Thursday 25 August 2011

Peter Darbyshire's latest short story is "The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse"

Peter Darbyshire is one of my favorite contemporary fiction writers. His novels Please and The Warhol Gang are excellent, and to give you a taste of his writing, here is a new short story, a weird western tale called "The Angel Azrael Rode Into the Town of Burnt Church on a Dead Horse."

Here's how it starts:

     The angel Azrael rode into the town of Burnt Church on a dead horse, followed by a pair of buzzards. The buzzards trailed him everywhere. They knew a good thing when they saw it. 
        The day was hotter than the time he’d ridden into Hell, which was maybe why Azrael hadn’t seen a soul since passing the sign announcing the town’s limits: Burnt Church Pop. 32. There were other numbers on the sign, but they’d been crossed out. The houses at the edge of town looked empty, their doors hanging open, but Azrael knew that didn’t mean much.
        Not all of the inhabitants were in hiding. A man in black sat on the step of a burned-out church that Azrael took to be the inspiration for the town’s name. The spire was just ash held in shape by memory. A metal cross was still at the top, though, if a little melted. Azrael noted the claw marks on it, but they didn’t mean much of anything either. Not in this land. 

Read the whole story here.

Sunday 21 August 2011

I'm on Twitter

Hey everyone. I thought it was about time I gave this twitter thing a try. My Twitter handle is @PaulVermeersch. Check me out!

Friday 19 August 2011

Reading at the 24th Trillium Book Awards

Here I am reading my poems "Ode to Amoeba Proteus" and "Elegy for Paul Winchell" at the 24th Trillium Book Awards. Following me are readings by Didier Leclair and Michael Winter.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Peter Redgrove: an internet round-up

Peter Redgrove, the late British poet, is one of my very favourite poets, but he isn't read much on this side of the Atlantic, and he isn't as well known as some of his British contemporaries, unlike his famous friend Ted Hughes. But his ease with startling metaphor, arresting imagery, and beguiling language makes him an equally entertaining and challenging poet, and one who I think more people would enjoy if they only stumbled on more of his work.

I've gathered here a handful of resources from internet to get you started. Here are some poems, articles, and interviews.

If you are looking for a good book of poems to start with, I have to recommend the selected volume The Moon Disposes from 1987, which was also published as Peter Redgrove: Poems 1954 - 1987 in the Penguin International Poets Series. It's one of a handful of books I often carry with me, and that I rarely, if ever, put back on the shelf. If you've never read Peter Redgrove before, I hope this round-up serves to ignite your interest in reading more of his work. 


"The Count of Some Account"

"Dead Bird"

"Eden's Medicine" 

from "Feeding Pieces"

"More Than Meets The Eye" 

"Old House"

"One-Eyed Monster"

"The Patient Successor"

"Sleeper's Beach"

"Small Dirge" 

"The Visible Baby" (with commentary by Ruth Padel) 

"Water-Witch, Wood-Witch, Wine-Witch" 

"Woman in a Flowered Dress" 


Scientist into Poet: The Emergence of Peter Redgrove
an article by Neil Roberts from The Wolf magazine.

Peter Redgrove's "Tapestry Moths" 
an analysis by Jo Furber from The Argotist

The Peter Redgrove Library
an article by Michael Peverett from "Intercapillary Space"

The Mystical Barber: A Review of The Harper
a review of Redgrove's posthumous miscellany by Anthony Thwaite


The Science of The Subjective: An Interview with Peter Redgrove
by Neil Roberts

An Interview with Redgrove 
by Lidia Vianu


An Obituary for Peter Redgrove
from The Telegraph

A Remembrance of Peter Redgrove
from the University of Leeds

Peter Redgrove's Papers
Redgrove's papers are housed in the University of Sheffield.

Friday 12 August 2011

I've completed my MFA studies at the University of Guelph, now back to blogging

I know that the frequency of my blog posts has been reduced considerably while I've been completing my MFA in creative writing at the University of Guelph. Now that I have completed the degree, I hope to return some of my attention to my blog, so stay tuned for future updates.

Guelph's MFA in creative writing began in 2006, the brainchild of the late and much beloved Connie Rooke. That first graduating cohort included such remarkable writers as poet Jacob McArthur Mooney, playwright and librettist David Brock, Trillium Book Award for Poetry winner Jeff Latosik, and many others.

I was fortunate to have many talented teachers and classmates while completing my studies, and I've had a wonderful time challenging myself to produce new work in the stimulating environment this program provides. I am especially grateful to have worked with closely with Dionne Brand and Kevin Connolly, two poets I admire greatly, and from whom I have learned much.

If you've found this blog because you have been contemplating applying for the creative writing MFA at the University of Guelph, I cannot recommend the program highly enough. It's simply terrific. 


Wednesday 10 August 2011

Philip Levine is the new Poet Laureate of the United States

A long-time favourite of mine, Philip Levine has just been announced as the Poet Laureate of the United States. According to The Detroit Free Press:

Detroit native Philip Levine has been appointed poet laureate by the U.S. Librarian of Congress.
The Library’s 18th poet laureate consultant, Levine, 83, will open the library’s annual literary season Oct. 17 with a reading of his work.

As a Wayne State University student in his 20s, he wrote poems as he worked a number of industrial jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, including Detroit Transmission -- a branch of Cadillac -- and the Chevrolet Gear and Axle factory.

“Philip Levine is one of America’s great narrative poets,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a news release announcing the appointment. “His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling ‘The Simple Truth’ -- about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives.”

Levine succeeds W.S. Merwin as poet laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Gl├╝ck, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove and Richard Wilbur... 

You can read the rest here.

And you can read Levine's poem "They Feed They Lion" here.

Friday 5 August 2011

Stan Rogal's Dance, Monster! 50 Selected Poems reviewed

Rob McLennan reviews Stan Rogal's Dance, Monster! 50 Selected Poems in the latest issue of Prairie Fire Magazine. Here's a sample:
A poet of sharp thought and halting line breaks, each of Rogal’s individual poetry collections is shaped as much around theme and subject as structure, making the coherence of individual books not the easiest to select from, but this small volume manages to keep to the expansive flavours of what makes a Stan Rogal poem work. Hopefully this collection will increase attention to his writing, counteracting the strange critical silence, and attracting not only new readers to his poetry, but reminding occasional readers just what he has been doing for years.

You can download the PDF here.