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On Not Winning April 30, 2012: The art of losing isn't hard to master. Is it? Is it easy to face the losses? The defeats? The nominations?  Or worse, lack of nomination and defeat? Let's face it, we live in the era of the big prize. It's how we tend to argue for the value of what we love. We prize it. And that, my friends, makes the creative life difficult. Last week, for [...] by

Matrix, one, two April 30, 2012: The latest issue of Matrix, a Montreal magazine, just slid across my desk. I love when I open a magazine and am taken by a poem. In this case two poems, by two different poets. One begins, "I am speaking to you from the bottom of a well," and it's a refreshing use of the "I," in this case, a direct address, but also a mysterious turn, a series of [...] by

In Toronto, Poets Dance April 26, 2012: Just back from a night of poetry in Toronto. One of my favourite cities on the planet, and still such a human scale. The lake. That silty, glacial light. So much thinner and pale than Montreal light. Street cars. Strangely coloured taxi cabs.  Distinct, neighbourhoods linked like a chain of islands. The inevitable condo boom. But also crazy [...] by

On Lisa Robertson’s Nilling April 26, 2012: When I said in an earlier last post that I go to poetry to think, Lisa Robertson was the first poet that came to mind. Hers is a poetry that embraces doubt; that is content to extend rather than conclude, yet never drifts in the sense that Barthes describes in The Pleasure of the Text. “In the pleasant displacement of identity,” she writes, [...] by

On Memorizing Poems April 24, 2012: Earlier this month I was asked to judge the Quebec semi-finals in the Poetry In Voice competition the Griffins of The Griffin Prize set up to support the reading and recitation of poetry in high schools. That same week my classes ended and as usual, at least one of my classes had been given the task of memorizing poems, their own, and/or [...] by

When poets turn to fiction April 23, 2012: Why a novel, someone asked me recently. After four books of poetry, why not tell the story, such as it is, in poems. And it's true, there is some overlap between my poetry and prose, and of course there is the novel in verse...but I did not want to write a novel in verse. Nor did I want to write a poetic novel. A poet's novel, perhaps, but poetic [...] by

Am I My Browser? April 20, 2012: I so wish I had been able to attend the Shape Of I Conference that Bhanu has been posting about this week. Not only because I would finally like to have the discussion, and finally meet Bhanu, and because there are few places on earth more interesting to be than next to Vanessa Place while she is thinking. She is of course, an I, but she reports [...] by

If it walks like apocalypse: Dennis Lee’s testament April 19, 2012: This morning I awoke to some heavy rhymes. I caught only the last two lines: And we plan about snacks and not washing our hands/ And the letter J. and he understands. The he, in this instance, is a worm: my partner was reading Dennis Lee’s Garbage Delight to our 8 month-old twins. I did not grow up on Alligator Pie and Garbage [...] by

On Reading Stein April 18, 2012: Last month, thanks to Vanessa Place and the Poetry Foundation, I was able to read from Gertrude's Stein's Stanza's in Meditation at the stunning home of Poetry in Chicago. To say I was nervous about this is an understatement. Particularly since I have not been "in" Stein for some months and I find that to read something even moderately well [...] by

What are we talking about when we talk about Lyric? April 17, 2012: I was pleased to see Kenneth Goldsmith’s elegant response to the Lyric Conceptualism Manifesto, and appreciate the easy mastery with which he contextualizes and historicizes in his usual, generous, manner. I read the gesture as one of mutual pleasure, respect, and general curiosity and excitement about the unfolding tendencies of conceptual [...] by