Saturday, December 22, 2012


Down to my last 

(We're not supposed to 

Whisper the word pilling –
a piling-on of fabrications

You wear it well or
wore it

Free range derangement commences
as denizens make strange with tenses and moods

I saw an old cancerous friend and he said,
“I remember when I used to be creative.

They cut it out of me
all interstitial-like.”

The lies and years are

I will miss you when you shun me. I write these
things for nothing

You remain
the best nothing I know

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Please, Just Continue To Be Michael's Mother

I am so troubled by people saying that mental health is the REAL issue that needs to be addressed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. People with mental health challenges have to deal with enough unwarranted stigmatization and marginalization as it is. People with Autism, Asperger's Sydrome, ADHD, chronic depression, chronic anxiety, personality disorders, and other mental health challenges are, on the whole, non-violent and law-abiding citizens. Many of the people dearest to me have mental health challenges. I have spent a great deal of time in my life getting to know people from across the Autism spectrum. They are among the kindest and gentlest I have ever known. I happen to have my own mental health challenges as well. I used to be self-injurious and I still suffer from acute depression and anxiety. It's not an easy thing for me to discuss without cracking wise (this is my defense mechanism) but I will do my best, considering the gravity of this issue.

Liza Long's now-viral blog post is being heralded as "brave" and "powerful." I believe it is neither. "Michael," Long's undiagnosed 13 year old son, is no doubt a child with behavioral challenges that need to be addressed. My heart goes out to him and to his family. And, yes, we need to do better in the United States and Canada to provide free and accessible health care for people like Michael. I have no problem with the idea that we need to talk about mental illness. We absolutely do. But let's take a close look at the language and its implications here. Long writes: "Now is the time to talk about mental illness ... That's the only way our nation can ever truly heal." Why? Why is NOW the time for a discussion about mental illness? A very dubious link is being made between Michael's rage issues in his formative years and the monstrous act that Adam Lanza committed on December 14, 2012. The manner in which Long and the media have been using terms like Autism and Asperger's prompted the Autism Research Institute to release a very carefully worded statement on the tragedy. The truth is, the great majority of people with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, as well as those with other forms of mental health challenges are not to be feared. As Dr. Heather Stuart quite rightly points out, "mental disorders are neither necessary, nor sufficient causes of violence. The major determinants of violence continue to be socio-demographic and socio-economic factors such as being young, male, and of lower socio-economic status ... [Further], members of the public undoubtedly exaggerate both the strength of the relationship between major mental disorders and violence, as well as their own personal risk from the severely mentally ill."

It's difficult to comprehend that an argument based on facts (such as Stuart's) may go largely unnoticed and an argument based purely on feelings (such as Long's) is currently being lauded as persuasive and groundbreaking. I believe we have been taken in too easily by the myth of the "violent madman" whether it be through depictions in entertainment or by the media. In fact, Stuart's and countless other studies have concluded that those with mental health challenges are more likely to be victims of violent crimes. The last quote I will take from Stuart is an important one because it takes us back to the issue of "the REAL issue.": "Too much past research has focussed on the person with the mental illness, rather than the nature of the social interchange that led up to the violence."

What is the nature of the social interchange that led to the Newtown tragedy? Or, to put it more bluntly, what was the specific context? Here's what we know. In fact: Adam Lanza's mother was a gun enthusiast and actively participated with Adam in gun culture. She reportedly "loved" her guns and allowed her son access to them. Her guns included two traditional hunting rifles, and three guns that are basically unsuitable for hunting: two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle. These are the three killing machines that Adam Lanza took with him that morning, after killing his mother, to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he slaughtered 20 young children and 6 more adults. This twisted element of North American culture where, for some reason, people feel the need to fill their homes with killing machines commonly referred to as guns (and let's face it, guns have no other purpose) and to "love" these killing machines is the real issue here. There is no reasonably intelligent argument for the inclusion of guns in our culture. Full stop. The second amendment is outdated and needs to be repealed immediately.

I have faith that Liza Long's blog post was a genuine attempt to start a discourse on mental health. For that reason, I am thankful she wrote it. I would guess that she loves her children very much and wants what's best for them. This is why I hope she will see the problematic rhetoric in her proclamation of kinship and solidarity with Adam Lanza's mother. It is a much more powerful and brave message to say: "I will not provide my son with a similar context. I will not participate in my country's love affair with guns. I am not Adam Lanza's mother. I am Michael's mother."  

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Entirely my idea not a great one but entirely mine
There was a bicycle and an objectivist poet sort of riding it. Not
red or blue. Entirely my idea all twig and spoke and gag

I gag often these days like as if it wouldn't catch up
Never my bicycle always entirely my idea and I timeshare
the poet with a post-mountain time scholar from out east
Grey. Not silver but entirely grey

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Book Covers I Designed

The Barista and I. Insomniac Press. Art by Maryanna Hardy.
Entry Level by Julie McIassac. Insomniac Press. Art by Ghislain Garlin.

Thumbscrews by Natalie Zina Walschots. Snare Books.
Fake Math by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Snare Books
The Olive and the Dawn by Ian Orti. Snare Books.

Asthmatica by JPF. Insomniac Press.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


All love is careless
bleating sadly into some thing or other or
mainlining its way into varicose

The millionaires of summer
swelter away in Old Montreal
delve deep into marry me’s

I’m scared all the way
down the skill hull
it’s always a point of almost-pride

No setting to this poem
but your mind’s alright
and the pediatricians are sleeping
so just skulk softly

Friday, October 26, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Official Statement Regarding Snare Books

After this year’s publication of the 2012 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry winner, Snare Books will no longer be publishing books as an independent press. We received no funding for the second year in a row and there is no way forward for the program in its current incarnation. I sincerely regret that it has come to this. Two years ago we were ranked very high in the Canada Council for the Arts Emerging Publishers Program. Since then, we completed two very strong years of amazing titles. Unfortunately, the Block Grant juries were not as receptive to us, and we were unable to acquire funding.

I want to express my immense gratitude to all of the Snare authors for letting me play a part in their writing careers. I cannot adequately describe the pride and good fortune I feel for having had the opportunity to bring all of their books into the world. I am especially thankful to the authors who trusted me with their first books. One of the early mandates of Snare Books was to showcase emerging poets and experimental writers. I would like to thank Angela Carr, Melissa Thompson, Jason Christie, ryan fitzpatrick, Natalie Zina Walschots, Sarah Dowling, Ian Christopher Goodman, Ian Orti, Geoffery Hlibchuk, Mike Spry, Helen Hajnoczky, Sheryda Warrener, Laura Broadbent and Lesley Trites for allowing me the privilege of being there at the beginning of their careers.

Robert Allen and I began scheming in 2004 about a press that would provide a much-needed space for the kind of strange, experimental, innovative and distinctly non-mass-market writing that we loved. He loved Will Self, Gilbert Sorrentino, and Gail Scott to name a few. I could not get enough of Robert Kroetsch, Nicole Brossard, and bpNichol to name a few. Our hope was to publish books in this risk-taking tradition of the writers we loved. I loved Robert Allen so much as a writer, thinker, mentor, and friend. It is not an exaggeration to say that he saved my life by showing faith in me and giving me the opportunity to work with him. When he passed away in 2006, I vowed to keep his memory alive through Matrix and Snare. My personal attachment to Snare has so much to do with the fact that Rob and I started it together. It was our thing. We started it in part because we saw a need. But as I look back on it now, I realize that we also started it because we thought it would be fun. And it always was.

When Rob died, I was not sure I could make a go of it with Snare. And I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the mentorship and guidance of so many friends and colleagues. Snare Books survived for seven years because of the guidance of Robert Kroetsch, Alana Wilcox, Karis Shearer, Marisa Grizenko, Karl Siegler, Darren Wershler, Alex Porco, Bill Kennedy, Jason Camlot, Neil Besner, Sina Queyras, Sachiko Murakami, Dennis Cooley, John Goldbach, Karis Shearer, Mike O’Connor, Michael Holmes, David McGimpsey, Rachel Zolf, Elizabeth Bachinsky, and Christian Bok. I am in their debt. I would also like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for their early support of Snare. I must also thank the people I have worked with on the design and marketing of Snare: Gillian Savigny, Jocelyn Parr, Melanie Bell, Lorne Roberts, Leigh Kotsilidis, Genevieve Robichaud, Chris Tucker, Tyler Morency, and Georgia Webber as well as the staff at LitDistCo and the LPG. 

Thankfully, there is exciting news to report as well. From now on, Snare Books will be the name of the poetry imprint at Invisible Publishing. Further, I am pleased to announce that Invisible has agreed to take on the back list Snare titles and the titles will continue to be available to book buyers. I am thrilled to announce the continuation of The Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. The administration of this award will fall under the purview of Matrix Magazine in partnership with Invisible Publishing and these books will be published every fall by Invisible under my editorship and the Snare imprint. The prize will be awarded annually to the best poetry manuscript by an emerging Canadian writer (a writer who has published two books or less). Each year the winning manuscript will be selected by established and well-known Canadian writers. The 2013 award will be judged by innovative poet and BookThug mastermind, Jay MillAr. I am also pleased to announce that the first title under the Snare imprint will be kevin mcpherson eckoff's new book, Forge.

Just a few months ago, I was absolutely heartbroken to discover that Snare Books could no longer operate as an independent publisher. But then a series of astonishing and inspiring events happened as a result of the goodwill and genuine interest of astonishing and inspiring people. Nic Boshart and Robbie MacGregor from Invisible reached out to me immediately with a simple message: Snare Books is not dead. When we began formal discussions, I was instantly thrilled to discover that I was dealing with kindred spirits – people who believe that literary innovation has a future in Canada. Beyond this, I was made acutely aware through my observations of the way their publishing co-op works, that there is potential to make the kind of work I love more available to readers through multiple platforms. In its five years, Invisible has already become a vital and cutting edge publisher. And the people behind it are exemplary human beings. In the course of a few weeks, one of the most devastating events of my adult life was transformed into an uplifting and re-affirming experience. I am so lucky, so grateful.  

Jon Paul Fiorentino
October 15, 2012

A Complete List of Snare Books 2006 – 2012


OH THERE YOU ARE I CAN’T SEE YOU IS IT RAINING? by Laura Broadbent (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)


Thirsts by Pearl Pirie (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)
easy peasy by kevin mcpherson eckhoff
echoic mimic by Lesley Trites (Expozine Best English Book Award Finalist)
seen of the crime by derek beaulieu


HARD FEELINGS by Sheryda Warrener
The Lateral by Jake Kennedy (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)
Update. by Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler
THREE DEATHS by Josip Novakovich
Poets and Killers by Helen Hajnoczky (Expozine Best English Book Award Finalist)


The Olive and the Dawn by Ian Orti (Expozine Best English Book Winner)
The Taste of Penny by Jeff Parker
Generator by Ian Christopher Goodman
Thresh by Kim Minkus
Security Posture by Sarah Dowling (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)


All our Grandfathers are ghosts. by Pasha Malla
JACK by Mike Spry (A.M Klein Poetry Award Finalist)
Variations on Hölderlin by Geoffrey Hlibchuk (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)


FAKE MATH by ryan fitzpatrick
Thumbscrews by Natalie Zina Walschots (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)
the small blue by Jay MillAr


The Emily Valentine Poems by Zoe Whittall
Dreadful Paris by Melissa A. Thompson (McAusland First Book Award Finalist)
Ropewalk by Angela Carr
Canada Post by Jason Christie

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


With decades behind, one still boorishly chases the dull candles
held by those somehow traipsing through the uncomplicated
life; one just an acknowledgment page away from calling it now
one page away from a done. Over it. So very over it

With a brisk rendering of complexity, shrill and shrugged
repeats of days and one is an unparented swiller and one’s tonic and
balm no longer enough. Soon there will be no verb. The countables
wreck their own units; static laughs; lit up and tweak-weary

Diplomacy taints the micropolitic. Countless hours, of course,
spark sluggish decades and one loses games one isn’t even aware of
There is this one thing that all things are made of, one says
and the dull-witted say yes, this. One does not, should not. Still rhetoric eases

The peculiar sting of fact-unchecked quirk factor hymnals and yet, one
chases slow moving candles and one fattens and withers in season –
slow metronome. A slow, stupid metronome. Then, at some point,
there is no real verb but an unrelenting need to call it and to call it
in time, listlessly, to call one’s own over it

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


If you bandy about protocols for the dance card; it is ok and it’s ok to speak in clear sentences even though there isn't a dance (there never will be) 

You may propose and propose. Let us be clear and let’s be precise. Your purpose of things is borne out of exalted forecasts, broadcasts 

The broadcasts diminish in real time as we diminish slightly faster. It is ok to speak in clear sentences and it’s ok to say a thing before the broadcast’s end 

It is sooner than you applied for. The quickened wretched hubris calmed you as an HDMI swaddling. The thing is, it is ok. It’s ok to speak in a clear sentence or to even 

Risk more than one. It’s ok to not let the terrible, accurate tunage squelch; it is ok and it’s ok to feel alone and dopplered. That is what it does and that’s what. 

Totally ok to have lost it in the process of nothing other than losing. Totally and it is ok. I promise. Although these things called promises are often stupid. Promise

Friday, July 13, 2012



for Elizabeth Bachinsky

No, I don’t want to stay at your place
I need time and space and odder hours to deal with
a spectacular national celebration unequalled

since Expo ’67 in Montreal. It’s not fair to
expect me to adhere to your eccentricities
No, I don’t want to stay at your place

I will have my own. What a city! But no
I’m coming, but no. I can’t possibly stand
a spectacular national celebration unequalled

since the 1851 World’s Fair in London
I found a hotel. It’s cheap. A legacy project. Moda. So
no, I don’t want to stay at your place

Travel, uneasy. Your city, stifling
Everyone clamours their cultural capital there, at
a spectacular national celebration unequalled

since Deculturation. I will write a poem, meet for whiskey
You will bring me a gift and I will get sick and you will insist, but
no, I don’t want to stay at your place
I’m sure it’s spectacular, unequalled

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Pantone 185C

Lemon Hound was nice enough to run my poem about living in Montreal right now. Here it is.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Salut Sérotonine 2

Here is another translation by Xandère Sélène. This one is of my poem "Neurotransmission" from Hello Serotonin. A series of her translations of my poems appeared in Revue Le Quartanier in 2005.


Une autre tactique de rêve statique – ne me rappelle pas à la maison sur
ce ton; je deviens pensif quand tu n’appelles pas.

Le remords est une lettre à la langue de miel. Je traîne, a-t-elle
écrit; le comptoir ne luisait guère derrière son éclat.

Quand le téléphone sonne, ma mémoire se déclenche, trébuche;
une neurotransmission se fait trébucher plus vrai, filmique.

Elle chuchote quelque chose et il semble que quelqu’un
grivoise toute la nuit: une berceuse caféinée, rêve sous valium.

La culpabilité parapleut vers le ciel en trépanation courante –
coup de pied à l’humour encore.

Voici une neurotransmission avortée –
froide comme une baisse d’octave, continue comme la tonalité.



Another static dream tactic – don’t call me home with
that tone; I get wistful when you don’t call.

Remorse is a honey-tongued letter. I’m traipsing along, she
wrote; the bar glistened weakly behind her sheen.

When the phone rings my memory triggers, trips along;
a neurotransmission trips itself more real, filmic.

She whispers something and it sounds like someone
thrushed all night and a ca°Ëeine lullaby, valium dream.

Guilt umbrellas skyward from the trepanation stream –
kicked in the wit again.

Here is an abortive neurotransmission –
cold like an octave drop, relentless like the dial tone.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Salut Sérotonine 1

Here is a translation by Xandère Sélène of my poem "Astrocytes" from Hello Serotonin. A series of her translations of my poems appeared in Revue Le Quartanier in 2005.


Les astrocytes nourrissent les neurones
racontent des conneries métatrophiques à l’axone et à la dendrite
de même, dépolarisent la dose de glucose.

Les astrocytes revendent au noir les cellules gliales
distribuent l’amour neuronal partout, tout
autour, accordent des strophes au compte-gouttes.

Les astrocytes exigent l’extase
veulent planer via la reconnaissance et la transmission
mais, s’envoyer en l’air se prend avec le temps.

Les astrocytes chantent des berceuses
signalent la latence la plus triste
Donc, cette fois c’est terminal.



Astrocytes feed neurons
talk metatrophic trash to axon and dendrite
alike, depolarize the glucose fix.

Astrocytes deal from glial cells
spread neuronal love all over, all
around, dole out strophes.

Astrocytes need bliss
want the highs of recognition and transmission
but, starfucking is an acquired agency.

Astrocytes sing lullabies
signal the saddest dormancy
so, this time it’s terminal.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

23 Books! (Oops! 24 books!)

I have edited 23 books in 10 years! Below is a list of the amazing titles I have had the great privilege of working on:

Editor of The Barista and I by Andrew Szymanski. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2012. (forthcoming) Editor of Entry Level by Julie McsIaac. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2012.
Editor of Easy Peasy by Kevin McPherson-Eckhoff. Montreal, Snare Books 2011.
Editor of Metraville by Jamie Popowich. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2011.
Editor of Distillery Songs by Mike Spry. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2010.
Editor of Bird Eat Bird by Katrina Best. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2010. (Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book)
Editor of The Lateral by Jake Kennedy. Montreal: Snare Books, 2010.
Editor of Update by Darren Wershler and Bill Kennedy. Montreal: Snare Books, 2010.
Editor of Selected Blackouts by John Goldbach. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2009.
Editor of Thresh by Kim Minkus. Montreal: Snare Books, 2009. (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner) Editor of Blues and Bliss: Selected Poetry of George Elliott Clarke. Kitchener: Wilfred Laurier, 2008.
Editor of We could be like that couple… by Sarah Steinberg. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2008.
Editor of Variations on Holderlin by Geoffery Hlibchuk. Montreal: Snare Books, 2008.
Editor of Thumbscrews by Natalie Zina Walschots. Montreal: Snare Books, 2008. (Robert Kroetsch Award Winner)
Editor of Delible by Anne Stone. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2007.
Editor of The Emily Valentine Poems by Zoe Whittall. Montreal: Snare Books, 2006.
Editor of Canada Post by Jason Christie. Montreal: Snare Books, 2006. (with ryan fitzpatrick)
Editor of The Coward Files by Ryan Arnold. Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2006.
Editor of Post-Prairie. A Poetry Anthology. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005.

 (With Robert Kroetsch)
Editor of Cherry by Chandra Mayor. Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2004.

 (Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award Winner)
Editor of Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour. Montreal: DC Books, 2003.

Editor of August Witch by Chandra Mayor. Winnipeg: Cyclops Press, 2002. 

(Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book Winner)
Editor of The Cyclops Review. An Anthology. Winnipeg: Cyclops Press, 2002.

Editor of Trains of Winnipeg by Clive Holden. Montreal: DC Books, 2002.

 (with Robert Allen)