pesbo since 2005.

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

Making chapbooks

I shall essay* to explain this process. I have been working out a choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) type flipbook chapbook of haiku for nearly 3 months now.

The number of options in how to read increases exponentially with more poems. A dozen haiku make for 1,726 possible readings. 18 haiku make for nearly 6000 possible readings. The goal is to make twists towards different emotional states with simple components that grammatically and semantically all fit together.

This constrains kigo, unless to make it all winter, or all summer, all day or all night. I have probably subbed in over 5 dozen haiku at this point. Maybe 8 dozen. I’ve lost count.

It’s like CYOA, but with haiku. this small singing is based on what’s left unsaid: 125 haiku (2017) by Maxianne Berger, itself modelled on Raymond Queneau’s 1961 Cent mille milliard de poèmes [a hundred thousand billion poems] of strip sonnets, done with the help of mathematician Francois Le Lionnais, in the process of which they initiated Oulipo.

Queneau was inspired by Heads, Bodies and Legs (Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller, 1946), the funny children’s book where you swap a third of each person with each strip, which I admit to a certain fondness of, (and on some tired days, emulation of).

If you’re following along at Instagram you’ve seen a bit.

A lot of editing so content doesn’t clash, grammar doesn’t break, there’s a twist in new combinations, and also don’t get a combination with two gerunds.

*I was once told with a sneer that if there are too many words proportional to text, it’s not an “article” it’s a “photo essay”. Editor declined to comment on the ratio. Categorize this as you will.

I’m literally pulping my poem drafts and obsolete research notes from my local family history poetry project.

Using WikiHow, I began. The green food dye doesn’t seem to take to anything but my fingers. I had to first decide the final size of my covers. Not hard since I have a paper mock up.

How to attach a title? I have tried with rougher paper before to do an adhesive title sticker with mixed success. I have tried hand writing but mine is not an elegant hand and the course on calligraphy didn’t take me far. From Knife Fork Book I got in my package a Blasted Tree chapbook by Gary Barwin which attaches the photo prints by cuts to the cover. Voila, a route.

Building a screen, whirling the soaked papers cleaned from the office. Upending the frame after couching the slurry.
19 sheets, so far still damp. Apparently I can use a hair dryer, which the dog will hate but may speed it up. They are too delicate to hang to dry yet.

So, that much done, most of the finicky bits of chapbooks are still to go, but I have a few days before the small press fair.

Next the hanging them up, like so many dried cod, and pressing them down under say, 80 books, or a piece of marble.

Once they are not too delicate to move, drying.
See, to be read piles are handy.

Checking In With: Roland Packer

How did I meet Roland? On the page, over and over. We met face-to-face just once but I had and have followed his concrete and experimental haiku in journals for years. He has a refreshing take on things. For example,

q ant m

from Wayfarers

everyone she loved –


Or this one at is/let. I cold-called him for a set to publish. Which he, happily for both of us, provided.

Bio: Roland has worked as a professional musician for over forty years, juggling various roles — performer, teacher and composer. He has been writing haiku for that same period of time and has been published in numerous journals including Modern Haiku, Frogpond and Presence. A mini-chapbook “Wayfarers” was published by Phafours Press in 2017.

PP: Hi Roland. What has been your focus lately?

RP: The Covid pandemic ushered me towards semi-retirement. So although I still teach a few music theory students online, I now have more free time (still not enough) which I divide between music composition and recording projects and writing haiku and longer related forms.

PP: So the pandemic did have some positive outcomes. What has been inspiring you on the page lately?

RP: Numerous ongoing haiku journals and anthologies – Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Presence, Kokako, bottle rockets, Acorn, Red Moon Anthology, Heron’s Nest, etc.

And more recently; the biographies of Chopin (by Alan Walker) and Einstein (by Walter Isaacson) which led to the writing of a haiku sequence.

PP: Productive, excellent.

RP: Also, I read Enlightenment Now (by Steven Pinker), The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments (by Margaret Atwood).

Still to read; Ramayana (as retold in English by William Buck) — I read Mahabharata years ago (an excellent read, skillfully done and a refreshing alternative to dry academic translations).

PP: I read The Dhammapada this year. I wonder what the overlap might be…Anyway, do you have anything forthcoming to watch for?

RP: Nothing soon. I’m chipping away at a longer chapbook of haiku and have 2 mini chapbooks I’m not sure what to do with yet.

Recently I started writing some longer haiku-related-forms including haibun – one of which will appear in Modern Haiku in February 2023.

PP: Congratulations. That’s a tough market to crack.

RP: Thanks Pearl. I hope we can catch up at the next Haiku Canada Weekend.

PP: That would be great. Quebec City on the May long weekend.

Loved Then, Loved Now: Penseroso

Emily Pauline Johnson (a.k.a. Tekahionwake, “double wampum”) I discovered in an estate sale of a cousin. She won the book as a high school English prize around a century ago. This poem I memorized, the fourth of fifth, I memorized after Edna St. Vincent Millay, some Macbeth and I Think Mice are Rather Nice.


Soulless is all humanity to me 
To-night. My keenest longing is to be 
Alone, alone with God’s grey earth that seems 
Pulse of my pulse and consort of my dreams. 

To-night my soul desires no fellowship, 
Or fellow-being; crave I but to slip 
Thro’ space on space, till flesh no more can bind, 

And I may quit for aye my fellow kind. 

Let me but feel athwart my cheek the lash 
Of whipping wind, but hear the torrent dash 
Adown the mountain steep, ’twere more my choice 
Than touch of human hand, than human voice. 

Let me but wander on the shore night-stilled, 
Drinking its darkness till my soul is filled; 

The breathing of the salt sea on my hair, 
My outstretched hands but grasping empty air. 

Let me but feel the pulse of Nature’s soul 
Athrob on mine, let seas and thunders roll 
O’er night and me; sands whirl; winds, waters beat; 
For God’s grey earth has no cheap counterfeit. 

Pauline Johnson

There is something painful and panging about the solitude of night, the size of the universe more palpable and larger than the pettiness of humans. I can again become a teen full of angst and hope.

Book Launch

Perfect Books, this Wednesday at 6:30pm

Ottawa Book Launch of  “Sheets: Typewriter Works” (Invisible Publishing) by Cameron Anstee 
With guest readers Monty Reid and Pearl Pirie

Hosted by Chris JohnsonWednesday November 2, 2022, 6:30pm
Perfect Books (258 Elgin Street), FreeCameron Anstee is the author of Sheets: Typewriter Works (Invisible Publishing, 2022) and Book of Annotations (Invisible Publishing, 2018), and the editor of The Collected Poems of William Hawkins (Chaudiere Books, 2015). He is the editor and publisher of Apt. 9 Press and holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Ottawa. He lives and writes in Ottawa on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.

Monty Reid was born in Saskatchewan, lived for many years in Alberta and Quebec, and now resides in Ottawa. His recent collections include Meditatio Placentae (Brick), Garden (Chaudiere/Invisible) and The Luskville Reductions (Brick) as well as the chapbooks Seam (above/ground) and The Nipple Variations (postghost). He has won a number of awards (Alberta’s Stephansson Award for poetry x3, National Magazine Awards, Arc Poetry’s Lampman Award, etc) and been short-listed for the Governor-General’s Award on three occasions. A longtime museum professional, he had long stints at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and at the Canadian Museum of Nature. He was the Managing Editor of Arc Poetry Magazine for many years and has recently retired from his position as Director of VerseFest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival. 

Pearl Pirie is an Outaouais writer. Her collection footlights was a finalist for the Lampman Award and short and long listed for other awards. rain’s small gestures (Apt 9 Press, 2021), minimalist poems, is short-listed for the 2022 Nelson Ball Prize.