Monday 16 February 2009

New book acquisitions

The Book Collector by Tim Bowling: a new collection from one of the most consistently excellent narrative poets writing in Canada today. Bowling is a true craftsman, and it’s always a pleasure to have a book of new poems from him.

Ashland by Gil Adamson: probably one of my two or three favourite books of poetry written in Canada this decade. I lost my old copy, or lent it to someone and can’t remember, so I had to buy it again. If you don’t have it, get it and read it as soon as possible.

Halflife by Meghan O’Rourke: a debut collection from another young American. I recognized her name as the new poetry editor for The Paris Review, so I picked it up and thumbed through it. There were many impressive blurbs on the back cover. Yes, I sometimes notice these things. Inside the book, I read a couple poems that I liked, including one about a tiger at the Bronx zoo, so I decided to buy the book.

Seaway: New & Selected Poems by Todd Swift: Todd has been living across the pond for a long while, and I think it’s a good idea for him to put out a new and selected with Salmon Poetry. Here’s a poet who’s building a solid reputation for himself on both sides of the Atlantic. He’s a fine ambassador for Canadian poetry in Britain, and this book offers an excellent opportunity to get caught up on the first decade of his work.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Harbourfront to hold open stage night for published poets

According to the wesbite for the reading series at Harbourfront, there is going to be an open stage competition for young (35 and under), published Canadian poets during National Poetry Month this year. The winner will get to appear in this fall's International Festival of Authors.

The Globe and Mail is saying this is like Canadian Idol, but for poets. Peter Darbyshire at says, yes, "but it actually looks like fun." We all know the real difference between this and Canadian Idol, though. It's that Harbourfront's Open Stage Night is actually happening this year.

There are a few catches to the competition, for example, poets cannot sign up themselves. Their publishers have to do it for them. This should help cut down on the unbearable, excruciating dreck that so often pollutes most open stages at smaller reading series like the one at Toronto's weekly Art Bar Poetry Series. Only 20 poets will be chosen at random from among the qualified applicants.

The deadline is Wednesday, February 25, at noon. So if you are a young, published poet who would like to take part, contact your publishers, so they can apply to the contest on your behalf.

All the details are here.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Matthea Harvey takes the Kingsley Tufts award

The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is without a doubt the poetry prize with which I agree the most. Its list of past winners includes many of my favourite contemporary American poets, including Lucia Perillo, Rodney Jones, and Tom Sleigh in just the past four years, and now you can add the wonderful Matthea Harvey to that list.

I've been reading Harvey's poetry since her first collection Pity the Bathtub, It's Forced Embrace of The Human Form was published by Alice James Books in 2000. She followed up her debut with two gorgeous collections from Graywolf Press: Sad Little Breathing Machine and Modern Life, for which she received the Tufts Poetry award, which is presented annually to an outstanding poet in mid-career. By chance, I met Harvey in Berlin in 2007. She was friendly, smart and gracious, so it's nice to know that the Tufts' $100,000 is going to a nice person as well as a talented poet. Congratulations, Matthea.

In related news, one of my favourite books of 2008, Matthew Dickman's All American Poem, has won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, presented annually to a first book by a "poet of genuine promise." I've never met Matthew Dickman, but I congratulate him all the same.

The names of the winning poets were reported by the L.A. Times and the New York Times.