Thursday 28 July 2022

Manahil Bandukwala

Manahil Bandukwala is a writer and visual artist. Her debut poetry collection is MONUMENT (Brick Books 2022). See her work at In 2021, she was shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. She works as Coordinating Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, and is Digital Content Editor for Canthius. She is a member of Ottawa-based collaborative writing group VII. Her project Reth aur Reghistan is a multidisciplinary exploration of folklore from Pakistan interpreted through poetry and sculpture. She holds an MA in English from the University of Waterloo.

Twitter/Instagram: @manahilbanduk 

What book(s) are you reading right now?

The new series of chapbooks from Collusion Books, and specifically Khashayar Mohammadi and Roxanna Bennett’s Unbecoming Prophecy.

A book you have given as a gift / recommended to a friend.

Bahar Orang’s Where Things Touch: Meditations on Beauty is a book I’ve passed around between friends, read out loud cover to cover with another, and would recommend again.

The first and last books on your bookcase/shelf.

My bookshelf is colour-coded on the top shelf. The first book is Dominik Parisien’s chapbook, We, Old Young Ones. The last book is Shani Mootoo’s short story collection, Out on Main Street.

A book yet-to-be-released which you are looking forward to reading.

natalie hanna’s lisan al’asfour. hanna’s poetry is devastating in beautiful ways, and I’m really excited for a collection of her work.

A book that you feel is underrated and deserves more attention.

stephanie roberts’ rushes from the river disappointment is full of tenderness, and truly a book that everyone should read.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Lara Dolphin

A native of Pennsylvania, Lara Dolphin is an attorney, nurse, wife and mom of four amazing kids. She frequently wonders where the time has gone. Her poems are widely published in print and online. Her first chapbook, In Search Of The Wondrous Whole, was published by Alien Buddha Press. Her most recent chapbook, Chronicle Of Lost Moments, is available from Dancing Girl Press. You can find her online at Lara Dolphin.

A book you loved reading as a child.

Oh, what a busy day! by Gyo Fujikawa loomed large in the inner life of my childhood. The beautiful illustrations and gentle passages followed a gaggle of kids feasting, jumping, singing, fighting, falling, helping and having the most simple yet wondrous adventures together. Kids' America by Steven Caney was a boredom-busting treasure trove. From how to make soap or use a quill pen, this book was packed with fun activities. Also, A Light In The Attic by Shel Silverstein was a great source of joy. From the wacky poems to the even wackier drawings, this gem was one of my favourites. 

Your favourite anthology.

My favourite anthology was a modern drama textbook from college. I no longer have the collection or remember the title, but reading plays from around the world was captivating. Some of my favourites were Ibsen's A Doll's House, Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author,  Soyinka's The Lion And The Jewel, Synge's The Playboy Of The Western World, and Wassertein's The Heidi Chronicles

The first and last books on your bookcase/shelf.

My bookshelves at home have purposely shrunk in recent years. I used to accumulate books that I purchased, but lately I find that having and keeping books isn't important. While I still prefer paper to digital, I almost always borrow books from our community library. Bought books that I am done reading are either donated or go into our family's Little Free Library. At this time, the first book on my shelf is Calvino's Invisible Cities. It was a gift from a friend in Italy many years ago and is in both English and Italian. It's an Escheresque journey through imaginary/yet real cities that are also all Venice as revealed by conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan. On the other end is Jansson's The Summer Book, best known for her Moomin books for children, Jansson explores themes of life and death through the interaction of an elderly woman and her granddaughter. A slim volume, it is the perfect, calming summer read.

A book you have given as a gift / recommended to a friend.

I have recommended Bill Bryson's books to friends. There is something inherently relatable and funny about the pitfalls of travelling. I recommend Neither Here Nor There: Travels In Europe and Notes From A Small Island to start. I have also recommended Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy It's nice knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 even if you don't know the question. 

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I just finished a book club selection Patchett's These Precious Days. I had read Bel Canto and loved it and was delighted to find her collection of essays equally compelling. I am finishing up Here For It by R. Eric Thomas, which is a truly funny memoir about living an authentic life outside mainstream culture. Next up, I'm hoping to read Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000.

Monday 18 July 2022

Bhupender K Bhardwaj

Bhupender K Bhardwaj was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. His debut collection Ebullience and Other Poems was published by Kelsay Books, US (2019). His poems have been published by The Honest Ulsterman, harana poetry, Squawk Back & The Galway Review among others. He was longlisted for The Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry 2019, as also The Toto Awards for Creative Writing 2016, and was shortlisted for both The Fish Poetry Prize 2020 and the All India Poetry Competition 2016.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Books are always a continuing obsession. Instead of reading one book at a time, I prefer operating in a simultaneous framework of sorts wherein books across poetry, cosmology, spirituality and management get juxtaposed to each other in both the spatial and the mental schemas. While there is a looming threat that this can get me blurry-eyed, however, the excitement that gets generated from the exercise of multiple intelligences is immense. So to answer the question, of lately I have been engrossed in reading the mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose's Cycles of Time, Frank Wilczek's Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality and The Selected Poems of Eugenio Montale.

A book you loved reading at a child.

If I can go back to my earliest days and I thank memory for permitting me this, it has to be Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. This book opened up an entire world of imaginative possibilities in my mind-- the various cast of characters; pirates, seamen and buccaneers-- together with the sense of adventure embedded in the quest to attain the proverbial pot of the gold.

The first and last books on your bookcase/shelf.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics and The Penguin Dictionary of Science respectively.

A book you have read more than once.

It invariably is The Poetry of Derek Walcott (1948-2013). All the sections of this book are momentous: now full of revelations brimming with an oblique commentary on colonial machinations, now loaded with natural beauty but pulsating with Derek Walcott's purposive epic or narrative genius.

A book with personal resonance.

The Bounty (1997) by Derek Walcott. This is one of those rare and powerful poetry books wherein Walcott's lines rise to a heightened speech and then seem to get rooted as the common courtyard plant. The Bounty offers the reader a cornucopia of technically measured emotions and bucolic scenes but the end result is always delight.

Thursday 14 July 2022

Patrick Chapman

Patrick Chapman has published eight poetry collections since 1991, as well as a novel, three volumes of stories, and a non-fiction book about David Cronenberg. Other work includes an award-winning short film, television for children, and audio dramas for Doctor Who and Dan Dare. He is a founding editor of poetry magazine The Pickled Body. His next poetry collection, The Following Year, will appear from Salmon in 2023.

A book you loved reading at a child.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter was a touchstone for me when I was a child. A collection of disturbing gothic miniatures, it filled me with a sensible dread of werewolves, and a feeling that reality itself was provisional. The book’s subversion of fairy tales showed how a story depends on how it is told, as much as what happens within it. When Neil Jordan made a film based on this book, co-writing the script with Carter herself, I was mesmerised. I took seriously the injunction to beware those who are hairy on the inside. The book led me to Jordan’s own collection, Night in Tunisia, and The Dream of a Beast, his fantastical novella that feels like it was inspired by his work with Carter.

A book you have given as a gift / recommended to a friend.

Vermilion Sands collects J.G. Ballard’s short stories set in that holiday resort of the future, where plants sing opera, buildings can empathise with the feelings of their occupants, and sculptors in aircraft perform a kind of topiary on the clouds. This is a playground for the beautiful stranger and the beautifully strange. It’s a surrealistic landscape, a Palm Springs of the mind, filled with the disaffected leisured rich, and influenced by Ballard’s own delight in the works of Dalí and other painters. His first published short story, ‘Prima Belladonna’ (1956) is also his first tale set in Vermilion Sands. If you’re new to Ballard’s short fiction, that’s a great place to start. I’d recommend reading Vermilion Sands as a standalone collection, even if you already have a copy of the enormous, beautiful Complete Short Stories.

A book you have read more than once.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is the best vampire book ever written, and it isn’t about vampires. It’s better than Dracula, Carmilla, the Lestat books. It’s better, even, than ’Salem’s Lot, and the author of that book – who cites Matheson’s novella as an influence – would surely agree. There’s nothing supernatural in the story. These vampires are not ghosts, nor are they properly undead. To say more would be to spoil the plot. What can be said is that, in the same way that Jaws is not a film about a shark, I Am Legend is not a book about bloodsuckers. It’s about loneliness, morality, ethics, and the failure to recognise one’s own true place in society. As the promotional tagline tells us, the last man on Earth is not alone. The implications of this statement become shatteringly clear as the book goes on. None of the film adaptations has done the book justice, though the Vincent Price version comes closest. One day, an adaptation that is true to the story – and the title – may be made. For me, I suspect, the best version of I Am Legend will always be Matheson’s novella, which is best read while alone, with no other humans around.

A book that you started but never finished.

Final Exit, edited by Derek Humphry, is a handbook for those who wish to take control over their own departures from this life. Or, depending on your point of view, it is a dangerous manual on how to commit suicide. What it does, beyond the practical instruction it gives, is make you think about life, hope, illness, despair, and ethics. I bought it thinking I might need it and stopped reading when I realised that I didn’t. Perhaps the book is out of print now, or illegal, or superseded by the internet, and it has proven both liberating and troubling to different constituencies. Final Exit is the first ‘whodunnit’ in which the answer is not the butler, the adulterer, or the embezzler, but the reader.

A book with personal resonance.

Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is what was known as a ‘fix-up novel’ – stitching many related short stories together with linking texts. Bradbury’s masterpiece stands up well today as an allegory of genocide, with its Martians being quite similar in many respects to the American ‘everyday citizens’ of the 1940s, as well as to the ‘Indians’ destroyed by the arrival of Europeans. The book is a warning against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a cry of despair at how, wherever humans go, we bring our own frailties with us. Its ending can be read as either hopeful or salutary. The Martian Chronicles has personal resonance because in 2014, I had the privilege of producing an adaptation for BBC Radio 4, directed by Andrew Sewell, and starring Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell. The writers, Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle, had to compress the story into 45 minutes, which they did admirably, though much was left out. This is another story I’d like to see given a decent film adaptation, probably as a trilogy. The 1980 television miniseries did a not-bad job, but it was very much of its time. The Martian Chronicles speaks to us today most clearly as an ecological fable. As we rush headlong into the collapse of our own civilisation it’s not too late to look up, slow down, and remember there’s no place like home.





Ed Lyons

Ed Lyons has been writing in different styles and different subjects for over 40 years. He is a regular contributor to Poems from the Heron Clan, and has appeared in Albatross, A New Ulster, and Lothlorien Poetry Journal. Ed lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Well, when I have inventory I can't sell, I might donate some to the many little libraries that we have here in Winston-Salem. Free books for neighbours who can't afford them. Well, the last time I did this I lucked into three banned books. We've had a controversy about that in America. I got All Quiet of the Western Front (banned in Nazi Germany), The Gulag Archipelago (banned in the Soviet Union) and Fifty Shades of Gray (inappropriate). I'm working through the second right now. The Gulag Archipelago is an an attempt to recover an erased history, and not a novel.

A book you have read more than once.

I'll talk about On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. It's about his transcontinental travels in the US and Mexico, often with his friend, the real life Neal Cassidy. He writes about numerous other friends as well, adding up to a portrait of the beginning of the Beat Movement. They were at first a group of college Rimbaudians and after that, just plain free spirits, and it is always a rush to read about their high and low times. Kerouac invented a famous technique for storytelling which he called "spontaneous prose." He would set his typewriter up, eat Benzedrine, and type at the speed of thought for days on end. On the Road was written on a teletype roll in three weeks, but this only after years of trial and error.

What is a book you loved reading as a child?

I had some pocket books on meteorology and astronomy. I taught myself to predict weather and find the constellations and planets. I could identify clouds and track hurricanes. I was also interested in aviation and could identify anything at the airport, as well as explain to a first officer how to fly his plane. I thought I would do something scientific with my life, but I had trouble with math.

A book yet-to-be-released which you are looking forward to reading.

The yet-to-be released book I look forward to reading is Anne McMaster's collection of poems in Ulster Scots. I pressed her for an example of the language and she showed me a poem that was simply stunning. She really stole from the ancients! Anne explained the language to me. It's based on Northumbrian dialect Old English while the English language is based on Mercia dialect Old English. That's why I can read Ulster Scots pretty well, while having to work many lessons to get anywhere in Irish.

A book that you feel is underrated and deserves more attention.

An underrated book that is dear to me is Look Homeward, Angel, by North Carolina's Thomas Wolfe. The novel is about growing up in Altamont, which in real life is the mountain city of Asheville. North Carolina is never named, and it's towns and cities have aliases. Winston-Salem is not named at all, but it's such a distinctive city it's plain where it's described.

The protagonist, Eugene Gant, grows up in Altamont around the turn of the last century. The descriptions of the city and environs, its inhabitants, and the boy's own family dynamics, are vivid and the people are real, and often signalled by some personal quirk or tic. Time unfolds slowly, as in a dream many times, as prose approaches the condition.

Professors tend to shy away from Look Homeward, Angel, because it's long and dense and hard to fit in with the American canon. It is all that, but the alert reader will note that the style is working off Joyce. Because it deals with the same subjects as Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist, and Ulysses. Only in a different city. Jack Kerouac thought Look Homeward, Angel the Great American novel, and modelled his first attempt on it. Which didn't work. Kerouac had to find his own voice.

Monday 11 July 2022

P.W. Bridgman

Canadian writer P.W. Bridgman’s third and fourth books—Idiolect (poetry) and The Four-Faced Liar (short fiction)—were published in 2021 by Ekstasis Editions. His writing has appeared (or is forthcoming) in, among others, Moth Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Glasgow Review of Books, Grain, The Honest Ulsterman, The Galway Review, The High Window, The Maynard and Skylight 47. Bridgman has given live readings in Vancouver, Victoria, Belfast, Dublin, Glasgow and Melbourne.

Twitter: @PWB_writer1

What book(s) are you reading right now?

As always, I have at least two books on the go at any given time. Usually this means a book of fiction and a book of poems. My reading always takes me to both realms and, if anything, poetry has lately overtaken fiction. Writers from Canada (where I live) and writers from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK (to which I have ancestral ties) generally tend to dominate and this is no different at the present.

I have just finished reading Louise Kennedy’s brilliant novel, Trespasses, published this past April. It lingers persistently and pleasingly in my mind. The stock of superlatives available to reviewers and commentators is badly depleted (like an overdrawn line of credit) thanks to Kennedy’s fine writing in Trespasses. One is thus challenged to find a way to praise the book that sounds even remotely original. Let me just say that the novel offers a very vivid, credible and nuanced treatment of a relationship that develops, inconveniently, in a small town near Belfast in the heat of the Troubles. Cushla is a Catholic teacher of young children and part-time barmaid; Michael is a prominent Protestant barrister who makes himself unpopular with unionists and the British security apparatus by representing some clients, mainly youth from the nationalist side, who are charged with terrorist offences. (Some parallels between Michael and the murdered solicitor, Patrick Finucane, can be discerned.) Against the backdrop of the violence of the time and the political, religious and sectarian divisions that fuelled it, this fraught relationship provides Kennedy with plenty to work with in developing both character and plot. Her writing is artful and carefully nuanced. The tender humanity that Cushla displays toward the family of one of her pupils “caught in the middle” is cast in stark relief against some of the harsh and unforgiving tribalism displayed by other characters in the novel who are blessed with little humanity and distressingly unsubtle minds. The writing in this regard is uplifting without being marred by sentimentality. Alas, kindness toward the hapless family that Cushla takes under her wing is, ultimately, her undoing. I will stop there and say no more for fear of adding more “spoilers” to the many that have, regrettably, already been set loose in some of the reviews of Trespasses that have recently been published. Factional conflict of varying kinds plagues our world and so any contemporary explorations of richly human but fraught relationships contextualised by such conflicts seem not only relevant but necessary reading. My guess is that when I cast my eye back over fiction published in 2022, Louise Kennedy’s Trespasses will remain securely at the top of my list and be my “novel of the year”.

On the poetry side of the ledger, I have finally gotten down to a deep dive into Canadian poet Kayla Czaga’s 2019 title, Dunk Tank. Czaga burst onto the Canadian poetry scene in 2014 with her first collection, For Your Safety Please Hold On—a bravura literary debut that propelled her quickly to the forefront of the young, new poets to watch in this country. Dunk Tank confirms the depth and breadth of Czaga’s talents. Her poetry is rich with similes and metaphors. People once close to one another gently but inexorably “drift apart like lily pads”. She wrestles with identity, the immigrant experience, early success and the doubts it inevitably spawns, the vexing questions Canadians face in relation to the colonisation of Indigenous peoples—all the big contemporary issues, in other words—but she does so in a strikingly disarming way, viz:

        “I love Superstore. I got
        so happy I nearly died
        at a food court in Honolulu.
        Is that enough affect
        theory for you? Halfway
        through a book gala
        I realized my dress
        was on backwards.

        I am still writing this cliché
        Canadian shit. I am writing
        dogwood and diaspora
        along the lonely shoulders
        of Coastal mountains.
        Sorry I’m so boring.
        Does what sustains me
        have to be invasive
        as blackberries choking
        out native species?
        Does it have to come
        wrapped in so much

Name a book you have given as a gift/recommended to a friend.

That’s easy: Jude Nutter’s 2021 title, Dead Reckoning. I first came upon Jude Nutter’s poetry when I read her intriguingly titled “Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin, 2011”—a poem that was shortlisted for The Moth Magazine’s Ballymaloe Poetry Prize in 2015. Some sense of its genius is evidenced by the fact that it was chosen for inclusion in the Forward Book of Poetry, 2022. “Disco Jesus” is one of those poems that will provoke an audible gasp on the first reading. It certainly did for me. A genuine tour de force, it repays repeated readings. “Disco Jesus” set me on a path to find more of Nutter’s work and when I did so I could quickly see that the gifts revealed by my first encounter were at work in her several collections. Dead Reckoning is Jude Nutter’s most recent title. I also think it is her best. I had the pleasure of writing an extensive assessment of the book for The High Window where, earlier this year, Nutter was selected as that journal’s Featured UK Poet. You can access that assessment via this link. Dead Reckoning is this outstanding poet’s strongest and most compelling title to date. You will have to look long and hard to find anyone writing today capable of conjuring lines like this:

        “…the heart, believing it will find
        what it came for, is one step ahead
        of reason…”

I have given copies of Dead Reckoning as gifts to numerous friends and recommended it to many others. I daresay that if you seize the opportunity to read this latest sampling of Nutter’s richly expressive and at times unsettling poems, you will do the same.

Name a book you have read more than once.

That’s also an easy one. I hesitate to mention it, though, because my choice may be seen by some to be snobbish or self-congratulatory. The book is Joyce’s Ulysses.

Many are justly fearful of approaching Ulysses. It is, after all, an intimidating and heavily freighted colossus of a novel. But we ought not shrink from reading it, provided we also understand that we must read Ulysses differently from the way we read most any other prose. The novel is so richly replete with obscure cultural, Biblical, classical, political, linguistic, historical and mythological references—often rendered that much more challenging by Joyce’s endless punning and other expressive gymnastics—that the temptation to try to run each and every one of them to ground must be resisted. (If the temptation is not resisted, the true experience of the novel will be lost and it would take several lifetimes to complete the reading.) What I have learned is that one reads Ulysses for more than just sense. The prose is musical and, in places, almost nothing more. Thus, the ear is as important to the appreciation of Joyce’s idiosyncratic and prosodic writing as is the eye and Wernicke’s area of the cerebral cortex. Indeed, one can safely glide gently over the surface of some of the more challenging passages in Ulysses without doing violence to the overall experience of the novel. To do so enables the preservation of an essential momentum. The book does not require to be understood fully on any reading. Thus, one reads Ulysses humbly but with determination, knowing that on every subsequent reading more will be revealed. I go back to this humbling masterwork every few years and I am greeted with new revelations on each rereading. I also know that however many times I return to Ulysses, much of it will still escape me; this is an inescapable truth that I have taught myself to accept. Ulysses is a bountiful ocean of a novel, rightly praised as a transformative force in modern fictional prose. Its humour, its rich sarcasm, its tenderness, its sometimes-unbridled lasciviousness, above all its joyous abandon and heady celebration of language itself—all  of these things are unparalleled in any other work I have ever encountered. But when tackling it, I do humbly suggest, again, that you do turn off your devices and resist the temptation to make regular detours to Google every few paragraphs. Trust the flow of Joyce’s writing to carry you along and past the shoals. The exhilaration it generates will not be compromised by a failure to disentangle and solve all of its many mysteries.

Name a book you have started but never finished.

Finnegans Wake. This is a difficult admission. It might be thought that everything I have said above about reading Joyce’s Ulysses would apply equally to the unlocking of Finnegans Wake. Some of it undoubtedly does. But despite several attempts, I have found Finnegans Wake mostly impenetrable. I would like to think that as I mature as a reader, that might change. But the clock is ticking, alas, and this just might be a challenge to which I will never successfully rise. More’s the pity, but there it is.

Name your favourite anthology.

Biblioasis brings out Best Canadian Poetry anthologies annually and in 2019 it published what I consider was the best of these to date. Credit is due largely to editor Rob Taylor for his discerning approach to selection. As it should, the anthology strikes a judicious balance between featuring established and emerging Canadian poets. Indigenous writers are very much in the ascendancy in Canada and it is evident that their writing is now disproportionately enriching the literary landscape. Owing to the pernicious effects of colonialism, such voices have, historically, been denied the attention they deserve. That is changing however, and rapidly, and Indigenous poets have now become a powerful force in contemporary Canadian literature. This reality is reflected in the appearances of writers like Billy-Ray Belcourt and Katherena Vermette (among others) in this prestigious collection. For a fuller account of my thoughts about Best Canadian Poetry, 2019, you can read a review I wrote of it here.

Friday 8 July 2022

rob mclennan

Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent titles include the poetry collection the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, 2022), and a suite of pandemic essays, essays in the face of uncertainties (Mansfield Press, 2022). In spring 2020, he won ‘best pandemic beard’ from Coach House Books via Twitter, of which he is extremely proud (and mentions constantly). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at


What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m slowly working my way through Sheila Heti’s new novel, Pure Colour (2022) and Joy Williams’ Honored Guest: stories (2004), as well as rereading Kristjana Gunnars’ The Scent of Light (2022), which is a reissue of her five novellas—The Prowler (1989), Zero Hour (1991), The Substance of Forgetting (1992), The Rose Garden: Reading Marcel Proust (1996) and Night Train to Nykøbing (1998)—in a single volume. After a winter and spring of working on poems (and a flurry of reviews), I’ve been attempting lately to re-enter my still-in-progress novel. In part, I’m hoping to absorb some elements of tone, and of sentence, from those particular prompts as I write. Perhaps I should just go back to Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter (1976), Dany Laferrière’s Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? (1994) or even Sheila Watson’s The Double Hook (1959). I mean, with Gunnars’ work already in-hand, perhaps the smart thing would be to return to further of those original early influences I caught during my formative writing years, while attempting to return to long-form prose.


A book you loved reading at a child.

Amid the plethora of Marvel Comics, some of what struck me included the Narnia series of novels by by C.S. Lewis. Between myself and my mother, my paperback set was reread enough times that the bindings simply gave way. At some point, my mother simply absorbed the remaining copies into her own collection, and wouldn’t let me have them.


A book you have given as a gift / recommended to a friend.

I’ve gone through more than a few copies of Miranda Hill’s Sleeping Funny: stories (2012), and plenty of us are eagerly awaiting her first novel, which is rumoured to be out next year. I’ve also gone through a few copies of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America (1967), if I ever see a copy second-hand. A while back, I gifted my niece, Emma, a copy of Toronto poet Souvankham Thammavongsa’s award-winning short story debut, How to Pronounce Knife (2020), and more recently, I recommended to my pal (and award-winning Ottawa poet) Stephen Brockwell the book On Autumn Lake: The Collected Essays (2022) by American poet and critic Douglas Crase. It really is a remarkable collection.


The first and last books on your bookcase/shelf.

To my immediate left (eye-level): Batman: White Knight to Namor: Visionaries, Vol. 1 by John Byrne. To my immediate right (eye-level): William Hawkins, The Madman’s War and Anna Gurton-Wachter’s Utopia Pipe Dream Memory (2019). Various issues of Brick: A Literary Journal, FENCE magazine, The Capilano Review.


A book you have read more than once.

There are plenty of those! More often, it is authors I reread over specific, individual titles. Books by George Bowering, Rosmarie Waldrop, John Newlove, Pattie McCarthy, Susan Howe, Robert Kroetsch, bpNichol. Timothy Findley’s Stones (1988). Stan Dragland’s Journeys Through Bookland and Other Passages (1984). Sarah Manguso’s Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape (2007). Joshua Beckman’s Three Talks (2018). Read and read and re-read. This can be pronounced in present or past-tense, simultaneously. Reed and re-reed, red and re-red.



Wednesday 6 July 2022

Diana Rosen

Diana Rosen is an essayist, poet, and flash writer with credits in journals from the U.S., U.K., Australia, India, and Canada. Her first full-length book of poems and flash, "High Stakes & Expectations”, was released in 2022 by She lives in Los Angeles where she works as a content provider for all things tea, and has published 13 nonfiction books. To read her work, please visit

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’m apparently a follower of tsunduko, the Japanese concept of collecting piles of books you may, or may not, ever read. But I will! That’s why there are piles from foraging thrift stores, piles of books reserved from the local library, and way too many bought online and in stores.

Nonetheless, I persevere, always dipping into several at once. Right now it’s Jill Bialosky’s riveting autobiographic book of poems, “Asylum” that is both poignant and astonishing in their intimacy; “Practically Vegan” by Nisha Melvani for total inspiration although I still eat animal protein on occasion, and “Sidewalking” by David L. Ulin, a look at his personal walks around that most un-walkable of cities, Los Angeles, where I live. Teetering on the piles are other memoirs, books on writing, and a novel or mystery.

A book you loved reading at a child.

ALL the delights of Ludwig Bemelmans but, in particular, the series of Madeline (my role model), and Babar just because it was so bizarre to read of a talking elephant.

A book you have given as a gift / recommended to a friend.

Not everyone I know is into poetry as I am, but all my friends cook and love to eat, so Nicole Gulotta’s “Eat This Poem” is a fun way to introduce this literary feast.

A book you have read more than once.

I never re-read novels, but do dip back into books of short stories and poems. One book that answers this question and those on one underrated and a book of personal resonance is Gina Berriault’s “Women in Their Beds” which is a masterclass on the short story. 

A book with personal resonance.

“Inheritance” by Dani Shapiro had me making countless notes of quotable lines and references to her quest to determine who her father was after a lifetime devotion to a man who turned out not to be her biological father. Shapiro writes relatively short books and yet there’s so much in them that they’re a testament to concision and Elmore Leonard’s admonition to “leave out the stuff people skip over” …This book, in particular, answers both the philosophical and fact-based questions of “who am I?” that Shapiro asks and her concerns about her identity as a Jew particularly resonated with me. I also envied her Aunt Shirley, a woman every family should have for her gentle wisdom. 


After a lengthy hiatus, originally due to long Covid, I'm restarting the Fill Your Books! interview series.

If you want to be considered for an interview, drop me a line at colonyink [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk (especially if you have a new product/event to promote). I'll send you ten questions, you pick whichever five you want to answer.

Have a look on the blog for the existing interviews to get a taste of what's expected. Happy reading!