Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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I've already mentioned how poets are often naturally attracted to alternative methods of publishing and distribution -- things like boutique printing and small press publishing -- and this is certainly true for local poets Elisabeth de Mariaffi and Carey Toane. This spring, they will be launching a new project called Toronto Poetry Vendors, a small, inexpensive broadside press that will distribute its wares using refurbished vending machines. I first became aware of TPV when they asked me to submit a poem for the project. It seems like a fun new way to put poems in the hands of readers, so I was eager to get on board. I've asked Elisabeth de Mariaffi to tell Open Book Toronto readers more about the project.

PAUL VERMEERSCH: What exactly is this project about? Where did you get the idea, and who is involved in organizing it?

ELISABETH DE MARIAFFI: Toronto Poetry Vendors is a brand-new small press run by me and my partner, the lovely and brilliant Carey Toane. The vending machines will be stocked with broadsides of Toronto poets' work, selling for $2 a pop.

Carey and I were discussing similar projects in other cities---there's a nice, vintage poetry machine making the rounds in L.A., and in Montreal there's Distroboto, a whole network of art-vending former cigarette machines. The more we read about them, the more we wanted some machines of our own. I think the machine provides a little novelty to the broadside business, and broadsides are just a fantastic way to get a taste of a poet's work.

PV: How many vending machines will be used? Where will they be located, and how were the locations chosen?

EDM: Right now we've got two stationary machines that are almost ready to roll. One of them will be parked at This Ain't the Rosedale Library in Kensington and the other one at a for-now-undisclosed-location, likely another bookstore. I think we'd really like to eventually get machines into other venues as well, coffee houses or bars that commonly host readings, for instance. We've also acquired a traveling machine that will get to go on tour: literary festivals, small press markets and the like.

PV: What kind of vending machines are these and where did they come from?

EDM: Our stationary machines used to sell gum: you can imagine how much happier they'll be now. They are fairly compact and hang on the wall. The traveling machine is a larger, table-top unit that used to sell candy bars and other snacks.

PV: How many different poems will be available in the machines? Are they all by different poets?

Ten poets are packed into each machine, so ten different poems will be available for purchase. The broadsides are colour-coded. You know, like LifeSavers.

PV: Can you select which poem you get from the machine, or is it random?

EDM: Purchases from the stationary machines will be random, the way you don't know what colour of gumball you're going to get for your quarter. We haven't worked out the details on the traveling machine yet, so a buyer may be able to select poems by poet, I'm not sure. The traveling machine will also likely house small packs of poems.

PV: Which poets are involved in the inaugural season?

EDM: Our first season launches toward the end of April, and includes Kevin Connolly, Dani Couture, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Andrew Faulkner, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Stuart Ross, Jenny Sampirisi, Meaghan Strimas, Carey Toane and you: Paul Vermeersch.

PV: Is there anything you'd like to add? Will there be a launch party, for instance?

EDM: There will definitely be a launch party for each machine! Dates and deets to be announced. The traveling machine will get its debut at the Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market at Clinton's on June 5. We also plan to get a Facebook page up and running by the beginning of April, so lots of information will be available there, as well....

Elisabeth de Mariaffi holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph. Her poetry and fiction has been published in journals such as the Antigonish Review, CV2, Descant, Prairie Fire, PRISM, The New Quarterly and the Fiddlehead. She lives in Toronto.

Carey Toane is a poet, editor and journalist. Her writing has appeared widely in national and international publications including Chatelaine, the National Post, Toronto Life, and The Walrus. She lives in Toronto, where she runs the Pivot at the Press Club reading series.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Paul Vermeersch

Paul Vermeersch is the author of The Reinvention of the Human Hand (McClelland & Stewart, 2010) and three other collections of poetry. He is also the editor of The I.V. Lounge Reader and The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology.

Go to Paul Vermeersch’s Author Page