Friday, September 28, 2012

BFW Bound

This is just a quick shout-out to Windsor-area writers: BookFest Windsor is holding a writing contest this year and they're looking for short submissions. Seems like a cool gig. First-, second-, and third-place winners get to read at the opening event for BookFest at the Capitol, and they've thrown some self-publishing resources in there too. Check it out! Deadline's October 5th.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Good Week for Poetry in Windsor

The Books & Boxes BiblioBash
1520 Wyandotte St. E.
Thursday Sept. 27
Well gosh it's been a good week for the poets in Rose City. Last night was Marty Gervais' celebration of Poets Laureate from across the country, held in the poshest of posh laureate style at Willistead Manor, and featuring readings from Elizabeth Zetlin, John B. Lee, Bruce Meyer, Hugh MacDonald, and Roger Nash. ("Poetry," said Hugh, when asked where he found the courage to read his poems out loud, "is a way to expose yourself without getting arrested." Worth the price of admission right there.)
Want more? This weekend Sho Art is showcasing the work of six local poets in a program called Scattered Ecstasies, which features dramatized performances and original local artwork, and includes poetry from our own Sal Ala
Last but not least. Of course. You know where this was headed. In between Marty's spectacular spectacular and Sho's show, you'll find our first-ever-totally-thrilling-can't-wait-for-it-to-get-here-Biblioasis-headquarters-BIBLIOBASH, where we fete our new building and celebrate four astounding new books. "I've got a new slogan for you," said Martin Deck of the Windsor Bookstore last night. "Let's get Bibliowasted."
You know what the books are by now if you've been reading along. I won't go on about them any more. But time IS running out to see the BiblioBash Tour: there's Oshawa tonight, if you missed Toronto yesterday, and of course there's Windsor tomorrow. Check out our FB page for details and to RSVP! Spread the gosh-dang word! It's going to be a really special thing, and I for one can't wait. 

More Brilliants!

This Saturday Annabel Lyon had a piece in the Globe on the challenge of writing historical fiction, and in it she included a shoutout to our own Grant Buday (whose Dragonflies she calls a "brilliant reimagining" of the Iliad). Add that to the three brilliants she gave Malarky—yep, you remember those!—then we're at four Lyon-brilliants all told. Here's hoping there's more to come.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Colin Carberry in The Winnipeg Review

It's always a nice moment for poets and translators when something like this happens:

From September 17th.

About About Love

Those of you in the Toronto-area have probably heard that today's BiblioBash features a special guest appearance from David Helwig: novelist, translator, and former Poet Laureate of PEI. It's true. He'll be reading from and signing copies of one of the handsomest books the BiblioManse has issued. About Love, designed and illustrated by the inimitable Seth, is 114 pages of hunky hardback in 5.5x7.25 format with two-colour printing. BEAUTIFUL. Here's a little preview:
See? Innit pretty? Innit??
David Helwig will be reading alongside the full BiblioBash cohort: Alice Petersen, Nadine McInnis, C.P. Boyko, and Norm Sibum. Should be a great night. Come on out! RSVP on Facebook today.
About About Love
Written in France toward the end of his career, these stories are Chekhov’s only attempt at the linked collection. The first is a grotesque Gogolian comedy; the second a narrator's impassioned response; and the third a poignant story of failed love. Altogether the stories of About Love comprise three virtually unknown works by one of the greatest short story writers in world literature. "While there are many translators whose Russian is better than mine," writes Helwig of his translation, "there are not so many who have had a long experience of writing narrative prose. These narratives are my personal versions of Chekhov’s stories; they are also as close as I can make them to the precision and suggestiveness of the originals."
 Critics agree. Francine Prose calls his earlier translations “absolutely wonderful,” and Publishers Weekly has remarked that Helwig is “a pleasure to spend time with.” The book is furthermore designed and illustrated by Seth, author of Palookaville and designer for The Complete Peanuts, who has produced covers for The New Yorker and was the recipient of the 2011 Harbourfront Prize.
About Love is a beautiful contribution to the works of Chekhov in English, and a must-have for all Seth enthusiasts. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

And now for something completely different ...

From New York City, this is Theater Talk, starring Bruce Jay Friedman. Aired on Saturday. Friedman fans and Puzo enthusiasts, enjoy.

Psychology and Other Stories: An Interview with, Um, Somebody.

"The most audaciously original
collection of Canadian fiction,
ever."—Bill Gaston
Morning, folks. Well we're midway through our 
where today C.P. BOYKO, NADINE McINNIS, AND ALICE PETERSEN are dropping in the glorious border town of 
Talking Leaves Books
2158 Main St
7 PM. 
If you're in Buffalo—if you know anyone in Buffalo—heck if you know anybody within 10 miles of Buffalo who likes books & who can ride said Buffalo through the streets to Talking Leaves (which is really one of the most wonderful indie bookstores around)—then by all means pass word along. 
We've talked about Nadine's book, and Norm's, so today on Thirsty I feel it's time to talk about the mysterious and enigmatic C.P. Boyko. Who is this man, I'm often asked. Does he really have schizophrenia? Were his parents therapists? And when you say they skimped on the affection, well ... what does that mean? Or why (in the words of one student journalist), did he write this effin strange book?
To satiate the curiousity of the masses, therefore, we conducted a little interview with the man himself. You can also see Boyko, however fleetingly, however obscurely—indeed I urge you to embrace this rare opportunity, as he hasn't yet resorted to reading with a paper bag over his head—tonight at Talking Leaves.
About the Author
Clearly Mr. Boyko has read too much; no doubt he was sickly as a child. His distrust of psychologists is also easily explained: his parents were therapists, and did not give him enough affection; or he took an undergraduate degree in psychology but failed to make any friends in the department; or he had a bad experience with an analyst.
An Interview with, Um, Somebody
Q. Your collection is called Psychology and Other Stories, yet none of the stories appear to be called “Psychology.”
A. Correct.
Q. Is psychology, the study of human behavior and the human mind, in your opinion just a "story"?
A. I probably shouldn't answer that.
Q. How seriously should we take you when you, along with Jim Bird in the epigraph to “Paddling an Iceberg,” assert that fiction and psychology are the same?
A. I'd prefer not to comment on that.
Q. Elsewhere you’ve called this book a “novel in six parts,” though you remain a devotee of the short story form.
A. Yes.
Q. What about Psychology and Other Stories is novelistic?
A. Perhaps I exaggerated.
Q. Well, how would you define the novel?
A. A book of fiction, 30,000+ words in length.
Q. And a collection of short stories?
A. A book of several fictions, each <30,000 words in length.
Q. What about collections of interrelated fictions, or "novels in stories"?
A. Yes, I like them, too.
Q. But are they novels or collections of stories?
A. I'm not sure.
Q. Moving on. It appears that the subjects of the stories in Psychology and Other Stories are drawn from the fringes of the mental health industry, perhaps moreso than the mainstream (with its clinical trials, controversial research methods, studies of brain chemistry, etc.). What governed your choice of subjects?
A. I'd rather not say.
Q. What research did you do in the writing of this book?
A. Lots.
Q. Who were your influences?
A. Oh, all kinds of people.
Q. Some of the characters -- psychologists among them -- seem disenchanted with psychology and psychologists. Were you arguing against anybody as you wrote it?
A. No comment.
Q. How about this. How about I read to you a list of the authors that you quote or cite in the book, and you blink once if you approve of them or their theories, and blink twice if you disapprove of them or their theories. William James. Freud. Alfred Adler. You’re not blinking. Nietzsche. Stanley Milgram. Thomas Szasz. Norman Vincent Peale. You’re still not blinking.
A. [blinking rapidly, with relief]
Q. Are you in this book?
A. Kind of, but not really.
Q. Who’s your favourite character in it?
A. It’s hard to say.
Q. If you could give this book to one person in the history of psychology (or of psychological literature), to whom would you give it and why?
A. Next question.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Poets Past & Future

Happy Thursday, all. Those of you plugged into the Facebook have probably seen a couple poesy-themed articles floating about: one by Russell Smith in the Globe, and another by Matt Tierney in the Post. While I'm always happy to see poesy in the press, the latter was especially smile-worthy: one of the young poets "crushing it" is our own Dave Hickey, who was listed as punching above his weight, with a second book that reads like a third. And in other poetry news, Alexandra Oliver, whom we're very excited to say has a book forthcoming with us next year, has an interview on poetry and film out in White Coffee Magazine. Interesting stuff if you get a chance. Plus it includes poems. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sub Divo, Super Soon (like tomorrow!)

Well today is the kick-off day of the BiblioBash tour, and Nadine McInnis, C.P. Boyko, and Norm Sibum are going to be rocking Collected Works tonight at 7. Then tomorrow they head up to Montreal, where we'll be having the hometown celebration for Norm's Sub Divo, about which we couldn't be more excited. 
The Burritoville BiblioBash:
2055 Bishop, 7 PM
Thursday September 20!
If you're new to Norm's but would like to know a little more, make sure you check out his website and blog, Ephemeris. And for your collective reading pleasure, Norm novitiates and veterans alike, I'm posting the interview that accompanies our press release. 

Sub Divo launches in
Montreal tomorrow at
Burritoville. Cover image is
from a painting by
Mary Harman.
1. The act of comparing America to the Roman republic is as old as America itself. Founding fathers, legislators, poets, and politicians of the eighteenth century all invoked Roman democracy as the model for US government, and not a few have speculated since that the arc of Roman history—from republic to empire to eventual dissolution—may well foreshadow America’s own demise. Why, in poems like “Renderings from Propertius” and “Tacitus in the Afternoon,” do you turn to the classical comparison now, at this point in American history?
Because it's all the more true. A proper answer to your question would require a proper essay, if not a proper book, and there's plenty of either around—but in any case, there's nothing original in my thinking about it all, just that I 'feel' it deeply and always have. There are a couple of moments in two poems in the collection that come close to explaining why, in the second verse of “Fluff and Tirade, for Foulard,” and in the concluding verse of the “Sub Divo” section (“Yankee Boy in Baseball Gear”).  
Also, one gets a powerful whiff now and then of wholesale decadence in the air that has nothing to do with sex or any other bodily need, but has a great deal more to do with matters of the mind and soul and a belief that nothing matters anymore—very little seems to. And while some historians may argue that Rome's collapse was purely a matter of mechanics, others argue that a spiritual collapse will trigger the collapse of the fundamentals or certainly affect what wherewithal there is in dealing with a crisis. Then again, Rome got its start in violence, as did America, and still others might argue that it comes around sooner or later, as in what goes around comes around. I don't know myself the extent to which I might believe in karma; it may be a delusion history's losers indulge so as to console themselves. In any case, the America I knew when I was young no longer exists, and those aspects of it which I loved have been too compromised by market forces and mediocrities the fortunes of which any kind of creeping fascism will always float.
2. A number of the women in your poems, like the “lovely girls” of “Sub Divo” or Frieda Sue in “Frieda Sue Vagolin,” are criticized for affecting a relationship to poetry that ultimately proves inauthentic. Frieda Sue is rather stupidly in love with a bad poet and a Stalinist, whom she can’t recognize as bad until he insults her openly; on the other hand “Sub Divo” excoriates the “liberal babes for whom poetry is just / One career option among others, the birds flying over flying dead.” How do the men in your poems reveal their artistic affectations? Do you see inauthenticity as a general problem in contemporary poetry, and if so, do the sexes manifest it differently?
I wouldn't dream of criticizing the 'lovely girls' of the Sub Divo or they might not talk to me anymore, but yes. It could well be that we all of us have gotten to a place that puts us in an inauthentic relationship with poetry. It's a suspicion, and perhaps we may have to wait a long time for the dust to settle before the truth of any of it (if there is such an animal as truth, as ‘truth’ as such is just another word in some song that Janis Joplin had a go at), becomes apparent. I wouldn't say that Frieda Sue was exactly blind to the shortcomings of her man, and she was certainly on to his insincere colleagues at the Palace of Pedagoguery. I'd say she is an example of persons I've known who may be slow coming to certain realizations, but man, do they ever know what they know once they know it, if you get my drift. And now: inauthenticity period? Bad poetry is authentically enough bad and yet, it is no crime. Everyone who writes poetry writes bad poetry at some point or other. Neither gender has the market cornered on what I call the phony stuff, but over the years it has struck me that certain women poets, beyond those women poets whom I know personally and by reputation whose love of poetry goes all the way down to the deepest part of their souls—have a political agenda (and if you wish to read ‘feminist’ into this remark, then read away) that has nothing whatsoever to do with love of the art, let alone service to it. Men, of course, write bad political poetry, too, but, save for a certain kind of chauvinist still defending the indefensible, they are not as a rule burdened by the moral ascendancy of being liberated.
3. In “Renderings from Propertius” you say Greek myths are like “poetry in its infancy,” while the Romans who salted the fields of Carthage you call “as modern as Agent Orange.” What changed between Greece and Rome? Which civilization do we most resemble?
Of course we most resemble the Romans, however queasy we might feel about blood sports. Has to do with the exercise of power. The Romans exercised a great deal more of it than anyone else, at least in their neck of the woods. The Greeks could never organize themselves into anything resembling political coherence, all cultural matters aside. Alexander was never going to be anything more than a blip, however spectacular, on the radar. It is arguable, however, that he had a ‘vision’ of that coherence, and that he saw it as a positive value beyond the rude exercise of power. We might enjoy the company of cosmopolitan Athenians but as for, say, the Spartans, we would find them intensely strange, if not offputting. We think we're well shot of all those hang-ups. The cynic in me doubts it.
4. If you could pick one thing you’d like your readers to take away from Sub Divo, what would it be? 
Feel free to take away what you wish. Poetry-wise, I have never fit into the Canadian scheme of things, and I am not by temperament one who wishes to impose. On the other hand, I have strong opinions, and the entirety of my life has been shaped by the desire to write poetry. If anything, take away the sense that poetry is continuity; that in poetry there is no time; that one can as easily chat with Homer as with one's neighbour. If postmodernism took that conceit and sullied it and ruined it with despicable conceits of its own, well, that's another matter for another time and place.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blood Secrets: Launching Tomorrow!

Nadine McInnis's Blood Secrets,
launching tomorrow at
Collected Works in

Afternoon, all. Tomorrow we're proud to kick off the first of our BiblioBash events in Ottawa, with the launch of Nadine McInnis's sometimes-sanguine and oft-enigmatic Blood Secrets (pictured right). This was a book where we had a devil of a time with the cover; we tried a half-dozen concepts before striking on the hospital curtains you see here. It's in our hot little hands as of this afternoon. And we can't wait to celebrate!
Nadine’s first collection of short fiction, Quicksilver, was published by Raincoast in 2002, and lauded as “a promising start” by Publishers Weekly, was called "exquisite" by Ann-Marie MacDonald, and praised for its “poet’s sensibility” by Quill & Quire. (Nadine's won CBC Literary Awards and had Ottawa Book Award nods for her verse). Q&Q also put it adroitly when they observed that “her recurring themes are hauntingly conveyed without lapsing into excessive grimness.” 
With Blood Secrets, her sophomore collection, Nadine puts that promise, sensibility, and knack for haunting themes to the test. In the hands of a lesser writer these tales of final moments—of relationships dying, of terminal care facilities, of recollected suicides, of car accident fallout, of cancer and alcoholism and disability—would be grim, disheartening, downright morbid. Nadine, however, like Colm Toibin in Mothers and Sons, teases out these difficulties with a a simple and balanced hand. 
As the title implies, Blood Secrets contains stories of kinship, bloodlines, and family. Some are linked, some not. In its own way, however, each story becomes an autopsy: a dissection of final moments and an analysis of what transpires beneath the surface of our bodies and of our daily lives. In “The Story of Time,” a mother is walking in a natural history museum with her extramarital lover, and the narrator observes: 
they didn’t go near the floor that had been Ruth’s favourite when she was younger, the room tucked away on the top floor where the living were housed among the dead. In large aquariums, banana slugs left their slow trails of slime across broad green leaves. Ruth would dash from that aquarium to the next one, putting her small hands against the glass that contained a filthy kitchen sink where cockroaches furtively dashed from rusted tin can to the underside of a crusted plate. These reminders of what could live beneath the surface of the world she recognized interested her far more than dinosaur bones.
Ruth’s mother, however, lacks her daughter’s zeal for the hidden, and that willful blindness to subtext causes tremendous difficulty both within her marriage and outside it.
So it is with many of Nadine’s characters: whether their mysteries lie in the past, the body, or the mind, the characters of Blood Secrets are asked to probe deeper into the underlying causes of death and change. It’s a startling collection of interest to anyone with an interest in family dynamics or palliative care. 
We hope you'll come join us for Nadine's launch, which doubles as the kickoff of our Fall BiblioBash Tour, tomorrow at Collected Works (1242 Wellington St. West, Ottawa). 

The Draught: What's On Tap at Biblioasis

As some of you have already heard, Biblioasis is—along with buying a new building—launching a new newsletter. A sister publication to Thirsty, slightly less frequent but decidedly more regular, The Draught will bring you the latest BiblioBabble on a monthly basis. Want a tidy summary of events near you? Poems and short fiction excerpts? Special deals? Secret previews of forthcoming works? Then subscribe, my friends! Subscribe!

Apart from general press news and event information, The Draught will feature The 30% Shelf, a special online discount for subscribers when they purchase our title-of-the-month through the Biblioasis website. (This month's 30%-off title is About Love: Three Stories by Anton Chekhov, as translated by David Helwig and designed/illustrated by Seth.) There's the sweet sweet liquor of exclusive Draught content. And last but not least, as a very special first-time welcome to the thing, all new subscribers will receive either:

a) a complimentary copy of Canadian Notes and Queries issue 85, or 
b) a 1-issue extension of your CNQ subscription!


If you would like to subscribe to The Draught, please send me an email with the following subject header:


To receive your complimentary copy of CNQ please include your address and telephone number.

Yup. Awesome. We're looking forward to hearing from you. And to seeing you, if you're in Ottawa or Montreal, at one of our two big launches week (harp harp!): Nadine McInnis at Collected Works this Wednesday, with CP Boyko and Norm Sibum opening; and Norm Sibum this Thursday at Burritoville, presented in conjunction with Argo Books

Monday, September 17, 2012

1520 Wyandotte St. East

Happy Monday, folks! It's an exciting time for us here at the BiblioManse, as we're about to kick off our fall touring season—and as the first of several Great Events is likely to have us pie-eyed by Friday I wanted to make a few important announcements. Right now, while the faculties are intact; or before I twitterbomb you all to death; or, um, before this books-as-benzos thing gets TOTALLY out of hand. 
You see, there are rumours afoot. Whispers afeet. Gossip to hand. Something about sugar?
Thus and Therefore:
1. Yes, Biblioasis's KD Miller will be reading on October 4th at Q-Space, and yes it's part of the "Not-So-Nice Italian Girls" series, and yes it will be GREAT, because KD Miller is GREAT;
2. Yes, Nadine McInnis's second collection of short stories has shipped (finally woot woot!), and yes we're launching it this Wednesday, and yes it's going to be a GIANT PARTY;
3. Yes, the same is true for Norm Sibum on Thursday;
The place we'll soon call home. Once it's not grape-coloured.
4. ... we've bought a building. 
Yes it's purple.
Yes it has a rocket ship.
And yes, it is, it most definitely is, the sweetest spot in Windsor.
Since September 4th 2012 Dan Wells has been the proud new owner of 1520 Wyandotte St. East, formerly Candylicious, and soon-to-be the new Biblioasis headquarters. We're going to be a bookstore again, folks, and an event space, with the publishing offices in back. Everyone's terrifically excited. Everyone's hoarding boxes. The official move date is TBD but construction has begun and paint colours have been chosen. It really is hard to describe what it means for us to be back in the Windsor community again.
In celebration of the new building and to close out the BiblioBash tour—which includes the launches for Norm and Nadine, and about which you'll hear more shortly—we'll be having a little fete at the new manse on September 27th. If you're within spitting distance of Windsor we hope you'll join us. We might not have much by way of furniture, or books for that matter, but we'll have a fine collection of folding chairs and the wine will be flowing freely. 
So. You'll hear lots more about both book launches and the building over the coming weeks, and I imagine there will be entertaining photos of BiblioStaff wielding drills, etc., helping to quench good old Thirsty's thirst. For now, though, I'd like to raise a virtual glass to Dan and Alexis on the new purchase, and to say congratulations on behalf of us all. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Guardian names Ondjaki a Top-5 African Writer

Zukiswa Wanner of The Guardian posted a list recently of the top five African writers he considers the most exciting, and—exciting for us!—included Ondjaki among them. Here's what Wanner had to say:
This Angolan writer, who studied in Lisbon and now lives in Rio de Janeiro, is one of the most prolific writers I know. Good Morning, Comrades tells the story of a young boy growing up in post-civil war Luanda. When his aunt comes to visit from Portugal, he learns that there is a world beyond his home city, one in which people are unafraid and ration cards don't exist. In The Whistler, a traveller walks into a village, visits the church, and soon impresses everyone with his whistling skills. Ondjaki's writing and storylines are deceptively simple but highly entertaining.
For the full article, follow the link above. For more about Good Morning, Comrades (Biblioasis 2008), click here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Speaking of interviews from the semi-distant past ...

Here's AK on Slightly Bookist, from last week. Who knew that horce racing was good for writers? (She says she feels tired often now, but just wait till the end of October: if you're in New York, Peterborough, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria, Portland, or Toronto, AK's coming your way.)

As an aside: a special thanks to Ian McGillis of the Montreal Gazette and Michael Hingston of the Edmonton Journal for their recent endorsements of Malarky. Means a lot, gents.

In an August far, far away ...

Morning, folks. A long-overdue shoutout this morning to the blog of rob mclennan, who, in his perennially noble endeavour to interview Anyone and Everyone who's Awesome, took the time last month to speak with our own Claire Tacon. To read Claire on how she came to fiction, on her favourite funky smells, and on that jerk with the grocery store flyer, click here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Gee !! I wish I had FREE BOOKS ...

How about
Bibliosis is recruiting! 
We need YOU to be our

lieutenant of high literature—our noyan of non-fiction—our sotnik of the short story—our poetry polemarchos! 

Successful candidates will be enlisted to marshall their friends, family, book-lovers, pets, potted plants, etc., to RAD LOCAL EVENTS.  
We provide posters. We provide evites. We provide facebook pages and web resources. And you? You provide your wonderful selves (and, um, your networks of adoring facebook- and twitter-ites, whose numbers eclipse the digits of pi), and together we create the best darn prose-themed event your city has ever seen. 

In return, we offer BOOKS. The more folks show up, the more books you get. Email me for details. It's a first-enlisted, first-kitted kinda offer, folks, so if you or anyone you know is looking for for a little free text, get on it NOW.
(Hell. The Romans paid in salt.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Malarky in Celtic Life, Quarterly Conversation

A few nice props for Malarky came in over the past couple of days: an interview with Celtic Life, who will be running a review in Celtic Life International on September 20th; a reading of Episode 8 aired this past Sunday on Canadian Fiction Podcast; and last but not least, a review ran in the latest issue of Quarterly Conversation:
Lobster Brain with Fingers, courtesy of
Written over ten years, Malarky is a finely wrought and mysterious novel. Just as Our Woman wonders “into which dark corners” her husband’s brain “extends,” a reader must sense a great many dark corners in Schofield’s writing, which offers very little in the way of knowledge. It advances, but does not accumulate, rather like music—or living thought.
For more of Christiane Craig's thoughts on what makes Malarky so dark, & why reading it is not unlike dissecting a brain, click the link above.