Sunday, November 8, 2009
On Sunday, November 29th at 2: 00 p.m.
At the Artword Artbar,
15 Colbourne Street, Hamilton, Ontario
Confirmed readers include:
On January 3rd at 7:30 p.m.
Lit Live presents Dream Catcher 23
at The Bread and Roses Cafe
27 King William Street, Hamilton, Ontario
Kate Marshall Flaherty
Other readers to be announced.
Toronto readings are being arranged for 2010.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
On Sunday, November 29 at 2 p.m., Canadian writers published in this distinguished international journal will take the stage at the Artword Artbar at 15 Colbourne Street. Have a look at the Artword Artbar website here. See the previous post in this blog for more information about the magazine Dream Catcher 23.
Then, on Sunday, January 3, 2010 the reading series Lit Live will host Dream Catcher authors beginning at 7:30 p.m. Lit Live is Hamilton's premier monthly reading series and has provided many up-and-coming Hamilton writers with valuable public exposure. Along the way it has also brought many fine writers to Hamilton during its twelve years of operation. Lit Live's venue is The Skydragon Centre. Readings take place on the first floor, in the Bread and Roses Cafe.
We are contacting authors published in the journal, and will soon announce who will be reading. More news to come!
Copies of Dream Catcher 23 will be available for the exclusive event price of $15. See you there!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
DC 23 also includes George Amabile, who has appeared in over 100 anthologies and journals internationally and John B Lee, with 50 books published, who has won the Winston Collins Award for the best Canadian poem. The range of this magazine/anthology is vast, from the young Domenico Capilongo to P.K. Page, the veteran poet and winner of Governor General's Award, who joined the Griffin Prize shortlist a few years ago. Along with poetry, Steven Bock's wonderfully witty and moving urban story 'Bonsai Garden' shows Canadian short fiction is as strong as ever. Canadian writing participates in a large number of genres and sub-cultures; many are represented in issue 23.
Additionally there are reviews of leading Canadian poets such as Garry Gottfriedson, Jeanette Lynes, Katherine Lawrence, Randall Maggs, and Don Domanski.
Dive into new waters with Dream Catcher 23.
Readers in North America should contact this blog to order a copy. Simply post a comment with your email included in the text and the moderator will contact you with all the information. The price is $15 (US) plus shipping. We do accept PayPal. News about launches in Canadian cities is forthcoming!
Readers in Europe: please use this ordering link.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Yes, the Canadians write poetry too. And you’ve not read any of it. What about that Ondaatje fellow? And Margaret Atwood, she did a novel recently; oh what was it called? Fear not, Canadian poetry is not crowding out the fiction and non-fiction on Canadian bookstore shelves, despite the Griffin Prize for Poetry, the ReLIT Awards, and the Governor-General’s Prize for poetry. Readers new to Canadian poetry should watch out for Nature as a battleground, country mice in the city, spiritual searches, and surrealism, to name but a few of the concerns Canadian poets have on their minds. I could write at length about whether form matters at all in
poetry but I haven’t the space. Think of what follows as a very brief (and subjective) review of four of Canada’s leading poets in an effort to show some of the range of Canadian poetic writing.
Don McKay (Apparatus, Another Gravity, Vis-a-Vis)
Short-listed for the Canadian Governor General’s award, Apparatus is the central book in McKay’s career. This is the one where he articulated first and best his
. . . attempt to focus on those elements of the natural world that we’ve claimed, and made tools of. I made a very conscious effort to do that, and to look at landscape that has been made into apparatus, or even worse. So apparatus . . . is wilderness that we have relieved of its anonymity, its autonomy, and made ours, owned for the life of that object . . . I was also interested in this because of environmental devastation and my sense that it stems partly from our capacity to own tools permanently, to extinguish their wilderness. The thing will be ours forever. A manic ownership. (McKay, Where the Words Come From, p. 52)
What really draws Canadian readers to McKay, more than his ability to join together the concerns of culture and the environment, are his “virtuoso vocals” which seem to be applied to common Canadian situations in the most powerful way. His poems have a firm construction and yet they are very playful. Line breaks are continually going against expectations. His handling of the emotional moment is nuanced and fresh. Though there are philosophical overtones to his work, (Levinas, Heidigger) everything is accessible. If only one example of his poetry can be quoted here, let it be this little gem where McKay shows how creative the lyrical impulse can be, if we can put aside the weight of the poetic canon:
Song for the Song of the Wood Thrush
For the following few seconds, while the ear
inhales the evening
only the offhand is acceptable. Poetry
clatters. The old contraption pumping
iambs in my chest is going to take a break
and sing a little something. What? Not much. There’s
a sorrow that’s so old and silver, it’s no longer
sorry. There’s a place
between desire and memory, some back porch
we can neither wish for, nor recall.
(McKay, Apparatus, p. 27)
Karen Solie (Short Haul Engine , Modern and Normal)
To some extent, Karen Solie’s amazing poems have broken through to wide admiration on the back of McKay’s work in moving Canadian literary attitudes about nature forward. McKay’s poetry has helped other Canadian poets to treat things of the earth and air with more familiarity. Solie has a farmer’s attitude towards the wilderness, or one should say, towards the land. Romance and eroticism in her work are often below the surface or obscured by grittiness, small town banality, and the disparities of sexual power. Many poems are set in cars, or on the road, or inevitably, in motels. She has an ambivalent posture towards men, and yet a conversational, precise, and canny approach towards language emerges. The dialogue sounds offhand, but it’s serious. Half of her art is in what she chooses to personify, as in “Ill Wind”:
Farmers are at home watching topsoil call it a day
and lift off toward Manitoba, watching roots
of nursery poplars lose their babyish grip, wishing
they could gather it all in their arms.
(Solie, Short Haul Engine, p. 77)
Her female narrators, like the one in “Possibility,” want something they can only articulate by pursuing it. Escape from one’s crummy life is one possibility, but escape to what?
A rented late-model car. Strewn gear. Clothes,
books, liquor, one good knife for slicing
limes. Motel the orange of an old rind, bud green
and remaindered blue for trim. Some schemes
shouldn’t work, but do. A square room
with balcony two floors above the strip. Real
keys. A man sleeping on the bed,
or pretending to. It will be alright. It’s not
too late. We left on the sly and nothing bad
happened. Every desire ponied up, in fact,
down to the nod, as though our due. The roads
. . . .
On the fourth day we repacked
and drove back in.
(Solie, Modern and Normal, p. 16)
The line breaks add peculiarity, disorientation, and in the case of the one good knife, menace. There’s a refreshing kind of vigor and energy (one might even say violence) in Solie’s poetry which is very distinctive and attractive.
Russell Thornton (The Fifth Window, House Built of Rain , The Human Shore)
In the best of Irving Layton’s poetry readers discovered the spirit within the flesh. One thinks of “The Bull Calf” or “Against this Death.” In much of Russell Thornton’s poetry too, we are given powerful insights about the spirit in the flesh and wilderness at the edge of civilization:
A Memory of a Deer
It had come down into the city
out of the mountains in the night
and gotten lost, had sensed the dawn
heard car noises at the corner,
heard the police station and the hospital
across the street, and, bewildered
come into this silence and deeper dark
within the still-dark morning to hide.
Now I, a human, had approached it.
And the deer stood there like a child
caught doing something wrong.
Once I was told that years ago
in summer, deer would come down
out of the humming mountains
through the night and keep going,
swimming the mile-wide inlet
from North Van to downtown.
The city wharves would stop them,
and they would struggle for hours,
trying and trying to get ashore.
In the morning, men would drag up
exhausted or dead deer
like fish into the nets of their arms.
And once, desperate and dazed, I entered
those cold dark waters, held on
to a broken old wharf that sat there
near the foot of Lonsdale Avenue,
then pushed myself into the inlet
with the intention of swimming out
further than I could swim back.
But came back, with no idea why,
with no need to know why,
only my own weeping and laughing.
It must have been the memory
of that underground parking lot deer
already coming to life in me
that took me down to the water
that night and made me swim out
and also made me turn around.
Then, the memory must have been
just a pinpoint hidden in my body,
but a light which would begin to burn
and lead me without my knowing it
through time to another night
and to where the deer stood in the dark —
so the light could become the deer,
and the deer, a vision of the deer:
its strong delicate-looking head
and neck as it swims across the water,
its forelegs, flexed haunches, and hind legs
as it lifts itself onto a wharf,
and begins its run through the city
to a forest and a secret herd.
(Thornton, The Fifth Window, p. 68)
Thornton’s poetry is full of this kind of rich, haunting story-telling. In “Fifteenth and Lonsdale” (The Human Shore) we see “the mountain sits, dressed in trees, and endlessly clear [. . .] It never ceases turning our gazes back to us — it has no prophecy other than this.”
Thornton uses the Canadian west coast environment (and other specific locales) as a means of
exploring the divine. Often a whole poem begins to feel like a pulsing metaphor. These searches, or fundamental observations of his poems, often extend into meditations on spiritual matters that are so distinctive they are part of his poetic voice.
Gary Barwin (Outside the Hat, Cruelty to Fabulous Animals, Raising Eyebrows)
Gary Barwin often starts with a normal setting for a narrative and then departs for surreal territory as quickly as possible. Everything in the literary tradition, (and for that matter, in the contemporary world), is subject to Barwin’s funny, sharp, and energetic treatment. Images pour out of Barwin's narrators like water in a fast tumbling river.
Mike Harris made me eat my dog
he made me eat telephone poles
he made me eat a map of Moscow
he was there while i was waiting at a bus stop
i was about to talk to him
to walk right up and enter into a discussion
about the governing of Ontario
but then the bus came
and i opened my mouth
and the bus drove right in
and it was full of little people
told by yellow signs to
move to the back
yes further please
thank you the signs said
and a young man
who had himself just opened his mouth to a bus
began to feel the people moving back beyond his molars
back to where he had trouble flossing
and a few slipped on his wet tongue
and it was like Disney on ice except there was no Goofy
and they made frantic calls to their lawyers
and then suddenly Goofy appeared sporting a fedora
and his nose
suddenly his nose was Ecuador
and i could see the imaginary line of the equator
arcing across the sky
(Barwin, Outside the Hat, p. 47)
He parodies and puns cleverly and many poems become trips in a mind-altering sense, a journey to who-knows-where, yet with the purpose of tearing open the materials of modern life to give them closer examination. The insides of the body, particularly the digestive and reproductive systems, are often used as settings, although the poems also go under water, into outer space, and ramble into ancient history as often as not. Parodies of literary forms, Chaucerian language, antique book illustrations, and creative typography all find their way into Barwin’s books.
Many poems run two pages or more and when Barwin reads them, they are delivered in a precise, rapid-fire voice, as if one is witnessing a poet in a jam session with his imagination. What makes all this work however is Barwin’s discipline as a writer, and the enormous erudition he hides under his hat, to adjust the title of one of his books.
While there at least another fifty Canadian poets alive today who are writing at the level of McKay, Solie, Thornton, and Barwin — these poets have been selected for their range, freshness, and their wisdom with language. My apologies to the other fine (and award winning) Canadian poets who could not be mentioned. Additionally the influence of many poets such as Al Purdy, Earl Birney, Gwendolyn McEwen, and b p nichol — all of whom have passed away in the last thirty years — could not be touched on. This essay gives only the smallest taste of four Canadian poets’ work and they must stand as representatives of a thriving Canadian poetry scene.
by Chris Pannell
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Poems can be of any length, in any form, and on any subject.
Deadline: September 30, 2008
Submissions by email are welcome as either plain text in the body of an email or as Microsoft Word attachments. Email your submissions to
Paper submissions can be mailed to:
Editor, Dream Catcher
4 Church Street
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
This issue celebrates the Canadian poet David Haskins and the American-Croatian poet, translator, and critic Mario Susko. Dream Catcher 21 will be launched at Bryan Prince, Bookseller in West Hamilton on the evening of Wednesday May 7th. Mario Susko, Paul Sutherland and other poets will be on hand to read from their poetry.
The new issue also contains:
- fresh translations of the famous 20th c. Austrian poet, Ingeborg Bachmann
- an new story by the young Canadian-Welsh writer Tyler Keevil,
- 'Fishhook' and 'Out of my League' by Carol Topolski whose novel Monster Love has just been long-listed for the Orange Prize in the UK.
- the fine studied poetry of Jan FitzGerald, from New Zealand
- the newly discovered Henry Marsh, freshly evoked images of the Scottish Isles, and three masterful poems by the prize winning poet, Patrick Carrington from America
- new work by Yahia Lababidi from the Middle East,
- some of the latest writing by Gail Denby from South Africa
- a tale of the fabulous sexual aspirations of a 10 year old in modern Khajuraho, in the story "The Feast", by Sonya Singh from India.
- Joy Armstrong's depictions of the dangers of stealing too much in the Cuban hotel trade and much, much more.
The issue also contains a great long poem by the prize winning UK poet, Sue Wood who portrays the drama around the excavation of the Anglo Saxon ship burial in the 1930s at Sutton Hoo, in south east England, by the eccentric landowner Mrs Pretty.
Issue 21 is rounded off with a moving exploration of four contemporary Canadian poets by Chris Pannell. Dream Catcher is published in the U.K. and editor Paul Sutherland will be on hand to discuss the journal, read selections, and answer questions. The issue is diverse, full of wonderful poems and stories: a magazine that’s both informed and engaging.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Dream Catcher has grown in twelve years from a small chapbook attached to a UK college into a respected journal with contributors and a readership from around the world. Funded by the Arts Council of England, it has grown steadily, attracting high quality writers, expanding its readership, and influencing the UK literary scene.
High production standards have been, from the outset, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Dream Catcher. It has worked with the printers The Max in York to create a beautifully presented and robust publication. Since 2000 Dream Catcher has been published in Lincoln; during this time it has further evolved into a small press, participating in government-funded projects to help the disadvantaged in the community by giving them opportunities for self-expression and publication. The resulting books have given Dream Catcher communal focus to coincide with the magazine's pursuit of excellence and diversity.