Thursday, July 24, 2014

A dollar for sunshine, a desert for free

I've noticed a strange phenomena that Blogger can statistically back up: July is awful. For whatever reason, I find the midsummer month almost unbearable to work with. Inspiration tends to falter and good ideas hit brick. I'm mired in a transitional life-phase or humidity drains me, or both. In the absence of either (for the moment), I've maintained a halfway decent work ethic this July. Just none of it is happening quite yet. So amid this drought I'll share some oases and acquisitions.

In the Annex's window-shopping paradise, BMV Books is a hub for U of T students and readers who prefer recent titles half-priced.
Photo credit: stylenorth dot ca
I was lucky to find John Newlove's Moving In Alone (Oolichan Books; 1977) for $4.99. The spine was slightly cut so I did some leg-work down to Balfour Books on College but ended up walking an imperfect square when no one else had it. I'm sort of enamored with the condition now; it suits Newlove well.
The Write Bookshop in downtown St Catharines is a bit of a gold mine, even by Toronto standards. With two storeys of books either organized in sections or crumbling in crevasses, the place offers a ton of hard-to-find poetry. (Just be sure to ask staff where to find it, as there's a small, accidental station of it on the first floor that, for a few visits, convinced me I needn't look upstairs. Big mistake.)
The semi-obscured Write Bookshop
While there I found a series of CBC Radio talks by Eli Mandel called Criticism: The Silent Speaking Words (CBC Publications) and P.K. Page's Cry Ararat! (McClelland & Stewart Ltd).
Hardcover!
(not hardcover)
Finally, back in Toronto this week, I decided to take my first stroll down bpNichol Lane. 

Obligatory concrete poetry shot
bpNichol has a light that never goes out
While there, I stopped in to buy Daniel Jones' The Brave Never Write Poetry directly from Coach House Books. It was uncomfortable. After a promising start, being led by an enthusiastic bookbinder toward the stairs, I was expecting some sort of bookstore. But there was no bookstore and the staff upstairs were embroiled in private conversation, eating lunch. One woman kindly told me not to worry about my intrusion and said people wander in under false pretenses all of the time. (Probably because your website says to "drop by".) Regardless, it was great to see pages and jackets printing into piles and walk up those creaky steps. After some awkward rooting, they even found a copy for me to buy... I  really hope they worked there.

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