Episode 22

The Small Machine Talks, Episode 22

Recorded September 4, 2017

a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl

We speak about recent events, including Canthius, Sawdust and above/ground press’ 24th anniversary. We discuss the difficulties of focusing on other readers when you’re a featured reader. Amanda is unnerved when people recite their work. We talk about the poise of spoken word poets Blue and Apollo the Child, the power of Nathalie Hanna’s work, how Emily Sanford kept going in the rain, Laboni Islam’s ability to memorize her poems. We discuss Backdrop, the new venue where above/ground press celebrated its anniversary and the readers, Adele Graf, Stephanie Bolster, Kristina Drake, rob mclennan. Amanda discusses feeling comfortable reading in front of friends. We express awe that above/ground press has been around for 24 years. Aaron pretends to be younger than he is.

Aaron describes Kontinuum, an installation at the Lyon Street Light Rail station. Amanda is too claustrophobic to handle it. He also went to Mosaica, the horticultural sculptures in Gatineau. Both events were free. Aaron yearns for a fox companion.

We discuss Bookthug’s new record label, Chaos and Star


We morn the death of John Ashbery and talk about Flow Chart and the Tennis Court Oath, Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror and the abstract nature of his work. We learn that even Ashbery wondered if anyone was interested in his poetry. Aaron talked about wanting to choose the Tennis Court Oath for his thesis. He was dissuaded. And this is how he ended up working with the poetry of Lisa Robertson.


Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror, the poem after the painting by Paramigianino


Aaron praises Harvey’s veggie burgers and found out about Ashbery’s death via a big screen tv at Harvey’s.

Bonus link to John Ashbery poems: http://jacket2.org/commentary/ashbery-decision-write-short-vs-long-poems-more

Amanda talks about Dictée by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, which opens with the quote, “May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew sensitive than nerve.” Sappho. Amanda finds the book difficult to get into. One of the issues with the book is the poor quality of the reprint. After a brief discussion of loathed fonts, Ariel and Comic Sans, the documentary film on Helvetica comes up:


Aaron has been slogging through the Creative Community Builders Handbook by Tom Burrop

https://creativecommunitybuilders.com/ to figure out how to do community development as a full time gig through the arts.

Aaron also read a poem by Richard Siken entitled “Wishbone” http://www.colorado.edu/journals/standards/V7N1/MMM/siken.html thanks to a line tweeted out by JC Bouchard, “Did he find that one last tender place to sink his teeth in?”

Aaron read “Ritual Nostalgia: Revising the MFA Stasis”  an essay by Domenica Martinello on Carte Blanche, whose new editor is friend of the podcast, Klara Du Plessis. The essay is about Domenica’s  experience at the Iowa Writers Workshop and expectations for MFA programs.



Aaron is interested in performance and learning from stand up comics and how they perform. Bone also writes of play on words in the work of comedians. Amanda would like to read about the linguistic devices of comedy. Aaron talks about the linguistic communalities, timing, rhythm and attention to detail. The article talks about similarities between comedy and poetry.

We talk about upcoming events at Tree Reading Series, Venus Envy, Sawdust’s third year anniversary. Amanda will be on CKCU’s Friday Special Blend to talk about the upcoming literary season: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/158/info.html

Aaron mentions a new magazine for poets who have lived in the Pacific Northwest, Cascadia Rising Review.

Call for Submission: Nōd Issue 22 unthemed issue deadline Oct 20 U of Calgary


Amanda mentions a new magazine called Augur http://www.augurmag.com/about-augur/

Aaron reads a quote from Bänoo Zan from the Kris Bone essay/interview in the Puritan, http://puritan-magazine.com/relationship-play-relationship-craft-conversation-poetry-stand-comedy/. which is best read in the contest of the interview. Your thoughts are welcome and we’ll discuss next episode.

“What I feel is happening in the current Canadian literary scene is that people—the left—are turning against themselves. As soon as you dare question the practices now that everyone else has come to consensus with, and your vision is different, people are so intolerant against you that they don’t give you a chance to even open your mouth. They just silence you out of the whole conversation. And I don’t like it. Can I say I don’t like it? It’s politically incorrect but I’m going to say it… I think artists have forgotten that we are fighting not against ourselves, but against ignorance, against stupidity, against monopolies that are controlling people’s lives. They show more resentment against a fellow artist whose idea is a little bit different from theirs; I don’t see that much reaction against the enemy they claim they’re fighting. If I, as a poet, have no tolerance whatsoever to listen to another poet who might be different, why do I expect the audience to listen to me? Why do I expect people to buy my book—people who might be even more different from me than my fellow poet, right?”

Thank you to Charles Earl, sound engineer, Jennifer Pederson, intro/outros and all of you for listening and sharing the podcast.

Until next time!

Stay tuned for our interview with Faizal Deen in mid-September.