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Orville Lloyd Douglas’ Under My Skin Listed in NY Daily News’ “Black History Month’s Books Round-Up”

Under My SkinIn its recent “Black History Month Books Round-Up”, the NY Daily News reviews Orville Lloyd Douglas’ Under My Skin (Guernica Editions, 2014) as one of five “notable books by African-American authors you probably haven’t heard of.”

The review describes Douglas’ collection as “raw”, and explains that “there is little that is perfect or ideal in Douglas’ work.”

Furthermore, it stresses the significance of the pressing subject matter that Douglas is tackling in the collection:

“As a Canadian, Douglas is trying to “shatter misconceptions” that Americans have about Canada: “Canada is not some racial utopia”.”

Orville Lloyd Douglas is a writer and social activist. His writing examines image versus reality of tolerance and multiculturalism in Canada from the perspective of a young, gay, black man. His poetry has received critical acclaim from George Elliott Clarke, who described Douglas’ first collection, You Don’t Know Me, as “bold and brash” and Ginsbergesque in “the same pell-mell rush of ideas and images that drives Howl.” Douglas resides in Brampton, Ontario

To read the full review, visit the New York Daily Website:

Under My Skin is available for purchase on the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Commentaries, Poetry, Reviews.

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Liana Langa and Margita Gailitis On Tour Promoting Deadly Nightshade

Liana LangaMargita Gailitis

Liana Langa will be touring Canada to promote her upcoming book from Guernica Editions, Deadly Nightshade. Margita Gailitis who translated the book will be joining her. Regarding Deadly Nightshade, Gay Allison has said that “Liana Langa swims and lingers in a powerful language that is both lyrical and political as she immerses us in the cycles and realities of the natural world and the wisdom it offers, if we would only listen and learn. Langa opens the floodgates of words as she questions and challenges our daily existence with an intensity that burns. She implores us to lean in together and awaken all of our collective senses as we explore our past history, our present relationships, and the future directions our lives could take.”

Born in 1960 in Riga, poet Liana Langa has worked for the international film forum Arsenal and as a translator from Russian and English. She is currently the manager of the publishing house Apostrofs and a member of the editorial team of the literary magazine Latvju Teksti (Latvian Writings). Liana has received the Poetry Day Award in 1998 and 2006, as well as the Annual Award in Literature in 2001.

Also born in Riga, poet and translator Margita Gailitis immigrated to Canada as a child. Gailitis returned to Riga in 1998 to work at the Translation and Terminology Center as part of a Canadian International Development Agency initiative. Today Gailitis focuses her energy on literary translation and poetry, having translated some of Latvia’s finest poetry, prose and dramaturgy. Gailitis’ own poetry has been widely published and has won her awards from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

Here are the dates and locations where Liana and Margita will be presenting:

April 19th – 4:00 PM in Toronto at the Latvian Centre Art Gallery Hall, 4 Credit Union Drive.

April 23rd – 7:00 PM in Ottawa at Peace Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, 83 Main Street.

April 24th – 12:00 PM at the Ottawa Writers Festival, location TBA.

April 26th – 2:00 PM in Montreal at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, in the Petit Salon at Hotel 10, 10 Sherbrooke West.

Posted in Events, News, Poetry, Promotions, Readings, Signings.

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Sonia Di Placido Speaks with The California Journal of Women Writers and Shares a New Poem

sonia di placidoIn the second part of her feature for The California Journal of Women Writers, Sonia Di Placido speaks with Claire Farley about her work, and shares a new poem, “This is Why I Called You Shrimp (or Squirt)”.

Di Placido explains the poem as “a recollection of memories from when [her sister] was a young girl and when she returned to California at twenty-years-old and lived there for a year.”

The theme of family, and of familial ties, arises on numerous occasions in the interview, as Di Placido speaks of her literary influences, of upcoming projects, and of the importance of women artists finding their voices in a world in which many still struggle with sexism and a lack of opportunities.

She explains her relationship with other poets like this:

“Other poets are like siblings to me. We don’t always get along or understand one another; some we do, but ultimately there’s this connectivity because we come from an ancestral lineage of poetry and poetics. “

In Exaltation in Cadmium Red (Guernica Editions, 2012) in particular, she explains being influenced by a great number of such “canonical writers jumping back and forth between Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, to twentieth-century Modernism, to postmodernism.”

The use of familial terms is similarly applicable to Di Placido as she describes the relationship between artistic mediums.

“Painting and Poetry are like relatives: siblings or cousins. They have similar essences. What I mean is that they both require a basic ingredient, let’s say flour, which is the “spirit” of a thing; this spirit, this essence, comes through and spurs the “act” of creative expression…they are mediums that share similar DNA, meaning that they have a shared lineage and origin.”

Besides working on her own poetry, Sonia Di Placido has run workshops devoted to the study of other women writers. She explains the importance this holds, and stresses the necessity for writers to foster a community rather than constantly working in solitude.

“A community or a nucleus of humans, ever evolving, is there to offer variety. For me, sitting and reading aloud, sharing the text with others, discussing other poets and writers and their work is important to the extension of our own capacities as writers and poets. Poetry ought to be read aloud not just in the privacy of a quiet space but also as a group reading. Really, to do both is nurturing.”

Furthermore, she expresses her concern with the struggle that women continue to experience with self-expression, sexuality and genetic disposition, despite having come a long way since the publication of Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” approximately 90 years ago. She incorporates this issue into her own work:

“I look at my ancestors. I look at how strengths and weaknesses can be one and the same; I look at the paradox of being a mother and attempt to understand what sort of influence a woman has in such a position. I look at how women have managed to develop safe partnerships with their own gender over the past two centuries in the home, under a patriarchy that is now evolving. …I write about process and the various emotions that persist in our post-colonial century, our evolution as women and the plight of gender neutrality, which is a huge issue moving forward into this century.”

She is currently working on a play and a series of poems which she hopes to publish before 2018.

Sonia Di Placido is a poet, playwright, writer, actor and artist currently completing her M.A. Graduate of the Ryerson University Theatre School and Honours in Humanities from York University, Sonia has experience as a Supernumerary with the Canadian Opera Company, is a member of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers and The League of Canadian Poets. She has published poems, profile pieces, interviews and reviews in literary print and online journals as well as various anthologies: Carousel, The Toronto Quarterly Blog, The Puritan, and Jacket2.

To read the full interview and “This is Why I Called You Shrimp (or Squirt)” visit The California Journal of Women Writers:
Exaltation in Cadmium Red is available for purchase on the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Interviews, Poetry.

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Guernica Authors David Joiner and Caroline Vu Speaking on This Year’s “Prose in the Park”

Guernica authors David Joiner and Caroline Vu have agreed to join the Prose in the Park panel: “Under the Papaya Tree – Vietnam Remembered”. Prose in the Park is an open-air literary festival and book fair that takes place in Ottawa on June 6th. “Under the Papaya Tree – Vietnam Remembered” is just one of the exciting panels that Prose in the Park will be offering, and will examine the resurgent interest of Vietnam in Canadian literature, especially forty years after the fall of Saigon and the exodus of the boatpeople. Joiner will be joined by Caroline Vu (author of Palawan Story, published by Deux Voiliers Publishing and That Summer in Provincetown, upcoming from Guernica Editions). Joiner, who has lived on and off in Vietnam for the last 21 years, and Vu, who left Vietnam in 1970, will be joined by two other panelists that are still being finalized.


David Joiner was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, but has since made his home in nearly 20 different cities across the US, Japan, and Vietnam. Lotusland is his first published novel.


Lotusland is about Nathan Monroe, a 28-year-old American living in Saigon who falls in love with a poor but talented Vietnamese painter. When he fails to protect their love from her desperate chase for a better life in America, his safety net appears in the form of Anthony, an old domineering friend in Hanoi who hires Nathan at his real estate firm. Only much later does Nathan discover that Anthony has intended all along for him to take over his job and family so that he, too, can escape and start his life over in America. Lotusland dramatizes the power imbalances between Westerners living abroad and between Westerners and Vietnamese — in love and friendship, in the consequences of war, and in the pursuit of dreams.


To read more about David Joiner, visit the Guernica website at:


To read more about Lotusland, visit the Guernica website at:


You can also find more information about the Prose in the Park project here:

Posted in Fiction, News.

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Max Layton Touring Toronto Venues With New Book, “In The Garden of I Am”

Guernica writer Max Layton is going to be touring Toronto venues with his new book, In The Garden of I Am. He’ll be at the following spots over the next few weeks, where you can buy a signed copy from Max, and listen to a few of his songs and poems:


March 4th – The Poetry Jazz Café, 224 Augusta Avenue, 7:30 – 9:30 PM

March 7th – Words and Music Salon (Vino Rosso), 995 Bay Street, 1:30 – 4:30 PM

March 8 – Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Avenue, 5 – 7 PM

March 15th – Lucky Mike’s (Vino Rosso), 995 Bay Street, 1 – 4:30 PM

March 24th – The Art Bar, 154 Danforth Avenue, 8 – 11 PM


A published novelist and short story writer, Max Layton went legally blind a decade ago and during that difficult period recorded his first CD of original songs and began the series of linked poems which would become When the Rapture Comes (Guernica, 2012). When his eyesight was restored, Max bounced back with the release of two more albums of songs as well as his new book of poetry, In The Garden of I Am.


In The Garden of I Am has been called “one hell of a book!” by Leonard Cohen, with poems that range from the intensely personal to the profoundly philosophical. Some are funny, some deadly serious, some filled with whimsy, some with horror. Although each poem begins with the same first three words, they stylistically vary from metered rhyme to the loopy unpredictable music of free verse.


For more information about Max Layton, visit the Guernica website at:


For more information about In The Garden of I Am, visit the Guernica website at:

Posted in News, Poetry, Readings, Signings.

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Grace Cavalieri Reviews Future Guernica Poet, Gil Fagiani’s, Stone Walls 

Gil FagianiIn a recent review of Gil Fagiani’s Stone Walls, Grace Cavalieri praises the poet’s writing: “he writes effortlessly, naturally, making us follow the action to where it leads us.”

She comments on various aspects of Fagiani’s work, including his ability to shift and lighten the tone of the poems as he “takes near tragedy to near irony and often comedy”; and on his characters, which she describes as “unforgettable.”

Cavalieri touches on the seriousness of poetry, and especially, as it relates to the theme of “childhood and adolescence” which is central to the collection:

“These poems say what the poet knows we can know and so they teach us that growing up is a story of change — but more importantly that the seriousness of poetry encapsulates even ugliness with its sweet humility.”

In these “emotionally dangerous poems,” Cavalieri notes, “ “Fagiani is the adult watching over the child.”

Gill Fagiani’s poetry collection Logos will be published by Guernica Editions in Spring 2015.

Gil Fagiani’s poetry collections include: Rooks, Grandpa’s Wine – which has been translated into Italian by Paul D’Agostino – A Blanquito in El Barrio, Chianti in Connecticut, and Serfs of Psychiatry. A social worker by profession, Gil worked for 12 years at a Bronx psychiatric hospital and directed a residential program for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in Downtown Brooklyn for 21 years.

To read the full review, visit the Washington Independent Review of Books website:

Posted in Commentaries, Poetry, Reviews.

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A Focus on Franz Kafka: Elana Wolff’s “Metamorphoses” published by EVENT Magazine, “Two Short Talks by Anne Carson” upcoming on Brick Books

Franz KafkaElana Wolff has a continuing interest in the life and works of Franz Kafka. Along with husband, Menachem Wolff, she translated Georg Mordechai Langer’s Poems and Songs of Love for Guernica’s A Hunger Artist & Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love (2014), and wrote the accompanying essay on Kafka which appears in the book. Franz Kafka and his writing often appear in Wolff’s own literary works— both in the form of allusions and as a direct subject in her literary essays.

Recently, EVENT poetry and prose magazine published three of Wolff’s poems. One of the poems, “Metamorphoses”, alludes to Franz Kafka and begins like this:

Some are born human, most have to humanize slowly.
I want to say I’m on my way > at this point: pelican;
in time, perhaps: writer. It seems every act of writing
is compensation for a shortfall of some sort; that to become
a writer one not only has to work hard at the part, but also
be a little less than human. Ideas like these weighed heavily
on Franz K. much of his truncated life. In fact, under their
anvil, he forged one of the few perfect works of poetic
imagination of the 20th century—according to Elias


Furthermore, Wolff’s essay “Kafka’s Death House” was recently published by The Writer’s Drawer. In the essay, Wolff traces her visit to Kafka’s Death House, and comments on the last moments of his life.

She explains her reason for the visit: “A Kafka devotee, I am slowly tracing the author’s wake.”

Her upcoming essay, “Two Short Talks by Anne Carson”, which focuses on Carson’s poems on Franz Kafka and his sister, Ottla, will be published by Brick Books in the coming weeks.

To purchase EVENT 43/3 in digital edition, visit EVENT’s website:
To read “Kafka’s Death House”, visit The Writer’s Drawer website:
To read about or purchase A Hunger Artist & Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love, visit the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Commentaries, Poetry.

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En Attendant Demain reviews A Hunger Artist & Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love

A Hunger Artist and Other StoriesEn Attendant Demain’s Marie Côté recently reviewed A Hunger Artist & Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love by Franz Kafka & Georg Mordechai Langer, translated by Thor Polson and Elana & Menachem Wolff.

The flip book was published by Guernica Editions in Fall 2014.

Côté describes the impression the book made on her as she read, and makes note of the baffling and surreal nature of the short stories.

“There’re pretty strange short stories in this book. Surreal, disturbing, sad… You never really know what’s coming. You don’t really know if things make sense, but it doesn’t matter. You enter in a kind of alternate universe where the writer wants you to think differently, to think his way. At first, it’s baffling… but soon enough you get used to it and you’re really looking forward to the next story.”

Though she can’t read Hebrew, Marie Côté is confident in the quality of the translation of Poems and Songs of Love.

“The English version by itself is definitely a success. I don’t consider being qualified enough to analyse their meaning, but I think the words are perfectly chosen and the images powerful.”

The only problem she mentions she encountered concerns the digital format in which she read the work, and explains that it made her “regret the good old paper books.”

To read the full review of A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love, visit En Attendant Demain’s website:

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love is available for purchase on the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Fiction, Poetry, Reviews.

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Stephanie Jane Reviews Joe Fiorito’s Rust is a Form of Fire

Guernica author Joe Fiorito’s book Rust is a Form of Fire was recently reviewed by Stephanie Jane as part of Sophie and Suze’s NetGalley Challenge. Stephanie Jane states that she “would love to recommend Rust is a Form of Fire to anyone who enjoys contemporary poetry, impressions of travel or the ever popular pastime of people-watching. Especially to the people-watchers!”

Rust is a Form of Fire draws from Joe Fiorito’s observations gathered during 18 hours, over the course of three days, on the corner of Victoria and Queen in downtown Toronto watching the city go by. These recordings are used to produce an objective portrait of the city of Toronto and its various rhythms. Stephanie Jane admits that she was originally drawn to the book for “its wonderfully weird title”, and although the book is based on a “bizarre premise”, she states “I thought that it worked beautifully and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word.” She points out how Fiorito’s “prose itself is practically poetry”, and that the book maintains “a gentle thread of humor running through the observations, mainly due to the repetitive mimicking nature of people.” Stephanie Jane also asserts that despite the fact that “it was easy to imagine myself into Fiorito’s shoes”, Rust is a Form of Fire nevertheless leaves the reader pondering, “Do we really all wear such a limited range of clothing and shoes? Is our ebb and flow so predictable? Does everyone in a city buy takeout coffee?”

Joe Fiorito writes for the Toronto Star newspaper. He was the winner of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for Columns in 1995, and is also the author of five books, including a best-selling memoir, The Closer We Are to Dying. His novel, The Song Beneath the Ice, won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2003.

To read Stephanie Jane’s review of Rust is a Form of Fire, you can visit her website at:

To read more about Joe Fiorito, you can visit the Guernica Editions website at:

To read more about Rust is a Form of Fire, you can visit the Guernica Editions website at:

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Guernica’s Book of the Month: February

Under My SkinFebruary is Black History Month and, despite the brief amount of time which it is officially afforded, it urges us to keep Black history and racial equality on our minds throughout the whole year.

Furthermore, it brings Valentine’s Day. And while many refuse to celebrate the holiday, which has been over saturated with commercialism, advertising, and an artificiality which suggests that love is to be celebrated only once a year, February 14th can also be recognized for what it should represent— a reminder to cherish true, limitless love in all its forms on every day of the year.

Orville Lloyd Douglas’ Under My Skin gives centre stage to the issues on which both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day place an emphasis, by illustrating the struggle of those who lack the support of their communities in embracing central parts of their identities.

The poems in the collection not only question the very boundaries that pose a threat to homosexual love and to racial equality, but actively labour to break them down. Douglas makes a point to address the daily challenges that young black men encounter due to race, and to oppose them through reason. He addresses not only the bias of external communities, but also the pressures placed on them by the African-American community— to act, feel, be a way that fits within the norms associated with their physical description. In “Brother”, Douglas writes: “Do I got to read Malcolm X to be like you?/ Wear the African cloth/ Speak about Nigeria, Botswana and Niger?”

The poems in the collection also take a stand for Canada’s queer community, and the Black queer community in particular which, Douglas shows, remains largely invisible and underrepresented. In “The Terror Within Us”, the speaker portrays a vivid depiction of his society’s intolerance towards homosexual love. The first line of the poem reads: “I committed a crime worthy of murder,” from the outset voicing a daring confrontation, and leaving nothing invisible.

Though Black History Month and Valentine’s Day are limited to a few days of the year, the significance that they carry should resonate for far longer. Under My Skin is an active portrayal and reminder of the importance of keeping racial and gender equality at the forefront of our minds.

This month, fall in love. With equality. With history. With humanity.
With the poems in Under My Skin. We already have.

Under My Skin is available for purchase on the Guernica Editions website:

Posted in Commentaries, Poetry.

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