Archive for the ‘poetry’ Tag

Open Book sure likes David Bradford’s Dream of No One but Myself

Open Book shares a short interview with David Bradford about his “hotly anticipated debut poetry collection”, Dream of No One but Myself, “a work of stunning creativity and self awareness”.

Personally, I find such promotional copy a little embarrassing, as its hyperbole can’t help but unmask it as promotional copy, emptying it of any of the gravity that would anchor its persuasiveness.

That being said, Bradford’s book is provocative, both thematically (as a “lyric examination of his experience growing up in a racially [and linguistically!] diverse family”) and formally (with respect to the modes of composition deployed to develop and present that matter). Indeed, Bradford’s work would be afforded higher praise by a scrupulous reading of these dimensions, whose study would be a substantial appreciation (free from matters of mere preference—what I like or don’t) of Bradford’s unquestionably accomplished first book.

You can read the interview linked above, or another I conducted with him some time back, here. Of course, the best course of action is to click on the book’s cover, above, check out the sample of poems from the book, and buy a copy!

To praise, that’s the thing

A while back, I ventured a few words on James Dunnigan’s The Stained Glass Sequence. As chance would have it, another set of notes, appreciative of the chapbook’s virtues, has turned up, which can be read, here. The anonymous reviewer (who seems to hail from Ireland) shares my appreciation for the sequence’s reflexive dimension:

Stained glass itself is like a decoration hung on perception, one that refracts the light and shadow of the reality behind, transforming it into a more ornate version. Poet James Dunnigan leverages that quality as the foundational conceit for The Stained Glass Sequence, a chapbook plunged in reflection on another primordial creative force: language. But it’s not for the sake of an academic lesson so much as a means to show how poetry transfigures society into civilization.

High, and well-deserved, praise.

Readers whose interest has been piqued can follow up on The Stained Glass Sequence by getting a hold of Dunnigan’s markedly uncanny and no less accomplished follow-up, Wine and Fire (Cactus Press, 2020), whose launch can be viewed, here.

Now the only question is which acquisitions editor will be canny enough to grab the manuscript of Dunnigan’s first, full-length collection…

Five Minutes at Montreal’s Expozine 2021

Montreal’s Expozine and POP Montreal were kind enough to invite me and other Montreal poets to perform in support of our respective micro- and small presses. You can catch my brief contribution (until the end of October 2021, anyway) around the 35:00 mark, here.

The chapbook I’m reading from is As on a holiday. You can view the Zoom launch here and purchase a copy from the publisher, Cactus Press.

“Poetry is news…” &c.

Two decades back, in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks, when the United States and its allies were rattling their sabres mobilizing to invade Afghanistan, many were critical of such an ill-advised adventure, including myself. I cast around for a way to articulate this critical unease, happening, finally, on a column from The Globe and Mail (as described below) that provided the material and impetus to compose a work of verbal art (a “poem” or, in this case, more properly, a “text”) that answered my need.

As I wrote in way of preface at the time:

Saturday 22 September 2001 The Globe and Mail published an essay article by John Barber ‘Wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains’ (F4). Despite its critical stance toward the then impending invasion, the terms of its discourse were so pedestrian my frustrated and bored eye wandered across its six columns. The article read thus, against the grain, oracularly clear, and the experience of that reading what I want to communicate. The sense it made to me leaves its trace in minor editorialisations (where the text has been stepped on). This vision into the essence of our imagination of Afghanistan is as forbidding as the country itself: a land of glacierous and desert mountains and sandstorms and tire-melting heat that swallows whole armies. “Cut the word lines and the future leaks through.” Here, English speaks this vision: in dead or obscure words, new compounds and coinages. Syntactically, at root (or so Norman O. Brown told John Cage) the arrangement of Alexander’s soldiers in a phalanx (the Great, too, stopped in Afghanistan), the language has been demilitarized.

Some stanzas of the resulting poem, Seventh Column, were published in The Capilano Review, in an issue devoted to poetic responses to 9/11. The entire poem was issued in a very limited edition, hand-stitched chapbook, long since sold out. On the occasion of the withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan, the time seemed ripe to share the poem in its entirety, readable in the PDF, below.

Solace for staycationers

A lot of folks aren’t able to travel as has been their wont these days. One new acquaintance and partner had been planning a short tour of Germany and Italy last summer, a plan put off until at least next summer.

To help them suffer their enforced staycation, I offer this poem from Ladonian Magnitudes, “European Decadence in medias res” to remind them of what they are missing and offer some solace. A recording of the poem follows.

 

 

European Decadence in medias res

 

They’re cutting the gelato in Sirmione

with pure azure lakewater.

In Siena City Hall two old pigeons hunched

on the bitch-wolf’s back trickle lime down

to her teats suckled by the twins.

In the Old City they serve una vera grappa

senese I’ve always passed over at the S.A.Q..

In Otterndorf the Matjes Dutch sushi

raw herring is swimming in salmonella.

In Charles de Gaulle Theseus a clochard

begs our last cents. “If we miss our connection

I’ll strangle somebody!” I said when we finally

found our flight home and remembered I’d said it

arriving. Air France dejeneur croissant et eau de source.

 

For the Love of Dante redux

Every Easter Week I read through Dante’s Commedia.

Last year, to mark the occasion, I recorded a poem “The book I can’t read closed beside me…”. As Easter Week has come around again, and, since making that last recording, I’ve been fortunate enough to invest in a new microphone, I’ve re-recorded a cleaner, crisper, and hopefully more lively version.

You can read that original post and hear the new recording, here.

“Why scribble in lingo 3 peoples reads?” up at “Poetry Pause”

The League of Canadian Poets has kindly included this fourteen-line poem in its “Poetry Pause” series, which you can read, here.

Synchronicity-invoked Dangerous Supplement

By “meaningful coincidence,” the day I downloaded and taught myself the software I needed to make the raw Zoom footage of the launch for my latest chapbook at least a little more presentable, a Canadian poet-critic shared he’d just published an essay on “‘counterfactual’ poetry anthologies, ” a topic essayed by one of the poems from that chapbook‘s Toronto Suite: “Literary Life in the Capital””

“Literary Life in the Capital” from Toronto Suite

“As on a holiday” launch, for your poetry viewing pleasure…

The March 24, 2021 launch of my latest chapbook is now up online: if you missed the event, you can catch it here.

As on a holiday: teaser #3

https://www.cactuspresspoetry.com/

My latest chapbook, As on a holiday, launches Wednesday 24 March.

It’s a challenging book to present orally/aurally, as the poems are all very short. The reader, too, therefore, is faced with the question of exactly how to connect all these short poems. In the tradition of postmodern poetry, such as that of Homer, Dante, and Cervantes, the collection includes a poem that suggests an approach, the first of Farnad Songbook, read here:

from Farnad Songbook

Looking forward to seeing you all at the launch!