Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Quebec Report

For this year's Canadian League of Poet's Annual General Meeting (which takes place in Edmonton -- and I'll be there), one of my little tasks as the League's Quebec Rep was to write a report on what went on in the province poetry-wise since last the last AGM. It will be included in the League newsletter.

In writing this draft, one of my chief aims was to relate the news without becoming too smarmy. Smarminess is a major pitfall in this sort of tribute-making. I also deliberately included news of a number of considerable Quebec anglo poets who are not, at the present time, LCP members; this to provide a more complete picture and prevent an excess of self-congratulatory insularity; in other words, more smarminess.

For those who are not interested in our provincial scene (which actually means, but for a brief escapade at the Festival de la Poesie de Trois Rivieres, the city of Montreal, or rather a certain Anglo town within it about the size of London, Ontario) I suggest you scroll down. But just skimming through the names makes for quite an impressive litany of literary production-- just a small indication of how absolutely fecund, telluric, and pullulating this corner of the world is. (See? I've fallen into it already. No, I must keep my guard.)

To look up any of the LCP members mentioned below, most of their bios and links can be found in this member's list.


by Brian Campbell

This year saw plenty of productivity on the part of Quebec LCP members and other poets. Clearly, Anglo literary publication does not falter dans la belle province. English language spoken word and poetry readings also continue to make vital contributions to Quebec’s cultural scene.

This past year, Stephanie Bolster published two chapbooks: Past The Roman Arena And The Cedar Of Lebanon with Delirium Press and Biodöme with above/ground press. Her first GG’s award winning book, White Stone: The Alice Poems will appear in French with Les Editions du Noroït in Autumn 2007, translated by Daniel Canty.

Compromis, the translation by Florence Buathier of Maxianne Berger’s How We Negotiate, was published by Écrits des forges in October.

Last October also saw the publication and launch of the anthology Freedom: In Support of Prisoners of Conscience, edited by Endre Farkas, Elias Letelier and Carolyn Marie Souaid. FREEDOM includes Canada’s poet laureate Pauline Michel, former laureate George Bowering, Carolyn Marie Souaid, Endre Farkas, Elias Letelier, Geoffrey Cook, Jorge Etcheverry, Katherine Beeman, and Caesar Castellio. For more information, see www.poetas.com

Catherine Kidd launched a new dvd/book 'Bipolar Bear' this past November. This year also saw the publication of her long-awaited novel, Missing the Ark (conundum press, Montreal), launched at this April’s Blue Metropolis festival.

Bryan Sentes came out with his second trade edition, Ladonian Magnitudes, at the end of last year (DC Books).

Brian Campbell – it feels strange to refer to myself in the third person -- launched his translation of Francisco Santos’ Undressing the Night: Selected Poems (Editorial Lunes: Costa Rica) this June. Santos is a Nicaraguan poet who lives in Toronto. The book is also being launched at this year’s AGM.

Erin Mouré published her fifteenth collection, O Cadoiro (House of Anansi, 2007.)

Carolyn Zonailo published her new book, the moon with mars in her arms, (the title is all lower case), with Ekstasis Editions in Victoria, BC, and placed her literary papers at Simon Fraser University.

Stephen Morrissey continues to publish on-line chapbooks at www.coraclepress.com and has several new titles on the site, including associate member Claudia Morrison’s The Rhythm of Loss.

Fortner Anderson launched two mini-cd’s, He sings and six silk purses, which have tracked well on campus radio.

Montreal-based DC Books, which prominently features poetry in its publishing lists, celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a reading/launch at April’s Blue Metropolis Festival. Poets featured were Todd Swift (who launched his fourth poetry collection, Winter Tennis, at this event) and Jason Camlot, whose New and Selected Poems was launched a month earlier.

Other prominent Quebec-based poets who produced books over the past year included David Solway, whose Reaching for Clear: The Poetry of Rhys Savarin adds to his translations, Ann Diamond who published a novel called Static Control, and Susan Elmslie, whose I, Nadja and Other Poems (Brick Books) won the Quebec Writer’s Federation 2006 A.M. Klein Award for Poetry.

Kelly Norah Drukker, a recently-joined associate member, was the 2nd place winner of the 2006 CBC Literary Award for Poetry. Yours truly (Brian Campbell) was a finalist for said award.

On the reading scene, the Atwater Poetry Project featured, among others, Ray Hsu, Gail Scott, and Fred Wah.

The Poetry and Prose Reading series (at Montreal’s Yellow Door and, on occasion, the Visual Arts Centre) continued apace, every month on the first Thursday of each month. Quebec members featured there included Anne Cimon, Carole Marie Souaid, Claudia Morrison, Joshua Auerbach, Geoffry Cook, Carolyn Zonailo, Kelly Nora Drukker. Out-of-province members included Catherine Owen and rob mclennan…

With Ilona Martonfi, the host of that series, Carolyn Zonailo organizes Lovers and Others reading series, now in its sixth or seventh year. This year it was at O'Regans Pub on Bishop in Montreal.

Words and Music, Montreal’s spoken word nexus, also continued to spotlight some of Quebec’s hottest talents. Most evenings were hosted by Ian Ferrier. Catherine Kidd, Fortner Anderson and ex-member Asa Boxer, were among the many poets and spoken word artists featured.

Carolyn Marie Souaid was particularly active this year. She & Endre Farkas collaborated to produce the radio poem "Blood is Blood" which was aired on CBC Radio One's Outfront on December 18th. Carolyn was also featured in the Quebec Writer’s Federation “Writer’s Out Loud” series in the month of September. She, along with Maxianne Berger and Rae Marie Taylor, also read in Trois-Rivières for the 22nd Festival internationale de la poésie, in October.

The League of Canadian Poets (W)Rites of Spring reading/fundraiser at Montreal’s Depanneur Café was the first of its sort in Quebec in a few years. It was a small but joyous event, attracting an audience of 18 (including the 9 performers: on croit à l’egalité!) and raising after expenses $60 for the league. Featured readers included Kelly Norah Drukker, Maxianne Berger, Brian Campbell, Stephen Morrissey, Carolyn Zonailo, Ian Ferrier, and Jennifer Boire. Paul Serralheiro (jazz guitar) provided the music and backup for Mr. Ferrier. Special thanks go to Maxianne, who set up the evening for me while I made an emergency trip to a medical clinic.

The saddest news I have to relate is the passing of Artie Gold, author of a number of remarkable collections including City Flowers, Before Romantic Words, and his selected The Beautiful Chemical Waltz. A memorial reading packed Montreal’s Word bookstore this April. The benefit for me is that I discovered a brilliant poet I wish I had known when he was alive. For a touching memoir, see Stephen Morrissey’s Remembering Artie Gold at www.coraclepress.com


Anonymous said...

Boy, would I have fun writing these LCP reports!

Attn.: Central Scrutiniser

Dear Fearless Leader:

There was much progress realised in this past quarter. Michael Crummey depicted so demonstratively his undying provincialism with his latest volume of syrupy verse--you have no need to question his loyalty and undying love for you, O All-knowing and All-powerful One; meanwhile, Mary Dalton has made manifest a new level of duckspeak with her latest book of inane, ethnocentric chatter. I regret to announce, however, that there is growing unrest amongst rebel bards and bolshevik traditionalists in the unconformed satellites.

Yours humbly,

No. 6

On a more serious note (sort of), I was reminded of another Quebec poet while reading your salute to Artie Gold. Have you ever heard of a fellow by the name of Bertrand Lachance? At the time I ripped off Artie's 'before ROMANTIC WORDS' from our high school library, I also swiped Jane Dick's 'Conceptions', Gildas Roberts's version of Beowulf, and Lachance's 'tes rivieres t'attendent' (Kent Burt stole a Roo Borson title)--all were unread and most were seen as embarrassments by the faculty (we were probably doing them a favour--they knew some of their more bohemian or rebellious students were ripping off such books that had been sent them by the Canada Council, and did nothing only shake their heads and smile arrogantly at our 'poor taste'). If you thought Artie Gold was 'artlessly artful', then you should read Lachance. A sample poem from Dear Bertrand:

Tight Squeeze Colony Blues

But are the times so tight
your body dont cum no more
But are the times so tight
your body dont cum no more
But are the times so tight
your body dont cum no more
But are the times so tight
your body dont cum no more
But are the times so tight
your body dont cum no more
But are the times so tight
your body dont cum no more

There's that Warhol/John Giorno influence again!

Another one:

good life lesson.

in april the snow goes tho
you never did expect it to
in may sumtimes the ice breaks
and the village's unofficial
but very official council
has an ice break contest:
they write down times
at which they think
the ice will break and there
for fifty cents you have freely
chosen the time at which the ice
will break despite people's fears
that some years
it wont
and the profits
of course go to male only
organisations such as
peewee kockey [SIC?--Rob] etc.
and if you ask the girls
if they play hockey
or get some of the profits
since after all
they do the work
selling tickets
they reply
in their very cunt way
that no
they dont play hockey
and anyway where do you come from
to ask such questions
and the boys never do sell tickets
and back home
throw their dirty
in sisters faces
wash it

I think I now know why the teachers weren't sad to see these books take on alternatively enforced migratory patterns of a permanent nature.

Until next time,


Brian Campbell said...

Hi Rob,

It's so great to have a highly intelligent squawkbox demon! (a la Curtis Faville, Henry Gould et al over at Silliman's blog!) This may be a sign that this blog, after nearly 4 years, has finally come into its own!

Like squawkbox demons everywhere, you are actually an expression of some aspect of the repressed (or unexpressed) inner me. So we compliment & complete each other in our way.

I haven't had la bonne chance to read Bertrand Lachance. I enjoyed the two selections you pasted. Offbeat, sardonic, irreverant (of course)-- this is pure poetry fun, doesn't try to be anything other than what it is, and so is far more successful *as it is* than most solemn (even quasi-casual but solemn) fare being served up these days. I wonder if there'll ever be a canon made up of poetry such as this?

Anonymous said...


Certainly off-topic here, but I was wondering, that fella who calls himself Lunamoth--Do you know is real name...?

I would like to know his original moniker before I go ahead and reference him (in a review of some self-righteous poet down in New York) regarding the irony of Dr. Cameron's patients/victims becoming the future anarchistic poets of Quebec....


Brian Campbell said...

Your "guy" is Ann Diamond.

Here's a sort of link:


Nick said...

Brian, thanks for info & keeping us abreast of what's happening in La Belle Province (& Canada).

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the roundup. I'd tag it as supportive not smarmy but (shrug).

Would converting it to a more linked list be something to consider next round?

Brian Campbell said...

Putting in hyperlinks for every person mentioned would be great, but a lot of tedious work, on top of the tedious work already done in writing the report. Just putting it up and formatting it right was enough for me that day. But you made me think of putting in a link to the LCP member's list, where most of the poet bios and links can be found. That's easy enough. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

That works.