27 November 2007

A reading, a launch, a workshop, a headache

The Ottawa trip was quick but good. Pretty much a full house at the Dusty Owl Reading Series at Swizzles, or Twizzles, or whatever that bar was called. It's a neat place, sort of like a suburban rec room. I read a bunch of new poems, some stuff from I Cut My Finger, and a few brief chapters from my unpublished novel. I was a bit concerned there might be a sort of frat-house atmosphere to the event, but the feeling in the room was pretty good in its playfulness. My reading wasn't very playful. John Lavery said to me afterward, "You're not as entertaining as you used to be." But he also said he liked the novel excerpts a lot. A nice time, great to see a lot of friends, and to read to a heap of people I've never read to before. And the organizers, Steve and Cathy, were swell and gracious. As always, a good visit with Michael and Kirsty, and the added bonus of Sean, Kira, and Aidan.

Came home to further fall-out from my blog entry about the Toronto Small Press Book Fair. Lots more thinking to do on the topic. For now: it's clear to me that some people seem unable to distinguish between constructive criticism and personal attack. And those who hurl accusations of personal attack can themselves be the worst offenders.

But none of that got in the way of a fantastic Mansfield Press launch on Tuesday night at the Rivoli Pool Hall. The first two books I put through the press, Steve Venright's Floors of Enduring Beauty and Lillian Necakov's The Bone Broker, were unveiled, along with Christopher Doda's Aesthetics Lesson, seen through the press by Mansfield publisher/editor Denis De Klerck. The room was packed out, lots of books were sold, pool was played, and poems were read. I'm very excited about working with Denis on some of the 2008 titles.

Sunday's Poetry Boot Camp was a real success too. Last-minute registrations filled the spaces left by a couple of people who pulled out in protest of my aforementioned blog entry. I continue to be awed by the quality of work in the Boot Camps, and by the stamina and enthusiasm the participants show over the course of a seven-hour day of writing. (If you want to be on the email list for future Boot Camps and other workshops I offer, drop me a note at the email address over on the right.)

After the Boot Camp, I headed off to This Ain't the Rosedale Library, for the Fictitious Reading Series. Another good turnout, this time for Lynn Coady and Jeff Parker. Before the reading, I couldn't have thought of two more different writers. But, as so often happens at Fictitious, Lynn and Jeff wound up complementing each other: there was so much overlap. Two really, really engaging readings. And Kate did one of her best onstage interviews, especially considering that both writers threw curveballs and didn't read from the books that Kate had built her line of questioning around.

Over and out.


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