We asked MFA alumni publishing books this season what they’re reading, and what they'd recommend. Here's what's on Paul Vermeersch's bookshelf:
"I'm always reading. Because I work as a teacher and editor, I am often reading student assignments, manuscript submissions, and books that will be published in the very near future. Still, I like to make time to read for pleasure. That always includes a lot of poetry. Lately, I've enjoyed reading Blackbird Song by Randy Lundy, I left nothing inside on purpose by Stevie Howell, Dreampad by Jeff Latosik, Sit How You Want by Robin Richardson, i have to live by Aisha Sasha John, The Least You Can Do Is Be Magnificent by Steve Venright, Panicle by Gillian Sze, and I Heard Something by Jaime Forsythe.
This is obviously not a complete list. I really could go on, but I want to mention that I also try to make time for re-reading old favourites, and with the recent passing of David McFadden, I've been spending a lot of time going back to his considerable body of work, especially the two volumes of selected poems edited by Stuart Ross that I helped publish years ago at Insomniac Press. McFadden's work was so vital, so unique in the Canadian literary landscape, that I really believe he enriched the territory for the rest of us—he increased the possible.
But I don't only read poetry. I'm very visual. I recently devoured Savage Beauty, the catalogue of the retrospective exhibition of Alexander McQueen's clothing designs, and I subscribe to art magazines like Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose so I can keep tabs on the exciting things going on in the art world. And I really must mention We Are the Mutants, which is an online magazine that specializes in essays about cold-war era pop culture. Their piece "Pork Chops and Apple Sauce: Appraising the Brady Bunch’s Art Collection" by Kirk Demarais is a must-read analysis of popular (mostly kitsch) mid-century art. It's worth visiting the site often, because there's always something new and fascinating to read there.
I have to admit that I struggle to find time to read fiction as part of my regular routine, but I do read it, and my to-read pile is ever-growing. I do want to mention Brother by David Chariandy and The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. Both novels left me speechless.
Reading is an endless pleasure. I'll never run out of things to read. Heading into the fall I'm looking forward to reading Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya, Theory and The Blue Clerk by Dionne Brand, How to Avoid Huge Ships by Julie Bruck, Midday at the Super-Kamiokande by Matthew Tierney, and Port of Being by Shazia Hafiz Ramji, among many others. And if you're reading this, I hope you'll also look forward to reading my new book."
Paul's sixth collection of poetry, Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy, is published by ECW Press. It launches September 10 at 7:00pm at the Piston (937 Bloor St. W.) with special musical guests The Databats.