Happy autumn and welcome to the October issue, dear readers.
From local writing groups such as the Wellington Street Poets, to degrees at our two universities, to courses offered by Toronto writer and Bywords friend, Stuart Ross, to the Humber School for Writing, all of this month's contributors have taken advantage of opportunities available to learn more about their craft. This, to me, is the mark of professionalism in writing: to be open to learning something new and to accept feedback about one's writing from a group of peers and from mentors.
As we enter the final months of 2006, I urge those of you who write to think about ways in which to improve your writing in 2007. In an interview in a recent issue of Contemporary Verse 2, Sina Queyras makes the point that while many writers submit their works to literary journals, the subscription rate for these journals is quite low. If you want to write poetry, you must read poetry, and not just the poetry of yesteryear, but also the poetry of today, if you want to get published in a contemporary journal.
Aside from reading poetry itself, you can also read articles, interviews and reviews about poetry on local websites like Poetics.ca, review sites like Poetryreviews.ca and journals such as Contemporary Verse.
Another way in which to improve your poetic professionalism, so to speak, is to become well versed (pun intended) in poetry publishing. Start with the upcoming Ottawa Small Press Book Fair on October 21, where you will find a variety of small presses from the self-published, to local small press publishers such as Bywords (we also give out candy) and the Dusty Owl Press (sometimes they have jam and provocative soap) to larger publishing houses, such as Buschek Books. Talk to the editors and creators of the publications.. Buy copies of zines too!
The day I'm writing this, we've yet to have our launch for the fall issue of the Bywords Quarterly Journal (takes place Oct 15!), but stay tuned for more about this event and also about our recent John Newlove Award reading at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on October 4. You'll find articles on both by Catharine Carroll in the November issue. Go to the Newlove award page to find out more about this year's winner and honourable mentions.
Speaking of the Writers Festival, it was a pleasure to meet and speak with many of Bywords' readers and contributors there. Once again, participating in the festival, either as a member of the audience or a reader or volunteer, is a way to immerse yourself in writing and the writing profession. I managed to spend a few minutes with the superb poet, Daphne Marlatt whose reading was a highlight for me. Every year I grow more impressed with the Wilsons for their vision and dedication. They have even more events to continue the celebration of the festival's tenth anniversary this year. Check the calendar of events for more information on these and other wonderful readings coming up.
Thanks to this month's selection committee Kelly Clarke, Jesse Ferguson, Kemisha Newman, Victoria Vernell, and Betty Warrington-Kearsley and to all our readers, subscribers, sponsors, supporters and friends. It's a joy to celebrate Ottawa poetry with you every month!
If you have questions, comments or Halloween treats to offer, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our table at the small press fair and give us a hug or two (Buy copies of the BQJ and Melissa Upfold's chapbook, Welcome to Beautiful San Ria!)