Friday, October 30, 2009

Revolutions Revealed

I didn't get a chance to post beforehand about moderating a discussion on the Automatistes at the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront last Sunday, but it was a great pleasure to chat and ask questions onstage with Ray Ellenwood, Patricia Smart, Luis Jacob, and Joanne Tod.

While you might have missed this event, the exhibition of Automatiste work is still on at the Varley Gallery in Markham until the end of February. It's a fantastic show, dazzlingly displayed, with a huge number of the most significant pieces by the group, showing for the first time together in English Canada. Anyone with interest in the avant-garde, Surrealism, or the origins of abstract expressionism outside of the U.S. should make the trip to see this once in a lifetime show.

And, of course, the beautiful accompanying text, authored by Ray Ellenwood and Roald Nasgaard, The Automatiste Revolution, Montreal, 1941-1960, has just been published by Douglas & McIntyre and is highly recommended. Featuring a vast number of colour reproductions from the show with an introduction by Nasgaard, and a wonderful commentary on the non-plastic Automatistes by Ellenwood, it is an essential document, complementing Ellenwood's study of the group, Egregore (Exile, 1992) and his English translation of Refus Global (recently reprinted).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Chaps

Alex Porco reviews Wordwards and Montreality in the new issue of Matrix (Fall 2009).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Junction Conjunction

The Junction Arts Festival takes place 9-13 September 2009 on Dundas Street West between Keele Street and Clendanan Road. If you don't know of it, the Junction Arts Festval is the hippest and coolest arts festival in the city, which is why BookThug will be there.

If you come out you'll be able to catch the following BookThugs in action on Saturday and Sunday. They'll be wandering around mixing it up with local talent, recruiting The Public into BookThug Nation. There will be a venue for scheduled readings at The Troubadour where you can whet your whistle and listen to some lit in comfort. And you can visit us at the BookThug booth, chat about alt-lit and even pick up some merchandise. We might be Thugs but we're friendly.

Angela Carr
Amanda Earl
Greg Betts & Gary Barwin
Jenny Sampirisi
Adam Seelig
Kemeny Babineau
Margaret Christakos
Daniel F. Bradley
Stephen Cain
Marianne Apostolides
Mark Truscott
Rob Read
Jay MillAr
Shannon Bramer
Steven Zultanski

For more information on the Junction Arts Festival, visit their website:

Monday, September 07, 2009

Under the Influence


Influency 7: A Toronto Poetry Salon SCS 1777

Featuring eight guest poets:
Ronna BLOOM • Stephen CAIN • Christopher DODA • Kate EICHHORN •
Nathaniel G MOORE • Lisa ROBERTSON • Trish SALAH • Jacqueline TURNER

Eleven weeks, Wednesday evenings: Sept 30 to Dec 9, 2009, 7pm to
9:30pm (conversation may go to 10 pm)
University of Toronto St. George Campus, location TBA (downtown, central)
Instructor: Margaret Christakos,
Fee: $235, plus $120 book package

University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Creative Writing Program or tel: 416-978-2400, Press 2.

Eight accomplished poets working in distinctive styles will appear as
both guest readers and peer critics in this unique lecture-reading
series hosted by Margaret Christakos. Each poet's critique of a
colleague’s work will be followed with a reading by the poet under
discussion. A group discussion led by Christakos will follow. Students
will accumulate critical vocabulary to discuss more fluently the
divergences of approach, motive, process and product typical of
Toronto's multitraditional literary culture.

Sept 30: Introductory Talk by Margaret Christakos; book distribution;
small group formation and activities
Oct 7: Trish SALAH on Ronna BLOOM’s Permiso (Pedlar)
Oct 14: Kate EICHHORN on Stephen CAIN’s American Standard/Canada Dry
(Coach House)
Oct 21: Margaret CHRISTAKOS on Christopher DODA’s Aesthetics Lesson (Mansfield)
Oct 28: Christopher DODA on Nathaniel G MOORE’s Let’s Pretend We Never
Met (Pedlar)
Nov 4: Nathaniel G MOORE on Lisa ROBERTSON’s The Men (Bookthug)
Nov 11: Stephen CAIN on Lisa ROBERTSON’s Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul
Whip (Coach House)
Nov 18: Lisa ROBERTSON on Trish SALAH’s Wanting in Arabic (Tsar)
Nov 25: Jacqueline TURNER on Kate EICHHORN’s Fond (Bookthug)
Dec 2: Ronna BLOOM on Jacqueline TURNER’s Seven into Even (ECW)
Dec 9: Registrants’ Intertext Presentations and Salon Closing Party

Influency 7: A Toronto Poetry Salon follows on the six successful
previous salons inaugurated in Fall 2006, housed in the Creative
Writing program at the U of T School of Continuing Studies. This
unique lecture-reading course features a flow-chart series of lectures
and readings by eight contemporary Toronto guest poets in person. This
Fall 2009 session runs eleven weeks, with Weeks 2 through 10 feature
an intro by facilitator Margaret Christakos, an original 40-minute
lecture by one of the participating poets on the work of one of their
colleague poets, and a half-hour live reading by the poet under
discussion. A 40-min (plus) facilitated exchange of responses and
ideas then takes place among the “critic,” poet and course

Students buy a book package of 9 titles at the first class. The class
reads an assigned book of poetry each week in preparation for the
evening’s guest poet. There will be nine books studied this session.
In the week after a given lecture/reading, registrants compose written
responses to the poetics and ideas encountered during the class and
during their own consideration of the poetry being studied.
Registrants may email their weekly responses to the whole class
thereby increasing the level and complexity of conversation. The last
class is devoted to the delivery by registrants of their own prepared
observations on the interesting interrelationships they find among
some of the poets’ works studied.

Who takes Influency? Some registrants are contemporary writers engaged
in the forward edge of their own innovative writing, others are former
poetry fans returning to the study of contemporary poetry after years
of being separated from it, still others are wondering if poetry could
be a pleasurable way to jumpstart their thinking. The salon generally
includes a mix of registrants of all ages, producing a stimulating
field of audience and opinion. The form of learning in the class is
respectful of students at all levels; those beginning will find a
learning curve steep and yet full of excitement. There is no
prerequisite for this course and registrants may return for multiple
salons as the roster of poets changes each term— generally about one
third to one half of the class are return registrants, making the
class socially fun and warm. The class atmosphere tends to be lively,
supportive, inquiring and hospitable. Small group structure in the
class pairs up newcomers and experienced poetry readers, capitalizing
on diversity.

Influency has been designed to create a contemporary cultural space of
discussion and contemplation about what poetry “means” and how it
activates aesthetic response in various readers. It emerged as a
strategy to allow audiences to enlarge their taste in styles and forms
of poetry, and to help produce conversation and community across
divergent notions of what “poetry” has been, is and can include. The
active engagement of the listener/reader/respondent is crucial to a
healthy poetry scene; Too often we read and hear other people’s
writing but do not count our own responsive contribution as an equal
part of how poems produce cultural dialogue.

Over this eleven-week course, there is an opportunity for registrants
at all levels to broaden the field for the critical reception of
contemporary poetry, and to build readerly and writerly community.

The complete course outline for SCS 17777 Influency 7: A Toronto
Poetry Salon may be obtained by emailing
Registration is open NOW.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

All Scream

The Scream Mainstage is on Monday, July 13th and features:

Oana Avasilichioaei
Wakefield Brewster
Margaret Christakos
Peter Culley
Jeramy Dodds
Paul Dutton and Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl
Lisa Foad
Susan Holbrook
Ryan Kamstra
Shani Mootoo
Andrew Pyper
Adam Sol

Full festival calendar here.

I Scream

I'll be performing a short piece before the screening of Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 as part of this year's Scream in High Park festival.

Saturday, July 4, 2009 - 10:00pm

Trash Palace

89-B Niagara (down the alley, follow the sandwich board to the back door entrance)

Cost: $5 admission

“The books have nothing to say.”
– The Captain.

Ray Bradbury knew books were in threat of extinction long before the rest of us. Join several noted Toronto poets in the underground resistance at Toronto's classiest cult cinema, the Trash Palace, for short readings and a screening of François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966). Behold the dystopia that awaits us all in the post-lit world. The dystopia that awaits us all in the post-lit world.

89-B Niagara (down the alley, follow the sandwich board to the back door entrance)


Monday, June 01, 2009

Ditch pick

I'm featured poet for June in Ditch.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wordwards Released

My new chapbook, Wordwards, a collection of iconographic visual poems (example above) has just been released from Calgary's wonderful No Press.

Derek's done a beautiful job with the production, and has published it in a very limited edition of 30 copies.

No website, but No Press can be contacted through a public Facebook page.

Friday, May 01, 2009


I answer The National Post's Poetry Month questionnaire here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free Speech

I'll be reading at the Free Speech series, held at Tinto in Toronto, with Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, poet/novelist Alayna Munce, and songwriter Jay Clark Reid this Monday.

Monday, April 27
7pm. Show at 7:30pm sharp. PWYC.

Tinto (89 Roncesvalles)

Monday, March 30, 2009

(bp) (10 x 2) + 1

The next installment of the three Open Letter issues exploring bpNichol, his writing, and critical reception, 20 years after this death is out now (13.8 Spring 2009).

This is the second issue to be edited by Lori Emerson and contains memoirs, poems, and academic essays by Paul Dutton, Natalie Walschots, Stephen Scobie, Stephen Voyce and many others. I contribute a short piece on bpNichol Comics which the Man from Glengarry comments upon here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Warehouse: Poems and Stories

Three audio files of me reading from American Standard/ Canada Dry here. Recorded at the Coach House coffee room and warehouse while wearing a Husker Du t-shirt.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ottawa Archive

Some great resources on poets like Fred Wah, Christian Bok, and Christine Stewart at the archive of the University of Ottawa's Postmodern Conference. Also includes an interview I conducted with Jordan Berard and an mp3 of the First Past the Post reading.