Thursday 25 January 2007

It's Robbie Burns Day!

Why not celebrate by taking a trip to Robert Burns Country! The website, that is. It bills itself as the "official" Robert Burns website, though I'm not certain what regulating body exists to actually confer that esteemed designation. Still, it has a wealth of information and material, including:

-A gift shop
-Poems and songs
-A Burns encyclopedia
-Burns suppers
-Historical sites
-Chess sets
-and so much more! (No, seriously, they have a lot of material.)

Is there anything you can't find in Robert Burns country? Still looking for the perfect wedding ring? Move over Frodo, because only Robert Burns has this. From the website:
"Our national bard celebrated life, liquor and love. In lyrics from 'Ae Fond Kiss' to 'My Love is Like a Red Red Rose' he wrote from the heart of romantic Scotland. A master-craftsman's recreation of Burns' own handwriting, based on countless hours of study, transforms his words of love into uniquely romantic jewellery."

But if commemorative rings and chess sets are your cup of tea, and if your local supermarket is all out of haggis, then perhaps you can still remember Robbie Burns by reading a few of his poems. There are 559 of them on the Robert Burns Country website, including one of my favourites, "To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough."

Happy Robbie Burns Day!

Sunday 21 January 2007

Last Day at Annex Books. Thank you...

Thank you to all those who heard the call and came out to support Annex Books on its last day as an open store. For those who missed the last day, Janet will still be in her store tying up lose ends for a little while and you may still be able to make an appointment to buy books while she's there. After that, it will strictly be an internet operation, so if you missed your chance to browse yesterday, maybe you should give her a call. For Janet's contact info please visit her website.

Friday 19 January 2007

Tomorrow last day for Annex Books.

Dear friends,

For the last 24 years, Annex Books, located at 1083 Bathurst Street (just south of Dupont) has been a bastion of all manner of literary treasures and a much-cherished part of the Canadian literary landscape.

Sadly, tomorrow (Saturday, January 20, 2007) is the last day Annex Books will open its doors. Due to a volatile marketplace, proprietor Janet Inksetter is forced to close her beloved landmark bookshop, and this city, indeed, this country, will all the poorer for it.

At the helm of Annex Books, Janet has been a friend to writers, readers, collectors, and librarians – book lovers of every stripe – for decades. I know you’ve been saying to yourself, “I really must drop by Annex Books one of these days.” Well, tomorrow is your last chance. Janet is having a huge sale. Prices will be greatly reduced. That rare item you’ve had your eye on might finally be affordable. That old classic you’ve been meaning to read will be waiting for you on the shelf.

If you can, please come and browse, and maybe buy a book or two. And if you've been a friend of Janet's, come and give her your good wishes. I'll be there tomorrow, as well, working alongside Janet, as I did for many years not long ago. I hope to see a few familiar faces while I'm there.

Please pass this message along to anyone who might want to know about this important day.

All best,
Paul Vermeersch

PS. The store will be open from 10am to 6pm.

See my previous post about Janet and Annex Books.

Wednesday 17 January 2007

Book Launch for Chris Banks, Triny Finlay and Adam Getty

I'll be hosting this fabulous book launch. Please come.
Invite you to celebrate the launch of

The Cold Panes of Surfaces by Chris Banks

Sunday 11 February 2007, 6:30 PM

@ Mitzi's Sister
1554 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M6R 1A6
(416) 532-2570

Also reading from recent chapbook publications are fellow Nightwood authors Triny Finlay, Phobic (Gaspereau, 2006) and Adam Getty, Lyric and Elegy (Biblioasis, 2006)

We hope to see you there.
Cheers, Carleton Wilson + Silas White
Junction Books + Nightwood Editions
Please forward this invitation to anyone who might be interested in attending.
Thank you.

Sunday 14 January 2007

Nice little interview with John Ashbery

This is from The New York Times.

"Your new collection of poems, “A Worldly Country,” reminds us of the demanding nature of your work and your resistance to personal confession. Do you think Americans are too enamored of their own life stories?

"Yes, I do. In my case, it is things that I don’t know yet that most interest me. My own autobiography is so uninteresting to me I have always thought it surely wouldn’t interest anyone else.

"As one of America’s most celebrated poets, you can’t really find your own life boring.
"I thought other people would find it boring. My mother was always telling me not to talk about myself or put myself forward. That’s where I got this idea. Whenever I went to visit a friend, she would say, “Don’t wear out your welcome.” I always worried about this throughout life: is my welcome wearing out at this particular moment?
"Which hasn’t kept you from publishing a very large quantity of poems, more than 20 collections in all.
"If I wrote much more, would anybody read it? Does anybody read it now? There can be such a thing as too much poetry, and I try not to write it."
Read the rest here.

Steffler wants to create an audio archive of Canadian poetry

John Steffler, our new Parliamentary Poet Laureate, is already hard at work. He wants to create a Canadian counterpart to the online Poetry Archive began by Andrew Motion in Britain.

Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea, and just the kind of thing the PPL should be doing. I'm looking forward to seeing it come to fruition.

The Concordia Journal and the Times Colonist have more on the story.

Wednesday 3 January 2007

Bronze head of Shevchenko found at Burlington smelting facility, arrests made

"The smelter didn't know the head of the statue of poet Taras Shevchenko was stolen until Tuesday when he read about it in the paper. He bought the piece, along with some smaller fragments of bronze on Dec. 12 from two men who told him they were disposing of the statue on behalf of the city of Oakville, according to published reports.

"As police were interviewing employees at Thomson's shop, the two suspects who sold the stolen goods reportedly arrived to sell off some more metal and were arrested." (from

Tuesday 2 January 2007

Robert Currie new Sask. Poet Laureate

"Robert Currie of Moose Jaw becomes poet laureate of Saskatchewan on Monday, taking over from Louise Bernice Halfe of Saskatoon.

Currie, author of four poetry chapbooks and five books of poetry, will serve a two-year term.

His most recent work is the just-published Running In Darkness and he is also author of the novel Teaching Mr. Cutler." (from

Monday 1 January 2007

F#@&ing Humungous Statue of Poet Shevchenko just F#@&ing STOLEN!

This is unbelievable. This statue of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, unveiled in Oakville, Ontario, in 1951, stands about 10 feet and weighs about two tons, and someone just waltzed in and took the thing, cutting it off at the ankles and leaving its feet on the pedestal.

For over half a century this monument has been a visible symbol of pride for millions of Ukrainian Canadians. Shevchenko is often considered to hold a place in the literature of the Ukraine equal to Shakespeare's place in the English canon. I hope they catch the thieves and restore the monument for they melt it down for its valuable bronze. It could be worth over $300,000.

There can't be too many places to smelt something like this, so hopefully, it will be found in time.

For more to the story, check out the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star.