Tag Archives: Shearsman Books
where the old road curls into pale blue sky
where rock and pine distill a blurred horizon
backs bend and are divided into valleys
glorified in a field of flags
the Tyrant marches in tight ranks
spells out MOTHER, DIGNITY, FORCE
the story goes like this:
only a hungry ear, a mouth
law speaks in quivers, whips
line by line months break
(here is no child’s game)
incessant in smiles the Tyrant governs
a fist of furrows, knobbed, arthritic
—No peasants, no sepulchres, no bones. A tower, open-mouthed, with no one above its crater.
—No soil that speaks of living, no deity that trains the dying.
—Ruins of a luxury hotel wither two hundred years in the fields. Such is a hospitality of vestiges. Such is finesse. The lastingness.
—Fearful of fevers, no one enters.
—In such peasantless fields, wounds gape uninhabited.
A deserted city. We’ll have to imagine
it’s in a movie. Beneath a listless dome, walls
crumble into backlit dust. Flames on a hillside swarm,
tattered auburn fishes in the autumn wind. Glints of dying
light fall on unmoored mountains whose thoughts of home
come to nothing. Everywhere, flocks of matter dip pale snouts
into inky ponds. We’ll have to imagine someone watching
that movie. No one left to forget irrelevant seeds. Some left off
praying to the mother of a tarnished idol presiding over a flock
of angels, breath attended by golden lice. Others
paused long enough to view dusk’s leisurely descent
over the white noise of crashing surf. All found something
to swear by before it was too late. Photogenic dullards jazzed
in the waning light. A ship’s captain jingled his coins
before staving in the ship. Embers in a hearth
illuminated fish bones on plates.
Sonnets and Looms are available from the following vendors:
Glib spice announces the news bleeding
in the monochromatic distance. The short-term
memory of distance flees in fear. Enemies
fall, money flees. Falling gloom dazzles just
as history taught it to. Not the history of stars
made of tumbleweed nor the annals of a dust mote
singing rich disaster. Masoch was never so rich,
or so it seems to each geological layer. No
notebook records a pocket of posies between thick
layers of ash. It just is, caught in a small pocket
of time. “Time to return to star,” announces
tumbleweed on the news. The news shrinks
to a speck of pollen on a posy’s anther
in a pocket caught between thick layers of ash.
Sonnets and Looms are available here:
So in honour of the rapidly-approaching December 21, 2012—of the dreaded cataclysm that Mayan astronomers predicted (unless they just got tired of chiselling)—I’ll be posting poems to while away the countdown to the terrestrial torch. The first poem is below.
And what would 2012 prophesies be without a little shameless commercialism? I’m selling poetry, not opulent underground condos, but then, to paraphrase William Carlos Williams, survivalists die miserably on doomsday for lack of what is found in poems.
The clock is ticking, but you can still get a copy of Sonnets and Looms from the following vendors: Small Press Distribution, Book City in Toronto, Amazon.ca, and Shearsman Books.
Help keep my kitchen, where I’m hunkering down with proper Canadian garrison mentality, stocked with beans and rice during these anti-climactic end times.
From a helicopter at night, an aerial
view of a city. In the dark, gigantic
iron statues loom with an ominous
aura of permanence. The people
who live in the city obsess
about the possibility of doomsday
erupting among their soaring
buildings and effigies. Of the end
they’ve made a fetish, chatting
about it at cocktail parties as if
it were the latest vogue. They believe
that it could happen at any moment,
so they no longer bother
to make their beds in the morning.
Martha Nichols, one of the editors, recently approached me about writing an illustrated essay about what it’s like to work in three disciplines: poetry, collage, and music.
I invite you to have a look at the resulting featured spread in Talking Writing and to explore the rest of the issue, which will be added to during the next few weeks.
Click the image below to view my collages and essay:
“There is such an expansiveness to Martin’s Looms. The poems exist in that magical place where words, images and ideas collide, creating connections that previously had never been.”
In his review, rob generously included a couple of poems from the book. If you’d like to read more from Looms, you can order a copy at the following vendors (click to link):
Poet James Pickersgill put together some thought-provoking interview questions in advance of the reading. Below is a sample, and the complete interview can be found here.
Q – Camille, it is not at all true that poetry is your single creative outlet. You are known as a collage artist, too. You are an editor yourself … and a translator. Your own work has been translated into other languages as well. You have been a university teacher. You’ve organized poetry reading series. You’ve had radio shows and you blog actively on the internet. When listed like that, these activities might sound like an array of separate pigeon-holes but I suspect that there is a lot of cross-pollination, so to speak. What is the nature of this creativity as you experience it: one spark that finds many openings to jump into flame, or, can it be distinct and separate creative impetuses?
Camille Martin – I love the idea of cross-pollination. In fact, I think my primary creative impulse is to bring together: to merge or to juxtapose. It’s the basic impetus for the metaphor: to bring unlike things into dialogue. And for me, that goes for disciplines as well. I was reading and seeking out poetry on my own from an early age, though I didn’t begin writing it in earnest until my late 30s. But my first creative expression was musical – I was trained as a classical pianist since I was six years old, and I went on to get a graduate degree in piano performance. I was also intensely interested in visual art. I’ve always felt a desire to bring the arts together. So now, in the autumn of my life, I have the pleasure of doing all three: making collages, writing poetry, and setting my poetry to music. I think these disciplines are sparking conversations among each another.
Poetry. The title of LOOMS signifies the weaving tool as well as the shadowing appearance of something. These “woven tales” were inspired by Barbara Guest’s statement that a tale “doesn’t tell the truth about itself; it tells us what it dreams about.” The strands of their surreal allegories converse, one idea giving rise to another, and the paths of their dialogue become the fabric of the narrative. In a second meaning, something that looms remains in a state of imminent arrival. Such are these tales, like parables with infinitely deferred lessons.
“In tightly woven tapestry, Martin’s ‘backstreet songs’ re-invent a music of knowledge that navigates the hucksterism and catastrophe threatening our planet. The movement of her threads is fugue-like, punctuated by oboes and clarinets, mockingbirds and cicadas. Here, in the dream-space of time-lapse film, forms of life and ideas collide and morph, rippling through centuries of human consciousness to unravel as quickly as they ravel. Here, above all, Martin makes it possible to dance among our ‘origins in snake oil,’ our ‘crusades to mirages’ and our ‘accidental fictions’.”—Meredith Quartermain
“A dreamscape on the outskirts of town, ‘in the badlands of the vernacular,’ these hopeful, haunted poems populated by children and prisoners ‘hover between’ realms domestic and exterior, real and imagined. Like candles described herein, this book gives off a melting, tactile glow.”—Arielle Greenberg
My box of Looms has arrived, and copies distributed to five Goodreads winners.
Shearsman Books has a pdf sample as well as a handy list of links where you can order the book.
Many thanks to Tony Frazer, publisher extraordinaire of Shearsman Books.
May the poems in Looms bring you pleasure!
Click the image below to enter at Goodreads:
At the bottom of the Shearsman Books page is a convenient clickable list so you can choose your preferred source and compare prices—you may wish to check for pre-order discounts (The Book Depository has one, last time I checked).
Looms is my second title published by Shearsman Books, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it came out. The cover features one of my collages, Blind Man’s Bluff, and the publisher, Tony Frazer, did a beautiful job (as usual) designing and producing the book.
Publisher’s description of Looms:
The title of Looms signifies the weaving tool as well as the shadowing appearance of something. These “woven tales” were inspired by Barbara Guest’s statement that a tale “doesn’t tell the truth about itself; it tells us what it dreams about.” The strands of their surreal allegories converse, one idea giving rise to another, and the paths of their dialogue become the fabric of the narrative. In a second meaning, something that looms remains in a state of imminent arrival. Such are these tales, like parables with infinitely deferred lessons.
Thanks to Amanda Earl, poet and publisher of Angel House Press!
Poets who have published with Shearsman include Mark Scroggins, Maxine Chernoff, Tony Lopez, anne blonstein, Carrie Etter, Joseph Massey, Lisa Samuels, Eileen Tabios, Tom Clark, Anne Gorrick, Michael Heller, and Scott Thurston, to name only a few.
Among Canadian poets, Erin Mouré has published three books of translations of the poetry of Chus Pato for Shearsman.
I’m in fierce company.
Unless predictions of Doomsday 2012 come true, Looms will loom on the horizon in fall 2012.
I have a great fall lineup of readings, starting with Grey Borders in St. Catharines, Ontario, on Friday, September 23 – two weeks from today.
I’ll be reading with Shannon Maguire, Aisha Sasha John, and Zorras Multimedia Troupe—a treat to be reading with these terrific poets! And many thanks to Eric Schmaltz and the Niagara Artist Centre for making this event happen.
Then on to Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Washington DC, and New York.
I’ll have copies of Codes of Public Sleep and Sonnets at each stop on the tours, but if you’d like to get a copy now, just go to my website, which lists clickable vendors for these books.
I’m doing all these trips by VIA Rail and Amtrak. There’s nothing better for writing than a window seat on a train . . .
I’ll read never-before-aired poems from my new manuscript “Looms.” Copies of my recently-published Sonnets (Shearsman Books, 2010) will be available for purchase.
A big thanks to hosts Liz Howard and Shannon Maguire!
Time: Tuesday, June 7, 6:30 pm—9:30 pm
Location: The Ossington (61 Ossington Avenue, Toronto)
Beatriz Hausner’s (Toronto, ON) poetry is rooted in the legacy of international surrealism, especially its Spanish American expression. Hausner’s extensive work as a translator has focused on the writers of that literature, including Rosamel del Valle, Enrique Molina, Olga Orozco, César Moro, the poets of Mandrágora, among many others. Hausner’s work has been anthologized and published in journals both in Canada and internationally, in French, Spanish and Portuguese translation. Recent publications of her poetry include: The Wardrobe Mistress (2003), Towards the Ideal Man Poems (2003), The Stitched Heart (2004), The Archival Stone (2005) and Sew Him Up (2010). Hausner is one of the publishers of Quattro Books (www.quattrobooks.ca). She works as a public librarian in Toronto.
Camille Martin, a Toronto poet, is the author of three books of poetry: Sonnets, Codes of Public Sleep, and Sesame Kiosk. Her work has been widely and internationally published in journals and translated into Spanish and German. Her current works in progress are “Looms,” a collection of layered narratives, and “The Evangeline Papers,” a poetic sequence based on her Cajun/Acadian heritage.
Claire Lacey blogs as poetactics. Claire studied English language and literature at Glendon College then headed west to cause a ruckus as a patagrad at the University of Calgary, where she writes poetry about linguistics and birds and bridges. Claire spent the last year working as writer-in-residence at a Calgary high school to convince students that poetry isn’t boring. Claire is poetry editor of Dandelion magazine.
Check out this new and excellent review of Sonnets by Marianne Villanueva in Galatea Resurrects #16.
Villanueva’s take: Sonnets is “rigorous and uncompromising . . . intellectually fearsome . . . torqued high.”
Click here for links to distributors that carry Sonnets.
In a previous post on musicality in poetry, I discussed the translation of simultaneity in music into a comparable literary expression. By simultaneity in music I mean polyphony, the vertical dimension of notes on the staff: the notes in a chord sound simultaneously as do the voices in a fugue. In literature, polyphony can be suggested by the simultaneity of thoughts, dialogue, or action by characters, as in the eight voices of the fugue in Joyce’s Ulysses.
Scott Thurston’s Internal Rhyme beautifully translates the melodic and harmonic dimensions of music into poetry. The spatial division of each poem into quadrants allows both a horizontal (melodic) and a vertical (harmonic) reading of the lines. The vertical resonates with the horizontal, and the dialogue between melody and harmony opens up the semantic field. To use another musical analogy, what emerges from this dialogue is harmonic overtones, the acoustic phenomenon that enriches the experience of music.
Because the most startling aspect of this collection is its formal innovation, I’d like to focus on possible strategies for the reader. Here’s an example from Internal Rhyme:
what I give myself to haunted by surface
a polished shine or cloudy patina
it takes art to maintain a perpetual crisis
taking everything you have
I want to give my heart out
to your ideal world in its tension
I have to wait for the memory
for the poem to make it right
At first blush, the possibilities presented by the quadrants seemed to me a kind of combinatorics, a conceptual experiment that reminded me a little of Raymond Queneau’s Cent mille milliards de poèmes, a series of ten sonnets whose interchangeable lines offer to the reader an almost inexhaustible series of permutations—to be mathematically precise, one hundred trillion sonnets can be generated from the conceptual machine of the ten original sonnets. Queneau’s Oulipian experiment stretches the limits of the readability of the set of ten sonnets in all of their permutations—an impossibly large number sonnets for the mortal reader to consume.
In the case of Thurston’s quadrants, three obvious possibilities occurred to me: line-by-line (horizontally), left column-right column (vertically), and four vertical columns (left, right, left, right). But there was something disasatisfying about treating each of these readings equally, so I needed to find a more natural way to integrate the horizontal with the vertical. It occurred to me that treating the page as a musical score gave me a more rewarding entry into the intricacies suggested by the quadrants. In other words, I read the poem as horizontal (melodic) lines and allow my peripheral vision, so to speak, to note vertical (harmonic) configurations of three or four lines that enrich the reading, perhaps turning the poem on itself or opening up other semantic possibilities.
First, my conscious mind gravitates toward a traditional line-by-line reading—partly from habit and partly because the syntactical flow of the poems in Internal Rhyme is most apparent that way. For example, in the above poem, although there’s no punctuation, my mind readily creates syntactical clusters and sentences from a horizontal reading.
Note also the division into two equal parts that such a reading suggests: “what I give myself to” opens the first stanza, and “I want to give” opens the second. Metapoetically, the poem juxtaposes the poet’s experience and perception (what he gives himself to) with his translation of that experience into poetry (his desire to give himself over to the tension in the ideal world of the poem: the “perpetual crisis” that poetry sustains). The last two lines constitute the poem’s volta, in this case the condition upon which that translation into poetry is contingent: waiting for his memory of tension within his own experience.
But the spatial division of the poem into quadrants compels me to notice the vertical possibilities as well. In the above poem, for example, a horizontal reading yields
I have to wait / for the memory / for the poem / to make it right
whereas a vertical reading might yield
I have to wait / for the poem / for the memory / to make it right
Thus waiting for the memory of tension (in the previous reading) is aligned with waiting for the poem to emerge for the memory to “make it right.” The boundaries between experience, memory and poetic creation are thus nicely blurred into a riddle: is it unresolved memory that drives the poem into creation, or the poem’s creation that illuminates cognitive mysteries?
Such an overlay of readings expands the poem exponentially as the mind picks up, consciously or subconsciously, variations in the configurations of lines. Reading the poems in this way allows me to blend the melodic and the harmonic dimensions to create a kind of polyphonic experience. To return to a musical analogy, the intricate texture of this overlay is like the harmonic overtones that enrich the experience of music.
The analogies between music and poetry are ancient, and the innovative musicality of Internal Rhyme offers a richly legible and resonant kind of poetic polyphony.
* * *
From the Shearsman Books website:
Scott Thurston lectures at the University of Salford where he runs a Masters in Innovative and Experimental Creative Writing. He co-runs The Other Room reading series in Manchester, edits The Radiator, a little magazine of poetics, and co-edits The Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry with Robert Sheppard. He has published three collections with Shearsman.
Vulcan is cooperating for now, so my reading tour in the UK, Ireland, and Paris to celebrate the publication of my new book Sonnets by the fabulous Shearsman Books is on. A recent review and ordering information follows the itinerary below. If you are going to be in any of these places, please come!
7:30 pm, Tuesday, May 4
Shearsman Reading Series
Swedenborg Hall, Swedenborg House / 20/21 Bloomsbury Way
Readers: Camille Martin (publisher’s launch of Sonnets) and Alasdair Paterson
7:30 pm, Thursday, May 6
Blue Sky Cafe / High Street
A triple launch – Camille Martin’s Sonnets, Ian Davidson’s Into Thick Hair, and the new issue of Poetry Wales
St. Helier, Isle of Jersey
8:00 pm, Saturday, May 8
PoAttic Reading Series
The Attic in the Jersey Opera House
Monday, May 10
6:30 – 8:00 pm: workshop
9:00 pm: reading
Ó Bhéal Reading Series / The Long Valley
6:00 – 8:00 pm, Tuesday, May 11
University of Salford
Two-hour session with students in the MA in Creative Writing program
7:30 pm, Tuesday, May 18
Ivy Writers Reading Series
Le Next / 17 rue Tiqutonne, Paris
A recent review of Sonnets by rob mclennan:
There are so few that seem to know how to bring something new to an often-used form that when it happens, it’s worth noting, and such is the case with Toronto poet Camille Martin in her second trade poetry collection, Sonnets (Exeter, England: Shearsman Books, 2010). Martin, an American relocated north after Hurricane Katrina, writes with the most wonderful sense of clarity, thought and play in these poems . . .
Read the entire review here