14. The Mercy Journals — Claudia Casper
15. The Hatred of Poetry — Ben Lerner
week sixteen — 57.1
week seventeen — 43.9
To date: 974 km
I left the house for something other than running and ended up at the Paper Hound bookstore for a poetry reading hosted by Amy De’ath featuring Jeff Derksen, Danielle LaFrance, Juliane Okot Bitek and Tim Atkins, and along with Anne Carson’s behemoth chapbook collection Float and some really fantastic bits and pieces Tim brought from Crater Press I also picked up a cheap copy of The Hatred of Poetry because it was a poetry reading after all. It was also a part of the too short farewell tour for Amy and her partner Sean O’Brien as both prepared to evacuate Vancouver at the end of April. I regret not getting to know both of them better. I knew [of] Amy from publishing her work in The Capilano Review, but I actually met Sean first. He and Amy hosted a lit gathering of sorts one September evening. I remember it well as Colin Smith had just approved the final typesetting and design I’d done for Multiple Bippies and gave to go ahead to send to press. Donato Mancini, CUE Books’ guest editor for the collection, suggested we go celebrate at a friend’s place nearby mine in the West End. Sean answered the door. Donato did his best tidsoptimist impression. A couple years later, and Vancouver’s loss. Such is life.
I’m on the taper according to the schedule and it seems from the people that I follow on Strava that seem to be gearing up for the same event that I am I am the only one. It’s become difficult to trust the training plan but I’m doing my best. And I’ve been trying something new: yoga. Not really yoga. Stretching. I don’t ever stretch but I’ve started so now don’t ever is a lie. I did a Google search for yoga for runners and I found this article 5 Yoga Poses You Should Do After Every Run in Women’s Running and I’m pretty fine with gender neutrality plus I don’t think Utthan Pristhasana knows or cares if between my left and right hip flexors there is lady or dude stuff. Anyway, I like it. It hurts and I am the least flexible but it sure feels good afterwards. I ended my run today near the corner of West Pender and Bute near what will in one week be the finish line of the BMO Marathon. It also feels good. I think I’m ready.
16. Martin John — Anakana Schofield
17. IKMQ — Roger Farr
18. Transmitter and Receiver — Raoul Fernandes
this week — 52.17
to date — 236.98
I’m still not sure if I feel sorry for Martin John or not. The book was great, but I couldn’t come to a conclusion about how I feel about the protagonist, nor could I discern how Schofield wants me to feel about him — not that that really matters. It’s a great book that doesn’t need my endorsement, what with its Giller nomination and the volume of press it’s received. I met Roger soon after I started as the managing editor for The Capilano Review, and by proxy, CUE Books. Our chat that day in TCR’s office turned towards the latest firebombing of New Star Books (an occurrence that has been repeated a half dozen or so times since that conversation, unbelievably without any progress from the VPD). Roger made a joke that the bombing was due to his new manuscript. I still don’t know if he was joking. Regardless, I wanted to read IKMQ (not the manuscript in question; that’s still forthcoming I assume). If I had more ambition I’d like to do a textual analysis centred around the number 64 and its factors, which abound. IKMQ is a great little book, with not-so-subtle anarchistic themes throughout. I first heard Raoul read at a Real Vancouver Writers Series event and I’ve wanted to read his book ever since. I think it was a raffle prize at the event, but I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as the guy that buys RVWS raffle tickets but should just donate my money and not get my hopes up. I never win anything. Then I found a signed copy of Transmitter and Receiver at Russell Books in Victoria. Win!
I really don’t win anything at all ever. So I don’t really have my hopes up for the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon that I entered that’s coming up in May. I’ve no doubt I’ll finish, so I guess technically that means I’ll place, but win? The thought never even crossed my mind. I’m a member (sounds so prestigious) of Flying Blue so I’m often tempted by deals emailed to me from KLM and Air France. Then one day I received an email from Air France, one of the BMO Vancouver sponsors, inviting me to enter to win a “Platinum VIP” entry in the event, so I entered, and I won. I’m still not quite sure what that means, except that my entry fee is getting refunded and I get to crash some VIP tent at the finish line. Perhaps there will be beer. I did notice a distinct lack of beer sponsorship for the event. Seems like a miss to me. Sober February will be a distant memory by then, I’m sure.
13. Airborne Photo — Clint Burnham
14. Open Text: Vol. 1 — Ed. Roger Farr
15. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner — Alan Sillitoe
this week — 24.91
to date — 184.81
I was in MacLeod’s Books the other day and came across a signed copy of Clint Burnham’s Airborne Photo that I picked up for $8 or something. I can’t quite remember what I paid. This particular copy is signed with a personal note to Renee, whom Burnham also thanks in the acknowledgements. They’re on a first name basis, obviously. Also obviously because in the Thank Yous he’s circled Renee but he doesn’t acknowledge her last name, neither in the acknowledgements nor the note. He also took the time to correct a typo on page 135, changing “her” to “him”. At least I think it’s a typo. I liked this collection of short stories. More like vignettes. Almost Twitter length. I miss @Prof_Clinty on Twitter. I don’t know what happened there, but I’m sure there’s a [short] story involved. The first of the three volumes from the Open Text series is another from the CUE Books archives that I’ve finally gotten around to reading. It has some really great stuff in it, especially the poems from Maxine Gadd and George Bowering. I think my favourite contribution is from Donato Mancini. The book is out of print now, so if you find a copy I’m sure it’s worth at least its cover price. I suppose that it was only a matter of time before I started reading about running, and what better place to start than with Sillitoe’s novella The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a novella by definition, but the one that I’ve adopted for myself is “a short story with chapters”. So there it is. I suppose that a book that came out in 1959 doesn’t really deserve a spoiler alert. I don’t generally consider myself to be competitive but every once in a while it seems to come out. Hence, without giving too much away, Smith kind of irked me at the end. Alas. I did thoroughly relate to the notion of using running as an emotional escape, though I don’t know that I really think of running as escapism. Not anymore at least.
I didn’t run much this past week and for no really good reason either. I can blame the weather and the fact that I went away to Victoria for the weekend, but neither is an excuse worth anything. Not running while in Victoria seems especially excuseless, especially since I was staying mere steps from Dallas/Crescent/Beach/Road/Drive. And as I’ve mentioned previously, I like to run in poor weather, not least for the lack of other people to get in the way. On Sunday evening I ran my left-turn route — down to Beach Avenue then over the Burrard Bridge and around Science World then back home. It was dusk-getting-dark and a bit drizzly and I saw zero other runners the entire route. I was drafted for a kilometre or so by a swervy cyclist smoking a joint, though, which was a bit spooky through the secluded stretch between Granville Island and Spruce Harbour Marina. Is it swervy or swervey? I often wonder about my safety when I’m out running after dark. Cars are the least of my concerns for the most part; people are far more unpredictable. I know that if it came down to fight or flight I’m pretty much screwed either way. I mean I’m already flighting. How much more flighting can I do? And fight? Nah. Let’s be honest, I’m not much of a fighter and I’m already mostly exhausted from all the flighting. I’d probably just turtle, though tortoise seems more fitting.
9. A Sport and a Pastime — James Salter
10. Poetryworld — Louis Cabri
this week — 28.61
to date — 120.64
A sport? I must have missed something. I kind of get the pastime part. Maybe there’s some baseball metaphor at work that I completely missed. Sounds like a job for George Bowering…. Anyway, I thought this book was alright although I found the narrator rather curious. He’s a character in the story, obviously, but he’s rather shady it seems. Not trustworthy to say the least. But strangest is that he seems to be around directly observing an awful lot of the arc of Dean and Anne-Marie’s relationship. Impossibly so. It reminds me of when people claim the Bible stories of Jesus are definitely all totally true because they’re from eye-witness accounts, including events that happen without anyone around to eye-witness them. He sweat blood? Really? You watched him and Satan hang out in the desert? Sure you did. Seriously, the amount of time that narratorwhatshisname spends watching Dean and Anne-Marie have sex…there’s a lot of sex. With an audience. Wait, am I also the audience? So, anyway, Poetryworld, another from the CUE Books archives that I’ve failed until now to read. And I should have gotten to it sooner because I loved Posh Lust and Louis Cabri is one of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Poetryworld hurts my head, like a long series of tongue-twisters for my brain. I enjoyed this collection a lot. Worth picking up a copy, and I know where you can get one.
My physiotherapist suggested that I try the Strava app to go with my Fitbit so I did a few runs and I’m confused. The thing on my wrist tracks what I’m doing and then it syncs with the Fitbit dashboard and Strava syncs with the Fitbit dashboard and the two take the same data and come up with remarkably different results. The distances are often close, but you’d think they’d be exactly the same, no? The times and splits, close. The calories burned, well, not close at all. And that’s fine because I assume that they’re both just guessing, really. But the information going into both apps is the same information from the same source. The only thing that I can think of is that the Fitbit dashboard is lying to Strava, but that doesn’t make much sense because Strava tends to be a bit more generous on the time tracking. And waaay more generous on the calories burned. I used to pay more attention to that caloric burn, because I would think that if nothing else I’d earned enough metabolical reserve for that post-gin-and-tonic bottle of wine. Doesn’t matter much, what with currently doing–and killing at, I might add–sober February. But if I start doing hot yoga, someone just put me out of my misery.