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Stan Rogal, author of After Words, speaks with The Toronto Quarterly about poetry, inspiration and getting published

after wordsAfter Words is receiving more attention— this time from The Toronto Quarterly, who published an interview in late October with the poet behind the work, Stan Rogal.

In the interview, Rogal talks about his poetry and about getting published with Guernica Editions. He explains how the dedicatory style of his work gave him the idea to speak to Guernica’s Editor-in-Chief, Michael Mirolla, about the possibility of publishing a manuscript, and shares his reason behind dedicating the poems within the collection to various people:

“I have a history of dedicating poems to these types of people – folks whose works and/or lives have influenced my own work and/or life – in my books from the beginning, so it’s not new for me. It so happened  I was compiling a fair number of these poems when Guernica announced it was going to print an anthology called Poets On Poets and was seeking submissions, to include an under 200 word description on why the particular poet was chosen. I sent in three poems and two were accepted. I wrote to the publisher, Michael Mirolla, and told him I had an entire manuscript of such poems (not simply about poets) and if I were to write blurbs for the individuals involved, might Guernica be interested in publishing such a collection?

“As to why I continue to dedicate poems to various people, I think of it as a small form of re-payment for services rendered, especially as the service rendered is, more often than not, unknown to that person.”

Throughout the interview, Rogal shows his good-natured sense of humour. His perfect day in terms of writing would include “complet[ing] a manuscript just as the post arrives with an acceptance letter for a previous manuscript and a letter informing [him] of a grant acceptance. If there was also a letter from a movie producer offering [him] a ton of cash to option [his] novel, so much the better.”

Rogal is refreshing and grounded. And his own thoughts on his collection? “I do feel it’s a strong book and a veritable language feast. It’s also a loud and raucous kick-ass book overall and many of the poems are fun to read aloud.” And he’s right.

Rogal also offers his words of wisdom to other poets: “Read other poets, go out and listen to other poets read, buy poetry books, study poetry, don’t be afraid to copy other poets. You can’t know what your voice (or poetry) is until you compare it with others. Did I say buy poetry books? Do that.”

Currently, Stan Rogal is writing a novel and looking to publish two other manuscripts. Keep a lookout for his future projects.

To read the full interview, visit The Toronto Quarterly website at: http://thetorontoquarterly.blogspot.ca/2014/10/stan-rogal-after-words-interview.html?view=magazine

After Words is available for purchase online at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550718614

Posted in Interviews, Poetry, Reviews.


Tonight at the Art Bar: Merle Nudleman Reading from True as Moonlight

True as MoonlightThis Tuesday, the Black Swan Tavern will be hosting another the latest installment of the At Bar reading series. The evening will feature readings by poets Julie Cameron Gray, David Clink and, of course, Guernica’s own Merle Nudleman.

Merle Nudelman is a writer, educator, and a former lawyer. To date, she has published four books of poetry with Guernica: Borrowed Light, The He We Knew, True as Moonlight, and We, the Women. Her first book, Borrowed Light, won the 2004 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry. Her poems have garnered prizes both in Canada and in the United States and have appeared in various Canadian literary journals and anthologies including Poet to Poet (Guernica, 2012). In addition to writing poetry, Merle Nudleman also teaches poetry and memoir writing and also edits the literary journal Parchment.

True As Moonlight is her fourth collection. These lyrical narrative poems rejoice at the insights, emotions, and development of a newborn and her family over a brief period of years. Crafted with an artist’s eye and poet’s appreciation for the profound that nestles within the mundane, this collection shimmers with reverence and clarity. The trajectory of the poems shudders and shifts when the young girl’s father falls ill. With unflinching honesty and compassion, Nudelman gently unwraps luminous, triumphant moments in life’s circle of birth, growth, and mortality.

When: 8pm, Dec 9, 2014
Where: The Art Bar Poetry Series is now held in the second floor lounge of The Black Swan Tavern, 154 Danforth Avenue, just east of Broadview Subway Station.

For more information on the event, you can visit the site: http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/?u=05a310d0e92f3a7dc90bc5867&id=c60d806798&e=c6264c81a3

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Kayla Altman Talks Inspiration, Fairy Tales, and Alligator Pie with Open Book Toronto

The Politics of Being UglyKayla Altman, whose first book of poetry will be launching with Guernica this Sunday, was recently featured in Open Book Toronto.

Altman sat down with Open Book to talk about where she finds inspiration and what experiences influenced her decision to become a writer.

“When I was a kid, around 7 or 8,” confesses Altman, “my dad read with me all the time – I remember us reading a book of fairy tales from around the world and being mesmerized. I had a copy of Brill Brittain’s The Wish Giver: Three Tales of Coven Tree that was missing a book jacket, so it was a deep green hardcover book with title imprinted on the front in gold lettering. I thought it was a magical and romantic old book… and started trying to write my own fairy tales…”

She also mentions revisiting Alligator Pie as an adult, saying that “My sister was talking about how grotesque a book it was to be read to us as children, so I went back and reread it. It’s fantastic!” Altman praises Dennise Lee’s beloved children’s book as “Imaginative and unapologetically Canadian.”

Take a bit of grim, a pinch of wit, and a heap of whimsy, and Kayla Altman’s The Politics of Being Ugly will burst forth from whatever cauldron you are making this bizarre brew in. Featuring a band of sweetly pathetic characters, this collection of modern fables goes from a bellybutton rebellion to romance on Pluto. With simultaneously grotesque and loveable losers, the poems take you through the mythical and the everyday to a place of harsh, hilarious and uncanny reality.

To read the full interview, you can visit the Open Book website at: http://www.openbooktoronto.com/news/poets_profile_kayla_altman

The Politics of Being Ugly will be available this Sunday, December 7, 2014 at the Third Fall Guernica Editions Book Launch. For more details about the launch, you can visit the event page at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/event_details/68

The Politics of Being Ugly is also available online at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550718911

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The Ottawa Review of Books calls Holy Fools + 2 Stories “pitch-perfect” and “richly realized”

The Ottawa Review of Books recently picked up a copy of Marianne Ackerman’s Holy Fools + 2 Stories and were very glad that they did. Indeed, reviewer Delacourt delights in all three stories found in Marianne Ackerman’s latest book. He writes that “In both ‘Holy Fools’ and ‘Nobody Writes To The Colonel’ Ackerman maintains a steady, low current of satire humming through the stories. It never obtrudes to the point where character is sacrificed to a broader design, however.”

Holy Fools and 2 StoriesDelacourt mentions that the character of Pope/ Tolstoy in “Holy Fools,” who resembles a certain Canadian-born media baron, is given a “voice through the pitch-perfect dialogue of a writer in full command of her craft, [and] merits a closer reading.”

About Ackerman’s third story in the collection, Delacourt states that “The world Ackerman creates here, with her deft weaving of the threads of a story so rich in texture and characterization, suggests “Albert Fine” could have easily been written as a novella or novel and not suffered from any dissipation of the narrative focus.”

A long-time Montrealer, Marianne Ackerman was born in Belleville, Ontario. She has an MA in drama from the University of Toronto and studied French at the Sorbonne. Her three published novels include the best-seller Jump. A frequently produced playwright, her new comedy Triplex Nervosa will be part of the Centaur Theatre’s 2014-15 season. She is publisher of the online arts magazine Rover, found at www.roverarts.com. The novella and stories in Holy Fools mark her first foray into short fiction.

To read the full review, you can visit the Ottawa Review of Books Website at: http://www.ottawareviewofbooks.com/#!Holy-Fools-2-Stories-by-Marianne-Ackerman/cu6k/A485C1F5-2AF4-4609-822C-CDD2559C4AB0

Holy Fools + 2 Stories will be available at the Third Fall Guernica Editions Book Launch this Sunday, December 7, 2014. For more details about the launch, you can visit the Guernica website at:  http://www.guernicaeditions.com/event_details/68

Holy Fools + 2 Stories is also available online at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781771830027

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Ali Eteraz will be fighting to the death (fortunately not a literal one) on December 5th

Ali EterazThis Friday, 4 authors will be participating in the San Francisco Literary Death Match. Guernica’s own Ali Eteraz will be in this latest installment of the competition, which includes readings, wit, charm, and more than a hint of comedy. Each author will read their work for 7 minutes or less, and then face the judgement of the 3 all-star panel who respond (often comedically) before choosing two finalists to compete head to head for the title of ultimate champion.

Ali Eteraz’s latest book, Falsipedies & Fibsiennes, will be launching in Toronto just two days after the competition. Ranging from the Persian Gulf to the American South, from ancient Greece to pre-Islamic Arabia, Ali Eteraz’s stories observe the clash of civilizations through the surrealist’s monocle: lovers playing with Koranic numerology; the sorrows of the Minotaur; the innocence of a genie; a woman obsessed with wine and virgins; brothers caught in a national security dragnet. Sensual, fabulist, mystical, gothic, the stories in Falsipedies & Fibsiennes search for love and solidarity within madness and oppression.

Ali Eteraz is an inhabitant of the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto. His fiction has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Crossborder, and Forge Journal, among others. Children of Dust (HarperCollins USA), his darkly-comic memoir about coming-of-age as a conflicted Muslim, was a New Statesman Book of the Year, won the Nautilus Book Award Gold, and was featured by PBS, NPR, and the CBC. We’d wish him luck this Friday, but with his impressive literary resume, we’re not sure he’ll need it.

Where: Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St., San Francisco
When: Doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7:15pm.
Cost: $8 preorder; $10 at the door

For more information on the event, you can visit the Literary Death Match website at: http://www.literarydeathmatch.com/upcoming-events/december-5-at-elbo-room.html

Ali Eteraz’s latest book, Falsipedies & Fibsiennes, is available on the Guernica website at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550718829

Falsipedies & Fibsiennes will also be available at the Guernica Editions Third Fall Book Launch happening on December 7th at The Supermarket: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/event_details/68

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David Bateman: “Sky’s importance/legacy can be located in so many places”

Compulsive ActsAlistair Newton sat down with Compulsive Acts editor David Bateman to talk about his latest book as well as the author whose work the book explores: Sky Gilbert -the prolific artist, playwright, filmmaker, and radical.

“Oftentimes in Canada, we are reticent to lionize or indeed — do we dare? — canonize our own talent.” says Alistair Newton, “If one were to appoint oneself the task, occupying the all-important margins of such a canon of Canadian Arts and Letters would certainly have to be Sky Gilbert.”

Born in Norwich, Connecticut, Sky Gilbert studied theatre at York University in Toronto, and at the University of Toronto, before becoming the co-founder and artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times, a theatre company dedicated to LGBT drama.
“Sky’s importance/legacy can be located in so many places.” says Bateman, “He has nurtured younger artists, and peers working at the same time as him, and continues to give other artists the opportunity to work in theatre. He gave me my first opportunities in queer theatre in Toronto.” Although primarily a playwright, Gilbert has also published novels, poetry and an autobiography. He has also been a regular columnist for Toronto’s Eye Weekly.

Compulsive Acts explores the films, plays and personality of Sky Gilbert through the eyes of a handful of the people who have observed his work closely over the past two decades — as audience members and arts workers. Actors, academics, performance artists, journalists, filmmakers, playwrights, poets and his partner of many years tackle his immense output with a queer eye for the intricacies of a unique and astute aesthetic vision — a vision that has placed him securely within Canadian Theatre history as an iconic and consistently provocative dramatic force to be reckoned with.

To read the full interview, you can visit Daily Xtra at: http://dailyxtra.com/toronto/news/sky-gilbert%E2%80%99s-compulsive-acts-94533

Compulsive Acts is available on the Guernica website at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550717204

The book will also be for sale at the official Guernica book launch on December 7th at 4pm at The Supermarket: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/event_details/68

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Open Book Toronto Quizzes Edward Nixon on his Likes, Dislikes, and Everything In Between

The Fissures of Our ThroatsOn November 27, Edward Nixon took on Open Book’s version of the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire, while not invented by Marcel Proust, was a popular game with the French author and many of his contemporaries. The “purpose” of the questionnaire is to uncover, through unconventional questions you don’t normally find in an interview, an author’s “true” nature.

Nixon answers questions like “What is your chief characteristic? What is your principal fault? What faults in others are you most tolerant of? What do you value most about your friends? What characteristic do you dislike most in others? What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself? What is your favourite virtue?”

His answers include “Loyalty. Sarcasm. Extrovert. Lack of curiosity. Not suffering fools gladly. Impatience. Love.” but not all of them in that order.

To read the full interview and to find out his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, you’ll have to visit Open Book at: http://www.openbooktoronto.com/news/proust_questionnaire_with_edward_nixon

The Fissures of Our Throats, recently published by Guernica Editions, is Edward Nixon’s first book of poetry. The Fissures of Our Throats flirts with the desire to recall and translate the past into some new, possible story. The poems resist and embrace lyric, but welcome a seeing into and through. There is flesh here, even romance, doubting and restless. Things can be told or surmised, but not settled on. There is a reluctant willingness to reveal, to misunderstand these words as memoir. To have fun in the darker corners.

The Fissures of Our Throats is available on the Guernica Editions website at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550719932

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Coming up in Ottawa: Ellen Jaffe at the RailRoad Reading Series

Skinny-Dipping MuseGuernica poet Ellen Jaffe will be making her way to Ottawa for a reading at the Pressed Café December 4th. The reading, as part of the RailRoad Reading Series, will feature Ellen Jaffe, as well as two Ottawa writers:  Frances Boyle and Murray Citron.

Frances Boyle’s poetry and fiction has appeared in many literary magazines across Canada and her awards include Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize, Tree Press’s chapbook prize, and This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt for poetry (with third place for fiction in the same year).

Murray Citron’s bilingual chapbook There is a Tree/ shteyt a boim, was published by Tree Press in 2011. He has also had several translations from Yiddish published in periodicals in Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom.

Born in New York City, Ellen S. Jaffe came to Canada in 1979. Her published books include Writing Your Way: Creating a Personal Journal; Water Children (poetry); Feast of Lights: a young adult novel; and Syntymalauluja/Birth Songs, a selection of poems translated into Finnish. She has also written and produced plays for children and adults. She lives in Hamilton where she is active in the city’s literary scene.

Grouped into four sections, the poems in Ellen Jaffe’s collection, Skinny-Dipping With the Muse, relate to the writer’s experience of diving “into the destructive element” (in Joseph Conrad’s words), naked, vulnerable, stripping off clothes, masks, and preconceptions in a process of connecting with the “creative spirit” in a way that is playful, loving, emotionally rich and wet, care-full, and spontaneous. These poems are conversations with the living, the dead, and the world itself.

When: 7-10pm (doors open at 7, reading starts at 7:30pm) Dec. 4, 2014

Where: Pressed Cafe, 750 Gladstone Ave, Ottawa, ON

For more information about the reading, you can visit the RailRoad Reading Series website at: http://railroad-ottawa.ca/

Skinny-Dipping With the Muse is available on the Guernica website at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550718430

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Breakfast Club with Guernica Authors

Breakfast Club

Four Jewish women poets– Karen Shenfeld, Baila Ellenbogen, Ellen S. Jaffe, and Elana Wolff–  read from their Guernica collections at Temple Anshe Sholom, Hamilton, on Sunday, November 23, 2014. The attentive and appreciative “Breakfast Club” audience listened to Baila read from Footsteps on the Ceiling (2010), Ellen from Skinny-Dipping with the Muse (2014), and Karen from My Father’s Hands Spoke in Yiddish (2010). Elana presented her work on translating Georg Mordechai Langer’s Poems and Songs of Love (2014)– the Hebrew/English half of Guernica’s first-ever flipside book; the other half is The Hunger Artist & Other Stories by Franz Kafka, translated by Thor Polson. The reading was preceded by a sit-down breakfast and followed by an author/audience Q&A. We thank Rabbi Jordan Cohen and the Temple volunteers and staff for sponsoring this event, organized by Ellen, a member of the Temple.

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Keith Garebian Reviews A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love

Guernica’s first flip book and dual translation, A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love, has been garnering media attention for exploring the relationship between Kafka and Langer, and to offer English readers a first glimpse into the poetry of Kafka’s long lost friend and contemporary. Keith Garebian is the latest reviewer to write about the book and offers his take on the dual translation.

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories

Garebian mentions the complications associated with translating the text from its original Hebrew: “In their close collaboration, the Wolffs wrestled with the question of how to render ‘an idiom, colour a word, or untangle a syntactical ambiguity in order to correctly and effectively convey meaning and evoke the elusive quality of tone in moving from Langer’s Hebrew to English.’” Certain end-rhymes simply did not have English equivalents, which made translating Langer’s poems that much harder for the duo. The Wolffs were also confronted with the problem that English does not mark gender to the degree that Hebrew does. “You, “friend,” “companion,” and “lover” are gender neutral in English, but not Hebrew. As such, the Wolffs had to improvise and use alliteration and assonance to replicate end-rhymes. Garebian acknowledges that the “Note on Translation” greatly added to his understanding and appreciation of the poems, as well as the history behind them.

Garebian asserts that Elana Wolff “is radically correct in identifying [Langer’s] poetry as one of ‘deferment, substitution, spiritual reaching, and deep existential sadness.’ Moreover, the very fact of her drawing a link between Kafka and Langer is a significant contribution to both men’s biographies and writings, and one that deserves scholarly study.”

Although Garebian focuses his review on the Langer half of the dual translation, he does mention that “Certainly, the selections that Kafka translator Thor Polson has brought to the Kafka half in the flipbook—fourteen pieces from A Country Doctor; four from A Hunger Artist—display his indulgence in fantastical allegory, sharp political satire, close observation of human behaviour, and wry wit—often given a potent torque by his dry, elliptical style.”

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love includes the work of both Franz Kafka and Georg Mordechai Langer. Franz Kafka’s writings are characterized by an extreme sensitivity manifested in absurdity, alienation, and gallows humor. The collections of short pieces, A Country Doctor (1919) and A Hunger Artist (1924), newly translated by Thor Polson, represent later works in the corpus. Poems and Songs of Love is a translation of the collection Piyyutim ve-Shirei Yedidot by Georg Mordechai Langer. Published in Prague in 1929, it contains an elegy to Langer’s friend and mentor Franz Kafka, and other openly homo-romantic poems. This collaborative translation by Elana and Menachem Wolff brings the fascinating work of Langer—poems as well as an essay on Kafka—to the English-reading public for the first time, and sheds light on a hitherto unexamined relationship.

To read the full review, you can visit Garebian’s website at: http://www.stageandpage.com/a%20hunger%20artist,%20peoms%20and%20song%20of%20love.htm#hunger

A Hunger Artist and Other Stories; Poems and Songs of Love is available on the Guernica website at: http://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781550718676

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