Tough and honest and lovely

Horsebroke_2 Cover glamour shot

“A mix of straightforward, gritty poems with fanciful stuff. Some wry humour, some poems of youth, and ferocious poems as well.”—Amanda Earl, Editor of & Angel House Press

“The new poems are strong and tough and honest and lovely and welcome after so long, and the books are beautifully made.”—Cameron Anstee, Apt. 9 Press

I am proud to announce that, one, the first edition of Amanda Besserer’s The Desert and The Flood sold out, and two, that a new edition is now available. Please visit my Horsebroke Press for a copy.

It’s been a pleasure working with Amanda. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Follow her on wordpress or twitter for more poems, articles, and oversharing.

New publications, tour dates

A lot going on, such as a beloved work in print: the first poem I wrote about my son (for my wife) has been published in (parenthetical) magazine from words(on)pages in Toronto. You may read it online but I strongly suggest ordering a copy of the magazine—words(on)pages produces beautiful books.


New chap-poem: A cento after Cameron Anstee’s  chapbook ever the night goes beautiful has been published as a chap-poem by Puddles of Sky Press—it’s called “the night goes” and it’s free with an order of something awesome, like the graphic novel issue of illiterature issue v. the graphic novel or The Hopeful Barnacle: New & Selected Poems of Andrew Nurse.


Two upcoming tour dates: Tues. June 28 at the Tree Reading Series (Ottawa) with Talya Rubin & my friend, the incredible JM Francheteau, and Sat. July 2 at Artfest (Kingston) with tourmates Cameron Anstee and Justin Million, and the wonderful Frances Boyle. Both those shows are free, so please come out and buy some chapbooks if you can. Artfest is going to be just incredible, with sixty poets reading in Kingston’s City Park over the long weekend. Cannot wait.

2016 05 22 Blackman Jeff author photo for Tree Reading -  credit K Maxfield

New title from Horsebroke press: My little press is taking on its first poet (who isn’t me) with a collection from Amanda Besserer. It will launch Fri. June 17 at the Factory Reading Series (Ottawa) and be available at the Ottawa Small Press Fair the next day (Sat. June 18). If you can’t make it to Ottawa, you’ll be able to order it via our Etsy store at that time. More details on this project very soon.

Town home


Anarchist squirrels free seed from my kind neighbours’ feeder.

The proletarian kit of pigeons are most welcome for this,

as they are for our balconies; our ongoing conversion

of open air to rock face. After bird carnage at city hall, officials

have covered-up the glass walkway with brown paper.


Report: Warhol’s prophetic tweet is inverted heretofore:

In the future everyone will be shamed for fifteen minutes.

Another neighbour kept two brown work-socks

hung all winter. Another neighbour manifests solely

as a cat let out; a cat who makes both mine purr.


When a neighbour leaves our common landlord endeavours

months’ of reno., raising the rent of the free unit

such that every new neighbour is richer than the last.

Out front, a man pulls up with a piece of chalk

snug in a cigarette holder; it must be four.

I hate to hugger-mugger, but

I’ve a new poem up at the Steel Chisel, and it’s cryptic as hell but as the Sea Captain says, “You live by the ghost, you die by the ghost.” Watch this space for new poems that don’t require Google.

Other good news: A poetry tour featuring Justin Million, jesslyn delia smith, Rachael Simpson, Cameron Anstee and I is taking form. It will hook around Canadian Thanksgiving, with stops in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Peterborough. Dates & details later this summer.

A brief note for poets:An earlier version of Curglaff is available on YouTube. I want to say I appreciate literary outlets like the ‘Chisel for publishing a poem that’s appeared elsewhere. With two of Canada’s biggest poetry prizes – the Walrus’ and the CBC’s – denying entry to poems poets have performed on stage, and countless other submissions barred to bloggers & zinesters who JUST WANT TO SHARE THEIR DAMN POETRY and earn a living, we need more outlets like this. Kudos, Mr. Emery.

It’s a kinda family

So In/Words Magazine & Press is officially an Ottawa institution. As old as the GWOT, Carleton’s little mag that can has published authors from across the country, but mostly from Carleton University. Most of my friends have appeared in its pages and I wouldn’t be the semi-confident specimen I am today if not for that community/myriad of opportunity, so I was tickled when a month ago rob mclennan, whose “omni-presence is exciting to some, annoying to others,” approached myself and other editors from the mag’s middle years (~2006-2011) to contribute to a piece for Open Book Ontario on In/Words’ history/identity/etc. Since then almost everyone interviewed has been on a wonderful nostalgia kick and published histories of their own. I’ll update this little list with new bits. You should definitely start with Dave Emery’s, and work your way backwards, if only because that one features the most embarrassing anecdote about yours truly. Also his piece satisfies my desire to see (almost) everyone involved over the years get a mention. It’s a kinda family you know?

Profile of In/Words, with a few questions
rob mclennan, Open Book Ontario, 11 Feb ’13.

What has really left a sustained mark is the list of writers that have come through the other end, a number of whom are producing increasingly interesting writing, and beginning to receive attention beyond the immediate borders of the informal group.

In/Words: A Personal Memorir
Peter Gibbon, Conduit Canada, 21 Feb ’13
Includes my previously unpublished poem ‘WEDDED’

Another watershed moment for In/Words writers was a semi-impromptu wedding ceremony between two founders of the press’ erotic lit mag The Moose & Pussy Jeff Blackman and Kate Maxfield. This occurred in my back yard. For this occasion, Cameron Anstee, Ben Ladouceur and I formed an acoustic covers band as entertainment. Every preceding Sunday for a month-and-a-half Ben and I rehearsed in my apartment, arranging songs with percussion, guitar, harp, organ and egg shaker. Half the guests were either a former editor or contributor to In/Words.

The Derelict Narrative: An Account of In/Words
Dave Emery, Angel House Press, 26 Feb ’13
Includes my old, old poem ‘University’

I felt sick to my stomach after those shows were over, like I’d been pushed unceremoniously from a carnival ride and left buzzing, buzzing. I’d often go home and write. It was the only way to calm myself down. Inspiration came fast and furious from that foot-high stage, sometimes in odd packages.

And apparently I’ll be sick to my stomach as I open the Reading Series Tonight @ the Clocktower Pub, @ Isabella & Bank here in snowy Ottawa. The main act is Dave De Bruijn, who also is In/Words’ bartender/amp man/resident Egyptologist. As I was the first official feature of the Reading Series some 2.5 years ago, I’m delighted to be opening for Dave. Get there for 8:30 for a seat upfront. I promise not to call anyone a suit.

Event details via Facebook:

Update! Two former/current(?) partners-in-line have written about chapbook series put together ‘back in the day.’ Both featured work I’m proud to have produced.

“nostalgia to me:” Reading In/Words Chapbook Series 8
Ben Ladouceur, 10 June ’13
Featuring my collaborative poetry & prose book, “BLIZZARD: Ottawa City Stories,” which I wrote with Peter Gibbon over about 2 years. It was supposed to be about being lonely virgins but things change, donchaknow?

In/Words: the longpoem envelope (2008)
Cameron Anstee, 13 June ’13
Featuring my Passover-centric text, “Tonight We Be A Rebel People.” Technically I never took that long-poem class but I definitely absorbed it through osmosis.

I’ll update with some excerpts next week. (JB – June 13, 2013)