Friday, March 31, 2006

Lampman Poetry Award Reading at Beechwood Cemetery

The resting place of Canada's finest nineteenth-century poet will be the site of a poetry reading in his honour on Wednesday, May 10.

Born in 1861, Archibald Lampman graduated from Trinity College (Toronto) in 1882, then moved to Ottawa, where he worked for the Post Office until his death in 1899. He is known for his ability to immerse metaphysics in the details of nature, which he observed while hiking around what was then the wilderness capital of a new country.

Each year, the Arc Poetry Society's Archibald Lampman Award recognizes an outstanding book of poems published by a contemporary Ottawa-area poet. In past years, the award has gone to such notable local poets as George Elliot Clarke, Gary Geddes, Stephanie Bolster, and last year's winner, David O'Meara.

On May 10, eleven entrants to this year's prestigious Lampman competition will read from their work at the Reception Centre at historic Beechwood Cemetery. Poets Daniel Boland, Ronnie R. Brown, Tony Cosier, Laura Farina, William Hawkins, Bing He, Tom MacGregor, Nadine McInnis, Seymour Mayne, E. Russell Smith and Andrew Steinmetz will take the podium starting at 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 1873, Beechwood Cemetery is the resting place of Archibald Lampman, John Newlove, and many other leading Canadian poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century. A portion of Beechwood Cemetery has been designated “Poet’s Hill,” and is being developed as a site for literary commemoration, reflection and education.

The Beechwood Cemetery Reception Centre is located at 280 Beechwood Avenue. Admission to the reading is free. Fundraising initiatives at the event will support the Poet’s Hill project.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

a sad note from Chris Sorrenti

It is with great sadness that I convey to you that our dear friend, Juan O'Neill, passed away at 9:22 a.m. this morning. There will therefore be no get-together at the Heart Institute this afternoon as originally planned.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the events of the past two days, I apologize for not getting in touch sooner, but things happened so quickly, it left little time for notification.

During the day, Monday, Juan began experiencing difficulty breathing. He then called an ambulance to take him to hospital. Upon arrival at the Heart Institute he suffered a heart attack, and went into coma. Although the staff managed to resuscitate his heart, as per a cat scan, the prognosis was that he would not come out of the coma, and if he did, he would not be the same man. Between then and this morning, he remained on life support, however his heart began to experience difficulty, and the doctors chose to discontinue life support.

I await word from his daughter, Ariel, as to a formal service, but meanwhile, Heather Ferguson has booked the downstairs room of the Royal Oak for this Sunday, March 19, at 2 p.m for a special memorial get-together/poetry reading in Juan's honour. All are welcome to join us in celebrating his life and friendship, and sharing a related anecdote or poem.

Chris Sorrenti
Sasquatch webmaster
(613) 526-0056
tomcat7 (at)rogers (dot)com

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

P.E.I. Poet Packs a Punch

Reviewed by Nicholas Lea

shauna mccabe’s first trade collection offers up spiritually heavy, often gritty, sometimes sweet poems of Tennessee road trips, maritime love affairs, God in streams, and geomorphology. ancient motel landscape is a dense, stylistic and thematically ambitious collection that deals primarily in the “experimental” or “avant-garde” (dangerous terms, I know) ; relying heavily on syntactical, grammatical, and linguistic experimentation for effect, rather than overt imagism or linear-style, narrative tropes. To say her poems are challenging would not be an understatement.

However, mccabe does a good job of straddling experimentation with readability. Her meanings, though sometimes enigmatic, are not lost in self-indulgent poetic showboating à la Post-Modern. mccabe may make you work for it, but once you’ve got it, you won’t be disappointed. Poems like “the stream trinity”, a compelling sequence, balances floaty, abstract language with vivid concrete images: “i the valley for this stream … in these/fields that roll/gently/to/wood”. In the same poem, mccabe incorporates an almost metaphysical conceit (sustained metaphor) of the stream as a spiritual place of origin, in a clearly free-verse stylized poem, displaying her alertness to poetry’s traditions as well as its tradition of innovation.

mccabe isn’t always so lofty though, and actually begins her collection with a section that might be more akin to a Johnny Cash aesthetic than a Donnian one. “how we know hearts”, reads almost like a country tune, with thick dialectic hues and a muscular-but-tender tone, typical of a Hank Williams Sr. song: “cryin’ lovin’ leavin’/uneven cowboy bearings/so far from happy/as clams”. Here, mccabe is more playful with the language, while still keeping true to her poetic.

By far, her strongest poems are in the section “land over time”. mccabe uses the motif of geology and geologic time in this section as well as drives home the theme of landscape that pervades the collection as a whole. “physical geography” is a wonderfully executed piece that uses the metaphor of landscape erosion for human erosion. The poem itself almost exhibits the same type of vulnerability as that of the subject matter: “it is almost a rule … land once weakened/fails/then falls/i am this right through”.

A major flaw in the collection is that it is way too long (6 sections, totaling 116 pages) and could have done without some of the weaker sections that stick out like a sore thumb (or thumbs), such as “the compass rose poems”, which deals too much in stick diction, maudlin tones and clichéd themes, making the poems far less memorable. Overall, shauna mccabe’s ancient hotel landscape is an exciting, well-wrought, and eclectic collection for any reader who is not interested in tired, run-of-the-mill type poetry.

ancient motel landscape, shauna mccabe Release: September 2005 poetry (BISAC: POE011000) All rights available117 pp, 6 x 9, 6 b&w photographs, trade paperBroken Jaw Press’ Cauldron Books, 6ISBN 978-1-55391-041-1 or 1-55391-041-9$19.00 CDN, $17.00 US

Thursday, March 02, 2006

the ottawa small press book fair, spring 2006 edition

span-o (the small press action network - ottawa)

the ottawa small press book fair spring edition
will be held on Saturday, June 17th from noon to 5 p.m.

in room 203 of the Jack Purcell Community Centre (on Elgin, at 320 Jack Purcell Lane; map here). contact rob at to sign up for a table, etc.

General info: the ottawa small press book fair noon to 5pm (opens at 11am for exhibitors)

admission free to the public. due to increased space costs (nearly doubled) table fees have increased from $15 to $20 for exhibitors (payable to rob mclennan, c/o 858 Somerset St W, main floor, Ottawa Ontario K1R 6R7).

full tables only. for catalog, exhibitors should send (on paper, not email) name of press, address, email, web address, contact person, type of publications, list of publications (with price), if submissions are being looked at, & any other pertinent info, including upcoming ottawa-area events (if any).

due to the increased demand for table space, exhibitors are asked to confirm far earlier than usual. i.e. -- before, say, the day of the fair.

the fair usually contains exhibitors with poetry books, novels, cookbooks, posters, t-shirts, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, scraps of paper, gum-ball machines with poems, 2x4s with text, etc. happens twice a year, started in 1994 by rob mclennan & James Spyker. now run by rob mclennan thru span-o.
questions, or 613 239 0337

free things can be mailed for fair distribution to the same address. we will not be selling things for folk who cant make it, sorry.

also, always looking for volunteers to poster, move tables, that sort of thing. let me know if anyone able to do anything. thanks.