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.