: an interview with rob mclennan by Sheila Murphy

this interview was conducted over email from November to December 2004, during which I sought to discover more about Rob's history, perspective and singular energy applied to a vast array of projects and pursuits. sem

Born in the spring of 1970, writer, editor, publisher & critic rob mclennan is the author of ten poetry collections, most recently stone, book one (Palimpsest Press, September 2004) & what's left (Talonbooks, April 2004), & has published dozens of poetry chapbooks, including g h o s t s (Furniture Press: Columbus, Ohio), common knowledge (Pooka Press: Vancouver), carnage (As We Try & Sleep: Winnipeg), monopoly/antiques (above/ground press: Ottawa), 33 lines, a stolen phrase & a short apology (Apostrophe Press: Ottawa) & his poetry, fiction & critical work has appeared in over one hundred journals & anthologies in nine countries & three languages. The editor/publisher of above/ground press & the longpoem magazine STANZAS (founded 1993), he edits the cauldron books series through Broken Jaw Press, edited (among others) the anthologies evergreen: six new poets (Black Moss Press), side/lines: a new canadian poetics (Insomniac Press) & GROUNDSWELL: the best of above/ground press, 1993-2003 (cauldron books #4, Broken Jaw Press), as well as recently becoming an editor for the online journal Drunken Boat (www.drunkenboat.com). He currently lives in Ottawa, Canada's glorious capital city (even though he was born there), where he co-ordinates events & the semi-annual ottawa small press book fair through the small press action network - ottawa (span-o). He is completing a novel, a collection of essays, a collection of interviews with Canadian poets & various poetry collections, including a collaboration with the Ottawa artist Danny Hussey. With Ottawa poet Stephen Brockwell, he edits Poetics.ca (www.poetics.ca), & with designer Tanya Sprawl, recently launched the annual ottawater (http://www.ottawater.com/) to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the City of Ottawa. In 1999, he won the CAA / Air Canada Award for most promising writer (in any genre) in Canada under the age of 30. He regularly posts reviews, essays & other detritus on his clever blog - www.robmclennan.blogspot.com, and his website can be found at www.track0.com/rob_mclennan


Sheila Murphy: Tell me about how you work with direct statement, narration, and Ôthe immediate.'

rob mclennan:
That's a lot to go through. I think I write around the direct statement as much as possible, even when I'm writing in a straight line. Usually when I write a poem, I come up with some loose format of structure (which can shift heavily within the piece as it works its way through, as an ongoing negotiation between myself and the poem), and leap off a word or a phrase or a subject, usually evident in the title. Often, the inference to the umbrella of title isn't referenced much, if at all, in the body of the piece, writing around and around in giant swirls of text (depending, of course, on what I think I want the project to be doing and accomplishing). I allow a lot for random moments and stolen lines, with pieces that don't necessarily have to make logical sense in meaning, while still making perfect sense for me, for the sake of the sound and the flow of the piece itself (even if I don't always understand it).

As far as the immediate, if the bare bones of a poem isn't there in the first draft, it never will be. No matter how many drafts I end up doing, there needs to be something I can work with, so I end up taking a lot of quick first notes, filling up notebooks with fragments and beginnings. When we did our Irish reading tour in 2002, Stephen Brockwell and I talked much of composition, as he writes many of his poems through note-taking, working first through subject, and a mess of individual lines written weeks or months apart, building his poem out of an extended process of deliberate parts. I, on the other hand, need the solid foundation there in the first go, or I have nothing to work with. Still, I've done the random piece here and there using Brockwell's method, but I find it doesn't work for me as well.

I've always been someone who has written quickly, and often, killing trees in the thousands while working my rewrites, draft after draft after draft.

Narration, since you asked, is almost always inevitable in linear forms. Last year jwcurry read an essay at a reading in Ottawa on how it is nearly impossible to write on non-linear forms, seeing everything concurrent, but to talk about it, forces it into a particular order. To read pieces in a magazine or a collection or anywhere, does force a narration of sorts. I'm not against that, but it's fun playing with that, and working around it, hiding the narrative as deep as it will go, through the threads of a piece. Even, if there needs to be an actual narrative. As well as working the idea of the book as a unit of composition, the late Toronto poet bp Nichol also fronted the notion that all the writing connects, even if only by virtue of being written by the same hand. I suppose the other side to that idea would be the one of every poet writing the same poem the whole of their lives, but I don't think I agree with that. Or at least, nothing that simplistic.

SM: When did you first write, and what prompted your earliest writings?

Well, short answer: girls. That unrequited, I suppose. Bad teenage scribblings of those things that could never be said. I started even earlier, writing a poem for a girl in grade two, and the whole experience managed to turn me off writing for a number of years, although I was always making something, whether comic book or fake newspaper or line drawings from family photographs. I started again probably in grade ten, and just happened to have a good peer group around me that were doing some of the same, and helped me continue. By the time I was in my last year of high school, averaging probably around the mid-60s in my marks, I took Writers Craft - which was brilliant, because it didn't actually involve any class time - and ended up with a 95 percent at the very end. Of the 30 pages we needed to hand in to get simply a passing grade, I handed in 130. Typical me, I suppose.

Long answer? Maybe I'll make this one shorter, too. I was always read to when I was little, so started reading on my own pretty early, taking in pretty much anything I could get my hands on. And when I was reading, my parents had a couple of books from the late 1800s, actually written by local authors in our rural Ontario (Glengarry county, half between Ottawa and Montreal, and home of the largest Highland Games in North America), so the notion of writing wasn't a foreign one. Ralph Connor, who wrote over a dozen novels in the late 1800s and early 1900s, actually managed to sell millions of copies of his books, and was quite well known in his time. It didn't seem implausible that writers existed out in the world, even though I didn't really meet any until I was in my last years of high school, meeting a poet or two whose work didn't really appeal. It simply appeared possible to write, I suppose, from an early point in my awareness, so by the time I decided to go ahead and do it, I just pushed on into it.

SM: What prompted you to venture into publishing? Are there any aspects of the two roles (writer and publisher) that you think work especially well together or perhaps clash? Where you believe the publishing of innovative work is headed in the next several years?

As far as online publishing, I've noticed that Canada is far behind what I've found on American and Australian authors. It's nearly impossible to find John Newlove or George Bowering poems online, but there are piles of pieces by their contemporaries in the United States, which for me, as a reader, is great, but I find very frustrating, as a fan of their work. And with books having such difficulties crossing borders, it can sometimes be the only way to read the work of select authors. I often browse the internet, printing off thousands of pages of writing, and eventually find the author and their books through other means. The internet has introduced me to a bunch of American authors I can no longer do without, such as Cole Swensen, Rachel Zucker, Anselm Hollo, Lisa Samuels and Lisa Jarnot. I'd like other countries simply to have the same opportunities with Canadian writing.

Canada has always been attached to the physical book, even with forays into spoken word cds and interactive dvds and even the e-book, as well as other such forms to produce and distribute writing. I think no matter what happens, there will still be this attachment, at least in my country, to the book itself, and hopefully, some further exploration into what that means. The late Toronto poet bp Nichol did some wildly interesting experiments into the physical book as a compositional tool to be altered. He did some very exciting work that seems to be, for the most part, almost completely ignored.

As far as my own work, I've been a chapbook publisher since I self-produced my first chapbook at the end of 1992 (when I was but twenty-two years old), starting above/ground press and STANZAS
the following summer. I've been publishing and writing concurrently for so long (as well as running the ottawa small press book fair twice a year since 1994, which I co-founded, and have run solo since) that I've always considered them having so much overlap as to be one large fluid unit. Everything I seem to do feeds into everything else, whether reviewing, writing, publishing, editing anthologies, the book fair, organizing/hosting readings, running writing workshops, or whatever. It all feeds into that great beast I call my writing practice, for good or for bad. Being in this role that I've created for myself, I think it puts me in this strange and rare position in Canada where I am aware of lots of different writers across the country in ways that most aren't, and able to tour extensively while handing out not only my own work as above/ground press items, but piles of works by various other authors as I go, bringing authors into cities or communities or even individuals that might not otherwise have been exposed to the work, and that I do find particularly exciting. The extension of that, I think, has been the work that Stephen Brockwell and I have been doing online for Poetics.ca, or the reviews and such I've been writing to include on my blog (www.robmclennan.blogspot.com). So much work doesn't ever get talked about, or talked about properly, that there seems little point in producing any more until we've dealt with what has already been done. I'm currently working on a couple of essay collections and other larger critical projects, as well as trying to figure out the right form for a follow-up to the side/lines: a new canadian poetics anthology I edited, produced by Insomniac Press in 2002.

I started publishing because there was no publishing of the sort in Ottawa at the time, and I'm not very good at waiting. Currently, there are three of us actually working toward creating a trade book publisher in Ottawa, to start producing books by the fall 2006 season, since many of the younger (and stranger) writers in our Nation's Capital have been ignored by the rest of the local publishers. I've been wanting to start a trade press for years, seeing it as the logical next step in everything else I've been working on over the past dozen or so years.

I'm a writer first, and everything else second. The only clash I end up seeing is time, and I can either stop doing certain things, or work toward finally getting some help on some of it, so I can continue on various of my own strange projects. I'm ever hopeful it can be the latter.

SM: I like your description of how integrated all your efforts are, and admire the way you have sustained the pioneering efforts you've described. Questions about quantity of work invariably emerge when talking with writers who bring considerable and consistent energy to writing. Talk about how you see the relationship between quantity and energy and the essence of work.

I've always considered that if the work is of a high quality, then really there can be no complaint, but I get them the same, suggestions that I'm publishing 'too much,' and the presumption that not all of it can be of a high quality, because of the volume of it. It seems rather foolish to me as an argument. One book can't be deemed good or bad or interesting or not interesting simply on the merit of whether another book has recently appeared by the same author. It's foolish. Yes, I do write a lot, but it's also all that I do. I never bothered going to school, and I don't hold a job, so I sit at home, six days a week, and make stuff up at my desk, working on various collections of poetry, and working to finish three novels (some of which have been six years in the making) and various collections of essays, as well as a collection of interviews with Canadian poets. I've been doing editing in there as well, working on two volumes of selected poems (one for William Hawkins and another for Andrew Suknaski) and a couple of anthology ideas. At a talk I did last year in Toronto, Christian Bšk suggested that perhaps I should spend more time on individual projects, honing the ideas, the inference being that he spent seven years working on his Griffin-prize winning collection Eunoia (Coach House Books). It was a strange comparison, since he was working on finishing his PhD during those same years, and then went out into the academic job market. If he didn't have those distractions, would he have spent as long on that collection as I do on mine? It's entirely possible, so I think the argument doesn't hold any water. Also, he and I are completely different kinds of writers. I see myself very much as a working-class, 'working writer,' sitting at my desk day after day after day, and Christian seems to be a conceptual artist, waiting for that next big idea, who happens to use writing as his medium. For him to compare the two of us simply don't work.

Part of what I've been trying to do, to slow down some of the poetry production (keeping in mind that the Canadian standard seems to be a book every few years, and I've had as many as three collections published in one), is to work on fiction and essays, as well as sending most of my poetry to non-Canadian journals and publishers over the past couple of years. I would love to get some books published in the United States and/or England, and it ends up being a whole new kind of challenge; basically starting over in a new market that has no point of reference to what I've done previously. Perhaps, too, I might eventually be able to live properly on sales and reading tours, and, once I have a book of fiction published and can find an agent, perhaps have options internationally that other writers with first books of fiction don't; with an already established international track record. But who knows if any of that will work. Until then, all I can do is keep working, in that way that works best for me, moving in various directions, depending on my mood, reading and interest. It changes from day to day.

The essence of the work is the work. Everything else will wash away.

SM: It is interesting what becomes an issue, isn't it? There seems to be a striving among writers for some norm regarding output. Your point about different purposes or points of impetus for writing is well taken. I hope you'll share some thoughts about poetics and your engagement with that, its meaning for your work and for what is important to you.

I've always been struck by the poetic expressed in the work of folk such as George Bowering: that every book has a different purpose. The late Toronto poet bp Nichol as well, who also made much headway into the book as singular unit of composition. The pieces I write can't necessarily be moved back and forth between books, and even the poet George Murray suggested a few years ago that I'll probably be known more for the individual book than the individual poem. It's how I've been working for years: in books as whole units.

As well, I've been more and more interested the past few years to try on different things, new movements or constraints (as Bowering calls them, 'baffles'), to see how they fit. Many of my early models in poetry were Canadian (but not all), working sides of the fringe (with some that made it to the middle), such as Jack Spicer, John Newlove, bp Nichol, George Bowering, Fred Wah, Judith Fitzgerald, Richard Brautigan, Stan Rogal, David Donnell, Robert Creeley, Robert Kroetsch, John Thompson and Dennis Cooley. Part of any reading is taking the elements that interest, and working to adapt them to my own poetic. There are too many influences to mention, but both the problem and the strength of such a reading means that I've never been part of any group of writers or writings. It does tend to get lonely out here.

What has interested me most, perhaps, over the past few years is in what you shouldn't be doing with a poem, inferring instead of letting the reader in on everything that is going on. For some reason, I get too many kids coming up to me asking what the poem means, as though it's a puzzle or a trick to be solved, with something inside that I've deliberately kept buried. A poem needs to be 'about' as much as a painting needs to be: not at all. Sometimes it can be something as simple as an image or the resonance of the flow of words. Still, the whole idea of narrative can't be helped, unless a visual piece where everything is seen at the same time. Two words side by side can be enough to construct a narrative. They are seen in a particular order.

Much of what I've been doing in my last few works has been working under an umbrella idea or image, and working through that in a sequence or long poem, whether chapbook length, book length or through multiple collections. I don't see the point in telling a poem with a straightforward beginning, middle and end; there are too many other folk doing that. I don't see the point in telling a story in a poem; if that's what you want out of a poem, read fiction. The poem has to be something else, and be able to live or die under whatever rules are set up inside the piece. I consider my job as a writer to try different things, and to be willing even to fail while attempting something different in my writing. If all I do is a repeat of past work, I'm not only failing with my current work, but I'm bringing down everything I've done before.

Still, I like the idea of bp Nichol's 'poem as long as a life,' and perhaps might be doing that, but not as one individual piece, but as various threads weaving in and out of (possibly) too many projects. I'll let the essay writers in thirty years figure that one.

SM: What place(s) do you think that contemporary poetry occupies in Canada and in the larger world community?

I'm not entirely sure. For all the strange things that have come out of Canada - Tom Green, Alanis Morrissette (both from Ottawa, actually), Phil Hartman, The Kids in the Hall, Mike Myers, etcetera - we're still a pretty conservative country, and only give attention within our borders to particular kinds of writing. When I did a reading at the University of Maine a few years ago, it was interesting to hear poet Jennifer Moxley's take on Canadian poetry, citing various Kootenay School of Writing folk from Vancouver, such as Lisa Robertson and Peter Culley. Because she came to them from a different point, she didn't have any of the baggage of 1970s CanLit in her way as a reader. She knew the poets doing the strange stuff, and taking all the narrative risks.

There's an imaginary photograph I describe taken in 1972 that, if you weren't in, somehow you don't get the same kind of attention. That was the year, actually, that CanLit sales, funding and attention achieved a peak, before it trailed off. For some reason, many of the writers from that period still got enormous attention within the country, while many of the writers afterward seem to get the short end of the stick. Between that and the star system that media and publicists keep plying us with, it ends up giving no one any sense of what's really going on.

As far as contemporary poetry in the larger world, I consider John Tranter's Jacket
magazine in Australia reason alone to be hopeful. And then there's the Griffin Prize that was started a few years ago by Toronto businessman, Scott Griffin, to honour his late wife. Imagine a poetry prize that is annual, and hands out $40,000 each to Canadian and international poetry winners? That's pretty damn impressive. In their fourth or fifth year, the Griffin Prize has done much to promote not only the writing itself within the country, but a dialogue about the writing. The attention Christian Bšk got when he won was great to see, and hopefully helped highlight the whole of the art to a broader audience (but who knows). The annual Governor General's Award is pretty cool, but with fourteen categories, poetry often gets lost behind the 'more important' categories such as fiction and non-fiction. Often when we hear the announcements on the radio, poetry and plays and kids literature isn't even mentioned. But the importance of any awards, for sure, less about the individual, I think, and more about the spotlight on the art. A naive look, perhaps.

I think, too, of the example of Vancouver writer Meredith Quartermain, who has had publications appear from Arizona, Florida and the UK, but only now is finally having some real attention given her in Canada, with her first trade collection appearing with Edmonton, Alberta's NeWest Press in spring 2005. It doesn't usually happen that way, where outside gives that much more attention than the inside. I think it's about bloody time, though. I'm very excited to see her book when it appears.

SM: rob, maybe you could talk about your taste in reading various poetries and how this has evolved over the years. What struck you early on in your writing career, and what has since captured your imagination? I'm also interested in your take on what, if anything, might change the situation in which poetry appears to be pursued or enjoyed by a very small number of people.

It was pretty early when I started reading Canadian poetry. I was seventeen when my then-girlfriend gave me the Canadian Poets of the 1960s anthology, which included work by John Newlove, George Bowering and others. Even reading Bowering alone was a great starting point, with his references to so many other writers that would move me off into other directions almost immediately; through him, finding Kroetsch, Marlatt, George Stanley, Barry McKinnon, Sharon Thesen, Colin Browne, Anselm Hollo, Robert Creeley. For years I worked it as a personal study: to try to read as much Canadian poetry as I could get my hands on, so I could get a handle of it, before I moved out into other writings. I spent years trying to read every Canadian poetry book in the University of Ottawa library, the Carleton University library, and the Ottawa Public Library. Early writers that captured my imagination were Margaret Atwood (before 1970), Leonard Cohen, Bowering, Newlove, David Donnell, Patrick Lane (before 1980, but for his 1986 collection, Winter), Gwendolyn MacEwen, Daphne Marlatt, michael dennis, Artie Gold and piles of others. Early readings of George Bowering's poetry (and somehow, it always come back to him) taught me to always keep moving, to keep evolving in my work and never stick to the same kind of poem, so I've worked hard to keep my reading pretty open as well. I tell students now, not only to read and write as much as they can, but read things every so often that they don't agree with. Aesthetically, I mean. I think things would get pretty boring pretty quick if I only read things I knew I was going to love. It would still be fun, but I don't think it would help me evolve in the same ways. One can't get too comfortable, I don't think, in any particular style. As another ex-girlfriend said to me a few years back, once you learn how to do something, move on. At the same token, I've also been working the past nine years or so on fiction, and the past few years on non-fiction, to broaden the scope of my work, going where my interest goes.

For the sake of larger audience, most of my publishing attempts through above/ground press have worked to achieve larger audience, working against the idea that literature, and poetry specifically, can only be an underground gesture. The bulk of it has been through both the individual 'poem' handouts I publish in runs anywhere from 300 to 1,000 copies, and STANZAS
magazine, my chapbook-sized Ôzine for long poems and/or sequences, which has been in a handout edition of 1,000 copies since issue #23 (I'm currently working on issues #41 and #42). With the way writing is taught in schools, very few kids come out of the system with any sense of reading contemporary work as a real activity, let alone as something that exists in a context of other writing. Too many dead white folk from two hundred years ago. Background is essential, certainly, but you can't end up where you've only begun. I'd rather be able to give a poem to someone, and if they still hate poetry, at least the opinion is informed. I've sold books based upon my little handouts, and brought lots of folk into coming to events as well. 'I didn't even know these readings existed,' I've heard folk say, and I think if there were better attempts at outreach, writing would have a much larger audience than it currently does. I don't think it should be left to randomization, hoping beyond hope that someone happens to walk into a bookstore and maybe over to the poetry section to pull something off a shelf. Just over the past few years, the ottawa international writers festival, for example, has probably been the best thing to happen to literature in the city since I moved here, and has brought out whole new audiences that most of us, otherwise, would probably never have access to.

SM: rob, I would appreciate your speaking a bit about collaboration, both between poets/writers and between poets and artists working in other media, how it factors in contemporary poetry. What, if any, effect do you believe will be the effect of collaboration on the art of poetry itself?

Hmmmm. This almost feels like a question I should be asking you, since you've done so many collaborations with others. I've done very few, and most of them haven't even got to the point of actually happening. I did some lovely little poems with Matthew Holmes a year or so ago, a poet who lived in Ottawa for a while, moved to Toronto, but has since moved to the east coast. Of the ones that we did (together in a pub in downtown Toronto near their apartment, over a pitcher of draft), only two were workable (editing later in their apartment, over gin & tonics), and will soon be published as a small chapbook, once he gets his letterpress set up. I like the idea of collaborating on poems, because it essentially removes the individual egos of the writers. It takes out the notion that the work is about either of them, because it isn't. It has to become something other, which I find much more interesting. I think it's the same idea of taking out the 'I' in poems. I've considered for some time that any of my book projects (basically how I consider all of my writing projects) to be a collaboration of sorts between myself and the text. I'm not one of those writers who maps out a whole text before I begin, but start from a certain point, with a vague sense of structure, content, etcetera, in my head, and then simply see where it goes, where it ends up. I forget who said, if I knew everything I was going to write before I wrote it, I probably wouldn't bother. Part of the enjoyment of working on any text is the element of surprise, both for myself and (hopefully) the reader. But who the hell knows.

Some of what is accomplished in collaboration is simply the idea of bringing in other elements to the craft, so it simply doesn't start feeding only on itself. Christopher Dewdney bringing in elements of science, bpNichol working with drawings and even cartoons, or George Bowering writing from a deck of tarot cards. I've noticed, too, that since I started working seriously on fiction, there has been less of a need for my poems to tell stories, which I quite like. The poems are forced to move in another direction, becoming more of what they're supposed to be, I suppose.

But that probably doesn't answer your question.

SM: Apart from any particular examples of collaboration in your own experience, how important do you believe collaboration to be for the future of the arts?

Collaborations between people to get things done? Essential. I mean, if you're talking about funding, or just generally people being nice to each other. Unlike the United States, with all of that private funding through foundations, Canadian culture looks toward government for money to get things done, and there is never enough to go around. Writer and editor John Metcalf says things like no one asked you to do this and without funding, we see who is really doing it for the sake of it, two interesting points that I have a hard time disagreeing with. But on the other hand, we shouldn't have to go through what Biblical Job went through just to prove ourselves as artists. And unlike Lot, there is no great reward at the end. I know I plan to be doing this either way, but I shouldn't have to be treated badly. The City of Ottawa goes through the same thing every few years, with someone claiming that now, with their help, we can have a thriving culture in the capital city. How arrogant. The current mayor did it most recently, just a few years ago, and I have yet to see the result. We've only had the arts going on in Ottawa since the 1850s, for gods sake. I'm tired of politicians trying to get on television as potential helpers. Give us some fucking money.

You've spoken a bit about Canadian poetries in general, and have cited some specific writers who have influenced you or who interest you. Who among contemporary Canadian writers (current or recent) are doing / have done the most important things, and perhaps have the most to teach others worldwide? To what extent has their world reached a worldwide audience? Why or why not?

Good question. This is the one where I'm supposed to cite important examples, eh? It shouldn't be that hard. I mean, look at anything Robin Blaser has been doing, his Coach House Book The Holy Forest (1995) is due to be reprinted, I hear, by an American publisher. Blaser was one of those San Francisco poets with Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, even editing The Collected Books of Jack Spicer (1989), and moved up to Vancouver to teach, I think, in the 1960s. He influenced a lot of what was happening out there, and throughout other parts of the country. The late John Newlove's work should be known more outside the country, and a couple of us are hoping he will be, with the selected/collected we're working on for 2007 publication. Pretty much everyone considered Newlove to be the best lyric poet in Canada from 1962 to 1972, from Atwood to Bowering to Ondaatje. Fingers crossed. Lisa Robertson has been doing some extremely impressive things over the years, and perhaps the most public face of Vancouver's Kootenay School of Writing, and Christian Bšk too, from Toronto's Coach House, although I wish he'd use his powers more for helping get some other names out there. Another poet in Toronto doing absolutely amazing things is Stephen Cain, and in my opinion, possibly doing the most interesting writing of any of my contemporaries. His work makes me jealous. If you like what Christian is doing, seek out Stephen Cain. His third collection is set to appear in spring 2005.

A good group of them have reached worldwide audience, with the help of places such as SUNY-Buffalo, and the resulting list-serve and online presence there. Calgary poet derek beaulieu has been publishing some interesting concrete and visual pieces down there, and has all sorts of connections going on with the writers and publishers floating around Buffalo. Of course, Cain and Bšk and beaulieu learned much from the work of the late Toronto poet bpNichol, who wrote (among other things) the lifelong poem The Martyrology
, considered the most important longpoem in Canada in the second half of the 20th century. Thanks to Coach House Press and Talonbooks, much of his work has either remained in print or has been reissued. An extremely important poet, certainly. Peter Jaegar's work seems to be going places, especially with his collection Eckhart Cars that came out with Salt Publishing in 2004. Salt also did an edition of Douglas Barbour's Fragmenting Body, Etc., which I consider some of Barbour's best writing in decades. I don't think he gets near the right amount of attention in Canada. It's interesting, though, the border seems to make attentions binary; you're either only acknowledged and known within the borders as a poet, or without. Even Salt Publishing is an interesting example, since their distribution extends throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, but not Canada. We are still a very conservative country, and there is a lot of resistance to writing that moves outside of a prescribed boundary. I keep hoping we can get over that.

But Blaser and Nichol are extremely important. You can read them for years and years and keep learning.

© Sheila E. Murphy and rob mclennan 2005