Category Archives: instructions

Wobbled sprung readings


A semi-coherent listing of my upcoming readings. Mostly relating to Conflict. A kind of belated touring. Primarily sprung with one confirmed ping in November. A few others are likely to pop up and/or in the works. We are busy pulling flowers up by their roots. The snow lies.

WOLFVILLE, NS: Friday March 1, 2013
Where: Acadia University, Wolfville, NS
Vaughan Memorial Library, 4pm

OTTAWA, ON: Sunday March 17, 2013
VerseFest: A World of Poetry in Ottawa
Christine McNair, Ken Babstock and Anne Simpson
Where: Mercury Lounge, 56 Byward Market Sq, Ottawa, 4:00 PM

TORONTO, ON: Wednesday April 10, 2013
Pivot Reading Series
Christine McNair with Roseanne Carrara and Jessica Hiemstra.
Where: The Press Club, 850 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON, 8:00 PM
Hosted by Jacob McArthur Mooney.

ST CATHARINES, ON: Friday April 26, 2013
In The Soil Arts Festival Presents Christine McNair and Mark Goldstein with other readers and musical guests: TBA
Where: Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, ON, 8:00 PM
Hosted by: Eric Schmaltz

CALGARY, AB: Thursday May 9, 2013
filling Station’s Flywheel Reading Series presents Christine McNair, author of Conflict and Sandra Ridley with other readers TBA.
Where: Pages Books on Kensington, 1135 Kensington Road NW, Calgary, AB, 7:30 PM

REGINA, SK: Monday May 13, 2013
Vertigo Reading Series presents Christine McNair, author of Conflict and Sandra Ridley with other readers TBA.
Where: Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar, 1925 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK, 7:30 PM
Hosted by: Tara Dawn Solheim

VANCOUVER, BC: Tuesday May 14, 2013
Real Vancouver Writers’ Reading Series presents Christine McNair and Sandra Ridley with other readers TBA.
Where: TBA, Vancouver, BC, 8:00 PM
Hosted by: Sean Cranbury

ST. CATHARINES, ON: Saturday June 29, 2013
Niagara Literary Arts Festival Presents BookThug Author Night
Featuring readings by: Mark Goldstein, Beatriz Hausner, Christine McNair, Shannon Maguire, David Dowker, bill bissett, Head Thug Jay Millar and more
Where: Mahtay Cafe, 241 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, ON
Time: TBA PM

HAMILTON, ON: Sunday November 3, 2013
The LitLive Reading Series presents Christine McNair with other readers TBA
Where: The Homegrown Hamilton Cafe, on the 1st Floor of the Skydragon Centre, 27 King William Street, Hamilton, ON, 7:30 PM

CKCU Funding Drive 2011

Once again it’s time for the CKCU funding drive! Only one week left to support a radio station has been providing the best in music, spoken word and multicultural programming since 1975.

Telephones $4000
SOCAN royalties – $12,000
Rent for CKCU space to Carleton University $50,000
Insurance for equipment and liability $18,000
Tower Rental for our antenna and transmitter $15,000
Web site space, bandwidth etc $4000
Headphones – $200 (we have 10 of these)
Turntables – $600
Turntable Cartridge $50 ( we go through many over the year)
Microphones $100 (always replace 3 or 4 a year)
Computers $500 (just went through one of these, replace at least one a year)
Computer Monitors $150

They’re aiming to raise $111,000. The station is volunteer and donation driven, please consider making a pledge. Pledges can be made online through the CKCU website or by calling 613.520.3920.

Support CKCU! Support Lit Landscapes!


Literary Press Group survey for poetry readers

Go forth and answer, you poetry reader denizen.

dear Broken Pencil,

I’m not neutral by any stretch of the most nubile imagination (rob mclennan is my partner). But Zachary Houle’s recent ‘Letter to the Editor’ riled me and I’m quite difficult to unrile.

The letter itself is absurd. While I’m very sorry to hear that Mr. Houle had such difficulty getting his ex-partner to attend his readings, it hardly seems fair to blame rob. We are adults and if we wish to be supportive of our (writerly) partners: we go to an event. Period. Perhaps she simply did not enjoy readings. There is nothing that would prevent me from supporting someone that I care about. Ain’t no mountain high enough (etcetera).

To be fair, I wasn’t at that event and can’t comment on the mclennan of decades past. I can only comment on the three years that I’ve known him, during which I’ve seen him be nothing but supportive of visiting and local authors in Ottawa. Just within that period he hosted readings for:

Amanda Earl, Angela Szczepaniak, Aurian Haller, Ben LaDouceur, Brenda Leifso, Bruce Taylor, Cameron Anstee, Chris Turnbull, Christine Leclerc, Christine Stewart, Clint Burnham, David McGimpsey, Diane Tucker, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Emily Falvey, Eva Moran, Faizal Deen, Gary Barwin, Garry Thomas Morse, Gillian Sze, Gwendolyn Guth, Helen Hajnoczky, Janice Tokar, Jason Camlot, Jay MillAr, Jeanette Lynes, Jen Currin, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Ken Belford, Kim Minkus, Laurie Fuhr, Lea Graham, Lisa Pasold, Marcus McCann, Mark Goldstein, Marilyn Irwin, Matt Rader, Michael Dennis, Michelle Desbarats, Mike Spry, Monty Reid, Natasha Nuhanovic, Nicholas Lea, Nick McArthur, Paul Tyler, Pearl Pirie, Peter Gibbon, Peter Midgley, Peter Jaeger, Phil Hall, Roland Prevost, Sachiko Murakami, Sandra Ridley, Shane Rhodes, Spencer Gordon, Stan Rogal, Stephen Brockwell, Steve Zytveld, Stuart Ross, Suzanne Bowness, Teresa Yang, Wanda O’Connor, and Wes Smiderle.

Which to my mind represents a diverse range of writerly voices belonging to different aesthetics, personalites, styles, and regions. He’s published chapbooks by many of these same writers and more through above/ground press. Recently, the Dusty Owl reading series needed some help and mclennan was the one to find them a new venue, book new writers or hosts, and increase their promotion tenfold. I’ve seen him support young writers, give out publications to those he think might like them, and review books that might not be reviewed  elsewhere. He runs a twice-annual small press book fair where small presses, zines, local artists, papermakers, and printers can sell their work. He isn’t paid to do any of this. It’s a gift of time and energy.

A poisonous atmosphere in Ottawa? Writers from all schools mingle here in a whole slew of venues that cater to every aesthetic. mclennan is a vital part of the Ottawa community but he is just one of many writers and reading organizers in this town. If you want to write and participate in Ottawa literary culture, you can do so. Hell, you can do so without even exchanging a single syllable with mclennan if that’s your fancy. (And for the record, I’ve never once heard him say snarky comments from the audience excepting mutual teasing with good friends.)

rob has his critics, as do most figures of any public presence but it is ridiculous to see such a personal screed by someone who hasn’t participated in the Ottawa literary community for years. He seems to have no sense of this city’s character. I agree with only one point in the entire letter. Please do come to a poetry reading in Ottawa. Come to several. Come to VerseFest, the new annual poetry festival in March. 

And I’ll include Houle in this one. If you want to be supportive of indie/small press culture in Ottawa or elsewhere: participate. Don’t throw a hissy fit over one paragraph in a fifty-item list because you have a personal problem with an old acquaintance. Write your own work, make your own books, show up, for Christ’s sake. Else-wise, the only asinine, vitriolic, and spiteful comments that I see in the vicinity of mclennan are yours. 


Christine McNair

conscious choice

Because breath is life. Because love, peace, happiness, forgiveness, and all variants thereof are a conscious choice (sometimes mostly perhaps). Happiness is a warm bell. A mindfulness clock to remind you to breathe. I love setting it to random so I can centre myself:

“Your father said, ‘In little business lies much rest’. This world is but a thoroughfare and full of woe; and when we depart thereform, right naught we bear with us but our good deeds and ill.” (My fifteenth great-grandmother Agnes to her son John Paston in Fleet Prison, 1465.)

Jaap Blonk + playback, a poetry reading

I’m participating in this here upcoming AB series event —

Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 7:30pm
National Arts Centre – Fourth Stage hosted by Alan Neal
Tickets available at the National Arts Centre Box Office.
For more information see:

Jaap Blonk
Renowned sound poet and musical vocalist, Jaap Blonk returns to Ottawa for an exclusive A B Seriesengagement. Blonk is a unique figure known internationally for his powerful stage presence. He has performed all over Europe, as well as in the USA, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa and Latin America.On May 25, Blonk presents a live version of Antonin Artaud‘s To Have Done With the Judgement of God (translated by Clayton Eshleman). This work was commissioned by BBC Radio and premiered in London, England in November 2010. It includes sound poetry by Artaud with Blonk’s variations and electronic sound.
As an opening act, the A B Series presents playback, a poetry reading. In this piece, Christine McNair, Sean Moreland, Glenn Nuotio, Carmel Purkis, Sandra Ridley and Grant Wilkins read, reconfigure and respond to artist Michèle Provost’s exhibition, playlist. You can listen to the March 4, 2011 interview with the Playback artists which aired on CKCU radio.

practice when there’s no practice: Messagio Galore take VIII


Ages since I’ve been able to update the blog, worn out by all the Many Whatsits. Currently knee deep in practices for Messagio Galore take VIII. It’s part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival on Sunday May 2nd (2pm, Mayfair Theatre).

You can a description for the previous Messagio Galore here, which includes links about previous incarnations. There’s also a round-up of reviews and blogposts here.

For fun, thought I’d list off some of the stuff that I’ve been watching or listening to over the past year or so when I’m not practicing at john’s house. We started practices for Messagio Take VII, in April 2010, perhaps? Even when we’re not practicing: we’re practicing.

Lots of Mary Margaret O’Hara. I like how she tosses her voice around and chirps and I have tried to flourish some of that.

Don’t Be Afraid” Mary Margaret O’Hara

Bulgarian singing. John turned me on to this. I’ve bought a few albums and he played me a tape accompanying the Musicworks magazine (#44) featuring bpNichol/Schwitters and Bulgarian singing. He introduced me this form of singing as a way of trying to get me to sing certain pieces with a more open throat. Particularly the flourish that I had to do in “Mescal Rite”. My first exposure was when he played me Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares. The ninth song on the album, “Sableyalo Mi Agontze”, isn’t online but it’s my favourite. Tears my guts out and I nearly always cry when I hear it. I subsequently wandered through the youtubeisms and through other online videos and into other regional varieties of the same.

Malka Moma” Mystere de Voix Bulgares
Lale li si Zumbiul li si” Galina Durmushliiska
Not Sure, Шопска Китка ” Singers not attributed in English
Title not Listed” Mystere de Voix Bulgares
Zaidi Zaidi jasno slance” Iva Davidova

Random assortment of things. Inuit singing when I was playing with running overtones and undertones and minimidtones, mainly within the privacy of my own home, to the concern of my furniture. The original Robert Ashley piece that was the basis for what we’ve tried with “She Was a Visitor” in the previous take. Four Horsemen.

Inuit Throat Singers, Ottawa 2008
Inuit Throat Singing, Aryaut and Aniksak
She Was a Visitor” Robert Ashley
From “Poetry in Motion” Four Horsemen

There’s also a boatload of sound and video files at UBUWeb that I meander through. And there’s Penn Sound. And Google hunting.

Messagio Galore is next week! Other things!

This week is a special kind of madness as Messagio Galore take VII draws near. I strongly recommend you show up if you’re in the Ottawa environs. Invite your friends! Drag strangers in to the reading while gesturing and/or offering them candy!

I’m still plugging away at the cartwheel chapbook anthology thing. I’m aiming to have it done like dinner for March. Reining in the dream machine.

I had a goodish time at my Voices of Venus reading on Tuesday. Metro Ottawa  had a Metro Minute listing for the show. I panicked and sent them a fairly awkward looking photo of me at a Peking duck restaurant in Beijing. Someone kindly picked up some print copies of the Metro in question for me and my Mum.

It was a good audience and the organisers were sweet. They made a quite nice looking poster using Charles Earl’s photograph of me.  I took one of the posters from the cafe wall after the reading.  Amanda Earl said some nice things about the reading on her literary blog.  I was able to spend time with some of my favourite people. Good all around really.  Nervy with lucky.

rise (By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept)


“Under the redwood tree my grave was laid, and I beguiled my true love to lie down. The stream of our kiss put a waterway around the world, where love like a refugee sailed in the last ship. My hair made a shroud, and kept the coyotes at bay while we wrote our cyphers with anatomy. The winds boomed triumph, our spines seemed overburdened, and our bones groaned like old trees, but a smile like a cobweb was fastened across the mouth of the cave of fate.

Fear will be a terrible fox at my vitals under my tunic of behaviour.

Oh, canary, sing out in the thunderstorm, prove your yellow pride. Give me a reason for courage or a way to be brave. But nothing tangible comes to rescue my besieged sanity, and I cannot decipher the code of the eucalyptus thumping on my roof.

I am unnerved by the opponents of God, and God is out of earshot. I must spin good ghosts out of my hope to oppose the hordes at my window. If those who look in see me condescend to barricade the door, they will know too much and crowd in to overcome me.

The parchment philosopher has no traffic with the night, and no conception of the price of love. With smoky circles of thought he tries to combat the fog, and with anagrams to defeat anatomy. I posture in vain with his weapons, even though I am balmed with his nicotine herbs.

Moon, moon, rise in the sky to be a reminder of comfort and the hour when I was brave.”

— Elizabeth Smart (By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept)

it can happen to anyone

male or female or straight or same-sex or or or or or or or or.

Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings
Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior
Do you:
  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless? 
Does your partner:
  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats
Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior
Does your partner:
  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you? 
  • threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • force you to have sex?
  • destroy your belongings?
Does your partner:
  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?