For Friends down east

cover from Talon websiteFor friends down east, I will be reading from my new collection Scree in Toronto on Thursday, April 7, at the Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave. 7pm. Then on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 7:00pm I, Jeff Derksen, Mark Nowak, Monica Youn, and Wo Chan present “Hybrid Details” at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop ( 112 West 27th Street , 6th Floor.


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Vancouver Launch of Toward.Some.Air.

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Interview re Van Poetry Conf 1963 with Robert McTavish

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The First Half

So pleased with Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems, 1962-1991. Les Smith, the designer, outdid himself with this one. It’s the nicest book I’ve had published. We had the launch on October 29 at The Western Front, with nine readers (Colin Browne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Deanna Fong, Larissa Lai, Daphne Marlatt, Roy Miki, Stan Persky, Karl Siegler, Rita Wong) and a stellar intro by Jeff Derksen. What a great community I’m blessed with.

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Alice Oswald’s Dart

On Sharon Thesen’s recommendation I’ve had a look at Dart by Devon poet Alice Oswald. Sharon applauds this “long poem” that is about the river Dart in southwest England. Oswald uses the language of numerous interviews with people who live along the river. The mashup is very energetic, sometimes in a Dylan Thomas compound adjective way, but priveleges the particulars of diction and rhythm over narrative and syntax.

I met a man sevenish by the river
where it widens under the main road
and adds a strand strong enough
to break branches and bend back necks.

Rain. Not much of a morning.
Routine work, getting the buckets out
and walking up the cows  – I know you
Jan Coo. A wind on a deep pool.
Jan Coo: his name means So-and-So of the
Woods, he haunts the dark.


A nice approach to location and naming it out.


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Cap Review

I’m pleased to be included in the latest TCR (The Capilano Review) with a print presentation of our High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese ( This issue (3.26) is focussed as “Pacific poetries” and offers a salty spread of poetry, poetics, images, projects, reflections, etc. of an astonishing range of current attention to that watery place and imagination.

Over the past year, at Colin Browne’s suggestion, I’ve been rambling in Michael Taussig’s Walter Benjamin’s Grave (2006). Taussig’s Mimesis and Alterity is an old favourite tilling of the postcolonial and leaning on hybridty. So it was quite nice to discover, in this issue of TCR that someone else had also run into his essay “The Beach (a fantasy)” in the Benjamin book.

Kimberly Philips, director/curator of Access Gallery, has a lovely piece regarding a fascinating curatorial project titled “On Pelagic space: a projection (part one).” The essay is a substantive illustration of many of the ideas Taussig poses in addressing “the beach” as a liminal site for the imagination and writing, “sifting images in the mad inheritance we call language.” One of my own parallels for this has been that field between the homestead and the forest. I suppose, also, the shore of a river.

In her description of her project, Twenty-three Days at Sea (an intriguing residency aboard a Vancouver-Shanghai cargo ship), Philips intelligently articulates how the “notion of writing as physical symptom – as an acting out (or into) space, as a sensuous (and anxious?) filling in – resonates” with her. She cites the Taussig essay and the juxtaposition of those ruminations with her own curatorial practice I find very engaging. Excited by both her project and the thinking thereabouts.

This is an impressive issue of TCR; an exciting launch in new directions. Congratulations.


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lattice or letuce


from _Virtualis_ by David Dowker and Christine Stewart, Book Thug, 2013.


Drawn into this by that lovely shift between title and first line. The deflected meanings (references) seem secondary to the performance of the words (although sometimes a little precious) and the rime and rhythm of the last stanza is really solid. But I can’t get by that “lattice” without inserting my own “lettuce” (a little thought-suffix in the midst of “bitter” and “fruit.”

The book is full of very attentive movements in vocabulary and syntax; lots of nested overlapping and interplay. Interesting how the particular can balance within a project (this a collaborative one) so that the book as composition generates its own possibilities and strategies.

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