08 September 2006

Goddamn cigars

A few months ago, I thought my editing career was kaput. I had no work, and no prospects of work. Now I am buried in work, as I have been since the beginning of the summer. Is there such a term as "freelancer's panic"?

Anyway, it's nice to be immersed in all these different projects: from poetry to fiction to art to children's writing. It's nice in the way that quicksand is nice. Though quicksand doesn't send me a cheque afterwards.

A break last night: I volunteered at the book table for a couple hours for Coach House Books' annual open house. It's an amazing event. There are people there who've never been to a publishing house before, and of course there's no on-site experience quite like Coach House's. And this year they took over bpNichol Lane and turned it into a giant outdoor cafe, complete with a hot buffet. But me, I stood behind the book table, where I am most comfortable and chatted with people and sold books.

I've never had a book published by Coach House, though there was a close call a few years back. Back in the 80s, when the press was run by an editorial collective, I submitted at least a couple of manuscripts to them; they sat on them for a year and I took 'em back. Things are different now under Alana. And I do have an essay in the sequel to uTOpia, a sort of expanded Hunkamooga with more of an informational emphasis.

I first entered the Coach House coach house when I was about 16 years old, as part of my alternative school's creative writing class back in about 1975. I sat upstairs in that ancient meeting room with Chris Dewdney, with Joe Rosenblatt, with Victor Coleman, with David Young. So that place has always had magic for me. By golly.

But in all the years I've known the press, and gone to its events, and there have been some great ones, I've never seen the kind of community around the press that Alana has developed. And so many young people. Geez. The launches and open houses are phenomenal.

As has always been the case, I don't like every book that Coach House publishes, of course, but there are some really great ones every year. At this open house, as I reluctantly gave up the table to the next volunteer, I picked up copies of Margaret Christakos's Sooner and Jon Paul Fiorentino's Theory of the Loser Class.

Then I hit the road and did some more editing.

In other news, I picked up a great CD today: Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins — Rabbit Fur Coat. It was Ali Riley who told me about Jenny Lewis. Man, it's good. I just listened to it three times. Up there with the first Be Good Tanyas album and Kasey Chambers' The Captain.

Oh, editing. Someday my editing jobs will end temporarily and I can write again. In the meantime, here's an untitled poem I found in one of my many unfinished notebooks:

Hipshot his chin
from the rail.
His shoulder plunged
further and further.
I was slow motion,
a stack of folded deck chairs,
the multiple lacerations:
terror, anger, outrage,
appeal. A fat man
hooked my ankle smartly,
like mirror images.
Goddamn cigars.

Over and out.


At September 10, 2006 2:33 am , Blogger roxword said...

i smoked cigars when i was in high school. wine dipped old ports with a plastic nipple. once i visited ybor city (tampa) and watched expatriate cubans roll me a triple corona (at least nine inches); i smoked it all afternoon and got sick for three days. when my first son was born, i bought quality cigars from a fancy humidor shop and we lit up around a table in a las vegas pub, "mad dogs and englishmen," named after the song noel coward wrote for my grandmother's cousin (beatrice lillie: http://www.laynelittlepage.com/beabio.html). needless to say i got sick again and when my second son was born i was proud to pass out chocolate cigars.

At September 11, 2006 9:02 pm , Blogger Fancy said...

Hey--I just had the pleasure of meeting Ali Riley when she was in Edmonton doing the Book TV version of the 3-Day Novel contest. We shared some good laughs discussing the Little House on the Prairie TV show, among other things. I bought her book, Wayward, and am liking the heck out of it.


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