30 September 2007

Frank and Joe, hardly

Just finished reading Frank Rich's excellent The Greatest Story Ever Sold, in which he collates and timelines the events leading up to and following the invasion of Iraq, with emphasis on the false narrative put across by the Bush admin and also the pathetic capitulation of the mainstream media.

Here's a perfect soundtrack for it.

I met up with my dear American buddy Joe G. last Saturday in Windsor. We hadn't seen each other since our previous Windsor convention in 2005, but after the first few minutes, it was sorta like — as it often is between good friends — only a week or two had gone by. It's always inspiring to see Joe: he's among the most decent and smartest guys I've ever known. We met in 1989 in Guatemala and have spent a fair amount of time together in Nicaragua, back then and in 1996. We had a good walk by the Detroit river, wandered around town, and ended up at a great Vietnamese restaurant called the Mini, before hittin' the road for our separate ways. When I got home, I sent Joe a copy of my novel MS. He's a good reader of my work.

The next day I was a little ragged for my Poetry Boot Camp, but I had 11 participants and it went really well. Nice to have a few published writers in the group, too. I tried out a few new writing projects and brought back a few old nuggets. I'm amazed at how the Boot Camp always creates a feeling of camaraderie and adventure. Think I'll schedule another one for November.

Monday night Dana and I went to see Nick Lowe at the Mod Club. I adore Nick Lowe. We got up real close — it was just Nick and his guitar, his British beak and his incredible balcony of grey hair. Played a lot of songs from his new album, At My Age, plus the obligatory "Cruel to Be Kind" and a bunch of others, including "The Beast in Me," "All Men Are Liars," and "Shelley My Love." Some of the new songs are real dark and persona-driven, à la Randy Newman. I love seeing these old guys who just get better and better. It was a sublime concert, exhilarating.

Meanwhile, across the ocean, Ben Walker spent 10 days in a remote studio in Scotland recording 15 tracks based on my poems. I hadn't heard four of them till he played them for me the other day via Skype. I'm more and more excited about this project. There should be a CD by the end of the year or early next.

Segueless, I'd now like to plug an interesting project by rob mclennan, his "12 or 20 questions" interview archive. I mean, I've given the guy a pretty rough time at times, so I gotta hand it to him for this one. While I have mixed feelings about the idea of asking nearly identical questions of scores of writers, it can also be really neat, because the comparisons between answers are so stark. Some of the writers are lacklustre and some step up to the plate. I haven't read them all yet, but so far I particularly like the interviews with Souvankham Thammavongsa and Michael Dennis. Souvankham is edgier, more provocative, more dangerous, and more intelligent than any of the self-proclaimed bad boys and outsiders of CanLit. And Michael is an honest straight-shooter who brooks no crap himself.

Time for sleep shortly. Sunday I read at 4 pm at Word on the Street, in the dreadfully named "Great Books Marquee" tent, and then at 7:30, Kate Sutherland and I kick off the fall season of the Fictitious Reading Series with readings by Marianne Apostolides and Brian Panhuyzen, at This Ain't the Rosedale Library.

Over and out.


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