New Essay!

Hello everyone,

For a while I’ve been thinking about whether or not to start writing HPM essays again. But then an occasion arose for me to write one, when US acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli made some… uh… remarks referring to Emma Lazarus’ famous poem, “The New Colossus.” It’s the one that contains, “Give me your tired, your poor, / your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” and is cast on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty.

My friend Martha Sharpe suggested that I write a HPM essay about the poem, to “set the record straight,” so to speak. I reached out to someone at the Toronto Star, did a 24-hour binge-write, and behold!:

A new How a Poem Moves essay, with historic content, hosted by the Toronto Star. 

I did not create the headline. (The answer to its question is No.) Otherwise, it’s a bit of a rush job, but if you’re looking for new essays, here you go.

Thanks for your support, everyone! And feel free to comment if you think I should start posting new essays again or if I should just pack it in and let what I’ve done stand.




Hello everyone,

How a Poem Moves is now an audiobook! It’s a whole other way of experiencing the book, I think, and the brilliant Soraya Peerbaye reads the poems with real complexity and a terrific, silky voice. You can get it from Audible here, or at your local public library. Happy listening!



More Goings-on for HPM

Happy weekend, everyone! Spring is springing up all over the place. This is usually a very productive time for me writing-wise, but I’ve been spending an exorbitant amount of time cheering on the Toronto Raptors, so I’m getting less done than usual. However, How a Poem Moves seems to be getting some nice attention:

  • I did a “riff” for CBC Radio’s program The Next Chapter. It’s just a couple of minutes long, and if you’ve been reading the essays on this site it won’t have much new information, but if you’re curious, you can find it here.
  • I also wrote a short piece about the book (in which I compare reading poetry to eating ice cream!)  for All Lit Up, a website that promotes independent Canadian publishers.
  • Rob Mclennan, a ubiquitous figure in the Canadian Poetry scene, wrote a thoughtful review of HPM on his blog.
  • There was also a write-up about the book at Open Book, a website which “celebrates and profiles Ontario’s non-stop literary scene.” They reprinted my essay on Ali Blythe’s “Shattered.” By the way, Ali has a new book out called Hymnswitch, which is just terrific.
  • The Toronto Star did something similar, reprinting my essay on Elise Partridge’s “Domestic Interior: Child Watching Mother” and saying some nice things about the book.
  • I’m told there will be some sort of write-up about the book in the Globe and Mail next week. Updates to come.

In other news, this coming week is the celebration of the Griffin Poetry Prize. There are still a few tickets left to see the shortlist readings on Wednesday, June 5, if you are interested. It’s one of my favourite poetry nights of the year, so I’ll be there! Click here for tickets. The winners will be announced at a gala on June 6.

Also, the Trillium Book Awards shortlist readings are the following week (yes, it’s prize season!), on June 12. Find out all about the finalists, and the events surrounding it here.

I’m thinking I’ll start writing essays again for this blog in the fall. Lots of great books and poems to celebrate! In the meantime, happy reading!

Things Happening


I’ve been neglecting this site while things were busy with the initial launch of the book, but I’m trying to get back on the horse, so here are a few updates:

  • How a Poem Moves is on its second printing already! So thanks to those who have bought the book, requested/borrowed the book from the library, or generally talked about the book so that others can know about it. I’m glad it’s getting into people’s hands. You can find the book at ECW‘s site or on Amazon or your favourite local bookstore.
  • There’s going to be an audiobook! A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in a tiny studio reading the book out loud into a microphone so that those who prefer the “listening experience” can get HPM that way. Soraya Peerbaye read the poems, to add a different (fabulous!) voice. It’ll be a few weeks before that’s released, but it’s another milestone.
  • Since the launch at Holy Blossom, I’ve done events at the North Toronto Public Library and in Hamilton at GritLit, as well as a hilariously brief book signing at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when I was there visiting my sister. I’ve done a bunch of smaller book clubs as well, and am open to other invitations…
  • I’ve been — shocker! — reading a lot of poetry lately, and there are some new books I want to draw your attention to, so there may be more essays coming down the road. Not right away, but they are percolating in my addled brain.
  • More updates to come. Thanks for reading!