(Updated 5 September ’13)
I can’t help but toot my horn, but Amanda Earl (editor-in-chief of Bywords.ca, all-around local-lit goddess) wrote a brief review of my launch. Visit her blog to read about my co-launchers, Christine McNair and Stephen Brockwell, as well as a ton of books from the June 2013 Ottawa Small Press Fair.
Jeff began his reading with a song & ended with one. He has such a beautiful & strong voice. If he wanted to take up a career as a singer, he could certainly do so. Some of the poems in this collection are political, zany, sexual. There is a sweet poignancy to his work. “just one man / can be the man / who kills the villain // one john doe / or bullet bill / one pinball / the Creator chose // you must press hard / as if the star misses you” from “Single Player’s Revival.” Lots of serious stuff is contained in poems about video games or domestic routine. When introducing Jeff, [Apt. 9 Press Chief] Cameron [Anstee] said something to the effect that Jeff is one of the few poets whose work consistently makes him laugh out loud. Poems such as “Two Virgins Ago” or “How to Kiss the Prime Minister” which he read are exactly why.
And more recent praise care of Pearl Pirie’s 95 Books Series:
“like a tight rope walker in the park he makes it look easy… as much self-awareness and audience awareness and profundity as a stack of books to my right were reaching for but didn’t quite reach, let alone with clarity and economy”
And even more praise, most recently care of JM Francheteau – who writes the best poems you’ve ever read/heard about professional wreslters – who smartly strikes at ‘what it was I was trying to say,’ better than anyone else thus far:
Blackman’s is a social poetry, concerned with the idea that what exists between people is people. Throughout, he juxtaposes observations on navigating married life with the frustrations of political dialogue, how each involves “grappling with the truth” that the other “is no mere reply to my voice.” Empathy requires attention, a sort of work. Without it, those who are different from us cease in our eyes to be people, and if they are not people then we aren’t either.
To get yourself a copy of So Long As The People Are People, contact Cameron Anstee at Apt. 9 Press.
If you can’t get enough of me, read my “Writers as Readers” interview with Open Books: Ontario. I reveal what book I’d send back in time to humble my seventeen-year-old self and my increasingly inappropriate response to 1984.