Archives for category: best of

At the close of every year, for over a decade, I have taken a moment to reflect upon the year’s publications. Like in previous years, my “most engaging books” list reflects what I found most fascinating / useful / generative in terms of form & content from the books I read in 2022.

Seek out these volumes; every one will reward the search (your local, independent, bookstore can help; an excellent choice as many continue to struggle under the pandemic). This is the cream of the crop for 2022, seriously …

THE LASCAUX NOTEBOOKS by Jean-Luc Champerret, edited and translated by Philip Terry (Carcanet Classics, 2022)

Terry’s editing and translation recuperates Jean-Luc Champerret’s WWII transcriptions and translation of the Magdalenian-age visuals of the caves of Lascaux, offering decisive insight into how these cave markings—key images in the history of European artwork and mark-making—are, in fact, literary texts, unlocking the narrative between visuality, poetry, and a rich, elusive, history. Terry creates a nested conversation of poetic swerves; each translation moves from reproduced cave drawing through Champerret’s studied (though often-illegible) French, and into a graceful, poetic English, creating a series of ateliers and chambers as one metaphorically wanders deep into the dark Ice age caves, lit only by flickering torchlight.

OPTIC SUBWOOF by Douglas Kearney (Wave Books, 2022)

Recipient of the 2022 International Griffin Prize, Douglas Kearney brings a spoken, performative poetry to the page in a form which fully embraces breath and cacophony unpacking the racialized spaces of contemporary poetry. Optic Subwoof, published as part of Wave books’ Bagley Wright Lecture Series, gathers Kearney’s talks and lectures – but these are far from dry academic treatises, every chapter crackles with the urgency of voice, politic, performance, and dizzying possibility.

BOAT by Lisa Robertson (Coach House Books, 2022)

Boat – Lisa Robertson’s sixth title with Toronto’s Coach House Books – gathers daily thoughts fromnotebooks, aphorisms about poetics, feminism and thinking across genre. These poetic statements are presented in enjambed poetic lines, prosaic sentences, fragments, and – most startlingly – in the opening sequence “The Hut” which places a caesura in the middle of words, a clean, clear shaft of whitespace runs through the middle of the page, slowing the reading around “I admire the o     dd transitions” and “the strict geomet     ry of her hair part”. A startling, meditative offering from one of our finest poets.

THE BOOK OF GRIEF AND HAMBURGERS by Stuart Ross (ECW, 2022)

Walking a quiet tread between sorrow and humour, The Book of Greif and Hamburgers is emotionally bare, honest, humane. After Covid’s assertion in early 2020, there has been so much loss, so much unresolved grief – and so many ways of avoiding facing that trauma. With this volume Ross sets aside much of his contemporary surrealism and meets our gaze with tears in his eyes. The hamburgers are a self-confessed feint, a greasy-spoon coping mechanism, but like the finest magician who implores you to not take your eyes off the desk of cards while he explains the trick, Ross still astonishes. There’s a space at the counter, sit, we’ve all bitten off more than we can chew.

ROOMS: WOMEN, WRITING, WOOLF by Sina Queyras (Coach House Books, 2022)

Sina Queyras’ Rooms explores how classrooms, communities, and writing is indelibly informed by class, gender, and sexuality. Queyras extends Virginia Woolf’s “Room of One’s Own”, Queyras into a memoir-reflection on the space needed to write, how moments shape lives, and how gender continues to inform artistic decisions and opportunities.

THE VERY LAST INTERVIEW by David Shields (New York Review Books, 2022)

A widely interviewed author, David Shields has collaged together over 2,700 questions he has received in print and spoken interviews, from the banal to the boring … but none of his answers. What remains in The Very Last Interview is 22 chapters of questions and assumptions by unprepared interviewers. The reader is presented with a series of questions they can answer themselves, confronting how they see the writing life.

LEVIATHAN by Jason Shiga (Amulet, 2022)

For over 25 years Shiga has created award-winning comics and graphic novels which challenge expectations and playfully explore how we read. Leviathan, which seems to be the first of an upcoming series, is a comic book choose-your-own-adventure novel. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, Leviathan will occupy you – or any younger readers in your life – for a deceptively long time. It will take hours upon hours to explore all the options, the false starts, the tricks and trials as you seek to defeat the terrible sea creature which torments the small coastal town of Cobalt Isles. A treasure.

TWO SIDES by Kevin Stebner (Non Plus Ultra, 2022)

This slim volume consists of fantastical video-game landscapes and geometric forms, all created on a Remington Performer, a manual typewriter, using only 3 different keys: the slash (/), the underline (_) and the period (.). Using multi-coloured ribbons and an incredibly limited palette, Stebner creates breathtaking forms which suggest a poetry of girders and beams, platforms and passageways – utterly astonishing.

HERBARIUM by Danni Storm (Timglaset, 2022)

Danni Storm’s Herbarium kaleidoscopes antique images of leaves and flowers, buds and branches into an Albert Hoffman-like funhouse. These fractal flowers bloom into sinister shadows which suggest a beautiful nightmare of alien arabesques. Herbarium unlocks the gears and cogs of perception, spinning the wheels into a bicycle trip through Alice’s garden; each flower demanding answers to questions just out of reach.

PARTICULATES by Greg Thomas (Timglaset, 2022)

Building on the minimalist poems of Aram Saroyan and N.H. Pritchard, Particulates does a tremendous amount with very, very little. Here evocative poetic moment like “tpyrc” and “dreampth” stand on creamy fields of open pages, typewriter-like typefaces explore how the grid can evoke musical scores, pages unfold to twice their regular size to allow for graphic banners of full-bleed repetitions suggest infinite wonders. Thomas, a thoughtful critic of concrete and visual poetry, has created a volume which stands in conversation with some of the canonical texts from the 60s to the present.

RUHUMAN: THE TYPEWRITER ART OF KEITH ARMSTRONG, edited by Barrie Tullett and Tom Gill (The Caseroom Press, 2022)

A fabulous, lush, overview of Keith Armstrong’s work; his typewritten concrete poetry, his small press publishing and his community activism supporting disability rights in the UK, RUHuman brings an important voice back into a cultural discourse. Confined to wheelchair from the effects of polio and surgeries and frequently arrested for his activist protests, Armstrong brought a dedication to his small magazine The Informer while also producing beautiful skeins of subtly coloured typewritten poems; each demanding more from governments, leadership, and readers.

At the close of every year, for over a decade, I have taken a moment in to reflect upon the year’s publications. Like in previous years, my “most engaging books” list reflects what I found most fascinating / useful / generative in terms of form & content from the books I read in 2020.

Seek out these volumes; every one will reward the search (your local, independent, bookstore can help; an excellent choice as many are struggling under the pandemic). This is the cream of the crop for 2020, seriously:

Ofullsizerendernce again, December brings an opportunity to reflect upon the year’s publications. Like previous years, my “most engaging books” list reflects what i found most fascinating / useful / generative. Seek out these volumes, every one will reward the search. Your local, independent, bookstore can help…. This is the cream of the crop for 2016, seriously:

 

Poetry

Non-Fiction

 

 

Work in Translation

PoetLaureateLogoOn April 28th 2014 I was named Calgary’s Poet Laureate (following in the footsteps of Kris Demeanor).

On Monday April 25th 2016 I will hand that position over to the 2016-2018 Poet Laureate.

With the amazing support of Emiko Muraki, Christine Armstrong, Joni Carroll, Helen Moore-Parkhouse, Kaley Beisiegel, Pattti Pon and all the amazing folks at CADA I have used the last two years to perform, discuss and advocate for Calgary’s poetic community, promote literacy in the city and initiate new programs to support Calgarian arts.

Here’s a quick review of what i’ve been up as Poet Laureate:

I have conducted 77 readings (alongside almost 100 meetings & over 40 media appearances) in 5 countries — including talks at The University of Calgary, University of Alberta, York University, William Aberhart High School, Queen Elizabeth High School, Mount Royal University, Brock University, Lakehead University and Roehampton University and at public events in Lethbridge, Manchester, London, Oslo, Stockholm and Calgary. I was honoured to give keynote lectures at the Oslopoesifilmfestival (Oslo, Norway) and New Voices, Emerging Paths in Contemporary Canadian Writings (Canadian Literature Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB) and the convocation address at Alberta College of Art + Design.11221301_10153288031866346_3824064715146837533_n

 

1-15-2016 - WHERE NEXT- Poster FINAL SHMy students and colleagues recognized and awarded my teaching with the Alberta College of Art + Design Student Association Appreciation Award, two Alberta College of Art + Design Student Association Gracious Gratitude Awards and the inaugural Robert Kroetsch Teaching Innovation Award from the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP). I was thrilled to share with students at Mount Royal, ACAD and at Wordsworth Teen Summer Camp. At ACAD I co-ordinated and hosted The WHERE NEXT: CREATIVE WRITING, NARRATIVE, FILM AND CONTEMPORARY ART symposium.

i’ve been lucky to have work published dozens of magazines, journals and books in Canada, the US, the UK, Germany, Turkey, Norway, Sweden and France and work included in gallery exhibitions in Canada, Austria, Georgia, Germany, the Netherlands, England and the US. I co-curated, with Phillip Davenport, Total Recall, at the Bury Art Museum (Bury, UK). I also donated artwork to fundraising auctions for both HIV Calgary and The Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre (KOAC).

I have created hundreds of new works and am particularly proud of the poem i wrote as a commission for the Vimy Foundation in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge in 2017.

photoI was the first artist-in-residence in the Lightbox Studio in Calgary’s Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts (now Arts Commons) — thank you Natasha Jensen for all the organizational acumen. I was the first artist-in-residence in Calgary’s Lougheed House’s 124-year history. The residency culminated with a gala reading featuring Calgary literati.

Calgary Tower WordFest 01My work was  projected on the side of the Calgary Tower and posted on billboards on Calgary’s busiest freeways thanks to the initiatives of Calgary’s Wordfest.

Los Angeles-based press Les Figues published my latest volume of visual poetry, KERN, and the Manchester-based press If P then Q published my latest volume of criticism, The Unbearable Contact with poets, and for that i am incredibly grateful. The Calgary Renaissance, an anthology of risk-taking Calgarian poetry — co-edited with Ottawa’s rob mclennan — is forthcoming in 2016 (as are several other projects which i can’t announce quite yet).

WordPoweredArt-2014_instagramThrough No press I published 64 different editions of poetry and prose from international, national and local emerging and established writers. Each book was meant to help spread the word of risk-taking international writing. Thank you for trusting me with your work.

In December, 2014 I traveled to London with my family in order to defend my Phd dissertation in Creative Writing at Roehampton University under the supervision of Dr. Peter Jaeger and Mr. Jeff Hilson — both of whom have been exceptional teachers and mentors.

On May 11th of this year I will be named as the recipient of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts 1st Celebrated Alumni Award.

As Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I co-founded, with Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Chamber, the Artists in the Workplace initiative through which we pair businesses who are willing to donate studio and production space to Calgary’s artistic community.

In support of Helmets for Heroes, I designed Canadian National Luge Team athlete Arianne Jones’ helmetwhich she wore in gold-medal performances at the World Cup. The helmet will be auctioned for charity in mid-2016.

IMG_1793In conjunction with Calgary Reads, i provided the artwork for their new Little Free Library Passport supporting Calgarian literacy.

My work at Roehampton University — directly on the walls of the English department was the first UK public commission ever received by a Canadian poet.

I initiated the Twitter project The Calgary Alphabet in which i invited the citizens of Calgary to help create an alphabet of letters which reflect the city’s signage. I also created the #writtenrighthere initiative on twitter and, with Barrie, Ontario’s Poet Laureate Damian Lopes, created a National Poetry month challenge across Canada.

I worked with a fabulous team at Project Bookmark to try and make head-way in to Calgary’s community;

coverNot all of the projects i’ve undertaken worked out however. 2015 did bring some disappointing news. For my entire tenure as Poet Laureate I have been working with the Calgary Arts Development team and with representatives from the City of Calgary to create an initiative through which we would name Calgary alleys after prominent deceased Calgarian writers. With support from arts groups across Alberta, the Varsity Community Association and the Beltline Community Association (and many others) we proposed to name streets and pathways in the city after Nellie McClung and Robert Kroetsch (with expansion plans for further alleys named after W.O. Mitchell and Sheila Watson). Sadly –- despite wide-spread support from the community (and private funds to cover all potential expenses) and the City of Calgary Naming Committee –- the City of Calgary Priorities and Finance Committee did not share our enthusiasm. This was a project we’ve been deeply dedicated to for a number of years and it was crushing to see it not receive support. We may regroup …

None of this would have been possible without my incredible partner, Kristen, and my amazing daughter Maddie. My parents and in-laws have also been a steady voice of support and love; thank you.

1509803_10152809613381526_2794485390422773802_nIn so many ways I only excel because of the strength and support of my community of friends and colleagues especially Christian Bök, Sina Queyras, Darren Wershler, Kenneth Goldsmith, Ken Hunt, Tony Trehy, Jordan Scott, Greg Betts, Lori Emerson, Kit Dobson, Helen Hajnoczky, Richard Harrison and so many others. Thank you.

I’m by no means done and the opportunity to be Poet Laureate has already lead to a number of new projects and potential collaborations — I’m excited to see how these ideas will challenge both me and the arts community.

It has been an honour, thank you — I look forward to seeing what Calgary’s next Poet Laureate does with the position.

FullSizeRenderOnce again, December brings an opportunity to reflect upon the year’s publications. Like previous years, my “most engaging books” list is idiosyncratic and reflects what i found most fascinating / useful / generative. Seek out these volumes, every one will reward the search. Your local, independent, bookstore can help…. This is the cream of the crop for 2015, seriously:

  • Allemann, Urs. (trans. Patrick Greaney). The Old Man and the Bench. (Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Bök, Christian. The Xenotext (Book 1). (Coach House Books)
  • Brossard, Nicole. (trans. Angela Carr). Ardour. (Coach House Books)
  • Cage, John. Diary: How to Improve the world (You will only make matters worse). (Siglio)
  • Carmody, Teresa and Vanessa Place. Maison Femme: a fiction. (Bon Aire Projects)
  • Cobbing, William and Rosie Cooper, eds. Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing. (Occasional papers)
  • Dworkin, Craig. Alkali. (Counterpath)
  • Garréta, Anne. (trans. Emma Ramadan). Sphinx. (Deep Vellum)
  • Goldsmith, Kenneth. Capital: New York, Capital of the 20th Century. (Verso)
  • Goldsmith, Kenneth. Theory / Théorie. (Jean Boîte Éditions)
  • Reznikoff, Charles. Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative. (finally reprinted from the 1978 edition by Black Sparrow)
  • Sousanis, Nick. Unflattening. (Harvard UP)
  • Levé, Edouard. (trans. Jan Steyn & Caite Dolan-Leach). Newspaper. (Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Waeckerlé, Emmanuelle. Reading (Story of) O. (Uniformbooks)
  • Worth, Liz. No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol. (Bookthug)

PoetLaureateLogo_02014 has been one heck of a year:

– on April 28th I was named Calgary’s Poet Laureate, an incredible honour. This position has helped me initiate a number of events and programs (some of which are still cooking and thus aren’t quite ready to be plated) which work to recognize, celebrate and build upon Calgary’s literary history and community. Huge thanks to Emiko Muraki, Christine Armstrong and all the amazing folks at CADA for their amazing work and dedication since April — and for all the ways that CADA helps the city’s arts communities.

– i have been lucky to have conducted readings at talks at Mount Royal University, The University of Calgary, Brock University (St.Catharines, ON), and Roehampton University (London, UK) and at public events in Lethbridge, Manchester and Calgary (sixteen events in Calgary alone this year). Thank you so much to all of the organizers, hosts, colleagues, freinds and audiences with whom i’ve shared these experiences.

– My students and colleagues recognized and awarded my teaching with the Alberta College of Art + Design Student Association Appreciation Award and the inaugural Robert Kroetsch Teaching Innovation Award from the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (CCWWP). Thank you. I was thrilled to share with students at Mount Royal, ACAD and at Wordsworth Teen Summer Camp (8 courses & the camp over the year)

– i’ve been lucky to have work published magazines, journals and books in Canada, the US, Germany, England and France and work included in gallery exhibitions in Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, England and the US.  I was also the first artist-in-residence in the Lightbox Studio in Calgary’s Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts (now the Arts Commons) – thank you Natasha Jensen for all the organizational acumen. My work was  projected on the side of the Calgary Tower and posted on billboards on Calgary’s busiest freeways thanks to the initiatives of Calgary’s Wordfest.

– Los Angeles-based press Les Figues published my latest volume of visual poetry, KERN, and for that i am incredibly grateful. thank you Andrew, Vanessa and Teresa.

– through No press I published 19 different editions of poetry and prose from international, national and local emerging and established writers. each book was meant to help spread the word of risk-taking work being written internationally. Thank you for trusting me with your work.

– lastly, i capped the year off with a trip to London with my family in order to defend my Phd dissertation in Creative Writing at Roehampton University under the supervision of Dr. Peter Jaeger and Mr. Jeff Hilson – both of whom have been exceptional teachers and mentors.

None of this would have been possible without my incredible partner, Kristen, and my amazing daughter Maddie. My parents and in-laws have also been a steady voice of support and love; thank you.

In so many ways i can only excel because of the strength and support of my community of freinds and colleagues, especially Christian Bok, Sina Queyras, Darren Wershler, Kenneth Goldsmith, Tony Trehy, Jordan Scott, Greg Betts, Lori Emerson, Jo Steffens, Kit Dobson, Helen Hajnoczky … and so many others. Thank you. And thank you to my students who always encourage me to listen, to share, to push my practice and my pedagogy. You rock.

 

 

 

FullSizeRenderOnce again, December brings an opportunity to reflect upon the year’s books. Like previous years, my “most engaging books” list is idiosyncratic and reflects what i found most fascinating / useful / generative. Seek out these volumes, every one will reward the search (and your local, independent, bookstore can help…). This was an amazing year for poetry with many titles that were simply exceptional. This is the cream of the crop for 2014, seriously:

Abel, Jordan. Un/Inhabited. (Talonbooks / ProjectSpace)

Babstock, Ken. On Malice. (Coach House Books)

Czech, Natalie. I can not repeat what I hear. (Spector)

Dodds, Jeramy, trans. The Poetic Edda. (Coach House Books)

Emerson, Lori. Reading Writing Interfaces from the Digital to the Bookbound. (University of Minnesota Press)

Fitterman, Robert. No, wait. Yep. Definitely still hate myself. (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Hancock, Brecken. Broom Broom. (Coach House Books)

Lockwood, Patricia. Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexual. (Penguin)

Queyras, Sina. MxT. (Coach House Books)

Robertson, Lisa. Cinema of the Present. (Coach House Books)

Simpson, Natalie. Thrum. (Talonbooks)

Zultanski, Steven. Bribery. (Ugly Duckling Presse)

massacre-streetOnce again, December brings an opportunity to reflect upon the year’s books. Like previous years, this “most engaging books” list is idiosyncratic and by no means reflects “the best”, only what i found most engaging and most rewarding … this is a  selection of what i considered the most fascinating / useful / generative books of the year. Seek out these volumes, every one will reward the search (and your local, independent, bookstore can help…). This is the cream of the crop for 2013:

Heimrad Bäcker. Seascape. Patrick Greaney, trans. (Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse)

Jen Bervin and Marta Werner. The Gorgeous Nothings. (New York: New Directions).

Jaap Blonk klinkt. (Gent: het balanseer).

Craig Dworkin. No Medium. (Cambridge: MIT Press).

Kenneth Goldsmith. Seven American Deaths and Disasters. (Brooklyn: Powerhouse)

Jeet Heer. In Love with Art: Françoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman. (Toronto: Coach House).

bpNichol. A book of variations: love-zygal-art facts. Stephen Voyce, ed. (Toronto: Coach House).

Yoko Ono. Acorn. (New York: OR)

Rachel Simkover, ed. An Anthology of Concrete Poetry. (Berlin: Motto).

Nick Thurston. Of the Subcontract (York, UK / Toronto: information as material / Coach House)

Emmett Williams. Anthology of Concrete Poetry (New York: Primary Information)

Andrew Zawacki. Video Tape. (Denver: Counterpath)

Paul Zits. Massacre Street (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press)

db_textportraitCalgary’s FFWD magazine has interviewed me about Please, No More Poetry and the changing face of poetics

dobson-beaulieuPlease, No More Poetry is a crucial collection that not only looks back on a brilliant career, but looks toward the future of the medium itself…”:

Eric Schmaltz has reviewed Please, No More Poetry at Lemonhound.