Category Archives: Poetry

Visiting Raymond

I enjoyed the John and Ruth’s Colombo’s hospitality last Saturday night, but Sunday was an even more eventful day. John and I drove to High Park to visit a large private library which holds all the core writings and correspondence of Madame H.P. Blavatsky. It was originally assembled before the turn of the century, and moved from London England, to Victoria B.C, and now resides in Toronto. I look forward to looking through a complete run of Lucifer and The Theosophist later this fall. We enjoyed a cup of tea with the present custodian and we both received an inscribed book of her poetry.

We drove along the Greandier pond to visit Raymond Souster at The Grenadier Retirement Residence. Ray was in fine form, and I presented him with his Battered Box Medallion for publishing Millenium Madness (2010) I took the coin out of its acetate sleeve, so Ray could feel the surface of the coin because is blind, and accidently dropped it on his bedside table, it produced a rolling, bobbly, sonorous sound, which was impressive, and I must purposely do that in the future when other coins are presented. The conversation went back and forth between all three of us. Raymond talked of his projects scheduled for publication — Big Smoke Blues and Rags, Bones and Bottles and Not Counting the Cost (2011) and Easy Does It (2011). I discussed James Deahl’s introduction to the former volume, and we also discussed what to use on the cover. We discussed the founding events of The League of Canadian Poets, and these two fellows were two of the founding members. I took a picture of John and Raymond and both photos are included below.

At mid-day John had to get home for a visit with his grandchildren, and I travelled south to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to attend the 2010 Toronto Resource Investment Conference. It was a good conference, and I came away with a bag full of squeeze balls, hats, pens, night lights, water bottles and great USB memory sticks.

Then off to 2010 Toronto Word on the Street at Queen’s Park. I did the rounds, and it was my subjective opinion that attendence was down for the year. I talked with all the usual suspects, gave and received much information, useful only to me, but essentially not gossip. Got a lead for Souster’s covers.

Adjourned to Charles Pachter’s studio on The Grange Avenue and presented him with a Battered Box Medallion for his cover art “Oscar Wilde Moose Kiss,” and passed along one of those USB memory drives. Charles has a busy fall and we discussed new projects in the abstract. Charles is hosting an open house at his Ice House on Lake Simcoe over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Retired to Chinatown for dinner … and home.


4 Macabre Poets: Alive or Passed over?

I have a question — in fact four questions. I have been working on the 1947 edition of Macabre Poetry entitled DARK OF THE MOON edited by August Derleth for a new 2012 edition for Arkham House Publishers. One of the items that needed updating was the series of death dates by a number of the authors including Derleth and Wandrei the
founders of Arkham House. There were four authors that I was unable to establish death dates, and it is plausible that a couple are still alive. Can anyone assist me in this quest? The four poets are: Yetza Gillespie, Duane W. Rimel, Harvey Wagner Flink and Coleman Rosenberger. What say you the reader?


Full Moon Rising

Last Friday travelling East on the Highway 401 from Kitchener to Toronto in the late afternoon I saw a pale moon in a clear light blue sky. It was over-sized, and I had to study it, framed  in the windshield to confirm that it was indeed The moon. There was heavy traffic exiting Toronto, and the setting sun was on my back. Next I noticed illuminated orange, Halloween diamond shaped objects along the side of the road in the distance. As I approached them I confirmed that they were only constuction signs reflecting the setting sun.

   The traffic deteriorated to stop and go as I entered Mississauga, and the sun set. The sky then was a blue colour, the moon had risen a little and somehow shrunk but the white colour was much  brighter, and the face of the moon was apparent. I would have liked to study it, but traffic precluded this activity, and I couldn’t pull off to the side of the road! I kept an eye on the moon as I travelled, and noted that it shone through a number of metal grates of hydro Hydro and wereless towers.

   I turned south at Keele Street, the skyw as a darker blue, and the moon was a brighter white. I stopped and tried to fathom the features of the moon’s face, and alas I needed binoculars —  not in the car!

   The next night Ethel and I were guests for dinner at the Rosedale Lawn and Tennis Club in Toronto. We sat at a window table on the second floor. After dinner, my mind’e eyes remembered the visions of the night before, and I peered out the window to see a bright full moon in the Western sky. This confounded me, wait a minute it should be in the eastern sky! I must have got my directional bearing in the parking lot and coming upstairs on the elevator.

   The day I returned to my cottage at Lake Eugenia which faces east on the lake. After sunset I looked for to moon on the eastern horizon, past full, like the shape of an ellipse, yellow-ochre sitting just above the tree line in a clear sky. No construction signs here, only windswept ice with some snow mobile tracks.

   Why will I remember this? well, the car was full of books, in fact four new publications, and during the days I delivered them to their authors and illustrators. Thesse are the high points for me in publishing books, but that moon in its various disguises certainly contributed colour to the memory.

   Now will that be an English (abab) or Italian (abba) Sonnet? with 14 lines and 14 syllables. The work of another day.


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 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.