• Aqua Books (1999-2012) is now permanently closed. This site is for posterity only. Thank you for everything.
  • Coming May 2014 -

274 Garry St.
(Between Portage
& Graham)

Winnipeg, MB
Canada  R3C 1H3

Tues-Sat 11am-9pm
Sun-Mon Closed


We accept Interac, Visa and Mastercard too

What people are saying:

As usual, I am sitting at Tim Horton's sipping a coffee on a Sunday morning and grinning from ear-to-ear from the shots you take in TWAB. Too funny. I hope I never end up looking like Ted Nugent... LOL! Grinning wildly and laughing by yourself in public can be a problem, so I better stifle it. - GK, Winnipeg


Speaking Crow

Aqua Books was pleased to be the home of the venerable poetry series Speaking Crow for three-and-a-half years. As of this writing, Crow has moved to Pop Soda's at 625 Portage Avenue.

Tuesday, December 6/11 7pm

Featured reader Méira Cook

Tuesday, November 1/11 7pm

Featured reader Sally Ito

Tuesday, October 4/11 7pm

No featured reader

Tuesday, September 6/11 7pm

Featured reader Barbara Schott

Barbara SchottBarbara Schott is the author of the chapbook The Waterlily Pickers (Turnstone Press, 1988) and the full-length collection Memoirs of an Almost Expedition (Brick Books, 1999). Her poems are often about the travails of love relationships, the discombobulations of travel, and especially acute appreciations of landscapes both physical and psychological.

Her verse lives in a state of the marvellously withheld — luscious in texture (birds and food abound), arid in tone, deploying a puckish and dry wit:

Oh, for the love of heaven and
all its cookie-cutter stars. Is
there no other way to be

(from “The Tinselsmith”)

Observation as a knife blade coloured blue:

having confused
sky and water
clouds rootbound
as trees

rowing towards
a centre
not even there

(from “Endangered Blue II”)

A worldview that embraces bleakness but not despair:

each house on the street
is a cube of dark

the poem has me
rehearsing at the window

(from “Easy Street”)

She once said of her own writing, “The poem is an accident of thought.” Which is smart, as well as wry.

Tuesday, August 2/11 7pm

Featured reader Aaron Simm

Tuesday, July 5/11 7pm

Featured reader Luann Hiebert

Luann HiebertLuann Hiebert is a poet, teacher and grandmother. Luann is currently turning her seventeen-country journal into a book of poetry.

Tuesday, June 7/11 7pm

Featured reader Maurice Mierau

Maurice MierauMaurice Mierau is the author of two books of poetry: Ending with Music (Brick Books, 2002) and Fear Not (Turnstone Press, 2008).

Mierau’s work exemplifies a bitter illustration of and a desperate railing against a fallen human world filled with catastrophic violence. His powerful poems, ofttimes lyric but also given to being conceptual, set up a negotiation between some of humanity’s most lucid or compassionate philosophies and those most unhappy or ungovernable emotions (our want to hurt others; our urge to revenge; our lust to greed). What is presented throughout is a desire to muck defiantly through human harms toward a state of living in dignity and peaceably.

Mierau’s tactics include lightning-swift changes in viewpoint, location, and tone, so the poems are often a rough ride into defamiliarization and grotesque equivalences and terrifying emotional shifts. This all sounds rather horrific and grim, but the truth is that it is often very funny (O how our bruises glow, peach-like!). A loving sadness is often Mierau’s optic. A difficult faith is lived out.

The satanic impertinence that is Fear Not won the prestigious (though penniless, unfortunately) ReLit award for poetry in 2009.

His current projects include a manuscript of form-based poetry titled Six (wherein sestinas, glosas, ghazals, and other things), and a memoir of childhood in three generations. He is also the editor for the new online magazine The Winnipeg Review.

Tuesday, May 3/11 7pm

Featured reader Ken Kowal

Ken KowalKen Kowal has been for some time a purveyor of what could be called a blues-inflected Tidy Prairie Lyric. This is apparent over two chapbooks: i dream my father’s hands (1997, KAW Publications) and Ripley Retreats (2006, The Martian Press); as well as Brookside Poems (2002, Highbrow Books) and fire work (2006, Highbrow Books). While riding around on Winnipeg buses in 2008, you might have read a Poetry in Motion text that could have reminded you of Margaret Avison, but was more poetry by Ken.

With his full-length perfect-bound debut, Gimp Crow (Turnstone Press, 2010), the blues is still in evidence, but we are almost in contemplation of a different writer. Gimp Crow bears far more experimental technique and displays a far more insouciant tone. To quote one local wag, “Gimp Crow is a left-handed doozer of a prairie picaresque. It’s rude, wise, sly, and sad. In pulverized rhyme and crabby free verse, Kowal sketches a tale of the eponymous avian and his gals, his pals, his son. Fall asleep beside Gimp Crow, it’ll eat your third eye.”

A trio of quotes to display its various textures:

O black muse
shell my egg O

Crow blood die bird
Of much less soul
So caw shun words
Stay good side sold

clouds black sky white
sun black moon white snow
black ice white desert
black swamp white yin
black yang

Tonight’s poetry set will be bracketed by two songs performed live. Kowal, along with John Orhuf (a.k.a. little ken and the late night embers), will do “Drunk on Thee” — which appears in Gimp Crow — and a new song honouring a local writer.

Ken Kowal still works as a warehouseman, but at a different place and during the day. He was recently nominated for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer.

Tuesday, April 5/11 7pm

Featured reader Adam Kroeker

Adam KroekerAdam Kroeker is a Winnipeg poet and creative M.A. graduate. His recent works include Tales from Old Colony (a collection of fake Mennonite folk stories), Killing the Pot (a poetry/pottery installation featured at Winnipeg's Estudio Luna), and Deep Dipper (poems around an alliterative roller coaster in old Fort Rouge). His writing explores nostalgia, ruins, interactivity, and commonplace mysticism.

We wore down the long grass rolling

on the spool like log drivers

in that CBC short of an old Canadian song,

where, at the bend in the river,

real men suddenly become


(from Waterspool)

Tuesday, March 1/11 7pm

Featured reader Alison Calder

Alison CalderAlison Calder’s poetry collection, Wolf Tree (Coteau Books, 2007), won two Manitoba Book Awards and was a finalist for both the Gerald Lampert Award and the Pat Lowther Award. She’s taught creative writing in Germany and China, and been invited to read her work in France and the United States. Alison teaches Canadian literature and creative writing at the University of Manitoba.

Tuesday, February 1/11 7pm

Featured reader Jennifer Still

Jennifer StillJennifer Still is the author of two full-length books of poetry: Saltations (Thistledown Press, 2005), and the impending Girlwood (Brick Books, 2011).

The word “saltation” has specific biological and geological meanings, but in general terms it means To Dance or Leap About. This could constitute Still’s poetical m.o., as well. Whether it be with the short lyrics of Saltations or Girlwood’s elaborate sequences, her poems are always questing and considering — after a family origin; how a texture might mean; how an emotion transmogrifies. In Still’s world, the air has hinges and the human heart is a fractal economy.

… blue

is a stain

the eye drifts to, tails

of smoke, anything fleeting.

(from “Blue”)

Imagine Jennifer Still composing restless stanzas of knotty syntax and dropping them into pools. She charts the ripples into text, all the while dropping new stanzas onto previous ripples to see what that makes, and incorporating these into the poem, too.

… refusing to see

the patterns earth makes when the dead

dissolve: feathers, scattered

seed, what grows in spite of

our resistance.

(from “Spring”)

After a long spell living in Saskatoon, Jennifer Still has returned to her birthtown, where she’s raising her young family. She is one of the founders of the eternally adventurous JackPine Press, and has worked for Grain magazine. In 2008, her work won the Saskatchewan CBC Poetry Face-Off. In the same year, Girlwood won first prize in the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild’s John V. Hicks manuscript awards.

Tuesday, January 4/11 7pm

Featured reader Jonathan Ball

Jonathan BallJonathan Ball is the author of the poetry books Ex Machina (BookThug, 2009) and Clockfire (Coach House, 2010). He holds a Ph.D. in English with a focus in Creative Writing from the University of Calgary. His film Spoony B appeared on The Comedy Network, and his writing has appeared in The Believer and Harper’s. He is the former editor of dandelion and the former short films programmer for the Gimli Film Festival.

Tuesday, December 7/10 7pm

Featured reader Andrew Courtnage

Andrew CourtnageAndrew Courtnage is a freelance mystic. A humble whistler of forgotten tunes on Sherbrook street at midnight. A drunken bellower and throaty wailer of sea shanties and christmas carols. A ghost-friend using esoteric practices to channel spirits and acheive enlightement. Notable prizes of distinction hanging on the mantle of his warlock s tower in West Broadway include a BFA, a blackbelt, a shaman s wand, an autographed Dale Hawerchuk rookie card, yogic prayer beads, and a copy of the lesser key of Solomon. Currently, Courtnage embodies his muse The Smoky Tiger regularily in musical establishments throughout Pegcity. As well, he prepares diligently for the Winnipegasus Solstice event of 2012.

Tuesday, November 2/10 7pm

Featured reader Laurie Block

Laurie BlockLaurie Block’s writing can be found in anthologies and magazines throughout Canada as well as in three books of poetry. The most recent, Time Out of Mind, took the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry 2007. His stories have won the 2003 Prairie Fire Fiction Contest, the 2004 National Magazine Award for fiction and a 2008 Western Magazine Award. He lives in Brandon.

Tuesday, October 5/10 7pm

Featured reader Deborah Schnitzer

Deborah SchnitzerDeborah Schnitzer’s work appears in several anthologies, including Children of the Shoah: Holocaust Literature and Education and Dropped Threads. She co-edited Uncommon Wealth: An Anthology of Poetry in English and, with Debbie Keahey, The Madwoman in the Academy: Writing on the Tower, a gathering of women’s writing about graduate school, teaching and tenure. She has published two books of poetry, Black Beyond Blue and Loving Gertrude Stein, and a novel, Gertrude Unmanageable. Her new book, An Unexpected Break in the Weather (Turnstone Press, 2009), is a novel of unconventional friendships in a Winnipeg neighbourhood. Schnitzer is a 3M Teaching Fellow in the English Department at the University of Winnipeg.

Tuesday, September 7/10 7pm

Featured reader Mariianne Mays

Mariianne MaysMariianne Mays is a writer, editor and sometime visual artist who lives in Winnipeg. Until 2006, she co-edited the arts and culture magazine Tart. Her chapbook Umbrella Suites was published by JackPine Press in fall 2005. She has worked in publishing for many years and taught creative writing at the University of Winnipeg – both things she loved – but her idea of heaven might be something like being a full-time student herself. She is currently completing a master’s degree. Other interests range from travel to nesting, and from music to art and film. She has a particular curiosity about the creative process across disciplines.

Tuesday, August 3/10 7pm

Featured reader Michelle Elrick

Michelle ElrickMichelle Elrick is a poet and fiction writer from BC and Manitoba. Her work has appeared in Event, Canadian Literature, Geez and the Emerge anthology. She is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, and has read at festivals and events in Vancouver, Winnipeg, London, Kingston and Belfast. She is currently writing the final draft of her novel Dust House, and spends her free time designing hats, walking outdoors, hosting dinner parties and playing the banjo. Her first book of poetry, To Speak, was published by The Muses Company in April.

Tuesday, July 6/10 7pm

Featured reader David Arnason

David ArnasonDavid Arnason has written over a dozen books, and helped to found the Journal of Canadian Fiction, Turnstone Press and Queenston House Press. His latest book. Baldur's Song, launches in August.

Tuesday, June 1/10 7pm

Featured reader Lori Cayer

Lori CayerLori Cayer’s second volume of poetry, Attenuations of Force, is newly released by Frontenac House, 2010, as a finalist in the Dektet Series. Her first poetry collection, Stealing Mercury (The Muses’ Company, 2004), won the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book in Manitoba in 2004, and in 2005 Lori won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. She serves as co-editor of English poetry for CV2 and is co-founder of the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry/Prix Lansdowne de poésie, part of the Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards. Lori works by day as an editorial assistant for a scientific research journal.

Tuesday, May 4/10 7pm

Featured reader Christoff Engbrecht

Christoff EngbrechtChristoff Engbrecht is from Manitoba. He has been involved in the Winnipeg poetry scene and related activities over the past decade: reading at lit events, working with students in schools, and numerous cross-discipline collaborations with other artists - especially with poet David Streit, forming the writing-event collective Poor Tree. Christoff's poems have been published locally in CV2, Prairie Fire, and featured in Juice. In 2006, he won the Writer's Collective poetry competition for his entry night cap. An excerpt...

as she leaves the kitchen it is in duet
and so i watch the pair of her
shadows trailing showers
salt flecked desires
not slaking or harrowed or toothed
but of a lust and ruth
leaves have for the seed

Tuesday, April 6/10 7pm

Featured reader: Brenda Sciberras

Brenda SciberrasBrenda Sciberras earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Manitoba and is an alumni of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild Sheldon Oberman Emerging Writers’ Program, the Sage Hill Writing Experience in Saskatchewan, as well as the Banff Wired Writing Studio in Alberta. Her poetry has appeared in The Collective Consciousness, Room of One’s Own, Contemporary Verse 2, Rhubarb and in the anthology A Cross Sections: New Manitoba Writing. Brenda was raised in rural Manitoba, and now lives in Winnipeg with her husband writer David Elias.

Tuesday, March 2/10 7pm

Featured reader: Joanne Epp

Aqua Books is pleased to be the permanent home of the venerable poetry series Speaking Crow. The Crow starts at 7pm and is followed by two open-mic sets and short breaks in between. Come take up the mic and wax poetic about life, the universe and everything!

Joanne EppJoanne Epp is a Winnipeg writer whose poetry has appeared in CV2, Other Voices and other literary publications. She is currently working on her first book of poems. Her book reviews have appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press, Prairie Fire Review of Books, and most recently, the Globe and Mail. She is an alumnus of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Manitoba Writers' Guild mentorship program. Joanne is the mother of two young sons, a big fan of Dorothy Sayers' mysteries, and assistant organist at St. Margaret's church.

Tuesday, February 2/10 7pm

Featured reader: Kegan McFadden

Kegan McFaddenKegan McFadden is a Winnipeg-based writer, curator, and artist. His experimental and minimalist writing has appeared in FRONT and GEIST magazines. Chapbooks to his credit include: twenty-four love poems [2004], everything i heard while not listening to what you had to say ... [2005], and Parlour Games [2007] all published by As We Try & Sleep Press. As invited reader for Speaking Crow this February, he'll be reading a selection of previously unpublished poems that explore relationships between men, as well as soppy investigations into place.

Tuesday, January 5/10 7pm

Featuring: Poor Tree Collective

Poor TreePoor Tree is a collective currently consisting of Christoff Engbrecht and David Streit. (Third founding member Michael Goertzen now lives in Istanbul.) Poor tree uses old typewriters, portable turntables and other accessories to create their sound art. They have performed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and Element Circus, and have also been featured in CV2.

Tuesday, December 1/09 7pm

Featured reader: Margaret Sweatman

Margaret SweatmanMargaret Sweatman is a playwright, poet, performer and novelist. Her plays have been produced by Prairie Theatre Exchange, Popular Theatre Alliance and the Guelph Spring Festival. She has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and the National Academy Orchestra, as well as with her own Broken Songs Band. Margaret Sweatman is the author of the novels Fox, Sam and Angie and When Alice Lay Down with Peter, which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Award and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year. Her long-awaited new novel, The Players, has just been released by Goose Lane Editions.

Tuesday, November 3/09 7pm

Featured reader: Sharon Caseburg

Sharon CaseburgSharon Caseburg is a Winnipeg-based writer, editor and book designer who splits her time between producing other people’s books and writing her own. Her poetry and critical writing have appeared in numerous Canadian publications. She is co-founder of the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. sleepwalking, a long poem, was published by JackPine Press in spring of 2009.

Tuesday, October 6/09 7pm

Featured reader: Rebecca Widdicombe

Rebecca WiddicombeRebecca Widdicombe is a fourth-year English student at the University of Winnipeg. She has spent three years studying under poet and novelist Catherine Hunter. Over the course of her poetic meanderings Rebecca has completed three poetry cycles, “20 Poems for the Sea” (an exploration of desire, backpacking, and salt), “All Our Infidelities” (a character-driven, narrative cycle about divorce), and “Missing Woman” (a fragmented saga of five friends and their mutual despair). Rebecca has worked alongside playwright Carolyn Gray, read with local poets Maurice Mierau, Sally Ito, and Joanne Epp, created a Steinian textual mannequin that was exhibited at the 2009 Carol Shields Symposuim, and held an Artist Residency at the Tallest Poppy alongside Australian visual artist Anna Cocks.

Tuesday, September 1/09 7pm

Featured reader: Dennis Cooley

Dennis CooleyDennis Cooley, a native of Saskatchewan, has lived for many years in Winnipeg where he teaches, edits, and writes. His latest book is correction line (Thistledown, 2008).

Tuesday, June 2/09 7pm

Featured reader: Méira Cook

Méira CookMéira Cook is the author of 3 full-length collections of poetry, several chapbooks, and the novel The Blood Girls (NeWest Press, 1998).

Her most recent poetry book Slovenly Love (Brick Books, 2003) is a collection of 5 long poems that display a generous and theatricalized sentience, along with a wry and pixilated humour, even when the emotions and subject matter are despairing.

Her critical book, Writing Lovers: Reading Canadian Love Poetry by Women, came out in 2005 from McGill-Queen's University Press. She is also the editor of Field Marks, a selection of poetry by Don McKay published in the Wilfred Laurier University Press Poetry Series in 2006.

In spring 2008 one of Méira Cook's poems donned wheels and accompanied Winnipeg bus riders as one of the 8 winners of the Poetry in Motion contest. She has also been known to teach creative writing courses at the University of Manitoba.

Tuesday, May 5/09 7pm

Featured reader: Arthur Adamson

Arthur AdamsonArthur Adamson, over the duration of a long life in Winnipeg, has been absorbed by and contributed to the twain strains of poetry and visual art. There are 3 volumes of verse out there with his name on them: The Inside Animal (Turnstone Press, 1977), Passages of Winter (Turnstone Press, 1981), and Bird Beast and Lover (Editions Ink Inc., 1994). Would it surprise no one to know that all 3 books are heartily illustrated, often in Woodcut Style.

And of the poems? They are curiously wrought, dualistic beasts. Adamson's is a deeply expressive and inquisitive sensibility, and the poems reflect a wrestling match between the highly philosophical and the rankly animistic. Often mythical yet set in present-day prairie circumstances. Some are grimly funny. All have more movement and texture than any reader could know what to do with.

Thought can crack skulls,
break swift bodies of animals,
all images haunting sleep:
ghosts slipping along the blood
contain the dread and the link
from father to son, but awake,
these drift, lost, until, shored
wreckage in history, stab
toothed ribs towards some sky
indifferent to monster and rock.

      (from "The Angel")

Retired now from pedagogy, Arthur Adamson gets his canoe out on the river as often as possible.

Tuesday, April 7/09 7pm

Featured reader: Andris Taskans

Andris TaskansAndris Taskans born and stayed put in Winnipeg, has helped create, manage, and edit Prairie Fire magazine for over 30 years. Which is a manifest history --- the barbed wire fence around a prairie field, if you like. What is subterranean is that he's also been a poet. Jukebox Junkie, a chapbook of his verse, was published by Turnstone Press in 1987.

What can be found of Taskans-the-poet are texts of no small acuity and slyness. Master of the short line and the one-word title. Poetic obsessions seem to include camping expeditions, fishing, beaches and lakes, a love of dragonflies, eros, winter, plus more dragonflies. There are some deeply poignant poems about a dying mother.

Taskans writes a straightforward lyric that has emotional complications and subtle sonics. When he brings classical reference into it, he mutates them into bits that are puckishly funny:

        She is a burnt out neon
        queen He's an illiterate
        of the flesh Please
        listen to me, she begs
        Your skin weeps
        for your soul, he says
        There's a little bit of jello
        in each of us, the tv smirks
        and so we spend
        our pagan years

                (from "Shadows")

Andris Taskans told me he's written not a single poem since Jukebox Junkie came out. Who knows whether he ever shall? The occasion of this reading may prove to be A Very Singular Thing.

Tuesday, March 3/09 7pm

Featured reader: Katherena Vermette

Kate VermetteKatherena Vermette is one of the younger hotshots in the Aboriginal Writers Collective. No spiney book out yet, but her poems have popped up all over the place, most often in Juice and Prairie Fire.

Vermette knows how to spin the syntax out as well as yank on its choke collar. She writes poems that are cityscapes, love affairs, stories of relations. A wry sensibility that works sweet & hard a jumpy kind of metaphorical wit:

      buildings tower
      windows jump
      a choreographed city performs

            (from "night poem 1")

Her elegies for friends who have died are particularly fine:

      these many men
      intended mentors
      who should have been elders
      brazen with age

      but we lost you as warriors
      shamelessly young with crooked lips
      and faraway eyes
      that saw the world
      with abbreviated love

            (from "Running after Doug")

Katherena Vermette lives, works, and plays in Winnipeg. Her full-length poetry manuscript, titled black and blue, is currently making the rounds, as "they" say. Another current project she wants folks to know about is her editorial work on XXX NDN, an upcoming Love 'n' Lust themed anthology by members of the Aboriginal Writers Collective, as well as some of their far-flung friends. In these days of Minus 40, don't you wish this book were out already?

Tuesday, February 3/09 7pm

Featured reader: Jim Tallosi

Jim TallosiJim Tallosi is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Talking Water, Talking Fire (Queenston House, 1985), and The Trapper and the Fur-faced Spirits (Queenston House, 1981). More recent is a long poem titled Stone Snake, issued by Staccato Chapbooks in 2001.

While not immune to talking about people and cities, Tallosi is mostly some sort of metaphysical naturalist of Manitoba's diverse landscapes. His focus is often on details from the Precambrian Shield-boreal forest of the east and north, the southwest's prairie mountains, river-bottom forests, and our pervasive, magical winter. His poems are gifted in compression and concision while still being lush in detail. You might consider Robert Creeley, J. Michael Yates, Lorine Niedecker, and Gary Snyder souls of affinity for him.

      the snow crystal
      and the prairie rose

      side by side

      not melting
      not withering

      live in the mind's season

(from Talking Water, Talking Fire)

That's an entire Jim Tallosi poem, citizens! Goes by the title "The Mind's Season".

Jim Tallosi has more recent work in Prairie Fire's Home Place issue and the Manitoba Writers' Guild's A/Cross Sections anthology. He's intending to parlay his recent retirement into more exploration and making more poems.

Tuesday, January 6/09 7pm

Featured reader: Charlene Diehl

Charlene DiehlCharlene Diehl is possibly best known in these parts as the brightly plumaged dynamo at the hub of the Thin Air writers festival. But she is also a hard-working poet, and the author of the full-length lamentations (Trout Lily Press, 1997) and the chapbook mm (disOrientation press, 1992). In lamentations we find 6 suites of poems in varying styles that address directly and laterally the wrenching experience of giving birth to a daughter who survives only briefly. These are poems of an almost appalling pain, heartwrack, abjection, nobility, and struggle into something resembling wisdom and reconciliation. There is jazz and starch and feverdream in the syntax of these poems.

the body saves
what can't be borne
releases messages in code
euphoria and misery skidding
into a bigger self
the accident of design

(from "the body knows")

Diehl's current projects include some pixillated poems about - I kid you not - fruit, and some nutbar texts under the title "subliming", which operate out of an ambient logic.

Tuesday, December 2/08 7pm

Featured reader: Jan Horner

Jan HornerJan Horner is the author of 2 full-length books of poetry: Elizabeth Went West (Turnstone, 1998); and Recent Mistakes (Turnstone, 1988), which won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award.
There are twin strains afoot in Horner's work. One is the personal lyric. Of a strange sort, shot through with unruly emotions & inappropriate colours, they are of a delicately canted surrealism. The other is a more historical sort of poem. Often about the mythography of Canada, these carry an impressionism & sarcasm about them that still maintain an attic where compassion may reside. Singletons, misfits, outcasts here. Sometimes these two strains meet and warp, look out! Horner concocts stanzas in the shape of Calm that are raddled with Wildness.

This is a letter I cannot send
Passing through so many hands and mechanical claws
suggestion flakes, combustion sputters
affection lies, curdles, calculates interest
In your hands
the words might slide off the page
and fly like cinders
into your dead eye

(from "Dead letter")

Jan Horner works as a librarian at the University of Manitoba. Her and our 2009 should see the arrival of Mama Dada; or songs of the Baroness's dog, a new book of poems, also coming out through Turnstone Press.

Tuesday, November 4/08 7pm

Featured reader: Doug Melnyk

Doug Melnyk is far better known as a visual artist, but he is also a Writer of Merit. To his credit are Doctor Meist (Lives of Dogs, 1997), which is a putative novel, and Naked Croquet (Turnstone, 1987), a book of prose poems.

You can never feel confident for very long about where reality may be in a Melnyk text. Your psychiatrist will have a weakness for therapeutic triple-x video as well as hot chocolate. Television commercials can slip beyond their scripts & begin cussing you out with heat and spice. Cool-hearted satire will combine with deep emotion.

The prose poems have a chatty contrivance to them & a tendency to seem linear, but they're not. They cohere for a 'graph or stanza, but there are leaps aplenty between.

"For him it probably is just like a cup of coffee, just as satisfying and just as casual.

It was like a storm but with no rain. We sat on the bench looking across the lake at this huge beige thing coming across the lake at us.

I worked for it, she said. And all this mud was dripping down her legs from her mini-skirt."

(from Across the Lake)

In a Melnyk world, which is also Our Winnipeg, real-life surrealism is as common as a snowbank or a housefire.

Tuesday, October 7/08 7pm

Featured reader: George Amabile

George AmabileGeorge Amabile's work has appeared in numerous periodicals, journals and anthologies in Canada, the USA, the UK, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. He has edited two poetry magazines, published eight books and won half a dozen national and international prizes. His most recent book is Tasting the Dark: New and Selected Poems (The Muses' Company 2001).

Tuesday, September 2/08 7pm

Featured reader: Clarise Foster

Clarise Foster was born in Fresno, California in 1955, and currently resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Clarise has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii, and was in the Chinese Language and Literature Graduate Program at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has also studied at the University of Guam, the University of British Columbia and has taken creative writing classes at the University of Manitoba and through the University of Winnipeg Continuing Education Program. She has worked for Blizzard Publishing, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing, Staccato Chapbooks and Prairie Fire magazine, and is currently the managing editor of literary magazine Contemporary Verse 2.

Tuesday, June 3/08 7:30pm Aqua Books

Featured reader: Madeline Coopsammy

What might you do upon reading a poem beginning with the couplet "It was a glorious time/ we lived a lie"?

Well, you might admire the audacity of it, and finish reading "Delhi" in a sort of molten swoon, and then feel compelled to read more of Madeline Coopsammy's verse.

Madeline Coopsammy's debut book of poems, Prairie Journey, came out in 2004 from TSAR Books. Within, one may find this East Indian Trinidadian writer tracing a meander that wound up in Winnipeg. Poignant poems dealing with emotional exile, colonialism, racism, sexism. By turns lush & stark in portraiture. Often she brings a robust sardonicism into play. To a reader it is inescapable that words have weight & gravity in Coopsammy's universe.

We are a lost generation
we island children of the fifties
who sought to make our marks
upon a foreign soil
and some of us now lie interred
on strangers' land.

(from "Happy Days")

Madeline Coopsammy is a retired teacher who is presently at work on a novel, although new poems keep manifesting as well.

Tuesday, May 6 7:30pm Aqua Books

Featured reader: Kerry Ryan

Kerry RyanKerry Ryan, this month's featured reader, lives and writes in a blue house in Winnipeg. Her poems have appeared in a number of journals and in the anthology Exposed, published by The Muses ' Company in 2003. She is an avid sleeper and a birdwatcher by association.

Award-winning writer Chandra Mayor had this to say about Ryan and her new collection in the Winnipeg Free Press recently:

“I'm completely head-over-heels in love with Kerry Ryan's first book of poetry, The Sleeping Life.

She has the most deft and delicate touch with language, writing of love and birds and houses and Leonard Cohen and, of course, sleeping.

I've been waiting so long for her to put a book into the world, and I can't stop re-reading some of the most beautiful lines and images...

‘hold me/in the soft star/of your hand’


‘folding and unfolding a poem/until it is a paper crane/then a flock of snowflakes’

... delicious and spine-shivery.”

The reading starts at 7:30pm and is followed by two open-mic sets with a short break in between.

Tuesday April 15/08 7:30pm

Featured reader: Sally Ito

Sally ItoSally Ito's poems never seem to need to raise their voice. They just go about their intense & sublime lyrical business, balancing on a caesura both intimate & ironic tones.

there is no colour
in darkness,
but the strain of black sound
coming from the fold
above the eye
where God unwittingly dwells.

(from "The Darkness")

Poems full of dislocations and alienations. Cross-cultural and spiritual tensions.

Sally Ito's 2 books of poetry are Frogs in the Rain Barrel (Nightwood, 1995) and A Season of Mercy (Nightwood, 1999). She is also the author of an accomplished book of short fiction, Floating Shore, which came out from Mercury in 1998.

More recent writing includes a piece in the brand-new anthology Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood (Eds. Shannon Cowan, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Cathy Stonehouse; published by McGill-Queen's University Press), & a slab of work in the impending "Home Place 2" issue of Prairie Fire.

Sally teaches English and creative writing at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.

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