Episode 63 – Interview with Dani Spinosa

The Small Machine Talks – Episode 63

Amanda Earl interviews Dani Spinosa

Recorded on July 29, 2020 via Zoom

Dani Spinosa is a poet of digital and print media, an on-again-off-again precarious professor, the managing editor of Electronic Literature Directory, a co-founding editor of Gap Riot Press, and the author of Anarchists in the Academy: Machines and Free Readers in Experimental Poetry. She can be found online at https://genericpronoun.com/ and in person in Toronto.

We spoke about OO: Typewriter Poems, femmeship, overcoming the voice that says we have to be serious to be good, citations and name dropping as a feminist act, the “have you read” test, Kanada Koncrete, spider bites and omens, the latest titles from Gap Riot Press, women’s friendships, how great M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong is, the typewriter as a male concrete poetry tradition and an object of women’s labour, a feminized work place, reading visual poetry over wine and more., the reclamation of “stupid” or “silly” with love, the perpetuation of the erasure of women in the canon via anthologies and scholarship, the importance of looking back and carving out spaces for women in the visual poetry community, new advances in digital vispo, the Vispo Bible and Photoshop. It was a great conversation.

OO: Typewriter Poems (Invisible Publishing, 2020)

Gap Riot Press

Electronic Literature Directory

Penteract Poetry Podcast – Dani and Kate Siklosi will be featured soon!

No Press, includes chapbooks by Dani

Petition: Abolish cash bail in the criminal justice system

Thanks to Dani for being on the show, to Charles Earl for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for intros and outros and to all of you for listening and sharing the episode.

Stay tuned for future episodes featuring Sachiko Murakami and James Lindsay in August and September, and other unforeseen shenanigans.

The Small Machine Talks Episode 57 Trees, Rain, Bicycles, Gardens, Wandering, Spring!

I open the episode with a reading of an excerpt from Samuel Beckett, Watt (Olympia Press, 1953).

Good morning and welcome to the Small Machine Talks Episdoe 57. I’m alone again, recording the episode solo due to Covid-19’s physical distancing requirement. At this time, I find myself seeking out some of my favourite poems about trees, rain, bicycles and spring.

This episode is inspired by Klara Du Plessis’ deep curation practice of organizing readings. I had the pleasure of being at an event at Knife Fork Book in Toronto which Klara organized, based on the idea of deep curation, “placing work by the same and different artists adjacent to one another in order to combine their generative potential.” The event featured Klara, Aaron Boothby and Canisia Lubrin reading their own works but ones that Klara had picked out.

It was a really interesting reading organized in a kind of thematic way. To quote Klara, “The strength of considering how artworks or poems go together, enter into dialogue with another, rub up against one another, contrast and scratch at one another…is endless.”


The poems and prose passages I’m going to read today follow this idea or at least are inspired by it. And instead of others reading, it’s just me.

Doyali Islam, 32nd parallel – on roots

from heft, McClelland and Stewart, 2019 and also Heartwood, Poems for the Love of Trees put out by the League of Canadian Poets in 2018

Variations on Spring – Maggie Helwig, the City on Wednesday, Lowlife Publishing, 1996

MOVIE: Frances Ha

I love Greta Gerwig. I also have a terrible memory for what happens in movies. What I recall about this one was Frances riding her bike and wandering Paris on her own. I have also seen Girl on a Bicycle, which I do not remember at all. Another charming Montreal film called Deux Secondes about a bike courier who wants to compete in the Tour de France is also good. I would like to watch Wadjda, a movie set in Saudi Arabia about a ten-year old girl who wants to ride a bike.

Green by Jeanette Armstrong (originally published in Breath Tracks, Theytus Books, 1990)

Open Field, 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets, edited by Sina Queyras (Persea Books, 2005)

Sadiqa de Meijer


I googled and found this poem on Susan Gillis blog, Concrete and River: https://susangillis.blogspot.com/2013/11/normal-0-microsoftinternetexplorer4.html

from 2013, republished from Leaving Howe Island, Oolichan Books, 2013 and republished in The Next Wave, An Anthology of 21st Century Poetry, edited by Jim Johnstone and published by Anstruther Press in 2018

Phyllis Webb, Metaphysics of Spring from The Vision Tree, Selected Poems (Talonbooks, 1982) and originally published in Wilson’s Bowl (1980)

Film: Les glaneurs et la glaneuse (the Gleaners and I – Agnes Varda)

Varda’s documentary begins with a glimpse at the French tradition of allowing the remains of the harvest to the hungry and moves on to other objects deemed by society to be without value but used by artists in their creation.


I’m sure there are many poets who garden and who love plants. Two local poets come to mind: Monty Reid who has a lovely garden in the East End of Ottawa. I’ve made zucchini bread from the zucchinis he was kind enough to give me. Conyer Clayton writes a lot about plants in her work and is vocal on social media about her dislike of celery. She also gardens.

Lilac from Undergrowth by Conyer Clayton (bird, buried press, 2018)

Monty Reid’s book of garden poems, Garden (Chaudiere Books, 2014) features poem cycles as seasonal gardening units. In the notes, Monty writes that the book began as a simple gardening day book.

I read 10. June from the first cycle, “Garden (sept unit)

Levin Hunting from The Quiet by Anne-Marie Turza (House of Anansi Press, 2014)

Wandering the City

Every spring I go on a wander to see the first blooms. I always get teary-eyed at the site of the first crocus. I revisit magnolia trees in my neighbourhood every year. I have a favourite on Gilmour. In November, I used to walk through the Beechwood Cemetery to enjoy the brilliant fall colours and scent of autumn. I sometimes take walks in the Central Experimental Farm’s Arboretum as well. The city is full of green spaces, and perhaps now we see how necessary it is for people to be able get out in nature, to breathe and feel the sun.

Last May, I decided to go on an urban foraging walk with Foraged Ottawa’ organizer, Bryan Dowkes. It was a lovely experience. The group learned about trout lilies, we got to sample his spring pesto, and have a bite of Japanese knotwood, which tastes a bit like rhubarb. I love walking and especially walking in nature, but as an urban resident with no car, I tend to forget that there are wild places near me. We walked about 4 kms from Strathcona Park to Hurdman on a trail near the highway, so we were surrounded by evidence of a city. It is possible to find wild within the city. I’m sharing links to my blog entry for the walk and also for Foraged Ottawa on FB and Meet Up



Ottawa Foraging: Wild Plant and Mushroom Walks

Ottawa, ON
877 Members

Want to get to know the wild and wonderful plants and mushrooms of the Ottawa Valley?Join local forager, wildcrafter, writer, and educator Bryan Dowkes for guided walks desig…

Check out this Meetup Group →

The year before a friend and I went on an herbal tea walk with the Ottawa Tea Guild at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, which is part of Ottawa’s Experimental Farm. The guide was herbalist, Amber Westfall of the Wild Garden, a local organization that introduces people to bioregional, edible and medicinal plans through workshops and walks.

She made us nettle tea, which we drank on a hot summer’s day beneath the shade of a tree.


In its summer 2019 issue, Brick Magazine published an interview by Michael Ondaatje and Jason Logan, the founder of the Toronto Ink Company. https://brickmag.com/product/brick-103/

After reading this fascinating interview about making ink from natural and nonnatural sources, I obtained the book, “Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking” by Jason Logan (Abrams Books, 2018). The book is full of colourful photos of plants, ink samples, recipes, anecdotes and instructions. It also includes the interview. In his introduction, Jason describes his practice as foraging for colour, which excited me greatly because I adore anything to do with colour.

“You don’t need a huge national park to find natural color. Inkmaking supplies can be found anywhere plants grow. If you expand your palette to include industrial materials and ingredients from your own kitchen and grocery store, the possibilities become endless.”

When I think a book will be of interest to both Charles and me, I read it aloud to him while he cooks breakfast for us on the weekends. This is one of the books I’ve read to him while he makes magical egg, bread, bacon or sausage concoctions.


Many years ago, Charles and I did a walking tour called The Secret Gardens of Sandy Hill, which was a lovely way to get to see gardens in the backyards of Sandy Hill residents. Often at the front of the residence, there was no way of knowing that a lush colourful garden existed.

This brings to mind Sandra Ridley’s book “Post-Apothecary” which came out with Pedlar Press in 2011. It is an incantatory series of long poem sequences featuring a woman whose illness is used against her and the herbal concoctions that keep her docile and dozing.

I am about to brew some nettle tea and before I do, I will read you this excerpt from Witchipedia on its history and folklore.

I have yet to go on one of Jane’s Walks. Jane Jacobs was a magnificent advocate for the creation and sustainment of the liveable city, integrated environments that prioritized people and the environment over cars and consumerism.   Janes Walks take place all over North America in May, including Ottawa. This year, I suspect they will be cancelled, but let’s all plan to attend one in the future. Jane’s Walk Ottawa is planning to have their in-person festival in September: https://www.janeswalkottawa.ca/

For the Small Machine Talks, I wanted to start a series within the podcast that featured wandering about with writers. The first of the series was Episode 39 in Season 2 with Toronto poet, Jennifer LoveGrove. We wandered to various second hand clothing stores in Ottawa and enjoyed coffee and conversation at Art House on Somerset. I hope to do more of these types of episodes when the physical distancing requirement has been lifted.

I have a plan one day to visit Toronto again and walk through a ravine with writer and friend Amy Lavender Harris. Her book “Imagining Toronto” (Mansfield Press, 2010) is an exploration of Toronto as seen through fiction, poetry and essays. In a section entitled “The Poetics of Walking” which describes Toronto’s contemporary culture of urban explorers, Amy quotes “Walking Off The Map,” a 2006 essay by John Bentley Mays: “They are all walkers, and their tread along the city’s streets is intent and focused. We see them moving at the pace of dowsers looking for streams buried beneath the pavement; and dowers they are, these seekers for the fugitive urban imaginary in the solid matter of the city.”

Jane meets W.B. Yeats – Tanis MacDonald

Tanis MacDonald’s book, Mobile (Book*Hug Press, 2019) is described as an “uncivil feminist reboot of Dennis Lee’s Civil Elegies and Other Poems; an urban lament about female citizenship and urban culpability; an homage to working and walking women in a love/hate relationship with Toronto, its rivers and creeks, its sidewalks and parks, its history, misogyny and violence.”

In her Notes on Section 2: Jane Walks, Tanis writes that it “picks up the many iterations of the Crazy Jane figure as written by many poets, but most specifically in eight poems by W.B. Yeats. In addition, this section takes as its guiding spirit, Jane Jacobs, the great urban critic who moved to Toronto in 1968 and lived in the Annex Neighbourhood from 1971 to 2006.

Jane meets W.B. Yeats is a rewrite of Yeats “Sailing to Byzantium.”

Flaneur Magazine, Fragments of a Street, is a nomadic independent magazine, focussing on one street per issue. A friend who moved from Ottawa to Montreal introduced me to it. One issue focuses on Montreal’s Rue Bernard with gorgeous, full colour photos of alleyways in the dark, lit by lampligt, poetic fragments of text about wandering, essays about people who live on Berard: barbers, immigrants from Kosovo, Portugal, photo essays with graffiti and fashionable people.

“The act of walking is the act of reflecting. The reflections of the street become fragments of an inner mirror – what seems like a logical linear collection of stones, asphalt and street signs is deconstructed through the mind.” from Confessions by Richard Messner.


Cole Swensen’s wonderful book response to various writers and philosophers, On Walking On is dog-eared to the max. The book was published by one of my favourite American publishers, Nightboat Books in 2017.

When I think of wandering and poetry, I also think of a friend and poet, Chris Turnbull’s wonderful project Rout/e https://etuor.wordpress.com/. Rout/e has manifested in several iterations over the years but in some way always combines nature with poetry. In her 2015 essay published in AngelHousePress’s essay series, Chris writes “a footpress I use to place poetry on trails, is formally a way of placing poems in the way of people. But not necessarily masses of people. And not necessarily — and no way to really find out — people who necessarily read poetry. Just people. People on ATV’s, people on snowmobiles, people on skis, people in running shoes, hikers, rubber boots, snowshoes and on bike. The poems are also in the way of the various entities that are with us on trails, such as insects, birds, coyotes, foxes, bears, amphibians, plants (in no particular order). The poems are planted in places that they can be encountered — alongside marshlands, edging bridges, bordering “junk” people have dumped, alongside trees in groves — but not obviously. You could consider them another form of a ‘nature note’ — as if about to identify something local, naturalized, introduced, historical, absented, or, even, a perspective from a vantage point. Insects, birds, coyotes, foxes, bears, and plants move around, on, mark, and incorporate them into their travels as an ordinary thing, indistinct from anything else. People use the trails mostly for recreational activities and yet, most of the time, I don’t encounter anyone else — just tracks: tires, footprints, skis, snowshoes, dog, racoon, snowshoe rabbit, squirrel, mouse, bear, fox, bird, deer.”

I’ve included the link to the essay on the site: https://angelhousepress.com/essays/Chris_Turnbull_rout_e.pdf

John Thomson, Stilt Jack

Nothing made me want to chase storms and sex, hedonism and the wild, wander through tangled gardens and drink whisky more than John Thompson’s ghazals, Stilt Jack. The book was rereleased by House of Anansi in 2019. The poems are such a compelling combination of the still and the wild. I read XVI

To close I will leave you with one of my favourite poems, Irises by Li-Young Lee, which I’m reading from in A Book of Luminous Things, An International Anthology of Poetry, Czeslaw Milosz, Ed. 1996

Consider this Earth, the first of the four elements, I hope to be discussing in subsequent months.

Here’s a 57-song playlist to go with the episode

Additional Resources

My ever blooming list of garden-related films: https://letterboxd.com/amandaearl/list/i-need-to-start-a-garden/

My list of bicycle and women films: https://letterboxd.com/amandaearl/list/bicycles-feminism/

The Feminist History of Bicycles https://www.bustle.com/p/the-feminist-history-of-bicycles-57455

Shawna Lemay’s wonderful Transactions with Beauty blog


http://rainycafe.com/ to listen to the sounds of people in a café, or the rain.

the sounds of a summer forest https://forest.ambient-mixer.com/summer-forest

For the Love of Trees, A Guide to the Trees of Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm Arboretum (General Store Publishing House, 2007)

From Walk Ups to High-Rise, Ottawa’s Historic Apartment Buildings (Heritage Ottawa, 2017)

Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of Great American Cities (Vintage Books, Random House, 1992)

Thanks to Charles for processing the recording, thanks to Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro, thanks to all the poets, musicians, artists, film makers, directors and actors, living and dead who contributed to this episode and thanks to you for listening.

Stay tuned for the next episode in May. I’m not sure what it will be yet, but I’m hoping to post it at the end of the month.

Episode 56: Solo Book Chat – Adele Barclay’s Renaissance Normcore and If I Were In A Cage I’d Reach Out For You

Episode 56: Adele Barclay’s Renaissance Normcore and If I Were In A Cage I’d Reach Out For You

with Amanda Earl

recorded on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hello everyone and welcome to episode 56 of the Small Machine Talks. I’m Amanda Earl and I’m recording the episode solo today from my home. My co-host, a.m. kozak is not here because we’re all supposed to stay in our own homes these days.

If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you may have noticed that Aaron and I have mentioned Adele Barclay a fair bit. We had the chance to meet her and hear her read from If I Were In A Cage I’d Reach Out To You at the Tree Reading Series in 2016.

When I heard Adele was coming to VERSeFest this year, I was excited and invited her to be on the podcast for an interview. Unfortunately, the festival, along with everything else, had to be cancelled. All being well, Adele will return to Ottawa, to the festival another time and we’ll have a chance to do the interview. In the meantime, I thought I’d share my thoughts on Renaissance Normcore.

You’ll notice that I’m reading prepared notes, for the most part. Doing the podcast alone is an odd experience. I always prepare but when I am not alone, it is a conversation as opposed to a monologue. I’ll try to add in some asides and I’ll likely stumble a bit. I’m not going to ask Charles to erase those stumbles. I hope it doesn’t make the listening arduous. This is an experiment. All being well, I won’t be podcasting alone again or if it’s something you don’t mind, perhaps I will. These days it’s all moment by moment.

I first wanted to talk about my practice of reading poetry as both a poetry fan and a writer of the stuff. As someone who enjoys reading poetry, I read for pleasure and interest. If as I’m reading, whether it’s an individual poem, a chapbook or a book, something resonates for me, I become curious and want to engage more deeply with the work. As a writer, I want to understand the craft, look at the metaphors, for example. So I’ll read through the book several times more and if I do that, I’ll usually write about it to share with others and I may even reach out to the poets of the works to share my thoughts. I usually give a shout out on social media and write a small note on GoodReads. Sometimes I’ll write something more detailed for my blog or a site. If they have other books or chapbooks out, I do my best to seek out those works as well to notice commonalities and differences between the works.

When I’m working on a new manuscript, I will often run through my head to see who else has done something similar and revisit it, looking at the way they handled a problem or challenge I’m having with my work. The more I read, the better I can write. I just realized I make it sound quite systematic. It’s not really. It’s more of a write a bit, go back, rummage through my shelves to a book or chapbook or individual poem that I know is doing something similar or perhaps ask folks on Facebook.

Renaissance Normcore by Adele Barclay, published by Nightwood Editions in 2019 is a book of humour and vulnerability, light and dark, grief, rebellion, feminism, queer community, magic, emotional and sexual candour, anthems, shared music, pop culture and literature.

The cover designed by Carleton Wilson and featuring art by Cate Webb is lovely, a vase decorated with flowers and teardrops (or drops of blood) with a door at its centre overlays the front and back covers surrounded by slivers of moon on each side at the top and waves at the bottom, which evokes, for me a woman’s body.

Cate Webb is a tattoo artist, oil painter and owner of the Black Cat, which is located in Fernwood, Victoria, BC. The spirituality and themes of the occult of her aesthetic in her work and  in particular through the cover art of the book align well with the book.


I don’t feel like artists and cover designers get enough credit for the fine work they do. In fact, it would be a cool subject for a podcast episode. I’ve been a fan of Carleton Wilson’s design for many years. Carleton is also the publisher of Junction Books in Toronto.


Back to Renaissance Normcore!

The title “Renaissance Normcore” feels like the first of many contrasts to be found in the book. Renaissance clothing is doublets and vests, waist cinches and corsets, evocative of an earlier era. Normcore is 21st century unisex clothing, or as High Snobiety reports, “So normcore — essentially a joke that got out of hand — is about embracing the mundane and following the crowd, flying in the face of alternative subcultures and more challenging or bold approaches to fashion.”


The book contains five parts with individual poems in each part and one poem series, “Cardinal Signs Just Wanna Have Fun” in part two.

A poem series also occurs in each part, each title beginning with “I’m in an open relationship with

1. the Sun;

2. the Moon;

3. the Ocean;

4. the Fire in My Body That Keeps Me Up at Night

5. the Earth

The elements fire, water, air and earth are repeated throughout the book.

It opens with two epigraphs from songs by Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kelly (Silver Lining) and Fiona Apple (Werewolf). The entire book features so many references to music, that it isn’t surprising that Adele created a Spotify playlist of 33 songs. There are 44 poems in the book and many of the songs or the musicians in the playlist are mentioned in the book. Float On by Modest Mouse is on the playlist but with a cover by Misty Mtn and appears in the poem, “Burn It All Down With Water”: I’d like to float on okay/but then I read about the singer from Modest Mouse” (p. 19). A number of the songs on the playlist are covers, such as Bats for Lashes beautiful rendering of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire. where she changes the lyrics from girl to boy, or Aqua’s Barbie Girl redone in a slow rhythm by Tanae with the gorgeous soulful voice of Thana Fayad. Hole, Fiona Apple, Lana del Ray, Lorde  are all on the soundtrack and many of them are mentioned in the book. I had fun going through the book while listening to the soundtrack, I mean playlist! looking for connections. I listen to the soundtrack a lot. One lovely inclusion on the playlist is One Line by Elissa Barclay, who died after a struggle with concussion and PTSD in November, 2019. Elissa was known in Toronto’s indie music community as Warrior Girl. Adele raised money through a gofund me campaign to pay for the production of Elissa’s second album, Tales of an Underground Compassion Clinic.

I’d like to start first by reading the poem “Live Through This” as an homage to Elissa. p. 29

The opening poem of the book and part 1, “You Don’t Have to Choose But You Do”

feels like it sets up the recurring contrasts that appear throughout the book. The poem explores binaries through pop culture, literary references and nature.

Later in the book, the speaker of the poem mentions their “Veronia-Jughead hybridity.”– transformation from one state to another is also prevalent in the book.


blood /stone

solid (permanent) / not solid (either liquid or ethereal or ephemeral):

tiny / vast (toy boat to super nova in We Are Stupid Little Animals (p. 14-15)

nesting – a cell with a semi-permeable/membrane inside an organism/inside an ecosystem (Burn It All Down with Water, p. 19)

Naming people (first name for friends, full names for literary references) and places

Queerness –

Sexual candour

Power exchange vocabulary

Transformations from one state to another

References to writing and making poems

Elements of dark or wry humour

Vocabulary of therapy

Childhood trauma


Magic and The Occult (astrology, the Tarot)

I’m going to read the first poem which encompasses a lot of the elements I’ve mentioned: You Don’t Have to Choose But You Do (p. 13)

The structure and the repeated imagery of the book is evocative of the Tarot with its opposing card structure.

I could do whole essays on the materiality of the text, the way the weather works in the book to add to/articulate the mood: “autumn knocks a dent/into her depression/that winter packs with ice” How to Enforce Boundaries with Physical Geography -. 17

I could go through the book for its wry humour, a way of dealing with trauma that many of us have, a certain darkness. See Burn It All Down with Water, for example. or The Fish: “if all the queers of East Van/braided their hair together/we’d have to look/sexual tension in the eye”p. 20

I decided to reread If I Were In A Cage, I’d Reach Out For You, Adele’s first poetry collection (Nightwood Editions, 2016) to see if there were commonalities and differences, recurring imagery and themes.

The book also contains five parts with two repeated series throughout the book: Aubade with 4 poems and Dear Sara with 6 poems, which has a continuation in Renaissance Normcore with a seventh poem.

Cage also names specific people and places. Both books give a sense of community, particularly queer community. One of the biggest similarities was the use of opposites, which occurs in both books: “night winces open and light brushes closed” in Aubade I (p. 18), “Sleepwalking I fetch fire out in the rain”

and the contrast between the small and the large is also in both books too. “leashed tigers paraded in to pray/under the great hall’s open lungs” Sara II, p. 27

There are a few specific references to music here too. “Music is architecture, a bridge’s counterweight in the shape/of a horse, the undertow of a harbour pulling a red tide” Aubade II, p. 32

Both books have great and unusual juxtapositions, such as The Gates of Dawn, p. 53 “The city stretches its belly, fills me with wine,/gingersnaps, beetroot, applesauce./Streets steeped in ghost waste and urine/in every water closet.”

and in Renaissance Normcore – Spell for Pisces New Moon “Neptune tells me/this fever is real and imaginary (another contrast) paints my dreams new colours; lilacs on fire, percussive forest, blue that blushes, pepper rose.”

I read from Materials p. 20 of Cage.

If I Were In A Cage I’d Reach Out For You is a feral furry neon film noir earthy collection of desire and melancholy. It’s Coraline at a carnival pulling tarot cards for a wolf in a unicorn costume. It’s darkly sensual. It’s plum sensual. It gave me a craving for pickled herring.

I enjoyed the opportunity to engage with Adele’s poetry and look forward to interviewing her here in Ottawa on the Small Machine Talks, the next time she’s here, possibly at VERSeFest.

I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and your loved ones are safe and healthy too. This is a tough time. I’m glad I have piles of poetry to get me through, and I hope you do too. Thanks for listening.

Thanks to my husband, Charles Earl, for techno wizardry, to Jennifer Pederson for intro and outro musical wizardry.

You can read more about Adele on her site: https://adelebarclay.com/

The Small Machine Talks Episode 52 Book Club with a.m. kozak, Fiona Mitchell, Helen Robertson, Amanda Earl and Hiram Larew,

The Small Machine Talks Episode 52

Book Club with a.m. kozak, Fiona Mitchell, Helen Robertson, Amanda Earl and Hirem Laraw, recorded on Sunday, November 17, 2019

Fiona Ann Mitchell is a poet from Ottawa, Ontario and holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria. Her work can be found in Freefall, The Maynard, The Capilano Review, Arc Magazine and she does editing for Bywords.

Helen Robertson is a genderqueer trans woman moving through the lifelong process of accepting how lucky they’ve been; using poetry to excise their ire and sorrow — hopefully turning it into something worthwhile.

Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bywords, CV2, The Puritan, The New Quarterly, and The Grimoire by Coven Editions. They were long listed for the 2019 Vallum Poetry Prize.


1. Amanda talks about the themes of connection and community in Canthius Issue 7, and reads Emilie Kneifel’s “Sharing Again”



deadline for Canthius’ PRISCILA UPPAL MEMORIAL AWARD FOR POETRY is Dec 1. if you can’t afford the $25 entry fee, let them know. there are a few donations of entry fees available.

and visit the site for reviews, essays, interviews, prose and poetry.

Helen muses about whether they’re still subscribed.

2. Helen discusses Arielle Twist’s Disintegrate Disassociate, Arsenal Pulp Press. We talk about Arielle’s great stage presence when she read at Plan 99 in May.


and also Gwen Benaway’s Holy Wild (Book*Hug Press)

https://bookhugpress.ca/shop/books/holy-wild-by-gwen-benaway/ and specifically mentions A Love Letter for Trans Girls.

Gwen will be reading on December 11 as part of the Governor General Literary Awards at the Canada Council for the Arts at noon. https://ggbooks.ca/events

Amanda discusses the fire in Arielle’s book and the juxtaposition between violence and tenderness. Helen talks about validation from cis het white males for trans women.

3. Fiona talks about Marita Dachsel’s Glsosolalia (Anvil Press) a fictional account of Joseph Smith and his 34 wives, their voices and experiences, pointing particularly to Dachsel’s use of form, including concrete poetry


An interview with Dachsel about the book and why she chose to write about polygamy


4. Aaron talks about Bluets by Maggie Nelson (Wave Books)

He likes how the book uses blue as a centre to talk about science, biography, philosophy, etc. The colour opens up to other subjects. He reads a short paragraph, #215

We talk about the imagery that ends a poem and back of the book blurbs.

Amanda mentions her book, the Argonauts https://www.graywolfpress.org/books/argonauts

We end up talking about line breaks and Amanda mentions Dennis Cooley’s essay “Breaking and Entering (thoughts on the line) published in Open Letter, Sixth Series, No 7, Spring 1987.

Fiona recommends Robert Haas’ prose poems to Aaron.

We talk about going back and revisiting old poems. We learn of Aaron’s plundered line document. And Amanda talks about the process of writing long poems and poem series and mentions her upcoming reading on November 22 from her new above/ground press chapbook, Aftermath or Scenes of A Woman Convalescing.


free play period!

5. Additional Books – not necessarily poetry

Helen elaborates on what she liked about Gwen Benaway’s Holy Wild, its similarities and differences to Arielle Twist’s Disintegrate Disassociate.

Amanda recommends Trish Salah’s Lyric Sexolgy Volume 1 https://metonymypress.com/product/lyric-sexology-vol-1/

and Tanis Franco’s Quarry https://press.ucalgary.ca/books/9781552389812/

Aaron talks about From Walk-Up to High-Rise, Ottawa’s Historic Apartment Buildings, published by Heritage Ottawa.


Gouzenko Apartment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Gouzenko

Winnipeg’s Exchange District https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchange_District

Fiona discusses The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson

We debate which month is worse: November or February.

Amanda talks about the Blue Road, a fable of migration, written by Wayde Compton and illustrated by April dela Noche Milne and published by Arsenal Pulp Press https://arsenalpulp.com/Books/T/The-Blue-Road

6. Reminder: the ottawa small press book fair takes place from noon to five pm on Saturday, November 23 at the Jack Purcell Community Centre


7.  Book Club response 1: Hiram Larew talks about Gabriele Calvocoressi’s poem Cistern from the New Yorker July 16, 2018 issue. You can read and hear the poem here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/23/mayflower-cistern-i-feel-my-pilgrim-worry

Thanks for listening and thanks to Helen and Fiona for joining us. Stay tuned for our last episode of 2019 in December. Please share with your poetry and book loving pals.

Episode 48 – Interview with Nina Jane Drystek

The Small Machine Talks

co-hosted by Amanda Earl and a.m. kozak

Episode 48: Interview with Nina Jane Drystek

Recorded on August 15, 2019, Ward 14

nina jane drystek is a poet, writer and performer based in Ottawa. her poetry has appeared in Canthius, talking about strawberries, the DUSIE: Tuesday poem, Bywords.ca, in/words, ottawater, small talk and Window Cat Press, as well as in self-published chapbooks, and chapbooks and broadsides by & co. collective, of which she is a member. #26: ‘knewro suite from simulacrum press came out this year.

she is a member of the sound poetry ensemble quatuour gualuour, and creates performances of her own. if you have ever lived in the same city as her you have likely seen her riding a red bicycle around town. you can find her @textcurious.

We talk about when Nina Jane began writing, collaborations from an early age, Canterbury High School, performance of poetry, cocktails, consignment shops, writing as a space of self-expression and time to be alone, publishing and self-publishing, chapbooks, handling rejection.

We discuss the origins of Nina Jane’s writing group and press, & Co Collective, meeting writers at In/Words’ weekly workshops, the informal nature of & Co Collective.

We talk about a forthcoming reading in Montreal, Nina Jane’s love of editing, a workshop we both took with rob mclennan and how workshops work in general. Spontaneous editing vs having the text ahead of time and the beauty of workshopping in the moment.

Nina Jane explains that she likes attending readings to hear the writers read in their own words. I ask Nina Jane about her background in theatre. She explains about her exploration of dramaturgy in grad school at Guelph, and her interest in performance. Nina Jane wrote and performed a one-person show in grade 7 about suicide.

She was interested in the performance of the scream, experimental scream therapy, nonverbal vocalization, the abrasive stuff that puts you on edge, plays about women behaving badly.

We talk about Nina Jane’s work for the Ottawa International Writers Festival as a volunteer in high school and then later as a staff member, and her own event organization, the value of conversations about writing and hearing work read aloud.

We talk about what makes for a good reading, such as a good host who is thinking about the audience experience, the difficulties of the Q and A session at the end of some readings. Amanda mentions the space created by the audience and the performer as another space.

Nina Jane talks about a poetry book that has influenced her, Aisha Sasha John’s I have to live and her work with performance and dance. As a teen, Nina Jane really liked the poetry infused novels of Francesca Lia Block, she liked writers who told stories through poetry. Amanda is frustrated by the idea of not being allowed to have characters in poetry. Nina Jane mentions an American novelist, Jesse Ball, who started out as a poet, his poems are filled with characters. We investigate the autobiographical nature of nursery rhymes.

We talk about being too distant from one’s poetry vs writing more personally.

We return to sound poetry and discuss quatuour gualuour, the sound poetry group Nina Jane’s involved in. She’s also writing her own sound poetry as someone who’s interested in writing things for performance and for multiple voices, seeing what others do with the work when they perform it.

We end with a discussion of Nina Jane’s cycling, the literary and feminist connections. We discuss a few books and ask for recommendations from listeners for poetry books about cycling. Amanda mentions the Invisible Publishing blog which has a list of such.


Ward 14 https://www.instagram.com/wardfourteen

Bywords.ca https://bywords.ca/

MCNDm  a night of performance and poetry in Montreal – September 8, 2019


Sheila Callaghan https://www.sheilacallaghan.com/

Ottawa International Writers Festival https://writersfestival.org/

Blue Metropolis https://bluemetropolis.org/

Aisha Sasha John – I have to live https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/537842/i-have-to-live-by-aisha-sasha-john/9780771050701/

Francesca Lia Block http://www.francescaliablock.com/

Jesse Ball https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/73835/jesse-ball

Dennis Cooley, the Bentleys https://www.uap.ualberta.ca/titles/49-9780888644701-bentleys

Yvonne Bloomer, Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur

Kate Harris, Land of Lost Borders https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/538575/lands-of-lost-borders-by-kate-harris/9780345816788

Catriona Strang, Reveries of a Solitary Biker https://talonbooks.com/books/reveries-of-a-solitary-biker

Transcontinental Race: Germany’s Fiona Kolbinger becomes first female winner of endurance race, https://www.bbc.com/sport/cycling/49248126

Invisible Publishing – Ten Books That Put One Foot In Front of the Other: https://invisiblepublishing.com/2018/10/23/books-about-walking/

Thanks to everyone for listening. Stay tuned for a new episode shortly.

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