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m a g a z i n e

S pecial  P review

j oh n wing junior

salvo !                       We kick off our new issue with the exciting and hilarious John Wing Jr. The Sarnia-born comedian and poet is fresh from the stage of America’s Got Talent and back with new poems, new co-conspirators, and a new book on the horizon. All the details (plus an exclusive sneak peek at the book) are here!

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The mandate hasn’t changed; we still strive to bring fresh writing and visuals from names you know and names you must learn. To go with our special John Wing feature, it seemed compulsory to select some more fantastic work informed by the idea of performance.

love fragments


Carly Butler shows us how our deep-rooted history can become a guide for remembrance and new discovery - she’s taken detailed letters written during the 40’s by her grandmother and made them the blueprint for her own journey abroad.



The advisers


john wing jr works with the ‘wingmen’   john wing special preview  

jane ozkowski  9 we thought we were lions




top shelf: carly butler last word . . . made with support from: 

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On her own merits, Jane Ozkowski is a talented surrealist writer who is rapidly building a reputation based on crooked observation and staggering syntax. But her performance readings on Youtube and her building of an online presence is what brought her to our attention in the first place; we as her about it. Big thanks to Vanessa Shields, who lends us her words in a great wrap-up column for this issue. Vanessa probes the artist’s constant search for avenues of expression and - deeper still - the need for that expression itself. Also happy to introduce Amy Gleeson, a talented freelancer Publisher who provides some much-welcome events Marty Gervais coverage in ths edition.

offside is

Our all-new look is just part of more additions to come. Stay social with Black Moss Press on Facebook and Twitter as we experiment with bringing you more of the best new & unpublished work in Canada. - Brad Smith, managing editor.

Managing Editor/ Designer Brad Smith Contributors Amy Gleeson Vanessa Shields

nowavailable  in the 64/10 series

april bulmer’s newest release women of the  cloth assumes the voices  of  dozens of women to tell their stories of joy, passion, and struggle. Bulmer colours these vignettes with her characteristic allusions to Christian & Aboriginal theology

nowavailable  in the 64/10 series

Bulmer ... creates a tense landscape of nature and grace, an unsettled, haunted beauty of spirit, flesh and blood. Bulmer’s brilliant metaphors bring the reader inside, to explore, to wonder. -  mary ann mulhern

and breath-taking visuals. women of the  cloth is proudly offered on the 64/10 line - a perfect gift and available now at many fine bookstores.

64 pgs / $10

In that gender is often essential to our way of seeing, I am most grateful for the luminous feminine visionary source of the insights... of April Bulmer’s poetry. -  john b. lee


john wing jr works with the ‘wingmen’ story by amy gleeson John Wing Jr. is a world-travelled stand-up comedian and a person not unfamiliar with groups of staring faces. So hopping off the plane to meet and talk with a band of twentysomething undergraduates is a just trifle, right? Wait for the punchline. Calling themselves the “Wingmen,” the students from the Editing/Publishing Practicum course at the University of Windsor aren’t any regular audience. They’re the team tasked with crafting and delivering Wing’s latest collection of poetry. After a number of exchanges via Skype early in the fall, Wing visited Windsor in late October to meet faceto-face with the students who will complete every step of the publishing process - from manuscript to marketing and launch. The class is led by Windsor’s Poet Laureate Marty Gervais and the book is slated for a Spring 2014 release from Black Moss Press. The Editing/Publishing Practicum course is unique to the University of Windsor. It is the only undergraduate


i’m trying to impress myself first, last, and always. program of its kind in Canada and it puts its lessons to action, as students work while they learn. Class members are pre-approved to enroll if they can demonstrate interest and talents in creative writing, literature, and editing. Once accepted, they work with an author be-

hind the scenes and publish a real book at the end of the year’s term, walking away with industry credentials. It’s an experience many writers have undertaken in the past with some reservation. To put your work in twenty young hands requires a kind of steely faith that it all will come out untarnished on the other side. “John has had many editors over the years, but working with a large group of student editors is a first for him,” said David Fine, one such student in the Editing/ Publishing course. “He seems to be enjoying the process. What our group lacks in experience, we make up for with enthusiasm”. The timing couldn’t be better for Wing, who’s released close to a dozen volumes in his literary career but is just now coming off the heels of a rejuvenating run on TV’s America’s Got Talent. His dry delivery and cracking wit earned Wing an extended stay and a spot in the program’s comedy semi-final. After owning the stage in Los Angeles (where John resides fulltime) and winning the hearts of voters across the continent with his comedy, a new and much larger collective eye could be fixed on his poetry, as well.


Wing, though, is as cool and composed as his line of work necessitates; he’s mostly unafraid of backlash or skewer. “The audience for a book like this will be small, I suspect. I confess that the audience I write for is me. I’m trying to impress myself first, last, and always. If other people like it, great”. ---Coinciding with that first editorial meeting, Wing headlined an evening of poetry and humour at the University of Windsor’s Katzman Lounge. The event was packed to see Wing perform a perfect mixture of poetry readings and comedy bits, moving between laughter for his perfectly delivered punchlines to thoughtful moments for the darker undertones of his clever and precise poetry. Wing worked seamlessly between the two styles of performance, keeping his audience hooked and entertained. Poetry that was read from his upcoming book included themes of marriage, aging, and his two daughters.

Wing kept his performance interactive by making conversation with his guests - sometimes including them in a joke or two - keeping the mood fun and personal. Following a question and answer period, Wing met with fans and signed copies of his previous books. Black Moss publisher Marty Gervais was armed with his camera and graciously provided us with these shots from the evening:

view e r r e furth

Follow the progress of The Wingmen as they continue working toward the Spring 2014 release:


/ teamwingmen

As promised, you can get an advance look at the brand new John Wing Jr. book on the pages following! Enjoy three new and unpublished poems slated for inclusion.

john wing special preview

love fragments


I When I awoke, she was there beside me, her hand within my curve. When I awoke again, she was gone. She’d been gone for years.

In the mirror, I saw an old man. Saw the cheek-sink contour that will be impossible to hide in ten years.

II One image is a soaked morning. You exit the car, umbrella first, never looking back. The umbrella is the same colour as your sweater. A black flower, floating.

Shaving with my reading glasses on, looking without looking, my father appeared not smiling, not happy.


Saw the lines deepening into permafrost-frown.

Wondered if my children see me the same way. Not me, brother.

john wing special preview

   The advisers I remember being so young I jumped everywhere. Danced in leaping entrechats to all my classes, pounced on women, twirled them to my own music, ripping pleasure from them, desperate as a Christmas-child. I ran on my elbows, head-standing down stairs, swinging on ropes, vines, naked to every tower window. To break me, my teachers warned my parents of the cost of a child living in my head. This led to long sofa-lectures on report-card day, which taught me to split my mind into listener, here, and thinker, a million-miles-from-here. a discipline that became critical on the stage I found.


An attention addict, I murder-envied those who could capture the classroom with assurance and ease. Those now mechanical, office-cubicle types who watch me on television now. My parents told me to finish school in case show business didn’t work out. They never said what to do if it did.

once upon a time on youtube ... When I first saw Jane Ozkowski read, I was impressed with the poise and confidence at the microphone. Too many is the exact number of writers (this author included) who regrettably stammer and trip up when they become the big sound in the room. But when Jane delivers her succinct and jabbing lines, it’s as if she’s doing it alone in her apartment. Because she is. Hold on. Pause. This is confusing.


jane ozkowski When Jane graduated from the Creative Writing program at York, she was looking for a means to get name out beyond the typical query letters and journal submissions. What she found was Youtube - an outlet from which she could start spreading not only her writing, but also her name as a performer. Once a week, emanating from her bedroom in Toronto, Jane pushes record on another poetry reading - always signing on with a characteristic and stilted ‘He-ello”. It’s an observance now in its fourth “season” - a programming concept Jane has borrowed from TV to break up the work. The season break lends itself to creative endeavour, too, as the newest run of videos are a serialized set of stories entitled ‘Angel Bay’. Increasingly and by no coincidence, this young writer is gaining attention. The culmination happened this past summer, as she was announced as the winner of the Broken Social Scene story contest with spoils including publication, fabulous gift prizes, and a chance to meet the contest judges from the band. Please take a look at some of the work jane’s provided us. It’s just a small sample of what you can find from her online at www.janeozkowski.com


we thought we were lions Our bodies were too big for us, too much skin and strong bones from drinking our milk like we were told, back when we looked like children. We thought we were lions, but we were really sparrows, standing on that hill with a view so sublime we swore we would haunt it after we died, to come back as streaks of orange left in the sky when the duties of being human beings no longer applied, when we no longer needed to say the words we’d learned from television screens, thinking the word complicated, wondering the word why, assuming we were lions, being sparrows instead.

jane ozkowski are pulling the blankets from your bed, the clothes from


your body. You will wash away your sins in your apartment complex swimming pool closed for fall.

The radio on your alarm switches on at 3am, unbeckoned. The voice of a nighttime preacher speaking forgiveness onto dead waves.  It begins in your dreams, and only later do you realize his voice is not water spilling from a crack in a brick wall.   You bring your fingers to

Your brain is chandelier glass with that nighttime preacher’s words, still whispering in the background, made of light. -----

your face, listening to the voice, which is not fire, telling you you are loved by an empty sky. He says it with such conviction to this all-night radio audience, drunks, insomniacs, suicides and one-hundred-million precious variations of the three.  Promises spilling through static the way sadness slowly slides from a broken heart. You are aware of how it will sound in the morning, when you tell your co-workers how you became a Christian, how you must pray and be good, how those unwanted answers arrived feeling so solid against the black backdrop of your midnight bedroom.   But that comes later.  Now, you are sitting up.  You


Jane Ozkowski has lived in Edinburgh, Scotland; Northern New Brunswick, and on Vancouver Island. She currently lives in Toronto and can be found online at her website www.janeozkowski.com.

nowavailable  in the 64/10 series

In Masstown, Chad Norman revisists




leading a poetic exploration back to his grandparents’ dairy farm in rural Nova Scotia. Norman’s



release, Masstown has received instant recognition and praise as the book begins touring across Atlantic Canada. Black Moss is pleased to add this

As always when the evening milking was over, parlour floors scraped, washed back to gray, pipelines rinsed, ready for the inevitable dawn, and Bert’s steps in winter’s fresh white addition, recent, straight, filled back in, all the way to the backporch door, access to a warm kitchen an molasses, homemade beans, brown bread, another miracle meal Gladys had on the set table, another Saturday night both pairs of boxing gloves were brought out for bouts, supposed to be polite, a form of fun up until the first punch in the face. -  “Boxing in the kitchen“

exciting release to the 64/10 series, and you can own your copy today.

64 pgs / $10 www.blackmosspress.com

top shelf carly butler

These photos are from Carly Butler’s Life’s Letter and they come with a backstory to them that’s as captivating as fiction. Carly discovered a box of family wartime letters some years ago and before long, it blossomed into an incredible personal journey of her own. Carly’s grandparents have the kind of familiar


but never-mundane story that’s spun out of war. He was an artilleryman who danced with a girl who disassembled planes for the RAF. They fell in love. From January to July of 1946, they were married but but separated by an ocean. The Canadian husband was sent home after armistice, the British bride left behind.

“journey within a journey” - encompassed close to six months with as much observance to the source material as possible. Each letter informed the course of Butler’s journey, sothe journey becomes rooted not only in remembrance, but also in making and writing about her own new experiences.

Butler’s grandmother wrote her distant love with a feverish output - voluminous letters going out recounting the moments that passed and anticipating the ones to come in her new home. True to the spirit of those letters, Carly catalogued her own adventures abroad, living out her grandmother’s footsteps and writing to her own fiancee back in Canada.

Carly’s mission didn’t go unnoticed at home or abroad - news agencies like CBC, London’s Evening Standard, and the BBC Big Braakfast program all took interest in the transcontinental history project.

The project - what it’s creator has called a

We are fortunate & glad to present photos and two of the letters from the collection - one from Carly’s grandmother and one from Carly herself.

While Carly says her maternal grandmother passed in 1998, it was still several years after when the wealth of correspondence was discovered. With the travel and letterwriting completed, Buter hopes to publish a book on her experiences. The goal is not only to tell her family’s unique story, but to encourage others to find the distinctions in their own family’s past.


June 20,1946 My darling husband, Many thanks sweetheart for the two smashing letters I got today. I hope you are okay, darling and not working too hard. I am fine but missing you more than I ever thought it possible to miss anyone. I think if I don’t get to see you soon I shall soon go stark crazy. …The days just seem to drag along. The Queen Mary left again yesterday. Every time that boat goes out, my heart goes with it. Nothing much happened again today, this morning I painted my name and address on my trunk (in anticipation). I guess it was nothing like an artists job, but I expect it will do……… Today I was sitting looking at your picture (the coloured one) and I was thinking won’t it be lovely when our pictures are together because of course that will mean we will be together, darling. I am glad to hear that you are getting settled in our home, but please darling don’t work yourself to hard over it, it makes me so mad when I think of me wasting time over here when I could be doing so much helping you……. Well darling, I guess I have chattered enough for one night so I suppose I’ll run along. Loving you and missing you something fierce. I’ll say goodnight darling. God bless you and sweet dreams sweetheart. Good luck. Au revoir. Hope to see you soon. All my love to you forever. Your ever loving wifey. I love you darling.


January 9, 2013 Dear Grama, It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like for you. At this point it had been 5 months since Papa was sent back to Canada with the other Canadian soldiers. As a War bride you were just waiting patiently, hoping that every time you opened the mailbox you would see the announcement to board the Queen Mary. When I read that your heart went with the Queen

review r e h t r fu

Mary every time it sailed is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. The love you and Papa shared is a type of love not many experience, especially in my time. We have instant communication like never before. There are mobile phones that have the option of seeing someone in real time over video from across the world. We would have to create for ourselves a situation of longing. As I am about to embark on the journey to England to retrace your steps, what you’ve expressed in this letter is making me think about how I want to approach communication with my boyfriend. He will be here in Canada, while I go to England. I want to make this as much a parallel journey as I can and I want to honour the experiences you went through. After reading this letter, I want to commit to taking some time to only communicate through cursive. Experience the unique longing for and anticipation that is only possible in my time if deliberately arranged. You inspire me Grama. Your faith in love is a true testament to what you were willing to do for the man you chose. The one you would spend the rest of your life with. Fully understanding what it means to cherish being with one another. With all my love & great respect, Carly xoxox


Carly has now returned from her journey to the UK, sailing back to North American shores on the famous Queen Mary. Like her grandmother, she eagerly returned to meet her fiancee - they are now married. Her day-by-day journal is available to read on her website: www.lifesletter.com

last word. . .

from vanessa shields

“Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” -  Malcolm X “It is quite true, as some poets said, that the God who created man must have had a sinister sense of humour, creating him a reasonable being, yet forcing him to take this ridiculous posture, and driving him with blind craving for this ridiculous performance.” -  D.H. Lawrence

What is at the heart of performance? If it is an essential need to express one’s ‘self’, right there beside one’s essential need to walk on two legs and make choices based on free will, then perhaps ‘tis true that who or whatever created human beings was a comedian at heart. At the heart of every performance is a story - breathing, bleeding and bursting to escape. The ‘story’ is unique to each of us even as it is one that is lived over and over again. The life lessons we learn (sometimes over and over again) build layers into our stories that we can perform Presently, there are so many ways a human can ‘express’ himself, ways that can reach far beyond a standing-room only theatre or far beyond the covers of a book or newspaper, magazine or e-reader, that perhaps our essential need to express has finally met a collective match in terms of reachability and extension. Not that this reality will stop us from telling our stories. The need, and I believe it is a need, to express ourselves manifests in our ability to perform. Whether we’re performing through the Internet or social networking technologies – using tweets, texts, posts, videos or images - we are constantly ‘sharing’ and ‘expressing’ our thoughts, opinions, experiences and emotions through the performance arena that is technology. Some of us resort to (seemingly?) old-school perfor-


mance styles like stand-up comedy, oral storytelling (like The Moth), acting in plays or films or writing and publishing words that we read out loud at readings, festivals and other gatherings. Furthermore, standing in front of a mirror for perhaps the toughest audience of all, our ‘self’, is a bittersweet performance we may not even   realize we’re giving. Performance is essential to the creative life, for a

the need ... to express ourselves manifests in our ability to perform major part of living creatively involves somehow getting others to hear and/or experience what we’ve created. Even if being published or recorded, ‘discovered’ or ‘chosen’ is not a main goal, we still always share or perform our creation(s) to someone, do we not? We can do so much through performance – affect change both positive and negative, raise awareness, raise money, challenge each other, anger each other, connect with each other. The list goes on and on. And we are continually performing for whatever audience we choose to put ourselves in front of. Because we have to. Just like we have to breathe. Though the reasons we perform may vary (and some of them may not seem quite reasonable


at all), it is one way to surely connect us to each other on soul-to-soul level. I’d argue that it’s not so much a ‘sinister’ sense of humour as it is a hopeful one that was in the cook’s heart when he/she created the recipe for human beings. Perhaps the creator made humans in the likes of a poem – to function as a creative expression of reflections of the world using all the senses available. How we do it is the icing on the cake that is our lives. -----

Vanessa Shields has made her home, her family and her work life flourish in Windsor, ON. Her poetry, short stories and photography has been published is various literary magazines. She mentors, guest speaks and teaches creative writing. Vanessa’s newest release, “I Am That Woman,” will be available in January from Black Moss Press. Find her online at www.vanessashields.com

No. 13 ISSN 1923-0370

Profile for Black Moss Press

offSIDE - November 2013  

Well in the making! offSIDE returns with a facelift, new features & contributors, and of course the new & the unpublished from all over Cana...

offSIDE - November 2013  

Well in the making! offSIDE returns with a facelift, new features & contributors, and of course the new & the unpublished from all over Cana...

Profile for offside