Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Here's my annual report on the Quebec (read Montreal) Anglo poetry scene for the League of Poets newsletter -- perhaps my last. Who knows? (Provincial reps, unless no willing replacement can be found, generally stay on for two years only.)

If you are interested in any of the authors below, highlighting and dragging their names into your Google search bar will yield results. (I think my time is better spent than by making a zillion hyperlinks.)


I’d like to begin by saying that my two-year stint as Quebec/Nunavut’s representative on the League of Canadian Poets’ National Council has been productive, informative, and enjoyable. Notable initiatives include the resurrection of the annual (W)rites of Spring Readings and Fundraisers, and the change of the name of the AGM to Festival and Conference, which I believe was my brainchild, although other council members acted as able midwives to that proposal. Barring the unforeseen, Angela Leuck will be taking the helm. A poet who specializes in Eastern poetry forms, she has edited three anthologies of haiku and published her own haiku collection as well. She has many talents to bring to the position. Already she is on the board of Directors of the Quebec Writer’s Federation, and is very interested in forging stronger ties between the League and other organizations, as well as carrying our reading/fundraising initiatives further.

Quebec -- particularly Montreal -- continued this year to live up to its reputation as an excellent haven for poetry mavens. The Anglo literary scene has always been well endowed with talent, with lively publishing and reading scenes.


Peter Richardson's third book, Sympathy for the Couriers (Vehicule Press), was launched last December. This past winter, he read in Victoria at the Pacific Festival of the Book. He will be reading at the Artbar Series in Toronto on September 16th.

Maxianne Berger’s second collection, Dismantled Secrets (Wolsak and Wynn), was launched at Paragraphe in April. (She'll be on tour with it in early June in and around Toronto.)

So was Katia Grubisic’s first collection, What if red ran out (Goose Lane Editions). Her tour included Waterloo, Toronto, and Montreal.

Endre Farkas’ selected, Quotidian Fever: Selected Poems 1974-2007, was published by the Muses’ Company and launched at Casa Del Popolo.

Joshua Auerbach launched his first full book of poetry, Radius Of Light (DC Books) at the Blue Metropolis festival in May, 2008.

The Echoing Years: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian and Irish Verse was launched in March. It includes poetry selections by Stephanie Bolster, Don Coles, Mary Dalton, and John Steffler, among others.

Ian Ferrier teamed up with an all-female choir and Montreal's top avant garde jazz musicians in a spoken word/music album entitled What Is This Place, released in late 2007. It was cited as the best of 2007 by Montreal’s Hour Magazine.

Fortner Anderson won the first Voice Electric Award 2007, a $2000 prize awarded by two Montreal organizations, Wired on Words Productions and Les Filles électriques, for achievement in spoken word literature.

Four notable non-members also launched books in Montreal. David Solway won the Quebec Writer’s Federation 2007 A.M. Klein Award for Reaching for Clear (Vehicule Press, 2007), an award sponsored by member Jennifer Boire and her husband Jacques Nolin, by the way; he also launched The Properties of Things: from the Poems of Bartholomew the Englishman. In May 2007, Robyn Sarah launched her essay collection Little Eurekas: A Decade’s Thoughts on Poetry. This year, Mark Abley launched The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English, a non-fiction book that investigates everything from hip-hop language to Asian English, Spanglish and text-messaging. Last November, former member Nina Bruck launched her first chapbook, Still Light at Five O’Clock (Sky of Ink Press) at the age of 84. (The book, by the way, was edited by myself and Raphael Bendahan.) She was interviewed in CBC TV and CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition, and the book, having sold out its initial print run of 100, has been reissued in a second edition.


At the Blue Metropolis (April 30-May 4), one of Canada’s largest international literary festivals, Carolyn Marie Souaid hosted several events. The program included a reading by ten Montreal poets, including League members Carolyn Marie Souaid, Joshua Auerbach, Bryan Sentes, and Helen Zisimatos.

At the Yellow Door Poetry and Prose monthly reading series, hosted by Ilona Martonfi, numerous LCP poets were featured over the year. Quebec members included Kelly Norah Drukker, Jennifer Boire, Catherine Kidd, Maxianne Berger, Peter Richardson, Stephen Morrissey. The Visual Arts Centre reading series, also hosted by Ilona, gave the stage to, among others, Catherine Kidd, Fortner Anderson, Kaie Kellough, Katia Grubisic, Ian Ferrier, Catherine Kidd, Peter Richardson, Steven Morrissey, Jennifer Boire, Sharon Nelson, Anne Cimon, Carolyn Zonailo and yours truly (Brian Campbell).

The Atwater Poetry Project reading series, organized by Oana Avisilichioaei, featured a number of league members and other notables, including Robin Blaser, John Barton, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Carmine Starnino, Stephanie Bolster and Natalee Caple.

The multilingual Noches de Poesia, Poetry Plus, and the Words and Music series (which focuses primarily on spoken word) also featured many of the above-named poets and others.

In March, the Writers Out Loud series presented Endre Farkas. He was also interviewed and read on CBC. He and Carolyn Marie Souaid also coproduced the 4th annual Circus of Words/Cirque des mots, another sold-out cabaret evening celebrating the “theature of poetry.” This year’s event featured Nicole Brossard, among others.

A little farther from Montreal, Carolyn Marie Souaid was resource author for “Quebec Roots”, a Blue Metropolis educational project that took her to Kiluutaq School in Nunavik (Northern Quebec) – not to be confused with Nunavut – in March to create a photo-essay of their community. Their piece appeared alongside that of 5 other Quebec schools in a book which was launched at the last Blue Metropolis literary festival.

Catherine Kidd did a spoken word performance tour of South Africa in Spring 2007, and Fortner Anderson performed last summer at the Berlin Poetry Festival and at the 13th International Poetry Festival in Genoa, Italy. Ian Ferrier performed at the 2008 Calgary International Spoken Word festival.

At Words on the Move, an event put on by the Literary Translator’s Association of Canada, translator members and the public at large try their hand at translating a poem into the language of their choice. This year’s challenge was to translate extracts of Catherine Kidd’s Flying Lizard or Patrick Coppen’s Carnets Secrets. The 20-odd participants included Maxianne Berger and myself.

On April 3, I organized the LCP (W)rites of Spring Poetry Reading/fundraiser at Café Volver. Featured readers were Maxianne Berger, Kelly Norah Drukker, Erin Mouré, Stephen Morrissey, Carolyn Zonailo, Angela Leuck, Oana Avasilichioaei, and yours truly. About 25 people attended, and altogether we raised $90 for the league.


Some writers sent me news about their review publications. This can only be a very partial list.

Endre Farkas and Oana Avasilichioaei were featured in Jacket, an Australian online magazine (special Canadian edition ed. by Jason Camlot and Todd Swift.) Yours truly had poems published over the last year in CV2, Umbrella, Carte Blanche, MiPoesias, Geez, Saranac Review and The Antigonish Review. Kelly Norah Drukker’s set of long poems Still Lives was published in the June 2007 issue of enRoute Magazine as part of the 2006 CBC literary awards second prize for poetry; three poems of hers also appeared in Room.

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