O ver the past couple of months, I’ve been giddily working on manuscripts with two brilliant poets who are new to Mansfield.

Robert Earl Stewart is a young poet from Windsor, Ontario, who has been popping up more and more frequently in literary journals recently. Mansfield is proud to be publishing his fall 2009 debut, Something Burned Along the Southern Border. I love that title. For me, it brings to mind an early Coen Brothers film, or maybe something out of Cormac McCarthy. Robert and I have been bouncing the manuscript back and forth, and now we’re coming down the home stretch. It’s really exciting to be working with an enthusiastic, hardworking writer on a first book.

The other fall 2009 project I’m concentrating on now is more of a challenge, perhaps, because it’s a New & Selected. Which entails making agonizing decisions about what to include from half a dozen earlier books. The author is Jim Smith, a poet who was really active in the Toronto scene from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, when he left the lit world to study law. Jim was known for his insane readings (he once had someone tie him to a chair, after which he interrogated himself using what the Bush admin might have called “enhanced interrogation techniques” and his lively, surreal, politically charged poems. I’m so glad Jim is coming back to the literary fold; his new book is tentatively titled Back Off, Assassin: New & Selected Poems.

I’m doing some readings this month, and three of them happen to be alongside Mansfield writers. On April 1, at Clinton’s in Toronto, I’m launching my new short-story collection from Freehand Books, and my guests readers are Heather Hogan and Steve Venright, whose Mansfield title Floors of Enduring Beauty received a rave review recently from Alex Porco. On April 18, I’m reading at the Chameleon Nation reading series in Kingston with Jason Heroux, whose two full-length collections are both from Mansfield: Memoirs of an Alias and Emergency Hallelujah. (I met Jason in 2004, before I was involved in Mansfield, when he asked me to blurb his debut collection.) On April 23, I’m reading at Toronto’s LiveWords series with my literary hero David W. McFadden, whose wonderful, gonzo collection of sonnets, Be Calm, Honey, I had the honour of editing for Mansfield last year. Dave was a hero of mine when I was a teenager, and I think this is the first time we’ll have read together.

Okay … back to work.

New poetry by Joe Rosenblatt:

The Boat

This is not just some passing fishing boat
powered by a weighty engine bubbling
testicular fumes … smoky testosterone.
There’ll be three of us onboard: my soul and I
accompanied by a flask of dark fortifying rum.
I’ll carry no lethal fishing rod to jig
for salmon, rockfish, lingcod, or flounder
whose harlequin mouths whisper a prayer
while they vacuum grub in the sediment.
I’m not an angler, just a thoughtful pilgrim.

(Joe Rosenblatt is the co-author of Dog, Mansfield Press, Fall 2008)

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply