I am bursting with delight to unveil for you here for the first time the cover of Encyclopedia Gothica, designed by Gary Pullin. So many authors have to live with ugly books, oddball covers. I do believe this perfectly captures the spirit of the project, and I am most grateful. Thank you Ghoulish Gary!
I am a poet. Says so right up there at the top of this page. I have to tell you though, it feels strange saying it. To paraphrase something I think the lovely and talented poet Damian Rogers once wrote, telling people you’re a poet is kind of like saying you’re a unicorn. I’ve often joked that poetry is only one rung up above mime on the list of arts most people think they could live their whole lives without. And yet, I’ve always done it, written this kind of verse. And read it. Every day, every month. It brings me great joy, clarity, wisdom, wonder. But someone decided we should celebrate it all the more, give it a month, like it’s some kind of disease or cause that needs to a campaign for awareness, a charity. Hence, April is declared National Poetry Month. Well it’s true, poets are pretty broke and under-appreciated, they can use the attention, the applause, the money.
Often, I take National Poetry Month as an excuse to push mundane work things aside and focus on writing new work. This year, I am taking the work I did in 2010 and turning it into short films. I am plotting with filmmaking friends on on some art videos based on my series Weapons. These poems were not written for the printed page, rather, they were created to to be printed on prayer candles. (See a shadowy sample of “Holy Water,” below.) I’ve been lucky enough to exhibit these and revel in the fact that it presents poetry in an unexpected place. That’s also what we will do with the films.
Meanwhile, I do encourage you, poet friends and friends of poetry, to take this month as an excuse to buy some poetry (here are some Canadian poetry books I adore), attend a reading, memorize a favourite verse, feed a poet, write your own sonnets, or otherwise celebrate poetry. Because you know, it’s easier to fit in your pocket than a unicorn.
My first passport stamp was in Mexico. I love that country. Climbing pyramids. Eating cactus tacos. Speaking Espanish. Watching full moons rise over the ocean. Browsing amazing galleries for unique Day of the Dead art. Hanging on to the seat of a third class bus as it speeds ’round a mountain, while a local teeters down the aisle selling herbal tonic or chili peanuts. But it had been a while, so for my birthday this year I packed the SPF 1000 and headed to the Yucatan for a long overdue visit. Much has changed. I refused to shop at the shiny 7/11 or spend $6 on a scoop of Haagen-Daaz but somehow ended up in a Wal-Mart. And there, my hands full of lime-flavoured potato chips and other spicy snacks, I came across the magazine rack. And there, amongst the Spanish language Tron and Simpsons comic books I found this:
Mexican Goth mag! I’ve long known there were plenty of Goths in el D.F., and other cities around Mexico and I’ve bought Goth T-shirts and demo tapes in the markets there but this was a real treat. To no surprise, it covers exactly the same things, in the same way, as all the other glossy Goth mags out there — German duo Lacrimosa is on the cover, Klaus Nomi and Dave Vanian get features — but I was still delighted. And it was free. Well, free with purchase of a skateboard magazine called Gorilla which, to my surprise, has naked pin-up centrefolds in it. So I bought the Gorilla and came home with the Especial Dark. Un regalo de cumpleaños para mi!
I am delighted to announce the cover artist for my upcoming Encyclopedia Gothica book: Ghoulish Gary Pullin!
I know Gary from my work at Rue Morgue Magazine, where he is the Art Director responsible for many of their wicked covers. He is also great at gig posters, illustrations and painting all kinds of monsters. He’s not Goth (not yet!) but knows his bats and skulls and I know he’s going to bring both class and creepiness to the project. Exciting!
More news soon on the book’s release, coming this fall from ECW Press.
I used to make year-end music lists. As part of my job. Top 10 Albums of the Year, mostly. This year, I don’t want to make a Top 10 Albums of the Year. Mostly because I didn’t love anything released in 2010 as much as Metric’s Fantasies, or Fever Ray, from 2009. And partly because I simply didn’t hear as many new records. Head down in Gothdom working on the encyclopedia, I spent most of my nights with the Siouxsie back-catalogue. Still, because I simply can’t not shout about music I love, here’s a short list of some of the records, songs, videos and live shows of a Gothy nature that made up the soundtrack to my 2010.
First, there were a few new albums to love that slid in nicely in-between the more Trad goth playlist: Zola Jesus‘ Stridulum II, Jonsi‘s solo debut Go, Aidan Baker‘s Liminoid / Lifeforms. Dax Riggs‘ Say Goodnight To the World. The National‘s High Violet. Jimmy Gnecco from Ours’ solo debut The Heart. The 10th anniversary box set from Akumu. And, like every other so-called rock critic in the land, I loved The Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs.
Faith and the Muse at the El Mo, April 19
Magical. Mystical. Restoring my faith in Goth bands. And Scary Lady Sarah was in attendance, for extra Goth Points.
Killing Joke at the Phoenix, Dec. 7
My friend Dave, who has seen Killing Joke 6 times, warned me that they never play “Love Like Blood.” And then, second song in, they did. So they didn’t play it perfectly. It was the most perfect time I’ve ever heard it played by Killing Joke live.
Alice Cooper at Heavy MTL festival, July 24
My first time seeing Cooper, surprisingly. My friend and colleague Gary Pullin from Rue Morgue should hire himself out as a professional date for Alice Cooper concerts because I can’t imagine it ever being more fun to see that guy than with Gary singing at the top of his lungs alongside you.
Muse at ACC, March 8
Every year I seem to splurge on just one $100 ticket to a stadium rock show I’m not working. This year there were two — Lady Gaga and Muse. I dug Gaga’s Alexander McQueen outfits and latex nun’s dress immensely but nothing can compare the greatest laser light show ever unleashed upon my retinas. I realize the three Muse guys kind of play like robots and may in fact not have any souls but damn if I don’t love all of their songs. And did I mention the “lasers”?
Grinderman at the Phoenix, Nov. 11
My love for Nick Cave is unconditional, but there are rules. First, I never review his albums, or his shows. (I did interview him for The Death of Bunny Munro last year, but if you think I would pass up a chance to sit across from him drinking tea from fancy hotel teacups while staring at the tailoring of his striped Christian Dior suit jacket so as not to fall deeply into a trance from looking into his eyes, now that would be crazy.) Because I want to leave something to pure fandom, I want to be able to listen to him and never think of work, with its inherent frustrations and disappointments. Second, I must see him in person at least once a year. The amount of happiness I get, from the anticipation and the afterglow as well as the performance itself, well, it will last me all year. I also adore Warren Ellis, so much so that I wrote a poem about him (which was published in Carousel this year, hooray!) So it makes absolutely no sense that I almost missed the first Toronto gig from Grinderman because I didn’t buy a ticket before it sold out. Thanks to late night Craigslist trawling (and someone’s wife’s unfortunately timed surgery) I got my hands on one and was thus able to enjoy an evening of pure rock ‘n’ roll mayhem so mesmerizing and gloriously loud it stayed with me for days. I could tell you why it was so amazeballs (my new favourite word) but then it would be like work. So I’ll just say Grinderman is not the Bad Seeds but how amazeballs is it that we get two bands fronted by Nick Cave? Very. Here’s to whatever is to come from him in 2011.
Adult. world premiere of Traditions, Music Gallery, May 30
The only way to see the Adult. horror short films is in person, with the live score. Gratitude to Johnny and the Music Gallery crew for bringing this special event to town.
Also this year, some of my favourite artists scored some of my favourite films: Clint Mansell’s Black Swan, Trent Reznor’s Social Network, Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy. Seriously, it is such a delight to find, as I become more and more interested in film, people who’ve always been the soundtrack to my life in clubs still there as the soundtrack to my life in cinemas. I also love that some fascinating creative artists are sucking some of the Hollywood money away from L.A. douchebag types. All three of their scores stand on their own. (Even Tron, naysayers be damned!)
Monochromatic. Enigmatic. Futuristic. Fetishistic. Fantastic.
The Paperback Horror blog has published a lovingly positive review of my chapbook Weapons, which I hand-stitched and stamped for the book fairs this year. They have also posted a sample poem from the collection. I don’t usually share my poetry on the internet but it seemed like the right place to do it. In the spirit of the season, we picked “Icepick.” Enjoy.
December 14, 2010
Dead Poet’s Night
The Art Bar Poetry Series presents its 8th annual meeting of the Dead Poet’s Society. I shall be reading aloud from someone else’s work for the first time: Louise Labé (1522-1566). Others will read Kerouac, Tennyson and many more. Come.
Clinton’s (693 Bloor Street West)
8pm – 11pm
Friends, stalkers, random web searchers…this is my new website. Now with %100 bloginess. Thanks for visiting.
It’s been quiet this year. I’ve been quiet. Just a little. I’ve been working behind the scenes on a new television series about heavy metal I know you are going to enjoy. And always, always writing poems late into the night, which I will share here when they are ready.
I will also be posing as a visual artist this month, exhibiting my Weapons Prayer Candles at the Small Press Book Fair, Saturday June 19 at the Great Hall. Come say hello. Bring your pens. Bring your swords.