20190218

Purple Turbines

Mike Ferguson


First it is insects, then bats are eviscerated. Hearing they could be painted another colour, he was blown away. The transparency of air churned without censure or colour-coding. Ugly things in the beauty of function and relativity. Normally white yet not even for that hint of happiness. What becomes of the purple sandpiper? A blade of anisotropic eroticism in some whirls. A giraffe’s tongue deters sunburn and the flittermouse.



Mike Ferguson is an American permanently resident in the UK and widely published in online magazines. His most recent print collection is the sonnets chapbook Precarious Real [Maquette Press, 2016] and he edited with Rupert Loydell the music poems anthology Yesterday’s Music Today [Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2015]. A retired English teacher, he co-authored the education text Writing Workshops [Cambridge University Press, 2015].


20190211

Golden Para-Shoot

Christine H. Tran


Paratext paratext paratext; you are a floating footnote
And satellite moon to the index of someone else’s Kronos,
behind the scenes footage; the dampest of lecture notes
Paratext makes the round go world

In a solar system of citation
I am your official cinematic novelization
To the motion picture Cars 2
Fanfic, mods, soundtrack, author biography, press clipping, ad-games,
full-body character pillows,
In every ovum there is an unregistered trademark
an ectopic sequel & un-expanded cinematic universe
waiting to be furbished (adv: “furnished by a Furby”)

In retrospect, the ability to rearrange vast amounts of colonial knowledge
by the teeth of my skin (jaundiced)
into nostalgic polygons
was
not the best foundation for a personality 




Christine H. Tran is a PhD-wannabe & Vietnamese-Canadian whose work has been featured in untethered, alt.theatre, and ATB Publishing's Outside In. Her writing explores the shared histories of Internet culture, video games, race, and the folklore of technological meritocracy. And also, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She 'grams for nine people at @the_chriscourse and assists at Brick:  A Literary Journal.

20190207

An interview with Erin Bedford

Erin Bedford's work is published in William Patterson University's Map Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Temz Review, and Train: a poetry journal. She attended and won a Certificate of Distinction for her novel Fathom Lines from the Humber School for Writers. Currently, she is acting as shill for her newly-completed second novel, Illumining, and a manuscript of poetry.

Follow her to find out more @ErinLBedford

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

I began writing because of an idea that wouldn’t settle down in my head. During my fourth year university historiography seminar, we were talking about memory and truth, bias and perception, and what this all meant for what we can actually know, about the past of course, but also about what’s happening right in front of our eyes, and about the people we love, whom we think we understand so well.

I think most of the other people in class just packed up their books that day and went to their next class. I walked around mulling that idea over for a year and then began writing my first novel, Fathom Lines, because for me there was so much to explore, so much under the surface.

Ideas like that are what keep me writing, of course, and curiosity.

Your author biography mentions that you are in the midst of a second novel. Are you able to work on poetry at all during the composition of a novel? How are you able to keep the two separate?

I don’t know the answer to this question yet. The second novel is done and I am looking for a publisher. About two months after I finished the novel, I began to write poetry with more intention than ever before. I was able to edit the novel and write enough poetry to put together a full manuscript, but I am not sure if I would be able to do the focused daily writing work that a novel requires and also be able to access the same intense emotion that I draw on for my poems. When I write a novel, it’s all about the routines. The window of time I have is regulated, and the coffee and meal breaks are scheduled interruptions. When I write poetry, it’s very different. I feel a bit like a mad scientist. Everything but the page becomes a terribly unwanted distraction. I often won’t get up to eat or drink, I will stay up late into the night or decline social activities because I don’t want to leave that place of emotion I’m writing from.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

There are certain collections of poetry or even single poems that continue to influence how and what I write about, not necessarily because of any specific style, or beloved artistic kindred, but more because I was ready for a particular work at that moment in my life. Alastair Reid’s translation of Neruda’s Al pie desde su niño (To the foot from it’s child) is a polestar poem for me, and Oliver’s The Forest.

So many by Heaney.  I read Atwood’s You fit into me when I was about fourteen and realized poetry didn’t have to be endlessly symbolic, contrary to what I was learning in high school. It could just crack like a whip. I think that’s what I want my poetry to be—a combination as life is, a kiss that turns into a bite, or vice versa.

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

It is incredibly important to me. I am fairly private about my work until I feel it’s ready. I have never had desire to work with a writing group for this reason. But to have one person who spends dedicated time on my work and cares about it, but who is more detached from it, and from me, that’s when the big leaps in my writing skill have happened.

Most recently, I worked with Betsy Warland on my manuscript of poetry. She was so direct and insightful. Every consultation felt like a master class. I always left with new ideas and concrete ways to improve my work.

What are you currently working on?

I have two complete manuscripts— one fiction, one poetry—that need to find the right publisher. I have a terrible habit of orphaning my finished work and so I am being very careful about choosing my next projects. But there is a short story about a housebroken raccoon, a sort of meditation on the end of wildness, and a personal essay about receiving a massage from my ex-husband’s girlfriend. Of course, there are always new poems to write. I have an idea for a novel, the kind of idea that won’t settle down, so I imagine I’ll begin that once my other works are adopted.

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

Rachel Rose. Marry & Burn is such a poignant and powerful elegy; a perfect encapsulation of the emotional tumult that one undergoes as a relationship dies. Poems of slow brooding on resentment and grief, uplifted with such tender imagery.

20190204

harvest

Erin Emily Ann Vance


when you were laid off from the honey farm
because the wine wasn't selling, I wondered
if you should have told the queens before you
left, because they should prepare themselves
for the rough hands of other keepers, they

need time to forget your smoky eyes and the
way you thanked them for their honey. when
you came home smelling like honey and mud
for the last time I wondered if you were a
different person than you had been before
the bees I wondered if I was a different person
than I had been before the bees I wondered
how much of us had become honey and wine.
when you kissed me with the thickness of
unpasteurized honey and the ache of unfiltered
mead I knew that the bees had followed you
home that each august would bring swarms
and that every time a wasp entered our home
we would somehow expel it and continue to
create our own shelter and food and love



Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work is forthcoming in Coffin Bell Journal, Augur, Post Ghost Press, and Bad Nudes. She is a contributing reader and writer for Awkward Mermaid Literary Magazine. A 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction, she will complete her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018 and an MA in Folklore in 2020. Erin's debut novel, Advice for Amateur Beekeepers and Taxidermists will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019.

20190128

DELTA 9: WATER HYACINTH UNDER THE RIGHT CONDITIONS DOUBLES IN SIZE EVERY 10 DAYS


David Koehn


As weather cools, largemouth feed closer to the surface.
Slow down. Take time away from the buttered asterisk.
Do I need to explain that I am watching a golf tournament on T.V.?
My kind die all the time. We laugh. Cry. See the lesson in it.
Work has given me a lego person, and a brick for each year of work.
For well over a decade I have practiced remembering my last drunk.
And what does this have to do with others? Nothing in particular.
Our dog Barky brings me the ball, I ignore him, he throws
His head sideways and the ball rolls under a hedge.
He is a small dog. The ball is blue. The size of a tennis ball.
He brings me the ball. Cause and effect. Not cause and effect.
When John died, I was notified by email.
His son sent a note, knew we knew him well.
I want to end-stop every line because I have never written a poem
Where every line was end-stopped. Damn.
Notah Begay looks good In his light blue oxford.
“Captain Love,” he says, “knows these guys.”
I remember a low punch shot John hit at Poppy Hills,
There was nothing remarkable about the shot.
It was not a poor shot. It was not a great shot.
Remember when slow food was a thing?
What is remarkable is that I remember it.
Is the afterlife nothing but the memories of the living?
That’s all that exists forever until there is no memory of you --
And then there is only everything in everything?
If the dog choking on the cover of the tennis ball
Was a set of tools the flat head screwdriver
Would sing “Hallelujah” as an encore. Enamel on enamel,
The green ewer painted over what was a coffee cup
Holding a broad-leafed fern in mid-foreground sits
Just behind the maroon orbs afloat
In front of where the eye locates the canvas and the image in it.
To see a thing and describe it is difficult enough.
Driving home over Vasco Road today my son said,
“I love you, Dad.” And I responded, as I often do, “I love you more.”
And he said, “Do you? I mean, how do you know?”
Earlier that day I’d driven an hour north to meet a woman I barely knew.
The lot at Skinner Classics had dozens of VW Bus skeletons, all pre-1968.
If there was an app that measured love expressed -- like a sound meter
Showing the pitch and intensity -- the dimensions of it -- if we
Could wear the meter on our wrists -- would I use the word?
When John died my first thought:
If he hadn’t been sober the last 20 years, he’d have been dead already.
In the Scoundrels, “Beijing Honey” there is a line,
“I’m gonna love you until I break your heart”
Threaded between a guitar waggle.
His partner a club-footed expatriate from Columbia
Found him. She described herself as “occasional.” John was not one for disaffection.
Sometimes he just ran out of kindness. Borrowed time, baby,
Borrowed time. According to the Web: bhergh- means "to hide, protect."
Root of borrow, burial; bury; and harbor. John sold recovery
Services, you know, debt relief products. You loved your credit card,
You lost your job -- and now what? Then your phone rang.
The voice on the other end of the call, that was John.
Slow down. He knew the imperfect perfect.
I do not forgive myself. You can not forgive yourself.
Water hyacinth under the right conditions doubles in size every ten days.
The invasive fingers hold leafy pads, appear calm, indifferent,
And the shine of their bright lavender flowers want
For presentation. Note the clean-cut stems in the opal vase.
All night, in a Phoenix hotel, the bar was open.
If I said I drank 15 martinis, maybe more,
Only 16 million of you would believe me.



David Koehn's first full-length manuscript, Twine, now available from Bauhan Publishing, won the 2013 May Sarton Poetry Prize. David just released Compendium (Omnidawn Publishing 2017), a collection of Donald Justice's notes on prosody. David's second full-length collection, Scatterplot, is due out from Omnidawn Publishing in 2020.

20190117

An interview with Isabella Wang

Isabella Wang's debut poetry chapbook is forthcoming with Baseline Press in 2019. At 18, she is a two-time finalist and the youngest writer shortlisted for The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Essay Contest. Her poetry has appeared in Room Magazine, The /tEmz/ Review, Train JournalCanthius, Plenitude, and Looseleaf Magazine, and she holds a Pushcart Prize nomination for poetry. Her essays are published in carte blanche, Invisible Blog, and The New Quarterly. She is studying English and World Literature at SFU, and serving as the Youth Advocate for the Federation of B.C. Writers. As well, she is working with Books on the Radio, co-ordinating the bi-monthly Dead Poets Reading Series, and interning at Room Magazine.

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

My grade three teacher encouraged us to write stories that she would then help us bind into booklets, and we would decorate the covers with our bios on the back. There is something about that hands-on process, that connection, which drew me to writing at an early age. It’s somewhat nostalgic for me. Even to this day, when I write, I’m always writing towards a feeling.

I haven’t always been writing, though. I struggled with immensely, with English being my second language. There would be long periods of time where I would straight out refuse to write anything at all, even hand in assignments for school, because I was so frustrated and well, ashamed too. I’ve tried many things however— piano, ballet, art, painting, ceramics— but in the end, it all traced back to writing again.

As for what keeps me going: COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY, hands down, COMMUNITY. We all go through hard times, and when we do, it’s the community— our friends, mentors, our collective voices that keep us grounded. It’s what anchors us. Go to events, engage with other writers, read their work and read widely, and reach out. I have friends across Vancouver, Toronto, and Waterloo, and I don’t know where I’d be without them.

You are currently a student at Simon Fraser University. Are you finding any difference in how you approach writing now that you’re in university?

I am loving university. Most of the time, I can barely keep my head afloat with four courses, four part-time jobs and volunteering gigs, but it’s all work that I enjoy doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way around.

I’m about to declare a double major in English and World Lit, and a minor in First Nations studies. That’s a lot of academic writing and reading. I am pursuing creative writing on the side— free lance work and readings take up around 20 hours of my week, and my part-time job at Room Magazine is another 20 hours. Combine everything, and I’m doing over 70 hours of writing per week. So, I’ve grown to appreciate this balance between academic and creative writing. Otherwise, I’d burn out way too quickly. That said, I definitely see the two as interconnected. University has introduced me to lots of ideas that have influenced my creative work. Likewise, with creative writing, I’ve become accustomed to this constant process of planning, drafting, revising, revising, revising, crying, and revising, which has been helpful when approaching academic papers for the first time. Often, they allow for a creative approach, and I also find that the situating of the self in an argument— your position, your stance, why this work matters to you—is very much like creative nonfiction.

It’s a nice environment, and I’m writing for the English department blog about my experiences as a first year English student. My professors have been extremely supportive and receptive. I have this one prof, Steve Collis, who’s so awesome (he has a poem published in Train Journal too). He let me take a creative approach to the assignments I started a lyric, creative non-fiction essay in his class, as well as a 120-paged long poem and a series of prose poems concerning the waterways and our global ecosystem and they’ve carried into creative projects I’ll be working on for the next while. That’s been one of my favourite university experiences so far. I also have another prof who brings her corgi in every Tuesday. So I’d go to office hours to pet her dog and we’d talk about writing.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

Oh no! Too many! It won’t be fair to name some and leave others out, with the limited space that I have. However, I’m sure they all know. If I’ve gone up to you before and screamed I LOVE YOU in your face and told you how much I love your work, well then, that’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

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

We all need guidance, for someone to show us the way while being mindful of our work. This is especially true for young and emerging writers who are just starting out in their field. From experience, I can say that a little nudge in the right direction goes a long way.

I have so many mentors:

My high school teachers, for one. They’ve taught me so much, beyond the courses themselves, about life, and how to be a good person. More importantly, they always made time for me, the melt downs, tears, and panic attacks, and there had been lots of those. They are my heroes.

In terms of creative writing, it all started with the poetry workshops I took with mentors, Evelyn Lau, Fiona Tinwei Lam, and Rob Taylor back in September, 2017, which led to my first reading event in December, and that’s when I started attending more events and connecting to local writers.

I’m also lucky to have worked with some incredible editors, in particular, Susan Scott from The New Quarterly and Jen Ferguson from carte blanche. Both have been so supportive, so compassionate, and generous with their words and feedback. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with The/tEmz/Review Plenitude, and Room Magazine and again, I’m grateful for they do an incredible job at supporting their writers.

Lastly, my friends. Every single one of them, and the list keeps growing.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing my first poetry chapbook, which is coming out with Baseline Press this fall. I’m also working towards my first collection of poetry and a book of creative nonfiction essays, though I’ve kept this to myself and never told anyone before. I’m taking my time you can’t rush art, ever. However, it’s a plausible goal to have in mind, so that I’m always subconsciously thinking about writing and that process. They both touch on similar themes that occupy me, that overlap and intertwine throughout individual poems and each essay. However, I have a clearer sense of the content and certain issues that I want address with the essays, whereas with poetry, I’m mostly writing towards a feeling.

As for individual works, I’m about to revise an old poem that I’ve stored away for over a year now. I’m getting two essays ready for publication, and I’m in the early stages of drafting three new essays, where I’m both excited and terrified to enter another, more recent chapter of my life that I’ve been holding off with writing.

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

Angela Wright. She jokes about not being a big deal, but she is to me. I think she’s the coolest person ever and the most amazing friend. I will keep on telling her how much I love her poetry, and if I do it enough, it will eventually sink in for her.


20190114

Train : a journal of prose poems


Issue #3 : Simon Brown Carlie Blume Conyer Clayton Ariel Dawn Kate Feld Mike Ferguson M.W. Jaeggle Aaron Kreuter Amy LeBlanc John Luna Ian Martin rob mclennan Pearl Pirie Adam Strauss Erin Emily Ann Vance

A limited amount of copies will be available for free at the following locations:
Open Books: A Poem Emporium (Seattle WA), Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop (Brooklyn NY), knife| fork | book (Toronto ON) and Passages Bookshop (Portland OR).



Includes shipping
Four-issue subscriptions are also available:

Includes shipping
Simon Brown (1979) is a self-taught poet and interdisciplinary artist from the traditional territory of the Passamaquoddy nation (southwestern New Brunswick) currently based in rural Québec. His French and English texts have been presented in collaborative artworks, performances, collections and artist books, and in magazines such as Lemon Hound, Estuaire, Vallum, Poetry Is Dead, Watts, and The Blasted Tree. As a translator, he has adapted texts by Erin Robinsong, Angela Carr, Danielle LaFrance and Jacob Wren, among others. Recent collections include Grande poussière (with Maude Pilon, squint press, Montréal, 2017) and Outre-flaques (Vanloo, Marseille, 2018).

Carlie Blume is an emerging writer of fiction and poetry.  Her writing centres around deconstructing myths about sexuality, motherhood, and mental health. Her work has been featured in The Maynard, Loose Lips and Pulp Mag. She lives in Surrey and is currently working on her first collection of poetry, as well as a novel.


Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa based artist who aims to live with compassion, gratitude, and awe. Her most recent chapbooks are: Undergrowth (bird, buried press), Mitosis (In/Words Magazine and Press), and For the Birds. For the Humans. (battleaxe press). She released a collaborative album with Nathanael Larochette, If the river stood still, in August 2018. Her work appears in ARC, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, The Maynard, Puddles of Sky Press, and others. She won Arc's 2017 Diana Brebner Prize, and writes reviews for Canthius. Her debut full length collection of poetry is forthcoming.

Ariel Dawn lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She spends her time writing, reading, and studying Tarot. Recent work appears in canthius, (parenthetical), Foxhole, Room, and is forthcoming in A Furious Hope anthology.

Kate Feld writes essays, poetry, short fiction and work that sits between forms. Her writing has appeared in journals and anthologies including Hotel, The Stinging Fly and The Letters Page.

Mike Ferguson is an American permanently resident in the UK and widely published in online magazines. His most recent print collection is the sonnets chapbook Precarious Real [Maquette Press, 2016] and he edited with Rupert Loydell the music poems anthology Yesterday’s Music Today [Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2015]. A retired English teacher, he co-authored the education text Writing Workshops [Cambridge University Press, 2015].

M.W. Jaeggle is a poet from Vancouver, currently living in Montreal. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Dalhousie Review, CV2, Existere, in the anthology Refugium: Poems for the Pacific, and elsewhere. He was longlisted for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize.

Aaron Kreuter is the author of the poetry book Arguments for Lawn Chairs (Guernica Editions, 2016), and the short story collection You and Me, Belonging (Tightrope Books, 2018). I have had my work appear in journals and magazines such as The Puritan, Grain, Arc, Poetry is Dead, The Temz Review, and other places.


Amy LeBlanc holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and creative writing from the University of Calgary. She is currently non-fiction editor at filling Station magazine. Her work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear in Room, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, and EVENT among others. Amy won the 2018 BrainStorm Poetry Contest for her poem 'Swell'. She is the author of two chapbooks, most recently Ladybird, Ladybird published with Anstruther Press in August 2018.


John Luna: I am a dual Canadian-American citizen born of Mexican + American expatriates. Besides writing, my practice is as a visual artist whose background includes painting, sculpture and installation, and a teacher working in the areas of art, design and art history. I currently reside on an island off of the west coast of N. America. Previous publication of written work in art criticism and poetry has appeared in Ditch, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Canyon, Cordite, and Matrix, among others. A first collection of poems, Listing (Decoupage Publishing, 2015) was released through a small independent press with the help of a crowdfunding campaign. A second book-length manuscript was recently (2017) shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.

Ian Martin is nobody's mom. Ian's work has appeared recently in where is the river, Bad Nudes, Plenitude Magazine, and Pretty Owl Poetry. Ian has published 4 chapbooks, most recently PLACES TO HIDE (Coven Editions, 2018) and YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP THIS UP FOREVER (AngelHousePress, 2018). When he's not writing, Ian develops small games and complains online. [http://ian-martin.net]


rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent titles include the poetry collections How the alphabet was made (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and the forthcoming Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2019) and A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com

Pearl Pirie writes in Quebec's countryside. She has 3 trade collections, most recently, the pet radish, shrunken from Book*hug. http://www.pearlpirie.com

Adam Strauss lives in Louisville, KY.  He is the author of one full-length collection: For Days (BlazeVox). Most recently, poems of his appear in Fence, Interim, The Tiny, and the Brooklyn Rail.

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work is forthcoming in Coffin Bell Journal, Augur, Post Ghost Press, and Bad Nudes. She is a contributing reader and writer for Awkward Mermaid Literary Magazine. A 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction, she completed her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018, and will complete an MA in Folklore in 2020. Erin's debut novel, Advice for Amateur Beekeepers and Taxidermists will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019.


20190107

Conduits

Amy LeBlanc


They say she lifted the calf from the bed
like a coil of rope, unspun and curling
with unsung sea salt through the sides of a boat.
He did not cry bubbles like a spool of thread.
instead, the water wept from his back,
the same shade of grey as a smoke stack in winter.

They say she held him for sixteen months,
she’d carried him over a year.
She keened underwater where no one could hear
the slaughter of her marrow or the ticking of a clock.
The cascading waves could not take him away.
to her, he weighed no more than a shell.

They say her cartilage ached from her passion play,
the labor of days spent crawling through water.
When her swollen body refused to sleep,
she packed his things and swam for weeks.



Amy LeBlanc holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and creative writing from the University of Calgary. She is currently non-fiction editor at filling Station magazine. Her work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear in Room, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, and EVENT among others. Amy won the 2018 BrainStorm Poetry Contest for her poem 'Swell'. She is the author of two chapbooks, most recently Ladybird, Ladybird published with Anstruther Press in August 2018.


20190103

An interview with John Luna


John Luna: I am a dual Canadian-American citizen born of Mexican + American expatriates. Besides writing, my practice is as a visual artist whose background includes painting, sculpture and installation, and a teacher working in the areas of art, design and art history. I currently reside on an island off of the west coast of N. America. Previous publication of written work in art criticism and poetry has appeared in Ditch, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Canyon, Cordite, and Matrix, among others. A first collection of poems, Listing (Decoupage Publishing, 2015) was released through a small independent press with the help of a crowdfunding campaign. A second book-length manuscript was recently (2017) shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.

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

Sometime in grade school… There was a huge making culture in our house… My mother was an etcher who also worked with puppets, wrote children’s stories, and made us toys. My father had been a painter and curator and also wrote poetry, fiction and entertained a host of unpublished research projects, and my sister drew pictures and wrote stories… This was a huge component of mutually sustained esteem for an underdog family. The will to prolong and preserve that culture is something that I have trouble framing and frankly don’t want to; it (that culture) is formless, or it formlessly asserts itself in the desire to continue to write.
  
Your author biography mentions your work in painting, sculpture and installation. Are you able to work on poetry at all during the creation of visual artwork? How are you able to keep the two separate?

You put your finger on something very difficult. I used to move back and forth between them, swearing one off… because the problem is the notion of an outlet, and that the enterprise has to seem like the only possible choice (outlet or escape or way of going forward) otherwise it succumbs to all kinds of limiting conventions. But fertile times for one are also (generally) good for the other, and I learned a lot about how to approach editing after years of problems by adopting tools or attitudes used in painting and collage or assemblage. One problem is my excusing a lack of studio time because writing has been happening, or vice versa, and knowing that this is just a sop for the drive.

I don’t know that I want these things to be separate (I can recall my Dad giving me Blake’s Dante to underscore the idea of doing/being both), but I know that they have, often, very different audiences. And I don’t want the product of both situations to point back to some notional person (the hybrid artist/author person) at all; something about the self-consciousness of this approach is repellant. I am in the midst of organizing a show right now of visual things that also includes writing, and the importance, the priority, is in maintaining a kind of incoherence between them as a way of addressing this problem. A parallel I am trying to address it is by having a study in the attic and a studio in the basement, so that this kind of Bachelardian (Poetics of Space) construct can supplant the idea of being both people. I like the idea of the house, with its naïve space, as generator…   

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

I studied poetry minimally in school (one creative writing class years ago), and kind of prize my amateurism, because thinking of the work as professionalized, conventionalized or academicized is something that was a tremendous grind for me in pursuing an MFA in painting and teaching art and art theory in colleges and in high school; It furnished me with a kind of place-identity and set of passcodes, but it also got to be an awful purgatory that I can only seem to work my way out of by working in less-formal teaching situations.

My mother’s library introduced me to Anne Sexton as a teenager, and the idea of this kind of confessional yet hysterically detached, dry irony was something I loved at that time (15? Later, I would pick up the threads of this through Eliot, Plath and Auden, in that order)…When I was seventeen there was a sort of punk rock t-shirt shop that sold t-shirts with Picasso’s sketch of Rimbaud on them. I asked my father who he was, and he reached into the shelf and handed me Louise Varèse’s translation of Une Saison En Enfer, and, as they say, nothing was the same. I guess there was kind of a teenage dandy cult I shared with in my neighborhood that included Rimbaud and Baudelaire and Eliot and around that time Artaud entered the picture… and a few years after (early 20’s) the hugely important (to me) in media res questioning of Rilke and related negative theology of Paul Celan.

Candidly: it took years to shake off the influence of reading poetry in translation, which was kind of problematic from the point of view of both developing a sense of rhythm and a tendency to valorize/exoticize European surrogate father figures… My father had grown up with a lot of racism trying to become an academic as a Mexican in Los Angeles, and spoke about five or six languages, sort of reinventing himself in European cultural terms and this rubbed off on me I suppose. He had the best poetry library I had ever seen, with lots of bilingual presentations of Hispanic authours, so I also read Lorca, Neruda and Vallejo; the latter was a favourite because I was attracted to his obscurity and use of neologism (Trilce).

Later interests were more of those same threads: Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Adrienne Rich, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Hart Crane, W.H. Auden and John Ashbery…I sort of credit this continuum of gay uncle-figures (a self-conscious one, I think, linking Crane to Auden to Ashbery and, relatedly, John Cage and the art of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly), a crew of ironized aesthetes, with providing safe passage out of the European problem while still preserving the stoic dandy problem, which is a thing I seem to need to read and use. Recently I have been reading older essays by Joan Didion in the same way.

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

My family was hugely supportive of the whole creative enterprise when I was young (my current family is a great help now), but the relationship to writing was/is at a remove, in part because those years with my parents were years in which the adolescent trope of writing as a form of privacy was the mainstay. But there really was no mentor figure in terms of writing, which probably led to the problem of literature-poisoning at a young age that then had to be grown out of, gradually. At times I’m glad about this, as I put some stock in the notion (from Harold Bloom) of the value of misreading something, and mentors transfer personality and some notion of coherence along with whatever encouragement or craft is delivered… I’m very wary of received information and feel a kind of repulsion towards passed-on lesson where creativity is concerned unless (as in some art teaching) they can be either grounded in the craft limits of a specific tradition or problematized by fundamental mysteries in the way that, for instance, the entropic character of art materials can problematize artmaking.

What are you currently working on?

There are two ongoing projects, both represented by publications in Train. One is a series of fourteen line “reading poems” that use the notion of a reading journal as a casting off point. These will be featured in some form in the exhibition I alluded to…

The second is a small book-length collection of rather dense prose poems (The Accords) whose names are all taken from or referring to commercial fragrances. Train published “(Rive Gauche Pour Homme Eau de Toilette (Discontinued)) in November, which was from this collection. This had originally formed the heart of a longer book that I entered for the Robert Kroetsch Award in 2017; after it was shortlisted but didn’t win, I broke the book up and began working on the parts… The other two pieces (a series of ekphrastic pieces based on galleries in New York, and a sort of negative confession by way of poems based on a suit of clothes) are still in limbo. I am still adding to and editing The Accords, which will be about fifty pages as a word document, but will be trying to find someone who wants to publish it soon, though I have to get over my discomfort with independent publishing houses that ask you to compare your work to other authours they represent as a way of disambiguating your practice, a request that frankly appalls me.

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

I think Nora Collen Fulton (someone I met here in BC, now residing in Montreal) is a chasteningly brilliant individual. I saw her reading from Life Experience Coolant some years ago and it was sort of that experience of just having the voice float as an icebound, room-clearing digestif that you always hope you’ll hear in your own work as you pick your way through the bits and pieces of work/doesn’t work and warm/cool/cold in a piece of writing. She will probably hate my mentioning this, and may already be receiving plenty of attention for all I know, but is it enough, and can it hurt?