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

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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


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

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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.