01 July 2015

A Hamburger in a Gallery — the first review; the last?

I'm grateful to rob mclennan for blogging about my latest poetry collection, A Hamburger in a Gallery. I appreciate that he recognized the broad range of work. That whole book is about eclecticism, perhaps more so than any of my previous books. rob writes: "Ross’ poetics shift from the surreal to the straightforward, from the concrete to the downright meditative and philosophical, as well as through a strange humour, self-aware and even ironic sadness, and sense of deep loss that permeate much of the collection."

This is the first review of Hamburger, and I can't help but wonder if it'll be the last. I've noticed that I've been getting progressively fewer reviews of my poetry books. It might be the fact that there are fewer venue for poetry reviews, especially in print. It might be that my books have become increasingly confounding. It might be that I'm of much less interest than I used to be, when my books were being reviewed in the Globe or the Star. (Though I'm also aware I am very fortunate to have ever been reviewed in the dailies!)

It's been a very strange book to read from. Each time I've presented from it, at a launch or a reading, it's felt like a crapshoot. But last night, for example, at my Cobourg launch, I was amazed at how open (most of) the audience was; they weren't all poetry fanatics, like you might get in a Toronto or Vancouver audience. But they stayed with me as I wandered from one-word poems, to faux translations, to whatever else I found in those pages of this book of experiments.

My next collection, coming out in spring of 2016, is going to be an entirely different animal. It may be my most coherent poetry book yet. It's my attempt at a mainstream collection; I thought that might be a fun experiment. But I'm grateful to editor/poet/friend Jason Camlot and DC Books for kicking my two weirdest collections — Hamburger and Dead Cars in Managua — out into the world.

Over and out.

29 June 2015

Triple launch in Cobourg, June 30

It is true that I now live in Cobourg, even though all the Toronto hasn't been shaken out of me. On Tuesday I'm launching my three new books in my adopted town. I've seen a lot of support for my launches since I moved here, but I'm nervous about this one. Maybe the novelty of a Stuart Ross book launch has worn off. Will anyone show up?

The Toronto launch last week, which featured books by Gary Barwin, Chris Chambers and me, was a huge success. The Supermarket was pretty much full, and we sold a respectable number of books. I really enjoyed reading from A Hamburger in a Gallery, which is a tough book to read from. But I'm figuring it out. And while I agonized over which essay from Further Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer to read, I ultimately chose a winner: "One Muse Please, With Extra Pepperoni!" Chris and Gary were also in top form that night. It was a good one.

Who knows what'll happen in Cobourg?

Over and out.

22 June 2015

Toronto launch, with Chris Chambers and Gary Barwin, June 24 at the Supermarket

Finally launching A Hamburger in a Gallery and Further Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer in Toronto! And thrilled to be accompanied by Chris Chambers, with his very long-awaited new poetry collection, and Gary Barwin, with a crazy new fiction collection.

Over and out.

21 June 2015

Road Trip, Southern Ontario, 1999

Father's Day, and 14 years since my father, Sydney Ross, died. Dave Keon was number 14 for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I don't like sports much, but I used to watch hockey with my dad and my brothers, all of whom were big sports fans. I liked Dave Keon, because he seemed like a nice guy. Like my dad.

I've written a lot of poems about my dad. One of them appears in the current issue of Taddle Creek, a Toronto-based literary magazine. Others have appeared in various books of mine. All my "Razovsky" poems are about my dad, to some degree. Razovsky was the name he was born with.

The poem below appeared in my 2003 book, Hey, Crumbling Balcony! (ECW Press). Ben Walker also turned it into a beautiful song for his CD An Orphan's Song. You can hear a snippet of it right here.
It's about the only road trip my dad and I took alone together, four years after my mom died, a year before my brother Owen died. I am so glad this trip happened.


We drive and drive until
we hit a lake.
At the edge of the lake
is a cairn.
The plaque reads,
“They drove and drove
until they hit a lake.”
My father and I
trade glances.
A cold breeze ruffles
his thin grey hair.
Behind us,
the car idles,
the doors hanging open.
I shiver. He locks my head
in the crook of his arm.
I place my feet on his,
and he walks, giant-like,
towards the water,
carrying me with him.
“Take me to your planet,”
I say.

In the car again,
we are silent. The
sports announcer
says something about
sports. If we had been
born a century earlier,
and in Paris,
perhaps my father
and I would be walking
our turtles along the
boulevard, being silent
in French.

In two years,
my father will be dead.
The car will be mine.
Children will crack
the windshield. My feet
will touch the ground.
Oh, also, I’ll have
one brother fewer. I’ll have
one brother.
When the snow falls,
I will catch it
and put it back.

Over and out.

28 May 2015

I'm judging the Aspiring Canadian Poets Contest, deadline June 1

I was asked this year to judge something called The Aspiring Canadian Poets Contest, and I said sure. I mean, I asked them a lot of questions, and then I said sure.

The deadline is June 1. Here's a bit of what it's all about:

With the goal of recognizing and developing unpublished Canadian poets, the prizes for the three winners (1st, 2nd & 3rd place winners) of the Aspiring Canadian Poets Contest will include:

• the publication of their contest winning poetry on this contest website;

• a listing of their names in the November issue of Quill & Quire, Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews; and

• private online mentoring sessions with the contest judge (valued at $1,000, shared among the three winners).

Previous judges have included Catherine Graham, Shannon Bramer, and Catherine Owen, so I'm in pretty good company.

Another thing I like about this contest — and I don't often like contests — is that there is no entry fee.

Here's how to enter!

Over and out.

22 April 2015

Launching two new books: A Hamburger in a Gallery and My Planet of Kites

So much has been happening. I will try to catch up in small bursts. I have three new books out this season.

I'm on the train to Montreal now, where I'll be launching my new book of poetry, A Hamburger in a Gallery, from DC Books' Punchy Poetry imprint, tomorrow night.

The launch takes place on April 23 at 7:30 pm at Le Petit Salon, Hotel 10, 10 Sherbrooke Ouest. Admission is free!

This is my oddest book of poetry yet and, making it more unusual, it contains a 50-page interview with me by my brilliant editor, Jason Camlot. We sat down to do the interview last December in Montreal and Jason said: “OK, I’m going to ask you really stupid questions and you answer them straight.” The results are pretty neat. I’m very proud of this book.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Montreal, too, with the Mansfield Press spring poetry launch, to celebrate my co-translation of Montreal poet Marie-Ève Comtois' second poetry collection, Je Te Trouve Belle Mon Homme. That title was impossible to migrate into English, so the book is called My Planet of Kites. I translated the book with my friend Michelle Winters, who is a great fiction writer and a professional translator. In Montreal, Marie-Ève and I read about seven poems: she read in French first, then I read the translations. It was pretty thrilling.

I think this will be the first of many translations for me.

My third new book, Further Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer, will be launched in Vancouver in late May. I'll have Toronto and Cobourg launches as well, and maybe some other places.

Over and out.

21 February 2015

March 1 Poetry Boot Camp in Toronto!

I haven't run one of my Poetry Boot Camps since July of last year. My new poetry book, coming out this spring from DC Books, A Hamburger In A Gallery, is comprised mostly of poems I wrote in the Boot Camp and other of my workshops.

I'm pleased, finally, to be bringing the Boot Camp back to Toronto!

Sunday, March 1, 10 am – 5 pm (45-minute lunch break
Christie/Dupont area
$95 includes materials and snacks
Spaces are limited: register now by prepaying for the session.
Write razovsky [at] gmail [dot] com

This relaxed but productive workshop for beginning poets, experienced poets, stalled poets, and haikuists who want to get beyond three lines is a Toronto institution! Poetry Boot Camp focuses on the pleasures of poetry and the riches that spontaneity brings, through lively directed writing strategies. You will write in ways you’d never imagined. Even if you’ve taken the Boot Camp before, you’ll be introduced to many new adventures in poetry. I have a lot of fresh strategies up my sleeve! As always: arrive with an open mind, and leave with a writhing heap of new poems!


Stuart Ross is a writer, editor, and writing coach who has been leading workshops for over two decades across the country. His most recent poetry collections include Our Days In Vaudeville (Mansfield Press, 2013) and You Exist. Details Follow. (Anvil Press 2012). This spring DC Books released Stuart ninth collection, A Hamburger In A Gallery.
He has been shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, the Alberta Book Award, and four times for the ReLit Prize; his story collection Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books, 2009) won him the coveted ReLit ring in 2010, and his novel Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew won him the Mona Elaine Adilman Award for Fiction on a Jewish Theme. You Exist. Details Follow. received the only prize given to an English-language book by l’Académie de la Littéraire au Tournant du 21e Siècle.

Stuart was Fiction & Poetry Editor at This Magazine for eight years, and is editor at Mansfield Press, where he has his own imprint. Books he has edited have been shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize (twice!), the Governor General’s Award, the Toronto Book Award, the Trillium Book Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award. One of the books he edited won the 2013 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize. Stuart lives in Cobourg, Ontario.


"Excellent! Stretched my horizons of interpretation. Experienced new ways of writing."
"Loved this workshop: diversity of strategies, good sense of timing in writing/reading."
"Liked the size of the group, the diversity, the books on the table, acceptance, respect, sense of adventure."
"I liked being introduced to so many new poets and new ideas."
"Excellent! Challenging! Fun! Very helpful and essential."
"This workshop reminded me of the importance of challenging myself with my own writing."
"Thanks — just what I needed to break my writing slump."

Over and out.