Live From Loop Gallery: Zach Pearl and Steven Lambke at the Vallum Chapbook Launch

On November 15th, we held a launch at Loop Gallery in Toronto for our two new chapbooks, Ladybird Bug Boy by Zach Pearl and The Weave by Thurston Moore and John Kinsella. For anyone who wasn’t able to attend, we’re excited to share live audio from the event.

The evening featured a reading from Zach Pearl, a musical interpretation of The Weave by singer-songwriter Steven Lambke, and a curatorial talk by Loop Gallery manager Tim Welsh. Featured alongside Ladybird and The Weave were two new exhibits at Loop: Still by Jenn Law and other collisions by Elizabeth D’Agostino.

Presenting first, Zach read several excerpts from Ladybird as well as new pieces about data, Dufferin Grove, and the Marianas Trench:

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After Zach’s reading, Steven treated us to his interpretation of The Weave, pairing Thurston and John’s musical language with fluid acoustic guitar, guiding listeners through the chapbook’s associative images of decay and survival:

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Ladybird Bug Boy and The Weave are both available for purchase in our print and digital stores.

 

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Vallum Poem of the Week: Winter Wind by Katherine Noone

katherine noone



Winter Wind

How do you
kick up your heels
with such gusto
at three in the morning?

Your rage rattles
windows and doors,
your wails mournful
as a banshee scorned

Awakened
we dangle on bedsides
like tree branches
bent from your rampage.

Katherine Noone had her first poetry collection Keeping Watch published by Lapwing Publications in February 2017. Retired, she lives in Galway with her husband. Her poems have appeared in Orbis, Crannog, Boyne Berries, Linnets Wings, Her Heart Anthology, Skylight 47, Proost Poetry, Vallum, A New Ulster, Ropes, Dodging The Rain, and Poethead. She was shortlisted for the Vallum Poetry Award in 2012.

To view other content published in this issue, 13:2, please visit Vallum’s Website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: Held Me Like The Baby I Was by Pamela Beyer

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Held Me Like The Baby I Was 

we smell the forest fragrance red and the trees healthy or they are rotting the land is tilled to grow poison now we are not close enough to the water or the river or the lake and we go to sleep heavy in little houses or they are stalls in beds of hay in boxes or they are coffins where i ask who rules this sad valley with draining eyes stain on the ground we work little pools of memories leak out our bodies to give flashes of hands stroking through the wet hair moments of laying little body limp to feign sleep in that time we get carried in from the long car ride myself out to the ocean myself alone now no anchor remembering your tall strong figure on the ground grown cold i am left here everyone looking on this small child in the forest my body breaking just like yours did once you smiled so big when i opened my eyes to see you

Pamela Beyer is a Poet living in Montreal. Her poems, “Dream: Flip the Mattress” and “Dream: Only Two” have been published in Yiara Magazine. She believes in poetry.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Featured Review: My Ariel by Sina Queyras (Review by Karissa LaRocque)

Congratulations to Vallum contributor Sina Queyras on winning the Quebec Writers Foundation’s 2018 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry for her most recent book, My Ariel!

How Do You Dare to Publish a Problem?: Sina Queyras’ MY ARIEL

(Toronto, ON: Coach House Books, $19.95, 88 pages)

sina queyras my ariel

Sina Queyras’ new collection of poetry, My Ariel, is not obsessed with suicide and death in the way you might expect a book titled after Sylvia Plath’s 1965 Ariel to be. Instead, the obsessions Queyras picks up on in Ariel are those of circularity, rebirth, and repetition: the mythical cycles we find in poetry and in life. The collection is rife with narrative memories and moments that return cast in new light, superstitious circles that we later learn are more like vortexes

The infamous adage goes that Ted Hughes rearranged the ordering of Ariel after his wife’s death, ending the collection with “Words” and leaving the reader on the moment of: “From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars / Govern a life.” Conversely, Plath’s last arrangement of the collection starts with “[l]ove set you going like a fat gold watch” and ends with “[t]he bees are flying. They taste the spring.” The renewal implied by spring and the pollination cycle is what we might call a tone shift from Hughes’ choice of the dark well. Likewise, My Ariel is a cycle, albeit a dark one: stirring, powerfully affecting, and at times violent, if only as a consideration. Yet, like the collection’s namesake, the upswing always comes: the children, the better years, the shoulders straightening underneath the men’s suit. Even in the darkest turns of the collection there is always a way out, and in the brightest moments a shadow. Like the original Ariel, Queyras’ take is not a death wish, nor is it empowering or positive in its resilience—it is more like a circle: phases, seasons of a life, and of the shifting imagined future:

As flanks; steps
Of joy that, like the hours,
We master and release.

My Ariel’s premise may be that it is a playful rewrite of an infamous collection more known for its writer than for its contents, but the collection is an outstretched hand, not a closed one. Queyras emulates Plath in her skillful equation of the outside world and its drama—environmentalism, gender, sexism, aging, death, poverty, privilege—with the microcosm of her family history. Put another way, the speaker returns to herself, her parents, her children, while also considering the larger cultural and historical tides she’s caught in.

If every female poet has had their obsession with Plath, Queyras is the outlier. Her engagement does not read as a personal investment, a devotion to Plath, or as a quest to solve her like a dead mystery. Her engagement with Ariel is more like a conversation, a dialogue, the sparks of glee and relief when one smart, busy, overdrawn woman speaks to another, checking their watch (their iPhone) for when to come home to the children. Given Queyras’ earlier collections Expressway (2009), which draws on the peripatetic Grasmere Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, and MxT (2014), which uses diagrams and formulas to quantify grief, Queyras’ framing of her own book, quite literally, with Plath’s seems to me another one of her genius and labour intensive conceptual framings. With Plath, though, Queyras is encountering a conceptual framework unlike any other. The world of Plath criticism is bat shit crazy. Given the rabbit hole of the world of Plath studies—a genre which I can most concisely explain by saying that there is a book about books about Plath—there is no way My Ariel wouldn’t in some ways be about the way the public and the academy engages with the confessional or lyric work of female writers. Queyras’ twist is that she adds to the already engaging frame—questions like, what if Plath wasn’t straight, what if she didn’t have a husband, what if she could tweet? These conceptual thoughts alone could make a compelling book and this was the book I was expecting—but Queyras moves to wider ground, penning work about parenting, careers, aging, love, and commitment. If the book feels sprawling and like it is shooting in several different directions all at once that’s because it is—which I don’t mean in a negative way. Rather, I read it as a sharply aware reflection of the conditions of the time—how can a book simply react to another one fifty-two years its senior without including all that has changed, all that we have lost: “I am not a historian but I / bind myself with history, not just my own.”

Another adage goes that Plath’s short story “The Fifty-Ninth Bear”— about an embittered wife seeing her husband get eaten by a bear on a camping trip— was clearly a secret death wish for Hughes. Recently, critics have picked up on Plath’s interest in ecology, environmentalism, and how human interference has decimated national parks. The focus on Plath’s personal drama obscured an interest in nature and preservation, meaning we only got the ecological reading of the story maybe 40 years after it was published. Likewise, on first read My Ariel is a complicated engagement of one life with Plath’s mythos, a triumph of lyricism by a darkly funny and sharp speaker. Yet on second read I realize how I was only seeing the bear eat Hughes: Queyras’ speaker is looking out. Gender is an undercurrent that will make younger readers ask how our contemporary generation is experiencing visibility in a way older generations did not, about how queer parenting is pushed into binary heteronormative boxes, and how men have made writing, teaching, and learning unstable rooms for us all.

The most disappointing and pervasive reading of Ariel has always been that it is just a suicide note. That it is the key to figuring Plath out, a way to get to the real Plath, Sylvia, Sivvy. Put a poem in a tunnel like that, and it will never come out. Likewise, to read My Ariel as simply a rewrite of Ariel is to miss the half dozen other tracks Queyras takes her readers on. Though it is a book communicated through the “I” of the speaker, My Ariel is an empathetic and outreaching movement for Queyras. It is a dialogue with Plath that invites readers to the table too. For the Plath fans, there are plenty of Easter eggs. The enigmatic “The Night Dances, Very Fine is Very Cold: A Sequence in an Old Way” reads like a call and response for the savvy reader, as Queyras drops the first names of Plath scholars alongside now immortalised friends, relatives, and confidantes: Anne Stevenson, Janet Malcolm, W. S. and Dido Merwin, Olywn Hughes. For those who catch her drift, these moments are gleeful and fun, smoothly integrated and rewarding like riddles. Yet, for certain and prolonged moments, Plath doesn’t seem to matter much at all. These poems are strong and sure of themselves in their muscular movement and sturdy grounding, even when sparse they punch you in the gut: “The body knows what it needs to burn, and will.” With My Ariel Queyras has written poems which—despite giving you so much—have the rare gift of still seeming to leave so much unsaid, unanswered, unspoken.

Karissa LaRocque likes to read and sometimes writes about reading. Her work has appeared MUSE Medusa, LOR Journal, The Dalhousie Review, GUTS Magazine, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter (@_karissy) or Instagram (@2punk2die).

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: Lakeshore by Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell

Lakeshore

Along this strip
you could once find
vintage Thunderbirds
pulling into burger joints
before the movies,
and afterward they’d go
ripping up and down
the pavement,
surfing on the lake breeze.

That was when
the edge of town boomed
and everyone went to Lakeshore
to eat in diners
caressed by the cool wind,
and spent nights by the water
in small motels
on the beaches of Lake Ontario.

Now their bodies crumble
as an excavator eats them
like crackers
and it’s stunning how easily
something comes to ruin,
how swift
the passage of time.

Chris Riddell is a writer and musician based in Toronto. He’s written for Maisonneuve and The Globe and Mail, and his poetry has appeared in Vallum, Sulphur, and amomancies. He endeavors to capture the beauty of the world, and universal truths about life on Earth, in his work. Other than that, he likes to commune with nature, watch comedy specials, and drink medically inadvisable volumes of craft beer, but not all at the same time. You can find him on Twitter (@itschrisriddell) and on Instagram (@modernquixote).

To view other poems published in this issue, 14:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags or iTunes

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Buzzing” by Zach Pearl

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Buzzing

In awe and envy of the space-black fly
as its peppercorn-body bounces
              [like spitfire]
off the edges of our attic bedroom,
aware by the time it collides with
another juggernaut of drywall
it has already forgotten
the intimate pain of pavement.

Runaway punctuation
from an ill-crafted sentence,
the fly is faster than logic travels;
an oily impulse through ego’s sieve,
avoiding the hazards of pause.

It hums a petulant tune
of precipitation,

absolute presence.

Zach Pearl is an American-Canadian writer, designer and educator. Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, his work is often informed by the tensions of city living in farm country and growing up gay in the Bible Belt. Zach is also co-founder and Managing Editor of KAPSULA, a digital publication for experimental arts writing and sits on the board for Mechademia, a biannual journal for studies in Asian popular cultures. He is the 2018 winner of the Vallum Chapbook Award and his chapbook Ladybird Bug Boy was published by Vallum in November 2018.

To view other poems published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

To purchase Ladybird Bug Boy by Zach Pearl, please visit Vallum’s online store.

Vallum
 magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Six Durusti Translations” by Simon Brown and Emmi Lebuffe

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Six Durusti Translations

1.

Up to here, every time is a variant. We pass ourselves, for the
ending dirt operates on denial. Of not knowing, unaware and
bereaved tumuli agree on a defined point.

From here all iterations are the same iteration, passing for finite
mud and operating on exclusion. Knowingly or unknowingly,
small mounds meet at this sad point.

2.

Shapes are surviving but encounter not once the tranquility of
agitation. At selfsame horizons, cushions wake and hollow out.
Our needful burrow of confinement is no stumbling for this
mammal. A clear affirmation of fog.

Conditions are present but never met, quiet and disquiet
equidistant. Pillows awaken and shovels dig small but necessary
tunnels: fear of confinement is no obstacle. For mammals and
what is, a message is mixed or unmixed.

3.

Peppery sauce constrains slurring itself. This is language. Indistinct
twitching or clean hands. Hope-for-efforts glower, partially full.
Obviating, a draw traces elsewhere.

Rust prevents rust, and mumbling is language too, Faint spasms
and hand-washing make for an honest effort, in part or in whole.
Evidential markers mark away.

4.

The subject is what is, a bad idea. Weight is gloomy and like
vocabulary. A box of broad ones and the twigs take form. He’ll
lose to take it back. Featured parts disband and find unpublished
wholes among. Marching beside and toward another horizon.

Subject to what is, a bad idea and weight are morose and equal: a
dictionary, can of beans or large bundle of twigs. We take form,
lose it, and take it up again. Constituent parts scatter to find new
wholes. We walk among them, or by them, and walk away.

5.

More the sweater ages, the falls are a recent version. In this way, a
heavy light. We remember it sadly with a given snare. The
substance is what misses us to become dirty. Dilation that doesn’t,
really. Our weight is of others.

The older the pulling, the newer the fall. With a heavy or light
thud, we remember this: a sad and substantial trap, one of many.
Missing elements contaminate a growth that doesn’t grow. it is
surely someone else’s burden.

6.

Using the value of smells is familiar. Mouthing huts, obscures the
refraction of confirmed sauces. There is little assemblage. Tracing
isn’t not in the dark without our hestitation. A place where some
eyes are porous.

Use-value wafts and familiar mispronunciation happily obfuscates.
Our prism is smeared with old mayonnaise, socks are unpairable
and outlines untraced. In the dark, reluctance is out of place: our
eyes remain open.

 

Mimi Lebuffe (aka Emmi Ramos Lebuffe) is an experimental poet and artist from the East Coast of Canada. She has published in Vallum, nationalpoetrymonth.ca, Pahkakuhtak, and in various zines and artist books.

Simon Brown is an interdisciplinary poet from New Brunswick currently based in rural Québec. His French and English texts have been presented in performances, poetry collections and artist books, and via platforms such as Lemon Hound, Estuaire, Vallum, Poetry Is Dead, Watts, and The Blasted Tree.

 

To view other poems published in this issue, 14:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum
 magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Carbon Copy” by Andy Lee

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Photo: Dominic Ali (@domali3)

 

Carbon Copy

Your third life starts the split second you die
from a vaccination gone awry. Consolation:
consciousness restored from a lifetime of metadata
hoarded on Google servers. Virtual no more,
a superhuman subroutine emerges from
primordial digital soup, an avatar so flawless
your lover and mother barely notice
the quiet fleck of death gleaming somewhere
just beyond pale blue eyes.

 

 

Andy Lee (@realandylee) is a Toronto-based poet, lyricist, musician and member of the Writers Guild of Canada. An award-winning writer, his poetry has appeared in Vallum Magazine and was shortlisted for their 2017 Chapbook Award. Andy is the author of Chrys and Coco, an e-picture book about friendship and diversity, available on Amazon.

 

To view other poems published in this issue, 14:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum
 magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Syllabic Acrostic:  Hoodoos (Bryce Canyon)” by Carolyne Wright

C Eulene @Cafe Zippy 9-7-17
credit: Duane Kirby Jensen

Syllabic Acrostic:  Hoodoos (Bryce Canyon)

“A tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid
drainage basin or badland.”
—National Park Service

Bristlecone Pines’ storm-scoured
roots twist into limestone slopes
yielding to ice that widens
cliff-face caverns and grottoes,
erosion’s slow slide gliding

counterclockwise underneath
afternoon’s unbroken blue.
Numinous lithic fingers
yoke cycles of frost and thaw,
overarch our path down to
nodes fissured in sandstone shade.

Pinnacles sculpted by wind
almost translucent against
rosy dusk’s backlighting. What
keeps us on these scumbled slopes?

Under what spell do hoodoos
tease, tempt, voodoo us into
acquiescence to the stone?
How evening’s mauve shadows move

up the windowed rock, help us,
spires, to reflect you, as clay
arcs toward the sky cradle’s light.

 

 

Carolyne Wright’s latest book is This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse Press, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and was included in The Best American Poetry 2009.  Her co-edited anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse, 2015), received ten Pushcart Prize nominations and was a finalist in the Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Awards. A Seattle native who studied with Elizabeth Bishop, Richard Hugo, and William Stafford, she is author of nine previous books and chapbooks of poetry, a book of essays, and five volumes of poetry in translation from Spanish and Bengali—the latest of which is Map Traces, Blood Traces / Trazas de mapa, trazas de sangre (Mayapple Press, 2017), a bilingual sequence of poems by Seattle-based Chilean poet, Eugenia Toledo (Finalist for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry 2018). Wright teaches for Richard Hugo House and for national and international literary conferences and festivals. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes and a Senior Editor for Lost Horse Press, she has received grants from the Fulbright Association (Chile and Brazil: Fulbright Study Grant; Bangladesh: Senior Research Fellowship), the National Endowment for the Arts, 4Culture, and Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, among others. Wright returned to Brazil in mid-2018 on an Instituto Sacatar residency fellowship in Bahia.

 

To view other poems published in this issue, 14:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum
 magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Mid-April Afternoon: Listening to Beethoven’s Für Elise” by Bibhu Padhi

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Mid-April Afternoon: Listening to Beethoven’s Für Elise

What song that an hour ago put me
to my drunken sleep,
nearly took away my life?
What fragile, unheard sound now
that almost seems to stop midway
through its own composition?
What questions asked that I couldn’t
answer, what translucent persuasion
that diffuses toward an unremembered space?
What repetition of doubts, what
modest meditation that unfurls
the vastly superior actions of our minds?

Yes, you seem to say, and now,
and now, the sounds seem to echo
more and more from life, from death,
when the long pre-summer evening
is so supremely awake, stretches far away.

Love: I seem to need more
and as I ask my eighteen-year-old child
to repeat the chant that ends
every time without notice,
I wonder what else there might be
to the end than our meaningless claims
to supremacy, our ever-listless minds,
our dark, peripheral lives.
Isn’t it true that somewhere , at some
unknown time and place,
they all come to a close,
and end as quietly as they began?

 

Bibhu Padhi has published eleven books of poems. His next book, Meditations on Being, will be published by HarperCollins later this year.

 

To view other poems published in this issue, 14:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum
 magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.