it will never end in wisdom if it doesn't begin in delight

Read for pleasure. Read junk. Read every kind of book. But read for pleasure. The reason the Puritans wanted to stamp out poetry was because it gave pleasure. It’s about things you love, things that you care about. Sir Philip Sidney, in the generation before Shakespeare, said, “Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” And it will never end in wisdom if it doesn’t begin in delight and continue in delight. When you read a poem and you think, “God, that is so beautiful, I don’t want to forget that,” and you go on saying it to yourself because you love it, that’s pleasure. That is real pleasure.

- W.S. Merwin, in interview with Ed Rampell at The Progressive. You can read more of the interview here.


the best o' the west

In the midst of the VIWARF (sounds like a sneeze, no?), Tightrope Books will be running its Vancouver launch for The Best Canadian Poetry 2010. The details:

The Best Canadian Poetry 2010 Launch

Saturday, October 23rd, 4:00 - 6:00PM
The Agro Café
1363 Railspur Alley (Granville Island), Vancouver
Featuring: Don McKay, Elise Partridge, David Zieroth, and many more!

See ya there?


the inside view

Two quotes from the same interview, found eight pages apart, then mashed together for your reading enjoyment:

Ange Mlinko: The Master and His Emissary does more than acknowledge the difference and outright conflict between scientific method and humanistic tradition; it advocates for the embattled latter, by warning us that we are on a slippery slope toward an atomized, utilitarian culture in which intuition and feeling are suppressed, while the quantitative is valorized.

Or, if intuition and feeling cannot be suppressed, they are effectively isolated, not permitted to contribute to the public discourse. That is what I think has happened to poets (at least in the US), some of whom quietly resign themselves to their labeled bin, and some of whom are scrambling right now to reinvent poetry as a discourse as relevant to modern culture as Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde. But the fact remains: poets can’t be considered possessors or transmitters of “knowledge” because we as a society have decided that knowledge is quantifiable—but art is not. Art is precisely the experiment that can’t be reproduced under identical conditions.


Iain McGilchrist: That’s a really interesting point. I am not impressed by the trend towards neuroscience in the modern novel—it seems to me bound up with a sense of inferiority, as though, despite the bravado, we accept that our realities are only playacting, while the scientists know what’s really going on. It reminds me a bit of colonial subjects in the bad old days, dressing like the Brits in order to be taken seriously. How it messed up the study of literature, all those university departments that had to prove they were doing something difficult and serious, a form of science! We badly need an antidote to this culture: we should not be concerned with proving ourselves clever, but rejoicing in doing something science could never do on its own, understanding and celebrating experience—otherwise known as life. Poets and all artists take the inside view: as I say in the book, the brain is just the view from the outside. It’s not more real.

- Iain McGilchrist, in interview with Ange Mlinko in the October 2010 issue of Poetry. You can read the full interview here, and the whole issue here.


quote + event listing = quovent?

A great weekend of readings and events is coming up, starting with Steven Heighton and Ian Williams Thursday night at the Robson Reading Series:

Robson Reading Series
Thursday, October 14th, 7:00 PM
UBC Library/Bookstore, Robson Square
800 Robson St. (Plaza Level), Vancouver
Featuring: Steven Heighton and Ian Williams

Steven also has twelve-or-twenty answers over at rob mclennan's blog. A sample:

The problem with allowing theories or ideologies to understrap your creative work is that they prescribe answers that you unconsciously (or consciously) write towards. Which is death, I think, for any creative enterprise. But of course there are ideological, or at least moral, questions I'm posing to myself when I write. (Questions but no clear answers). These days as a writer I seem to be circling issues of ethical intervention: when is it right to intervene in a situation and when does it make matters worse? Can you even tell beforehand? I guess basically now I'm writing to try to understand how to be a good person.

Read the whole thing here.

And have a lit + fun filled = flit-filled(?) weekend:

TWS Reading Series
Friday, October 15th, 7:00 PM
Take 5 Cafe
429 Granville Street, Vancouver
Featuring: Michelle Elrick, Rachel Thompson, Alexander Winstanley, and more!

Canzine West
Saturday, October 16th, 1:00 - 7:00 PM
W2 Storyeum
151 West Cordova Street
$5 (includes a free copy of the latest issue of Broken Pencil)

A Taste of Words
Saturday, October 16th, 7:00 — 8:00 PM
Cafe Montmartre
4362 Main St., Vancouver
Featuring: Gurjinder Basran, Daniela Elza, Mona Fertig and Peter Haase!


two things related only by the colour of their logos

Pink-logo'd thing #1: Fiona Lam has a great article up at The Tyee about Poetry in Transit, in which silaron is referred to as "a colleague's poetry blog." Booyah! We've hit the big time now!

Pink-logo'd thing #2: George Murray is leading the charge to include a poetry book in CBC's tenth-annual "Canada Reads" competition. He's voting for Dionne Brand's Inventory, which sounds good to me though I haven't read it (Brand's Land to Light On is one of my favourites, but ineligible for this as it's too old). I've already cast my vote for A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove. What'll you vote for?

Update: National Post Books is on it!


well made time bombs

Andy Brown: How do you cultivate a culture of interest for esoteric beautiful books of poetry? How do you sell it to the average individual?

Andrew Steeves: I guess to oversimplify the matter, I would suggest you invest heavily in the educational system, and in cultural infrastructure that everyone gets to use – not just in industrial infrastructure like publishing houses...

I think books are only a small piece of the equation. What I’m really all about is getting people to pay attention. You take the small corner of the culture that’s devoted to books and writing and ask why no one is reading the types of books published by literary presses, the reflex response is that it’s because publishers are not professional enough about marketing and promotion. What I’m trying to suggest is that we dig deeper. If we build stronger communities culture will follow. Right now there are programs that fund the writing of book, the publishing of the books, the marketing of the books. Hell, governments fund everything except buying the books too. And yet despite all this investment in 'culture', very little benefit trickles down to the citizen in the street. Only the people directly involved in the industry (the writer, the publisher) really benefit. The average citizen has very little contact with this official literary culture. I don't like it. But let's say you take the same amount of money and instead of funding the arts from the top you fund it from the bottom. Let's say instead you gave every Canadian a voucher to buy one Canadian-published book this year. There are many problems with this suggestion, but the big advantage is that you have engaged the general populace with literary culture. Right now that’s kind of what’s missing. Right now we are propping up an industry that is dysfunctional. We all have a bunch of really great books in our warehouses that nobody’s reading, even though they helped fund their production through their tax dollars. I would rather get those books out there. Afterall, a good book is a ticking time bomb, it can sit there a long time. If it's well made, that is.

- Andrew Steeves, in interview with Andy Brown for Matrix. Quoted from the Gaspereau Press blog, where you can read more excerpts from the interview here.


two more events for the big list

Sad Mag Live
Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 9th, 8:00 - 10:00 PM
The Cultch
1895 Venables St., Vancouver
Featuring: Barbara Adler, Jason Sloan Yip, Lizzy Karp, and more!
$18 (includes a free copy of the fifth issue)

A Taste of Words
Saturday, October 16th, 7:00 — 8:00 PM
Cafe Montmartre
4362 Main St., Vancouver
Featuring: Gurjinder Basran, Daniela Elza, Mona Fertig and Peter Haase!

More upcoming readings here!