amongst books

amongst books

Friday, May 01, 2015

a new statement of poetics

"Trial by Social Media, Little Brother and Thought Control" can be found at Evening Will Come, the Volta. rob mclennan was kind enough to solicit an essay from me a while back for a Canadian feature. the issue includes essays by me, derek beaulieu, Helen Hajnoczky, Peter Jaeger, Gil McElroy, Erin Moure, Natalie Simpson & larry timewell. Take a read of the whole thing here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

30 Poetry Books for National Poetry Month

Y’all know how I love lists. Lists are fucking arbitrary. Other lists always make me want to write my own lists because I don’t see what I would consider to be great whatevers on their lists. So here are 30 Canadian poetry books on my shelf that I continue to engage with, pull off my shelves and reread, & would recommend for anyone who wanted to read compelling stuff. My tastes tend to run toward edgy, dark poems that have duende (see *); I also enjoy a good long poem or poem series.

1. Tom Walmsley, What Happened (Book Thug, 2007)*
2. Tom Walmsley, Honeymoon in Berlin (Anvil Press, 2004)*
3. bpNichol, the Martyrology (Books 1-9) (Coach House, 1972-1993)
4. John Thompson, Collected Poems and Translations (Goose Lane Editions, 1995, 2015)*
5. Sandra Ridley, Post Apothecary (Pedlar Press, 2011)*
6. Sandra Ridley, The Counting House (Book Thug, 2013)
7. Sandra Ridley, Fallout (Hagios Press, 2010)
8. Robert Kroetsch, the Completed Field Notes (the University of Alberta Press, 2000)
9. Dennis Cooley, the Bentleys (the University of Alberta Press, 2006)
10. Dennis Cooley, Bloody Jack (Turnstone Press, 1984), (the University of Alberta Press, 2002)*
11. Dennis Cooley, Seeing Red (Turnstone Press, 2003)
12. Nathalie Stephens, Je Nathanaël (Book Thug, 2006)
13. Anne Carson, Short Talks (Brick Books, 1992, 2015)
14. Anne Carson, If Not, Winter – Fragments of Sappho (Vintage Canada, 2003)
15. Gwendolyn MacEwen, the Selected Gwendolyn MacEwen (Exile Editions, 2008)*
16. rob mclennan, Aubade (Broken Jaw Press, 2008)
17. rob mclennan, stone, book one (Palimpsest Press, 2004)
18. rob mclennan, a compact of words (salmonpoetry, 2009)
19. Oana Avasilichioaei, We, Beasts (Wolsak and Wynn, 2011)*
20. Oana Avasilichioaei & Erín Moure, Expeditions of a Chimaera
21. Erín Moure, The Unmemntioable (House of Anansi Press, 2012)
22. Erín Moure, O Cadoiro (House of Anansi Press, 2011)
23. Stephen Brockwell, The Real, Made Up (ECW Press, 2007)
24. Stephen Brockwell, Complete Surprising Fragments of Improbable Books (Mansfield Press, 2013)
25. Christine McNair, Conflict (Book Thug, 2012)*
26. Ken Babstock, Methodist Hatchet (House of Anansi Press, 2011)
27. Ken Babstock, Airstream Land Yacht (House of Anansi Press, 2006)
28. Pearl Pirie, been shed bore (Chaudiere Books, 2010)
29. Marcus McCann, the Hard Return (Insomniac Press, 2012)
30. Monty Reid, the Luskville Reductions (Brick Books, 2008)

See my 100 poetry books list over on, the queen of lists, if you want more of this.

And if there are books that you feel should be on such a list, I encourage you to make your own list & share it around. Send me the link! If you don’t have any of these books, get thee to your neighbourhood indie bookstore & pick them up or order them.

In Ottawa, I highly recommend Octopus Books on Third Avenue in the Glebe. Its Canadian CanPo section is crammed with great books at the bottom of a shelving unit at the back of the store.
If you're short of dough, visit the Ottawa Public Library. If you don't see these books on the list, ask for them. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Three picks from the Ottawa International Writers Festival

One of the delights of an Ottawa springtime is the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which begins this Wednesday. You can go crazy trying to hit up all of the events, from the literary to the political, to the memoir to the science talks. I tend to focus on the literary and primarily the fiction because we’d have a  paucity of fiction events here in Ottawa, were it not for the festival. This is a great opportunity to hear new and established writers, chat them up, get copies of their books and hang about with fellow bibliophiles.

Here are three events I’m jumping up and down in my seat about:

I think I’ve been to every one of these and they always hold surprises. I discover new music and hear songs I  haven’t heard by some of my favourite musicians. The format is interesting. Alan usually has some sort of theme and picks singer/songwriters that fit within the theme. There’s a lot of conversation and clips from interviews. This year the theme is Random Play with musical guests: CRAIG FINN of THE HOLD STEADY,  

I have been a fan of Michael’s since I first read Cumberland, his novel set in Cornwall, Ontario, several years ago. I also enjoyed his second novel, Progress, and am looking forward to his memoir, My Body is Yours. Michael is a talented writer of both fiction and poetry and also a filmmaker

I just read Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels Like the Movies this past winter and I found it to be heart-breaking, compelling and humorous.

Glenn Nuotio is one of my favourite people and I love his music.

I also feel that discussions surrounding gender identity, prejudice based on gender and sexual orientation are vital and I’m glad that these are being addressed at the festival through these fine works.

April 25, 6:30pm The Time to Make It Shorter with Mark Anthony Jarman, Steven Hayward, Heather O'Neill and Guy Vanderhaeghe

With all due respect to all of the writers at this event, the person I  am most looking forward to is Heather O’Neill. I have just devoured her second book, The Girl Who was Saturday Night; last winter I enjoyed Lullabies for Little Criminals, and have just started her short story collection, Daydreams of Angels. I love her writing, her characters, her descriptions of Montreal and her fancifulness. I like the fact that she writes about people who are treated as the dregs of society, petty criminals, drug dealers, fat old Russians, aging former Quebec musical icons, patients in mental hospitals, feral cats.

The Ottawa International Writers Festival Spring Edition takes place at Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks Street from April 22 to April 28, 2015 and includes poetry, fiction, memoir, history, politics, science, music, food, laughter, mayhem, sweet smiles, awkward pauses, CBC hosts, Carleton and U of O students, workshops, glamourous outfits, Sean Wilson in a baseball cap and surprises…

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Taking a stand

1. I believe in the concept of innocence until guilt is proven in a court of law.

2. Someone who is on the receiving end of negative accusations in public has the right to address the accusations through a court of law via lawsuits.

3. Proof is essential and cannot be discounted. The legal system cannot be disregarded or bypassed.

4. The court of public opinion where innuendo, gossip and power games are the chief means of  obtaining information, instead of facts, evidence and proof, is not an acceptable method of dealing with issues of criminality or wrong-doing.

These points for me are not debatable. I merely raise them for the sake of integrity and the need to demonstrate that not everyone agrees with those who think they are just in publicly shaming/gossiping about their peers or celebrities or whomever.  I am hoping people will think twice before spreading rumours, gossip and mean comments about their fellow human beings. Social media is not the correct way to deal with issues of criminality. I am not on any one side: accuser or accused, but more importantly I am on the side of everyone’s right to be presumed innocent unless they are convicted in a court of law.

I will not address specific issues in public, particularly in social  media. I encourage you to voice your own opinions in social media or elsewhere, but I will delete comments made on my FB page & any other social media I belong to, on this subject. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

my work featured on Jacket2, notes by rob mclennan

rob mclennan continues the conversation of contemporary poetics in this latest series of notes on Canadian poetry published in the Australian on line magazine, Jacket2. I am fortunate to be included in the series with his notes on several of my poetry projects, including my current work-in-progress, Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Book. Note that I will be reading from the work on February 7 at the Factory Reading Series, February 18 at the Sawdust Reading Series and in March at VERSeFest, where I will also read from Kiki.  I will do my best to read from different sections of these works so that those of you who are good enough to attend multiple readings won’t be bored.
I am grateful to the City of Ottawa for the funding I have received for Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Books, Kiki and Ghazals Against the Gradual Demise. Thanks also to the Ontario Arts Council, which also funded the latter two manuscripts while they were in development.

Here are rob’s Jacket2 notes so far from latest to earliest:

- Amanda Earl: Excerpts from Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Book 
- A short interview with Armand Garnet Ruffo
- David McGimpsey: Three new poems
- The Canadian prose poem : Notes toward an essay I haven’t quite written
- Annharte’s AKA Inendagosekwe
- A short interview with Nikki Reimer
- jwcurry's archive
- Roland Prevost: two new poems
- Pearl Pirie: two new poems
- Chris Turnbull's endless directions
- Gil McElroy's cartography
- Selecting Phil Hall

thanks to rob for all he does and for including me once again.

for those of you who haven’t heard of Jacket2, I  highly recommend it as a resource on modern poetry and poetics. it includes interviews, articles, panel discussions, podcasts and more. For example, take a read of this interesting panel discussion of poetry as music led by Anselm Berrigan or this article on the new face of Chinese poetry.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Big Book of Domination Blog Tour

I’m chuffed that my story “The Third Floor” was published by Cleis Press in the Big Book of Domination in 2014. I’ve been asked to take part in a blog tour to promote the book, edited by D.L. King.

“The Third Floor,” like much of my erotic fiction, is about desire. Not just desire but a type of desire that is taboo in mainstream society: the need to be dominated sexually. In the story, Mandy, the main character wrestles with this need. After numerous disappointing forays into online dominance and submission, Mandy encounters a potential master. She has to decide whether or not to take the leap from virtual submission to the real thing.

Of course, mine is not the only story in the anthology. There are twenty-five sizzling tales by both well-known and emerging erotica writers, with a foreward by Laura Antoniou, author of the Marketplace Series, and an introduction by D.L. King. I highly recommend this volume to anyone who is tantalized by the idea of power exchange.

I had the pleasure of reading my story at Northbound Leather as part of the More Than 50 Project recently in Toronto. The event was organized in conjunction with the release of the 50 Shades of Grey film to remind or let people know of great BDSM fiction. What do  you read after 50 Shades? The Big Book of Domination, of course. It was great to read with D.L. King, Nairne Holtz, Andrea Zanin, and Evan Mora whose stories were kick-ass. There was also a fabulous open mic reader named Cordelia who read hot and unusual stories. It was a great afternoon all round. Thanks to D.L. King for inviting me to read, to Northbound Leather for the event and to the audience.

I’d provide an excerpt from “The Third Floor” but it’s too graphic for this blog alas. You'll just have to buy the book. That’s an order…

If you would like to read more of my smut, you can purchase my collection "Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl." All the money from the book's purchase goes to researching & raising awareness about AIDS/HIV.

Here's the blog tour schedule:

1/19  Valerie Alexander
1/21  David Wraith
1/23  Giselle Renarde
1/25  Amanda Earl
1/27  Evan Mora
1/28  Angela Sargenti
1/30  Athena Marie
2/1   Anna Mitcham
2/3   Rachel Kramer Bussel
2/5   Zoe Amos
2/7   Olivia Summersweet
2/9   Katya Harris
2/11  Alison Winchester
2/12  Malin James  Http://
2/14  Laura Antoniou

Here are some sales links for "the Big Book of Domination":

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Poetry & Smut Readings in 2015

so far, here's the schedule:


Sunday, January 18, 2014, 2pm, The More Than 50 Project, Northbound Leather
with D. L. King, Andrea Zanin, Evan Mora, Amanda Earl, Jean Roberta, Nairne Holtz.
I'll be reading my story "The Third Floor" from the Big Book of Domination (Cleis Press, 2014) & possibly a wee bit of Kiki, if there's time. I'll have a few copies of the latter on hand. 


Friday, January 30, 2014, 7pm, Ottawater Issue 11 launch, The Carleton Tavern
i'll be reading along with a bunch of folk published in the issue.

Wednesday, February 18, the Sawdust Reading Series. I'll be reading from Kiki & my work-in-progress, Saint Ursula's Commonplace Book. There will be another featured reader to be announced closer to the date. Sawdust does a combo of invitation & contest for their features. 

March, VERSeFest, Ottawa's annual week long poetry festival. More details as they arrive.

That's it so far. I'm available for readings anywhere I can take the train, a local bus or walk to. I'm a member of the League of Canadian Poets, if that helps...