01 November 2005

Morten, Book Fair, Acta, and Ricky Gervais

Been a busy week. Here's some of what's transpired.

Last Tuesday, Jay MillAr launched four new Bookthug titles and held a reading at the always-charming Yammy the Cat. Nice turnout, and hopefully some books sold. Rob Read and Gregory Betts read from their books, and Elizabeth Bachinsky was there via CD recording, which was a fantastic way of doing stuff from Vancouver. I liked her patter, in which she described the room she was in, the people with her in the room, the view out the window, and then wondered what Yammy was like.

The highlight for me was the brief reading by Danish poet Morten S√łndergaard, whose book, Vinci, Later, I blurbed at Jay's request. It's an incredible work, and I haven't seen anything like it in North America. I got surprised with a request to read the English translations after Morten read each of the Danish originals. While the other people were reading, I'm afraid, I read (to myself) Morten's poems over and over. So intimidated by his work, I sure didn't want to fuck up when reading them aloud. He had a brilliant idea to close the reading: he and I would both read the same poem simultaneously in the original and translation. He did some discreet conducting with his hand as we read, and it came off real well. I'd like to try more of that.

And he sure was a nice guy. Smart, interested, engaging. Hope he comes back one day when he can actually spend some time in the city.

Thursday night, Sandra Alland and I were the feature readers at the Acta Victoriana reading at U of T's Victoria College. It was a weird room: sorta neat, but there was a stage and spotlights, and that always has a distancing effect between the audience and the readers. Also, the organizer, Shelagh Rowan-Legg, introduced me basically as a comic genius, saying that the audience would laugh their asses off, so they should make appointments with their proctologists. Meanwhile, I was in a low-key mood and looking to do a low-key reading. The reading -- a mixture of some sorta funny stuff and some dead serious stuff -- went OK, I guess. I got the feeling that the students there had never been to a reading before, so didn't know how to respond.

In fact, both Sandra and I acquitted ourselves well, got nice end-of-performance applause, but sold zero books. In fact, not a single person came up and talked to us or complimented us. I got a few nice comments when I handed out my freebie leaflet at the break, though.

I think in the future I'll ask hosts to just stick to factual introductions and not raise weird expectations.

The fair took place Saturday. I spent much of my week preparing a new poetry chapbook; I was surprised that I hadn't published one of my own in many years. Called this one Robots At Night, and I thought it was mainly goofy, but Kevin and Dana say it has a pretty serious tone. I'm pretty excited about the thing. It really is just about as thrilling to fold and staple my own chapbook and then flip through it as it is to have a book published by a trade publisher. Did 150 copies.

And then at about 3 a.m. Friday night, I decided I would produce a couple of Hunkamooga broadsides. Since I decided to pull the column from Word, not wanting an electronic column, I haven't had a venue for my Word columns, a couple of which I've written in the last few months. Anyways, did the piece I wrote about my little cousin Leanne -- a young writer killed by a drunk driver at age 11 -- and one called "I hate poetry," which is about how dumb it is when people say, "I love poetry."

So I did these very simple broadsides, printed one side, and managed about three hours' sleep before the fair. Good day, though. Sold 22 copies of the new chapbook, about 25 Hunkamoogas, and various other items. Saw lots of neat people. In fact, Camille Martin, the poet who moved to Toronto from New Orleans, showed up, and she turned out to be pretty swell. I did notice, though, that many people who I knew came by my table, chatted with me, but didn't look at what I was selling. A little frustrating.

Also weird was the absence of so many members of the small press community that I think should be there on a mandatory basis. What's with them not coming to the fair?

It's always great to see Nick Power there. We started the event up in 1987, so we feel sorta paternal about it. Nick suggested we pose as stuffed "founders" with little name plates next year. They could unveil us to start off the fair and we'd just stand there, frozen, all day. Like stuffed bears or something.

- yeah, I know I said I'd been cured of CNN, but I was being as honest as Scooter Libby. Spent much of Friday watching Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby and the reactions. Spent much of today watching the response to the Democrats' brilliant hijacking of the Senate over the WMD deceptions. Hellllllllllllp!
- my ongoing "debate" with the Heart of the Poet people: what a nightmare that's turned out to be. I haven't even wanted to watch the episode about me, which I finally have a copy of.
- shopping for car insurance.
- lotsa email correspondence, much of it regarding new speaking, reading, and workshop gigs.
- Dana and I watched a whole lot of episodes of The Office, the British, original version, and it's incredible. I think it's up there with Curb Your Enthusiasm. We started watching the "Subway" episode of Homicide Season 5, but I couldn't do it. The guy trapped there, unable to feel his legs, reminded me too viscerally of my brother Owen's death. Dana will have to watch that one herself. I saw it many years ago, anyway, when it didn't have the same significance for me.

Been reading some fiction: great short stories by Martin Amis, and, this morning, Fizzles, by Samuel Beckett, an old favourite I haven't picked up for a decade.

Gotta get ready to head out to the Art Bar reading tonight: Gil Adamson is among the readers. She reads rarely and really well.

Over and out.


At November 01, 2005 10:07 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

it won't be long before the whole dumb country figures out what went down in the oval oriface. two guys in cheney's office turned patriot (real patriots, not doublespeak blind leading the blind patriot we've come to know and despise) and fitz has rove and dick by the short and curlies. read all about at globalresearch.ca fyi: i read tomorrow at a rally to drive out the bush regime. a nationwide mobilization of logical folks found here: worldcantwait.org it's the least one can do. also how much for a new chapbook plus postage & handling (and i want you to handle it real nice for a lonnnnnnnnnnng time) to my neck of the great northwasteland? rage on small pressers...


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