07 October 2006

Ode to an eggplant

My second-last day in Ottawa. It's been a good stay here, exactly what I've needed.

Taking it a little easier on the social side of things this festival, mainly by being a little less present in the hospitality suite. Great visit there the other night with David O'Meara and Sara Dearing, along with Sean Wilson. Lots of other nice folks, too.

John W. MacDonald takes photos of everything that goes on at this festival. Over at his blog, he has a neat photo of me doing my "Ape Play" on Tuesday night. Explore a little further and you'll find naked pictures of jwcurry. I try to avoid those.

Thursday morning I headed over to Michael Dennis's for a visit and to finally give him his birthday present — a landscape-like photo of a hipbone by Sandra Alland and a signed copy of her first poetry book. He dragged his Radnoti collection, and books by other Eastern European poets, off the bookshelves in his study. I'm very jealous of his study. I would like to have a study someday. Then we talked about a book project we're working on, and he gave me a huge file of documentary material related to it.

Michael's new book is Arrows of Desire, which he's launching on October 19 at Venus Envy here in Ottawa. It's a book of erotic poetry, so I figured I was not going to be crazy about it. Michael's erotic poems have been the ones that have interested me least in the past, but there's something really compelling about a whole volume of them. Suddenly I could see the breadth of the subject matter, the nuances, the approaches to persona. There are a few moments where he slips somewhere close to cliché, but mainly he pulls it off. So to speak. Cover painting and some pretty hot interior lino cuts by Eliza Griffiths.

Thursday night, I sat out the Festival, though I was curious about Bill Gaston. Polar bears and Seymour Mayne didn't interested me, though the polar bears came a little closer.

Stayed in my glorious hotel room and worked on some work, and worked on my novel. Revelled in the absence of clutter.

Friday, a couple more manuscript-evaluation meetings, which went very well, some more work, and then dinner with John Lavery, at one of my favourite Ottawa restaurants, Ceylonta. Mmm, the eggplant. John says "eggplant" is one of the ugliest words in the English language, especially when compared to the French "aubergine." John does not like Ottawa restaurants, claims never to have had a good meal in one, but he enjoyed Ceylonta and even said he'd be back.

After dinner, we hurried on foot to the Library & Archives to catch a programme called Transgress: readings by Sky Gilbert, Marnie Woodrow, Matthew Firth, and Ivan E. Coyote. The place was packed and the readings were all great. Firth spewed more bile than ever before in a William Burroughsesque rumble, and Sky was at his best, masterful. Marnie read an excerpt from the same novel-in-prog she read from at the Fictitious series, and it was damn good stuff. Coyote's work was a little night, but beautifully obsessive and a real audience-pleaser.

This morning, Saturday, did some work and wrote a few more pages of my novel. Off to see some hip-hop rendition of The Canterbury Tales now.

Over and out.


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