Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holiday anthology

Here are some books I'm currently into:

The Portable Mark Twain
Portable Altamont by Brain Joseph Davis
Grab Bag by Derek McCormack (the sweet US reprint)
Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer by Stuart Ross
Curio by Elizabeth Bachinsky
Crystallography by Christian Bok
Fray by Jessica Grim
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet
The Iron Whim
by Darren Wershler-Henry

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A drunken post for jason, dave and todd

Thorstein Veblen died of a heart disease in 1929 in Menlo, California. (Very close to Stanford!)

Although he did study at Yale and Cornell, his observances of the leisure class were probably divided between New England, New York and Chicago.

Here's one exciting part of Veblen's life:

'Veblen was offered an appointment [of] associate professor for 1906/07 [at the U of C], but his gruff manner and unconventional personal life garnered notoriety. The Chicago administration forced him out in Dec., 1906 for flagrant marital infidelities. His reputation suffered because of "landfill of lies and half-truths" depicting him as an irredeemable womanizer and lady-killer whose unconventional views on equality made him irresistible to women; unable to attain positions worthy of his brilliance because his wife Ellen blackened his name.'

Source: The Veblenite

Other than that, his biography is fairly boring but that's ok -- The Theory of the Loser Class is pretty much all about Star Wars, shoplifting, and binary code.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Holiday mix tape

I know you don't care but here are the songs I'm currently listening to:

"Let em die" Smoking Popes
"Rubella" Smoking Popes
"All these things that i have done" The Killers
"A northern soul" The Verve
"On your own" The Verve
"The death of a disco dancer" The Smiths
"Don't make fun of daddy's voice" Morrissey
"Why don't you find out for yourself?" Morrissey
"Give her a gun" Echobelly
"Hash pipe" Weezer
"Sit down" James

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Word to your mother

My first column for WORD is now online and in print. I wrote about AYMS! -- a terrible affliction that certain young poets are suffering from. I would love some feedback. Either in comment form or through email [jonfiorentino at yahoo dot ca].

ONLINE: The November/December 2005 issue of Word: Canada's Magazine for Readers + Writers is available online here

IN PRINT: The inaugural issue of the Word Reader is available for subscription and purchase. Subscription ensures a shiny, new copy of Word Reader on your doorstep in Winter/Spring, Summer and Fall. Subscription is a phenomenal deal; receive Word at the obscenely low rate of $20 per year ($26 for institutions). To sign up for a year of Word, please send your name and mailing address via e-mail ( or snail mail (Word c/o The Mercury Press, 22 Prince Rupert Ave., Toronto, ON, M6P 2A7).

Please support this wonderful magazine!

Saturday, December 03, 2005


A night of literary miracles!!! See you there?

So Long, Francine & Other Songs
An Evening of Poetry
Sunday, Dec. 4, 8-10 pm
The Green Room (5386 Boul. St. Laurent)


Larissa Andrusyshyn
Tom Bauer
Makeba Cooper
Daniel Corry
Kate Hall
Ben Kalman
Sachiko Murakami
Gillian Savigny
Leanne Tonkin

&, your host, David McGimpsey

There's cake!

Monday, November 28, 2005


Expozine was a tremendous success. I would guess there were over 2000 visitors who came through the doors. And everyone seemed to be selling their zines, chapbooks, books, dvds, jam recipes, etc.

I guess I forgot there was a small press community in Montreal. But now I know better.

Every year I discover something amazing at Expozine. Jason Camlot gets the props for finding for this one: Ojingogo!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Below is the official Expozine press release. Hope to see you there!

Expozine 2005
4th Annual Small Press, Comic and Zine Fair
Saturday, November 26th,
from 11 am to 6 pm
5035 St-Dominique (church basement),
between Laurier and St-Joseph

Come to EXPOZINE, Montréal's only small press, comic and zine fair! This daylong event brings together over 160 creators of all kinds of printed matter in both English and French.

Expozine was born in 2002 to provide a place where publications outside
the mainstream can reach the reading public. It is also a place where
members of the small press community and local writers and artists can
make new connections with each other. It has been a huge success: thousands of people have discovered hundreds of publications, and more and more people take part each year.

Montréal is rich in small press activity, with an internationally renowned comics scene and a thriving small press and zine community. All of these are represented at Expozine, and each year more publishers from outside Montreal participate in the event.

We hope you make the most of this rare opportunity to see all of this
diversity showcased in one place. Browse! Shop! Meet the creators! And
most of all, have fun!


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Snare books

Exciting new project -- a small literary press dedicated to experimental literature.
Click here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

New website etc...

I've redesigned and updated my website.

I think it's pretty ok, but I designed it on this weird freeware HTML program for Mac OS X. Lemme know what you think.

In other news, the new Matrix will be out very soon. It will be a very special issue, featuring the last work by Ryan Carriere. Ryan was a very talented young comic artist who tragically lost his life earlier this month. Marc Ngui was kind enough to offer up some words of remembrance for the issue.

Around a year ago, I made a promise to myself to do whatever I could to make Matrix a more community-oriented magazine, and specifically to promote micropress/chapbook/zine/diy culture. If you take a peek at our reviews section, you'll notice there are more chapbooks and small magazines being reviewed, and we are thrilled to be a sponsor of expozine.

But there's so much more work to be done...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Coach house took montreal; camlot took quebec; billy took me

Sunday was fun. The Coach House authors were very entertaining and so were the students. The very clever Brian Joseph Davis made us do his reading for him. The creepy results can be heard here.

Jason Camlot's Attention All Typewriters launch on Thursday (with Marcie Frank launching How to Be an Intellectual in the Age of Television or HTBAIITAOTV for short) was one of the most successful and fun events I have ever been to.

Montreal's literary scene is flourishing!

In other news, Billy Mavreas has a blog!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Calgary = no pants

Thanks to derek beaulieu, Jason Christie, Chris Ewart, Andre Rodrigues, Sandy Lam, Natalie Walschots, Ed Schmutz, Jonathan Ball, Jordan Scott, ryan fitzpatrick, Jill Hartman, Paul Kennett, Nicole Markotic, Louis Cabri, Suzette Mayr, Tom Wayman, Melanie Little, Peter Norman, Natalie Simpson, Julia Williams, Dennis Cooley, and of course Robert Kroetsch for making my Calgary experience such a memorable one.

We launched Post-Prairie at McNally Robinson and it was one of the best experiences of my literary life. The response to the book has been very encouraging. There is some wonderful innovative poetry being written in Calgary these days and I'm thrilled that RK and I had a chance to anthologize a taste of it.

I met so many people I've been dying to meet and I did have a few drinks...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Glitchy, glitzy

Feelin' glitchy. I'm writing this post on an iMac classic.

There are some amazing things coming up:

Please join McNally-Robinson & Talonbooks as we celebrate the launch of

Post-Prairie: An Anthology of New Poetry
Edited by Jon Paul Fiorentino and Robert Kroetsch

Saturday, OCT 22 6:00pm
McNally-Robinson Booksellers
120 8th Ave SW

featuring readings by Calgarian poets:
derek beaulieu
Louis Cabri
Jason Christie
ryan fitzpatrick
Jill Hartman
Natalie Simpson
and hosted by editor Jon Paul Fiorentino.

(These poets are amazing and I am honoured to present them!)

Post-Prairie: An Anthology of New Poetry, edited by Jon Paul Fiorentino and Robert Kroetsch, will be launching at the Wild Words Conference at the University of Calgary on Sunday, October 23 at 9:00 am.

Contributors derek beaulieu, Louis Cabri, Jason Christie, ryan
fitzpatrick, Jill Hartman, Nicole Markotic, Suzette Mayr and Natalie
Simpson will be reading.

(I've never been awake at 9:00 am before so this should be interesting.)

Then there's the

Coach House Book Fall Launch
Montreal Edition


Adrian Michael Kelly
Howard Akler
Brian Joseph Davis
Sherwin Tjia
Jon Paul Fiorentino

with special guests

Larissa Andrusyshyn
Wanda O' Connor
Anastasia Jones
Ian Goodman
and music by the electric ant

live at the green room - 5390 st - Laurent
8 pm - sunday october 30

(This will be a very special night. Scandalous things will happen. careers will be ruined; careers will be made; everything will be inappropriate!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Post-prairie love

I'm off to Winnipeg for the Writers Fest! It's always good to get back to peg city!

Sunday September, 25 2:30pm
$12/PASS Jon Paul Fiorentino and Robert Kroetsch, co-hosts
Rosanna Deerchild, Catherine Hunter, Mariianne Mays, John K Samson
Manitoba Theatre for Young People
CanWest Global Performing Arts Centre

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Because i'm jung

I'm supposed to be writing a book review. I can't seem to meet the deadline. I have been writing poems though. This is the first poem of mine I've ever posted on my blog. It may or may not appear in The Theory of the Loser Class.


Spores like sparring
with compound stunners

A two-four of
isopropyl alcohol coolers

And the skin
for basement clubbing

All’s lost elastic
home hub comfort

Software leaks all
over, immaculate drip

Zip disks call
their patronizing agents

Robots play, get
jump drive herpes

Saturday, August 27, 2005

No Yeah!

My new chapbook, Loss Leaders, is out now from No Press. It's free if you email nopress2005 [at] hotmail [dot] com


Thursday, August 18, 2005

BookThug Yeah!

My new chapbook, Selected Losses, is available now from BookThug. Take a look at it here.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Not angry anymore

The new Matrix Comics Issue is back from the printer. It's very sweet. My favourites are the gag comics by Lauren R. Weinstein, creator of "morrissey and me." You can find "morrissey and me" at (Sorry- I can't seem to get the hyperlinks working on this mac browser.) The issue will not be in stores until after labour day. We don't want the Nostalgia Issue to be returned or pulped just yet.

I've been with Matrix for six years now. And Matrix is in its thirtieth year. I volunteered for the first couple of years and worked my ass off in order to become indispensible. At the time I was just thrilled to be a part of publishing poetry, fiction, art, etc. (I still am, but sometimes I get caught up in the petty stuff.) Back then, working with Rob Allen and Andy Brown helped to save my literary life. I wonder how many young people just give up because of the lack of opportunities and/or money in literary publishing...

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Bert Archer of the Toronto Star has this to say about my funnybook, Asthmatica, and David McGimpsey's funnybook, Certifiable:

"The most charitable approach to these books would, I think, be to ignore [the veteran status of the authors] and pretend that we've stumbled on the manuscripts two undergrads have constructed out of the stories they tell their buddies."

I'll spare you the rest of the review. It's mean-spirited stuff. It's the typical, "it may be funny, but that's not enough. It has to be 'grown-up' too" crap.

I hate it when people who have no authority to speak of the art of comedy decide to review comedy books. Being funny is hard work, but to Bert Archer, it's not serious work and therefore not of value. This is how snobbery works.

I know my book is juvenile -- it's about an immature kid named Jonny who gets into funny situations. It's light reading. And it's for young people. Also, I've read Dave's book and it's funny. That seems to be its mandate. And what pisses me off is that Bert "Canada's most beloved comedy scholar" Archer is judging these books for what they represent socially, not aesthetically. He is too much of a snob to judge these comedy books on how well they deliver jokes.

I'm reviewing a very good novel right now for the Gazette. It's a 'serious' novel with very heavy subject matter. One thing I will be sure not to do is to complain that the book is lacking in punchlines.

Oh! And they spelled the title of my book incorrectly! Thanks, Toronto Star!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2005


I'm very proud of this. I have been working on the proofs of Post-Prairie -- an anthology of new poetry edited by Robert Kroetsch and l'il ole' me. I love the work in this anthology. Here's some copy from the Talonbooks catalogue:

"Prairie poetry," as it came to be known in the 20th century, has found no more eloquent and accomplished a practitioner than Robert Kroetsch. Yet the North American prairie his work has made so recognizably visible in all of its characteristic particularities is changing profoundly in the 21st century. This change is marked by the transition of a cultural identity primarily rooted in place, to one that is rooted in a rapidly fragmenting, urbanizing, technology-based globalization. In an opening dialogue between the archetypal practitioner of this poetics of place, Robert Kroetsch, and a new practitioner, Jon Paul Fiorentino, the reader bears witness to a rare literary event-a master passing on his legacy to the students who have become his peers.

Post-Prairie will be out in Fall 2005 and includes new work from

derek beaulieu
Rob Budde
Louis Cabri
Jason Christie
Rosanna Deerchild
Adam Dickinson
Jon Paul Fiorentino
ryan fitzpatrick
Marvin Francis
Jill Hartman
Clive Holden
Catherine Hunter
Larissa Lai
Sylvia Legris
Nicole Markotic
Chandra Mayor
Suzette Mayr
Mariianne Mays
Duncan Mercredi
John K. Samson
Ian Samuels
Natalie Simpson
Karen Solie
Andy Weaver
Darren Wershler-Henry

Post-Prairie is dedicated to Marvin Francis -- a wonderful Winnipeg poet and Post-Prairie contributor who passed away last year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

School of quietude north?

Is there a School of Quietude North? (The School of Quietude is Ron Silliman's tag for lyric, conservative, traditionalist poetry.) Is Canada currently suffering from a dominance of SoQ style poetics? Which Canadian poets fit this mold?

Friday, July 15, 2005

I'm up now, mark

I got my special edition of the Asthma book. I am thrilled.

I have to write a book review of a very controversial new book for the Gazette. The deadline is looming. And I don't know how to write this thing. Situational writer's block.

This is from my grade two report card: "Jonny likes to tell jokes and stories. He takes pride in spelling words correctly. His printing could be more legible."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

New cover

If you wanna see the new Asthmatica cover, click here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Awesome things make me feel awesome

Some recent good news:

The special edition of Asthmatica will be out July 11th.

My poetry is featured in the new issue of New American Writing. The Canadian Poetry supplement was edited by Todd Swift. It includes new work by Jason Camlot, David McGimpsey, Christian Bok, Nathalie Stephens, Lisa Robertson, Darren Wershler-Henry/Bill Kennedy and so many more!!! I'm honoured to share space with such amazing poets.

This fall, I will have new poetry in Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry, an anthology edited by derek beaulieu, a. rawlings, and Jason Christie. These three are among the best of Canada's young poets and being a part of this project is a huge thrill.

There is an essay by Deborah Wills in the new ARC that discusses my book Hello Serotonin. It's called "The Flesh Continuing": Pain, Poetry and the Therapeutic Landscape. In it, Wills writes of the body and the failure of the body. Her close readings of poems from HS are shrewd and imaginative. And I am grateful.

On the home front, Lilly says "Dada," "Kitty," "Mama" and "Pataphysics." I'm very proud.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Losing in front of my hometown

Asthmatica received its first truly negative review today. It was in the Winnipeg Free Press by a journalist named Morley Walker. It's impossible not to take this stuff too seriously. What made the review so frustrating is that the reviewer failed to see the difference between fiction and autobiography and mostly complained about my punctuation and adverb choices.

And, of course, I was chastised for not being serious. There was a cool pull quote though: "Imagine Portnoy's Complaint set in the landscape of TV's South Park." I think he thought that was a slag, but that sounds like a good book to me!

The book has been an amazing critical success and I feel very lucky for that. The special edition is on its way. But I can't help but cringe at the thought of my hometown family and friends reading such a negative and mean spirited review.

At this point, after my fourth book, I should have thicker skin than this. But I don't. I'm hurt. I wonder how many writers are truly liberated from feeling this way when a bad review happens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Never mind the pollocks

I've been spending a lot of time at home with my daughter Lilly this spring. I've haven't been writing too much, just the occasional poem, or comedy bit. Lilly is supercool. She can stand on her own; she says "Dada"; and she has very little interest in Canadian poetry. The perfect kid.

I did have the pleasure of reading and hanging out with Sean Carswell, Mickey Hess and Joe Meno. These indie American fiction writers recently came through Montreal and although the crowd was small, the readings were fantastic. Great writers, great drinkers. You just gotta check them out.

My Winnipeg launch was a blast! Lots of friends and family came out and I got to read with David McGimpsey, Alissa York and Chandra Mayor. What could be better than that?

And finally, Asthmatica is sold out. No more first editions in the world. (Well, almost.) So it is being reprinted in a special second edition, with a sexy black, blue and silver cover, and now with 50% less typos! More on this, including a sneak peak at the new cover on my website soon!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Winnipeg calling

I will be back home in Winnipeg to launch Asthmatica:


MONDAY MAY 30 2005

the launch of
Jon Paul Fiorentino’s

ASTHMATICA - a collection of comedic fiction

"Introducing a Montreal talent you'll read again and again. Asthmatica is one you'll want to own."


"An idiosyncratic and savagely funny memoir. (Four stars.)"


with very special guests,
Chandra Mayor
Clive Holden
Rosanna Deerchild
David McGimpsey launching CERTIFIABLE.

"This guy is as funny as David Sedaris and even more inventive!"


This will be a night to remember! McNally Robinson
will be on-site selling books.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What a night

My QWF poetry workshop did an amazing job performing their work at Blizzarts on Sunday night.

Thanks to Aly, Shawnda, Tara, Maureen, Anna, Frank, Crystal, Elise, Jan, and Julia! What a great class!

Stuart Ross launched his book. He charmed the pants off of all of us. Thanks, Stu!!!

Here are some pictures from the night:

Thursday, April 14, 2005

May will be awesome

Yeah! Stuart Ross is joining my poetry workshop for a very special night!

The Quebec Writers Federation Presents...
May 1st, 2005. 8pm
Live @ Blizzarts (3956A St-Laurent)

an evening with emerging poets

T.K. Murphy
Jan Jorgensen
Elise Moser
Anna Carathanasis
Julia DeSouza
Frank Crcek
Crystal Beliveau
Shawnda Wilson
Maureen Rappaport
Ali Dimyati

with very special guest, the legendary Stuart Ross, launching his brand new book:
and your host, local gadabout, Jon Paul Fiorentino!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

New York drawls

I will joining a group of very cool authors in New York for two special nights:

Hazards of Globalisation: Entertainment by Foreigners. The ex-pat artists in this city are mostly busy being New Yorkers like everyone else. At this cabaret, though, they revert to their étranger status and express their ideas about where they've come from vs. the country they've come to. Think of it as a mini-Olympics of music, theatre, dance, spoken-word, and video art. Tuesday, April 12th, 10 pm. Galapagos Art Space, 70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg. (L to Bedford Ave.) 718 782-5188. Free.

Don't Blame Canada: Some of Canada's most entertaining poets and writers talk and perform work about cross-border mutual misunderestimations. David McGimpsey, Adeena Karasick, Catherine Kidd, Corey Frost, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Ian Ferrier, and Amanda Marchand. Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery. 212-614-0505. Wed., April 13th. 10 pm. $5 (US or Can. dollars.)

These will sort of be my NYC Asthmatica launches. Hope to see you there.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I know you're strong

The Weakerthans -- the best band since The Smiths. There. I've said it. John K. Samson has this uncanny ability to use all of his influences-- lyric poetry, literary and Marxist theory, country, punk, etc.-- to craft intricate and beautiful pop songs. The band nails it every time. You can't go to a Weakerthans show and not be uplifted. They can be sappy, hyper-emotive, highly political and still rock like bastards. There's a generosity and fierce intelligence in their music that restores my faith. I strongly suggest you visit them here.

And while you're at it, visit John K. Samson's brilliant publishing house

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The movie run backward

The Movie Run Backward

The words will one day come
back to you, birds returning,
the movie run backward.

Nothing so strange in its talk,
just words. The people
who wrote them are the dead ones

This here paper talks like anything
but is only one thing,
"birds returning."

You can "run the movie
backward" but "the movie run
backward." The movie run backward.

Robert Creeley 1926-2005

Monday, March 28, 2005

Because we must

I have been asked by quite a few people to make this review available online. It's my first "negative" review of anything. I feel the need to speak out against the current strain of conservatism in CanLit. This review is currently running in the Word (Toronto) and set to be reprinted in filling Station (Calgary). 

The Self-Lover’s Quarry

A Lover’s Quarrel by Carmine Starnino
Erin: The Porcupine’s Quill, 2004
Reviewed by Jon Paul Fiorentino

One of the back jacket blurbs for A Lover’s Quarrel, Carmine Starnino’s first book of literary criticism, comes from Books in Canada—where Starnino holds the position of associate editor: “Whatever one thinks of his judgments, there can be little doubt that he judges the work in front of him and not the reputation of the poet or the debased laurels wreathing the book’s uncracked spine.” It’s a little like seeing a Bill O’Reilly book with a glowing blurb from Fox News. Still, I fought through the laurels and chanced it.

Starnino is the youngest and most zealous of a group of traditionalist poets from Montreal. Others include David Solway, Michael Harris and Eric Ormsby. This self-proclaimed “Jubilate Circle” of formal-minded versifiers (see David Solway’s Director’s Cut) has made inroads in the Quebec literary scene in the past few years through their antagonistic criticism of Canada’s most celebrated and best loved poets. The idea that Starnino is railing against an inferior poetics is at the heart of his “quarrel.” Starnino posits that it is his duty to speak out against the current “blandness of our literary scene.” Invoking Kingsley Amis, he argues that “a truly fresh approach demands fresh language.”

At every turn, Starnino sets his sights on a CanLit icon. From the most celebrated to the most innovative, bpNichol, Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee, Robert Kroetsch, Christopher Dewdney, Christian Bök, Erin Moure, Susan Musgrave, Al Purdy, Anne Carson, David McGimpsey, no one is safe.

Starnino is continually guilty of the fallacy of holding up one poet’s work to another poet’s standards. For example, he criticizes David McGimpsey’s humorous collection, Lardcake, for not living up to Frank O’Hara’s example. Never mind if the work in question seeks to exemplify or emulate O’Hara. It’s similar to excoriating Lenny Bruce for not being Johnny Carson—or Carson for being no Bruce. Here, Starnino makes little effort to try to understand the book’s wisecracking, he actually writes: “I don’t get it. And I don’t think there is much to get.” Granted, there are many people in the world who have trouble understanding comedy, but they generally don't decide to write about it.

Starnino is at his worst when he attacks experimental poetry. He berates Christopher Dewdney’s classic The Natural History for employing difficult scientific diction because, after all, “life [is] short and books are many.” A noble sentiment for a scholar. Christian Bök’s bestselling Eunoia is slammed for not living up to Samuel Coleridge’s poetic criteria. Despite rallying for a more “formal appraisal” of Canadian poetry in his title essay, Starnino fails to see the formal accomplishment of Eunoia, and, not surprisingly, a sonnet by his colleague David Solway which manages to rhyme “kingcap” with “scrap” and “off” with “trough” is offered up as a healthier alternative to what Starnino calls Bök’s “Vowel Movements.” Clever, eh? 

Despite the fact that Eunoia energized poetry readers throughout Canada, exposed Canadians to vibrant literary traditions that exist outside this country and ultimately received the most prestigious award in Canadian literature, it did not do enough for Starnino or his friends. This is the unfortunate source of all of these ad hominem attacks—the sour grapes of Starnino and his writing circle. And the beat goes on for Montreal’s most celebrated and successful poetic innovators—Erin Moure and Anne Carson—who are both dismissed in A Lover’s Quarrel in favour of, well, you know.

Robert Kroetsch, one of Canada’s most influential poets and theorists, is unceremoniously brushed-off for his desire to engage in a “demythologizing” of the English language. Here, Starnino argues that Kroetsch’s desire for vernacular acuity turns “Canadian poetry’s relationship with the English tradition into a morality tale, heroes and villains neatly tagged.” This is a most depressing reduction and makes one keenly aware that Starnino’s aims are about as subtle as a hire made by Macbeth. While Starnino’s anti-theory tenor makes his subsequent stabs at literary theory somewhat amusing, the whole point of A Lover’s Quarrel is to make, as Starnino puts it, “a book of partisan criticism.” In other words, his critical framework relies, first and foremost, on “heroes and villains neatly tagged.”

As previously mentioned, the most obvious limitation of A Lover’s Quarrel is that he eschews the truly innovative and musical works of our most cherished poets, and continually props up the preciously rendered works of his cohorts: Solway, Harris, Ormsby, et al. as the alternative to all this “blandness.” And what do these unacknowledged, underappreciated scribes have to offer? Starnino offers us full poem samples of Ormsby’s “Garter Snake,” Solway’s “Stones in Water” and Harris’ “The Dolphin”—each poem, an equal exercise in the shop-worn emblem and the faux epiphany. In other words, skillful but bland.

Further, he bemoans the fact that his writers circle is not properly acknowledged in Canada and throughout the world. It’s a good thing that there is no index at the back of A Lover’s Quarrel, for it would reveal, in a most comedic way, that the names most invoked throughout the book are Solway, Harris, and Ormsby. Not Yeats, Shakespeare or Auden (as a thesis like his might suggest) but a close-knit group of local writers. While one can completely understand the need to stand up for one’s own, for this to occur in a polemic so skeptical of the incestuous circles of CanLit is a little rich. 

A Lover’s Quarrel can be summed up as a slightly less accomplished version of David Solway’s Director’s Cut. It’s Solway-Lite but when most people want their Solway, they want it full strength. It might qualify as full strength if it weren’t for some interesting diversions, including a somewhat self-effacing, but inevitably self-serving Introduction, where Starnino asks important questions of himself such as “Are my critical instincts hemmed in by my taste?” Unfortunately, the answer is always inward affirmation. 

It should be said, perhaps in Starnino’s defense, that this book is not actually scholarship. It’s a collection of book reviews. Lovers of Canadian literature have eclectic tastes and have enough room on their bookshelves for both Al Purdy and Christian Bök, both Margaret Atwood and Erin Moure, both Irving Layton and Anne Carson, and so on. As Malcolm Ross has noted, “we are many voices.” But eclecticism is Starnino’s neatly tagged enemy. The Canadian reader, whose bookshelf is capable of holding the unique diversity of our national literature, is really the one with whom Starnino has a quarrel, for the reader has made her/his informed decision already and Starnino is not happy. 

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Very recent books you should read

David McGimpsey's Certifiable (Insomniac)
Mark Truscott's Said Like Reeds Or Things (Coach House)
Julia Williams' The Sink House (Coach House)
Corey Frost's The Worthwhile Flux (conundrum)
Rachel Zolf's Masque (Mercury)
Jonathan Ames' Wake Up, Sir (Scribner)
John Lavery's You, Kwaznievski, You Piss Me Off (ECW)
Kaie Kellough's Lettricity (Cumulus)

Toronto, Montreal and the little book that could.

The Montreal Hour gave my new book, Asthmatica, a positive review!

Toronto launch was amazing-- at the Rivoli with David McGimpsey, Angela Rawlings, and the hilarious

Montreal launch was amazing too-- at the Jupiter Room with David McGimpsey, Jason Camlot, Robert Allen, Ibi Kaslik, and Maya Merrick. My folks even showed up. In the end, I was too weepy and wheezy to read for very long. That happens to me alot.

Friday, January 14, 2005

What I do

I am a writer. My poems are published by Coach House Books. My comedic fiction is published by Insomniac Press. My website is here. I want Lurch to be my daddy.