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.”
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!
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.
Well, since I did a radio-related post last, I’d just like to talk about the brilliant podcast, Bookworm, on KCRW that features/interviews a new author every week. Host Michael Silverblatt comes across such an in-depth and sensitive reader of books, it must feel like an honor for writers to even know that he read their work. David Foster Wallace, in one of his interviews on the show, seemed giddy and awed that Silverblatt picked up on how the structure of Infinite Jest is based on fractal patterns. (“Can I take you home?” DFW said at some point in the interview). At first listen Silverblatt’s quiet earnestness and insight seemed a little unreal, but a few minutes in, you can see that it is totally genuine. He has mastered the interviewing skill of creating a quiet and trustful space for the writers so they come across as thoughtful and intelligent as they are. Which seems simple, but isn’t.
A lot of great writers have appeared on the show’s 20+ years. Here’s a few of the ones I’ve check out that I’ve enjoyed (though I recommend you search through the archives for your favourities):
Sometime in the early 90s John Cleese tells a whole bunch of lightbulb jokes. And inbetween those jokes, delivers a brilliant lecture on creativity and what it means to be a creative person (hint: it has nothing to do with talent). He speaks about the “open mode” and “closed mode” of thinking and the importance of play and humour in creativity. Definitely worth a half hour of your day. And then, when you’re done watching it, get back to that sculpture / rock opera / abstract painting / epic poem that you’ve been putting off working on, or always wanted to start.
I got the chance to do some writing “mini-consults” at Vancouver’s somewhat weather-damaged Word on the Street Festival today. At first sad that I would only be doing two, I ended up doing five, due to some late signing up / clerical confusion. The writers I got to talk with were great; so varied in style, it really gave me a workout in terms of attentive listening/reading and providing useful feedback. 3 of the 5 I did were ‘cold readings’ i.e. I didn’t get anything to read in advance. Super fun. I don’t know how well I did, but I was impressed by the writers and their ability to share their work with a complete stranger, let alone a moustached poet.
After that, trying to escape the rain, sat myself down with some hot tea in the poetry bus. Caught my boy Rob Taylor breaking hearts in his usual style, and Garry Thomas Morse who delivered an awesome maniacal performance.
Among the many booths, came across this cool thing that’s been started up called The Writers’ Room a literary program that provides one-on-one tutoring for at-risk kids, in a similar vein to what goes on at Dave Egger’s famous 826 Valencia (but without the pirate shop.) They’re looking for volunteers and I am very much considering being a part of that. I’ve totally missed working with kids since the art class drop-ins I used to do a long long time ago, and have wanted to do some volunteering that means something to me. We’ll see how that goes.
And then, very much like a surprise dessert at the end of a good meal, I came home to find that two of my poems have been accepted into the poetry friendly Contemporary Verse 2 magazine for their upcoming animism-themed issue. Nice. Thanks CV2!
Bored at a slow work day I arrange some of the left-over wedding flowers in the lunch room. I set them inside a pitcher of water and then mop the floor. I do not think hard about flower arranging, but it looks fine to me, they’re beautiful enough, you can’t go too wrong. One might think that I’m building poems in my head while I do my duties, but most of the time I’m not thinking about very much. Mostly just daydream mundane thoughts, or just pay attention to the task and any small satisfaction I receive from it. The gleam of a clean counter top or opening a new garbage bag with that quick arm motion that forces air into it. I read on my break more often than write. Work-gloves that have my name on them. Someone left a David Sedaris book on a shelf that has now become an unofficial ‘free-book’ shelf and I’m reading that. While I was taking a “Writing for Children” class I would read a couple books a day from the Montessori classroom that is part of the building, but I’ve read most all of them now.
A class recently went to Grouse Mountain as a field trip and they put these up on the wall:
(I’ve been there once, and it was my favorite thing too)