Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Chapbook Has Landed

One of the best things about unemployment/freelance is that you're home when exciting mail arrives. Today, I answered the door to my friendly postie, who had in hand this lovely package:

So now I have my weekend project all lined up: packaging these beauties so I can mail them out with minimal delay to all you wonderful folks who helped me travel to Linares. And for all those who've been meaning to order a copy, you can still do so at the Indiegogo page I set up, as the campaign doesn't officially close for another twelve days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reviews online and in print

My brief review of Julie Bruck's new collection, Monkey Ranch, is now online at the Quill & Quire site.

And my lengthy review of the Carcanet-published anthology Modern Canadian Poets is now in print, in Canadian Notes and Queries 84 (another beautiful issue, which I look forward to reading; please do subscribe). The review isn't online yet, but will be co-published soon by the American web-journal Contemporary Poetry Review. I've been reading CPR with admiration for years, so was chuffed to receive an invitation to publish criticism there, from editor Garrick Davis.

Audio: ZW live at Church Point

I recorded my session with the students at U. Ste. Anne yesterday. has a new audio player widget, which doesn't seem to allow me to embed the player directly to the blog, but you can go to their site to hear it, if you're so inclined.

As I said, I'll be having a second session with the students on Friday morning, 8:30 a.m. at the school's Halifax campus, on Walnut Street (same building as the St. Thomas Lemarchant School). You're welcome to come, if you can stand the thought of an hour of my voice at that time of day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another exotic reading

Next, my travels take me to Pointe de l'Eglise (Church Point, eh: the interior of said church is pictured, left), NS, for a reading at Université Ste. Anne on Tuesday morning. The reading's at 8:30 in the Gustave Blanche building, SV3. The public's welcome, but given the hour and locale, I'm guessing that's not relevant to many (any?) people reading this. The students in prof. Darryl Whetter's class have been assigned my book, so it should be an interesting exchange. I expect to learn a thing or two about my poems, as I invariably do at such events.

I'll be doing another reading/talk for the school at their Halifax campus on Walnut St. on the 30th, but that one is also, alas, at 8:30 a.m.

It's Alive!

The translation chapbook is in print. I'll be mailing it out to campaign contributors within a week or so, once I get them from publisher Jim Johnstone in Toronto, who is numbering this ltd. edition beauty as we speak.
There are still copies left unclaimed, if you wants one.


What you are looking for
could not be found
and this torrent
is unfit to be forded.

You will have to
return to where you
set out and follow
the long way around.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reviews in print

Just got my contributor's copy of Arc 67, in which you can find my brief review of D.G. Jones' retrospective volume The Stream Exposed with all its Stones. And much other stimulating content besides.

And I believe, tho I've yet to see it, the new issue of Quill & Quire has my brief review of Julie Bruck's fine new collection Monkey Ranch.

In future publication news, I got the proofs and contract today for my interview and two poems, forthcoming in the next issue of the Alberta litmag FreeFall. The interview is with Micheline Maylor, who has published glowing reviews of Jailbreaks and Track & Trace in past numbers of FreeFall, so the magazine has a special place in my cold, dark heart.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Questionless (and damn near answerless) Interview

This went up just before I went to Mexico and I neglected to post it here. A bit o' fun.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Last night in Linares

Hard to believe it's coming to an end already. A slew of people left today, returning to their various homes or carrying on with further Mexican journeys. Only four festival participants left, myself included. I'm glad I had today for decompression. The schedule's been so full that this has been the first real opportunity to just wander around the streets of Linares a bit. It really is a charming little city, utterly bereft of kitschy tourist trap shops. This is simply a place where people work and live. There are occasional signs of the troubles that plague Mexico-- state troopers armed to the teeth, rumours of vans cruising the streets, driven by men in bulletproof vests--but I've seen no actual violence or crime.

Wednesday finished with an epic evening of literature and music. Maybe a few too many acts on the bill, but still some remarkable performances, especially from Estonian poet Katlin Kaldmaa. I also really enjoyed a couple of older gents playing traditional Mexican tunes. Muy simpatico.

Thursday, I and others were back at the Colegio Linares, where I talked to a grade 7 class and a grade 11 class. The classroom visits have all been terrific, even if the older kids didn't swarm us for autographs...

In the evening, I attended a talk on the place of Mexico in Pablo Neruda's Canto General. The lecture was delivered by Irish poet Kieran Furey in Spanish, so I didn't catch a whole lot of it, but it was very well received by those who understood it better than I did.

It's really been a fantastically stimulating week. I feel privileged to have been invited and humbled to have received so much help getting here. In post-mortem conversation last night, my campaign was cited as a potential model for future fundraising for the Linares festival. I hope that Colin Carberry and the other folks around here who make this event happen are able to keep it going and growing.

I blast off quite early tomorrow, catching a 7 am shuttle to Monterrey. From there, I fly to Atlanta, where I lay over for a few hours before carrying on to Montreal, from whence I'll be training it home, arriving Monday evening. Hasta luego.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Linares Day 2.5

Very busy day yesterday and was too damn tired to post anything last night.

Read to a class at the Technical University in the morning, which went well, then had lunch (best prime rib fajitas ever) with other festival participants and people from the university.

After a bit of a siesta, I was up again and out for supper, then off to the university for a big reading in an auditorium, which was also quite good and was followed by a lively Q&A.

Today so far has been great. This morning I visited a class of 9 & 10 year olds at Colegio Linares, a local private school. I read them Anything But Hank! and they were really into it. Once more, I was swarmed by kids with questions and autograph requests. Left a copy of the book with the school library. A number of them spoke quite good English.

This afternoon, several of us were driven out to one of the state university's campuses, where we read to a crowd of 60 or so in a stunning, cool old chapel.

And this evening, I'll be reading at the Noche Bohemien, which will also feature musical acts. Apparently, over 100 tickets have been sold.

So, altho this festival was deemed too small to qualify for travel grants, I've read to many, many more people here than I have at bigger festivals in Ottawa and Toronto. Go figure.

In other news, I have received and corrected the proofs for the translation chapbook, so it should exist in three dimensions before too long. There are still 30-odd copies not spoken for, if you want to claim one. If there are any left once the campaign closes, I'll sell them by other means.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Linares Festival, Day 1

It's been such a full day that I had to stop and think about whether this was the first or second day of the festival. It's too late to write at length, but in precis form:

8:45: Opening ceremony at a local school. Dignitaries on hand, speeches, music, a dance performance by local artists informed by native traditions. Afterwards, inundated by young kids with notebooks and scraps of paper seeking autographs. I don't know what I was expecting, but whatever it was, this blew it out of the water. Incredible red carpet reception.

10:30: Did a reading with Jasmine D'Costa (from India, now living in Toronto) and Katlin Kaldmaa (from Estonia), at a technical college. About 100 students on hand. Wonderful response from them. I've recorded it and will post it when I have a bit of time.

4:00: After late lunch, went to a reading at the very impressive casino building. All of the writers who did not read in the morning read at this event, including Al Moritz. Some wonderful things. The most poignant moment   occurred when Veronica Garza Flores, reading the translation of an excerpt of Irish writer Jack Harte's novel, was so moved she started to cry. She pulled herself together and finished the reading. Unheralded overflows like this one are among my favourite things about live readings.

6:00: Hustled off after the reading to the radio station where each of us had a few moments' worth of interview. In my time, I told the interviewer how much Linares reminds me of Charlottetown, which in an odd way it really does.

8:00: Went out of town a few clicks to a friend of Colin Carberry's where we enjoyed a delicious barbecue and much lively conversation.

Present moment: exhausted and off to bed.

Tomorrow a.m.: Going to the university at 10:30, where I'll be doing a solo session with a class.

Buenos noches.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A sample from the translations

I thought I'd provide a little taste of the translations. Here is Lidia Valencia-Fourcans' and Hernan Sicilio's take on my poem "What He Found Growing in the Woods":


Aire verde y un susurro mohoso.
Tiernos puños apretados en retoño
brotando en helechos de hoja amarga.
Salamandras, desnudas bajo piedras
volcadas; y babosas, reptantes gotas
de moco fresco. Espuma de pompas

cubriendo un dique de árboles caídos.
Cigarras chirriando estridentes credos
y logros. Flores donde antaño ardió la brasa.
Borrosos faisanes marrones agitando
un aire verdoso. Su última rica cabellera
y los primeros bosquejos de barba.

And here is the original:


Green air and a rusty babble.
Tender tight fists of fiddleheads
fronding into bitter-leafed ferns.
Salamanders, nude under turned-
over stones, and slugs, creeping beads
of cool snot. Foam of bubbles

coating a dam of fallen tree rubble.
Cicadas scraping shrill creeds
and credentials. Flowers where a fire once burned.
Brown blurred pheasants churning
green air. His last full head
of hair and the first faint traces of stubble.

Look out, druglords, here I come!

After much back and forth with my long-suffering translators, we now have what seem to me to be excellent Spanish versions of ten of my poems. I have printed those poems and stuffed them in my carry-on. I have emailed them to Jim Johnstone at Cactus Press HQ. And tomorrow, shortly after noon, I will be enroute to Mexico. By train. Which will take me to Montreal, where I'll spend a bit less than 24 hours before boarding a very early flight to JFK, then on to Mexico City, then Monterrey, where I will be met and conveyed to Linares. What a journey! In many ways. I can't wait to get there.

The campaign, as anyone can see by glancing to the right, has been an incredible success. Yet another thing that has made this whole business so wonderfully affirmative. It's nice to get a grant, but you always know, if you're honest, that all it means is a couple of people happened to like your work well enough on a given day--and that those people had nothing much to gain or lose in the process. Something like this has so much more reciprocity to it. I feel humble and grateful for all of the support I've received for this most marginal of endeavours.

There are still translation chapbooks unspoken for if you want to read me in Spanish (with English en face). Hasta luego. Updates to follow.