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April 4th - April 10th, 2005
April 8th, 2005

Drinking coffee at midnight. Smells like the first night of spring. No blooms yet, but the air was damp with the scent of lilacs and dogshit when I went walking.

It was good to clear my head after a long talk with my publisher about today's events. Still hasn't all settled in, but it's a pretty fucking amazing development.

In summary:

For Immediate Release
April 7, 2005

2005 ALBERTA BOOK AWARDS : Finalists Announced

EDMONTON, AB After reviewing this year’s entries, the judges have announced the finalists for the 2005 Alberta Book Awards. 51 nominees have been shortlisted in 15 categories for writing and publishing.

Award recipients will be named on Saturday, May 14th at the Alberta Book Awards Gala at The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. Join emcee Chris Allen from CKUA to celebrate the finalists and winners, and recognize excellence in Alberta writing and publishing.

The Book Awards Gala evening includes cocktails, dinner, awards presentations, and entertainment and is hosted jointly by the Book Publishers Association of Alberta, the Writers Guild of Alberta and Alberta Community Development. Everyone is welcome to be a part of this celebration of Alberta books, authors and publishers.

Georges Bugnet Award for Novel
• Paul Anderson (Calgary); Hunger’s Brides, Random House Canada
• Greg Hollingshead (Edmonton); Bedlam, HarperCollins Canada
• Marie Jakober (Calgary); Even the Stones, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction
• Ken Rivard (Calgary); Whiskey Eyes, Black Moss Press
• Chava Rosenfarb (Lethbridge); Survivors: Seven Short Stories, Cormorant Books,
translated by Goldie Morgentaler
• Thomas Wharton (Edmonton); The Logogryph, Gaspereau Press

Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
• Tim Bowling (Edmonton); The Memory Orchard, Brick Books
• Walter Hildebrandt (Calgary); Where the Land Gets Broken, Ekstasis Editions
• Mingus Tourette (Edmonton); nunt, Zygote Publishing

Click here for the full press release, as posted on the Writer's Guild of Alberta site. More on this next week when it sinks in a bit.

April 7th, 2005
Immolation, Revisited

Found one of Chloe’s hairs on an old jacket I put on today. There it was, fine and black. As though she were just wearing it. Reminded me of this time about a year ago, before we went completely into the gutter and the raven shit in my eye. From last March:

Desultory Immolation

and after i pull my cock out of her and step over to the counter to pour myself another rum and coke and there is a knock at the door and it is two in the fucking morning and she is looking at me confused-like and uncertain and then a bit fearful and the moon plays well on her features and her tits shine through the sheets

so i answer the door and there is a man there and i knew who it is. the money lender. and so i don't bother to put my pants on. cause i got no respect for that fucker and yeah maybe i want him to see me standing there with her joice still sprayed all over my legs and so i answer the door and he is shocked.

but i don't care so i ask what the fuk he wants and he aint got nothing cause he is all bitch whip paul when it comes to this business but i can tell he was thinking that it wouldnt be me answering the door naked and when i look back at her i can tell that maybe this wouldnt be the first time that fucker showed up at two in the morning.

so i feel that foul mood sink in. like it sank in all day. like it been sinking in for weeks, every time i think the word cuckold and think the money counter on top of my stage hand, and it sinks in right behind the eyes. murderous like. and i forget all about everything my old polish fighting coach said and i splash the rum in his face and when he is still standing there shocked and wet i twist the body one way and back and follow it up with that hard right hook that hits just below the left eye. and the knuckle hits it just right on the cheekbone that it splits and there is blood. just a trickle. leaking out. sounding like a dropped grapefruit on concrete when it hits.

i wait a second to see if hes got any more but hes too shocked or too stupid or too unaware of how pathetic he looks to step back up the stair and take a run at me. i spit. it hits his jacket. and i dont say anything but shrug at him and close the door. girl still looking at me from the sheets two nipples staring at me like angry caterpillar heads but i dont give a fuck. shes still wet and hungry and waiting for the rest of her fuck.

so i walk over to the counter where the rum bottle is still out and i pour a shot in and look in the fridge and theres no coke and the top knuckle of my right hand is throbbing but i dont give a fuck. fill the glass with a bit of water. slug it back. go back to bed. give her a kiss that tastes like thick thick liquor and roll over and let her sit there wet and let her fuck herself cause fuck you moneylender come to fuck you and i got your blood on me and his blood on me and maybe like donnes flea you two are fucking.

whatever. go fuck yourselves. just seeing his blood got me off

April 6th, 2005
A Cool Pastis

The other day, Morrie ordered a Pastis. Ever since, I have been considering taking it up for the summer, in place of gin. Or Pernod. This may not seem important, but I have been thinking about it for a couple of hours.

Big week for poetry lovers - The Griffin Poetry Prize short list should be announced today. It is highly unlikely that I will be on it. In fact, it is more likely that John Paul II will stand up in St Peter's Square and begin to moonwalk. However, these things are good for promoting poetry, and some poet gets $50 000 in the end, so that's a good deal. I'm telling you, this poetry business is unbelievably lucrative.

Closer to home, the Alberta Book Awards are announced tomorrow. Specifically, the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry shortlist will be announced. There is only a short list of three for the whole province, which fits nicely with Mingus Tourette's Rule of Fourth™, sometimes referred to as the N + 1 Losing Formula. Again, the chances of making the list are minimal, to be positive.

Point is, this is National Poetry Month, so if you only read award nominees, now is the time to pick up some books. And - to keep celebrating the Poetry Month, we're proud to say that we'll post a couple more hot poems over the next few weeks from Alex Boyd and Jordan Fry, who just put out a new issue of Grey Borders. You've got to love a magazine who's mandate reads:

We are the badasses of the Niagara Region. Our goal is not to simply produce work that is good, we want to bring to the literary world a sense of meaning and importance. We are sick of reading bullshit poems and stories that don't have anything to offer except an indepth look into the writer's life. Fuck it. The writing found in our mag is supposed to evoke thinking, not understanding. We don't provide answers, but ask a hell of a lot of questions. If you think that you've got something to say, or you want a forum to say it in, then submit work, ideas or questions to us.

So go buy some Griffin Books today, or order some Grey Borders.

Poetry Month: Goes Nicely with a Cool Pastis™.

April 5th, 2005
A Civilized Conversation over Mint Tea, Somewhere Near Balmoral

I was hungover, and flying back from a poetry reading in Brandon. I stunk of gin, and I was unhappy with Ben Mulroney. The woman beside me was attractive, but she knew I was a dangerous libertine, and she avoided my gaze. I wanted to finish reading my Houllebecq novel, but I couldn't focus on the words. Nor could I sleep. I found myself faced with the ignominy of watching airline television. Unfortunately, Ben was on the air, still embarrassing himself after our chat. He was shilling for the preteens again, this time on the red carpet of the Juno Awards, Canada's ass-bottom Grammies.

The Junos, I said to the frightened woman beside me, are an embarrassing collection of dildos sucking off a bunch of dickheads. She pretended not to hear me. I watched the little screen in muted disappointment.

Mulroney turned in his most sycophantic performance to date. It was clear that he had an erection for most of the broadcast. I had warned him earlier that he must try to be less demeaning to himself, but it obviously didn't catch. At one point, his co-host told Fefe Dobson that Mulroney used her song as his cellular ring tone. He giggled like a young Belgian nun. Within seconds, he used the phrase 'To sum it up' as a segue over to the Sum 41 interview. Everyone was humiliated. My eyes hurt. I imagined that Neil Young had faked his aneurysm to avoid such a spectacle.

The problem Ben has is: no matter what kind of advice I ply him with, and no matter what his condition - drunk, high, straight - nothing sinks in. That afternoon, between the Brandon shuttlebus and the flight out of Winnipeg, we had a conversation over mint tea. Mostly, he worked on his hair while I talked and read Phyllis Webb. I told him that if he spent another year on this pap, he would never have a shot at a political career, much less a journalism career. In my opinion he had to start doing some serious reporting under a real editor. His columns for the Sun read as though they'd been written by a sixteen-year old Gap employee. I said that he should use his clout to get a post in Iraq. There, he could let the sight of burnt dead men with their boots blown off transform him. Something to give him a hint of credibility.

He didn't react to my idea. He added mousse and did some more combing.

Ben, I said, you have to start thinking about this situation soon. Otherwise, you'll be smiling blankly at Cabinet Minister Justin Trudeau in 20 years, trying to compliment him into giving you a shot with the Liberals. It will fail miserably. Later, when your producers realize that you're starting to look like Joan Rivers on the red carpet, driving away their core demographic, they'll cut you loose. You'll be out on the street, trying to find Mike Bullard in the phone book so you can commiserate about getting fucked over for shitty ratings.

That afternoon, as he blow-dried his hair for the third time, Ben asked why I kept at him. He asked why I kept trying to get him drunk on Sunday afternoons and shove Kafka down his throat. So I told him, straight ahead.

Ben, you can do anything you want - politics, travel-writing, even television. Though you don't know it, that is an incredibly rare thing. If I had your genetic code, I have to say that I would be tempted to try them all. You could have written and published half a dozen books by now, with real marketing campaigns instead of half-cocked shit-head pink ambulance fiascos. You could have recorded hiphop albums, directed experimental films and learned to be a sommelier in Paris. You could have run for office for a new political party called 'The Responsible Libertarians' by now. You could have married a film star and divorced her, and then married another. You could have borne film star chidren, then squandered it all for a dalliance with a Swiss underwear model.

Then, at this point in your life, after everything fell apart, you could return to Canada, live out your disgrace, rebuild, and run for a proper seat in the House. You could be elected, overwhelm Harper and McKay with your god-given Irish charm to become the PM, and settle in to run the fucking country the way it should be done.

So, goddamnit, buy yourself a George Plimpton biography, read it, start staring at those wrinkles in the mirror and think twenty years down the road. Do it soon. Otherwise, you'll be sucking off dickheads on national television till you get too old, and they'll take you into the board room on a Thursday afternoon, put the muzzle under your left ear like an unsuspecting dog and pull the trigger.

He flipped his hair back, one final time, satisfied. I didn't know if he'd heard anything I'd said, and I was saddened. I sipped my tea and thought of the Pope's final words.

Some men are born with nothing, and rise up through sheer force of will to head the greatest religion in the world, under God. They do great and horrible things, but they are remembered long after they lie in state. Millions pray for their soul.

Other men are born with everything, and do nothing but blow bubbles in their milk. Such is the tragedy of the well-born. - Poet John Paul II

April 4th, 2005

Brandon was a good time - rode around in an electric car, drank gin and white russians, and worked on an art installation - an amazing mixture of photographs, audio design and spatial displacement. The reading itself was surreal - the Alice in Wonderland theme was in full effect - tea cups, doilies, the hookah, and almost a dozen readers. Lots of poetry, Lewis Carroll and even some interesting lit non-fiction about Che Guevara and Argentina. My reading went fine; some of the new work was well-received, and I screamed out some John Newlove, which made me happy. Finished off with my recitation of The Jabberwocky, which was rolling along at 11, until I said loudly that the boy went 'galumphing black', instead of 'galumphing back'. People were nice enough not to hurl their tea cups. And I found something to put on my tombstone:

Mingus Tourette
Gone Galumphing Black
(never much cared for god)

So, cheers to the MacNeill sisters for working so hard to put the Sundogs on and have me out there. You're doing a great thing with your series, giving Brandon a place to read and hear poetry, a place for people to express themselves and talk about art and philosophy. Lots of those people would never experience that without your efforts.

And just so we're all clear - I was in Brandon, Manitoba this weekend. There are several witnesses to this. I was not in Italy, I was nowhere near the Vatican, and I had nothing to do with the Pope's death.

But What Happened Last Week? By God, Find Out Here!