401 Poetry Tour by Biblioasis

NOAH WARENESS2.jpgBIBLIOASIS brought to Windsor three poets Thursday night to launch three new books. The writers were Toronto’s Molly Peacock for The Analyst, Victoria poet Patricia Young for her new collection The Apocalypse, and Noah Wareness of Toronto for Real Is The Word They Use To Contain Us. I was anxious to hear each of them and picked up my camera and headed out to Biblioasis on Wyandotte Street.

Molly Peacock was delightful, entertaining, and her poetry, though focusing on therapy, was far less “confessional” as one might have thought. She herself mentioned this. Molly read these poems with authority and feeling in a deliberate but sensitive manner and it clearly resonated with the audience. These poems are exceptional, and deliver ironies in the simplest and most direct way. They are honest, poignant, and her delivery of them connected immediately with her audience in the most compelling way.

Molly Peacock.jpgMOLLY PEACOCK (1).jpgGovernor General’s Award Winning nominee Patricia Young set out to convey to her audience that the basis of her book was a response to Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing but the work ranges all over the map of emotions and themes and at times deals with the largest of subjects. There is no question of that she is, as some critics have said, “a masterful technician.” Prairie Fire said, “She masons each brick into place just so. …She thrives on ambiguity and twists while fostering a rapt interest in them in the reader.”PATRICIA YOUNG.jpg

Noah Wareness, who arrived late for the reading because he missed or took the wrong train, was forgiven when he got up and enlivened the night with a powerful reading from his new collection that Biblioasis editors described as “stealing electricity from nihilistic horror fiction and shaggy late-night cartoons to create a landscape of profound loss, vertigo and wonder…” Indeed.

Noah Wareness, (1).jpg

Zach Wells, the press’s poetry editor said Wareness is the “explosive secret (on the literary scene) for the past decade.” Perhaps. Maybe Zach is right and maybe after reading this book, as he suggests, “you will see the world a little differently.” It was fun. It was lively. It was in your face.

It is always my great pleasure to see children at a reading. Here Biblioasis publisher Dan Wells listens to the poet reading but keeps a close watch over his young daughter.


Experience 150 — Words and Smiles

MARTY SPEAKING2.jpgI’m sitting here at Tim Hortons — a place that I describe as my second office — and it’s a little later than usual — it’s after 6 a.m. The events of last night are still bouncing around in my blood, and my brain is a running slide show that includes the pop/soul singer songwriter Crissy Cochrane. I also see the poets — Bruce Meyer and Barry Brodie — furiously autographing their books, and there is a throng of students at what certainly has to be the largest literary reading in SW Ontario. These students are mingling about with big smiles on their faces. The night is over. They know they’ve done a great job of organizing it, and making this all happen.

But this is morning now, and it’s quiet: a cup of tea, a bagel and the newspaper spread out on the table before me. I’m by myself. There is the vague echo of an ambulance racing by, and other than that, there is only the sound of the coffee shop’s coffee machines… and the memories of the night before at the Caboto Hall.

Last night, Black Moss Press launched Bruce Meyer’s 1967: Centennial Year and Barry Brodie’s Tom Thomson: On the Threshold of Magic. The launch was done in conjunction with the University of Windsor’s Editing/Publishing Practicum. These are the two courses that I teach, and it’s the one that was selected by Maclean’s as one of the “cool” courses for 2017 in the magazine’s annual report card on universities. And throughout the night, this was a constant refrain, including the University of Windsor Provost Douglas Kneale calling me “a cool guy.”

Twenty four of my students were involved in this program, having edited these books from September to December, and then taking on the role of designing, laying out, marketing and producing teaching kits and press kits. Hundreds of hours were spent in this endeavor, and the Caboto Club event was the crowning glory of it all.


Toronto-born writer and former poet laureate of Barrie, Ontario Bruce Meyer remarked, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” He said book signings and launches are never this formal or elegant. This is coming from someone who has published 50 books, and someone who has had at least two Canadian bestsellers. Bruce maintained there is nothing like this anywhere in Ontario, or maybe Canada. I am not sure if it’s true, but for an annual gathering, as this has become, there is little to rival it. Besides, we have been doing this for a dozen years, and it grows every year. We also sold nearly $3000 worth of books.


For Barry Brodie,  one of the prime movers behind the ever-popular Sho Gallery in Walkerville, this was his first book. And, of course, his first book launch. Maybe we spoiled him. People queued up for his book. Some remembered his play about Tom Tomson that received rave reviews, and now this was a chance for them to have a copy of it between the covers of a published book.

CBARRY BRODIE2.jpgOne fan bought 14 copies of 1967: Centennial Year, and Bruce painstakingly signed each and every one with a personal note. The authors were in their element: head down and scribbling their salutations in book after book after book. How glorious a feeling is that!

It was a night with lots of fanfare. Superbly well-orchestrated. All by these students. I felt blessed by the moment. In my remarks to the crowd, I maintained that it was a stress-free semester teaching these students the rudiments of publishing, and that it was because they were “responsible, mature, insightful, gracious and made a difference.”

For me, education ought to be experiential, and provide students with the opportunities to develop skills that they can take into the real world of business. Life skills. And last night, those students stepped up to the task, and showed what they had. I also told them how important it was for them to dream deeply, to hold steady with their dreams, always aiming higher and ignore the naysayers. “Believe in yourself,” I said.


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For poetry, it was a win. It brought people to the Caboto who might never have attended a literary soiree in their life. For the photographers, it brought out some from the local media, including local photographer and good friend Ted Kloske whose photographs are displayed here.

As I get up to leave the coffee shop, someone from nearby Chrysler strolls in, and notices me. He approaches me with this: “I heard on the radio that you had a good night last night — you’re doing great things for Windsor.” I nodded, and thanked him, then made my exit. The sun was just coming up.

Postscript: http://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/macleans-recognizes-university-of-windsor-publishing-course