3 great books begin their journey tomorrow
It's the eve of another Mansfield Press book launch in Toronto. The three poetry books on the list all fall under the "a stuart ross book" imprint. I feel very passionately about each one of them. I have so many seasons with Mansfield that are dream seasons. I care about these books, and I want to see them get out there, get read, get recognized. I want the writers to win accolades, to get as much as possible back in return from all that they've given. But you never know what will happen when you send a book out into the world.
The launch takes place on Wednesday, April 9, 7:30 pm, at the Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton Street, in Toronto. There is always so much excitement at the launch, so much enthusiasm and appreciation. The tough part comes after the launch, and I'm determined to give these three new books my best.
I never imagined I would have the opportunity to work with Dani Couture, who is both a good friend, a sometime collaborator, and a writer whose work I am crazy about. I blurbed her first book, Good Meat, published in 2006 by Beth Follett's beautiful Pedlar Press. I wrote: "Dani Couture constructs her poems with the same care my grandfather used to take when slicing cow’s tongue on the wooden cutting board in our kitchen. There is beauty in her precision and compression. But there’s also plenty of adventure and surprise in this collection. And a humaneness that makes this vegetarian admire that carnivore." YAW is a harrowing book. Harrowing and well-crafted and provocative and smart. I did the cover for this book, with a photo by my friend, the amazing photographer Jennifer Rowsom; it's gritty and a bit creepy and it's foreboding. I think it's a good fit.
I've known Gary Barwin for about 30 years. We met up at York University. We've collaborated on a short novel, and on many poems, and on sound poetry. Gary is one of the most inventive and prolific writers I know. He's had books out from about half a dozen different presses — books of poetry, novels, short stories, kids' books with and without words — and I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to work with him on a new book of poetry. I love the spareness of this collection, a spareness I tried to echo a bit in the cover design. The book is also musical — not surprising, as Gary is a musician as well as a writer. It was mighty intimidating to follow The Porcupinity of the Stars, Gary's amazing 2010 book from Coach House. But I'm proud of Moon Baboon Canoe. I think it's a worthy successor.
David McFadden has had a greater influence on me than any other poet. I discovered his work in a library in North York when I was about 15. Never imagined then that I would meet him, we would become friends, I would edit six of his books. David was probably not much more than a teenager when he began writing haiku. He's had a few haiku chapbooks out, but has never had a full-length collection. I was giddy when about 500 of his tankas and haiku landed in my in-box a few years ago. Mansfield publisher Denis De Klerck was, understandably, hesitant to do a book of haiku, but after Dave won the Griffin Poetry Prize last year for What's the Score?, Denis was willing to go with the McFadden flow. Shouting Your Name Down the Well is an enormous book; each poem does something different and something exciting. It's a book full of mischief and wit and wonder. When I worked on the book's cover, it immediately hit me that this book was so full of Dave's personality — it was so much Dave — that he should have that rare book with the poet's face on the cover.
So tomorrow we break the champagne bottle over each of these three books I love by people I love. And then we frantically strive to get these books out into a world that suddenly hasn't figured out what to do with books, all while working away at next fall's fantastic list.
Over and out.