Friday, May 23, 2014

That good list...

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McNally's is the place to launch your book in Winnipeg. And their bestseller list, which is published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturdays, is just one of those reasons.

The bookstore has been really good to me over the years, so it was nice to repay at least some of their kindness with a great big launch. John Toews, McNally's Event Coordinator, was kind enough to read the book and think about it and say terribly nice things in his plummy voice.

His intro can be found below, but first, my thanks to everyone who came out...I hope I repaid your generosity with the incoherent prose poems I wrote in your books.

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Hello everyone, I’m John Toews, the Event Coordinator here at McNally Robinson Booksellers. I’m here to introduce a certain local author simply because you only get so many opportunities in life to say the word “Palimpsest” out loud.

With that in mind, I would like to thank Palimpsest Press and officially welcome you all here tonight to the launch of Ariel Gordon’s Stowaways, the latest in her “Urban Cowboy” series of erotic novels. Or her second volume of poetry.

It’s really quite unfair to say any further nice things about Ariel, despite the fact she’s already offered to slip me $10 to do exactly that. Her first book of poetry, Hump, won the 2011 Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry and, most recently, her chapbook How to Make a Collage won Kalamalka Press’ inaugural John Lent Poetry-Prose Award.

Several of the poems featured in this new collection first appeared in that chapbook, and when I first read the description of Stowaways I wondered how they might fit contextually among the other work in the collection. Hump had such a natural thematic connection and rhythm to its pages and this book, composed as it is of those poems that poked their heads up following the semi-abandonment of a more conceptual project, seemed like an unruly bunch to throw together.

As any of you who have already read this will know, I was sorely mistaken. This is a coherent, entirely natural and deeply playful second work from one of our most gifted poets.

Stowaways is printed on Rolland Zephyr Laid paper – a kind of paper that the manufacturer describes as “creamy” and “sensual.” While I can’t, or at least shouldn’t, comment on the creaminess of this collection, I can certainly testify to its inherent sensuality. Reading the book is an oddly tactile experience as we tromp through slush to run our fingers along the edges of a wild mushroom, and as bark-encrusted plant transport tissues transform to sterile rubber tubing; the poems are always physically present, yielding roughly to the touch.

Ariel refuses to respect boundaries – the urban and the wild collide in this book, with the plastic sheen of our surroundings constantly subjected to the mulched beauty of the natural world.

She buries us beneath snow and guides our hands into the slippery bulk of a whale, instructing us on those tasks both day to day and those somewhat unusual, plunging us both into the past and into a harrowing zombie apocalypse future (with some helpful tips along the way) – all in the voice of one who has an inherent and visceral connection to the world around us, and one who has the skill to harness its beauty into equally evocative poetry; one who can easily convey a rich story in a single stanza, with a simple line break, or hide the most basic and aching emotion within a cheeky comment.

I would like to call up someone who is now notoriously fond of tromping through the woods and taking macro photographs of mushrooms. Someone who knows that you can get a dead battery goin' by mixin' bird feces and spit, cause there's like acids in it, eh?

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