The Minds of the Higher Animals

are without exception irresponsible. Which
sounds alarming and is, admittedly, an aberration
(perhaps not funny) of a more valid, thinkable notion,
that dolphins, wolves, chimps, etc., flip a switch

in us, casting klieg light on the frightening solitude
engendered by the very Fifties idea — I know —
that we alone are responsible for our own
consciousness. A friend, who’d taken work as tutor

to a high-school student, leaned over the back wall
of a booth in a pub and told me: of all the thumbnail
sketches he’d done for her, from Plato to Pascal
and beyond, this Sartrean concept of taking ownership over all

that you know, feel, and do, had proved the most opaque,
the singularly most inconceivable stupidity
ever designed to befall a girl
, driving her to kick some shitty
desk chair in frustrated disbelief. Now, Reader, make

a face that’s meant to express some woeful sense
of pity and surprise, while feeling a cold sickness underneath.
That was my face. I was mumbling things so far from the truth
of what I felt, I could have been a clergy entering the manse,

touching tops of heads, asking how days went, seeking food,
while wishing one or the other end of this circus dead.
The sight of a pint glass didn’t cause me to vomit. I didn’t
reel, sweating and murderous, out into the street; but my mood

stiffened, grew intractable, opaque; I felt blue flashes inside
that were flares of all the moments I’d sought causality,
a why for each failing of character, somewhere outside
of myself, amounting to a web of reflexive sophistry

that reached back into the years of my life like illness
discovered late, or how rot sets into wood compromising
the strength of a structure by softening its centre. Rising
from my seat, I went and faced a woman whose caress

had eased my passage through some months I couldn’t pass
through on my own, she’d been more than kind, I’d
found I couldn’t love her at the time, and fled.
So I faced her, and apologized as best I could, given the mass

of people in the pub. ‘This is a poem,’ she said, ‘and that’s not
good enough. Around here, we don’t let art, no matter
how acutely felt, stand in for what’s necessary, true, and right.
Next time you face me, maybe leave you here. End quote.’

from Strange Birds; Twitching Birds

4

What a witches’ sabbath of wings
– Robinson Jeffers

Little bird, little bird, LET ME OUT. Not-a-chance Not-a-chance Forget-get-get-get-it

Damn this cracked crow! Damn this wicked net! A snare of ritual and vexation: Icterinæ Tyranny. Grackle Sacrament. Sins of the Feather. Banging your head till you’re blackbird and blue.

All the time in Hell on your hands and an eternity of bird devotions on an endless string of millet … Ave Aviary, Ave Oriole, Hail bob-bob-bob Bobolink …

Dead of night and captive to an unremitting chorus of blackbirds: Rusty Falsetto (creaking demons and doors and coming unhinged!), Nasal-Toned Tricolour (triple-glazed windows, blue in the face), Quiscalus mexicanus … Arriba! Arriba! Arriba!

Grisly dreams. A palpitating litany of shadowy birds: Quiscalus quiscula (Commonest Common Grackle), Euphagus cyanocephalus (Brewer’s Blackbird, volcanic stomach), Euphagus … esophagus (a nagging bird in the throat and your hands

won’t stop trembling).

Literature Salon: Anne Michaels – An Intimate Evening

Title: Literature Salon: Anne Michaels – An Intimate Evening

Date: November 14, 2017

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Description: The Literature section of the Heliconian Club Salon Series is honoured to host a salon with one of our country’s bona fide literary luminaries. Anne Michaels, Toronto’s current Poet Laureate, is the author of two highly acclaimed novels and several books of poetry and has won several prestigious awards. Enjoy this rare chance to meet the author in a warm setting.

Learn more here.

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The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King

Title: The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King

Date: November 11, 2017

Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom / online
Description: Join Newscastle University live from King’s Hall for the launch of “The Mighty Stream” a poetry anthology celebrating Martin Luther King.

The event features readings by poets from both sides of the Atlantic featured in the anthology, including Fred D’Aguiar, Kwame Dawes, Imtiaz Dharker, Sarah Howe, Major Jackson and Jackie Kay.

Learn more here.

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Palm Beach Poetry Festival

Title: Palm Beach Poetry Festival

Start Date: January 15, 2018
End Date: January 20, 2018

Location: Delray Beach, Florida, US
Description: The Palm Beach Poetry Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the writing, reading, performance, and appreciation of poetry – by presenting an annual festival and other poetry events in Palm Beach County – featuring America’s finest poets.

The 14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival will be presented in loving memory of Thomas Lux. The festival’s special guest, poet Coleman Barks, will be interviewed by Chard deNiord and featured at the Annual Gala Reading. Conference faculty this year includes Sally Bliumis-Dunn, Nickole Brown and Lorna Knowles Blake.

Learn more here.

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Indigenous Voices Awards submission deadline

Title: Indigenous Voices Awards submission deadline

Date: January 31, 2018

Description: The Indigenous Voices Awards aim to support Indigenous literary production in its diversity and complexity, understanding Indigenous literatures to include but not be limited to novels, creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, orality, graphic novels, comics, slam, drama, music lyrics, screenwriting, and other forms. The awards honour the sovereignty of Indigenous creative voices and reject cultural appropriation; to be eligible for the Indigenous Voices Awards, authors must be Indigenous and must make a declaration of Indigenous identity. The awards are intended to support Indigenous artistic communities and to resist the individualism of prize culture. As such, the IVA Board will endeavour to create opportunities for mentorship, professionalization, and creative collaboration among applicants, jurors, and other members of the Indigenous artistic community when possible.

Learn more here.

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Toronto Word on the Street Festival Director application deadline

Title: Toronto Word on the Street Festival Director application deadline

Date: November 21, 2017

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Description: The Board of Directors of The Word On The Street Toronto is looking for a dynamic, energetic and visionary Festival Director to lead the organization. The Festival Director is responsible for the successful execution of the annual operations of the Toronto Book and Magazine Fair.

Learn more here.

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League of Canadian Poets National Broadsheet Contest submission deadline

Title: League of Canadian Poets National Broadsheet Contest submission deadline

Date: December 1, 2017

Location: Canada
Description: After an incredible first year, the League of Canadian Poets is excited to be opening submissions to its national broadsheet contest once again! The winner of the 2018 contest will receive ten copies of their poem as a hand-crafted, artisanal broadsheet designed and produced by Briar Craig. As well, the poem will be included in the 2018 Poem in Your Pocket booklet—distributed internationally in partnership with the Academy of American Poets – and featured on the League website. Finally, the winning poet will receive a free one-year membership with the League.

Learn more here.

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Real Vancouver Writers’ Series 2017 Year End Party

Title: Real Vancouver Writers’ Series 2017 Year End Party

Date: November 18, 2017

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Description: Celebrating great writing in the classic way they always do, Real Vancouver Writers’ Series presents:

  • Canisia Lubrin
  • Leanne Dunic
  • David Chariandy
  • Daniel Heath Justice
  • Faisal Deen
  • Carol Shaben

Learn more here.

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