amongst books

amongst books

Friday, May 13, 2016

Update – near summer 2016

Now that my season of readings seems to be over for the nonce, I’m focusing on the following WIPs:

1. a new poetry series which uses the language & imagery of the poetry of Plath, Sexton & MacEwen to write about the onset of menopause & all the fun that entails;
2. a poetry series about  my 2009 health crisis;
3. a linked collection of short stories set in an apartment building;
4. a linked collection of fairy tales inspired by art & colour;
5. The Vispo Bible: working on Exodus & Revelation.

& reading books for above projects, with a detour into Virginia Woolf’s novels this summer, starting with  her first, “The Voyage Out”.

I’ll keep you posted on publications if & when they appear…

the above work entails a lot of hermitting, but I’ll try to make it out to a few readings when I’m in the right frame of minde. writing is a solitary business, but I can often be Bar Robo, my new darling neighbourhood café, or on my favouite bench in Dundonald Park, sky watching. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Kiki in Montreal

On May 3, 2016, I read at the Résonance Reading Series in Montréal with  Elee Kraljii GardinerJacob McArthur Mooney, and Alison Strumberger.

It was a splendid reading. My thanks to Klara du Plessis, my fellow readers, the lovely attentive audience & the café.

Afterwards, Charles & I took Kiki on a tour of the city...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Impromptu # 30: an ode to guinness and a thank you

Douglas Luman (aka the Venerable Bede) asks us to think of a memorable phone number or a phone number that was important to us. Using his phonewords application over on Applied Poetics, a deliriously joyous site for poetry making using Oulipian techniques and more, to take a source text and reduce it to only words that use the letters from the phone number to create a poem. This was great fun, of course.

HENRYGILBERT. 1911, furnished by the lovely Project Gutenberg.

Phone number: 867-5309 from the song.

 an ode to guinness

to put off joust for stout
to set for stout of old
keep none not for rest
send me up to red
keep room
press of folk
found streets
press of souls
to sound end of love
love love tell me love
send forest to a rose

other phone number or phone songs also came to mind: Echo Valley 26809 by the Partridge Family, The Knack’s Your Number or Your Name. All my references are from the late 70s/early 80s. I’m sure there were numerous other songs with phone numbers in the title in more modern times, but this is what I remember.

finally, a word or several words, of thanks to the Found Poetry Review, its editors, the poets who created the prompts and the participants and those of you who were reading along, who retweeted or commented or shared my poems. this was a joyous experience, sometimes daunting, sometimes so intriguing that I spent most of the day working on a prompt. it’s been an engrossing and consuming activity. a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month. Thanks to all those who commented on my zany poems and shared your own. It’s been fun reading your work and engaging with you.

poetry can lead to community. doesn't have to, but when it does, i find it rewarding. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cutting Up – n. hanna (battleaxe press, 2016)

the eighteen poems in this chapbook by n. hanna are lyrical, feisty and often raw. the poet engages with the topic of violence against women, their rape and murder through poems addressed to Shakespeare’s skull in reaction to the “violence towards his female characters and women’s process through the legal system.”  I would like to hear the poem “only,” a list of things that do not mean a woman consents, read aloud in a loud voice by a group of women on a stage, in the streets: “silence                is not a yes.” with space at the bottom for readers to add their own.

n.  hanna shows her love of language with images such as “wet fears and blue delights --/an analytical organ” in “william shakespeare’s missing skull (and other proofs in the negative)."

there’s an urgency to these poems, dreams of missing women and air raid sirens in “waking up,” for example. some fine and witty turns on old clichés: “what’s good for the gander/is slander for the genuine” in “truce.”

the poems are compassionate renderings about and for women who’ve been brutalized and murdered, to the victims of that CBC radio host whose name I would like never to speak again. to women who are pressured to shave legs and cunts while men have “pit hair & shaggy crotches” (truce), to women who are earning less than men (wage gap).

there are powerful poems either written in the voices of Shakespeare’s characters or addressed to them: “these assholes/fighting over my grave-bound body/as i lay here/pretending not to breathe” (ophelia’s rue).

there’s nothing heavy-handed about these poems that quietly demand justice. there’s a fine sensibility to the work, wrought by a poet who listens and looks carefully at her environment, at literature, popular culture and history, and into her own psyche.

the long poem “evidence” is a strong and effective piece that centres around the Ghomeshi verdict, but also brings in Portia and Balthazar from the Merchant of Vince and speaks of  the trial of Bradley Barton for the murder of Cindy Gladue. yes, these poems will make you cry. “i can’t look/pressed all sides by fear as/the vagina of saint gladue/is excised and displayed/in the owl-eyed juridic mecca.”

I love the defiance and quiet strength of these poems:  “simply, I do not care/what you are wearing, sisters/come out of your houses/and be in the streets” … “bring your whisky/and the face that gets things done -- / let’s have your stories” (wards against disasters).

“Cutting Up” is published in a limited run of 50 and available through battleaxe press by contacting the author. Buy a copy for your parents, your lovers, your children, your friends. We all need to read these poems right now.

Note also the call for submissions for “the bird, philomela,": “focussing on women’s interpretations and opinions of assault and sexual assault.” deadline – May 11, 2016.

Impromptu # 29 - Alchemy

I used the Lazarus Corporation’s Text Mixing Desk & plucked the occasional phrase that resonated, mixing it with a few words of my own…


Stone is of a made flesh the Spirit has assumed the fire
I am thinking of you and the permanent earth one body air
the moon into bodies philosophers in the dark constant things
the spark of water silver and cleansing a spiritual thing the elements
all the colours a moment I am thinking of you fugitive a corporal thing
this spirit quintessence vapours nimbled bread a coagulation mercury I worry never rise again more than when the body is this secret falling colour ashes ghost a stone combustible pure the right way the wind the eagle corporeal the door a hindrance the belly I am thinking of you vapour ascends the world and truth nothing purification strange words I am thinking truly ancient time when the body unexpert a singular body unwise again with me changing into water I am thinking of you I am thinking of you I am thinking of you

Thanks, Beth, for the wondrous prompt. You have one more day to take part over at the Found Poetry Review or I suppose you can go back & do the prompts later. 

Thank you to Adam McLean of the Alchemy Website for his amazing & thorough resources on alchemy & for the image above from his emblems project. (Copyright Adam McLean 1997-2011)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Impromptu # 28 - fierce angel aloft

Jenni B. Baker asks us to turn a poem into music and offers some excellent step by step instructions. I used Milton’s Paradise Lost Books I and II for my source text. This was a quirky challenge and a hell of a lot of fun. Thanks Jenni.

books one and two of paradise lost

fierce angel aloft                                f (quarter note) a (half note) a (half note)
boundless and charmed                                 b (half note) a (quarter note) c (quarter note)
eternal god                                                          e (dotted half note) g (quarter note)
golden fiend                                                        g (half note) f (quarter note)
flowering exile                                                   f (dotted half note) e (half note)
ethereal earth eyes                                            e (whole note) e (quarter note) e (quarter note)
go each glimmer                                                g (quarter note) e (quarter note) g (half note)
breathe chaos and air                                      b (quarter note) c (half note) a (quarter note) a (quarter note)
beyond an abyss                                                b (half note) a (quarter note) a (half note)
choose endless death                                       c (quarter note) e (half note) d (quarter note)

here’s the score made from this cool program called and below is the audio file because i'm not sure it can be heard over at note that the words are not properly placing themselves over the notes, but this is still very cool. 

For those of you who are just joining us, The Found Poetry Review is celebrating National Poetry Month by offering daily experimental writing prompts from writers. I will be responding to them at poetic whim.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Impromptu # 27: Once Upon A Haiku

Greg Santos gave us four choices. I chose one I’ve never done before: write poems based on titles from a book’s table of contents. I chose English Fairy Tales (Golden Pleasure Books, 1965) and thought: haiku—why not? I haven’t strictly adhered to 5/7/5 syllables when I just couldn’t resist making a line even sillier.

Here, without further ado, are 29 somewhat whacky, occasionally ribald, haiku. 

The Little Fairy Tale Cockerel

Once upon a time
this cock with a big ego
dribbled on and on

The Cat and The Mouse

Once upon a time
this laid-back cat saw a mouse
now they’re good buddies

The Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time
straw house tenant didn’t pay
they blew his house down

A Frog He Went A-Wooing Go

Once upon a time
during a trip to Paris
this chick met a frog

The Enchanted Mountain

Once upon a time
weed was decriminalized
everybody climbed

Little Johnny Buttermilk

Once upon a time
his lactose intolerance
made this shit seem good

The White Bullock

Once upon a time
a racist ran for president
he’d better not win

The Story of Tom Thumb

Once upon a time
a cat burglar did some time
yeah, he was all thumbs

The Pretty Ragmaid

Once upon a time
i was on my period
don’t call me fucking pretty

Roland and Helen

Once upon a time
she met Roland on Tinder
sent Paris packing

The Princess and the Hazelnuts

Once upon a time
her damn peanut allergy
drove her fucking nuts

Molly Whipple

Once upon a time
Molly caused euphoria
not panic attacks

The Three Golden Apples

Once upon a time
The stock market was bullish
Granny Smith turned gold

The Well of the Three Heads

Once upon a time
a horny chick made a wish
that’s a lot of dicks

The Little Red Man

Once upon a time
a ginger with a wee dick
had an agile tongue

Knight Wynd and Lady Margaret

Once upon a time
a gassy pal of Gawain’s
stalked Maggie Thatcher upwind

The Black Bull of Norroway

Once upon a time
media moguls
traded in bull shit

Dick Whittington and His Cat

Once upon a time
he liked autofellatio
now he licks pussy

Jack the Giant Killer

Once upon a time
the two guys measured their dicks:
a crime of passion

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Once upon a time
a fag hag liked hairy guys
was often their beards

Beauty and the Beast

Once upon a time
Walt Disney made the movie
better kinds abound

Coat of Rushes

Once upon a time
Geddy Lee had a rock band
he’s a Canuck, eh

Jack and the Beanstalk

Once upon a time
Jackie went full on vegan
ate a lot of bean

Joan in Fairyland

Once upon a time
after they set her on fire
Joan sang I Love Rock N Roll

The Tailor and His Apprentices
Once upon a time
they came up with this lame name
The Who was taken

Idle Jack

Once upon a time
Jill had to fetch all the water
she pushed Jack down the hill

The Abbot of Canterbury

Once upon a time
Anglican priests could be queer
God loves everyone

The Wise Men of Gotham

Once upon a time
Batman and Robin came out
the rumours were true

The Tulip Bed

Once upon a time
spring followed winter, tulips
didn’t bake with heat

Thanks to Greg Santos for the excellent prompts.

Play along!

For those of you who are just joining us, 
The Found Poetry Review is celebrating National Poetry Month by offering daily experimental writing prompts from writers. I will be responding to them at poetic whim.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Impromptu 26: Cage Breakin'

R. A. Villanueva asks us to think about Jurasic Park, the velociraptors that could unlatch doors. He has us watch a short film of dancers, first with the music, then without. He asks us to think about reshaping tradition, received forms and surprise. i wanted to make the alphabet dance. here's an attempt...

Thanks to R.A. Villanueva for the kick-ass prompt.

Play along!

For those of you who are just joining us, 
The Found Poetry Review is celebrating National Poetry Month by offering daily experimental writing prompts
 from writers. I will be responding to them at poetic whim.