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Frontenac House

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Anna Marie Sewell Named as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate

imageAnna Marie Sewell can add Poet Laureate to her impressive list of artistic accomplishments. The writer of poetry, theatre, stories and songs becomes the City of Edmonton’s fourth Poet Laureate on July 1, 2011.

Her first book of poetry, Fifth World Drum, was nominated for numerous awards including the Stephan G. Stephansson Award. City of Edmonton Book Prize, the Alberta’s Readers’ Choice Award and the ReLit award. The book won critical acclaim across Canada and I’m looking forward to reading it, now that it’s back on my radar.

Anna Marie Sewell writes a blog, Fifth World Journal at http://asewell.frontenachouse.com

Monday, March 16, 2009

SXSW: No Think for Old Publishers

New Think for Old Publishers panel at SXSW drew a lot of frustration from the crowd of book lovers and supporters.

The official description of the session was:

This is not a discussion of whether ebooks are killing treebooks, or whether it’s possible to get cozy with an Amazon Kindle. It’s about how participatory culture and the online world interact with good olde book publishing.Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, Deborah Schultz, and fellow panelists will share with the audience a variety of perspectives on what’s going right and what’s going wrong in publishing, assess success of recent forays into marketing digitally, digital publishing, and what books and blogs have to gain from one another. Penguin Group (USA), which houses some 40 plus imprints and publishes an extremely broad variety of physical and digital products everything from William Gibson’s first ebook in the 90’s to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food to Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels (the source for HBO’s True Blood) is deeply involved in exploring ways that old and new media might better collaborate. Audience members are invited to speak up about what they think book publishers could/should be doing to better provide relevant information and content to blogs, websites, and online communities. Come tell old media what you want and how you want it.

Clay Shirky ITP
John Fagan   Mktg Dir,  Penguin Group (USA)
Deborah Schultz   Founder/Chief Catalyst,  deborahschultz.com
Peter Miller   Dir of Publicity,  Bloomsbury USA
Ivan Held   Pres GP Putnam’s Sons,  Penguin Group (USA)

They certainly told publishers what they think. The summation was “you suck at this is the biggest way possible.”

I think it’s unfair to attack the folks on that panel but as representatives of the industry they do have to go back to their houses and understand that they need to convey, not that bloggers are an unruly bunch, but that publishers need to get off their asses and get involved with social media. Enough is enough.

BookSquare says
If you’re going to hold a session called “New Think for Old Publishers”, you gotta come with some new thinking. Either that or tell the audience that it’s a research session…and the audience is supposed to bring the new thinking. Good idea, needed better execution. Nobody read the panel description to mean “we want the audience to tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it”.


The publishing people on stage said, essentially, tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it. You have 300 people who give up an hour of their lives to hear the cool things the traditional publishing business is doing…and you can ask them to consult on your business?

Watch a video of the panel here.

Other links to conversation about this panel:
Medialoper has a fairly neutral assessment of what unfolded.

Twitter stream of comments on this panel #sxswbp

Monique’s summary
What went wrong is this:
* Publishers have not listened to the crowd for a long time.
* The crowd is restless.
* Publishers wring their hands about the web.
* The crowd offers options publishers don’t like.
* Publishers weep into their hands.
* The crowd wants to help and offers other suggestions.
* Publishers act like deer in headlights.
* The crowd plows down publishers and reinvents the industry without them.

What this panel really came down to is that the wisdom of the crowds is not being tapped. The crowd is now sick and tired of trying to help people who won’t help themselves.

Hold me to this: I’m going to organize a panel in Vancouver. We’re going to create a model for publishing and marketing books. We’re going to move forward as an industry. Leaders will be identified. Roles will be assigned. If you’re not open to totally change everything you’re doing, then you are not ready for this revolution. Don’t come.

Who’s in?


Peter Miller Glibness. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Tips from a panelist who barely survived” in Publishers Weekly.
Read the article.

Michael Tamblyn of BookNet Canada on 6 Things That Revolutionize Publishing

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prediction 1: Poetry Will Rise Again

Poetry Ready

The Year 2008 is going to be one of predictions.

My first public prediction is that poetry is making a resurgence.

I’ve just returned from Alexis Kienlen’s poetry reading for She Dreams in Red and I’m most certain that poetry is on the rise.

Alexis, She Dreams in Red

Here’s the thing: Poetry needs to be read aloud. People miss out on poetry because they try to read it silently to themselves. There’s no poetry in that method. Find your voice.

Here’s the next thing I re-discovered tonight: Poetry can be made by 3 year olds. By the time we’re 18, we forget that we can use words to do more than order fries.

My follow up thought was that publishers are going out of business. Poetry has never sold well, unless you count 500-1000 copies as spectacular. BUT, micropresses are coming back into fashion.

I received a Miranda July book as a birthday present. It’s spectacular. I love it. A friend showed me Actualities by Monica Kidd from Gaspereau Press. This is a beautifully crafted book.

Book as objet really works with poetry.

I’m in the middle of reading Alison Cader’s book of poetry Wolf Tree from Coteau Books. It’s brilliant.

John Maxwell at SFU told me 2008 is his year for rediscovering poetry.

Something is happening.

Poetry is on the rise. 

David Scollard, publisher of Frontenac HouseShe Dreams in Red is published by Frontenac House, which has a great, new website (fairly new, last year). David Scollard, publisher of Frontenac House, gave Alexis an incredible introduction. I wish he’d publish it. He said something about why they publish poetry and that it is the pursuit of higher intelligence driving them. He seems like a man entirely clear on why he’s publishing books.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Book Review: She Dreams in Red

Author photo of Alexis Kienlen, poetI’ve been reading Alexis Kienlen’s LiveJournal blog for several years now, and I was excited when she announced that her book of poetry had been accepted for publication by Frontenac House. Having worked for a book publisher I know how difficult the acquisition stage is, how much work goes into deciding whether a book is the right fit or not, and here was a wonderful example of someone I knew making it through that process—a process, which at times, can be as hard as writing the book in the first place.

Maybe Alexis will re-tell the story in the comments about what that process was like and how excited she was to hear that her book was going to be published.

I was determined to blog about her book, and because Alexis is my friend, I wanted to do a good job. Instead I procrastinated and now She Dreams in Red is published and several people have reviewed it and I’m still working out the best way to talk about it.

I don’t know why I try to make thing harder than they need to be. She Dreams in Red is a beautiful book of poems.

In university I never understood poetry, and I still feel nervous about it. But I have found poets whose work I enjoy, Dennis Cooley in particular. Alexis’ poems are as inviting and as evocative.

The poems are divided into the following sections: Chinese Cafe, Indonesia, Mongolia, Tibet, and Love and Lust.

Each time I pick up the book, I find a new favourite. I’ve been reading the poems in chronological order because I feel there is a greater story that the collection is telling, at the same time, every time I wander by my book stack, I pick it up and randomly flip to a new poem. It’s a great way to discover this book, and I’m very glad that Alexis has published a book of poems because it gives me an entry back into the world of poetry.

If you haven’t picked up a book of poetry in a while, I suggest She Dreams in Red. It’s good to re-discover this writing form and I guarantee you’ll find something that grips your imagination in this collection.

You can purchase a copy from Frontenac House by emailing the editor or by visiting one of the stores listed. I say, get on it though, poetry runs are often small so if you want a copy, now is the time. I found the fastest, non-procrastinating way was to email the editor and send in a cheque. Old school, I know. But we’re talking about poetry. In some ways I think it demands a handwritten note.