BLACK FRIDAY: A Year in Review on Nov. 27

Thomas Morton Prize Winners to be Announced // The Puritan

Black Friday
Shop until you kill someone, or join The Puritan this Black Friday

The Puritan is having its fourth annual year-in-review celebration at The Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street, Toronto, ON). Join us in closing out the Fall Season with mirth, merry-making, and maybe even maypoles. Come meet the staff, editors, and contributors who made the magazine in 2015.

BLACK FRIDAY 2015 is a night of celebrations to announce and honour the winners of our Fourth Annual Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence, judged by Miriam Toews and Ian Williams, for both fiction and poetry. Help us congratulate our winners and runners-up in grand style.

Secondly, BLACK FRIDAY 2015 sees the electronic launch of Issue 31: Fall 2015—a fantastic collection of fiction, poetry, and journalism to end a great calendar year.

BLACK FRIDAY is a must-see night of literary entertainment. Drinks, eats, and gnarly tunes will be on deck, and happy people will be plentiful. Continue reading

Excursions in the Art of Lying

A Review of Daniel Scott Tysdal's Fauxccasional Poems, Published by Icehouse in 2015 // John Nyman

Daniel Scott Tysdal
Daniel Scott Tysdal has released three books of poetry and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto

When derek beaulieu says, “please, no more poetry,” Daniel Scott Tysdal’s Fauxccasional Poems may seem like the last place to turn for a response. Playful, dense, and brilliantly executed in line with a variety of well-established (and difficult!) poetic forms, it’s as easy to read Tysdal’s work as a master craftsman’s homage to poetry as it has always been.

But Tysdal’s poems are not poetry, at least in beaulieu’s sense. On one hand, Tysdal’s writing spans genres as diverse as song lyrics, interview transcripts, binary code, and design notes for a 19th century propaganda poster. More broadly, though, Fauxccasional Poems’ best inclusions operate in a way that has nothing to do with my undergraduate poetry workshop. That is to say, if beaulieu rails against the modern poetry of style, signature, and voice, Tysdal’s reference point is a much more ancient sense of the poetic: that of occasional poetry—less an event in itself than a commemoration or recalling to mind. There is a twist, though. More than literature or language artworks, I want to call Tysdal’s pieces “memory excursions”—but only if you can read “memory excursions” with the same tone you use to talk about 9/11 “Truthers” and Ancient Aliens. Continue reading

Author Note: Joanne Arnott

Joanne Arnott on the Talking Stick Festival, Finding Writing Time, and Learning to "Crack the Veneer" // Joanne Arnott

Joanne Arnott
Joanne Arnott edits poetry for Event Magazine

An excerpt from “Cruising the Notorious Other Self, a Long Poem” was included in issue 30 of The Puritan, guest-edited by Katherena Vermette (poetry) and Doretta Lau (fiction).

Dogged love. Faithful companion. These are the things that I value, it seems, when we crack through the veneer of dailiness and glimpse inside the forbidden zones of being.

I am a single parent: overworked, twice-bitten. A few weeks before I wrote this poem, I went to a poetry reading in Vancouver, enjoyed the libations a little overmuch, and left without paying. I missed my transfer point and the suburban bus carried on without me. I found myself far from home, wandering about in the middle of the night, trying to parse out correct bus routes with a beer-addled processor. The next day, abasement: finding out who covered my tab, profuse thanks and abject apologies, offers to repay. Continue reading

Author Note: Scott Nolan

Scott Nolan on Poetry in Prison Letters and Writing Inspired by Winnipeg Life // Scott Nolan

Scott Nolan
Scott Nolan has released nine albums since 2003

Two of Scott Nolan’s poems, Elvis and me” and “Ten above tomorrow”, were published in Issue 30 of The Puritan. 

I started writing poetry in January 2015, approximately three weeks after my 40th birthday. The plan was to replace smoking cigarettes with walking eight to ten kilometres a day. I am a songwriter by trade and often discover melodies and rhythms in the shuffling of my feet. I suppose I spend most of my time thinking about words, music, and language. I found myself writing short poems based on people and places in my neighbourhood, trying to capture a bit of what was happening around me.

An older cousin of mine discovered a gift and passion for poetry while serving time in Folsom State Prison. He was an early influence on me, sending me books and letters from prison and encouraging me to read and write as often as possible. This relationship was the subject of a documentary last year called Visiting Day, produced by the CBC. I was invited to perform and host writing workshops in the very same prison library my cousin wrote to me from all those years ago.   Continue reading

Questions for JC Bouchard

A Busy JC Bouchard Hits Iceland, Tours with Worst Case Ontario, and Launches WOOL WATER // Domenica Martinello

JC Bouchard
JC Bouchard is the author of two chapbooks: WOOL WATER and Portraits.

It’s been an exciting year for poet JC Bouchard. What started as a conversation in a bar about why poets don’t tour the same way musicians do quickly escalated into a successfully crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign. After breezing past the minimum fundraising goal of $1,000 by pulling in close to $4,000 with the enthusiastic backing of the Canadian literary community, Bouchard, along with poets dalton derksen, Julie Mannell, Jessica Bebenek, and JM Francheteau, embarked on a reading tour called Worst Case Ontario. After setting out in their rent-a-car doing readings in eight cities across North America, the tour was reviewed in venues like Broken Pencil and The Charlatan, and covered by lit podcast Book Vacuum.

The success of a major reading tour, made possible without the help of government grants, university sponsorships, or book deals, is a small but significant shift in a movement to deinstitutionalize poetry. The poets of the Worst Case tour have what Mary Ruefle calls a stronger “allegiance to poetry [and] to art” than to knowledge and intelligence, a stance that’s increasingly harder to maintain under “the corporate umbrella (the academy) that shelters and protects poetry in a culture that cares about other things.” However, it’s clear that people are not only interested in Worst Case’s story, but are willing to invest in it. Continue reading

Pillow: An Interview with Andrew Battershill

A Q&A on Anti-Climactic Romance, Reading for Fun, and the Ethics of Representing Violence // Dana Ewachow

Andrew Battershill
Andrew Battershill writes and teaches in Columbus, Ohio

Andrew Battershills first book, Pillow, was released by Coach House Books in October 2015. Puritan publicity agent Dana Ewachow interviewed him about the book, working with Coach House, and his writing process.

Dana Ewachow: First things first: why the name Pillow?

Andrew Battershill: I submitted my manuscript to Coach House under the title You Feel Me? and changing that title was the only non-negotiable edit Alana gave me. One of the first things said in our initial discussion was, “That title is not the title.” Continue reading

Author Note: Randy Lundy

Randy Lundy on Music, Literature, and First Nations Identity // Randy Lundy

Randy Lundy
Randy Lundy with two of his four dogs

Randy Lundy’s poem,“An Ecology of Being and Non-Being,” appeared in Issue 30 of The Puritan. Here he speaks with The Town Crier about drawing inspiration from memory, and shares some of his favourite literature and music. 

“An Ecology of Being and Non-Being” began as most of my recent writing has: in my backyard or from the desire to be in my backyard, depending on the weather. It sounds trite, but living on the prairie, one can never ignore the weather—it’s too hot, too cold, too windy, there’s too much snow, too much rain, or too little rain.

I am a First Nations man, born in northern Manitoba, transplanted to northern Saskatchewan, and have moved further and further south as an adult. I now live in a small town that until recently was a village, until the population finally climbed above 500. I also have an interest in Buddhism. All of these things come together in the poem: an indigenous attention to the world of other beings, the Buddhist world of ten thousand things, the land in and around Pense, Saskatchewan, and, of course, the seasons. The Okanagan Valley, which I have visited periodically since I was a child and feels like a second home to me, also makes an appearance. A few years ago I spent some time at the George Ryga House near Penticton and watched the meteor shower with a friend and fellow writer, who is absent in the world of the poem. Continue reading

Writing a Profitable Suicide Note

How To Make Your Suicide Note Go Viral So You Can Finally Feed Your Family as a Poet // Ian Murdock

Suicide Note
A reader learning to market himself

Step 1: Monetize your blog. Get yourself AdSense.

Step 2: Designate beneficiaries in your will.

Step 3: Write it out. Make sure that you follow my 3 S’s of a Viral Suicide Note™: Specific, Sober, & Search engine optimized. You don’t want it to be a vague drunken rant with no keywords. Your note should be a shareable indictment of humanity, but one that exonerates the reader simply for having read it (otherwise they wouldn’t repost).

DO: Make sure it addresses a few hot-button woes of western civilization (income inequality, health care, people enjoying themselves in ways you don’t approve of, etc.).

DON’T: Make white people feel racist. Write a sestina.

Here are several tones you can take: Continue reading

Building Minas Tirith

Creating a Future out of a Fictional Past // Jason Freure

Minas Tirith
A more successful fan-built Minas Tirith, made out of sand

Every time I hold a book from The Lord of the Rings in my hands, I immediately flip toward the maps in the back. JRR Tolkien was a master of world-making, devoting thousands of pages of notes to Middle Earth’s history, languages, genealogies, and geography, beyond The Hobbit and LOTR themselves. Tolkien’s mythic landscapes range from “Little England” pastoralism to volcanic wastelands under the thrall of a demi-god. It’s no surprise that someone, eventually, would want to recreate a piece of them on this earth. 

A recent Indiegogo campaign called Realise Minas Tirith, organized by a group of architects headed by Jonathan Wilson, attempted to raise £1.85 billion to build a life-size, functional replica of Minas Tirith in southern England. In exchange for investment, crowdfunders could receive anything from “A Night in Minas Tirith” to “Lordship/Ladyship of the City.” It seems Minas Tirith would, essentially, be an amusement park, a very grand and expensive evolution of the “hobbit hotels” that have sprung up everywhere from New Zealand to Montana. The fascinating part of this project, though, would have been the architects’ plan to make Minas Tirith a livable city, with both residential and commercial properties. Continue reading

Author Note: Sara Jane Strickland

Diary Writing from the Editor of Petal Journal // Sara Jane Strickland

Sara Jane Strickland
Sara Jane Strickland edits Petal Journal

Two poems by Sara Jane Strickland appear in Issue 29 of The Puritan. Here she speaks with The Town Crier about the inspiration behind her poetry.

Town Crier: Do your poems have an interesting origin story/compositional history that you’d like to share? This could include interesting factoids or bits of research that informed the poems.

Sara Jane Strickland: There is somewhat of a compositional history behind these poems, although it’s really just a diary kind of feel that they have. It is what comes most naturally to me and I’ve just recently learned to embrace it rather than push it away. I used to separate all the diary writing I did from my “real” writing. I think I used to view diary writing as writing that happens and then magically disappears, but being an adult now and reading these (sometimes very old) entries definitely proves that idea wrong. Eventually I realized that all the diary writing I did since I was very young has been very good practice, and a practice that is worth maintaining. Continue reading