29 November 2008

Today in Toronto: Meet the Presses' Indie Literary Market

Saturday, November 29
Noon till 5 p.m.

Clinton's Tavern (back room)
693 Bloor West (near Christie Subway)

The Meet the Presses collective presents


At least 25 literary presses will be standing behind their books.

I'll be there with my Proper Tales Press table, and copies of chapbooks and books by Tom Walmsley, Ron Padgett, Bill Knott, me, and plenty more. Also, Peter O'Toole: A Magazine of One-Line Poems. And the CD An Orphan's Song: Ben Walker Sings Stuart Ross.

See you there!

Over and out.

25 November 2008


Stuart Woods of the Quill & Quire blog interviewed me about Meet the Presses by email a couple of weeks ago. Here is the exchange:

When was Meet the Presses originally launched (i.e., back in the 1980s)?

Meet the Presses was a Sunday-evening event, created by Nicholas Power and me, that ran monthly throughout 1985, at Scadding Court Community Centre. We had about a dozen small presses selling their wares, and then a sort of shotgun reading, and other events, including the screening of Eli Necakov's documentary film Street Writers.

Why did it go on hiatus?

Quite simply, it was a huge amount of work for two people who also had to make a living on the side! After a year, we threw in the towel, but we fully expected another small presser to take up the gauntlet. It never happened. And then in 1987, the National Book Festival people approached us to run a big small-press fair, and that's where our energy went. Over the years, though, Nick and I have often looked back fondly on the small, grass-roots, anti-glitz feel of Meet the Presses.

What prompted the relaunch?

This version of Meet the Presses is really just a relaunch in name and spirit. A group of us wanted to create a strictly literary event where we could sell our books and mags and broadsides and recordings. A sort of one-stop shopping for people interested in independently published fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. And then we wondered what would happen if we formed this loose collective where everyone could work as a free agent, creating events under the Meet the Presses umbrella. The only criteria is that the events will include a component in which indie and small-press literary publishers can promote their products.

The collective itself consists of Gary Barwin, Paul Dutton, Maria Erskine, Ally Fleming, Beth Follett, Maggie Helwig, Leigh Nash, Nicholas Power, and me.

How many events per year will it be organizing?

That will be up to the members of the collective — we expect that, after the Indie Literary Market, individual members of Meet the Presses will cook up their own ideas and run with them, with the organizational support of the rest of the collective.

Is Nov. 29 the kickoff?

Yup. November 29 is the first event.

What/how many presses will be attending the fair?

We have space for 28 presses. The invitations just went out yesterday, so it's hard to say right now who will be there. So far we have Rampike, Mercury, Coach House, Existere, Insomniac Press, Pedlar Press, Proper Tales, Serif of Nottingham Editions, Um Yeah Press, Mansfield Press, Underwhich Editions — and we're especially excited about the launch at the Indie Literary Market of a new poetry-chapbook press, The Emergency Response Unit, run by Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash. We're going to keep updating our list of participating presses at http://www.meetthepresses.wordpress.com.

Can any publisher/zine-maker apply?

Our events will all be curated — we're inviting specific publishers rather than putting out an open call. Our space in the back room of Clinton's is limited, so we're making some really hard choices. But our criteria, again, is that we want to promote literary publishers of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. And while the invitations for the November 29 Indie Literary Market have already gone out, we'll keep a running list of other presses that might be interested in our future events.

Will there be readings/performances?

Our focus for this event is on selling publications. Future Meet the Presses events may well have those components. That said, who knows what will happen on November 29. I have something up my sleeve that I'd like to see happen there, so if the atmosphere is right, I'll spring it on the room.

In the future, will you be seeking any form of funding?

Right now, our funding for the Market will come strictly from table rental and a donations jar. It's possible the members of the collective will also reach into their own pockets a bit. We don't have any plans at the moment to apply for arts-council funding, but we're not ruling anything out.

Not to bring up that old unpleasantness, but I sort of have to ask: Is this event meant as an alternative to the Toronto Small Press Fair?

"Not to bring up that old unpleasantness, but let me bring up that old unpleasantness...."

The Indie Literary Market fills a void: there is no strictly literary book fair in this city. The kind of people who fall into paroxysms of ecstasy at the poetry wall at This Ain't the Rosedale Library, or the Independent Presses shelves at Pages, or the fiction wall at Type are going to love our event. People looking only for personal zines or music mags or comics or buttons will have to wait for the next Canzine. The Market is an alternative to *everything* out there.

Why do you think the controversy surrounding how that fair was run struck such a nerve with people?

I have my theories, but I'm not about to speak for all those people and their respective nerve endings. It was a really ugly situation. Right now, I'm glad to be working on a project that really excites me, a project with endless possibilities, and a group of people who are wildly diverse and full of ideas and energy.

Are you at all concerned that all that acrimony might have soured people on what should be such good, clean fun – namely, DIY publishing?

Nope. But I'd like to stress that Meet the Presses is attempting to promote the full spectrum of indie and small-press publishing, from DIY operations like Serif of Nottingham and Um Yeah to bigger literary presses like Insomniac, Mansfield and Pedlar. And everything in between. As for "good, clean fun," I'm not sure that's the motto of every literary press in Toronto.

Over and out.

Indie Literary Market this Saturday in Toronto!

21 November 2008

Punchy Writers (including me) this Sunday in Toronto

My last book, Dead Cars in Managua, was published as the inaugural poetry selection for DC Books' Punchy Writers series.

This Sunday, two new Punchy books are being launched in Toronto. I'm also reading. Punchy Poetry is edited by Jason Camlot and Punchy Fiction by David McGimpsey. Here's the guff on Sunday's hoedown:

Punchy Writers Series and DC Books are pleased to announce the Toronto launch of two new PUNCHY titles

Porny Stories


Unisex Love Poems

Join us for an evening of readings and cake featuring Eva and Angela

Plus a super bonus reading by

STUART ROSS (Dead Cars in Managua)

Sunday, November 23, 7:30 pm
The Magpie, 831 Dundas West (near Bathurst)
Free admission

Descriptions of the new books:

Have you ever wondered what Woody Allen would be like if he were a woman stoked on chick-lit who lived in Toronto? Eva Moran has. Porny Stories is a collection of fiction that examines the neurotic, desperate, and impotent lady-world of Toronto, and shows a lot of leg while doing it. Bad boyfriends, jobs, and decisions plague the main character of each story in this titillating diary of explicitly dirty laundry. The status quo eludes the main characters. Lover after lost lover, one missed opportunity for a better life after the next, the characters can never seem to get it right but they keep trying in all the wrong ways. Basically, this is a book about badly needing to get a new life and desperately wanting to get laid and each character will die trying... or, well, not die... but will conjure many drunken shenanigans trying. The seemingly autobiographical approach of the pieces makes it feel like you are kneeling at a keyhole peering into a room full of bawdy comedy—tantalizing!

Angela Szczepaniak's debut poetry collection Unisex Love Poems sutures swatches of fiction, poetry, etiquette advice, slapstick legal antics, and gruesomely illustrated recipes for sweetbreads and love letters into a parody of manners and conduct. An autopsy of language, it makes you savour the visceral, tangible quality of the word. As it satirizes the language and conventions of love, food, courtship, and sexuality, this novel-in-poems will pluck your heart out and teach you how to prepare it as an intimate dinner for two.

I've really enjoyed reading from Dead Cars, perhaps because it's a very different kind of book for me. And so far I've read from it in New Denver, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and probably some other places that aren't springing immediately to mind.

I don't think it's earned a single review anywhere, but that happens. Might be because I was so fortunate, review-wise, with I Cut My Finger. Might be because no reviewer thought it was interesting enough. Or maybe it just baffled people. I know it baffles me.

Come hear me read and help welcome my two new Punchy siblings into the world!

Over and out.

15 November 2008

Deets on my Lethbridge reading!

I posted the info on my Calgary reading a couple of days ago, and now I have the details of my Lethbridge reading. Here's the poster:

The Mystery Poets are no longer a mystery, at least to me: Jeff Godin, Blaine Greenwood, and Richard Stevenson.

Just printed out 20 pages of new poems, packed away copies of my recent books, plus a few copies of the Orphan's Song CD.

My flight leaves at 8 a.m. I better get some sleep.

Over and out.

A reading I gave in 1996

Just came across this tonight. Don't think I even knew it had been recorded. And there's a beautiful reading by Brian Dedora there too. At the KSW in Vancouver, March 1996.

Over and out.

13 November 2008

Calgary on Sunday and Lethbridge on Monday!

It's been an incredibly busy period. Working with the Meet the Presses collective to get our project off the ground, three amazing visits last week to Camille Martin's Canadian Short Story classes at Ryerson U, sorting out the 2009 poetry list for Mansfield Press, and working steadily on a couple of big freelance jobs.

This weekend, though, I'm heading west. Reading on Sunday night in Calgary:

On Monday, I'm heading down to Lethbridge, where I'll be reading at the Roundstreet Café at 7:15 pm for Most Vocal. So far, I believe it's just me on the bill.

Gonna be reading from Dead Cars in Managua and I Cut My Finger, plus some new stuff.

Come see me!

Over and out.

12 November 2008

Meet the Presses! Rising from the ashes in a new form

A collective of nine local writers and independent publishers — including five former coordinators of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair — has formed a new group, Meet the Presses, created in the spirit of the original Meet the Presses that Nick Power and I started in 1985. This new group is made of Gary Barwin, Paul Dutton, Maria Erskine, Ally Fleming, Beth Follett, Maggie Helwig, Leigh Nash, Nicholas Power, and me.

Our plan is to curate and organize various events to promote a range of indie and small-press publishing: poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in book, chapbook, ephemeral and recorded form.

The first event is…

Meet the Presses

November 29, noon to 5 pm
Clinton's Tavern (693 Bloor West, near the Christie Subway)
Free admission

This event, the only one of its kind in Toronto, offers the public an opportunity to purchase a lot of really exciting literary publications, most of which aren't available in bookstores, direct from the publishers (and often the writers). The emphasis here is on "literary." I can't wait to be behind my Proper Tales Press table again!

And it feels great to be working on a new event — not only with my old partner in crime Nick Power — but with a great mixture of small-press vets and newcomers.

Our Meet the Presses Facebook page features this quote by bpNichol:

"Supporting small press is supporting literature on the cutting edge. Small press is the guardian of literary culture and of free speech."

Our web page, meetthepresses.wordpress.com, will have a running list of the participating publishers as they're booked. We expect about 30 indie literary presses to take part in this flagship event.


And over and out.