Saturday, February 27, 2016

Call for submissions to the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award

Call for submissions to the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award

The bpNichol Chapbook Award recognizes excellence in Canadian poetry in English published in chapbook form within Canada. The prize is awarded to a poetry chapbook judged to be the best submitted. The author receives $4,000 and the publisher receives $500. Awarded continuously since 1986, the bpNichol Chapbook Award is currently administered by the Meet the Presses collective.

Chapbooks should be not less than 10 pages and not more than 48 pages. The chapbooks must have been published between January 1st and December 31st of the previous year (2015), and the poet must be Canadian.

Interested authors or publishers should submit three copies of eligible chapbooks. Translations into English from other languages are eligible.

Submissions must be sent by Canada Post or courier (and not hand-delivered to a Meet The Presses collective member) and include a completed submission form or accurate facsimile (download the 2016 Submission Form from our web site at, a brief C.V. of the author, including address, telephone number, and email address. Publisher contact information (contact person, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone contact) must also be included. Incomplete submissions will not be considered.

The closing date for the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award is May 31, 2016. Submissions must be received by this date. If submission confirmation has not been received by e-mail by June 30, 2016, please send a query to Beth Follett at:

Send submissions to:
Meet the Presses / bpNichol Chapbook Award
113 Bond Street, St John’s NL A1C 1T6

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Typing Andy Warhol’s novel, A.

Typing Andy Warhol’s novel, A.

for/after derek beaulieu

Audio composition:
Version 1
Version 2 (more funky)

I created this piece based on derek beaulieu's call as Calgary's innovative Poet Laureate. Here what he wrote:

"As Calgary’s Poet Laureate, I invite musicians and performers to create digital sound performances (song, composition, collage, digital, etc) of my #erasingwarhol project.

Posted on twitter at @erasingwarhol are the ongoing manuscript pages of my efforts to erase all the words from Andy Warhol’s 1968 A: a novel, leaving only the fields of punctuation and the sound-effect words. Metro News Calgary discusses the project here.

I invite you to create a sonic interpretation of any piece in that twitter feed, save it online and tweet out your results with the hashtag #erasingwarhol. This is a community-based generative project and every-one is welcome, let’s see where your creativity takes you!"

Friday, February 05, 2016

An escape scene from Yiddish for Pirates: The Ol' Egyptian Fire Trick translated into Hebrew

At some point in my Yiddish for Pirates novel, I needed our "hero," Moishe, to facilitate an escape from an auto-da-fé where some condemned conversos were about to be burned at the stake. I wanted this to be accomplished with some flair and by fighting fire with fire. I mean, at lot was at stake, as it were. When I want to know about magic, I ask my sagacious and professorially odd friend, Professor Oddfellow AKA Craig Conley author of numerous books and keeper of many arcane fires. He has rabbitted away more hatfuls of knowledge about magic than anyone I know.

He suggested that my scene could use the ol' Egyptian fire trick. From the front, the audience sees only a wall of fire, but what is really happening is that there are two separate walls which allows the magician to appear to walk through a solid wall of fire. This was interesting.

I thought I could adapt this in a number of ways. Firstly, because this is a book engaging with Hebrew, Kabbalah, books, mysticism, and a kind of Yiddish derring-do (I guess that could be translated more plainly as "chutzpah,") I'd make the trick use a Hebrew/Yiddish letter. The letter qoph (kuf) would allow someone to enter the wall of fire and then escape out a secret flaming sally port out the back. This was important not only because my characters needed to escape but also because this scene was taking place in the round, in the Quemadero, the Inquisition's Sevillian execution square.  And the stakes would be in the enclosed part of the letter.

So this is how it would go. While the ceremony was taking place and those to be executed were tied to the stakes, Moishe would walk around the Quemadero dribbling oil in the shape of the letter qoph. Then at an appropriate time, he would light the oil, surrounding the stakes in a wall of flame. He'd dash into the middle, untie those at the stakes and then lead them to safety down an alleyway down the bottom opening of the qoph. With appropriate mumbo-jumbo jabbering patter and some dramatic stage craft—raising his arms, etc—those assembled would be sufficiently discombobulated that Moishe and the conversos would be gone before anyone knew what exactly was happening. 

I can't resist: here's a picture of Barbie wearing tefillin.
The little box on her forehead and on her arm contain prayers on paper.
In my novel, they contain inflammable oil

As it turns out, and here I'm giving the scene away, there is a rabbi who has a teffilin box filled with oil and he throws it like a Molotov cocktail onto the kindling below his pyre. So Moishe has to act more quickly than he planned. Still, the whole thing is pulled off like a brilliant magic trick. Or a miracle. At least, that's what Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor thinks, But more on that another time...

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

An interview about "Shopping for Deer"

Over on his excellent blog, Jonathan Ball asked me insightful questions about my poem, “Shopping for Deer” in my The Porcupinity of the Stars (Coach House Books, 2010). I gave antlers. We spoke of poetics, ecopoetics, deer, shopping, revision, metaphor and other things. It's here.