Wednesday 22 January 2014

It's Hammer Time!

I'm heading to Hamilton, home of the redoubtable publishing house Wolsak & Wynn, for a couple of readings tomorrow.

In the afternoon, I'll be speaking to students and faculty at Redeemer College, and then in the evening, I'll be doing a public reading at Bryan Prince Bookseller, where I'll be joined by Hamilton's own Chris Pannell, author of A Nervous City (W&W 2013). 

The reading will be tomorrow night, January 23, 2014, starting at 7:30pm.

The reading will be at Bryan Prince Bookseller:
1060 King Street West
Hamilton, Ontario
L8S 1L7
Telephone (905)528-4508

Thanks to the Hamilton Poetry Centre for arranging this visit.

See you there!

Friday 10 January 2014

PURDY DRINKS! A Fundraiser.

WHEN: Monday, January 20, 8pm

The Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street, Toronto

If you are in the Toronto area--Please come raise a glass with us to the legacy of famous Canadian poet Al Purdy at the Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street) in Toronto on Monday, January 20th. Purdy Drinks will be a casual night featuring readings by acclaimed poets Paul Vermeersch (that's me), Jim Smith, and Stuart Ross. And a few surprises, too!

PLUS the announcement of the inaugural writers-in-residence at the A-Frame, and music too!!!!

All proceeds from the evening will go towards the restoration, rehabilitation, upgrades, and general maintenance of the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame in Ameliasburgh, Prince Edward County and the funding of the Writer-in-Residence program to be hosted there-in.

COVER: $10

RSVP via Facebook.

For more information about the Al Purdy A-Frame project, please visit

Also, please consider buying The Al Purdy A-Frame Anthology, a compendium of poems, remembrances,  essays, and other texts about the history of the Purdy home in Ameliasburgh. Proceeds from this book benefit the restoration of the house and the organization of the writers residency there.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

On Michael Ondaatje, the New Yorker, and a poem within a poem...

In the current issue of the New Yorker (Jan 13. 2014, pictured left), there is a poem by Michael Ondaatje called "Bruise". It mentions my name and quotes a few lines from one of my own poems.

I really love Ondaatje's poem, and of course I'm ecstatic to be associated with it. I knew about the poem beforehand, but I had no idea it was being published until mention of it starting appearing on Twitter this morning. I think I'm still a little shocked. The New Yorker has a lot of readers, and Michael Ondaatje has a lot of fans. There's no doubt that many more people have already read this poem before lunchtime today than who read my last book (which sold well for a book of poetry).

I've already received a few messages from people asking for the poem that Ondaatje quotes in "Bruise". It is from my 2010 collection The Reinvention of the Human Hand (McClelland & Stewart), and it's called "Lost Things". For those of you who asked for it, here it is:


Lost Things

There are many ways to understand the word
lost, my love. When you were born, the last
Pyrenean ibex, a tawny female named Celia,
had not yet lived to see the view from Torla
overlooking Monte Perdido, but her great-
grandsire stood on the cliffs of Ordesa,
positioned on hoof-tips dainty as dimes,
and he shook his impregnable skull, a coffer
of brass and nobility crowned with bayonets,
as though in defiance of all who dwelt
in the highlands from Catalonia to Aquataine.
Their kind is vanished now. Forever lost. Perdido.

And when you dressed in a Girl Guide’s
uniform of Persian blue on Tuesday nights,
my love, in the long-lost basement of Grace
United Church, to play indoor baseball
and make believe that faerie magic
could make you rich or important or happy,
pods of baiji dolphins still swam in a river
you’d never heard of and would not think about
until years later, when together we would learn
from the evening news that the baiji
were lost, at last, from the Yangtze,
and in their place there came a universal emptiness.

There are many ways to understand the word
lost, but it does not help to imagine a secret
place where lost things go. When last
I held you in my arms, my love, the West
African black rhinoceros was still magnificent
and still alive, but now the gentleness of your breath
on my bare neck is as lost as the dusty, confident
snort of that once breath-taking beast. Great strength
is no protection, and neither is love. We are born,
and our births are lost. We can’t go back to them.
Each embrace ends with an ending. When we become,
what we once thought we’d be is lost. We keep becoming.


To learn more about the book this poem came from, visit McClelland & Stewart.

If you want to read Michael Ondaatje's poem, you'll have to get it from the New Yorker.

My next book of poems, Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something, will be published this fall by ECW Press.