Tuesday 31 March 2009

April Fool's Day is tomorrow. Stuart Ross launches Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. Be there.

Wednesday, April 1
7:30 pm
Clinton's Taven, 693 Bloor Street West (at Christie)
Readings by Stuart Ross, Heather Hogan and Steve Venright
Music by Sodapop
A free event

"If this book doesn't win the Giller, I'm gonna start pushing buttons!"
--Paul Vermeersch

Monday 30 March 2009

Jacob McArthur Mooney reigns supreme!

JMM (seen here in an undated photo plotting the demise of his arch-nemesis, super spy James Bond) has won the grand prize at an event some people are calling Harbourfront's Poetry Idol, and other people are calling the Jacob McArthur Mooney ass-kicking show.

But seriously, for me, the night had many highlights, including Ryan Kamstra's reading from Into the Drowned World in a style that can only be called hoboho, and Johanna Skibsrud, author of Late Nights with Wild Cowboys, reading an unpublished poem called "I Do Not Think that I Could Love a Human Being" (this is one of the best poems I've heard at a reading in years, folks, seriously! And I've been to a lot of readings), and so much more. It was a fine night of readings by a bunch of talented young poets, which makes JMM's win all the more impressive. Congratulations, Jake!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Bringing Irving Layton Wine

This short film documents poet Patrick Woodcock's 2001 journey to the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal to bring his hero, the legendary poet Irving Layton, a bottle of wine. It is a humble token of a young poet's admiration and gratitide for this maestro's life and work. Though he was ailing from Alzheimer's disease at the time of filming, the archival recordings of Layton at the height of his vigour used in the film demonstrate his powerful charisma and literary genius.

Fellow poet John Stiles is behind the camera, and the film was edited by Ian Harvey with music by The Church.

Later this spring, Patrick Woodcock will launch his latest collection of poetry Always Die Before Your Mother.

I'm reading this week at Livewords

I'll be reading old and new poems this Thursday as part of the Livewords Reading Series. Here's the details:

At Cervejaria, 842 College Street (just west of Ossington)
7:00 p.m. Doors Open
7:30 p.m. Open Mic Sign-Up
8:00 p.m. Performances Commence

Also reading are Jacob McArthur Mooney, author of The New Layman's Almanac, and Guy Ewing.

NOTE: See below. The open stage will be for cover poems only! I love this idea. I'm imaginging a good half-hour of honest tributes to great poets. It should prevent a good number of the bad-poetry remoras who attach themselves to these open-mic things from showing up.

† OPEN MIC CONTEST: Best Reading of a cover poem - $50 Cash Prize; sign-up and get your poem at 7:30 PM. Contest judges will pick the winner.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

New book acquisitions

New European Poets
, edited by Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer, is an absolute feast. It contains more than 400 poems from more than 40 languages by 209 poets whose first writing was published after 1970. I'll be dipping into this book for a long time to come.

All Our Grandfathers Are Ghosts by Pasha Malla is delightful, one of the funniest books I've read in a years. I would recommend it to anyone, and it only costs ten bucks. So don't be a cheapskate, go buy a copy.

This was a gift from my good friend Stuart Ross. The Witness of Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz is simply marvellous. Clear thoughts about the art and craft or poetry that are clearly written, eloquent, elegant, and profoundly intelligent: this is what literary theory was meant to be. This book is a gem.

Expressway by Sina Queyras is her fourth collection of poems. Her poetry can't be summed up easily. Each of her books are very different in tone, temperment and approach, but always executed with technical flair and heady intellect. This one raises questions about our social values and interconnectedness as embodied by our physical infrastructure. Intruiging, to be sure.