We are sincerely touched by the outpouring of sympathy and understanding that so many people have shown us over the last few days. It is overwhelming that such a diverse group of people all feel strongly about the books that we stock, the place that we create for them, and the way that we champion them. We offer our thanks to each one of you, and have trouble finding words to repay this kindness.
We are, however, in the disappointing position of having had our formal proposal to our landlord rejected. Our proposal to work for her to liquidate our stock was dismissed with the argument that the cost of paying security or a bailiff to observe the process would outweigh the gain. Our proposal did not include security or a bailiff’s presence during the process. Clearly we are not trusted. With no negotiation of our terms of payment available to us we have to accept that the store has no future at this location. This might seem anti-climactic, and some of our supporters may feel that there must be something else that we can do. We ask for your trust that we have, for some time now, considered all the options, and have had the support of a lawyer in formalizing them. Our only hope is to imagine that the store may reemerge in the long-term. At this point a fundraiser could only be a Pyrrhic victory. We encourage all those who have shown such enthusiasm for the store to consider helping us and stores of our kind but in the future.
While we are open to suggestions, we are hoping that our own unfortunate case might offer others the opportunity to seriously consider the factors which combine to make creating and running a bookstore such a challenge in North America. Predatory pricing of Amazon, inflated rents in urban centers, remaindering of excessive print-runs demanded by big-box stores and corporate publishing have had a devastating effect on smaller entrepreneurs. We are still of the feeling that without big changes the best and most satisfying way to support indies is to explore the stores in your city, browse their selection, trust your own curiosity, and buy gift certificates if nothing suits you.
We cannot help but feel guilty for disappointing everyone who has demonstrated their hope that we might resolve our difficulties in the short term. We invite anyone who might feel that we have breached their trust in this respect to contact us at email@example.com
Jesse & Charlie Huisken
Our situation, which could be told as a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities, is really quite a simple one. At our new location in Kensington Market we found a space with lower rent and overheads which thus represented an enticing solution to the difficulty of inflated rents facing many stores of our kind. For a year we worked in this space happily, until the recession hit with full force and we began to fall behind with our rent. Our response to this situation was similar to that of any small retail business. We bought shrewdly, held regular events, did book tables for small press launches, conferences and author appearances, did not invest in advertising, fixtures, signage or renovations, kept only minimal staff (the store has one part-time staff person), and most importantly worked full-time or more with long store hours, while drawing the absolute minimum for our own rent and expenses. In this way we were able, albeit very gradually, to pay our back-rent, and maintain an amicable relationship with out landlord. While the space presented a number of challenges, including our basement flooding whenever there was heavy rain, and though we heard many stories of rent reductions in our own neighborhood we were not offered this option, but continued none-the-less to enjoy working at the store and feel inspired by our customers’ enthusiasm for the books that we were selling. Quite suddenly this changed. Our landlord became impatient with the rate at which we were able to pay her and made demands for large repayments, without providing a precise accounting of what was owing. In light of our workload and the proliferation of other causes in this city, a fundraiser remained only an idea. Instead we responded to these unrealistic demands with an informal proposal which would not have been profitable to us, but to our landlord. We received only further demands which we attempted to meet within our resources until the locks were changed on Friday June 19th. We are once again offering our landlord a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner.
Jesse & Charlie Huisken
We are happy to announce that we have partnered with Ugly Duckling Presse, famous for their exemplary book design (often with letter pressed covers) and savvy poetry in translation, and now carry most of their recent titles along with their chapbooks, formerly unavailable in Canada. In addition we are carrying UDP’s tote bags and “Zaum as a Second Language” t-shirts, and their “paperless book”, which is a non-digital paperless book (you have to see it). Here are a few of their most exciting titles:
5 Meters of Poems by Carlos Oquendo de Amat. Originally published in 1927 this is a expressionist pre-concrete-poetry bi-lingual accordion book folding out to five meters.
A beautiful chapbook with two colour letter pressed card covers, City: Bolshevik Superpoem in 5 Cantos by Manuel Maples Arce’s 1924 poem of the Mexican revolution and its disappointments.
The Made-Up Interviews with Imaginary Artists, edited by Alex Stein, dialogues with Pat Ament, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Peter Grandbois with an erudition and wit that would make Hans-Ulrich Obrist jealous.
The English version of Fanailova’s The Russian Version spans twenty years of poetry from this little known Russian great.
Brownfields is a card folder containing small captioned colour photographs of various industrial and other sites now deemed to be uninhabitable. Held closed in a band of caution tape, this is a work of conceptual photography somewhere between Ed Ruscha and Ed Burtynsky.
Visit the store to check out our complete selection, or browse the full catalog on Ugly Duckling Presse’s website.
Friday, April 30, 2010 9pm – In store, and FREE.
Come out for an intimate night of readings as AMBER DAWN travels from Vancouver to launch her debut novel Sub Rosa (Arsenal Pulp Press) — a speculative fiction narrative about an underground society of ghosts and magicians, missing girls and amnesiatic sweethearts: a place called Sub Rosa… happening on Friday, April 30, 2010 at 9 p.m.
DEBRA ANDERSON will also read from a work-in-progress and share some Toronto love.
“Amber Dawn’s Sub Rosa is a masterpiece of imagination. It’s haunting, chilling at points and then just so sweet. Her writing is stealthy and seductive, wise and witty and clever. Lock Mary Gaitskill in a closet with Francesca Lia Block and they might emerge with a map to Sub Rosa: a glorious mystery that creeps you out and then totally enchants.”
—Michelle Tea, author of Valencia and Rose of No Man’s Land
AMBER DAWN is a writer, filmmaker and performance artist based in Vancouver. She is the editor of Fist of the Spider Woman (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008) and co-editor of With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2005). Her award-winning, genderfuck docu-porn, Girl on Girl, has been screened in eight countries and added to the gender studies curriculum at Concordia University. She has toured three times with the infamous Sex Workers’ Art Show in the US. She was voted Xtra! West’s Hero of the Year in 2008. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Currently, she is the director of programming for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Sub Rosa is her first novel.
DEBRA ANDERSON is the winner of the Dayne Ogilvie Grant (2009), a grant awarded to an emerging gay Canadian writer for a body of work. Debra’s writing has been anthologized in Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity, Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws, and Bent: On Writing. She recently read at Word on the Street (2009), facilitated a Creative Writing Workshop at Word on the Street (2007) and in 2007 was the guest author at Pink Ink, a SOY Writing Group for queer/trans youth. Code White (McGilligan Books) is her first novel, which Herizons Magazine described as “…a book that meets your eye, has a good handshake, and looks killer in a pair of fishnets.” For more info visit www.debraanderson.ca or join her on Facebook.
There are a number of interesting music books in stock this season, and here are a few of the highlights:
Harry Smith, the Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular, a collection of essays including Greil Marcus, P. Adams Sitney, Thomas Crow and others, and edited by Andrew Perchuk. Fully illustrated in color and black and white this books covers Smith’s whole range of interests. Another compilation evocative of a similar moment in history is The San Francisco Tape Music Center: 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, edited by David W. Bernstein, also illustrated in colour, and including a DVD.
Patti Smith’s Just Kids, remains one of our bestsellers. We are excited to see that the long overlooked Manchester band Magazine finally has a band biography devoted to it. Continuing in the vein of punk historiography is Sober Living for the Revolution, Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge and Radical Politics, edited by Gabriel Kuhn.
The most recent title we’ve received from the Futurepoem imprint is Poems of the Black Object, by Ronaldo V. Wilson, of which Wayne Koestenbaum had this to say: ‘I applaud Ronaldo Wilson’s path breaking movement into what has never, in history, been said’. Two new impossible to classify concept/poetry books from Canadian authors now grace our shelves, Jonathan Ball’s Ex Machina, and Gregory Betts’ The Others Raisd in Me. Where Shadows Will, the selected poems of Norma Cole is No. 1 in the new City Lights Spotlight series. Swedish poet Aase Berg’s With Deer appears in English with the following accolades ‘Think of Hansel and Gretel on acid’ – Dodie Bellamy, and ‘Long suppressed scenes of deliberate, feral ritual and the thrill of animal submission are herein joyfully revealed’- Michael Gira (of The Swans, Body Lovers, Angel’s of Light, etc.). And Tom Clark’s The New World has just arrived.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 8pm – In store and FREE
This booklaunch will be accompanied by a slide show prepared by Laura Jones and the family of the late John Franklin Phillips. Laura and John founded the Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography in the late 60s in Toronto. John assisted Cabbagetown film-maker Clay Borris as cinematographer for “The Paper Boy” and “Rose’s House.” Clay Borris, Laura Jones and Bennett, Laura and John’s son will be in attendance at this combination booklaunch / photo retrospective. A series of photos taken by Clay of The Woodstock Festival of 1969 will be shown.
“Woodstock Rising,” a novel by Tom Wayman:
It’s late 1969 and Communist China has successfully launched its first satellite. Inspired by this feat, a group of college students in Laguna Beach, California, set out to put their own satellite into orbit in homage to the recent Woodstock Festival. A young Canadian graduate student at the University of California finds himself at the centre of the mayhem when he and his friends break into a mothballed missile silo and commandeer everything they need, including a nuclear warhead, to blast the Woodstock Nation into the space age. The activists have big plans for their loot, schemes that may well culminate in the Light Show to End All Light Shows in the Nevada desert.
An extraordinary black comedy shot full of the social and political issues of the time, Woodstock Rising is a coming-of-age tale couched in free love, rock anthems, and revolution as well as a chronicle of an era whose causes continue to speak to us.
Tom Wayman was born in Ontario in 1945, but has spent most of his life in British Columbia. He has worked at a number of jobs, both blue and white-collar, across Canada and the U.S., and has helped bring into being a new movement of poetry in these countries – the incorporation of the actual conditions and effects of work. He received his MFA in English and writing at the University of California in Irvine has been awarded the Canadian Authors’ Association medal for poetry, the A.J.M. Smith Prize for distinguished achievement in Canadian poetry and first prize in the USA Bicentennial Poetry Awards competition. His poetry has been published in literary magazines across the world, including The Paris Review, Saturday Night, The Hudson Review and Canadian Forum. He currently teaches at the University of Calgary and remains Squire of “Appledore,” his estate in the Selkirk Mountains of southeastern B. C.
Donations may still be made to honour the legacy of John Franklin Phillips to the War Resisters Support Campaign:
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – 8pm, event takes place in store and is FREE
Sparrow created quite a stir in 1995 when he picketed The New Yorker magazine, holding a placard reading, “My Poetry is as bad as yours.” His poetry has since appeared in that magazine as well as The Quarterly, The New York Times and other erudite journals.
“One of the funniest men in Manhattan… Over and above everything else, Sparrow offers something to believe in.”
—Robert Christgau, The Village Voice
“America: A Prophecy” ranges from a hilarious spiritual guide to New York City–written after Sparrow tried meditating at a dozen high-traffic landmarks–to the scientific and religious significance of the sky, Sparrow’s unique blend of wit and wisdom gives readers a whole new way of seeing our country at the crossroads. The author of Republican Like Me, Sparrow challenged Bob Dole for the presidential nomination in 1996 and, remarkably, lost. America: A Prophecy is his follow up, a fantastical look at a country in flux by a mischievous poet and iconoclastic comedian.
Written over a period of several years,”Yes, You Are a Revolutionary!” is a collection of six works by the renowned street poet Sparrow. He reveals how to be a happy revolutionary, offers haunting poems on the underside of the class struggle, and includes tonal pieces celebrating adolescence. In addition to the title piece, the book includes “Dinosaur Haiku,” “Cooking with Ice,” “Marxist Rhythms,” “Jealous Cops,” and “Morning Poems.”
“A cult hero…Look for this pocket-sized volume to turn up in the back of SUVs as often as at Washington Mall protests.”
—Publishers Weekly on “Yes, You Are a Revolutionary!”
Peter Dubé is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and cultural critic. He is the author of the chapbook “Vortex Faction Manifesto” (Vortex Editions, 2001), the novel “Hovering World” (DC Books 2002) and “At the Bottom of the Sky,” a collection of linked short stories (DC Books, 2007). He is also the editor of the anthology “Madder Love: Queer Men and The Precincts of Surrealism” (Rebel Satori Press, 2008).
His fiction — informed by surrealism, queer and “popular” cultures, as well as a whole host of heretical and apocalyptic visions — deploys dense verbal surfaces to investigate the narrative construction of experience, particularly at the points where imagination, desire and the body politic intersect. In other words, his writing is often weird, sweaty and lush.
In addition to his fictional work, his essays and critical writings have been widely published in journals such as CV Photo, ESSE, Hour and Ashé, and in exhibition publications for various galleries, among them SKOL, Occurrence, Quartier Éphémère and the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery of Concordia University.
Steve Venright is the author of several books of poetry including “Floors of Enduring Beauty” (Mansfield Press). As well as being an author, Steve Venright is a visual and sound artist whose Torpor Vigil Industries record label has released such remarkable cds as “Songs of Elsewhere” by Samuel Andreyev and an album of spoken dreams called “The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor.” He was born in Sarnia in 1961 and now resides in a large consensual reality domain called Toronto, Ontario.
Several of our most popular titles are back in stock: The Collected Fanzines of Harmony Korine, full reproductions in black and white of the film maker’s juvenalia; briefly unavailable The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis is back in stock; The Rider an autobiographical account of a single bicycle race from Dutch novelist Tim Krabbé; and the most recent Massey Lecture, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters In The Modern World,, by Wade Davis.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
8:00pm – 11:00pm – In store – FREE
In Celebration of “The False Laws of Narrative: The Poetry of Fred Wah” and Camille Martin’s “Sonnets”
In her second book of poetry, Camille Martin breathes fresh life into the sonnet in a collection that is at once edgy and lyrical. The word “sonnet” comes from “song,” and the musicality of Sonnets is not surprising, given Martin’s background as a classical musician.
These poems demonstrate a virtuosic range of approaches and themes; some are inspired by texts as disparate as nursery rhymes, theories of cognitive science, a history of street names, and her own dream journals. The chorus of voices in this collection sing confidently and fluently, proving the sonnet to be an ideal vehicle for Martin’s love affair with language.
Camille Martin’s Sonnets bring the old form into the 21st century. In some ways, they are almost traditional; the speaker addresses a not-so-well beloved, a figure who occupies a “fraudulent elsewhere,” an elusive lover or, more likely, another version of the poet herself. Identity theft is an issue here where we find ourselves “comatose in paradise but happy happy/feet! is this where I want to go? thrust/into an age unfavourable to being/a guest in one’s own home?” In these taut, fast-paced, self-aware poems, the lyric meets 21st century paranoia and sparks fly.
“The False Laws of Narrative” is a selection of Fred Wah’s poems covering the poets entire poetic trajectory to date. A founding editor of “Tish” magazine, Wah was influenced by leading progressive and innovative poets of the 1960s and was at the forefront of the exploration of racial hybridity, multiculturalism, and transnational family roots in poetry. The selection emphasizes his innovative poetic range.
Wah is renowned as one of Canada’s finest and most complex lyric poets and has been lauded for the musicality of his verse. Louis Cabri’s introduction offers a paradigm for thinking about how sound is actually structured in Wah’s improvisatory poetry and offers fresh insights into Wah’s context and writing. In an afterword by the poet himself, Wah presents a dialogue between editor and poet on the key themes of the selected poems and reveals his abiding concerns as poet and thinker.
Fred Wah has been involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as “Open Letter” and “West Coast Line.” Recent books are the biofiction “Diamond Gril”l (1996), “Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity” (2000), a collection of essays, and “Sentenced to Light” (2008), a collection of poetic image/text projects. He splits his time between the Kootenays in southeastern B.C. and Vancouver.
Camille Martin, a Toronto poet and collage artist, is the author of “Codes of Public Sleep” (Toronto: BookThug, 2007). She was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, and spent her childhood in Lafayette, Louisiana. A classical musician from an early age, she earned graduate degrees in both music and English literature. After residing in New Orleans for fourteen years, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 she moved to Toronto, where she teaches writing and literature at Ryerson University.
Jim Smith is the author of “Back Off, Assassin! New and Selected Poems” recently published by Mansfield Press. Smith moved from his birthplace, Niagara Falls, to Kingston in 1952. He started writing seriously in Grade 8 in 1963. His first published story earned him $5 from “West Coast Review” in 1972. His magazine, “The Front,” lasted from about 1972 to 1980, and the spinoff Front Press published books and pamphlets in the ’80s by writers like David McFadden, bpNichol, Wayne Clifford and Stuart Ross. Between 1979 and 1998, Smith published about half a dozen books of poetry, plus a number of chapbooks and ephemera. In the mid-’90s he diverted himself to law, and has been a civil litigator for the last decade. He continues to live and write in Toronto.