DARTING: A Collective Story Map

Over a period of five weeks a collective of writers of the River Dart worked collaboratively on a web-based writing project about the River Dart and the history – fictional or otherwise – of Dartington Hall. A series of short texts were written separately, for zines, postcards and blog posts. These texts were then collected, found texts and images were added, and all were collated onto this Google Map:


For more information on how the writers of the River Dart came to collectively create DARTING: A Collective Story Map, visit their blog: http://dartingmap.blogspot.com/
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Next Stop, SappyFest!

Literary types of all stripes will invade SappyFest this year. Thursday, July 30, I’ll pack a suitcase full of zines and novels and join the migration eastward.

SappyFest is a little independent music festival produced annually in partnership with the Ok.Quoi?! Contemporary Arts Festival, Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre. The festival takes place July 31 – August 2, 2009, in Sackville, New Brunswick, the centre of the universe.

If you happen to be in the centre of the universe that weekend, come visit me at the Zine Fair, Saturday August 1, 12 to 4 PM at the United Church. There will be participants from across Canada, a kids workshop, a presentation by Andy Brown (Conundrum Press) and readings by Jeffrey Makie, Jaime Forsthythe and Dawn-Aeron Wason.

Sunday, August 2, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, check out the The Vogue Writers Block, a multi-media event at The Vogue Theater (Sackville’s art deco movie theater) featuring The Joe, Catherine Kidd, J.R. Carpenter, Lezlie Lowe, Andrea Dorfman, Ian Roy, and Thesis. I’ll reading a section of my novel, Words the Dog Knows, that traverses three different electronic literature projects (How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome, Entre Ville, and in absentia).

Now a registered non-profit organization, SappyFest Incorporated, the festival was founded in 2006 by the good people of Sappy Records, Julie Doiron, Jon Claytor and Paul Henderson.

Ok.Quoi?! is an interdisciplinary festival of contemporary art, focusing on video, audio, new and independent music produced by Struts Gallery & Faucet Media Arts Centre in partnership with SappyFest. The works of over 50 artists will be presented over 6 days in a variety of screenings, installations, concerts, broadcasts and performances. Alongside exciting international and national work, Ok.Quoi?! features new and innovative projects from local and regional artists. All events save for the Last Chance for Summer Romance concert and barbecue are free, and open to all ages.

More info: SappyFest & Ok.Quoi?!

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The Evolution of the Mini-Book

When I was about six I had a subscription to Owl magazine. In one issue they had a page you cut out, cut up and collated into a mini-book about birds. In 32 pint-sized panels The Owl Mini-Book of Birds introduced twenty-seven orders of birds beginning with the most primitive, flightless birds, and ending with the most advanced, perching birds. I’ve moved house at least 12 times since I was six, but somehow that wee book never got lost in the shuffle. I still have it.

When I was in high school I was painting horrible abstracts in acrylics on canvas board, writing excruciating poetry and studying classical guitar. I can sight-read music, but I’m completely tone deaf so a career in music was out. It was a toss-up between writing and visual arts until, when I was fifteen going on sixteen, I spent a summer in New York studying life drawing and anatomy at the Art Student’s League. There under the tutelage of Nicki Orbach I became simultaneously addicted to drawing and anatomical drawings and decided to apply to art school. If you’ve just Googled yourself and are reading this now Nicki Orbach, know that you changed my life.

When I was seventeen I got into Concordia Fine Arts and soon after got a job at the Concordia Fine Arts Library. There I became simultaneously addicted to the disordered stacks of the now defunct Norris Library and the Fine Arts Slide Library photocopy machine. I used the hell out of that photocopy machine. I carried obscure anatomy books out the library by the armload, photocopied all the diagrams and returned the books unread. There were complaints. I almost got fired a number of times. For more on my tawdry affair with the photocopier, read: A Little Talk About Reproduction.

This was in the early nineties, I should mention, before personal computers came along and made themselves accessible. The drawing classes at Concordia were not quite on par with those at the Art Students’ League. I took a collage class with David Moore. There were photos I didn’t want to cut up. So I photocopied them. There were books I didn’t want to cut up, with anatomical diagrams in them more beautiful than anything I could draw, and there were also diagrams for all my other favourite things: botany, embroidery, analytical geometry, you name it. So I photocopied them, called them “found drawings” and found uses for them.

The first mini-book I made as an adult bore the slightly adult title, Bound For Pleasure. It was based on a poem of the same name and was illustrated with an erratum of diagrams ranging from a garter belt to a bandaged foot. The poems got better over time. The collection of found drawings grew. In art school I made four mini-books: Bound for Pleasure, The Confrontation, The Probability of Mummification, and The Basement Family Pharmacy. They’re no longer in print. Mostly I just gave them all away.

In the fall of 1993 I discovered the Internet, got a Unix shell account and set out to learn everything there was to know about computers. By the fall of 1994 I was no longer working at the Slide Library and thus no longer had illicit access to an after-hours photocopy machine. In the fall of 1995 I did a 10-week thematic residency at the Banff Centre, which was call the Banff Centre for the Arts back then. It turns out that all the big things in life happen in the fall.

The theme of the Banff residency was: Telling Stories, Telling Tales. The first story I told them was that I was a writer, which, as far as I knew, I was not, but they let me in anyway. At Banff I attempted to make a number of mid-sized mini-books using the computer, but they never went anywhere. I made this one book based on a circular story. Because it was a book, when people got to the end they just stopped, because that’s what you’re supposed to do with a book. Then the guy in the next studio over pointed out that if I made it into a web page I could link the last page to the first page so the reader could keep going around and around. So I did. My first ever electronic literature project was designed for Netscape 1.1 and it still works: Fishes & Flying Things. The guy in the next studio over was Velcrow Ripper. If you’ve just Googled yourself and are reading this now Velcrow Ripper, know that you changed my life.

I didn’t even think about making another mini-book for years. Too busy paying off my student loan. Luckily web art led to a few marketable skills. I’ve worked in every aspect of the Internet industry, as artist, designer, programmer, teacher, consultant, and even, once, a three-year stint as the manager of a multi-national web development team. I quit that job in the fall of 2001. Yes, in the fall.

After three years in the corporate world I never wanted to look at the web again. So I began writing a novel. About eight months into that as yet unfinished project I realized how long it would take. Needing to finish something immediately in order to sustain my sanity, all of a sudden I found myself making a mini-book. Not surprisingly, that book, Down the Garden Path was all about how incredibly long it takes to “make a thing which then exists and maybe it is beautiful.”

I’m still working on the novel. And a collection of short stories. Or two. The post-corporate traumatic stress disorder has worn off and I’m back to making electronic literature again. Sometimes I do these things separately, more often all at once. Each new mini-book begins with a piece of writing, a short piece that I can’t get out of my head. Images accrue around it. Sometimes other texts attach themselves to my text and sometimes there are videos too. Three of the most recent mini-books are based on web projects: Entre Ville, The Cape, and How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome. The web is nice, but nothing beats cutting stuff up with scissors.

Look for these and other mini-books in DISTROBOTO machines around town. Or just ask me next time you see me – there are usually some in my purse.
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Expozine Sunday

Expozine Sunday was only slightly less insane than Expozine Saturday. Plenty insane for six hours sitting in a church basement selling mini-books.

A mini-book is one-sixteenth of 8.5 x 11. I had six. I laid them out in a grid to make it look like I had more. That’s what I like, lots of small things. Five rows of six and every time someone bought a book, I replaced it. Nature hates a gaping hole. I’m not obsessive compulsive, I’m not obsessive compulsive, I kept saying. At first I thought I wasn’t selling very many. Because I was sitting next to Sherwin Tija’s wildly popular Scrabble pins. So many people leaning over my table to look at his. What the heck, I figured. It’s a good day to study belt buckles. There were some very cool ones. My favourite: a monogrammed painting of a tractor. Only two zippers spotted down.

By my initial calculations, by the end of the day I’d sold 35 mini-books. Not bad. On closer inspection my cash tally indicated I’d sold 42 mini-books. So much for my careful record keeping. I must not be obsessive compulsive after all. 42 books in 6 hours works out to 7 books an hour, one every 8.5 minutes. Insert Count Dracula laughter please.

Of course the best part of Expozine is running into people, hanging out with friends, having random semi-profound and/or silly encounters, drinking beer and of course buying zines. I bought a zine called The Last Thumbnail Picture Show by a guy named Adam Thomlison for this line in it: “Ignoramus. (that’s French for regret).” I bought a zine called Bela Lugosi is Speaking from The Unkindness of Ravens Press because the drawings are as relentlessly beautiful as the text is wry: “if you look long enough it becomes hard to tell vampires from unicorns and unicorns from vampires.” Unicorns hardly ever come up in vampire-themed stuff. Impressive. I bought a bunch of nudie postcards from Textanuedes and a zine called Culture and Other Shocks from All Thumbs Press because the girls at the table were drinking a fifth of Canadian Club in a self-professed attempt to buy local. I’d tell you about this other zine I bought called My First Trip to Florida, Which Was Mostly Spent in a Boatyard, by Michelle Sayer, but it’s going to be a present for someone who reads this blog regularly.

My friend Freda Gutman gave me a beautiful little book about her recent exhibition, Notes From the 20th, which was at the Cambridge Galleries earlier this year. My friend Howard gave me some zines cause last time I saw him I gave him a zines. I quite liked his Farmer Farmerstein explanation of the origin of the expression “Fuck the Earth” but, he complained, some find his stuff offensive. Everything’s relative. One guy sat at a table across from me for five hours and then came over to tell me I made my shirt look good. Whatever. I refrained from telling him to fuck the earth. On a way more hopeful note, I traded two copies of my How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome mini-book for two copies of Ms. Elisabeth Belliveau’s lovely Italy zine, Draw Around you and Hope because those two go so well together. Elisabeth’s new book-book, The Great Hopeful Someday, is launching at the amazing-but-true new Drawn & Quarterly bookstore on Sunday, December 2 at 7PM. 211 rue Bernard ouest, Montreal.
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Mini-Books at Expozine

I spent the better part of the afternoon zine shopping and socializing at the 6th annual Expozine. It was PACKED. Kind of overwhelming. In a good way. Glad I got my browsing in today ’cause I’m going to have a table tomorrow and won’t be able to wander aimlessly around and around and around. I’ll be selling mini-books. Including such favorites as:

Entre Ville
The Cape
How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome
Down the Garden Path
Searching for Volcanoes
and The Amazing Real Life Adventures of Auntie V and Isaac the Retorical Wonder Dog

$2 each. Come on down.

Sunday, November 25, 2007, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
5035 St-Dominique (Église Saint-Enfant Jésus, between St-Joseph and Laurier, near Laurier Métro).
Free admission.
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Expozine 2006

Expozine – Montreal’s annual small press, comic and zine fair – is now in it’s fifth year! This year’s edition will take place on Saturday November 25, 2006 from 11 am to 6 pm, at 5035 St-Dominique, between St-Joseph and Laurier.

This incredible event brings together over 200 creators of all kinds of printed matter in both English and French. In the past five years, Expozine has grown to become one of North America’s largest small press fairs, attracting thousands of visitors as well as exhibitors from as far afield as Chicago, Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec City! This year’s edition promises to be the biggest yet!

To reserve a table at Expozine, fill out the online registration form before November 1, 2006: http://www.expozine.ca. You may also register by phone by calling 514-278-4879, or in person at Monastiraki, 5478 St-Laurent corner St-Viateur, from Wednesday to Sunday from 11-5 p.m.

Expozine is also looking for sponsors. For information on becoming a sponsor: expozine [at] archivemontreal.org or call 514-282-0146.
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DISTROBOTO machines are former cigarette machines which no longer sell cigarettes, but instead, little books, crafts, comics, cassettes, mini-CD-R’s (of music or video), fridge magnets, novelties, etc. all for only $2 each!

Look for my mini-books at a DISTROBOTO machine near you:

Pharmacie Esperanza, 12 St. Viateur O. (coin St. Laurent)
Casa del Popolo, 4873 St. Laurent (métro Mont-Royal)
Le Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur E. (métro Sherbrooke)
Le Divan Orange, 4234 St. Laurent (métro Mont-Royal)
La Salla Rossa, 4848 St. Laurent (métro Mont-Royal)

Locations are subject to change, but at the moment, “How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome” is at the Casa, “Evening” is at the Salla Rossa and “Searching for Volcanoes” will be stocked at Esperanza soon.

DISTROBOTO locations will increase, as cigarette machines become available after the ban on smoking in bars comes into effect May 31, 2006. For more information about the DISTROBOTO project, including details on how to participate, please contact:

Archive Montreal,
C.P. 1232, Place d’Armes,
Montréal, Québec,

Or visit: http://www.distroboto.archivemontreal.org/
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(A little lit mag that prints the good words of Montreal-area writers.)


The poetry of Maxianne Berger, Ian Cant, John Lofranco, Catherine Paquette and Tom Pokinko

Prose by Emily Anglin, J.R. Carpenter and Ilona Martonfi

A tour of Papeterie Saint-Armand by Andrea Belcham

Reviews of David Solway’s *The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat*, and Julia Tausch’s *Another Book About Another Broken Heart*

And lovely line-drawings of Montreal scenes by Tom Pokinko

…With a snazzy bookmark insert, letter-pressed by the folks at Papeterie Saint-Armand
Carve - The Cape
Pick up your copy today at The Word Bookstore (469 rue Milton), Local 23 (23 rue Bernard O.), Librarie Clio (Pointe-Claire Plaza) or TWIGS Café (85 rue Ste-Anne, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue)

Or… send $7 to Andrea Belcham, 96 Parkdale Ave., Pointe-Claire, Quebec H9R 3Y7 >>>>> carvezine @ gmail . com

*(Copies of Carve Vol. I still available! Includes the fine literary stylings of Katia Grubisic, Maeve Haldane, Angela Leuck, Scott McRae, Dimitri Nasrallah, Catherine Paquette, Sonja Skarstedt and Sherwin Tjia, with pretty pics by Sarah Robinson)*
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