Vallum Poem of the Week: "A 1990s Phenomenon" by Jenny Wong

A 1990s Phenomenon by Jenny Wong

Four base pairs,
seeds encoded
for our superficial surfaces
but where
is the connection
from phenome to phoneme,
that gene
of recessive thinking
known to cause assumptions
about what language
should have been burned
into my mouth from birth
even though I have never
set foot on the land
of the mother tongue.
My roots are seasoned
three generations
into this soil
and yet I am seen
as a tea leaf
fresh
off the boat.

Jenny Wong is a writer, traveler, and occasional business analyst.  She resides in the foothills of Alberta, Canada and is currently attempting to create a poetry collection about locations, learn a few words in Russian, and regularly visit her local boxing studio.  She was a finalist for The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Short Prose Competition, longlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize and shortlisted for The Platform Review Chapbook series. Her publications include Claw & Blossom, Whale Road Review, The Stillwater Review, Atlas and Alice, and elsewhere.

To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, 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! Visit our website for details.

Vallum 2019 Year in Review: Part Three

Sparkling firework new year 2020

2019 was an exciting year for Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 16:1 and 16:2, and published two new chapbooks: Finding Places to Make Places by Alexei Perry Cox , winner of the 2019 Vallum Chapbook Award, and Swelles by Sina Queyras. Read about our new chapbooks here.

Ellen Chang-Richardson won the 2019 Award for Poetry with “Grotto,” while Conor Mc Donnell received second place with “Participation and passive views (Twin Peaks in under two minutes).” Honourable mention went to Sam Kaspar for “eau de stripper.”

We also hosted two pop-up shops, at Le Cagibi, attended press fairs in New York City, Toronto, 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 2019 and what’s in store for the year ahead.

Here’s what some of the writers published in Vallum Issue 16:1, 16:2, chapbook authors and 2019 contest winners said:

 


Sally QuonAuthor Photo

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

My favorite book of poetry from this year is tied between Cynthia Sharpe’s Rainforest in Russet and the collaboration between Lee Maracle and her daughters, Tania Carter and Columpa Bobb, titled Hope Matters. The cover art on Hope Matters was also done by Tania Carter.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

My reading list for 2020 includes as many Canadian literary journals as I can get my hands on and my wish list is Jude Neal’s A Blooming and Lorna Crozier’s God of Shadows. Right now, I’m working my way through Canadian Poets On-line and I’m fairly certain it will end with a large shipment from Amazon.

3.) Best writerly advice:

My best advice would be this:  Live life boldly. Take your art to unexpected places.

Sally Quon is a photographer and writer living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. When not out enjoying the splendors of nature, she likes to spend time cooking, reading and painting. Her photography has appeared in Canadian Geographic Magazine and in Nature Alberta’s various birding brochures. Sally was recently awarded a Judge’s Choice Award in the Ontario Poetry Society’s Ultra Short Poem Competition 2018 and was short-listed for the 2018 Exile Writers Gwendolyn MacEwan Literary Competition. She has two beautiful, almost grown children.

 


Laura Glennunnamed

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

Among the books of poetry that especially intrigued me this year were The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy and Like by A. E. Stallings, the latter being more structured than most contemporary poetry that I read.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

Given that my work life keeps me busy, there’s an element of serendipity to how I choose books. I go to the library and return with an armful or peruse a bookstore. I read a number of poetry journals each year and sometimes pursue a poet whose work I come across in them. Martín Espada is one such poet who’s on my list. I’d like to read more Ilya Kaminsky, Terrance Hayes, Joy Harjo, both Matthew and Michael Dickman, and so many more. I get a lot out of returning to the poems of Alice Fulton and hope for new works by her. Typically I reread some poems by Dickinson, Keats, French symbolists, and on. There are also a handful of novels and books of short stories on my reading list, though I’m reluctant to name authors I haven’t read yet.

Laura Glenn is the author of I Can’t Say I’m Lost (FootHills) and When
the Ice Melts (Finishing Line); her poems appear in many journals
and anthologies. She is completing another book of poems. Also a visual
artist, she lives in Ithaca, NY and works as a freelance editor. www.
lauraglennpoetandartist.com. Read her poem “Brief Flight” in Issue 16:2

 


Michael TrusslerIMG_1178

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

My most valuable discovery this year has been Brenda Hillman’s Extra Hidden Life, among the Days. Its formal experimentation and rigorous, gentle intelligence is something I keep returning to almost every morning when I get up early to have a coffee and try to set the tone for the day. And also the work of Jean Valentine, both writers being pointed out to me by C.D. Wright.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

For 2020’s reading list: to finally get to Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries; and then to go deep in John Ashbery and Jorie Graham’s poetry.

3.) Best writerly advice:

Read wide and deep—from neuroscience to diaries written in times when almost everyone kept diaries. Be a witness (sometimes friendly, always curious, often hostile) to what’s spread across the spectrum of your times… and make up a new word if there’s nothing better at hand.

Michael Trussler has published poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. His story collection, Encounters, won the Book of the Year Award from the Saskatchewan Book Awards in 2006. A poetry collection, Accidental Animals, was short-listed for the same awards in 2007. The Alfred Gustav Press published Light’s Alibi in 2018. Read his poem The Nights The Child Dreams Of Numbers in issue 16:2

 


Ellen Chang-Richardsonimage1 (1)

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

Cameron Anstee’s Book of Annotations.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

River Woman (Katherena Vermette), NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field (Billy-Ray Belcourt), Port of Being (Shazia Hafiz Ramji).

3.) Best writerly advice:

Find your favourite place. Start writing. Never give up. Edit, edit, edit.

Ellen Chang-Richardson (she/her) is an emerging poet, writer and editor of Taiwanese & Cambodian-Chinese descent. Recipient of the 2019 Vallum Award for Poetry, her writing has appeared in Ricepaper Magazine, Coven Editions: Grimoire, Revue PØST, and more. Her inaugural chapbook, Unlucky Fours, is published by Anstruther Press (2020). Ellen is the founder of Little Birds Poetry, a series of editing workshops for poets and creative writers. Find out more at www.ehjchang.com.

 


J. R Solonche Waterfall

1.) What was your favourite poetry book published this year?

A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton (The Song Cave, 2015)

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

Nothing. I’m too busy writing. At least three books are forthcoming in 2020.

3.) Best writerly advice:

Be compelling. If you can’t be compelling, be concrete. If you can’t be concrete, be original. If you can’t be original, be brief. If you can’t be brief, be funny. If you can’t be funny, try harder to be brief. 

J. R. Solonche is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (chapbook from Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today & Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (Kelsay Books), and coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley. Read his poem “A Gull” in Issue 16:1

 


Cassidy McFadzean

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

I started the year with Marie Howe’s Magdalene, and I’m ending it with Linda Gregg’s All of It Singing.

cassidymcfadzean

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

In terms of poetry, Canisia Lubrin’s The Dyzgraphist. For fiction, Ottessa Moshfegh’s Death in Her Hands. Cathy Park Hong’s collection of essays, Minor Feelings is also one I’ll be watching for.

3.) Best writerly advice:

Read outside the canon, but also outside your genre, your country, your time.

Cassidy McFadzean was born in Regina, graduated from the Iowa
Writers’ Workshop, and currently lives in Toronto. She is the author
of two poetry collections: Hacker Packer (McClelland & Stewart 2015),
which won two Saskatchewan Book Awards; and Drolleries (M&S 2019). Read her poem “Third Eye” in Issue 16:2.

 


Bob BrighttImage-7 (2)

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 

Stargazing by Astra Papachristodoulou 

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020? 

Harryette Mullen: Sleeping with the Dictionary, Sean Bonney: Happiness: Poems After Rimbaud, Ron Silliman: The Age of Huts (compleat), Lissa Wolsak: Lightsail, Madeline Gins and Arakawa: Architectural Body

3.) Best writerly advice:

It’s generally better not to think that your own writing is rubbish. There is probably at least one person in the world who might like it.

 


Charles AlbertCJA 3q

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

My favorite poetry book was Rage de Temps by Jérôme Turcan. But my favorite book in English was Ballistics by Billy Collins.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

For 2020 I intend to try to read The Book of Disquiet by this Portugese guy I’ve been hearing about, Fernando Pessoa.

3.) Best writerly advice:

I have been writing for 20+ years and only have about four dozen poems and stories published. So I am a terrible source of advice. Unless you want advice on how to keep plodding along despite getting rejection letter after rejection letter. In that case, my advice is probably superfluous — all you really need is someone to hear your pain and to commiserate. And then I’m there with you, sistah! (Or bruthah!) Keep on writing what you love — no one else is going to do it as well as you can.

Charles Joseph Albert works as a metallurgist during the day, lives with his wife and three teenage boys, and writes on the trolley to and fro. His first novel, The Unsettler, is now appearing in Serial Magazine. Recent poems have appeared in Write City Magazine, Jerry Jazz Musician, and Collective Unrest, and his third collection of poetry, Confession to the Cockroaches, is available at many online booksellers. Read his poem “L’accident” in Issue 16:2.


Helen Robertson WP_20190715_10_51_55_Pro (1)-2

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

I kept trying to rewrite this answer over and over again but simply put nothing has stuck with me quite the way that Arielle Twist’s Disintegrate/Dissociate has.  She is such a wonderful live reader and whether heard or read her poetry guts me in a way very little else does.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

I don’t tend to keep much of a reading list. It is often a very of the cuff decision for me.  I know for a fact though that my next purchase is going to be Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 by Trish Salah.  

3.) Best writerly advice:

Honestly, I don’t know how much advice I could really give.  My ethos basically comes down to:

  1. Write everything even if you think it’s terrible and sort it out later.

  2. Go for the emotional core and twist the knife.  It is more important to me to effect an emotional response than to be clever.

Helen Robertson is a genderqueer trans woman moving through the lifelong process of accepting how lucky they’ve been; using poetry to excise their ire and sorrow — hopefully turning it into something worthwhile. They have been published in Bywords and have work forthcoming in CV2, The New Quarterly, and The Puritan. They are the secretary of the Tree Reading Series.

 


L’Abri Tipton IMG_4238

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon and Oculus: Poems by Sally Wen Mao tie for favourite. 

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (translated by Jennifer Croft)
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob 

3.) Best writerly advice:

Trust the gradual accumulation of working steadily and regularly. Time can be carved out, and the half hours of reading and writing add up to days, weeks, and months of your own making. 

L’Abri Tipton is a writer, poet, and printmaker. Her work has appeared in print and online in Dispatches, Descant, Luna Luna Magazine, Conséquences, Lute & Drum, Magma, and Tripwire. She has also been part of live collaborations with The Enemies Project (London). She’s currently writing a non-fiction book about having a body in the world which looks at somatic psychology and the numerous ways a body might carry its pain but also heal from it and grow! You can follow her on Instagram @thequietfight or check out her website, racheltipton.work.

 


Ashley-Elizabeth Best20191013_115510

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

Brute by Emily Skaja. 

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020? 

There are three books I have been too busy to read in 2019, so I’m promising myself I’ll get to these fully in 2020: Why Poetry Matters by Matthew Zapruder, The Ghost: A Cultural History By Susan Owens, and The Old Way: A Journey on Foot  by Robert Macfarlane.

3.) Best writerly advice:

It’s going to be hard, just focus on getting that first draft on the page and finding some joy in it. Most importantly, trust the process, and read as much as you can. 

Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Ontario, Canada. Her work has been published in CV2, Berfrois, Grist, Ambit Magazine, December Magazine, Tampa Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Literary Review of Canada. In 2015 she was a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her debut collection, Slow States of Collapse was published with ECW Press.

 


Brigit Truexphoto

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

I have come across new-to-me poets that are likely familiar to many others, namely Natalie Diaz and, maybe lesser-known, Patricia Goedecke. While I’m not sure I’m at a place to give “advice,” I have conducted many poetry workshops over the years. I encourage participants to read widely, to explore different forms as a challenge, as”exercise.” 

Goedecke’s On the Night in Question, I found to be imaginative and quirky. I like the idea of pushing oneself in writing, of experimenting. Try new things, express yourself in unique ways. In order to do that, one must at least become familiar with “accepted” ways of writing — then explore beyond them. 

Given my own heritage of First Nations (Abenaki/Cree), French-Canadian and Irish, I am drawn to Diaz’s writing as well. It appeals to me in that she’s an Indigenous poet, exploring her place in a fractured world. It seems quite relevant especially now, with all the focus on “immigration.” How to maintain your traditions and balance that in a “predominant” culture? As many answers as there are individuals. An additional aside here — the Poetry Foundation website has an entire section devoted to “Native American” poets, many of whom I know personally, which is a wonderful introduction for others who are interested.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

Future reading — while I cannot name anyone specific as “new,” I admit to two things: I will commit to exploring contemporary poets (via the least expensive way, online, keeping posted on readings, talking to other poets) and I will continue to find comfort, reassurance, and subtle inspiration by reading my “old” favorites such as W. S, Merwin, Ted Kooser, Jane Kenyon among others.  

Brigit Truex currently lives on the Bluegrass Plateau of Kentucky, after 12 years in the California Sierra foothills. Her work has appeared internationally in various publications and anthologies, including Atlanta Review, Yellow Medicine Review, The Hopper Journal, Poetry Now, and Nasty Women Poets. She has one full-length book of her poetry, Strong as Silk, and four chapbooks. Read her poem “Season of Bones” in Issue 16:1

 


Marjorie Poora. Marjorie_Poor_IMG_3846_BW 

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

My favourite book of poetry in 2019 would have to be St. Boniface Elegies by Catherine Hunter (Signature Editions). I can open to any page of St. Boniface Elegies and find line after line that catches my breath and breaks my heart—just one example, “I’m only the reader of the poem. It cuts me twice, / with its escaping and its letting go.” I also loved Mobile by Tanis MacDonald (Book*hug)—her wit and anger hit home.

2.) What’s on your reading list for 2020?

I’m so looking forward to reading Sarah Ens’s debut collection of poetry, The World Is Mostly Sky (Turnstone Press) and Angeline Schellenberg’s new collection, Fields of Light and Stone (University of Alberta Press), both of which are coming out in the spring of 2020.

3.) Best writerly advice:

My best writerly advice is pretty standard, but still the best, I believe: Read—read widely, read deeply, read lots and always.

Marjorie Poor is a publications editor for Manitoba Education and Training,  the editor of Prairie books NOW, and a fiction editor at Prairie Fire. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Fire and has been featured at Theatre by the River’s annual fundraiser, Wine & Words. She lives in Winnipeg. Read her poem “The Haunted” in Issue 16:2.

 


Christine Beck

1.) What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?

While I still haven’t finished it yet, I adore Nocturnal by Wilder. The introductory poem has become of my favorites.

2) What’s on your reading list for 2020?  

Apart from assigned reading, I would like to read Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. I’ve also been meaning to practice my German by reading The Neverending Story in its original text. 

3) Best writerly advice. 

Only let the inner perfectionist speak AFTER you have words written down.

Christine Beck is an American writer hailing from Yakima, Washington.
She started writing short stories and poems for her high school English
classes, and has been writing ever since. Currently, she lives in Spokane
with her fiancée and three cats, studying English at Eastern Washington
University.


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

Vallum 2019 Year in Review: Part Two

Sparkling firework new year 2020

2019 was an exciting year for Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 16:1 and 16:2, and published two new chapbooks: Finding Places to Make Places by Alexei Perry Cox , winner of the 2019 Vallum Chapbook Award, and Swelles by Sina Queyras. Read about our new chapbooks here.

Ellen Chang-Richardson won the 2019 Award for Poetry with “Grotto,” while Conor Mc Donnell received second place with “Participation and passive views (Twin Peaks in under two minutes).” Honourable mention went to Sam Kaspar for “eau de stripper.”

We also hosted two pop-up shops, at Le Cagibi, attended press fairs in New York City, Toronto, 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 2019 and what’s in store for the year ahead.

Here’s what some of the writers published in Vallum Issue 16:1, 16:2, chapbook authors and 2019 contest winners said:

Annick MacAskill 
authorphotohk1

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 
This is the kind of question writers dread! It’s practically impossible to narrow it down, but if I had to choose, I’d go with Fiona Benson’s Vertigo & Ghost (Vintage, 2019). Reading it was like taking a bucket of ice water in the face (in a good way). 

What’s on your reading list for 2020?
For 2020, I’m looking forward to reading Eduardo C. Corral’s sophomore collection, Guillotine, which is due out in the summer with Graywolf. Another priority is Mary Jean Chan’s Flèche, which came out this year with Faber & Faber. 

Best writerly advice.
All writers have dry spells. When you don’t feel like writing, read and read and read. Eventually, the desire to write will return.  


Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Annick MacAskill is the author of
 No Meeting Without Body (Gaspereau Press, 2018), longlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, shortlisted for the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award, and named a knife fork book 2018 pick. A second collection will be published by Gaspereau in the spring of 2020. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies across Canada and abroad, with recent publications in the Humber Literary ReviewBest Canadian Poetry 2019PrismThe Stinging FlyThe Puritan, and Arc. Read her review of ADAGIO FOR THE HORIZON by Laurelyn Whitt in Issue 16:1


Chinua Ezenwa Ohaeto

DSC_0200 (1)

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
The favourite book (Chapbook) I discovered this year is Mannequin in the Nude by Logan February.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
 
The book on my reading list for 2020 is On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.
 
Best writerly advice:
 
My best writerly is the same as my father’s: ‘…put your feelings down…’
 

Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (@ChinuaEzenwa) is from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and grew up between Germany and Nigeria.
Some of his works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Rush Magazine, Kalahari Review, Palette, Knicknackery, Praxis magazine, Bakwa Magazine, Strange Horizons, One, Ake Review, Crannóg Magazine, and elsewhere. Read his poem “I find it Hard Beginning a Poem Sometimes” in Issue 16:2.


Carolyn Marie Souaid

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? IMG_1566
Bluets, Maggie Nelson (2009)

What’s on your reading list for 2020?
I want to reread all of Louise Glück, beginning with Averno (2006)

Best writerly advice:
Rediscover the joy of making something. Paint, dance, collage, use a camera. Cross-pollinate.


Carolyn Marie Souaid is the Montreal-based author of seven poetry books and the acclaimed novel,
Yasmeen Haddad Loves Joanasi Maqaittik (2017). She has performed at festivals and literary events in Canada and abroad, and her work has been featured on CBC Radio. Read her poem “The Inadequacy of the Present” in Issue 16:2


Lou VaniScan_20191130

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? The Collected Poems by Sara Teasdale.

What’s on your reading list for 2020? Any God Will Do by Virginia Konchan and The Only Card in a Deck of Knives by Lauren Turner.

Best writerly advice: Try not to discard, destroy or jettison a first draft of a poem as it may contain your initial thoughts, impulses, intuitions and ideas. These firsts may shape a most sincere and profound work. It seems rare that a first thought is an afterthought.

Lou Vani is an actor from Montreal and enjoys writing poetry. He has appeared in films, television programs and on stage. This is the second occasion Vallum has published his work. Read his poem “Yes I can Recall the Ivy” in Issue 16:2


Christina Shah Christina Shah-min

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
Hands down, Turning Left to the Ladies, by Kate Braid. It’s not new, and I’d been meaning to read it for ages, but I finally sat down with it. Kate beautifully articulates the ups and downs women experience working in industrial environments– there’s the ever-present danger, the sense of accomplishment, the guys who love you, and the ones who scare you. It’s a wild ride.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?
A number of books on work poetry– namely, Tom Wayman’s The Order in Which We Do Things. and Stanley’s Girl by Susan Eisenberg. Also, (my former teacher) Fiona Tinwei Lam’s Odes & Laments, and of course, my friend Daniela Elza’s the broken boat, which will be coming out in April.

Best writerly advice:
Stay true to what it is you’re passionate about and let that drive your creative process. Keep knocking on doors. If you apply yourself over time, you’ll be surprised at your results (I learned this in sales first). Live dangerously and steal time.

Christina Shah was born in Ottawa, lives in Vancouver, and works in
heavy industry. Her poetry has appeared in qarrtsiluni and spring, with
work forthcoming in The Fiddlehead. She recently completed her first full-length manuscript, if: prey, then: huntress. On hot days, you’ll find her at a good swimming hole. Read her poem “Dig in” in Issue 16:2


Kate Felix kate headshot

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 

I thought I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? by Nolan Natasha (Invisible Publishing) was superb. I admire his ability to weave whole stories from a yarn of small details. The way he interprets the moments of ordinary life (Blue Jays games, road trips, the leavings of a campfire) are intimate and nuanced and the language, although beautiful, is never isolating.  He writes in a voice one might recognize as their own. 

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  

Right now, I am reading On Second Thought by Priscila Uppal (Mansfield Press).  It is a devastating window into one woman’s journey though her own mortality but it is written with moments of such tenderness and levity that it is often difficult to know how to feel while reading it. Either way it is drawing me in.  

I am looking forward to reading Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, edited by Amber Dawn and Justin Ducharme (Arsenal Pulp Press) which I feel is an important collection for so many reasons.  

Also on my list is Vivek Shraya’s debut collection of poetry, Even This Page is White.  It came out in 2016, but I just finished reading her book I’m Afraid of Men and admired how she hit every page with a literal hand slap of raw and unapologetic prose. I am hoping for more of that with her poetry and suspect I will not be disappointed. 

Best writerly advice:
I like to listen to the music I think could be my subject or protagonist’s theme song while I am writing.  It helps me to stop thinking like me and lets me crawl into another mind completely.

Kate Felix (She/Her) is a writer and filmmaker based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Room Magazine, Litro, and the Pacific Review, among others. She won the Wilda Hearne Prize for Flash Fiction and has been shortlisted for several other writing prizes. Her small daughter describes her as being “like a rainbow but with one stripe made of darkness.” Find her online at http://www.katefelix.com or @kitty_flash on twitter.


Leland JamesLeland James 2016 Hi Res color - Copy

What was your favorite book of poetry you discovered this year? 

Actually, this is a rediscovery, but it’s been so long since I read it (over fifty years) I think it counts as a discovery: Understanding Poetry, Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. This book takes us back to the roots of poetry, be it formal or free verse. It elucidates a concept and then illustrates with commentary, annot snippets of poems as many books do, entire poems. 

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  

A History of Modern Poetry, Modernism and After, a book I’ve been promising myself to tackle. Also, I plan to reread: The Anxiety of Influence, A Theory of Poetry, Harold Bloom. Bloom walks a fine line I wish to revisit between originality and the desire to be original, the latter being in my view the source of much of the bad poetry we find in many journals today.

Best writerly advice:
As my suggested readings may indicate: I think the disease of much of poetry just now is the desire to be unique, to break ground, to distinguish one from the past. I don’t think that’s where you start. As Goethe said, “Do not all the achievements of a poet’s predecessors and contemporaries belong to him? Why should he shrink from picking flowers where he finds them?” My suggested books, I being a poet who publishes worldwide in both formal and free verse—not an easy trick these days—encourage young poets (if you’ve done the math you know just how old I am) to take the advice of C.S. Lewis: “[N]o man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring tuppence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original [.]” 

Now, to the day to day: crack your knuckles, find poetry in your fingers. Write what your Muse tells you, and how. Screw advice. It’s you and the page. Do it, and let the chips fall.

Leland James is the author of several poetry collections, children’s books in verse, and a book on poetry craft. He has published poems in journals and magazines worldwide including The Lyric, Rattle, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and The London Magazine. He has won or received honors in numerous international poetry competitions, has been featured in American Life in Poetry, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. www.lelandjamespoet. Read his poem “Nemeses” in Issue 16:2


Conor Mc Donnell conor_mc_donnell

What was your favorite book of poetry you discovered this year?
My favourite book(s) of poetry this year were anthologies as I always learn so much from the variety of voices included:

Top of the pile was The Next Wave, edited by Jim Johnstone (recommended to me by absolutely everyone). Poetry in Medicine: An anthology of poems about doctors patients illnesses and healing – edited by Michael Salcman (recommended to me by Al Moritz). Technicians of the Sacreda range of poetries from Africa America Asia Europe and Oceania – edited by Jerome Rothenberg (recommended by Nick Cave)

**For my own personal unearthing of a forgotten gem … Letters to a Stranger by Thomas James, you can read the amazing introduction essay here  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69134/the-rebirth-of-a-suicidal-genius

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  

My early reading list for 2020: 

Democratically Applied Machine by the awesome Robert Colman

What to wear when surviving a lion attack by the fiercesome Paola Ferrante

Resisting Canada: An anthology of poetry – edited by Nyla Matuk

K-Punk: the collected and unpublished writings of Mark Fisher

It gets me home, this curving track – Ian Penman

Underland: a deep time journey – Robert Macfarlane 

Stilt Jack by John Thompson  

10 minutes 38 seconds by Elif Shafak

Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval

Best writerly advice:

My writing advice? What the hell do I know about anything? 

But the best advice I received was read and read and read some more. What I would add to that is read widely read passionately and read with critical judgement. When I do sit down to write I put on the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive and write as a starving 1,000 year-old vampire.

 

Conor Mc Donnell is a physician and poet. He has published two chapbooks in Canada, The Book of Retaliations (Anstruther Press), and, Safe Spaces (Frog Hollow Press). In 2018, he received Honourable Mention for The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and is shortlisted for RawArtReview’s  2019 Charles Bukowski Poetry Prize. His writing has featured in The FiddleHeadJAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association)In ParenthesesScrivener CreativeReview, 580SpltLipCarouselbirdburiedpress online, and many others. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two dogs and is currently writing/rewriting/completing/shredding his first full poetry manuscript.


Louella Lesterunnamed

What was your favorite book of poetry you discovered this year?
I really enjoyed It’s a Big Deal by Dina Del Bucchia. 

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
I look forward to reading Mobile by Tanis MacDonald  & Five Wives by Joan Thomas. And of course a bunch of others—the list is endless.

Best writerly advice:

My best writerly advice is to just let it flow when doing a first draft. I have a tendency to revise a lot as I write a first draft, but since I let that go a bit I feel my writing has improved.

Louella Lester writes fiction, CNF, and poetry in Winnipeg. Her work has appeared in Prairie Fire, Lemon Hound, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, The Antigonish Review, CBC News Manitoba Online, and in the anthology Gush: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House, 2018). Read her poem “Taking Off” in Issue 16:1


Evan JEvan J pic

What was your favorite book of poetry you discovered this year?
None. I read fiction.

 
What’s on your reading list for 2020?  

Kafka.

Best writerly advice:
Move mentally and residentially away from the urban tech ruckus.

Living in the remote town of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Evan Jspends the winters writing poems. In 2016, he founded and directed the Slackline Creative Arts Series in Toronto. In 2017, he released the chapbook Urchin. In 2018, he won the Vallum Award for Poetry. In 2019, he almost won the subTerrain Lush Triumphant Award for Poetry. Learn more at EvanJ.ca. Read his poem “Bloor-Yonge” in Issue 16:1.


Leslie Timmins 0

What was your favorite book of poetry you discovered this year?
The Mean Game by John Wall Barger

What’s on your reading list for 2020?
Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser. Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds. How to Teach Philosophy to Your Dog by Anthony McGowan, and Time is Tight by Booker T.  (memoir of Booker T. and the MGs).

Best writerly advice:
“Why, to write down the stuff
and people of every day,
must poems be dressed up in gold,
in old and fearful stone?”

Pablo Neruda

Leslie Timmins is a poet, editor, and activist whose work has been
shortlisted for the Montréal International Poetry Prize, among other
honours. Her poetry collection,
Every Shameless Ray (Inanna, 2018), traces
a fine disorder of possibility through the Canadian wilderness, European
art, grave illness, true love and false. See http://www.poemsunlimited.com.
Read her poem “Mercy” in Issue 16:2


Deborah Bacharachunnamed

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
Oh, that’s a hard one because I wrote reviews for 20 books. I think Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminksy was the most astounding book of poetry I read this year.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
Danger Days by Catherine Pierce, Hinge by Molly Spencer, Rise Wildly by Tina Kelley, Somewhere Between Sweet and Grief by Donna Vorreyer, Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer Sweeney, and Prime Meridian by Connie Post.

Best writerly advice:
Don’t let perfect get in the way of getting started. Give yourself permission to write something bad.

Deborah Bacharach is the author of After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Irish Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Poet Lore, among many others. She is an editor, teacher, and tutor in Seattle. Find out more about
her at DeborahBacharach.com. Read her poem “Valentine’s Day With Teenager” in Issue 16:2


Alex Manley 

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
All Day I Dream About Sirens – Domenica Martinello

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

This book is such a wonderful expression of what’s possible in a themed poetry collection — Martinello weaves all the little threads of sirens and mermaids in our culture together into a vibrant tapestry that finds space for Disney movies and the Odyssey, the Starbucks logo and the last surviving sea-silk seamstress — and the closer you look, the more you’ll find. She’s a rare poet who delights in wordplay in a way that feels exciting and crackling with intellect, not simply to show off or to induce dad-joke-like groans in the reader. 

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
A bunch of books that came out this year that I haven’t gotten around to yet! 

The Topeka School – Ben Lerner

Resisting Canada: An Anthology of New Poetry – edited by Nyla Matuk

Exquisite Mariposa – Fiona Duncan 

The Crying Book – Heather Christle

Best writerly advice:
Find a nice, comfortable place that’s well-lit, where no one will talk to you — and (most importantly) one that doesn’t have any internet. 

Alex Manley is a Montreal-based writer whose work has appeared in Maisonneuve Magazine, The Puritan, carte blanche, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day feature, among others, and whose debut poetry collection, We Are All Just Animals & Plants, was published by Metatron Press in 2016. Read his Poem “Commitment” in Issue 16:2

Vallum Poem of the Week: “The Day Before the Longest Day of the Year” by Tess Liem

The Day Before the Longest Day of the Year

In a familiar place you remember twilight
is divided into three & wish someone
would teach you how to do something
civil with your hands. Last week you
dreamed you lived close to a river
& had a habit to cling to. It would
be helpful to tell someone you are certain
you like rapids better when you can’t
see them but you can hear
obstructions breaking
the water’s surface. Days are
always getting longer
or shorter & this evening feels
like a sailor’s knot, a fixed noose
at the end of a line. Make a plan
to go sailing, to look at your life
through a telescope. Tomorrow
you will stand in a body of water,
cup one hand around the other,
line up your thumbs & put your lips
to the space & tell a lie. Except
you’ve never been able to do a loon call
& you are half envious half sorry
when someone does it well enough
for a loon to show up, presumably,
looking for another loon.

Tess Liem is a queer writer living in Montreal, Tiotia:ke—unceded Haudenosaunee and Mohawk territories. Her writing has appeared in Plenitude, Room Magazine, PRISM, and elsewhere. Her debut collection Obits. was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award and recently won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for 2019. 

To view other content 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! Visit our website for details.

Vallum 2019 Year in Review: Part One

2019 was an exciting year for Vallum!

We launched Vallum: Contemporary Poetry issues 16:1 and 16:2, and published two new chapbooks: Finding Places to Make Places by Alexei Perry Cox , winner of the 2019 Vallum Chapbook Award, and Swelles by Sina Queyras. Read about our new chapbooks here.

Ellen Chang-Richardson won the 2019 Award for Poetry with “Grotto,” while Conor Mc Donnell received second place with “Participation and passive views (Twin Peaks in under two minutes).” Honourable mention went to Sam Kaspar for “eau de stripper.”

We also hosted two pop-up shops, at Le Cagibi, attended press fairs in New York City, Toronto, 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 2019 and what’s in store for the year ahead.

Here’s what some of the writers published in Vallum Issue 16:1, 16:2, chapbook authors and 2019 contest winners said:

alexeipcAlexei Perry Cox

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 

They came out at the tale end of 2018, at the same time, but I kept living with Dionne Brand’s The Blue Clerk and Theory this year. I guess they were both really informing my hope to write two books at once, ones that spoke differently but registered equally meaningfully and that’s what I’ve been working on. Doyali Islam’s heft really killed me. I think that Islam’s bifurcated form resonates with me as I work on tipping the scales of balance and inbalance in my own work. 

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
Canisia Lubrin Dyzgraphxst
Megan Fernandes Good Boys

Best writerly advice:
This was not “writerly advice” but something fully taken out of context from Tess Liem’s recent collection Obits that now I fully apply to maybe all that I do:

Let yourself be swayed         One way or the other

…… I might only add to it “And the other” just for good measure.

Alexei Perry Cox is the author of the poetry collection Under Her and short fiction collection To Utter a Life’s Sentence. Her work has appeared in various iterations in The Puritan, carte blanche, CV2, Hart House Review, Vallum, Makhzin, Matrix, Cosmonauts Avenue, Rusted Radishes, Journal Safar, The Beijinger, Lemonhound and elsewhere. She has two wondrous young ones named Isla and Ilham. Read her chapbook, Finding Places to Make Places here.


Adèle Barclay 

0

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy and Lima Limón by Natalie Scenters Zapico are both brilliant, scathing works that feel like necessary flares in these absurd and violent times.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
Debuts from Lauren Turner, The Only Card in a Deck of Knives, and Kyla Jamieson, Body Count

Best writerly advice 
Oh gosh, I have no writerly advice these days. I recommending reading aloud the poems that move you until they become part of your body. 

Adèle Barclay’s writing has appeared in The Pinch, The Fiddlehead,
glitterMOB, The Puritan, PRISM, and elsewhere. Her debut collection, If
I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You won the 2017 Dorothy Livesay
Poetry Prize. Her second collection, Renaissance Normcore, was published by Nightwood Editions in fall 2019. Read her poem, “Obviously a Shitty Dream” in Issue 16:1.


Kevin Irie Bio pic

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 

Luckily, Vallum is asking for a “discovery,” thus relieving me of having to choose a favourite book from poets I was already familiar with previously. There were superb collections from poets whose work I knew—Doyali Islam, Karen Solie, Moez Surani, Kaie Kellough, Fiona Tinwei Lam, and Souvankham Thammavongsa—but discovery implies the unfamiliar and there is one book I discovered. REMITTING (Baseline Press) by Nisa Malli is, technically, only a chapbook, but what a chapbook! Bracing, vivid and with a candour to match—”I was a bad worker/ of my own body”REMITTING seethes with an urgent energy, a strong poetic voice and masterfully uplifting poetic craft even as she records “days when my body trips me just to make me lie /down.” But then, that’s part of the power of poetry, isn’t it?

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  

day/break by Gwen Benaway. For Vallum last year, I cited Holy Wild as the best poetry book of 2018 and so look forward to this one. Gifted, graceful and gutsy, Benaway has a poetic voice and clarity that is truly a gift for the reader.

Long Division by Gil McElroy: a poet who is inventive, intelligent, experimental, and exciting in his use of language–and also, so far, unjustly under the radar despite 20 years of achievement.

Pineapple Express by Evelyn Lau. Trauma, her last collection, was intensely poignant and personal, but Lau has explored different poetic routes for decades now, incisively and with élan, and her ongoing poetic evolution is always something to look forward to with much anticipation.   

Junebat by John Elizabeth Stintzi. If you read the chapbook The Machete Tourist, then you know Stintzi is fresh, insightful, candid, conversational and utterly convincing. It made you want more—and now, here it is.

Roguelike by Mathew Henderson. The Lease, Henderson’s first book, was much celebrated, including a rave review in The New York Times, and now his second arrives after 8 years, apparently focusing more on his personal life than his working life, but the sensitivity, empathy and awareness displayed in that first book makes this a definite collection to read.   

Burning Province by Michael Prior. Prior has displayed his talent in elegant poems that reveal intelligence and grace as he writes about race, generations and injustice in a style that is both measured yet aggrieved, a delicate balance indeed. Though this is only his second book, he has poetically accomplished so much already. 

Field Notes for the Self by Randy Lundy. This will be the fourth collection from a poet who is simultaneously sombre and celebratory, stoic in the face of life yet singing of the natural world around him, a rare and wondrous working portrayed in poetry.   

Best writerly advice:
Read other contemporary poets, let them inspire you, and point you in ways you might not have otherwise considered. And buy their books, since someone should, and support starts with you!

Kevin Irie was a finalist for The Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award and The Toronto Book Award for Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report (Frontenac House). Work from his current project, The Tantramar Re-Vision, was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. He lives in Toronto. Read his poem “Night Fear” Issue 16:1.


Shanan Kurtzshanan-kurtz-is-the-one-on-the-left

What was your favourite poetry book published this year? 
Usually late to the party, I started reading Maggie Nelson this year and especially loved Something Bright, Then Holes and Bluets.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?
Make It Scream, Make It Burn, essays by Leslie Jamison; To Fix the Image in Memory, the art publication on Vija Celmins. And I’d love to track down a copy of Actual Air by David Berman, although I fear that ship may have sailed.

Best writerly advice
Hmmm consistency of practice is good but finding something that tears you open emotionally can be… quicker.

Shanan Kurtz is a visual artist, graphic designer, and semi-secret writer of poetry and non-fiction. She lives in Collingwood, Ontario and was recently a finalist for Vallum’s poetry prize. This is her first publication. Read her poem “Grasp” in Issue 16:1


MA|DE

ma-de-author-photo-ed-1

What was your favourite poetry book published this year?
This year, we enjoyed Sanna Wani’s The Pink of the Seams from Penrose Press. We also spent a lot of time with Jim Johnstone’s anthology The Next Wave from Palimpsest Press, which came out in 2018 but it felt like a chance to catch up on everything we’d missed over the last several years.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
In fiction, we, like everyone else, are planning to read Ian William’s Reproduction from Penguin Random House. We’ll also be reading Maria Meindl’s debut novel The Work, which is just coming out with Stonehouse Publishing. In poetry, we’d like to read Tanis Franco’s Moon Healing Escalation from Gap Riot Press. In comics, we’re looking forward to The Cursed Hermit by Kris Bertin & Alexander Forbes and Weeding, the debut graphic novel of Geneviève Lebleu, both from Conundrum Press. 

Best writerly advice. 
To make your poetry interesting, read things that are not poetry. To make your poetry good, read things that are poetry. 

MA|DE is a collaborative writing partnership between Mark Laliberte,
interdisciplinary artist and author of Asemantic Asymmetry (Anstruther
2017) and Jade Wallace, author of Rituals of Parsing (Anstruther 2018). MA|DE’s poetry has appeared in PRISM, Poetry Is Dead, and Rat’s Ass Review and is forthcoming in Trinity Review. Their debut chapbook, Test Centre, will be published in spring 2019 by ZED Press. Read more at: ma-de.ca.


Eric Schmaltzschmaltz-author-photo

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? With the many offerings that 2019 had for poetry, I cannot narrow this down to a single book, but I will mention a few: Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real by Moez Surani, Perfact by Nicole Raziya Fong, and Presence Detection System by Nora Collen Fulton were all standout full-length collections.

What’s on your reading list for 2020? 
My reading list for 2020 thus far includes Nishga by Jordan Abel and OO: Typewriter Poems by Dani Spinosa. 

Best writerly advice. 
Think of the long stretches. 

Eric Schmaltz is the writer of Surfaces (2018). His creative work has
appeared in periodicals such as Arc Poetry, The Berkeley Poetry Review,
The Capilano Review, Jacket2, and the edited collection Avant Canada: Poets, Prophets, Revolutionaries (2019). His work has also been featured in galleries in Canada and the United States. Eric is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Read his poem “Credit” in Issue 16:1.


Sonnet L’Abbé

dr-s-labbe


What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
I can never answer this with just one title. I’ve been teaching Stevie Howell’s I Left Nothing Inside On Purpose and Billy-Ray Belcourt’s This Wound Is a World to creative writing students and have been thrilled to read both books so closely. D.A. Lockhart’s Devil In The Woods and Kayla Czaga’s Dunk Tank also were favourite reads this year.

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  I want to reread all the Toni Morrison. Interested in Jordan Abel’s new memoir, NISHGA, when it comes out. 

Best writerly advice. 
This is advice I didn’t need so much when I was younger, but that I need more and more now. Notice what situations take you away from speaking freely and which situations encourage you to say what’s on your mind. Do everything you can to keep your connection to your body and feeling, and keep precious your ability to voice what’s true for you, even if those around you won’t want to hear it, even if it might cost you. Practice being honest with yourself, and that integrity will be the backbone of your writing.

Sonnet L’Abbé teaches at Vancouver Island University, an openaccess
institution. Her chapbook, Anima Canadensis, won the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Prize. “CXLVII” is from her next collection, Sonnet’s Shakespeare, which will be out with McClelland and Stewart in August 2019. Read Sonnet L’Abbé’s poem “CXLVII” in Issue 16:1


Ilona Martonfiimage002

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 
Hold by Victoria LeBlanc

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
Rooms by Louise Dupre, translated by Karen Isabel Ocana, and Nearly Terminal by Eleni Zisimatos. 

Best writerly advice. 
Write and read everyday. Take notes. Write a journal. Start a poem.

Ilona Martonfi’s latest collection is The Snow Kimono (Inanna Publications,
2015). Salt Bride (Inanna Publications, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna Publications, 2020). Artistic Director of The Yellow Door
and Visual Arts Centre Reading Series. Argo Bookshop Readings. QWF
2010 Community Award. Read her poem “Pupa” in Issue 16:1


Jami Macarty 0

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year? 
It’s a tie between: A Tomb for Anatole by Stéphane Mallarmé and Columbarium by Susan Stewart

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  
The ouevre of Norma Cole, an American poet, visual artist, translator, and curator.  

Best writerly advice.
If you’re not making the time to write, no other advice can help you. 

Jami Macarty has authored three chapbooks of poetry: Instinctive Acts (Nomados Literary Publishers, 2018), Mind of Spring, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award (No.22, Vallum Chapbook Series, 2017), and Landscape of The Wait (Finishing Line Press, 2017). She teaches at Simon Fraser University and edits the online poetry journal The Maynard. https://jamimacarty. com/. Read her poem, “Who The Strummer” in 16:1


Michael Mirolla

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
Michael_headshot_300
The Perfect Archive (Paul Lisson)

What’s on your reading list for 2020?
Rereading all of James Joyce’s works (Dubliners, Portrait, Ulysses, Finnegan’s Wake).

Best writerly advice:
No better advice than that given by Samuel Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Michael Mirolla’s publications include three Bressani Prize winners: the novel Berlin; the poetry collection The House on 14th Avenue; the short story collection, Lessons in Relationship Dyads. His “A Theory of Discontinuous Existence” appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology; “The Sand Flea” was a Pushcart nominee. Michael lives in Hamilton. Read his poem “Id-entity” in Issue 16:2.


Domenico Capilongo
domenico-capilongo-picture

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?
There are so many but here are two of my favourites of the year, breth th treez uv lunaria: selektid rare n nu pomes n drawings, 1957–2019 By bill bissett and heft by Doyali Islam

What’s on your reading list for 2020? 
I’m looking forward to reading Canticles II: mmxix’ by George Elliott Clarke and For It Is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe by Gary Barwin and so many others.

Best writerly advice.
Write often. Write fast. Use a notebook. Go for a walk. Resist falling in to the internet.

Domenico Capilongo is a highschool creative writing teacher and Karate instructor. His first books of poetry, I thought elvis was italian,
hold the note, send, and his short fiction collection, Subtitles, almost
won several awards. He has a new manuscript based on the song, “Salt
Peanuts” and some poems about the birth of words in the 1970s. Read his poem “Aspartame Noun” in Issue 16:2


Leah Callen leahpic

What was your favourite book of poetry you discovered this year?  Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

What’s on your reading list for 2020?  I’m excited to read Lisa Richter’s forthcoming book from Frontenac House (title yet unreleased) and Portia White: A Portrait in Words by George Elliott Clarke.

Best writerly advice. To me, the best poems surprise the reader with their freshness. I feel there is such pressure to fit into the latest artistic fashion and that only creates stale work. Poets, please resist that impulse and honour your own unique voice — shock and surprise us (and the system) with your ingenuity.

Leah Callen is an emerging poet and playwright who graduated withan MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria in 2015. Her poems have appeared in The Malahat Review and Barren Magazine. “Fallout” was longlisted last year for the Vallum Award for Poetry. Read her poem “Fallout” in Issue 16:1


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

Vallum Poem of the Week: “There’s Superradiance” by Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes

mary-lou-h-s-1

 

There’s Superradiance* 

in the motion of clouds —       concepts spinning
particles     unseen
               and falling,    dark matter’s 
                              steady hum — 

                                                          she lives in memory 
                              now,   communes with cirrocumulus —      today
                              less real          than yesterday’s 
                              still-stirring fires —

                              the gentling 
                              strum of classical guitars,    light and shadow
                              in her palms,       her heart —

                                             night turns time          on its head
                                                             masks the ending 
                                                                              so there was no fall

                                                                                         no darkling core
                                                             just crumbled lake-cliffs rising 
                                             a winter —

Perhaps we need a different discernment 
black holes     where God
divides

time for glide,     friction gone—    planes-of-motion
                             backward/ forward 
                                            flow 

*”Where God/ divides” is a partial quote from the following lines: “Black holes are where / God divides by zero” from Alice Major’s poem “Zero divided by zero,” in Welcome to the Anthropocene (2018), University of Alberta Press, p. 6.

 

Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes is a Toronto-based poet and author of four collections of poetry. Her most recent collections include Any Waking Morning (2019, Inanna Publications) and Dark Water Songs (2013, Inanna Publications).  A 2009 Hawthornden Fellow, her poetry and essays have appeared in journals, anthologies and edited books in Canada and the UK. www.soutarhynes.com

 

To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

 

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Pitchdown Bay” by MA|DE

Pitchdown Bay

the small sound of a falling snowflake,
slow it down, low frequency rumble
of a whale, both melting into the ocean
in time, the water glowing as bright
as lanterns, and sailors drowning as if
they’d seen lighthouses, more lost men
entering from the shore’s mouth, that
emptiness between the stars, pupils
compensating for this hard blanket of
deadlight night, still surrounded by
silent shorebirds, nested, watching,
stinging the surface of the water
like quickening nix when they alight.

MA|DE (est. 2018) is a collaborative writing partnership comprised of interdisciplinary artist Mark Laliberte and writer Jade Wallace. Their poetry has appeared in Poetry is Dead, PRISM International, Trinity Review, Vallum, and elsewhere. MA|DE’s debut chapbook, Test Centre, was released by ZED Press in 2019 and they are currently working on their first full-length collection. <www.ma-de.ca>

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Lightness” by Bilal Tanweer

 

 

Lightness

How do I tell you? For empty things are also light.
It’s like a reflection tossed to a stasis between mirrors,
a lungful of shout over a bridge.

My room is full of closed windows; I make sight with trapped reflections.
And while some days I am like these lit-up buildings,
On others I break into a splinter or shine far away in the sky.

The search, you see, is how to look away.
I feel like someone who fights darkness with his hands.

 

 

Bilal Tanweer is a writer and translator. His publications include the novel, The Scatter Here Is Too Great (HarperCollins) and translation, Love in Chakiwara and Other Misadventures by Muhammad Khalid Akhtar (PanMacmillan India). He teaches in the Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies Program at LUMS, Lahore, Pakistan.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 9:1, 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! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “The Western Strand” by Howard Wright

The Western Strand

We are torn as the air is torn,
but taking the strand in our stride,
where we have come from as it was,
where we are going no nearer,
a beach with always the same man
and his dog, each free of the other,
the good stones photographed
away from the bad, the rocks made
mythological to be seen differently,
the clean black waves coming
in threes, then towering sevens,
torn as the air is torn by the sand.

Howard Wright lectures at the Ulster University, Belfast School of Art. He is twice winner of The Frogmore Prize. He was awarded second prize in last year’s Ver Poets Open and Commended in the McLellan Prize. Poems have since been published in Scintilla, Abridged, Poetry Ireland and Cyphers.

To view other content 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! Visit our website for details.

Poem of the Week: “La Fontaine” by Mary Catherine Shea



La Fontaine

Leaves scud / sift / through parc at cross-posts, / like and dissimilar
trying to come together. / Through incongruous sight, maybe. /
I remembered you at the edge of the intersection, / remarking on
passers-by: / a bare shoulder in November. / Wind in broken branches. /
Clouds piercing the 90 degree angles / of church steeples they meet. /
I remembered: / leaves gafted across / the scattered earth. / Also, lamp
posts that drifted across the bulwark of trees. / Nothing was anchored
to the earth, at that point, / walking in November, / moths drifting over
an open road.

Mary Catherine Shea completed a mentorship program with Arc Poetry, in 2017; her work also recently appeared in Vallum. Until recently she lived and worked in Montreal; she now brokers various stages of cultural fermentation while travelling between Québec and Ontario.  


To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, 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! Visit our website for details.