Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Publishing culture in Italy

Aldus on the state of publishing in Italy in 2018. Has the situation changed since then?
“The number of active publishing houses is growing– 4.902 publishing houses published at least one title during the year (+0.5% compared to 2016). Compared to 2010, 755 new publishing houses are active on the market and have to try to position their brand and publishing projects in bookshops, in distribution channels and among more or less specialised segments of readers.
Production of titles on paper is growing – In 2017, Italian publishing houses published 72.059 titles (new titles and new editions of miscellaneous adults’ and children’s books, in addition to educational titles, numbering 4.037, excluding e-books), up by 9.2% compared to 2016. DTP programmes, new digital printing and packaging systems, greater familiarity with foreign markets and new generations of authors make it much easier than in the past to access production and build catalogues. The real barriers to entry are now more to do with communicating with readers and distribution. In Italy, no more titles are published, in proportion to the population, than in the case of other major continental publishing industries.”

The Bankruptcy People

Steven Beattie reporting last December on the near-disaster which befell Galley Beggar Press. - the original publisher of Lucy Ellman’s gargantuan experiment in 21st century modernism, Ducks, Newburyport—  after it entered into a book printing deal with the online and popup British retailer The Book People:

“The announcement on Tuesday that U.K. online and pop-up retailer The Book People has been forced into receivership is having ripple effects throughout the U.K. book retail and publishing industries, including a potentially disastrous financial impact on the small independent publisher Galley Beggar Press. 
The seven-year-old press is owed £40,000 by The Book People as a result of a special run on Galley Beggar’s marquee fall title, the Booker Prize nominee Ducks, Newburyport
On Wednesday, the publisher launched a GoFundMe campaign in an attempt to raise some money to cover the shortfall, which co-director Eloise Millar writes poses an existential threat. In her appeal, Millar states that the publisher entered into an agreement to print 8,000 copies of a special edition of Lucy Ellmann’s 1,000-page novel when it landed on the Booker Prize shortlist.”
It is still somewhat unclear to me whether this deal was a mandatory requirement of being listed for the Booker; as people with more than passing interest in books know, the standard business model in book retailing is for bookstores to distribute books but not buy them outright. That is, unsold books remain the publisher’s problem, not the book store’s.  Is this model different in the U.K.? And if not, by what leverage could the Book People have insisted on an 8,000 copy run? Was the retailer itself acting as an agent of the Booker Prize organization?
There is, finally, a Canadian angle to this as Ducks was also published by a Biblioasis. If there was financial fallout for the latter house, it would be interesting to know. It’s worth recalling that many years ago Steven reported on Biblioasis gambling on a large print run when one of its own original titles — as I recall, Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod — was shortlisted for a Giller Prize. Did the gamble pay off in this case? Do other publishing houses take similar risks and suffer losses? These questions matter because the reality of these presumptive print runs strongly affects future choices publishers might make.

Finally, as Mark Medley once observed, anglophone CanLit is particularly fond of prizes — the rationale being that they ipso facto assist sales. Is the reality more complicated than this?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Catherine Owen on Frances Boyle’s This White Nest 

Au site d’éditions Pow Pow, la biographie de Julie Delport

Monday, February 17, 2020

Musica improvvisata italiana/ Improv Italian music

Bruno Gussoni, Frank Pellerini and friends


Project stills - O Planet III

Working title: O Planet III

Runtime: 59:34

Synopsis: a feature length work comprised of several linked shorts about modernity ... or muddernity.

Vimeo link:
1,000 soleils (mâtin d’hiver) par Denis Samson

Sunday, February 16, 2020

VideoPoemSong 5

 A new version of an old authorial videopoem. 

I have been experimenting with language play and neologism creation for many years now. These experiments started as private notebooks that I kept purely for personal use; a sort of linguistic workshop in which I tried to organize ideas for prose (and prose poetical) pieces, such as the stage play The Looksist. 

But the approach I was taking — to break words in half and try to create new words and thought associations— became directly useful when I started writing poetry seriously and making authorial videopoems.

The YouTube video above shows one of these poems. I have now done it twice, and a link to version one is below.

In 2019, some of these poems were published as an online chapbook. A link to that project is at the bottom of this post.

Baram VI (original version of VideoPoemSong 5). Link here:


Original text:

The po'-'sh soft
smash of water's
heavy or-ru

Is full-bore, as the
streams roar,

And, in the old homes,

The const'-'atter,
soft ant-p,

Is insect-like in
each bead.

Drip wetly

And the ground

While warm wood

- Finn Harvor

Originally published as a chapbook by Former People. Link:


Marc Eliot Stein sums up the culture of the 10s.

Economic Inequality

Alex Good on Lars Osberg’s The Age of Increasing Inequality 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Yonge Street, Toronto - January

Baram 1 - an authorial videopoem

Baram 1

En février, alors que je fais mon vélo
Qui est de coleur d'argent foncé,
Pendant la nuit morte de la ville,
Un vent canadien
Dans une rue coréenne
est forte sur mes joues fraîches

Cette pauvreté froide
Sous-jacente à l'urbain
Est la nature,
C’est le cadeau
D'un dieu objectif.

Ce froid est intemporel
C'est pur.
Il relie les villes,
Et toutes les fois
De la vie.

J'avais douze ans
Quand j'ai ressenti ce vent.
Je veux dire, consciemment.
Et maintenant,
en faisant du vélo à la maison à nouveau,
Je me dirige vers ma femme,
Reconnaissant faiblement
Son indéniable valeur,
Sa chaleur,
Son amour.


Baram 1

While February-riding
My dark silver bike,
A Canadian wind
On a Korean street
Sharp-freshes my cheeks
In the dead of city night.

This cold poverty
Underlying the urban
Is nature,
And it is the gift
Of an objective god.

This cold is timeless
It is pure.
It links cities,
And all the times
Of life.

I was twelve
When I first felt this wind.
I mean, consciously.
And now,
Cycling home against it again,
I head toward my wife,
Dimly recognizing
Its unnameable value,
Its heat,
Its love.

Finn Harvor

(First in Eclectica, April, 2012)

Monday, February 03, 2020


Bookninja on shrinking book coverage at the Star

On Authorialness 1

Writing for the Toronto International Festival of Authors blog, Steven Beattie, in an article entitled “Why Writing is not such a Solitary Experience”, describes the contemporary writer’s life as follows:

“It is not groundbreaking to point out that writing is a solitary experience. Publishing is collaborative: a network of relationships between creator and editor, publicist, designer, marketing and sales people, distributors and booksellers. Even reading is a shared endeavour carried out between author and reader; though there is no direct connection between creator and consumer, literature finds its final fulfilment only when a writer’s work is processed through the sensibility of a reader. But writing—the act of creating characters and stories out of words and sentences and paragraphs crafted in such a way as to evoke an emotional response or aesthetic appreciation—that part is done alone. Writers are almost by nature solitary creatures, introverts who spend their days, in the words of Philip Roth’s E.I. Lonoff, turning their sentences.
Perhaps this is one reason the general public maintains a notion of writers as some form of rarified or exotic animal, a species that shares traits in common with others but is nonetheless a bit apart, a bit strange and esoteric. Social media mitigates this, at least to some degree; readers now have direct access to writers in a way that they never did in previous eras. They can reach out and provide feedback with the click of a button or a Facebook like. Any author who has been tagged on a blisteringly negative reader’s review will tell you that this is, at best, a double-edged sword. Or, as Marlon James put it onstage at his TIFA appearance last fall, the worst thing about winning the Man Booker Prize is that now no one believes his Tinder profile.
Social media have inculcated in many readers the expectation that they should have instant access to writers at the very same time as the internet has opened up the means of production, meaning that more people are able to publish than ever before. This also means that what might once have been a tight-knit community has inevitably scattered. New voices are appearing all the time, many of them from remote or previously peripheral locales, which is a net benefit for writers who have long found themselves shut out of the realms of publishing that allow them an audience and for readers who now find themselves with a multiplicity of voices, sensibilities and literary styles from which to choose.”

It’s heartening to see arts journalists acknowledge that writing, as a profession, has changed, and that these changes are in many ways being driven by technology. Nevertheless, the article also raises as many questions as it answers; one has to do with the difference between writing-as-creative-activity versus bookselling. The other has to do with the aspects of literary production that are specific to Canada (which is to say, English, French, First Nations, and the influence of immigrants who are “between languages” (this last phenomenon deserves some analysis of its own because it has a more widespread effect than only on the recently immigrated).