Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

spotlight gallery: The Poets

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Ladies and Gentlemen, it is our pleasure to present The Poets.

These photographs were taken during April — National Poetry Month — and what a fierce month that was. Stormy skies, wind and the constant threat of rain provided quite the backdrop to the photo shoots.

Each of the featured poets has a new book out this spring — seek out these collections and get to know your local poetry. Ontario is home to a legendary poetry scene, with a rich history and incredibly vibrant present, and for this, we are so lucky. You may also want to explore Open Book’s Poets in Profile series, as most excellent complementary reading to this gallery.

Check out our previous Spotlight galleries: The Editors and The Rabble-rousers. All Spotlight portraits are created and photographed by one of our favourite Toronto photographers, Anna Ross. To see more of her amazing work, please take a look here.

The Poets

Open Book Magazine

Gabe Foreman

We love the title of Gabe Foreman’s collection, published this spring by Coach House Books: A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People. Gabe was born in Thunder Bay. He has worked as a tree planter in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, and he is a co-founder of littlefishcartpress. Prior to his book’s publication, his writing placed second in CV2’s two-day poem contest, was shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Grain, Fiddlehead and Event. Currently, he lives in Montreal, where he manages the soup kitchen at a long-established mission.

Coach House Books on A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People: People who rely on stereotypes are often vilified. But really, is there a better way to classify people? There are some taxonimical difficulties, though. Exactly how many types of people are there? What behaviours are characteristic of each particular group? How do you know if you’ve spotted an armchair psychologist or a kleptomaniac? ‘Bridesmaids,’ ‘Day Traders,’ ‘Entomologists’ and ‘Number Crunchers’ are all dutifully catalogued in a series of luminously strange, compellingly original lyric and prose poems.

Photographed in the little hidden gem of Percy Park on April 28, 2011, before he caught the train back to Montreal. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Suzanne Robertson

Suzanne Robertson was born in Perth, Ontario. She is a writer and photographer living in Toronto where she also works at the Children’s Aid Society. Suzanne is a member of PEN Canada and Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography. Paramita, Little Black, published by Guernica Editions, is her first collection of poetry.

Guernica Editions on Paramita, Little Black: In her first collection of poems, Suzanne Robertson meditates on the nature of intimacy; the connective tissue that binds stranger to stranger, human to animal, soul to landscape, heart to mind. Inspired by the Buddhist paramitas – actions that spark a spiritual sojourn, the poems attempt to both transcend and stay grounded in a conventional universe. Paramita, Little Black explores acts of transformation; documenting a journey to live and love authentically amidst the transient anatomy of our twenty-first century lives.

Photographed on April 28, 2011, in Percy Park. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Dane Swan

Born and raised in Bermuda to a Bermudian father and Jamaican mother, for Dane Swan, visiting family involved trips to small villages in Jamaica like Yallas and Land’s End, or to New York communities like Crown Heights in Brooklyn. The great storytellers he heard in these communities were his only literary professors. At 17, Dane moved to Canada with his brother to further their education. Dane’s poetry can be found on CD, 12” Vinyl, MP3, in anthologies and in poetry reviews.
Bending the Continuum, published by Guernica Editions, is his first full-length collection of poetry in print.

Guernica Editions on Bending the Continuum: The poems in Bending the Continuum are slave to no genre. Science-fiction, alternative realities, and time are fluid. Form, voice and space in this collection borrow from multiple canons. Dane’s first book is equal parts Can-lit, Harlem Renaissance, the Caribbean oral tradition known as Griotism, Roddenberry, hip-hop and dark-humour.

Photographed on April 28, 2011, in Percy Park. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Desi Di Nardo

Desi Di Nardo poetry has been featured in "Poetry on the Way" by the Toronto Transit Commission and in the Parliamentary Poet Laureate's "Poems of the Week." It was also performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for International Women's Day, and it has been published in numerous anthologies and journals. Her first book of poetry, The Plural of Some Things, was published by in 2008 and her new collection, also with Guernica Editions, is The Cure Is a Forest.

Guernica Editions on The Cure Is a Forest: This collection probes the various processes of growth and transformation among all living things in deep ecology. An element of animism permeates throughout the poems, which are set in and against the backdrop of Canada’s ecotones, greenwoods, and lakes. The Cure Is a Forest is an odyssey or escape from the city and industry into both the past and the possible.

Photographed on April 28, 2011, in Percy Park. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Desi Di Nardo, Suzanne Robertson and Dane Swan

Photographed on April 28, 2011, in Percy Park.

Photograph by Anna Ross.

Kildare Dobbs

Kildare Dobbs has led such an interesting life. He is an award-winning writer and poet who has lived the world over. Born in 1923, in India, Dobbs was raised in Ireland, and educated in Dublin, Cambridge and London. After serving in the Royal Navy during World War II and in East Africa, Dobbs finally migrated to Canada in 1952 and worked in journalism and publishing. He worked as a broadcaster for thirty years and in 1962, he won the Governor General’s Literary Award for his autobiography, Running to Paradise. Since then he has published various collections of short stories, novellas and poetry. His latest collection is the highly-praised Casanova in Venice, published by Ontario’s The Porcupine’s Quill.

The Porcupine’s Quill on Casanova in Venice: Here is a twenty-first century riposte to Lord Byron’s Don Juan. Casanova in Venice leads the reader on a fast-paced, deliriously raunchy journey in pursuit of that infamous lover and liar, Casanova...the narrator of Casanova in Venice has a mind of his own and a decidedly modern agenda in this particular re-telling: from complaints about the excessive sanitation of women today, to opinions on the Big Bang Theory, the lively banter between narrator, audience and Casanova himself turns this mock-heroic epic into an equally thoughtful commentary on modern life.

Photographed in the early evening at Ben McNally Books on Bay Street, right before his spring launch on April 26, 2011. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Daniel Karasik & Jason Rotstein

Daniel Karasik’s latest poetry appears in Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, published this spring by Cormorant Books. Daniel was born in Toronto in 1986 and grew up in the suburbs north of the city. He began writing poetry in high school, probably as a result of reading poets like Alden Nowlan, Anne Carson and Rainer Maria Rilke, and thinking they were on to something. In his first year at the University of Toronto, he had the opportunity to study with poet A.F. Moritz, a particularly rewarding experience. Since his mid-teens Daniel has spent much time working in professional theatre and in the film and television industry, as a writer and an actor. His play In Full Light (Playwrights Canada Press) has been presented in Toronto, New York and Potsdam, Germany (in German translation). In 2006 Daniel travelled extensively through West Africa and Israel, volunteering at a cultural centre in the east of Ghana, studying at a yeshiva in Jerusalem, and doing other, less purposeful things. Daniel has frequently if inconsistently been a student at the University of Toronto, studying philosophy and literature.

Jason Ranon Uri Rotstein’s latest poetry appears in Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, published this spring by Cormorant Books. He began writing poetry as the proper prerequisite for writing fiction; it has since become a lifelong pursuit. Born in Buffalo in 1984 and raised in Toronto, Jason has spent significant time abroad, including work as a Commonwealth Scholar in England and as a Visiting US-Fulbright/Icelandic Government Scholar at the University of Iceland. His first published poems appeared in the Literary Review of Canada and PN Review (UK). He is the Poetry Editor of the Jewish Quarterly and Associate Editor for Kilimanjaro: Creative Art and Design.

Cormorant Books on Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry: This book is an introduction to the work of eleven poets who have not yet published full collections of their own, but whose poems have been making their way into print in Canada and abroad. The poems have been hand-picked by editor Robyn Sarah both for their qualities as individual poems and for the ensemble they create. The contributors’ ages span five decades, bringing to bear the perspectives and concerns of different life stages. This is not the latest crop of MFA’s in Creative Writing, but a foraged gathering of eleven strongly individual poets coming from different regions, different backgrounds, and different walks of life. What they have in common is their uncommon ability to explore our shared human condition in words that resonate.

Photographed on April 28, 2011, in Percy Park.
Photograph by Anna Ross.

Maureen Hynes

Maureen Hynes’s most recent book is Marrow, Willow, a spring 2011 title from Pedlar Press. Rough Skin (Wolsak and Wynn), won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry. Her second book, Harm’s Way (Brick Books), appeared in 2001. She also co-edited, with Ingrid MacDonald, we make the air: The Poetry of Lina Chartrand.

Maureen is a past winner of the Petra Kenney Poetry Award (London, England); her work has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and appears in Best Canadian Poetry 2010. Her poems have appeared in almost twenty anthologies and textbooks, and her work has been published in dozens of literary journals in Canada and abroad. Maureen is poetry editor for Our Times magazine.

Pedlar Press on Marrow, Willow: Covering and uncovering, exposure and enclosure: these are themes that permeate Maureen Hynes’s new work. The collection is different in tone from her previous collections: a more hopeful and open work, delighting in the joys of mid-life love. Yet she also holds up sacred cows to critical scrutiny, writing right into perilous silence and mystery, making Marrow, Willow a celebration of complexity and human quandary. Hynes’s poems retain a strong personal voice that integrates experience, emotion and observation, deeply rooted in daily life. In the way that all good poetry takes the time to reveal layers of reality often overlooked, Hynes’s fine, thoughtful and deeply textured poems surprise and satisfy.

Photographed on April 21, 2011, next to the Don River, under the Queen Street Viaduct, right before she flew off to Paris.
Photograph by Anna Ross.

Brian Henderson

Brian Henderson is the renowned author of ten volumes of poetry, including a deck of visual poem-cards, The Alphamiricon, and Nerve Language, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, and about which the jury wrote, “Terrifying and beautiful, the language in this book is an incendiary crossing of wires. These poems are as likely to break you open as they are to explode.”

He holds a PhD in Canadian Literature, is currently the director of Wilfrid Laurier University Press and he lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with his wife, Charlene Winger. Brian’s newest work is the eagerly awaited Sharawadji, published this spring by Brick Books.

Brick Books on Sharawadji: Brian Henderson has established himself as a poet who brilliantly makes us aware of language as an instrument of discovery. In his work we realize, over and over again, that each of the mind’s worlds speaks a secret language, which it is the poet’s task to discover and translate. In Sharawadji, this includes not only such worlds as those created by the surreal paintings of Jacek Yerka, but the intense, re-humanizing experience of loss and grief.

Photographed on Philosopher's Walk on the afternoon of April 15, 2011. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Jonathan Bennett

Born in Vancouver, raised in Sydney, Australia, a Torontonian for a while, Jonathan Bennett now lives in one of the most beautiful Ontario villages we have ever seen, just outside of Peterborough. His latest poetry collection is Civil and Civic, a misFit book published by ECW Press. Jonathan is the author of four previous books including the buzzed-about novels, Entitlement and After Battersea Park; a much-lauded short story collection, Verandah People; and his acclaimed poetry debut, Here is my street, this tree I planted.

ECW Press on Civil and Civic: The poems of Jonathan Bennett’s second collection, Civil and Civic, probe for present meanings of civility and civic mindedness, search for boundaries between private and public realms, and question the sprawling and often unintended effects of transparency and obligation. Medicine, the military, science, public relations, social justice, media, business, and the environmental movement are just some of the worlds these poems inhabit.

Photographed in St. James Park on April 19, 2011. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Helen Guri

Helen Guri's first collection, Match, came out this spring with Toronto’s Coach House Books. A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Creative Writing program, she has taught writing at Humber College and her work has appeared in a roster of esteemed Canadian journals, including Arc, Descant, Event, Fiddlehead and Grain.

Coach House Books on Match: Robert Brand has given up on real women. Relationships just haven’t ever worked out well for him. He has, however, found a (somewhat problematic) solution, a new feminine ideal: the 110-pound sex doll he ordered over the internet. Showing an uncanny access to the voice of the rejected, unimpressive, emotionally challenged modern male, Helen Guri’s debut collection explores Robert’s transition from lost and lonely to loved. Equal parts love story, social parody and radiant display of lyrical gymnastics, Match announces the arrival of a daring, forthright and stubbornly original new talent.

Photographed in St. James Park on April 19, 2011. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Stan Rogal

Stan Rogal was born in Vancouver and moved to Toronto in 1987. He is the author of fifteen books of fiction and poetry, and his plays have been produced across Canada. He was co-creator of Bald Ego Theatre, artistic director of Bulletproof Theatre and on the lit scene, he ran the legendary Idler Pub Reading Series for ten years. His 2011 collection is an amazing retrospective of his poetry work, Dance, Monster: Fifty Selected Poems!, published by Insomniac Press.

Insomniac Press on Dance, Monster!: Drawing from a variety of sources including folksong, philosophy, linguistics, chaos theory, theatre and sexuality, Stan Rogal's poetry is a rollicking and adroit expression of the world in flux. This selection gathers together fifty of Rogal's best poems from the last thirty years; it is sure to delight long-time fans and new readers alike.

Photographed in St. James Park on April 19, 2011. Photograph by Anna Ross.

Jonathan Bennett, Helen Guri & Stan Rogal

Photographed in St. James Park on April 19, 2011.

Photograph by Anna Ross.

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