4/01/2018

BC Poetry 2018: An Introduction

Aidan Chafe's
"Right Hand Hymns"
(Frog Hollow Press)
Welcome to year three of the "BC Poetry" series, a project devoted to profiling BC poetry books and presses throughout April. (You can view the 2016 version here, and the 2017 version here.) The series has thus far profiled 60+ books by BC poets and presses. We'll be pushing that number close to 100 by the time we're done BC Poetry 2018!

Each of the last two years, I've opened the series with a note on a BC book or institution that has brought our poets together. This year, I want to take a moment to recognize BC's chapbook publishers. Chapbooks (books of less than 48 pages) have long played an essential role in the BC poetry community - the "calling cards" that are often a poet's first introduction to the writing world. Many of the country's finest chapbook publishers have been - and are - based here in BC, from Nanaimo's Leaf Press, to Vernon's Greenboathouse Press, to Victoria's Frog Hollow Press and Vancouver's Nomados Press and Pooka Press, among others.

Alfred Gustav Press
Chapbook Series #3 (2009)
One of BC's most vibrant and prolific chapbook presses, North Vancouver's Alfred Gustav Press, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Run by Governor General's Award-winning poet David Zieroth, this subscription-based series has published 3 or 4 chapbooks every spring and fall since 2008, and by the end of this year will have released almost 70 chapbooks in total. Each chapbook is hand-decorated and signed by the author, and costs next-to-nothing (the current subscription rate for four chapbooks + shipping is $18, and it used to be even cheaper). Well-loved by its subscribers, it's the kind of publication that can be easily overlooked in the larger writing world - but to miss out on it is a great loss. Alongside debuts (including at least one whose first full-length collection will be profiled this month!), AG chapbooks have provided readers with previously unread work by celebrated poets such as Russell Thornton, Marilyn Gear Pilling, Marguerite Pigeon, Catherine Owen, Kevin Spenst, Shane Neilson, Barry Dempster, Matt Rader, and Zieroth himself.

Rahila's Ghost Press
Last year I made space in the series, generally devoted to full-length trade collections, to promote Ontario-based chapbook publisher Anstruther Press, which had just published new books by BC's own Shazia Hafiz Ramji and Curtis Leblanc. This year I'm pleased to be able to similarly promote BC's newest chapbook Press, Vancouver's Rahila's Ghost Press.

Much like how chapbooks and their publishers are often invisible to even devoted poetry fans, far too many trade-length BC poetry books pass by unnoticed each year. Over the next 30 days I will share with you 30 new books (and sample poems) from our authors and publishers. I hope they inspire you - to read, to write, to pick up a book or subscribe to a series, or to put out that first chapbook of your own!


Details on the Project

A new book will be profiled each day throughout the month. To be eligible, the book must have been written by a BC poet or published by a BC poetry publisher (ideally both), and must have been released in either Fall 2017 or Spring 2018. Weekends will include "wild card" coverage of chapbooks, anthologies, etc.

You can follow along with the series as new posts come via this link or on Twitter at the hashtag #BCPoetry2018.

Participating Publishers

Anvil Press
Book*Hug
Brick Books
Caitlin Press
Harbour Publishing
Leaf Press
McGill-Queens University Press
Mother Tongue Publishing
Nightwood Editions
Rahila's Ghost Press
Talonbooks
Thistledown Press
University of Alberta Press
Vehicule Press

Some publishers were contacted and did not reply.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.


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