two publications

Some of my first new post-TOSOO poems have found there way out into the world!

I have two new poems ("Transatlantic" and "The Exterminator") in the Summer 2012 all-poetry issue of The Fiddlehead. The issue has a number of strong poems in it (you can read some sample excerpts here), including a sharp little set of five poems by Elena E. Johnson, who is one of our five Dead Poets readers on September 9th.

Also coming down the pipe, two poems from TOSOO ("The Wailing Machines" and "Rejection Slips") are going to be republished in Alive at the Centre: An Anthology of Poems from the Pacific Northwest. Put out by Portland State University's Ooligan Press, this anthology is going to be a big one, containing three mini-anthologies of poems from poets in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland (around 80 pages each, and 284 in total with all the paratexts thrown in). I haven't had much writing published in the U.S., so this should be fun.

The book, with its "Skeletor v. Tweetybird" cover, is already available for pre-order on Amazon, and my understanding is that it will be coming out in March of next year.

Thanks to The Fiddlehead and Ooligan Press for giving these poems of mine a chance!


re-spinning politics tonight

Tonight at 6 PM, I'm going to be on People's Coop Radio's Politics Re-Spun Radio, talking with Stephen Buckley about the founding (re-founding? reviving?) of High Altitude Poetry, and reading a few poems along the way. It was Stephen's classified ad in SFU's The Peak newspaper, looking for others who were interested in starting a poetry club, that finally dragged me out of the poetry closet way back in the early 2000s. It should be a fun trip down memory lane (for us, and maybe for others?).

You can listen in on 102.7 FM in Vancouver, or listen live over the web (click on the "Listen to our broadcast online" link on the left side).


Dead Poets Reading Series - September 9th Reading Lineup Announced

The lineup for the next Dead Poets reading has been announced, and it reads like a Dead Poets All-Star Team (and the readers ain't too shabby, themselves!):

W.H. Auden (1907 - 1973), read by Christopher Levenson
Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886), read by E.D. Blodgett
Federico García Lorca (1898 - 1936), read by Elena E. Johnson
Randall Jarrell (1914 - 1965), read by Elise Partridge
Arthur Rimbaud (1854 - 1891), read by Jamie Reid

I don't think I need to make a big argument to convince you it will be an excellent afternoon of poetry. The details:

Dead Poets Reading Series
Sunday, September 9th, 3 - 5 PM
Project Space
222 East Georgia Street, Vancouver
By Donation

I hope to see you there. And please help spread the word!


Summer Dreams is today!

Barbara Adler, Billeh Nickerson, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Sandy Shreve, Renee Saklikar, Heidi Greco, Daniela Elza, Kevin Spenst, Trevor Carolan, Joe Rosenblatt, RC Weslowski, and more! All in one place (Trout Lake), for one day (Saturday, August 25th), for a low low price (absolutely nothing!). More info here.

I'll be sitting at an info booth, bored and looking for people to come by and entertain me, for much of the afternoon. See you there?


(29) Photos of Summer

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia's Poetry in Transit program, in which ad cards with poems on them are placed inside Vancouver buses and trains. You'll also know how gonzo-excited I was, then, to have a poem from The Other Side of Ourselves selected for the 2011-2012 PiT run! The poem in question:

All day the phone rings. Yes.
Thank you. Not today. Please.

The kettle quivers. Tonight’s chicken
puddles in its melt. Upstairs,
goldfish o the water’s surface.
A forecaster’s voice twirls
on the radio: Sun, sun, sun!
Outside, children buzz and loop
like model airplanes. Newspapers
crackle on the porch. A squirrel
scrambles up a bird feeder.
If someone doesn’t pick
those zucchinis soon, they’ll burst.

"Summer" went up just in time for Fall, in October 2011. At that point, I asked for people who saw my poem to send me a photo of it, in order to confirm it existed. The response I got was fantastic - even after the first couple months (and my confirmation that I'd seen it) the photos kept coming in.

The 2011-2012 poems are coming down at the end of August, to be replaced by the recently announced 2012-2013 set.

Here then, in celebration of the year of "Summer", are the twenty-nine photos sent in to me since October. Thank you to everyone who sent something, especially Carolyn Churchland - she did a yeoman's job, snapping over 50% of the photos!

I loved receiving the pictures, especially the ones accompanied by a little story of how the poem was found or how the photo was taken. Each was a testament to how this program can brighten a rider/reader's day.

My poem will still be up around Vancouver for a couple weeks, after which it will be moved on to BC Transit buses throughout the province, where it will stay for a year. So folks living in the rest of the province: keep your eyes peeled, and if you spot it know that I'd love to add to my collection.

Here, then, are the big twenty-nine (complete with photographers' notes) in all their redundant glory. Thanks again, everyone!

October 2011 - Skytrain - Bridget Gilbride
The first sighting!

October 2011 - Skytrain - Marc Beaulieu
"It was after the Lions game, we were going to check out Commercial for Halloween fun, and the car was absolutely packed.  As we were getting close to the station, our buddy who was with us asked us what we thought the poem meant.  So I glance up and there's Rob Taylor at the bottom.  Remembering you wanted people to get pics if they saw it, I hurried to get one with my phone before we had to get off.  I wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't said anything, because like I said, the car was packed and there were two giant boobs pressing into me.  Seriously, two young ladies had gotten on each dressed like a breast and ended up standing next to me."

October 2011 - Skytrain - Marta Taylor
 My first sighting of the poem! On the Skytrain on our way to a Cross Border Pollination Reading Series event at Harbour Centre.

October 2011 - Skytrain - Marta Taylor

November 2011 - 145 Bus - Anthony Jjumba
"The not so good pictures of a very good poem. I was really delighted when saw it on the 145 SFU bus a couple days ago."

November 2011 - 145 Bus - Anthony Jjumba

November 2011 - 145 Bus - Anthony Jjumba

January 2012 - ??? Bus - Carolyn Churchland
"I am sure a million people have done this exact same thing."

January 2012 - Skytrain - Allison Schein
"I saw your poem on the Skytrain today! I've been looking for it a lot, but I'm usually on the bus, so I hadn't seen it until today. It was funny because I had been sitting for a while, and then I suddenly remembered "Oh, I should look for Rob's poem!" And I looked up across the aisle and your poem was right there! I couldn't believe it. So then I got up to take a picture and was standing really close to the guy sitting under your poem, and had to explain that my friend wrote the poem so he wouldn't think I was totally crazy."

January 2012 - Skytrain - Allison Schein

January 2012 -  Skytrain - Allison Schein

January 2012 - 84 Bus - Carolyn Churchland

February 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

February 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

February 2012 - 84 Bus - Carolyn Churchland

March 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland
"Finally! It had been too long."

April 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

April 2012 - ??? - Carolyn Churchland

April 2012 - ??? - Kevin Farrow
"Lighting was a bitch."

May 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland
"This is your poem on the other side of my train. I didn't want to lose my seat so I didn't get up to take the picture. Trust me, I can recognize it from several cars away!"

May 2012 - Skytrain - Ian Smedley
"I read it out loud to everyone on the train... OK, I didn't read it out loud. But I was shameless in taking the picture."

May 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

June 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland
"I was too lazy to move to the other side to get a better picture. But it's glowing!!"

June 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

June 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

June 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

July 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

August 2012 - Skytrain - Carolyn Churchland

August 2012 - ??? Bus - David Sadler


make it importantly new

The hard part for me [when writing a poem] is to find the poem—a poem that matters. To find what the poem knows that’s special. I may think of writing about the same thing that everyone does, but I really like to write a poem that hasn’t been written. And I don’t mean its shape. I want to experience or discover ways of feeling that are fresh. I love it when I have perceived something fresh about being human and being happy.

Ezra Pound said “make it new.” The great tragedy of that saying is he left out the essential word. It should be make it importantly new. So much of the time people are just aiming for novelty, surprise. I like to think that I’ve understood, that I’ve learned about something that matters—what the world should be, what life should be.

- Jack Gilbert, in his 2005 Paris Review interview. You can read the whole thing here.


something that's not correct or entertaining or clever

I think serious poems should make something happen that’s not correct or entertaining or clever. I want something that matters to my heart, and I don’t mean “Linda left me.” I don’t want that. I’ll write that poem, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about being in danger—as we all are—of dying. How can you spend your life on games or intricately accomplished things? And politics? Politics is fine. There’s a place to care for the injustice of the world, but that’s not what the poem is about. The poem is about the heart. Not the heart as in “I’m in love” or “my girl cheated on me”—I mean the conscious heart, the fact that we are the only things in the entire universe that know true consciousness. We’re the only things—leaving religion out of it—we’re the only things in the world that know spring is coming.

- Jack Gilbert, in his 2005 Paris Review interview. You can read the whole thing here.


the great oak has fallen

As I'm sure most of you are aware, John Atta Mills, the President of Ghana, died suddenly last week.

Over at One Ghana, One Voice we've opened a call for poems memorializing the late president. Already over a dozen have flowed in, including poems by Prince Mensah and Darko Antwi, with more arriving daily.

I've been most touched by the personal notes that have begun arriving in our email inbox thanking us for posting these poems. Many readers (often Ghanaian expats) have found that reading the poems on the site has helped them feel connected with others who are just as shocked and grief-struck as themselves.

Prince Mensah puts it best when he says, in our press release about the submission call, that “across Ghanaian cultures, when a great man goes to the village, there are several events that commemorate that man's life. There are dirges, dances, discussions and dedications. Out of all the literary genres, poetry tends to be the kind that symbolizes, and captures, the brevity of our sojourn on earth, together with an appropriate summary of our deeds. The various poems on One Ghana, One Voice evoke the essence of this patriot worthy of emulation.”

We'll be publishing poems daily on the main page of the site until we run out. It would be wonderful to have some international contributions, if anyone feels so moved. There is no length limit (a haiku would make the cut), and the poems don't have to be hyper-specific to this particular situation, so there's space for you even if you don't feel overly qualified for tackling the subject.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in this, please do help spread the word!