Toronto poet Margaret Christakos read at the Montreal launch of Coach House and Snare Books along with seven other writers on Sunday night at the Green Room in Montreal. Host JP Fiorentino, charming as ever, kept the pace moving but it was still long, long, and yet, a good night all around. Highlights were Jeramy Dodds reading from Crabwise to the Hounds, Kyle Buckley's The Laundromat Essay, and Christakos reading from What Stirs. Montrealer Pasha Malla was clearly a crowd favorite and for good reason: the text is funny, accessible, and he knows how to work a crowd. Other readers included Concordia and Matrix's own Mike Spry in a witty turn that reminded me a little of early Corey Frost, and finally Michael Blouin, Geoffrey Hlibchuk and Mike Hoolboom. (Yes, that's two Mikes and a Michael in one night.) Of the fiction, which is harder to get a sense of in such a short reading, The Steve Machine stood out for it's utter quirkiness.
It isn't just the title of the Dodds book that appeals (though I do think a reference to Hound is always a good thing). The book--which I've not yet read in its entirety--seems to signal a continued synthesis of the best in Canadian poetics to me: a continuing complexity language and lyric modes, riffing simultaneously off the juicy syntax of the likes of Dennis Lee and Ken Babstock, as well as the procedural and language based modes of people like Christopher Dewdney, Christian Bok, Darren Wershler, Christakos herself, Rachel Zolf and others. I like that it references both Tim Lilburn and Dewdney and that it features a transliterated or homolinquistic translation of Ho Chi Minh, but I was a bit surprised to see it so slender.
Buckley's book also appealed on the strength of the reading alone. It's a narrative of detours and folds in on itself, a smart, self-reflective and expansive text--expansive is something that I crave these days. Take me out! Or perhaps more accurately, Think me Out.
There was another Montreal launch a while back: Oana Avasilichioaei's feria: a poempark, and Yedda Morrison's new book. This to add to the long list of books received and not yet reviewed, which includes Emily Shcultz, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Stephen Brockwell, Tim Lilburn, Mary Burger, Vanessa Place, Liz Treadwell, K.Silem Mohammad, Sachiko Murakami, Stephen Collis, Daphne Marlatt, Kate Greenstreet, Mary Burger, Dodie Bellamy, Alison Pick and so on.
More on Christakos reading to come shortly.