pesbo since 2005.

Pearl Pirie’s book lists, interviews, event write-ups, poems and more.

Sealey Challenge

When August started I was on a fantasy novel kick.  Patricia Briggs, Megan Bannen, Neil Gaiman, and Andri Snaer Magnason, Kimberly Lemming and Sangu Mandanna. Sure, I could do those and continue poetry, right? I often alternate between poetry binges and novel binges but I could do parallel binges. Push more through the head, why not.

Sometimes pushing through the slog of hard-to-understand is good for stretch goals, to push past normal comfort. Part of Sealey Challenge is to read different and to share the love of what you uncover. Stretch is the theme. (I shared some of what I read as Poem of the Day at bluesky and instagram and in past posts here.)

So it’s September and I’m still standi— er, still sitting.

Reading causes writing sometimes so I wrote more novel scenes, and a chapbook. Was it more than normal? Not sure. I’ve done 50,000 word over the last 4 months in poetry, not counting scraps of paper and convenient but not in the right folder files.

But, I digress. Sealey. My order may be mussed since I forgot to put dates in my spreadsheet.

  • Mayfly: issue 75, summer 2023 (Brooks Books, 2023) [solid chapbook]
  • Beyond the Flames by Louise Dupré, trans by Antonio D’Alfonso (Guernica Editions, 2014) [amazing]
  • The Hotdog Variations by James Hawes (above/ground, 2021) [chapbook]
  • Connected to Peace: Haiku Canada Members’ Anthology 2023 (Haiku Canada, 2023)
  • Emptying the Ocean by Kim Fahner (Frontenac, 2022)
  • A Possible Landscape by Maureen Harris (Brick, 1993/2006 2nd printing)
  • Meniscus Blister by Frances Boyle (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2022) [chapbook]
  • Journey Ongoing: a meander of haiku by Michael Dudley, edited by Melchior Dudley  (Independently Published, 2023)
  • The Best Canadian Poetry 2023, edited by by John Barton (Biblioasis, 2022)
  • From Turtle Island to Gaza: poems by David Groulx (AU Press, 2019)
  • A is for Acholi by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek (Buckrider/Wolsak & Wynn, 2022)

At one point it became a cleaning operation. What was misfiled, flagged to read or reread, or fallen behind a desk. Or new to me, thus trumping everything honourable working its way up the TBR pile.

  • and Crunch by Lilian Necakov (Proper Tales Press, 1982) [chapbook]
  • Jangle Straw by Hugh Thomas, mistranslations of poems by Olav H. Hauge (Turret House, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Six Swedish Poets by Hugh Thomas (above/ground, 2015) [chapbook]
  • Garden: November Unit by Monty Reid (Sidereal Press, 2013) [chapbook]
  • Where There’s Smoke by Monty Reid (above/ground, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Tutaj/Here by Wisława Szymborska (Znak, 2012)
  • Surface Area by Terese Mason Pierre (Anstruther Press, 2019)
  • Old Enemy Juice by Phil Hall (Quarry, 1988)
  • Big Sky Falling by Kelsey Andrews (Ronsdale, 2021)

You have to be in the right mood to hear a particular book. That can take luck and years sometimes.

Poetry can be overwhelming. It is disproportionally distressed, even compared against the poets. It is intense as heavy food, never meant for constant consumption. Could it be true, everything in moderation?

  • Stone Garden: world beyond stones and poets, edited by Rich Scnell/bhambū glad and Zo Schnell (Catkin & Èditions des petits nudges, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Derelict Bicycles by Dale Tracy (Anvil, 2022)
  • Half-Finished Heaven: Selected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer, trans by Robert Bly (Graywolf, 2001)
  • Touch the Donkey issue thirty-eight (above/ground, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Midland: poems by Kwame Dawes (Gooselane, 2001)
  • Noise by Jordan Davis (above/ground, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry (Random House, 2015)

At one point, I had finished my partly finished books, and was looking for something short, simple and easy to read to meet quota. Once I realized the title a day had fallen to that, I was out. It misses the point of poetry if it isn’t a point of growth and challenge and delight. I cheat myself. How far did I get?

27? Did I count that right? I only took a 4 day break? Seemed like more.

And a run of 5 days of chapbooks. And other chapbooks scattered through. Huh, still that’s a thing.

It’s not length. Some short things are hard to parse and some long things are breezy. And visa versa. But measurement is something. Egad, like 2000 pages of poetry. Or not, some were half or three quarters read before the month started with a push to finish, and some were re-reads so not the same cognitive weight exactly. Still, I don’t want to do that to myself again. Reading so much is an argument for only reading the best. And moderately.

Status and trajectory of Tree Reading Series

If you missed it, a message from Brandon,

Over September and October (and beyond, if it takes a while) we’ll be looking for a whole new group of board members and volunteers, and a new artistic director. It has been an absolute honour and pleasure to curate and host Tree events as I have since 2020, but it feels like the time is right to move Tree back into in-person events that better highlight the beauty of Ottawa’s literary communities.

A transition to new board members and a new artistic director…

Sealey Challenge, Week 2

Which way next? All of them begun…
  • A Possible Landscape by Maureen Harris (Brick, 1993/2006 2nd printing) [Sealey #6] has a symmetry with others on the TBR pile, specifically Frances Boyle and Kim Fahner, all referencing quiet luminous moments, and in admiration of Gerard Manley Hopkins. A reflection towards or out of calm, I’m not sure which. From “Spring”,

How can I render the meaning of sunlight on this red brick wall spreading its warm fingers wide,
the open palm of the world where time passes, pauses for a moment to bask, moves on again?

A Possible Landscape by Maureen Harris
  • Journey Ongoing: a meander of haiku by Michael Dudley, edited by Melchior Dudley  (Independently Published, 2023) [Sealey #7]: This I’ll relate responses to more fully eventually as I’ll review it online at ShoHyōRan. It is poetry of travel, but observation and juxtoposition of expectation such as this haiku from page 32: “forest campsite/in moonlight the silk tents/of caterpillars”
  • The Best Canadian Poetry 2023, edited by John Barton (Biblioasis, 2022) [Sealey #8]. As I mentioned on IG before, the opening essay’s depth and lucidity is worth the price of admission. It’s 25% essay, 40% end notes of bios and about the poems chosen in the poet’s own words, and afterbits so the poems themselves are an excruciatingly small reduction from the thousands of poems read. Standouts are Karl Jirgens’ poem on dementia and the multilingual exploration of Moni Brar. Looking forward to a book from her, and to Laurie D. Graham’s whose book I just got. A Wayman poem and a Bertrand Bickersteth poem into the mix demonstrates how his choices are to reflect range, not a uniform aesthetic.
  • From Turtle Island to Gaza: poems by David Groulx (AU Press, 2019) [Sealey #9]: A re-read, I think my second, could be my third. The poems reach wide and deep in some ineffable way.
  • Meniscus Blister by Frances Boyle (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2022) [Sealey #10]. Each work from Boyle gets tighter and this has sound without feeling intercut with the era of Gerard Manley Hopkins but with a backward glance at his density of assonance and consonance. Like Fahner’s book, there’s elemental work, poems concentrating on air and on water and their formative, curative and destructive forces. The outer is emblematic of, even metonymic of the inner. For example, “erosion”:

water cuts oxbows, undermines banks
so scrubby bushes, tufts of grass
hang halfway to midair.

Wind whips soil, bares rock suface
in sheen, then its skin, core exposed.

Meniscus Blister by Frances Boyle.

I fear I approach my uncle’s age when I was teen when he said he won’t have time left to read the books he owns but hasn’t got to, or reread the ones he already finished. And yet my TBR grows and I want to be attentive to each, not rush through. It helps to have read some of many books and to savour.

What is done can rebegin again too…what is linearity and list?
ah, but then there is new-to-me finds to pique interest too. what a delightful chaos.


OOooh, what have we here? A little animal of wonder…

Turret House Press now has my chapbook available for sale for $7. Or you can buy a whole year of chappies (probabably 6 or so) for $60. It’s also stocked at Phoenix Books Montreal, 5928 Sherbrooke O.

This series of spare poems Ottawa poet Pearl Pirie plucks moments out of time and presents them in a thought-provoking light. Sensuous and playful, empathetic and deeply human, this gem of a chapbook will dazzle and enchant!

Turret House Press blurb of A Couple Sumarians

It passes the sniff test.

Look at that, even environmentally-friendly.

It’s mostly love poems. I have copies to buy from me directly too.

Sample poem?

a minute pinned

it’s not forever
but it’s close 
enough to count
the heartbeats
as I watch the future
barrel at me like a child
in a cardboard box
careening down
the stairs.

A Couple Sumarians by Pearl Pirie

Also in the summer lineup are two other titles you should probably get:

Blue skies

I’m migrating more to blueskies from Twitter. (I refuse to call Twitter its new, surely temporary, name.) Blueskies is not run by a madman, that I know of. It does not display results of an algorithm who you follow like Twitter and Facebook. It is in beta with not enough servers to scale up far so is less responsive. But more stable. There is clear interface but not back channel DM built in. They claim to clamp down on racists and jerks, but at this point they are at least not inviting them back like Twitter. Not a lot of haikuists yet, but some botanists and poets. Apparently Neil Gaiman is aboard.

I have a couple invitations if you like.