30 January 2008

The saga of the tartan yamulke

(First, just want to reiterate my plea for voluntary silence among all parties on the topics around the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, to allow some breathing room, and then hopefully some healing and reconciliation.)

Last week, I received my edits for Dead Cars in Managua, the poetry book that's coming out under DC Books' Punchy Writing imprint this spring. I haven't been able to dive into the work yet, but I read through all of Jason's Camlot's notes and suggestions (in a particularly perverted bit of provocation, he even turned one of my poems into a rhyming sonnet: no way!). It's a really vigorous, challenging edit, and it shows a lot of enthusiasm and care for my writing. I've been lucky, with Michael Holmes at ECW and Brian Kaufman at Anvil, to have such empathetic editors of my poetry. But Jason's really stepping in there with his wading boots on. Given that I put this manuscript together so quickly, and it's such a different kind of book for me, this was the kind of edit I needed here.

Among the other more positive poetry moments of the last week, I got to meet a poet I've long admired: Jeanette Lynes (from Nova Scotia and living temporarily in Kingston), whose Aging Cheerleaders' Alphabet I love and whose poems I published a couple years back in This Magazine. She told me about her forthcoming book, the details of which are perhaps not public yet, but I sure look forward to reading it. I gave Jeanette a copy of Surreal Estate and of The Mud Game, my collaborative novel with Gary Barwin. Jeanette brought her friend Susie Petersiel Berg along; although Susie lives in Toronto, I've never met her (as is the case for me with a few million other Torontonians). I bought a copy of her new chapbook, Paper Cuts, from her, and then let Jeanette pay for my soup, so I almost broke even.

The night before, I crashed the after-party of the Writers' Union of Canada executive meeting, on the invitation of Vancouver poet Elizabeth Bachinsky. I was a TWUC member for 10 or 12 years, but haven't been for a while. Hanging out for a bit among that crowd made me determined to join again. Unfortunately, Liz had to take off pretty quickly, but I had some nice chats, most notably with a Quebec surrealistic fictioneer named Peter Dubé. I didn't know who he was before the party, but now I want to read his stuff. Turns out we share a publisher: DC Books.

And speaking of publishers, I had a great lunch (on him!) last week with Jack David of ECW. We talked mostly about a book project I've been thinking about, and while he loved the idea, he seemed to be doing everything he could to talk me out of it. Or at least to warn me that it would be way more work than I was thinking. I've been doing freelance editing for ECW for most of the years since our, um, disagreements (as outlined in my book Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer). Jack, Michael, and others there have been very generous. For Chanukah 2006, Jack mailed me a tartan yarmulke.

Over and out.


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