Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

James Lindsay

Share |
James Lindsay has been a bookseller for more than a decade. He is also co-owner of Pleasence Records in Toronto, a record label specializing in post-punk, odd-pop and avant-garde sound pieces.He is the author of the poetry collection Our Inland Sea (Wolsak & Wynn).

You can write to James throughout April at

Poets in Profile: James Lindsay

Toronto book lovers already know James Lindsay as one of the friendly faces behind the counter at indie darling TYPE Books on Queen West, but his own acclaimed poetry has also been appearing in journals and magazines across the country. Now readers can experience James' work in his first full length collection (with one of our favourite titles of the season!), Our Inland Sea (Wolsak & Wynn). The buzz is spreading rapidly, with reviewers and fellow poets praising James' work (Jacob McArthur Mooney endorsed the collection with a critique no less than "James Lindsay can do everything").

Our Inland Sea

By James Lindsay

From Wolsak & Wynn:

Step Right Up to Our Inland Sea!

  • Watch in amazement as a funnel cloud picks a fight with a Ferris wheel!
  • Learn the secrets of wrangling yeti and shooting sasquatch!
  • Experience thrills and chills as you visit the ghost towns of Ontario and China!
  • Marvel at the Coney Island Aquarium and the reclaimed Gold Rush Hotel!

With fantastical imagery and attention to detail, these poems pull you into a funhouse world where a prime minister walks you to school and Gordon Lish takes over a poem. You will encounter animals in uniform and realize the Snowpocalypse is not what you think. Read on, and discover all these astonishing phenomena…and many more!

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

On Back and Forth

Much like how poetry and fiction can give perspective on inner dialogue—the stuff of conscious thought—and how it works, interviews can be displays of outer thought—the stuff of collaboration and conversation: the bricks and mortar of society. In the best cases what we witness in an interview is an exercise in empathy, two minds tossing language back and forth, trying to get at a point, and working to get at that point together. Whether that goal, that conclusion of thought, is reached is not important, and not why we play audience to the exchange. It’s the exchange itself that is significant.

"We're All Teachers," an Interview With Michael Fraser

Michael Fraser is a high school teacher and author of two collections of poetry, The Serenity of Stone, and, most recently, To Greet Yourself Arriving. If you attended NOW Magazine’s Battle of the Bards this year at IFOA, then you had the pleasure of seeing his powerful reading of a selection of poems from his latest collection, a portrait series of significant figures in black history, from Harriet Tubman to Oprah to Basquiat. I wanted to ask him about how he picked these individuals and the relationship between poetry and teaching.

"Obsession Looks Different on Everyone," an Interview With Emma Healey

Emma Healey is the poetry critic for the Globe and Mail. Her book, Begin With the End in Mind, is a witty collection of prose poetry, a sort of Young Urbanist’s Guide to being Canadian, a 21st century Lunch Poems. Breezy and conversational, her work is able to touch on national politics and intimate relationships in close motions. I wanted to ask her about poetry criticism and how the Internet has affected it.

James Lindsay: What is it about a book of poetry that draws you to write about it? And how do you start? What's your entry point to writing about poetry?

“I Imagine the Mind Like a Cleared Field,” an Interview with Chad Campbell

Chad Campbell’s Laws & Locks is an ambitious debut collection of poetry that is part family history and part memoir. Charting the Campbell family's emigration to Canada in 1827 and shifting to the present, Laws & Locks is an unwavering look at mental health, addiction, and the immigrant experience. Using plainspoken, but moving language, Campbell uses long form sequences to paint a complex picture of the wraithlike way past generations of family affect the future. I wanted to ask him about writing habits and what he’s been working on recently.

James Lindsay: What kind of music do you listen to when you write and do you think it affects your writing?

“I am Not Not Romantic,” an Interview with Andy McGuire

In a 2011 interview with Guernica Magazine, poet Timothy Donnelly, in response to a question about the influences he had just named (Keats and Shelley) and whether he considered his work in the tradition of the Romantics, replied that he though of himself as a “post-romantic.” If we take Donnelly’s work as an example of what post-romanticism might be, then this is a poetry where the vehicle is the sound and image, is pleasure and liberation, but also something darker as well, something heart broken, watching from the shadows.

"Instead of Throwing up Our Hands . . . We Asked Ourselves Hard Questions," an Interview With Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is author of the poetry collection Galaxy and an editor at Room , Canada’s oldest literary journal by and about women. We both attended Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio program at the same time, where the very compassionate Miranda Pearson mentored our poetry, and Rachel was one of the first poets I ever met.

“There are lots of good non-poetry things to assign your time to,” an Interview with Jacob McArthur Mooney

Jacob McArthur Mooney is an author of three collections of poetry, an occasional critic, and the current host of the Pivot reading series. His latest, Don’t be Interesting, explores the cult of personality and spectacle as ritual at the end of history Don’t be Interesting is already one of my favorite books of the year, so I had a few question for Jacob about criticism, spectacle and routine.

"Pop Singing Always Seemed Gay to Me," a Conversation With Derek McCormack

There are no other writers in Canada doing what Derek McCormack does. His books are obsessed with history, music, sex, fashion and horror; each one reinventing itself in a new form. Like Kathy Acker, he legitimizes obscenity and smut, combining them with dark comedy and making it his metaphorical fuel that he smears across the page in a way that is both very funny and very sad at the same time. I first met Derek over a decade ago when we both worked at the now defunct Book City at 501 Bloor Street. He’s always been great for recommending new writers, so we had a tête-à-tête about poetry, music and self-deprecation.

"There Will Always Be People Passionate About Music in the Abstract and Imaginative Sense," Slim Twig's Literary Influences

In 2012 my record label, Pleasence Records, co-released Slim Twig’s conceptual baroque-rock album, A Hound at the Hem (later reissued on DFA), along with his own label, Calico Corp. String arrangements by Owen Pallett and Slim Twig’s fondness of harpsichord give the album a grandiose atmosphere that evokes the orchestration of The Zombies and Serge Gainsbourg.

In The House of Saucer: an interview with Jesse Locke on his upcoming Simply Saucer biography, Heavy Metalloid Music

Jesse Locke is one of the great unsung heroes of Canadian music journalism. Through his years of work as a writer and editor for Weird Canada and AUX he has helped to expose countless bands and artists from across the country. In full disclosure, I am lucky to call him one of my best friends, so I was ecstatic when I heard that the Canadian-music-centric Eternal Cavalier Press had picked up his book, Heavy Metalloid Music, on the legendary Hamilton psychedelic proto-punks Simply Saucer.

"All Music is Coded," an Interview with Jean Marc Ah-Sen

“Somewhere amid the bladdered haze of sleep, I managed to buff a zigzag pathway across two whole floors, faintly resembling my initials—even with the horrors, my subconscious still being raved for acknowledgment.”

Music to Work to

I enjoy having a soundtrack while I write, music stimulates me when I lose concentration, but it can’t be anything with lyrics. Songs are too distracting. I think there’s a part of my mind that innately recognizes that words are being uttered and wants to try to make sense of them. As if I was being spoken to, I need to process the communication and think of a response so as to not be rude. So when I write the music I listen to tends to be on the instrumental and ambient side: background music I don’t have to fully commit to, that I can easily stop paying attention to but then settle right back in with when the writing pauses. In no way is this statement against the quality of this music.

On Fallout: an Interview with Michael Lista about "The Shock Absorber"

Please note the views and opinions expressed by writers in the Open Book writer-in-residence program are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Open Book, its staff or contributors

"Poetry Would Blow Up like Beyoncé" An Interview with Robin Richardson

Robin Richardson is a writer, poet and illustrator. She is the author of the poetry collections Grunt of the Minotaur, Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis, and Sit How You Want, forthcoming on Véhicule Press. Most recently she founded the Minola Review, an online journal for women, femme-identifying, and non-binary individuals. I remember repeatedly reading her poem “Little Robin Explains Growing Up” (from Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis) when it first appeared in Tin House, struck by its probing imagery (“What does static/ on pink cotton have to do with sleep?”) and confident, confessional tone (“I lost his love/ the day I learned to know things on my own”).

With Sook-Yin Lee on Selecting the Poets for "Where Have All the Poets Gone?"

It was exciting news when Sook-Yin Lee announced that she had tracked down seminal Canadian Poetry figure and recluse Phyllis Webb for her new documentary Where have all the Poets Gone? The short doc, currently streaming on CBC Books , begins with Lee discovering Webb interviewing bpNichol and bill bissett on the ‘60s CBC poetry talk show Extension. This prompts her to track Webb down and talk about why she gave up writing poetry. What follows is then Lee’s personal exploration of current poetry in Canada and features interviews with Stephen Collis, Samantha Bernstein, Ronnie Clarke, Liz Howard, Vivek Shraya, Lena Suksi, and Elana Wolff.

An Introduction and Disclaimer

Outside of a brief stint at Simon Fraser University’s The Writers’ Studio program, I have no post-secondary education. My experience with books has been primarily shaped as a bookseller, a job I’ve had for over a decade now. First as a volunteer at an anarchist bookstore in Vancouver that burned down; then at the now closed Book City in the Annex; and, most recently, at Type Books on Queen Street, which I hope nothing bad happens to.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.