Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

jmmooney's blog

Last Post: Good Things in October

Whereas today is the last day of September, it also marks the end of our time together. Sad, I know. All good things and whatnot. I thought we’d take it easy, wind it down a bit, with a preview of what has me excited about the coming weeks.

Emptiness is Something: Mike Spry’s "JACK"

If a young poet is, in part, the product of his or her collected mentors (sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t), then a lot can be said about the world of Mike Spry’s debut collection JACK by namedropping first his editor (David McGimpsey) and his “publisher…and friend” (Jon Paul Fiorentino, of Snare Books). Here are two poets locked in career-long struggles to wrestle free some truth from their study of the ephemera of popular experience, and Spry clearly aspires to stand beside them. His first collection, JACK, arrives from a pointedly off-kilter world of hard-drinking road trips and (sometimes affected) ennui. His characters would like you to know that when they get drunk, they get drunk on Labatt 50.

Death of an Honorarium: What I Bought Today at Word on the Street

Word on the Street Toronto came and went again today and, though I can’t be sure, it seemed like an oversized crowd compared to past editions. There was a steady torrent of bodies filtering past the endless row of market booths and enough listeners at every tent for it to feel like a full room. When I arrived, my official 2009 Word on the Street bag contained only my reading copy of The New Layman’s Almanac and some loose papers, but when I left that bag was full, and riding along inside the larger bag (see item 8) I got as an upgrade. Here’s a full accounting of what I purchased, took, or had thrust into my willing, greedy hands. A rough chronological order is attempted throughout.


1. One copy (signed) of The Last Shot by Leon Rooke

Theme and Production: Guriel, Lista, Wells, et al.

Some of the more observant among you have discovered in recent weeks that I’m something of a hack. As a hack, I can really only allow myself to use the same half-dozen blogs and news sites when doing research on potential blog topics. Enter pan-Canadian poet Zachariah Wells and his blog Career-Limiting Moves which hosts both a link to an interview with poet Jason Guriel, and a really interesting tete-a-tete thereafter between Wells and the young poet Michael Lista.

How to Run a Reading Series (Episode 2: Johan Hultqvist of Free Speech)

In the first incarnation of this series, we talked to Carey Toane of Pivot at the Press Club, which serves as something of a throwback to the simplicity of the kitchen party, the salon, and other traditions in which artists have gathered on common ground to share their work. Our next host has created something that exists in an opposite corner of the room, wherein the programming is varied, the light-hearted tone closer to that of a cabaret, but the feeling of shared community strengthened by the diversity of form brought to the table. The Free Speech reading series takes place in a miniscule room on the second floor of a coffee shop, Tinto, midway down my favourite street in the city, Roncesvalles Avenue.

The Number of Ovaries Represented on the Giller Long List is of Zero Importance to Anything

It is in the nature of the contemporary publishing industry to publicly recognize preferences. This is done in massive, transnational ways (advances, bestseller lists, etc) and also in more intimate ways. In one of the most extreme examples of the latter, there is an annual tradition in this country wherein a hundred books are mailed to the home or office of three people who may or may not be complete strangers. Those three people meet up several months later, underslept and twitching from the eyestrain, and develop a communal list of their favourites from within the 100.

How to Run a Reading Series (Episode 1: Carey Toane of “Pivot at the Press Club”)

This is part one of an expected three part series on what I consider the most heroic, underappreciated, necessary, and gruelling gigs in the entire world of literary volunteerism. I’m talking about the one-man-bands behind this city’s vibrant battery of community-led reading series. As writers and book fans in Toronto, we are well and truly overwhelmed by the diversity of series and salons available. There is quite literally one happening every night. There’s one happening right now as I type this, and one happening even now, as you read it.

The House is Empty so I Wouldn’t Want to Live There

The basis of this post is this response from Steven Galloway to this Barbara Kay article concerning the new book by Lisa Moore. I’d like to thank the National Post for hosting both opinions, thus proving again that no matter how many T-shirts say otherwise, they are becoming a welcoming home for plural discourse, especially on literary matters. I’ve previously written about the Kay article (or, more precisely, about the comments posted by readers following the Kay article) two posts ago. Okay. Caught up? Good. Let’s go…

A Managed Conception: Jim Johnstone’s The Velocity of Escape

In the last poetry review posted on this website, we all took a look at Nic Labriola’s Naming the Mannequins, a first book that came as a surprise, written as it was by an unknown author and published with very little prelude by way of either publication or notoriety. The book we’ll look at today, Jim Johnstone’s The Velocity of Escape, arrives from the opposite direction.

How to Arrange Your Bookshelf for Productivity and Laughter

I live in a house with three poets. While my baggage of books has been culled through the years by countless inter-provincial relocations, the other two members of the household moved in with a staggering amount of accumulated literature. We set up a makeshift triage library where we figured out exactly what titles were held in duplicate (or triplicate), and placed the extras in a cool, dry place. This left a pile of tomes to be sorted that was taller, wider, and heavier than the couch we positioned along the room’s far wall. The conversations we’ve had both amongst ourselves and with guests inform the following guide to how to organize the evidence of your compulsive book obsession.

Step 1: Shelving Patterns

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