one of them was "oxy morons" ... a two-pager reproduced below ... please note: if you're viewing these on a mobile device, you can click on each of the two pages below for a larger, clearer resolution.
Thursday, 23 January 2020
Wednesday, 22 January 2020
Five quick questions on the heels of the publication of Selected Poems 2000-2020 by Andreas Gripp...
Q: The new Selected Poems 2000-2020 states that it’s the “5th and Final Edition.” Why is it being marketed as such?
A: I like having a single volume to read from and to sell at readings and in bookstores – this edition contains all of the poems I feel best represents my voice and vision with regards to storytelling. I’m kind of “competing with myself” by having too many books out there, so I’ve streamlined what I like best into one book. The “final” part of it lies in this very possibly being my last book offering – at least for the foreseeable future. Of course, I’ve learned to never say “never again.”
Q: You recently moved to Stratford, Ontario, from London, Ontario. How does the poetry scene differ between the two communities?
A: Stratford is a much smaller city than London, and the overall demographic here differs as there seems to be a larger percentage of the population in their senior years. Poetry-wise, it’s very small, at least that’s my first-year experience. The folks participating are older, but perhaps more experienced in the craft than I am. I’m pleasantly impressed at their skills and ability to convey excellent stories. There’s an event this upcoming April 2020 that I’m hoping will bring out more people in the community.
As for London, it has several circles—every one of which has writers excelling in both their writing and live performance. As I see it now from an hour’s drive away, both LOMP and Poetry London have showcased much-needed diversity of voice and style at their events. The London poetry demographic has gotten much younger as well, via the two aforementioned reading series as well as the London Poetry Slam. I definitely think that more high school and college/university students are into poetry nowadays than when I was a student, that’s for sure. And folks are still flocking to Mykonos every month for the open mic and featured reader, so that’s a testament to there being people who care enough about the arts to have their venue act as host (Heidi, co-owner of Mykonos Restaurant, for example). Several London bookshops and art galleries also host literary events, which make live readings and book signings more accessible for everyone. Oxford Bookshop has been doing it for decades, while Brown & Dickson have done lots in the past few years. I think when poets and writers read at a place bursting with art, they absorb the energy of those places and it shows when they’re up on stage. I’m hoping for the same thing with this upcoming event at Stratford’s Agora Gallery.
Q: You released a poetry book last summer called Covenants. Instead of a book of Judeo-Christian spiritual poems which the cover photo implied, it was more experimental in its content, which surprised some and even angered others. What’s the story behind this book?
A: I had a chapbook of jazz/beat-inspired work released in 2013 called The Penitent, which was hand-made (held together with staples and hockey tape) and which had a very limited print run. Most people had never read the poems within it, and last year I began to once more write poetry in this style, and instead of releasing a separate chapbook, I chose to merge the two. Covenants, the title poem I wrote last winter, was one of those stream-of-consciousness pieces that kind of wrote itself. I had returned to live in London with my wife after a year away in Goderich, Ontario, and found that things had become quite divisive in the city, with whispers and misunderstandings fairly plentiful. I’m thinking this inspired me to write about it in a way I seldom used before.
Anyway, Covenants also dealt with what I found to be the hypocrisy that’s problematic to so many social/political movements in the 21st-century, and the stuff just came out when I was behind the keyboard. There are other poems in the collection that are simply on the surreal side of things, and a few others that convey my honest and genuine experiences within certain London poetry circles. As writers, we all scribe about what’s happened to us, and though some folks were taken aback, I wasn’t lying about what had taken place during my interactions with various people; so while poems such as The London Not-So-Open (with its allusions to a tennis tournament), Intelligentsia, and The Curator aren’t very flattering towards particular individuals, nothing written is untrue—at least from where I was standing. I mean, when I’m being critical of cliquishness in a scene (whether an in-person one or a social media one), for example, it’s easy for those within to simply dismiss it as “bitterness” or “negativity” from an outsider, all the while refusing to even consider there might be some validity to my claims. That said, it doesn’t mean I hate London poets or academic circles—I basically had to express what I was feeling—hurt from now being excluded from things I used to enjoy, and cold-shouldered because someone didn’t like my views on abortion or censorship (for example), or because someone else thought self-publishing (I prefer the term indie-publishing) isn’t a valid way to offer your poetry to the world and cheapens the art form. I wish we could disagree on certain things and still be friends, but it was made very clear to me that that wasn’t possible, not twenty years into the 21st-century.
Looking back, there were things I’d said or written that I regret—not because they weren’t factual, but that the spirit of them, so to speak, was very harsh, and could have been conveyed much more gracefully. But what’s done is done and sometimes you can’t go back, especially if one side still harbours hard feelings (which, by now, I’m really hoping I no longer have, as they’re a horrible burden to bear). I look to the London poetry communities, in 2020, with more appreciation and respect than I had a year ago when I felt wounded. Nevertheless, we all have to move forward in life and forward for me is Stratford—a fantastic arts town vibrant in theatre, of course, as well as visual art and music. I hope the writing scene picks up this Spring—maybe it’s always been here and I just haven’t come across it yet. We’ll see what happens, I guess.
Q: You’ve also released two digital books containing photography and digital art—is this something you’ll be doing more of in the future?
A: I don’t think so. One is a book of my collected poetry broadsides and I feel as though that project is done. The other is a small collection of photos I describe as “my non-binary coming out” and is a one-and-done sort of thing. I’m not so sure on the artistic merits of that project—it is what it is, and, much like the short story collection and my book of eastern verse, I’ve said what I’ve had to say in both word and photograph.
At the present time, I’m not expecting any future creative projects to emerge—though yes, I’ve said that before but now feels much different. My health and my energy levels have significantly dropped and I’m thinking of taking my foot off the pedal now that I live in a much smaller, quieter community. There’s nothing wrong with reading on a park bench by the Avon River or checking out “Art in the Park” during the summertime with no other motive but to enjoy the work of others—without the need to seek out a muse for my own.
Q: Is this another literary “retirement” notice then?
A: No—simply because I’ve committed myself to two more upcoming events. Once Poetry Month (April 2020) is over though, I’ll definitely know how I’m feeling. But I’m sensing, for certain, a need for some peace and silence after an almost 30-year run in the arts. Living might become more pleasant this way. J
Monday, 20 January 2020
Thursday, 2 January 2020
Happy 2020! The fifth and final edition of my Selected Poems will be available soon (once I've finished writing the last batch of new poems to be included). It will be launched as part of Poetry 2020, an event taking place this April at the Agora Gallery in Stratford, Ontario.
The eighth issue of Synaeresis: arts + poetry is now live! A free download is available from the new Harmonia Press website.
On the topic of digital books, the new second editions of Broadside Poems as well as A Gentle Boudoir will be available for free download from both the Harmonia Press site and the newer, official Andreas Gripp website this month.
A reminder that, in addition to the Harmonia Press website, all of my new and recent titles are available digitally from Internet Archive (based in San Francisco). They have tons of free digital books, documents, movies, and music on their website. Please check them out and support them if you'd like.
My next scheduled live poetry readings will take place in February '20 at The Hive in London, Ontario (Wed. Feb. 12th 2020 as part of Open Mic Night: Your Poetry About Love from 7-9pm) and on April '20 as part of National Poetry Month. The poster for this event is below. Thanks!