Friday, November 2, 2018

Arc Walk Hintonburg on Friday, November 9

Arc Walks Ottawa is a series of guided walks based on poetry themes and capitalizing on the rich poetry history of Canada’s capital. Residents and visitors alike are welcome to join in on the walks to learn and revel in Ottawa’s poetry.

The fifth, and penultimate, walk of this series will take place in Hintonburg on Friday, November 9th. This walk, led by rob mclennan, will showcase the poetry of this historic neighbourhood, including sites significant to Diana Brebner, Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeebar, The Dusty Owl Reading Series, Dennis Tourbin and Anita Lahey.

Guest poets Blaine Marchand and Claire Farley will also be on the tour.

The walk will begin at 5:30PM at the corner of Wellington Street West and Holland Avenue. During the hour-long walk, participants will visit five locations where they will hear about some of Ottawa’s contemporary poetry history, and hear from a special guest poet or two. Come prepared for rain or shine!

About your guide, rob mclennan:
Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with the brilliant and utterly delightful poet and book conservator Christine McNair. The author of more than 30 trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the CAA/Most Promising Writer in Canada under 30 Award in 1999, the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was twice longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012 and 2017. He has published books with Talonbooks, The Mercury Press, Black Moss Press, New Star Books, Insomniac Press, Broken Jaw Press, Stride, Salmon Publishing and others. His most recent titles include notes and dispatches: essays (Insomniac press, 2014), The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection A perimeter (New Star Books, 2016). His next poetry title, Household items, is out this spring from Salmon Publishing.

About Claire Farley
Claire Farley is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa and co-founder of Canthius, a feminist literary magazine. Her poetry has been published in several Canadian literary magazines and in 30 under 30: An Anthology of Canadian Millennial Poets. She is the 2016 recipient of the Diana Brebner Prize.

About Blaine Marchand
The author of eight books, six of which are poetry, Ottawa writer Blaine Marchand’s most recent books are Aperature (poems, prose and photos of Afghanistan, 2008), and The Craving of Knives (2009), both of which were nominated for the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry. A chapbook, My Head, Filled with Pakistan, was published in 2016. A young adult novel, African Adventure (translated as Aventure africaine) was published in 1990. His work has been published in Canadian and American literary journals and in Pakistan.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween film, 2018: Hello, Jamie Lee Curtis

You know, the new Halloween film is a marked improvement over 1998's H20: 20 Years Later, ignoring all other franchise films since 1981's Halloween II (Call it the Highlander-II Syndrome, ignoring previous installments to fit the diegesis of the new movie?). Works in its favour, however. Many tips of the hat to not only Rob Zombie's reboots of the franchise, but also the 2009 Friday The 13th reboot and, of course, many ironical nods to the original Halloween of 1978. Perils abound, including clever uses of depth of field, lack of music. Tough story, too, in the sense that no one, of any age, nearly, is safe, and the Michael Myers character is oddly selective in his psychotic assaults. Some outré character decisions also try the viewer's common sense. However, solid jump-scares abound and a return to director John Carpenter's creepy vibe permeates the story. Moreover. Jamie Lee Curtis remains the bomb, her acting raising all ships, as the saying goes.
Trailer's here.

Hallowe'en Night, 2018

Down through the foggy night streets, on All Hallows’ Eve, a devil and the Riverman caroused. The devil was ten, so the ferryman was unsure how more magical nights they would have like this. In my hooded cloak and shawl (with backpack hidden underneath, giving an unsightly hump) and with my staff, I encountered many reactions.
“Are you dressed as a hobo?”
“Maybe he’s wizard!”
“He’s a hunchback!”
Reactions to the devil, with his burgeoning bag of treats, however, were uniform praise.
“Great costume; I saw you coming. And who’s he?”
“He’s the Riverman, who everyone pays to get into hell.”
One thing to remember about clunking along with your staff on a rainy, leafy, damp night. If you say “hi” to an older woman, whether to impress or seem collected, you may put your staff (a rake with the forks removed) into the holes of the top of a manhole cover. Then, while attempting to remove the wooden post, you may land your feet in a significant puddle, soaking your shoes.
Last night, the fog lingered in the glow of the lamplight like a John Carpenter shot.
Among the sporadic flocks of disguised children, and brightly coloured creatures who seem in vogue this year, we saw a teenage girl who was Freddy Krueger, a woman who answered the door with some sort of demon mouth opening in her torso, a hole that looked untoward, and a grinning skull face that offered candy on the threshold.
My favourite, though, was a darkened figure sitting by the bowl of the candy by the front door as Mike-Oldfield-esque music played. The Crow-beaked thing with glowing eyes moved as we reached for candy. Raised an arm. Looked upward. Whether alive or not, we could not say until we said, “Happy Halloween.”
“Happy Halloween,” they intoned, startling us.
And I hope everyone else had one, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

25th Anniversary of above/ground press

25th Anniversary of above/ground press
with Sandra Ridley, Gil McElroy and Sarah Mangold
Hosted by Stephen Brockwell
as part of the ottawa international writers festival
"The impact of above/ground press has been so great, some authors can’t remember a time without it."
— Apt. 613

Tuesday, October 30, 2018
7pm, Christ Church Cathedral • 414 Sparks Street Ottawa

As part of its silver anniversary year, the above/ground press has produced a limited edition set of single-poem broadsides by an array of above/ground press authors.

Curated by publisher/editor rob mclennan and designed by Christine McNair, the series will be launched by Sarah MangoldGil McElroy andSandra Ridley, who will be joined on-stage by rob mclennan for a conversation on the press’s twenty-fifth year. Moderated by Stephen Brockwell.

More details on the broadsides to be announced very soon! Copies will, of course, be available at the event;

See Sandra Ridley's bio here ; Gil McElroy's bio here ; Sarah Mangold's bio here

for further information on the event and the festival, check out the link here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Arc Poetry Magazine’s 40th-Anniversary Launch

If you're around Ottawa, come check out Arc Poetry Magazine’s stellar line-up for our 40th-Anniversary Launch on October 30 at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. That's 40 years of fine CanLit publishing in Ottawa, folks, getting the best poetry and nonfiction and art out into not only Canada, but the world. We are writers; hear us scribble.
And the 40th-anniversary is a free event, to boot. 
Featured readers include Carolyn Smart and Robert Hogg.
Click here for more info.

Cover image from summer 2018 issue.
Gavin Lynch, Bush Fire [Edelweiss]

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Greg Rucka's and Nicola Scott's Black Magick

One of Nicola Scott's rare panels that employs colouring, which appears only when the
characters perform witchcraft or magick is present.

Comic-book writer Greg Rucka's and artist Nicola Scott's Black Magick series deserves a mention again because it's head and shoulders beyond the depiction of magic, particularly Wicca, in other comics of the medium. Add to that Scott's drop-dead gorgeous art and Rucka's compelling script with flawed, complex, as well as strong, heroine Rowan Black, and this comic book is an example of just how good comic books can be.

The classically rendered faces of the characters and the high attention to the details of Wicca are superb. There's the element of film noir with private detective Rowan Black, combined with witchcraft and an ages-old witch hunt. The story is set in Portsmouth, a fictional U.S. city, where Rucka draws on a well of fictional local history, adding a layer of mythology that might not be possible setting Black Magick a in U.S. city that might be too relatively young to achieve the sense of history he is aiming for. The book has a great ominous vibe, a complex character in the underachieving witch (but very competent cop) Black, and her complex relationship with her hunky co-worker.

Two trade paperbacks in and I'm a recent convert. Highly recommended.

(Disclaimer: This book will ruin you for reading about Wicca in most other comics.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October Scary and Fun Book and Comic-Book Reading: Scarlett Hart, Graveyard Shift, The Immortal Hulk, Semiautomagic, Border Town, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Infidel

Get your October reading on with these spooky titles, ranging from YA books to comics. Here's what I'm digging into this month.

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter
Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor
I don’t know why this graphic novel or comic book hasn’t garnered more attention. The art’s gorgeous, with hints of Kevin O’Neill’s work from Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two volumes). The steampunk feel, too, with gadgetry abounding, and a solid parade of monsters, are also parallels. Scarlett is an Agent-Carteresque character, or an impoverished Bruce Wayne. She has her own family butler, Napoleon, with whom Scarlett hunts beasties for much-needed cash to lift them out of poverty. They even live in an estate reminiscent of Wayne Manor and make their getaways in an antique car (in a sense, her own Batmobile). Taylor stunningly deftly employs simple panels to evoke the truest and most dramatic of moments and expressions.This is a YA comic-book trade, but a great and pithy read for adults, too.
Thomas Taylor's Scarlett Hart. 
Graveyard Shift (A Hauntings Novel) 
Chris Westwood
Also known as The Ministry of Pandemonium (U.K. edition, I believe) 
Ben Harvester’s gift for drawing serves him well as he helps souls find their way to the afterlife. But Ben also has much to contend with; he's a newcomer at a school, living with his single mother, and they are down on their luck in Hackney (Fun fact: Where I once resided! - Editor's Note). Kudos to Westwood for depicting a character with lymphoma and the complications and heartbreaks that it metes out. Westwood's style is also clean and compelling. With the help of the mysterious Mr. October, whom Ben meets in the titular graveyard, Ben encounters a variety of macabre entities. Not suitable for kids under nine, I’d venture. Some truly scary and gory instances inhabit this volume, inspired by a goodly dose of Stephen King, but also J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and arguably Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and even Michael Moorcock. A YA title.

Joe Bennett's rendition of The Immortal Hulk.
The Immortal Hulk 
Al Ewing and Joe Bennett and various other artists
It’s spooky and unnerving. The art, even when guested by others, is compelling and creepy and delightful. Each night, Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk to exact revenge on wrongdoers. And if Bruce is dead, the Hulk rises from the grave or, more accurately, the slab in the mortuary. He’s more devious than even the Mr. Fixit incarnation back in the early 1990's, able to smell a lie and possessing a singular preternatural intelligence. This Hulk incarnation also finds great inspiration in the 1970’s  and 1980’s T.V. series of five-years' length. Even a young female Arizona Herald reporter, Jackie McGee (does the name ring a bell?) pursues the stories of sightings of the titular green monster. He should, by rights (and at the hand of Hawkeye shooting two arrows into him), be quite dead. In addition, Ewing is building an underlying mythos regarding gamma radiation, and a green door through which other entities have come into this world. It's a whiff of Lovecraft, but it's enough to add discomfiting texture to the story. Bruce Banner also sees the Hulk in the mirror. I could go on, but you get the idea. The Immortal Hulk  is one of the most interesting ideas coming out of Marvel Comics right now, aside from anything Chip Zdarsky or Mark Waid are doing.

Jerry Ordway's beautiful work in Semiautomagic.
Jerry Ordway and Alex de Campi
(Re-reading - Ed.)
Still so good, this Dark Horse comic (in trade paperback now) features fallible warlock Alice Creed, an avatar for John Constantine. Alice is fighting demons and the general supernatural at a great cost to herself and others. It features simply beautiful art from Jerry Ordway and a razor-sharp and merciless script from notable comic-book scribe Alex de Campi. As always, de Campi is worth watching, whatever project she is writing.

Border Town 
Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos
This is the first book out of the gate of DC Comic’s relaunching Vertigo Comics line. Border Town's half-Irish, half-Mexican protagonist, Frank (Francisco) trounces a skinhead bully in issue one. Writer Eric M. Esquivel suggests timely provocative ideas, with nods to Grant Morrison. Artist Ramon Villalobos does gorgeous work, reminiscent of Frank Quitely. And, to top all that off, readers get to feast their eyes on monsters from Mexican folklore, possibly for the first time in this medium. Step aside, chupacabra, the Latin American beastie that purportedly preys on animals, particularly goats. Border Town serves up a slew of other monsters that we've never seen in comics. Take my money, Border Town. Any comic series opening with armed American shitkicker right-wingers declaring “Make America great again, mother-f*^#*@s!”, chasing runners in border-town, Devil’s Fork and suffering karmic justice deserves, it. 
Thank you, artist Ramon Villalobos, for this.
Phil Hester's work on The Thrilling Adventure Hour,
exhibiting its dry sense of humour.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour: A Spirited Romance
Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and illustrated by Phil Hester
Based on the successful podcast of the same name, Frank and Sadie Doyle, members of the upper crust, see ghosts, kick butt, and take names. Much witty patter and booze abound. Think The Thin Man series meets Ghostbusters. Thank you, Boom! Studios.

Pornsak Pichetshot and artists Aaron Campbell and José Villarrubia
Writer Pornsak Pichetshot and artists Aaron Campbell and José Villarrubia portray a young American-Muslim woman who is tormented by entities that feed off xenophobia in her multi-ethnic apartment. Racial tensions and smart writing abound, showing each character’s points of view, even as they fall under the malevolent influence of racism.  Extra points for portraying a struggle with faith on all sides. Image Comics delivers on this subversive and fresh horror tale of five parts.
Aaron Campbell's art is exquisitely detailed, showing a mastery of the classic human figure.
The characters' faces are stunningly true-to-life.