my soul has grown deep like the rivers

Instead of one big final report on Marta and my travels, I figured that over the next couple weeks I'd sporadically post some poetry-related highlights. Let's call this part two of that series (the first being the big stack o' books).

One of the highlights of our visit to New York was the "Rivers" installation at the Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, which is based on the Langston Hughes poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers":

It's a striking display - the poem is never written out in its entirety, but excerpts appear throughout the installation along with the names of the four rivers mentioned in the poem (the names of other great rivers of the world ring the edges of the room) and dates that correspond to the lives of Hughes and Schomburg. Needless to say, my pictures don't do it justice - here they are nonetheless, along with the poem's text and audio of Hughes reading it (complete with introduction):

The Negro Speaks of Rivers - Langston Hughes

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


my "conflict of interest" q+a

My good friend from back in University and actual real-life book reviewer (he gets paid and everything), Mike Hingston, runs a fantastic reviews blog called Too Many Books in the Kitchen.

Not generally one to review or discuss poetry on his site, Mike made an exception in my case, read The Other Side of Ourselves, and shot me a few questions. Those questions and my long-winded replies have been compiled into this:

Q&A: Rob Taylor, The Other Side of Ourselves

p.s. If you're curious about some of the references Mike makes in the intro, the poem he quotes is here, and the rather horrifying shots of me in spandex and ski goggles can be seen here.


why our bags were over the air canada weight limit / what i'll be doing this summer... and fall... and winter...

Books brought back from the trip, including city of acquisition, presented Brenda-Schmidt-bookshelf-style:

Methodist Hatchet, Ken Babstock (Ottawa)

the walnut-cracking machine, Julie Berry (Toronto)

Geography III, Elizabeth Bishop (New York)

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon (Vancouver)

Love Figures, Sam Cheuk (Toronto)

some frames, Jack Hannan (Montreal)

Opened Ground: 1966 - 1996, Seamus Heaney (Toronto)

Patternicity, Jim Johnstone (Toronto)

The Red Fez, Leopold McGinnis (Toronto)

Zeus and the Giant Iced Tea, Leopold McGinnis (Vancouver)

Game Quest, Leopold McGinnis (Toronto)

Misunderstandings Magazine #16 (Toronto)

April 2011 Poetry Magazine (Vancouver)

A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno, Matt Rader (Vancouver)

Undercurrents, ed. Robyn Sarah (Montreal)

More To Keep Us Warm, Jacob Scheier (Toronto)

The God of Loneliness, Philip Schultz (New York)

Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open, Diane Seuss (New York)

No End in Strangeness, Bruce Taylor (Montreal)

All This Could Be Yours, Joshua Trotter (Montreal)

And Also Sharks, Jessica Westhead (Toronto)

Every Riven Thing, Christian Wiman (New York)

Home Schooling, Carol Windley (Toronto)

Come On All You Ghosts, Matthew Zapruder (New York)

The Other Side of Ourselves, Rob Taylor X19 (Ottawa)

Oh and six guide books, three novels of Marta's, and two notebooks, not featured.

When I'm crippled by back problems later in life, I'll send my chiropractor the link to this page...


homecoming hodgepodge

Hodgepodge the First:

A poem of mine, The Great Ceiling, is published in the new issue of subTerrain. The issue also contains poems by Dennis Lee, Catherine Owen, Jen Currin, Elizabeth Ross and more. Check it out in a bookstore if you get the chance.

Thanks, subTerrain!

Hodgepodge the Second:

I dropped the ball on posting readings for June. Generally speaking, you can usually look at the list from the month before and project the dates for the reading series' forward. I should be back on the ball for July. One event I want to point out, though, is the Art Sound Lab, which is happening this week (including tonight!).

Poets and musicians have been working together for months to produce collaborative works of art (view the participants here). The main concert will be on Sunday, June 19th at 8 PM at the SFU Woodward's building. You can view a full schedule here.

Hodepodge the Third:

Two local magazines have submission calls/contests out now that are worth noting.

First, subTerrain is looking to get together 125 poems on Vancouver for Vancouver's 125th birthday. Don't tell me that you don't have any inspiration right now. That said, maybe let's keep the share of the poems that are riot-related down to 75%, alright? The deadline is June 30th, and the details are here.

Second, Geist has an erasure contest on - it looks like a lot of fun. Take a gander here.

Hodgepodge the Fourth:

A Canadian Goodreads has just been released into the world. It's called Canadian Bookshelf. The Other Side of Ourselves hasn't made it into their system yet, so you'll just have to be patient with your 5-star ratings and gushing reviews...

A cute feature they've included is a "Cover Shuffle Challenge", which has you guess the names of books based on pictures of their covers. I got 16/24 without hints. I need to get out more. See if you need to get out more by taking the challenge here.

Hodgepodge the Fifth:

Worrying about next year's grant applications? Have no fear, the Arty Bollocks Generator is here.

Hodgepodge the Sixth:

How to deal with those noisy people at the back of the coffee shop who walked in during a poetry reading and for some reason didn't decide to leave, courtesy of Ray Hsu:

For next year's Cup run, I recommend we unleash an army of dancing Ray Hsu-bots to calm the rioters.

I hope everyone got home safe last night. If you want to help with the cleanup this morning, get info here.


tonight we're gonna party like it's 1994

Good job, Vancouver. You just made losing the Stanley Cup the high point of the evening. We took a few pictures on our way out of there.

Crowd watching the early rioting:

Gearing up to flip the first car:

Gearing up in response to gearing up to flip the first car:

First car burning, while on our way the hell out of there:

Hopefully I'll be back babbling about poetry tomorrow, so long as our basement suite isn't looted. Fingers crossed!

incredibly delayed reading report

I thought I might get one more post in during our travels, but then New York happened. That place is big, eh? And trying to see it all is both time-consuming and laughably impossible. I'm back in Vancouver now, and have a large backlog of stuff to share. First up, a report on a reading that happened two weeks ago!

The livewords/Misunderstandings Magazine launch/wake in Toronto on June 2nd went very well. There was a strong turnout, and I was able to put faces to many names I've blogged about here in the past (including A.F. Moritz, Sam Cheuk and Jeff Latosik). Al Moritz stole the show, as I suspect he does most nights he takes the stage, reading five poems from the last issue of MM. I read an odd set of internet-themed poems, partly inspired by the news that a few days earlier Raoul Fernandes had read one of them ("Errant") at an event in Victoria, and it had gone over well - thanks for that, Raoul!

Here's a blurry iPhone photo of my reading (what can't iPhones do half as well as a computer/camera/Xbox/organic human companion?):

Thanks to Edward Nixon and Jim Johstone for being generous hosts, and to Jim for all his work over the years with Misunderstandings. His new project is Cactus Press. Cactus produces chapbooks, and though I haven't seen any of them yet, the strongest section of Matt Rader's new book A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno, entitled "Customs", was previously published as a Cactus chapbook, so that's a darn good sign. A review of Cactus' latest set of chapbooks, written by Jacob Mooney, can be read here - keep an eye out for more titles as they come along.

Ok, that's all for now. More updates tomorrow. I have to go prepare both my party outfit and riot gear, as I'm sure I'll get to use at least one of them tonight. If I'm really lucky, both!


take care to lean / far in

The Art Bar event last night was wonderful - a packed, generous crowd (including more friends than I expected!) and some very strong readings, highlighted by Julie Berry reading from her latest collection, the walnut-cracking machine. You can read the title poem here - it's well worth the time.

I'm reading again tomorrow night at the Misunderstandings Magazine final issue launch (details here). Apparently, there will be cake. I hope that's not the kind of thing people in Toronto joke about. No one should ever joke about cake.

In the midst of all the excitement (including Dionne Brand's Griffin win [congrats Dionne!], Vancouver's win [congrats Vancouver!], and my being in a town where I can walk between five different independent bookstores in ten minutes [congrats Toronto!]), I'd forgotten to promote this week's One Ghana, One Voice feature, Daniel Karasik - until now!

I got to know Daniel's writing through Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, which I'm currently reading through and thoroughly enjoyable (which shouldn't come as a surprise, as it's selected and edited by my editor, Robyn Sarah). Daniel's contribution to the anthology is particularly strong - if you're in a book store, flip to his poems "Old Men Running", "Sanctity" and "Others Will Be Remembered" to see what I mean - so I was excited to read in his bio that he had spent some time in Ghana. I shot him an email in hopes that he had been writing poems back then, and sure enough he had. The first of the poems that he sent me, "A Wrapping Ceremony" is up on the site now, and another will follow down the road. You can read "A Wrapping Ceremony" here, and Daniel's bio and Q+A here.

And now, because at some point I need to post a picture from the trip that isn't of either A) someone standing at a microphone or B) a bookstore, here's a shot of me warming up the Canucks' spot for the engravers:

If you're in Toronto, I hope to see you on Thursday night. If you're in Vancouver, keep the place together until we're back in town for games six and seven, ok?