’s published work, along with several dozen new poems. This volume, introduced and edited by Dennis’s long-time friend, the poet and editor Stuart Ross, marks a milestone in the career of a homegrown, no-bullshit, tells-it-likes-he-sees-it populist bard. Here the reader will find a rollicking tale of drinking with racists, poignant prayers for quiet nights with lovers, raw narratives of childhood abuse, defiant anthems of a body broken by sports injuries, a mindful meditation about a stoned dragonfly, and the not-quite-resigned laughter of a man smashing away at a keyboard for four decades and becoming neither rich nor famous.


When?

Arrived April 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Unknown!

Purchases: From the Anvil Press website or at your local bookstore. $20.


How?

Drinking with racists, praying with lovers, meditating about stoned dragonflies.



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

4/22/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Bad Ideas" by Michael V. Smith (Nightwood Editions)


Awkward Moments

I’m watching a videotape of my partner 
and I making love at eighteen. 

I can’t get over how beautiful we were, 
how thin and small our 
waists and ribcages. How 
much hair I had. 

I found the tape in a box of things
at my mom’s house; she’d obviously 
been going through each 
of my diaries and photos. 

                         I thought you were happy, 
and straight, my mom says that evening, 
half-asleep, but bitterly.
                         I am happy, but I never 
said I was straight, I tell her. 

I pick up the box to take it with me.
You’re welcome, she says as a gesture.


Who?

Michael V. Smith is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, performance artist and occasional clown. He is the author of several books including What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions, 2006), which was short-listed for the ReLit Award, and My Body Is Yours (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015), which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is also the winner of the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers and was nominated for the Journey Prize. Smith currently teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna.


What?

Nobody knows bad ideas quite like Michael V. Smith. In Bad Ideas, he speaks to an intangibility of sense, or a sense beyond the rational. The book explores the inevitability of loss and triumph with characteristic irony and tenderness. Through this dazzling collection of a remembered life, hung out to ogle like laundry on the line, Smith recalls a mother who discovers a sex tape, a man who dreams of birthing his own son and a woman who blends her baby girls into milkshakes.

Bad Ideas is a testament to how an altered perspective effects change, how stories can be recast. The collection forms itself into an exercise in which optimism is a practiced art recaptured in dreams and prayers and combined to acknowledge the unknowable, the contradictory, the ungraspable: "An evening is composed / in a hundred unchoreographed / dramas”; "I pull a Clark Kent / transform, dressed as a monk / in burgundy and gold robes. I think / this will protect me, but it doesn't”; "Dear Hatred, sweet / Hatred, do you not move our enemies / to know us better?” Hyperbolic and sincere, this collection brawls with the unquantifiable themes of family, loneliness and love.


When?

Coming May 2017.


Where?

Book Launches:

Prince George, April 28
Kelowna, May 12
Montreal, May 23
Ottawa, May 24
Toronto Glad Day, May 25
Kingston, May 31
Hamilton, May 26
Vancouver, June 14

Keep an eye on Michael's website for details!

Purchases: From the Harbour Publishing website or at your local bookstore. $18.95.

How?

Acknowledging the ungraspable.



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

4/21/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart" by Heidi Greco (Caitlin Press)


By the dawn's early light

Two knives but no flint
to spark light against the dark.

Fred’s book of matches
bleeds a soggy pink, alongside
the Unlucky Strikes tucked in his sock
navy man’s trick gone awry.

If only the blazing heat of day
could be packed up for night
opened as a welcome lamp
at the twilight’s last gleaming.

Oh for the glow of a fire to warm us,
throw its comfort and joy.


Who?

Heidi Greco is a longtime resident of Surrey, BC. In addition to writing and editing, she often leads workshops on topics that range from ekphrastic poetry to chapbook making. She’s been an advocate for the literary arts in her community and was instrumental in establishing two distinct reading series, but she considers her greatest success to have been convincing her city to hire an official Poet Laureate. She writes in many genres – with poems, fiction, essays and book reviews to her credit. Her books include a novella, Shrinking Violets which was co-winner of the Ken Klonsky Award in 2011. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies, most recently in Make it True: Poetry from Cascadia (Leaf Press, 2015) and The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil, 2015).


What?

On the 120th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s birth and the 80th anniversary of her disappearance, award-winning poet, Heidi Greco revitalizes what we know about the iconic aviator through uplifting and historically mesmerizing verse. If most people were asked what they know about Amelia Earhart, they’d probably respond with something like “Wasn’t she that pilot who went missing when she tried to fly around the world?”

Although that much is true, Earhart was so much more. She was a feminist at a time when women were just beginning to make inroads towards equality. She was a best-selling author who made appearances and speeches that inspired many. In addition, she was a pacifist, a poet, a punster – the list could go on. She was ahead of her time in so many ways, right down to the no-nonsense clothes she wore (many of them fashioned after her own designs).

The poems in Flightpaths: The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart, presented as if written by Earhart herself, consider some of the many theories that attempt to explain her disappearance. Through logbook entries, recollections and letters, the work explores some of the various flightpaths she may have taken.


When?

Arrives May 2017.


Where?

Book Launches:

June 17 - Launch on Gabriola Island (home of Lipstick Press, who first published the little chapbook, A: The Amelia Poems).
June 23 - Feature reader at 'Surrey Muse' (North Surrey)
June 25 - Feature reader at 'Word Arts Live!' (Crescent Beach)
July 6 - Feature reader at TWS (SFU Creative Writing Program reading series, Vancouver)
July 14, 15 - Feature author at Amelia Earhart Festival (Atchison, Kansas)
July 24 - 'Birthday celebration for Amelia Earhart' - Surrey Public Library (North Surrey)

Purchases: From the Cailtin Press website or at your local bookstore. $18.


How?

Exploring the various flightpaths.



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

4/20/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Same Diff" by Donato Mancini (Talonbooks)


"you aren’t going to like what i have to say"

before i start i want to say you shouldn’t blame yourself
there’s no point in beating around the bush
there’s something we need to talk about
this is the most difficult thing i’ve ever had to tell anyone
the longer i wait the harder it’s going to be
it’s best if we face this right now
what i’m about to tell you won’t be easy to hear
i know this will hurt but it has to be said
i don’t like being the bearer of bad news
please sit down, this could come as a shock
you knew this was coming, right?
i hope this won’t be a complete surprise
hate to break it to you
please don’t kill the messenger
i have some really bad news
how do i even say this
this is really really hard for me
there are no words for what i have to tell you
i can’t go on lying anymore
you aren’t going to like what i have to say


Who?

Donato Mancini makes visual and procedural poetry, bookworks, and visual art. His books and chapbooks include Snowline (2015), Buffet World (2011), Fact ‘N’ Value (2011), Hell Passport no.22 (2008), Æthel (2007), 58 Free Coffees (2006), and Ligatures (2005). Notable exhibitions of Mancini’s visual artworks have included exhibitions through Artspeak, Western Front, Gallery Atsui, Malaspina Printmaker’s Society, and CSA. He performed with Gabriel Saloman in their noisepoetry/noisecomedy/noisemusic ensemble in the 2013 LIVE! Biennale of performance art, and as part of Concrete Scores at Open Space. Mancini’s published critical writing includes work on the archive, time, and memory in Anamnesia: Unforgetting (2011), and a discourse analysis of poetry reviews in You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excellence (2012). His previous full-length book, Loitersack (New Star, 2014), is a labyrinthine commonplace book where critical, theoretical, and paraliterary tendencies intersect in the forms of poetry, poetics, theory, theory theatre, laugh particles, and many, many questions. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of British Columbia.


What?

Same Diff meets at the intersection of contemporary poetry, art, and current politics. Influenced by documentary cinema such as the films of Frederic Wiseman, Dada poets, montage techniques, and a range of modern poets, Same Diff explores the way social and economic histories become imprinted within language itself.

The political and poetic melancholy of our moment is revealed in a long poem on climate change, particularly the disappearance of snow, while the real-life effects of fiscal austerity and poverty are voiced in fragments conveying social neuroses that stem from amplified, unfair competition for basic necessities.

Each poem introduces a dominant motif that develops through repetition and incremental variations, sourcing language from newspapers, online sources, and overheard conversations to create an emotive effect, as felt in music.


When?

Arrived March 2016.


Where?

Book Launches: April 27, 7:30 PM, Talonbooks Spring Launch, The Western Front, Vancouver. Also, May 6, 8 PM, Duplex, Vancouver (Donato will be reading the whole book!).

Purchases: From the Talonbooks website, McNally-Robinson online, or at your local bookstore. $16.95.


How?

Meeting at the intersection.



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

4/19/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "To Love the Coming End" by Leanne Dunic (Bookthug)


Excerpt from To Love the Coming End




Who?

Leanne Dunic is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, and writer. Her work has won several honours, including the 2015 Alice Munro Short Story Contest, and has appeared in magazines and anthologies in Canada and abroad. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Leanne is the Artistic Director of the Powell Street Festival Society and is the singer/guitarist of The Deep Cove.


What?

In To Love the Coming End, a disillusioned author obsessed with natural disasters and ‘the curse of 11’ refl ects on their own personal earthquake: the loss of a loved one. A lyric travelogue that moves between Singapore, Canada, and Japan, this debut from Leanne Dunic captures what it’s like to be united while simultaneously separated from the global experience of trauma, history, and loss that colour our everyday lives.


When?

Arrived March 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone. More to come - keep an eye on her website!

Purchases: From the Bookthug website, or at your local bookstore. $18.


How?

Obsession with natural disasters.



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

4/18/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Dear Ghost" by Catherine Owen (Wolsak and Wynn)


Decoupage

And so they come a-courting in the Greyhound depot,
those torn bits of boys, those wanton travellers,
having won a fuzzy, bedizened animal

from the Hunter and Gatherer machine.
A claw descends with the exuberant morbidity of children
who play Barbie and Ken, Cannibals beneath the dining-

room table as the compote and endives are served.
There’s always a more precisely foreign term for life’s
sticking-together of things, a lilt that boosts the ego

in all the unHeimlich lands of Sturm und Drang we must
pass through, sons with guts busting the glitter glue off
their Dukes of Hazzard tees as they glut themselves

with filet-mignon Doritos, old ladies who do Sudoku
like sex, older ladies in fur, awkwardly lavish velour gowns
with Uggs. There’s just a five-minute stopover in every

small town in Canada, long enough to buy a dream catcher,
to chat about your tubal ligation with a complete stranger,
almost a de rigueur pas de deux à la five a.m., Valentine’s Day,

the edges pasted down so finely I can barely see where the piazza
meets Dali’s Persistence of Memory, where the Tower of Pisa leans
into Blake’s “Sick Rose,” only a hand reaching out mutely

to gift me with a panda, and the oldest lady of all yelling out,
“Really, at this point, I’d rather walk.”


Who?

Catherine Owen is the author of ten collections of poetry and three of prose, including her compilation of interviews on writing called The Other 23 & a Half Hours: Or Everything You Wanted to Know that Your MFA Didn’t Teach You (Wolsak & Wynn, 2015) and her short story collection, The Day of the Dead (Caitlin Press, 2016). Her work has been nominated for awards, toured Canada eight times and appeared in anthologies, as well as translations. She has been employed by both the Locations and the Props department in TV land, plays metal bass and has two cats: Solstice and Equinox.


What?

Dear Ghost is an extended love letter to her poetic influences and to the real-world objects, people, places and situations that fascinate her. Inspired by the work of John Ashbery, among others, in Dear Ghost Owen returns to the kooky imagery and humorous style she last visited with her award-winning collection Frenzy. These poems entertain immensities of sound while plumbing the depths of the psyche’s surrealities, content to enter a dreamlike realm where meaning is found in the nonsensical, the utterly human and the everyday. While Owen gathers her subjects from the mundane – work, sex, acquaintances and art – she imbues them with the extraordinary quirks and uncertainties that only language can create, and the effects are dizzying.


When?

Arrives TODAY! April 18th, 2017!


Where?

Book Launches: April 22 in New Westminster (Bed Lectures Series). May 4th in Vancouver at The Main. May 19th in Hamilton, Ontario. May 23rd in Kingston, Ontario.

Purchases: From the Wolsak and Wynn website, or at your local bookstore. $18.


How?

Finding meaning in the nonsensical. Kookiness.



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

4/17/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Shakespearean Blues" by Shirley Graham (Mother Tongue Publishing)


Blue Ophelia

I think it was the flowers
that sent her over the edge, 
not the other way around. 

She’d thought to be wooed properly, 
gallantly, with roses offered at her feet, 
her nose, her bosom.  

When this wasn’t the case, 
she left the would-be lover, 
went out to the wide world, and saw them,
 
gorgeous, seductive on their stems, and knew 
a love that cracked her open, 
all she needed of wooing there in the buds.  

She offered blossoms here, there, anywhere to spread her love, 
And when this too was not enough, she took herself 
to the waters to become what the flowers would drink.
 


Who?

Shirley Graham has been writing, publishing in literary magazines and giving readings in Canada and the U.S. for three decades. She studied writing and literature at UC Irvine, UCLA, Brown University, the Sorbonne in Paris, and in private workshops with a range of writers, including Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Robert Haas and Mark Strand. Her books include Blue Notes, What Someone Wanted and Book of Blue. She is a psychologist and lives on Salt Spring Island with her husband, poet Peter Levitt, and son Tai.


What?

Celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Shakespearean Blues is a modern romp through the state of mankind, drenched in Shakespeare's words and characters. At turns joyous, tragic, witty, solemn, mysterious and wry, these poems are wide ranging like the quotes and characters that inspire them. Graham returns to the blue world of prior volumes, and uses the bard as a springboard to explore our human condition, seeing us somewhere between Puck's "Lord what fools these mortals be" and Miranda's "How beauteous mankind is!"

"Graham has the virtuosic skill of rendering a moment eternal."–Don Domanski


When?

Arrived November 2016.


Where?

Book Launches: May 26th, 7:30 PM, Victoria, Planet Earth Poetry.

Purchases: From the Mother Tongue Publishing website or at your local bookstore. $19.95.


How?

Romping through the state of mankind, drenched in Shakespeare.



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

4/16/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "In Fine Form, 2nd Edition" ed. Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve (Caitlin Press)


Pantoum

The pantoum, derived from the Malay pantun, has any number of metred four-line verses (stanzas) rhyming abab, but its most alluring feature is an intricate pattern of line repetition as follows:

Lines 2 and 4 of each stanza are repeated as lines 1 and 3 of the next, until the last stanza where all are repeated lines. In the last stanza, in addition to maintaining the above pattern, lines 2 and 4 are the same as lines 1 and 3 of the first stanza, so the poem ends as it begins. In other words, the repeating pattern of a four-stanza pantoum would be as follows:

stanza 1: 1 2 3 4,
stanza 2: 2 5 4 6,
stanza 3: 5 7 6 8,
stanza 4: 7 3 8 1.

Many variations are possible, including important but subtle shifts in meaning achieved by playing with syntax or slight changes in word order, such as Kayla Czaga uses here in her poem, “Song.”


"Song" by Kayla Czaga

Outside my window, seagulls and crows continue
the discourse on language, insisting it need not be beautiful
to be song. If song accompanies their shallow black
and white bickering over garbage at 5 A.M., do I still believe

language needs to be beautiful? Their insistent discourse
pecks holes in the morning. Here I am still trying
to believe, at 5 A.M. despite the bickering over garbage
because faith describes perfectly how my mother is dying.

Here I am still trying to peck holes in the morning;
song is just the word I use for wanting
faith to describe how perfectly my mother is dying
thousands of miles away, in a small town I rarely visit.

Song is just another word I want to use.
Illness is just another word. Mother is just a word
thousands of miles away, in a small town I rarely visit.
The winter light pours slowly through my window.

Illness is just a word. Mother is just a word
with someone in it. Can I sing without words?
The slow winter light pours through my window.
Long after I’ve stopped making sense, I’m just a sound

with someone in it. Can I sing without words
and still be song, accompanying the crows, shallow and black,
making sense with just sounds? Long after I’ve stopped
seagulls and crows continue outside my window.


Who?

Kate Braid worked as a receptionist, secretary, teacher’s aide, lumber piler, construction labourer, apprentice and journey-carpenter before finally “settling down” as a teacher. She has taught construction and creative writing, the latter in workshops and also at SFU, UBC and for ten years at Vancouver Island University (previously Malaspina University-College). In addition to several books of creative non-fiction (Red Bait: Stories of a Mine-Mill Local, Emily Carr: Rebel Artist, The Fish Come In Dancing, Looking Ahead: Profiles of Two Canadian Women in Trades, and Building the Future: Profiles of Canadian Women in Trades), she is the author of the poetry books A Well-Mannered Storm: The Glenn Gould Poems, Covering Rough Ground, To This Cedar Fountain and Inward to the Bones: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Journey with Emily Carr. In 2005 she co-edited, with Sandy Shreve, In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form Poetry. Braid’s second book of poems about her carpentry experiences, Turning Left to the Ladies, was published by Palimpsest Press. Kate Braid tells the story of how she became a carpenter in the face of skepticism and discouragement in her 2012 memoir, Journeywoman. A revised edition of Covering Rough GroundRough Ground Revisited – was published by Caitlin Press. In 2015 she was awarded the Mayor of Vancouver’s Award for the Literary Arts for showing leadership and support for Vancouver’s cultural community. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with her partner.

Sandy Shreve has written, edited and/or co-edited seven books and two chapbooks. Her most recent poetry collection is Waiting for Albatross (Oolichan Books, 2015). Her previous books include Suddenly, So Much (Exile Editions, 2005) and Belonging (Sono Nis Press, 1997). Shreve’s contributions to the literary arts include founding BC’s Poetry in Transit program, as well as serving on a variety of committees and juries. Her poetry is widely anthologized and has won or been shortlisted for several awards. Now retired, she worked in communications for fifteen years and, prior to that, as an office manager, secretary, union coordinator, library assistant and reporter. Born in Quebec and raised in Sackville, New Brunswick, she lived for some 40 years in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sandy Shreve now makes her home on Pender Island in BC, where she is diving into a relatively new interest in photo art.

Kayla Czaga grew up in Kitimat and now lives in Vancouver, BC, where she recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC. In 2016, she received the Emerging Writer Award from the Canadian Authors Association. Her poetry, non-fiction and fiction has been published in The Walrus, Best Canadian Poetry 2013, Room Magazine, Event and The Antigonish Review, among others. Her debut book, For Your Safety Please Hold On, was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award (2015), the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (2015), and the Debut-litzer Prize (2015), and it won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award (2015).


What?

In the decade since the publication of the first edition of In Fine Form, there has been a resurgence of Canadian poets writing in “form” – in sonnets and ghazals, triolets and ballads, villanelles and palindromes — and formal poetry has become more visible in books, literary journals and classrooms. The first edition of this anthology was called “groundbreaking,” “a paradigm shift” and “a landmark text.” Since then, it has gone through several printings and been widely used in classrooms at all levels from elementary school to university, by writers who want to try something new, and by readers eager to explore a whole other side of Canadian poetry.

Of course, Canadians have always written in form, and some of its early practitioners such as Charles G.D. Roberts and Robert Service are again represented here, as well as more recent writers such as PK Page, Margaret Atwood, Fred Wah, Rachel Rose, Christian Bök and George Elliott Clarke. The new edition includes 51 new poets including Nicole Brossard, Rob Taylor, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Kyla Czaga, David O’Meara, Sheri-D Wilson, George Bowering, Lillian Allen, Marlene NorbeSe Philip, Mary Dalton, and also explores exciting new forms not acknowledged in most other anthologies including spoken word, prose poems, doublets, found poems and pas de deux.

In Fine Form 2nd Edition is an anthology that continues to break new ground, a thrilling collection of more than 25 forms and 180 poems arranged by section, one for each form, with a brief introduction to the form’s history and variations. An extended essay explores common poetic terms and technical devices. Surprising and exhilarating, here is a showcase for some of the best poetry this country has produced.


When?

Arrived September 2016.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone!

Purchases: From the Cailtin Press website or at your local bookstore. $29.95.

How?

Groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting, landmarking.



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

4/15/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Leaving Mile End" by Jon Paul Fiorentino (Anvil Press)


Trolls

We are all trolls—
some of us are just really well-fed
swat me in the morning

He said, “If you feel disrespected
that’s because you are”
So I doxxed him

It took me thirty-nine years
eleven months, and seventeen days
to realize that I was alone

Poetry is just an
elaborate way of
retweeting yourself


Who?

Jon Paul Fiorentino is the author of ten books including I’m Not Scared of You or Anything, which was shortlisted for the ReLit Award for Short Fiction and Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, Needs Improvement, which was shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and Indexical Elegies, which won the CBC Books “Bookie” Award for Best Book of Poetry. He lives in Montreal where he teaches Creative Writing at Concordia University, is the editor-in-chief of Matrix magazine, and the editor for the Serotonin/Wayside Imprint of Insomniac Press.


What?

Leaving Mile End is Jon Paul Fiorentino’s seventh collection of poetry and tenth book—a collection of poems that documents the daily din and clatter of cafés, galleries, and dive bars that make up Mile End in Montreal, perhaps the most artistically vibrant neighbourhood in the world. But this is no ordinary tour—we take a sharp turn and go online as Fiorentino mines the peculiar linguistic resources of a new world of doxxing, swatting, snarking, trolling, catfishing, and shaming. While addressing the disconnect between the way we treat each other online and the way we treat each other IRL, Leaving Mile End provides a new framework for understanding what it means to be home in 2017.


When?

Arrived March 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone!

Purchases: From the Anvil Press website, McNally-Robinson online, or at your local bookstore. $16.

How?

Doxxing, swatting, snarking, trolling, catfishing, and shaming.



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

4/14/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Next Door to the Butcher Shop" by Rodney DeCroo (Nightwood Editions)


Black Columns

I could sleep for weeks in this bed, the black columns
of this room protecting me from the light. Indigent father,
your ghost haunts the bus stations of Appalachia
seeking your cross-eyed war balladeer,
a toothless banjo resting on his hothouse knees.

The draft dodger, your brother, died thirteen times
in Canada his ashes spread across Minnesota skies
like acid rain or grey tears returning to boyhood lakes 
of eternal summer. He couldn’t repair your fractured face
or make disappear the greased stain of your M-16.

I live in a room in a terminal city. They pay me
because my head is broken. The relentless rain
striking the windows is the faint echo of gunshots
three generations ago through the fog of Europe.
I am your son. We have earned it like a wage.


Who?

Rodney DeCroo is a Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and poet. Born and raised in a small coal mining town just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he has called Vancouver home for years now. He has released a previous collection of poetry, Allegheny, BC (Nightwood, 2012) and seven music albums that have received critical acclaim in Canada, the USA and Europe. Music critics have named him one of Canada’s best folk/alt-country songwriters.


What?

Next Door to the Butcher Shop explores the permeability of memory and uncovers heart-wrenching beauty from shadowy grit.

How quickly age
descends on us. Our memories are maps
to places that don't exist. I was an emperor
on a green lawn wearing a white sheet
and a paper crown. The birds sang my praises
from the hedges and the trees

DeCroo unsentimentally recounts moments suffused with grief, longing and loss, and offers a refreshingly unfiltered view of one's self.

I'd stand for days along the edges of expressway
to sing off-key into the screams of semi-trailers and cars
until I stood within a cocoon of silence and flashing shadows

In a deft combination of lyrical and visceral imagery, Next Door to the Butcher Shop offers a rare, sharp, first-hand perspective of life around the edges, with dark comedy dispersed throughout.


When?

Coming May 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: TBA.

Purchases: From the Harbour Publishing website or at your local bookstore. If you're in Vancouver, Rodney recommends People's Coop Bookstore (and I do too!). $18.95.

How?

Refreshingly unfiltering one's self-view.



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

4/13/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Short Takes on the Apocalypse" by Patricia Young (Biblioasis)


Shott Takes on the Apocalypse
For many people, myself included, the end of the world is happening all the time! –Douglas Coupland
We stage a dress rehearsal that ends at eight p.m. The lights dim, then go out. The city disappears into darkness. * Nightly blackouts, ghostly trams. Weary millions riding the subway back and forth across the city. * A dress rehearsal is performed on the world’s stage. No one is watching. When the play’s over we go home to our dim hopes and prodigious hunger. * Poor actors dressed in bark cloth. City of millions, city of endings. It is eight o’clock. * On empty stomachs we forget our lines. The end of the world is a dim rehearsal on an unlit stage. * We are prodigious. We are hopeful. We lie down in the dark.


Who?

Patricia Young has published twelve collections of poetry and one of short fiction. She has received numerous awards for her writing including The Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, and a CBC Literary Prize. She has twice been nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. Her collection of short fiction, Airstream, won the Rooke-Metcalf Award, was shortlisted for the Butler Prize and was named one of the Globe and Mail’s Best Books of the Year.


What?

Short Takes on the Apocalypse features poems built entirely upon the words of others. Originating as a response to Elmore Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing,” and expanding to include poetic responses to quotations about writing from other sources—from Leonardo da Vinci to Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood to Jimmy Kimmel—the resulting pieces traverse a myriad of themes. Playfully exploring subjects as wide-ranging as veganism, gun violence, sex, parenting, feminism, death, and Coachella, Young bounces off the selected epigraphs with a vital energy and crackling wit.


When?

Arrived October 2016.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone!

Purchases: From the Biblioasis website or at your local bookstore. $18.95.


How?

Building entirely upon the words of others.



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


4/12/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Night & Ox" by Jordan Scott (Coach House Books)


Excerpt from "Night & Ox"

I
worry
about this
rosepink
compression
of love-dread
reads me
infrasound
coyote tolling
upstairs
jammies
nightie
burrowing
pupshins
backlit
ankylosaurus
21
you're small
your small
so cry's
inky stampede
blotchy
in bee
costume
in
glyph kitchen
on
glottis island
studded
sturgeon
weighs
dashberry
mirror drum
decimal
cosmoglottal
mudstone, look
borealis
it’s crystalline
starboard boyform
metadata tone
boxlip
salmonoid
heaviness
always
magnetic
dignity
unlicked
cub


Who?

Jordan Scott is the author of Silt (2005), blert (2008) and, with Stephen Collis, Decomp (2013). Scott was the 2015/16 Writer-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University. He lives in Port Coquitlam, BC.


What?

Night & Ox is a long poem working its interruptions to a degree where it's broken by the will to live. A poem that invokes expansive loneliness, where the poet's emotional response is to endure. A crushed line of astral forms and anatomy in perpetual remove; it is a poem that nurtures vulnerability: some soft-footed embryo sounds against language’s viscera. Night & Ox possesses a feral minimalism for those too tired and too frantic with joy to cope with narrative.

"Scott takes us down to the basement of words, where sound and rhythm rule, and poets learn their craft." – Dennis Lee


When?

Arrives April 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone.

Purchases: From the Coach House Books website or at your local bookstore. $18.95.

How?

Soft-footing embryo sounds against language’s viscera.



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

4/11/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Dazzle Ships" by Jamie Sharpe (ECW Press)


SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES/
 RUSH TO THE MIDDLE
 (Of Your Career, Get 25K)

Friends audit
the inside of your thighs.
Fingernails

against flesh.
A broad at home.
Marry, later,

when profits
falter.

             “While Canada has some brilliant poets, does it have
             enough good ones to grant prizes like this as much aes- 
             thetic relevance as financial reward?”*

             Canada’s mid-career poets fall in an inverse bell curve: 
             the bulk being geniuses or imbeciles. There is no middle.

             The need to editorialize over news.

             New literary award: good.
                          —Too bland.

             New literary award: good (but are we good enough for it?)
                          —Super Bland™!








*Jared Bland. The Globe and Mail. “Writers Trust of Canada announces new $25,000 prize for Canadian poets.” Tuesday, April 22, 2014.


Who?

Jamie Sharpe is the author of Animal Husbandry Today and Cut-up Apologetic. He lives in Comox, B.C.

What?

Dazzle camouflage, at the beginning of the 20th century, was an attempt to answer the question, How do we hide those things that are too big to hide? Ships, often containing thousands of soldiers, were done up in a confusing array of lines to perplex and distort the viewer’s perspective (in this case, German submarines). “Razzle dazzle” was art attempting to hide life.

Jamie Sharpe’s Dazzle Ships is also concerned with art’s relationship to life. It questions how we build poems from the material of mass culture. And in asking whether authentic modes of expression can be found in an increasingly automated world, Sharpe creates a poetry that is at once as disturbing as it is hilarious and as deeply profound as it is subtle.


When?

Arrives today!!! April 11th, 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Unknown...

Purchases: From the ECW Press website or at your local bookstore. $18.95.


How?

Hiding things that are too big to hide.



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

4/10/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Otolith" by Emily Nilsen (Goose Lane Editions)


Pre-dawn Walk
Who walks
behind you, wringing
your shadow over the marsh?
First frost and beneath the bridge
water slows into ice whorls.
An otter chews through
a trout, chews the gnawing
winter, thins the world around you.
Who skulks through the valley, trapping
your sleep in invisible snares?
                           You step nearer
the river as morning mist lifts
the drowned night
onto shore.


Who?

Emily Nilsen was born and raised in Vancouver. She has published poems in PRISM International, Lake, and the Goose, and in a chapbook entitled Place, No Manual. Nilsen was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, after have been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.

What?

Otolith — the ear stone — is a series of bones that help us to orient ourselves in space. In Otolith, Emily Nilsen attempts a similar feat in poetry: to turn the reader's attention to their relationship to the world, revealing an intertidal state between the rootedness of place and the uncertainty and tenuousness of human connection. Born in the fecundity of British Columbia's coastal rainforest, these poems are full of life and decay; they carry the odours of salmon rivers and forests of fir; salal growing in the fog-bound mountain slopes.

This astonishing debut, at once spare and lush, displays an exquisite lyricism built on musical lines and mature restraint. Nilsen turns over each idea carefully, letting nothing escape her attention and saying no more than must be said. Combining a scientist's precision and a poet's sensitivity, Otolith examines the ache of nostalgia in the relentless passage of time.


When?

Arrived March 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Launches Thursday, April 13th in Nelson, at Touchstones Nelson - Museum of Art and History!

Purchases: From the Goose Lane website or at your local bookstore. $19.95.


How?

Birthing poems in the coastal rainforest's fecundity.



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

4/09/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine" (Room Magazine/Caitlin Press)


"Listing" by Chimwemwe Undi

in dog years, I am dead. in black years, alive.
so: exceptional, increasingly so. I ask strangers 
for directions on pocket scraps and build myself
a map home as cohesive as a litany
I am having trouble remembering.

there are too many bodies in this room built for bodies
we are magic typecast as disappearing acts. History
whispered into memories. 

and easier things:
1. the prime ministers in chronological order,
2. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos,
3. the angle at which the earth leans, shaking us off like water

there is too much to say for this mouth built for praying 
there are too many names to unhear
so I don’t have to remember 
or truly, repeat to meaninglessness 
or truly, forget them, 
outrage a poor mnemonic device 

I am forgetting and that is the worst part 
I cannot hold a name long enough
to know it. even the faces are growing statistical,
the write-ups into archives. I know guilt better
than grief, as well as a restlessness, 
better than a black body breathing still


Who?

Meghan Bell is the publisher for Room magazine, and oversaw the production of Making Room from conception to completion. Making Room was collectively curated by Meghan Bell, Terri Brandmueller, Candace Fertile, Taryn Hubbard, Chelene Knight, Lindsay Glauser Kwan, Cara Lang, Alissa McArthur, Nav Nagra, Bonnie Nish, Rachel Thompson, Kayi Wong, and Lisa Xing.

Chimwemwe Undi is a poet and spoken word artist currently based in Toronto. She has performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and her work has been shortlisted for the 2016 Brunel University African Poetry Book Prize. Her debut chapbook, The Habitual Be, is forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press.


What?

Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine celebrates the history and evolution of Canadian literature and feminism with some of the most exciting and thought-provoking fiction, poetry, and essays the magazine has published since it was founded in 1975 as Room of One’s Own. This collection includes poems about men not to be fallen in love with, trans womanhood, the morning-after pill, the “mind fuck” of being raped by a romantic partner, and a tribute to the women who were murdered in the Montréal Massacre. In one story, a group of sexual assault survivors meet weekly and come up with a unique way to help police capture their assailant, while in another a dinner party turns to witty talk of racism, sexism, pornography, and time travel. One author recounts how she learned multiple languages in order to connect with her father, another reluctantly walks down the aisle in order to stay in Canada with the man she loves.

For forty years, Room has created a space for diverse voices. As Amber Dawn says in her opening essay, “There is Room. We do fit.”


When?

Arrived February 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone in Vancouver, but it will be launching in Toronto on April 22nd!

Purchases: From the Cailtin Press website or at your local bookstore. $24.95.

How?

By making room... duh!



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

4/08/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Digsite" by Owain Nicholson (Nightwood Editions)



The Water's Cycle
The rain unends, little bee,
and my boat compasses on the water.
There’s a pike on the line
and I don’t know about the hook
but the world is scuttled.
Clay never leaves skin unmarked;
the good work bevelled my joints
but the earth was empty.
The pike rudders against fin-skin waves
but keel, hull and gunnel
are only substructure.
The heart suffers
because that’s what we earn –
Always how we sleep:
a skeleton grinning
into the last skeleton’s
degenerate skull in the burial pit;
what would you say
if that were you, constructing
who you thought I was,
interpreting down to me?
– I think we carry living too long.



Who?

Owain Nicholson grew up in Winnipeg and studied both creative writing and archaeology at the University of Victoria. A working archaeologist, Nicholson sees history, ancestry, nature and people at the centre of both practices, and his poems often use the digsite as a source of image and metaphor. Digsite is Nicholson's debut collection of poetry. He currently lives in Toronto.


What?

Digsite draws on Nicholson’s experience working in the Alberta oil sands and arboreal forest, taking an archaeological lens to its subject, and in this way, reimagines tens of thousands of years of human existence. These poems grow from a schism between the current place of living and the ones in which we are pulled back to, in particular, the places we no longer occupy.

Nicholson’s language draws on his archaeological and fieldwork background as he burrows and grinds the places we have lost, consistently underpinned by the grief that must accompany such a fervent exploration. In these discoveries, Nicholson presents us with the material remains of our own abandonment, of loss and acceptance, and ultimately leaves us with more questions than when we began.


When?

Arrived October 2016.


Where?

Book Launches: Come and gone!

Purchases: From the Nightwood Editions website or at your local bookstore. If you're in Toronto, Owain recommends Type Books. $18.95.


How?

Burrowing and grinding.



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


4/07/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "The Rules of the Kingdom" by Julie Paul (McGill-Queens University Press)


What We Thought About Sex At Fifteen
 
we thought it began with the Bible
we thought Shakespeare invented it
we thought it was a unicorn, right there in our woods
we thought it was basically like a peaceful sit-in
            a gemstone
                        a bacteria 
                                    a rogue wave 
                                    a swan
                                    a fever 
we thought it was better than Chicken Divan   
we thought it was like the sun, actually good for us
we thought we were animals in all aspects but this:
            we could forget about it
                        a fresh slate was all we wanted
we thought nothing of it
            nothing could compare
we thought good and hard
we thought ourselves sick 
                        like girls in a telenovela
we thought we could do it again
we thought we could never do it again:
we thought wrong.


Who?

Julie Paul is the author of the short story collections The Jealousy Bone and The Pull of the Moon. She lives in Victoria, BC.


What?

To seek belonging, to strain against the familiar - these are the polarities many of us live between, feeling the pull of each desire. Offering a particular history, an intimate vantage point from within the various kingdoms we inhabit, Julie Paul’s The Rules of the Kingdom is an exploration of this struggle on a personal level and a universal one.

Broken into five sections, the book examines the human struggle to find meaning, comfort, and a sense of home. In “Settlers’ Descendant Reclaims the Past,” the poems consider rural life, both the specific and the collective, including a village’s destruction by fire. In “Weight of the Word” the focus turns to family of origin, religion, and rites of passage. Poems take a familial tack again in “Cleavage,” wherein Paul dives into the waters of motherhood, and they drift into further intimacy in “The World’s Smallest Republic,” a series of poems about sex, love, and marriage. Finally, the poems in the fifth section, “Next Time the World Will Burn,” explore our place in the twenty-first century and offer some idiosyncratic suggestions on how to live.

At turns humorous, playful, contemplative, and coy, the poems in The Rules of the Kingdom question the vagaries of faith and family but ultimately celebrate life and love.

"Julie Paul’s The Rules of the Kingdom is a testament to the grit and grace of life lived with intention. It is rare to encounter poems that meet the complexities of being and belonging with such fresh, unapologetic joy." - Deanna Young


When?

Arrived January 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Done and gone!

Purchases: From the MQUP website or at your local bookstore. $16.95.


How?

Questioning the vagaries.



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

4/06/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Frequent, Small Loads of Laundry" by Rhonda Ganz (Mother Tongue Publishing)


She does not know the Japanese word for anniversary

She no longer sleeps with her husband.
Pick a side he told her, before the century turned
and whatever trick keeps him steadfast to her, locks him 
to his side of the bed, unmoved.

She stops for a hitchhiker on the road out of Sooke—
flannel shirt, the shakes, and a sixer on the gravel at his feet. 
Too much noise in the city he tells her. After my wife died
I moved out to the bush, but the noise followed me.
 
Sex is not the problem – that’s what afternoons are for.

Come watch the footage this guy in Sendai took from his car, 
her husband calls. He’s found another YouTube variation—
the wall of water forever on repeat.

His need for disaster is greater than her need to avoid it. So
she comes this time, and together 
they watch the unrelenting wave bend
what stands rigid in its path. 


Who?

Crime fiction, reality TV and bad dreams inform Rhonda Ganz’s poetry, which has appeared in Rattle, The Malahat Review, Room, on city buses and in the anthologies Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry, Poems from Planet Earth, Poet to Poet and Force Field: 77 Women Poets of BC. A poem of hers was chosen by Harvard Design Magazine for their December 2015 issue “Shelf Life.” She has been a featured reader at Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria, WordStorm in Nanaimo, Word on the Street in Vancouver and at the inaugural Galiano Literary Festival. Rhonda Ganz was born in Kenya. She lives in Victoria, B.C., where she works as a graphic designer and editor. She shares a home with one human and varying numbers of cats. She speaks German and can hold a conversation in Swahili. She has been known to write poems on the spot for people in hotel lobbies, parks and cemeteries.

"There has never been a poet like Rhonda Ganz. What a magician of words she is, what sleights of narrative she performs. The pleasure for the reader is unending, no matter how many times you roll these poems off your tongue. There’s such brightness here, such wry humour, such serious whimsicality. If this is what laundry looks like, the wind couldn’t be happier and I want some on my line.” – Lorna Crozier


What?

In her debut collection, Frequent, Small Loads of Laundry, poet Rhonda Ganz brazenly mixes darks with lights and pegs out the quirky and bizarre, both real and imagined, with all seams showing. From spontaneous combustion to suicide, from psychopaths to pterodactyls, Ganz is obsessed with the way people behave in moments of intimacy and domesticity. With her sharp wit and painterly abstractions, she pairs the banal with the absurd to expose the flaws of love—the frayed edges of belief and despair. Strung up, these poems are an authentic clothesline of hearsay, fabrication, doomsaying and half-truths.


When?

Arriving April 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: April 6 (Today!), Salt Spring Library 7:30 PM. April 9, Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria 3:30 PM.

Purchases: From the Mother Tongue Publishing website or at your local bookstore. $24.95.


How?

Clotheslining hearsay and half-truths.



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

4/05/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Auguries" by Clea Roberts (Brick Books)


Andante Grazioso

The flooded ditches
have sealed with ice.

The morning light
comes later and later—

whispering and full 
of dark threads.

I’ve decided to speak,
to release certainty,

to take winter’s ravens
as my rowdy clerics.

The street lamps bend 
to the crown of frost I make 
just by breathing.



Who?

Clea Roberts lives on the outskirts of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Her debut collection of poems, Here Is Where We Disembark (Freehand Books, 2010), was a finalist for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award, was nominated for the ReLit Award, and was translated into German and Japanese. Clea’s poems have been published in journals and anthologies in Canada, Europe, the United States, and Australia. She facilitates a workshop on poetry and grief through Hospice Yukon and is the Artistic Director of the Kicksled Reading Series.


What?

Whether speaking of erotic love, domestic life, spiritual wilderness, or family entanglements, the poems of Auguries are saturated with their northern landscape. Roberts is well versed in the distances and dynamics between tedium and ecstasy, light and dark, isolation and solitude, freeze and thaw, flow and stillness. Her poems are spare and clean, each like a single larch in an immense white plain; their exactness startling and arresting. As the Gerald Lampert Award jury citation for her celebrated first book noted, “Her images... are not only crisp and precise, but manage to speak about the physical conditions of this place and its emotional landscape in one and the same lyrical breath...”

Written during a period in which Roberts both became a parent and lost a parent, the poems in Auguries lend themselves to prayer, surrender, celebration, reconciliation, meditation, and auspice.

“Clea Roberts writes poems of clear, quiet beauty. They contain the silence of perception: alive to the world with open eye and open heart.” — Anne Michaels


When?

Arrives April 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: April 9th in Squamish (workshop and reading!). Whitehorse launch in May, date TBA.

Purchases: From the Brick Books website or at your local bookstore. $20.

How?

Prayer, surrender, celebration, reconciliation, meditation, and auspice.



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