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Oct 042013


Julie Bruck won the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry last year for her third collection MONKEY RANCH. She is from Montreal but lives in San Francisco. Her other two books (all three published by Brick Books) are THE END OF TRAVEL (1999) and THE WOMAN DOWNSTAIRS (1993). Herewith NC offers a wonderful interview Julie recently gave NC’s Contributing Editor Ann Ireland plus a trove of poems. By mysterious Fate or Synchronicity or sheer Coincidence (still astonishing) it just so happens that Julie Bruck will be reading in Fredericton (where dg is the Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick, in case you’ve forgotten) Saturday and Sunday at Ross Leckie’s famous Poetry Weekend. According to the latest reading schedule (there is a cast of dozens it seems; never so many poets in once place—difficult to organize; a veritable extravaganza of poets with a huge party at Sharon McCartney‘s house where DG will partake of the Barking Squirrel), Julie Bruck will be reading at Gallery 78 Saturday at 2pm and again at 8pm on Sunday at Memorial Hall.



Ann Ireland: Your poems slow the reader down so that we pay attention to moments that might fly by, unobserved. In your first book the poem CLOSURE feels like  a statement of poetic intent. Thoughts on this?

Julie Bruck:


Who hasn’t had days when the door
stayed  ajar; the important business call
in which you meant to sound brisk
but goodbye came out bye-bye?
Or when you talked over someone
saying what they’ve tried for years
to say;  hung up in the middle
of I love you, or got hung up on.
A plane takes off and a small child
turns from the cloud-streaked
window, asks, what happened?,
and sobs for the rest of the trip.
Poof!–gone are her grandfather’s
delicate nose-hairs, the sunlit world
with its parking-lot  demarcations.
There’s just this terrible shaking
between the past and future.
You want  to know when it stops.

There’s  a poem I haven’t thought about in a long time! When it was written, circa 1990,  I wouldn’t have pegged  the poem for an ars poetica, but you’re definitely on to something. I’m a person who mourns for what has yet to be lost, for whom the concept of “closure” is laughable. I refuse to come to terms with how provisional and temporary life is. Is that a form of arrested development? I suspect so.  Meanwhile, looking slowly and clearly at even the smallest things is an attempt to wrest a snippet of meaning from the passing moment, or to restore the dignity or beauty—even the embarrassment—inherent in what can be so ephemeral.

If I revised that poem today, I’d change “delicate” to “wiry,” a more concise word for how an old man’s nose hair looks to a child. I’m starting to  understand why poets like Stanley Kunitz and Donald Justice kept changing and reissuing their early poems in their late years. I’d also cross-examine those semi-colons. But please, stop me before I start. What a slippery slope.

AI:You write of place, of growing up in Montreal. How did it affect your writing to move to San Francisco?

JB: I have a long, intimate connection to Montreal, the kind you don’t get twice in one lifetime. It took almost a decade before I felt like I lived in San Francisco, as seductive as this place can be. When I was new to the Bay Area, I once complained to (the poet) Heather McHugh about homesickness, and she said something to the effect of, you never leave where you come from, you simply carry it with you. At the time, this advice sounded more like one of Stuart Smalley’s Daily Affirmations on Saturday Night Live, but Heather, who also has roots in Canada, is the smartest person I know. Sure enough, as both cities took up residence in my writing, I came to feel both more grounded in California and more connected to where I’m from. That was an enormous relief, though I should have had more faith: so many writers whose work I admire retain a creative foot– if not both feet–in their place of origin. James Thurber said, “The clocks that strike in my dreams are often the clocks of Columbus.” My chimes will always be the CBC’s “long dash, followed by a period of silence,” though I’m beginning to  take comfort in the emergency siren that sounds here every Tuesday at noon, with its warbling reminder that “this is just a test.”

Julie Bruck 4

AI: How might you describe your upbringing, the household you grew up in?

JB: Idyllic and fraught. My dad, who died just days before his 98th birthday this March, was the president of a textile company when there still was a large domestic textile industry in Canada, so our family was quite affluent. I grew up in a big Georgian greystone in Westmount, and my two older brothers and I went to a private school a few blocks away. By the time I was nine, my brothers had left for colleges in the U.S., and their absence had a big effect on me, though I didn’t know it at the time. On one hand, I gained a great deal of solitude in the big house (a state I still crave today), and on the other, I became an only child, wedged between my parents, absorbing the dissonance from two well-meaning people who never should have married. My father was, despite his liberal politics and fascination with Thomas Jefferson, very traditional in his family expectations, while my mother wasn’t one for the bell jar. While my dad would come home wrung out from dealing with budding labor unions, my mother was organizing anti-poverty or clothing drives on behalf of the children of these very same people. So, while I enjoyed all the pleasures that my father’s work brought us, I also received a clear message from my mother, which was that our largesse was built on someone else’s labor. Something was always rotten in the state of Denmark, and I began to look at things from a slight remove, a stance I still have. These particular family matters are things I’d just begun to revisit in Monkey Ranch, and I don’t think I’ve quite exhausted them, as my long answer to your question suggests.

AI: When did you start reading poetry? Were you read poetry as a child? Which poets first excited you?

JB: My mother read Edward Lear and other children’s verse out loud when I was little, and my father liked to quote Ogden Nash, but aside from a voracious appetite for British children’s mysteries with ponies in them, I never became an enthusiastic young reader. My parents loved to read, and this may have been a reaction, I don’t know. I do know that I wanted to be outside, preferably with real animals instead of imaginary ones. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I started to read actively. Those were tough years, and I was looking for meaning and excitement wherever I could find it. I read lots of Canadian women poets, especially Atwood. I had much reading ahead of me. If I’d known how much, I might have fled for the hills.

AI: You began training as a visual artist. What caused the change in direction? Do you still make visual art or is your highly visual poetry taking care of that?

JB: After a few years of photography, using both 35mm and large format cameras, I was frustrated with needing so much equipment to make  such quiet, simple things.  I’d just completed my freshman year at The San Francisco Art Institute, and the little kitchen in my apartment doubled as a darkroom. Since I was using traditional archival methods, one day it dawned on me that I was probably washing my fruits and vegetables in selenium toner or gold chloride.  To make a long story shorter, the simplicity of a pen and a notebook looked good. And of course, poetry is another way of framing what one sees, one that uses revision instead of dodging and burning to fill in the shadows and set the brightness, the contrast, the tensions in the work.  There are plenty of kinships between the two mediums.

This week, I stumbled across a familiar bright orange box at the local thrift shop, the same rare, soft Agfa portrait paper I used to use.  Someone had ripped open the light-proof black wrapping inside the box–to inspect the contents, I guess–exposing and ruining every sheet. I stood there for a few minutes, feeling very sad and very analog.

I still have my Olympus OM-1, but it needs repair, which is both hard to find and expensive. Eventually,  I’ll have it fixed, even if I take the film to Walgreen’s, and have the images digitized.

AI: How is the writing scene in Montreal different from SF?

JB: Montreal’s Anglophone writing scene is very small and intimate, while the Bay Area’s writing “communities”  are multiple and widely scattered.  In a way, they mirror the topography here, which has scores of neighborhoods folded into these dramatic hills. If you chose to, you could attend a literary event every night in San Francisco, and never touch down, but it would be hard to get any work done.

AI: Did you know any writers when you moved to SF?

JB: My spouse, Lewis Buzbee, is a writer and a third-generation Californian, so I got to know local writers through him. I’ve also made writerly friends on my own here, but  much of my writing life remains tied to Canada, and  I still exchange work with friends in Montreal. I was 40 when I picked up stakes, and these old affections transcend geography. They’re akin to what Leonard Cohen lovingly refers to as his “neurotic affiliations” in Montreal. They run deep.


AI: Advantages to having a foot in Canada and the USA. Any disadvantages?

JB: Quite honestly, I never  plan  much according to practical advantages and disadvantages, for better and for worse. I’ve just followed my dumb heart so far. Except for parenthood, which changes everything,  my daily life here isn’t so different from what it was in  Montreal. Like most writers, I  struggle to carve  time  from work and other responsibilities to get a few quiet hours to work .

I sometimes wonder whether living in San Francisco isn’t more like being in Oz than living in the U.S. It’s such a left-leaning, progressive place, it’s easy to lose sight of the rest of the country from here. Meanwhile, growing up as an Anglophone in Quebec might have been the perfect training for living a bit of a split existence. I can just add one more hyphen. When I lived in Canada, I had a foot in the States.  Now I have a foot in Canada. When you come down to it, isn’t that how most writers live–with one foot in the immediate surround, and another inside  the work that goes on in their heads? Ugh, I’m mangling this metaphor so badly, I should have to walk around with a foot in my head.

AI: What kind of work do you do in SF?

JB: For nearly nine years, I’ve taught  year-round poetry classes for adults at The Writing Salon in the Mission district, as well as working privately with a few individual writers.  During the academic year, I also tutor part-time at The University of San Francisco, and pick up various freelance gigs. This is an expensive city, and we have a teenager, so I scramble a fair bit.

AI: Thoughts on teaching poetry? What is it that you teach your students?

JB: If there’s one thing I try to convey above all else, it’s the importance  of breaking the tyranny of  pre-determined subject matter, just enough to allow for real discoveries to happen in the writing. This is something  I’ve had to learn and relearn myself, and  each time I  “relearn”  it is an exhilaration.

Many beginners–and not just a few seasoned writers–feel that they can’t write without that familiar pressure in the chest, the one associated with something particularly painful in their lives. They’re carrying such a heavy biscuit when they sit down to write, it’s no wonder they avoid their desks.  What I try to teach, and it’s often a challenge since we’re so often bound by our versions of “what actually happened,” is that whether you’re exploring metaphor by writing from the point of view of a lychee nut, or taking on the challenges of some new and unfamiliar form, it’s the engagement with language that matters most.  If divorce is on your mind, that lychee nut might be cleaved, that delicious word that means both torn apart and joined, and what would that suggest about separation and loss? Maybe a villanelle’s patterns of repetition won’t narrow your possible word choices, but actually expand them, pointing to a word you’d never have considered, but which couldn’t be more apt. These kinds of playful engagements are, I think, the best ways  to discover meaning  you couldn’t have predicted, and to make poems that are fresher, deeper, and more relevant to the reader. In that state of mind, your heart rate goes up just reading the dictionary. You come to realize that your angle of approach can vary wildly, but your own themes  will always surface, and that  no-one’s going to take away your voice.

Hmm, I notice that the teacherly “you” has infiltrated this conversation.

Monkey Ranch

AI: How has your work changed in form and content over the three books?

JB: I hope the work has become more expansive. Some poems from the first two books might confuse precision with depth, though I’m likely not the best judge of that.  The books span 20 years. I’ve grown older, had a kid, and the newer poems should, to steal a photographic term, have a wider angle of view. Teaching has also been helpful to me as a writer.  I decided early on that I couldn’t impose anything on my students I wasn’t willing to try, and I think that kind of playfulness, coupled with the game exuberance I see in so many of my students has  tempered a streak of preciousness in me. It’s made the writing more fun.

AI: You’re not prolific ( I should talk)—can you talk about your writing process?

JB: Yes, I’m awfully slow, but most of that has to do with being an ardent reviser. And often, it’s only when I see the shadow  of a manuscript emerging from what had been just a stack of drafts, that I can finish certain pieces, since the revisions involve not only what’s on that particular page, but how that poem might interact with its new neighbors, in its new town.

AI: Thoughts on traditional poetic forms and metrics?  How important is sound?

JB: I like the constraints of traditional forms, and the surprising ways those limitations can be freeing, but I’ve only included a few loose sonnets in my books. That may change in the next collection, since I’m having a good time with certain fixed forms at the moment.

Sound matters a great deal. Free verse is really just variations on basic iambic pentameter  (I hate to see de eve’nin sun go downta-dum,ta-dum,ta-dum, ta-tum,ta-dum–the sound of our heart-beats), and patterns of stress are an essential part of a poem’s tension and meaning. I’ve never written strict metrical verse, but my ear is tuned to where the stresses fall in a poem, as well as to alliteration,  assonance and consonance, and to how line breaks manipulate sound.

AI: How does a poem gather in your head?

JB: A poem can begin almost anywhere,  but the most common scenario starts as an itch that I can’t quite scratch. There might be two or three seemingly unrelated images or bits of conversation or musical phrases, and an intuition that these things are connected. The real work lies in finding that connective tissue, and in the process, discovering why this particular poem wants to be written, what gesture it wants to make. I once heard Robert Pinsky describe some poems in terms of their “infinitives.” He looked at several pieces for the particular movement or gesture in each one; to seek, to lament, to persuade.  That’s an approach I’ve found to be very helpful, as long as I don’t close in on the poem’s infinitive too soon, and exclude other possibilities the poem may hold.  I always want to let the poem lead, and I think a reader knows when a writer has wrested control of the thing too early. Those poems feel predetermined, as if the writer has decided the poem’s an elegy, while the poem itself feels resistant –like it really wants to blow the deceased’s cover.

Very rarely, a finished poem just lands in my lap. But those usually come when I’ve been working hard on thorny pieces, or ones I’ve had to abandon. I no longer stand around waiting for lightning to strike. Life’s too short.

The End of Travel

AI: Do you see yourself as having a ‘poetic project’ that continues as a through- line in your books. What is it that you seek to engage with, to investigate over the years?

JB: Probably, ibid: That life’s too short. Occasionally, I’ll concoct grand plans for what’s next, but in the end the work seems to create its own path. I have to trust that there’s more than one note to be struck concerning the fact that we’re temporary–I think the history of literature certainly bears that out–and that those notes can also  be ones of dark humor, and even joy.

AI: In Monkey Ranch: “Snapshot at Uxmal, 1972,” you fix on what appears to  be a photograph of you as a teenager with your photographer mother. Mother pays attention to detail in her work, lots of zoom lens; father speaks of the – ‘vast scale of what he saw while heading off to visit larger ruins.’ You remark on the teenager in the photo: ‘Her father’s impatience hasn’t flared in her yet, / though she carries that too, an unstruck match.’  Care to comment?

JB: That poem arose from coming across a photo I’d taken of my mother, resting against a temple wall with her cameras. At fifteen, I was heavily identified with her. I would never have guessed that aspects of my father I also carried–his single-mindedness among them–were the very things that would let me differentiate myself from her later on. When a child acts as a buffer, or a compensation for a shaky marriage,  growing up and away can feel like a betrayal of that close parent. It can also anger the more distant parent, who needs the child to fill in for them emotionally, and that creates additional pressure on the kid.

That’s a lot of baggage for such a little poem to carry. I hope the reader doesn’t need all that information to feel the latent tension between a mother and daughter, but it is what underlies the “unstruck match.” A lot of young people feel  they are responsible for maintaining their family dynamic, and that opting out  of their assigned role is tantamount to setting fire to the family.

AI: I note several references to Elizabeth Bishop. How has she influenced your thinking and writing?

JB: I’ve been reading Bishop for many years–the poems and prose, all her collections of letters, and every biography out there. In truth, I have no idea whether my great affection for her work has had any direct influence me or not, but I’ve often felt changed as a person by reading her. What I love best about her poems is how the emotional pressure of what’s left unsaid seeps through. All she has to do is describe that greasy little doily or the “hirsute begonia” in  her poem “Filling Station,” and I’m awash in both beauty and loneliness.

AI: Do you need any particular circumstances to be able to write?

JB: An empty flat is best but very rare, so I use the circumstances at hand. At the busiest times of the year, I have a standing, weekly writing appointment with my notebook in a parked car. As long as words get put down on a regular basis, I can live with myself, and I suspect this makes me easier to live with. I had a residency at The MacDowell  Colony many years ago, and I’ve kept a little essence of that kind of stillness tucked away inside. When I need it, I pour out just a few drops. A tincture of quiet. One day, I hope to get back there and refill it for the next decade or two.

AI: Which poets should we read, dead and alive?

JB: I’m a promiscuous reader, so I’ll narrow it to (mostly) living writers in my country of residence. I have two current enthusiasms. The first is for what the Buddhists call “monkey mind,” meaning poems that dramatize the movement of mind,  with all those meanderings and loop-de-loops, though never at the expense of clarity and communication.  This would include work  by Lucia Perillo, Bob Hicok, Paul Muldoon, Jim Harrison, Nikki Finney, and C.K. Williams, just for starters.

A second excitement  comes from  poems that compress and distill, and here I think of Charles Simic, Kay Ryan,  Rae Armantrout and Jane Kenyon. Of course, this excludes poets who do both. It’s an impossible question, and if we throw Canada in the mix, I’m overwhelmed. Suffice to say, I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of Sue Goyette’s new book, “Ocean.”


AI: Californians are very outdoorsy, hiking and camping etc. You?

JB: Such a waste! I’m an urban creature, happy with daily walks or runs in  Golden Gate Park. Occasionally we leave the neighborhood to be astounded by the natural beauty of the state, but at heart we are city rats. You don’t really need to leave San Francisco to feel connected to nature. We have the shoreline of the Bay, the Presidio,  Crissy Field, all the boats,  and the fog blowing in and out. In our neighborhood, the fog tends to be in, which lends a winterish character to the summers.

AI: What music do you listen to? You refer to Richard Thompson a couple of times in your work.

JB: I’ve always been a devoted  fan of Richard Thompson, both as a guitarist and songwriter, and there are other singer-songwriters on my list (Patty Larkin, high among them), but  my  own playlists have been eclipsed  by my 15-year-old’s . She has the vinyl collection, and the biggest speakers in the house. That means I hear a lot of  Vampire Weekend  and  The Vaccines, among others. Hardship? I think not.

— Ann Ireland & Julie Bruck


Poems from Monkey Ranch



[SPACESPACE]My husband said he felt human again
after days of stomach flu, made himself French toast,
[SPACESPACESPACESPACESPACE]then lay down again to be sure.

[SPACESPACE]I took our daughter to the zoo,
where she stood on small flowered legs, transfixed by the drone
[SPACESPACESPACESPAC]a sound more retch than howl.

[SPACESPACE]Singing monkey, my girl says.
She is well-rested. We all are. As we slept, cold spring air arrived,
[SPACESPACESPACES]blown from the Bay where San Quentin

[SPACESPACE]Tonight, my girl will tell her father
(a man restored, even grateful, for a day or so), about what she
[SPACESPACESPACESPACESPACE]saw in the raised cage.
[SPACESPACESPACESPACE]Monkey singing, she will tell him,

[SPACESPACE]and later, tell every corner of her cool dark room,
until the crib springs ease because she’s run out of joy,
[SPACESPACESPACESPACESPACE]and fallen asleep on her knees.



Leaning into the sun-warmed stone, she must
be fifty, still beautiful, her strong frame
easy inside her loose shirt and jeans.

He’s gone to a larger ruin for the day,
someplace deeper in the jungle, more
challenging to reach by jeep or tank.

Here, where the early Mayans worshipped
the sun, appeased their gods with routine
live sacrifice, she will photograph only

small details in black and white. Later,
he’ll describe the jungle’s colours, ornate
bird plumage, the vast scale of what he saw.

She will need the afternoon to document a single
weed growing through a crack in the pediment,
a candy wrapper blown against an ancient step.

And there is the daughter, fifteen and not
quite as sullen as she’s going to be, shouldering
the pack of lenses, her mother’s fine-grain film.

Her father’s impatience hasn’t flared in her yet,
though she carries that too, an unstruck match,
trailing her mother through the tall, dry grass.



I am watching my mother’s neighbourhood
explode on live TV, when Ruth, my father’s
girlfriend, calls from her renovated kitchen,
reports she is baking an apple cake.

On screen, one more disaffected youth
in a trenchcoat, and bodies–trauma units
filling up fast with the dead and injured.
My father is 92, she is ten years younger.

They live in her B.C. apple orchard
after a twenty-five-year affair, which
somehow slipped under everyone’s radar,
lasting half of my parents’ marriage.

Are you watching the news? I ask.
Yes, she says, terrible isn’t it?
If I’d been able to speak, I would
have said, Yes Ruth, I haven’t reached

my mother: perhaps she’s dead.
But my father needs to talk
about an insight he’s gleaned
from a Steinbeck novel-on-tape.

I ask whether he’s seen the news.
Awful, isn’t it? he says,
and returns to East of Eden.
It is already dark in Montreal.

Blue police lights bounce on wet
streets and buildings I knew better
than my own hand, everything
cordoned with yellow crime-tape.

Once, I’d thought we’d all driven
my father away: conversation at the family
table was fast, digression the rule.
He’d often dozed off by dessert.

Guns drawn, a SWAT team flanks
the door to my mother’s building.
My father wraps up Steinbeck, inquires after
my health, says their kitchen smells good:

Ruth took those apples from the neighbour’s orchard.
She swears stolen apples have more flavor.



I used to watch my supple mother
bend to collect shells on the beach.
They piled up on the porch furniture–
she rarely threw anything back.
Look at how the water’s made
a Henry Moore hole in this one
she’d say, look–but I didn’t want
to be told what to look at, how to see,
didn’t want her using my head as
a spare room for her own, a self-
storage unit, though I couldn’t have
said so then, not even to myself.
Instead, I’d get a knot in my chest
that tightened on cue, I’d darken.
Now, when I gaze at my daughter,
she raises her eyes to mine in defiance:
Stop looking at me, she’ll growl, and why
am I surprised? I was looking at her brave brow,
the profile that’s her own and no-one else’s,
because yes, she’s a physical extension
of her father and me–I’m looking at what
we made, and she knows this in her marrow, puts
on her 100-yard stare and turns her face away:
all I can see is the tip of one ear,
sunlit almost to transparency,
its delicate runnels and inlets
shaped, as if by water.



Poems from End of Travel



It’s rare, slow as a creaking of oars,
and she is so frail and short of breath
on the street, the stairs–tiny, Lilliputian,
one wonders how they do it.
So, wakened by the shiftings of their bed nudging
our shared wall as a boat rubs its pilings,
I want it to continue, before her awful
hollow coughing fit begins. And when
they have to stop (always), until it passes, let
us praise that resumed rhythm, no more than a twitch
really, of our common floorboards. And how
he’s waited for her before pushing off
in their rusted vessel, bailing when they have to,
but moving out anyway, across the black water.



“I felt as if I was being kidnapped, even if I wasn’t.”
–Elizabeth Bishop

Imagine Elizabeth six years old,
being torn from this narrow province,
a train’s headlamp dividing the dark, south-west,
all the way to Worcester, Massachussetts, 1916.
Our bus flies down the same curved road,
past the sign for Pictou County, and a yellow
diamond warning magically of Flying Stones.
The skies are wild and northern. I can still
hear the aggrieved honking of the Canada goose
I disturbed this morning in the Wildlife Management Area,
and now, by the sign ordering us to YEILD
in the late half-light, I almost expect
Miss Bishop’s lonely moose, high as a church,
homely as a house, to appear at the next bend.
Our driver waves to every passing truck.
Their headlights flash across a farmhouse window,
redden the eye of a roadside dog.
One trucker doffs his cap as he roars past,
going home to his invisible house by the water,
where five pennies buys you a great many humbugs,
where the dress was all wrong. She screamed.
The child vanishes. Where the moon
in the bureau mirror looks out a million miles.



Just back from California this early Sunday,
and now, those introspective singer-songwriters, or Bach,
even the manic genius of Glenn Gould–just won’t cut it.
Outside, in the gentle Montreal morning
of my childhood, an old man shuffles past
on the arm of his paid, young companion.
Pink impatiens do what they do in orderly beds,
as the odd cyclist zips by in black-and-white Spandex
under Sherbrooke Street’s arched maples.
A homeless man, his hand out for change, seems
tentative, even apologetic. In San Francisco,
I heard someone tell a panhandler, ‘Sorry man,
but change comes from within.’ Yes, that’s
a non-sequitur, and neighbours, I’m sorry.
But this moth on the window screen is too grey
and plain to me, after driving the fire-seared hills
of Oakland, after crossing the Bay Bridge
to the city at nightfall, as bank fog moved
like pure violet cataclysm across the navy bay.
Neighbours, this calls for Peter Gabriel,
his overblown synthesizers, overlaid drum tracks.
Neighbours, we live like orderly mice here
atop the Laurentian fault, Precambrian
and deep as the San Andreas. Surely, this
calls for a brighter noise. I’m sorry, neighbours–
you, concert pianist; you, sleepy optician;
you, McGill phys.ed coach with the girlfriend,
here only on weekends–I’m sorry. But the man
I love sleeps on his side in that other landscape,
fog stalled over the city, as Sandburg said, on cat’s feet.
Here, our papers fill with fights over the language
of signs, instead of what they signify. I’m sorry,
neighbours, to wake you from pleasant or anxious
dreams, but the very limestone under your beds
is grinding against itself right now (for God’s
sake, I could have put on Wagner’s marches!),
and this building settled on its foundations
nearly one hundred years ago and trembles
with every bus that goes by. Neighbours,
I’m sorry about all this bass and percussion
so early on a Sunday, but hey–d’you feel that?




At the edge of sleep, I thought it was snow
I heard brush and rattle the bay windows;
the same hour when cars glide soundlessly
down white Montreal streets and the smell
of winter creeps around window frames,
straight under doors into dreams.
But our baby is now the size of a lima bean
and growing fast in this place where winter
means red bottle brushes dangling from trees
and crazy-fragile freesias in street vendors’ buckets.
I must have curled myself around our bean
like a thick seed-coating against the cold,
and I was glad to do so, though when I woke,
way, way down in the bed, small as I could
make myself, what I heard in this clear, indigo
midnight, was the bottle-picker’s progress
among our block’s blue boxes, and it was
a minor miracle that the empties could rattle so
in a grocery cart filling with snow.

— Julie Bruck


Julie Bruck is the author of three collections of poems from Brick Books: MONKEY RANCH (2012), THE END OF TRAVEL (1999), and THE WOMAN DOWNSTAIRS (1993). Her work also appears in magazines and journals like The New Yorker, MsPloughshares, The Walrus, The Malahat Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Maisonneuve, Literary Mama, and others, and her poems have been widely anthologized. Her awards and fellowships include, Canada’s 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, The A.M. Klein Award for Poetry, two Pushcart Prize nominations, Gold Canadian National Magazine Awards (twice), a Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award, as well as grants from The Canada Council for the Arts, and a Catherine Boettcher Fellowship from The MacDowell Colony. Montreal-born and raised, Julie has taught at several colleges and universities in Canada, and has been a resident faculty member at The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. Since 2005, she has taught poetry workshops for The Writing Salon in San Francisco’s Mission district, and tutored students at The University of San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco’s foggy Inner Sunset district with her husband,  the writer Lewis Buzbee, their daughter Maddy, and two enormous geriatric goldfish. She is currently writing poems for a new manuscript, with the working title of DOMINION.

Ann IrelandAnn Ireland is the author of four novels, most recently THE BLUE GUITAR, which has been getting excellent reviews all across Canada. She coordinates the Writing Workshops department at the Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, in Toronto. She teaches on line writing courses and edits novels for other writers from time to time. She also writes profiles of artists for Canadian Art Magazine and Numéro Cinq Magazine (where she is Contributing Editor). Dundurn Press republished Ann’s second novel THE INSTRUCTOR in Spring, 2013.




Vol. IV, No. 12, December 2013

Vol. IV, No. 11, November 2013

Vol. IV, No. 10, October 2013

Vol. IV, No. 9. September 2013

Vol. IV, No. 8, August 2013

Vol IV, No. 7, July 2013

Vol. IV, No. 6, June 2013

Vol. IV, No. 5, May 2013

Vol. IV, No. 4, April 2013

Vol. IV, No. 3, March 2013

Vol. IV, No. 2, February 2013

Vol. IV, No. 1, January 2013

Feb 142014

I am always trying to push the envelope in regard to author artist/photos. I loathe the refined, posed, airbrushed glamor head-and-shoulders shots publishers seem to prefer. The author as inhuman, noble object of adulation. NC has always had a subversive edge. And I have been thinking for a while of honouring some of our more adventurous and outlandish spirits for their efforts toward having a bit of personality in their images. I don’t know if I have all the best ones here. If you have a favourite that you remember, remind me in the comments.

I cheated a little bit. bill hayward’s photo of Gordon Lish wasn’t taken especially for NC, but bill has invented a brilliant style of artist/author portrait and we did get to show the photo on NC. But check out bill’s wonderful book of images Bad Behavior for inspiration. Also Jonah’s photo wasn’t his author photo; it’s a self-portrait of sorts. Sometimes I tell authors to at least get a child or a dog in the photo. Horses and goats will do…  André Marois went for bees.


ferryiguana_h_0David Ferry

Steven HeightonSteven Heighton

Andre MaroisAndré Marois

IMG_6257Sharon McCartney

sl, bird dog pete and sharptail, MontanaSydney Lea

IMGP2885Phil Hall

Amber HomeniukAmber Homeniuk

Betsy book pics 2013 - 236Betsy Sholl

Julie Bruck3Julie Bruck

DW-Ark_CodexDerek White

BRiannaBrianna Berbenuik

Michael BrysonMichael Bryson

Julie LariosJulie Larios

Steven AxelrodSteven Axelrod

Gordon-LishGordon Lish photographed by bill hayward

The AuthorJonah Glover

Taiaiake-001Taiaiake Alfred & Sons

Alexander MacLeodAlexander MacLeod

Diane Schoemperlen

Diane Schoemperlen

David Jauss and grandson GalenDavid Jauss & Grandson Galen

The Ann Ireland NC Archive Page



Ann Ireland‘s most recent novel, The Blue Guitar, was published by Dundurn Press in early 2013. Her first novel, A Certain Mr. Takahashi, won the $50,000 Seal-Bantam First Novel Award and was made into a feature motion picture  called The Pianist in 1991. Her second novel, The Instructor, recently reprinted by Dundurn Press, was nominated for the Trillium Award and the Barnes and Noble’s Discover These New Writers Award, and Exile was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award and the Rogers/Writers Trust Award. She is a past president of PEN Canada and coordinates Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, Writing Workshops department. She lives most of the time in Toronto and part of the time in Mexico.


from The Instructor

from The Blue Guitar

from Where’s Bob?


Seeing Jane and Don | A Visit With Artist Jane Buyers & Playwright Don Druick

The Cloven Lychee Nut: Poems & Interview With Julie Bruck

Tearing the Sacred Book Apart: Poems & Interview With Phil Hall

Hand in Glove: The Poetic Collaborations of Kim Maltman & Roo Borson

On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light | Cordelia Strube: Fiction & Interview

Anti-film: Interview with Video Artist Gunilla Josephson

Slim Twig: Profile

Sea Wolf Speaks from the Studio: Music & Interview




Capo di tutti capi

Douglas Glover, Theatre Passe MurailleDouglas Glover’s obscurity is legendary; he is mostly known for being unknown. He has been called “the most eminent unknown Canadian writer alive” (Maclean’s Magazine, The National Post). But for sheer over-the-top hyperbole, nothing beats the opening of a recent piece about him in Quill and Quire in Toronto, which elevates his lack of celebrity to the epic: “Certain mysteries abide in this world: the Gordian Knot, the Holy Trinity, and the literary obscurity of Douglas Glover.” Luckily, he owns a dog and is not completely alone in the world. And occasionally someone actually reads what he writes: He has also been called “a master of narrative structure” (Wall Street Journal) and “the mad genius of Can Lit” (Globe and Mail) whose stories are “as radiant and stirring as anything available in contemporary literature” (Los Angeles Review of Books) and whose work “demands comparison to [Cormac] McCarthy, Barry Hannah, Donald Barthelme, William Faulkner” (Music & Literature). A new story collection, Savage Love, was published in 2013.

Glover is the author of five story collections, four novels, three books of essays, Notes Home from a Prodigal Son, Attack of the Copula Spiders, and The Erotics of Restraint, and The Enamoured Knight, a book about Don Quixote and novel form. His novel Elle won the 2003 Governor-General’s Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was optioned by Isuma Igloolik Productions, makers of Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner. His story book A Guide to Animal Behaviour was a finalist for the 1991 Governor-General’s Award. His stories have been frequently anthologized, notably in The Best American Short Stories, Best Canadian Stories, and The New Oxford Book of Canadian Stories. He was the subject of a TV documentary in a series called The Writing Life and a collection of critical essays, The Art of Desire, The Fiction of Douglas Glover, edited by Bruce Stone.

Glover has taught at several institutions of high learning but mostly wishes he hadn’t. For two years he produced and hosted The Book Show, a weekly half-hour literary interview program which originated at WAMC in Albany and was syndicated on various public radio stations and around the world on Voice of America. He edited the annual Best Canadian Stories from 1996 to 2006. He has two sons, Jacob and Jonah, who will doubtless turn out better than he did.

See also “Making Friends with a Stranger: Albert Camus’s L’Étranger,” an essay in CNQ:Canadian Notes & Queries; Consciousness & Masturbation: A Note on Witold Gombrowicz’s Onanomaniacal Novel Cosmos,” an essay in 3:AM Magazine; “Pedro the Uncanny: A Note on Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo,” an essay in Biblioasis International Translation Series Online;A Scrupulous Fidelity: Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser,” an essay in The Brooklyn Rail;Mappa Mundi: The Structure of Western Thought,” an essay on the history of ideas also in The Brooklyn Rail; and a dozen extremely wise epigrams at Global Brief


Senior Editors


Book Reviews

Jason DeYoungJason DeYoung lives in Atlanta, Georgia. His work has recently appeared in Corium, The Los Angeles Review, The Fiddleback, New Orleans Review, and Numéro Cinq.



Numéro Cinq at the Movies

R. W. Gray (Numéro Cinq at the Movies) was born and raised on the northwest coast of British Columbia, and received a PhD in Poetry and Psychoanalysis from the University of Alberta in 2003. His most recent book, a short story collection entitled Entropic, won the $25,000 Thomas Raddall Fiction Award in 2016. Additionally, he is the author of Crisp, a short story collection, and two serialized novels in Xtra West magazine and has published poetry in various journals and anthologies, including Arc, Grain, Event, and dANDelion. He also has had ten short screenplays produced, including Alice & Huck and Blink. He currently teaches Film at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton..



Fernando Sdrigotti is a writer, cultural critic, and recovering musician. He was born in Rosario, Argentina, and now lives and works in London. He is the author of Dysfunctional Males, a story collection, and Shetlag: una novela acentuada. He is a contributing editor at 3am Magazine and the editor-in-chief of Minor Literature[s]. He tweets at @f_sd.



WoodardBenjamin Woodard lives in Connecticut. His recent fiction has appeared in Cheap PopdecomP magazinE, Spartan, and Numéro Cinq. His reviews and essays have been featured in, or are forthcoming from, Numéro Cinq, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Kenyon Review, and other fine publications. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can find him at


Poetry Editors

aizenberg-thumbnailSusan Aizenberg is the author of three poetry collections: Quiet City (BkMk Press 2015); Muse (Crab Orchard Poetry Series 2002); and Peru in Take Three: 2/AGNI New Poets Series (Graywolf Press 1997) and co-editor with Erin Belieu of The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (Columbia University Press 2001). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals, among them The North American Review, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Connotation Press, Spillway, The Journal, Midwest Quarterly Review, Hunger Mountain, Alaska Quarterly Review, and the Philadelphia Inquirer and have been reprinted and are forthcoming in several anthologies, including Ley Lines (Wilfrid Laurier UP) and Wild and Whirling Words: A Poetic Conversation (Etruscan). Her awards include a Crab Orchard Poetry Series Award, the Nebraska Book Award for Poetry and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Levis Prize for Muse, a Distinguished Artist Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council, the Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association, and a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner award. She can be reached through her website,

gillisSusan Gillis has published three books of poetry, most recently The Rapids (Brick Books, 2012), and several chapbooks, including The Sky These Days (Thee Hellbox Press, 2015) and Twenty Views of the Lachine Rapids (Gaspereau Press, 2012). Volta (Signature Editions, 2002) won the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. She is a member of the collaborative poetry group Yoko’s Dogs, whose work appears regularly in print and online, and is collected in Rhinoceros (Gaspereau Press, 2016) and Whisk (Pedlar Press, 2013). Susan divides her time between Montreal and rural Ontario..


Managing Editor.

Deirdre thumbnailDeirdre Baker is a freelance web and copy editor living in Toronto. She worked for nearly three decades at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, most recently as manager of the Legislature’s website and intranet. After years of bills, proceedings, debates, policies, and procedures, she is delighted to finally have something interesting to read for work.




Chief Technical Officer/Internet Security

Jonah Glover is a twenty-three-year-old human male. Jonah was hired into a technical role despite a long history of shoving chalk into the Glover family VCR. His tenure as CTO is a brazen act of nepotism by DG, so he says. In truth, he has rescued the magazine from malware attacks and hosting issues over and over again. He also designed the logo (many years ago). He works as a software engineer in Seattle and is completing a degree at the University of Waterloo.



Contributing Editors.

Riiki DucornetThe author of nine novels, three collections of short fiction, two books of essays and five books of poetry, Rikki Ducornet has received both a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award For Fiction. She has received the Bard College Arts and Letters award and, in 2008, an Academy Award in Literature. Her work is widely published abroad. Recent exhibitions of her paintings include the solo show Desirous at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2007, and the group shows: O Reverso Do Olhar in Coimbra, Portugal, in 2008, and El Umbral Secreto at the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende in Santiago, Chile, in 2009. She has illustrated books by Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Coover, Forest Gander, Kate Bernheimer, Joanna Howard and Anne Waldman among others. Her collected papers including prints and drawings are in the permanent collection of the Ohio State University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago Chile, The McMaster University Museum, Ontario, Canada, and The Biblioteque Nationale, Paris.


Patrick J. Keane is Professor Emeritus of Le Moyne College. Though he has written on a wide range of topics, his areas of special interest have been 19th and 20th-century poetry in the Romantic tradition; Irish literature and history; the interactions of literature with philosophic, religious, and political thinking; the impact of Nietzsche on certain 20th century writers; and, most recently, Transatlantic studies, exploring the influence of German Idealist philosophy and British Romanticism on American writers. His books include William Butler Yeats: Contemporary Studies in Literature (1973), A Wild Civility: Interactions in the Poetry and Thought of Robert Graves (1980), Yeats’s Interactions with Tradition (1987), Terrible Beauty: Yeats, Joyce, Ireland and the Myth of the Devouring Female (1988), Coleridge’s Submerged Politics (1994), Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason: The Transatlantic “Light of All Our Day” (2003), and Emily Dickinson’s Approving God: Divine Design and the Problem of Suffering (2007).

HeadsJulie Larios is the author of four books for children: On the Stairs (1995), Have You Ever Done That? (named one of Smithsonian Magazine’s Outstanding Children’s Books 2001), Yellow Elephant (a Book Sense Pick and Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book, 2006) and Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures (shortlisted for the Cybil Award in Poetry, 2008). For five years she was the Poetry Editor for The Cortland Review, and her poetry for adults has been published by The Atlantic Monthly, McSweeney’s, Swink, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Field, and others. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Pushcart Prize for Poetry, and a Washington State Arts Commission/Artist Trust Fellowship. Her work has been chosen for The Best American Poetry series by Billy Collins (2006) and Heather McHugh (2007) and was performed as part of the Vox series at the New York City Opera (2010). Recently she collaborated with the composer Dag Gabrielson and other New York musicians, filmmakers and dancers on a cross-discipline project titled 1,2,3. It was selected for showing at the American Dance Festival (International Screendance Festival) and had its premiere at Duke University on July 13th, 2013.

Sydney Lea2Sydney Lea is the former Poet Laureate of Vermont (2011-2015). He founded New England Review in 1977 and edited it till 1989. His poetry collection Pursuit of a Wound (University of Illinois Press, 2000) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Another collection, To the Bone: New and Selected Poems, was co-winner of the 1998 Poets’ Prize. In 1989, Lea also published the novel A Place in Mind with Scribner. Lea has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations, and has taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, Vermont College of Fine Arts and Middlebury College, as well as at Franklin College in Switzerland and the National Hungarian University in Budapest. His stories, poems, essays and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and many other periodicals, as well as in more than forty anthologies. His selection of literary essays, A Hundred Himalayas, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2012, and Skyhorse Publications  released A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife in 2013. In 2015 he published a non-fiction collection, What’s the Story? Reflections on a Life Grown Long (many of the essays appeared first on Numéro Cinq). His twelfth poetry collection, No Doubt the Nameless, was published this spring by Four Way Books.


Special Correspondents


Victoria Best small photoVictoria Best taught at St John’s College, Cambridge for 13 years. Her books include: Critical Subjectivities; Identity and Narrative in the work of Colette and Marguerite Duras (2000), An Introduction to Twentieth Century French Literature (2002) and, with Martin Crowley, The New Pornographies; Explicit Sex in Recent French Fiction and Film (2007). A freelance writer since 2012, she has published essays in Cerise Press and Open Letters Monthly and is currently writing a book on crisis and creativity. She is also co-editor of the quarterly review magazine Shiny New Books (


Jeff BurseyJeff Bursey is a literary critic and author of the picaresque novel Mirrors on which dust has fallen (Verbivoracious Press, 2015) and the political satire Verbatim: A Novel (Enfield & Wizenty, 2010), both of which take place in the same fictional Canadian province. His forthcoming book, Centring the Margins: Essays and Reviews (Zero Books, July 2016), is a collection of literary criticism that appeared in American Book Review, Books in Canada, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, The Quarterly Conversation, and The Winnipeg Review, among other places. He’s a Contributing Editor at The Winnipeg Review, an Associate Editor at Lee Thompson’s Galleon, and a Special Correspondent for Numéro Cinq. He makes his home on Prince Edward Island in Canada’s Far East.

Garvin thumbnailGary Garvin lives in Portland, Oregon, where he writes and reflects on a thirty-year career teaching English. His short stories and essays have appeared in TriQuarterly, Web ConjunctionsFourth Genre, Numéro Cinq, the minnesota reviewNew Novel ReviewConfrontationThe New ReviewThe Santa Clara ReviewThe South Carolina Review, The Berkeley Graduate, and The Crescent Review. He is currently at work on a collection of essays and a novel. His architectural models can be found at Under Construction. A catalog of his writing can be found at Fictions.

Genese Grill

Genese Grill is an artist, translator, writer, and cultural conspirator living in Burlington, Vermont. She is the author of The World as Metaphor in Robert Musil’s ‘The Man without Qualities’ (Camden House, 2012) and the translator of a collection of Robert Musil’s short prose, Thought Flights (Contra Mundum, 2015). She is currently working on completing a collection of essays exploring the tension between spirit and matter in contemporary culture and a room-sized, illuminated, accordion book inscribed with one of the essays from the collection, along with many other fanatical projects. You can find Genese online at


JasonJason Lucarelli is a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Numéro Cinq, The Literarian, 3:AM Magazine, Litro, Squawk Back, and NANO Fiction.



Bruce Stone4

Bruce Stone is a Wisconsin native and graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts (MFA, 2002). In 2004, he edited a great little book of essays on Douglas Glover’s fiction, The Art of Desire (Oberon Press). His own essays have appeared in MirandaNabokov StudiesReview of Contemporary Fiction, Los Angeles Review of Books, F. Scott Fitzgerald Review and Salon. His fiction has appeared most recently in Straylight and Numéro Cinq. He currently teaches writing at UCLA.



Julie Trimingham was born in Montreal and raised semi-nomadically. She trained as a painter at Yale University and as a director at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. Her film work has screened at festivals and been broadcast internationally, and has won or been nominated for a number of awards. Julie taught screenwriting at the Vancouver Film School for several years; she has since focused exclusively on writing fiction. Her online journal, Notes from Elsewhere, features reportage from places real and imagined. Her first novel, Mockingbird, was published in 2013.



Production Editors

Alyssa green backgroundAlyssa Colton has a PhD in English with creative dissertation from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her fiction has been published in The Amaranth Review and Women Writers. Her essays have appeared in Literary Arts Review, Author Magazine, Mothering, Moxie: For Women Who Dare, Iris: A Journal about Women, and on WAMC: Northeast Public Radio. Alyssa has taught classes in writing, literature, and theater at the University at Albany, the College of St. Rose, and Berkshire Community College and blogs about writing at abcwritingediting.

Nowick GrayNowick Gray writes fiction, essays and creative nonfiction that likes to bend boundaries and confound categories. He also works as a freelance copy editor and enjoys playing African drums. Having survived American suburbs, the Quebec Arctic and the BC wilderness, Nowick is now based in Victoria, frequenting tropical locations in winter months..


Nic Leigh has had work published in Juked, The Collagist, UNSAID, Atticus Review, Requited, Gobbet, and DIAGRAM. A chapbook, Confidences, won the Cobalt/Thumbnail Flash Fiction contest and is forthcoming from Cobalt Press. Leigh is also a fiction reader for Guernica.



CaptureKathryn Para is an award-winning, multi-genre writer with a MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in Grain, Room of One’s Own, Geist, Sunstream, and Vancouver Review. She is the 2013 Winner of Mother Tongue Publishing’s Search for the Great BC Novel Contest with, Lucky,  her first novel, which was also shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in 2014. Her stage play, Honey, debuted in 2004. She has also written, directed and produced short films.

Daniel Davis Wood is a writer based in Birmingham, England. His debut novel, Blood and Bone, won the 2014 Viva La Novella Prize in his native Australia. He is also the author of Frontier Justice, a study of the influence of the nineteenth century frontier on American literature, and the editor of a collection of essays on the African American writer Edward P. Jones. He can be found online at



Assistant to the Editor


mary-brindley2Mary Brindley is a Vermont-born copywriter living in Boston. A recent graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, she writes creative nonfiction, performs improv, and is about to move to London.







Anu2A. Anupama is a U.S.-born, Indian-American poet and translator whose work has appeared in several literary publications, including The Bitter Oleander, Monkeybicycle, The Alembic, Numéro Cinq and decomP magazinE. She received her MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2012. She currently lives and writes in the Hudson River valley of New York, where she blogs about poetic inspiration at


dylanbrennan-croppedCurrently based in Mexico City, Dylan Brennan writes poetry, essays and memoirs. His debut collection, Blood Oranges, for which he won The Patrick Kavanagh Award runner-up prize, was published by The Dreadful Press in 2014. His co-edited volume of academic essays Rethinking Juan Rulfo’s Creative World: Prose, Photography, Film is available now from Legenda Books (2016). In addition to his work as Mexico Curator for Numéro Cinq, he regularly contributes to the online Mexican literary site Portal de Letras. Twitter: @DylanJBrennan.

jeremy brungerJeremy Brungeroriginally from Tennessee, is a writer attending a graduate program at the University of Chicago. His interests trend toward the Marxian: how capital transforms us, abuses us, mocks us. His writing on philosophy and politics has been featured on Truthout, The Hampton Institute, and 3 AM Magazine and his poetry has appeared in the Chiron Review and Sibling Rivalry Press. He can be contacted at


Michael Carson lives on the Gulf Coast. His non-fiction has appeared at The Daily Beast and Salon, and his fiction in the short story anthology, The Road Ahead: Stories of the Forever War. He helps edit the Wrath-Bearing Tree and is currently working towards an MFA in Fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.



Laura Michele Diener author photoLaura Michele Diener teaches medieval history and women’s studies at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. She received her PhD in history from The Ohio State University and has studied at Vassar College, Newnham College, Cambridge, and most recently, Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her creative writing has appeared in The Catholic Worker, Lake Effect, Appalachian Heritage,and Cargo Literary Magazine, and she is a regular contributor to Yes! Magazine..



Daniel Green is a writer and literary critic whose essays, reviews, and stories have appeared in a variety of publications. He is the author of Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism (2016).




A gallerist in Saratoga Springs for over 15 years, visual artist & poet Mary Kathryn Jablonski is now an administrative director in holistic healthcare. She is author of the chapbook To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met, and her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals including the Beloit Poetry Journal, Blueline, Home Planet News, Salmagundi, and Slipstream, among others. Her artwork has been widely exhibited throughout the Northeast and is held in private and public collections.

OgburnCarolyn Ogburn lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina where she takes on a variety of worldly topics from the quiet comfort of her porch. Her writing can be found in the Asheville Poetry Review, the Potomac Review, the Indiana Review, and more. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and NC School of the Arts, she writes on literature, autism, music, and disability rights. She is completing an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is at work on her first novel.

Paddy Patrick O’Reilly was raised in Renews, Newfoundland and Labrador, the son of a mechanic and a shop’s clerk. He just graduated from St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, and will begin work on an MFA at the University of Saskatchewan this coming fall. Twice he has won the Robert Clayton Casto Prize for Poetry, the judges describing his poetry as “appealingly direct and unadorned.”


Frank Richardson lives in Houston where he teaches English and Humanities. He received his MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts.




Mark SampsonMark Sampson has published two novels – Off Book (Norwood Publishing, 2007) and Sad Peninsula (Dundurn Press, 2014) – and a short story collection, called The Secrets Men Keep (Now or Never Publishing, 2015). He also has a book of poetry, Weathervane, forthcoming from Palimpsest Press in 2016. His stories, poems, essays and book reviews have appeared widely in journals in Canada and the United States. Mark holds a journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax and a master’s degree in English from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Originally from Prince Edward Island, he now lives and writes in Toronto.

Natalia SarkissianNatalia Sarkissian has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was an editor and a contributor at Numéro Cinq from 2010-2017.



Joe SchreiberJoseph Schreiber is a writer and photographer living in Calgary. He maintains a book blog called Rough Ghosts. His writing has also been published at 3:AM, Minor Literature[s] and The Scofield. He tweets @roughghosts.




captureDorian Stuber teaches at Hendrix College. He has written for Open Letters Monthly, The Scofield, and Words without Borders. He blogs about books at





Authors & Artists of Numéro Cinq


Ryem Abrahamson • Abdallah Ben Salem d’Aix • Alejandro de Acosta • Caroline Adderson • José Eduardo Agualusa • Susan Aizenberg • Ramón Alejandro • Taiaike Alfred • Gini Alhadeff • Abigail Allen • Steve Almond • Darran Anderson • Trevor Anderson • Jorge Carrera Andrade • Ralph Angel • A. Anupama • Guillaume Apollinaire • Jamaluddin Aram • Fernando Aramburu • Louis Armand • Melissa Armstrong • Tammy Armstrong • Glenn Arnold • Miguel Arteta • Adam Arvidson • Nick Arvin • Kim Aubrey • Shushan Avagyan • Steven Axelrod • Elizabeth Babyn • J. Karl Bogartte • Louise Bak • Bonnie Baker • Sybil Baker • Martin Balgach • Brandon Ballengée • Zsófia Bán • Phyllis Barber • John Banville • Byrna Barclay • Mike Barnes • Stuart Barnes • Kevin Barry • Donald Bartlett • Todd Bartol • John Barton • Sierra Bates • Svetislav Basarav • Charles Baudelaire • Tom Bauer • Melissa Considine Beck • Joshua Beckman • Laura Behr • Gerard Beirne • Amanda Bell • Ian Bell • Madison Smartt Bell • Dodie Bellamy • Joe David Bellamy • Leonard Bellanca • Russell Bennetts • Brianna Berbenuik • Samantha Bernstein • Michelle Berry • Jen Bervin • Victoria Best • Darren Bifford • Nathalie Bikoro • Eula Biss • Susan Sanford Blades • François Blais • Clark Blaise • Denise Blake • Vanessa Blakeslee • Rimas Blekaitis • Liz Blood • Harold Bloom • Ronna Bloom • Michelle Boisseau • Stephanie Bolster • John Bolton • Jody Bolz • Danila Botha • Danny Boyd • Donald Breckenridge • Dylan Brennan • Mary Brindley • Stephen Brockbank • Fleda Brown • Laura Catherine Brown • Nickole Brown • Lynne M. Browne • Julie Bruck • Jeremy Brunger • Michael Bryson • John Bullock •  Bunkong Tuon • Diane Burko • Jeff Bursey • Peter Bush • Jane Buyers • Jowita Bydlowska • Mary Byrne • Agustín Cadena • David Caleb • Chris Campanioni • Jane Campion • J. N. F. M. à Campo • Jared Carney • David Carpenter • Michael Carson •  Mircea Cărtărescu • Ricardo Cázares • Daniela Cascella • Blanca Castellón • Michael Catherwood • Anton Chekhov • David Celone • Corina Martinez Chaudhry • Kelly Cherry • Peter Chiykowski • Linda E. Chown • S. D. Chrostowska • Steven Church • Nicole Chu • Jeanie Chung • Alex Cigale • Sarah Clancy • Jane Clarke • Sheela Clary • Christy Clothier • Carrie Cogan • Ian Colford • Zazil Alaíde Collins • Tim Conley • Christy Ann Conlin • John Connell • Terry Conrad • Allan Cooper • Robert Coover • Cody Copeland • Sean Cotter • Cheryl Cowdy • Mark Cox • Dede Crane • Lynn Crosbie • Elsa Cross • S.D. Chrostowska Roger Crowley • Alan Crozier • Megan Cuilla • Alan Cunningham • Paula Cunningham • Robert Currie • Nathan Currier • Paul M. Curtis • Trinie Dalton • J. P. Dancing Bear • Lydia Davis • Taylor Davis-Van Atta • Robert Day • Sion Dayson • Martin Dean • Patrick Deeley • Katie DeGroot • Christine Dehne • Nelson Denis • Theodore Deppe • Tim Deverell • Jon Dewar • Jason DeYoung • Susanna Fabrés Díaz • Laura Michele Diener • Anne Diggory • Mary di Michele • Jeffrey Dodd • Anthony Doerr • Mary Donovan • Steve Dolph • Han Dong • Erika Dreifus • Jennifer duBois • Patricia Dubrava • Rikki Ducornet • Timothy Dugdale • Ian Duhig • Gregory Dunne • Denise Evans Durkin • Nancy Eimers • Jason Eisener • John Ekman • Okla Elliot • Shana Ellingburg • Susan Elmslie •  Paul Eluard • Josh Emmons • Mathias Énard • Marina Endicott • Sebastian Ennis • Benjamin Evans • Kate Evans •  Cary Fagan • Richard Farrell • Kinga Fabó • Kathy Fagan • Jared Daniel Fagen • Tom Faure • David Ferry • George Fetherling • Kate Fetherston • Laura Fine-Morrison •  Patrick Findler • Melissa Fisher • Cynthia Flood • Stanley Fogel • Eric Foley • Larry Fondation • Paul Forte • Mark Foss • Tess Fragoulis • Anne Francey • Danielle Frandina • Jean-Yves Fréchette • Rodrigo Fresán • Abby Frucht • Simon Frueland • Kim Fu • Mark Frutkin • Róbert Gál • Mia Gallagher •  Mavis Gallant • Andrew Gallix • Eugene K. 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Well-known for being intellectual and deep, in other words obscure.

Globe and Mail

Always a must-read.

—Two Lines Press

Holy shit!  This looks great!  Even the fine print (I always read credits at movies too).

—a reader

I think it looks spectacular! Numéro Cinq is one handsome webzine…

—a reader

Thanks so much for doing a great journal. Folks are a-buzz about it.
—a reader

Must read with coffee & rejoice that NC continually makes neurons fire and leaves readers a little smarter than before.

—another reader

…yesterday was the first time I looked at N.Cinq in a while, not because it isn’t great which it is but because it makes my ambition stand up and scream and on days when I have so much else to do (most days now that it’s summer) this is like eating something really good in small spoonfuls, some sugar, some fire, mostly fire.

— yet another reader

Well, I live by myself on a rock in the middle of the woods, so you’ve elevated the level of discourse for one person, anyway. I don’t even have a dog to converse with any more.

— even again another reader

Humanity is being preserved at NC, along with literature. (Just saw Court’s piece.)

—a reader

Very cool place.  Easy-going but chewy, dense stuff.  Perfect mix I think.   I’m apt to hang out a bit more often.  I just wish it served drinks….

—a reader!!!!

I love how it carries a conversation in a dark house, voices popping up from various corners, passing thought threads here and there. And I love how it carries back through you, too. Like some strange heartbeat that you pulse out, but returns to give you something in response.

— incredible as it seems, another reader


Numéro Cinq started January 11, 2010, as…

a reading, discussion and resource site for a small group of Douglas Glover‘s friends and writing students. It morphed into something monstrous, tenticulate, multiform and quite possibly (gasp) alive!

In its 7 1/2 years as a going concern, the magazine published a stellar array of new and known (international, award-winning) writers including among others, from Canada, Jowita Bydlowska, Lynn Coady, Leon Rooke, Diane Schoemperlen, Mavis Gallant, Julie Trimingham, Bill Gaston, Sheila Heti, Mark Anthony Jarman, Caroline Adderson, Amanda Jernigan, Ann Ireland, David Helwig, Phil Hall, Cynthia Flood, Catherine Greenwood, Julie Bruck, Sharon McCartney, Steven Heighton, and Jack Hodgins; from the U.S., Rikki Ducornet, Curtis White, Lance Olsen, Lydia Davis, Noy Holland, Greg Mulcahy, Madison Smartt Bell, Victoria Redel, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Joseph McElroy, Donald Hall, David Ferry, Steve Almond, Mary Ruefle, Keith Lee Morris, Darin Strauss, David Shields, Robert Wrigley. Anthony Doerr, Brad Watson, Bianca Stone, Robert Wrigley, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Dawn Raffel, and Lynne Tillman; from Ireland and the UK, Gabriel Josipovici, George Szirtes, Andrew Gallix, Kevin Barry, Julie Reverb, John MacKenna, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, John Kelly, Doireann Ni Griofa; plus work in translation by Viktor Shkolvsky, Mauricio Segura, Daniil Kharms, Julián Herbert, Mircea Cărtărescu, Álvaro Pombo, Quim Monzó, Juan José Saer, Anton Chekhov, Mihail Sebastian, Giacomo Leopardi, Habib Tengour, Besik Kharanauli, Rilke, Mathias Énard and many others. We’ve published novellas, entire books, plays, poems, translations, fiction, nonfiction, sermons, criticism, memoirs, music, art work, hybrid art, conceptual art, provocative graphics.

And this is not to forget our intrepid band of NC staffers, contributors and contributing editors, all convicted felons of the literary type, dedicated artists fast making a name for themselves in the brash new digital universe.

The Name

The name for the magazine came from DG’s short story “The Obituary Writer” in which story the hero, based loosely on the author as a young newspaperman, harasses a distraught neighbour who lives in the apartment across the hall by making loud noises in the night and pretending to be a member of a sinister terrorist group called Numéro Cinq.

Sgt. Pye evicts Earl Delamare. It’s my fault, too, because I was taunting Earl, playing on his fantasies. It’s possible I have driven him mad. One night he came to my door, first listening, then mumbling, then beginning his litany of wild accusations. Instead of responding with my usual silence, I put Night on Bald Mountain on the stereo. As the music rose, I began to intone the French advertisements on the backs of cereal boxes in my kitchen cupboard.

The music gave Earl fits; he practically howled with rage. “Numéro Cinq! Numéro Cinq!” he cried. I played John Cage on the stereo and read the cereal boxes backwards, imitating several voices at once. Earl began to beat the door with his fists, perhaps even his head. I could see the panels giving with the force of his blows. In the midst of this I heard Sgt. Pye climbing the stairs. When he came into my apartment, he found me sitting in an old Morris chair, eating a bowl of Rice Krispies, with the stereo low. Earl had retreated to his room like a mole going underground. But I could still hear him shouting. “Numéro Cinq! Numéro Cinq!” When Sgt. Pye let himself into Earl’s room, the black man went through the window and down the fire escape.

After Earl is evicted, the hero slips into his abandoned room and discovers a photograph of a young woman. Later, he finds Earl living at a shelter while he awaits a decision on whether or not he will be committed to a mental hospital. The hero buys Earl a beer and the two walk through town at which point, for no particular reason, he starts to needle Earl again.

When we finish the beer, I take a deep breath and hand him the photograph. It turns out, as I had begun to expect it would, to be a photograph of his dead wife, a woman he loved deeply but who betrayed him with another man. I tell him I am researching a newspaper story about a secret terror organization called the Numéro Cinq, that I’d appreciate him telling me anything he knows about it. Earl is silent, but tears come to his eyes. I say, “I don’t know much. I’ve been tracking them for years.” Earl nods vigorously. “But they’re everywhere,” I say. Earl hides his face in his hands. “Everywhere,” I say, “and we’re doomed.”

–from “The Obituary Writer” in A Guide to Animal Behaviour; also in Bad News of the Heart.

Douglas Glover’s…

obscurity is legendary; he is mostly known for being unknown. He has been called “the most eminent unknown Canadian writer alive” (Maclean’s Magazine, The National Post). But for sheer over-the-top hyperbole, nothing beats the opening of a recent piece about him in Quill and Quire in Toronto, which elevates his lack of celebrity to the epic: “Certain mysteries abide in this world: the Gordian Knot, the Holy Trinity, and the literary obscurity of Douglas Glover.” Luckily, he owns a dog and is not completely alone in the world. And occasionally someone actually reads what he writes: He has also been called “a master of narrative structure” (Wall Street Journal) and “the mad genius of Can Lit” (Globe and Mail) whose stories are “as radiant and stirring as anything available in contemporary literature” (Los Angeles Review of Books) and whose work “demands comparison to [Cormac] McCarthy, Barry Hannah, Donald Barthelme, William Faulkner” (Music & Literature). A new story collection, Savage Love, came out in 2013.

Glover is the author of five story collections, four novels, three books of essays, Notes Home from a Prodigal Son, Attack of the Copula Spiders, and The Erotics of Restraint, and The Enamoured Knight, a book about Don Quixote and novel form. His novel Elle won the 2003 Governor-General’s Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was optioned by Isuma Igloolik Productions, makers of Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner. His story book A Guide to Animal Behaviour was a finalist for the 1991 Governor-General’s Award. His stories have been frequently anthologized, notably in The Best American Short Stories, Best Canadian Stories, and The New Oxford Book of Canadian Stories. He was the subject of a TV documentary in a series called The Writing Life and a collection of critical essays, The Art of Desire, The Fiction of Douglas Glover, edited by Bruce Stone.

Glover has taught at several institutions of high learning but mostly wishes he hadn’t. For two years he produced and hosted The Book Show, a weekly half-hour literary interview program which originated at WAMC in Albany and was syndicated on various public radio stations and around the world on Voice of America and the Armed Forces Network. He edited the annual Best Canadian Stories from 1996 to 2006. He has two sons, Jacob and Jonah, who will doubtless turn out better than he did.

See also “Making Friends with a Stranger: Albert Camus’s L’Étranger,” an essay in CNQ:Canadian Notes & Queries; “Consciousness & Masturbation: A Note on Witold Gombrowicz’s Onanomaniacal Novel Cosmos,” an essay in 3:AM Magazine; “Pedro the Uncanny: A Note on Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo,” an essay in Biblioasis International Translation Series Online;A Scrupulous Fidelity: Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser,” an essay in The Brooklyn Rail;Mappa Mundi: The Structure of Western Thought,” an essay on the history of ideas also in The Brooklyn Rail; and a dozen extremely wise epigrams at Global Brief.


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