A Singer Must Die

Title: A Singer Must Die

Date: February 26, 2018

Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Description: Art of Time Ensemble has assembled a group of artists – singers, authors, and musicians alike – with profound love and respect for Leonard Cohen’s work to pay tribute to his legacy.

Singers Steven Page, Sarah Harmer, Sarah Slean, Tom Wilson, and Gregory Hoskins will perform Cohen’s songs in arrangements by top Canadian composers, and a rotating cast of writers – including Michael Redhill, Karen Solie, Barbara Gowdy and more – will share personal anecdotes.

Learn more here.

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A Singer Must Die

Title: A Singer Must Die

Start Date: February 22, 2018
End Date: February 24, 2018

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Description: Art of Time Ensemble has assembled a group of artists – singers, authors, and musicians alike – with profound love and respect for Leonard Cohen’s work to pay tribute to his legacy.

Singers Steven Page, Sarah Harmer, Sarah Slean, Tom Wilson, and Gregory Hoskins will perform Cohen’s songs in arrangements by top Canadian composers, and a rotating cast of writers – including Michael Redhill, Karen Solie, Barbara Gowdy and more – will share personal anecdotes.

Learn more here.

Return to the International Poetry Calendar.

Selvage/ Salvage a writing workshop and reading with Hoa Nguyen

Title: Selvage/ Salvage a writing workshop and reading with Hoa Nguyen

Date: February 21, 2018

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Description: Hoa Nguyen will first offer a three-hour workshop, in which participants will experiment with various writing techniques that invite advanced forms of receptivity. Working, sorting and weaving through the perceptional fields that make up our palimpsest world, participants will write poems as a site of simultaneous struggle and recovery.

Following the workshop, Nguyen will give a reading, and then workshop participants will have an opportunity to read in an open mic to finish the evening.

Learn more here.

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Berton House Writers’ Retreat application deadline

Title: Berton House Writers’ Retreat application deadline

Date: February 21, 2018

Location: Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
Description: Submissions for the July 2018 to June 2019 period are now open. Four writers will be selected to live and write for three months each in Dawson City, Yukon, in the childhood home of noted Canadian author Pierre Berton. Residents will receive a $6,000 honorarium, part of which may be covered by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Research and Creation grant program. (Successful Berton House applicants are required to apply to the Research and Creation program before receiving an honorarium from the Writers’ Trust.) Housing and travel costs are covered by the Writers’ Trust.

Applicants will have published at least one book with a professional publishing house and established themselves in any literary creative discipline (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young readers, playwriting).

Learn more here.

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Wilson, Powe and de Giacomo at the Art Bar Poetry Series

Title: Wilson, Powe and de Giacomo at the Art Bar Poetry Series

Date: March 13, 2018

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Description: The Art Bar is recognized as Canada’s longest running poetry-only, weekly reading series. Since 1991, it has featured both emerging and established poets from across Canada and occasionally from abroad. It has become a hub for the poetry community, and entry point for new voices, a place for people to enjoy one of the oldest arts.

This week’s offering features Sheri-D Wilson, Bruce W. Powe and Rocco de Giacomo.

Learn more here.

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Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! 2018 Contest winners announced

Title: Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! 2018 Contest winners announced

Date: April 30, 2018

Description: Founded in 2012 in New Westminster, BC, Royal Literary Arts Society (RCLAS) is a vibrant community of writers in the Lower Mainland and beyond. RCLAS has once again flung open the doors for aspiring writers to submit their best efforts in any of three writing genres (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) for the Society’s annual Contest.

Learn more here.

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Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! 2018 Contest submission deadline

Title: Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On! 2018 Contest submission deadline

Date: April 1, 2018

Location: Canada
Description: Founded in 2012 in New Westminster, BC, Royal Literary Arts Society (RCLAS) is a vibrant community of writers in the Lower Mainland and beyond. RCLAS has once again flung open the doors for aspiring writers to submit their best efforts in any of three writing genres (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) for the Society’s annual Contest.

Learn more here.

Return to the International Poetry Calendar.

Good Morning Sun of My Land

by Donald Nicholson-Smith, translating from the French by Abdellatif Laâbi

Good morning sun of my land
how good it feels to be alive today
so much light
so much light around me
Good morning empty exercise yard
you have become familiar to me
I cross you with a lively step
and you suit me like an elegant shoe
Good morning ponderous and philosophical oxpecker
perched up there
on the wall that hides the world from me
poking at your ribcage
with distracted little movements
Good morning sparse grass in the alley
quivering in opalescent flurries
at the wind’s teasing touch
Good morning great lone palm
erect on your cross-grained trunk
blooming at your peak
like a glorious tulip
Good morning sun of my land
tide of presence abolishing exile
So much light
so much light around me

***

I have a thousand reasons to live
to vanquish day-to-day death
the joy of loving you
and walking in step with hope

***

            	

Notes on the Poem

"Good Morning Sun of My Land" is another inspirational selection from In Praise of Defeat, a collection of the work in French of poet, novelist, playwright, translator, and political activist Abdellatif Laâbi, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. In Praise of Defeat was shortlisted for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize. As we observed in a previous selection from this collection, Abdellatif Laâbi's experience of political imprisonment and exile deeply informs and permeates his work. As the 2017 judges acknowledge, this is so well communicated in English by Laâbi's dedicated translator Nicholson-Smith, and the exercise was clearly an epic labour of love for him. The use of repeated words and phrases as mantras aiding in his survival appears again here, as it did in "Chronicle of the Citadel of Exile". "Good morning" and "so much light" are deployed with determined positivity. Again, the poem is absent of punctuation, but each "Good" of "Good morning" is pointedly capitalized (as "Bonjour" is capitalized in the original text in French). The "empty exercise yard" illustrates that he is dealing with both imprisonment and further enforced isolation, but he contends with that by anthromorphizing the things around him, including the yard itself. How fortunate that another living creature that shares this space with him is the oxpecker, a bird native to sub-Saharan Africa that is related to starlings and mynahs - talkers, even if they are "ponderous and philosophical". As Laâbi brings his confined space to life and sheds light on it, he also introduces traces and suggestions of colour, culminating in the comparison of the "great lone palm" to "a glorious tulip". Tulips conjure many colours, all of them symbolizing hope and love, which segues beautifully to the quatrain concluding this selection. In this poem, Laâbi has truly generated a "tide of presence abolishing exile".

Liveforever

by Robin Blaser

‘Where is Abraham buried?’ you ask. Well, in the Kabbalah, God has a terrible time getting Abraham to agree to die. In the Zohar, where Abraham is initiate and David calls God by the name ‘Midnight,’ the splendour is woven in the energies of the Hebrew alphabet, a creation in language that is never still. Now, looking at the three religions of Abraham – Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim – I would say that Abraham, though very much changed since 1700 BCE, is not dead. There’s only so much that a post-Catholic, polytheist exodic can say just now.

for Samuel Truitt
August 1996

            	

Notes on the Poem

As we've mentioned before, when it was recognized with the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2008, Robin Blaser's The Holy Forest was over five decades in the perpetual making ... and amending, and augmenting. "Liveforever" is a concise, potent selection both illustrative of Blaser's many powers and gifts and emblematic of how his work has endured and will endure. The Griffin Poetry Prize citation for The Holy Forest, which combines the observations of the Griffin judges and reviewer Brian Fawcett, describes beautifully how the collection holds within it Blaser's intellectual rigour, disciplined craft, ongoing scrutiny of that craft, all leavened with fine and well directed wit.
“There is an irony in the presumption that the universe contains the ‘collected’ poems of Robin Blaser. Within the five hundred pages of The Holy Forest moves a lifetime’s thought such as we are not used to or prepared for. Whitman was not fooling when he said that a poet, an extraordinary poet, can himself be a cosmos. But as sidereal as Blaser’s lines become, we never forget that the purpose is human living every day inside what is. In a review of an earlier volume with the same title (bravely published in Canada by Coach House and later listed by Talonbooks), Brian Fawcett wrote: ‘His truest poetic instinct is that cosmology is at once humanity’s fundamental pursuit – and the source of our most screamingly funny ironies, misapprehensions and pratfalls.’ Blaser is solemn enough to approach Dante Alighieri as a ‘Great Companion,’ and serious enough to maintain that ‘the truth is laughter’ we might find some afternoon on the darkest pavement.”
In "Liveforever", Blaser takes a weighty question: "'Where is Abraham buried?'" and immediately responds to it with invitingly colloquial irreverence: "Well, in the Kabbalah, God has a terrible time getting Abraham to agree to die." The entire poem has a breezy, good-humoured tone ("Now", "I would say", "There's only so much"). The tone does not mean, however, that the narrator is making casual or facile assertions, but rather is applying an open, warm, accessible nature to potentially fraught subject matter, as religion in general and different religious interpretations of something in particular can be. The inconclusive but fair summing-up of "a post-Catholic, polytheist exodic" makes for a fine punchline. The phrase "a creation in language that is never still" at the mid-point of the poem offers sly, delicious ambiguity. It's also testament to the importance of revision that Blaser observed, and to the value of finding new revelations in language with every new visit and reconsideration. "Abraham ... is not dead." Nor is the poet.