Friday, May 28, 2010

The Hazards of the Acrostic

Thanks to Rob Taylor for pointing out this story about a Burmese poet imprisoned for embedding a political message in a Valentine's poem--and finally released to write again.

The most trouble I've ever got into for an acrostic was having a CBC producer miffed at me. And how about that Burmese language? He said all that in an 8 line poem!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Dismal Arts

My buddy Mark Sampson has posted a very eloquent argument against the perniciously double-edged practice of using economic arguments to justify arts funding. These things keep popping up from time to time. Like Herpes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Some Love for Track & Trace

Just got word today that Track & Trace is reviewed in the new issue of FreeFall Magazine, by Micheline Maylor. It's a very enthusiastic appraisal. I'll wait till the mag itself is further past its publication date to post the whole review, but here are a few snippets:

Everything poetry should be: reflective and linguistically aware, imagistic, connected to human emotion and experience (Sorry Bök). But, wait, I forgot, delightful.


I stopped in my tracks (pun intended) reading “Cormorant”. Here Wells shows why he is earning his reputation as one of Canada’s best poets.


"Fool's Errand" ... has all the underpinnings of old world craft I find lacking in tired free verse and avant garde. This is where Wells excels. This is where our poetry, Canadian Poetry, reaches world standard.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ten Year Memos

Thanks to Peter at CanCult for pointing out this wonderful catalogue, posted by Steven Heighton at The Afterword. My favourite's #20.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Just got word today that a couple of my poems will be published in the online magazine The Puritan. They're odd little poems, very different from what one might expect me to write. You'll see.

Tasting the Labels

Jacob McArthur Mooney in conversation with The Toronto Quarterly.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you've got rhythm, Rhythm wants you

Mary Kathryn Arnold, curator of the lovely little online poetry mag Rhythm Poetry Magazine, is looking for submissions of original unpublished poetry for RPM's upcoming Spring/Summer 2010 issue. RPM is dedicated to, but by no means doctrinaire about, metrical/formal poems, and has been publishing two issues a year since 2007. Since then, they've published many poets [ed.: myself included], most notably:

Kate Braid
Alice Burdick
Siobhán Campbell
Wayne Clifford
Michael deBeyer
Alison Dyer
Michael Lista
John McCullough
Karen McElrea
A.F. Moritz
Shane Neilson
Elizabeth Peirce
Ruth Roach Pierson
John Reibetanz
Stephen Rowe
Sandy Shreve
Diane Tucker
Ursula Vaira
Gloria Ann Wesley
David Zieroth

Submissions are due by May 25th for the Spring/Summer issue, but if you can't get anything to her that soon, I'm sure she'd be glad to receive a submission for a later issue. For full submission guidelines:

Please feel free to forward this call to anyone you think might be interested.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Man 'n' Machine

An interesting post by David Kosub about poets' and poetry's relationship to technology. David has also generously uploaded a couple of things I sent him after reading his initial post.

(Pictured: the bad-boy I used to operate when I was a cargo handler.)

Phraseology bloated past the point of grotesqueness

Thanks to Jake for pointing out this very funny piece about the waning empire that is Theory.

It jibes nicely with some recent reading of mine, Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own:

It's not uninteresting when Peter Eisenman takes ... a column and suspends it from the roof of a house so that it doesn't quite reach down to the ground, but he is wrong to think my annoyance at the sight of it is purely ideological, a matter of seeing a cherished cultural convention upset. Our regard for gravity is not just a question of taste.

A most unusual launch

I rode my bike to PEI yesterday so I could attend a multi-author launch at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown. The main reason I came over is that one of the publications being launched last night was the John Smith special issue of CNQ. Dave Hickey, who guest-edited the issue, couldn't make it from London, so I said a few words about it, as well as announcing the forthcoming publication of The Essential John Smith by The Porcupine's Quill. Also launched last night were new collections by Richard Lemm and David Helwig.

But it turned out to be a rather unconventional launch. It started off with Island poet laureate Hugh MacDonald reading some very witty poems. By way of introducing John Smith, Deirdre Kessler and Brent MacLaine did an adapted a capella version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Then John Smith read, excellently as always, but he also sang an English Music Hall tune his uncle had written--all the more impressive because he hadn't planned to. After the intermission, David Helwig and Richard Lemm gave very strong readings and then there was a moving tribute to Laurie Brinklow, who, after many years running PEI's Acorn Press, is off to Tasmania to pursue a PhD.

I was planning to head back to Halifax this morning, but after the intermission last night, I started feeling feverish and chilled, and I was in no shape for motorcycling this morning. Been keeping the worst of it in check with Tylenol, hoping to feel better tomorrow so I can get home.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. More than ever, I have an appreciation for how important and difficult being a mother is.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Off to the Island

I'm heading to PEI for one night tomorrow. Why one night? Well, it's a special night, celebrating the launch of the John Smith special issue of CNQ, as well as the launch of Richard Lemm's new poetry collection. Charlottetown, Saturday, 7:30 pm, the Haviland Club. See ya there?

The video behind the poem

Thought I'd post the video that initially inspired me to write my lyrebird sonnet. I first encountered it on Karen Press's Facebook feed around 3 years ago:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Some Love for the Lyrebird

Another spot of good news today: it would appear that my sonnet, "To the Superb Lyrebird, that Cover Band of the Australian Bush" has been selected from Riddle Fence by Lorna Crozier for this year's Best Canadian Poetry anthology. I was hoping it might make Best Australian Poetry, but no dice, alas. Very curious to see what other poems are in the book. The Canadian one, that is. The Aussies can go fuck themselves.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One of a Kind

Some good news just in: My essay on Robyn Sarah's wonderful poem "Echoes in November," published in the last issue of Arc, has been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award, in the "one of a kind" category. Which I guess is appropriate, since every good poem, as Robyn's most definitely is, is one of a kind. Other Arc contributors shortlisted are Carmine Starnino, in the Arts and Entertainment category, for his already award-winning review of David O'Meara's Noble Gas, Penny Black and Amanda Jernigan, in the poetry category, for three poems she published in Arc. Congrats to Carmine and Amanda, as well as all other nominees.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reviews online

My reviews of Suzanne Buffam's The Irrationalist and Steven Heighton's Patient Frame are now up at the Quill & Quire website, for your reading pleasure.

Carmina Figurata

A neat post about acrostics, which chimes nicely with my own experiences writing an acrostic for/about my son. I also used it, to quite different effect, when commissioned to write a poem by the CBC. In that case, it really was a relief to focus on what words to choose rather than what to write about.