Monday, October 31, 2005

Marianne Bluger, Ottawa poet, 1945-2005

a sad note from E. Russell Smith:

"It is with deep sadness that I pass on the news that Marianne Bluger died this Saturday, October, 29 th, ( 11:00 a.m. ) at home with her husband Larry Neily and her good friend, Ronnie R. Brown, near her. There will be no funeral. At her request, there will be a small ceremony of the Burial of the Dead for close family only.

She requests no flowers. She'd say lets use that money to help the poor. Please make any donations to one of her special causes: the Tabitha Foundation (Canada), Box 65057, Merivale Postal Outlet, Ottawa, ON K2G 5Y3 or to the Canadian Writers' Foundation Inc., Box 13281, Succ. Kanata Stn., Ottawa, ON K2K 1X4."

A beloved Ottawa poet, she was a member of the Writers Union and the League of Canadian Poets, and had a page up at the University of Toronto site.

An obituary can be found at her website.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Capital Slam's 1st Anniversary - Tomorrow at Gap of Dunloe

Capital Slam Celebrates One Year of Performance Poetry!

The Capital Poetry Collective (CPC) presents Capital Slam: The 1st Anniversary Edition on Friday, October 21 at the Gap of Dunloe, 263 Bank Street.

Fresh from a third-place finish in the team competition at the 2005 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, the Capital Slam Team is back and ready for a great show celebrating this important milestone in the history of Ottawa spoken word!

Here to share the moment with us are two of Canada’s best performers:

Katherine Blenkinsop a.k.a. Lady Katalyst is a multidisciplinary street artist with a rich creative background that includes poetry, street dance, radio production and historical journalism. She performs a cappella, with DJs, live musicians, beat boxers and other vocalists. For the last two years she’s been a featured poet with Coco CafĂ© and Kalmunity Vibe Collective.

Brendan McLeod is a spoken word artist and musician based out of Vancouver. He is the winner of the National Individual Final at the 2004 Canadian Spoken Wordlympics and the 2005 Vancouver Grand Slam Champion. He has toured extensively in North America and Europe as both a solo performer and member of the spoken word/music troupe The Fugitives. He finished second in the world at Holland's Word Slampionship in June 2005.

Capital Slam: 1st Anniversary Edition
riday, October 21 – Doors open @ 8 p.m., show starts @ 8:30 p.m.
Featuring Katalyst and Brendan McLeod
Gap of Dunloe (263 Bank Street at Cooper)
$7 at the door
*Prizes awarded to the top poets on the night*

Only one person can leave as the Monthly Champion ... who will it be?

Capital Slam is held at the Gap of Dunloe on the second Friday of every month.

For more information, contact us at or visit our website at

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Peter F. Yacht Club, reading/regatta

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

The Peter F. Yacht Club

first ever
reading / regatta

with readings of poetry & prose by Stephen Brockwell, Anita Dolman, Clare Latremouille, rob mclennan, Max Middle, James Moran, Jennifer Mulligan, Sandra Ridley, Wanda O'Connor and Vivian Vavassis.

Thursday, November 3, 2005
The Carleton Tavern (upstairs), Parkdale Market (at Armstrong)
doors open at 7:30pm / readings start at 8pm
hosted by your lovable captain, rob mclennan

biographical information:

Stephen Brockwell spent the first half of his life in Montreal and the second half in Ottawa. Where he will spend the third half of his life is uncertain. He recently published Fruitfly Geographic (ECW Press, 2004), which won the Archibald Lampman Award, and, with Peter Norman, Wild Clover Honey and the Beehive (Rideau River Press, 2004).

Anita Dolman is an Ottawa poet and freelance writer and editor, and was the founding managing editor of Her work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Grain Magazine, Geist, Utne, The Fiddlehead, Prism International,, Yawp and The Antigonish Review. Her first chapbook, Scalpel, tea and shot glass, was published by above/ground press in fall 2004.

Clare Latremouille lives secretly in Ottawa, about a half block away from the Carleton Tavern. Her work has been published in numerous places, including the anthologies Written in the Skin (Insomniac Press, 1998), Shadowy Technicians: New Ottawa Poets (Broken Jaw Press, 2000) and Groundswell: best of above/ground press, 1993-2003 (Broken Jaw Press, 2003), and her poetry chapbook I will write a poem for you. Now: appeared a long time ago with above/ground press. Her first novel is scheduled to appear in fall 2006 as part of the first season of titles from Ottawa's Chaudiere Books.

rob mclennan is the author of ten trade poetry collections, with two more forthcoming: name , an errant (Stride, UK, 2006) & The Ottawa City Project (Chaudiere Books, 2007). He is currently editing collections of essays on George Bowering, John Newlove & Andrew Suknaski for Guernica's "Essays on Their Works" series, & has been contracted by Arsenal Pulp Press to write the non-fiction Ottawa: The Unknown City. Working desperately to finish a novel, he often says things on his clever blog.

Max Middle is a freedom loving anarchist. He is also a broccoli consumer & founding member of the music, sound, poetry & performance experiment known as the Max Middle Sound Project. The latter has staged five feature performances since their debut at the 2004 Ottawa Fringe Festival, including one in spring 2005 at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. More about him can be gleaned online at & an interview along with some poems appear in ottawater.

James Moran promises that none of the "Sentences Not to Include in Your First Novel" will actually appear in his horror novel. Moran's fiction and poetry have appeared in Algonquin Roundtable Review, The Peter F. Yacht Club, the Bywords Quarterly Journal, Spire Poetry Poster, Another Toronto Quarterly, dig and Blue Moon. James Moran directs Ottawa's TREE Reading Series, one of Canada's longest-running literary series, which has earned him fame and fortune. Along with Jennifer Mulligan, Moran edited 25 Years of Tree, an anthology which BuschekBooks published in fall 2005.

Jennifer Mulligan does most of her living in the Ottawa area. She has been involved with the Ottawa writing community for over five years, helping to run The TREE Reading Series since early 2000, and has recently co-edited the twenty-fifth anniversary TREE anthology, 25 Years of Tree (BuschekBooks), with James Moran, Director of The TREE Reading Series. Her highly abstract and technical day job affords her the luxury of sharing a studio space. When not working, she is also trying to bring a publishing company to life. She began writing in January, while watching CBC News Sunday. Her previous work has appeared in YAWP, the University of Ottawa Undergrad Poetry Journal.

Short-listed in 2004 for Lichen's 'Tracking A Serial Poet' competition, Sandra Ridley's recent publications include Bywords, Yawp, Jalapeno Diamond, and as a Leaf Press Monday's Poem. Forthcoming work will also be included in the anthology, Poetry Night in Muskoka. Always a wheat-farm girl, this writer currently lives in Ottawa.

Originally from New Brunswick, Wanda O'Connor recently moved to Montreal from Ottawa, where she had spent ten years (we hope she will return to us one day), to participate in the creative writing program at Concordia. Recent publications include the chapbooks If the skin is CRISP: eat it (2005) and So you’re thinking of reproducing (2005), both published by Impress; in the chapbook anthology winter (2005, above/ground press), and in the journals papertiger (AUS), Yawp and Shampoo; and as a couple of above/ground press broadsides. She likes to play the horses.

Vivian Vavassis has published in Arc and a couple of other mags, and recently took over the managing editor position of She grew up in Montreal.

The Peter F. Yacht Club; irregular writers group publication, with each issue produced by different members of the group. The fifth issue was produced & edited by rob mclennan as a larger issue, September 2005, to coincide with the ottawa international writers festival, with a third of it the group, a third readers at the festival itself, and the other third poets around Ottawa I thought were doing interesting things (note: The Peter F. Yacht Club does not take unsolicited submissions).

Previous issues still available (possibly) at $5 each. Issue #1, August 2003, edited by rob mclennan; Issue #2, April 2004, edited by Anita Dolman (out of print); Issue #3, September 2004, edited by Peter Norman and Melanie Little. Write rob mclennan, c/o 858 Somerset Street West, main floor, Ottawa Ontario Canada K1R 6R7, or email az421 (at) freenet (dot) carleton (dot) ca

Next issue: "a Calgary issue" -- to be lovingly edited by Laurie Fuhr

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Allan Briesmaster and Colin Morton at Collected Works, Oct. 21

Allan Briesmaster and Colin Morton read at Collected Works Bookstore, 1242 Wellington St. West, Ottawa
7:30 p.m. Friday, October 21

A few years ago I conducted a poll on a listserve of poets to see what the current best-sellers were in Canadian poetry. Topping the list by a wide margin was Allan Briesmaster’s book Unleaving (2001). Of course, in this unscientific poll, having just held a large book launch in Toronto, where for a decade he organized the popular Art Bar reading series, gave Briesmaster an unbeatable advantage. But on reading the book I understood why so many poets shelled out to have Unleaving.

In poems of wide reference and meticulous observation, Briesmaster combines elegant, sometimes elaborate syntax with an attention to line breaks that sets up a contrapuntal tension, releasing sparks of language that survive briefly in the mind as fragments of meaning before submerging again in the surge of language. Now, these are matters of sound, rhythm, tone and diction that concern poets a great deal and other readers hardly at all; so there is some reason to think of Briesmaster as a "poet’s poet."

He is a poet’s poet, also, in that a number of his poems, especially in the "Voice-After" section of Unleaving, take their impetus or inspiration from poems by Rilke, Pound, Neruda, Paz and others. Briesmaster domesticates the poems to Canadian landscapes, though, and follows Pound’s call to "make it new."

Nature is always new; the nature poet is never short of subjects to write about, and Briesmaster is above all a nature poet. The landscapes of suburban Toronto can be as stimulating to this poet of nuance and detail as are dramatic ocean or wilderness scenes. At the Collected Works reading, he will be reading from a new book (one of two for him this year), Galactic Music (2005), in which the nature he examines is truly out of this world.

Astronomy and astrophysics have given poets some mind-blowing new images, concepts and language to explore. It’s a challenge, of course, to reconcile the scientific with the poetic notion of "measure," and to bring along readers for whom the latest scientific discoveries aren’t yet part of the fund of common knowledge poets like to riff on. Ottawa audiences familiar with Stephen Brockwell’s Cometology, however, will have no difficulty following the interplanetary imagery of Briesmaster poems like "Terraformers" and "Methane Rain." As with all poetry, readers and listeners will learn more about themselves than about the facts and hypotheses of science.

In addition to his writing, Allan Briesmaster is a poetry editor; in fact, he edited my most recent book, Dance, Misery (2003) for Seraphim Editions. He is an attentive and respectful editor and, best of all for the author he is working with, he communicates. In my part of the Collected Works reading, I will read a brief excerpt or two from that book, as well as prose-poems from my forthcoming book, The Local Cluster.

- Colin Morton

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Betsy Struthers and Ronnie R. Brown launch books Oct. 15

Book launch by Black Moss poets Betsy Struthers and Ronnie R. Brown
2 - 4 p.m., Saturday, October 15, National Library, 395 Wellington, Ottawa
(Brown and Struthers will also read from their new books at:
Sasquatch, Royal Oak, 161 Laurier E., 2 p.m., November 13, and at
Sunnyside Library, 1049 Bank Street, 7 p.m., December 15.)

Most of Ottawa's poetry audience is familiar with Ronnie R. Brown, who has been practising her characteristic poetic exhibitionism in Ottawa for over twenty years now. Listeners who have liked her performances will want to check out her new book States of Matter.

Ronnie Brown never flinches from the seamier or the messier side of everyday life, and neither does Peterborough poet Betsy Struthers, who is briefly living in Ottawa this fall.

Struthers’s first book, Censored Letters, (1984) documents an ancestral archetype: the tentative long-distance love affair of two people separated by World War I, conducted through letters subject to the military censor’s eye. Since then (with three mystery novels on the side), Struthers has produced a series of frank, personal books in the post-confessional mode, including her previous books from Windsor's Black Moss Press, Driven (2000) and Still (2003), winner of the Pat Lowther Award last year. Struthers brings her readers revelations of the poetry to be found in the minutiae of daily life, the lived details of love, family, home, as well as the ominous threats that lie, most of the time, just beneath the surface of existence.

Homes, gardens, nature at its most fertile, the lineaments of gratified desire: these are familiar scenes in the poems of Betsy Struthers. If I’m using the word correctly, the post-confessional poet mines these rich seams, less concerned with the narrative of trauma and recovery than with epiphanies that affirm our common humanity, our shared passions and fears.

Her new book, In Her Fifties, offers a new selection of poems from the middle of a domestic life. The themes will resonate for many readers: aging, menopause, grief for lost parents, care for aging ones, worries about children’s safety, the consolations of friendship, the courage at the heart of a lifelong marriage. The new poems are preceded, though, by a substantial collection of prose vignettes, recollections of childhood, called In the 50s. Though written in lapidary prose, these two and three page stories read less like prose poems than novella chapters. Together, they make up a fictionalized memoir of a lost age, recapturing the sensations, the fears and confusions of childhood with the feel of direct memory, though mixed, as the author acknowledges with an equal part "fabulation."

In the poem "The Jungles of Borneo: Just So" Struthers reflects on her approach to writing and on the importance of storytelling in the shaping of human communities.

"We all want a story, to be
told, to be part of, to be taken into, shared
language bringing us together."

For Betsy Struthers, as for Ronnie R. Brown, poetry is direct speech, fully engaged with everything life places in the way. Their accessible poems lead us readers to reflect more deeply on the familiar surrounding of our own lives. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon outing. And you can catch the launch at the National Library on the way to or from the Small Press Book Fair.

- Colin Morton