Online Activity / NYC Readings

My poem “Paddling the Nickel Tailings Near Sudbury” was recently on Split This Rock‘s weekly poetry blog. You can read it here.

Also, five poems of mine–that were featured at last year’s PULP Paper Art Party–were included in the digital book that was a product of the party. The book was put together by Jess Taylor and the EW Reading Series. The whole book is free, and can be found here.

Finally, I have two upcoming readings in New York City in June, where I’ll be reading with other poets who have had their work in the Best Canadian Poetry anthologies. On June 23rd, I’ll be reading at the Bryant Park Word For Word reading series; and on June 24th, I’ll be reading at the KGB Bar in the East Village. If you’re going to be in New York at the end of June, come out to hear some Canadian poetry!

That’s it for now.

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ABD (A Poem)

Here’s a poem I wrote for David Huebert, on the occasion of him finishing his comprehensive exams. (For those who are not a graduate student themselves, or whose siblings, partners, roommates, or dog park friends are not graduate students, ABD stands for All But Dissertation).  Happy spring!

ABD
For Dave “Species Panic at the Disco” Huebert

Always better Dave.
Any butter Dave.
Affluent, botulistic Dave.
Anything but Dave.

Armies bomb Dave.
Andromeda beleaguers Dave.
Antigone belittles Dave.
Aphrodite boffs Dave.

Another beatific Dave.
Alright, brazen Dave.
Address barrenness, Dave?
All butterflies Dave!

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A Thought Experiment, Or, Two People, One Swimming Pool

Two people are in an empty swimming pool. There are two guitars in there, nothing else. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

Two people are in an empty swimming pool. There is also a small library of assorted books, unending cups of coffee. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

Two people are in an empty swimming pool. There is a jar of LSD, a half dozen stretched canvases, and buckets of acrylic paint and paintbrushes. The jar is purple. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

Two people are in an empty swimming pool with a series of wooden planters, high-quality soil, heritage seeds, and watering cans. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

Two people are in an empty swimming pool with a baseball, an aluminium bat, and a catcher’s glove. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

Two people are in an empty swimming pool. There are two semi-automatics and a skid of bullets. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

Two people are in an empty swimming pool. There is a nuclear weapon silo, the launch codes on a post-it note above the keypad. Imagine all the possible outcomes.

End of thought experiment.

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Summer 2014 Roundup

By all metrics, it was a terrible summer. War, environmental disasters, political hypocrisy, weaponized hatreds. In my own circumscribed world, however, there were some small successes, a few surprises, and a book deal. So, in no way taking away from the horrors of the macro, here is a round up of my own, inconsequential micro.

I read poetry at three events this summer. In June, I headlined the inaugural Firepit Reading Series in London, Ontario, put on and hosted by David Huebert. This was the first time I read my poem “Handwritten Addendum to the Torah Left On The Moon” in public, along with other new–and newish–work. (True to its name, after the reading, the night refocused around the firepit.) In August, I read at the two-day long mega-reading that took place at the BIG on Bloor street festival, hosted by Jess Taylor. Finally, in honour of Leonard Cohen’s eightieth birthday, I read six of Cohen’s poems at Jewish Urban Meeting Place, as well as one of my own poems written to Cohen. Reading through his selected poetry in preparation for the reading, I remembered anew how fundamental Cohen’s poetry is to my own poetic sensibilities.

Out of the dozens, if not twenties, of rejection letters I received this summer, there were also a few acceptances. Two of my poems—“Abandoned Novel Openings Rendered as Tweets” and “The Canadian Prime Minister Visits Israel”—were picked up to be in Echolocation, coming out sometime this fall. As well, my poem “Fan Fiction,” from Vallum 10.1, was chosen by Sonnet L’Abbe to be included in Tightrope Books’ Best Canadian Poetry 2014, which I couldn’t be more excited about. And finally, in May I was offered publication of my first full-length poetry collection, Escape Plans, by Guernica Editions. Look for it sometime in 2017 (aka the distant future)!

Turning back to the wider world, the summer ended with the possibility of hope, in the form of 310, 000 people who attended the Climate People’s March in New York City, and the thousands upon thousands who joined them in cities around the world, including Toronto.

Let’s see what the fall has to offer.

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Acknowledgements Page

It’s true what they say: an individual doesn’t write a novel, a bus of noisy, farty, tired yuppies does. And on that bus were Justin Seely, Noleg Goat, Christopher Frederick Portsmouth, Jeh Johnson, and Anisa Ibrahim, all of them constant distractions; it’s amazing I got any work done at all. This book owes absolutely nothing to any of you.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the spiteful staff at the national library: Sandra Leon, Maureen Samuleh, Ban Ki Moon (no relation), and James Kee, you are all terrible librarians. You made the thirty-five minutes of research I undertook a real drab experience. I sincerely hope your pensions don’t pay out. To all the staff at Hatchet Job Press, what can I say? Each and every one of you has major, deep-seated psychological, physiological, and digestive problems. To my editor, Rebecca Samuel, your unkeen eye and penchant for adjectives has made this a terrible book and me a worse writer.

To my pot dealer, Richard Bruno, I know you’ve been shorting me on those half-ounces. To my amphetamine dealer, Emma Joy, thanks for all the late-night lessons in continental philosophy that I neither asked to hear nor understood. To my LSD, mescaline, and peyote dealer, Dr. Steven McClain, believe it or not, I feel rather neutral towards you. I’ve based the novel’s character of Ben Mantooth the deranged, slow-witted sewer dweller on you.

Robert Williams, James Lee, Tom Crist, Frank Addo, Lusy Harrison, Kimberely Anderson, Alicia Kalk, Sir George Graham, Mao Chen, Gardenia Farley, and Helen Craig, I hate each and every one of you. Thanks for nothing.

Continue reading

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