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.
In July I was lucky to sit down and talk with Sheryl MacKay on her great North By Northwest show 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!
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.
Unrelated-to-the-post-but-too-awesome-not-to-share drawing by Megan!
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.
Well, here’s what the cover looks like. It was designed by Carleton Wilson (see more of his book covers here) who does a lot of Nightwood’s covers. His great design work was definitely one of the things that made Nightwood Editions appealing to me when I was looking around for a home for the book.
There was a a fair bit of back and forth before we got to this final image. It would be interesting to show the progression, but I’ll save it for another time. Anyway, I really like this image. At first I didn’t think I wanted something so directly related to the title but I really have a fondness for those old antennae. We had them on our houses back in Dubai and they always seemed like weird magical objects. Which is what a book is, too.
While I’m here I’ll note that the page for my book is up at the Nightwood site. Check it out.
Really nice to have a piece included in Lemon Hound’s “New Vancouver Poets” folio, among some of my favourites here in this city. This poem, An Ache in the Knot, will probably be the last I get out before my book, Transmitter and Receiver, comes out into the world this Spring (More on that soon!)
Thanks Daniel Zomparelli and Dina Del Buccia for being awesome editors for this folio. And Happy New Year, everyone. I’m going to try to be a bit more present here. And a bit more present in general.
Falling Into Grace, by Carmelo Blandino
Papirmass is an art print subscription that mails out a print of the work of a different artist, every month with a piece of writing on the back. This September, they picked a poem of mine, Flower Arrangements, to accompany this blossomy print by Carmelo Blandino. This was a really cool thing to be involved with and they were such great people to work with. To check out more, or to order prints, visit them here. (tip: type in YAYRAOUL at checkout for 50% off!) They also did an interview with me that you can read here. Thanks Papirmass!
One of my favourites, Sommer Browning, has a great idea to get people to film themselves reading poems from her lovely new collection, “Backup Singers”. Here’s my contribution which I filmed in three different locations, in our yard, in the skytrain station, and um, in my bathroom. The piece I read is from a section called “Multifarious Array”.
Thanks to my wife Megan for helping me with it! And thanks Sommer for being kind enough to mail me a copy.
There’s bunch of stuff to update and I’m sick today so it’s a good time to do it. I’ll start with the most exciting news: my manuscript has been accepted by Nightwood Editions one of my favourite Canadian publishers. It’ll be out in Spring or Fall of 2015. Nightwood puts out really beautiful books; some on my shelf are by Nick Thran, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Ray Hsu, and Renee Saklikar. Also titles from my dear friend Kayla Czaga and the awesome Alex Leslie will be out this month too. I respect and admire these folk very much so it’s nice to be under this same roof.
Haven’t had a deep look at my manuscript for a while, but I’m hoping to get more work done on it in the next while, and hopefully be able to add a handful of new poems. We’ll see what time allows.
I’ve been not quite sure about the title but I think, unless a new one storms into my head, it’s going to be: Transmitter & Receiver. I just wrote an explanation of my thoughts about it here but then deleted it. I’ll just let it sit here for now.
So that’s the good news. I have other fun things to tell you about but I’ll wait a few days between posts.
Lately been feeling a lot of excitement and pride in some of my friends and acquaintances who are making some waves in the poetry world here in Canada. Garth Martens and Anne-Marie Turza, my co-finalists at the Bronwen Wallace Awards in 2010, both have books out Prologue for the Age of Consequence And The Quiet respectively. Looking pretty good, you guys. My mentor and good friend Jen Currin has got a book out called School. Jen’s been such a great help with my own manuscript and giving me advice about publishers and etc. usually over tasty Mexican brunches. Kayla Czaga (read two of her poems in the latest Maynard issue) has been on fire lately, with a haunting poem in the Walrus and winning the Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem (links to interview). Kayla will have a book out in the fall through Nightwood called For Your Safety Please Hold On. She has been a delightful friend and fellow poet and I’m really looking forward to her collection. The unstoppable Kevin Spenst is touring his chapbook across Canada. I think there’s a plan for me to read with him outside some taco place?
In the world of poets-that-I’ve-only-met-once-or-twice-but-feel-like-I-know-them-closely-because-of-the-generous-nature-of-their writing, I’m really excited about reading Sommer Browning’s new collection Backup Singers, Matthew Zapruder’s Sun Bear, Adam Sol‘s Complicity (Thanks Adam for making the time to have coffee with me when you were in town!) and Bob Hicok‘s Elegy Owed that I just found out about today.
Phew. There’s more that I want to cheer, but that’s a lot for now. I’m just really honored to know these terrific poets who also happen to be lovely, genuine individuals. I’m now gonna put a bunch of book covers below here to remind myself (and suggest to you) to get these books over time.
Garth Martens | Prologue for the Age of Consequence
Anne-Marie Turza | The Quiet
Jen Currin | School
Sommer Browning | Backup Singers
Matthew Zapruder | Sun Bear
Adam Sol | Complicity
Bob Hicok | Elegy Owed