Vallum Poem of the Week: “When The Moving Truck Pulled Up” by Tamar Rubin

tamar rubin

When the Moving Truck Pulled Up

This was the final stage of love, lifting
not because you asked, but because I had to
clear the dust
under the loveseat.

Fishing through cupboards for that Masala,
I broke a spice-jar, freed a pungent mix
that tripped me, opened up
a sticky-sweet corner, fragrances
jammed between dinner parties
and rickshaws.

The movers transferred vanities, heavy chests
labeled ‘barbeque’ and ‘breakable.’
I made sure to wrap dishes, twice
or three times. You reminded me
you wanted to keep the shower curtains.

Every shelf I cleaned was full of fluff
settled in the pause
between making and takeout. The crumbs
outlined exactly what had been

removed. The dust caught me in my throat.
For a moment, we both stopped, admiring
the coordinated movement of stuff
rising softly, blowing up.

You coughed
before we said goodbye.

Tamar Rubin is a Winnipeg physician and writer. She has published her work in both literary and medical journals, including Vallum, Prairie Fire, CV2, The New Quarterly, Journal of the American Medical Association, The Hippocrates Medical Poetry Anthology, and others. Her unpublished chapbook, Tablet Fragments, was shortlisted in Vallum’s 2017 chapbook contest, and her poems were long listed in Room Magazine’s 2017 Poetry Contest and CV2’s 2018 Young Buck Contest. She is currently hard at work raising a small human named Samuel.

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.

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “Though This Is Uncertain” by Joy Kogawa

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Though This Is Uncertain

what we are doing with the light
i do not know
or even where it is
it has become abstracted
and its glow sufficiently diffuse
that it has been renamed Grey
and Grey, dense, heavy
is decidedly unlike the bright memory of
light i still gladly retain. what we are
doing with the light i do not

know but the leaves of the bush
and the vine turn greenly in a direction
towards the cold hard window through which
the light must be calling though this
is uncertain

Joy Kogawa is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her first novel, Obasan, published in 1981, won five awards including Books in Canada‘s “First Novel Award” in 1981. In 1986, Kogawa was made a Member of the Order of Canada. Most recently, she has written Naomi’s Tree (2016).

To view other poems published in this issue 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: Pilgrimage

sharon black

Pilgrimage

When the peregrine
goes for the kill
it’s the fastest creature
on earth. On a column
of air it wobbles, wings
an upturned cradle
for the surge of sky.
Up there, a static speck
to the naked eye, its eye
is faultless, unwavering
the world condensed
to a single atom, a collapsed star
in its pupil, a heartbeat
resting on a spire of light. Now
the sudden tilt into flight—
wings pinned to its sides
it opens up to gravity and sightline
utterly still
while at 240 mph it plummets
through a hollow
disappearing in a flurry
on the ground, not even
a shriek in the rush
of silence that follows.

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow where she worked as a journalist and now lives in a remote valley of the Cévennes mountains of southern France where she organizes writing retreats. She once spent a year in rural Japan. Her poetry has been published widely. In 2018 she won The London Magazine Poetry Prize, and in 2017 the Poets & Players Competition. Her first collection, To Know Bedrock, was published in 2011 (Pindrop Press). Her second, The Art of Egg, was published in 2015 (Two Ravens Press). She is currently working on a fourth collection, about the Cévennes region in France. She can be reached on Facebook.

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.

Vallum Poem of the Week: Sepia by Frances Boyle

frances boyle headshot

Sepia

Cuttlefish fluid, black in ocean depths
clouds    obscures.
Distilled to ink, it lets me
draw fine brown lines, trace contours
a conversation
                       a face.

These reflections are sepia
old photographs    letters aged in tea.

Cuttlefish core’s a bone
caged birds can peck.
Canary minded,
I flit from moment to moment
hard-scrabbling
                       at the rusk of memory.

Frances Boyle is the author of the poetry collection, Light-carved Passages (BuschekBooks, 2014) and a novella, Tower (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). Her poems and short stories have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies throughout Canada and in the U.S., and won national and local contests, including the Diana Brebner Prize and the Great Canadian Literary Hunt. Her second book of poetry will be published by Quattro Books in Fall 2019, and her short story collection with Porcupine’s Quill in 2020. Visit her website at www.francesboyle.com.

To view other content published in this issue, 10:2, 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: Taxi Drivers’ Therapy by Yusuf Saadi

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Taxi Drivers’ Therapy

Kolkata’s klaxons corrode the wiring in
your skull: a child, you watched the Brahmin
sacrifice a goat at Kali temple,
your bare feet were islands in its blood. Ma had whispered
this is how we cleanse our hearts, but you can’t
recall what this means. Now you’re hanging
a bare foot from your taxi window, blistered
toes antennae to scan the city for her voice.
Instead of Ma’s eyes, you dream of two black
crows sharing a cigarette on an awning—
they light another, alight together for
wherever crows go when outside of human
experience. Your side-mirror sniffs at a woman’s
silken sari; the writing on the mirror states
summer is a time for reveries. In the alley, people
are moving through each other, not ghosts,
but so alive their skin’s a porous border.

Yusuf Saadi‘s writing has appeared/is forthcoming in journals/anthologies including Vallum, The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Arc, Brick, and Best Canadian Poetry. He holds an MA in English from the University of Victoria.

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: Hymn by Lesley Pasquin

lesley pasquin headshot

Hymn

If we were not all searchers, I say,
we would not be in this kitchen.
We smoke cigarettes we
have rolled by hand and
drink gin straight from the bottle.
We come to find each other,
and we do, but I continually
search elsewhere in any case,
in every instance that I might
have missed some sign of you—
a small red biplane overhead
as I walk in the woods,
the underbrush revealing nothing but
the scuffling of my feet, the
disturbing of spores.

If you had not gone, I would not be
sitting here, listing you
among the missing and the dead,
your face on a milk carton, on a
tee shirt, older, grayer. I would not
be turning pen and tool in my hand,
casting runes.

Perhaps I might find you
interred below the surface of the ice,
swimming for the freedom I cannot yet know.
Perhaps I might call you with an
a cappella incantation in modulated voices;
soprano, tenor, baritone and my alto, just
below the surface of the melody, just
below the surface of the loss.

Lesley Pasquin is a Montreal poet and educator. She has been a teacher, an educational consultant, a school principal and has lectured at McGill University in the Faculty of Education. Her poems have been published in Room, Arc, carte blanche, Literary Review of Canada, Montreal Serai, Vallum and various anthologies. She currently leads a journaling group at the local cancer wellness centre, sharing the healing power of 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.

Vallum 2018 Year in Review: Part Two

2019

2018 has been packed with excitement at Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 15:1 “Memory and Loss” and 15:2 “The Chase.” We also published Zach Pearl’s chapbook Ladybird Bug Boy, a meditation on the process of identitymaking , and Thurston Moore & John Kinsella’s chapbook The Weave, which sketches the scenes of a world in decay, leaving us to ask: is it too late to save ourselves? Read more about the chapbooks here.

Evan J won our 2018 Award for Poetry with “BLOOR-YONGE.” The second place winner was brad bradley for his poem “Lake Activity,” and an honourable mention was awarded to Robert Colman’s “Middle Distance.”

Other highlights include a chapbook workshop in partnership with the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and the Toronto launch of Ladybird Bug Boy and The Weave at Loop Gallery. We organized or attended 25 literary events, fairs, and conferences in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa, and hosted outreach workshops with new facilitators and partners.

To end off the year, we asked past contributors to share what they read in 2018 as well as what is on their lists going forward.

Here’s what some of the writers in Issue 15:2 said (and check out Part One of our Year in Review from 15:1 poets):


Hugh Anderson

Hugh Anderson

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
ndncountry, an anthology of indigenous writing, published jointly by CV2 and Prairie Fire. Featuring the work of 55 indigenous writers from across this country, the book continually surprises with the power of the voices contained therein. Bonus feature: 16 colour plates of the work from the INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE exhibition at Winnipeg Art Gallery.  It’s on my Christmas giving list this year.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Winona Linn: “Knock-Off Native.”  The piece itself may not be new, but it’s on fire.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Shane Nielsen – I’ll start with Margin of Interest  and work back – for both the mental health and the medical perspective. Karl Shapiro – recently rediscovered – what a master of words. Jordan Peterson ( so I can offer informed argument when my conservative brother brings him up.) Map of Days – because I can’t get enough of Ransom Riggs’ world of Peculiars. Anything else that comes up and tugs at my sleeve saying, “Read me.”

Hugh Anderson is a Vancouver Islander. He has lived long enough to have been, among other things, a bus driver, an actor, and a teacher. His poems have appeared most recently in 3 Elements Review, Praxis Magazine Online, and Grain. He has one recent Pushcart Prize nomination. Read his poem “Quite Simple” in Issue 15:2.


Claudia Coutu Radmore

Claudia Radmore

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Yellow Crane, Susan Gillis, Brick Books.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Cardinal in the Eastern White Cedar, Roo Borson, McClelland & Stewart, 2017.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Following the River: Traces of Red River Women, Lorri Neilsen Glenn.

Claudia Coutu Radmore’s a moment or two / without remembering and Your Hands Discover Me / Tes mains me découvrent, were followed by Accidentals, which won Canada’s bpNichol Chapbook Award in 2011. fish spine picked clean, a tanka collection, was published by Éditions des petits nuages in March 2018. Read Claudia’s poem “One Saucy Little Clue” in Issue 15:2.


Kate Marshall Flaherty

Kate Marshall Flaherty

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
 I would say my favourite poetry book was Lesley Belleau’s Indianland, which explores the language of the Anishinaabe nation in the speaker’s memories, longings, and loss. I heard Lesley speak at the LCP awards this June, and I was touched by her stories as a mother of five, her insights as an Ojibwe woman, and by her words and images as a poet.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
 My best poetry discovery this year was the amazing poetry that came out of the prompted writing at my StillPoint Writing workshops. This is not a plug for the workshops, but rather a shout out to the amazing poets who came with open minds, who risked writing from within in the intense prompted ten minute sessions, and who dared to break boundaries in their own writing and who affirmed the others in the group.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
This year I hope to read my friend and fellow poet Catherine Graham’s novel Quarry, and friend and fellow poet Katerina Fretwell’s new book, which will be launched this spring with Inanna, as well as poetry from Tara Borin, Sarah Kabamba and Georgia Wilder in Quattro Book’s inaugural Best New Poets in Canada Series (which I edited with pride) … I hope many others read that too! (OK, there’s the shameless plug).

Kate Marshall Flaherty will launch her sixth poetry book, Radiant, with Inanna Press, May 2019. She’s been published in numerous journals, such as The Malahat Review, Vallum, Grain, Arc, CV2, Descant, Windsor and Saranac Reviews. She guides StillPoint Writing Workshops and performs poetry to music. See her award-winning performance poetry to music at http://katemarshallflaherty.ca/kmf/. Read her poem “Faith” in Issue 15:2.


Elana Wolff

Elana Wolff

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
The poems in Kath MacLean’s recently released Translating Air (McGill-Queen’s University Press), which imagine conversations between modernist poet H.D. and Sigmund Freud, are as beautiful and luminous as they are brainy. Translating Air is my new favourite. But I have to give a nod, too, to Guernica Editions First Poet, Ned Baeck, whose poems in Wait authenticate what it means to ask for mercy. Ned is a new poet with an old and valiant soul.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Frank Bidart is not exactly a discovery. His collections Star Dust and Metaphysical Dog are prominent on my shelf. But this year Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 came out in soft copy. I bought the collection and have been reading and rereading with renewed awe. Bidart, for me, achieves the ferocious heroic in language honed straight to the bone.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
There are several books on my winter-vacation-into-new-year list: La Folie Baudelaire by Roberto Calasso (Calasso is a perennial favourite), Hiking With Nietzsche by John Kaag, and Elizabeth Greene’s new novel, A Season Among Psychics (just out with Inanna Publications). British poet Sean Street’s Sound at the Edge of Perception is a book on the emotional effects of ‘worldly murmurings’ recommended to me by my friend, Elizabeth Bishop scholar, Sandra Barry; I’ve never been disappointed by a recommendation from Sandra, so I’m looking forward to this one. I’m also intrigued by B.W. Powe’s new electronic project, Opening Time on the Energy Threshold. I’ve enjoyed Powe’s poetry collections, The Unsaid Passing and Decoding Dust; also his poetic musings in Where Seas and Fables Meet, so I’m interested in what he’s up to now. Powe is the kind of visionary thinker who’s as versed with the wired world as he is with the mystics.

Elana Wolff is a Toronto-based writer, editor, and designer and facilitator of social art courses. Her poems and creative non-fiction pieces have appeared in Canadian and international publications and have garnered awards. Elana’s fifth collection of poems, Everything Reminds You of Something Else, was released with Guernica Editions in 2017. Read her poem “Mamillia Pool” in Issue 15:2.


Sharon Black

Sharon Black

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
The Wound Register (pub. Bloodaxe) by English poet Esther Morgan – it’s a lyrical, radiant collection of poems centred on the poet’s own family history and covering themes of loss, memory and parenthood. Esther has such lightness of touch, I’ve been a fan for years. This latest book is really an exquisite read.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Well, as editor of Pindrop Press – a small poetry publisher based between Scotland and France – I am always discovering new voices and one of my favourites this year was a wonderful debut collection I’m about to be putting out shortly called Derrida’s Monkey by Nell Farrell. It’s sharp, witty and slightly surreal, but full of compassion as well. It’s a real privilege to be publishing this book.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Definitely The Forward Book of Poetry 2019 which is always a brilliant and diverse read of the best new work of the year. I’m also looking forward to reading Niall Campbell’s new collection Noctuary (Bloodaxe) as his last book Moontide (Bloodaxe) was simply gorgeous – understated and deeply evocative of the Scottish islands where the poet was born and still lives.

Sharon Black is from Glasgow in Scotland, but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of France. In 2017 she won the Poets and Players Poetry Competition. She is widely published and has released two collections: To Know Bedrock (Pindrop, 2011) and The Art of Egg (Two Ravens, 2015). www.sharonblack.co.uk. Read her poem “Pilgrimage” in Issue 15:2.


Mary Gilliland

Mary Gilliland

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Kierkegaard’s Cupboard by Marianne Burton. I came to know Marianne’s work several years ago when we both had poems in an issue of Stand. She is deft with form, writes poems that matter. The poems in this new book are spoken as and for Kierkegaard; the author melds his reflections on life experiences, chronologically, and her own perspective. Most of my own persona poems give voice to anonymous characters, but one of mine is historical, spoken by Nikola Tesla. It’s both odd and fitting to be the channel for another human being, and I admire Burton’s sustaining it as a book-length enterprise.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Northwest Review. Let’s hear it for reputable publications we never quite get to that another poet passes along to us! Lakeside, in the summer, I spilled a bag of magazines to read in the sunshine – and was riveted by the heart and quality of this one’s contents, read it cover to cover.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women – her (sole?) novel, published in 1979 – my college roommate gave it to me this summer – and Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth.

Mary Gilliland hails from the northeastern United States. Other recent poems appear in Healing Muse and Hotel Amerika, online in Matter and TAB, and anthologized in From The Finger Lakes, Like Light, and Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms In Our Hands. She has taught at Cornell in Ithaca and in Doha. Read her poem “Floats to the Sky” in Issue 15:2.


rob mclennan

rob mclennan

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
That’s a tough one. There was IF wants to be the same as IS: Essential Poems of David Bromige, eds. Jack Krick, Bob Perelman and Ron Silliman, with an introduction by George Bowering (Vancouver BC: New Star Books, 2018). There was Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s Port of Being (Picton ON: Invisible Publishing, 2018). There was Julie Carr’s Real Life: An Installation (Oakland CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2018). Must I pick but one?

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Had to be Anna Gurton-Wachter, Brooklyn poet. I produced a chapbook of hers back in January, 2018, and spent the following three or four months rereading it. Her work is a wonder to behold. Otherwise, I discovered the work of Aja Couchois Duncan, author of the book Restless Continent (Litmus Press, 2016). Wow, again.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
There are tons of things, honestly. I know Jason Christie has a poetry title with Coach House in the spring. I’m waiting for Hailey Higdon’s Spuyten Duyvil full-length debut to arrive in the mail. There are probably a dozen other forthcoming titles I can’t recall at the moment.

The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, rob mclennan’s most recent titles are the poetry collections How the alphabet was made, (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and  Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2018). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com. Read the interview “12 or 20 questions for rob mclennan” in Issue 15:2.


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You can read all the poets featured in this edition of our Year in Review in Vallum Issue 15:2.

And be sure to check out our Poem of the Week blog for 52 of our favourite poems this year.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “One Saucy Little Clue,” by Claudia Coutu Radmore

claudia radmore headshot

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Claudia Coutu Radmore’s a moment or two / without remembering and Your Hands Discover Me / Tes mains me découvrent, were followed by Accidentals, which won Canada’s bpNichol Chapbook Award in 2011. fish spine picked clean, a tanka collection, was published by Éditions des petits nuages in March 2018.

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.

Vallum 2018 Year in Review: Part One

2019.jpg

2018 has been packed with excitement at Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 15:1 “Memory and Loss” and 15:2 “The Chase.” We also published Zach Pearl’s chapbook Ladybird Bug Boy, a meditation on the process of identity-making , and Thurston Moore & John Kinsella’s chapbook The Weave, which sketches the scenes of a world in decay, leaving us to ask: is it too late to save ourselves? Read more about the chapbooks here.

Evan J won our 2018 Award for Poetry with “BLOOR-YONGE.” The second place winner was brad bradley for his poem “Lake Activity,” and an honourable mention was awarded to Robert Colman’s “Middle Distance.”

Other highlights include a chapbook workshop in partnership with the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and the Toronto launch of Ladybird Bug Boy and The Weave at Loop Gallery. We organized or attended 25 literary events, fairs, and conferences in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa, and hosted outreach workshops with new facilitators and partners.

To end off the year, we asked past contributors to share what they read in 2018 as well as what is on their lists going forward.

Here’s what some of the writers in Issue 15:1 said (and stay tuned to hear from 15:2 poets):


Evan J. Hoskins

Evan Hoskins

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Delet This by MLA Chernoff

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Discovery of the year? How bout of the day. I found this untitled poem in our northern hospital this morning:

Today, tomorrow, yesterday
Taking our Suboxone

Getting on with life
This time we’ll do it right

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
House of Names by Colm Tóibín; Minnow Trap by Brian Horeck; Spinoza by Gilles Deleuze; Holy Wild by Gwen Beneway; The Gas Heart by Tristan Tzara.

Evan J is from Treaty 1 territory and currently lives beside Kabechenong / Teiaiagon / the Humber River. If you’ve read Evan’s work, he implores you to read at least two other non-white writers. Evan is an assistant at Brick Magazine and runs Slackline Creative Arts Series in Toronto.


Pamela Porter

Pamela-Porter-web

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
God of Shadows by Lorna Crozier. Those poems leave me speechless. I can only read one or two at a time. I actually feel “as if the top of my head were taken off.” This truly is poetry.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Canisia Lubrin. I’m still trying to get a copy of her book.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Inri by Raul Zurita. Also, Portraits Without Frames by Lev Ozerov. What some poets have endured just to write poems. They remind us how holy and necessary is this art which we practice.

Pamela Porter’s work has won more than a dozen awards, including the Governor General’s Award and the Vallum Award for Poetry.  Her ninth volume of verse, Defending Darkness, was released in 2016 by Ronsdale Press.  Pamela lives near Sidney, BC with her family and a menagerie of rescued horses, dogs, and cats. Read her poem “Aubade” in Issue 15:1.


Yuan Changming

Changming Yuan

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
I do not have any favourite poetry book published this year.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Though in the English-speaking world I may prove to be the most widely published contemporary poetry author from China thus far, almost no editor in my country of origin has showed any interest in my poems either written in or self-translated into Chinese since my teenage years. However, in early November this year, Dr Liu Weijian, a nationally leading scholar (of Chinese classics) and highly renowned poet and novelist from Beijing University found my poetry (in Chinese) ‘deep, outstanding, brief and serene’. From his comments, I discovered, much to my comfort, that my poetry is ‘acceptable’ to an experienced mainland Chinese reader after all.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Definitely, poetry by Robyn Sarah, Lorna Crozier and Billy Collins, among many others.

Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, seven chapbooks, and publication in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry: Tenth Anniversary Edition, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review, Vallum, and 1,389 others across 41 countries.  


Laurie D. Graham

Laurie D Graham

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
One book that comes to mind is Tim Lilburn’s The House of Charlemagne, published by Oskana Poetry & Poetics. This book acted as a source text for an improvised multi-disciplinary performance centred on Henry Jackson / Honoré Jaxson, Louis Riel’s secretary during the Northwest Resistance, through whom we see Riel’s vision of Métis nationhood on the prairies.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Joshua Whitehead’s Full Metal Indigiqueer blew my hair back as I read it and gazed upon it. It felt like the poetic equivalent of rock and roll.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Christine Stewart’s Treaty 6 Deixis sits at the top of my reading pile. As a fellow settler from Treaty 6 territory, I’m excited to learn from that book.

Laurie D. Graham hails from Treaty 6 territory and now lives on the Haldimand Tract. She is a poet, editor, the publisher of Brick Magazine, and a member of the advisory board for Oskana Poetry & Poetics. Her first book, Rove, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and her second book, Settler Education, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. Read her poem “Roost” in Issue 15:1.


Julie Mannell

Julie MannellWhat was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
I Left Nothing Inside on Purpose by Stevie Howell and Obits by Tess Liem.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Juliane Okot Bitek.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
I do what I want when I feel like it.

Julie Mannell is an author of poetry, prose, and essays. She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing at University of Guelph. Mannell is the recipient of the Constance Rooke/HarperCollins Scholarship, the Mona Adilman Poetry Prize, and the Lionel Shapiro Award for Excellency in Creative Writing. She splits her time between Montreal and Toronto. Read her review “Today Is a Good Day to Dream: A Review of Canisia Lubrin’s Voodoo Hypothesis in Issue 15:1.


Mark Grenon

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What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
My favourite book this year was Jeff Latosik’s Dreampad. I’d been following Latosik’s blog “Only an Avenue,” an online project in which he’d been offering richly considered responses to less experienced writers, so when I came across Dreampad at the bookstore I thought I’d give it a chance. It’s a complex, rich read, and I’m glad I decided to do a review of the book to deepen my understanding of its poetics.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
My best poetry discovery this year was Michael Nardone, whose The Ritualites will be available shortly through Book*hug, a poet and writer living in Montreal who had somehow escaped my attention. I’m struck by the activism and range of his avant garde poetics, from postmodernism, to Language poetry, to conceptual writing, and also by his critical writing, interviews, and transcriptive practices.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Regarding my reading next year, frankly, I have a bad habit of buying some books and not reading them deeply enough the first time around, so I’d like to re-read Erin Mouré’s Planetary Noise. Also, because one of the most remarkable books of Canadian poetry I’ve ever read is Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries, I’m planning to pick up her latest books, The Blue Book and Theory. And though I’ve been following Billy-Ray Belcourt online, I still haven’t read This Wound is a World in its entirety, so it’s high on my list as well.

Mark Grenon‘s poetry and reviews have appeared in the Antigonish Review, filling Station, and Matrix, among others. He has lived in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, and Chile, and currently lives in Montreal. Read his review of Molly Peacock’s The Analyst in Issue 14:2.


Aisha Walker

Aisha Walker

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Though not strictly a work of poetry, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? by Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau contains some of the best prose poetry I have read in a while. This publication accompanied the exhibition What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest?, presented at the FOFA Gallery from April 23 to May 25, 2018.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
For Your Own Good by Leah Horlick. Best rediscovery: A Tomb for Anatole by Stéphane Mallarmé, translated with an introduction by Paul Auster.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin, Infinite Gradation by Anne Michaels.

Aisha Walker lives and writes in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Winnipeg Free Press for National Poetry Month 2017, Room, and Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2), among others. Read her poem “11th Letter Musings” in Issue 15:1.


Nathan Mader

Nathan-Mader

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
There are so many 2018 poetry books I can’t wait to read by 2020, including ones by people near and dear! If I have to choose just one favourite published this year that I’ve been blessed to have sent to me in Japan, I’ll say my friend Randy Lundy’s Blackbird Song (University of Regina Press). Whether lyric stanzas or prose poems, Lundy’s intimate, singular voice leads the reader into personal and metaphysical meditations infused with the Cree, Buddhist, and Eastern-Western poetic traditions in which he locates himself. Somehow Lundy manages to be both refreshingly grounded while operating on a higher plane:

American redstart, Swainson’s thrush, brown thrasher.
Still, in the mythological night, transfiguration has come.
Fire and bread and, if we are lucky, a small measure of love.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
My favourite completely-new-to-me poet of 2018 has been Tarfia Faizullah. I’m still processing her Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf, 2018). It’s got everything that makes poems powerful: multi-dimensional (political, spiritual, ethical, personal) questions and insights, unflinching engagements with individual and collective trauma, energetic soundscapes, and exacting articulations of the unknowable:

…Does she know
her friends Lauren and Cameron played

house after she died, set a place for her
at a play dinner table? As though she
might stop by for a few bites of air
from empty plates with spoons empty
of her short seven years on this planet…

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
While I’m sure there’s some great soon-to-be-published books I’m completely in the dark about, I know I’m looking forward to reading Cassidy McFadzean’s Drolleries, Ariana Reines’s A Sand Book, and Frederick Seidel’s Peaches Goes It Alone in 2019. Otherwise, besides the masters that I read all the time, I think I’m only going to read prose about wild animals next year. The human world has become too human for me.

Nathan Mader lives in Regina Saskatchewan. His poems have appeared in Grain, The Fiddlehead, Vallum, The Puritan, PRISM international, and the anthology I Found It at the Movies (Guernica, 2014). He has been a finalist for the Walrus Poetry Prize. Read his poem “William H. Mumler, Spirit Photographer (1832-1884)” in Issue 15:1.


Greg Santos

Greg_Santos

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
This is a tough one to answer. It’s like asking me what my favourite book is: I have so many depending on my mood! That being said, I have a few favourites from 2018. In no particular order, I would highly recommend The Displaced Children of Displaced Children by Faisal Mohyuddin (Eyewear Publishing) featuring moving poems on heritage and immigration, The Barbarous Century by Leah Umansky (Eyewear) which touches on feminism in the 21st century and also includes some badass Mad Men and Game of Thrones inspired poems, and Ekke by Klara du Plessis (Palimpsest), which explores language in such a playful and fascinating way.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
I was delighted to be a guest reader at the launch for Tanis Franco’s debut poetry book, Quarry (University of Calgary) at Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore this past summer. Franco’s writing explores queerness, the body, and often in relation to location. At the time, I was not familiar with their writing, but Quarry was my favourite new poetry discovery of 2018.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
I recently picked up a bunch of poetry books from Montreal’s Salon du Livre and from the AELAQ’s Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair. The new books that I bought but have not read yet are Obits by Tess Liem, The Night Chorus by Harold Hoefle, hotwheel by Aja Moore, My Ariel by Sina Queyras, and The Size of a Bird by Clementine Morgan. Some books that I’m looking forward to reading that are not poetry include Hum by Natalia Hero, Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq, Zolitude by Paige Cooper, Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig, and Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias.

Greg Santos is the author of Rabbit Punch! and The Emperor’s Sofa. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at the Thomas More Institute. He is the poetry editor of carte blanche and lives in Montreal. His new pamphlet, Blackbirds, is forthcoming with Eyewear Publishing, London, UK in Spring 2018.


Kevin Irie

Kevin Irie

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway. Benaway’s experiences across gender, race, and sex also bridge disparate poetic forms: the confessional, the political, the narrative, the lyrical, transcending them all. Convincing but not coercing, candid yet vulnerable, Benaway uses craft – note her spacing, her perfect line breaks – to carry the reader along so effortlessly that one is totally swept up and along in her trans journey—and grateful for the ride.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Correspondent by Dominique Bernier-Cormier. Bernier-Cormier uses the prose poem to go beyond reportage when writing about the sunken Russian sub, Kursk; the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud; the hostage crisis in a Moscow theatre. How he reconciles, imaginatively connects, and humanely conveys such suffering and disaster without being exploitative is the high risk he takes for the stunning and empathetic poems he creates.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
Here is my reading list, in no particular order, all 8 of them Canadian.

Any year with a new poetry book by Tim Bowling is a good one, so here’s to 2019 and The Dark Set: New Tenderman Poems, great news compounded by the fact that he is bringing back the title subject of a previous book.

Do you know about the parallel poem, the split sonnet, the double sonnet?  heft by Doyali Islam will no doubt enlighten the reader about these literary inventions of hers, gathered in her multiple award-winning poems, a prize package in print. And it’s not just about form: her subjects are personal and poignant.

Cluster by Souvankham Thammavongsa is due out this spring. Any new book by Thammavongsa seems an exciting rarity, a poet who distills experience with a quiet but illuminating sense of authority—and honour.

Magnetic Equator is by Kaie Kellough, sound synthesizer poet par excellence. Have you seen his online river poems slated for this book? Have you read his novel, Accordéon, a marvellous missive to a mythic and multitudinous Montreal? Be prepared for anything. Kellough can revitalize language with a freshness, felicity and dexterity that energizes every single letter of the English alphabet.

Parts of The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie have appeared in various publications, incisively witty and wise poems about Scotland, hermits, caves and war. To read them together in one book is all –and more—than one can ask.

Twitch Force by Michael Redhill is his first poetry book in years. The success of his novels almost makes one forget the accomplishment of his poetry. It will be intriguing to see where poetry leads him now.

This is Where I Get Off by Jeff Kirby is also due in spring, a poet whose wit comes with a wink or wild laughter. If Frank O’Hara was more ebullient, he’d be Kirby, poetry with a personality yet always personable.

Stilt Jack by John Thompson is being re-issued for the first time since its 1978 publication. The source of so many other books, ghazal after ghazal, down through the generations. This is where it all started.

Kevin Irie has published previously in Vallum, as well as in the States, England and Australia. His book, Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report (Frontenac House, 2012) was a finalist for both the Toronto Book Award and the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award. He lives in Toronto. Read his poem “Current” in Issue 15:1.


Phoebe Wang

Phoebe Wang

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Laura Ritland’s East and West is a book I had been anticipating for years, given her delicate handing of craft combined with an ethical perspective on the polarizing features of our society. I have already reread it a few times, and plan on doing so again. Also high on the list is the Tracy K. Smith’s Wade in the Water, new chapbooks by Lauren Turner and Anne-Marie Turza, Dani Couture’s Listen Before Transmit and Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s Port of Being.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Thanks to fellow poet Michael Prior, I discovered Emily Jungmin Yoon’s A Cruelty Special to Our Species and its unrelenting uncovering of the stories of Korean ‘comfort women’, carved out with language as piercing as shrapnel.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
I’m most looking forward to catching up with 2018 releases such as Dionne Brand’s Theory and Gwen Benaway’s Holy Wild, and I’m thinking of building a bunker in order to block out the world for when new titles arrive from Domenica Martinello, Kayla Czaga, Doyali Islam, Souvankham Thammavongsa and Karen Solie.

Phoebe Wang’s debut collection of poetry, Admission Requirements, appeared with McClelland and Stewart in Spring 2017. Currently she is a poet-in-residence with the national organization Poetry in Voice, and works at OCADU’s Writing and Learning Centre where she and coordinates Mighty Pen, a writing circle for BIPOC students. Read her poem “The Balance of the World is Tested” in Issue 15:1.


Marcela Huerta

Marcela Huerta

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Obits does it all for me. Melancholy but imbued with fierceness, observational while never risking emotional detachment, everything is possible when it is in Tess Liem’s voice. Obits knows that to even attempt to memorialize the missing is a revolutionary act. How could this not be my favourite poetry book of the year?

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
While at the FIPR in Argentina this September, I was blessed with the presence of New Zealand Māori poet Tayi Tibble (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui/Ngāti Porou). Her debut collection of poetry, Poūkahangatus, is as effortlessly powerful as it is brightly sexy, a smiling devil emoji of a book that tackles mythology, legacy, and colonialism with depth and humour. It also has one of the best poem titles of the year: “A Sugar Daddy is Essentially an Arts Patron.” I need as many people as possible to buy this book, on the island of New Zealand or off.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
I like to balance my reading palette with a bit of classic-I’ve-somehow-held-off-on-till-now and a bit of brand-spanking-new titles. So it’s going to be a dip into We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin with a follow-up of Monument by Labi Siffre. Then a taste of What’s in a Name by Ana Luísa Amaral (Translated by Margaret Jull Costa) with Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni to chase it down. Will I be full by then? Never.

Marcela Huerta is the author of Tropico, a collection of poetry published by Metatron Press in 2017. She has worked at the Museum of Anthropology and Working Format as a Graphic Designer, and at Drawn & Quarterly as an Assistant Editor. She is the proud daughter of Chilean refugees. Find her online @marsmella.


Jennifer Cave

Jennifer Cave

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
My favorite poetry book published this year is “Line”, by Robert Hilles.

What’s on your reading list for 2019?
I am planning right now to read, The Drone Pilot’s Handbook, The Knowledge, the Skills, the Rules, by Adam Juniper. Also on my list is Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews by Jonathan Cott.

Jennifer Cave lives in White Rock, British Columbia, writing and painting. She was born in Vancouver in 1966. Read her poem “Unbearable Paradise” in Issue 15:1.


Vallum 15_1 cover

You can read all the poets featured in this edition of our Year in Review in Vallum Issue 15:1.

Look out for more Year in Review responses from poets featured in Vallum coming later this month!

And be sure to check out our Poem of the Week blog for 52 of our favourite poems this year.

Vallum Poem of the Week: Privacy Acts by Alice Major

alice major

Privacy Acts

I’ve just been asked to sign a waiver
so the boarding-kennel manager
can hand out information to the vet
about the cat
in an emergency—a recent edict of
the privacy act.

I’m glad society’s concerned about
protecting data on the cat’s behalf.
He is a private animal, without a doubt,
has never answered
questions as to where he’s been, or where
he got that bird.

It’s good to know the law protects
our right to be invisible
beneath the bushes.

Our civic edifice is founded on the fact
that you can go inside your castle
with whatever bird you’ve caught
and close the door.
The facts are no one’s business but your own.
No need to share.

Alice Major has had her 11th collection, Welcome to the Anthropocene, recently published by the University of Alberta Press. Her work has garnered awards such as the Pat Lowther prize and a National Magazine Award Gold Medal. Recently she was invited to deliver the League of Poets’ annual Anne Szumigalski memorial lecture for 2018. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where she served as first poet laureate and founded the Edmonton Poetry Festival.

To view other content published in this issue, 12:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

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