Tuesday, January 29, 2013

[Yeats] has redeemed the dullness of the 'raving autumn' passage, but it has served its turn because a poem cannot be always elevated, always sublime, it has to have flat passages. Just as acrobats will sometimes appear to make a mistake, so poets know that poems are performances which must now and then seem to put a foot wrong in order to make the words dance perfectly the next moment.
--Tom Paulin

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rachel Lebowitz, poems in print

If you're browsing the racks at your local purveyor of fine print media, you might keep an eye peeled for the latest copies of Geist and Prairie Fire. The former has three poems in it by my enormously talented wife, Rachel, and the latter has two. All five are from Rachel's manuscript Cottonopolis. Poems from the book have been getting a lot of play, including ten in a past issue of Grain, five of which were selected by Carmine Starnino for The Best Canadian Poetry 2012. Rachel has just finished proofing Cottonopolis, which will be off to the printers for a March release by Pedlar Press. This will be an event not just for this household, but it should be for anyone interested in contemporary literature.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Years earlier he had decided that too regular a beat was bad art. He had fortified himself in his opinion by thinking of the analogy of architecture, between which art and that of poetry he had discovered, to use his own words, that there existed a close and curious parallel, each art unlike some others, having to carry a rational content inside its artistic form. He knew that in architecture cunning irregularity is of enormous worth, and it is obvious that he carried on into his verse, perhaps unconsciously, the Gothic art-principle in which he had been trained – the principle of spontaneity, found in mouldings, tracery and  suchlike – resulting in the ‘unforeseen’ (as it has been called) character of his metres and stanzas, that of stress rather than of syllable, poetic texture rather than poetic veneer; the latter kind of thing, under the name of ‘constructed ornament’, being what he, in common with every Gothic student, had been taught to avoid as the plague. He shaped his poetry accordingly, introducing metrical pauses, and reversed beats; and found for his trouble that some particular line of a poem exemplifying this principle was greeted with a would-be jocular remark that such a line 'did not make for immortality'. The same critic might have gone to one of our cathedrals (to follow the analogy of architecture), and on discovering that the carved leafage of some capital or spandrel in the best period of Gothic art strayed freakishly out of its bounds over the moulding, where by rule it had no business to be, or that the enrichments of a string-course were not accurately spaced; or that there was a sudden blank in a wall where a window was expected from formal measurement, have declared with equally merry conviction, 'This does not make for immortality.'
--Thomas Hardy, Life

Monday, January 14, 2013

Forthcoming ISBNs etc.

Yes, it's been a while. I've been much occupied with matters non-literary, having co-purchased, with my wife and mother, an income property in Moncton, NB. I also picked up a surprising amount of railroad work over the xmas holidays, so it's been a busy time.

But a more literary 2013 awaits. I just sent edits of a chapbook manuscript back to Karen Schindler of Baseline Press. The chappie is titled Baffle and will be out this fall in a ltd. edition run of 60 copies. This fall will also see the publication of a rather more hefty volume: Career Limiting Moves, a collection of my essays and reviews from the past decade or so. That manuscript needs a fair bit of attention in the weeks to come, so I shan't be idle, lack of day-job notwithstanding.

Speaking of which, funding was cut for my editorial contract at Reader's Digest, which was not a great shock, given the state of the magazine industry, but still has left a sizable income hole for me to fill. I'm actively interested in picking up additional freelance editing work, so if you've got something you think I could help you with, drop a line and we can discuss rates. Once I get my desk cleared off, I plan to set up shop formally as a red pen for hire. I'll be offering such services as manuscript consultations/pre-submission edits; essay and thesis editing; consultation on grant applications; copy editing; proof reading; etc.