Tightrope Books

Tightrope Teaser Tuesday: The Best Canadian Poetry In English, 2009

By Tightrope Books | November 4th, 2009 | Print This Post | Email This Post | Leave a Comment

Welcome back for another installment of Tightrope Teaser Tuesday, where we give readers a brief look into one of our new or forthcoming titles. This week’s teaser comes from The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2009, edited by A.F. Moritz and with series editor Molly Peacock.

The 50 poems in the collection were selected from a long list of 100 poems drawn from Canadian literary journals and magazines. With this anthology, readers – often baffled by proliferating poems and poets – will be able to tap into the remarkable and vibrant Canadian poetry scene, checking out the currents – and cross currents – of poetry in a volume distilled by a round robin of distinguished editorial taste.

The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2009 can be purchased from our office at 602 Markham St., or online from our website.

Please enjoy “Teaching English” by Tom Wayman, one of the fifty fantastic poems featured in this year’s edition of Best Canadian Poetry.

Teaching English

What does English not know
that it needs to hear from me? So many instructors
have drawn its attention to the absurd spelling,
how chopping a tree down
is not the opposite of chopping a tree up.
The language has endured enough talk
about the “they’re”/“their”/“there” wackiness
and users’ continual bafflement
over the purpose of the apostrophe.

Can I convey anything
to help English function better
where it earns a paycheque
or during intimate encounters?
I regard it, scratch my head.
It stares back at me while it sits,
headphones on, earbuds pumping music
directly into the auditory nerve,
vocabulary shrinking along with
cognitive ability—consequence of too much television
before age three, perhaps, or excessive cellphone use
—eyes blank
as a missing comma.

Tightrope Teaser Tuesday: Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse, by Phoebe Tsang

By Tightrope Books | August 25th, 2009 | Print This Post | Email This Post | Leave a Comment

Welcome to a new edition of Tightrope Teaser Tuesday, where we give our readers the briefest of glimpses – teases, if you will – into our new, backlist, and forthcoming books. This week’s teaser comes from Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse, a collection of poetry set to hit bookshelves this fall.

These poems are an existential exploration of love and mortality via fairytales and nature. Travelling freely among the shattered confines of identity and gender, travel and environment, the dreamlike narrative unfolds in lyric language, telling of love lost and found, and mythologies that inform the journey with passages in the rhythm of fairytales.

You can visit author Phoebe Tsang at her website, http://www.phoebetsang.com.

For now, please enjoy “Seven Days Without You,” from Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse.

monday: wake up

hair crumpled as a black silk scarf—

i see you’ve been trying to strangle me in my sleep

tuesday: eyes ringed with ash-grey—

have you been trying to set me on fire again

wednesday: wake late

when did sunlight get so dark

i waited all night but dawn never came

thursday: bad dreams—

you rode the moon through my window

and laced my pillow with mercury

friday: i’m a strawberry field

scarred with spider-sized bites—

i never wanted to be your voodoo doll

saturday: stay in bed all afternoon

i shouldn’t miss you but i do

sunday: wake up alone

finally it seems you’ve stopped

dreaming about me

Tightrope Teaser Tuesday: Fortune Cookie by Heather J. Wood

By Tightrope Books | August 18th, 2009 | Print This Post | Email This Post | Leave a Comment

Welcome to the second edition of Tightrope Teaser Tuesday, where we give our readers the briefest of glimpses – teases, if you will – into our new, backlist, and forthcoming books. This week, take a look at Heather J. Wood’s Fortune Cookie, a novel published in spring 2009.

Fortune Cookie is a diary-style novella set in Montreal during the turbulent year of 1989. The book follows Robin through her growing disenchantment with the aimless life of a twenty-something who hasn’t yet found herself in a world that is changing as fast as she is. This subversively feminist work, aimed at young women, is told in first-person vignettes – written in the informal and often humourous voice of 24-year-old Robin. Robin’s vignettes are at times intercut with news headlines, highlighting the political and social events of the year – including Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Montreal Massacre.

Montreal-born Heather J. Wood is a freelance copywriter and creative prose writer. Her work has appeared in Kiss Machine, Artistry of Life, and Litbits, as well as in two Tightrope Books anthologies: In the Dark: Stories from the Supernatural, and IV Lounge Nights. Heather’s chapbook, Barbies, Breasts and Bathing Suits, was published by Press On! in 2007. She lives in Toronto with her husband Kurt and two cats.

Enjoy this excerpt from Heather J. Wood’s Fortune Cookie.

Friday, June 9, 1989

Sunday night’s television coverage of the tanks and soldiers with machine guns storming into Tiananmen Square almost made me cry. The students’ crushed hopes and expectations were as sad as the deaths and injuries. I needed to do something about it, which was why I went to the McGill Library to read about human rights.

Reagan was busy all week, volunteering at the international AIDS conference. “Nobody at that archaic institution knows anything about human rights,” she said when I finally got her on the phone. Reagan never used the library when she was at McGill. She preferred to do her research in what she called the “real world.” As far as I could tell, that meant hanging out at grungy bars with her blue-haired Daily friends.

Regan recommended trying the library at a “progressive” university like Concordia or the Universite du Quebec, but I chose McGill anyway. I thought it might be more intimidating to go to one I had never been to before. But as soon as I walked up the library steps, my heart started racing like it did when I was a student. I used to feel stupid in that library. I was sure people were staring and silently laughing at me. I figured everyone there assumed I didn’t know what I was doing. Which, of course, I didn’t.

Not being able to handle the library was one of the reasons I dropped out. It’s pretty hard to do an arts degree without ever borrowing a book or looking at microfilm. I considered switching into sciences for a while, but the idea of doing lab experiments scared me, too.

The security guard gave me a funny look when I tried to walk past him. “Where’s your student card?” he growled.

I ran out of the library and found a pay phone. I left a message on Reagan’s machine, asking if I could pick up some of her Amnesty International material.


Monday, June 12, 1989

I spent a few hours sitting in the Paragraphe Bookstore’s cafe, poring over Reagan’s Amnesty pamphlets. I’ve always liked bookstores better than libraries. In bookstores, it’s OK to wander around without knowing what you’re looking for. In libraries, you’re supposed to know. But if I knew what I wanted, why would I need a library?

Tightrope Teaser Tuesday: Little Venus by Carla Drysdale

By Tightrope Books | August 11th, 2009 | Print This Post | Email This Post | Leave a Comment

Welcome to the second edition of Tightrope Teaser Tuesday, where we give our readers the briefest of glimpses – teases, if you will – into our new, backlist, and forthcoming books. This week we’re excerpting Little Venus, a poetry collection by Carla Drysdale available in October 2009.

Carla Drysdale’s poems in Little Venus challenge the reader, tackling the hard subjects of child abuse, sexual exploitation and the failure of some families. The character of Little Venus runs through the poems burning with rage and want in an incendiary chant that the reader can’t ignore. Little Venus is a haunting collection that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned. Early readers have called the poems in Little Venus “relentlessly truth-telling,” “vulnerable and furious,” and “unflinching.”

Carla Drysdale lives in Geneva, Switzerland, with her husband and two sons, where she is a news editor for World Radio Switzerland. You can find her poetry blog at http://allbornperfect.blogspot.com/.

Enjoy “House,” the opening poem from Little Venus.

Ranch style homes squat
along Rural Route 4,
their view of the horizon broken
by a ten-year-old girl, not wanting to go home.
Every seven steps white line repeats
then breaks off to grey.
Plush waves of rye wheat
undulate beneath an orange sky,
pressing her down.

This is her house
once a muddy hole in the ground
holding the family’s amazement
as it sprang, Beam upon Beam
into a place to sleep and eat.
Scent of sawdust and new carpet
when they moved in.

In a few moments, she’ll
discover her mother’s body
rolling from couch to floor
as Bob Dylan sings on the stereo.
The girl’s pulse pumps her through
screen door to bring back help.
Her mother will be carried away,
hands waving, in a haze
of valium and vodka, lying
on an ambulance bed. Life saved.