30 March 2006

I got published, etc.

The other day I got my copies of All Sleek And Skimming -- an anthology of fiction for teens, edited by Lisa Heggum, a Toronto librarian and very cool person. What I really like about the collection is that it contains primarily works that were not specifically written for teens. I mean, wouldn't most teens prefer to read stuff written for adults? I still find the anthology title bewildering, but maybe it will become clearer as I read the thing. The book contains my piece "This Is the Story of My Family," which takes place at 179 Pannahill, up in North York, the childhood house that I visited last week. I'm pleased with that story, still, many years after I wrote it.

I also picked up the new issue of Rampike -- Karl Jirgens's long-running literary/art magazine. I haven't been in there in a long while, but more of my fiction is in this one: a story called "Bouncing." It's pretty recent, and I'm very happy to have it published, especially in the chaotic Rampike.

In other publication news, Conan came around the other week and reversed his decision about the poems I'd sent to him for Taddle Creek. He ultimately decided on the most challenging of the bunch -- a poem called "My Lapel," which I wrote while listening to John Ashbery's Flow Chart being read aloud. Again, it'll be great to see that poem in print, especially in Taddle, where far more accessible, goofy pieces of mine have appeared in the past.

Nice to have my apartment back to myself, even though it was also nice to have visitors. Last Wednesday, Anne flew back to England. We never did do the translation collaboration of a Chilean poet we had planned on. Hopefully some such project will happen in the future. Anne's most famous for her award-winning translation of Javier Cercas's award-winning novel Soldiers of Salamis. But one of her most intriguing translations is Diary of Andrés Fava, a really oddball thing by Julio Cortazar. I think Anne should start a blog. You should, Anne.

Within hours of Anne's departure, Clint Burnham arrived into my tiny home from Vancouver, for his appearance with Elyse Friedman at Sunday's Fictitious Reading Series. Always wonderful to see Clint, who I've known since he moved to Toronto around 1990 (he went back out west about a decade ago). Clint's new novel, Smoke Show, reads well on the page, but hearing him read from the book was a whole other experience. Best reading I've seen Clint do. And Elyse was fabulous, too, reading from a short story in progress. I did my first facilitating of the onstage chat, and was glad to give Kate a break from that. It went well, though perhaps only because I'm such good friends with both the authors. Nice crowd out, and a good response. Well, Daniel f. Bradley was sort of disgruntled, but it's awesome that he came out for a fiction event, and it's always good to see him, even when he's shooting wildly from the hip.

I regret not getting to Mark Truscott's debut Test Reading Series event last night at Mercer Union. Looking forward to reading blog reports on it.

Part 2 of my New York School of Poetry Workshop went fairly well on Monday night. Ron Padgett's work went over especially successfully; I don't think I approached Ted Berrigan in the best way, though. But really, by the second generation, the poets have spread out so much more in terms of practice and content, that they're a tougher sell as a whole. But the more I examine these poets' work for the workshops, the more I admire them. I gave Larry Fagin a plug: I mean, aside from looking at a couple of his poems, I mentioned that he will consider "correspondence" students to supplement the 25 or so New York private students he meets with.

Meanwhile, in New York, Joel Lewis is in the midst of a 10-part workshop on the New York School. I'm sure Joel could stretch it out to 100 classes, he has so much to say. And has such great tales of Ted Berrigan and others. I imagine I'm far more worshipful, from afar, from Toronto, where the New York Poets are mythological.

Over and out.

28 March 2006

Two poems from twoday


Memories of nothing.

* * *


the sky
is attached
to the ground
where our feet
to the dew

24 March 2006

art, link letter

Clint Burnham is in from Vancouver for the Fictitious Reading Series on Sunday. We had breakfast at the Lakeview Diner and then went to a couple of galleries and a CD shop. He has a big beard now, though he's not exactly ZZ Top material. Yet. Great to see him.

Meanwhile, Dana is spending her last day in London, England, hitting the Tate Modern and other stuff. She's been there a week and has apparently had an amazing time: met all sorts of new people, saw good art, ate Indian food, caught up with Toronto friends who've moved to London. She's very excited about the place. I'm very excited for her.

Tuesday night I went to the Lexiconjury for readings by Stan Rogal, Louis Cabri, and Nathalie Stephens. Last fall, I got in trouble on the Lex listserv by accusing the series of being "too cool," or something like that. Anyway, while so many wonderful people do show up, and so many of the readings are so good, I just cannot take the steady dose of irony and cockiness. It's especially apparent in the open mike, and when people aren't being ironic and cocky, it's only because a few have chosen to resist that, or defy it. That said, it was nice to hear Cabri read, though not an experience I'd like to repeat. Rogal did a pretty good reading, though with a lot of joking/mocking about writers who've killed themselves. I think some people were offended by that, but my interpretation was that he is pissed off by suiciders and has decided to mock the practice as protest. Stephens read well, too: hot boy sex in a book-length homage to Andre Gide. Gorgeous new book from Jay MillAr's BookThug.

I left feeling a little miserable and walked around for two hours before I found a suitable place to eat some Chinese noodles with veggies and tofu.

On Monday, I presented my first installment of the New York School of Poetry workshop at This Ain't. I was really, really anxious about it. It's not a workshop primarily about writing, but about exploring the works of a movement, and I didn't know if I was the one to facilitate such an event. But it went really well. Good group of very interested people, including three friends.

It's tough to type when you're eating cheesies, because you have to keep wiping your orange fingertips on your pants or some other handy bit of fabric before you hit the keyboard again. If I could eat them through a straw, it would be a superior experience, and more economic, typing-wise. Actually, they are Cheetos, the crunchier variation that I favour.

I will try to blog more regularly.

I will try to blog more regularly.

I will try to blog more regularly.

Over and out.

23 March 2006

Clint Burnham & Elyse Friedman read on March 26!!!

I know I haven't blogged much lately. And this one'll be an announcement for an exciting event on Sunday. I've got lots to blog about. And I'll blog. I promise. Over and out.



CLINT BURNHAM is the author of the novel Smoke Show, as well as the short-story collection Airborne Photo and the poetry books Be Labour Reading and Buddyland. He lives in Vancouver, where he teaches at Emily Carr Institute and writes on contemporary art.

ELYSE FRIEDMAN recently released her acclaimed second novel, Waking Beauty. Her first, Then Again, was shortlisted for the 2000 Trillium Book Award. She is also the author of the poetry collection Know Your Monkey, several screenplays, and a heap of short stories. Elyse lives in Toronto.

This monthly series is organized by Kate Sutherland and me. Each installment features substantial readings by two fiction writers, plus an "onstage" chat.

Admission is by donation, most of which goes to the readers. There will be some light refreshments, but feel free to bring the beverage of your choice.

All events take place at:
This Ain't the Rosedale Library
483 Church Street (upstairs), Toronto
7:30 pm

15 March 2006

Angel Hair, oh Angel Hair

Delayed the start of my three-night workshop on the New York School of Poetry until next week. Glad I did, because I just found a copy of the Angel Hair Anthology, which is packed with all sorts of stuff I can use for the workshop. It's packed with poetry by Ashbery, Berkson, Fagin, Clark, Denby, Guest, Waldman, Warsh, Padgett, Brainard, and more. Plus a bunch of capsule memoirs that should be particularly useful.

I also found a remaindered copy of All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s. I already have a copy, but I'd lost the excellent CD of readings that comes with it.

Going to be a fun workshop. A few spaces still left open!

I also dug up the current issue of Jubilat, one of my favourite American litmags, at Mirvish Books On Art, today. This issue has stuff by Raymond Roussel, Juliana Spahr, Robert Fitterman, and some other pretty interesting people. I think maybe I'll submit some poems to them. Been a long while before I've sent something to the U.S.

On the topic of submissions, Conan at Taddle Creek wrote me that he and his co-ed have reconsidered my poetry submissions, and want to use a poem of mine called "I Open the Lid." I'm glad.

Also picked up the new issue of Rampike, which contains my short story "Bouncing." Proud of that. Nice to be in Rampike again. I mean, Rampike is a real crazy grab bag, but it has so much personality. It has Karl Jirgens' personality.

As I'm putting together this new manuscript of poetry, I should make a push to get pieces into magazines first, so they get that extra life before the book.

Didn't take long for Sam Solecki to reject me for the Jack McClelland Writer in Residence position I applied for. Terse little fucking email. I mean, not that I was expecting to get the gig.

I have CNN on in the background right now. Bad habit to reacquaint myself with. I really want Bush to be impeached, but if it happens, I'll become absolutely readdicted to TV news. Impeach Sam Solecki!

Over and out.

13 March 2006

A hermaphrodite cat

My friend Mako has just found out that one of his three cats is a hermaphrodite. That's pretty amazing. A hermaphrodite cat. There may be a lot of interest among vets, circuses, and readers of NOW's adult classifieds.

Mako and I have been friends since high school. We both attended an alternative school in North York. He was into Bob Seger and Ted Nugent, and I was into Joe Jackson and Ian Dury. He was a cool guy with a girlfriend; I was a freak who had never been on a date. We once went to a cemetery at midnight and put a tape recorder on a grave, wondering if we would hear scratching noises and faint cries of "Let me out...." We invented a triangular turntable called the Rosaka 3000. For history class, with our favourite teacher, Carl, we created a talk show called Let's Talk History, and made cassette tapes of episodes instead of writing essays. I still remember the poignant Let's Talk History theme music.

Now Mako's a documentary filmmaker, and I'm a writer. Well, I was a writer back then too. In high school, he wrote plays. And they were good ones -- imbued with the drama of his family, and influenced probably by Pinter.

* * *

So, I'm reading this book now called Dr. Delicious. It's the memoir of Robert Lecker, who used to run ECW's Montreal office. I like Robert. He's a bristly, obsessive, funny, curious guy. He used to give me lots of freelance editing work, and he once gave me a $1500 advance to write a novel. I ended up writing a book of poetry, and he asked for the $1500 back "ASAP." But he has always been so supportive of me. I get two mentions in his book, and they're both pretty nice mentions. I'm only about 20 pages into it, but I'm liking it: he consciously decided to break out of his professor persona and go nuts with writing. Will it be of interest to anyone who was not once an ECW author? I dunno.

* * *

Lots more to catch up on in this blog, but I better get some work done today. I've begun the horrendous and seemingly endless task of cleaning/organizing my tiny apartment. I know that once that is done, the world will weigh far less.

Over and out.

07 March 2006

My father, Ivor Cutler, and you

The yahrzeit candle I lit yesterday for my father just flickered out an hour ago. Today was an extraordinarily lovely day in Toronto. Anne and Ben and I drove up to the United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, where my dad and I used to meet each week after my mother died. I like Bathurst and Lawrence. Does the name "United Bakers" have a union backstory?


I just got a message from my old friend Michael Richardson, who, when I was a teenager, introduced me to all the best music and all the best prose. Apparently, Ivor Cutler died last night.


I first became aware of Ivor Cutler on the last track of each side of Robert Wyatt's album Rock Bottom (back when albums had sides). I ran out and got every Ivor Cutler album I could find, and a few books too, including the classic Cock-a-Doodle Don't. What an incredible voice. What wit. Ivor died very old.


I get some really interesting comments on this blog. As a rule, I don't respond to them. I mean, I respond, but I don't write anything on my blog to them and only rarely write back the (non-anonymous) correspondents. I really appreciate when people take the time to comment. So, to those who have commented, you rock. And you rox. "The whole landscape flushes on a sudden at a sound." (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Over and out.

06 March 2006

Ego te rejecto

Ah, sweet rejection.

Just got news for the Canada Council that my grant application for a book-length poem got turned down. Of course, first thing I wonder is, who did get the grant?

Yesterday, Conan at Taddle Creek rejected the four poems he'd solicited from me. I think he was hoping for Funny Stuart, and instead he got Serious, Somewhat Difficult Stuart. But I thought those were four of strongest pieces I had kicking around. And one yearns to do something unpredictable in a mag that one has been in before. He asked to see other stuff, and I said OK, but I think maybe not.

And last week, or whenever it was, that I queried a publisher about my next poetry book, would they like to see it? Well, I addressed the query to an editor there who had given me Writers' Reserve money in the past. But what I got back, the same night, was a form letter, with a personalized intro, explaining their manuscript selection procedure. It was all too much bureaucracy for me. Had there been a "We'd love to see a manuscript from you, Stuart, but we can't promise anything," that would have been enough encouragement to go through the process. But instead I got the skinny on The Process, with an explanation that they receive 17 billion manuscripts a year and only publish seven of them. And it was up to me if I wanted to submit. So the editor I wrote to never got to know that I'd queried them, and presumably the person who answered my query isn't too hot on my stuff.

So it wasn't exactly a rejection. But I won't be sending my MS there, after all. My hope is to find a press that is genuinely interested in my work. Not looking for an automatic acceptance; just evidence of interest.

It's sorta fun, this thing of flailing in the wind.

Over and out.

02 March 2006


September 16, 1926 - March 2, 2001
His example shines always.

My dad's family name was originally Razovsky. For much of his life, he was an inventory auditor. A counter of things. He died before my poetry collection Razovsky At Peace came out. He had laughed when I told him my next poetry book would have Razovsky in the title. Here's a poem I wrote since that collection.


The tumbling shelves
of button-filled jars, the dandelions
dotting the glistening lawn.
In the cupboard beneath the sink,
dented tins of shoe polish: black, brown,
red-brown. The rags that spilled
from the bottom drawer, from every
bottom drawer. And in the garage,
the nest of rusted pliers,
snapping, creaking.
Razovsky counted everything.

His fingers never stopped moving,
like his lips, and his eyeballs. He
inventoried, enumerated, catalogued,
whispered the names of all things,
and the things
that had no names. He counted dead uncles
he’d never met, each strand in their
long white beards, the threads
that hung from the cuffs of their
trousers. Razovsky
counted the sons they’d never had,
and the sons of the sons,
and he gave them all names.

"You’re a Razovsky,
and you a Razovsky, and your
name’s Razovsky, and I’ll call you
Razovsky." And he counted each one
on a separate finger, because that
is what he did, he counted,
and when he ran out of fingers,
he used his toes, and then
the stones in his pockets, the teeth
in his mouth, the eyes on the fly
on the window ledge,
the scampering legs of a silverfish.

And when he was done,
he sat down with them, and
he counted the chairs around
the table, and counted the prayers
that had never been uttered,
and the prayers choked
by smoke, and Razovsky
knew then who he was, and
he pinned a tag to his
shirt: "Razovsky."