4/30/2017

BC Poetry 2017: An Introduction

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: 21 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
Biblioasis
BookThug
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
Talonbooks
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.

BC Poetry 2017: "Prosopopoeia" by Shazia Hafiz Ramji (Anstruther Press)



See You Tomorrow

Tomorrow you’ll find me when you sign on.
You’ll send me a DM, ask me to drop you a pin.

I’ll say, “Hey! I’m here!” as if this here is enough,
as if the here is still now. You’ll ask me if I’m lost
and I’ll remember how far away you are from me.

But I’ve DM’d you once more to say
I saw the latest version of a human-size bot

that it walked with a limp
and I felt sad and sorry for it.

This is what she meant when she saw him
hanging from the ceiling and wanted to place a chair
beneath him, so that his knees don’t hurt when he falls.



Who?

Shazia Hafiz Ramji lives in Vancouver, BC where she edits books and writes poems, reviews, and stories. Her poetry was shortlisted for the 2016 National Magazine Awards and is forthcoming in Canadian Literature and filling Station. She is the incoming poetry editor for Prism international and was co-editor for the "Intersections" issue of Poetry is Dead. She has been a guide for Poor Yoricks' Summer and Sacred Jest, groups dedicated to reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.



What?

Prosopopoeia is a chapbook of poems that speak to the absent and the dead. These poems comprise the voices of screens talking to each other, the meanest employers, and the Internet under the ocean. Or, Prosopopoeia is a spectral chorus that strives for sincerity, particularly when addressing "you" and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This book should be enjoyed alone, in the light of a computer screen with the sound of "Rain - Gentle Rain Sounds - HD Sleep Sounds" on YouTube.


When?

Arrived February 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: Happened April 27th in Vancouver!

Purchases: From the Anstruther Press website. $10.


How?

Sincerely addressing Philip Seymour Hoffman w/ the voice of the Internet under the ocean.



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


4/29/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Helpless Angels" by Tom Wayman (Thistledown Press)


Excerpt from “Like Water, Music”
Indeed, the human throat and mouth
are shaped as much for music
as for any other utterance. Sung words
were perhaps coincident with speech
—one thinks of those stutterers
who nonetheless can mellifluously
sing.

When winter fog
hovers over white fields here, shelves of ice
materialize at the edges of the rivulets and creeks
that thread out of the mountainside spruce and cedar forest.

So, too, fingers absently strumming guitar strings,
or an ear that absorbs a sequence of heard or
imagined sounds, or a hand scribing time-signature changes
onto a sheet of lined staves
are transubstantiated
by a mind into harmonies, contrapuntal rhythms, ballads

while above the ridges
float enormous clouds
—vast reservoirs of future music.



Who?

Tom Wayman has published more than twenty poetry collections, three essay collections, two short story collections, a collection of novellas, and a novel. He has also edited six poetry anthologies. He has been Writer-in-Residence at the universities of Windsor, Alberta, Simon Fraser, Winnipeg, and Toronto. He is a co-founder of two BC alternative post-secondary ventures: the Vancouver Centre of the Kootenay School of Writing (1984–87) and the writing department of Nelson’s Kootenay School of the Arts (1991–2002). He is currently a director of the Calgary Spoken Word Festival Society and of Nelson’s Kootenay Literary Society, where he serves on the education committee and the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival organizing committee. Wayman lives in Winlaw, BC.


What?

Helpless Angels weaves several themes together: music’s impact on a life, expressed through memory; poems that are like songs; music found in or described through nature; poems that directly consider music’s power; and, as a counterpoint to how music carries us through life, how art — and each of us — deals with significant loss. Wayman looks at the ubiquitousness of widespread personal access to music that began in the 1950s and has continued to expand ever since.


When?

Arrives May 1st, 2017 (Monday!).


Where?

Book Launches: May 12, 7:30 PM, Oxygen Art Centre, Nelson. May 26, 7:30 PM, The Bean Scene, Vernon. June 8, 7 PM, VPL Central Branch, Vancouver. Details on all Tom's launches can be found here.

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


How?

Looking at the ubiquitousness.



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

4/28/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "What The Soul Doesn't Want" by Lorna Crozier (Freehand Books)


When The Bones Get Cold
My husband sends me hummingbirds 
from his eyes. Only he and I know 
he’s going blind. For him, I don’t get old.
His fingers, chapped from gardening, sand my skin, 
bring out the grain he cannot see.
I am made beautiful by loss. The moon, too, 
grows more far-sighted. Its light compliments: 
the smallest birds don’t disagree. There’s a sweetness 
that comes from accepting what I am, 
not a mountain, not a river, not a tree.


Who?

Lorna Crozier, an Officer of the Order of Canada, is the author of sixteen previous books of poetry, most recently The Wrong Cat and The Wild in You. She is also the author of The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Ordinary Things and the memoir Small Beneath the Sky. She is a Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria, has been awarded the Governor General's Award for Poetry, and is a three-time recipient of the Pat Lowther Award. Born in Swift Current, she now lives on Vancouver Island with writer Patrick Lane and two fine cats.


What?

In What the Soul Doesn’t Want, Lorna Crozier describes the passage of time in the way that only she can. Her arresting, edgy poems about aging and grief are surprising and invigorating: a defiant balm. At the same time, she revels in the quirkiness and whimsy of the natural world. Crozier’s signature wit and striking imagery are on display as she stretches her wings and reminds us that we haven’t yet seen all that she can do.


When?

Arrives May 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: May 30th at Munro’s Books in Victoria.

Purchases: From the Freehand Books website or at your local bookstore. $16.05.


How?

Balming defiantly.



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

4/27/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Linger, Still" by Aislinn Hunter (Gaspereau Press)


Despite Our Best Attempts to Catalogue
the body breaks into pixels, machine failure–
aches, pains, a dimming.

What once thrummed 
now flashes Error–

so that whatever philosophy 
you sailed in on,

whatever two-minute film of 
‘a day on the beach in June’ that said

this was my life to you,
comes stuttering to a halt.

Then, a silence, a proclivity
to witness,

an anonymity that wants nothing
but to linger.
 
In this last lick of light
before the day gives out, listen:

there are masterworks painted
by the wholly forgotten and unnamed,

and there are Rembrandts and Bruegels
so wasted and decayed

no semblance of art history
can remake them.

That is us: the dust in the room
where the new paintings hang–

but oh, the music 
in that sweeping.



Who?

Aislinn Hunter is the author of six books: two books of poetry, three books of fiction and a book of lyric essays. She is a contributing editor at Arc Magazine and has contributed to numerous anthologies. She has a BFA in The History of Art and in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria, an MFA from The University of British Columbia, an MSc in Writing and Cultural Politics from The University of Edinburgh where she has just completed a PhD in English Literature. She teaches Creative Writing part-time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and lives in Vancouver with her husband Glenn and two Border collies.


What?

Aislinn Hunter writes of impossibilities that somehow function; of the tenuous interrelations that comprise our experience. Grounded by the questions "how to be good, how to be," Hunter's field of inquiry ranges across domestic, ecological, literary and philosophical subjects. Her poems are exclamations of recognition in the midst of caginess. This collection reaches for, and grasps, "what lists under every pose: the hope / that someone will love us".


When?

Arrived April 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: May 4th, The Main, Vancouver (w/ Catherine Owen!)

Purchases: From the Gaspereau Press website or at your local bookstore. $21.95.


How?

Exclaiming in the midst of caginess.



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

4/26/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "The If Borderlands: Collected Poems" by Elise Partridge (New York Review Books)


Everglades
Nothing fled when we walked up to it,
nor did we flinch,
even at the hobnailed gators sunning two-inch fangs,
a licorice-whip snake slipping over our shoes.
The normally secretive clapper rail
appeared under our boardwalk
glancing this way and that,
casual as a moviegoer hunting for a seat.
Tropical, temperate, each constituency spoke—
the sunburned-looking gumbo-limbo trees
nodded side by side with sedate, northern pines.
Even the darkness gave its blessing
for the moonflower to open under its aegis.
A bird swaying on a coral bean
sang two notes that might have been “Name me.”


Who?

Elise Partridge (1958–2015) was born in Philadelphia and grew up nearby. After graduating from Harvard in 1981, she received a second Bachelor of Arts from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as a Marshall Scholar. She returned to Harvard for a Master of Arts and then took a degree in writing from Boston University. In 1992 she moved to Vancouver, where she lived with her husband, a teacher of medieval literature, for the rest of her life. She taught writing and literature at several universities. Fielder’s Choice (2002) was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award. Chameleon Hours (2008) won the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry in 2009, and was a finalist for the BC Book Prize that year. Her third book, The Exiles’ Gallery, was published in 2015. Partridge’s work has been anthologized in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, and has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Southwest Review, Yale Review, Slate, The Walrus, The Fiddlehead, PN Review, and Poetry Ireland Review.


What?

Elise Partridge’s poetry has been widely admired for its scrupulous truth to life and meticulous, glittering craft. Whether writing about family and friends, the natural world and the daily round, or serious illness, Partridge was, as Rosanna Warren has said, “a poet of brilliant precisions. Each line represents a new, glinting angle of thought... The result is an art of eerie compassion and an almost hyper-realist perception of the small.”

The If Borderlands includes all the poems that Partridge prepared for publication during her lifetime as well as a selection of uncollected or unpublished poems.

"In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, [Partridge’s] poems achieve an ardent, compassionate, and unsentimental vision." —Robert Pinsky


When?

Arrived March 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: TBA.

Purchases: From the New York Review Books website or at your local bookstore. $22.


How?

Meticulous, glittering craft.



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

4/25/2017

BC Poetry 2017: "Thin Air of the Knowable" by Wendy Donawa (Brick Books)


On Looking into David Blackwood’s Seabird Hunters
Wax resist on a copper plate
repels the nitric acid, vinegar-sharp,
but the etching needle seeks that icy void,
presses down to its core; the acid bites and bites
like the iceberg pressing through the skin of the world,
its vaults and pinnacles gleaming in the night;
its trapped starlight refracts sheen and spangle, and

plunges down searoads winding like rope
through upside-down mountains, peaks and chasms
where fish-huddles stream, silver, mouths agape, 
their round sleepless eyes glint into the dark, the dark,
and through it all, leviathans surge, 
the huge bell of their song.

There is no end to their longing.

Above, midget hunters in white sealskin coats, their sliver of boat
threads night water rippling silent
and over the iceberg three seabirds 
wing, the hollow crick crick of their flight
under the resinous moon.


Who?

Wendy Donawa, formerly a museum curator and academic in Barbados, now lives on the West Coast and participates in Victoria’s vibrant poetry scene. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, magazines, and online publications across Canada. She was a finalist in The Malahat Review’s 2013 Open Season Competition, and in 2015 she was runner-up in the inaugural Cedric Literary Awards. She has published three chapbooks, Sliding Towards Equinox (Rubicon Press, 2009), Those Astonishments of Sorrow, of Joy (Leaf Press, 2012) and The Gorge: A Cartography of Sorrows (JackPine Press, 2016).


What?

In her first collection, Thin Air of the Knowable, the physical landscapes of Wendy Donawa’s life—West Coast, Caribbean, prairies—ground many of her poems and often reflect the inner geography of her preoccupations. A road-trip poem moves from prairie winter, “an icy scatter of gravel / the moving centre of this unpeopled world,” past a cattle liner on its way to the slaughter house, but it also passes beneath the sky’s “blazing scroll of light,” and magpies “flashing black and teal in the sun.” Landscape also functions metaphorically to suggest how historical settings play out in the exigencies of individual lives.

Other preoccupations include poems that reflect on poesis itself—the strange poem-making compulsion to capture that which is largely inexpressible (hence “the thin air of the knowable”), and the role of dreams, memory, and intuition in shaping a poem’s knowledge.

Donawa is, in many ways, a political poet, yet manages to put flesh and blood into everything she writes. In the end,

Perhaps there is only the demonic journey.
Small beauties by the roadside, and
such love as we can muster.

(from “Pu Ru Paints Zhong Kui the Demon Queller on a Mule”)

“Wendy Donawa’s poetry rests at the very edge of beauty where a wild delicacy resides.” — Patrick Lane

“Like the watchmakers of old, Wendy Donawa puts a spyglass to her eye and fixes her vision to the minute, to all that carries on beneath our imperfect sight—worlds upon worlds brought into the sharpest focus.” — Pamela Porter


When?

Arrives April 2017.


Where?

Book Launches: June 9th at Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria.

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


How?

Edge-resting with a wild delicacy.



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

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.