Friday, March 14, 2008

Sze & J: withwords chapbook launch

Gillian Sze and I will be launching chapbooks made by the withwords chapbook press on Monday, March 17th at Kafein (1429a Bishop St.), 6:30pm - 8:00pm. Just across the street from the Concordia U Library Building, between St. Catherine and de Maisonneuve.

If you don't know about withwords, you should visit their website HERE.

In Brief, withwords press is a 'discovery' chapbook press, a montreal-based branch of Toronto's LyricalMyrical Press. The editors of withwords are Sasha Manoli and Ann Ward. They make amazing chapbooks out of books that have been discarded by libraries. They re-use these discarded book materials and reconstruct them into hard cover poetry chapbooks using unique design and binding techniques. These books are really something to see, and I can't wait to see what kind of book they have made out of the poems I gave them.

The chapbook I'll be launching is called The Fruit Man and Other Poems. Artist and writer J.R. Carpenter has graciously provided unique diagramatic 'illustrations' for my poems. The images she came up with are amazingly playful in a manner that is unique to all of J.R.'s art. The idea we had was to do a kind of modern-quirky version of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862), which had illustrations by her Brother D.G. Mine has illustrations by my friend, J.R. So the symmetry is already remarkable. The chapbook consists of Victorianish poems, a few bout-rimé sonnets using the rhymes of D.G. Rossetti sonnets, poems about Jekyll & Hyde, Ruskin, J.S. Mill and other kooks of the period, a little bit of nonesense verse, plus the long title poem, which is loose(ish)ly based on C. Rossetti's masterpiece, "Goblin Market". If you come to the launch and buy a chapbook you will receive two bonus poems (not in the book) that will be printed on a commemorative withwords press launch bookmark.

Gillian Sze will be launching her chapbook A Tender Invention the same night. I have never heard or read any of Gillian's work, so it will be a special treat to be introduced to her poetry.

Here's one of the posters withwords has designed for the event, integrating some of the arches from Ruskin's Stones of Venice that J.R. played around with (i.e. the lightbulb isn't in Ruskin's original text):

POETES, vos micros!

Performed last week at a Voix et Voies de L'Ecriture event held at McGill's Thomson House. This was an event organized to discuss and witness performance, slam, soundscape and video poetry. It was an illuminating evening, with performances ranging from harmonica-punk-slam to an historically researched declamation of a scene from Racine's Phedre. For my own performance (the only reading that was not in French) I developed a soundscape out of the various early sound recordings I have been collecting over the years, and read over/alongside the layered voices of the soundscape. The text I read was a kind of collage of two poems from The Animal Library: "Phono Kit" and "Kit Discovers Sound". I converted these poems into the first person, which had a strange effect of personalizing the observations about noise and sound and making the the whole thing--with the Victorian voices speaking around me, but not to me--rather affecting, I think. Among the sound recordings used to create the layered soundscape were: Alfred Tennyson, Canon Fleming, Henry Ainley, Lewis Waller and Rose Coghlan all reading Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (these recordings ranging from 1890 to 1906); an early and creepy 20c recording of someone (unknown to me) reciting Goethe's Das Erlkonig; Big Ben Chiming (a recording from 1890); and documentary recordings made at the site of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee, including a group of men and women singing "God Save the Queen". A nice surprise at the event: a former student of mine, Catherine Cormier-Larose, was also participating in the reading. Her performance was great.