Marcus McCann will be the 2012 recipient of the EJ Pratt medal for poetry (not to be confused with the EJ Pratt Poetry Award in Newfoundland.) Read the letter below:

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…and in other news, check out the blog of Cameron Anstee, who grapples with having his words filched for a McCann cento in The Hard Return:

It is somewhat horrifying to be reminded of this older work, and even more horrifying to think that Marcus had looked at it relatively recently. I remember writing and laying out this chapbook during my final summer working for the City of Ottawa in School Zone Traffic Safety in the Traffic and Parking Department (it was more exciting than it sounds!). I think the layout has held up more strongly than the poems, but I still have a soft spot for the poem Marcus plundered….

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, rob mclennan turned his attention to The Hard Return in May. Here’s what he had to say:

Over the months since his first trade collection, Soft Where (Ottawa ON: Chaudiere Books, 2009), former Ottawa poet Marcus McCann’s gymnastic poems have become nearly bulletproof, composing lines one can bounce both quarter or a round off. His second collection, The Hard Return (Toronto ON: Insomniac Press, 2012), one of the final season of Paul Vermeersch’s tenure as poetry editor (before heading off to Wolsak & Wynn) writes of dislocation and location, writing the tension between a series of opposite positions. The density of McCann’s lines are incredibly packed, and move at lightspeed, nearly light-headedly so.

Thanks, rob!

The Hard Return, the follow-up to 2009′s Soft Where, is available now. From the back of the book: The Hard Return is a broken list of metaphors for the human heart. Or it’s a troubling elegy for a disposable world. Or it’s something much less serious than that. Alternating between loving descriptions of twenty-first-century excess and awkward social situations, Marcus McCann’s poems are sincere and ironic, sad and half-joking, often in the same instant. Buy it here.

Roundup of some recent links: Marcus McCann interviews Judith Butler in Xtra (and in Briarpatch); Patrick Connors interviews McCann before his reading at the Brockton Writers Series; photos taken at Versefest and Proud of Toronto; plus, some short essays: an appreciation of the poet Nicholas Lea in the Globe and Mail, and reviews of David Bateman and Hiromi Goto’s Wait Until Late Afternoon, Martin Duberman’s A Saving Remnant and Jen Currin’s The Inquisition Yours.

“The poem miscarried. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I couldn’t seem to hammer out a structure for the poem. Eventually, it just died on the operating room table. Luckily, every cadaver is full of organs.”

Allan Brown reviewed a recent McCann chapbook in the Spring issue of Jones Av, along with a handful of other above/ground chapbooks, including work by Marilyn Irwin, Cameron Anstee and rob mclennan. The verdict? It’s a little professorial. From the review:

“Marcus McCann plays more academic literary games in Town in a long day of leaving,” writes Brown, and, “sometimes the teacher cracks a joke, as in his re-arrangement of the pop song ‘Crazy.’”

What makes a McCann poem is the relative ease with which he twists words, phrases and ideas. He turns them so quickly-slow that you don’t even notice the twists until you’re already caught up into them, making them one of the best examples of what can be called “serious play” in poetry (which can often seem a rarity, even through those who claim to be working within it). McCann makes his impromptu feats look deceptively simple, a leap and a twist in mid-air and a perfect landing, in a poetry that knows far more than it lets on.
rob mclennan writing on Force Quit (The Emergency Response Unit, 2008) in The Antigonish Review

Sneak peek at The Glass Jaw

September 12, 2010

Here’s a first look at the cover for The Glass Jaw. It’s the result of winning the John Newlove Award in 2009 and comes after a year of collaboration with Amanda Earl and the good folks at Bywords.

From the Newlove citation:

“From the startling metaphoric seize of the opening, the lines propel themselves full throttle, through sonic reverberations and imaginative mimesis,” wrote judge Stephanie Bolster at the time.

The Glass Jaw will be launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on October 25 at 6:30pm, where the next winner of the John Newlove Award will be announced.

(cover design by Marcus McCann, layout by Charles Earl, photo cc thecameo, some rights reserved.)

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
In the best books, there are no heroes.

What are your favourite names?
Boys: Flounder, Tobasco. Girls: Camanda, Countessa, Cassette. Floundra in a pinch. Unisex: Collander.

What is it you most dislike?
Watching people yell at each other on TV.

What is your motto?
Find the mortal world enough. (It’s Auden)

Read the whole darned thing.

“I don’t want to talk too much about polyamory, though. It’s not really something I care about. But I like that Marcus McCann cares about it as much as he does. And I like when poets do well in other public forums, ones beyond the sanctity of the country’s various poetry cults. It was exciting to listen to him walk all over the other guy’s weird logic.”

Read Jacob McArthur Mooney’s piece here.

Open letter on the announcement of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award nominations:

I am grateful for the opportunity presented by the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the League of Canadian Poets. As a prize associated with a first book, it goes a long way to nurturing emerging writers. The shortlist putsme in fantastic company with Robert Earl Stewart, Marguerite Pigeon, Soraya Peerbaye, James Langer and Kate Hall.

Every one of the Lampert-nominated poets has published widely in Canadian literary magazines. They are the best place, often the only place, for young poets to test themselves against their peers. And so, with the announcement today, I’m also mindful of the changes coming to the Canadian Magazine Fund, instituted by the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper.

The changes to the CMF will cripple many small magazines and will likely lead some magazines to fold. I call on the federal government to restore funding rules that support small magazines to promote emerging writers.

Happy National Poetry Month.

Marcus McCann

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Jury citation for Soft Where:

Soft Where by Marcus McCann is a hard-hitting cutting edge poetic expose of a world filled with experimentation and valour. This stunning book explores the possibilities of bringing image to life, written in the language of the people and soaked in a heart of sapphire. The jury was intoxicated by this book, and feels this young writer should be encouraged in every and all ways—to the full extent of poetic promise. The language in Soft Where is as stark and meaningful as the images which express a lifestyle hard-lived and yet as delicate as an origami bird.

More at poets.ca

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