9/20/2017

to whet the appetite for listening

In today’s world, we encourage scanning (ever-movement) as a literacy skill. Then we tell students to sit still. Computers, doorless, are placed in front of every child, and we expect them to stay in the yardage we allot them. Poems, small postcards from someone else’s imagination, invite teenagers to listen, to read, to imagine a life outside of their own. The impact of this on development (not to mention emotional health) is appealing. A whiff of homophobia in a classroom? Place unexpected poems in their midst. Have them trip over other peoples experiences, through poetry, and help them to land softly outside the fence of ignorance. Do I want them to read The Odyssey, The Bluest Eye, Les Misérables? Of course I do. Do I need to develop their palate before force feeding? Of course I do. Poetry can be served with every course, like salt and pepper, to whet the appetite for listening.

- Lara Bozabalian, on how poetry helps her teach high school students, from her essay "The Reason for Poetry" over on the Best Canadian Poetry website. You can read the whole thing here.

9/18/2017

Whichever Divine I address

There is no way to divorce my writing life from my spiritual life; that Venn diagram would just be one big circle. Whichever Divine I address in my poems today—love, fear, death, family, God, or anything else—first needs to be courted. I learned from an early age language was a way to court the great unknowables, provided it was charged and earnest and true. It’s irrelevant if I understand consciously exactly what I am saying, only that I say it urgently enough, speak it with enough beauty of breath and spirit to earn a tiny moment of God’s attention.

- Kaveh Akbar, from his essay "How I Found Poetry in Childhood Prayer" over at LitHub. You can read the whole thing here.

9/14/2017

WORD Vancouver - Sept 24th!



It's that time of year once again! Word Vancouver starts up next week, with the main event taking place on Sunday, September 24th outside the Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch.

The schedule is up and is, as always, ridiculously packed with interesting events. Readings by Tim Bowling, Carleigh Baker, Gurjinder Basran and Dina Del Bucchia highlight the fiction offerings, while the poetry tent brings you Michael V. Smith, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Heidi Greco, and more. You can read the whole lineup here.

Bright and early at 11:35 I'll be hosting a trio of poets in the poetry tent ("Sunrise Suite" in the South Plaza). Aidan Chafe will read from his Frog Hollow chapbook Right Hand Hymns at 11:35, followed by Jami Macarty at 11:45 (Landscape of The Wait, Finishing Line Press) and Shaun Robinson (Manmade Clouds, Frog Hollow Press) ten minutes later. Expect bad jokes (from me) and good poems (from them).

I will also be spending a good chunk of the day at the BC Book Prizes table, selling memberships. $20 gets you a one-year membership AND (as a Word special) a free book, in all likelihood worth more than the $20. Come by and say hi and give me your sparkling green Queen Elizabeths.

Hope to see you on the 24th!

9/11/2017

Al Purdy Tribute Anthology - Submissions Due Dec. 30th


Here comes a press release!

SUBMISSIONS OPEN FOR AL PURDY TRIBUTE POETRY ANTHOLOGY

To mark the centenary of the birth of famed Canadian poet Al Purdy, his long-time publisher is calling for submissions for a 2018 anthology of poems written in tribute to the author.

B.C.-based Harbour Publishing will issue the tribute poetry anthology in fall 2018. Previously published and new poems written in Purdy’s honour are both eligible for consideration. Up to three poems per poet may be submitted; the deadline for submissions is Purdy’s 99th birthday, Dec. 30, 2017.

Along with their poems, poets should include:

a short bio (maximum 50-words);
a brief statement about what Purdy and/or or his poems have meant to the writer (maximum 200 words); and
the name of the original publisher of any previously printed Purdy tribute poems.

Submissions should be sent to: purdytribute@harbourpublishing.com or to: Attn. Purdy Tribute Anthology, PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2H0. (Note that print submissions will not be returned if a self-addressed, stamped envelope is not included.) The anthology will be edited by B.C. author Tom Wayman with the assistance of Harbour Publishing’s Emma Skagen.

Harbour Publishing issued several of Purdy’s books between 1993 and 2014, including Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy in 2000. Harbour Publishing head Howard White echoes Toronto poet, anthologist and critic Dennis Lee in calling Purdy “Canada’s poet.”

“Anybody can read him, and have a ball doing it,” White said. “I can’t think of a poet that would do all Canadians more good to sit down and read at this point in our history. It might save us yet.”

The press release is over!! Send in your poems!

9/07/2017

Reflections on Elise Partridge's Poems


To help promote Elise Partridge's new posthumous book The If Borderland: Collected Poems and this Sunday's Dead Poets reading, which will feature Elise's work, I asked a variety of Canadian and American poets to provide their thoughts on their favourite Elise Partridge poems.

The result has just been posted on the PRISM international website:

The If Borderlands: Reflections on the Poems of Elise Partridge

Contributors included Amanda Jernigan, Anita Lahey, Phillis Levin, Meredith Jerrin and Rachel Rose, among others.

If you're a fan of Elise's work, or just getting introduced to it now, it's an enjoyable, insightful read: poets focusing their generous talents on poems which reward that attention at every turn. I hope you enjoy, and if you're in Vancouver, I hope to see you on Sunday!