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Last evening in downtown Vancouver, about 80 people gathered to hear seven readings from new works published by Talonbooks: six collections of poetry and one novel. Staff members from Vancouver’s finest downtown indie bookstore, the Paper Hound, manned the book sales table, and the venue, Pyatt Hall (at the Vancouver School of Music), proved to be the perfect location for listening and experiencing poetry read aloud; all was silent but for the clear voices of the readers.
Kevin Williams, publisher, introduces the poets and shows off Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems of Phyllis Webb.
First up were three contemporary poets. ryan fitzpatrick read a few favourites from Fortified Castles ($16.95), including “Cutie Marxism” – which seems to have become a flagship poem from this collection – and one poem dedicated to Steve Collis, a fellow SFU poet who is currently being sued by Kinder Morgan for his part is resisting that corporation’s attempts to develop a pipeline in Burnaby, BC. Read a poem from this collection, if you like, on Meta-Talon.
ryan fitzpatrick reads from Fortified Castles
Sandra Huber reads from Assembling the Morrow
The poised Sandra Huber took to the stage next, having flown in all the way from Berlin. Huber described her experience in residence at a sleep lab, out of which emerged her first collection of poetry, Assembling the Morrow ($24.95). The audience was intrigued by a video which presented a concrete poem in the form of a sleep graph, which in the print book is formatted as a fold-out insert. Huber’s poetic essay and dropped pages established a certain mood.
Sleep and dreams began to take form as a motif throughout the following readings. Brian Henderson read from [OR] ($18.95), prefacing his reading with commentary on recent findings in neuroscience about cognition, consciousness, and our experience of time and memory. He described his poems as coming from that “half second” in the mind between experiencing and knowing.
Brian Henderson reads from [OR]
After an intermission during which the audience enjoyed wine, cheese, and other nibbles, the second half began with the poetry of Phyllis Webb, whose collected poems have now been published in Peacock Blue ($45). Webb, who is elderly and rarely travels, was not in attendance, but the wonderful and mesmerizing Daphne Marlatt read from Peacock Blue. (Stephen Collis was originally going to read Webb, but his involvement in the resistance to Kinder Morgan kept him from appearing. Marlatt noted this, and expressed support for him, which was felt throughout the room.) Marlatt’s reading was animated and joyful, truly channeling the spirit of Webb.
Daphne Marlatt reads from Peacock Blue
The one novel on the evening’s roster was Birth of a Bridge ($16.95) by Maylis de Kerangal, which is the down-and-dirty story of a bridge-building project told from lofty heights and set in a fantastical Californian city. Translator Jessica Moore was in attendance at the launch to read selections from this work, whose rich prose fit in well with the poetry – and Jessica’s dulcet voice and precision certainly didn’t hurt. Read an excerpt from Birth of a Bridge on Meta-Talon. Read Jessica’s thoughts on the translation process on Meta-Talon.
Jessica Moore reads from Birth of a Bridge
Poet and professor Jeff Derksen then introduced the oeuvre of Phinder Dulai, who read many selections from dream / arteries ($19.95), which explores the history of the Komagata Maru and its migrant passengers. This book, with its transparencies and extracts from archival material, also has a ghostly and dreamlike atmosphere, and Dulai’s rendition of it was evocative and meditative.
Phinder Dulai tells the audience about his archival research before reading from dream / arteries
Janet Rogers shows off her latest book, Peace in Duress
Janet Rogers closed the evening with her strong voice and her well-paced spoken word, reading from Peace in Duress ($16.95) and then performing other work. Listen to Rogers performing her poetry on Meta-Talon.
It is a privilege and an honour to publish works of such high calibre and to work with such innovative authors. We thank everyone who attended for coming out despite the chilly weather, and we hope to see you again next time!
From Oral to Written is a study of Native literature published in Canada between 1980 and 2010, a catalogue of amazing books that sparked the embers of a dormant voice. Leading Aboriginal author Tomson Highway surveys the first wave of Native writers published in Canada, highlighting the most gifted authors and the best stories they have told, offering non-Native readers access to reconciliation and understanding, and at the same time engendering among Native readers pride in a stellar body of work. On Meta-Talon, read a selection from Highway’s prologue.Thursday August 10, 2017 in Meta-Talon
August 12 is Buy a Quebec Book Day – and have we got books for you! Browse our list of 12 august and recently published Quebec books – any of which we would, of course, recommend. Read the list, and then get out to your local bookstore this Saturday and show la belle province some literary love!Friday June 23, 2017 in Meta-Talon
The Gorge: Selected Writing by Nancy Shaw launched in April, 2017 at the Western Front in Vancouver. To launch Shaw’s book, published posthumously, editor Catriona Strang read from The Gorge, and then this video was played to a rapt audience. In the video, you’ll hear the voice of Nancy Shaw, reading poems from her book Cold Trip (2006; co-authored with Catriona Strang).Tuesday April 18, 2017 in Meta-Talon
By R. Kolewe
Inspecting Nostalgia is a new collection of poetry by R. Kolewe. This, his second collection, brings together found text and fragments of various writers’ work with scraps from his own journals.
In this third week of National Poetry Month 2017, and in advance of Kolewe’s Toronto launch on May 8, please enjoy two poems from the collection on Meta-Talon.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.