17 September 2010

Kingston, Pernice, Mansfield

I've been in Kingston nearly two weeks. My writer in residency for the Department of English kicked off officially this past Monday. I have a great apartment in a very quirky, nifty neighbourhood about 20 minutes' walk from the campus, and a great office I share with Carolyn Smart in Watson Hall. Already, I've done a couple of quick class visits and met with a couple of student writers. One of the main purposes of the residency is to give me time to write, and I've been at that, too: a few poems, responding to Michael Holmes' gentle edit of my forthcoming novel, and doing some fine-tuning for grant applications.

Oh, if you know anyone at Queen's who might like to have me check out their writing, tell them to drop me a note at hunkamooga [at] sympatico [dot] ca.

This weekend I'm back to Toronto. Taking a workshop with and attending a reading by Anselm Berrigan, who's being brought in by the Toronto New School. Very excited about that. When I taught a course a few years back on the New York School and its descendants, I played a couple tracks of Anselm reading, and one of the participants was very upset; she found it really aggressive and she got up and left. No idea what hit her so hard about it.

On Monday (September 20), I'm leading an onstage interview with novelist/poet/indie-rock-hero Joe Pernice. It's part of This Is Not A Reading Series, and it's marking the paperback release of his second novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, which is a real blast. Joe and I will be talking about that book, a bit about his poetry (I really love his Two Blind Pigeons), perhaps touch on the Meat Is Murder novel, and he's going to sing a bit. Am I terrified? Why yes, I am terrified. Takes place at 8 pm on Monday at Clinton's, a room I'm at least very comfortable in. And have you tried the soy drumsticks there? Mmm.

Next Wednesday (September 22), I'm taking part in a tribute to the late and fantastic Paul Quarrington at the Kingston WritersFest at an event called PQ's People Mix It Up! I wasn't a close friend of Paul's, like some of the other people appearing that night, but I knew him for 30 years, and I figure I'm going to represent the people who only knew Paul a bit, but who were made to feel like old and dear friends by that awesome guy. I'll be reading from Paul's first novel, The Service, which I still love. Takes place at the Grand Theatre in Kingston, 7:30, $20.

The last few weeks I've been hustling to get a few freelance jobs off my plate, and to finish off the edits on some books for Mansfield, two of which kick off my "a stuart ross book" imprint. The Mansfield Press 10th Anniversary Launch Party takes place October 19 at 7:30 pm at the Boat, in Kensington Market. Five books launch that night: Imagining Toronto, by Amy Lavender Harris; Goodbye, Ukulele, by Leigh Nash; At the Gates of the Theme Park, by Peter Norman; Stray Dog Embassy, by Natasha Nuhanovic; and Winter Sport: Poems, by Priscila Uppal. We'll also have in the house some special guests from the first decade of Mansfield Press. Event hosted by me and publisher Denis De Klerck.

Over and out.

01 September 2010

ReLit hat trick, etc

Much happening, little time to blog:

The Gabriel Gudding workshop a few weeks back was a nifty event with a full house, that house being the new offices of Mansfield Press. It was the first event other than a small-press sale put on by members of the Meet the Presses collective. Gabriel's a smart-as-hell guy, and though I worried we were heading into academic territory in the one-hour lead-up to actually writing, when we got down to it, the prep all came together. We wound up each writing a single poem: a sort of prayer for protection of someone we cared about.

In the evening, Gary Barwin, Gabriel Gudding and I read at the Piston on Bloor, in a one-off reading. The place was full with a real diversity of audience: no one community or clique dominated. It was just a bunch of nifty people hoping for a nifty reading. And it went really well. It was a particular thrill to finally hear Gabe read after admiring his poetry for so long, and after reading it aloud myself repeatedly in Poetry Boot Camps.

Since then, I've been mostly in editing mode: editing other people's stuff, with a focus on three books being released by Mansfield this fall. Trying desperately to clear the decks before my residency at Queen's University kicks off early this month.

Meanwhile, I've made it onto the ReLit Award shortlist for the third year running. In 2008, it was for I Cut My Finger; in 2009, for Dead Cars in Managua; this year, it's for my short story collection Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. Luckily, my bridesmaid outfit from the previous years still fits.

Over and out.