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!

Luna Moth

IMAG1023_1Every once in a while I get an idea for a book that takes way too long to make, but I am stubborn, so I decide to make it anyway.

I was gifted (thank you Terry Ann Carter) a stack of odd-sized tissue-like paper and it has been simmering in my mind for a few years. My commercial printer could not print on it, so if it would be a book one day, it was up to me to print the pages on my home printer.

I am glad that I began five months before the conference in Schenectady where it was to be on the book table.

There are not many pages; it meant putting each of five sheets of paper into the printer twice. I won’t bore with the whole tale, but some of the lowlights were having the printer jam several hundred times even though I only made 17 copies of Luna Moth. I ran out of ink, and had to print a couple of pages twice (four passes x 17 pages through the printer) because I found errors and wanted perfect books. Besides that, each time I printed a page, I had to print it as a single copy. If I could have demanded that my printer simple print say, 10 copies, that would have been much too easy. Trying this was not clever as ten or twenty pages would stick to each other, bound and determined to go through the printer together. So for each pass-through, I had to give the system four separate commands. That would be, let’s see, about eight hundred individually printed pages, or 3200 commands. I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.

Then I assembled and sewed the pages with my sewing machine, which wasn’t too pleased with working on paper and retaliated by not ever giving me a perfect tension. Three rows of stitches for each book, leaving the threads long, in a kind of tassle effect. The I was ready to insert dried fake bamboo touched up with gold paint through the sewn channels, so that I could put gold ‘thread’ hangers on these hang-up books. A couple of turquoise beads to anchor the threads. A snap.

But the grasses didn’t all fit through the sewn channels (I had to hunt for some more svelte members of the fake bamboo clan), the threads were finicky when I was fitting the end loops over the grasses, the beads were upset at being stuck down with a glue gun…they kept jumping from my fingers in revenge, arranging for said fingers to get burned by the hot glue while I fumbled. But the results are worth it. Here are some poems from Luna Moth:

tangerines/bursting/ with/ themselves

after rain/ a rinsed light, over the hills

milkweed blossom monarchs fold into each other

earthbound luna moth/ its rain-soaked/ transparent wings

plum
bloss
oms
fall
in
to
pink

on her skin he writes
invisible love letters
each word
a little warmer
than the next

i remember/ the moon/ in shades of raw silk/ and everywhere/ the music of water

Now I embark on another of the same kind of mission. I’ll use the same transparent paper. It will jam the printer. But I’ll feel great winning a few battles with my technology. Won’t I?

 

 

from poem to poem/ Peter Richardson and Sue Goyette

richardson goyette covers

I was no end pleased when Peter Richardson decided to write a poem triggered by one of my own.  I had written ‘braiding afield’ about a woman engrossed in braiding the wild long grasses near her home.

a blonding begins a dying/living as plaiting is tightened as tight plait

snakes this way that with no knowing of an eta or of any t at all or a

 

grasses selected at random in the right/ wrong place at the happening

grass used to this using being used used to being bent and scythed

 

yet this furzed exhilaration new extraordinary existence grass slidden

through handskin-covered muscle bone twisted and who will who will

 

see the braid in this abandoned field …

 

Peter responded from the point of view of someone watching, with “At Portsmouth Acres Townhouse Village”:

…Was it harmless? Braiding viper’s

bugloss and vetch–did she wear

gloves? Itchy work that. Making tresses

that snaked between our aligned backyards,

hauling herself in that sack of a dress

under a wall of cobalt blue clouds

that held off and held off as if

she were in cahoots with cloudbursts,

why it begs the question: who was she

and where can we apply to have her returnin

to give us lessons in the minutiae of weaving grasses?

Though his protagonist was observing the woman, he was also inside of the poem with his knowledge of what kinds of ‘grasses’ were being woven, the deep blue clouds over him, the thought that she might not finish the task before the clouds burst. He was inside the field yet outside it, looking at it from a different place, and trying to make sense of what she was doing.

Using the same idea, I wanted to step inside the poems of Sue Goyette in Ocean (2014, Gaspereau Press) shortlisted for the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize.

It has been one of favourite collections ever since it came out.  I read it through several times, beginning to end, reveling in her lush language, rich images, her sense of humour.

But I wanted to know the poems more intensely, so I chose 13 of them, (along with writings by Lewis Carroll and Gary Geddes) for a chapbook Three Sets of Literary Haibun (2015, catkin press), held up my skirts, and sloshed inside of them one at a time.

The poems are a history of a community living by an ocean with personality trying to come to terms with its vagaries. It’s a long lesson in cooperation, conciliation, dealing with frustration and politics, its mythmaking, and absurd explanations, a discovery in how to live with a magnificent ‘creature’ that nibbles away at, and batters, the shores. In this poem, a ‘squadron of cooks’ makes a meal to appease their off-landish neighbor:

An excerpt from Ocean’s poem eight:

                                         They peppered their soups

with pebbles and house keys. Quarts of bottled song

 

were used to sweeten the brew. Discussions between

preschool children and the poets were added

 

for nutritional value. These cooks took turns pulling

the cart to the mouth of the harbor. It would take four

 

of them to shoulder the vat over, tipping the peeled

promises, the baked dream into its mouth.

 

And then the ocean would be calm. It would sleep. Our mistake

was thinking it would make us happy.

I wanted to be there, with the cooks, one of the desperate shoreline residents, throwing ingredients into the soup, trying to satisfy Ocean.  Based on the poem, this from my Three Sets of Literary Haibun:

eight

The trick to building houses was to make sure they didn’t taste good. The ocean ate boats, children, promises and rants, even names. We tried to satisfy it―cooking cauldrons of sandals and sunglasses, quarts of bottled song.

calming an ocean

the child

tells of a dream

Our mistake/ was thinking it would make us happy, and isn’t that what nurturing is, why we feed people, not just our children, and why we celebrate with food.  We want family and friends to be happy, and what better way to try to befriend such a strong and unpredictable neighbour. We make mistakes like this, think simple solutions, what will work in everyday situations, will work in all situations.

In any case, you should get hold of a copy of Ocean, and spend time with each poem. You may be inspired to write a haibun from one of them. Or you may decide to use someone else’s work, and write a poem or haibun from inside it.

For a look at haibun based on Gary Geddes The Terracotta Army, go five posts back to LITERATURE TO HAIBUN/ INTRO TO LITTLE LITERARY HAIBUN.