Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Discovered Review of I, Dr. Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457

cover idea for Greenblatt (which was mislabelled as poems)

For Barwin, the ordinary and the extraordinary are never far apart—and that’s very good indeed.

Somehow I missed this entire review of I, Dr. Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 (Anvil Press) when it originally came out in Canadian Literature. Thanks, Joel Deshaye!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Sunshine Kvetches: My Leacock Medal for Humour Speech.




I was so delighted that Yiddish for Pirates won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. I was shortlisted with Amy Jones and Drew Hayden Taylor, both fantastic writers, and it was really fun (maybe, in retrospect, more for me than for them...) to get to spend the weekend with them. We were driven around in a 1911 Model T Ford so we could wave at the good people of Orillia, Ontario. We were treated extremely well and the entire event had a lovely small town feel. Many former Leacock winners were present -- all extraordinarily warm people. We toured the Leacock House, saw the Leacock collection at the beautiful new local library, went to a garden party and had the gala by the lake at the YMCA camp/conference centre.



As part of winning the Leacock Medal, I was asked to give a 15-minute speech and so, in addition to thanking people, I said some things about humour and made a bunch of terrible jokes. I called the speech, Sunshine Kvetches of a Little Parrot (borrowing the title from a quip made by my friend Stuart Ross.)

The Leacock Associates posted the speech here. Next week, I'm going into Penguin Random House to record it as it will be a "bonus feature" for the Canadian version of the audiobook that they are doing, so it'll be really fun to get to record something on the audiobook. I'm very glad about the actor that they chose (I got to be in on the decision, too) and more details about that later, but part of me wanted to get to record the audiobook as I've had such a great time hamming it up in readings.




Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Nonhuman animals and nearhuman nonanimals



Just received this intriguing anthology which I'm very happy to appear in along some fascinating nonnonhuman writers including one of my favourite writers, Gabriel Gudding, and e
edited by A. Marie Houser for Faunary Press. My piece, "The Sky Above Chairs" is from my book, I, Dr. Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 (Anvil Press.)


The anthology is a fiction anthology, but I wrote a little statement about my piece which didn't end up in the anthology and so I thought I'd share it here.

Chair. Coffeemaker. Car. Horse. Deer. Swallow.

I think about how our modern notion of what is 'other' blurs inanimate objects with animals and vice versa. For much of culture, outside the hospitable firecircle of the human, the light fades quickly, only a few animals allowed as pets or as marvellous outliers of the non-human to sit by us.  (And this not to mention, the humans we leave out in the cold,
which is another discussion.)

I have the idea that much of modern culture places animals into the same category as robots or other automatons-- task-accomplishing machines with only the illusion of agency and/or emotion.

Since the animal is commodified in the way of the inanimate, it is easy to place it in the same category as these other emotion-simulation machines.

But, further, we even look on our other non-objects with such love, intimacy, and affection. They may as well as living beings that we love. Our emotional connection, our heartaching being-longing for our shoes, toasters, chairs, designer table is often so palpable and powerful, that the categories between animate and in-animate often begin to blur.

And though our toaster doesn't have agency, we may feel that we love it like a non-human living thing. In the past, we gave names to swords that they loved. Names to ships. Now we feel some of our objects pass into our emotionally intimate world. How different is a deer leaping over the fence into the garden than a sullen, left-slouching shed, a silent chair,
innocent and blinkless, forlorn, discovered in early morning in the shadow by the hedge?

This is the capitalist non-human spirit world. We are like consumer shamans, surrounded by the non-human ghosts of things we may love and own.

Chair. Coffeemaker. Car. Horse. Deer. Swallow.

They are more than arbitrary linguistic categories. We are able to colonize the animals and objects of the world with our tenderness, our hunger, our desire.





Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Pope, His Toe, and the Afterlife: a videopoem





I created a short videopoem based on my recent poem (see post from a couple of days ago.) Lots of clouds.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Touring China with the International Festival of Authors.


I'm delighted to be doing a four-city book tour of China with the International Festival of Authors beginning this Monday. I'm not sure of the details yet but the above poster is one event on the tour. I will be going to Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, and Suzhou. I'm very excited and so looking forward to this.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Light, the Pope, his Toe and the Afterlife: Two Poems written along with my students in Poetry Class




The Pope, his Toe and the Afterlife

everything you say is bleeped out by birds
you threaten some guy on the ISIS listserve
and all he hears is chickens
but it’s ok, all of ISIS sounds like chickadee-dee-dee

what does the Pope say when he stubs his toe?
(lets get back to that later)
when two continents collide, it sounds like blackbirds
and the bomb that destroyed my village is a hummingbird

even these words are incomprehensible
the entire poem, hollow-boned, hovering
I live by the light of the new philosophy
and all that can be heard is squawks

and maybe it’s not what the Pope says but
what his parrot says when Papa stubs his toe
was is it? that’s easy, the same thing as the Pope:
Soon, goddammit, this’ll all be cloud






Light

A form of darkness that isn’t visible. 

Here’s how. Imagine it’s not your eyelids, but the rest of you which opens. Where? Close. You’re always close. If there are colours beyond the visible spectrum, ultraviolet, infrared, there are other forms of dark. Colour is fast sound just as sound is slow colour. Silence creeps like sunlight on your skin, and you aged eight, lying in the garden, and your mother calls from the side door, come inside soon it’ll all be gone.


____________________

The above are two more poems that I wrote as my students wrote in creative writing class. The first one is based on David McGimpsey's "chubby sonnets" and inspired by his investigations into narrative, the self, and popular culture.

The second was inspired by Bhanu Kapil's interventions into the Urban Dictionary where she inserts her own poetic, obliquely narrative "definitions" into UrbanDictionary.com.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Morethan, after Charles North's "The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight."



One of the many pleasures of teaching a creative writing poetry class is that I get to do the writing exercises/prompts/activities alongside the students. In this assignment, I asked the students to create a poem modelled on Charles North's amazing "The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight," where he assembles an amazing list of comparisons that are entirely and delightfully meaningless.

Smarter than morons are you
Shorter than giants

A student in the class asked me about endings. North's poem (like his comparisons) is deliberately antipoetic and anticlimatic. We talked about different ways to end a poem. With a big finish, a fade out, a twist, a turn, a reaching back to the first line or the title. Thinking about our discussion, as I wrote my realization of my North-derived poem, I turned the ending of the poem—after a listing of mostly ridiculous comparisons—into an occasion of sudden emotion. I also chained my comparisons, which North doesn't do, each comparison linking with the one before it. This, too, came from talking to my students about the poem and different ways to create cohesion, different formal ways to weave a poem together outside of narrative or other techniques.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

LitChat: Speaking with Many Tongues



Speaking with Many Tongues

What does it mean to write in more than one language? 
What does it mean to include other languages in your English writing? 
An invitation to discuss and share work.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Leacock Shortlist!



I'm very delighted that Yiddish for Pirates is now on the Leacock Medal for Humour shortlist, along with books by Amy Jones and Drew Hayden Taylor.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Two reviews of No TV for Woodpeckers




Very happy to have two reviews of my new collection, No TV for Woodpeckers this weekend.

Barb Carey at the Toronto Star wrote this lovely assessment.


And then Phillip Crymble  the Hamilton Review of Books wrote this thoughtful discussion of the book.

And check out the entire Hamilton Review of Books.  This second issue expands on the first issue—excellent essays, interviews and review.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Two things: Yiddish for Pirates on the Leacock Medal Longlist! And No TV for Woodpeckers on 49th Shelf Must Reads

My publisher made up this award. My greatest honour.



Very delighted that Yiddish for Pirates is on the Leacock Medal longlist. The prize celebrates Canadian literary humour. What a great list of books.

*

Also grateful that the great 49th Shelf included No TV for Woodpeckers on their spring poetry must-reads along with a bunch of great books.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

On Writing Exercises



The novelist and poet, Jennifer Lovegrove is this month's Writer-in-Residence at OpenBook. She is running a very interesting series about writing including one on poetry exercises.

She invited a number of poets to discuss their use of exercises and their thoughts about them in general. She kindly invited me to contribute and my interview is posted today.

Here I am!

P.S. Her new book of poetry is just out with BookThug. Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes

Monday, April 17, 2017

Interview on Queen Mobs

Me and Yiddish for Pirates, the morning after Scotiabank Giller Prize celebrations.

Writer and Brock University professor Natalee Caple arranged to have one of her students, Sarah Rockx, interview me. The interview has just appeared on Queen Mobs. I'm grateful for the excellent questions that Sarah Rockx asked me and for Natalee for setting it up. Here's the interview.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Planting Consent: Sunday poem and discussion


"What of the idea of a poem that is both earnest and consoling yet sly and self-aware, fully conscious that you shouldn’t trust it despite how it aspires to soothe? That seems like something worthwhile to consider ‘in these times.'"

My poem, "Planting Consent" is featured on Coach House Books's Sunday Poem. I write about the poem and discuss springtime, David W. McFadden, antennae, birds, mentors, clouds, consolation, Chomsky, and Hamilton, Ontario.

 It's here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

NO TV FOR WOODPECKERS: Hamilton book launch


NO TV FOR WOODPECKERS: The launch of my new book* in Hamilton.
John Terpstra is also launching MISCHIEF his latest book*, too.

*WARNING: These poetry books are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Recommended as a supplement only.

Re: "The Poetics of Contrast." In noting the contrast between the two middle-aged het cis white guys here: I’ve always thought John and I represented a model of the future of Canadian diversity.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Give Me The Works: Words for Student Writers

 
Speech Delivered at Ridley College,
Literary Dinner, April 12, 2017.

by Gary Barwin


bpNichol, “The Complete Works.”


I want to start by talking about my failures, or at least one of them.

A few years ago, I gave a talk to a group of high school writers at the Toronto Public Library. I gave what I thought was helpful advice and I thought I told it in a clever and maybe even a funny way. The speech bombed entirely. The students hated it.

I wondered why. I mean I have great hair and I made references to popular rappers of the  day. Also I employed jocular and colloquial expressions intended to engage the youth to whom I was addressing my remarks, Daddy-O

But really, while I don’t really know what the student writers were thinking (and they didn’t come up and talk to me, though I wished they had) I have a few thoughts.

To start with, each writer’s experience of writing is their own. That’s the point. It comes from a place inside them that is curious, angry, emotional, and inspired. A place that is loving, tender, full of wonder, bitterness, curiosity, invention, humour, and dread. Full of the excitement of expression, of other writing, of discovering the self and the world. Full of confusion and/or conviction.

So for me to stand up and give them advice about how to write may feel like...well, it’s inevitable that I seemed presumptuous and out of touch even if my advice was actually ok. Or ok-ish.

I understand. No one wants to be told how to do surprise, discovery, or exploration. It’d be a bit like someone telling you how to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. Even if the advice is good, it’s annoying to be told what to do, especially from someone who you don’t know well.

This made me ask myself, What’s the worst piece of feedback that I ever received? On my first day of graduate school I was very excited to meet with my brilliant Pulitzer-prize-winning professor. I showed him all the writing that I’d ever done. He flipped through the stack of work, and said, with a bored look, “You have far too little to say.” Then he flipped through some more pages. “And you take far too long to say it.”

When I was in high school, I loved the work of a lot of writers. As the poet Dylan Thomas said, I “read indiscriminately and all the time with my eyes hanging out.” Some of my favourite writers were Franz Kafka. Samuel Beckett, Douglas Adams and JRR Tolkien. And the Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney.

I loved his work because he used strange old words, words that had a physical feel to them. Words that had a taste to them, a history, and a music. And the words related to where I grew up in Northern Ireland. Memory, too, has a taste, a history and a music. I especially loved his his poem “North” which gives the following advice to writers. It says,

Lie down

In the word-hoard, burrow

The coil and gleam

Of your furrowed brain.

Compose in darkness.

Expect aurora borealis

In the long foray

But no cascade of light.

Keep your eye clear

As the bleb of the icicle,
Trust the feel of what nubbed treasure

Your hands have known.

On one level, that is basically a version of what everyone’s always told, Pay attention and “Write what you know.” But I think that it is also saying some other things. It says, “Trust the feel of what nubbed treasure/your hands have known.” That is, trust the texture of your experience and how it seems to you. Even if you’re writing about superintelligent shades of the colour blue, like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you have your own sense of the world, a sense of other worlds. A way of exploring, leaping from one idea to the other. It’s about trusting your own imagination and your way of using it. It’s about exploring and developing not only the content of your imagination but the way it works, the way it processes ideas and connects things.

It’s true that  “trust the feel of what nubbed treasure your hands have known” sounds like it’s telling you to be a farmer feeling potatoes. There you are, a farmer with big calloused hands sitting on your duff at sunset thinking about how potatoes feel. Or maybe you’re not a farmer, but rather an assassin and you’re remembering what it felt like to squeeze your hands around the throat of an ignominious gnome as he takes his last breath. Beautiful. But then, maybe you’re the gnome.

For a writer, I think “trust the feel of what nubbed treasure your hands have known" also means to trust your experience of words, that nubbed treasure.  Nubbed. That’s a great word.  And “keep your eyes clear as the bleb of icicle.” Bleb is a great word, too. The poem says, “Lie down in the word-hoard”— the treasure house of language.

As a writer, words are your world. So when Heaney says, “trust the feel”: it’s like telling a chef, “Trust food.” I think about how much a chef knows about food—what it tastes like, how it feels in their mouth. How food has been part of their life since about the age they learned to speak.  Maybe the chef will make sandwiches out of twilight, expired luncheon meat and left over bits of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards. Or maybe they will make the last meal that someone is ever going to taste. A chef thinks about how different foods might go together, what ways they might experiment with that food, and concoct a surprise or a memorable experience in the laboratory of their kitchen.

To me, that’s what a writer does. Experiment in the laboratory of their own creative kitchen. Well, that and staying in pajamas until three in the afternoon.

For me, part of  “trusting the feel” is about trusting the feel of making things up. Of doing something new. Like a scientist, trying something to see what happens. It’s the feel of pushing the limits to see if you can make something that seems more right—more representative of how you see or feel things or how you want to imagine things. Does this new way seem more exciting or intriguing to you? More fresh. It’s not only about remembering potatoes.

One day, I was thinking about what might be the opposite of potato. I went online and discovered a page explaining the idea of the negative potato, the anti-potato. “An edible cousin of the more widely known potato and a member of the negative tuber family,” the definition said.

Potato, potahto. Potato, anti-potato. In writing, rules and anti-rules. Whoever first made fire or ate the first lobster was breaking some serious rules. They had to, as one particularly terrible ad for a cremation service in Hamilton says, “Think outside the box.”

How do you decide which rules to follow and which rules to break? And how should you break them?

Every writer I talk to always emphasizes how important it is to read. Several friends suggested that I just walk up here and say the single word, “Read,” and then sit down.

Of course, if you like to write, you like to read. You like to read all the time with your eyes hanging out. But other than enjoyment, what does reading do for a writing?

I’m reminded of  that Steven Wright line: The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

It pays to see what others have done. In reading maybe you find out about those things that are possible that you hadn’t thought of. Or it helps you know what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. You learn what you like and what you don’t like. You learn what you would do differently. You learn to question what baggage you are starting with. What things you thought you should do, but don’t have to. What assumptions you made that you can question. But you also learn who is always left out of the story. What is always left out of the story. It’s easy to say “Think outside the box,” but first you have learn to notice the box and then to imagine an outside. And then you have to imagine ways of getting out of the box. Reading things that challenge you is one of doing this.

When I was writing this speech, I did like I always do, I went on Facebook and after a few hours, I realized that I’d forgotten why I went online in the first place. Then I remembered and asked my writer friends for some advice about what I should tell you.

A friend of mine, a psychology professor  told me that in a graduate seminar on creativity, Lawrence Hill, the author of the acclaimed novel The Book of Negroes, gave this advice. He said, "Sit your ass in the chair and write!"

I agree. Getting started is the hardest part. Taking the chance of trying. And you have to keep taking that risk. Bestselling authors who have written many books have expectations, doubt and fear. And they can find it hard to start something new, hard to keep going. When I wrote my novel, Yiddish for Pirates, I knew that it would require a lot of time, a lot of words. I knew that it would be hard not to give up, not to be discouraged, not to question my project. So I set myself a goal of a minimum number of words to write each day. I made charts projecting how many words I would have at the end of each day, each week, and each month so that I could see my progress. I could follow the graph as it went up the page as I got closer to my ultimate goal of a certain number of words. Each day I tried to write my best, but my main goal was just to get to the finish line. I could improve the writing later. So yes, sit in that chair and write because it’s all about the process. It takes time. And it doesn’t necessarily look like anything much until you’re done.

But telling writers, “sit in the chair and write,” is also a bit like telling someone who wants to be a firefighter, “just run into the house and save people.” After all, firefighters do need a certain amount of preparation and training. There are things to practice. As a writer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You do need to practice writing by starting with what you can reasonably manage. Start with a poem, or a short story as opposed to a fifteen book fantasy series about the Roman Empire and macroeconomics. Someone told me, if you want to write a novel, sit down and write twenty words. If you keep going, great. If not, at least you’ve got twenty words. I also remember asking the first one of my friends to have a book published how she did it. It seemed impossible. She said, “You write one page and then you write another until you have a hundred pages. Then you have a book.”

"Sit in a chair and write" can be crushing advice if you imagine that writers such as Leo Tolstoy, Margaret Atwood, or Toni Morrison didn’t write many drafts. That they just began writing at the upper left hand margin and kept at it until the book was finished without ever changing a word or throwing anything out. When I’m talking about editing, sometimes as a kind of show and tell,  I bring the amazing envelope that I received from the editor of of my YA novel, Seeing Stars.

When I wrote this novel,  I was already quite experienced, having written many books. And writing this particular novel, I had worked with an editor who read every chapter as I wrote it. I wrote five different drafts of the book. Then my agent sold it to a publisher who sent me actual money. I was feeling quite confident and professional. Kind of a big shot. Then I received the envelope from my editor with her edits. Every page of the 150 pages of my manuscript had seven or eight sticky notes on it with suggested edits. Every sentence had at least seven or eight red marks correcting or suggesting other things. That’s thousands and thousand of edits. I was gobsmacked. I thought I was professional and had nailed the writing of the book. But of course, my editor was working with me to make the book better. It was a good book. I just needed that conversation between me, my editor and the book.  A writer needs to remind themselves that writing is a also verb, a process of generating drafts and not a finished work. At least not until it’s finished. And even then, as I found out, there can still be more to do.

The process can be really energizing, and exciting. But sometimes sitting down to write can be terrible. It can be hard. It can be difficult and it forces the writer to reckon with difficult subjects and their own sense of doubt and insecurity.  Or the need to say what others aren’t ready to hear, or that they are not quite ready to say. As Farley Mowat said,  “If someone tells you writing is easy, he is either lying or I hate him.”  But that doesn’t mean that writing can be fun or satisfying.

I remember when I was editing Yiddish for Pirates, I knew I had to cut out a bunch of words that were just too much.  It was hard to just delete those things that I remembered working very hard on, things that I thought were really clever or sounded just so good. I knew I had to but I couldn’t bear to just delete them, so instead I removed them from the novel and copied them to another file on my computer. It was a way of tricking myself. At least the words weren’t gone forever. And if my editor asked, do I happen to have any terribly overwritten purple prose kicking about that we could add to the novel, I could say, why yes, I do. I have just the thing.

It’s really helpful to have other people read your work. Friends, classmates, teachers. It’s good to listen carefully to what they say. They’re not always right, but it worthwhile seriously considering what they say. Often as a reader they might identify a weakness, but their suggested corrections aren’t always right or the best way to solve the problem. I always listen careful to my editors, but then I often end up coming up with my own solution to the problem that they have identified. One of the first readers of Yiddish for Pirates was my mom. Usually, my mom just says complementary things and tells me how great I am, but when she read the novel, she said, “Gary, this is is good, but, um, that middle section...that middle section, it’s...it’s kind of confusing. Confusing and….boring.” And then she had a whole bunch of ideas of how I should fix it. Mostly involving deleting the whole section.  She was quite insistent.  I did take what she said seriously. I thought hard about why she might have found that section boring and confusing. She was right that it needed fixing, but I realized that her solution wasn’t the right one. I came up with my own solution—mostly involved creating more suspense and more drama...drama in the novel, not with my mom.

I always tell my students, “The writing knows more than we do.” Language is a vast repository, a great archive, a word hoard, a storehouse of accumulated knowledge and experience. Everyone who has ever used those words is there in the language. Just by virtue of being a speaker of the language, you have access to this knowledge. You have access to something much larger, much deeper than just yourself. The language is its own internet. So trust where the writing is taking you. Listen to the writing. To your own words. You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to have a plan. Creative writing is an exploration. You can figure it out as you go along. You can start with a plan or a direction, but it can evolve. “The writing knows more than you do” and by listening to it, you often discover things that you didn’t expect, things that were much more subtle, interesting and complex than your original idea and yet somehow express what you didn't know you were thinking or feeling. It can lead you to greater and more emotionally rich writing. It’s good not to insist on what you thought the writing was going to be. It’s like a parent insisting that their kid be who they want the kid to be rather than allowing the kid to discover who they are.

My novel, Yiddish for Pirates, is narrated by a pirate’s parrot around the time of Columbus. Actually a 500-year-old immortal Yiddish speaking parrot named Aaron. Aaron swaggers around trying to be as macho as the pirates in the story. In the middle of the book, I was writing a scene where Aaron meets another parrot. In the middle of this scene Aaron discovers that he is gay. I had no idea that this was going to happen, that my own character would come out to me as I was writing him. But I feel that by listening to my story and its characters, by trusting that the writing knew more than I did, I ended up with a much more interesting character. And a more interesting book. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the parrot was gay, but I really wasn’t expecting it. Maybe not even him?

I told you the worst advice that I ever received so I thought I should tell you about the best piece of writing advice that I was ever given. I took a class in university with the mind-blowingly inspiring writer, bpNichol. He told us to “keep writing.” The way to be a good writer is to keep writing, he said. I think that’s wise. Implicit in this, though, is to keep being curious and exploratory in one’s writing. Not to keep writing the same thing or the same way, but to keep trying to get better, to keep actively considering what makes writing exciting and interesting, what works and what is possible.

Writing. It’s an amazing thing that we humans can do. That we writers do. That you student writers do. In one way it seems so simple. A kind of elemental magic. We can say what we feel. We can say what we think. We can make up things.  We can tell stories.

My wife is a criminal lawyer. One night one of her clients pocket-dialed her. She called me over to listen with her. “Gary, Gary, listen to this, you won’t believe it.” Her client was in the middle of robbing someone’s house and on the phone we could hear him talking to his partner about what to steal. “Should we take that TV?” “No, too big.” “How about that stereo.” “Yeah, let’s take that.” I guess they got away with the robbery because the guy never called back looking for a lawyer when he got arrested.

I’ve just told you a little story. Does it tell us anything? Is it true? Did it happen?

We writers can change how people think. How they see. We can create worlds in people’s minds. We can change the way they move even with the rhythm of our words. We can make what is silent heard, what is unnoticed noticed. What is invisible visible.

The novelist David Foster Wallace once told this story: There are these two  fish swimming along, and they happen to meet another fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, guys, how's the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What on earth is water?”

The fish don’t know about water because it is always all around them. They have forgotten or they never knew that it was there . As writers we can make this water visible. The water is our human experience. Our language, our world and the universe that surround us. We writers can change how people think. How they see. What they look at. We can create worlds in people’s minds. We can remember what is forgotten. We can make sure that what is important is never forgotten. We can make memory come alive. We can imagine what is possible or warn of what might happen. We can surprise, delight, shock, move, and express solidarity and compassion. We can make what is silent heard, what is unnoticed noticed. What is invisible visible.

How do we do this? It's simple. bpNichol has a poem which is called “The Complete Works.” It is is a representation is of all the letters, numbers, and punctuation on a typewriter keyboard. Letters, numbers, and punctuation. That's how we do it.

Oh, and one more important piece of writerly advice that I’d like to give you before I close. This from the crime writer Elmore Leonard. "Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip."


Friday, March 17, 2017

St Patrick's Day



St Patrick's Day. I always think back to growing up in Northern Ireland and what that might mean. Here's a picture of woggle-proud me, with my sister in the background, standing in front of our house in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. Standing beside my dad's MGB. I remember my dad driving Santa around in that: he sat on the boot (trunk) On the bonnet (hood) were taped white inflatable plastic reindeer. I also remember driving full speed on my little bike into that white fence and flipping right over it. Whatever the physics, colour theory, rhythm, and landscape which explain childhood, for me, they developed here. Also, my cub scout leaders always called me Bary Garwin. I never learned to tie knots. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Book & Radio interview


The cover for NO TV FOR WOODPECKERSmy new poetry book, coming out with Wolsak & Wynn this April.

I'm very happy about this. A variety of lyric and conceptual lyric pieces, and something very different for me in a full length book; a longer sequence derived from the species names of organisms found in Hamilton, Ontario.

*

I was delighted to appear on Bernadette Rule's Art Waves Radio show on @1050TheHawk. Lots of intelligent & thoughtful questions and to have the opportunity to discuss many aspects of Yiddish for Pirates that I don't often get to speak about. In this hour-long show I (according to the note on the link) "scatter my treasures liberally over Art Waves." I think that might be a euphemism meaning I talk too much and don't stay directly on topic.

Here's the link: https://archive.org/details/309GaryBarwinFeb.192017