Wednesday, May 30, 2007

ottawa small press book fair preview

span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) & Griddle Grin Productions present:
an ottawa small press book fair preview

with readings by Dan Waber (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Jennifer Hill-Kaucher (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
& Stuart Ross (Toronto)

Friday, June 15, 2007; doors at 7pm, readings at 7:30 at The Carleton Tavern (upstairs), Parkdale at Armstrong
lovingly hosted by Max Middle

author bios:

Dan Waber is a visual poet, concrete poet, sound poet, performance poet, publisher, editor, playwright and multimedia artist whose work has appeared in all sorts of delicious places, from digital to print from stage to classroom, from mailboxes to puppet theaters. He is currently working on" and everywhere in between." He makes his online home at

Jennifer Hill-Kaucher is the author of four books of poetry: Questioning Walls Open, Nightcrown (a crown of sonnets in a limited edition lotusbook), Book of Days, and A Proper Dress. A Pennsylvania Council on the Arts roster poet, Jennifer conducts poetry workshops and residencies throughout the state and also in Ireland. Among her other writing exploits, she is editor of Paper Kite Press and owner of Wordpainting, a studio devoted tocreative writing and visual art.

Stuart Ross is most recently the author of the poetry collection I Cut My Finger (Anvil Press, 2007). His other books include Hey, Crumbling Balcony! Poems New & Selected (ECW Press, 2003), Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer (Anvil, 2005), and Henry Kafka and Other Stories (The Mercury Press, 1996). Proprietor of Proper Tales Press, co-founder of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, and Fiction & Poetry Editor of This Magazine, he teaches writing to adults and children at schools and through his Poetry Boot Camps. He lives in Toronto, but his online home is

for more information on the event, contact rob mclennan at

& don't forget the ottawa small press book fair the following day, noon to five pm at the jack purcell community centre, elgin street @ jack purcell lane (near gilmour)....

News, Notes, Events

The English-language finalists for the Trillium Book Award for poetry have been announced [amongst them Ottawan Anita Lahey]:

* Ken Babstock for Airstream Land Yacht
* Adam Dickinson for Kingdom, Phylum
* Anita Lahey for Out to Dry in Cape Breton

CBC story on the Trillium nominations here.

Rob Winger launches Muybridge's Horse, published by Nightwood Editions, as part of the Plan 99 Reading Series at the Manx in Ottawa on June 9th at 5pm.

& another screening for Heard of Poets
Ottawa Shambhala Meditation Centre
Friday, June 1, 2007
Ottawa Shambhala Meditation Centre
984 Wellington St. West. Where Somerset turns into Wellington.

Yesterday 29 May 2007:

Greg Frankson aka Ritallin performed at the Avant-Garde Bar.

& Grant Wilkins had a birthday.


It looks like I just might be starting up a reading series this autumn!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sylvia Adams and Christopher Taylor reading

Sasquatch on May 27th had 2 guest readers, Sylvia Adams and Christopher Taylor.

sylvia adams Sylvia Adams read first after the open mic, from various books and chapbooks, including Mondrian's Elephant and her latest book, Sleeping on the Moon. Since her voice was coming and going, she brought her daughter to assist with carrying out the booked reading. (What a trooper.)

A set centred around African safari animals with some comic images such as handcuffs coming off a cheetah and luring elephants with tulip beds.

She also read a few word sonnets which Seymour Mayne steadily promotes. One of her word sonnets was about the heart-rending challenges of caring for senior members of family in nursing homes pink door, yellow door, forgotten color of home.

A striking story was in her triolet of painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a romantic in every sense. He wrote love poems to be buried with his favorite model and wife, then exhumed them to regift to his next love. Lesson? Always keep a copy of your poems for yourself.


The second reader was Christopher A. Taylor. Taylor was a long-time resident of Ottawa although with nearly 2 decades here, now hails from Victoria, BC.

christopher taylor

He read from his book of 2007: Shedding Knowledge. A Steady Diet(p. 35) talks about advice people give for life:

I have jotted everything down
and now my fridge is plastered with yellow post-it notes
telling me to relax, be careful, wait, stop, go, start now,
breathe, stupid, breathe. Ah, yes.
The light comes on when I open the door
and cold air spills onto my feet.

During this reading, he had a great to chance to show his good humoredness in not just the poems as just as he started to read the sax and bass of a band upstairs started. He decided to address it and said he'd roll with the mellow sax with some compatible poem choices.

Competing sound is all part of the live poetry experience. Like people in a movie theatre as opposed to recorded CDs at home, others can provide obstructions, or flavor, depending on how you look at it. Later in the reading, a loud-talker decided to do so in the stairwell. Chris Sorrenti went up to sort that. Taylor joked, you didn't have to get physical with him I trust. Sorrenti said no, he could settle it peaceably.

There was a sweet mediative quality in a number of of his poems including one entitled Festival. It got its inspiration at the Ottawa Folk Festival. It reads in part,

so lean you would think
she never ate solids
she took out her Tibetan bells
to ward off negativity
then set the air loose

This collection is not only covering some of the geography of the Ottawa Valley and Toronto but is owing to the Tree reading series. Because he was asked to be feature reader there in 2004 by James Moran, he collated up a lot of his poems, then realized he now had a working manuscript. The press he placed it with specializes in writing from north eastern Ontario. Scrivener Press, from Sudbury since 1995, has done a few titles a year including an anthology by the League of Canadian Poets called Spring-Fever a decade ago.

Both poets have works to be had at Collected Works

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Haiku Canada Conference

From Friday until this Sunday evening Haiku Canada is holding their conference at Carleton University. Ottawa poet Terry Ann Carter is chairing the events.

Long time member of Ottawa's haiku community, Marianne Bluger could be present this year in the form of tulips from her own garden.

bluger flowers

There is a prevailing spirit of camaraderie, with a lot of laughter and conversations as people come from around North America, from Boston and New Jersey, Vancouver to Toronto to Aylmer all for the love of the love of these small form poems. The point was made and taken up on how there is no end point with poetry but it is an ongoing learning of process and language and communication.

Speakers have covered aspects of haiku and other forms, in what constitutes the parameters, the practice, the process and even how it can be used therapeutically.
Philomene Kocher and Marjorie Woodbridge talked about the use of sensory stimulation (Snoezelen therapy) using haiku in particular to reach people with disabilitating dementia. It seems to be a doorway to get back to the person through connection to emotions and senses in a way similar to how old familiar music, aphorisms, scripture and ritual, can tap areas of the brain and memory stored in the body. It could bring a person into focus again, communicative. Patients were facilitated to compose haiku by putting phrases they said on flip charts and then collaboratively written. For example

jumping in the puddle
more water in your boots
than out

Haiku and renga has been used in psychotherapy in Japan for years. Philomene Kocher and Marjorie Woodbridge (pictured), of Kingston, presented their findings to St. Paul's University in Ottawa at a conference recently.

Other forms of poetry have been touched on in the conference including
  • senryu (the poetry for the people of tragi-comedy of life),
  • renga (where party game meets poetry),
  • and tanka (a form which now has it's own English language Canadian journal, Gusts).

uzawa Tanka was elaborated on by University of Lethbridge Professor Kozue Uzawa.

Angela Leuck (with Maxianne Berger) had edited Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today (Shoreline Press of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec). On opening night Angela Leuck launched a collection of haiku, Flower Heart (Blue Ginko, 2006) and brought up several readers each to read one of their poems. Her last book, Rose Haiku had contributions from 80 poets and 16 countries, got its start with Tulip Heart inspired by a visit to Ottawa. It was published by Shoreline in 2005.

Abigail Friedman did her first book launch. She talked about writing her book The Haiku Apprentice (from Stone Bridge Books, 2006) and how to start a haiku group with a lot of information cycling around the room from the participants.

She herself got into haiku while working in Japan. She was invited to join a haiku circle and was fascinated by the experience. In telling her husband each time how great it was, to get his reply of "you should write a book about that", she wrote the book never realizing there was a living haiku community in the west.

She has organized a bilingual haiku group in Montreal for 2 years. She explains how that started. "My life has been about doing all these really cool things for all the wrong reasons." After she finished her Haiku Apprentice book the publisher wanted an appendix on how anyone could go out and start a haiku group. She said I've never done it. Give me six months. She started a group and also surveyed every North American contact she could find to pick their brains on how it was done.

just me and that cricket
fill the night

Dina E. Cox talked about senryu and pointed out that Senryu was the name of a man who decided to collect the pithy little poems he heard floating about. He collected 2.3 million of them. He started a contest and judged the best ones. He provided a title line and had people form the rest. In 1757 the contest got 207 entries. It ran every 10 days. By 1762 it amassed 10,000 entries. In 1765 the first best of anthology came out of it. One old anonymous poem from Edo was this:

the doctors talk among themselves
she will be a nice window soon

Small press publishers have several tables, such as William Higginson, Dorothy Howard's Proof Press, and Turtle Light Press. Turtle Light Press bookmaker Rick Black is doing a talk on his journey on Sunday morning.


Raffael de Gruttola who founded the Boston Haiku Society in 1987 and is past president of the Haiku Society of America was on hand to give a history of haiku from his years of study and practice. He is pictured here with George Swede.


Gruttola made the observation on how hip-hop is not so different from haiku under the surface. How rappers move from phrase to phrase, across surprising gaps and pivots, pushing the language, playing with the old meanings of words to shift the etymology and form language is the same process people are doing with haiku. One is not trying to write the universal poem that 2000 people have already written but sharpen your perception and create awareness in yourself and in others.

On Saturday evening, perhaps the most recognizable name in western haiku practice, George Swede.

Much still to come as the conference continues.