15 January 2015

Readings in Toronto and Montreal this weekend (January 17 & 18)

Hectic times — much editing and writing. Racing to get a few of my own books completed for this spring. But I have two readings coming up this weekend, and they're both in pretty intriguing settings.

Bread and Honey

On Saturday, January 17, at 7 pm, I'm the literary guest at Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields, 103 Bellevue Avenue, in Toronto. You know how poet and novelist Maggie Helwig became a member of the Anglican clergy? This is the church she works at, or presides over, or however you say it.

She's doing amazing progressive and arty things there. So on Saturday, there'll be some prayer, some meditation, some drumming. And then I'll read for a while. And then there'll be discussion about the stuff I read. And then there'll be a potluck bread-and-soup meal. So that's pretty cool. I think I'm going to read A Pretty Good Year, the series of haiku I wrote while Laurie had cancer. And maybe a short story.

Cosmonauts Avenue

The next day, I'm off to Montreal to read at the launch of the first issue of the online mag Cosmonauts Avenue, which is a helluva name for a litmag. I have two poems in the issue, and I love the visual presentation of them. I'm softening a little when it comes to online mags, I have to admit. The reading happens on Sunday, January 18, at 7 pm, at the Brass Door Pub, 2171 Crescent Street. The other readers are Megan Fernandes, Melissa Bull, Rebecca Fishow, Arjun Basu, and Josip Novakovich.

While I'm in Montreal, I hope to meet up with Jason Camlot, who's editing my new book of poetry, A Hamburger in a Gallery, for his Punchy Poetry imprint with DC Books. Also hoping to meet up with poet Marie-Ève Comtois, whose poetry I'm co-translating, with Michelle Winters, for Mansfield Press.

On the train there and back, I'll be putting the finishing touches on Further Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer, by second collection of essay-things from Anvil Press.

Lots more to report, but it'll have to wait.

Over and out.

01 January 2015

My 2015 New Year Poem


I placed the potato on my plate
and cut it into 2,015 discrete
portions. This took me nearly
six hours. A neighbour peering
through my window yelled
something at me but I only
saw his mouth move. The potato
is not a metaphor. The number
2,015 was selected randomly.
Meanwhile — when you’re my
age, meanwhiles are important
because they mean two things
can happen at once, crucial
when time is running out —
meanwhile, on my front lawn
something had appeared:
small and orange and batted
about by the unforgiving wind.
Above, the white blob of sky
convulsed and birds sailed out.
I sent a teetering robot to prod
at the orange thing, examine
it under a microscope, subject it
to various intelligence
tests. I thought at first it was
the fist of a plastic soldier
I’d played with as a child,
but it turned out to be
one two-thousand-and-
fifteenth of a potato. The potato
was sweet. The plate was made
of tin. The neighbour at my
window was made of cardboard.
I was made of regrets, sneezes and
diminishing possibilities. Laurie will
tell me this is depressing, I
shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
Meanwhile, on the television,
which is made of a rectangle,
a black-and-white woman
handed a violin to a child in
a ghetto in Poland. The wind
subsided and snow began to
zigzag from the sky. Each flake
had several choices to make.


1 January 2015

16 December 2014

Typewriter Fun with Stuart Ross

This afternoon I wrote a poem on a typewriter. It's been a long time. This heartwarming video tells the full inspirational story.

Over and out.

01 December 2014

New work on Cordite and The Rusty Toque!

This has probably been my busiest year ever in terms of poetry and fiction appearing in print and online magazines. In the past few days, more of my work has gone up.

Over at The Rusty Toque, my short story "La Papa" has been posted. I began writing that story in the fall of 2010, when I was writer-in-residence at Queen's University. It is, in fact, a true story. A potato was nuked for hours and hours in a microwave in a lounge where I was leading a workshop. The title, and perhaps even the larger premise, emerges from my fascination with the different meanings between "el papa" and "la papa" in Spanish.

Over at Cordite, an online Australian literary mag, my poem "Curtains" appears in their just-posted-today Canada issue. That would be my second off-the-continent publication, I think, following last year's appearance in the Tel Aviv print journal Hava Lehaba. "Curtains" is one of a series of poems I've written based on Joe Brainard's "Ten Imaginary Still Lifes." I believe George Bowering has also written a few poems based on that piece.

The heavy publication schedule will probably stretch into 2015.

Over and out.

29 November 2014

Mansfield Press fall book tour starts on Sunday!

There is so much going on, my head is spinning, Linda Blair-like. I promise, though, there will be no projectile vomiting.

Here's what's happening on Sunday. I'm leaving Cobourg for the village of St. George, Ontario, to kick off the Mansfield fall book tour. Well, sort of kick off the tour. Laura Farina already launched her wonderful second poetry collection, Some Talk of Being Human, in Vancouver back in November. The other books we're sending out into the world are Frank Davey's poetry collection Poems Suitable for Current Material Conditions, Nelson Ball's Some Mornings, Christine Miscione's Carafola, and, in Toronto, Corrado Paina's Cinematic Taxi.

So here's what's coming up over the next week:

Sunday, November 30, 2 pm — St. George, ON
Adelaide Hoodless Hunter Homestead, 359 Blue Lake Road, west of Hwy. 24
Readings + screening of Catherine Stevenson's Nelson Ball & Barbara Caruso / Home Project / A Photo Documentary
Featuring Nelson Ball, Frank Davey, Laura Farina, Christine Miscione
Brian David Johnston will read for Nelson Ball

Sunday, November 30, 7 pm — London, ON
Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St N
Readings by Frank Davey, Laura Farina, Christine Miscione
Stuart Ross will read for Nelson Ball

Monday, December 1, 7:30 pm — Toronto
Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street
Frank Davey, Laura Farina, Christine Miscione, Corrado Paina
Stuart Ross will read for Nelson Ball
Nelson Ball & Barbara Caruso / Home Project / A Photo Documentary, by Catherine Stevenson, will play continuously on TV screen

Tuesday, December 2, 7 pm — Cobourg, ON
Impresario Artisan Market, 37 King Street West
Readings by Frank Davey, Laura Farina, Christine Miscione
Stuart Ross will read for Nelson Ball
Nelson Ball & Barbara Caruso / Home Project / A Photo Documentary, by Catherine Stevenson, will play continuously on TV screen

Wednesday, December 3, 7 pm — Ottawa
Black Squirrel Books, 1073 Bank Street
Readings by Frank Davey, Laura Farina, Christine Miscione
jwcurry will read for Nelson Ball

All events free. Books for sale.

It's an exciting season. This is Frank Davey's first book with Mansfield Press, and it's a provocative and wild ride. I first met Frank back in the late 1970s when I took a couple of creative writing courses with him at York University. Our paths have crossed many times since then, but this is the first time we've had an editor/writer relationship. From Weeds to Capitalistic Affections! to this new book, Davey has explored a lot, and deeply, in his poetry.

As for Christine Miscione, I met her back in the fall of 2010 when I was writer-in-residence at Queen's University. Each week, she would slip 20 or 30 pages of a brilliant and harrowing novel underneath my door. That novel has come a long way, and it's very exciting to help usher it into the hands of the reading public. Christine is an original and uncompromising fiction writer, and this is the second book in what is going to be a remarkable literary trajectory.

Nelson Ball has always been a favourite poet of mine—and of so many others. I first met him in the late 1990s, I think, when he and his wife, Barbara Caruso, lived in Toronto, before their move to Paris, Ontario. A couple of years after Barbara's death in 2009, I worked with Nelson on the first full-length manuscript he'd publish without Barbara seeing it first. It's such a pleasure to work with Nelson again. I've learned so much from the experience and enjoyed the camaraderie immensely.

We've waited a long time for Laura Farina's follow-up to her award-winning 2005 debut from Pedlar Press. I met Laura nearly ten years ago, when we both worked at Centauri Summer Arts Camp and I remember her first launch, for which she packed the front of the Cameron House on Queen Street West in Toronto. Laura's poetry is a lot of fun, and often very dark within that fun, and always very smart, and it was a lot of fun to work with her on this new collection. (The amazing cover painting is by the talented-as-heck Jeannie Richardson, who I met when I was a mere teenager.)

Those are the four books that are coming out under the "a stuart ross book" imprint. The other volume in the mix, published under the broader Mansfield Press umbrella, is Mansfield veteran Corrado Paina's very unusual new collection, which is a sort of remix of an older book of his, Hoarse Legend—here, that book is, as I understand it, translated into a language of Corrado's own invention. I'm looking forward to hearing him read those mysterious and playful lines aloud in Toronto.

You can check out the covers of the new books on the Mansfield website. (I designed Frank's and Laura's!) Hope to see you at one of our five stops!

Over and out.

26 November 2014

2 new poems on the Puritan

The Puritan is the hip online mag for young Toronto literary types. I mean, Spencer Gordon, respected biographer of Matthew McConaughey, is intrinsically involved, so there you go. But somehow they let a geriatric like me in.

I'm really pleased to have two poems in the current issue. "Poem Beginning with a Line by James Tate" and "Poem Beginning with a Line by Gillian Jerome" are poems I'm proud of. When I do my Poetry Boot Camps, I always have about a hundred poetry books scattered about on the table we sit around. One of the projects I often inflict on the workshop participants is to choose a book from the table, find a line that resonates with them, and then use that as a first line in a poem entitled "Poem Beginning with a Line by ——————."

It's a neat way of sort of collaborating with a poet whose lines you admire, and a neat way of experimenting with a tone/structure/vocabulary you might not otherwise work with. There was something blunt and noirish about the Tate line, so I wrote a little pulp novel beneath it. I can't recall if Gillian's poem was about pregnancy, but I enjoyed imagining being pregnant.

Now that I have been published in The Puritan, I will become ace and sell tens of thousands of books.

Over and out.

24 November 2014

2014 Indie Literary Market: amazing (also, the stuff I acquired)

OK, I was going to write a lot this morning about last Saturday's Indie Literary Market, but I'm bludgeoned with deadlines and I'm exhausted. Just this to say for now: it was perhaps one of the best small-press events I've ever been to. I think the Meet the Presses approach of actually curating the market is brilliant (especially since I thought of it). Every one of those 30 or so tables had fascinating and exciting stuff on it.

Also wonderful was the ceremony for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Christine Leclerc won it with Oilywood, from Nomados Press. Her acceptance speech, delivered by Elizabeth Ross, was beautiful. The whole darn thing was class and quirky and small pressy and wonderful. The prize is now worth $4,000, thanks to an anonymous donor, and the winning press gets $500, thanks to an annual donation by Brian Dedora and Jim Smith.

Everything just seemed to come together on Saturday. But I wish I'd had more time to go to the other tables. I missed some amazing things. Here's what I got, though. Pretty nice bounty:

Gary Barwin, the wild & unfathomable ways (Xerolage, 2014)
Sarah Burgoyne, Love the Sacred Raisin Cakes (Baseline Press, 2014)
Angela Carr, Here in There (BookThug, 2014)
Victor Coleman, David Peter Clark, Oliver Cusimano, Harvard House (shuffaloff/Eternal Network, 2014)
Dennis Denisoff, Jonathan Rollins, Dale Smith, White Wall Review 38 (2014)
Avonlea Fotheringham, doing & undoing (phafours, 2014)
Terence Go, Ungh (Go-T pro-duck-shuns, 2007)
Karl Jirgens, ed., Rampike Vol. 23/No. 2 (2014)
Lorette C. Luzajic, Fascinating Artists: twenty-five unusual lives (Idea Fountain, 2014)
Sina Queyras, MxT (Coach House, 2014)
Stan Rogal, After Words (Guernica Editions, 2014)
Stan Rogal, Obsessions (Leaping Lion Books, 2014)
Samuel Snoek-Brown, Box Cutters (Sunnyoutside Press, no date)
William Taylor Jr., The Blood of a Tourist (Sunnyoutside Press, 2014)
Conan Tobias, ed., Taddle Creek 30 (2013)

Over and out.