06 June 2013

Boot Camps, McFadden, the Kootenays, Hunkamooga...

Been a while since I posted here. And so much to blog about.


In Toronto this weekend, I'll be running my Poetry Boot Camp — separate sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, from 10 till 5, in the Christie/Dupont area. The cost is $90. You will write a million poems in a million weird ways. Well, at least a dozen poems. These sessions always get rave reviews from participants, and there are writers who have taken my Boot Camp three, four, five, six times. Some participants have never written a poem before. Some have a pile of books published. There may be last-minute space available still, so write me at razovsky [at] gmail [dot] com if you are interested.


It's been almost exactly two months since I received a mysterious, brief email from the awesome Dani Couture. It read: "Yay McFadden!" I had no idea what it was about. Then little clues began appearing here and there. Turns out it had just been announced that David W. McFadden had been shortlisted for the Canadian Griffin Prize for Poetry, worth $75,000 ($10,000 for the pre-awards reading, and $65,000 for the actual prize). The book is What's the Score? (Mansfield Press, 2012), the fourth of five books by Dave that I've worked on as editor.

I was thrilled. I still am. Next week, on June 13, we'll find out if Dave McFadden has finally taken a major prize, after three GG shortlistings and now two Griffin shortlistings. The first book I worked with him on was Why Are You So Sad? Selected Poems of David W. McFadden (Insomniac Press, 2007). It was shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin Poetry Prize. Dave lost to Robin Blaser, and turned to me and said, "You could have edited it better." (Dave was joking.) The next book we worked on was Be Calm, Honey (Mansfield Press, 2008); it was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Poetry. Then came Why Are You So Long and Sweet? Collected Long Poems of David W. McFadden (Insomniac Press, 2010), a remarkable book that deserved far more attention than it received. And then there was What's the Score? Most recently, Dave and I worked on a travel journal he originally wrote in 1992, called Mother Died Last Summer (Mansfield Press, 2013).

I think it's time for Dave to win a prize. This would certainly be a fine one.


As I have done for seven of the past eight years, I spent a few weeks this spring in the Kootenays, in the B.C. Interior, working in schools and working on poems. And doing a bit of kayaking. I may be the luckiest writer in Canada to have this opportunity. I worked with students at five schools this time around, everything from kindergarten up to Grade 12. I came out a week early and did nothing but sit in my cabin on the outskirts of New Denver and work on my own writing projects — a novel, solo poems, collaborative poems, translations. It was pretty idyllic. I'd never been so productive out there.

Great times, as always, in the various schools I visited. I'm really getting to like working with kindergarten kids. I remember the first time I walked into one such class a few years ago, all ready to get them writing. And then I looked at all these very little people, and I turned to the teacher and said, "They can't actually write, can they?" She said nope, they can't, except maybe to print their names. I had to instantly adapt, and it worked out beautifully. And I've gotten better at it ever since.

Another highlight of this trip was a porch reading I did with poet Linda Crosfield at her home in Ootischenia, just outside of Castlegar. We had a full porch: about 24 people came, and the atmosphere was just amazing. Linda gave a lovely and well-received reading, and I got a very good response as well. I met Linda and her husband, Ted, the first time I visited the Koots, and we have become great friends since. Linda has also just published a great, gorgeous chapbook of poems by George Bowering through her nifty and pretty new Nose In Book imprint.


It is with great regret that I announce the death of my long-time column "Hunkamooga" in sub-Terrain magazine. A few months ago I pulled it. "Hunkamooga" began in the Toronto monthly Word a very long time ago, and migrated to subby when Word became on online publication. The column was traumatized back in 2008 during The Great Troubles (some stupid fucking threatened lawsuit against me, not related to the column, but one that taught me what "libel chill" means, and what an evil thing it is to bring about). I think "Hunkamooga" took a bit of a turn at that time, but I've been very proud of what I did with it in each instalment. I made some half-hearted attempts to attract another home for the column, both on Facebook and Twitter, but nothing came of it. Will I ever speak with the publisher of sub-Terrain again? I hope so. We'll see. Maybe it'll all just be water under the bridge I burned.

Yeah, I burn 'em. But I also build 'em at an equal velocity.

Thing is, I'm going to start putting my Hunkamooga energy back into this blog.

Over and out.


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