New Star Blogs

Hannah Calder’s OK Tour Redux


Calder-Hannah-hrHannah Calder will be reading from her “daringly innovative” novel Piranesi’s Figures at two events in the Okanagan next month.

The first event is part of Read Local 2016 and features Calder’s fellow Okanagan novelists Ashley Little and Adam Lewis Schroeder:

Read Local 2016 Presents: An Evening with Okanagan Authors
Wednesday, November 2nd, 7pm
Mosaic Books, 411 Bernard Ave, Kelowna, BC

And the following week Calder heads north to Salmon Arm to read with fellow Okanagan poet Kerry Gilbert, who’s celebrating the release of her poetry collection Tight Wire:

Hannah Calder and Kerry Gilbert Reading & Book Signing
Thursday, November 10th, 7pm
Aboriginal Gathering Place / Okanagan College
2552-10th Avenue NE, Salmon Arm, BC

Piranesi’s Figures is a hallucinatory and convention-defying revelation of the adulterous (and otherwise illicit) relationships of several couples in mid-century England and 18th-century and modern-day Rome. “Not, in short, a paper back for the beach or the airport,” says Tom Sandborn in the Vancouver Sun, “but a work of serious literary ambition and substantial achievement.

George Stanley in Berkeley

George Stanley, After Desire, Mark Mushet

Photo by Mark Mushet

George Stanley will be reading at the University of California, Berkeley on Thursday, September 29, as part of the Holloway Reading Series. The reading is at Hearst Field Annex room D37. Admission is $00.00; the reading gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

Other poets featured in this year’s series include Gary Snyder, Tonya Foster, and Mary Szybist, as well as UC-Berkeley faculty members C.S. Giscombe, Robert Hass, Lyn Hejinian, Geoffrey O’Brian, and John Shoptaw.

Stanley is the other of Vancouver: A Poem, After Desire, and, most recently, North of California St., which George Fetherling described as a “rich selection” of work, often “kaleidoscopic and discontinuous” and containing “great beauty.”

You can watch two videos of Stanley reading (aloud), and download our podcast episode featuring him in conversation with George Bowering, here.

Struthers’s pot tome postponed, excerpted


Devil V1Andrew Struthers’s new book of marijuana stories and insights, The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed, is postponed indefinitely. We look forward to announcing a firm publication date for this hilarious and (still) timely book, but it won’t be in 2016.

To allay the rumours spread by Andrew’s Truthers that he buried the manuscript to increase its potency but then couldn’t find it, we are highly pleased to share this second excerpt (see here for part 1) from the fiendish side of the forthcoming book:



by Andrew Struthers

I moved into the forest to live intentionally, to create a space that I could call home. That seems fatuous right now, because the next thing to go when you’re tripping Buckyballs is space itself. By the light of reason all things appear separate and discreet, which gives rise to the illusion of cause and effect; but down here in the roaring dark everything is connected to everything else. For example, in 1974 an explosion in the price of shrimp sends Jamie, a fisherman from Vancouver, on an unexpected journey to Nova Scotia, where he buys a shrimp dragger, planning to motor home through the Panama Canal, but when he reaches Jamaica he makes a stop.

At the bar in Kingston town he meets a Chinese businessman who’s also interested in shrimp. He offers Jamie a tidy sum for the dragger he just bought. Ka-ching! Jamie takes the man out on the water to show him how well the vessel works, but the net wraps around a submerged rock and grinds the gears to shrapnel, at which point the businessman bails, so Jamie ties up at the quay and waits for engine parts to ship down from Miami.

Next morning three dock rats beg him for a bread bag from the galley, twist up half an ounce of ganja in it, set it ablaze and pass it to Jamie, who draws on that crumpled foot-long ’till the cherry cracks and spits like a newly-set campfire. The torch is tended by a crew of teenage boys whose sole possession is a bubble pipe made from a coconut with a clay chillum stuck in one hole and a yard of surgical tubing in the other.

Next day on the beach each tween tosses sacrament into the bowl from stashes wrapped in paper like rolls of pennies, then they light the chillum with one of the wrappers and take three puffs apiece, exhaling every wisp to purge the “old smoke”, a rite which to a Rastasfarian is serious as Lent, and for reasons as opaque. The last lungful they hold in, in, in … then out it comes, till the air turns blue and all Jamie can see is a hand coming out of the mist, like the Lady of the Lake clutching a pipestem instead of a sword.

Now Jamie’s crew is lost on land, the bonfire of their sanity burns all day, all week, all month, and still the engine parts do not arrive. A born Celt, Jamie knows a faerie ring when he sees one and dances around in it for a month, so he wangles his way onto a bomber, flies to Miami, buys the engine parts and flies back the same day, and then a month in debt to the Time Lords — he and his crew at last escape that faraway beach.

This is the problem with the stones of summer: the story is so good you never want it to end, although clearly you can overdo peace, love and misunderstanding, a hard truth Steve discovers when he moves from Sooke to Saltspring, just fifty miles as the crow flies, yet worlds apart. Sooke is a logging town on the south tip of Vancouver Island where pot is so scarce  Steve doesn’t toke until he’s ten, when some older kids with a joint of shaggy leaf smoke him up behind the video arcade on Sea Otter Road and he plays Missile Command and Donkey Kong until dark.

Two years later his dad moves the family to Saltspring, a hippie wunderland where his new best friend Corey pops out from behind a bush at the school bus stop every morning brandishing a joint, and by the time they reach the school in Ganges they’re basted, along with all the other kids, who carry bags of weed from their parents’ grow-ops, which pepper the woods for miles around. One afternoon he’s called into the office while he has an ounce of bud stashed in his crotch, and nothing happens because The Authorities just don’t care, and truth be told, pot is the least of Steve’s problems — his parents are rabid Pentecostals, so inside the house dad lays down the law like Moses, while outside it’s sex and drugs as far as the third eye can see.

The girl next door is called Sasha and her parents are nudists, so all day a dozen naked hippies bounce on the trampoline by the pool while Steve spies on them with binoculars from a tree near the fence. He’s never once seen the dad wear pants, not even the time Sasha forgets her lunch and he runs naked along the verge behind the van with his boner bouncing, shaking the little brown bag and shouting Honey! You forgot this! Honey! for a good quarter-mile, and one Sunday when his father is driving the family to church Steve spots an aged hippie woman shitting on her own vegetable garden.

That sort of thing can knock a young man back, and soon Steve’s thirst for boundaries and underpants drives him off Saltspring and into the city of Victoria, which to his bumpkin eyes burns like the last line of a Blake poem. Summer’s here and the time is right for smoking in the streets. A rooftop toke while the sun descends over a great city like New York or Charn, and you can see clear to the End of Time, and the hotter the better, unless you’re in  Montreal, where the swelter holds you down and fondles you like a drunk priest.

Which is not to say that all priests are pedophiles; Kevin’s priest at St Bruno’s is a real cool cat, he lends out the church key to the local kids, and all night long they blast CHOM-FM through the organ speakers into the street. It’s 1974, so CHOM spins “Satisfaction,” “Purple Haze,” anything except “Stairway To Heaven,” which stoner kids request so often the DJs impose a quota, gleefully announcing around dusk, That’s it! No more ‘Stairway’ ’till tomorrow!

Apart from “Stairway,” anything goes, so one night when his parents go out Kevin cycles to St. Bruno’s to join the fun, then can’t ride home again because he’s too high to pedal, and as he winds on down the road the bike keeps falling sideways into hedgerows, so he pushes it all the way and arrives just as his parents pull up, then his worried dad follows him into the house asking, What’s up? and Kevin thinks for a moment then hurls onto his dad’s shoes, which are at least twelve feet away. The human body is capable of amazing things, something I learned from surfing all day and only coming ashore to eat and sleep, because as soon as I’m out there time washes away and I’m left in an eternal Now, despite the constant threat of being sledgehammered into the sea floor, a terror you have to embrace, which is probably why I’m not worried this hot tub trip will take a wrong turn despite having gobbled enough THC to kill Tusko the elephant. I’ve dropped acid till the walls turned into playing cards, but I’ve never been as blitzed as I am right now — images are tumbling from my cortex like clowns from a tiny car — but I’m safe in the knowledge that no amount of THC can kill you — unlike panic, which will do the job in a trice.

How the Other 99% Live: Anarchy for Anglo Dads


New Star Books has acquired English-language rights to l’Anarchie expliqué à mon pere by Thomas Déri and Francis Dupuis-Déri, published in 2014 by Lux Editeur of Montreal.

Written in the form of a dialogue between father and son (which they are), the authors, professor / writer / editor / translator Thomas Déri and Francis Dupuis-Déri, political science professor at l’Universite de Montreal, sketch some of the foundational ideas giving impetus to resurgent anarchism-inspired political actions that have been making world headlines in recent years. Francis Dupuis-Déri is the author of Who’s Afraid Of the Black Blocs?

The translator is John Gilmore, whose rendition of Bernard Émond‘s novel, 20h17, rue Darling, was published by Guernica Editions in 2014. He is the author of Head of a Man, published by Reality Street Editions of the UK, and Swinging In Paradise: The Story of Jazz in Montreal.

Anarchy Explained to My Father is scheduled for publication in Fall 2017.

Conditions over the Continent: Lisa Robertson translations forecast


The Weather, the third book by French-resident Canadian poet Lisa Robertson, published in 2001 by New Star Books, is soon to appear in French and Swedish editions.

Eric Suchère’s French translation, Le Temps, is being published this year by Éditions Nous. Based in Caen, Editions Nous has published works by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mina Loy, Paul Celan, Robert Creeley, and Jacques Ranciere, among many others.

Suchère is a poet and translator whose translation of My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Works of Jack Spicer was published by Éditions Le Bleu du Ciel.

The Weather’s Swedish publisher is Rámus Förlag, based in Malmo. Ramus has also published Rosemarie Waldrop, Peter Nadas, Charles Reznikoff, and Terry Eagleton in Swedish.

Translator Niclas Nilsson has also translated the works of Anne Sexton, Don DeLillo, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lyn Hejinian, and Roxane Gay into Swedish, and has published three books of poetry of his own.

Details of both agreements were finalized by Bill Hanna of Acacia House Publishing Services, based not so very far from Newmarket, Ontario.

Hannah Calder’s new novel launches May 27th at the People’s Co-op


New Star Books and Hannah Calderlaunch poster for Hannah Calder's new novel Piranesi's Figures of Vernon, BC, proud mother of More House, is pleased to announce the union of her new novel Piranesi’s Figures to whoever wishes to dip into its luscious pages.

Piranesi’s Figures is a fantastic tale of ruinous marriages and illicit love that hops from mid-century England to present-day Rome, and reaches back to 18th-century Rome to add the titular Figures, street urchins etched by Giovanni Bttista Piranesi, to its ensemble cast. Michael Turner says that “reading Calder is to move through the world barefoot over asphalt, grass, sand and water. This is sensual, insightful writing.”

The Vancouver launch is on Friday, May 27 at the People’s Co-op Bookstore at 1391 Commercial Drive. We’d be delighted to see you there.

Doors are at 7 PM; the ceremonies will begin nearer to 8. Refreshments will be provided and books will be sold.

(The facebook event page is here.)

TRADE NEWS: Brunswick Books takes over sales & distribution


We’re pleased to be distributed and represented to the trade by Brunswick Books (formerly Fernwood Books) effective today. Brunswick has specialized in independent and progressive books for 35 years, and represented New Star for a period in the 1980s. We’re excited to return to the fold, and confident it’s a good fit for both parties.

Brunswick Books
(416) 703-3598

Many thanks to Julia and everyone at LitDistCo for their hard work over the past few years. Booksellers can return New Star titles to LitDistCo until July 31, 2016.

Happy 4/20, here’s an excerpt from Andrew Struthers’s new pot book


9781554201150-Sacred-Herb-Devils-Weed-3DlWe totally meant to have an entire new Andrew Struthers book for you today, but as the ganja gods say, “no effort when tea is smoked.” In his defence, wrangling stories from over a hundred potheads is like herding cats that are also potheads. The book will be here soon — we’re saying June at this point — but in the meantime here’re 797 words, including ten from P. K. Dick, from Struthers’s fourth, coming book The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed, now just two months overdue.

From The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed by Andrew Struthers




Last spring my Protestant work ethic took a hit when two pot dispensaries opened on my street. They call pot the Great Unmotivator, and sure enough, summer was long and hot, I went swimming instead of writing, by Fall I began to run out of cash on a regular basis, and when winter rolls around I desperately pitch a book idea to my publisher. But he doesn’t bite, so I pull a second book out of my ass, like a rabbit from a top hat, surprising even myself:

“What about a book on marijuana?”

He says, “How soon can you turn that around?”

Ka-ching! We agree the perfect launch date is April 20, or 4:20, but it’s already December, and no one works through Christmas except hedge fund managers and elves, so on January 1 I realize I have 29 days to write 50,000 words, and it can’t be done, especially blitzed, so I don the mantle of artistic responsibility, stub out, and step up.

Two days later the mantle begins to chafe, and by Day Three I’m back to smoking my brains out and hoping some of them will land on the page, then I recall how Tom Sawyer tricks his friends into whitewashing his Aunt’s fence, which inspires me to Skype a hundred potheads from my Facebook feed and get them to write the book for me, and it works – I nearly make my deadline, which feat I hope will dispel the myth of pot as the Great Unmotivator.

But the book comes out as one long rambling sentence. I mean, does it even make sense? You be the judge. The jury. The Executioner.

*  *  *


“I know a lot of people who think God sleeps in pot.”

— Phillip K. Dick


त्रेता युग

I’m curled up at the bottom of a hippie hot tub in Tuff City, breathing through a yard of rubber hose that once connected the heater to the propane tank, having just ingested what Terrence McKenna calls a heroic dose of THC baked into a chocolate cake, and embarked upon that inward voyage Joseph Campbell calls the hero’s journey, although I ate the cake by mistake, so technically it’s more of what my big Swedish pal Martin would call a total fuckup.

But it’s too late to worry, my only chance is to relax and float downstream, which is problematic thanks to my Protestant work ethic, something I can’t just ditch because I’m from Scotland, where we invented the idea, along with TV, asphalt and soccer hooligans. Scotland is a culture divided against itself, because the State is Christian but the people are Celts. The Christian Heaven is a gated community with a controlled entrance, like a pub with a bouncer, but the Celtic Otherworld is all around us, only it’s invisible, like a dope ring behind a line of trees, or a group of friends smoking from a gravity bong in a basement. At any moment a Celt might turn a bend in a country lane, or lose the path in the woods, and find themselves suddenly surrounded by Others: brownies, bogles, kelpies. There’s no shortage of tales where a farmer or small business owner or possibly some sort of banker, just so long as he has a three-pointed hat and a horse, tarries too long at the brightly-lit pub and on his ride home stumbles through a ring of toadstools in a field, where fey jigs reel him in and he dances wildly ’round till dawn, when he finds twenty years have passed and he’s old. Such is the faerie ring.

Substitute dope for faerie, and you have my life in Clayoquot, which I visited for the May long weekend when I was twenty-two and filled with salad plans of conquering the world with books and movies, and won’t be leaving for three more years, when I’ll be pushing forty.

No matter – the first thing to slacken when you get this gooned is the timeline. Not Time itself, which rolls implacable as a millstone, but the line of time, the illusion of future and past, that useful fiction we must soon abandon along with democracy, capitalism and gender roles. Not Gender itself, which will continue to stuff us willy-nilly into its crude slots at birth, but gender roles, and Mary Jane might be the handmaid to our tale of cultural collapse. Don’t get me wrong — it’ll be a disaster, we’re poised to junk every institution that makes escape from brute existence possible, and if there’s one thing better than getting back to Nature it’s getting away from Her, a secret I learned from living seven years with no electricity or plumbing, in the hippie commune on the edge of town.

Gustave Morin earns Alcuin nod, is UnBound bound

from Clean Sails the video

Morin in a still from Clean Sails the video

Clean Sails, the “strange, stunning” volume of typewriter poetry from Gustave Morin, continues to turn heads, most recently at the Alcuin book design awards where it earned an honourable mention for designers Gustave Morin and Mark Laliberte. An armada of Clean Sails will now embark on a Magellanesque voyage to Tokyo and Germany to enter a global book design competition and join permanent collections there, before returning to traverse Canada from St. John’s to Victoria.

Morin himself, meanwhile, will be sailing the mighty 401 up to Toronto next month to appear at the Pages UnBound Festival at the Art Gallery of Ontario. On the afternoon of Saturday, May 7 he’ll set up a half-dozen typewriters in the foyer of Jackman Hall for a live typewriter poetry demonstration, and then perform that evening at “Doing Things With Words,” an event in the Hall proper with Kaie Kellough, Jason Sharp, and Aisha Sasha John. Check out Pages UnBound‘s website or facebook for details.