rob mclennan

Episode 59: Cohost Zoom Reunion

The Small Machine Talks Episode 59 Writing and Reading During Covid-19 etc

with a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl

recorded via Zoom on Sunday, May 24, 2020

Profile by Jamie MacPherson: https://apt613.ca/tour-de-blogosphere-the-small-machine-talks-an-ottawa-poetry-podcast/

1. INTRODUCTION – HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED US, OUR WRITING ETC?

how has COVID changed your reading/writing habits?

Amanda: I’ve been trying to save $ so I’m reading up my pile of to be read books and my e-books, including some I’ve set aside. I’m discovering a lot of great reads that I was impatient with, for example – Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, 21st Century American Women Poets, Love in the New Millennium (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) by Can Xue – books I started last fall or earlier.

Aaron: stopped reading during first few weeks but got back into it with more patience and time, returning to work on his to be read list. working on a manuscript. not as productive as he expected.

Amanda points out that we shouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to be productive at this time. Aaron feels guilty about his lack of productivity due to his privilege of being able to work from home and have more time and space alone.

We discuss being able to impose structure when working at home.

Aaron wonders how others feel about their writing and reading habits at this time.

what about how you interact with the literary community?

Amanda: i haven’t embraced the concept of the virtual reading alas. I know it’s lovely for many writers to engage this way. instead I’ve been corresponding with fellow writers via e-mail and letter a lot more, which I love.

Aaron wonders how this time is influencing the type and quality of interactions with others, such as reaching out to those we haven’t been in touch with.

Aaron asks how Amanda feels about the change in interaction. Amanda mentions she’s less into going out to readings and hasn’t felt the loss of not having in person readings, enjoying solitude, being more tired in the evenings. She misses one-on-one coffee/lunch dates with friends.

Aaron misses festivals and events in general, and more intimate connections with people. His work is constant e-mail and conversations, so doesn’t crave that in the evenings.

what are some things you’ll take away from these isolated months when movement isn’t so restricted?

Amanda enjoys solitude much more than she realized. Enjoying coffee more. Notices the class hierarchy is still very much in place. She points out the narrative of American dream from 50s still a belief of how things are. Aaron mentions there’s a greater separation between those in blue collar and white collar positions., those who must work outside the home, and those who can stay home. We discuss those with mental health issues and disabled people whose needs have been neglected for years. They muse that the reasons why there have been improvements are due to the fact that we’re all susceptible to Covid-19

Amanda talks about the role of a writer as being to act as a witness. Aaron’s take away is the realization that he probably wouldn’t be more productive as a writer or reader, and is accepting that. Amanda mentions her inability to do research for her writing due to the libraries being closed.

 have you made any new discoveries in the past couple of months?

Amanda mentions Letterboxd.com – a site for films and reviews, and mumblecore, a type of film.

Aaron’s new discoveries are areas in his neighbourhood he hasn’t been to before. He’s going through old boxes of his writing. We talk about how our writing has changed over the years.

 how many COVID or isolation inspired poems do you think have been written this year? 😉

Aaron wonders if fast turnaround Covid-19 poems would be something a publisher would be interested in now, but he’d rather it just happen naturally as part of his writing.

I wasn’t writing anything but factual pieces on my blog and then Arc came along with a poetry contest, Arc’s Award of Awesomeness and it inspired me. I’ll never win any of their contests but it was fun to be inspired. I have about 20 pages of poetry.

Aaron asks if it’s the duty of a writer or artist to document. Amanda doesn’t like the words “duty” or “should.” Aaron compares poetry of this sort to journalism. Amanda wonders how to articulate the palpable anxiety in the streets.

2. CURRENT/RECENT READS

Aaron – reorganized his shelf into have and have not read books. He’s reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s collected works and Albert Camus’ the Plague. For poetry, most of his day-to-day interaction is thru direct text on social media or being shared to him.

Amanda

Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

this book is a coming of age story with achingly beautiful sentences. it is a book of grief, pain, love, lust, violence, family, and awakening. We talk about prose written by poets as being meticulous and slow reads.

Isabelle Allende – In the Midst of Winter, The Japanese Lover, Ripper and A Long Petal of the Sea, the latter having a lot that is relevant today.

3. RECENT/FORTHCOMING VIRTUAL EVENTS

Amanda

Attended the Iridescent Robot Storytellling Club hosted by Danielle K.L. Gregoire.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/500915187244804/

 It is a place for your gentle and hopeful stories and takes place on Zoom every week on Thursday nights, 8pm EST. It’s a virtual extension of Danielle’s performance venue, Curious and Kind. Danielle invites several people to tell stories and also includes a musician who will write a theme song for the show. You have to sign up ahead of time.

The one I went to was the first. The theme song by Benoit Christie was great fun. There were five guest storytellers and a feature, The Mighty Mike McGee. It was an inspiring evening. Mike told a fascinating story about a couple who’d lost each other during the Holocaust but then refound each other very recently at a wedding. All stories are true.

I also attended a Zoom listening party for episode 8 of the SpokenWebcast in May. Spokenwebcast is a really well-made and professional sounding podcast about Canadian literature with funding from academic organizations and participation by a variety of academics and writers. Episode 8 was a fascinating episode which talked about how we are listening during Covid-19 and what has changed, especially in regard to literary events. Jason Camlot and Katherine MacLeod produced the episode and interviewed various guests.

We listened as a group and people wrote comments about the episode via Zoom’s chat feature. Afterward they had a discussion on the episode, which I had to miss unfortunately.

I also had the chance to listen to another episode, The Voice Is Intact: Finding Gwendolyn MacEwen in the Archive from April 6 and produced by Hannah MacGregor who hosts Room Magazine’s wonderful Fainting Couch Feminists podcast.

I was fascinated by the conversation between Hannah, Jen Sookfong Lee and Katherine. They talked about MacEwen’s work, her voice and her relationship with Milton Acorn.

The podcast makes use of archived recordings from literary events in the past.

I was also invited to record three video readings for rob mclennan’s Periodicities virtual reading series, The Dead Poets Reading Series in Vancouver by Isabella Wang and Orchid Tierney’s Distāntia Remote Reading Series, which she set up in March.

https://periodicityjournal.blogspot.com/2020/03/amish-trivedi-khashayar-mohammadi.html

There have been several events by Ottawa’s literary community: Riverbed Reading Series had its first online reading on May 21, In Our Tongues celebrated Asian Heritage Month, Tree had a reading and workshop, and has another one coming this Tuesday. Storyteller Jacqui DuToit held regular storytelling events, and Urban Legends also had an open mic and slam as well. Youthspeak Poetry slams are happening via Discord. Susan Johnston has returned to CKCU FM to host a Tuesday afternoon radio show called Asking For A Friend at 3pm weekly. It focuses on performance of music and stories. There’s also NAC Canada Performs.

Aaron wonders whether the virtual readings will take place after the lockdown.

Amanda talks about her awkwardness at readings and virtual readings.

He offers tips to extend Zoom’s free service. Amanda muses about ways in which writers can make money and if these events help with that, it’s a good thing, plus a great way of engaging.

Aaron hasn’t attended any literary virtual events but would prefer not to have to sign up ahead of time. Is curious as to how they go.

Aaron read as part of Prism Magazine’s launch: vimeo.com/422233197

and it’s great he could perform at a launch out of town he wouldn’t normally have had the chance to be part of.

4. ANYTHING ELSE?

2 more episodes from Experiment-O contributors coming up. End of 4th season is coming up. More Zoom episodes coming up.

Aaron notes that 5 seasons might be long for poetry podcasts. Amanda mentions CantLit and Nigel Beale’s podcast.

Danielle K.L. Gregoire and her partner have a podcast on grocery stores. The Kind Nudibranch and the Garbage Witch Explore the World https://anchor.fm/nudibranchandgarbagewitch?fbclid=IwAR2JjjPtiIK5dARMVf-DuowjLEhPk_3ndcPGFSVnGyr4YHmURu3eq8kld7s

5. CONCLUSION

Stay tuned for upcoming episodes. Thanks to Charles for processing, Jennifer Pederson for intros and outros and to you for listening and sharing the episode.

Episode 55: Interview with Dessa Bayrock, Post Ghost Press

Recorded on February 23, 2020

Aaron asks about the design and format of PGP microchapbooks and zines. Dessa talks about keeping them small for mailing, poetry socks, sticker broadsides. Amanda mentions Warren Dean Fulton’s photo booth poetry project through Pooka Press.

Dessa Bayrock lives in Ottawa with two cats and a variety of succulents, one of which occasionally blooms. She used to fold and unfold paper for a living at Library and Archives Canada, and is currently a PhD student in English, where she continues to fold and unfold paper. Her work has appeared in Funicular, PRISM, and Poetry Is Dead, among others, and her work was recently shortlisted for the Metatron Prize for Rising Authors. She is the editor of post ghost press. You can find her, or at least more about her, at dessabayrock.com, or on Twitter at @yodessa.

https://dessabayrock.com/

We speak to Dessa about her press, postghostpress, an Ottawa-based micropress, the joys of being able to carry poetry in a pocket and how that inspired her to create the press. We discuss pockets and Venn diagrams. Aaron asks about the difference between digital poetry and poems in the pocket.

postghostpress.com

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/postghostpress

https://shelflifebooks.ca/

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/12/5/18127239/womens-pockets-fashion-history

Aaron asks what inspired the name “Post Ghost Press”? Dessa talks about her experience working at Library and Archives Canada, sorting World War I soldiers’ files for a digitization project, and a nightmare she had about a soldier.

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/personnel-records.aspx

We discuss the need to inform authors before posting their work on line as a publisher. We talk about creative non fiction and short forms.

Dessa talks about the meditative nature of putting together the chapbooks and the zine, old magazines and textbooks she uses for the backgrounds, and how the work inspires the choice of background. Work that doesn’t lend itself well to this type of design isn’t published. Amanda talks about writing with visual in mind. Dessa will ask writers what they envision for the design. Amanda mentions her loathing of Arial font.

Aaron asks about using media other than paper for the press. Dessa talks about seeing poetry in surprising places. The press’s mantra is that it can put poems everywhere. Amanda mentions needing collaborations between artists. Dessa talks about a project relating to tarot cards.

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/YoungCassieArt

http://bloodorange.krobrien.com/

Aaron wants local coffee shops to put poems on their take out cups. Dessa wants to put short stories on beer cans and urges brewers to get in on it. Amanda reminds listeners that she writes about tea a lot and would have a few poems that aren’t P.G. available.

We talk about Small Poems for the Masses, a zine with 5 issues so far. Dessa talks about the zine being like a poem house party. Amanda asks for someone to do anthologies with contributions unbound. Dessa quotes Alice Munro. Dessa talks about the tarot project and how different cards with poem fragments would interact to form different poems.

Dessa talks about Kanika Lawton’s Monster (Girl) Theory, one of the microchapbooks published by PGP.

http://www.kanikalawton.com/

Dessa talks about how receptive and delighted people are about the press and the work.

Aaron tries to unfold Monster (Girl) Theory and we listen. We discuss ASMR?, initialisms vs acronyms.

http://lyberty.com/encyc/articles/abbr.html

We ask Dessa what the challenges of running PGP are. She mentions not having enough time.

Meanwhile Aaron keeps trying to fold up the chapbook.

Dessa talks about her Patreon subscribers and how patient they are.

Dessa has been inspired by The Blasted Tree, Kyle Flemmer. Amanda mentions her Vispo Bible chapbook, John, which she loves. Amanda also mentions Puddles of Sky and Michael Casteels.

http://www.theblastedtree.com/

Amanda mentions the Ottawa Zine Off and zines. Dessa talks about her dream projects and wishes she had more time to work on them. We talk about how great the poetry socks were. Amanda reminisces about how much everyone loved the socks at the John Newlove Poetry Award. Other possibilities: t-shirts, tea bag tags. Amanda mentions Alixandra Bamford’s Tasseomancy: http://www.krikri.be/festivals/infusoria/alixandrabamford.html

Dessa mentions resin casting for words to make dice. We discuss materiality and digital vs physical creation. Dessa is more comfortable with tactile form.

Aaron asks how publishing others inspires Dessa’s own writing. She says she writes less but better. We all talk about how being an editor affected our own writing. Aaron asks about current projects. Dessa talks about a collaborative project with a friend. Amanda asks about small press fairs. Dessa mentions the Magical Girl Market at the Shaw Centre on June 27. https://www.facebook.com/events/2507053306180679/

Thanks to Dessa, to Charles for the processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro and to you for listening. Stay tuned for a new episode soon!

Episode 53- Interview with Ellen Chang-Richardson

Episode 53: The Small Machine Talks

with a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl

Interview with Ellen Chang-Richardson

Recorded on Sunday, December 8, 2019, 2pm

Ellen Chang-Richardson is an emerging poet, writer and copyeditor based in Ottawa & Toronto. Recipient of the 2019 Vallum Award for Poetry, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Ricepaper Magazine, my (small press) writing day, the Lit Mag Love Anthology 1: Blood & Water, Coven Editions: Grimoire and the Hart House Review. Ellen is the founder of Little Birds Poetry, an editing workshop for poets and creative writers. Her first chapbook, Unlucky Fours, is forthcoming this spring with Anstruther Press.

We talk with Ellen Chang-Richardson about her poetry and Little Birds Poetry, the editing process, format, guiding principles, working on paper vs digital, strategies on dealing with uncomfortable situations, plans for future workshops and how editing others work contributes to her own writing.

Links

Meltwater Basin in LitMag Love’s Blood and Water

anthology (pp123-125 https://www.litmaglove.com/anthology/ ) and

Ricepaper Magazine

https://ricepapermagazine.ca/2019/07/meltwater-basin-by-ellen-chang-richardson/,

https://littlebirdspoetry.ca/

https://ehjchang.com/

thanks to Charles Earl (processing), Ellen, a.m. kozak, Jennifer Pederson (intro/outro composer) and all of you for listening and sharing the podcast.

Have a good end of 2019 and a happy new year!

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 jameskmoran.blogspot.ca. 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.

Links

Confluence – http://parsec-sff.org/confluence/

Dorothea Brande – Becoming A Writer https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/349430/becoming-a-writer-by-dorothea-brande/9780874771640/

Arc Poetry Magazine: http://arcpoetry.ca/

World of Tea https://www.world-of-tea.ca/

Amber Dawn http://www.amberdawnwrites.com/

The Word Balloon Podcast http://wordballoon.blogspot.com/

Cornwall & Area Pop Event https://cornwallpopevent.com/

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!

Episode 31

the Small Machine Talks Episode 31
with a.m. koz…

The Small Machine Talks Episode 30 – Interview with rob mclennan

Amanda Earl speaks with rob mclennan about the 25…

Episode 28

a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl talk poetry in Ottawa …

Episode 22

The Small Machine Talks, Episode 22
Recorded Sep…

Episode 13: Interview with Natalie Hanna

The Small Machine Talks with a.m. kozak and Amand…