Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Canada’s Next Top Poet

New Season Begins This Fall Everywhere!
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By Nathaniel G. Moore

Having consumed a fair share of wine this summer, I began to notice the words used to describe the taste of the grapes began a surreal journey into my psyche and started sounding like poetry promo copy. Appropriation, you’ve done it again! So if you’re still struggling to describe your fall poetry titles you’re in luck. Here’s a list of words you can add to your copy, mixing it up with tired old ones like “daring debut” or “fresh new voice” or “startling arrival” or “experimental” or “innovative.”

Come to think about it, reading over the definition for some of these wino terms, they might also help reviewers round out their final drafts for whatever remaining publications still publish poetry reviews. Wouldn't you love a review that said my poetry was "dull and cloudy"? Hello?

Okay so here's the list:

  • Big - Full of body and flavour, high degree of acidity and anxiety, heavy to the touch.
  • Bitter - Self-descriptive. Sign of ill-health caused by inferior treatment such as excessive stalks during crushing or even metal contamination. Rarely short-listed.
  • Body - The weight and substance of the wine in the mouth; actually a degree of viscosity largely dependent on the percentage of alcohol and sugar content.
  • Bouquet - The fragrance a mature wine gives off once it is opened. It develops the two aspects of the olfactory sensations — aroma and bouquet: a poetic duality ensues.
  • Brilliant - Bright and sparkling in appearance so that one can see the light through the wine. Opposite of dull and cloudy. See also daring.
  • Broad - Ready to shelve, full-bodied but lacking in acidity and therefore also lacking in finesse.
  • Flowery - Dainty and precious, the flower-like bouquet that is as appealing to the nose as the fragrance of blossoms, as for example, in a fine Moselle.
  • Green - Harsh and unripe, rushed and thoughtless, with an unbalanced acidity that causes disagreeable odour and a blurred, raw taste.
  • Maderized - Flat, oxidized smell and taste reminiscent of Madeira. Term is applied to wines that have passed their prime and have acquired a brown tinge.
  • Spicy - Definite aroma and flavour of spice arising from certain grape varieties (Gewürztraminer). The aroma is richer and more pronounced than what we call "fruity."
  • Spritzig - A pleasant, lively acidity and effervescence noticeable only to the tongue and not to the eye and mostly found in young wines.
  • Sulphury - Disagreeable odour reminiscent of rotten eggs. If the smell does not disappear after the wine is poured, it is an indication that the wine is faulty. Do not reshelf.
  • Sweet - Having a high content of residual sugar either from the grape itself or as the product of arrested fermentation. See also Dani Couture.
  • Tannic - The mouth-puckering taste of young red wines particularly from Bordeaux. Too much tannin makes the wine hard and unyielding but also preserves it longer. Aging in the bottle diminishes the tannin and softens the wine.
  • Tart - Sharp, with excessive acidity and tannin. In the case of a young red wine, this may be an element necessary for its development.
  • Thin - Urban, at times weak, exhausted: lacking body and alcohol. It is too watery to be called light, and will not improve with age.
  • Velvety - A mellow red wine and a smooth, silky texture that will leave no acidity on the palate or page.

Seriously now, can we get serious for a moment: two-and-a-half months is a pretty long time to go without any real major poetry news here in Canada. Thankfully we’ve returned to our senses and gotten back to the business of Canadian poetry. With an estimated 9,152 new poetry releases in Ontario and Quebec alone this season, I’ve managed to track down some promo copy for a dozen or so titles that just might tickle your poetry funny bone. Or your poetry serious bone.

Montreal’s fledgling Snare Books starts things off with highly choreographed appropriation, hints at crispness and a decadent haunting (not to mention some Hard Feelings), which arrive care of Sheryda Warrener.

Hard Feelings is a collection that promises to expose the flaws of our universe, the tiny seemingly invisible moments of connectivity and then some. From the dirt sheet: “fake cicada cries blare from loudspeakers; a rack of meat hangs from a bicycle basket; Nixon sidles off with the cake; diving horses of Atlantic City plunge. The neon rope of loneliness tightens." Like holding a glass up to the light to find it muddy with marks, Hard Feelings reveals, as Francine Prose writes, “little climaxes of disquiet.”

Next up is the winner of the 2010 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, Jake Kennedy who once co-edited the first known book of graphic poetry here in Canada (Boredom Fighters, Tightrope, 2008).

The Lateral includes a found long-poem that culls all the “Acker” keyword tags from the Flickr database and repurposes them as “words-of-lament” for the highly influential writer Kathy Acker. As a big fan of Acker, I personally can`t wait for this one.

Oh, some relevant CanLit trivia for you: Brian Joseph Davis’s hilariously intelligent and subversive collection (which has a story in it about poetry prizes that every poet in Canada should read), Ronald Reagan, My Father (ECW Press), cribbed its title from Acker’s own book Hannibal Lector, My Father.

Let’s get stabby! Poets and Killers by Helen Hajnoczky (what a great title, using two of my favourite occupations) conjures up a tremendously original idea for a book of poetry. The copy reads like a psychological experiment, bordering on forensic. Why do I automatically think of the Zodiac when I see the title of this book?

Taking a lead from the assumptive resonance of advertisement’s informal use of the word “You” when addressing “Us,” Hajnoczky sets out to explore the anonymity that we experience on a daily basis “by telling the life story of a man through advertising. “ Spanning the 1940s to 2009 when he dies, the poet uses lines lifted “directly from advertisements to write the main character’s biography. This book examines what it means to be an individual in a world where we are all sold the same individuality, exploring what possibilities for a non-utilitarian humanity still exist between the lines of advertising copy.” Sounds like a contender for sure, not to mention the poet herself is a regular contributor to the literary blog Lemon Hound.

Recently I watched Robocop again. It was when they were building him out of human parts that I thought of Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler’s looming robo-book. I have to admit here: I saw this one coming. Or that is, I heard rumblings about it and read bits of it in Matrix Magazine. I tried to get some of this book previewed in Broken Pencil, but the email bounced back. And then to make things better (or worse?) a movie is coming out about Facebook. Coincidence?

Update is the collaborative juggernaut by Wershler and Kennedy with the ominous tagline, “From the minds that brought you Apostrophe,” which of course, we all know won the ReLit Award in 2006. Culling updates exclusively from Facebook (unless they’ve solicited testimonial text from Friendster to round things out) the book promises in a monotone sounding promo copy to

collect content or information using an automated means, employing harvesting bots, robots, spiders and/or scrapers without permission. It will engage in multi-level marketing. It may contain viruses or other malicious code. It may bully, intimidate, and harass. It will contain content that is hateful, threatening, and pornographic. It may contain nudity or graphic and gratuitous violence. It will have no age-based restrictions. It will be unlawful and misleading, and could disable, overburden or impair the proper workings of literature. It will facilitate and encourage the violation of poetry. It will let the dead speak.

I’m hoping for some great readings for this release, that could possibly lead to a karaoke night. Here’s to hoping Snare Books comes to Toronto for some co-launches this fall. I heard rumblings of a Montreal night via Pivot Reading Series, so who knows....

I saw Daniel Scott Tysdal read at this year’s Scream Festival in Toronto, (why does this last sentence read like the title of a Christmas song?) and am excited to see what he’ll bring to the radical reading series on October 24th as part of Broken Pencil’s Canzine. (Please note this is nearly the last time in this article that I mention Broken Pencil).
This fall via Tightrope Books, Tysdal follows up his debut collection of poetry (a book which won the ReLit Award for Poetry in 2007 and the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Award in 2006) with The Mourner’s Book of Albums, which the dirt sheet reveals to be “an emotionally striking and formally ambitious exploration of the elegiac tradition and the twenty-first-century attitude to remembrance and grief.” And Nicole Brossard had this to say about the forthcoming collection.

A book reflecting a poignant and complex modulation about what goes in and out of our contemporary brain. A vivid assembling of meanings where poetry and philosophy meet in a reconfiguration of fright, tenderness, language, and knowledge. With The Mourner’s Book of Albums, Daniel Scott Tysdal brilliantly translates for us the constant displacement of truth, past and fiction, present and values.

Halloween is only a few weeks away. Which brings us to one David Clink. Until recently I never associated Clink with monsters or ghouls or dentistry, but here we are, a few days away from opening night and Clink is a monster. But he’s always wearing a tie! What sort of monster wears a tie? A post-modern one? Clink what happened? So many books and projects have used the word monster over the years, I am curious to see how Clink will delve into his dark side with this book. Thirty years ago Robin Morgan released a book of poetry called Monster and it sold something like 30,000 copies hardcover in the first six months of its release. This was before television though. And full disclosure, I bought it for a quarter from a Parkdale thrift store in July.

Anyway Clink, I didn’t see monster in the horizon any time soon. What will happen at the book launch? Maybe it was because his last book was Eating Fruit Out of Season, and in doing so, Clink became a monster. Maybe he is a method actor and takes his titles seriously. Okay, I’ve gone too far.
The dirt sheet reveals this: “The poems in Monster depict a shady landscape of murder, decay, aliens and shapeshifters, six-legged dogs and bodies hanging from barn rafters, lost love and fallen cities. This is a place where steampunk airships muscle into a night filled with the shadows and mysteries that help us define how we feel and, ultimately, who we are.” So are we all part monster? I guess we’ll find out this season.

The poetry in Come Closer by Leanne Averbach are described as political, sexy, meditative and elegiac. They also seem to travel all over the place including: Vancouver, New York, Havana and Venice. The book is described as a “verbal whirlwind” and is anchored by a sequence of poems tracing a family’s history. anchoring the collection, is the sequence of poems tracing a family’s history. Says Roo Borson, “The poems in Come Closer leave their own ingenious stamp on the world: linguistically exuberant, and with a tender regard for every subject under the sun.”

So with Tysdal getting a bit maudlin, and possibly haunted with his new collection, and Clink testing out darker waters, Tightrope is poised to release an eclectic dose of sophomore poetry collections — not to mention their smash hit secret weapon that is the Best Canadian Poetry In English this fall. (edited by Lorna Crozier).

It’s going to be a strong, elegant, at times nervously blended season for Coach House.

If you’ve ever seen Gary Barwin read (out loud that is) you know he’s a showstopper and a talented wit, a friendly and gracious poet who thankfully comes to the centre of the universe here in Toronto at least three times a year. The Porcupinity of the Stars (Coach House) deals with perception, exacting and extracting ideas and premonitions, and comes packed with Barwin’s trademark surreal stamp.

Indexical Elegies by Jon Paul Fiorentino is his first fall release that I can ever remember in the history of time. Sorry, more trivia. And this, his first poetry book since 2006’s Theory of the Loser Class continues on the curb of nervousness and slips off into a “poetic investigation of anxiety in all its many manifestations” including geography, anxieties of influence and other worries about loss. Let’s take a look at the clip.

Jonathan Ball’s Clockfire sounds intriguing to say the least. And I don’t mean “intriguing” in a wine taste description sort of way, I’m being truthful. The premise is a suit of poems that are outlines for dramatic plays that would be impossible to put on the stage. Plays of the impossible so to speak. Just imagine the possibilities. From the dirtsheet:

plays in which, for example, the director burns out the sun, actors murder their audience or the laws of physics are defiled. The poems in a sense replace the need for drama, and are predicated on the idea that modern theatre lacks both ‘clocks’ and ‘fire’ and thus fails to offer its audiences immediate, violent engagement.

Also worth noting, starting in September, Broken Pencil will be publishing additional poetry reviews online at www.brokenpencil.com For reviewing opportunities, contact your friendly neighbourhood assistant editor and books editor at assisteditor@brokenpencil.com

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Nathaniel G. Moore has written two books of poetry: Let’s Pretend We Never Met (Pedlar) and Pastels Are Pretty Much The Polar Opposite of Chalk (DC Books) follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/nathanielgmoore

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