Checking In: Phil Hall

Phil Hall is undoubtedly one of my fav poets and people. I have many of his books. As should you. Try on Guthrie’s Clothing. He doesn’t do author sites/social media so you have to buy his words, preferably in your local indie bookstore. You might want to use the photo below because he’s not the Phil Hall of how-to books, Bigfoot books, nor thrillers.

His flutter books The Math (2018) and Eigner (2014) were put out by phafours. His poem was also in our hurcine, murcine, doppelgängers, mars (phafours, 2013) [aka the squirrel anthology chapbook].

PP: So, Phil, what have you read lately that lit you up? 

PH: One and Half of You. Leanne Dunic. Talonbooks, 2021: Three poetic sequences in travel journal mode & tone: Vancouver’s Chinatown, a mixed-race childhood. Notes & asides that merge toward harmony.

A surprising tension in the ease of it all is maintained by a disjoint to the entries, so they don’t lead directly next into each other, thus a reader does not feel “themed.” 

A terrific poet. And for each sequence in this book there is a link to accompanying music—at the Talonbooks web page. Dunic’s own band is called The Deep Cove. Check them out.

PP: Always good to get a hot tip on a writer I haven’t heard of. Thanks. What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?

PH: I’m editing A Possible Trust:The Poetry of Ronna Bloom for Wilfrid Laurier University Press (WLU), in their Canadian Authors series.

And I’m editing The Essential Eugene McNamara for Porcupine’s Quill in that Essential series of theirs. 

Decluttering. The hunting & gathering phase is over. Many boxes of bad books donated to sales. 

Things bought at auction sales are now finding their way to Free Stores at dumps.

Would anyone like a bucket of rusty spigots? Perfect for tapping rusty maples.

PP: Heh, maple won’t you weep for me.

PH: In fact, that’s what we call(ed) our “can’t play so good” band: The Rusty Spigots! 

Did we ever perform? Not live. We aspired to invisibly be the Nihilist Spasm Band’s cover band. A joke. Noise, & a good album photo, if ever…

(Other band member: Stuart Kinmond / Photo credit: Barbara Sibbald.)

PP: Apart from music, what is underway, or forthcoming? 

PH: This fall (2022), from Beautiful Outlaw Press: The Ash Bell—a book-length poem in thirty parts within parts.

PP: Oooh, writing that down on my buy list. And what intrigues you these days?

PH: Susan Sontag’s Introduction to A Barthes Reader is the best thing I’ve read (again) all summer. 

The thoroughness intrigues me. It teaches me how to read Barthes (again). I wish I could write as well as her! (And him.)

And why such writing gives me such pleasure in the reading act, despite or besides its usefulness, its cargo—that why intrigues me too. 

The kinetic tension of a sustained critical sentence followed slowly like poetry: Sontag, Hugh Kenner, Marjorie Perloff, Peter Quartermain… 

~

Also, asemic writing in all its wayward forms. Gesture alluding to Alphabet.

And also asemic in its original meaning, from Barthes: words that by error make a new word without any official meaning, but vaguely suggesting odd meanings…

Here are a few I’ve made the mistake of finding & being intrigued enough by lately to record:

becomerang

poorine

obmutescence

tomen

Such asemicisms seem like poems in nugget to me. Syntax can’t get to them! Even music can’t get at them — too dense to lilt.

They hope to leave Meaning flapping its gums.

PP: As meaning should be left. I wrote in my poem Montague, the machine changed it to Mina guess. Autoincorrect is the new machine asemic. 

Thanks for your time. And, as ever, your words.

ICYMI

I’m doing the Sealey Challenge this year. Which is a poetry book a day to open windows in the head.

Check out what I’m read at PearlPiriePoet One book cover and poem or poem part a day.

You won’t be alone. At the moment there’s 434 followers and I tend to suss and toss out the bots.

Checking In: With AJ Dolman

AJ Dolman had a flutterbook Glass Studio in 2015 with phafours. She used to be a regular on the Ottawa scene, pre-Covid like all of us.

AJ Dolman (she/they) is the author of Lost Enough: A collection of short stories and three poetry chapbooks, and was co-editor of Motherhood in Precarious Times. Her poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Arc Poetry Magazine, QT Literary MagazineThe Quarantine ReviewImaginary Safe HouseGrainCanadian GingerOn SpecPrism international, The FiddleheadUtneCrush and The Antigonish Review. They are a bi/pan+ rights advocate living on unceded Anishinaabe Algonquin territory. Twitter @ajdolman

PP: What have you read lately that knocked it out of the park?

AJD: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey was innovative in a particularly fun and brilliant way, as well as suspenseful, witty and fantastically queer in every direction. Alternative history with hippos might be my new favourite genre. I’m waiting to read Taste of Marrow, the follow-up, as a treat once I’ve finished my current editing project.

I’m also slowly reading Roxanna Bennett’s Unmeaningable. I say slowly because it’s so intimate in its visceral exploration of mental illness, and I’m overcome by both the poetic, scathing beauty of her poetry and the pain of recognition. So I’m only managing a few poems at a time before I have to put it down again.

In novels, I finally read an older work by Christian Baines (a friend whose delightfully wicked Arcadia vampire series I really enjoy). His book Puppet Boy blew me away. Suspenseful, subversive, queer, YA(ish), I’ve described it as a much more gripping, smarter and insightful When Everything Feels Like the Movies. I wish more people knew about it.

Finally, I can’t say enough good things about Isabella Wang’s Pebble Swing, which impressed me so deeply both in the quality of her poetics and in her approach to her content. It’s given me faith in the next generation of poets in Canada.

PP: Thanks. A lot of great recommendations. What has been life lately, literarily or not?
AJD: My life’s focus lately has been on recovery and revision, in all areas. It was a terrible year for me and my family, as I know it was for many others. In addition to the effects of the pandemic, we lost my sister-in-law Kim to cancer in November, and my dad passed away at 89 this spring. We’re all trying to figure out how to move forward now in a world so full of danger and strife.

For me, the best way is to lift others up as best I can. I’m fortunate that I also have writing, reading and my fellow writers and artists to turn to. Far from feeling futile in the face of the world’s climate and ethical breakdowns, creating, imagining, communicating feels absolutely crucial right now to ensure we have a future (and acknowledgements of the past) worth saving at all.

PP: My sympathies to you, with this year. Making connection and good for all is the best case. What are you in the midst of, for writing?
AJD: I am currently working on revisions for my first novel, tentatively titled Take, about a young bisexual man who falls in love with an icon of sorts, and everything, both good and bad, he discovers as a result. I’m also thrilled to say that Gordon Hill Press will be releasing my poetry book Crazy/Mad in spring 2024. In the meantime, I’ve started crawling slowly out into the world again to do some readings. The next one up will be at the Riverbed Reading Series in Ottawa (and livestreamed via Zoom) on Wednesday, August 17, at 7:30 eastern.

PP: Awesome. Congratulations! What can people read right now to hold them over until your next?
AJD: Lost Enough is currently available via Amazon.

Lost Enough: A collection of short stories by AJ Dolman

Poems of mine have fairly recently been published in QT Literary Magazine, Pocket Lint, These Days, The Pi Review, Ottawater, The Quarantine Review and Guest 9. And, my essays and nonfiction have most recently appeared on the League of Canadian Poets site and in Hamilton Arts and Letters. I also regularly review poetry for Arc Poetry Magazine

PP: Any author site people should be watching?
AJD: I admit I’m awful about remembering to update my blog, https://ajdolman.blogspot.com/, except for my annual favourite books I read this year list. I’m much better (for better or worse) at showing up on Twitter @ajdolman, both to support writers and the bi+ community. If you’d rather see what I’ve baked recently than hear about my writing (or, more accurately, if you’d like both), I’m also on Instagram as dolman_aj.   

PP: Noted. Super. Thanks for your time.

Checking In: With Lori Anderson Moseman

Lori Anderson Moseman is an American poet who appeared in Cocoa Cabin in 2014 and her poem was also in our murcine, hurcine, doppelgängers, mars (2013). (How is that almost a decade?) I saw that Okay? from her recently came out with above/ground. Looks from her website that like she’s been super-busy.

PP: What have you read lately that lit you up? Add a why or how for the shoutout.

LAM: Recently, I have poured over these four courageous books.

  • Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020) is daring not only for its content but for its complex integration of art/artifacts—some historical, some constructed.
  • Sarah Mangold’s Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners drives me to the page: her “wreading” experiments results in stunningly innovative forms.
  • Dazzling sonic play in Brandi Katherine Herrera’s Mother Is A Body (Fonograf Editions, 2021) immerses me in word paintings; each section teaches something new about serial work.
  • Jane Ann Fuller’s unflinching refusal to fly away from trauma in Half-Life (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2021) harrows me to the bone.

I like reading all these books at once. Today, I begin with “Sky Translation” in DMZ Colony. Chant the “…return … return…return …” refrain as I watch typographical sparrows flock-n-migration across multiple pages. Then, I open Half-Life to hover mid-page “… We wait/ by the window and wait for the first / birds of June to unfasten your wings.” I reread her first line: “When you chose to die, you chose.” Who choses death in the DMZ Colony? I return to that book to listen to Orphan Kim Seong-rye’s: “I saw countless charred bodies. I saw rows and rows of corpses.” I flee. To feel desire again, to move potential, I read the sequence of erasures entitled “Baby” that conclude Mother Is A Body. Flowing in an out of the fullness of these books, I return to Half-Life for “Where solace is cast./ Where you wait at dusk/” in the poem “Where Nothing You Do Needs To Be Explained.” I meditate on it all via the open field in Her Manners Will Be Her Manner: “gesture/ of remembrance/ perishing the keeper/ footless birds/ of paradise.”

What I am trying to say is that I cannot put any of these books down. It as if they were made to weave into each other.

PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?

LAM: Despite the despots destroying democracy, I am desperately trying to stay focused on water and elders. 

Water. A flood survivor who recently moved to the land of megadrought, I make daily pilgrimages to water to offer gratitude. Most days I go with my partner and dogs to Utah Lake, a body of water currently threatened by a misguided development scheme purporting to “restore” the lake by building islands to house more houses. More troubling than that is the aridification of the Great Salt Lake: if we don’t get more water in the lake soon, arsenic dust storms will render the whole Wasatch Range uninhabitable (maybe within 10 years). Luckily the dire situation is changing the political will of state legislators. Water policy in the intermountain west is poised transform. Hopefully for the best.

PP: I knew water waste is rampant and throwing the whole weather system out of whack, draining aquifers. But I hadn’t heard of this scheme for Utah Lake. Half a million people to move into suburbs? Or about the challenges the lake has faced.

LAM: Elders. From 2006 to 2018, my partner and I ushered our parents through their last days. Now, I am helping friends with their parents’ end-of-life journey as well as assisting my aunts and uncles. There is so much about the body’s limits, about honing passions, about letting go. Most recently in Montana with my aunt, I confronted lineage of ingenuity-born-of-scarcity. What am I doing to preserve such pragmatism, such stamina. I feel like I am in training to become an elder.

PP: Wow, that is important, necessary work for the good of all. In the light of that, poetry seems a crass thing, but can contain what is meaningful. What is underway or forthcoming? Anything you can tell?

LAM: I have a chapbook coming out from above/ground press in early fall. Too Many Words To Light is the first half of a book-length manuscript; the second half—Okay?—was recently released by above/ground. Written before/during/after my mother’s death. these examine relationships via literacy and colony while trying embracing companionship with non-human beings.

The book Quietly Between should be out at the end of summer. This four-way collaboration (me, Brad Vogler, Megan Kaminski, Sarah Green) explores place/time via photographs and poems. We will first send out postcards that direct readers/viewers to an online portal, The Viewing Space, designed by Brad Vogler of Delete Press. My contribution is “(t)here: now soon new” which juxtaposes Utah landscapes—remnants of an ancient lake with that of an ancient desert. My accompanying poems are not so much “about” the images as my inner landscape on the days the snapshots were taken.

PP: Well, that sounds cool. What work can people read?

LAM: Some Poems Online at Talon Review: “Jarring Bits” [pdf] collaboration with printmaker Sheila Goloborotko (scroll to last piece) and at Terrain.org: “Carrying a Canoe to Mt. Koya”, The Volta: Evening Will Come: Moseman, and Opon: “ashes ashes, we”

PP: Any list of publications so I don’t miss any of your titles?)

LAM:

2022 okay?          (above/ground press)

2021 Darn         (Delete Press)

2019 Y       (Operating System)

2018 Mar       (Lute & Cleat, artists/poets collaboration)

2017 light each pause    (Spuyten Duyvil)

2016 Flash Mob       (Spuyten Duyvil)

2015 Full Quiver       (Propolis Press, collab with Karen Pava Randall)

2014 Host       (Nous Zõt Press)

2012 All Steel       (Flim Forum Press)

2012 Creation       (Goloborotko Studios, artists/poets collaboration)

2012 Double Vigil       (Lute & Cleat, collab with Belle Gironda)

2010 Lintel | Gunwale    (Lute & Cleat)

2009 Temporary Bunk.   (Swank Books)

2003 Persona       (Swank Books)

1992 Cultivating Excess  (The Eighth Mountain Press)

1991 Walking The Dead  (Heaven Bone Press)

PP: Any author site, social media urls or things you’d like to plug?

LAM: My author site provides more info on books. Click on Archive for other projects.

Checking In: With Lisa Timpf

Lisa Timpf was a cocoaphile published in Cocoa Cabin in 2014. Funnily enough we crossed paths each from our trajectory to end up being both reviewers at The Mirimichi Reader. She is now a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her speculative poetry has appeared in New Myths, Star*Line, Triangulation: Habitats, Polar Borealis, and other venues. She’s also had more than 40 short stories and numerous reviews published in magazines and anthologies. Lisa’s collection of speculative haibun poetry, In Days to Come, is available from Hiraeth Publishing. You can find out more about Lisa’s writing projects at http://lisatimpf.blogspot.com/.

PP: I missed seeing your title come out with Hiraeth this March. Congratulations. Good to learn there’s a sub-genre of spec fiction haibun. Maybe Haiku Canada members should especially take note.

What have you read lately that you loved and why?

LT: I recently finished Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different by Lisa Selin Davis. I really liked the way the author went about inquiring into the nature of the “tomboy” phenomenon, including personal reflections, research results, advertising material, etc. As someone who’d grown up being called, and acting like, a tomboy, I found the book both affirming and informative.

PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?

LT: Now that I’m retired, I’m focussed on enjoying every moment. I have a spunky cocker spaniel-Jack Russel cross that keeps me on my toes, a garden and large property to tend, and tons of story and poem ideas to explore.

PP: Focussing on the moment certainly lends itself to haiku. A lot of people who retire often say they don’t see how they ever found the time to work. What do you have literary-wise underway or forthcoming?

LT: I’m revisiting the research I completed for my never-completed Master’s thesis in Sport History, wondering whether I can make a book or at least an article or two out of it. It seems a shame to waste it all. I also pitched an idea for an anthology I’d like to edit, so I’m waiting back to hear about that.

PP: What work do you have out there that people can read? 

LT: Many of my stories are available for free at certain venues. One such venue is New Myths (newmyths.com)Postings there include the poems “Canem Roboto” (Issue 55) and “Over the Rainbow” (Issue 56/57) and the short stories “Roxy” (Issue 32), “Roxy’s Rule” (Issue 40) and “The Switch” (Issue 59), among others.

I edited Eye to the Telescope Issue 32, Sports and Games issue, which includes a number of fine poems. I’ve also done book reviews for sites like The Miramichi Reader and The Future Fire. A more complete listing of the works I’ve been fortunate enough to see published appears on my web site.

PP: Super. Thanks for your time, Lisa!