Monday, January 07, 2008

What are you currently working on?

a roundup of mostly poetry updates by Ottawa's poets.

Mike Blouin (I’m Not Going to Lie to You, Pedlar Press, 2007)

Currently I am starting on the edits for the novel for Coach House which is due out in September ( I actually really enjoy the collaboration of working with great editors ) as well as completing a poetry manuscript tracing the intersecting lives of American icon Johnny Cash and Canadian poet Alden Nolwan. I'm also finishing a second novel as well as preparing to teach some poetry and some Hamlet.

Daniel Boland (Toward the Chrysalis, Stone Flower Press, 2005)

I'm steadily working away on my writing (when I can find the time). I have more or less completed a second poetry manuscript entitled "Chasing the Hermit" (though I'm still revising it a bit) and I have a third newer collection of poems in the works as well.

Two of my poems were recently named as runners-up for the Arborealis poetry prize, and I'm trying to keep a few individual pieces floating around. That's about it.

Stephen Brockwell (The Read Made Up, ECW Press, 2007)

refining the Pumping Irony poetry workshop.
- investigating the nature of the love poem as an embodied utterance ... lots of lineation experiments there.
- skulking around trying to find a theme for the next project. "Excerpts from 21 Impossible Books" is at least a starting point.
- interviewing John Pass about poetry and emotion.

Ronnie R. Brown (Night Echoes, Black Moss Press, 2006)

One of my first writing-related goals for the new year is to (finally) edit, and organize into a full manuscript, the poems from my "fairy tale" series. The middle section of this collection, "Songs of Eve" need editing and up-dating and the poems in the other two sections need to be ordered
and, in some cases, tweaked. This is something I've been putting off for far too long, and so it's now or never (I guess). I would really like this ms. to be ready to submit before '09 looms.

As well, I plan to keep writing poems to complete the manuscript (tentatively) entitled, ROCKING ON THE EDGE. Many of these pieces are on dark topics (post partum depression, abuse, murder) but I want to add some balance to the collection (which is needed literally and figuratively when you're working "on the edge, " I guess) with more humourous pieces
(I already have poems on aging rockers and shoes.) Strange to say, but "funny" is harder to write these days than death and destruction. Guess that revelation might be scary if I decided to analyze it, but I don't think I'm going there any time soon!

Cyril Dabydeen (Drums of My Flesh, Tsar Publications, 2005)

I am currently working on a new book to be called UNANIMOUS NIGHT (a take-off from the Argentine writer Borges), which perhaps reflects some of my diverse South American, Caribbean and Canadian experiences. I was a guest of the Netherlands Association of Canadian Studies last year (2007) and found a lot of people asking me questions, being curious no doubt, about my "hybrid"--meaning diverse--background and how this influences my work. A
Spanish professor of literature did a paper on my work at a conference at Cambrigde University via the British Assoc. of Canadian Studies, and raised similar questions.

Rhonda Douglas (Time If It Exists, The Cassandra Poems, above/ground press, 2007)

At it happens I'm currently working on the edits for my book out with Signature next fall, the new title of which is "Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems."

Other than that, I am working on a short fiction collection and have about half of a second poetry collection in the works as well. In theory I am writing a "novel" for my class in the UBC MFA program, but this is more theory than practice at the moment.

Anita Lahey (Out to Dry in Cape Breton, Vehicule Press, Signal Editions, 2006)

I'm working on a few sets of poems, one relating to kickboxing, one on men, and one on obsessive reading. I am also working on a draft of a nonfiction manuscript, an expansion of an article I wrote last year for Maisonneuve about a friend who died young of cancer. The article was called "How to Be Friends with a Redhead."

Anne Le Dressay (Old Winter, Chaudiere Books, 2007)

I tend to work on individual poems rather than on focussed projects, but I'm still writing regularly. You can say I'm in the first stages of putting together a new collection.

Seymour Mayne (September Rain, Mosaic Press, 2005)

I am finetuning a further collection of my own word sonnets, some humourous, some meditative.

During the winter I will be launching a new book, A Dream of Birds:
Word Sonnets (Allied Widget) which I have co-authored with the Montreal poet and novelist, B. Glen Rotchin. We will be reading together at TREE on March 25.

In the meantime, translations of my selected poems are scheduled to appear in French, Hebrew, and Spanish editions in the coming year.

In the pipeline as well is Pluriel, a bilingual anthology I have co- edited, highlighting the diversity of recent Canadian poetry. It is scheduled to be published by the University of Ottawa Press in time for the celebration of World Poetry Day.

Nadine McInnis (Two Hemispheres, Brick Books, 2007)

I'm working on a collection of short fiction, almost finished, called Where All The Ladders Start. I never know how to describe stories thematically so I'll just say that I'm interested in fiction with language as lush as poetry, with vivid images, exploring the place where the conscious and unconscious meet.

rob mclennan (The Ottawa City Project, Chaudiere Books, 2007)

my poetry projects (as of January 3, 2008):

I've got numerous fiction, non-fiction and editorial projects currently on the go. Right now, I've got about half a dozen completed poetry manuscripts that are looking for homes, and another few that probably need some kind of finishing moves. Since I've been in Alberta, I've started a poetry manuscript called "wild horses," including a whole
bunch of smaller sections, poems, sequences and such, including a sequence called "map of edmonton."

My version of George Bowering's "Curious," the book "apertures," is at roughly eighty pieces, so would like to get another forty finished before potentially pulling out about a dozen or two to make it publishable. I've got another manuscript of essays on Canadian poets and poetry, and have been working on dozens of reviews and essays and interviews, including on the poetries of Anne Carson, Stephen Brockwell, David McGimpsey, ryan
fitzpatrick, Monty Reid and Sandra Ridley.

There's a four hundred page poetry manuscript called "a day book" that I need to re-enter and organize in some kind of coherent way; should I break it down into four equal-sized parts? Should I try to make it into a single manuscript? Should I just leave it where it is, hiding out in my computer?

There is a chapbook-sized manuscript of collaborations with the American poet Lea Graham that have been sitting around for some time; a few will be appearing this spring in The Capilano Review, so at least they're getting out into the world. What I'd really like is to be able to sit down with Lea a few more times and hammer it out into a book-length manuscript, but god knows how long that might take.

There are also some other projects I've started and haven't had the proper time to dip back into, including the long poems "Instruction Manual," "bank street: a somerset psalter" and "After Spicer" that could be anywhere from chapbook to book length once they're finished, if I can re-enter them with the time and attention I think they need.

That's all I can think of, for right now.

Susan McMaster (Until the Light Bends, Black Moss Press, 2004)

I'm currently working on three separate manuscripts. The first is a narrative/historical poem sequence around the bitter and unusual strike at the National Gallery in 2001, which incidentally and oddly coincided with my millennial "Convergence: Poems for Peace" project (that brought poetry and art from across Canada to all Parliamentarians), September 11, 200. The tension between my generalized, idealistic, and Quaker-based promotion of peace-making and negotiation in Convergence, the sorrow and shock of Sept 11, and the failure of negotiation and the intense and personal strains and angers I felt as I walked the lines during the strike together make a potent mixture I am still trying to sort out these many years later. I may not publish this ms. for a few years more -- until it is in some way an integrated whole.

My second manuscript is a series I am writing on the decline of my mother, whom I love and respect very much, into Alzheimer's. This is a common, sad story, with un-looked-for bravery and occasional joy, among continuing grief. I started these poems 2 years ago, and will complete them at a yet unknown moment. I've been reading from the poems, and publishing a few, but don't want to rush them; the topic, and my dear mother (all our mothers), are too important.

So neither of these books may be published soon. In the meantime, I am having an interesting time assembling a "Selected and New, due as of current plans to be published by Black Moss in 2009. Most of my books are out of print (one is, amazingly, selling for $187 on!). I'd like the poems to be available, and I'd also like the chance to revise them -- which in most cases means Cut! Cut! Cut!, as Miriam Waddington once told me pointedly years ago. This journey back, and in a sense forward, is invigorating, and reassuring. I did write a poem or two I still like...

I also have a couple of related projects underway. One is to produce a similar "selected" for my music-and-poetry work from the 1980s to now. Musician and producer James Stephens (Stove Studios, Chelsea) and musician and collaborator Alrick Huebener have been helping me on that. James recently mastered a re-issue of my 1980s First Draft tape "Wordmusic", with a few contemporary works taped by Alrick and including poets Max Middle, Colin Morton, and Penn Kemp, and musicians Huebener, Linsey Wellman, Jamie Gullikson, Rory Magill, David Broscoe, and Jennifer Giles. There is also some new recording I hope to do with these and other musicians, especially Mike Essoudry and Mark Molnar, for possible inclusion. A long-term project, possibly out next year if I can find funding.

And, last (for the moment), I'm beginning a Second Draft (following First Draft, described in The Gargoyle's Left Ear) -- a regular meeting of creative people to talk about what they're doing. Who knows what might come of this? I like open-ended, collaborative ventures.

Beyond that, I'm presenting a paper and doing a reading (poems to appear in an anthology) at the Bronwen Wallace conference at Queen's University in Kingston in March, on the topic of the series of letters I edited for publication between her and Erin Mouré just before Bron died, on the subject of feminism and poetics. I'm also expecting to be doing more with John Abbott College, where I gave a "Waging Peace" reading and presentation this fall. I have a tentative project about to begin with artist Jane Burnstein. And finally, I have begun archiving my papers and electronic and visual files with the City of Ottawa Archives, which have established a Literary Heritage collection as a result of the initiative of Steven Artelle's Ottawa Literary Heritage Society.

I'll be reading from The Gargoyle's Left Ear during National Poetry Month on 10 April at the Sunnyside Public Library (Ottawa South), as part of the Canal Mug series, along with some new poems.

Colin Morton (the Cabbage of Paradise, Seraphim Editions, 2007)

I'm preparing for the press a poetry book called _The Local Cluster_, which contains mostly Ottawa poems and will be published in the spring by Pecan Grove Press of San Antonio. Meanwhile I'm working on another long poetry series, based on a historical subject and set along the 49th parallel; working title, _Boundary Issues_.

David O’Meara (The Vicinity, Brick Books, 2003)

I just sent my new book to my editor for once last look-see, and then it's off to the press. It's a book of poems that might be called "Noble Gas, Penny Black," and is due for publication Fall 2008 with Brick Books. I've also just written a stage-play called "Disaster," which is currently scheduled to be produced in April (location still pending).

Oni the Haitian Sensation (Ghettoscracy, McGilligan Books, 2006)

I just found out that "Oni la Sensation Haitienne" was shortlisted for the Montreal Arts Film Festival. The media launch for that event will be held in Toronto on Jan 22. "Oni la Sensation Haitienne" will play on TV Ontario, perhaps on other television networks and will be featured internationally as part of this festival.

On Jan 16th, I'm performing at City Hall and on Parliament for Martin Luther King Day. In Mid Jan, I'm performing for CUPE. I did an interview for Macleans magazine, which should come out soon. In February I'm off to Whistler to work with the Olympic Writers Circle- then I go to Montreal to perform in an erotic poetry showcase called The Art of Aural Sex, then I perform at Winterlude. I was invited to do a launch of Ghettostocracy on Parliament Hill in February.

Monty Reid (Disappointment Island, Chaudiere Books, 2007)

Lost in the Owl Woods (BookThug) is just out
The Luskville Reductions (Brick) comes out in May
Forty Fucks (also BookThug) will come out later in the year

I'm working on Host (the parasitical work) and The Grand Zoo (loose translations from the Cuban poet, Nicolas Guillen) and struggling with translations of contemporary francophone poetry. Plus writing songs and playing as much music as possible with friends.

Sandra Ridley (recent work in Arc, Carousel, Grain, stonestone and Taddle Creek)

This winter, if all goes as planned, I will finish my first manuscript of poetry (Downwinders), which is structured to form a loose narrative about a prairie family living downwind of Cold War nuclear testing. Part imagination, part fact. In tandem with this project is the production of a hand-bound chapbook of poetry (Lift) with Saskatoon-based publisher JackPine Press. ( With a June 2008 launch date, this chapbook will be a collaboration with my artist spouse Eric Slankis and will contain original linocut prints and twelve ghazals taken from the larger manuscript.

Aside from that, I am up to my ankles in research and tentative first drafts of poems for a second manuscript, which strangely, or perhaps not too strangely, has quickly become much more interesting to me than the first.

Rob Winger (Muybridge’s Horse, Nightwood Editions, 2007)

I'm working on a new ms that takes on the idea of a poetic miscellany, trying to write on/about/with/past all of the most cliched topics that most often appear in such collections.

much thanks to all of you who responded. perhaps we'll make this an annual feature.

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