20191014

Ame ni mo Makezu


Spencer Gordon


In tribute to Kenji Miyazawa (1896–1933)


I can withstand the rain, whipping me in greasy strips, as I’m launched off the bus and out, limpy, toward a job for the 409th day; I can rebuff the wind, its cocktail of toxins, Coco Paving, the Vomitorium where cement gets made, and a steel recycling centre that screams at two p.m. exactly; I am immune to the snow in my faux-leather boots and the trickle of sweat down my Jockeys in August — safe from it all, manufactured, nitrous oxide, particles of heaven. My body is strong from Vega One, dog walks, and DDP Yoga. My desires get loosed in short webs of excitement, of which I never think again, flushing budding lives from the Bardo into one endless toilet bowl, and I flagellate myself with earbuds should I recall a youthful ambition. I whisper a half-held “hi” in the bog-green lockers and slip “sorry” and “thank you” interchangeably, to interchangeable call centre kids, doing what I call the Chump Face, which is kind of a smile, a kind of grimace, and every day I make a rich and complicated salad for my desktop lunch and eat oats and fruit for breakfast. I board the late bus last, always, and stand when seats are at a premium, perform breathing exercises to conjure a kind of love even for the cretins blocking the crush and the howling faces in the back. I watch and listen to nineteen YouTube videos a day and never once lose my sense of composure. Sometimes it’s people-parks where Brazilian ju-jitsu boys burn small pyres of garbage; sometimes we do dog parks where men sip cold Americanos and women dress down, big time; and sometimes the grey rail-paths and rivers of Toronto float before us in a mini-hurricane vision that churns up Loose Meat. Above us, in the rental, furious workmen clobber the floors, and splinters rise like chilled hair, electric goose, while the carpet rots with mould and bossy kids get their wet reward under the daily bloom of renovation, houses demolished and rebuilt, refurbished for people who are fathomlessly rich. Never forgetting. Spying out a tiny office window at the children dancing, playing “Cherry Bomb” in the grassy circle, fighting, defining rules and fouls that require a wail to resolve. Quietly, alone behind the marbled glass, I pull a Chump Face. If one of these babies is sick and shrieks to join its lispy friends, raging in its mother’s grasp, I wince. If Mom is tired, I pity her, thinking I could shoulder her bag of artisanal cheese and diapers if only she’d let me. When the ambulance slides into view without dreadful march or stern alarum to pick the dying olds from their homes like hunks of grass-fed beef from our boulevard’s jaw I say, there is no need to be afraid, dear chest-wracked lady in these end-game pajamas, and whisper a half-remembered prayer about hoping her next life is a good one, and not what I secretly hope — a centipede. Quarrels rage on social; my old friends sue new friends; the defamed sue accusers; the people hold opinions with tensile strength; and I pour an entire bottle of wine down the sink in grey boxer briefs. When the romaine lettuce gets all fucked with salmonella, we cry together at no frills. When the summer never heats up but keeps the chill of early spring, hey, it’s all we talk about as we buy perfumed candles, pretend to work, donate blood, ride the dry buses, bump into our furious neighbours, stare into the sky’s pit or wander far from home at night to Our Guy at 7/11 to buy a secret pack of Pall Malls, hoping to run into someone new. When you’re outside the gastropub, you’re a nobody; if the night’s clearly over but you keep roaming, drunk, in your leather daddy jacket, you can’t be blamed; and if the years trickle on without promotion or demotion but whoa, you’re still employed, it’s still a paycheque, which is more than we can say for those living in the next province, or tent-based prefecture. Better than the next life — please god! Please, to all the gods of the six realms meeting here between my pressed palms: this is the type of person I want to become.




Among some other things, Spencer Gordon wrote the poetry book Cruise Missile Liberals (Nightwood Editions, 2017) and the short story collection Cosmo (Coach House Books, 2012). He helped invent and run The Puritan for ten years. He used to teach writing at universities but now works for an environmental not-for-profit and lives in Toronto. More made up stuff is at www.spencer-gordon.com.

20191010

An interview with Erin Russell

Erin Russell @etcall is a writer from Calgary living in Amsterdam. Winner of the 2019 Patricia Goedicke Prize for Poetry and the University of Toronto’s Wycliffe College Poetry Award, her work has appeared or is upcoming in CutBank, Burning House Press, Train, Black Bough, Scrivener, Talking About Strawberries, Time Out, and The Holland Times, a.o. and has been translated into French and Chinese. She lectures in literature and writing at Amsterdam University College.

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

I had written professionally for most of my adult life before my first child was born, but a shift occurred after that point. I was alone all day in this damp dark Amsterdam house caring for this new little body, this new person, as well as my own recovering body. There were songs and rituals and tactile learning toys and gender-stereotyping plush animals—and so much silence. And I was having these dreams at night of the peculiar alien-planet-like rock formations of the Alberta badlands near where I grew up. Surreal stuff, really: I’d dream there were tiny, flinty bits of stone just under my skin—with different points and facets pushing outward under the surface.  

And so, during my daughter’s naptimes, I found myself greedily researching all these fantastic geological terms and then building poems from topologies in my memory. Usually they’d tie in somehow with news items about women’s bodies and political maneuvers to control them by fundamentalist religious politicians back home—things I had been rant-y about in my early days as a journalist and editor.

But rant-y in prose differs from rant-y in poetry—it was like my body itself was asking me to put words around my protest but using a sideways (or landscape :)) approach—employing the stark rocky terrain of my childhood as metaphor, if that makes sense. I was imagining new landscapes as well as a more empowered embodiment for my child to grow up in/to, I suppose.

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

Because I myself am obsessed with the embodied experience and types of political control exerted on bodies, I get excited by editors who challenge the contours of lyric body—journals that push the definitions of genre and form, publishing hybrid works that don’t sit easily inside traditional expectations and that, in turn, approach our body-experience without normative strictures – I especially love those that cripqueer this dialogue. I adore what PANK, Verity La, The Rumpus and Cutbank are doing for these reasons. And I was therefore deeply honoured when Cutbank awarded me with their Patricia Goedicke Prize for Poetry for 2019 – they are publishing really brilliant stuff.

I am also hugely interested in the historical development of political-poetic voices in Canada and so am a fan of journals that tap into the freshest voices here. I was thrilled for instance to be published (way back when) in Scrivener, the mag that ran early poems by Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen. And there are some simply brilliant champions of Canadian small presses out there—publisher-poets like rob mclennan (@robmclennanblog) who seem to have their finger on the pulse of everything that’s new and relevant.

Have you noticed any repeated themes or repeated subject matter in your work?

Those geological formations and landscapes that I grew up with. I miss the harshness of that terrain, the extreme conditions. And I miss cliffs. I’m drawn to places where one terrain meets another and there is shift, ending, fault line, blending, hybridity. What happens at the edge of prairie, a sinkhole, a rainforest, when land runs out? What happens at the edges of other things—cliffs and ridges, but also sustainabilities, national borders, and more abstractly, the end of ideologies, the anthropocene, even a cellphone screen. It’s like we’re everyday all of us on the edge in so many ways, and there’s that sense of falling and what to do with the legs and the arms and the centre of ourselves at the end of a thing.

There’s this place in Southeastern Alberta near where I grew up called Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, where hunters would literally run the bison over the edge of the land in these roaring stampedes. There are bits of bison skull and bones still stuck in the sides of the ridge. The image of it plays in my mind. Always I’m asking, how do we drive other beings and ourselves over edges and why?

What are you currently working towards?

Carrying my interest in bodies, terrain and edge-ness further, lately I’m interested in line drawings, boundaries, contours of shape—where does a body begin and end? What is and isn’t bod(il)y experience? I seem to keep ending up in sci-fi a lot these days. And in my exploration of places of extremity of the body, I keep returning to fingertips—as metaphor: as places of possibility, alternative (read queer?) power, ending, and refusal.

Furthermore, having grown up in a repressively fundamentalist tradition and with literal interpretation applied to (scriptural) text, I am obsessed with the question of authoritative readings, interpretations. As a queer single parent I am vested in the question of who in society is afforded authority to read a life/text, my life and body and texts: which hermeneutics gets applied to which texts/bodies, who gets the final say, and who/what gets left out of this process. So as I write, I’m always thinking about what I’ve read, who I’ve read, and how I’ve read it—how to understand what people are saying and what generosity I can hold out in this act of reading, and then in turn, in the act of holding out my own writing for others to read and interpret.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

H.D., Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot, whom I love as an academic. But also: Elizabeth Bishop, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, and Anne Carson. William Blake and his Proverbs of Hell always loom large. Additionally, Anne Boyer (@anne_boyer), Billy-Ray Belcourt (@BillyRayB) and C.A. Conrad (@CAConrad88) are perhaps my most favourite poets at the moment.

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

I used to teach poetry to people with eating disorders and a few students came regularly for further one-on-one mentoring. Their poems were brilliant and visceral, often very raw. I was honoured by how they shared their process so openly with me and was in turn inspired in my own work and my own thought around bodies and restriction.

I am also appreciative of a wry sort of co-mentor friend with whom I do edit sprints and relay poems here in Amsterdam. We recently did some experimental ekphrasis duo pieces working with exhibits at the Stedelijk. I am likewise grateful for a quirky ex-priest I’ve known since my days at McGill—not a poet mentor per se, but a former civil rights activist from the States who entered Canada illegally to dodge the draft, became an Anglican minister, then retired to teach Buddhist meditation. He taught me to hold tight and let go—of the right things. A skill for both editing poetry and maintaining sanity, I think.

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

Lydia Unsworth (@lydiowanie) writes this brilliantly intuitive prose poetry that explores the embodied experience in surprising ways—it really deserves more attention. Other fantastic prose poets I’ve been enjoying lately include Ian Seed (@shadow2train), Kate Feld (@katefeld), Julia Webb (@Julwe1), and Heidi Williamson (@heidiwilliamson). Finally, Belly-Ray Belcourt, Elizabeth Horan (@ehoranpoet), and William Brewer (@WilliamCBrewer) are all putting startlingly fresh language around pain, difference, otherness, and trauma.
 

20191007

HEADLIGHT PROPHET

A.W. French


Titled after a line from Aidan Chafe’s “Foxhole Diary”

Golden town where wheat stalks
the sunlight that stains it, from nearby hills
to the gas station city
cropped into patches of farmland,
home to BCs only corn drive-thru,
miles from Hope.

You died on the highway here,
never saw home, breathed methane last
and snapped behind a seatbelt
listening to loud music, nobody could collect
the fragments of your last words.

On the way to work I see a flattened squirrel
spread against the concrete like a trophy rug,
fields of poppies blooming behind fur.
A few blocks down Broadway
a goose lies still on a manhole,
beautiful black limp-necked speaker
of muted honks, both animals
still sleeping on the drive home.

I think of you in Chilliwack today,
roadkill at 22, shuffled off this mortal coil
and shoveled off highway one. You’re cleared
so traffic can continue
to clash with the Canadian countryside
when the sun makes its way over the hill
and the wheat has something to notice again.


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. His poems and book reviews have most recently appeared in PRISM International, The Hamilton Review of Books, The Lamp, and a number of other literary journals across North America and the UK. French writes poems, book reviews, and hosts Page Fright: A Literary Podcast.

20190930

The Kids Just Want Books About Werewolves


Ben Robinson


At 2:34 AM
our front door gets smashed off its hinges.
I run downstairs, reach for something
to defend myself with but find only
a collapsible umbrella.

I raise it high, prepare to bring it down
on the intruder’s head when a blinding light
fills my eyes. You’re really going to hit me
in MY house?! In my OWN house?! I lower
the umbrella. They lower their flashlight.

Oh, hello, Landlord, I say.
Good evening,
Landlord.

                    There was no mention of illiteracy
                                   in your rental application!

But dear Landlord,
I am a poet, whatever do you mean,
illiteracy?

There was barking on the Nest Cam! she says
prying at the baseboards with her fingernails.
Half-eaten feces in the green bin! She tears
the door off the freezer. Short white hairs
on the sweater in your profile photo!

She places the flashlight between her teeth
and crawls into the ductwork on all fours.
She lifts the lid off the back of the toilet and
peers inside. Scratches at the hardwood.
Her hair begins to fall out in clumps all over
the carpets. She steps out into the yard
and looks up longingly at the moon.

I wait for her to tire herself out. When I am sure
she is sleeping deeply, I carry her upstairs
and gently remove her collar before
laying her down in the kennel
at the foot of our bed.


Ben Robinson's recent poems include the tale of a man who finds himself lodged in his condominium’s garbage chute, as well as an account of the Christian God’s foray into Spanish lessons. In 2019, The Blasted Tree, Above/ground Press and Simulacrum Press will each publish a chapbook of his computer-generated poetry. He has only ever lived in Hamilton, ON, on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and the Haudenosaunee.

20190926

Train : a journal of lyric

Issue #6 : David Bradford Anton Pooles Ben Robinson Samuel Strathman Rob Taylor

A limited amount of copies will be available for free at the following locations:


includes shipping

four issue subscriptions also available
includes shipping

David Bradford is the author of Nell Zink Is Damn Free (Blank Cheque Press, 2017), Call Out (knife | fork | book, 2017) and The Plot (House House Press, 2018). He holds an MFA from the University of Guelph and his poetry has appeared in Prairie Fire, Lemon Hound, Vallum, Poetry Is Dead, The Capilano Review, The Unpublished City, and elsewhere. He lives in Verdun, Qc, on the traditional and unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation.

Anton Pooles was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia and lives in Toronto. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Toronto and the author of the chapbook Monster 36 (Anstruther Press, 2019). Follow him on Twitter @antonpooles.

Ben Robinson's recent poems include the tale of a man who finds himself lodged in his condominium’s garbage chute, as well as an account of the Christian God’s foray into Spanish lessons. In 2019, The Blasted Tree, Above/ground Press and Simulacrum Press will each publish a chapbook of his computer-generated poetry. He has only ever lived in Hamilton, ON, on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and the Haudenosaunee.

Samuel Strathman is a Jewish/Canadian poet and educator who was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning dis/ability at the age of seven. Some of his poems have appeared in Ethos Literary Journal, Literary Yard and on Dusie. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Rob Taylor is the author of three poetry collections, including The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Rob is also the editor of What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions, 2018) and guest editor of the 2019 edition of The Best Canadian Poetry in English (Biblioasis, 2019). In 2015 Rob received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for the Literary Arts, as an emerging artist. He lives with his family in Port Moody, BC.

20190923

Thursday, August 15th, 2019


Samuel Strathman



Tommorow will be different, and so will
the days to follow, but for now –

stars float above the earth’s atmosphere
like aphids gleaming betwixt semi-transparent swathes of dust.

Clouds in the shape
of lily pads quiver into the scenery
as cranes venture precariously outside
of the earth’s orbit.

Sunder all eighty-eight constellations
and you’ll form an abundance
of astronomical spheroids.

The rest of the evening is bound
to wind up inscrutable.

Cut your losses,
sleep with both eyes closed tonight.



Samuel Strathman is a Jewish/Canadian poet ans educator who was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning dis/ability at the age of seven. Some of his poems have appeared in Ethos Literary Journal, Literary Yard and on Dusie. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


20190919

An interview with Grant Wilkins

Grant Wilkins is a printer, small press publisher and occasional poet from Ottawa whose writing has been published online at bywords.ca, by phafours press and in BafterC magazine, amongst other places. He has degrees in History & Classical Civilization and in English, and he likes ink, metal, paper, letters, sounds and words, and combinations thereof.

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

I liked the idea of writing as far back as I can remember. This always went in the direction of prose though, and for many years my ambition would have been to write “The Great Canadian Science Fiction Historical Fantasy Novel,” or some such thing. After discovering the local literary scene here in Ottawa in the early 1990s, I ended up developing a real interest in the publishing and production side of literary things, and this interest overtook any immediate inclinations I had to write.

Eventually, my ambition to write rekindled itself, but led me off into the more arcane parts of the literary landscape, in the form of sound, visual & concrete poetry, and the process writing that can go along with a lot of that.

All this is significant in terms of my current practice because while I’ve been hanging around the edges of the literary world for quite a long time, I only really got into the kind of writing that I’m doing now about 10 years ago. To my mind, I’m still quite new to all this, and I still have a lot of exploring to do.

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

Getting poetry published in Canada feels like a mug’s game these days, and while I entirely understand when writers try the “saturation bombing” method of getting their work out – firing their stuff off to anyone with a printer, photocopier or website who might print it – there does seem to be a great potential for futility built into this approach.

I get the desire to find a home for something once it’s done, but I much prefer to look for venues where there’s a real sense of a conversation going on – on the page, with the readers, with the writers, and with the other works being published – and where there’s a palpable sense of exploration to the proceedings.

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

What I do is almost exclusively process writing in one form or another, so I’m always starting with a text that someone else has written or that has been drawn from another source, and proceeding from there. I guess you could say that words – what they do, how they do it, and how meaning is or isn’t created – are always, at least broadly, the subject of my work.

In terms of my current direction, I became interested in the notion of translation a while back, so I have several projects and experiments related to that that I’m working at, thinking about or otherwise exploring.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

John Cage, Jackson Mac Low and bpNichol are probably the ground state back to which most of what I’m interested in can be traced. I’m very much a follower of Cage and Mac Low’s notion of minimizing the presence of the writer’s ego in the work, and versions and variations of the chance and indeterminant techniques they explored have a lot to do with the forms of processing and text-making that I use.

bpNichol is important in my world for the breadth of what he did. The Martyrology is a masterpiece, and his book Translating Translating Apollinaire: A Preliminary Report was a real “aha!” moment for me.

More recently, both Lisa Robertson and Caroline Bergvall’s work in finding, refining and recombining textual (and visual) work has suggested some interesting directions, and my interest in translation has Armand Schwerner and Erin Moure looming large in my thinking as well.

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

It wasn’t a mentorship situation exactly, but as I was becoming more and more interested in this corner of the poetry world I ended up involved in a sound poetry performance group – one of jwcurry’s “Messagio Galore” iterations – the participants of which included curry, the late John Lavery, Roland Prevost, Carmel Purkis, Sandra Ridley and myself. I already knew everyone in the group, but getting to see them work with the material we were doing up close and personal was a tremendously formative experience, with a lot of larger and smaller revelations along the way.

This also led on to my participating in the literary responses to a series of visual artist Michèle Provost’s projects and exhibitions. Working with Michèle and her material – and getting to see her working on her visual and textual art – has had a huge impact on my own interest and work, and she probably constitutes my most significant influence. Also, working on her projects allowed me to continue working with Sandra and Carmel, who have both been helpful ongoing voices in my ear.

What are you currently working on?

That’s a harder question to answer than it should be, because in addition to writing I also have two other creative passions: letterpress printing and papermaking. I’m very project oriented and I always have a long list of projects and ideas planned or on the go – but I also tend to work slowly and in fits and starts, picking things up and putting them down again as time, deadlines and enthusiasm allows.

I do have several long-gestating writing projects that I think are getting close to fruition – including an extended translation exercise and a “reading through” project. Of course, I also have a couple of smaller translation ideas that I’d like to try out too, so I may jump on those first.

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

Chris Turnbull is an excellent poet and publisher from south of Ottawa with a wide-ranging practice in words, sounds and objects, and I’d love to see her and her work getting more attention.

Michèle Provost isn’t a poet, but as part of her visual art practice over the years she has come up with some amazing and poetic texts. The core text she composed for her “Roman Feuilleton” exhibition was a particularly brilliant piece of surrealist collage, and I think it’s a shame that her written work has been almost completely missed by the larger literary world because she’s a visual artist, and entirely ignored by the art world because it thing falls outside the borders of what they conceive to be art.

I know Sandra Ridley’s last book was shortlisted for the Griffin, but in spite of that, I don’t think she gets the attention or the respect from the official literary world that she deserves. Far too many of the people and organizations behind the prizes, positions and awards that actually allow poets to pay their rent seem to prefer celebrating the bland, the inoffensive and the easily digestible, rather than the sharp, careful, complex sort of work that Sandra does. A case of institutional mediocrity preferring the mediocre, sadly.

20190916

The Channel Where The Water-Table Joins The Ocean

hiromi suzuki



Dim horizon stole the dusk at the corner of corridor in Cavern Hotel. Flies which are playing hide-and-seek in incandescent lamp turn on the lights in unison on the ceiling.

Thunderstorm can occur over the channel where the water-table joins the ocean. The voice jumps out of the cathode ray tube. Room key has been broken. Only the voice of weather forecaster is walking on the beach surrounding the island.

The tide is at the full. The waves are roaring with pain. A wrecked ship carrying a mimic of Elvis singing with ukulele is swallowed into the monstrous cloud. Forecast says the hard rain will continue forever. We will not be able to distinguish between the sky and the sea.




hiromi suzuki is a poet, novelist 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 : 
hiromi suzuki: @HRMsuzuki
Ms. cried: @HRMsuzuki

 

20190912

An interview with Matthew Walsh

Matthew Walsh is a queer poet from Nova Scotia whose debut collection of poems was released with Goose Lane/Ice House, titled These are not the potatoes of my youth. Their work was recently published in The Malahat Review, Plenitude, and Train.

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

I started writing at an early age. I remember being in grade two with Mrs. Ruck and always getting high marks in spelling tests and I really liked words, and then we were given this assignment where we had to write out own stories about travelling to space, and mine ended up being thirteen pages on this kind of stationary shaped like space ships—we had to read them to the class so I kept adding pages to get out of presenting the story, but the teacher was clear that I had to get up and read but I wouldn’t I just stood there, I remember, until the teacher was like « all right, read one page » and eventually I read the page.

What keeps me wanting to write and having the urge to write is reading, and seeing things happen around the city or where I happen to be, for better or for worse. The other day, I walked into a room where someone had freshly peeled an orange so now I am trying to write a poem that ends like a line about a freshly peeled orange. I think I can make it work!

Have you noticed a difference in how you approach writing now that you’ve published a full-length collection?

Now that I got that first book out of me, I feel like I can be more confident in my approach to writing and more relaxed. I`m having more fun writing in a weird way because I`m not working towards a book now, I`m just writing poems that will hopefully and eventually be turned into a book.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

I really admire Ali Blythe’s books, Twoism and Hymnswitch, just so good. Frances Ponge for his views on things and his weird angle of everyday life. I really love the creativity and voices of Erin Moure—Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person is still one of my all-time favourite books. Amber Dawn for the dynamite poems I have seen her read on stage, she is just so good at deliveries. I got to see her read in Toronto recently, and this new poem of hers was just so well written and thought-provoking. Also, Hana Shafi is a very great reader, so if you get the chance, catch them read.

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

It’s good to have a place to be alone to write, but is also important to have people to share ideas with, tell jokes with and who you can just be yourself around and share details about your projects in confidence. Keith Maillard really helped me in the short story department, and Sheryda Warrener, who guided a few of my MFA classes and helped me with my first book was an amazing person to talk with about poetry. I still have all their notes and I read them from time to time when I get down on myself.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my second book, it’s about bodies, bodies in the media, homophobia, internalized homophobia, and problematic depictions of queer people in television and movies, at least right now. There are a couple of poems about the beach as well which might be a completely different thing. Who knows, it’s in the gestation process.

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

I really like the poetry by David Ly, from Vancouver, who has a new book coming out called Mythical Man, and I just finished reading a chapbook by Jason Purcell, A Place More Hospitable, and have you read Hana Shafi’s It Begins with the Body?

20190909

Love, fidelity, etc.

Rob Taylor



I do not wear you
when I shower, when I sleep,

when playing sports or making things,
my knuckles thick with dirt or grease,

though I wear you now on the hand
behind my head, which tilts it to the page.

Remember when I lost you
those six months beneath the driver’s seat?

You must have hidden in my pocket—
the one inside the other—

and when I’d wriggled out the keys
you’d ventured too.

Folks think you represent
but we both know you’re

up there in the darkness of my hair,
sometimes waiting in the car.

When I found you we were both Prodigal Fathers,
steadfast without sons, though it was my hand

of course, reached out in welcome,
my mouth that rushed the story to my wife.

Yes, you arrived with my marriage.  You’ll go
at the end, off to some necklace or pouch

or lingering years in the earth
until all you encircle is earth

and some scavenger prospects you,
as I did, from the muck.

It wasn’t much. I was in the field.
I knelt. My hands were bare.



Rob Taylor is the author of three poetry collections, including The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016), which was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Rob is also the editor of What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions, 2018) and guest editor of the 2019 edition of The Best Canadian Poetry in English (Biblioasis, 2019). In 2015 Rob received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for the Literary Arts, as an emerging artist. He lives with his family in Port Moody, BC.

20190902

The Old Blind Guitarist

Anton Pooles


based on the Picasso painting of the same name


He plays as the green clouds fill the sky.
He plays as bullfrogs welcome the night with song.
He plays as drunk men return home from the bar
after a hard day’s work.

Each string feels like barbed wire,
each note like a thunderstorm far out at sea. 

He plays through the evening,
through the stinging pain of his fingers and back.
He plays even as he drifts off to sleep.



Anton Pooles was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia and lives in Toronto. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Toronto and the author of the chapbook Monster 36 (Anstruther Press, 2019). Follow him on Twitter @antonpooles.