20200116

Train : a journal of concrete


Issue #7 : Sacha Archer Derek Beaulieu nina jane drystek Amanda Earl Kyle Flemmer katie o’brien hiromi suzuki

A limited amount of copies will be available for free at the following locations:
Open Books: A Poem Emporium (Seattle WA) and Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop (Brooklyn NY).

includes shipping


four issue subscriptions also available
includes shipping
 

Sacha Archer lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and two daughters. He is the editor of Simulacrum Press (simulacrumpress.ca). His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as ARC, filling Station, Matrix, Nöd, Politics/Letters Live, Utsanga, Otoliths, FIVE:2:ONE, Futures Trading, Timglaset and Touch the Donkey. Archer has two full-length collections of poetry, Detour (gradient books, 2017) and Zoning Cycle (Simulacrum Press, 2017). His most recent chapbooks are TSK oomph (Inspiritus Press, 2018), Contemporary Meat (The Blasted Tree, 2018) and Autopsy Report (above/ground press, 2018) with two forthcoming: Houses (no press) and Framing Poems (Timglaset). His visual poetry has been exhibited in the USA, Italy, and Canada. His website is sachaarcher.wordpress.com.

Derek Beaulieu is the author / editor of 20 collections of poetry, prose and criticism including two volumes of his selected work Please No More Poetry: the poetry of derek beaulieu (2013) and Konzeptuelle Arbeiten (2017). His most recent volume of fiction, a, A Novel was published by Paris’s Jean Boîte Editions. Beaulieu has spoken, performed and exhibited his visual work across Canada, the United States and Europe and has won multiple local and national awards for his teaching and dedication to students. Derek Beaulieu was the 2014–2016 Poet Laureate of Calgary, Canada and is Director of Literary Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

nina jane drystek is a poet, writer and performer based in Ottawa. her poetry has appeared in Canthius, talking about strawberries, the DUSIE: Tuesday poem, Bywords, in/words, ottawater, small talk and Window Cat Press, as well as in self-published chapbooks, and chapbooks and broadsides by & co. collective. she is a member of the sound poetry ensemble quatuour gualuour, and creates performances of her own. if you've ever lived in the same city as her you have likely seen her riding a red bicycle around town. find her @textcurious

Amanda Earl is a Canadian poet living in Ottawa. Amanda's current visual poetry project is "The Vispo Bible", which is a life's work to translate every book, every chapter, every verse of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) into visual poetry. It has been published as chapbooks and broadsides by numerous presses in Canada, Sweden and UK, as well as online. Amanda thanks the Ontario Arts Council 2018 Recommender Grant for Writers program for funding part of the creation of the Vispo Bible. For more vispo and information about additional publications and exhibits, please visit EleanorIncognito.blogspot.ca.

Kyle Flemmer is an author, editor, publisher, and radish enthusiast. He founded The Blasted Tree Publishing Co. (theblastedtree.com), a platform for emerging Canadian authors and artists, in 2014, and is currently the Managing Editor of filling Station magazine (fillingstation.ca). Kyle works as an event coordinator for Shelf Life Books in Calgary, Alberta.

katie o’brien is a poet, community worker, queer activist, and Netflix enthusiast originally from St. John’s, Ktaqamkuk, on unceded Beothuk land. a peal of thunder, a moment of (The Blasted Tree, 2019) is their third chapbook. katie dislikes lying, sings a lot, and doesn’t kill bugs.

hiromi suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried - 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019). Her works have been published internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies.
Web site: https://hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com
Twitter :  @HRMsuzuki


20200113

Snow Globe


Alex Manley








Today for show and tell, I've brought a tiny miracle of nature: Winter.
It’s a season people like to brag they survived—in this city it's a joke, ha 
ha, can't believe we made it through another one—but the truth is, here, no 
one does. What I mean is they say you can't set foot in the same river 
twice and I agree—not because the river's changed (the surface has 
frozen over, for starters) but because you have changed in the interim. 

The time it takes a city's worth of abandoned bikes to cycle through the
whole frost/unfrost thing like a big white lung breathing ten thousand
rusty gears in and out, we all freeze into something new—the same, but
different, the way water and ice are two sides of the same coin, value
forever in flux. At a dinner party someone asks if I've ever gone south
for the winter and I laugh. This city is the whole of my universe.

There have been years when I didn’t even leave the island, my life
circumscribed like a little glass dome that no one has shaken much lately.
As a child, I read about death; I still remember. You don't fight the 
snow—you just fall back asleep. You give in willingly to the feeling of 
warmth. I get it. Days like this, reality itself feels like it's under the cover 
of whiteness, the planet one big snowstorm, whole segments of the city

ceded to the invading air force of Hoth-pale storm troops, a calculated
surrender in the hopes we'll be able to recoup the territory come mid-
March, or, fingers crossed, April. Of course, the culture industry loves
glamming the violence of it: Hollywood uses fake snow—potato flakes—
in all its movies; there's that infamous Black Sabbath LP and Christ,
every carol in history. Television snow is everywhere, too. Printed snow

(like this) is harder to track your way through. For an illustrator, yes,
it can be a godsend—a few black lines to hold it in and you're golden,
freeing you up to get complex elsewhere, like turning simple cardboard
boxes into high-technology duplicators. It's a neat trick, but if I could
duplicate myself, I might never stop making copies. Like, one of me 
would run into my ex’s mom at the supermarket; chat unselfconsciously,

private detective of emotion. One would move to Toronto to have coffee
with you, and find out why you can't stop getting in touch every three or
four months, picking at  the scab of that little thing that never happened.
For the time being, one of me’s nestled into the turn of a third- or fourth- 
wave café, reading a poetry collection that ends on a sour note, mimicry 
of a long-gone poet’s ironic racism. In death, I’d think, we are all part of

the same snowbank. One of me would be staring at the sky, thinking:
So much of the natural world is twos, fours, tens, twenties. It’s nice to 
have snowflakes. The hexagon proof odd numbers are still viable 
options, this faker-than-a-three-dollar-bill notion the real false hood, and 
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Third Path. And then something like, Isn't it 
funny how snowflakes are all unique yet all the same? Or is that just 
trite.

One of me would stay, and have a second latte, facing the window this 
time; letting the large, lazy flakes outside be the things that I am, or the 
things that I'm not, a dialectic of the self. One version of me, picking at 
the pastry flakes dotting this little ceramic dish, would think: Today for 
show and tell, I brought the last chocolatine left in the glass case. Or: A
snowflake is a piece of air that has decided to make something of itself.

One of me would feel the cold hit like a drug, a knot developing between 
my blades like a pit in my gut. One of me would imagine waking up to a
cinnamon bun town glazed over, like eyes, like '98. The Sisyphean walk 
up the big hill to school. Later, coming home from a game, dressed like a
young man dressed like a hockey player, one of me would see a gaggle 
of poets on the metro, and remember a winter poker night from years 
ago.

Our chips had been quarters, bluffs as readable as any children's book. 
Hand by hand, the shining pot had shifted my way, through no craft or 
skill of my own. The cards were simply in my favour. Sometimes it just 
works out that way. By the end, I was rich beyond my wildest 
imaginings. But as I'd learned the previous fall, the more you have, the 
more you have to lose. You left. The remaining three of us watched the 
hockey game.

In storms, the air is just the empty space between the milling white. On 
the bus, one of me would cuddle up to the window, and wish the person 
next to me were a lover, or at least another duplicate. One of me would 
go to all the parties I keep flaking out on, another would try suicide just 
to see, yet another would film it. Artis gratia artis. One of me would really
'commit' to social; one would settle down, really 'commit' to parenting.

One of me would simply grow older, find themselves editing this poem 
again, one January, recalling what it was like to have been in the grip of 
their early 20s, once, and contemplate watching an old Korean film, set 
on a train. If I could duplicate this cardboard box, I'd keep going until 
one of them was a time machine. Today for show and tell, I've brought 
a groundhog, a Mag-Lite, and a blindfold. Who wants to go first?

 




Alex Manley is a writer living in Montreal/Tiohtià:ke, whose writing has been published by Maisonneuve magazine, Vallum, Carte Blanche, the Puritan, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day feature, and whose debut poetry collection, We Are All Just Animals & Plants, was published by Metatron Press in 2016.


20200106

from APERTURE


Derek Beaulieu











Derek Beaulieu is the author / editor of 20 collections of poetry, prose and criticism including two volumes of his selected work Please No More Poetry: the poetry of derek beaulieu (2013) and Konzeptuelle Arbeiten (2017). His most recent volume of fiction, a, A Novel was published by Paris’s Jean Boîte Editions. Beaulieu has spoken, performed and exhibited his visual work across Canada, the United States and Europe and has won multiple local and national awards for his teaching and dedication to students. Derek Beaulieu was the 2014–2016 Poet Laureate of Calgary, Canada and is Director of Literary Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

20200102

An interview with Sacha Archer


Sacha Archer lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and two daughters. He is the editor of Simulacrum Press (simulacrumpress.ca). His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as ARC, filling Station, Matrix, Nöd, Politics/Letters Live, Utsanga, Otoliths, FIVE:2:ONE, Futures Trading, Timglaset and Touch the Donkey. Archer has two full-length collections of poetry, Detour (gradient books, 2017) and Zoning Cycle (Simulacrum Press, 2017). His most recent chapbooks are TSK oomph (Inspiritus Press, 2018), Contemporary Meat (The Blasted Tree, 2018) and Autopsy Report (above/ground press, 2018) with two forthcoming: Houses (no press) and Framing Poems (Timglaset). His visual poetry has been exhibited in the USA, Italy, and Canada. His website is sachaarcher.wordpress.com.

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I remember my bedroom and the woods. I began writing in these two places. I would walk through the woods just looking at what was going on around me and write about it. Also I would make sculptures and generally engage in a creative way with the environment. How old I was at that time I don’t exactly remember, but pretty young, a boy. How does one begin writing? With an instrument. And words. Maybe. There was some need to engage with the world as it occurred, both with words and visually.

What could possibly keep me going at it? Well, it’s an addiction of identity, right? I mean, no one cares if you make or not. There’s no money in it. Time is eaten by work and children. Sleep deprivation ushers in slight hallucinations. It’s easier to disappear in front of the TV with a few beers. Maybe I am just trying to keep myself from disappearing myself. There is a great satisfaction in the process of creating. That process is my home. 

Have you noticed a difference in the ways in which you approach the individual poem, now that you’ve published a handful of books and chapbooks?

Nope. If anything, my pieces are becoming more and more difficult to imagine in a book precisely because I don’t start out by considering the question of whether or not something might be fit for publishing.

How has the process of putting together a manuscript evolved? How do you decide on the shape and size of a manuscript?

I am so bad at putting one together. I can’t do it. Or I can put one together as I see how I want my work presented, but that’s not what larger publishers want. I usually work on a project, a series, rather than an individual piece—and ideally would always like to see a series presented as a whole in its own book, but, especially with visual poetry, that can be difficult to sell a publisher on. So, I’m at a point where either I learn how to play the game or I don’t. The alternative being that I continue playing my own game. As far as I can see both paths lead to the same result.

Given you work in text and visual mediums, how do the two sides of your writing interact? How did you begin with visual poems at all?

I think the marriage of pictures and words starts with picture books. Or the world we live in where they are not separate. I think I have always leaned toward the visual, but have always wanted to write more. But maybe it was Apollinaire and bpNichol that got me really going. Certainly ubuweb was a huge eye opener. 

Essentially, all my work aims to land in the same place, which is more or less the general failure of communication and what is born of that. I don’t know how visual versus textual interact. Language is always the starting point—always the possibility of saying something. Always the questions where is language? what is written? Language is supposed to create communication, and I find so little actual communication from day to day. Or, I find an enormous amount of communication, but it fails most often via words. I remember when I was getting my TESOL diploma the most interesting insight I heard was that the most important thing in communication was not how one says what they’re saying, but that one can make themselves understood. Of course it seems obvious, but it isn’t, is it? How people snicker at ‘bad’ English, but the fact is, nobody knows what their saying. It’s a pretty messy dance. Always an attempt.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

The easy answer is all of them who I’ve read. Either encouraging a style and approach or dissuading. Each book read a stepping stone. But, poets who I enjoy that I can see embedded somewhere in my own works (even if it’s not obvious)? Rimbaud, David Antin, Andre Breton, Susan Howe, Anne Carson, Bob Cobbing, bp Nichol, Erica Baum (not a poet, perhaps, but) Derek Beaulieu, Sam Roxas-Chua, Clark Coolidge, John Cage, and on…

You are editor/publisher of simulacrum press. Why do you feel this work is important, and what have you learned through the process?

A micro press like Simulacrum isn’t bound by the same rules as larger publishers. It is a place of possibility because it does not run on funding and is an act of generosity. I don’t really have some pool of expendable income, but I make it work. I started Simulacrum because I wanted to create a place where I felt certain of my own works would feel at home and so inevitably certain works of other like-minded creators. There is amazing, provoking work being made which deserves physical publication, and it is a joy to collaborate with authors and bring their work to the world—to try to frame that work so it can fully sing. I think every creator that I’ve published has been happy with how I’ve handled there work (except maybe one). It’s a different way to engage with work, a new angle to understand it—how to draw from it a response which does not intrude on the work, but holds it up. 

What have I learned? A lot of people don’t know how to submit, or read. Tip for submitters: don’t just send a link to some huge file and think I’m going to open it. You may want to say something as well. Also, and this is big, a great many visual poets don’t know how to use their tools, and by this I mean within the digital realm. Please learn how to save a high res image. If you’re work is the tiniest bit pixilated, it better be intentional.   

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

No, not that I can think of—with writing in particular. There have been people along the way who have encouraged me and exposed me to certain aesthetics. Maralynn Cherry was a great teacher. That was purely visual work. Jake Kennedy was also a great teacher, but that was more a lesson in attitude. Mostly it’s just been reading and not lying to myself.

What are you currently working on?

Not much. There’s a new baby in the house and a new job that tires me out completely. I’m usually engaging with my practice every day, creating every day, so I’m struggling with being so fatigued and trying to find some routine and balance. I’m jotting down ideas for event poems and hope to soon execute/perform a few of them. In the summer I invited a bunch of people to preform two event poems and it was a blast. So, I’m looking forward to having a like gathering soon where those ideas will come to life. Also, I try to find objects at work that might facilitate a poem. I recently brought home a role of stickers that was tossed in the garbage. Usually they are fed through a machine that prints bar codes on them. This was a great find. I considered the object for a few days then went to Staples and designed a stamp:

Object appropriated
for Tactile Poem
Line # ________

So, each sticker will have this stamped on them, and potentially, a series of objects will have the stickers placed on them. Objects as lines. I don’t know how many stickers there are—I’m yet to count them. But this object, the roll of stickers, led me to a new approach to the poem. I am always thinking about my practice. Always. Everything in life relates back to it. And I think that’s what it takes to make good work—if I make good work. Total, unrelenting devotion. 

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

Besides all of them? Franco Cortese. He’s doing amazing work, very powerful. Read Franco Cortese.


20191230

Open



David Barrick



She shakes out decades-old sweaters
no wool left, just skeletal threads and moths

a fog of little moths, tornados of them, furry legs
and ovipositors, and big moths like birds, like owls

wise moths, moths that have aged and passed on
generational knowledge, worker moths unknitting

walls, crumbling mortar and brick, feather duster
antennae sweeping away debris, bills, mortgage papers

things she should have thrown out years ago—until she stands
alone where her house was, amongst all these moths

iridescent moths, fist-sized abdomens, camphor-resistant moths,
no-flame-too-hot moths, an ablution of moths

and she looks up, thousands of wings shaking the sky:
eat it—open this roof, she says, open a new moon 

 



David Barrick’s poetry appears in The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Event, Prairie Fire, The Antigonish Review, and other literary magazines. He teaches and writes in London, Ontario, where he is Co-Director of the Poetry London reading series. His first chapbook is Incubation Chamber (Anstruther Press, 2019).

20191223

WOOD INTENTIONS

Margo LaPierre





i. establish associative architecture

malformed idea
garden pruning fantasy
pre-verbal
emerald aura
heart-shaped vesicle
pop-rocks popsicle
magic ointment
sapling
germinate
root-cutting
caterpillar tent ablaze
grim cloud formation
outstretched hand
strange offering
visual abomination
total legacy
latent creation
unwinding
spontaneity
solid thought
double helix origins
empty shelves

ii. create autonomous lines of intention

the trajectory of an empty scotch glass / shot at husband from one’s own twanging arm after / after a long walk up stairs glass in hand / upon which curvature one’s anger falters / in direct proportion to the / lessening of distance / between the projectile and his body

iii. distinguish between lovers and rabid horses

death doesn’t come this way except slow as hair / you save the crying for the wrong audience / you hit him when you know he won’t hurt you / but then why hurt why touch at all / if not for a gentle compassion and this love / is mittens: soft, needed, ravelled and unravelling / and you startle out the cab / off the cramped bus / where are my mittens, always losing—

iv. recall schoolyard trickery

we were inducted into the pen club / then walked around with penis in blue / on forearm an introductory curse / a warning about boys mistaking our propensity / for penmanship with a passion for all wands

v. find the other women be together

you can still have bad dreams about old friends / it’s okay to be afraid and those men who barge in / when you are peaceful where you thought / there were no unlocked windows and when / the dream gets/ violent and you step up to be the villain and / all your rapists are dead now / there are meaty disconnected heads like tulips / you are terrified of the person you’ve become and / can’t say the things / you’ve done while you’re asleep / won’t even say it in the poem and / the good one sleeps beside you and / you feel like you’re not worthy now because / whose brain desired that category of justice / it’s okay to / be afraid and it’s okay / to defend yourself even if it’s after the fact

vi. get on that salve that tincture

okay so it was a sprouted need, this plant with teeth / true venus, but fuck the rage that eats us / this is a healing spell this is bream green and / foam cools and dries in lipped petals / the colour of conversation with the ones we hurt

vii. invoke capacity for growth as incantation

I am my ever-chipping manicure, moons that peek / out from under gel, expensive crescents push out / dead keratin, rejecting a body that was last week / I am my chapped lips skin that once grew skin that / once touched skin that once held breath and / blood that he once skinned I am my skim breath / I am everything off the top and what’s underneath / I am not my haircut I am my splitting hair, I am not / my boots I am not even the sum of blocks walked / on the way to and from the workplace, I am not my workplace / I am not even my work, I am the renewal of cells / membranes kissing each other on the surface / and within my body-project: tongues and speech / turning silence out into grace




Margo LaPierre (www.margolapierreeditor.com) is a queer, neurodivergent Canadian poet and fiction editor. Her debut collection of poetry, Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes, was published by Guernica Editions. She is a poetry selector for Bywords Magazine and Membership Chair of the Editors Canada Ottawa-Gatineau branch.

20191219

An interview with hiromi suzuki

hiromi suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried - 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019). Her works have been published internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies.
Web site: https://hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com
Twitter :  @HRMsuzuki

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I liked reading books since I was a child. And I loved to draw and write something. Because I was shy and could express myself only by creation. Even now, I am not good at interacting with people, and I believe that creative communication continues.

You’ve published in a number of journals. How do you decide which journals to send to?

Of course, I've been sending poems and visual pieces to my favorite journals. The journals which are publishing poems written by the poets I respect. To tell the truth, I don't have opportunities to have poems in Japanese journals. For example, the Japanese literary world doesn't really recognize visual poetry as poetry.

Have you noticed any repeated themes or repeated subject matter in your work? What are you currently working towards?

Yes. I often mention rivers and groundwater in my works. “Water” will continue to be the themes of my poetry.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

I like pop and rock music. When I was young, I was writing essays of new releases in a music magazine for a while. So my words may be inspired by the lyrics. Later, the way of writing poetry by the poets such as E. E. Cummings and Raymond Carver influenced my poems.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

I had been working as an illustrator for a long time. After reading the texts of writers, I worked on the design for book covers and illustrations. I think that my career as an illustrator assisted my development as a writer.

What are you currently working on?

Now I'm working on translation of my first poetry collection. Ms. cried - 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013). "The Channel Where The Water-Table Joins The Ocean" which was published at Train is one of them. I don't have a translater and I'm not a native English speaker, its work is very hard. However, very enjoyable. With translation from Japanese to English, I feel writing a brand new poem.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

I can't.... Because my career as a poet has just begun. I pay attention to all the poets I have encountered. Also I thank the poets, editors and publishers who are supporting my work.


20191216

from the Vispo Bible: Matthew 27


Amanda Earl










Amanda Earl is a Canadian writer living in Ottawa. She's the managing editor of Bywords.ca and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress.

The Vispo Bible is a life's work to translate the Bible into visual poetry. More information is available at AmandaEarl.com. Connect with Amanda on Twitter @KikiFolle.

20191212

An interview with Margo LaPierre


Margo LaPierre (www.margolapierreeditor.com) is a queer, neurodivergent Canadian poet and fiction editor. Her debut collection of poetry, Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes, was published by Guernica Editions in 2017.

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I read books, insatiably, as a young kid. I don’t actually have any memory of my parents reading to me, only of me reading to them in bed at night, since I learned to read early. My parents didn’t buy many toys compared to our neighbours but we had lots of books and we went to the library. Each time my dad went on a work trip he’d bring home an abridged classic for me. I don’t know if he bought them at the airport or if he had to go searching, maybe he was only ever going to one city, one bookstore. Black Beauty, Call of the Wild, and White Fang were favourites. In First Grade the teachers had us start journaling. One week, I wrote “I lost my cat. I am sad” every day, with a drawing of me crying. But scattered about that journals were days when I’d write rhyming poems with an accompanying picture. There was one about a puppet. So that was the true beginning. My dad, being in the computer biz, brought me home a bulky old laptop—the Internet had come around around and made it obsolete. When I wasn’t playing learning games like Reader Rabbit or Word Rescue, I’d transcribe stories from library books on that computer, or write my own. In Eleventh Grade, my first poem was published in the Claremont Review, a journal for young writers. I felt like I’d made it, and so did my English teacher. Oh, to be in the good graces of an English teacher. Then, from 2006–2013, my chaotic undergrad years (I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1 in 2008), I wrote Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes, which was published by Guernica Editions in 2017. Writing is the nucleus of my identity, along with all things literary.

You’ve published in a number of journals. How do you decide which journals to send to? 

My literary Twitter game is pretty healthy. I don’t post much but I follow tons of writers, publishers, and journals, and so I get a sense of which journals are publishing what based on their online presence, the poems they share, who’s being published by them. When I was younger, I was more focused on The Big Ones, perhaps simply because they were more visible. Now I try to keep an eye out for feminist journals, or journals that align with my interests, and I’ll send to journals that are publishing other poets in my community. But yeah, Twitter. Or I’ll go to my poetry shelf at home and flip through to the back bio pages, and get ideas/reminders there.

Have you noticed any repeated themes or repeated subject matter in your work? What are you currently working towards?

Themes of mental illness, relationships, women’s rage. The word tender as both a gentle, loving disposition but also the medium of financial negotiation. Husks, shells, things that can be cracked open by growth. When I was quite sick with bipolar a decade ago, before medication, I suffered the delusion of time being flat, of past, present, and future existing simultaneously. It turned out to be quite a dangerous delusion, and luckily I’ve not been immersed in that belief since my diagnosis, but sometimes that idea wafts over my thinking. So I like to play around with time (cause and effect) being able to go forwards or backwards, or for it to roam around as though on a tapestry laid out on the floor. When I edit others’ work, I’m often suggesting authors make their work more chronologically linear. Readers prefer it. If you want to read a story that does the concept justice, read Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” (from their excellent book of short stories Stories of Your Life), which was adapted for film in Arrival. A line from Chiang’s story: “I experience past and future all at once; my consciousness becomes a half-century-long ember outside time.” My mom made me watch that movie, after being like This reminds me so much of you! I gushed tears at the end of the movie and the short story. I’m working towards better expressing concepts of perception, and at being a more conscious storyteller. I like that poems can have a simultaneity to them, as often you see the whole poem even as you read line by line.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

In a foundational way, TS Eliot—the poetry was there for me as a kid with Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and as a teenager with poems like “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” and “The Wasteland.” Rilke, Wallace Stevens, and Evelyn Lau had their influence. Sina Queyras made the biggest mark of all on my writing, and I go to her books (Lemonhound, MxT, My Ariel) when I need inspiration, or to feel nestled. Margaret Atwood was a big influence through my youth and so to exclude her name would be an erasure, from my history anyway, but I won’t mention her without also mentioning the awful things she’s done to the assault victims of UBC and those who’ve come to their aid. If you haven’t heard about it, here’s a good place to start : https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/1/17/16897404/margaret-atwood-metoo-backlash-steven-galloway-ubc-accountable.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

Hoa Nguyen, my poetry teacher at Ryerson, carved my voice from the muck. Elana Wolff, my editor at Guernica, taught me the potency of a single word within a poem. Brandon Wint, who teaches privately, nurtured my understanding that poetry can be gentle. Stuart Ross, who teaches privately, recently reanimated my dedication with the message, to my understanding, that poetry is playful and conversational even when it’s serious. My advice to poets seeking publication: contact a poet you admire to inquire about hiring them for a manuscript assessment.

You are currently one of the poetry selectors for the online journal Bywords.ca. Why do you feel this work is important, and what have you learned through the process?

Bywords was one of the first journals that published my work. Amanda Earl, the publisher, is a compelling, authentic writer and hardworking in the community. Bywords.ca is an online journal, but it also has an updated calendar of all the literary events going on in Ottawa. Bywords publishes work by newcomers as well as by veteran powerhouse poets, which is important in keeping those heavy doors open. The judging process is blind, so the poems really do speak for themselves. And perhaps being an online, regional journal, it gets far fewer submissions than, say, Arc Magazine, where I’ve recently begun volunteering also, which makes Bywords more accessible simply due to numbers. (Although Arc has a fantastic mentorship program for emerging poets to hone their craft; poet Stevie Howell is currently the program’s poet-in-residence.) And Bywords pays its poets.

In reading a wide range of both craft, voice, and content in these submissions, I’ve learned to notice extremities. It’s like if you were to look at a hundred faces superimposed onto one another, you’d likely notice two things : structure and deviation. A gorgeous poem has a strong sense of internal structure, which creates tautness and tension, purpose and direction, and often some form of transformation or inversion by the end. But it also possesses deviations : odd, granular, specific choices, often at the vocabulary or grammar level, that instantly set it apart and give it texture.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on two full-length projects: a poetry collection and a literary fiction novel. The poetry collection is structured in form, but its content is wild and energetic, taking up the elemental to draw out perception and memory. Chaos magic and performative utterances inspired this work. You can find performative language in incantations and manifestos, participating actively in the world’s unfolding, directing its course one way or the next. Contrast with “performative wokeness” that puts on a show of virtue, often without supportive action. Performative language accomplishes action as soon as it’s set to page or breath. That transformative power makes it effective for healing but also capable of destruction.

The novel follows the formation of an unconventional family through the trials and exhilarations of a young sex worker and a bipolar transit worker. It’s told in the limited third-person perspective of its main characters, Stella and JJ. It’s set in Toronto, not far in the future. I aim to write a novel with nuanced care to show that sex workers’ work is legitimate work, that mentally ill people’s choices are legitimate choices.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

Conyer Clayton, whose debut full-length book of poetry (though she is widely published in chapbooks and journals), We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, is forthcoming with Guernica Editions in spring 2020. Frances Boyle, whose poetry collection, This Nest White (Quattro), was just published, and by whose whimsical, arboreal poems I was enamoured during the Ottawa launch at the Manx a few days ago. 

20191209

Ink Pad Poems


Sacha Archer









Sacha Archer lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and two daughters. He is the editor of Simulacrum Press (simulacrumpress.ca). His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as ARC, filling Station, Matrix, Nöd, Politics/Letters Live, Utsanga, Otoliths, FIVE:2:ONE, Futures Trading, Timglaset and Touch the Donkey. Archer has two full-length collections of poetry, Detour (gradient books, 2017) and Zoning Cycle (Simulacrum Press, 2017). His most recent chapbooks are TSK oomph (Inspiritus Press, 2018), Contemporary Meat (The Blasted Tree, 2018) and Autopsy Report (above/ground press, 2018) with two forthcoming: Houses (no press) and Framing Poems (Timglaset). His visual poetry has been exhibited in the USA, Italy, and Canada. His website is sachaarcher.wordpress.com.

20191205

An interview with A.W. French

Andrew William (A.W.) French is a poet and academic who was born and raised in North Vancouver, British Columbia. French holds a BA in English from Huron University College at Western University, and is pursuing an MA in English at UBC. Andrew's poems and book reviews have recently appeared in Train: a poetry journal, PRISM International, The Lamp, and Cascadia Rising, in addition to a number of other literary journals across North America and the UK. Andrew interviews his favourite writers on Page Fright: A Literary Podcast.

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I kind of fell into writing, especially poetry. I started writing poems for fun after listening to George Watsky’s rap albums in middle school, which then pushed me towards his spoken word. Watsky’s writing is beautiful, “Nothing Like the First Time” still sticks with me. I loved his blend of humour and seriousness, and I think that’s something I still value when I read poems that ‘stick’ with me. I gravitated towards Al Purdy’s story in 2015 and started to take writing seriously, that was kind of where my genuine attempts at sharing my work took off. Purdy and Wallace Stevens kind of ‘teamed-up’ and inspired me to drop out of business school, switch to writing, and fall in love with it.

I think I continue to write because it’s all I want to do. When I switched out of that business program, I promised myself I would stop doing what I felt pressured to do and start doing whatever sounded like it would be the most fun. I had the concrete goal of publishing a chapbook for a while, and I’d love to do that, but that aim has recently faded into the background as I try more broadly just to make friends in the writing community. At this stage people keep me going, I love meeting new writers and learning their stories, why they write, and what they’re writing through. I still have tons of stories myself to write through, and if that supply remains steady, I hope my writing output will as well.

You’ve published in a number of journals. How do you decide which journals to send to?

I think the textbook answer is to say that you look for journals that match your style, that work with writers who you admire, and that are willing to take a chance on a new name. But to be honest, I think I’ve published in nine of every ten journals who have shown any interest in my work. I’m not particularly selective with where I publish because I see publishing as a real gift and love any chance to share the writing I’ve put work into with people. I do believe in submitting to journals you like, whatever that means for you. For me, I think if I pick up an issue of a journal and check out a few poems that really stick with me, I’ll probably be submitting there a lot. The truth, though, is that I’ll publish in most places that are kind enough to give my words a chance.

Have you noticed any repeated themes or repeated subject matter in your work? What are you currently working towards?

I seem to go through phases in terms of which themes my poetry expresses. Since I started writing I’ve been dealing with depression, and poetry has given me an avenue to explore this crazy thing that goes on in my head where I’m down more often than the average person. I write through my depression a lot, try to reclaim it and deal with the states it puts me in. I also (and I’m aware I sound like a real downer here) love to write about mortality and death. I think writing about death comes from a place of loving life so much, though, more than it does a fascination with the experience or inexperience of passing. I find the finitude of existence both beautiful and cruel, and I hope I can consider that a bit in my work. I’m twenty-two, though, so I’m sure I don’t have the wisest take on the subject. I also used to get told by a friend that I used the word ‘charcoal’ too much in my writing to describe something dark or stripped of its use… so “charcoal, charcoal, charcoal.” Enjoy that, Lauren.

I can’t really say what I’ve been working towards lately, because I don’t even know what it is. A sense of community is my first thought, but on the page I’m unsure. I’d like to work more towards a chapbook and get that project going again but haven’t felt particularly inspired to do so lately. For now, I’m rolling through existing poems and giving them the attention that I feel they deserve, trying to find homes for some of my personal favourites. I want to write more through the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, but the words haven’t come to articulate most of that yet, so maybe it’s a matter of waiting…

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

The list of living poets I love is long, and there’s a lot I’ve learned from each of them. Matthew Walsh’s book recently made me fully rethink enjambment. Chris Bailey’s writing makes me think of the complexities we find by looking closer at the simple moments in our lives. I love everything that Shazia Hafiz Ramji has done and is doing, every time that I hear her read a new poem I go home and think of something new to write… she’s incredible. Aidan Chafe’s poetry makes me think about the cleverness and subsurface elements that can help us express trauma, I owe a lot of my recent creative work to inspiration I took from his book. Rob Taylor is someone I look up to a lot, whose poetry I love and continue to return to. I think I could make this paragraph too long if I sit here and keep listing people, but please know that there are so many folks who I read that influence how I write. Reading is a huge part of my process.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

This is a great question, because I think community has had the largest influence on my writing as of late! I read Curtis LeBlanc’s first book Little Wild about a year ago, and it showed me that somebody is already writing the way that I wish I could… I really look up to Curtis and his work. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the influence Kevin Spenst has recently had on my work and writing life. I took a course of Kevin’s, and he reminded me immediately of how easy it can be to have fun writing poetry, that it’s not this big serious endeavour. Kevin got me playing with words and enjoying my relationship with the page again, and has connected me to other writers as well, so I really appreciate the support he has provided me. I should mention Shazia Hafiz Ramji as well, I’m really grateful for her kindness and the time she has given me in the past year or so. Shazia was one of the first writers I ever reached out to, and she took the time to speak with me when nobody else would. I’m very thankful for the role that Shazia has played in my writing so far, I really look up to her as well. I’ve also had a lot of English professors who have helped me as a poet and person.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working towards one day having a book of poems. That’s all I really want, just to hold a book (full-length or chapbook, I don’t care) of my own lines and be able to say that the thing I’m holding is a physical representation of who I am and what I’m curious about. I think that’s the greatest achievement for any aspiring writer, and I’d be so excited to have a collection some day. In the immediate present, though, I’m working on honing my skills until I’m ready to compile and publish something like that. I understand that it takes time, and I’m trying to remain patient until I find the right opportunity.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

I love everything coming out of Vancouver right now. I think in terms of emerging writers without books I have to point to Carlie Blume, whose writing is awesome. Estlin McPhee has a chapbook of their poems out with Rahila’s Ghost that blew my mind, they should be getting looked at for sure. David Ly is awesome, and his work is super cool, so definitely check that out. Everybody I named in this interview is also worth looking at, so definitely take a look at their work, too!