Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sleep till June?

Just some quick notes on a very quick book tour eight dates in ten days, in Wuffill (NS), Ste Catherines (ON), Fonthill (ON), Niagara Falls (ON), Ithaca (NY), Ottawa (ON), Trono (ON) and Halifax (NS).

Started off sweating it out for the new books but they arrived, last minute on the 16th. Met up with an old childhood friend, Kevin, who works for the Greenwhich Volunteer Fire Department. Library event in Wolfville went well, with quite a few students from Acadia University out. Sold a quite few, it was mainly read, ask and answer questions. Why did I write? What topics did I choose and so on? Mentioned the early days meticulously plotting outlines and chapter synopsis etc. Mentioned that this approach got feedback and a publication but it was performing the poetry from the valley in the bars in Toronto that really ruffled feathers. Back to Halifax, helped my brother build a shed and talked with his four kids for a time. Started to feel sick, might have got a cold from my godson. Flew out early from Halifax on the 19th was picked up in Toronto by Stephen Dee at the airport.

Met Vermeersch for a lunch he said you must be happy with the book I said I was and he was off to record the unveiling of the Al Purdy statue for a magazine; he seemed pretty good and it was good to see him. It was back and forth from Ste Catharines to Toronto for three nights to perform the region in the evenings and then sleep in Toronto at about 3 am. Read the rejections slips passage a few times as well as the Prince of the Clouds passage which got a few laughs and they liked a new poem, Ferris Wheel Carnie. Read with Adam Getty at two events (Fonthill) at a gallery and Gary Barwin at another, in Niagara. The event at Niagara Falls was at a bookstore/coffee shop and it had a cool vibe, though not many showed up. Those that did all bought books, though. Jordan Fry, the promoter set-up the Virus series, to "infect" the region with writers. This worked well as part of the cold and sickness theme. While in Toronto took a call from a Ottawa radio station whilst eating a hot dog on University Avenue so had to spit it out in front of sunning office worker. Whilst in Toronto picked up Veridiana who flew in on the 21st and accompanied me by bus to through Grimsby, Ste Catharines and so on again to Niagara falls and she was so excited she even bought three books of poetry -- one from Mr. Getty and two from Mr. Gary Barwin. Mum and Dad came down for the Niagara reading, too. We (V. and me) stayed overnight in Niagara Falls and I started to get a fever, but still pretty happy considering. Never thought much of Niagara Falls but this was different with Veridiana. With her it was fun to hang out in. We took picture of the falls and enjoyed the sunshine and Tim Horton's bagels. Good for a cold right?

Thought it was lame to complain about being sick, when I kinda liked the outerworldly vibe so saw V. back to Toronto, got on a Greyhound to Ithaca, where we were detained at Buffalo. I was introduced to Nexxus cards and I thought how lame and corporate that term was, sounds exactly like a Credit card not an official document for travel. One quiet man who was dressed in a shiny suit and sitting at the back of the bus was detained at Buffalo and never came back on the bus. A guy behind me said it was because he didn't have a return ticket, but a cheeky part of me thought it was because he had been detained by the fashion crimes police. Still not fun, no? Slept part way till Ithaca, and noticed that the scenery got better and better as I got closer to Ithaca. Picked up by John Scott at the station, and he told me to get ready to start talking, though visited his wife and kids at home, one of his kids eyed me up and I have to say that I felt like I would have liked to be there to hang out but that was not going to be the case this time so then back to Bookery 11 for the reading where I started to relax as I liked the owner, Gary and some of John's friends down there. Gary asked me to read more of the book, the beginning of the book in particular and so I took his advice. Read the Lana Banana passage. People who had seen the scouts are cancelled movie as part of the FLEFF Film Festival at Ithaca came and bought books. Later Gary told me that if he was interested in a book, he wanted to hear if from the beginning, as publishing is so fickle these days. He sold five books and took two more to sell after I was gone. Drank after the reading and met one Kevin Michael, he was a lot of fun and we talked into the evening. Those are the times when things either cook (idea wise, creatively wise) or you just drink and so we just drank.

Up at 4:30 am to take the plane out of Ithaca to try and make it to Ottawa for the next evening. Flew out of Ithaca, liked that and then into Philadelphia and then onto Burlington airport in a small plane. Greyhound up the Canada from there. Only complaint was the running commentary by the bus driver, do they teach boring patter at Greyhound Driving School? Did this guy know every blade of grass on the route up there. Do they school these men in accounts or office jobs first to suck the life out of them? Or is this the American sense of humour?

Recalled that Kevin Michael asked me what it was like coming to Ithaca and I said it was like coming home, that got a laugh as I was just flying off the seat of my pants but I was in the mood to talk and when you are a little feverish, you'll say anything.

Made it to Ottawa but an hour and a half late for the event at the Manx pub. Taking the Stairs books literally started flying out of the shelves, or off the tables in the pub. THEY SOLD OUT of the books that had been sent down. I thought that was cool. There were a few taking pics, it was surreall, like a staged show for a movie but I flogged a few shivs too. Liked meeting John W MacDonald, he was cool. David O'Meara, the organizer said he had a blurb on his new book from Simon Armitage, that's cool, too. I was greeted by an old school mate, Chris Vanbuskirk, and we talked mainly about the valley, people we knew and all that. He drove me to the hotel I was booked into. It was a boutique one -- glass of champagne if you want at reception and good coffee but it smelled of cigarettes. Dumaurier? I slept OK. Still feeling sick and cranky and tired, though. He told me to take the bus early to Toronto. Not the greatest trip but better than Montreal-Toronto on the 401 and got to see a lot of the great Canadian wilderness on the way up to Belleville. Revisited door-to-door sales territory too in Tweed and Perth. I memorized some of those towns in 2001-2002. Can you imagine that I was there, locked in old folks houses? This is all covered in Taking The Stairs.

Back to Toronto to meet up at Type Books. The bookstore sold a few and I think I saw Vermeersch flog a couple too. Drank at the Pilot but couldn't relax as had to get up at 4:30, still with a fever, to fly to Halifax.

Was on Mainstreet on CBC to promote Taking the Stairs and the event with The Sorry's. Then went off at The Wardroom at Kings, hadn't been there for nearly twenty years, but I kept up the promo, read a few more passages at the prodding of folks who were there to read the book. They liked the telemarketting passage best, but also read the rejection letter scene. Trevor was on good form and he played his hits, The Falls and Druthers as well as Pass It Around. Then we sang together a countrified version of a valley poem from Creamsicle Stick Shivs.

The best part was the owwwwww. Darren Varga who wrote about Scouts are Canceled in Cineaction was there and we had a few drinks and talks about the movie. This went well sold quite a few books for that one. Port Rat Reunion, and there is a little sound out there from that... Late night interview with CIUT, with Nancy Bullis... and a few more emails to answer. Then a bit more work on Mark's shed, a call from Silas to catch up and a chance to see game three of the playoffs, across the road and B ball with Lars and the kids and then, still sick off to Ottawa to come back to London. Went to see the houses of Parliament on the layover and noted how sunny Canada is generally. The view across to the Gatineau is decent, bought some maple syrop at the Byword market but had to give it up at the airport, as we can't travel with liquids on planes anymore.
Back to London, and sleep sleep sleep till June..

Well thats my account anyway..

Thanks to everyone for the tour...
Rachel(s) and Trevor Millet and Silas especially.


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