Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

jought's blog

Unsticking Writer's Block: 13 Lucky Ways

"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead" -- Gene Fowler, US journalist.

A lot of that bleeding comes when you encounter writer's block. You have to write something -- maybe you've set aside time from work and family duties, maybe you're being paid, or you'll get fired if you don't write something -- but you're stuck. The more you try to come up with that critical first or next sentence, you can't. Hilarity does not ensue.
It's a trauma all writers encounter at some point. Generally, I can write quickly and meet deadlines... but first I have to spend some germinating and cogitating time, working things out in my head until I'm ready to start.

Flarfs, spoetry and spambot literature

Every second on the Internet, an invisible textual war is underway. Spammers are those wonderful folks who want to jam your inboxes with come-ons for discount Viagara, inform you that you've won a non-existent lottery, or launder some hidden African millions through your bank account. They create or use spam-bots (bots are automated programs, such as a search engine uses to trawl cyberspace for new websites and add them to its directory of sites) that randomly generate text in the hopes of slipping their messages under the barrier of the spam filters on your incoming mail.

Living in a Novel

"“When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” -- Raymond Chandler
For the past couple of years, in fits and starts, I've been living in a novel. Unfortunately, I can't blame anyone else for this fictional edifice's shortcomings, since I'm the builder.
Writing poems, which I have longer experience at, is a more contained activity. You shape something out of thin air until it feels like has enough legs. Then you sit on it, rock back and forth, whittle some improvements, and you're ready to move on. Each poem, even when it belongs in a series, is as self-contained as a nautilus shell.

My Next Book: Time Slip

TIME SLIP

Sometime this May, my fifth collection of poetry will be launched by Guernica Editions in Toronto. Called Time Slip after its longest poem (900+ lines), this is a “new and selected” compilation, whose earliest works date back 40 years. There are selections from each of my previous books, plus previously unpublished work written over the last decade. Contents include love poems, linguistic trickery, nature lyrics, elegies, political satire, work responding to visual art, texts based on dreams, and part of my poetic biography of Mata Hari (still my favourite book).

Writing and Photography

I've been a photographer almost as long as I've been a writer. Although I've put more effort into marketing my words than images, I find both pursuits satisfying and challenging. They're not entirely different, both offering a way to represent a unique view of the world to others. The Greek terms that were cobbled together to label the art (now about 180 years old) originally mean "light" plus "drawing" or "writing"; take your pick.

An Obscure Bicentennial

INVASION FORCE BURNS US CAPITAL! PRESIDENT FORCED TO FLEE TO VIRGINIA! FOREIGN OFFICERS EAT HIS DINNER!
YANKEES SACK TORONTO, REFUSE TO PAY GST!
BEAUTIFUL SPY BRIBES US SOLDIERS WITH MILK CHOCOLATE MADE FROM PET COW, SNEAKS SECRET MESSAGE TO BRITISH LIEUTENANT!
PRIVATEERS PLAGUE ATLANTIC, CARIBBEAN, LAKE ONTARIO!

Get Your Dub On

Dub poetry is a particular kind of performance poetry, in which artists chant strongly rhythmic rhymes, generally about politics and social justice. Sometimes they have a backing band which plays reggae-esque music, sometimes they perform solo. With their musical sound, thought-provoking lyrics and often entertaining performances, dub poets have become entrenched in the GTA literary community,
Names like Lillian Allen, Clifton Joseph, Afua Cooper and Klyde Brooks are well-known outside the dub poetry and Jamaican-Canadian communities, for their books and CDs as well as live performances.

Words Aloud: The Movie

Living in Toronto, it’s easy to believe that little happens outside the literary capital of Canada, with its International Authors Festival, multiple reading venues, small press book fairs, and all the other word-based activity. However, there are many writers and events in smaller centres. One is the Words Aloud spoken word festival in Durham, Ontario (a Grey County town of 2500, about two hours drive northwest of Toronto). This November festival, whose website is at www.wordsaloud.ca, has run for the last six years, featuring writers and performers who cover the gamut from traditional for-the-page poetry through hybrid performers like singer/songwriter/writer Robert Priest, Louise Halfe (Skydancer), Lorna Crozier and dub poet Clifton Joseph, the Toronto Slam Team.

POETRY AT THE OLYMPICS: PODIUM OR TEDIUM?

The inclusion of spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan’s “We Are More” in the opening ceremony for the Vancouver Olympics has created a lively controversy. Those who don’t generally turn out for poetry readings love it; It is, as many have commented, a slightly more literary version of the famed Molson “I am A Canadian” commercial/rant. We can probably agree on one thing here: controversy is never bad for an art as underappreciated as poetry.
In his 90-second paean to what he considers the greatest aspects of Canada, the hefty, neckbearded slam artist gets very sincere on us, selling Canada as a place that works, where hope is kept alive (perhaps he didn't visit East Vancouver on the way to the Olympics?).

Forget the E-book; now it's the Vook?

Could it be that the e-book is already so, like, yesterday? The New York Times notes that vampirologist Ann Rice has sold the multimedia rights to her previously-published story "The Master of Rampling Gate" to Vook, "a multimedia company that has joined with publishers and authors to make enhanced editions of electronic books." Simon & Schuster, not wanting to miss its chance to surf this new wave, has announced four new vooks, two each of fiction and non-.
So what is a "vook," exactly? It's essentially an e-book for your personal computer or I-phone with two enhancements:
1. selected portions of the text are amplified (maybe we need a new verb here, "videofied"?) with short videos

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