Tuesday, April 28, 2009


DESK SPACE will be back next week

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Jason Guriel for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (one-liner or a bio)?

JASON GURIEL Jason Guriel is the recipient of the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry. His poems have recently appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, Poetry London (UK), and The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008. His second collection of poems is Pure Product (Véhicule Press, 2009). He lives in Toronto.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

JG The first book came out in 2006. The new one, Pure Product (Véhicule Press), should be out soon.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

JG More and more, I compose poems in my head, as I walk to places. They get written down in a notebook, usually at a coffee shop – who am I kidding, at Starbucks. And I’m embarrassed, too, to admit that I like a nice Moleskine, an indulgence to be sure. It’s the sort of notebook (I suspect) that is purchased by people who like the idea of writing more than the activity itself. Still, if you’re serous about filling the Moleskine, it’s a nice thing to fill, a smooth ride, a properly adult luxury. I’m sure I sound awful, and well-gentrified, but you asked.

I rewrite every draft of every poem longhand – even if I’m just changing a single word. A final version isn’t typed out until it’s ready to be sent out, so the time I spend at an actual desk is kind of perfunctory, a last step. The rare time I go straight to a Word.doc, I always feel bad about it. And the poem never winds up being very good – or as good as it could’ve been.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space; outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

JG I’m not being precious about the walking thing (I’m no big fan of the Romantics, that’s for sure). I just don’t drive, is all, so I’ve got the time to work in my head. And I think it’s good for the poem, actually, to live between the ears for awhile. We have to suffer so much bad poetry; we should be at least a little reluctant to commit our own shaky attempts to paper (let alone laptop!). Who do we think we are, etc.? If the poem gets remembered, bully for it.

Once the poem is down in its Moleskine, the rewriting of every new draft in longhand puts the poem through its paces. The poem doesn’t have the chance to become some passive, inert thing, locked in its Word.doc, only to be occasionally revisited, prodded, tweaked. Every time the poem is rewritten, longhand, it gets recreated. It has to re-justify itself. (When we revise onscreen, however, we tend not to retype the whole poem; we just fiddle with the bit we want to revise.) Anyway, as a result of all of this rewriting, any remaining errors or awkward bits – not solved when the poem was riding around between my ears – will hopefully surface.

And I rewrite in public spaces – Starbucks, yes, but public transportation, too, even bars – because that’s where I find my spare moments. That said, I’m certainly not trying to get strangers to approach me, like those lonely types in taverns, who make a great show of doodling in their sketchbooks, hoping perhaps they’ll attract some attention. I just get better poems this way, and the work passes the time while I’m going somewhere or waiting for someone. It takes the pressure off the home front, too. (I gather some writers – those poor novelists, anyway – often have to lug themselves to their desks, which is no way to live; a desk ought to be a joyous space, for the checking of E-mail or Web pages like this one.)

DS What are you working on now?

JG I’m working on some reviews for Poetry magazine and CNQ, as well as the first instalment of what will be a regular-ish column for Contemporary Poetry Review. I’ve also been blogging for Harriet, the blog of the Poetry Foundation.

(photos by DESK SPACE)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Jason Guriel

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Adam Hughes for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a one-liner or a bio)?

My name is Adam, and I’m from Peterborough, Ontario. I moved to Ottawa in 1998, but then left for about a year and a half to live in Dubai and England where I worked as a bartender. I caught chlamydia in one of those countries, but I don’t know which one. In the summer of 2000 I moved back to Ottawa, where I successfully cured the dose, and I’ve been here ever since (minus a few vacations). I work as a graphic designer, flash designer, and more recently, a motion graphics/visual effects artist, under the moniker Mad Anvil.

DS When did you start becoming interested in art, produce your first work (or when are you displaying work/commissioned to produce work)?

AH I had always been interested in various forms of art. Be it audio, visual or movement. As a child in the 80’s and 90’s I was into hip hop, breakdancing, and graffiti, which has lasted until this day. Although finding good hip hop has been hard for the past 10 years or so, I don’t’ dance anymore, and the only graffiti I ever really did was on paper. I could never get the hang of using spray-paint. I’m into many different kinds of music these days, but I digress. I first started to think I could make a living as a graphic designer around 2003, after somehow being appointed “the guy who makes posters and flyers” for a bar I was working at. I had already learned the ins and outs of the Flash platform, which along with getting better in Photoshop made for a pretty good set of skills. As for the first website I ever made, it’s no longer online (thank fuck). So after 4-5 years of doing flash micro-sites and making loads of posters and flyers, my portfolio ended up getting me work with an agency. I now work with them full-time, and do freelance work on the side. I also live with my beautiful girlfriend Laura, who is a talented painter.

DS Where do you work (at your desk/outside/in a studio)?

AH Most of the work I do is at a desk with a retardedly fast PC (sorry mac cultists users). At my day job I share a studio with 3 other people, and I have an office at home. The video production stuff requires shooting on-location.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

AH Well, I can’t really explain why I work at a desk. There’s no other choice really. Although I will say that my day job is pretty lax about how to dress. I’m glad that I don’t have to get all dolled-up just to sit in front of monitors for 8 hours a day. I also like working in my office at home because I can do so in my underwear, while getting slightly inebriated, chain smoking and taking extended Call of Duty breaks. Soon I’ll have another desk, in another location, which will be dedicated strictly to motion graphics and video post production. My buddy Luke and I are starting a small hobby studio called Projecto. It’s located about a block from where I live. Keep an eye out for it. I’ll probably have to wear clothes there.

DS What are you working on now?

At the day job, I’m just starting a motion graphics piece for a rather large corporate entity, using mainly After Effects. On the freelance side, I’m working on a music video titled Kontrol for a friend (Lady Precise) in BC, a tricked-out Wordpress site, my Show Reel

and a handful of flyers and posters for various shows. I’m always fucking busy, but that’s the way I like it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Adam Hughes

Friday, April 10, 2009


Matthew Tierney for DESK SPACE


MATTHEW TIERNEY Poet. Leafs fan. Guinness lover. Poker player.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

MT My second book, The Hayflick Limit, just came out this spring with Coach House Books.

DS Where do you write?

MT At my desk. I look out on the heart of the heart of Toronto, specifically the fire escape of the office building next door. Behind it and above is the slimmest skyscraper in North America…I think. I must’ve read that somewhere.

Sometimes I lug my laptop three feet away so I can work in my reading chair. But mostly I stick to my perch while the world gets busy below.

We’re on the 12th floor and get a sliver of the Yonge and King intersection, where the red neon “Sleep Country” sign mocks me during my occasional insomniac wanderings.

DS Why do you work where you do?

MT I like to feel plugged in. There’s plenty of ambient noise during the day. The sirens flare up frequently, and the King streetcar’s rumble is periodic. Subliminal? Maybe it’s become so. Once I’m in the zone, I’m in the zone.

In short, I’ve always been a sucker for cities. The crush of humanity and all that. Individual stories playing themselves out in the background while I clatter away on the keyboard.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Is experiencing technical difficulties! If we are not back tomorrow we will post on Monday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Matthew Tierney

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Sina Queyras for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a one-liner or a bio)?

SINA QUERYAS Professional strumpet, poet, educator, one who opines.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

SQ I wrote for a long, long, long time, in many various locations before publishing my first book, Slip, in 2001.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

SQ I write wherever I can: train, subway, kitchen table, bed, libraries, anywhere but cafes or restaurants which stopped being interesting places to work many years ago.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think/in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

SQ Winter in Canada has made working in bed more appealing but now I have a sofa/bed in my office so I'm all set. My commute from Brooklyn to Rutgers was very productive though, and led to Expressway, my latest book of poetry. Commuting is good if you're not driving, but times need to be long enough to settle into work. If the trip is too short (as my current commute to Concordia is) or too fragmented (as my commute in Calgary was last year), it just becomes irritating. Driving commutes are obviously not ideal for the environment, but good places to think if not write.

I love libraries of all kinds. The New York Public Library was a favorite place to work, as was the library at Haverford, Bobst Library at NYU is great. The Bibliothèque here in Montreal is fabulous, but given the weather I am often in my office at home.

DS What are you working on now?

SQ Putting together a volume of essays and blog posts from Lemon Hound. It's called Unleashed, and will appear in September thanks to BookThug.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Sina Queyras