27 February 2006



beyond my haircut

is superfluous.

24 February 2006

Ignatz to Krazy Kat

Today, for the first time in 12 years, I queried a book publisher about a poetry manuscript.

Over and out.

Bits and bites, nuts and bolts, this and that, Lenny and Squiggy

I thought of a good title for my next poetry book.

My column in the current sub-Terrain made someone cry, and not in a good way.

Anne and Ben are visiting from England, and on March 6 Ben will play Yammy the Cat, which will be spectacular.

I feel like going out with a drawing pad today and drawing, which I haven't done in decades, but I guess I have too much work to do.

Dana and I inaugurate our weekly Long Walk tomorrow. And tonight she has an opening at InterAccess. And she might be going to London.

On Sunday, Lee Gowan and Hal Niedzviecki read at the Fictitious Reading Series, hosted by me and Kate Sutherland. Kate's blog, katesbookblog.blogspot.com, is the smartest writing about prose and the creative process that I've come across.

Last Sunday night, I received phone calls from three American poets/friends in the space of an hour: debby Florence, Richard Huttel, and Joel Lewis. Isn't that curious?

I really want to finish my novel. It's been in suspension for a week, but I think I'll dig in for at least an hour today.

Karl Jirgens phoned me just now. Man, it was so nice talking with him. He's a stand-up guy, except when he's sitting down.

Earning a living is a stupid concept.

I've got a Ron Padgett manuscript to publish.

I found two very old books of poetry by Dara Wier at Janet Inksetter's Annex Books yesterday -- I love her most recent work and wonder if this stuff from the '80s will be interesting at all. Paul Vermeersch pointed me towards Lucia Perillo's Luck Is Luck at Book City the other day: lots of good stuff in there.

I feel like I'm hitting my stride with the This Mag literary section -- but wonder if the sudden change in editors is going to mean I'll be handed my hat.

George Bush looked more out of touch than ever today in his address to the Geezers of the Legion. The day after 130 people were killed in civil strife in Iraq, and the country is hurtling towards civil war, he said, "Freedom is on the march." What a fucking monster.

Poodles have four legs.

Over and out.

17 February 2006

Recent Correspondence #1

February 17, 2006


I have the difficult task of trying to track down our graduate students from the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame. I did a Google search and your website came up with Stuart Ross's name. Imagine that! Are you the same fellow who graduated from ND in 2003?

Thanks for any help you send.

Coleen Hoover

Creative Writing Program
Department of English
340 O'Shaughnessy Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5611


17 February 2006

Dear Coleen...

Thanks for the note. Alas, I am a different Stuart Ross. My university career was a wash-out. But I have tons of books published. If I had a degree, I could probably get a great job as a creative writing instructor in a university.

If this other Stuart Ross doesn't turn up, perhaps you could send me a copy of his diploma, and I'd be all set!

Thanks, and good luck,


13 February 2006

Quail-Murderer vs Horsemen

On Saturday, Dick Cheney shot a 78-year-old millionaire in the face and chest on a quail-hunting expedition. In fine Soviet form, the White House didn't make an announcement for 24 hours, and only after a local online newspaper had reported it.

On Sunday, Dana and I went to see The Four Horsemen Project, a work-in-progress by Volcano Experimental Theatre. More on this topic when I'm feeling more awake.

I don't know which performance I found more inspiring.

Over and out.

12 February 2006

I read for free: what a mook I am

My weeks are getting full again.

Wednesday night I read as part of the Draft reading series, out in the east end. The venue, I think it's called the Actors' Play Studio, is fantastic. Had a very New Yorky feel to it. Couches and chairs forming a semi-circle around the "stage" -- well, not a stage at all, just a cleared space with a mic. A clothesline strung behind the reader holding about a dozen hats; the reader is to choose one and wear it for the reading. I declined, claiming that I have had head lice since Grade 1, when I kissed a girl in school who had head lice.

Anyway, six of us were reading. Will I say what needs to be said? Daniel Bradley would. I don't know that I can. Let's just say it was a bit of a mixed bag, quality-wise. But there was a huge audience, 40 or 50 people. They all paid $5 to get in, and they received a copy of a small zine called Draft, containing a page or two by each of the writers. They were a really attentive, expressive audience, too, and it was a pleasure to read for them. I knew very few of them.

Well, my reading went over very, very well. Which was nice, because I deliberately read some very difficult, not easily accessible poems, and I read them in a sort of subdued tone (to provide contrast with the spoken-worder before me). But my reading didn't sell a single book. I mean, two of my books on the book table sold before I read, and then one sold after (though after I inscribed it, the guy realized he was broke and has promised to send me the money; might be a long wait). But to get such a good response from such a large group and to sell almost nothing: it was disappointing.

Also, I assumed that because there was a $5 admission charge, the writers would be paid. We each got too booze tickets and a copy of draft, and a coupon for something called Feldenkrais, which sounds like a guy my grandfather played pinochle with. Kevin heard an explanation of it and thought it sounded like masturbation. But look: they took it $200 to $250 and we read for free. I'm sure the organizers didn't take a cent, but the money must have gone to the venue. Wouldn't it be better to get a free venue, somewhere that would appreciate having a roomful of people, and be able to give the writers a little bit of money?

My rule is to not read for free at an event that charges admission (unless it's a fundraiser). That's why I wouldn't read at the Pontiac Quarterly, even though it's supposed to be a great series. I've got to be more vigilant about my rule, though. I mean, am I supposed to be *grateful* that I've been given the opportunity to read? Did I read to support a venue?

Thursday night I dropped by Toronto Wordstage at Cervejeria. Gawd, musta been a hundred people out for this series! I didn't catch much of the first reading, a slot reserved for a young, emerging writer, but it was a girl reading the kind of very saucy, confident poetry that often gets written at 22 by people unlike me. Next up was Steve Venright, who gave a pretty unusual reading: not his best, but fascinating and quirky, and imbued with surrealism. His novel-in-progress was hilarious: deeply surreal but also deliberately bad at times. Went over very well.

Ronna Bloom gave a good reading and got through to the audience on a more emotional level. It was good to see and hear her.

And then David Gilmour took the stage and read from his first novel, as opposed to his most recent. Said he didn't want to bum people out. He's recently won a bunch of prizes for A Perfect Night To Go To China, which I think is a brilliant book, destined to be a classic. Gilmour took on the persona of the great artist imparting his wisdom on Thursday night, and if he weren't a great artist, it would have been disgusting. Very entertaining, educational Q&A after his reading. I was also relieved to hear him admit he is ashamed of his novel An Affair With The Moon; says the editor said it didn't need any work and it got published pretty much as it was submitted. The book is horrible, and I'd always wondered how such a good writer could stand behind something like that. But he doesn't.

At Toronto Wordstage, which has no admission price, a hat is passed and the money goes to the writers.

That's more like it.

Over and out.

08 February 2006

Time for another book

Well, my mother's birthday was, in fact, February 7. I visited her and my dad and Owen. The baseball cap that was hooked onto a little marker at Owen's grave in September 2000 is still there. As I left the cemetery, I noticed something I'd never noticed before: A couple of headstones were memorials for people who died in the Holocaust: so there was a birthdate, but no date of death.

Worked a bit this morning on a small anthology I'm going to publish through Proper Tales: it's work from my November 2005 Advanced Poetry Boot Camp. Really interesting little project: gonna be a good one.

As for my own writing, the novel is crawling along, maybe 5 pages a day on average. I expect to be finished this month. I sure wonder about it. And I've been writing a poem every couple of days, as well. On the weekend, I poured my Chile poems into my ongoing poetry MS and it seems I've got a book there now. After the novel, I'll concentrate on that.

Yesterday I got a batch of photocopied reviews of Confessions, from Anvil Press. There were a couple I hadn't seen before. One said I was angry, another said I was whiney. They were pretty neat. I'll post excerpts on my website sometime soon. I imagine that's the last of the Confessions reviews. Better get another book out there!

Tonight: a reading in the Draft reading series. Me and John Barlow and Tricia Postle and Beth Follett and Julia Steinecke. Me and John were last seen coming to verbal fisticuffs (verbicuffs?) on the Lexiconjury listserv. Feels like it's my first reading in a long time, but maybe that's because Chile felt like six months instead of 24 days. Not sure exactly what I'll be reading. Probably bring a heap of stuff and choose at the last minute. As usual. Finished a poem today that seems really unusual (for me). It's called "Bowser's Blue Assassin. Kev gave me a title the other night, but it's so absurd (and funny) I couldn't tell if he was serious: I think, though, that that was the challenge. Maybe I'll take it up this afternoon.

Saturday I give a breakfast talk for the Writers' Circle of Durham Region. The topic is: chapbooks. Gotta be in Whitby at 9 a.m., which is sort of barbaric. But the Ass Ponys'll get me there.

Over and out.

07 February 2006

Art and revolution; stones on headstones

I can't remember if my mother's birthday was February 5 or 7. I'm going to go to the cemetery today to visit her and my dad and Owen. I've got rocks to put on their headstones from Chile. Anyone (Pearl?) know where the Jewish tradition of putting small rocks on headstones comes from? I guess I could look it up. They have this thing called a "computer" that makes it easy.

In other news, Dana has been shortlisted in the Best Emerging Curator category for the Untitled Art Awards. I'm proud of her. She should win! One of the other shortlistees is Rhonda Courvese, who selected Dana to be part of the "Idea of North" exhibition in Oslo and Halifax. Last year Dana was honoured for her art via the Jewish Art Awards. I love the curatorial work she does, but hope she can make time to make art too.

In other news, the wonderful Cubans, always imaginative in their responses to the U.S., raised scores of single-starred black flags on Monday in front of the U.S. mission in Havana, in memory of the thousands of Cubans who have died in U.S.-backed attacks on the Revolution. The flags also served to blot out sight lines to the electronic sign the Americans put up that send continuous propaganda concerning human rights on the island.

Yeah, the Cubans aren't so hot on human rights, but they're a country under 40-year siege. The Sandinistas had the same problem: balancing individual rights while they were at war with the world's largest superpower. Messages about human rights coming from a country that has jailed hundreds without charge, evidence, or legal rights... it's sort of ironic.

Anyway, I was inspired by this piece of news to throw on a Christy Moore CD where he sings Ewan McColl's great song "Compañeros":

Fidel and Che Guevara lay on a ship at anchor in the harbour
Waiting for the evening tide to bring high water
It's bound for Cuba, she must go across the Gulf of Mexico
And the Carribean Ocean
She's carrying a human cargo, 83 good compañeros
Each one burning with determination to be free

Against Batista, the Fidelista courage was their armour
As they fought at Fidel's side with Che Guevara

I love that word "compañeros" -- first learned it when I visited Nicaragua during the Sandinista era. It means "comrade," "companion," "brother." Me and Joe, my spectacular friend who I met in Guatemala in 1989, and with whom I was twice in Nicaragua, we call each other "compañero" sometimes.

Speaking of compañeros, I sure hope Jim Smith is doing good. One of Canada's great poets... turned lawyer. My secret hope is that he is secretly cranking out poems.

I noticed that the Christy Moore CD (called This Is The Day) also has a song called "Victor Jara." Jara is perhaps Chile's greatest folk/protest singer. It's a beautiful, achingly sad song, with music by Arlo Guthrie and words, interestingly, by the British novelist Adrian Mitchell, whose books fucked with my brain when I was a teenager.

Victor Jara of Chile lived like a shooting star
He fought for the people of Chile with his songs and his guitar
His hands were gentle and his hands were strong

Victor Jara was a peasant boy barely six years old
He sat upon his father's plough and watched the earth unfold

When the neighbours had a wedding or one of their children died
His mother sang all night to them with Victor by her side

He grew up to be a fighter, stood against what was wrong
He learned of people's grief and joy and turned it into song

He sang for the copper miners and those who farmed the land
He sang for the factory workers who knew Victor was their man

He campaigned for Allende, canvassed night and day
Singing "Take hold of your brother's hand, the future starts today"

When Pinochet seized Chile, they arrested Victor then
They caged him in the stadium with 5000 frightened men

Victor picked up his guitar, his voice resounded strong
And he sang for his comrades till the guards cut short his song

They broke the bones in both his hands and beat him on the head
Tortured him with electric wires, then they shot him dead

Victor Jara of Chile lived like a shooting star
He fought for the people of Chile with his songs and his guitar
His hands were gentle and his hands were strong

When I was in Chile, my friend Jorge, who I met at the York University radio station about 20 or more years ago, told me that the Chileans were just beginning to take back the public spaces that they lost during the years of repression. That amazed me -- the parks were full of happy people, families playing, couples necking: it was like that space had always been theirs. At the airport, just before I left, I picked up a DVD of a musical concert in honour of Allende -- the concert in 2003 in the stadium. I assume the same notorious stadium.

An astonishing example of the people taking back their public spaces.

Over and out.

06 February 2006

Weather Report

It's really snowy out. I like it better than the grey-and-rainy arrangement I came home to.

Over and out.

04 February 2006

Pressure Drop

Today is a day to listen to great dollops of Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros.

If David McFadden knew who they were, I'm sure he'd agree.

Over and out.

03 February 2006


But you can’t read Herman Hesse
without your life changing. My spoken word
CD is always “just about out.” And
because I don’t like what my hair is up to,
I wear a hat. About now,
everyone starts taking ecstasy.
The wrong choices are still available.
Please stay, we don’t get to talk
with someone so experienced.
If Pepsi is cold enough, it tastes
just like Coke. Can I ask you
what you’re reading? This washroom
is covered in slime. Things are immense
beyond common sense.

Hesitation, or Ciao, Chile

Perhaps it's taken me four days to write this entry because I don't want to have left Chile.

After 96 hours in Toronto, that last day is a blur. Some packing. A walk on the parcela. Chats with Sue. A little more work on my novel. Some poetry.

I wanted to talk some more with Alejandra about her writing, because I felt I had let that responsibility go. She dropped by to see me around 1 pm and we talked for an hour and a half, by far my longest discussion in Spanish thus far. I wanted to encourage her with her writing, and open her eyes to other possibilities in poetry, and urge her to read tons of other poets. I gave her one of my chapbooks, and a copy of Farmer Gloomy, and a gift of a couple of pens I picked up for her in San Pablo. She asked me lots of questions, and I did my best to respond in my limited Spanish. She wondered whether I had paid to have Farmer Gloomy published, or if the "editorial" read my poems, liked them, and asked to publish them. I explained how it had worked, but I stressed that I still did self-publish my own little chapbooks. She said that she wasn't going to have any photos in her next book of poems -- I think she put photos in her first one because she was modelling it after Sue's self-published books. She said the important thing was the text, the words. I have a feeling Sue might be thinking the same way.

Later on, when I was chatting in the kitchen with Sue, Alejandra knocked at the door. She came in and handed me a handwritten invitation, sort of formal, to a farewell tea with her family at 5:30 pm. I was really touched, and I changed into what was left of my good clothes for the occasion. It was the first time I'd been at the house of Lucho and family, which is right near Gord and Sue's place on the parcela. We sat at a picnic table, under a canopy of branches, vines, and leaves, and Luisa had prepared a wonderful vegetarian spread for me. The whole family was there: though Lucho had to soon leave because he had work to do. There was Luisa, Alejandra, Luchito, Solange, and Iván.

It was magical.

Did that have something to do with the huge steaming metal mug of yerba mate Luisa had me drink? I think, though, it was just that, finally, I was sitting with a Chilean family, as their guest, something I had hoped for. They are a beautiful family, full of good humour, amazing spirit, togetherness. They made me so welcome, and were delighted when I pigged out on the amazing food. Luisa and Alejandra gave me hugs when I left, and I wandered back with Sue to the estate, weeping a little.

Soon I was on plane. But before that, as Sue drove me one last time through El Noviciado, and I let fly a strand of hair out the car window, just to leave it behind, we passed the circus on the outskirts of town. This tiny ragtag circus that had been parked there for a week, and opened only for one night, a night I missed.

"Ciao, circo!" I yelled.