Sunday, May 29, 2011

Samanth Ball's Review

Check out fellow blogger, writer, civil servant, and Ottawa resident, Samantha Ball's review of my new books here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Launch of the Bywords Quarterly Journal Saturday, May 28, 2011, 5pm, the Manx Pub, 370 Elgin St

Bywords 7th Annual Cornerstone Fundraiser & Spring Launch
Saturday, May 28, 2011, 5pm, the Manx Pub, 370 Elgin St.
with music by Jesse Cole and poetry by Emily Falvey, Christian McPherson, Rod Pederson and Dimitra Xidous

Cornerstone provides emergency shelter and housing for women. With your help, they will provide the following this year:
about 500 women will be offered safe emergency shelter and the support to start a new life beyond homelessness;
about 200 women will have help to find safe, affordable, permanent housing;
about 8,000 meals will be served;
about 100 women will receive support to move beyond addictions to recovery;
about 20 women will receive training in computer and job preparation skills.
for more info about Cornerstone and the services they provide please go to
In previous years, Bywords has raised $300-$400 in support of Cornerstone. With your help, we can help Cornerstone: $90 feeds one woman for a month.
$50 will provide bus tickets for 25 women to get to doctor and housing appointments.
You will receive a free copy of the spring issue of the Bywords Quarterly Journal with your donation.
We have fantastic music by Jesse Cole; listen to her here:
Jesse performed at our fall 2009 reading but i was in the hospital and missed her, so this will be a treat for me in particular.
The poetry readings will give you a chance to hear out of town, emerging and established poets:
Emily Falvey is a former Ottawa resident, art curator who worked at the Ottawa Art Gallery and is now an independent curator. Her poetry is very visual and collage like. This is a rare reading in Ottawa for Emily.
Christian McPherson has a new poetry collection out The sun has forgotten where I live. his poems are humorous and full of everyday life’s conundrums.
Rod Pederson is the host of the Tree Reading Series, one of Ottawa’s most beloved poetry reading series and the driving force behind the new annual poetry festival VerseFest. His love of poetry shows in his own writing.
Dimitra Xidous is an enthusiast of the duende who writes cosmopolitan and sensual poetry.
[cover photo by John Wenzel]

further info:
Amanda Earl, managing editor, and the Bywords Quarterly Journal
amanda at bywords dot ca

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Review of Joe Ollmann’s “Mid-Life”

“Maybe I shouldn’t be laughing so hard?” This is the thought I had several times during the reading of Joe Ollmann’s extremely funny graphic novel, “Mid-Life.” I’ve always said my goal in life is to reach 80; a lofty one as my father and grandfathers didn’t make it. Last year I turned 40. I’m exactly halfway between birth and death; depicted just like the cartoon oven like dial drawn on the inside cover. As a father with two small children of my own, I could only relate too well to Joe Ollmann’s fictitious cartoon doppelganger John Olsen (who graces the cover of the book wearing an emasculating Petunia Pickle Bottom like diaper bag – just like one I wore for at least four years). John, like his real artist creator, is on his second marriage to a much younger woman and has had a new son who is still in diapers. He has two grown daughters and three cats from his previous marriage.

The scatological opening of “Mid-Life” commences with John Olsen, 40 years old, surrounded by shit, literally and with litter. Dealing with cat feces and dirty diapers, the sleep deprived father who seems to have a mild drinking problem moves back and forth from his day job as a magazine designer to night-time and weekend father of little Sam. In between trying to connect emotionally with his two grown daughters, John ogles young woman like a hungover university student ogles the sausages and bacon at the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. He hates himself for it, but can’t help it. Now already having raised two girls, John barely has the energy for his new son. So to compensate, John often parks himself on the couch to gaze glassy eyed at banal children’s DVDs, one after the next. When he is passed a kid’s promotional video of “Sherri Smalls and her Big Band” he quickly becomes infatuated with the good looking children’s performer (please tell me I’m not the only dad who has Googled Jenn Korbee of Hi5?). Sherri Smalls is the other half of “Mid-Life.” We meet Sherri at a point in her career where she must decide if she really wants to become a professional children’s entertainer (giving up her on-again off-again bad-boy boyfriend, who swills whiskey and smokes like a member of Montly Crue in his monkey suit after the end of each kids’ show) by signing with a big TV studio, ultimately dashing all her hopes of ever becoming a real singer for adults. While Sherri is eating bags of potato chips and drowning her sorrows in red wine, her way of coping with what she views as selling out to the corporate machine, John Olsen has been Googling her name, his obsession with the performer verging dangerously closer to a second divorce.

As the two storylines intersect, the conclusion is an uncomfortable train-wreck that I found myself unable to put down. I loved “Mid-Life.” It reminded me of another comic strip that I’ve been following for close to 20 years now, The Globe & Mail’s “Fisher,” however “Mid-Life” is an R-Rated version of Philip Street’s “Fisher,” as if it had been poured through a Robert Crumb filter. What gets spilled out onto the page is a hilarious and often brutally honest tale of two adults coming to grips with their failed youthful artist ambitions and their desire for something more than just a monthly paycheque. I highly recommend “Mid-Life.”

Christian McPherson (C) 2011.