29 September 2005

A Missive from the Rabbi

I really gotta blog more regularly. It's therapeutic and fun.

Yellowknife is looking good again. On Monday, I wrote to the librarian who's bringing me there, and said I was gonna feel dumb being there for a week to do a one-hour reading. She wrote back and reassured me that I'd have a very busy week, and in the ensuing hours and days evidence of my busy-ness began to arrive. School visits, the public reading, a day in the nearby community Rae, a workshop with the Territorial Writers Association. I'm excited about it again.

Monday night was the Kat Biscuits! reading with Martin Figura, Helen Ivory, Sandra Alland, and me. I was nervous all day about attendance, remembering the terrible terrible turnout when I brought in three excellent Ottawa writers. I sent lots of emails, made some personal phone-call invites. And at the appointed time, 7:30, Yammy the Cat was just about empty. We wait a half-hour, and maybe a dozen people arrived, which is enough to make Yammy look fullish. Over the course of the readings, another five people walked in, so it turned out well, if not spectacular, audience-wise. I'm still disappointed by the consistently pathetic showing by the Lexiconjury management junta, but grateful for the presence and courage of those who dare to come to a reading that's not on the usual literary circuit (i.e., it's a little north of Bloor Street -- scarrrrrrrey!).

But the reading itself -- fantastic. Sandra, reading from paper in her hands instead of by memory, read all new work from her "translation" project. Really great stuff, and it got a great response. I read, with a little trepidation, from my in-progress hospital sequence, as well as some other newish stuff and a couple of oldies.

Helen presented work from her book and from the MS for her forthcoming book. A great mixture of funny and emotionally harrowing, all set forth in, as Kevin Connolly calls it, very plainspoken language. Martin goes more for the out-and-out hilarity, part poet and part standup comic. He's bitingly funny, and his delivery is sharp as hell. I can't imagine a North American poet pulling off such a reading, but he certainly aced it. Both the Brits were charming and charismatic. It was a rare reading for Toronto.

Much alcohol consumption ensued, and Martin pretty much held court for the rest of the night, keepin' us in stitches. Yammy is such a goddamn comfortable place.

An odd little thing this week: my Hunkamooga guestbook was signed by a rabbi in Russia, who said that his wife's maiden name was Razovsky, and he wondered what city my grandfather, Max Razovsky, was from. He must've googled "Razovsky" and found my book Razovsky at Peace. I wrote him back with what I recalled offhand about my grandpa, and hope I'll hear back from him again. It'd be very exciting if a distant relative had found me.

Over and out.

25 September 2005

Detaching from mattress

Lying in bed, trying to covince myself to get up and get ready for Word on the Street. I'm on a panel at noon about publishing your poetry in magazines. Seems like such an odd thing to have a panel about. Kevin Connolly, Jen LoveGrove, and Emily Pohl-Weary are also on the panel. I will earn $100 and get access to a boozy, foody hospitality suite. I love hospitality suites.

Last night, Dana and I met up with UK poets Martin Figura and Helen Ivory. I "met" Martin on the Randy Newman listserv, and now he and Helen are on their honeymoon and I've organized a Kat Biscuits! reading for them tomorrow. Sandra Alland and I will also be reading. I sure hope an audience shows up. They are amazing people, funny as hell, and I think they'll do great readings. Going to try to record it for a Podcast, whatever that is.

Freaking a little about my week in Yellowknife. I was lured in with promises of a week full of school and college visits, "charge whatever you want," plus a public reading for Yellowknife Public Library where I'd be paid with a $250 tax receipt -- basically, a free reading. Now, less than a week from my flight out there, the only thing confirmed is the freebie reading. I mean, I'm excited about seeing Yellowknife, but I really need to generate some income. It feels weird to be billeted with a stranger for a week to do a one-hour reading. But maybe things'll come together before I get there. Gulp.

Edmonton, Castlegar, and Nelson are also on the agenda for this trip. Never been to Edmonton before. Have a favourite cousin there. Going to do a couple readings. And Nelson, well, that's the home of Hipperson's Hardware, a store mentioned in one of my favourite David McFadden poems.

OK, I'm getting out of bed. This is it. I'm going to put feet to floor. This is for real. I shall toss aside the cover and enter the world. Any second now. Oh yeah, I can feel my leg muscles about to swing into action. Soon the day will be mine. I'm about to leave this bed. Lift my head from the pillow. I really believe it will happen within moments. Really. Honestly.

Over and out.

21 September 2005

OK, gotta get organized!

To-do list:

Finish copyediting the winning entries for This Magazine's literary contest.

Send $400.45 to ECW Press for 30 more copies of Hey, Crumbling Balcony!

Write blurb for Bookthug book by Danish poet.

Avoid turning on CNN.

Become anxious about October 1 trip to Yellowknife.

Complete application for Canada Council Grant: October 1 deadline.

Come up with new name for my Centauri Summer Arts Camp 2006 writing programme.

Drop off Kat Biscuits flyers to Sandra at This Ain't the Rosedale Library.

Finish my goddamn novel.

Clean my apartment.

Complete letter in support of Dutton to the League of Canadian Poets ghouls.

Pay my phone bill.

Pester the woman in Yellowknife about having some paid gigs there during my week in town.

Critique the two submissions I've so far received from teens in my capacity as Electronic Writer in Residence for Toronto Public Libraries.

Phone my mom's friend Anne.

Phone my mom's friend Norma.

Phone my cousin Carla.

Phone my cousin Bev.

Leave another message for my brother Barry.

Put up more posters for the art show Dana curated.


Phone Hunter in Edmonton about possible reading there.

Send off my registration for the Toronto Small Press Book Fair.

Send off my registration for the Hamilton Small Press Book Fair.

Revive my interview with Joel Lewis for the next issue of Syd & Shirley.

Write Jeff & Rox about Walmsley's poem and how they shouldn't have rejected it.

Thank Laurie Fuhr for the review of Surreal Estate in Filling Station.

Thank Tanis MacDonald for the review of Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer in Prairie Fire Online.

Congratulate Clint Burnham on his gig writing art reviews for whichever Vancouver daily he's now writing art reviews for.

Drop Chile brochures off at Beth Follett's place.

Read short stories by exiled Bosnian writer whose short stories I said I'd read.

Oh god, there are a million other things to do, too, but now I'm too depressed.

I think I'll turn on CNN.

Over and out.

17 September 2005

Birthday Boys

Yesterday was my father's birthday. He would have been 80 years old. When he died, 76 didn't seem so old, but 80 seems old. I wish he was still here, though. I really would have loved to have watched Beyond The Sea with him.

Tomorrow is my brother Barry's birthday. Let's see... he will be... 55, I think. I haven't spoken with him in two months. I'd better call him. I don't think he would enjoy Beyond The Sea.

My brother Owen would have been 51 this year, I think.

My mother would have been 75 or 76.

I only got halfway through Grade 10 math.

Over and out.

14 September 2005

This is my blog and I'm sticking to it

The other week I downloaded about ten versions of "Eve of Destruction." Barry McGuire did the original,but it was covered by 30 or 40 pop and folk and punk bands, the most famous of which is The Turtles. Can the the force behind the most delightfully saccharine song of all time -- "Happy Together" -- put the guts and raw anger into "Eve of Destruction."


It sounds wussy coming outta the mouths of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (Flo and Eddie to those of you...). And what bugs me most is they leave out the verse that contains the immortal words "Yeah my bloods so mad, feels like coagulatin'." Turtles, how could you?

Anyway, listening to 10 versions of "Eve of Destruction" while CNN is covering Hurricane Katrina in the background is sure a weird experience.

And speaking of Katrina, New Orleans poet Camille Martin should be moving to Toronto any day now. Just after she'd finished packing her scores of boxes of books, preparing for a mid-September move, Katrina came along and she had to flee from her home. She got safely to her mother's place a few hours away (a few hours that took about 10 hours in the turtle-slow Katrina-flight traffic) and decided to stay there for a while till she knew if she'd be able to return home and see what's become of her stuff. Looking on the bright side, she told me, "Well, now I don't have to worry aobut how I'm going to fit all my stuff into my tiny Toronto apartment."

I told her I'd set up a reading for her when she arrives in Toronto, so she can meet some local writers and feel welcome. In fact, I haven't met her yet myself, aside from a couple of telephone conversations and an exploration of her poetry on the Internet. Joel Dailey, a New Orleans poet and publisher who I've also never met, put us in touch. Joel, too, fled to safety in Houston just before the storm hit, and I'm hoping he hasn't lost his small press collection, his back issues of his fantastic magazine Fell Swoop.

Like tons of other people, I'm sure, I look at my possessions -- my Ron Padgett collection, my Opal Nations collection, my Patricia Highsmith collection, my Mervyn Peake collection, my David McFadden collection, my Bill Knott collection, my James Tate collection -- and I realize how fleeting this material world can be.

On that note of melodrama:

Over and out.

07 September 2005

I'll be back...

Now that the Revenue Canada monkey is off my hunched back, I'll be blogging again. I think I was paralyzed by the prospect of having to retroactively pay GST since 2002. Just spoke to a really nice guy at the GST agency and he agreed that I had been mistakenly registered. He has now deregistered me.


Last night Michael Dennis phoned. He was on holiday for two weeks and wrote 60 poems. He read me a bunch of them; I especially liked one about Canonball Adderly. I have written one poem in the past month.

Recovery from Centauri took a while. It was a great time there, though, and they've invited me back for next year.

But this Revenue Canada thing: it's such a psychological relief, as well as a practical one. Already in the two hours since I spoke to the Good Guy, I've been incredibly productive.

Isn't there a Stephen Leacock story about a guy who's freaked out by money?

Over and out.