Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Al Purdy Day, A-Frame Fundraiser

Sean Wilson The Al Purdy A-Frame Fundraiser had an event as part of Pre-Writers Festival on Al Purdy Day April 21 in Ottawa.

Sean Wilson did the initial introductions of the 8 readers to share their favorite Al Purdy poems thru the decades and a sample of their own as part of Al Purdy Day.

Each person's brought out a different aspect, facet and tone of the poet from quiet wonder to story telling drama, the comic mystic of what the beavers know and aren't telling to self-deprecating humour. (I'll mostly only describe the Purdy ones but if anyone else wants to provide missing titles or details, please complete the picture.)

Books were on hand for sale as well as a donation box to contribute to the keeping and upkeep of the A-frame as a writer's retreat. A total of $285 was raised for the cause.

Luna Allison
Luna Allison read from The Dead Poet and a used bookstore find, an anthology with one of his poems.

I was altered in the placenta
by the dead brother before me
who built a place in the womb
knowing I was coming:
he wrote words on the walls of flesh...

Stephen Brockwell Stephen Brockwell read Purdy's poem of Helen and Menelaus and Agamemnon, a less often read one of Purdy's, unfortunately. An absorbing retelling of the story.

Michael Dennis
Michael Dennis read a poem of Purdy's early drafted soldier days, being entrusted even with a wooden gun being a foolhardy idea. Even the pigeons learned it was safe to not fly away from him on patrol. And he read from his own, one set in a mining camp at Christmas and the brawl that ensued.

Gwendolyn Guth
Gwendolyn Guth described going to try to find the A-frame and finding Purdy's grave. (If you missed it, you should ask her for the story.) She read her tribute poems on him from The Ivory Thought: Essays on Al Purdy. In it 17 writers, scholars, critics, and educators appraise and reappraise Purdy’s contribution in essays in tributes, as part of a 2006 conference on him.

Kathryn Hunt
Kathryn Hunt, reading from the Last Picture in the World.

little point of land
like a small monk
in a green monastery

Jim Larwill Jim Larwill
Jim Larwill read a Acorn tribute to Purdy and from the argument between Milton Acorn and Al Purdy while they lived in the A-frame. He is rallying for an Ottawa contingent to go to Marmora's people's poetry fest, Purdyfest, on Aug 1. The other picture is Jim Larwill performing The Raven, a bird associated with Purdy and Acorn.

Rob Winger
Rob Winger read from Hockey Players and one about a pub brawl and beer like daisies called A Sensitive Man.

Sean Zio Sean Zio read a Purdy poem dedicated to Margaret Laurence and his elegy poem, Be Good.

Here's a 1978 Interview with Purdy and vid links to CBC Archives on Purdy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Carleton University's Poetry Night at the MacOdrum Library

Left to right: President Rosanne Runte, David O’Meara and Rob Winger

Patti Harper, the Department Head of Archives and Research Collections sends in this report and photos about the event on April 1. Room 503, the Rare Book Room is open to the public and has a great collection, including old broadsides, zines and first editions of books such as Phyllis Webb's Naked Poems.

MacOdrum Library held its inaugural poetry reading night on April 1st to promote the Modern Poetry Collection within the Archives and Research Collections, bringing together the Carleton and Ottawa communities. Carleton’s own Rob Winger was Master of Ceremonies with President Rosanne Runte and local poet David O’Meara presenting selections of their work. The evening also included David presenting some of his favourites from the Collection as well as participating in a Questions and Answer session with the audience. The evening also showcased some of the gems from the collection including broadsides, magazines and books.
Stay tuned for another poetry night in the fall.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Strong Week in April

Daily for poetry month there has been even more than usual lit events.

Last night Wayson Choy read as part of the year round writers festival. Meanwhile Jason Camlot read at Tree. (The next Tree is a Tulip Tree - All Open-Mic on April 28, followed by Stephanie Bolster May 12th but we're getting ahead of the month.)

AngelHouse Press, which now has an essay series going, is presenting a poem a day at National Poetry Month.

Tonight is chock-full of options in Ottawa Lit. To name just 2: The Oneness Poetry Showcase features Ian Keteku a.k.a. Emcee E with Erin Felepchuk on piano at the East African Restaurant. The Ottawa Arts Review hosted a panel discussion at Ottawa U. [Details at the bottom here]

Tomorrow is the penultimate of the Canal Mug Series. It will be Anne Le Dressay and Stephen Brockwell at the Sunnyside Library. April 23rd it'll be Nadine McInnis and Glenn Kletke.

There's a Plan 99 reading with Stephanie Bolster this Saturday and a Capital Slam.

On Sunday the 19th there's a Dusty Owl at the regular Swizzles bar but it's a double-header with it also being the partnership with Bywords to launch of the new Bywords Quarterly Journal.

Meanwhile over at Sushi 88 on Somerset, there's another Dusty Owl event, it's the first of 3 of the season's workshops. Pearl Pirie will do Firestarters, inspiration prompts. You can buy 2 workshops for the cost of 3. The next two will be Oni [link autoloads sound] teaching social action slam poetry, and in June, Ian Roy will expand horizons with drawing out short stories.

To look ahead to the 22nd, The A B Series features: Clifton Joseph, John Sobol and Robert Priest at The Mercury Lounge. On the following Sunday, April 26, Claudia Coutu Radmore will be at Sasquatch to launch her new chapbook: Ode to a Rubber Duck: An Explanation of the Whole World. People are invited to bring their rubber duckies and own odes.

Including the Writers Festival and BC Scene -- some highlights are in the previous post -- there are 3 to 7 lit events on daily for most of April. Check the full listings.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Carleton and the Writer's Festival

A brief amendment to Amanda's excellent and thorough post below on the Writer's Festival:

A reminder to all Carleton University students that all events in this edition are free with a valid student card (unless otherwise noted). In the Fall, 500 tickets were made available to Carleton students and that number has been boosted this time around. This is hopefully an indication of a developing and ongoing relationship between Carleton and the festival (with several faculty members hosting events again). If you're a Carleton student, attend and make us of this wonderful opportunity. This program will hopefully continue to be a part of the Writer's Festival in the future, but it clearly must be a success in order to encourage repetition.

I lament that I will no longer hold a valid card come the Fall edition...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poetry Events at the Ottawa International Writers Festival

The festival begins on April 22 and goes until May 2 and marks its first official season at the new Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities, 314 St. Patrick St near the Byward Market. There are lots of great events taking place this spring at the festival. The best deal is the festival pass, which you can buy at $85 until April 21. The programmes are scattered all over town and the full schedule complete with bio and youtube links is over at

Nicholas Hoare Books will be on hand to sell you copies of books to have signed by the authors.
There are 3 poetry cabarets, a masterclass writing workshop and two other poetry events taking place at the spring edition. Here’s what’s happening poetry wise.

Saturday, April 25, 2009
Dusty Owl Presents Urban First Nations Poetry
with Mosha Folger, Rob Friday and friends; hosted by Steven Zytveld-6pm

Mosha Folger is an independent writer/photographer and spoken word artist.

Rob Friday is the 2008 recipient of the Bywords John Newlove Poetry Award for his poem “Manatee”.

Poetry Cabaret # 1: Jeanette Lynes, Marcus McCann and Molly Peacock, hosted by Stephen Brockwell-8pm

Jeanette Lynes is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently It's Hard Being Queen: The Dusty Springfield Poems (Freehand Books). She is also the author of a novel, forthcoming from Coteau Books. Jeanette has been a writer in residence at Saskatoon Public Library and Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek, B.C. She teaches at St. Francis Xavier University and co-edits The Antigonish Review.

Marcus McCann is a poet and journalist. He is the editor of Capital Xtra, Ottawa’s gay and lesbian newspaper. Soft Where (Chaudiere Books) is his first full-length collection.

Molly Peacock is the award-winning author of five volumes of poetry, including Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems. Her poems have appeared in such leading publications as The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Times Literary Supplement. Among her other works are How to Read a Poem and Start a Poetry Circle and a memoir, Paradise, Piece By Piece. Before she emigrated to Canada in 1992, she was 1 of the creators of Poetry in Motion on the Buses and Subways in New York City, and she served as an early advisor to Poetry on The Way. Recently she toured with her one-woman show in poems, The Shimmering Verge produced by the London, Ontario based company, Femme Fatale Productions. Peacock is currently the poetry editor of the Literary Review of Canada and the general series editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English. She lives in Toronto with her husband, Michael Groden, an English Professor at the University of Western Ontario. Her website is:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry Cabaret #2: Spotlight on Talonbooks with Garry Thomas Morse, rob mclennan, Adeena Karasick and bill bissett-8:30pm

Garry Morse is a Vancouver poet and writer with two books of poetry published by LINEbooks, Transversals for Orpheus (2006) and Streams (2007). He has created more than thirty chapbooks of poetry and is the chief editor of an online read-only hyperclack of fresh writing called Lexican Radio. His work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Canadian Literature, The Capilano Review, filling Station, The Vancouver Review and West Coast Line, and his manuscript Go Medieval was selected as a runner-up for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. In 2008 Morse received the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Artist. When not pursuing literary endeavours, he is the lead developer for, and he sings in the chorus for OperaProCantanti.

rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa (since 1989), even though he was born there once (1970). The author of a dozen poetry collections, most recently The Ottawa City Project and a compact of words, as well as a collection of essays, subverting the lyric: essays and Ottawa: The Unknown City. As an editor, he is putting the finishing touches on collections of essays on the works of Andrew Suknaski, John Newlove and George Bowering, as well as There Is No Mountain: new & selected poems by Andrew Suknaski. Editor/publisher of above/ground press and STANZAS magazine, rob regularly posts essays, reviews and other writing at

Adeena Karasick is a poet, media-artist and the award-winning author of six books of poetry and poetic theory, The House That Hijack Built, The Arugula Fugues, Dyssemia Sleaze, Genrecide, Mêmewars, and The Empress Has No Closure. Marked with an urban, Jewish, feminist aesthetic that continually challenges normative modes of meaning production, and engaged with the art of combination and turbulence of thought, her work is a testament to the creative and regenerative power of language and its infinite possibilities for pushing meaning to the limits of its semantic boundaries. Karasick has lectured and performed worldwide and regularly publishes articles, reviews and dialogues on contemporary poetry, poetics and cultural/semiotic theory. She is Professor of Literature and Cultural Theory at BMCC, City University of New York. Forthcoming is Amuse Bouche: Tasty Treats for the Mouth.

bill bissett, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award first garnered international attention in the 1960s as a pre-eminent figure of the counter-culture movement in Canada and the UK. Author of over 70 books of published poetry, bill is a pioneer of sound, visual and performance poetry—eschewing the artificial hierarchies of meaning and the privileging of things (“proper” nouns) over actions imposed on language by capital letters; the metric limitations imposed on the possibilities of expression by punctuation; and the illusion of formal transparency imposed on the written word by standard (rather than phonetic) spelling. bill composes his poems as scripts for pure performance and has consistently worked to extend the boundaries of language and visual image, honing a synthesis of the two in the medium of concrete poetry. He writes and paints out of studios in Vancouver and Toronto.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poetry Cabaret#3: Carolyn Marie Souaid, Zoe Whittall, David O’Meara; hosted by Rob Winger-6:30pm

Carolyn Marie Souaid is a poet, teacher, and book reviewer for The Montreal Gazette. The author of four books, she has appeared at many literary festivals across the country, and was part of a Canadian delegation of poets sent to Paris in December 2005 to participate in an international forum on the inhumane treatment of prisoners of conscience. She is the co-producer (with Endre Farkas) of two major Montreal events: Poésie en mouvement / Poetry in Motion (the poetry-on-the-buses project, 2004) and Cirque des mots / Circus of Words, a multilingual cabaret of performance poetry (2005, 2006). Three of her books have been shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize. A French translation of “Snow Formations” was published by Les Éditions Triptyque in 2006.

Zoe Whittall’s first novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, was named one of the best books of 2007 by The Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire magazine. She won the 2008 Dayne Ogilvie award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Now Magazine awarded her the title of Best Emerging Author of 2007. She has published three books of poetry, Precordial Thump (Exile, 2008), The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (McGilligan Books, 01) and The Emily Valentine Poems (Snare Books, 06). Her work has been anthologized widely, with poems appearing in Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s Best New Poets edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane and many others. The Globe and Mail called her "the cockiest, brashest, funniest, toughest, most life-affirming, elegant, scruffy, no-holds-barred writer to emerge from Montreal since Mordecai Richler…”. Her second novel, Holding Still For As Long as Possible, is forthcoming from House of Anansi press in fall of 2009. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, she’s lived in Toronto since 1997.

David O'Meara was born and raised in Pembroke, Ontario. He lives in Ottawa, where he tends bar at The Manx Pub. His first book of poems, Storm still, was published in 1999 and was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award. His second collection, The Vicinity, was shortlisted for the Trillium Poetry Award.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poetry Masterclass-Why Poetry Antimatters: Metaphor, Entanglement and Particle Poetics with Jeremy Dodds and Matthew Tierney, hosted by David O’Meara-noon

Jeramy Dodds lives in Orono, Ontario. His poems have been translated into Finnish, French, Latvian, Swedish, German and Icelandic. In 2007 he held a residency at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators on the island of Götland, Sweden. He is the winner of the 2006 Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award and the 2007 CBC Literary Award in poetry. He works as a research archaeologist and co-edits for littlefishcartpress.

Matthew Tierney's poetry has been published in many literary journals in Canada and Ireland. He was born Kitchener, Ontario, and grew up in Toronto, where he now lives. Several years ago, he spent some time in Japan teaching English, and returned home by way of the Trans-Mongolian Express, an offshoot of the Trans-Siberian Express, one of the last transcontinental train routes. This journey and others around Asia and Europe form the experiences in Full speed through the morning dark. A second manuscript, The Rocket Scientist, is an epistemological tour of hard and soft sciences: cosmology, quantum physics, neurology, psychology and economics, among others. In particular, it grapples with the idea of intelligence—what it means to be an intelligent species, an intelligent person. The manuscript was awarded the 2006 K.M. Hunter Award for Literature.

BC Scene Poetry Night with Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, Evelyn Lau and Robert Bringhurst-hosted by Alma Lee-8:30pm

Patrick Lane is the author of 21 books of poetry, and has received many awards for his writing, including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry (1979), the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry (1988), and two National Magazine Awards. Lane lives near Victoria, British Columbia, with poet Lorna Crozier.

Lorna Crozier’ Crozier's work has won numerous awards, including the Governor General's Award, the Pat Lowther Poetry Award, the Canadian Authors Association Award, and the First Prize for Poetry in the CBC Literary Competition. She has published fourteen books of poetry, most recently, Whetstone. Crozier also edited Desire in Seven Voices and, with Patrick Lane, Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast. Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, she now lives in British Columbia, where she teaches at the University of Victoria.

Evelyn Lau has written seven books, including the bestselling short story collection Choose Me. Her bestselling first book, Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, was published when she was 18 and adapted into an award-winning film for television by the CBC. In 1992, Evelyn became the youngest poet ever to be nominated for the Governor General's Award, for her collection Oedipal Dreams. She lives and works in Vancouver.

Robert Bringhurst is a poet, typographer and linguist, well known for his award-winning translations of the Haida storytellers Skaay and Ghandl, and for his translations of the early Greek philosopher-poet Parmenides. His manual The Elements of Typographic Style has itself been translated into ten languages and is now one of the world’s most influential texts on typographic design. Among his most recent publications is a pair of essay collections, The Tree of Meaning (2006) and Everywhere Being is Dancing (2007). Bringhurst lives on Quadra Island, off the British Columbia coast.

Go buy your tickets NOW

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry

To celebrate National Poetry Month and get a daily dose of poetry, visit the following sites:

AngelHousePress’s National Poetry Month features 30 poets from around the world celebrating the nation of poetry.

the League of Canadian Poets' Poetry Planet Blog, a different poem each day by Canadian poets, representing each province.

Seen Reading’s 30 in 30. Poets read one of their own poems aloud and cover a favourite poem of another writer.

The Afterword, National Post Interviews Canadian Poets Daily

the New York Review of Books is posting daily poems that they’ve published over the years.

Daily Lit in conjunction with the magazine Poets and Writers will e-mail you the poetry of late great poets in a series called Masters of Verse

And if you'd like to celebrate in person as well as virtually, check out for all the poetry events happening this month.