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


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

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

Two things on CBC Books: Seven Books that "Excite" Me and "Becoming a Better Poet."

Nerve Thicket Molar King

Because I'm on the jury for the CBC Poetry Prize, they've asked me some questions about some booky things. Here are the two most recent.

Seven Books that Excite CBC Poetry Juror Gary Barwin

Becoming a Better Poet

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.