Riley Tench – Printed Poetry

I don’t know much about poet Riley Tench, who died in November 2006 before I’d heard his name. I know that he was a member of the Peterborough Poets of the 1970s with the likes of Michael Dennis, Maggie Helwig, Dennis Tourbin, Ward Maxwell, Richard Harrison, and others. I know that he became an Ottawa-transplant with contemporary Michael Dennis, and was active in the writing, performing, and small press communities here in the 1980s. There is a Riley Tench Poetry Bursary at Trent, where many of the Peterborough Poets mets. Some further context is available in rob mclennan’s profiles of Michael Dennis here and here. I’d like to know more about him, and hopefully this post will prompt those who knew him to share memories and information.

This post comes from a publication of Tench’s that Michael Dennis gifted to me: Printed Poetry. There is virtually zero bibliographical information on Tench in the world, so I thought I would document Printed Poetry here to rectify this in some small way, and also to document a piece of Ottawa’s literary history that receives little attention.

I should say at this juncture that I am posting photographs of Printed Poetry with respect for Riley Tench’s work, and out of a desire to make available information on at least this one accomplishment of his. I will happily take down these photos immediately should anyone object to my posting them. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns. Also, please accept my apologies for some of the blurrier photos below.

Printed Poetry, printed in 1984 at Parkinson Printing Ottawa, and designed by papyr tiger product (Tench’s publishing operation), is a remarkably ambitious publication. It is contained in a nondescript blue folder, and is comprised of a number of individual items: Popular Misconception (“a booklet of six poems”), Poetry Product (“an assortment of thirteen poems in three sections: Puzzles, Postcards and Paraphernalia”), and Poems in Print (“a folder of six poems”). These items are printed in a number of ways, from traditionally stapled chapbooks, to spiral bound groups of envelopes, to loose pages gathered in another folder. They are printed on paper, receipt paper, envelopes, cards, and stickers. It demands that the reader take it apart in order to gain access to all of its parts.

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Popular Misconception is a stapled chapbook of six poems.

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Poetry Product is spiral bound and itself contains three sections: Puzzles, Postcards, and Paraphernalia.

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Puzzles are printed on and in an envelope.

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Calendar poem is a set of stickers to be affixed to the calendar, presumably writing something coherent but I don’t have the heart to peel the stickers.

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An untitled piece is printed on piece of paper intended to be torn apart and rearranged into a poem.

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The final puzzle has a list of sources, possibly intended to be matched to the lines in the poems contained within?

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Small concrete poems occupy the space between Puzzles and Postcards.

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Postcards is a set of three individual postcards (in duplicate). The doubles are perhaps to allow you to keep a set and to send one away.

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Each includes the note, “Postcard Poetry – Make and Send Your Own.”

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Paraphernalia is an envelope that must be torn open. My copy was already torn open, thankfully, or I likely would have done so myself.

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There is a small sticker:

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A small folded piece of card stock:

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A poem printed on transfer receipt paper:

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Another concrete poem on what appears to be a window decal:

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And two poems that I believe must have had pieces that were torn off in order to read them:

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Finally, Poems in Print is a folder containing six poems gathered together loosely.

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I recently published a chapbook by Ben Ladouceur through Apt. 9 Press using a similar design idea to this, and realize now that I must have absorbed the idea from Tench’s item when Michael gave it to me a few years ago.

There is also a small card with some acknowledgements.

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It is a truly remarkable collection of poem-objects, and makes me curious about what Tench’s other publications might have looked like. What other books, or book-like items, are out there?

I have three large broadsides containing work by a number of poets, also gifted by Michael Dennis, from “papyr tiger product” that show some other dimensions of Tench’s range as a publisher and designer.

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Roman Feuilleton | Michèle Provost

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I am delighted to be taking part in Michèle Provost’s upcoming show, Roman Feuilleton, a “promotional campaign for a series of literary works” based on “a surrealist text which Provost herself has composed out of lines from four of Québec’s literary landmarks; Anne Hébert’s Kamouraska, Michel Tremblay’s La grosse femme d’à côté est enceinte, Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés, and Une saison dans la vie d’Emmanuel, by Marie-Claire Blais.”

The show opens on Friday June 13, 2014, at Centre d’exposition L’Imagier in Gatineau, with a vernissage at 6pm followed by a poetry reading at 8pm. I will be a part of the poetry reading, reading new work based on Michèle’s text. It was a fun challenge to work solely with Michèle’s words, which were themselves taken and translated from the initial four novels. My set of poems, titled “Elsewhere”, take their cue from Barbara Godard’s argument that “the partial inclusion of Quebec literary works within the field of English-Canadian cultural production decontextualizes and refracts them: a few works are admitted to inoculate the field against difference, against alterity, but not enough to effect real change” (“A Literature in the Making: Rewriting and the Dynamism of the Cultural Field”).

Other poets reading include Christian Bouchard, Monique Desnoyers, Amanda Earl, Guy Jean, Glenn Nuotio, Pearl Pirie, Carmel Purkis, Sandra Ridley & Grant Wilkins.

Hope to see you there!

ROMAN FEUILLETON Press Release

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William Hawkins Bibliography | Happy Birthday, Bill!

Happy Birthday, William Hawkins! 74 years old today!

In honour, I am attaching a bibliography that I have been compiling gradually over the last few years. It expands on the descriptive bibliography published through Apt. 9 Press a few years ago. This includes a number of individual items not included in that first effort, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of magazine publications (well, “comprehensive”; undoubtedly things are missing).

William Hawkins – Bibliography – May 2014

Bill’s bibliography is rich with interesting visuals. To expand a bit on the file posted above, I am including photographs of a number of these items below.

Books

Shoot Low Sheriff, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies! with Roy MacSkimming. Ottawa: [n.p.], 1964.

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Two Longer Poems: the Seasons of Miss Nicky by Harry Howith and Louis Riel by William Hawkins. Toronto: Patrician Press, 1965.

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Hawkins: Poems 1963-1965. Ottawa: Nil Press, 1966.

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Ottawa Poems. Kitchener: Weed/Flower Press, 1966.

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The Gift of Space: Selected Poems 1960/1970. Toronto: new press, 1971.

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The Madman’s War. Ottawa: S.A.W. Publication, 1974.

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Dancing Alone: Selected Poems. Fredericton: Broken Jaw Press (Cauldron Books 5), 2005.

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the black prince of bank street. Ottawa: above/ground press, 2007.

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Sweet & Sour Nothings. Ottawa: Apt. 9 Press, 2010.

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Broadsides

“Postage Stamps.” Ottawa: Nil Press, [1962].

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“Thinking of Cobwebs, for Nelson Ball.” Ottawa: 1cent #362, 2005.

“King Kong Meets Godzilla.” Ottawa: above/ground press broadside #318, 2013.

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Anthologies

New Wave Canada: The New Explosion in Canadian Poetry. Toronto: Contact Press, 1966.

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Modern Canadian Verse. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1967.

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Poetry of Relevance. Toronto: Methuen, 1970.

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Northern Comfort. Ottawa: Commoner’s Press, 1973.

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Ground Rules: the best of the second decade of above/ground press. Ottawa: Chaudiere Books, 2013.

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Other Items

Christopher’s Movie Matinee. National Film Board of Canada, 1968.

Dancing Alone: The Songs of William Hawkins. True North Records, 2008.

The Children. Time Capsule: The Unreleased 1960’s Masters. True North Records, 2013.

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Some Further [1960s & 1970s] Coach House

Some further titles not included on last week’s list.

Coleman, Victor. Light Verse. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1969.

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Colour photographs tipped in throughout.

Gist, T. Kenneth. Night. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1972.

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“Printed in Canada on Canadian Paper.”

Nations, Opal L. Stabbed to Death with Artificial Respiration. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1977.

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“A Surrealist Detective Story.”

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Ondaatje, Michael. Rat Jelly. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1973.

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Webb, Phyllis. Wilson’s Bowl. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1980.

This one is less radical in terms of design (and we’re into 1980 now), but I love the blue wrappers hidden under the dust jacket repeating the image from the cover.

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Some [1960s & 1970s] Coach House

Photos of a selection of visually-interesting Coach House items from the first decade or so of the life of the press that I am lucky enough to have copies of, in alphabetical order.

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Proof of Barbara Caruso print from the cover of Nelson Ball’s The Pre-Linguistic Heights in the background.

Some history of the renowned press can be found here, including a video tour of the space with Stan Bevington. There is little I can say about the accomplishments of Coach House in terms of the aesthetic book-objects that they produced in the early years that hasn’t already been said by someone more articulate than I. This post is a simple visual acknowledgement of the beauty of the work they brought into the world of Canadian small press.

Ball, Nelson. The Pre-Linguistic Heights. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1970.

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Coleman, Victor. One Eye Love. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1967.

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“PRINTED IN CANADA BY MINDLESS ACID FREAKS”

Cull, David. Cancer Rising. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1970.

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Drawings by Elizabeth Cull.

Davey, Frank. Weeds. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1970.

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McCaffery, Steve. Ow’s Waif. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1975.

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Endpapers.

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McFadden, David. Poems Worth Knowing. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1971.

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bpNichol. Two Novels. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1969. [Second Edition Pictured].

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Ondaatje, Michael. The Dainty Monsters. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1967.

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Phillips, David. The Dream Outside. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1967.

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Rosenblatt, Joe. The LSD Leacock. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1966. [Second Printing pictured]

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Wah, Fred. Among. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1972.

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A pair of international writers:

cobbing, bob. bill jubobe: selected texts of bob cobbing 1942-1975. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1976.

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Warsh, Lewis. Part of My History. Toronto: The Coach House Press, 1972.

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Cover by Joe Brainard.

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And as a little bonus, two House of Anansi titles (both of which one the Governor General’s Award) that were designed and printed at Coach House (see Stephen Cain’s dissertation, “Imprinting Identities: An Examination of the Emergence and Developing Identities of Coach House Press and House of Anansi Press (1967-1982) for further discussion of the relation between the two operations).

Bowering, George. The Gangs of Cosmos. Toronto: House of Anansi, 1969.

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Ondaatje, Michael. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems. Toronto: House of Anansi, 1970.

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Like many, I buy these when I see them. It is striking today, pulling them down from the shelves all together, to note that each of these titles is by a male writer. I don’t see too many women listed in the early years from Coach House in Tweny/20. I’m not sure how Anansi fared along these lines.

 

Crad Kilodney (1948-2014)

Crad Kilodney, (in)famous Canadian fiction writer and street-bookseller, died yesterday. I know Crad’s work, and I know stories about Crad, but I never knew him personally and never made direct contact with him.

Like many of my generation (I suspect), I first encountered his name in Stuart Ross’s Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer. While describing his own adventures selling self-published books on the streets of Toronto, Ross invoked Crad: “Crad Kilodney, the grandfather of literary street vendors, got me into this. During his 15 years on a the street, he sold 35,000 books of his demented fiction, making him one of Canada’s top-selling literary writers. A misanthrope to begin with, he became increasingly bitter and angry over those years” (34).

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News that Crad was unwell spread over the past few months, and some that knew him well began posting short memoirs of Crad. Stuart Ross and Jay MillAr posted two that were particularly thoughtful and honest about Crad’s influence and legacy. [Update: There is now a new post by Lorette C. Luzajic who was with Crad at the end. Lorette is responsible for The Crad Kilodney Literary Foundation and has written on him in two of her books.]

In December, a story was posted on Crad’s website, announced on his Facebook page with the following note: “”Thank you to all my readers, old and new, for your support. This is the last piece I will publish in my lifetime.” The story, “Dreaming With Kay”, is touching and sad and deeply moving.

I am in the process of planning my dissertation chapters. When all is said and done, Crad will make an appearance in chapter five. It is very possible that Crad would have disapproved of this. I can’t find the passage at the moment, but somewhere in one of his books on my shelf Crad wonders if someday an academic will attempt to make a name for him or herself off of his work, while he suffers and dies in poverty. This is a contradiction I will confront when I arrive at it.

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What I do know is that Crad did something remarkable standing on the street with his books and with his placards. His critical gesture was emphatically public. For close to two decades he subsisted on a minuscule income garnered from selling a handful of his own books each day. In Putrid Scum, one of his two novels based on his street-bookselling experiences, he writes, “The whole premise of standing on the street was to be accessible to anyone who was interested, and to find my readers one at a time by letting them find me” (148). There is an openness and generosity and courage embodied in this, even though the experience itself often gave way to bitterness and frustration. In Excrement, the other novel about his experiences, he describes standing with his books in public, “bodily before a passing population of nitwits, illiterates, snobs, degenerates, mental cases, stiffs, creeps, assholes, phones, scumbags, cheapskates, and self-styled critics [understanding] my true position in the world, as well as the inconsequentiality of the poor little bundle of wood pulp into which [I had] poured all that I was humanly capable of!” (44).

The small press in Canada is richer for Crad Kilodney’s contributions to it.

Update: Moments after posting this, The Crad Kilodney Literary Foundation was launched.

Kilodney

 

Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto

“This American and Canadian literature course, with its minimal attention to Canadian literature, remained on the [University of Toronto] English curriculum for thirty years until finally, in 1954, Robert McDougall convinced the department to offer a full course in Canadian literature. In spite of McDougall’s efforts, however, the course was open only to students not majoring in English.” (164)

King, Sarah D. “An Uncomfortable Match: Canadian Literature and English Departments in Canada, 1919-1965.” Diss. University of Western Ontario, 2003.