Poetry, Prose & Pie: HIJ #8

HIJ8

It was a wonderful afternoon of poetry, prose, and pie at HIJ #8 today.

The two writers who read were Adam Dickinson and Jennifer LoveGrove. Adam read from his GG-shortlisted book The Polymers, one of my favourite poetry collections of 2013. I loved the diagrams in the book that linked the poems together, and thanks to a slideshow that accompanied his reading, we were able to get some of the effect of that live. He closed by giving us a peek into his new project which is very different from The Polymers, but it too connects poetry and science in genre-bending ways and it promises to be equally fascinating. Jennifer read a short chapter from her Giller-longlisted novel Watch How We Walk, then followed up by treating us to a selection of new work including some very powerful poems from a series that grapples with the effects of mental illness.

And the excellent readings aren’t the end of it. Those in attendance have the option of taking some of the work home in the form of the HIJ journal, an envelope containing two small, limited-edition chapbooks, one devoted to each of the featured writers.

The quality of the work presented and the lovely memento of the journal are not the only things that make the HIJ series special. Hazel and Jay MillAr (of BookThug fame) host the series in their home with enormous warmth and generosity, creating an atmosphere in which even a shy, taciturn person like me can be found before long chatting happily with strangers. And did I mention the pie? Delicious pie of various sorts, the selection dictated in part by the requests of the featured writers. This, of course, is part of the warmth and generosity. And the care that goes into homemade pie is somehow a perfect complement to the craftsmanship that goes into hand-stamped chapbooks.

It all adds up to one of the best reading series in town.

words(on)stages & (parenthetical): the zine

parentheticalmag

I’ve been getting out and about to Toronto literary events with some frequency in recent months, but last night was the first words(on)stages reading that I’ve had the pleasure of attending. It was an excellent evening–great readings by the four featured writers: Ralph Kolewe, Claire Caldwell, Saredo Mohamed, and Sandra Huber. And the event doubled as the launch of the latest issue of (parenthetical): the zine, and it was a treat to take home a copy to peruse. I’ve always appreciated the aesthetic qualities of literary objects in a vague sort of way. But I’ve been paying more attention to the details lately, with my foray into letterpress printing and my nascent plans for a micro-press project of my own. And (parenthetical) is a beautiful thing: hand-bound, beautifully designed, with a lovely textured cover, and striking illustrations throughout. The focus is on work by emerging writers and though I haven’t yet delved very far into the content, the preview offered by the contributors who read last night promises good and exciting things.