Arc Poetry Magazine

Episode 54: Interview with Monty Reid, director of VERSeFest

The Small Machine Talks with a.m kozak and Amanda Earl

Monty Reid was born in Saskatchewan, worked for many years in Alberta, and now lives in Ottawa. His books include Garden (Chaudiere), The Luskville Reductions (Brick), and CrawlSpace(Anansi). Recent chapbooks include the nipple variations (postghost press), Seam (above/ground) and Site Conditions (Apt. 9). He has won Alberta’s Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry on three occasions, the Lampman Award, National Magazine Awards, and is a three-time nominee for the Governor General’s Award. He was one of the founders of the Writers Guild of Alberta and was for many years the Managing Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine.  He is currently the Director of VerseFest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival. Photo taken by Grant Savage.

We talk about the origins of the festival with former director, Rod Pederson, the role of the artistic director and the way in which VERSeFEST works with the city’s various literary organizations taking part.

We discuss companion activities such as Laureate City, which brings together poets laureate from across Canada to celebrate Ottawa getting a poet laureate program again, and has taken place in Ottawa for its first two years, and the possibility of a video poem festival sometime in the future.

We learn about some of the poets who will be participating in at the festival this year, which will take place from March 24 to 29, 2020 and include 80 poets from all over the world. Some of the poets will be Adele Barclay, Gwen Benaway, Canisia Lubrin, Karen Solie, Robin Richardson, Kaie Kellough, Monica Rink, and more.

Monty talks about the need to have a diverse festival that includes BIPOC and francophone poets. He mentions some of his fondest memories, including Lenelle Moise, Mary Ruefle’s demonstration of how to fold a fitted sheet. Amanda remembers a spoken word duo from BC, the 2 Dope Boys.

Monty explains that the whole festival is run by volunteers. They work with the Ottawa International Writers Festival, there’s a new program with Carleton University and their poetry from prisons initiative. Amanda talks about her favourite aspects, the talks from the Factory Reading Series, the panel on translation.

We discuss Monty’s acoustic trio band, Call Me Katie, and also his gardening.

In the future VERSeFest will be doing more collaborations. It has some with the Library of Congress, the Festival de Poésie in Trois Rivières, there are collaborations planned with the Edmonton Poetry Festival, the idea being to have a circuit for poets who travel from one festival to another, which is especially important for poets travelling from overseas.

Amanda mentions the bookseller Perfect Books, and the great selection of books at the festival. Monty also mentions the indie table for chapbooks and ephemeral material, and French books from Coin du Livre.

Monty talks about additional things at the festival such as a concrete poetry exhibit that happened last year, and musical acts.

Go to to pick up passes and tickets and find out about the upcoming festival.

We asked Monty about his own poetry. He’s working on two manuscripts, one on our surveillance society, the other on the parasites that live in our bodies.

Amanda asked Monty about his gardening. He has acquired a small greenhouse. Aaron asks about the relationship between poets and gardening. Monty suggests the relationship may be hope.

Amanda mentions Arial Gordon’s book, Treed: Amanda wishes she would read at the Arboretum.

Thanks to Monty Reid for being our guest on the Small Machine Talks, and thanks to you, for listening.

Please share our episodes with fellow poetry fans. Next episode will be sometime in February, all being well.

Episode 47: Interview with Anita Dolman and James K. Moran

Poet, editor and writer Anita Dolman is the author of Lost Enough: A collection of short stories (Morning Rain Publishing, 2017), and co-editor of Motherhood in Precarious Times (Demeter Press, 2018), an international anthology of poetry and non-fiction. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, including Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, Canadian Ginger, Hamilton Arts & Letters, Arc Poetry Magazine, On Spec, Grain, PRISM international, The Antigonish Review, and Triangulation: Lost Voices. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, and was a finalist for the 2015 Alberta Magazine Award for fiction. Dolman is a contributing editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, and was interim Arts editor for This Magazine’s upcoming September issue.

Ottawa author James K. Moran’s speculative fiction and poetry have appeared in Canadian, American and British publications including Icarus, On Spec and Glitterwolf. His poetry recently appeared in Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) and Bywords,ca. Moran’s articles have appeared via CBC Radio, Daily Xtra and Rue Morgue. 

In 2012, he founded the Little Workshop of Horrors, an Ottawa-based writers’ group that carves speculative and literary work into the shape it is meant to be. Moran also runs Queer Speculations, a writers’ group that workshops queer-themed stories from far and wide. Town & Train (Lethe Press, 2014) is Moran’s debut horror novel. He blogs at Right now, he is likely at work, editing his second horror novel.

We talk about James and Anita’s first meeting, their relationship to each other’s writing and how it has evolved over the years, balance between writing, making money and child raising, the benefits of both being writers, dealing with rejections, procrastination, the writing life, doing readings together,  the arbitrary labelling of genre vs. literature, being open to genre, writing speculative fiction, featuring at writers’ conferences, ego. I ask for advice for other couples who are writers and James suggests it’s best to know each other as writers first, the importance of being honest with one another and not taking criticism personally. Anita talks about the competition for writers due to the grant system, the scarcity model of industries like writing.

We talk about books and reading, mutual and different interests. We talk about how their son relates to them as writers and about his love of reading and the books James and Anita passed on to him because of their own love for the books when they were his age.

I ask whether either one of them write speculative stuff into their poetry. I ask about their current projects.


Confluence –

Dorothea Brande – Becoming A Writer

Arc Poetry Magazine:

World of Tea

Amber Dawn

The Word Balloon Podcast

Cornwall & Area Pop Event

Thanks to Anita and James, to Charles for processing the episode, for Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro and to you for listening. Please share the link to the episode. Stay tuned for a new episode soon!