You never know what treasures you’ll find at the Ottawa’s Small Press Book fair, and an edit

rob mclennan has done it again, put together a collection of books, presses, and artisans that would rival any sales venue.

I’ve played around with the display on the bird, buried / press table, to catch your eye. Here is Elisha Rubacha, in charge of that display, one of the friendliest poets you could be sitting next to.

Here she is, in the flesh, so to speak.

Going around the room to hand out some freebie mini books, I spent time with artist friend Nancy French, here, as usual, with a gorgeous display of hand-marbled papers, and various items made with her Lindenlea Papers, and results of her talents, like bookmarks and notebooks.  Time spent with this smile is time well spent.My wanderings came with surprises: this gentleman with his amazing hand press books and broadsheets, for example. Hugh and I had a conversation in which I bemoaned my lack of sufficient funds with which to purchase his glorious creations, and then he came after me to compliment me on the poems in my freebie, Cyclone Vanuatu. Here he is, is book artist Hugh Walter Barclay, of Kingston with his THEE HELLBOX offerings.

My neighbour on the other side was June M. Coxon with Juhal Publishing’s children’s books in English and French, featuring her book about Ernie the cat.  I saw quite a few cat lovers stop by her collection.

Also showing their wares were rob, with his various press collections, and other Ottawa presses, like Angel House Press and Devil House Press; Stuart Ross with a table that included Mansfield Press titles, who gave me a chapbook, forty-nine cents. Much appreciated Stuart.  Here are a couple of fugitives, Jennifer Baker and Monty Reid, at the Arc table, and  

Here is Sonia Saikely, with her two books, and just as important, some mochi cakes.


Pearl Pirie with her Phaphours press…and then a delightful surprise…

This is Colin Knight in his first appearance at the fair. He had his thrillers on display, and when I gave him my freebie, said, “I’ve been to Vanuatu!” Now what are the chances?  Turns out he was there for nine weeks scuba diving all around the little country.  We talked about places like Millionaires’ Point on the island of Santo, and Champagne Beach. “There’s a lot about Vanuatu in my book,” he said, so I bought Some People Deserve To Die, and am chomping at the bit to read it. It was great and we will certainly stay in touch.

And of course, I was there with two presses, Tree Press (featuring all the Tree Chapbook winners and especially

The Binders, by Doris Fiszer) and catkin press,

feeling very professional with the beautiful sign made by Michal Bowie from Algonquin College. Anyone who would like such a gorgeous addition to their presentations, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.

It’s the extras, like the chapbooks in delightful forms like cemantics, with its fold-out visual poems made, and written by Michael Casteels, a gift from Cameron Anstee of Three Knit Hats by Ben Ladouceur, a teeny-tiny chapbook called little baby in a man-made shell, by zinewrimo,  an envelope with a tri-fold of poems by Jason Heroux, created by Michael Casteels, machina/microcosm by Nina Jane Drystek, a copy of PACE, Ottawa’s independent magazine, and two copies of The Ottawa Arts Review, which I hadn’t known existed.

What else do you get from a day at the fair? Great cookies that rob baked. Great cookies. More cookies, chocolate, and cherry at the birds, buried press table, brought to Elisha by a friend. Wonderful visits from

the short-list bpNichol author, Doris Fiszer, and other visitors/book purchasers. A great way to spend a Saturday!

Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market 2017

The Tree Press/ catkin press table

It was the first time Tree Press was specifically invited to this book fair. The occasion was that one of its publications, The Binders, written by Doris Fiszer of Ottawa, was shortlisted for the bpNichol Award. It didn’t win, but it was wonderful to be there with Doris and her husband Bruce Brockington. I should have a better photo of the table, which we also shared with another publisher.  Here is Doris with Deb O’Rourke, who stopped to talk with Doris.  

Congratulations too, to Sonnet L’Abbé on winning the bpNichol Award. Her chapbook, Anima Canadensis, was published by Carleton Wilson’s Junction Books.

How great it was to share the table with Nightwood Editions and Junction Books, and just spend hours in the company of publishers and writers!

And to be able to meet them and see their books. For many poets, the big trade presses seem scary, rather lofty, with similarly distant editors.  When you meet these publishing people in the flesh, so to speak, watch them interacting with others, speak with them yourself, you find they are friendly, fun to talk with, open to questions, and just as ordinary as anyone else.

and not above a little bit of the comic side of the moment. This is the GAP RIOT PRESS TABLE, with, Dani Spinosa, whose antics, as well as serious moments, I enjoyed muchly!

Other people and presses you may recognize: rob mclennan with books from his several presses,

and Cameron Anstee with Apt. 9 Press, in double modes of cheerful publisher and pensive publisher.

Imago and Red Iron Presses from Toronto, with publishers Marshall Hyrciuk and Karen Sohne, with many offerings.

Haiku people will recognize them from Haiku Canada Weekends and Haiku North America, and for their renku presentations at Versefest a couple of years ago.  Remember? Sake was served after link 6 of the renku, as per tradition. Perhaps the cause of that renku being continued in an Ottawa restaurant until the 36 verses were done.

And so it was. We’ll be seeing some of these presses next Saturday at Ottawa’s Small Press Book Fair. See you then!

good-bye to a beautiful and talented yukon writer

I only met her a few times when I was in Whitehorse, Yukon, last year, but my spending time with her, whether in conversation, or at Bean North Coffee with The Yukon Writers’ Collective, or having a meal with her at the home of writer/travel guide Elizabeth Weigand was all too short. Later, when I had read her novel From Ice to Ashes, and worked with her (and Kathy Munro) on Body of Evidence,  a collection described in the following article, I realized that someday I would like to meet her again.  Hearing of her passing was a shock that brought me great sadness.

A eulogy/article written by Erin Linn McMullan was published in the winter issue of the superb magazine YUKON: NORTH of ORDINARY.

She and Jessica’s husband Mike, as well as Tara McCarthy, editor of YUKON magazine, have given permissions to reprint Jessica’s photo and the article from the magazine.

In Memory of Jessica Simon


The Yukon mourns the loss of author Jessica Simon, who recently died of unknown causes after returning from a four-day hike with her dog, Curly.

“It is hard to understand that somebody so full of life passed away,” writer Elke Reinauer says. Simon was planning a gathering of Yukon writers to attend the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair and working on the German translation of her novel From Ice to Ashes.

“Jessica was all about creating a writing community,” writer Jerome Stueart says, “whether it was the Cramped Hand [writing sessions] so people could come and write together, featuring local writers in parking lot readings, or her columns in What’s Up Yukon.” Simon also exported the Cramped Hand workshops, developing sessions in Germany, Norway, and Namibia.

Earlier this year, Simon helped pioneer the literary component of the Atlin Arts & Music Festival and published Body of Evidence: A Collection of Killer ‘Ku with writer kjmunro.

She also completed another mystery novel, Adventures of Talking Stick, featuring her fictional protagonist Markus Fanger. She excitedly shared her whiteboard outline of the novel with me during a Skype tour of her new home built with her husband, Mike Simon.

“I think Jessica’s shown us the bar,” Stueart says. “That bar being that a Yukon writer is about investing in the writing community, growing and celebrating it, giving of yourself.”

Simon called the Yukon home for over 30 years, working as a journalist and editor, and previously as a minister’s executive assistant in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. She won a number of short story contests and contributed to many publications, including What’s Up Yukon, Outdoor Edge, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Yukon News, and Yukon, North of Ordinary.

“I miss her laugh and her company,” says friend Norma Shorty.

Written by Erin Linn McMullan

I miss her too, though I knew her for so short a time. I was in the process of arranging a reading here in Ottawa for Jessica when I heard of her passing. I would so much have enjoyed seeing her again. Thank you Mike, Erin and Tara, for letting me share Jessica Simon, her smile and her spirit, with an even wider group of writers and readers. Here is Jessica Simon at Bean North writing on a Wednesday afternoon in May, 2016, as a member of The Yukon Writers’ Collective.



Joining the second decade of the twenty-first century

Another big step: I’ve been using photos of myself by Jacques Pontbriand (Rawdon, Qc) taken in 2003, as I’ve been: a) chicken to go before a camera again, and b) I’ve been lazy and c) there hasn’t been much reason to take that step, and d) Jacques’ photos were so lovely that it was tempting to use them forever, and e) vanity. I got older.  Not always much fun to see evidence…

The latest version of moi.

But thanks to photographer John W. MacDonald of Greely/Ottawa, who made me so comfortable, I have something I can use and not feel that I’m faking it. The evidence isn’t as hard to witness as I thought it would be. Thank you, John.  Vanity, vanity… you’re so vain!

The issue is deeper I think, having thought in my teenage years, that I was so ugly that I felt bad for people who had to look at me.  Something sticks from that, and yes, probably a good shrink would help. Go back to the mothers and the fathers, as Larkin insists. So there, I’ve bared part of my soul. I know too, that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Am I not doing all right for an elderly bird!

I think I’ll go and write a poem.



Joining the Twenty-first century

caribou sign croppedI’m such a dinosaur!  Bucking this and ducking that, like using Twitter!  Years ago, my publisher for Arctic Twilight, said Get a blog! Get on Twitter! But no, I went on down my antediluvian path, trusting to the ether…and of course, not getting very far.  So, I’m kicking over a new leaf, or sloshing through the piles of dropped ones. Wish me well. Look for me on Twitter as well as on Facebook and tell me how clever I am, how modern, how glorious!  I look forward to connecting with everyone.   It sounds so strange to use a ‘handle’, like I’m home on the range somewhere, and lost. So that’s @claudiaradmore (On Twitter, don’t use the one with ‘leisale’ in the address…I had to start all over today with a new account…)

I’ll tell you now that I’m very pleased to be having The Alfred Gustav Press publish a chapbook of a selection of the Fogo island poems that ended up short-listed for Malahat’s 2017 Long Poem Contest! Hence, the image of the handsome fellow at the top of this post.

It’s been a busy time, working on four manuscripts at once and completing all of them before going to Santa Fe on September 12th.  My fingers are so crossed, but I am only getting younger in my mind…Again, wish me well. Dropping a comment to this post would be the best way.

book fair w catkin signIn Santa Fe we were welcomed not only by New Mexico State Senator Bill O’Neill, a poet in his own right, but also by Craig Quanchillo, Governor of the Picuris Pueblo. We were at The Santa Fe Hacienda & Spa which is owned by the Picuris Pueblo, and for the most part, staffed with people from that nation. It is a wonderful place, with a lovely open atmosphere.  This was the bookroom.  (There were $15,000 worth of sales overall in four days!) Way up in the top left corner of the photo, you can find my new catkin press signage!

My husband Ted and I continued on a tour of the state, and you may get to see more of it in further posts. Visiting pueblos and staying at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch are some of the highlights. Oh, Abiquiu, how beautiful are your mountains!