all its little gadgetry

Chad Pelley: What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?

Mark Callanan: I’ve always appreciated that Dorothy Parker quote: “I hate writing; I love having written.” Let that be my mantra. I find writing extremely difficult to do; I’m too concerned with doing it well to actually enjoy myself. That being said, there’s a moment that comes, countless drafts in, when the elements that constitute a poem start snapping into place, when all its little gadgetry suddenly works and those disparate pieces unite to a single purpose, when the trajectory of the poem seems inevitable — that’s the good bit: when the poem works, when it becomes more than the sum of its parts. Otherwise, it would seem like a lot of pointless toil and frustration.

- Mark Callanan, in interview over at Salty Ink. You can read the whole thing here.


oh hey, vancouver

SubTerrain's Vancouver 125 issue is about to come out, featuring poems by:

Al Purdy, Earle Birney, Brad Cran, Roy Miki, Peter Mitham, Sachiko Murakami, Nedjo Rogers, Carleton Wilson, Alan Twigg, Brian Kaufman, Tom Osborne, Lakshmi Gill, Roy Kiyooka, Larissa Lai, Joanne Arnott, Renee Rodin, Daniel Zomparelli, Phillip Quinn, Ray Hsu, Patricia Smekal, George McWhirter, Sharon Thesen, Fred Wah, Phinder Dulai, Clint Burnham, Christine Leclerc, Daniela Elza, Renee Sarojini Saklikar, Tammy Armstrong, Diane Tucker, George Bowering, D.N. Simmers, Michael Turner, Rita Wong, Lyle Neff, Chris Hutchinson, Cynara Geissler, Jennica Harper, Trevor Carolan, Ryan Knighton, Jeff Steudel, Libby Davies, Calvin Wharton, Kate Braid, Oana Avasilichioaei, Gary Geddes, Jay MillAr, Marguerite Pigeon, Jen Currin, Russell Thornton, Adam Cramb, Catherine Owen, Wayde Compton, Daphne Marlatt, Rob Taylor, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Jim Wong-Chu, Alexis Kienlen, Karen Green, Heidi Greco, Malcolm Lowry, Bud Osborn, Jordan Turner, Lionel Kearns, Evelyn Lau, Mari-Lou Rowley, Gillian Jerome, Stephen Collis, Miranda Pearson, Heather Haley, Judith Copithorne, Jamie Reid, Elizabeth Ross, Howard White, Dennis E. Bolen, Suzanne Buffam, Patrick Lane, Onjana Yawnghwe, George Fetherling, Bliss Carman, E. Pauline Johnson, Mona Fertig, bill bissett, Patrick Friesen, Colin Browne, George Stanley, Billeh Nickerson, Peter Trower, Susan Cormier, Paul Pitre, Nikki Reimer, Christine Lowther, Reg Johanson, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Garry Thomas Morse, Cecily Nicholson.

The crazy part, for me, is the number of local poets I know who aren't on that list, and the thought of how big an issue it would have been had it included us all. It's nice to be reminded just how many of us there are out there writing in, and on, our city. Thanks, SubTerrain!


to wa / and back

Photo by Marta Taylor

As I've mentioned here before, in September 2010 we started up an Arc Poetry inspired "How Poems Work" series over at One Ghana, One Voice . The series gave OGOV poets an opportunity to write short essays on some of their favourite poems (either published on OGOV or elsewhere). Fourteen months and three essays later, I'm finally chipping in with an essay on Nana Agyemang Ofosu's "18 Miles to Yeero". It is rather unimaginatively entitled:

How Poems Work #4 - Rob Taylor on Nana Agyemang Ofosu's "18 Miles to Yeero"

I decided to write on this poem not because it is my most loved on the site, but because it's a poem that slowly won me over after I was initially disinterested - a phenomenon that I find much more interesting to think and write on. I hope readers are at least somewhat as interested as I was...

If you read the essay and find yourself inspired, I encourage you to read through the OGOV archives (and all our past "How Poems Work"), find a poem you love, and send me a proposal for "How Poems Work" #5!


a piece of the jaw

I’m a magpie. I’m online. I’m attention deficit. I have selective memory. I don’t think in a linear way. I work hard anyway. Attention is multivalent. It isn’t just memory-recall, or knowing how the thing got moved from point A to point B. Other people write about this more eloquently: Jan Zwicky, John Berger… I have to trust that other people, readers, can relate. I used to be hard on myself for not remembering the plots of novels, the names of characters. Now I read accepting the fact that those things will leave me, sometimes the very next day. So when I’m digging up subjects for poems, when I’m entering a relationship with another artist’s work, whatever the genre, I’m never really digging up the whole whale: just an eyeball, or a piece of the jaw. Sometimes I don’t even get down to the carcass. I mistakenly hook into a boot, or a photo by Cartier-Bresson I remember seeing. Bingo. Reverb. Off we go.

- Nick Thran, on his writing style, in interview with Sheryda Warrener over at the Event Magazine blog. You can read the whole interview here.



the greatest of our miseries

The only thing which consoles us for our miseries is diversion, and yet this is the greatest of our miseries. For it is this which principally hinders us from reflecting upon ourselves, and which makes us insensibly ruin ourselves. Without this we should be in a state of weariness, and this weariness would spur us to seek a more solid means of escaping from it. But diversions amuse us and lead us unconsciously to death.

- Blaise Pascal's Pensée #171, entitled "Misery"


dead poets live!

As I'm sure many of you know by now, Christopher Levenson, Diane Tucker and I have been busy over the last couple months preparing the "resurrection" of the Dead Poets reading series that David Zieroth used to run on the North Shore (here's my summary of the event Chris and I read at back in early 2010).

We've moved the series to Vancouver - to Project Space, to be specific - and have set up a new website, but have kept the structure more-or-less the same: five living poets reading work from their favourite non-living poets.

Our first reading will be on Sunday, November 20th, from 3-5 PM, and will feature:

Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), read by David Zieroth
Ronald Johnson (1935 - 1998), read by Sonnet L'Abbé
Muriel Rukeyser (1913 - 1980), read by Fiona Tinwei Lam
Frank Stanford (1948 - 1978), read by Raoul Fernandes
César Vallejo (1892-1938), read by Russell Thornton

Entry is by donation. You can RSVP via Facebook, if that's your thang, and can subscribe to our mailing list simply by entering your email here:

Nifty, eh? And we have a poster and everything! We're not messing around:

Please help spread the word, and I hope to see you there!


hibernating with words

I'm a judge (along with Fiona Lam) of Pandora's Collective's upcoming poetry contest, "Hibernating with Words":
(click on the image to expand)
The judging is blind, so you can't bribe me directly. But you can always paperclip a personal check to your poem. Just sayin'

Funds raised by the contest goes to Pandora's, who do a crazy number of useful things for the Vancouver writing community, so please spread the word, and consider sending something in! Full entry guidelines can be read here.


some november readings

Here are thirteen fourteen readings for November:

The Kranky Reading Series

Thursday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM
Kranky Cafe
#216-228 East 4th Avenue
, Vancouver
Featuring: Rob Taylor (that's me!), Elee Kraljii Gardiner, and Wanda John

Twisted Poets Literary Salon
Thursday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM — 10:00 PM
The Prophouse Cafe
1636 Venables Street, Vancouver
Featuring: Sandy Shreve and Renee Saklikar
$5 (suggested donation)

Visible Verse Festival
Friday, November 4th and Saturday, November 5th, Various Times (main show is Friday at 7 PM)
Pacific Cinémathèque
1131 Howe Street, Vancouver
Featuring: 36 video poems!
$11.50 for Friday show, Saturday events by donation

Writing for Social Change Reading Series
Sunday, November 6th, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Historic Joy Kogawa House
1450 West 64th Avenue
Featuring: Betsy Warland
Admission by donation

Incite Reading Series
Wednesday, November 9th, 7:30 PM
Alice MacKay room, Central Library
350 West Georgia St., Vancouver
Featuring: Ami McKay

TWS Reading Series
Friday, November 11th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Take 5 Cafe
429 Granville Street, Vancouver
Featuring: Cathy Stonehouse, Don Simpson, Rua Mercier and more!

Kootenay School Reunion and Book Launch
Saturday, November 12th, 7 PM
W2 Community Lounge, 2nd Floor
111 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Featuring: Colin Browne, Jeff Derksen, Kathryn MacLoed, Tom Wayman, and Calvin Wharton

Spoken Ink Reading Series
Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 8:00 PM
La Fontana Caffe
101-3701 East Hastings Street, Burnaby
Featuring: Peter Tupper

Twisted Poets Literary Salon
Thursday, November 17th, 7:00 PM — 10:00 PM
The Prophouse Cafe
1636 Venables Street, Vancouver
Featuring: Michael Turner and Heidi Greco
$5 (suggested donation)

Robson Reading Series
Thursday, November 17th, 7:00 PM
UBC Bookstore, Robson Square
800 Robson St, Vancouver
Featuring: Carmen Aguirre and Rishma Dunlop

Dead Poets Reading Series
Sunday, November 20th, 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Project Space
222 East Georgia St., Vancouver
Featuring: Fiona Tinwei Lam (Marianne Bulger), David Zieroth (Thomas Hardy), Sonnet L'Abbé (Ron Johnson), Russell Thornton (César Vallejo) and Raoul Fernandes (Frank Stanford)
By donation

Writing for Social Change Reading Series
Sunday, November 20th, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Historic Joy Kogawa House
1450 West 64th Avenue
Featuring: Sheena Wilson
Admission by donation

Incite Reading Series
Wednesday, November 23rd, 7:30 PM
Alice MacKay room, Central Library
350 West Georgia St., Vancouver
Featuring: Ray Robertson, Cathy Stonehouse and Rebecca Rosenblum

Writing for Social Change Reading Series
Sunday, November 27th, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Historic Joy Kogawa House
1450 West 64th Avenue
Featuring: Wayde Compton
Admission by donation


music has rests

Terry Gross: You said that when you stopped drinking, you wondered: Am I genuinely eccentric, or am I just wearing a funny hat? What am I made of? What's left when you drain the pool?... What did you learn about yourself when the alcohol wasn't there anymore?


Tom Waits: Well, I wanted - I've always wanted to be curious and provocative, I guess, and interesting, and interested in this sparkling sapphire we all call home. I always wanted to be mystified by it all - and rather fascinated with life itself. And... I think maybe when you drink, you're probably robbing yourself of that genuine experience, even though it appears what you're doing is getting more of it. You're getting less of it. And it takes a while, when you've had a rock on the hose like that for so long. It takes a while for the hose to be a hose again and for things to start flowing.

Like with songs, if you don't play for a while - if you stop playing for even like a year - sometimes it all builds up in a really great way. But there's no such thing as not playing. There's just - you know, music has rests in it, so you are on a rest right now. And the music will begin shortly.

- Tom Waits, in interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. You can listen to the interview here, and read the full transcript here.