Vallum Poem of the Week: “Cute Bear” by David Bradford

davidbradford-janefondalook

Cute Bear

Rock darned
……….to singsong
the elements

………out my pocket
…..the ghosts too many
………….in the quiet

too quick before
…..our bedtime     followed
……..by robots of the night

This is your prone breath
…..in the first heat wave
………….so sticky

…..with no touching I’m
obbligato and      chill
…..cute bear mauling

cottage piano     Esther Perel
……..real live couple’s therapist
…..charming a hole in my hand

Stroke sheet blatto
to that deep I’ll never be safe
    here just existing    I hate

my dad was right
…..place      and sorry
for your face right then

Your thumb on my lip
…..so done with me
………for the night

…..and sweet as saltfish

David Bradford is a poet and editor, and an MFA candidate at the University of Guelph. He is the author of Nell Zink Is Damn Free (Blank Cheque Press, 2017) and Call Out (knife | fork | book, 2017). His work has appeared in Lemon Hound, Prairie Fire, Poetry Is Dead, Lune Noire, Faded Out, Toronto Lit Up’s The Unpublished City, and others. He splits his time between Toronto and Montreal.

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.

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “Symptoms of the Disorder” by Roxanna Bennett

RBennett

SYMPTOMS OF THE DISORDER

recurrent re-experiencing of the
(for example, troublesome memories, flashbacks
caused by reminders of the                  , recurring nightmares about
………………….and/or dissociative reliving of the                      ),
avoidance to the point of having a phobia of places, people,
experiences that remind the sufferer of the                  . A general numbing
of emotional responsiveness, chronic physical signs of hyperarousal,
sleep problems, trouble concentrating, irritability, anger,
poor concentration, blackouts or difficulty remembering things,
…………………………….increased tendency and reaction to being startled,
hypervigilance to threat.
A lack of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed,
emotional deadness, distancing oneself from people, and/or a sense
of a foreshortened future.             must be present and must cause
significant distress or functional impairment
in order for the diagnosis to be assigned.
Explosive anger, passive aggressive behaviors; a tendency to forget
the                   or feel detached from one’s life or body
persistent feelings of
shame, guilt or being completely different from others;
feeling the perpetrator of                         is all-powerful
and preoccupation with either revenge against or allegiance with
the offender. Severe change in those things that give the sufferer
meaning, like a loss of faith or an ongoing sense of
helplessness, hopelessness, or despair.

Roxanna Bennett is a disabled person living in Ontario, Canada. She is the author of The Uncertainty Principle (Tightrope Books, 2014), and her work has appeared in PRISM International, Arc Poetry Magazine, Poetry is Dead, Vallum, CV2, Cosmonauts Avenue, Qwerty, carte blanche, and many other publications.

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: “Navigation Blues” by Lynn Tait

Lynn Tait

 

Navigation Blues

We are travelling by car to Arizona,
land of adobe and mobile homes, trailer parks,
and the retired – a drier version of Florida.

I am in charge of maps, and Sally, our GPS.
For entertainment value alone, she and I
are worth our weight in gold;
we ham it up occasionally, much to the chagrin
of my spouse; for information –we are ignored.
Even though I mirror her instructions verbatim,
maps and satellite supporting our directional decisions,
my husband chooses his own roads, and regrets it.

I threaten to change her sexy, but fake British voice.
A masculine tone might add a sense of credibility
lacking in Sally’s sensual requests: keep left,
exit in 200 metres,
make a u-turn when possible.

How did we survive without devices
programmed with voices and real-time
calculations? Soon we’ll be instructed
when to pull over for a quickie,
or Warning! It’s time to pee, before
you’ve reached your destination
. With a slight
menu change, a digital stencil of tiny beds
can guide you to your next sexual exploit.

All across the continent, placards placed
near exit ramps use the same icons:
beds, gas pumps, knives and forks;
yet in spite of actual signs,
my demands, and Sally’s I’m-soaking-
in-butterscotch-what-about-you accent,
hubby still misses the turn-off.

He surrenders, finally,
puts his fate in our hands;
but within the hour, this promise
has lapsed into déjà vu;
Sally is recalculating,
and I am St. Lynn of the Perpetual Sigh.

Lynn Tait is a Toronto-born award-winning poet and photographer, residing in Sarnia, Ontario. She has published poetry in major poetry magazines, journals, including, Contemporary Verse 2, FreeFall, Windsor Review, The Literary Review of Canada and in over 90 anthologies. Her photography/digital images have appeared on the covers of seven poetry books. She is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the League of Canadian Poets.

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: “Motel” by Paul Vermeersch

Motel

Nobody learns tennis at night.
When I confessed I had no interest
in a swim after hours,
no one shut the door in my face.
Of course, so many people
dislike the dark. It keeps the same
hours as the recently divorced.

We went to the best motels,
which is like sleeping
in unfinished novels. We slept
soundly amongst the teak
and twill and plaid and brass.
We left the window open
just a crack. It was relaxing.

But this was never our intended
destination. We ate our
continental and packed
for the next leg. You sang.
I read a story in a journal
that said a real Utopia persists
at a different motel in another America.

 

Born in the last days of the golden age of the North American motel, Paul Vermeersch is a poet, professor, artist and editor. The author of five collections of poetry, including The Reinvention of the Human Hand, a finalist for the Trillium Book Award, and Don’t Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something, he teaches in the Creative Writing & Publishing program at Sheridan College and is senior editor of Wolsak and Wynn Publishers where he runs the Buckrider Books imprint. His next collection Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy, in which “Motel” will appear, will be published in fall 2018 by ECW Press. He lives in Toronto. Visit www.paulvermeersch.ca if you like.

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: “Food Court” by Antony di Nardo

Di Nardo_author pic

Food Court 

The bees are faked.

A virtual buzz instills the air with an air of virtuosity.

It doesn’t get more real than this.

The flora’s just as duped.

Shades of neon downtown pink.

Sprays of manufactured lady’s slippers, lupines, hair perfume.

The din of pink.

Glazed to wash away the gritty bits that stick.

The birds are faked; the ferns are fake.

And other words for song.

Here, where the animal in the belly learns to growl.

Where the benches are Eco-friendly recycled imitation polymers,
neo-outdoor revivalist by decree.

Where players known as patrons sit.

Some words imitate each other.

The trees in harmony harmonize with artificial casts of lighting
filtered through scrubbed acrylic planes of faux transparence in long
unbreakable chains of molecules.

Indoors.

Climate controlled.

Non-reactive plastic claws, knives and forks.

Prosthetic limbs poised on mannequins dressed in subterranean gear.

Headlines on the screens materialize unrealized.

Neutralized to emulate a woodlot in a concrete meadow.

Where I’m in line for bottled water.

Where the creek is dead.

Antony Di Nardo is the author of three books of poetry: Alien, Correspondent (Brick Books), Soul on Standby (Exile Editions), and Roaming Charges (Brick Books). A fourth collection, Keep Frozen, is forthcoming from Ronsdale Press in 2018, and will include “May June July,” a suite of poems which won the Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Prize for 2017. His work has been translated into French and Italian and can be found in journals across Canada and internationally. He divides his time between Cobourg, Ontario and Sutton, Quebec.

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: “What Gets Blown In” by Eleonore Schönmaier

Schonmaier author photo

What Gets Blown In

The cricket that lands
on his thigh. In the house

there have been no flowers
for weeks, yet a red petal

floats in the bath that he
draws for her. A large bee

finds the strawberry
spoon in the kitchen sink.

Unnoticed, a mosquito
drones in the bedroom

at night. And on the breakfast
table a tiny white feather.

Eleonore Schönmaier’s most recent books are Dust Blown Side of the Journey (2017) and Wavelengths of Your Song (2013) both from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Her poetry has been set to music by Canadian, Dutch, Scottish, American and Greek composers. Her poetry has also been performed in concert by The New European Ensemble. She has won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, the Earle Birney Prize, and has been twice shortlisted for the Bridport prize (UK). Her poetry has been published in The Best Canadian Poetry, and has also been translated into Dutch and German. https://eleonoreschonmaier.com

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 2017 Year in Review: Part Three

2018

2017 was a busy year for Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 14:1 and 14:2, and published two new chapbooks: Mind of Spring by Jami Macarty, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award, and entre-Ban by Bhanu Kapil, a collection of notes taken by Bhanu Kapil during the writing of her 2015 book, Ban en Banlieue. Read about our new chapbooks here.

Ali Blythe won the 2017 Award for Poetry with “Waking in the Preceding,” while Brian Henderson received second place with “The Incommensurate.” Honourable mentions went to Judy Little for “Ur Signs” and Roberta Senechal for “After Eden.”

We also hosted two pop-up shops, at Le Cagibi and the Concordia Co-op Bookstore, attended press fairs in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, and Montreal, and hosted outreach workshops with new facilitators and organizers.

To commemorate Vallum’s busy and successful year, we asked this year’s contributors to share their thoughts on the books they read in 2017 and what’s in store for the year ahead.

Here are some yearend thoughts from our two latest chapbook authors, along with one of the winners of this year’s Vallum Award for Poetry (and don’t forget to read Part One and Part Two of our Year in Review):


Bhanu Kapil—Author of entre-Ban

cover FINAL

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
Eunsong Kim’s The Gospel of Regicide (Noemi Press) and Mg Roberts’ Anemal Uter Meck (Black Radish Books).

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Sarah Ahmed’s Twitter feed and blog, feministkilljoys, which I read with the avidity I once reserved only for poetry!

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
Editorials, essays and review at contemporary.org, the online journal published by Gelare Koshgazaran and Eunsong Kim; Lucas de Lima’s next book, as yet to be published but which I already feel, a pressure before appearance; Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke University Press). Actually, these are all the sites, manuscripts and books I am already reading, but have not finished reading.

Bhanu Kapil is the author of five books, most recently Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2015) and the re-issue of Incubation: a space for monsters (Kelsey Street Press, 2017). Born in the U.K. to Indian parents, she now lives and works in Colorado. Her current long-term projects include a re-writing [emptying out] of “Ban”— of which a succession of mutations and deletions are included in entre-Ban. She is also writing a novel on yellow paper, a re-telling of the childhood classic, The Secret Garden.


Jami Macarty—Author of Mind of Spring

Jami_front_cover

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
Pockets (ECW Press) by Stuart Ross. On the front cover, the book is described as “a novel”; on the back: “prose-poem chapters,” which to me, means no one’s exactly sure what genre this book is. That multi-valence register is reason, plus its compelling, elegiac, surrealist insides, for it to be favourite!

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Superlatives remind me of yearbooks! There are SO many bests; everyone, in their own way, is one. For this, here, now, I’ll offer Max Ritvo, Four Reincarnations (Milkweed Editions).

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
So far in 2017, I’ve read nearly 70 individual collections of poetry and 70 chapbooks. Pretty good; though I had my eye on a book a day. So, I look to 2018! In 2018, I’m looking forward to reading time with: A Temporary Stranger–Homages | Poems | Recollections (Anvil Press) by Jamie Reid; Intertidal–The Collected Earlier Poems, 1968-1988 (Talon Books) by Daphne Marlatt; The Collected Stories (Picador) of Lydia Davis; plus, revisiting the works of Norma Cole, Anne Michaels, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, among, what I intend, to be many others as I attempt to read more than my current 140+ poetry and other books.

Jami Macarty is the author of Landscape of The Wait (Finishing Line Press 2017), teaches creative writing at Simon Fraser University, edits the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings–Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Anomaly (FKA Drunken Boat). Her chapbook Mind of Spring is the winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award.


Brian Henderson—2nd Place Winner, Vallum Award for Poetry 2017

BH 2017

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
I’m so far behind on 2017! Perhaps I’ll start in earnest soon before it runs out entirely, but there are 2 (quite different) books of poetry published in the year (that curiously both strongly feature chartreuse on their covers) that I’m really enjoying. One is Julia McCarthy’s All the Names Between, a fine haunted meditation “built of sticks and vowels”; and Gary Barwin’s high-powered voltage where “iridescent dreaming kicks in…like an occipital coffee cup golf cart”. 

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Best discovery? I’d have to say Keston Sutherland, a UK poet, who writes  : “There’s a beautiful expression by the philosopher Merleau-Ponty in his text The Visible and the Invisible: ‘sens sauvage’, wild meaning, and for me, I’m not trying to write the poetry in which the thinking has already happened so that the knowledge can be presented … I’m trying to write poetry which explodes under its own immanent pressures – and in a way that I could not possibly predict and would never want to predict, is a kind of sudden eruption, a kind of instantaneous metastasis, or flourishing, of wild meaning. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know what it means, literally.” Now we’re talking!

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
In the next little bit I’m looking forward to re-reading some Coleman Barks’ Essential Rumi, delving further into Graham Harvey, The Handbook of Contemporary Animism, and I’m about to head into a very dear old friend’s daughter’s first novel, Sarah Faber’s All Is Beauty Now, just published by M&S.

Brian Henderson is a GG finalist and the author of 11 books of poetry including The Alphamiricon, a deck of visual poem cards now online at Ubu. His latest is [OR] from Talonbooks. Unidentified Poetic Object is forthcoming from Brick in 2019. He is a co-editor of the Laurier Poetry Series, and lives with his wife, Charlene Winger, in Grey Highlands Ontario.


You can order you copy of Mind of Spring and entre-Ban today on our online store.

Read an excerpt from Mind of Spring in Issue 14:2, and look out for Brian Henderson’s poem “The Incommensurate” in Issue 15:1 “Memory and Loss,” which will be released Spring 2018.

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

Featured Review: Catriona Wright’s Table Manners. Review by Julie Mannell.

catriona

After-Dinner Poetry: Catriona Wright’s Table Manners (Montreal, QC: Véhicule Press, 2017, $17.95, 88 pages). Review by Julie Mannell

Molecular Gastronomy is a concentration of food preparation focused on the creative physical and chemical transformation of ingredients at a microscopic level. This concept is alluded to in “Gastronaut,” the title of the first poem in Catriona Wright’s debut poetry book Table Manners. The poem reinvents the term, instead suggesting the opposite, a scientific exploration of consumption as it relates to the external. A photo of “barbecued tarantulas in Cambodia” causes the speaker “jealousy and rage” for which they must confront by way of their “edible moss” that is only adequate insofar as it might “calm myself enough to sleep.” Here the language of rare and high cuisine stands as a place marker for other suggestions of class—travel, freedom, rare and often inaccessible experiences that may lead to expensive varieties of wisdom. The speaker in the poem is aware of their own shortcomings but (literally) breathes back into those it perceives as judgmental, “My breath smelled as though I’d been fellating a corpse. I coughed on everyone.”

This sets up the central concern of Table Manners: how the self reacts when constrained by the obligatory digestion of cultural signifiers and the sometimes unpalatable imperative to perform socially. The poems do not provide an answer but interrogate social experience purely through reaction and reflection, compacted by the constraint of culinary terms that often reveal themselves as distinctively unappetizing. In “Dumpster” the voice flirts with eating garbage:

I would not let a single

rainbow Chips Ahoy! or briny dill pickle

or cocktail shrimp ring breach my lips

unless it had first passed through the purifying

fires of the dumpster—five star chef, wizard

capable of transforming the too, too processed

into the unsullied flesh.

The contents of the dumpster are allotted the same linguistic treatment as fresh produce at a grocery store and explored with the same capitalistic impulse, “The only thing rotten is everything sold here.” While Wright’s andoxographic practice should have the impact of mocking the dumpster, it instead, cleverly, has the opposite effect. It elevates waste while diminishing the appeal of clean and fresh material thereby embarrassing the lexical signals society uses to sell and profit off ideals and anxieties surrounding health and nutrition. In the poetry of Wright, everything is both soiled and appetizing.

This is again reiterated in “Parties: A Selection”—a collection of haikus that concisely portray different social gatherings:

pulled pork    muddled mint

pansexual Prince      all primped

pumping up the crowd

this first poem in the series conveys what one might imagine to be a lavish nightclub with techno music and bottle service.  Yet, by the end of the series we are at another event entirely:

barbecued tofu

please don’t call me a lady

left early         for once

Here food has the power to signal not just what people will be eating but what they will wear when they eat, where they will eat it, and, ultimately, it sets the tone for the kind of social engagement the speaker will have.

It might be a stretch to call Wright’s poetry anti-Whitman because it seems both poets are driven by the urge to connect the body with the external world to show the ways in which the external and internal of undivided. However, while Whitman celebrates the body as intermediary between external and internal, Wright problematizes this connection. In Table Manners the body is one with the world but the world makes the body sick. These are not celebratory poems, they are irritable bowel poems wherein the body is capable, adherent to natural law, but reluctantly adherent and always in pain. This is at its most elevated point in the collection in the poem “Origin Story” where mandatory ingestion predicates an obligatory renunciation of the self: “women resigned themselves, just waited for it to end, floating above their bodies.” The point is reinforced in “Instinct” where bodies fight the desire to eat other bodies (“just a few clean snips to guarantee I won’t be tempted to devour my young”). Both these poems are devastating and masterful, they are the two best of the collection.

One criticism for Table Manners is that what works for it, sometimes works against it. While the constraint is noble—the language of the culinarian in the world beyond the kitchen—limiting a project to reliance on a single metaphor that repeats itself can sometimes feel to the reader as if they are being hit over the head with the theme. The book, paradoxically, is at its best in the poems that abandon the metaphor the most.

Julie Mannell is an author of poetry, prose, and essays. She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph. Mannell is the recipient of the Constance Rooke/HarperCollins Scholarship, the Mona Adilman Poetry Prize, and the Lionel Shapiro Award for Creative Writing. She splits her time between Montreal and Toronto.

This review was published in issue 14:2 Lies and Duplicity.” To see more from 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 2017 Year in Review: Part Two

2018

2017 was a busy year for Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 14:1 and 14:2, and published two new chapbooks: Mind of Spring by Jami Macarty, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award, and entre-Ban by Bhanu Kapil, a collection of notes taken by Bhanu Kapil during the writing of her 2015 book, Ban en Banlieue. Read about our new chapbooks here.

Ali Blythe won the 2017 Award for Poetry with “Waking in the Preceding,” while Brian Henderson received second place with “The Incommensurate.” Honourable mentions went to Judy Little for “Ur Signs” and Roberta Senechal for “After Eden.”

We also hosted two pop-up shops, at Le Cagibi and the Concordia Co-op Bookstore, attended press fairs in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, and Montreal, and hosted outreach workshops with new facilitators and organizers.

To commemorate Vallum’s busy and successful year, we asked this year’s contributors to share their thoughts on the books they read in 2017 and what’s in store for the year ahead.

In Part Two of our Year in Review, here’s what some of the writers published in Vallum Issue 14:2 had to say (if you missed Part One of our Year in Review, you can catch up here):


Rae Armantrout

rae-armantrout

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
It’s always hard to choose just one, but  I’m going to say that my favorite poetry book published this year was Kate Greenstreet’s The End of Something. 

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
My poetry discovery was either Harmony Holiday’s poems in the October issue of Poetry magazine or, maybe Brandon Brown’s 2013 book Top Forty.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
 I don’t really have a reading list for 2018.

Some of Rae Armantrout’s recent books are Entanglements (a chapbook of poems in conversation with physics), Partly: New and Selected Poems, Itself, Money Shot, and Versed, all from Wesleyan University Press. In 2010 Versed won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She recently retired from UC San Diego. Read her poem “False Starts,” as well as a conversation between Rae Armantrout and Lepota L. Cosmo, in Issue 14:2


Julie Mannell

julie mannell

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
Voodoo Hypothesis by Canisia Lubrin.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
That “life” is an anagram for “file”. This is a great discovery of poetry in bureaucratic lexicons: I hear poems coming from the student loan agents: “We have placed your life on hold” or “You must go online to restart your life” or “I’m sorry, I cannot find your life or any record that you ever had a life with us.”

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
Walter Benjamin, revisiting Hannah Arendt—I mostly like to play it by ear but I have an idea that I’m going to get back into critical theory and philosophy. I am also trying to find science textbooks. Anatomy is bizarre. You always know what body parts do but not how they feel: what does a person’s pancreas smell like for example.

Julie Mannell is an author of poetry, prose, and essays. She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph. Mannell is the recipient of the Con- stance Rooke/HarperCollins Scholarship, the Mona Adilman Poetry Prize, and the Lionel Shapiro Award for Creative Writing. She splits her time between Montreal and Toronto. Read Julie’s review of Catriona Wright’s Table Manners in Issue 14:2


David Eso

david eso.jpg

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
The Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan from Goose Lane Editions appeared this fall, thirty-four years after the poet’s early death. The 650-page book sprawls: from childhood nightmares to wisdom and farce. Nowlan twists his deep historic and local sensibilities around an intoxicating imagination that his newspaperman’s grammar, magically, manages to contain.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
I had a day to myself in Montreal and stumbled upon Monastiraki, on St. Laurent, a gallery and shop for found poetry, zines, visual texts, etc. It’s at once a prototypical literary curio shopfront and totally unique. Billy Mavreas gave me a grand tour of the store’s holdings, found just the right book for me, and slipped me some art on the way out. And he stocks Vallum too! Testament to fine tastes.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
I will burrow through some deep theory texts next year: related to GeoHumanities, via a new journal with that title; Text World Theory, where structural linguistics underpin the fictional realm; and Indigenous Studies, seeking the means of reckoning and reparation that must precede reconciliation.

David Eso is a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria where he helps edit The Malahat Review while writing poems and articles. With Jeanette Lynes, he edited Where the Nights Are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets, published by Goose Lane Editions. Read David’s poem “I Realize You May Feel Compelled to Respond” in Issue 14:2


Mary Lee Bragg

Museum-of-Kindness

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
My favourite poetry book published this year is Susan Elmslie’s Museum of Kindness.  It includes a sequence about the shooting at Dawson College, where Elmslie was teaching.  Her poem about the first class after the shooting describes her asking the students if they are OK with discussing Tim O’Brien’s story “The Things They Carried”.  The students are fine, but when the teacher starts to talk, she pours her coffee down the front of her blouse.  That simple image tells us everything about the shock and terror of that incident.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
My best poetry discovery wasn’t exactly a discovery – but my second time at an in-residence workshop with Lorna Crozier at Wintergreen Studios.  There were seventeen of us this year, and it would take too long to detail all I learned from being in a concentrated learning environment with sixteen people who were willing to share their vulnerabilities and discuss some of the scariest experiences of their lives.  Lorna’s approach to revising and editing is always stimulating and helpful.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
On my reading list for next year is Carolyn Souaid’a novel Yasmeen Haddad Loves Joanasi Maqaittik.  I met Carolyn last summer at Sage Hill, and have read several good reviews of the book.  In my writing, I have also dealt with relations between white Canadians and First Nations and know how difficult it can be to navigate this terrain.  I’m confident Carolyn can do it with grace and intelligence.

Mary Lee Bragg lives in Ottawa. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in Ascent, Grain, the Windsor Review, Queen’s Quarterly and ezines in Canada and the US. She has published a novel (Shooting Angels, 2004) and two chapbooks of poetry (How Women Work, 2010, and Winter Music, 2013). Read her poem “Ranked in Order” in Issue 14:2


Elisa Gabbert

elisa_header_photo

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
My best poetry discovery of the year was this poem by Chessy Normile, originally published in Jubilat.

Elisa Gabbert is a poet and essayist and the author of three collections: L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems, The Self Unstable, and The French Exit. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Boston Review, Pacific Standard, Guernica, the Harvard Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Denver. Read Elisa’s poem “I Want to Write a Book Called War Dreams” in Issue 14:2


John Kinsella

john kinsella

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
I have three! Lionel Fogarty Selected Poems 1980-2017 (re.press, Melbourne, for the Aboriginal Humanities Project), Square Inch Hours: Poems by Sherod Santos (WW Norton, New York, 2017), and Fay Zwicky’s Collected Poems (edited by Lucy Dougan and Tim Dolan, University of Western Australia Press, 2017). All brilliant and essential books.

What was your best poetry discovery this year? 
At present I am working on a new edition of the Australian ‘symbolist’ poet C. J. Brennan’s (1870-1932) poetry, and everything ‘new’ I encounter (that is, that I haven’t come across before) in this process is fascinating to me.

What’s on your reading list for 2018? 
I have many, but I will be starting with Jennifer Maiden’s Appalachian Fall: Poems About Poverty in Power (Quemar Press, late 2017) — I have my copy, but won’t get to it till the New Year, as well as In Darkest Capital: Collected Poems by Drew Milne (Carcanet).

John Kinsella’s most recent books include the poetry volume Firebreaks (WW Norton, 2016) and the critical work Polysituatedness (Manchester University Press, 2017). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Professor of Literature and Sustainability, Curtin University. Read two of his poems in Issue 14:2. 


David Bradford

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What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
Tie between Nikki Wallschlaeger’s Crawlspace and Renee Gladman’s Calamities.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
Allison Titus in general and her The True Book of Animal Homes in particular.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
Black and Blur by Fred Moten, M. NourbeSe Philip’s Blank, Renee Gladman’s Ravicka novels, and Robin Richardson’s new collection!

David Bradford is the author of Nell Zink Is Damn Free (Blank Cheque Press, 2017) and Call Out (Knife|Fork|Book, 2017). His work has appeared in Lemon Hound, Group Huddle, Prairie Fire and Toronto Lit Up’s The Unpublished City. He splits his time between Montréal and Toronto. Read his poem “Cute Bear” in Issue 14:2


John Vieira

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What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
katz katz. Made up mostly of several drawings and two woodcuts, this book contains only two poems, nonetheless, the book as a whole transmits for me real poetry in the term’s most fundamental sense.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
The chapbook by Glenn O’Brien, Ruins With a View. O’Brien passed away unexpectedly this year and, while not known specifically as a poet, published Ruins this year, and so to help honor the poet in him I want to read it.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
I also have it on my list to more fully get into the poetry, etc. made available in the ditch archive webpage on David UU (pronounced David W), and two book-length poems, the first by James Laughlin, Remembering William Carlos Williams, and the second, Kenneth Rexroth’s The Dragon and the Unicorn.

John Vieira is a poet and essayist whose writing has appeared in little magazines and other publications (including Agni and Rolling Stone) in the US and in over a dozen other countries. He is the author of 16 books published by small and micro presses. He works in television news. Read his poem “Dawn” in Issue 14:2. 


Simon Brown

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What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
I would have to give several answers: Firstly, Whereas, by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf), an incredible book that embodies why “opaque” maybe should mean “see-through”. More locally, Rag Cosmology by Erin Robinsong (BookThug) and Quelque chose continue d’être planté là, by Maude Pilon (Le lézard amoureux) are fantastic books that respectively engage with nature and territory in very interesting ways.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
So many things, I’m not sure if I could pinpoint just one. In French, Matthieu Messagier, an older poet I’d never before fully explored who writes through his severe physically disability to push conventional definitions of syntax and language. In English, I very much enjoyed Danielle LaFrance’s Friendly + Fire (Talonbooks, 2016), a book that mixes the political and intimate in really interesting ways.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
Haven’t thought about it much yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading through the recently published Planetary Noise (Wesleyan), an overview of Erín Moure’s several decades of exploration and questioning of language – hoping to both rediscover and fill in the gaps.

Simon Brown is a rural Quebec- based translator and interdisciplinary poet. His French and English texts have been presented in many forms and contexts: conceptual pieces, performances, chapbooks and poetry collections. His poems have been published in Canadian and European periodicals such as The Coming Envelope, Watts, Mœbius, and Cousins de personne. Read his translation work with Emmi Lebuffe in Issue 14:2


Antony Di Nardo

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What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
I’m a year behind in my readings, still finding pleasure in books published way back in 2016, such as Jana Prikryl’s masterful The After Party and Matt Radar’s marvelous meanderings in Desecrations. Now I’m getting ready to meet the new year with the Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan (edited by Brain Bartlett) and Drakkar Noir by Jeramy Dodds at the top of my list.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
It wasn’t so much a single collection or any one poet, but the bookstores of London where you can find row upon row, shelf upon shelf, depth beyond depth devoted to the broken line. The London Review Bookshop at Bury Place, a Rosetta Stone’s throw from The British Museum, as they say, takes a particularly serious view of poetry as a bookseller’s commodity. I got a kink in my neck and bends in my knees reading titles on the vertical, there were so many to go through! Unfortunately, when it came to recent publications by Canadian poets there were few: I saw a copy of Anne Michael’s latest, Rupi Kaur’s lyrical posies (stacked like pyramids in one bookstore), and something by Karen Solie. However, there were plenty of Brits and Americans nestled one next to the other and after a week in the city and a different bookstore every day, I came home with a carry-on nearly stuffed with books.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
Come those days of wintry, blustery winds off Lake Ontario I’ll be reading poetry picked from the shelves of mighty London town, poems by Paterson, Polley and Porter, among others, while editing the manuscript of my own upcoming book, Keep Frozen, to be published by Ronsdale Press in October 2018. Cheers!

Antony Di Nardo is the author of three collections of poetry. His latest, Roaming Charges, was published by Brick Books in 2015. His work appears widely in journals across Canada and internationally. He divides his time between Sutton, Quebec and Cobourg, Ontario. Read his poem “Food Court” in Issue 14:2


Jenny Wong

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What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
Drakkar Noir by Jeramy Dodds.  He came to the University of Calgary as the Canadian Writer-In-Residence and I’ve been following his work ever since.

What was your best poetry discovery this year?
feria: a poempark by Oana Avasilichioaei.  This was one that kept catching my eye and I finally picked it up this year.  How can anyone not love a poempark!

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
The remaining pile of books that I’ve bought and collected in 2017 but still haven’t read yet!

When not attempting to put her computer science degree to good use, Jenny Wong can be found travelling the world with her husband or stuck in her loft coaxing out her next story with hot tea and strong language. Her work can be glimpsed in The Quilliad and 3Elements Review. Read her poem “Submission Guide for Journalists” in Issue 14:2


Mary Jo Bang

maryjoWhat was your favourite poetry book published this year? What was your best poetry discovery this year?
I have four favorite books this year. All four are by women with inimitable voices who bring to bear the complexity of poetic utterance to subjects that feel urgent and timeless.

1)  Lynn Melnick’s Landscape with Sex and Violence (YesYes Books) is a brilliant and unswerving confrontation with the complex dynamics of patriarchal sexual dominance (yes, Virginia, what was true in the 60’s is still true: ‘the personal is political’).
2)  Allison Benis White’s Please Bury Me in This (Four Way Books) is a stunning and haunting meditation on death and the turmoil death leaves in its wake.
3)  Karla Kelsey’s Of Sphere (Essay Press, selected by Carla Harryman for the 2016 Essay Prize), uses a hybrid lyric-essay form to closely examine a woman in the midst of the complicated task of making sense of the end of a relationship.
4)  Kate Greenstreet’s The End of Something (Ahsahta Press) is a mesmerizing rumination on flux and trust, wisdom and the divided self.

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Each of the above felt like a discovery. To quote Keats (“On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”)—reading each of these, “felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken.” (By ‘his ken,’ I feel certain Keats meant ‘his or her’ ken.

What’s on your reading list for 2018?
There are two books at the top of my reading list for 2018: Threat Come Close (Four Way Books, March 2018) by Aaron Coleman and Indecency (Coffee House Press, May 2018) by Justin Phillip Reed. I’ve read both of these books in manuscript form, so know for a fact that each is an amazing collection. Stylistically adventurous, both address the subjects of masculinity, sexuality, violence, race and risk. They are both essential reading.

Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poems and a translation
of Dante’s Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher. Her most recent book (Graywolf Press 2017) is A Doll For Throwing. She teaches in the creative writing program at Washington University in St. Louis.


VallumCov14-2_C4-1You can read all the poets featured in this edition of our Year in Review in Vallum Issue 14:2.

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: “Four Windows” by Michael Trussler

Four Windows

I live behind four windows.

1.

Out of one
the way irresistible world looks—

the red-shafted flicker, a male, its inaudibly long
beak finding ant upon ant on the edge of the driveway, clouds
the precise metal of those disinfectant trays
people step in before swimming, the radiance of

children’s toothpaste. Not seeking
beauty only, this window
needs the pearl of vindication.

2.

But there’s another window, this one
impossible— the long-ago afternoon when

no one was looking, and I put on my new
tiger-striped hat, my six-foot feather boa, mostly
blood red, and then some blue lipstick
to hand out ceramic dragons and Batman nightlights
at my son’s fourth birthday party and uneasy, he
needed to know
You’re still my dad, aren’t you?

My children, their hungered, and unjustly

bountiful looking into a man
who then learned how to elude things.

3.

Almost, but not yet, I’m almost the age
at which most of my dead
haven’t died from suicide. They, my dead, bend

the glass of that window there, the one that moves, that keeps
slipping while turning itself toward me.

4.

An ocean is adjacent to the fourth window.

Because the waves are abandoned nowadays, of the four
windows
this is the one I press against,
touching
the glass, its vertical slope, this thin place where
moments and love and the irrevocable
began.

Michael Trussler has published literary criticism, poetry, and fiction. His short story collection, Encounters, won the Book of the Year Award from the Saskatchewan Book Awards in 2006. His collection of poetry, Accidental Animals, was short-listed for the same award in 2007. The Alfred Gustav Press is publishing his chapbook Light’s Alibi in 2018. He teaches English at the University of Regina.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

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