11 December 2006

So it goes

On Wednesday, December 13, I'm appearing at Jay MillAr's Speakeasy series along with New York poet Simon Pettet. I don't what Simon will be speaking easily on, and I don't yet know what I will speaking easily on, but it happens at 7:30 pm upstairs at This Ain't the Rosedale Library (483 Church Street). I believe admission is by passed hat, and a Q&A follows the talks.

Pettet is reading Tuesday night at Mark Truscott's Test series, along with Jon Paul Fiorentino, who's a swell guy. That happens at Mercer Union (37 Lisgar), 7:30.

Pinochet is dead. Cha-cha-cha. Some astonishing photos of demonstrations both contra and pro are coming out of Chile. Pinochet, like most despicable Latin American dictators, was a creation of U.S. sponsorship. Perhaps his death is symbolic of that country's own crumbling state.

So it goes.

Got together with Tom Walmsley last week. Turns out we hadn't seen each other in about three months. Where the hell does time go? He quit smoking, and I quit Lorazepam. When I met Walmsley about 25 years ago, I don't think I imagined he was a guy I would someday be discussing religion with. I probably also didn't imagine we'd be friends a quarter-century later. Another thing we discussed was the horrible, horrible death of Adrienne Shelly. It's painful even to think about. Hard to shake from the mind, like the murder's in Juan Butler's novel The Garbageman. Apparently just before she became big in her first Hal Hartley film, Shelly was in one of Tom's plays in New York.

Earlier in the week, I met up with David McFadden and handed over my list of choices for his Selected. No idea what he'll think of them: he said he'd be easy-going about it, but I think he's going to dig in. That should make for a better book. Still, I'm a little nervous. Will we have to arm-wrestle over some of my favourites that perhaps he no longer likes? Going through all his books during the past several months has been an amazing experience. He's done astounding things, without any concern about what's trendy in poetry, and gets far too little recognition for it. Hopefully this book will help turn things around a bit.

My own new book of poetry needs some attention: I have to get a final manuscript to Anvil pretty quick. Don't know why I've been dragging my heels on it. Except that I wanted to produce a couple of new Razovsky poems. Wanted to decide the fate of my Ashbery homages. We got the cover art from Gary Clement, someone whose work I've wanted to have on the cover of a book of mine for years. I think it's going to be the most fucked-up cover in the history of Canadian poetry.

Last Wednesday was crazy. Started off at the launch for Coach House's mammoth book on the Canadian Prix de Rome in Architecture winners, which I copyedited. The little architecture bookstore on Markham was jam-packed. Free wine and pretty good munchies. Nice-looking book, compiled by Marco Polo. (Really!)

Then I drove out to the east end for ECW's holiday party at a restaurant/bar whose name I can no longe remember. I was pretty indecisive about going, given my complexity-riddled history with that press. But they've been giving me some good work, and they've been publishing some good books, and I hate the waste of long-lasting feuds, so I went. Got there right at the beginning, so it was just about empty. Nice visit with Al Stencell, whose books on carnival peelers and circus side shows I edited a few years back. Al always has great stories to tell about geeks, punks, and hermaphrodites he's known over the years.

Ended up having a long chat with Michael Holmes, who put my first four big books of poetry through ECW, before I parted ways with the press. So I was a little squirmy when he asked me about my forthcoming Anvil book. Perhaps squirmy in general, and certainly sheepish. "Baaaaaa," I said, quoting a Randy Newman song. Don't really know whether I should be sheepish: I had my reasons for being disgruntled, and they their reasons for being disgruntled with me, I guess. But Michael really made the effort, and we had a good talk. (I enjoyed hearing about his encounter with Mark Strand.)

Then I ate a lot of excellent French fries and bruscetta. Then I talked with Jack about the Rosalie Sharp launch this April. Then I headed out for my third event of the night: the Taddle Creek launch, which I hadn't actually meant to go to. It was at a bar called the Dominion, on Queen near Broadview. Great place. Very nice crowd. Got to chat with Elyse, who I hadn't seen in ages. And Chris Chambers. Johnny Degen. Didn't like any of the readings, but the band was great.

Elyse has a hilarious passage about the invention of poodles in her brilliant first novel, Then Again. I say this so that I can segue to a recent visit I had with Dani Couture. Dani tells me that Goethe says this in his Faust:

"In length and breadth how doth my poodle grow!"

Can it be true? Is she putting me on? Dani and I met at Grapefruit Moon and we brought some books for Show & Tell. She produced a couple of very early small poetry books by her Windsor mentor, John Ditsky. I brought books by two writers who'd had a big influence on me when I was a teenager: Mark Strand (him again) and Joe Rosenblatt. It was a fun kinda meeting. And Dani gave me a copy of her new book, Good Meat, which I hadn't bought because I blurbed it and was hoping for a freebie.

What a rambling entry....

And I'll end with last Friday night's party at InterAccess, where Dana is the director. It was a rec-room party. Sofas, jello shots, Twister, live bands, heaps of grilled-cheese sandwiches, little weiners from cans, goofy old electronic games. Dana figures about 700 people came through over the course of the night. (Can't imagine a literary party attracting that many people!) I ate an awful lot of cheesies.

Over and out.


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