Thursday, August 27, 2009

Track & Trace update, etc.

I recently received the cover design and final page proofs for Track & Trace, which include 6 2-page spreads by Seth. It all looks bloody gorgeous and should look even better on paper. Which will hopefully be happening in a month or so. So great to work with a press and designer so creative and responsive.

I also recently completed an extensive interview with Alessandro Porco, who asked me some very thoughtful and insightful questions on the subject of the new book and other sundries. Said interview should be appearing on the Maisonneuve website in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

In other news, I handed in the ms. for The Essential Poems of Kenneth Leslie yesterday. I'm so glad to be part of bringing Leslie back into print after more than 35 years in limbo. And very grateful to Tim Inkster at The Porcupine's Quill for making it possible. The book should be out in the spring.

I've got a fair bit on my plate right now, but was thinking today that an Essential Milton Acorn would be a good project to undertake, provided permission can be obtained. I'm a big fan of this idea of slim selections, which both the PQ and Wilfrid Laurier UP are both doing right now. A good editor is key, which is what makes Robyn Sarah's selections of Johnston and Coles superior to the Essential PK Page, whose editors' names elude me at the moment. The WLUP series, which has published quite a few more books than the PQL, has featured some obvious choices, some interesting unexpected ones (Travis Lane, e.g.), and some quite odd ones. Meanwhile, there's still no Layton, Acorn, Trower, Nowlan, MacEwen, Cohen, Patrick Lane, Bishop (I know, I know, but someone's gotta keep floating this notion), Birney, Klein. Probably in some cases due to copyright issues.

Speaking of which, a lot of writers seem to be up in arms about the impending Google settlement. Which is understandable, I guess, if you can actually make a decent amount of income from sales of your books. But given that I make more from Public Lending Rights than royalties, I'm all for having my copyright violated if it means more people potentially reading my work. I know there are more nuanced arguments against the particular circumstances of Google's grand plan, but I just can't get very worked up about it all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Subject for a Gray mock elegy?

We got a new-to-us cat from the SPCA the other day. Hope it's a touch smarter than this one:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review online

My review of Serge Patrice Thibodeau's One (tr. Jo-Anne Elder) is now online at Quill & Quire.

Unwiped Bums

First, they let Harper, a non-Catholic, take communion, during which he may or may not have consumed the body of Christ, and now the PMO has shit on its face again, after misspelling the name of Nunavut's capital city. In many ways, Iqaluit is a shitty little town--tho one I still have a soft spot for, after spending parts of five years living there--but presumably Harper wouldn't want to call it one in public.

Here's a little ditty (improperly formatted, thanks to Blogger) from Unsettled--from a section of the book actually entitled "Iqaluit, Iqualuit"-- about that very common spelling mistake:


Add a u

& the place of fishes


a dirty arsehole

When the snow on the south side of town is stained brown,

When fumes from cars & chimneys form a poised swatter,

When the wind blows east over shitpond & smoking dump,

small wonder Iqualuit

is a standard misspelling

UPDATE: Some pertinent commentary from my friend Megan.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nationalism Smashionalism

Thanks to Evie for pointing out this riposte from Michael Lista, responding to Ken McGoogan's call for nationalist determinism in literature. I always wonder when I hear such silly things: how do you assign a nationality to a book set in a fictional place? Why do so many people insist on yoking literature to geography? In McGoogan's case, it's fairly easy to understand why: he writes historical/geographical non-fiction.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

James Moore is a Tubby Fucker

Rob Taylor has written another letter to James Moore. These are so much more fun than Yann Martel's correspondence with Stephen Harper.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Explanation for silence

I've been doing summery things: riding my motorcycle, visiting friends and family, paragliding--yes, paragliding--, hiking, reading a poem at Wayne Clifford's very well-attended Grand Manan book launch, playing frisbee on the beach. Quite nice, all in all. Now I should probably do some work. Hope I have some work to do... All for now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Good on Bad

Alex Good on "negative reviews" in the Globe--ironically, a paper known for quashing same. I don't know that Alex contributes anything new to the debate, but the arguments he makes are as valid as ever. Personally, I think book review editors are more responsible for the climate of quietude than reviewers themselves are. Most of the regular book reviewers in the country seem willing to say a book is bad. But most reviews aren't written by regular book reviewers, they're written by amateurs. And the amateur, as the name implies, wants nothing so much as to love.

I've made it!

A request from Poland:


Zachariah Wells

Canadian poet, critic, essayist and editor.


I collect autographs of famous people all over the world.

I would like a poster or ma piece of paper signed by you.

Could you send me ad autograph to my address..

Thank you very much. Best wishes.

This is my address


[address deleted for privacy]