Readings by Fred Wah, Camille Martin, Jim Smith
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.