Year in Review | 2016

Following my habit of the previous two years, I’m going to post another round up of things literary and academic from the past year. I suspect these will be interesting documents for me someday, looking back, but don’t expect anyone else to read them. Ignore at will.

On the academic front, I have just about finished my dissertation. “Make Contact: Contributive Bookselling and the Small Press in Canada Following the Second World War” is 28 days from being submitted (January 27, 2017). At four chapters, approximately 260 pages, 79,000 words, 124 footnotes, and 3 appendices all in, it’s just about there.

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I was exceedingly quiet otherwise, saying ‘no’ to more things than ever before in an effort to complete the dissertation. I presented at one conference, speaking about “The Small Press Bookstore as Library and Archive” at Reading, Researching, and Using the Private Library at Concordia, and submitted another paper to be presented in 2017 (about the design and print history of Robert Kroetsch’s “Seed Catalogue” and Seed Catalogue, at the upcoming Robert Kroetsch Symposium at the University of Ottawa).

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On the literary front, I signed a book contract (!) for my first trade collection: Book of Annotations is forthcoming from Invisible Publishing (!) in Spring 2018. Formal editing to begin soon. My portrait was painted as part of Melanie Janisse Barlow’s The Poets Series, which was an odd but thrilling experience (you can buy a print here, if you’re so inclined). I received my first formal arts funding through the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers’ Reserve Program. I published a tiny and lovingly-designed chapbook, Refrain, with Puddles of Sky Press in their wonderful Chapoems series, and a lovely little poem/bookmark/broadside with shreeking violet press. I placed a poem in NOON | journal of the short poem, something I’m quite proud to have managed. I also made the shortlist again for the John Lent Poetry/Prose Award from Kalamalka Press, two years running now. I read in Kingston and Ottawa. I had the opportunity to help with the typesetting of The Calgary Renaissance (Ottawa: Chaudiere Books, 2016), edited by derek beaulieu and rob mclennan, an experience that taught me a great deal. I hope I’ll be able to do more book design work beyond Apt. 9 Press going forward. As well, something I wrote about Nelson Ball on this very blog showed up as a blurb on the back cover of his 2016 trade collection Chewing Water–something I never expected. Seeing my words on the back of one of my hero’s books is difficult to describe, but I couldn’t be happier.

Apt. 9 Press placed three books on the five-book shortlist for the 2016 bpNichol Chapbook Award: Marilyn Irwin, Lillian Nećakov, and Nelson Ball were shortlisted beside works from Anstruther Press (Klara du Plessis) and Nomados Literary Publishers (Christine Stewart), and Nelson came out the winner! It was an unexpectedly busy end of the year because of the overwhelmingly good news. Apt. 9 had been on hiatus through 2016, but the news was too good to hold that position and I made the trip to the Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market in Toronto to accept the award on Nelson’s behalf at the end of November. I got to speak about Nelson and his chapbook on CBC All in a Day, and Gary Barwin kindly included it in this list over at CBC Books. I published only one new title this year, Lea Graham’s This End of the World: Notes to Robert Kroetsch–despite Lea being in the United States, and our inability to launch it in any formal way, it has gotten a really wonderful reception full of positive reviews. We’re trying to sort out a reading to celebrate the book properly in 2017, details to follow. Apt. 9 has big plans for next year, but I’ll keep quiet about those for the moment.

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On the literary-personal front, William Hawkins passed away. It still rattles me that he’s gone, but lots of good work is underway to keep his memory alive. Most recently, I had the opportunity to chair a panel about “Ottawa and the Beats” at the Carleton University Art Gallery to coincide with an exhibition of Allen Ginsberg’s photographs. Bill was a subject of discussion by the panel that included Roy MacSkimming, Robert Holton, and Robert Hogg, and the room was full of amazing books, ephemera, posters, and conversation. I also completed my erasures of Bill’s Ottawa Poems using Bill’s own typewriter. Look for a public celebration in 2017.

Apologies for anything I’ve forgotten at this moment. I’ll update as things reoccur to me. Onto 2017.

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My birthday present from Jenn, November 2016.
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