My note on N. H. Pritchard was originally published inDark Horses: Poets on Lost Poems, ed. Joy Katz and Kevin Prufer (University of Illinois Press, 2004), along with a poem by Pritchard. Eclipse has now added to its full-text versions of both of Pritchard’s books a selection of his periodical and anthology publications. These are also linked at the EPC Digital Library. It is good to see so much more attention to Pritchard’s work than was the case a decade ago. So much of the poetry that captures today’s attention is, to use of phrase of Pritchard, quoted by Ishmael Reed, “tangential to thought.” His is not.
Writer, sound performer, publisher, editor, artist and urban printer jwcurry has lived in Ottawa since 1996, after moving his archive/bookstore, said to be one of the largest collections of small press publications and ephemera in Canada, from his long-time home base in Toronto. His ongoing bibliography of the late Toronto poet bpNichol, a project he’s been working on for a couple of decades, include much that’d been missing even from Nichol’s collection of his own work. His influence in the city as a resource, performer, poet, enthusiast and contrarian has been both subtle and considerable, and his presence alone has encouraged a number of Ottawa writers and publisher to push well beyond their comfort levels and limits, influencing the work and performances of just about anyone who has worked with him.
AUTHOR'S NOTE. With a small Saltonstall poetry grant, I visited Auschwitz in 2004-05 during all the seasons. I had to get the sense of the place on my skin and know at least that reality as it was felt by the inmates. It was hard to find a way into the overwhelming “pity and terror” of the Auschwitz tragedy, and many poems took on a surreal cast. I welcomed the variety of approaches that presented themselves. Some poems, like “Birken, Place of Birches” and “The Carp Feeders,” are based on where and when events occurred.
What I’ve always found interesting about Ottawa poet Roland Prevost’s poetry is in the lengthy, detailed process that brought him to where he is now. For an hour or three a day, he composes in what he refers to as his “logbook”: composing journal entries, drafts of fiction, poetry and essays, and notes on recent reading. It has only been over the past decade or so, upon emerging to engage with Ottawa’s community of writers, reading series, publishers and performers, that Prevost has begun to shift in his composition, becoming more deliberate about writing poems-as-poems, all of which has culminated in his first book of poetry, Singular Plurals (Chaudiere Books, 2014).