The Desert and The Flood

Horsebroke_2 Production previewProud to announce The Desert and The Flood, new poetry from Amanda Besserer, is now available for pre-order via Horsebroke Press.

The Desert and The Flood is the first collection of poetry from Amanda Besserer in nearly a decade. After a long hiatus, Amanda has made re-emerged with a voice both romantic and grounded. Her poems tour the wreckage of lunar accidents, hop Charybdis, and dangle their feet from the rings of Saturn. Most of all, this is the poetry of a survivor; of someone who has learned when to purr—and when to roar.

Amanda will be reading at the Factory Reading Series in Ottawa on Friday June 17 at the Carleton Tavern (FB link). The book will be available there and at the Ottawa Small Press Fair the next day, Saturday June 18, at the Jack Purcell Centre (FB link). Pre-orders via Etsy will ship on June 17.

Want a taste of Amanda’s work? Visit and follow Revolution From My Bed.

Dick move

After David Currie

The turkey vulture is the only animal that apologizes for its mean comments. The turkey vulture survives by hounding other birds off their nests, not so they may eat their unborn young or fledglings but so the turkey vulture may feel it has done something with its day. It apologizes so it may feel it was brought up right.

Civilization: Single Player Setup


I’ve been trying to up my people’s happiness.

The central tenet of our faith: water is good.

Ottawa is hash-tagged with rivers and canals;

today, we should be ecstatic to be alive.


One suicidal friend fled west, says

he is shamed by dignitaries. The downtown

BIA shuts down a t-shirt giveaway;

you must ask for the right to be generous.


Another suicidal friend ripens in subsidy.

She repays charity with other charity,

literally. She dreams of renewal;

to be made useful in the arrow of ex-pats


teaching English in the East. A third friend,

also suicidal, once East, appears automated.

From above he appears to be in perpetuity

finishing a painting, thick with better edits.


More friends, maybe also suicidal, pen odes

to their prescriptions, fatten with baggage.

I feel each draws on my productivity, heathers

my vision of a hundred percent self.


These are not my stories to tell but I am in them.

The rural legislator describes the defense

he pit against his arsonist son-in-law. His daughter

condemns what Hansard cannot deny;


it was not his story to tell. My friends

once saw themselves in my words for myself,

my baggy self-portrait. I am sorry

for saying nothing so long, and now so much.


My advisor has no answers. She assigns icons.

When I will not share she presents me a red shield.

To my common cloth she has affixed a purple medal.

But I do not know if the gold diamond or blue vial is better.


I have never been assigned a plain, smiling face.

The eye is winked or the tongue is stuck. Maybe

the Pac-Man’s cheek is blushed, but it is never

a plain, smiling face. I am sick with nuance.


This is my story but I am not in it.

This baggy caricature slips off my motion.

In three-hundred words, a stranger insists

Robin Williams did not die from suicide;


he died from depression. No one dies

from suicide, the stranger insists. This

they insist is requisite to development,

to people who live so long they stack.


I’ve been trying to up my people’s happiness

posturing as a provider of day-dates and texts.

My advisor has no answers. She identifies

my greatest share of costs is personnel.


I close my window, lift my red shield.

The sky is off-white with water, rain today

or snow tomorrow—either way the city wet.

I ask someone to chill, but fuck if they forget.


There is a tradition of Canadian poets writing poems titled “Sex at 31” when they are 31 years of age. This poem is not titled Sex at 31 and contains a quote from the film 10 Things I Hate About You which I saw precisely half my life ago.


Accept it

when it’s almost over




I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be

underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?


Again I’m asked if I feel I can express myself?


Again, a Russian jet is reckless.


Again I promise you a love poem.

Poetry (Blog) Tour 2014

“you saw me / the saddest i / know how / to be.” – Jesslyn Delia Smith, “camping, again and again

1. What am I working on?

Primarily I’m working on what might be (**spoilers**) my first full-length manuscript (as in a book of poems). Largely it’s a lot of building up from So Long As The People Are People, of which I’m immensely proud. Some of the reviews of that work, particularly by JM Francheteau, gave me perpsective on my own work that I’d been lacking – as in, what is it Blackman’s trying to do. The plan, as is, is to try to generate more chapbooks that, along with So Long’ would be harvested towards a cohesive book.

Otherwise, my friend Justin Million and I, who made me participate in this tour, have a lot of big plans. Over the past year we produced two collaborative chapbooks, which you can download here and here. Working with him really shook up my writing, and reminded me poetry’s as fun as any team sport.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

People have been telling me for a decade that I have a very distinct style of writing. 10 years ago one person proclaimed at the end of a workshop course that all my poems have a signature ‘Jeff line.’ Last week a friend told me all my poems contain lines that, quote, “shouldn’t work but do.” But five years ago my good friend Peter Gibbon and I did a collaborative chapbook where we each wrote half – but didn’t note who wrote what – and people were all like, “That’s so you!” and I was all like, “That’s so Pete!” Anyways.

“Jeff is the risk-takingest poet I know—too bad he has a full-time job.” – Bardia Sinaee, Odourless Press

To this day I don’t know what Bardia meant by that, what risks it is I take. Leads into next answer…

3. Why do I write what I do?

So my friend Ben Ladouceur pretty well stole my go to answer, writing in his tour entry:

“It takes guts to know some happiness / & not make a poem about it.” That’s from The Brave Never Write Poetry by Daniel Jones. I write poetry because I am not brave.”

I’ll take a second stab at it: I try to make people happy armed with things that have made me happy. It definitely doesn’t seem that way, especially if I’m posting poems about conservationists mutilating animals to save them or aging, it’s because to me that’s funny in a sort of grand ironic way. And seeing that makes me happy, and I’d like you to be happy too.

4. How does your writing process work?

I under-perform to be honest. The pattern for at least the last year or so has been period of nothing, period of excavating old words, period of destruction, period of lots new, period of excavating, lather, rinse, repeat. I have no loyal routines, at least not for writing.

I am grateful for anyone who’s taken the time to review my work, respond to it, and been honest in their criticism. It’s genuinely hard to find that community, and that’s key to my process; engaging with other poets who are friends or catching as much local poetry as I can. I get charged by it, and can ride a good performance for hours, wind up at a bar alone just writing pages, getting stuff off my chest I’d caged for ages. I guess I could say I’m ready to write when I see/hear/read something that is just amazing, and I feel like, yeah, I could open for them one day. I just gotta sit down and do it.


Thanks to Justin Million for getting me to do this, and my apologies to whoever I said no to before finally conceding. It was fun. And a special thanks to Jesslyn Delia Smith who unknowingly chickened me into finally self-publishing online a year ago. I did not find three friends to do this after me, so I command you: add to your blog reader, and watch her crank out a poem a day for NaPoWriMo, bravely. And publish yourself while you’re at it.