Monthly Archives: January 2010

“Sherlock Holmes” in name only!

What I am referring to is the movie released over the Christmas (2009) holidays, with claims of tens of millions in box office revenue in the opening weeks.
   The best part of the experience for me was sitting between two ladies, both sporting borrowed deerstalkers from my bag of inherited hats. (One formerly belonged to Bob Gray, and the other to Bill McCoy)
    When I fell asleep, I initially blamed it on the amount of smoked salmon I had consumed at Barbara Jacob’s brunch, a levee for her friends, earlier on that New Year’s Day. The brunch was memorable, the movie was not. The post-movie meal at a restuarant across the street from the Toronto Reference Library was simply terrible, but the people around the table were all very interesting and accomplished — we discussed: “What is a PIP?”
    I thought the musical score in the closing credit was excellent. I watched the credits with some interest to see a reference to the Conan Doyle Estate or to Plunkett and Associates. But if either or both were there, I missed them altogether with patrons standing up in front of me to leave. I am advised there was a credit to the effect — “Based on the characters created by …” but that is reliable second hand information.
   And now I read in a blog from Western Canada that there will be Sherlock Holmes men’s fashion line in the year to come. Surely ACD will shuffle in his grave outside Portsmouth — not because of this trend but because — the character created there in 1887, has dwarfed his other literary output. It puts me in mind of that Partridge cartoon in Punch in May of 1926.
    An unshaven Holmes, when not in disguise — not for me. I live in trepidation of a sequel, especially if the initial reports of an economic success can be believed.
    Will I see the sequel? Of course, if only to vetch about it.
    Will I rent to video to watch it again? No! Ditto the sequel.
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Posted by on January 28, 2010 in Sherlock Holmes


War Christmas in January!

Once again John Robert Colombo referred Dwight Whalen to me with this project. Dwight has laboured hard in musty old newspapers or their microfilm equivalents to assemble epistoles from the troops abroad in the two Great Wars received by their families and published in papers in The Niagara Peninsula. It is an excellent selection from soldiers seving in all three services. The blurb text is appended below along with an excerpt from “Reflecting Back” by Barney Danson.

What has been called “the human side of war” has been brought to the “home front” through this series of poignant letters, all of them penned by our troops overseas and printed in the correspondence columns of the hometown newspapers of the Niagara Peninsula during the Christmas season. Students of military and social history and of Canadiana should stand up and salute researcher and writer Dwight Whalen for the vast labour that he has undertaken on their behalf — and on ours.

— John Robert Colombo, author and anthologist

Dwight Whalen is a freelance writer who was born and lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario. His special interests are the area’s colourful local history as well as stories of the strange-but-true variety. He has published articles in the St. Catharines Standard and other newspapers in the Niagara area, as well as articles about anomalies in Fate magazine, Fortean Times, and The Anomalist.

Excerpt from interview “Reflecting Back” by The Honourable Barnett J. Danson, P.C., C.C., LL.D. (Hon.), Legion D’Honneur (FR)

Do you remember one particular letter with bad or good news?Yes, I remember a letter from my younger brother, who had run away from school and hitchhiked to North Bay. Once there, he enlisted with the Air Force. Writing from one brother to another, he admitted that he had lied about his age. My letter back to him is around somewhere. Other than that letter, I can’t recall receiving any that had any particular impact.
Did you have any troubles with the censors who used to read the letters that you sent home?No. Well, to be truthful, we used to treat the censorship as a bit of a joke, and we often made naughty remarks about the censors in our letters!
That’s a good idea! I wonder how the writing of letters nowadays has been affected by cell phones and satellites.It’s amazing, isn’t it. Email! Communications are ridiculously efficient these days. Why, in the old days, we used to be just hanging on for mail, just hoping to get some letters. Now all you have to do is pick up a phone and call.



Walt Whitman illustrated by Charles Pachter

I have never met Walt Whitman, and before John Robert Colombo introduced me to the writings of Richard Maurice Bucke, I had not read the poetry and writings of neither of them. I thought of Walt as being a pioneer of the American Poetry tradition, and did not know that he travelled through Canada with Bucke well over 100 …years ago now. This new volume was originally published as a QuasiBook by Colombo and Company and is a very interesting,labour-intensive compilation of writings and photographs. I worked on it, on and off, over the last couple of years, but couldn’t decide on a suitable cover, other than reproduce yet another picture of “Old Walt.” JRC showed me a picture of an inscribed rock in Bon Echo Provincial Park which was donated to the province by the Denison family. There was an interesting, long, narrow boat floating in front of the rock containing many people in period dress.

And then, last fall I had the pleasure of meeting with Charles Pachter in his studio in Toronto. (He has on Lake Simcoe too!) and we discussed using his art work for a cover of one of my proposed books, but that’s another story, and we concluded with a very interesting tour of the many floors of the studio, including the garage and the back shed. I noticed a un-titled picture on the wall in a back room and immediately asked “Where’s that?” Charlie replied “Bon Echo.” In an internet second, I had an epiphany, remembering the rock face inscribed “Old Walt” and with Charles’s permission we had an excellent front cover. Yes, there are pictures of the Rock & Walt on the back.

I visited Charles again to show him a layout of the cover, and he approved, but he was having a hectic time packing his art to travel safely to a showing in British Columbia in conjunction with the Winter Olympics in February.

You might ask where’s the moose? but the copyright notice states that the art was created in 1993, perhaps before the moose silhouette motif was created? However I do remember seeing a picture of a younger QEII on mooseback.


Toronto Railways Lands on Souster’s Book

I was first introduced to Raymond Souster in January 2006 by John Robert Colombo. Ray had written alot of unpublished poetry since his “fall from grace” from Oberon Press. John Robert Colombo first introduced Raymond to Oberon in 1969. Raymond was now blind and still living at home with his wife Rosalia. He wrote his poe…ms at the kitchen table with the assitance of a CNIB writing tablet — a thick black piece of cardboard and a spiral bound exercise book which were all carfully numbered and set aside for his Archives at McGill University.

His first series of 3 volumes was entitled “Catching Up,” his second series of 4 volumes “Up To Date,” and his third series of 4 volumes entitled “Getting Ahead.”

The latest single volume of poetry entitled “Millennium Madness” There are over 600 poems with an index.
Raymond style has evolved over the years, but he now predominately write a 20-second poem — a poem of from 2 to 8 short lines. The reader can read a couple and its like rain off a duck’s back, but then the next one is a zinger.
Raymond published and was paid for a poem that appeared in “The Toronto Star” in 1936. It is collected in Volume 1 of the Collected poems published by The Oberon Press. Now this means that Raymong has been published in 9 (that’s nine) decades! If you don’t believe me count them on your fingers — I just did to double check that the figure 9 was correct. Not many authors can make such a claim.

The cover is a wrap around with French flaps featuring “The Toronto Railway Lands” by Geoffrey James. The tall towers are reflected in a mud puddle, and the condo towers are under construction with cranes with a view of the Rogers Centre before it was so named, formerly The Sky Dome I think.


Six New Titles in 2010

It’s snowing here today overlooking the ice on Lake Eugenia. Standing on my veranda overlooking the lake I can see some fishing shacks in the channel beside the island. I am holding a fresh, hot mug of coffee in my hands, and many projects at hand to occupy the day. Later in the afternoon I will drive up to the post box where 3 days mail still waits in Post Office Box 50. I am also trying to prepare for a read trip to Sauk City Wisconsin; I am looking forward to the visit very much. Finally I am posting the front covers of the six books that have been published so far in 2010 (and it’s only January) — and time permitting each will require a separate blog post, but maybe not enough time. Yes, a good day lies ahead of me.

Reporter's Notebook -- Volume 11 -- by Vincent Starrett

A Verdant Green: A Florilegium of Poetry for Anna & Bill McCoy

The Greatest Canadian Love Poem and Other Treasures of the Heart by Allan Glenn Rose

Walt Whitman's Canada compiled by C.Greenland & J.R.Colombo

Millennium Madness by Raymond Souster

War Christmas by Dwight Whalen


A New Cap Badge and Lapel Pin

When I visited Arkham House in Sauk City, Wisconsin last fall to meet with April Derleth at Place of Hawks and discuss new projects, old projects and the editorial duties of Bob Weinberg and yours truly, Idrove up Water Street and observed a new business in an old building across the street from the Post Office. I looked in the window and decided to go in and order a couple of Cap Badges and Lapel Pins. They aren’t for sale, but each of the members of the Sacred Six will receive them, and wear them with pride. They will also be offered to each of the authors who have published their work with The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box and Arkham House. They certainly won’t replace moolah!

Arkham House Lapel Pin

BSDB Lapel Pin

Arkham House Cap Badge

BSDB Cap Badge


A Verdant Green – A Memorial & Book Launch

A Verdant Green: A Poetry Anthology to Celebrate the Lives of Anna and William McCoy

When? Thursday, March 4th, 2010 — Memorial Service (5:30 p.m.) and The Book Launch (7:00 p.m.)
Where? The Manulife Centre — 44 Charles Street West – Room 3110

Master of Ceremonies: John Robert Colombo

A Verdant Green
A Florilegium of Poetry for Anna & Bill McCoy
Edited by David Livingstone Clink

A florilegium is an unusual but beautiful word for a compilation of passages of poetry. This florilegium consists of poetry inspired by the natural world and the human need to appreciate and preserve life on this planet rather than despoil and destroy it. That need has never been greater than at the present time.
It was with this signal imperative in mind that William McCoy, a Toronto businessman, sought to celebrate the memory of his late wife Anna who deeply loved the world of nature. Alas, Bill himself died in the fall of 2009, before he could realize this dream. But he lived long enough to read many of these poems and to approve of the spirit of this anthology. Suitably, A Verdant Green is appearing bearing a dedication to the memories of Anna and William McCoy.
The general editor is David Livingstone Clink. He has sought out thirteen contemporary poets from across Canada and invited them to contribute from their own work poems that celebrate the world of nature and draw attention to the need for men and women to respect it. The collection is rich in such feelings and insights.
Here are the names of the thirteen contributors: bill bissett, Allan Briesmaster, Jenna Butler, George Elliott Clarke, Carolyn Clink, Karen Connelly, Barry Dempster, Maureen Scott Harris, Stephen Humphrey, Sandra Kasturi, Carolyn Malyon, Allan Glenn Rose and Raymond Souster.
David Livingstone Clink, the compiler, is known for his own sly and innovative poetry and for his work on behalf of fellow poets by organizing readings in the Toronto area and by operating the small-press called Believe Your Own Press.
Geoffrey James has contributed to the project a set of his evocative photographs to enrich the natural beauty of this florilegium and contrast the ravages of man.

Quality Paperback with colour cover, 166 pp. ISBN 13: 978-1-55246-845-6 $20.00


A Green Poetry Project

My friend Bill McCoy lost his wife two years ago after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease, over ten years. I first met the couple through Jean Portugal, and Ann Skein Melvin who was working as the Librarian at The Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto. Jean had been working for many years on her magnum opus — We Were There which was finally published in 1998. Bill edited two of the volumes, and provided valuable proof reading services for the entire project.

Bill and I lost touch for a couple of years, and then we met again after Ann Skein Melvin died. Bill wanted to purchase her volume of poems edited by her husband David Skein Melvin.

Bill and I met with David Clink in mid 2008 and invited him to edit a active anthology of poems discussing the environment and green issues, and hopefully this will be published in 2009. Each poet has been invited to contribute a portfolio of poem or poems occupying eight pages.

Some contributors have backed out and other poets have been added.

The cover and internal illustration will comprise a suite of photographs by Geoffrey James.

Bill plans to dedicate the volume to the memory of is wife Anna.

Green Poetry
An active Anthology edited by David Clink

Dedicated to the memory of Anna McCoy

Sponsored by William McCoy

The environment is in the headlines more and more, with the threat of global warming taking the forefront. This anthology should not only be about this phenomenon, but other issues of the environment, which can include (but not limited to) poems about clear-cutting, pollution, the bee population dimishing, extinct and endangered animals, oil spills, eco-systems, changes to the gulf stream and the ozone layer, man’s encroachment on the wild, nature’s response (Disease, avian flu, SARS). frankenfoods, the introduction of the non indigenous species, migratory patterns shifting, and so on. This list barely scratches the surface!

Contributers: 1.) bill bissett; 2.) Allan Briesmaster; 3.) Jenna Butler 4.) George Elliot Clarke; 5.) Carolyn Clink; 6.) Karen Connelly; 7.) Barry Dempster; 8.) Maureen Scott Harris; 9.) Steven Humphrey 10.) Sandra Kasturi; 11.) Carol Malyon; 12.) Allan Glenn Rose; 13.) Raymond Souster.

I wrote this over a year ago. In the interim, Bill McCoy has passed away. The contributors have shuffled along and I amended the list above. The title has changed at the suggestion of John Robert Colombo. The finished book is now in my hands. I am emptying Bill’s apartment and preparing a presentation for his memorial service which will be announced in a subsequent post.

Life goes on, and alas! we can all look forward to death and taxes!

Here is a picture that I took of Bill on a cement pod, the weekend before Al Purdy’s statue was installed at Queen’s Park in Toronto. Al is installed across the circle from Victoria College, and St. Michael’s College — now is that irony or serendipity? The two of us then had Dim Sum on Baldwin Street and contemplated life.



A Lawyer Shot in Court?

I first met David Hammer sporting a walking stick when we shared a cab and returned to the Algonquin Hotel in New York City on a Saturday afternoon in January after a cocktail party. Don Izban also shared the cab.

David Hammer always has another book to hand.


I delivered David’s books to him last month, and he is very busy working on another couple of projects.

Look for “Realms of Conjecture” and “Don’t Eat Them Eggs” in 2010