Thursday, May 31, 2012

Read Me Something You Love

Here's a nice thing for a Wednesday afternoon: a podcast of our own Laura Boudreau reading from our own Rebecca Rosenblum's The Big Dream, as recorded by Steve Wasserman, who is at present having a love affair with the short fiction of our great nation. O Canada! O podcast! O Laura! Take a listen. Thanks to Steve Wasserman for doing this--and good luck wrestling with the dulcet tones of OC.

(Also the anecdote about RR, the smiley stickies, and the savage red pen work is pretty d*mn funny.)

After Congress: One Complete Voyage.

What's better than coming home after Congress and discovering a pile of happy reviews? The fact that my plants aren't dead is pretty good but this may be even better. First and foremost, we have Douglas Glover's Attack of the Copula Spiders, which after just shy of three chapters won the heart of Charles Wilkins at The Globe and Mail. Still a skeptic re: Spiders? Wilkins was too, & confessed to cracking it with a How to write a novel, yes yes, well well, grumble snuffle snort. But (& quoth my gran), there's no greater zealot than a convert: 
As I absorbed the book’s title piece, "Attack of the Copula Spiders," an eloquent little commentary on writing well in the age of Facebook, I felt a first pang of regret over my churlish resistance to a book that would ultimately reward me with its erudition and democratic spirit. Such was the pace of my conversion, that by the time I reached the penultimate chapter ... I had decided that every literate person in the country should be reading Glover’s essays and was fixing to present them to my eldest daughter.

It's possible that coming home to Copula Spiders is even better than coming home to that review. We'll have to ask the eldest Ms. Wilkins how she liked it. 

Next up we have a run on Alice Petersen, whose All the Voices Cry is splashed on blogs across the country this week. Yesterday Steven Beattie featured Alice's "Neptune's Necklace" as Day 30 of his 31 days of short stories, commenting on mood, place, and the subtle power of setting to shape subtext. (Sssssuper stuff.) For those of you who are curious. here's the section from Alice's interview to which he's referring:

2. “Neptune’s Necklace” is set by Aramoana Beach, Otago, where in 1990 thirteen people were shot dead by a lone gunman. The Aramoana massacre is now famous as New Zealand’s worst modern act of gun violence. Was the choice of this setting deliberate? What does it contribute to your story?
Aramoana Beach, Otago, NZ
Yes, this was a deliberate choice. I was twenty when that tragedy occurred and it really shook us all up. Before that, Aramoana had been known for its triumphant rejection of plans to build a smelter down there on the salt flats at the entrance to the Otago harbour. It’s a small settlement, but a strong one. It’s a place that makes you think. You are beside the sea and it’s all brisk and fresh and there are plenty of shells to pick up, but there’s this sadness in the air. I did not want to write about the massacre itself, so I made a parallel narrative, as my own act of memorial.
 "Neptune's Necklace" is a lovely story and well worth further attention. As Steven Beattie puts it:
It is coincidental that I read the interview with Petersen prior to reading her story. But how does a knowledge of Aramoana Beach’s history change the effect of the story, if at all? How would one react to the melancholy aspect of the tale if one thought it had no real world resonance? Does the knowledge of the 1990 massacre lend Hattie’s story additional gravitas? Does it tug at a reader differently? ... Petersen describes the setting of the massacre without ever mentioning the massacre. The story stands on its own. Armed with the background knowledge of what the story’s setting implies, how does that change a reader’s experience of it? Since it is impossible to erase the knowledge of what the setting implies, it is impossible for me to answer these questions. I would be interested to find out, however.
So would I. 

(As an aside, the first time I spoke with Alice on the phone about this book I swore she was saying, not "Neptune's Necklace," but "Nixon's Necklace," which I think would make a great followup piece. Alice? You game? Something at the Watergate hotel?)

Next we have The Winnipeg Review, who's to be commended for selecting a marvellous passage that really does showcase Alice's imagistic flare. Poor froggy! Here's their conclusion:
Petersen’s almost strange observations create a collection of realistic stories about loss, love, restlessness, and freedom— above all, it is a collection of decisions. Written in easily-managed chunks, All the Voices Cry could be read in spare moments, or, as the easy prose tempts you, all at once. The decision is up to you.
Last but not least we have the indefatigable Kerry Clare, who's given us a strong two cents on Alice at Pickle Me This. "The book is slim," she observes, "the stories are subtle and quiet, and their impact is not always immediate" - but "All the Voices Cry is a collection you might want to meditate on, its pages getting dog-earned and stained with coffee rings as the summer wears on."

It's worth noting that a few reviewers, including Kerry and Kirsty Hourd over in Winnipeg, have commented on how pleasant it is to read a series of what can only be called short short stories. 5 pages, 7 pages, and so forth. Therefore to conclude I thought I'd leave you with some of Alice's own words on the subject:
My ideal reader is sitting in the car waiting to pick up the kids. He has a small coffee at hand and ten minutes to spare and he’s already read his favourite page of the car manual. There’s nothing else in the glove compartment except All the Voices Cry and some gum. Or maybe she has ten minutes tucked up in bed before she knows she is going to zonk out, so she looks in my book to find a story that will take ten minutes to read. These are the folks who value the compact quality of the short story. Just ten minutes, time for one story, one brief excursion to somewhere else. One complete voyage. 
We hope you've enjoyed your trip.

Oh yes. In case you're one of the 2 people who haven't seen me splashing it all over facebook, Anakana Schofield is this month's cover girl at Quill and Quire. Take a look. Picture's there at the bottom left. You know, where you see that sultry stare.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Poesy, then the Empty Road

Morning, folks. Just two quick notes before I dash off for the Great Congress. First and foremost, any bibliofans who are attending this high and mighty affair, keep your eyes peeled for Amanda Jernigan, who will be reading Sunday night alongside Carrie Snyder, Darren Bifford, Warren Heiti, Lucy Alford, and Lacey Beer. Moreover! Alex Boyd will be reading with Al Moritz at Words Worth Books, tonight, at 7:30. Third! Yesterday said Mr. Boyd was the author of the "Old Book, New Author" column in the National Post: Click here for Boyd's take on art, empathy, and an American classic. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nests, sticks, sweat, stones, and - Congress?

Good morning, all. We've been mired in trade show preparations this past week at the Bibliomanse, with Congress coming up this weekend in Kitchener and BEA the week after that. Storing up on lozenges and caffeine pills. Which is why--oh shame!--I haven't yet pointed you all to the lovely series of blogs that Alice Petersen is doing this week for The Afterword. So! Here we go & here I am, pointing it out with my digital walking-stick. They're there. By the clump of wild carrots, next to the hickory stump, just north of the ...


Yesterday's post was especially nice. Torturous but nice. Between that and the sun and booking a ferry ticket from Victoria to Seattle for Mme Malarky's next tour installment, I'm feeling a little more--I was going to say Wordsworthian but that's not right, I think someone like Ernest Thompson Seton is closer to the mark--a little more woodsy than one ought to feel, heading to an academic conference. But if you're there, do stop by and say hello--we'll be reporting live from WLU throughout the weekend and early next week--booth number one. Starting bright and early Saturday morning. See you there! 

Objectively speaking one should mention there are some good deals to be had. Is your CNQ subscription about to expire? Breathe some life into it cheap. Ridiculously cheap. I mean, we were cheap before, but this is downright floozyish. What else? Sign up for our mailing list and get free swag. An issue of CNQ, a chance to win a prize-pack of ten books, the pleasure of bimonthly and quasi-harrassing emails from yours truly, flogging events at a TOWN NEAR YOU ... what's there to lose? TELL YOUR FRIENDS. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Malarky reviewed on

Cahir O'Doherty of The Irish Voice and has just reviewed Anakana Schofield's Malarky, calling it "the most distinctive novel of its kind I've read in a decade." is the largest Irish American media site. It was launched in March 2009 in New York. It has close to 1.1 million unique visitors a month, with 70,000 e-newsletter subscribers and has continued to grow with each passing month, easily surpassing all other Irish American websites.

The full review is available online.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More books, more free, more goodness

Last night Kerry Clare made this rather spectacular announcement to the interwebs: 
"I have this problem wherever books are being sold, I always think it’s kind of rude not to buy one. So this is how I ended up in possession of a spare copy of Anakana Schofield’s Malarky after attending her book launch tonight. Her reading was wonderful, the novel’s opening and it’s most terrible, hilarious, devastating sex-scene. I love this book so very much ... I’d like to send you a copy."
Well there you are, folks. Visit Kerry Clare's website, leave a comment by Saturday, and enter to win a little Malarky of your own. (No willy warmer alas--the Toronto WW went to Lisa de Nikolits of Inanna--but still a pretty darn good deal.)

In other Malarky news, AK reads twice today as part of the Toronto eh-List series (first at 12:30 PM, Northern District Library, and again at 7 at North York Central), and then again tomorrow night in Windsor at the Phog Lounge. If you're in Windsor tune in to the CBC around 5:30, when AK will be talking live to Bob Steele of The Bridge. And of course do come on out! The evening features special musical guests Kenneth & Marion MacLeod.

Last but not least, if you can't get enough of Anakana, her guest blogs on the Afterword are continuing all this week, and her interview was featured on the Barnes & Noble Review

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Man, that IS important!

A new review just in from our friends over at Quill & Quire, this time on Alex Boyd's The Least Important Man:
"Boyd changes lenses more frequently as the book goes on. “Dead Bees Are Indomitable” traces a ghostly flight path, punctuated midway by a Paraguayan car bomb and ending in a shapeless fit of static. The poet can work magic in miniature: poems about chess pieces, toy soldiers, and house spiders each animate aspects of civic and personal life without lapsing into caricature. “Basil Rathbone Meets God,” “A Stuntman Destroys the Hate Window,” “Samuel Drowns, at Thirty” and others that hunker down and lavish their attention on one individual are among the book’s most beautiful and surprising."
By the end of the collection, I was able to count a number of these standouts. And man, that is important."
You can read the full review if you follow the link above.

Good Grief, GoodReads!

Hey folks! As you can see, we're doing a few more GoodReads Giveaways over the next two weeks. Sign up to win free copies of our spring Bibliobooks! Giveaways should go live within the next 48 hours, so if it isn't working immediately, please check back soon.

The Willy Warmer Raffle & AK's TO Debut

Well you've seen it on facebook. You've seen it on the blog. Hell you may even have seen it on twitter. But tonight, at the Dora, you can do more than see--oh yes--oh yes indeed. Tonight you can stroke it. Stretch it. Roll it. Win it. You can take it home to your favourite oolong. Gussy up that brown betty? You can tie it to a string and use it as a cat toy--here's looking at you, RR--and you can of course do things both allergists and the Canadian Medical Association would rather I not suggest. (Like eating it.) 

That's right: tonight we raffle off one bona-fide hand-knit, 100% wool, 100% republican willy warmer at the Malarky launch, and all you have to do is show up. Fill out a ballot and you'll never be cold again. 

Not in Toronto? Never fear. We're raffling more. Seattle. Bellingham. Stay tuned at the end of the month. And by all means join us tonight at the Dora, where AK is gonna lay the room FLAT. 7 PM & free admission to the best bloody malarkiest wooliest event in town. 

And yes we keep booze in the office. Not a word from any of you. Ssssht.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Biblioasis at the Bookshelf, TONIGHT

Morning, all, and happy Monday! We hope anyone within spitting distance of granola-town--by which I of course mean Guelph, that recycler's paradise, that urban spa, that city on the hill for composting cosmopolitans--will stop by The Bookshelf tonight for a bang-up Bibliomnibus Night. We're bringing you five authors, all at once, all for free! Come support the bibliocrew and the stupendous Dan Evans: indefatigable bookseller, charming radio host, and (it would seem) impromptu tour guide. AK's in Guelph as we speak and the rest will descend shortly! 

WHAT: Biblioasis at the Bookshelf: An Evening of Poetry & Fiction
WHERE: The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec St., Guelph
WHEN: Monday May 14th, 7 p.m.
Admission is free. Please contact if you have any questions.   
Mike Barnes: The Reasonable Ogre
The author of seven books including poetry, short fiction, novels and a memoir, Mike Barnes has received many honours for his writing.  Calm Jazz Sea was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for poetry and Aquarium won the Danuta Gleed Award for best first book of short stories in Canada.  His short fiction has won a National Magazine Awards Silver Medal and appeared in the prestigious Best Canadian Stories (twice)and Journey Prize Anthology (three times).  Since the early 1970s Mike Barnes has also lived with mental illness, a story he told for the first time in his memoir The Lily Pond. His most recent book, The Reasonable Ogre, is a collection of adult fairy tales, and has been called by Fairy Tale Review founder Kate Bernheimer "a marvel, and a tribute to the power of story." For more information please visit

Alex Boyd: The Least Important Man
Alex Boyd writes poems, fiction, reviews and essays, and has published work in magazines and newspapers such as The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, and on websites such as Nthposition. His first book of poems Making Bones Walk (Luna Publications, 2007) won the Gerald Lampert Award. He edits the online poetry journal Northern Poetry Review, and recently helped establish Best Canadian Essays. His second collection of poetry, The Least Important Man, was released from Biblioasis in spring of 2012.

Liliana Heker: The End of the Story
Liliana Heker is a Jewish-Argentinian author and intellectual, known for her outspoken protests against state violence during Argentina's Dirty War (1976-1983). At a time when many writers and journalists fled the country to escape persecution, Heker remained, and argued the necessity of bearing witness to state atrocities. 
   Made famous at first by the public polemic she had with the great Argentine writer Julio Cortázar (then living in Paris), Heker’s short fiction has since been anthologized in over a dozen countries. Her collected stories was released by Alfaguara in 2004. The End of the Story, which provoked enormous public controversy over how best to remember the years of the Argentine dictatorship, is her second work to appear in English.

Amanda Jernigan: Groundwork
Amanda Jernigan is a poet, playwright, essayist, and editor. Her works have been published in Canada, the United States and Germany, and are represented in the online archive of the Poetry Foundation. Groundwork, which was selected as a Top-Five Book of Poetry for 2011 on, was commended this January by David Orr: "Jernigan," he says, "possesses daunting formal skill ... her lines have an emotional intensity that is no less memorable for being understated. And she has a light, perfecting touch."

Anakana Schofield: Malarky
"Malarky spins and glitters like a coin flipped in the air—now searingly tragic, now blackly funny. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant."—Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean
"This is the story of the teapot-wielding 'Our Woman': fretful mother, disgruntled farmwife, and—surprisingly late in life—sexual outlaw/anthropologist. Everything about this primly raunchy, uproarious novel is unexpected—each draught poured from the teapot marks another moment of pure literary audacity."—Lynn Coady, author of The Antagonist
Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian writer of fiction, essays, and literary criticism. She has contributed to the London Review of Books, The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, the Globe and Mail, and the Vancouver Sun. She has lived in London and Dublin, and now resides in Vancouver. Malarky, which was selected as a Summer 2012 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, is her first novel. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Biblioasis On the Road

Biblioasis will be hitting the road starting tomorrow night, with the first Ontario leg in support of Anakana Schofield's marvellous Malarky.  The first event of the week, however, Monday's Guelph launch at the Bookshelf, works as a press launch/event for several of our authors and titles, and will also mark the first time we bring an author in via SKYPE (Liliana Heker, author of the haunting novel of the Dirty War, The End of the Story.)  Details on all of our events this week can be found below:

May 14:  Biblioasis at the Bookshelf, Guelph:  7 PM

Anakana Schofield, Amanda Jernigan, Alex Boyd, Liliana Heker, Mike Barnes and Stephen Henighan

May 15th: Anakana Schofield at the Dora Keogh, Toronto (141 Danforth Ave.), 7 PM

May 16th: Anakana Schofield does the Eh List, Toronto:

12:30 PM, at the Northern District Library (40 Orchard View Blvd, Toronto)
7:00 PM, at the North York Central Library (5120 Yonge Street, Toronto)
May 17th: Anakana Schofiled, with music by Ken & Marion MacLeod, Phog Lounge, 7:30 PM

Monday, May 07, 2012

Cinco de Mayo Malarky

Well, folks, it continued to be a good weekend for Malarky. The book didn't, like the rest of Windsor, file into Detroit and get drunk in Mexicantown, nor did it stumble home in the wee hours clutching a bag of tostadas and reeking of margarita salt ... but it did get a little drunk on love. FIVE reviews this weekend: count them. FIVE. Not only did we see some tenderness from The Vancouver Sun and The National Post, but Kassie Rose of The Longest Chapter raved about it, as did The Winnipeg Free Press and Sheryl MacKay on North by Northwest
So. You can listen to Sheryl MacKay's interview with AK (approx. 22 min) here, and you can see how the rest of the salt shook out below.  
In other news, Alex Boyd was yesterday's Sunday Poet on the vehicule press blog, tonight is Alice Petersen's Montreal launch and Alexander MacLeod is reading at the Rowers Pub Reading Series AND Claire Tacon goes viral at Grey Borders; then tomorrow Claire is reading at Palisades Garden in Cobourg and Rebecca Rosenblum continues to spread the Bibliobug at Virus in St Catharine's. 
Lord. What a week! And to think it's only--well, a happy, yes happy--it's only Monday. More soon!

Malarky In Review 

"Schofield’s brilliant storytelling in Malarky is among the most engaging I’ve ever encountered." - Kassie Rose, The Longest Chapter
"The love of a mother for her son is the central theme of this novel. But the book has much to ask and much to say about many other topics as well, among them empowerment through sex, loneliness in marriage, the futility of war, the strains of immigration and the margins of mental health. Schofield's ability to tie all these together in such an original, quirky, tender and eloquent way is to be commended ... Malarky is an alternately beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic work of literary fiction." - The Winnipeg Free Press  
"I loved this book Malarky ... I was gobsmacked." - Sheryl MacKay, CBC Radio, North by Northwest
"A challenging but rewarding look at what happens to a mother when the bottom drops out."The Vancouver Sun
"Delightfully offbeat ... Schofield shows a deft - and altogether welcome - comic touch."The National Post
"Malarky is an exemplary read ... I look forward to the next of Anakana Schofield’s novels."—Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading
"Irish-Canadian literary critic Anakana Schofield's first novel is a tumultuous ride. Malarky asks questions without providing answers, chronicling the emotional, mental, and occasionally menial anxieties of Our Woman as she struggles with her own agency and desire. Set in contemporary Ireland, the book overflows with subtle and sometimes subversive allusions to James Joyce's Ulysses, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, site-specific contemporary Irish art, and Catholic history. Yet Schofield's strong prose style and inventive approach to structure will likely reward readers unfamiliar with these cultural references."Quill & Quire
"Malarky is like nothing else, and what everything should be … This is a book that will leave you demanding more of everything else you read."Pickle Me This 
"Malarky is a wacky, dead serious book, and what stands out more than anything is its freshness in a sea of same-old, same-old novels.“The Telegraph Journal

Friday, May 04, 2012

Malarky in the National Post

And here I thought I'd get to sign off blogging early for the week. Keep an eye out for the Saturday edition of the National Post, where Malarky is called "delightfully offbeat," and AK is celebrated for her "a deft — and altogether welcome — comic touch."  Finally, now seems as good a time as any to give an excerpt from Chad Pelley's review in The Telegraph Journal, which isn't available online, but which I've been meaning to quote since it came out:
Malarky is a wacky, dead serious book, and what stands out more than anything is its freshness in a sea of same-old, same-old novels. "Our Woman" ... feels perfectly rendered, and we root for her with an uncommon compassion ... this intimate and uncensored look at one woman's attempt at resilience and self-discovery has all the makings of being a big book of the year, if hype should build. And it should.

A Little Sunshine for Malarky (ou, ceci c'est vraiment une pipe)

This just in: the Vancouver Sun is calling Malarky "a challenging but rewarding look at what happens to a mother when the bottom drops out." Check out their website for the full review!

Erm. I have to say--though I always love a positive review--the best part of the whole thing may have been this truly stupendous picture of AK in a pipe.

Whispers and Cries (and Launches and Boxes)

Happy Friday, folks. We've taken a bit of a blog break this week, to--it seems--spend prodigious amounts of time at Canada Post, and then the USPS, and then in the warehouse, where a minor cascade threatened to and then in fact became a great ol' tumbledown disaster. (We always knew Stephen Henighan's Report on the Afterlife of Culture was a weighty book.) But no spines were damaged, nobody was unduly traumatized by what we'll politely call the 'customer service' at the Fort St. Post Office in Detroit, and we're back to blog another day. 

This morning I'd like to highlight three interviews that happened over the course of this week, the first appearing just yesterday in The Rover; the next in Northern Poetry Review; the last on Allyson Latta's blog

The Rover piece is especially specially special, since it's performed by ex-pat Biblio-author Kathleen Winter, and it's introducing Alice Petersen, who's launching her new collection of short stories this Monday at the Atwater Library. Here's what Kathleen had to say in her opening statement:
"I first read Alice Petersen when my friend, author Alice Zorn, sent me one of her stories in the mail, torn out of a literary magazine. I went online to find more of Petersen’s work because I loved the way her writing cuts with precision across dangerous emotional territory. I loved her subversive humour and sensuality of character and imagery. Now Petersen’s first collection, All the Voices Cry (Biblioasis) is set to launch this month in Montreal. Quill & Quire has already called it “a beautiful tribute to human fragility and the inevitability of change.” Authors David Bezmozgis and Mark Anthony Jarman have called it impressive, compelling and wise. I had the honour of asking Alice Petersen to share with Rover a little about the underground streams that nourish her work."

Not faint praise, huh? For the rest of the interview, you can go here. Alice will also be reading at Novel Idea in Kingston on May 11th, 7 PM, with Quattro poet Chantel Lavoie.

As for the others? NPR has done an interview with poetry wunderkind Amanda Jernigan about Groundwork, and Allyson's blog features Rebecca Rosenblum talking about what exactly her seven treasures are. Click the links above if you're interested. And keep checking back next week for fiction updates, and maybe even (if we're lucky and if you all behave very well) a few renegade poems. A bientot!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Reasonable Ogre on (not under!) The Bridge

A few more tidbits from last week, which saw The Reasonable Ogre brought to life. To the right are some pictures from the book launch and art exhibit held at Type: you can also listen online to the interview that Mike gave to Bob Steele of CBC Windsor's The Bridge. It's a great introduction to Mike's approach to the genre of fairy tales.

Last but not least, Mike Barnes has a wonderful feature now up on Numero Cinq. It includes a write-up by Doug Glover, a full story with illustrations, links to audio recordings, and a pretty spiffy picture of Mike standing beside a corpulent brass backside in Trafalgar Square.

How to Show Anybody Anything (or Good-Bye, Poetry Month)

The other day a friend of mine went to a dinner party, where the conversation passed from music to film to work to art. Eventually it turned to my friend, who is a poet, and he was asked what it is he likes to do. He told them he goes to readings and he writes. 
        "Oh," says person-to-the-left, who's known him for ten years. "Really? I love poetry!"
        "Me too," says person-to-the-right. 
         And then the conversation died.

I imagine most Thirsty readers are close enough to the biz so that, should they want it, a decent tete-a-tete about poetry isn't impossible to find. Still I think most of us also are familiar with moments like this, where we're battered head-to-brick-wall by the feeling that poetry is the awkward art--neglected, feared, inaccessible, isolated, hyperspecialized, misunderstood. Conversations like the above are the raison d'etre of National Poetry Month. Mightn't such people, if encouraged, come to love poesy the way we do? Certainly that's the hope. And I think many of us have over the years, as teachers and critics, developed strategies to help edge our dinner companions past polite incomprehension and into a more genuine relationship with the art.   

It's hard to say whether the NPM campaigns or the patient table conversations will ever have much impact, globally. Poetry may always need its apologias and defenses. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, of course, but as I was talking about this with Norm Sibum yesterday he said that writing the best poetry that one can is the only way of showing anybody anything--and that, it seems, is both the blessing and the curse of it all. Such specialists we were meant to beThere may be no amount of prose, no conversation, no press banner or April-themed publicity project, that can bring a reader to the point of specialized commitment, where he's willing to learn his iambs or his Propertius, his Larkin or his A.M. Klein or whoever the day demands. It's a lot to ask without love. But when the love does strike--for me it was Wordsworth, but it could be anyone, anywhere--there's not much better than the joy of being a real amateur. (What's that, Norm? There are lovers who never learn?) My suspicion is that if Poetry Month or Polite Conversation puts one person in poetry-Cupid's path--if just one person gets struck, enamoured, made absurd--then we can all make do. A single instance. Somehow.

This April we began our Poetry Month posts with a Salvo from Norm Sibum's The Pangborn Defence, and it seems fitting, looking backward and forward at once, that we end with a couple new pieces from Sub Divo (forthcoming this fall). Both are unpublished. I won't say much else by way of introduction: for those of you who know Norm's work you'll know he's been working with Propertius for a long time. Happy May, everybody. I'm going to ring in the month with Corinna and a glass of wine. G'night.

Renderings from Propertius

as delivered to Gaston Côté


Odds are, Gaston, they’ll say
We died for nothing and lived for less.
We might as well have pinched her suburban arse,—
We might as well have run for mayor or else.
So, what with that black cloud roiling above,
What with those sidewalk leaves whipped about,
The passing sky of crows and our ephemeral clout,
Our little accomplishments so many vanities
That, deep down, we hope no one really notices, we’re sunk
In time’s passage, that troubled promenade
                      on the deck of a wave-tossed ship.
Such specialists we were meant to be, what wunderkind,
And how we were going to change the world, and we did,
And did we ever, and now it’s damn near hopeless,
Too much body at the expense of spirit.
Then again, a look in her eye, a smile within her, and
It was always love: she a flower clinging to her stone desert,
Commonplace of metro, bus or elevator.
And when philosophy is put to pleasure, religion is next,
                               and how you hate all that plumage—
So then pour, just pour, and I’ll overlook for now
That, though you’ll try, though you’ll make a manly effort,
           you’re the prose that can’t keep at bay
           a world that wants poetry to fade away. 


“From where does the poetry come?” you ask.
“Is there in your mind a machine that churns
Out creation?”And I put it to you, “No, but listen,
                             if she laughs, laughter’s my muse.
She wears blue jeans, then verse is denim.
Say she shows up in a dress and heels,
And now she’ll gladhand a toney crowd,
Well then, a poem that’s known too much dog and pony
And pretends it hails from the provinces,
                     agog with the turn of her ankle,
                  she rating ardor on a sliding scale,
Just might honour how she’s nature’s jewel.
How else would it be, my brain – nature’s jest –
No mind of Zeus spewing forth perfections?
The genius is not me – it’s there, out there,
                 in the colour of the trees, be it fall.
Autumnish, yes, and I know I’m mortal.
What’s more, there are lovers who never learn.
What’s more, there are souls who have to make do
With a single instance of an embrace,
Love made again and again, always.”