So much to update, and I’m going to do it in a haphazard fashion as is my fashion. I also don’t know if I really should be continuing this blog as it doesn’t appear to be the best way to get information around. It does serve as an archive for me though, so I’ll treat it as that.
The biggest thing recently is that my book has been nominated for a couple awards, The Dorothy Livesay Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. I’m 95% very honoured and thrilled, with a good 5% of having complicated and suspicious feelings about awards. I’ll maybe get to that 5% later once I work it out.
A great thing that’s come along with the Dorothy Livesay nomination was the chance to go on a little tour and visits schools across BC with the talented author Jordan Straford . I’m still processing so much of it, but it was so amazing and rewarding and heartbreaking (in a good way). Again, will probably need some time to work it out, and if you are someone that has an occasional beer with me, expect to hear some stuff. For now though, pictures. And much ❤ to the few that visit here, especially if you’re one of the students who sweetly said they were ‘creeping’ on me.
Thankful for the kind attention and consideration Danielle Janess gave my book in her review in the Malahat Review. I’ll hold back on my thoughts on it but I’ll say I’m really happy to someone read and think so deeply about what’s going on in the book.
Here’s how it starts:
“If reading the poems in Raoul Fernandes’ debut collection Transmitter and Receiver leaves you feeling as if the speaker could be your friend, as if “in a neighborhood in East Vancouver on a rainy evening near the beginning of summer” you could share “a couple of cans of ipa,” it could be the effect of the humility that characterizes this book. This humility, an unpretentious regard for the inner lives of objects and persons, is communicated by the speaker in, at times, an almost childlike tone for its sense of wonder and associative leaps. One might imagine the mind of these poems as a prescient grade-schooler who, taking the hand of the reader, leads her on his own familiar walk, introducing every being and non-being along the way.”
My good friend and poet Rob Taylor, who was my first reader for Transmitter and Receiver, interviewed me for his blog. As someone who was very familiar with the poems, he didn’t hold back on asking me hard questions on subjects ranging from flowers to commodification to “thingness.”
Rob: With a book called Transmitter and Receiver I expected a lot of technology to have worked its way into your poems. And its certainly there in abundance – video games and YouTube videos, .jpgs and cell phone ring tones. But just as prevalent, perhaps more so, are flowers – in the foreground in poems like “The Tulip Vending Machine” and “Flower Arrangements” and also popping up in little cameos, like the night flowers which “open with ease // in the politician’s garden” or the “soft buzzing” of flowers on an otherwise silent morning. I was wondering if you could speak about these two themes in your book – modern technology and flowers – and how they compliment and contrast one another. What does it mean for you when you put flowers in a poem? Could you imagine writing this book with the tech in but not the flowers?
Raoul: It’s funny, I had absolutely no idea I had put that many flowers in the book until it was too late. It’s like some little imp came in when I was sleeping and pressed them all in. But yes – and let’s say that imp is a subconscious part of me – I have a few explanations. On a purely associative level, I like that sweet note that flowers can play and to use that to disrupt or enhance something in a poem. I have also felt distant or suspicious of something so purely beautiful when I was a moody and dark youth. That skateboarder in “Flower Arrangements” that holds the bouquet at a “precise distance” away from himself? That’s me, in a way. Just overwhelmed and unable to relate to that beauty. I remember a period later when I was reading a lot of Gerald Stern, who has flowers in his poems, and how startling it was to me, somehow. At the time a flower poem to me was the most radical thing. And then of course, I relate them a lot to my wife these days, she’s brought me into a quiet kind of appreciation of them and living green things in general.
In July I was lucky to sit down and talk with Sheryl MacKay on her great North By Northwestshow on CBC Radio. I was very nervous and rambly but Sheryl was very sweet and asked good questions. She also did a great job of editing our conversation so that I sound vaguely coherent. I read my poem “Transmitter and Receiver” at the end. Thanks Sheryl! You can listen to our conversation around the 27 minute mark , but I highly recommend the whole show which has stuff about wooly mammoths, stars, and crosswords.
I sat down a few days later in a slightly different context with the coolest kids Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli on their Can’t Lit podcast. To make it even better, my charming and talented friend Kayla Czaga was a guest as well. We talk about humour in poetry, age-ism, pizza, and play a fun family game. This one is much longer and giggly-er, partly due to Daniel’s awesome raspberry mint cocktails. Thanks Dina and Daniel for inviting me! Big smiles!
Again, this is something I should have posted a while ago. It’s a a little teaser I made on my phone using a free stop-motion app with spirographs, my son’s drawings and scribbles, and other little doodles. Oh and the music is a clip from one of my Goodnight Streetlight songs.
I had such grand ideas earlier this year about book-trailers but of course there was so little time to do much. Glad this got made though. a small thing completed is almost always > than a big idea that only stays an idea.
So much to update here, but first this: The fine young poet, Michael Prior, wrote a close reading of one of my poems, “After Hours at the Centre for Dialogue” that just kills me. In a way close readings are so much more special to me than a book review because one can get really vertical with the writing. Does that make sense: “vertical”? Either way, Prior does such an attentive and intelligent reading of the poem, I kind of feel I don’t quite deserve it. But I appreciate it, very much. Read it here.
& thanks subTerrain for publishing it on your blog!
All Lit Up is doing this thing for National Poetry Month where they get a well-established poet to talk about an up-n’-coming poet they are excited about. My first Creative Writing professor, from way back in the 90s, Parick Friesen, said some awfully sweet things about my writing. Check it out here, where you can also read my poem “White Noise Generator.” and read a few of my thoughts about writing and writers I love. My next reading will be with Friesen out in Victoria at the lovely Russell Books. Can’t overstate how thrilled I am to read with this fine poet and teacher that has meant so much to me. Fellow Nightwood author, Trisha Cull will also be there, excited to meet her.
Ok you guys, Transmitter and Receiver is officially out! I think it looks really beautiful, so shout out again to Carleton Wilson for his fine design work. It’s hard for me to read the poems though.. I feel kind of dizzy and nervous when I open the book, which is something I’ll need to get over probably. But yes, I’m pretty thrilled to finally have this object that can go out into the world and interact with human brains.
If you live in Vancouver and want to pick up a copy, I’d recommend Pulpfiction or Paper Hound. Paper Hound says they have a few copies right now, and Pulp Fiction is taking pre-orders at this date, at 30% off, which is a pretty sweet deal.
For those who’d like to get in the mail, I’d recommend ordering directly through Harbour Publishing.
Gonna keep this short. I’m feeling a lot of gratitude towards everyone who helped me get to this place. I hope it can be a small gift back to them.
The last while has been a bit of a flurry of business-y activity that yours truly is not used to. Things like organizing readings, emailing, actually using a calendar. There is something fun about it, but I’ve also done very little poem writing as a result. Hope the idea of letting fields go fallow sometimes works the same for notebooks.
Also, I’ve updated this thing as you can tell. I’ve made it more like a website than a blog, and this could mean I blog even less than usual, but we’ll see. I heard that blogs are dying? That “what’s the point because Facebook/Twitter?” Anyway for now it’s nice to have some documentation even if no one is reading it.
Probably most significantly there is an Upcoming Readings page where I’ve noted the readings I have lined up for April and May. Excited about all of them really. I’ll have more details soon.
If anyone is reading this do take a look around the site and let me know if there’s any mistakes or suggestions of what I should have here.
The book comes out ridiculously soon! I am in such complete and utter disbelief that I’m actually very calm about it.