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    Predigital Typographic Wonders

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The Honey Pot, by Alan Riddell, 1969Since the grand opening of Loft 112 it seems that the center for writers and artists has something great going on every night. Whether it's musical performance, comedy show, literary reading, or just hanging out in a place with good vibes, the Loft certainly seems to be the creative hive it was opened to become. This Friday, June 27, Loft 112 is hosting what looks to be an extra special event:


    "The Vancouver-based painter, photographer, performance artist and curator Michael Morris will speak about concrete poetry and the creation of the mail art archive Image Bank and other networks. This event is free and open to all, starts at 5:30 p.m., and will be followed by a reception."

    Before going any further I should mention that the beautiful piece of typewriter art to the right (The Honey Pot, 1969) is not the work of Michael Morris, but Alan Riddell. For a look at Morris' beautiful work, go here. I've thrown The Honey Pot in here to show my all-time favorite piece of concrete poetry and to celebrate the 2014 publication of 'Typewriter Art: a modern anthology'. The library copy of this long-awaited collection of poetry and art created entirely using typewriters will be here soon and I wanted to make sure all concrete poetry/typewriter art lovers out there had a heads-up...

    In this book readers will find not only Alan Riddell's beautiful Honey Pot, but also more than a century's worth of the most innovative, interesting, and beautiful pieces of typewriter art from all over the world. From the butterfly of Flora F.F. Stacey (1898) all the way up to the impossibly fluid work of Stephanie Strange.

    Also included is the work of Calgary Poet Laureate derek beaulieu, who, as this blog comes full circle, is a volunteer on the team that turns the wheel of Loft 112 and likely had something to do with the visit of Michael Morris. According to the anthology, beaulieu is "currently archiving a great many examples of typewriter/visual poetry" in order to salvage so much of the work that only appeared in obscure journals in the 1960s and 70s.

    Typewriter Art: a modern anthology


    It's All Poetry

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Here are some of the latest titles in Canadian poetry to land on our shelves. For more reading ideas and an in-depth look at the current state of poetry in Canada, check out the April issue of Quill & Quire. The League of Canadian Poets has also just revealed the shortlists for three annual awards, which include a strong showing from Calgary-based publishers Frontenac House (Micheline Maylor for Whirr & Click, Juleta Severson-Baker for Incarnate).

    THE CALGARY PROJECT: A City Map in Verse and Visual

    "How do you get to know a city? What can you learn from a map? The Calgary Project reflects this moment of time: being the Culture Capital, having our very own Poet Laureate, surviving the Flood that redrew the City. It offers a glimpse into the artists' and poets' perception of Calgary right now. The voices of our city include poets and songwriters, rappers and sculptors, painters and fibre artists, photographers and children. The artists featured here are not just the best in our city - they are indeed some of the finest in the world."

    A Bitter Mood of Clouds, by Vivian Hansen

    Begin in Denmark with a strange birth, experience the life of Anne turned Arne, a hermaphrodite. Journey then to Alberta where Vivian Hansen hears her ancestors and the remarkable story of Anne. This intricately braided long poem is delicate, forceful, and unique. A Bitter Mood of Clouds is woven with supernatural voices, history, and the depth of where we come from and how those connections reach into the present.

    Bite Down Little Whisper, by Don Domanski

    From a master poet, meditative lines running like veins through the dark grace of being alive. Governor General's Award-winning poet Don Domanski's new collection, Bite Down Little Whisper, delves into the interconnectedness of all life with spiritual gravitas and powerful mindfulness. These are poems brimming with mythological and scientific energies, with a multi-dimensionality that opens itself to both complexity and clarity. Domanski shows us seams and fastenings that unite our longings with the earth itself, with the nonhuman vitality that surrounds us. The heart's need for unity and reverence is present in these poems as a whisper we hear in occasional moments of quietude, when it's possible to perceive the workings of a larger existence.

    Complicity, by Adam Sol

    A dazzling and exhilarating new collection of poetry from an award-winning Canadian poet. For fans of Ken Babstock, A.F. Moritz, and Karen Solie. Award-winning poet Adam Sol's fourth collection is a meditation on complicity. By turns intimate and lyrical, experimental and outlandish, the collection focuses us on how we cannot escape the troubling structures that determine our lives. How do we identify ourselves with communities - national, cultural, or local - while aware of the violence which underlies their arrangements? How do we pursue love when we know how fraught and imbalanced gender politics is? How do we continue to value art despite the prevailing rhetoric that considers it a marginal discourse? The poems are funny, allusive, off-kilter, and sonically rich, while crucially interrogating, lit with, the contemporary ethos.

    *book summaries lifted off library catalogue


    Slam Team, Flywheel, Griots, and James Franco

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It's not like poetry hibernates for the winter, and it's not like winter is anywhere near being over, but the season for poetry is now upon us. Here's a few ideas for maximum poetic indulgence:


    The 11th annual CSWF is a week-long celebration of the poetic life from April 1 - 6. A gathering of languages, voices, stories, and song. A week full of slams, workshops, open mics, featuring edgy women and smart men. Here's the full program.

    Don't miss the pre-festival 'Slam Finals' where poets will go head-to-head for a position on the 2014 Calgary Slam Team to go an compete in Victoria for the Canadian title! Finals start Monday, March 31, 8pm, at Wine-Ohs (811—1 Street SW).


    Thursday, April 10, 7:30 PM

    Pages Books on Kensington

    filling Station's monthly reading series will feature readings by local authors Carmen Derkson, Samantha Warwick, and Erina Harris launching her first poetry collection, The Stag Head Spoke!

    SprinstART - Griots of All Time

    Friday, April 4 - Banff Centre

    "Griot (pronounced GREE-OH) is a French word that refers to the West African keepers of oral history. They are the poet, storyteller, genealogist, historian, adviser, spokesperson, diplomat, mediator, interpreter, translator, musician, composer, teacher, entertainer, exhorter, warrior, witness, praise-singer and ceremony participant. Join us for a night of great social force as faculty griots Emilie Zoey Baker, George Elliott Clarke, Tanya Evanson and Jean-Pierre Makosso bear witness to the past, interpret the present and oracle the future." (It's a free event!)

    Directing Herbert White: Poems by James Franco

    James Franco's debut poetry collection is set to be released on April 19, published in Canada by House of Anansi. Watch him talk about it on The Tonight Show.


    The Ref Centre

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    When it comes to searching for poetry and short stories, or any book really, there's nothing quite like browsing the shelves of your local library, waiting for the books to reach out and grab you, but when it comes to essay-writing season there's no substitute for the convenience of a good, solid, academic database.

    The timing couldn't be any better for our newest, and my new favorite, E-Library resource. Last month one of my co-workers gracefully introduced me to the Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre in the blog "In Search of Short Stories" and I've been hooked ever since. Also since then, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize. Then Lynn Coady won the Giller for her short story collection 'Hellgoing'.

    A good year for the form often considered inferior to the novel.

    Regardless of where we stand on that useless debate, any one looking to master the craft of fiction is going to find everything they need to dig deep into these shorter forms, both classic and contemporary. To be specific:

    • more than 51,000 full-text short stories
    • more than 700,000 full-text poems
    • more than 10,000 dramatic works
    • audio recordings of poets reading their own work from Academy of American Poets
    • more than 450 poem explications
    • 542 eBooks
    • lesson plans from The Poetry Foundation

    Whether you are a student of literature or a teacher (and if you're a writer you're likely striving for both), the Poetry & Short Story Reference Centre may become your new go-to spot for pretty much everything. Give it a whirl!

    Alphabet Soup

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    A mild layer of confused distress sometimes settles over the days of August. It's the month when kids can't even enjoy summer knowing it's quickly coming to an end. Record companies and book publishers and movie producers save all their good stuff for later. August is summer's December - better when it's over. August is a vague, lazy, sloth waiting for the forward drive of September. If this sounds too cynical, take a look at Slate Magazine's article titled: "August: Let's get rid of it", by David Plotz, and you'll see it's all very real. I strongly support Plotz's idea to extend both July and September by ten days, reducing August to a ten-day breeze. The modification would leave enough time for the month's #1 attraction: the three-day People's Poetry Festival, which will leave its bright, inviting mark on Calgary from August 16 - 18.

    The Calgary Public Library is a proud supporter of The People's Poetry Festival and its valiant mission "to tear apart the notion that poetry is reserved for academic elites and enlightened beatniks". On August 17th our Louise Riley branch will host "Alphabet Soup" - a poetry workshop to help you craft your own abecedarian, or alphabetical poem (for example, look below!). The workshop runs from 11am to 12:30 and we still have a few spots left. Register here.

    Here, now, is my first rushed attempt at an abecedarian poem...


    Behind the

    Curtain of July

    Delaying our

    Eager push to

    Fall and

    Gasp for


    Instead of

    Jostling for



    Moments in

    Non-jacketed late night





    Sometimes even


    Under the


    Wheel with


    Youth and

    Zero meaning.


    New in the 'Nook: Poets' Edition

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Winding down our month dedicated to the inexhaustible, indispensable art of poetry, we bring you five exciting new and upcoming releases already here or on their way to library shelves. This small sample is 100% Canadian, proving not only that the future of poetry in our country is in strong, capable hands, but also that Canada produces some of the most energetic, profound, and brilliant poets you'll find anywhere in the world.

    Unknown Actor, by Jason Christie

    When poetry meets theatre in the mind of Jason Christie, a smashing performance results! Then as the curtains close, Christie sneaks off the stage, through the scenery, and out into the wilds of the Internet — and straight into the footlights and teleprompters of human experience. Like a method actor in character long after the credits have rolled, off set, off his rocker, Christie runs wild from Goethe’s Faust to Burton’s, through 1984 and B movies from the ’80s and back again. Beneath his offerings to the actor — questionable acting lessons, dubious plot treatments — lurks a deep unease at our accepted practices of looking at each other, kid. Get out the popcorn and turn on your mobile device. This is going to get dramatic.

    - excerpt from Insomniac Press

    (Unknown Actor is On Order. Not yet available.)

    The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, by Elizabeth Bachinsky

    With her signature eye for irony and sensuality, Elizabeth Bachinsky's latest book of poetry, The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, balances a youthful playfulness with observational maturity. Bachinsky strings together seemingly non-sequitur images, capturing in these poems the commonality of raw intimacy, dark humour and a sense of immediacy. Her vision is unapologetically bold, finding the erotic in everyday moments and keenly capturing the complicated truths of life in a powerfully candid style.

    - excerpt from Nightwood Edtions

    Whirr & Click, by Micheline Maylor

    "Micheline Maylor's many-textured poems explore the liminal space where finite life and infinite time expand and contract into one another. In a duet of contrasts, memory, coming of age, danger, the erotic, and love twine into elegy and wonder. Time plays a featuring role and acts to freeze moments exactly as they arrive and simultaneously stretches experience into ungraspable infinity. Whether fierce or tender, direct or oblique, the poems in Whirr and Click are bold in their exposures and generous in their doorways. The final long poem, "Starfish," is one of the most moving and memorable elegies I have read. One finishes the poem, and the book, feeling one has come to know many people, including oneself." - Stephanie Bolster

    -Frontenac House

    Whirr & Click is On Order. Not yet available.

    The Politics of Knives, by Jonathan Ball

    ('Nook Note: Okay. So this one is not exactly hot off the press, released in September 2012, but it recently enjoyed its Calgary launch at filling Station's 20th Anniversary Collective Retrospective on April 25th, so let's call it new!...)

    If David Lynch crashed into Franz Kafka in a dark alley, the result might look like The Politics of Knives. Moving from shattered surrealism to disembowelled films, these poems land us in a limbo between the intellectual and the visceral, between speaking and screaming. Finding the language of violence and the violence in language, Jonathan Ball becomes the Stephen King of verse.

    - excerpt from Coach House Books

    Under the Keel, by Michael Crummey

    Michael Crummey’s first collection in a decade has something for everyone: Love and marriage and airport grief; how not to get laid in a Newfoundland mining town; total immersion baptism; the grand machinery of decay; migrant music and invisible crowns and mortifying engagements with babysitters; the transcendent properties of home brew. Whether charting the merciless complications of childhood, or the unpredictable consolations of middle age, these are poems of magic and ruin. Under the Keel affirms Crummey's place as one of our necessary writers.

    -excerpt from House of Anansi

    Click here to read the Quill & Quire book review.

    The Poems We Turn To

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Like a good song, poetry sticks with us. Whether for nostalgic comfort, inspirational drive, sheer marvel at a poet's ability, or an intangible emotional response that only a certain combination of words can evoke, we need poetry the same way we need food - for fuel, for growth, for indulgence.

    In the light of National Poetry Month I've been hassling friends at the library to find out which poems they turn to first. So here's the 2013 Staff Picks for Poetry!

    Yasna's Pick - Jacques Prevert

    from "Blood & Feathers"


    Lark of memory

    dead bird of mist

    you should not have come

    to eat from my hand

    the grains of oblivion.

    Christine's Pick - e.e. cummings

    from "somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond"


    (i do not know what it is about you that closes

    and opens; only something in me understands

    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

    nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

    Sarah's Pick - Rosemary Griebel

    from "Silence Broken"


    I believe a poem is the only way

    to save life's silence

    from being all it leaves behind.

    Accompany me, and when I open

    my mouth may the sloshing ocean,

    deaf Beethoven, and the gods in their balloons

    overhead, lean forward and inhale.

    Julia's Pick - Emily Dickinson


    "Hope" is the thing with feathers -

    That perches in the soul -

    And sings the tune without the words -

    And never stops - at all -


    Get your hands on any of these poets' work by clicking the book covers above. Happy Poetry Month!


    It is Officially National Poetry Month... Now What?

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Does the mention of National Poetry Month send you running in the opposite direction, fleeing from nightmarish visions of sweating over a Robert Frost poem to finish high school english? Would you rather read a pile of owner's manuals than this year's Griffin Prize nominees? Is poetry misunderstood and underappreciated, or impossible to understand and intended only for the highest of high brow academics?

    Before we start wishing for April to fly by so we can get to Asthma Awareness Month, STOP, take a deep breath, and consider getting excited about poetry. Here's three reasons why:

    "I am amazed that poets will continue to write about their divorces, even though there is currently a robot taking pictures of orange ethane lakes on Titan." Christian Bok's Xenotext. I cannot possibly expand on how Bok is inserting verse into a strand of DNA for it to generate new lines, literally bringing poetry to life, but a recent article in Maclean's does a pretty good job. The work is being accomplished right here in Calgary. Read the article from a January edition of Maclean's - "Creating the Poetry Bug".

    The 10th annual Calgary Spoken Word Festival is already underway. Not only does this festival bring in poets from all over the world, it also offers poetry workshops, giving us a chance for hands-on learning from some of the masters of the craft. Take a look at the cover story of this week's FFWD for an in-depth look at this year's festival

    On April 9 McSweeney's will release Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry. Featuring essays, interviews, and lesson plans "Open the Door will be useful for first-time and veteran teachers, as well as parents, babysitters, MFAs with no job, and anyone else with an interest in poetry’s place in the lives of our younger citizens". If McSweeney's is excited about producing a book about enthusing poetry into the next generation, then the future looks bright. The four titles already released under the McSweeney's Poetry Series are some of the most beautiful book you'll ever lay eyes on.

    April or not, the world of poetry is in good hands. Stay tuned to the 'Nook all month for recommended reads, local event highlights, poet profiles, and please leave a comment below to let us know how you'll be celebrating National Poetry Month. But remember that April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so put the poem down when you get behind the wheel!