Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Run

Just got word that Track & Trace is going into a second printing, just six months after the first one. Thanks to all those who've helped make my litel bok the modest success it is!

The mistake of the last hundred years

Another terrific interview, this one with Michael Lista (conducted by Jacob Mooney), whose Bloom I'm really looking forward to reading. Like now.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The baroque and the rococo underneath

Thanks to Paul Vermeersch for pointing out this wonderful interview with Australian poet Les Murray, conducted by J. Mark Smith. I generally take Poe's line on long poems, but Fredy Neptune is a helluva book.

Me 'n' Ennui response

That Taproot by Brenda Schmidt.

Hold On to Your Hat

Very cool. A song by Raccoon Bandit. Lead singer Fraser McCallum grew up down the road from me; I used to babysit him and his siblings. And the farmer in the video is none other than poet John MacKenzie.

HAT - Racoon Bandit from Adam Perry on Vimeo.


Hello. I've been assigned to slaughter
your darlings. Don't worry, you won't feel
a thing. I'll gently lead you to water,
then shove your head under.
Slasher cum surgeon, I wield steel
and feed the fat to the hogs.
I drain and pave over your marshes and bogs.
Your story's our bastard daughter.
I'm not bothered that you don't credit me as the father.
It's all part of our barter.
Enough to know that I've cured your disorder.
Most limbs are stronger a foot or two shorter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Me 'n' Ennui

He accused me of being mentally
lazy. Which wasn't true, not fully,
because what I am is fundamentally

lazy. Which means that my ass
has a taproot and that my ass-
umptions are mired in a morass

of self-regarding half-truths.
Blame it on my uncouth
environs. Blame it on youth

or the views of my parents.
Blame it on my aberrant
behaviour, the apparent

offshoot of corrupt institutions,
a flawed constitution
of country and corps, the dissolution

of my generation's esprit,
an overfond embrace of entropic ennui—
but buddy, don't blame it on me.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Whole Lot of Everything

That's what's going on in the Atlantic provinces during the upcoming Atlantic Book Festival. I'm looking forward very much to my own readings in St. John and Charlottetown (my first on home soil since the publication of Track & Trace).

Some Love for Kenneth Leslie

A brief, but very nice, notice for The Essential Kenneth Leslie in today's Telegraph Journal (New Brunswick).

UPDATE: Somehow missed this little note from Paul Vermeersch a couple weeks back. Google Alerts, why hast thou forsaken me?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Audio: James Langer and Anne Compton

A reading I attended at the St. Mary's University Art Gallery a couple of nights ago. Enjoy:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thus Spoke Nietzsche

The slave revolt in morality begins when ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of natures that are denied the true reaction, that of deeds, and compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge. While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is "outside," what is "different," what is "not me"; and this No is its creative deed. This inversion of the value-positing eye-this need to direct one's view outward instead of back to oneself-is of the essence of ressentiment: in order to exist, slave morality always first needs a hostile world; it needs, psychologically speaking, external stimuli in order to act at all--its action is fundamentally reaction.

The reverse is the case with the noble mode of valuation: it acts and grows spontaneously, it seeks its opposite only so as to affirm itself more gratefully and triumphantly -- its negative concept "low," "common," "bad" is only a subsequently-invented pale, contrasting image in relation to its positive basic concept -- filled with life and passion through and through -- "we noble ones, we good, beautiful, happy ones!" When the noble mode of valuation blunders and sins against reality, it does so in respect to the sphere with which it is not sufficiently familiar, against a real knowledge of which it has indeed inflexibly guarded itself: in some circumstances it misunderstands the sphere it despises, that of the common man, of the lower orders; on the other hand, one should remember that, even supposing that the affect of contempt, of looking down from a superior height, falsifies the image of that which it despises, it will at any rate still be a much less serious falsification than that perpetrated on its opponent -- in effigy of course -- by the submerged hatred, the vengefulness of the impotent. There is indeed too much carelessness, too much taking lightly, too much looking away and impatience involved in contempt, even too much joyfulness, for it to be able to transform its object into a real caricature and monster.


While the noble man lives in trust and openness with himself ... the man of ressentiment is neither upright nor naïve nor honest and straightforward with himself. His soul squints: his spirit loves hiding places, secret paths and back doors, everything covert strikes him as his world, his security, his refreshment; he understands how to keep silent, how not to forget, how to wait, how to be provisionally self-deprecating and humble.

-On the Genealogy of Morals 1:10

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh Lord, it's Hard to be Humble or Why Is Everybody Always Pickin' on Me?

This is quite amusing.

Some context.

Bonus points to the first commenter to identify which Canadian poet was last associated with the above graphic on this blog.

Audio: Cooked and Eaten Reading Series: Gabe Foreman, Zach Gaviller, Leigh Kotsilidis, Joshua Trotter, Zachariah Wells

Dudek and Souster

David Kosub has a post up about a couple of Canadian poets who, it seems to me, are of more historical than literary interest. Souster's always been an egregiously prolific hit-and-miss kind of poet--and most of his hits are singles, rather than homers. (See, I prefer baseball metaphors to hockey, tho I certainly appreciate when the latter are used to describe my "dekes and turns.") Dudek, on the other hand, I don't think ever got out from under the oppressive weight of Pound (apologies); he seems to have been more concerned with writing Important Poetry Relevant to his Historical Moment than in writing good poems. An interesting figure, nonetheless. But neither one of them comes close to their one-time partner in crime, Irving Layton, who was both an interesting figure and an artistic genius (at his best, which I concede he frequently wasn't).

A trivial sidenote: Souster was responsible for one of my earliest publications, when he chose an early version of my poem "Stacking Boxes in the Belly of a Flying Whale" for an anthology he was editing in the late nineties. So yeah, he cut me some slack! Probably too much...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

T&T Review

Track & Trace has been reviewed in The Lance, which appears to be a student paper out of the U of Windsor.

Just waiting on a couple of fellow travellers before embarking on a five hour drive from Montreal to Peterborough. If you're in the Peterborough area tonight, please drop by our reading. (Details a couple of posts ago.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Audio: Corruption of the Youth

I'm off to Peterborough today, via Montreal. At last, here's the audio from my epic session with the youth of Peterborough last week (couldn't visit them this week as they're off on March break). Like I said before, it was an absolutely incredible day for me, one of my best as a writer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back at 'er

Little Fishcart Night
Featuring Gabe Foreman, Zach Gaviller, Liegh Kotsilidis, Joshua Trotter and Zachariah Wells

March 18, 2010


At the Kubo Lounge, 413 George Street North, 8:00pm
Admission is Free

With music by Mike Wallace (Muddy Hack) and Jordan Mack (The Birthday Boys)

More info at

Derry, Wells and Rawlings Live!

More audio, this time from the Pivot reading in Toronto the other day: David Derry, yours truly, A. Rawlings. It's another multi-part recording, so I'll just point you to its permanent home rather than embed the player. If you listen to nothing else, check out the first recording. Before David Derry reads, there's a rather ... interesting impromptu performance. I love live readings for shit like that.

How Acrostics Work

Shane Neilson has published a reading of my poem "There Is Something Intractable in Me" over at Arc's website. A poem I never could have written had we not cleverly given our son three five-letter names.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Robyn Sarah and Wanda Campbell, live at St. Mary's University

A reading I attended before I went out of town.

Because I am something of a dolt and because the embedded player doesn't appear on CLM as it does at, you have to listen to the Q&A before you hear the reading. Or you can go here and do it properly.

Stuart Ross Needs Your Votes win the Alberta Reader's Choice Award. I haven't read all of Buying Cigarettes for the Dog yet, but what I have read I most enjoyed. So take my word for it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

CLM goes back to school

A while ago, given uncertainties surrounding my present and future employment, I decided to apply to grad school. This isn't the first time. I started an MA at Concordia U. back in 2000, which I dropped after 2 semesters for a variety of reasons, not least of which being the certainties of my employment situation at the time (I'd taken an 8 month leave from my job at First Air to go to school, and had to decide between job and more schooling).

I applied to only one school, UNB, for a host of reasons: it's the closest academic/CW hybrid program to Halifax; I know several people in the town and at the university; and people at the department responded quite favourably to my advance queries. They've responded even more favourably to my application. Without getting into specifics, they've offered me a very generous funding package to cover the two semesters it'll take me to wrap up my degree. I haven't accepted formally yet, but I will. Tho my motives for applying were mainly practical ones, I'm quite looking forward to it. It helps being made such a good offer; Concordia is a cash-poor school and my decision to quit there had as much to do with not being offered further funding as it did with the income I'd be making at my job.

I'm going to try to condense my school week to a couple of days, as I'll be commuting from Halifax--which means I'll probably have to buy a car for the first time in my life, as the bus schedule is lousy and my motorbike ain't such a hot option come December. I'm quite proud of never having owned a car and I plan to sell it as soon as I don't need to commute any more.

It's been an eventful few weeks in my household--hence the relative dearth of posts--and things are looking better for us than they have in many months. The sunshine and mild weather hurts none either. Vive le printemps!

(Still planning to upload a whack of audio when I get a chance. Keep an ear out.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hot Off the Press: The Essential Kenneth Leslie

I was very excited the other day to get my hands on my first copies of the finished Essential Kenneth Leslie. As with Porcupine's Quill books, it's beautiful. If you'd like to get a copy, you can order it from your local independent bookseller, click on one of the links in the sidebar to the right or drop me a line, along with a cheque for $17 and I'll mail you one myself.

"You'd have to be a pretty bad poet in this country not to find a press"

David Kosub has posted a very good overview of the poetry publishing scene over at Speaking of Poems.

New CNQ: John Smith special

The other night at my Pivot reading, I had a peek at a copy of the new CNQ, which Shane Neilson had brought along. I'm looking forward to sitting down with my copy when I get home. It's a special issue, with several essays on and poems by the inimitable John Smith, one of our country's most unjustly underrated poets. I hope this issue, curated by my fellow PEIslander David Hickey, goes some distance towards correcting that problem. Some content from the mag, including a revised and expanded version of an old essay of mine on Smith, is now up at the CNQ site.

Road trip precis

I'm in Toronto as I blog, a few hours away from boarding a train to Montreal en route to Halifax. An incandescent little trip it's been. Terrific, well-attended readings in Montreal and Toronto, both of which featured a trio of refreshingly varied writers. But perhaps the best of all was yesterday. On barely 3 hours sleep, I boarded a 6:30 am bus for Peterborough. I was greeted there by two teachers from Peterborough Collegiate Vocational School (a high school), who very thoughtfully provided English muffin egg sandwiched and a tall black coffee. We then went to the school, where I proceeded to read and talk to four different groups of students (7 classes in all, I believe). I have always loved events like this. The audience is challenging, because you can't take their interest in what you're doing for granted. But it's also a delightful audience because they have very few preconceptions of what's what and many of them are very eager to listen and learn and they often have piercing observations and thoughtful questions to make. I wasn't disappointed yesterday. Some very sharp young adults in that place. And, astonishingly, I offloaded 25 books--some to teachers, but most to students. I actually didn't have enough copies of Track & Trace, Unsettled, or Anything but Hank! and will have to mail some when I get home. One more strike against the naysayers who think poetry has no public.

All for now. I'll be posting a whack of audio after I get home.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hit the road, Zach

Been busting my ass this weekend to finish a big freelance assignment. And now it's done my reward is: travel and readings! Off on the train to Montreal tomorrow. Really looking forward to the first reading in my old neighbourhood (Mile End) since T&T came out. Then on to Toronto to read at Pivot, which should be awesome, if anywhere near the number of people who say they're coming show up. Then to Peterborough for an epic day of reading and talking to high school students. Then back. Five nights, three cities. Booyah! Not that long after I get back, I'm returning to Peterborough for a reading with my good friends from Littlefishcart Press. More on this to come, my pretties.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

George, Crossing Guard

You were sometimes slow, George, caught offguard
by my crisp clip as I approached your post

and hit the curb before you could shake out
your slouch and lift your red sign to stop

the traffic's flow. So what? You always had
a quiet word, a smile for my serious

son in his stroller. Though I can't say
I knew you, George--you were one of the many

we all meet fleetingly, albeit daily,
as we hurry on our hustled way, about

whom there is no thing of substance we can say--
it is probable that you were not among

the class this world considers gifted,
that all you did was in the same slow,

ungraceful way, that you made no great
addition to our city's glory.

So what, George? If all you did until the day
your heart caught you offguard and felled you, sure

as would a speeding car, was show up
and do no harm, well sir, that is a lesson

that might give the investment bankers
and plastic surgeons of America

pause, before they step out from the curb.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Some love for T&T

Some good news I got a little while ago was made public today. Track & Trace has been shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize, along with Anne Compton's Asking Questions Indoors and Out and Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaasen's Lean-To. Congratulations to both Anne and Tonja.

My wee book is definitely the dark horse in this race. Not only has Anne won a GG, but both of her previous collections won the Atlantic Prize. And a suite of Tonja's poems, included in this volume, won the CBC Literary Award. As readers of this blog know, I'm a man of many character flaws, but modesty isn't one of them. So believe me when I say I'm a bit surprised to have made this shortlist, given the strong field this year. Besides my fellow nominees, I can think of a slew of collections off the top of my head that deserve the nod at least as much as mine does:

Wayne Clifford, Jane Again
Richard Greene, Boxing the Compass
James Langer, Gun Dogs
Shane Neilson, Meniscus
Harry Thurston, Animals of My Own Kind
Patrick Warner, Mole

Leave it to me to point out the shortcomings of a shortlist I'm on!

Here's the bumph from the official announcement:

Atlantic Poetry Prize

ASking QuestionsAsking Questions Indoors and Out
Anne Compton
Fitzhenry and Whiteside

Anne Compton's first two collections marked the arrival of a major voice in Canadian literature. In this, her third book of poetry, she brings her crafted, narrative lines into focus on the mysterious metaphysical nature of everyday life. Spirit-haunted yet critical, and meticulous in her observations, Compton opens the immediate world by asking it questions, searching for answer to the way in which we live.

A native of Prince Edward Island, Anne Compton is Writer-in-Residence at UNB Saint John, where she also teaches English literature and creative writing courses and is the director of the Lorenzo Reading Series and the Backtalk Series. She has contributed to critical discussions on 19th-century and early 20th-century aesthetics; 17th-century metaphysical poetry; Canadian literature and Maritime literature. Her poetry is published nationally and internationally, and her reviews appear in Canadian Literature, Fiddlehead, and other journals. She won the Atlantic Poetry Prize in 2003 for Opening the Island and in 2006 forProcessional, which also received the 2005 Governor General's Award for poetry. In 2008 she was honoured by the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in the Literary Arts.

Lean ToLean-To
Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen
Gaspereau Press

In her third book of poetry, Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen writes of places made home, navigating between fixed points of origin and the flotsam that encloses, between the longevity of marriage and parenthood, and the temporary of camping trips, renovations and hospital stays. Across the collection, the poet's lyricism finds a lilt and repetition that firmly pegs while leaving one side open to the unlikely and unexpected.

Tonja Gunvaldsen Klaassen grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, and now lives on a hill in Halifax with her husband James and their three boys. Her first collection, Clay Birds, won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Poetry in 1996. Her second collection, Ör, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award in 2004. Her series "August: An Anniversary Suite" won a CBC Literary Award for poetry in 2005 and was published as a chapbook by Gaspereau Press. She's read in collaboration with Norman Adams on cello and has exhibited her work in the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax.

Track Track & Trace
Zachariah Wells

The poems in Zachariah Wells's second collection range from childhood to dimly foreseen events in the future; they idle on all three of Canada's coasts, travel the open road, take walks in the city and pause on the banks of country streams and ponds. Both elegiac and celebratory, Track & Trace considers how we love, how we shape our lives and how we are eroded and drifted by time and circumstance.

Zachariah Wells is also the author of Unsettled, a poetry collection about his experiences in the Canadian Arctic. He is co-author of the children's book Anything But Hank! and editor of Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets. Originally from PEI, Wells has travelled and lived all over Canada, working a variety of jobs in the transportation sector. He presently lives in Halifax, where he works as a freelance writer and editor and serves the travelling public aboard Via Rail's Ocean Ltd.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A couple of readings

I'll be doing readings in Montreal and Toronto next week. Do stop in if you're in the area:


Tuesday, March 9, 2010
7 pm at Drawn & Quarterly
211 Rue Bernard O.
Hosted by Carmine Starnino

Also reading: Norm Sibum and Robyn Sarah


Wednesday, March 10, 2010
8 p.m. at the Press Club
850 Dundas Street West
Hosted by Carey Toane

Also reading: A. Rawlings and David Derry