A Quiet, Bashful Man: remembering Malcolm
182 pages of anthology & historical footnote to New Brunswick history—with artists, photographers, the 2005
ABcp Malcolm Memorial Literary Competition authors, family & friends, & some flakes from Malcolm’s own writing.
Astrid Brunner [introduction: courting the shadows: a dusting of words for Malcolm]
This book is a celebration of one of Atlantic Canada's quietly erudite men about town, who, suddenly and much too early, went into the shadows. Malcolm (Mac) Somerville loved, and worked for, the fringes of literature and music. The texts and art works—and memories by his family and friends—are originals, varied and often personal, and a tribute to Malcolm’s New Brunswick & Atlantic Canada.
[for more, go to the MALCOLM page of this site—the page will remain active till September 13, 2007]
"The Trans-Canada Highway—180 miles of it in front of me. That much reviled ribbon of asphalt that transverses New Brunswick. The highway that allowed unlimited access, followed property lines of old farms, and almost invariably employed curved, 19th-century approaches to 20th-century bridges. The highway that was virtually empty from midnight to 6:00a.m. There was just me, and the occasional intra-regional freight truck. Everyone else was asleep—farmers, villagers and long-distance truckers alike. This was the highway to which I would entrust myself and 4111 for the next 10 or 12 hours. And at this time of night, I would lift my foot from the accelerator only to negotiate a half dozen curves, the bridges at Hartland, Florenceville and Grand Falls, and for the left-turn exit at Edmundston. The whole road was mine—and I used it.” [from “She Was Mine,” by Malcolm Somerville, in
A Quiet, Bashful Man: remembering Malcolm, pp.101-103]
Relics for an Open Vault
Poems by Jason Holt
Astrid Brunner [publisher’s preface: a very modest proposal on dichtung
Liane Heller [exegetical introduction: essaying the vault: on the poetry of Jason Holt]
There are 104 new poems in this fourth book of poetry by Jason Holt, with a 47-page scholarly assessment of Holt's poetic work to-date by Liane Heller.
“[…] surrender to love’s terrible, exquisite abandonment. Alone, in his ‘father’s trench,’ the petals of his mouth contracting and expanding with the knowledge that an infinity of openheartedness will not open the silence to a coming beloved, he, nevertheless, being true poet, would enmesh the garment of the burrow, the cave, the womb and the tomb alike….” [from Liane Heller’s introduction,
Essaying the Vault, in Relics for an Open Vault, p. XXVI]
Critical comment on the poems & novels of Jason Holt:
"Stark, beautiful poems that sing and singe..."
"Cerebrally seductive..." [Globe and Mail]
"Intelligent and irreverent...with a supple and assured music..."[Books in Canada]
A Hair's Breadth of Abandon
Poems by Jason Holt
George Elliott Clarke [foreword]
70 poems in Jason Holt's third book of poetry. An unusual hi-digital
design and traditional-print fusion, by Montreal artist and designer Martha
Moore, & Kentville NS's Gasperau Press. This book is 1/3 of ABcp's
2003 'redendpaper trilogy.'
the grey streets arranged
the yellow awning off
my vodka rocks
in need of some replenishment
the coat become unstylish
ripped in brief amusement
beautiful my sun
to other projects calming gone
beautiful my storm
a lapsing rage pedestrian
beautiful my night
the night that teases absolute
with maglite stars”
©2002 Jason Holt
...here's a poet who dares to scrutinize every word and to utilize new words, strange words, and foreign words.... For Holt, the word is paramount, opulent, and insolent."
[from Governor General Award winning poet & scholar George Elliott Clarke's foreword, in
A Hair’s Breadth of Abandon, p. II]
Poems and photographs by Liane Heller and George Steeves
Astrid Brunner [introduction: apologia castigabilis].
82 pages of poetry, 10 black & white photographs. Exposures is a
collaboration of visual and verbal artist that ranks with the best of the
'creative conjugality tradition' in North America and Europe. This book is
2/3 of ABcp's 2003 'redendpaper trilogy.'
“& I thought:
the mirror like the camera—
the camera like the mirror,
heart at the tip of my tongue—
don’t know if I caressed my mirror mouth
with it, but I wanted to, and to touch
the slow & steady pulse between my mirror thighs.
to swim in those eyes, dive down the curve
of that breast, curve round the swell of that belly.
everything I saw was beautiful.
there was no flaw in me.
as I was born to love was I then.
©2002©2003 Liane Heller
[from What I Saw In The Mirror, in Exposures, p. 20]
"The love epic that is Exposures sees love as a dialectic without synthesis, of slaughterer and slaughtered, as a tale of blood as a wilful juice, a screaming and uncanny substance, an untidy thing of passion as both flame and suffering—as flesh on butchery
blocks disguised as altars." [from the publisher's Introduction: apologia castigabilis, in
Exposures, p. VII]
On the Night the Flowers Caught Fire: poems and otherwise words
by Astrid Brunner
68 aphoristic mordant-to-lyrical morality poems, and a nine-page allegory
for painter Carol Fraser. This book is 3/3 of ABcp's 2003 'redendpaper
there is blood down the road
and a deep fear, and glass-
sheets of embered grief.
not surprising when the first
who comes to you out of burning
Troy, is a man without his head.
it is true, then, what they say:
that it always ever takes just one
morning, or morning after
change the world, in the name of
the next preliminary forever.”
©2003 Astrid Brunner
Critical comments on earlier work:
"As darkly lyrical as anything in Gwendolyn MacEwen or Sylvia Plath... the puns recall Gertrude Stein...." [Sunday Herald Halifax]
"...courageous journey through pain to salvation, difficult, lyrical, rewarding." [Beacon Herald Stratford]
"...each word is weighed, the naked word as well as the veiled and allusive." [Glarner Nachrichten-Sűdostschweiz, Switzerland]
Wind, Frost and Fire
Poems by Marguerite Guzman Bouvard
Scholar, educator, human rights activist Dr. Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard's
fifth book of poetry. Some of the poems collected here have appeared in journals first, i.a. in the
Radcliffe Quarterly, the
Bloomsbury Review, the Women's Review of Books, and in Santa Fé Broadside. Bouvard’s multilingual & well-travelled world
reflects in this 70-page collection of poems as intensely personal reminiscence as well as compassion for
la condition humaine.
“After the Storm
Someone said it was Mother Earth speaking,
the Hopi prophecy unfolding as if
She breathed in her own white light
and breathed us out, expelling the smoke stacks
and toxic dumps, the car parks and the malls,
as if She stunned us with her anger,
and we—who rush through our days
without stopping to praise her,
who cannot see beyond the skylines of concrete
and steel, who pass the huddled shapes
in doorways and heating vents, invisible
to each other—will vanish in our tracks.”
©2001 Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard
Critical comment on the poetic & scholarly work of Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard:
Her awareness of marginal people of every culture arouses our sympathies and truly marries us to the world." [Maxine Kumin]
Against silence, Marguerite Bouvard historicizes a violent world in which characters emerge as tragic-heroic struggling 'to be wounded yet whole'." [Roblin Becker]
Mimosen: die grossen Leiden des Alten S.
Short stories by Astrid Brunner Licht
180 pages of autobiographical short story sketches in German. One of ABcp's European collaborations. The overall story tells
of Brunner [Licht]'s bureaucratically, and foster-parentally impeded probe into getting the truth about her parents and
Swiss adoption. English speaking readers should go to Lies: the Old Man in the Mountains, which is the English draft for
Mimosen: die grossen Leiden des Alten S.
“Ich sehe am Turmes-Innern, den mächtigen Mauern entlang, hoch, und höher, und immer noch höher, und ich sehe nichts, immer und immer wieder sehe ich nichts, soll ich es Gott nennen, soll ich es Teufel taufen, das Buch mit den Sieben Siegeln, und schon verlieren sich auch diese Gedanken im Nichts, weit űber uns, dem Alten S. und mir. Dann kommt die Johanna der Schlachthöfe
hergeritten, auf weissem Pferd, im weissen Hochzeitskleid, wűsst ich wo, auf allen meinen Reisen, es verloren gegangen; statt dessen zűngeln die Flammen um mein Haar, und die Erde unter meinen Fűssen wird zu Asche, die Stimme des Alten S. zum Geläut des Henkersglöckchens.“ [aus „Der alte Kirchturm zu Linthal,“ ©2000Astrid Brunner (Licht), in
Mimosen: die grossen Leiden des Alten S., pp. 100-101]
Astrid Brunner (Licht)’s schriftstellerisches Werk rezensiert:
“Tief gelebt, zwingend…” [Halifax Herald-The Mail Star]
“Mutige Pilgerfahrt durch Schmerz zur Erlösung, schwierig, lyrisch, bereichernd... [Stratford Beacon-Herald]
"Vom Schweizer Bergtal zum kanadischen See-Ufer… immer verleiht Brunner (Licht) ihrem Werk einen allgemeingűltigen Ton.” [Atlantic Books Today]
“[Hier] wiegt jedes Wort, das unverhűllte, wie auch das andeutungsweise...“. [Glarner Nachrichten-Sűdostschweiz]
With Love from Butch: a Stratford actor
Biography by Audrey M. Ashley
Richard Monette [preface]; Astrid Brunner[prelude]; Tony van Bridge [postlude].
A 246-page, profusely illustrated & documented biography of Shakespearean character actor, Mervyn (Butch) Blake. The book contains ‘Butch’s War Album’ [pp. 41-66], & ‘Butch’s Make-up Album’ [pp. 155-170]; the two albums visually document the two most compelling, & opposite, worlds in Butch’s life—the horrifying task of cleaning up Bergen Belsen at the conclusion of WWII at one end, & the beautiful & fulfilling role of playing on both Stratford Festival & other stages in all of Shakespeare’s plays at the other. The life in between is told in a style richly furnished with anecdotes, both theatrical & every day. Butch was not only a character actor, he was also a much cherished character in and around Sebringville, near his beloved Stratford Festival of Canada.
On the day of the book launching of With Love From Butch: a Stratford actor, the main lobby of the Festival Theatre in Stratford was packed: vintage actor William Hutt proposed the toast, artistic director Richard Monette, festival founder Tom Patterson, & playwright & novelist Timothy Findley, were among many to celebrate Butch and his amazing life and times.
As in any production—be it play or book—there are stars in the ‘noises off’ part of the theatre; one of these in the Butch book production was Pete Stafford of Cambridge Pen & Design in Fredericton NB, who cajoled, rushed, phoned, rushed some more, to get the books to Stratford on time. Just. It was only later that we noticed that the title and half title pages were missing and the spine was a bit tight—which explained what at the time we marveled at, namely, why Butch kept signing his book on the frontispiece photograph of him as Dogberry. Well, another collector's item.
The launching of With Love From Butch: a Stratford actor, in the Festival Theatre lobby in Canada’s Stratford turned out to be Butch's last performance in the place where he had played in every Shakespeare play.
[for more, please link to www.stratfordfestival.ca, click shopping &
books, or peruse the Stratford Festival's Visitors' Guide 2007 pp. 107 & 109]
WHEN IN STRATFORD GET YOUR "BUTCH" BOOK IN PERSON AT FANFARE BOOKS ON ONTARIO STREET.
FANFARE BOOKS IS THE EXCLUSIVE RETAILER OF "WITH LOVE FROM BUTCH" DURING RICHARD MONETTE'S 2007 FINAL SEASON.
"In the 64 years of his professional career... he has seen theatrical fashions come and go, and has worked with everyone from Laurence Olivier to Alec Guinness. Because of this lifetime of experience in the theatre, he brings to our company not only his extraordinarily varied talents but also an invaluable kind of artistic race memory: a sense of tradition, of continuity, of kinship with the great actors of the present and the past. He truly is a man of the theatre." [from ©Richard Monette’s Preface, in With Love From Butch: a Stratford actor, p. vii]
"I have known Butch so long that I have to think a bit before I can remember that his real name was Mervyn
[…] Butch and I are not really alike. And yet we have lived, quite
accidentally, it seems, parallel lives. We remain friends as always, and I
find myself constantly telling those famous stories of how Butch has the
habit of always running into people he has met before. Or, perhaps it is
that people run into Butch, half way up Norwegian mountains, in Moscow at
Lenin’s tomb, or on the high seas […] I have come to the conclusion that
what people remember is that eager, enthusiastic greeting Butch gives to one
and all. He gives the impression that you are the very person he has been
waiting to see. I know that I always look forward to seeing him. He is part
of my life […] And that is another thing: I have known many youngsters in
the theatre, who have been eager to listen to him, and to learn from
him.—And anybody who can do that and play Cricket and Golf and Gloucester in
King Lear…is a miracle to be cherished.” [from ©Tony van Bridge’s Postlude,
in With Love From Butch: a Stratford actor, pp. 216-218]
A Winter in the Life of Bundles Mustardseed*
Short stories and odes in prose
by Norval Balch
*in short supply
Price: N/A—reprint projected
76 pages & a fold-out map of paw- & boot-prints on frozen French Lake in New Brunswick, in the winter of 1994/95, tell the story
of Golden Retriever puppy Bundles Mustardseed’s first winter. Norval’s father had just died, & his mother wanted to live her
remaining years out at ‘the Camp’ by the lake. This met Norval’s desire to leave behind the city & set up as a country squire
more than half way. Before building their solar house next spring, author, mother & puppy, lived their first winter at ‘the Camp’
in the woods, carrying logs to keep the wood stove & chimney going, and water, to furnish the rest. This collection of epistolary
odes in prose were originally faxed, attention ABcp publisher, to the mailing room at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St.
John’s. A Winter in the Life of Bundles Mustardseed is described by the author as “daily tales of the first few months in the life
of a Golden Retriever puppy, Bundles Mustardseed, as he explored the wintry paths through the forest at the edge of a New Brunswick
lake & showed that world to his attentive chronicler.”
“Would that you could watch this pebble-nosed soul sleep, on his back. His furry slow-pulsing chest to the heavens. Hind legs
splayed that would make a lady blush. Dark dry foot pads pushed against the weighting air. Forelegs thrust up loose, then bent.
Head tilted back, vulnerable to the sky’s knife. Long fox-like face with an angel’s grin. Small sharp incisors showing white each
side of a touch of pink tongue. Closed eyes thin dark slits in his warm fur. He floats through sleep’s firmament. Stretches.
Shifts. Swings his forelegs up. Sighs roughly. Then tacking into the wind of his dreams, sails on. This beautiful fellow creature
is so surely rocked, trusting, in the arms of morpheus. Please god, no harm to him.” [from A Winter in the Life of Bundles
Mustardseed, p. 45]
Lies: the Old Man in the Mountains*
Short stories by Astrid Brunner Licht
*in short supply
80 pages of short stories and a ‘Mary Magdalene Suite.’ This is an earlier version in English of the later and expanded German book,
Mimosen: die grossen Leiden des Alten S. Both books are about taking on the kind of displacement that comes from being born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, & to the wrong sort of people.
Lies: the Old Man in the Mountains is dedicated to the author's half-brother, who died before they met, their only intimacy a beautiful
voice on the overseas phone line, on the occasion of their mother Elsa’s funeral, & a photograph of a kind and handsome young man: "In
memoriam brother Kurt Haag who died at age 37 in December 1999 in Freiburg im Breisgau, one more of Elsa our Mother the Victim's victims,
condemned by indirections to find the grave directions out."
[for more on Mimosen: die grossen Leiden des Alten S. & Lies: the Old Man in the Mountains,
check out www.buch.gl, or enquire by email at
“Meantime they erect what they think is our house of sin, our brothel and Tower of Bliss, Old Stuessi’s guisha hangout. […]
What is really being erected here is the law of diminishing returns, with some cupboards full of wine, a ghost before the play is
ended, a mockery, a workmen’s attempt at a courtly stoop, a virus with certain but unseen effects of malice and turbidity, a priory
for an addle-haired, worldly dignitary fit only for the Council of Nicea. No living in bloated magnificence, cupicence, or the rest,
no platoons of servants, no peculiarly strident mandarines managing the high and the low and the in between. […] When the erection
is erected, it serves for the evaluation of pumps and sealed hoses to be written up by the old man in a daily obituary, a
pseudo-historical monograph of the most local kind, good at best for contemplating the vertical distribution of the smallness
of the soul. […] How that old kow-towing hypocrite thrilled me till he almost killed me, how he captured the raptures of days
now gone.” [from “Erection In Wood And Concrete,” in Lies: The Old Man in the Mountains, pp. 31-33]
Memos to No One*
Poems by Jason Holt
*in short supply to N/A
72 new poems from the author of Feeling Fine in Kafka’s Burrow.
“you should stop me from this step
into not even madness
it’s enough to make your eyes
big with fear as mine with fire
clipped out like a zippo
in the lamplighted alley
of winking rain and sackcloth
for the chill of irregular stars
the notes of something
aching hard to be a symphony
and laughter god the laughter
from all directions at me
like barbhooks like a verdict
of backturned apologies
that take away my face in shreds
and leave the mask beneath it”
©1999 Jason Holt, from MEMOS to NO ONE, p. 60
critical commentary & reflections on the poems of Jason Holt:
"Dazzlingly eclectic in his dismantling of language" [Books in Canada]
"Watch out for this guy" [Atlantic Books Today]
"The poet's mission to explore the all-personal I... necessitates a muscular and compact syntax and rhythm.... Memos represents a
drastic, and defining, shift in prosody: the stanzas vanish, never to return; all but the I fold into the lowercase; metre shifts
from largely blank verse to sharply punctuated ascendents and descendents, dactylic, trochaic, and newly iambic; and vivid language
intensifies against a steely context of unsparing self-scrutiny...." [from Liane Heller's "Essaying the Vault" introduction to Jason
Holt's fourth book of poetry, Relics for an Open Vault, 2005:XX].
RawSilk SoieÉcrue RohSeide
Poems by Astrid Brunner
Diane Fontaine[lectrice du texte français]; George Steeves[photo tryptich]
Price: $23.95—smythe-sewn/pbk/full french flaps
Part of the
AB collector publishing's chapbook series, this 257-page book is yet one of our most elegant productions. Poems and biographical prose are in English, German, and French. All texts are thematically related but not literally translated.
This Swiss/Canadian production is described by the Swiss promotion press under the title
Heimat und Heimatlos: “’I loved my homeland ever more than it loved me', said poet Astrid Brunner once. Here,
hand in hand with Canadian photographer George Steeves, Brunner draws vignettes of her life story in the form of laconic,
associative poems. Here nothing is impossible and everything true to this day: love, homeland, family, rape, motherhood, guilt and
innocence, lies, exile and, ever-present as a comfort, the mountains. Brunner uses the rich background of Shakespeare, mythology,
and the Bible, that as an academic she has made her own. The poems in this book may, however, also be read as simple road signs of
The poems may also intrigue as an alphabetical cryptogram in the shape of the letter 'W' for 'Woman', with the last 'W' missing its lower-left to upper-right diagonal: from 'Aphrodite' to 'Zachanassian' to 'Aspasia' to 'Zoar' to 'Abraham' to 'Zeno' to 'Aegaeus' to 'Zeus' to 'Angebleu,’ there is here to no one conclusion, as woman’s story is always sphinx & unfinished.
ich hatte viele, doch weiss ich
keine mehr, ich rastlos scheue Magd, die
ich wohl verwűnscht sein mag, und
harret mir kein reiner Tor, nur der Fluch
der euch stark gemacht, Heimatlos
ist meine Mutter, die seinige
Herzeleid, beide so
Ruhe in den welken Blättern des Waldes
liegend, ihr Blätter, seid mir Gott, und
ich versprech’ es blau zu tragen,
wie seine Mutter deren Sohnes
Fűsse ich wusch mit
Haar, den ich nun suche von Welt
zu Welt, während mir Sűnder
in die Arme sinken, Ritter
und Knappen ohne
la lune soit c’qu’elle soit
au-dessus de mon île magique
ou qu’elle décroisse
qu’elle soit gibbeuse
ou qu’elle soit dans son plein
je planterai les ravages de guerre
dans ses entrailles
il faut peupler mon île magique
aves des Calibans
pour faire l’éloge
de la musique
Last full moon
I dumped my father’s coffin
at the crossroads
his moral measure wasn’t right
the nails were wrong, too
besides, he will now have to
join those women he turned
into whores and witches
I hope he enjoys his nocturnal flights
down to Hell and back and
back to Hell again
on his broomstick.
I hope he doesn’t have an accident,
for there’s a lot of traffic at the crossroads
and no traffic lights
and I’d be sorry to see
this particular nocturne
come to a premature close.”
©1995©1998 Astrid Brunner
[from RawSilk SoieÉcrue RohSeide, pp. 64, 55 & 213]
Critical commentary: "...a masterpiece that puts many other books to shame." [George Elliott Clarke, The Halifax Sunday Herald].
The Dog that Wasn't:
der Hund der keiner war*
Short stories. 80-page anthology in English & German, with author biographies, index & linguistic glossary. A pioneer learning project by Pro Senectute Glarus, Switzerland.
Margrit Brunner[Foreword/Vorwort]; Julie Suter-Fetz[Instead of a Foreword: the little girl who wouldn’t talk/das kleine Mädchen das nicht sprechen wollte]; Astrid Brunner[project initiator, instructor, editor, translations supervisor].
Authors/students: Delma Aebli, Heidi Blesi-Leuthold, Dorli Blumer, Renate Boos, Ruth Gabriel-Bracher, Dora Jenny, Gertraude Klingebiel, Magdalena Pfeiffer, Carolina Schlittler, Julie Suter-Fetz, Elisabeth Thomann-Arbenz, Irene Zimmermann.
*in short supply
Price: Price: N/A—[for more on The Dog that Wasn’t:der Hund der keiner war, check out www.pro-senectute.ch, or enquire by email at
"But we don't have any stories," they said.
"Everyone has stories," I said.
"But our English isn't good enough," they said, "we'll look foolish."
"That's rather the idea, isn't it?," I said.
Only three months later we had a groundbreaking class room book that became a classic for ‘English for Seniors’ classes in
Switzerland, within the framework of the Swiss Pro Senectute movement. Diffidents and skeptics soon learned that they had
wonderful stories, that they could write them in English without looking foolish, and that what they didn't know in English,
lent itself to classroom fun in German. The book is in English and German, with individual biographies, all of them unique, some
touching; an index; a Fowlerish glossary; and space for notes […] Der Hund der keiner war/The Dog that Wasn’t was launched to a
crowd-packed Bahnhof-Buffet [the kind of railway restaurant that used to be as Swiss as apple-pie is germane to North- Americans],
with musical sketches and author readings, VIP speeches, and the newspaper press. The course was a one-teacher-three-classes
experiment; it now runs with four regular teachers and a corresponding number of classes on all levels.
"’To be old is a wonderful thing, if one has not forgotten what it means to begin again.—Martin Buber’ […] Take... a group of
active seniors who want to learn a new language, or to deepen something they have once learned; and take an enthusiastic teacher
with initiative: you're holding the result in your hands. A work book that the classes have created themselves— courageously in
English too—and that comes from the midst of life and learning." [Margrit Brunner].
3817: gender evocations*
Texts and poems. 80-page student anthology, with author biographies & references. A class room project, in part supported by the
Women Studies & English Departments of Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland. Astrid Brunner[instructor, editor].
Authors/students [in order of appearance]: Willeen Keough, Kristine Power, JoAnne Soper-Cook, Teena R. Thorne, “Minouche,” Jennifer
Carey, Ray Roddick, “Dull Greta,” Yasmine N. Dannaway, Heather Kerr, Andrea White, Lori Bishop, Denise M. Owen, Debbie Gillard,
Kelly Brennan, Sara Dunderdale, Rhona Buchan, Jennifer Walsh, Astrid Brunner.
*in short supply
Price: N/A—[for more on 3817:gender evocations, please explore www.mun.ca]
After the book launching, several authors were invited to read their works on a St. John’s CBC radio broadcast. One of the
project's senior students, JoAnne Soper-Cook, is now an established novelist, most recently with Goose Lane Editions in Fredericton
“poem for a post-feminist age
to this bed of tradition.
shackled by your demands
and every mental slap…
YOU LIKE IT...HUH?
i’m tired and torn
by these assaults
on this body
i’m pouring your drink
my apron binding
my silicone breasts.
high heels teetering
rhyming out rebellion
as I edge
toward the kitchen sink.
to the phases
of the wholly
©1995 Andrea White, in 3817:gender evocations, p. 33
Gunner Schmidt at the Crossroads
180 pages of autobiographical drama & 24 original full page charcoal illustrations of ‘the advance to Rimini’ toward the conclusion of WWII by
With b&w photographs, documentary facsimiles, notes & three b&w reproductions of paintings by the author. Astrid Brunner [publisher's note, translations]; Duncan Fraser [preface].
Price: $21.95—smythe-sewn/pbk/full french flaps
Robert Dietz was a wounded, generous, difficult man. He promoted, idiosyncratically, what he believed in, and irritably refuted what
he thought ‘schtupid.’ He was magnanimous, but he could stab you in the back, too. He loved young people for their potential, he
disdained what was established and no longer easily moved.
In March, 1993, I invited him to lecture before a class of about 200 students at Dalhousie University in Halifax; it was one of
those 'Writing Across the Curriculum' colossal compulsories, which some universities saw as a remedy to student illiteracy.
Ultimately, such classes were a punishment to everyone, but they had the potential to be turned into something imaginative and
passionate if one tried: having Dietz give a sound- and visual-underscored lecture was a bit like putting on Shakespeare behind the
Student commentary on the author & his world:
"As much as I have read about Nazi concentration camps, Hitler's brutality... and the war in general, I had never felt the impact
of these actions personally. I regret that it took a man of great courage and strength to illustrate to me the impact of the war
by being choked up and sobbing during the final few minutes of his lecture. It was then that the experiences I read about during
my high school years had more meaning than a tragic story in a history text book." [Laurie Whidden]
"...what he wanted to say all evening was that hearts as well as people died in the war." [Andrea Bonomo]
Author and artist Dietz could not have wished for better, for living history for schools is what he had in mind. This book was
partly funded by the then Nova Scotia Department of Education. Gunner Schmidt at the Crossroads yet awaits dramatic representation
on stage or film. Reprinting, translation, performance & all other rights rest with the publisher & may be obtained in writing.
Feeling Fine in Kafka's Burrow
Poems by Jason Holt
Price: $23.95—smythe-sewn/pbk/full French flaps/printed on finest paper & exquisitely bound
Jason Holt's first book of poetry. Eleven years later, Liane Heller asks of Holt's first 70 published poems: "How dare a very
young, healthy, brilliant person, rather introspective, it's true... use as the major theme in his first book of poems the
gut-wrenching, heart-searing creation of a man in what should be the prime of his creative life...?" [from her introduction to
Jason Holt's fourth book of poetry, Relics for an Open Vault, 2005:XI].
“it is like black tarpaper
to the feet of a mayfly
that feels fine in Kafka’s burrow
only when certain foreheads
are bloody with urgent business
these tears smear thoughts into words
and every tired smudge is a fingerprint
a birthmarked shred of evidence
in a continent leather dossier
compiled at the chancellor’s request
elegance is a popular gossip
of nubile circles and concentric stains
that mark the wash of nausea
while obtuse Picasso instruments
display Meursault in public prelude”
©1994 Jason Holt, in Feeling Fine in Kafka’s Burrow, p. 9
93 pages of poems and prose dicht-ungen
by Norval Balch
Astrid Brunner [German translations]
Hardcover price: $29.95—sewn, cloth-bound, Zapf Renaissance type on finest paper, cover & frontispiece based on a potographic portrait by George Steeves, red fabric book-mark
Price slip-cased collector’s edition: $34.95
Exquisitely designed, in tandem with Jason Holt’s Feeling Fine in Kafka's Burrow, by Canada's own star designer, Nelson Vigneault of ThinkDesign, Calgary,
LOVE.liebesgedichte. is ABcp's only cloth-bound hardcover book, a limited number of them slip-cased, and now in short
supply. Its blood-red textile cover, exquisite frontispiece, scangraphic digital type collection typeface on softly textured
paper—“this paper does not yield to the temptation of being yellow," francophone M. Vigneault assured the publisher
on the phone in re-assuringly accented English of great charm—are the altar on which this Ode to une grande passion perdue is
here consecrated in celebration.
This is a book for lovers and those who understand them. It is a book of summer night smiles with Ingmar Bergman gossamers.
“[…] his love was simple as his craft, and the craft of his father, they were carpenters. his father made zithers,
and coffins, often for children. he gave them music, and their final resting place…." // “[…] seine Liebe war
ebenso einfach wie seine Berufung, und der Beruf seines Vaters. Beide waren sie Schreiner. Sein Vater baute Zithern, und Särge,
oft fűr Kinder. Er gab ihnen Musik, und ihre endgűltige Ruhestätte...." [from the translator’s notebook / aus den
Notizbűchern der Uebersetzerin, p. 9]
“The Very Madness Of Love
But words are only the palest image of my love
leave most unsaid, intangible
like the rolling breaking of the sea on hidden reef
dark blue torn into plunging foam
then blue again, rolling on.
For, having touched
having calligraphied pages of sea sand
borrowed time from bending seagrass
split the seawind around our souls
can we go back? […]
[excerpt—©1977©1993 Norval Balch, in LOVE.liebesgedichte., p. 82]
“Der Liebe wahrer Wahn
Doch Worte sind nur verblichenste Bilder meiner Liebe
so vieles ungesagt, unsagbar
wie rollendes Wasser sich zerschmetternd
auf verborgenen Felsen
dunkle, blau, zerrissen
in tanzendem tauchendem Schaum.
dann wieder blau
Wir sind uns nahe
haben die meersandenen Papyrusseiten beschrieben
Zeit von sich wendendem Seegras geborgt
den Meerwind um unsere Seelen zersplintert
und sollen wir jetzt umkehren?
Und jetzt, nach unserer Begegnung
nachdem wir Buchseiten
auf den Meersand
nachdem wir unsere Zeit
vom sich biegenden Meergras
nachdem wir den Meerwind
um unsere Seelen
Können wir zurűck?"
[excerpt—©1993 Astrid Brunner translations, in Norval Balch, LOVE.liebesgedichte., pp. 83-85]
Dreams of a Drunken Quaker: two plays and a rant
by Michael Green
Price: $15.95—smythe-sewn/pbk/2/3 french flaps/3 b&w photographs/production & cast notes
90 pages of full-blooded theatre texts by one of Calgary's One Yellow Rabbit Theatre's artistic directors. Author and actor
Green subtitles the book as ‘two plays and a rant.’ The title play, Dreams of a Drunken Quaker, is in
three parts—‘Blackmail House,’; ‘Horsekiller,’; & ‘King Scabbard & I;’
the second play is entitled Naked West, the rant, entitled ‘Yowl,’ Michael performed
to a packed 3rd story at Dalhousie University's Grad House in the summer of 1993, as part of a tour across Canada and Europe.
Michael Green & >One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre are still going strong with their reckless, filmic, physical, psychothrill,
socio-lampooning, operetta comico-seria brand of stage & film work, & of theatre writing. In April 2006, Michael was one of the 10
finalists in the CBC’s Poetry Face-Off.
[for more & the latest, please check out www.oyr.org/ & specifically
“EMMET’S DREAM 2: HORSE BUTCHER
A dream. A tight light on Emmett’s face.
EMMET: The silence of the wood is deep and profound. It is oppressive, the forest primeval. The smell is indescribable, a
rare tang. Here I dismount. I’ve some vague deviltry in mind and Wildfire knows it. He knows I’m a carnivore.
He’s seen me eat meat. He trembles with apprehension. His big eye swivels as I dance, ‘Oh, my stallion, king of
beasts, your saddle is very pretty. I make your head and legs fast to a tree with a long piece of leather strapping. Not a
sound, my mustang.’ The horse lets out a prolonged yell, a miserable, wretched bawling, ‘Don’t kill me!’
a string of pleading yelps and sobs. It makes my hair stand on end. Horse scent comes dashing. A wheeze like a death rattle. I
take a step backward. It is quiet again. I hoist the carcass up into the tree for storage and easy butchering.”
[©1992 Michael Green, from Naked West, in Dreams of a Drunken Quaker, p. 56]
"Jungian archetypes are played out within a pliable constantly changing atmosphere of surrealism... smoothly weaves together
playfully absurd comedy with nightmarish visions of apocalypse and debauchery." [Theatrum].
"Larky orgiastic game of free-associations...." [The Edmonton Journal]
“Think Blackadder processed through The Far Side.” [The Vancouver Province]
“… Dreams of a Drunken Quaker is a quirky, energetic journey into a world of dreams where even nonsense has its own queer
logic.” [The Calgary Herald]
Short stories by Astrid Brunner
Price: $15.95—perfect-bound/pbk/1/3 french flaps
This 71-page collection of short stories is ABcp's pioneer book project, produced in response to the author’s tenure as a 1990
MacLean Hunter Fellow for Arts Journalism at the Banff Centre for the Arts, & realised in collaboration with the Centre’s Leighton
Artist Colony & Communications. The idea of switching from arts journalism & academe, to creative writing & publishing, hit between
the glowering elk out at the Artist Colony, & the gleaning, delightfully taxing, & enterprising editors that headed the 1990
MacLean Hunter Fellowship for Arts Journalism. Thank you, Robert Fulford! Some of the texts in Glass had
appeared in various forms in fringe & leaflet publications, such as Translations, Flying Solo, Colony News,
Passage, & Catachresis. Some experimental flakes also ended up—with the help of writer & opera man,
Morris—as a radio play, Daemonic Woman, for two voices & music, & aired on the Centre’s Radia radio.
Glass eventually served as a catalogue text for photographer
George Steeves’ exhibition, Exile: a Journey with Astrid Brunner, at Galérie Vu,
Québec City, & at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa. In turn, the making of Steeves’
Exile photographs peeled away the inhibitive layers of literary clothing. Years before Exposures &
Relics for an Open Vault, Glass became ABcp’s paradigm for the inspirational antiphony of two artists
[for more, please check out the Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives, & the Leighton Studios for Artists at www.banffcentre.ca]
They had been working all day. They were exhausted.
He put away the lights, the cameras, the backdrops, the props. He was not now troubling himself with the optical precision of
refractive index and dispersion. As always after intense work, the craft of those who made his art possible became remote.
She looked at him. He was absently thoughtful and she smiled. ‘Want another drink?’ She held out dark velvet sherry in an amethyst
handblown glass. Possibly the glass contained oxidized manganese or cuprous oxide.
But the sherry was sweet. The way she preferred.
She kept smiling, remotely trance-like, as she handed him the full glass. She lit a cigarette, white against her red nails.
Nails red against the purple of the glass in her hand. She sipped her sherry and put on the clothes she had worn before the
‘Sand,” she thought. ‘It’s a question of sand.’ She loved sand, and it did not matter that, with glass, sand could mean impurity.
‘Too much iron.’ Playfully, lightly, she recalled the chemistry books. But her passion was analogy. She suspected herself of too
much iron and did not dismiss the implication. Impurity, why not? Was it not the green bottle, she thought, the bottle with the
iron sand, which often held the best wine in its womb? ‘No decolorizing for me,’ she thought. Being a woman exalted her. […]”
[©1991 Astrid Brunner, from Amethyst, in Glass, p. 68]
descriptions & critical commentary:
“Glass is a collection of short fiction born of the fire and ice of World War Two. The stories are dream evocations of lived
reality. Suspended between oblivion and oblivion, the narrative voice becomes GLASS.” [cover]
"Suspended between oblivion and oblivion the characters in this collection of short fiction have GLASS in their souls. Like
magpies they live in a castle of mountain air. There they have stillness and fortitude, gentleness and beauty. There they are
wounded and brilliant...." [cover]
“…a courageous journey through pain to salvation, difficult, lyrical, rewarding.” [Stratford Beacon Herald]
Marlene in Academe. [a razzle for Tom Stoppard]*
by Astrid Brunner [D: and script]
Video: colour, 10 minutes
*in short supply—Price N/A
ABcp’s first & only filmographic production is a prelude to the printed book. Marlene in Academe is a
heady mix of witty & fleshly idioms, which—like Mrs Bennet’s sea-bathing—‘set us up forever.’ It
is also a Stoppardean serio-comical farewell from the breastbinding womb- [though far from brain-] destroying strictures of
academe, & an explorative razzle into Marlene Blue Angel country. Lovely acting by Banff Centre artists & staff, & a side
show at the 11th Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax NS.
©1990 Astrid Brunner / Title: Marlene in Academe / Dedication: from Dr. M. to Tom Stoppard with Love / producer, writer,
director: Astrid Brunner / camera & editing: Vern Hume / production assistant: Adrian van der Voet / props assistant:
Rosalind Shakotko / DR. M: Astrid Brunner / cast for Audience: Peter Andringa, Keni Blaine, Steve Brousseau, Judith Eglington,
Pamela Jennings, William Ritchie / voice over: Michael Green / song: Marlene Dietrich with ‘Lili Marlen’ courtesy collection Reinhart Petersmann / thanks
to: the Leighton Artist Colony & the Centre for Media Arts at The Banff Centre for the Arts.
Dr. M’s Stoppardean texts are in the archives of AB collector publishing & may be excavated for connoisseurs of
human folly at a nominal dreigroschen fee.
[for more, please check out www.banffcentre.ca & www.atlanticfilm.com/]
Copyright © 2006 © 2007 © 2011 AB collector publishing. All rights reserved.