Richard Stevenson
Books & CD*
Driving Offensively ( Sono Nis Press, 1985 )
Suiting Up ( Third Eye Publications, 1986 )
Horizontal Hotel: A Nigerian Odyssey ( TSAR Publications, 1989 )
Whatever It Is Plants Dream … ( Goose Lane Editions, 1990 )
Learning To Breathe ( Cacanadadada Press, 1992 )
From The Mouths of Angels ( Ekstasis Editions, 1993 )
Flying Coffins ( Ekstasis Editions, 1994 )
Why Were All The Werewolves Men? ( Thistledown Press, 1994 )
Wiser Pills ( HMS Electronic Books, 1994 )
A Murder of Crows: New & Selected Poems ( Black Moss Press, 1998 )
Nothing Definite Yeti ( Ekstasis Editions, 1999 )
C4/4 Miles* ( a Muse ‘n’ Blues Production of Sound Gallery Enterprises, 1999)  
with poetry/jazz troupe Naked Ear and composer Gordon Leigh
Live Evil: A Homage To Miles Davis (Thistledown Press, 2000 )
Hot Flashes: Maiduguri Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka ( Ekstasis Editions, 2001)
Take Me To Your Leader! ( Bayeux Arts Inc., 2003 )
A Charm of Finches (Ekstasis Editions, 2004)
Parrot With Tourette’s (Black Moss Press, Palm Poets Series, 2004)
Alex Anklebone & Andy the Dog (Bayeux Arts Inc., 2005)
Riding On a Magpie Riff ( Black Moss Press, memoir for their Settlements series, 2006)
Bye Bye Blackbird: An Elegiac Sequence for Miles Davis (Ekstasis Editions, 2007)
The Emerald Hour: Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and Zappai , with photographs by Ellen McArthur     
     (Ekstasis Editions,  2008)
Tidings of Magpies: Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka ( Spotted Cow Press, 2008)
Wiser Pills (Revised Edition, Frontenac Editions,  2008)
Windfall Apples ( Athabasca University Press, spring 2010)


Chapbooks

Hierarchy At The Feeder (dollarpoem editions, 1984)   
Twelve Houseplants (dollarpoem editions, 1985)         
Dick and Jane Have Sex (greensleeve editions, 1990)      
Fuzzy Dice ( Cubicle Press, 2004)\
Frank’s Aquarium (Cubicle Press, 2004)
Flicker At The Fascia (Serengeti Press, 2005)
Tempus Fugit (Laurel Reed Books, 2005)
A Gaggle of Geese (forthcoming summer 2010 from Red Nettle Press)
Bio

Richard Stevenson was born in Victoria, B.C., in 1952 and has lived in
western Canada and Nigeria.  A college English teacher by profession, he
has taught English, Canadian and African literature, Business
Communication, Creative and Technical Writing, E.S.L., and humanities
courses in high schools and colleges.  A former Editor-in-Chief of Prism
international, he has served in various editorial, jury, and writing/arts group
executive capacities over the years.  His own reviews and poems have
appeared in hundreds of magazines, anthologies, e-zines, and journals
published in Canada, the United States, and overseas.  He has also given
numerous workshops in writing and publishing and has read to enthusiastic
audiences at venues across the country.  He performed with the jazz/ poetry
group Naked Ear and rock music/YA verse troupe Sasquatch, and
occasionally puts other ensembles together for book launches and
performances and reviews books.
Photo by Blaine Greenwood
Folder photo by Pete Polet
What The Reviewers Say


About Driving Offensively:

“… Driving Offensively is a book of first-rate poetry and a human document full of compassion and wisdom.  Highly recommended.” – Michael
Williamson, Canadian Book Review Annual ( 1985-86 )



About Suiting Up:

“ Rich metaphors … a distinct voice …  the reader hangs off the crispness of each word.” – Vernon Mooers, Writer’s Lifeline


About Horizontal Hotel:

“ There have been few such faithful, self-examining white reports from Africa as Stevenson
offers … .” – Michael Thorpe, Toronto South Asian Review



About Whatever It Is Plants Dream… :

“ This collection is wide-ranging and very ambitious … .  Theodore Roethke would have danced with this book, hugging each line scraped hard
by dirt – and then had a mood swing and been jealous!”


– Phil Hall, Books in Canada

About Learning To Breathe:

“ The power of Stevenson’s poetry lies in a reliance on the particularities of personal experience, and in a forceful combination of narrative and
lyric styles that successfully portray the several seasons of being male.” – Matthew Manera, The Canadian Forum

“These are poems like novels, like paintings, like rainbows.  From far Cathay (Beijing) and the massacre to Marika’s new black seven-league
shoes, the range of these poems is wonderful, their scope both micro- and cosmos-reaching marvelous.” – Al Purdy



About  From The Mouths of Angels:

“Stevenson is adept at making his own poetic windows, framing experience and impression with a feel for how words sound and images might
be perceived. … His often off-kilter takes on things are permeated with a gently rueful sense of humour.”  – Valerie Warder, NeWest Review



About Flying Coffins:

“ Poet Richard Stevenson, who has just won the 1993 WGA award for best book of poetry for From the Mouths of Angels, is a meticulous
wordsmith. … [His] best poems gleam with ironic humor and heartfelt insights.  They are unforced discoveries, chanced upon by a thoughtful
white man whose conscience is his best guide to Africa.”   – Mark Lowey, The Calgary Herald



About Why Were All The Werewolves Men?:

“ This book is utter nonsense.  Delightful nonsense. …  Read one or two of these poems to a rowdy group of nine-year-olds, and you’ll have
their rapt attention.  Read them to yourself and you’ll  chuckle at the imagery and adroit use of language.  Stevenson  has an ear for what
children like  without stooping to patronize .  This is one for the young monsters of your household.”

– David Bly, The Calgary Herald



About A Murder of Crows: New & Selected Poems:

Finally, after 30 years of writing, Richard Stevenson, Victoria-born writer who served as Editor-in-Chief of Prism International and Alberta
Representative of The League of Canadian Poets, is bringing together some of his work in this selection of poems.

Stevenson's work is a passionate look at Canadian society. The poems show a fascination with music and literature. They identify heroes and
mentors. There is a visceral quality to the writing. It is down to earth and lyrical, writing about day-to-day events, about people on the prairies,
about farmers, blue collar workers, the men and women who inhabit bars, the intellectuals who stay close to the earth.-- --- -- Black Moss Press


About Nothing Definite Yeti:

Stevenson evokes the nightmare world of dreams, in wit and humour, to create an engaging new folklore for the millennium.  The young of all
ages will find this book simply a whole lot of fun.               – Ekstasis Editions



About  Live Evil: A Homage To Miles Davis:

… the poet captures the fragile purity of this musical genius, "those doeskin notes" transformed on the page into enjambment lines as soulful
and tight as the best of the master's improvisations. …

What's clear is that with Live Evil, Richard Stevenson has become a charter member of the Great Poetry Orchestra, playing with the likes of
Langston Hughes, Amiri Bakara, Corso, Ferlinghetti, and Frank O'Hara. It's illustrious company to be sure, but Live Evil is that good." -- Doug
Beardsley, Quill & Quire



About  C 4/4 Miles ( Richard Stevenson with Naked Ear )*:

( * CD as yet unpublished; privately distributed through Sound Gallery Enterprises )

I enjoyed what I felt were echoes (or overtones, harmonics?) of stuff (or
traditions) you seem to have fully absorbed and turned back into just
yourself: Tom Waits ("Step right up!"), Captain Beefheart, even Jim Morrison
and the Doors (the "organ" vamp or ambiance on "Kind of Blue"?). The music
is, always to my mind, a fitting complement or counterpart, never


competitive, but adheres to "principles" that all first-rate jazz musicians
adhere to …  

  
EVERYBODY plays percussively (not just the drummer, but bass,
Gordon on synth, horn, and even you too!): the compelling opening groove
(and suitable aleatoric effects) of "On the Corner"; the electric bass chant on
"Zimbabwe" and vamp on "Once Upon a Summertime"; the frog-like croaking
ostinato on "Right Off" (its appropriate crouch and weave pugilistic stance;
your own repeated "r" sounds there: not burred, but "right off the mark");
the smooth wire brush work and steady bass drum poots on "Miles' Take on
Sugar Ray"; the ensemble (guitar/bass/drums) on "Bitches Brew" (with its
fine "hollow body Gibson talk" funky blues; and subtle calabash beaded
clicks, sandpaper smooth); the surprising restraint at the start of "Live Evil"
(bass vamp again, snare tocks, wah wah bent tones) building to "frightening
runs of electric shred acid blues"; and the small sounds that open and
close (inquisitive swamp voicings, and lanquid, humid bass notes), the "new
dawn" of "Gondwana." I loved it all: "subarashii" (Japanese for superb,
wonderful!).

-- William Minor, poet, jazz critic; author of Unzipped Souls: A Jazz Journey through The Soviet Union and Monterey Jazz Festival: Forty
Legendary Years

( from a letter to the author )


About Hot Flashes: Maiduguri Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka:

Though there are serious undertones at times, the comic poems centered on small details and brief              dialogues really make the
collection and stay in the mind. Stevenson shows himself to be a virtuoso of the haiku, and also shows how in a globalized culture a Canadian
poet can successfully use Japanese forms to illuminate African realities.    – Graham Good, Canadian Literature

***

With a collection like this, it’s unfair to nit-pick at individual poems and you need to give Stevenson the odd mulligan where you don’t “get” one.  
The observations Stevenson makes of what was his everyday life are clear and vivid.  Other than the odd bit of Nigerian vernacular, there’s not
much to criticize in Stevenson’s excellent collection – it’s written very well, reads very well, and the reader uncovers more with each re-read. –
Ted Harms, The Danforth Review

 About Take Me To Your Leader!:

The poems … are more than entertainment: Maybe we really are the victims of a cosmic joke, pulled through a Loonie Tune wormhole patch.
Maybe some of us have had a soul transfer. Whatever’s happened one thing’s certain: These poems are full of clever rhymes that will make you
laugh out loud and even guffaw. It’s a hip and inventive collection and Stevenson has an obvious affection for aliens. Joseph Anderson, his
illustrator, seems to be in tune with the critters too. Besides the cover art, the book contains 20 wacky illustrations. Buy it for the kids; keep it for
yourself.

– Lori Lavallee, Lethbridge Insider



About Parrot With Tourette’s:

What all of these poems have in common is that they’re grounded in the here and now, grudgingly grey but far from uptight. One of the loudest
voices in this collection, however, emanates from a 500-pound bird. In fulfilling its role as signature piece, Parrot With Tourette’s gives
expression to our alter ego: It’s the part of us that wants to be oblivious to social norms; the part driven to tell it like it is, with street smarts and a
limber tongue. – Lori Lavallee, Lethbridge Insider

Stevenson is not content with a ramble into the finer philosophy of clichés like love, happiness, and beating the neighbour senseless over the
family cat’s incessant roaming.  He is comfortable with the music of poetry in a way that many contemporary lyricists do not handle as superbly.  
...

Parrot With Tourette’s is a refreshing, amusing poke at our all-too-serious middle-class suburbias and our desensitized frames-of-reference.  
Stevenson pivots around these cultural pretensions with the skilled artistry of a gifted wordsmith and poet.  – Vivian Hanson



About A Charm of Finches

Richard Stevenson's taut Japanese poetry distils gentle fun, sly asides and Balzacian self-mockery
and comedie humane in the quotidian. ...


[T]hrough his skilled adaptation of Japanese forms, [he] mindfully explores the moment and effortlessly riffs into epiphany.  Experiencing each
jewelled observation, the reader delights over the kigo (seasonal word), the kireji (cutting line) and feels the wabi (sense of beauty) and yugen
(sense of mystery, depth). ...

A Charm of Finches doesn't just titter, it also titillates and rejuvenates form &
content. Stevenson has the passion, mastery and aplomb of his convictions,
and evokes humour, whether subtle or satiric, always with love. – Katerina Fretwell


When asked what poetry means to me, my first instinct is to reach into my teaching kit bag for a number of pithy quotes. I have a number of
favorites: “ Poetry is a pheasant disappearing in a bush.” ( Wallace Stevens), “Invent a jungle and explore it.” (Tony Connors), “ It must speak of
things/Which go quickly/Through the shadows of consciousness… .” (J. Michael Yates), etc., but most of these use metaphor to speak of the
ineffable content of the poem and neatly sidestep the issue of aesthetics.

But then concerning aesthetics, I’m apt to be more dodgey. Like Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a
member. I think that if the writing theory is more interesting than the writing, something has gone awry. All too often poets who ascribe to this
school of thought or that produce programmatic work which is, at best, merely clever and, at worst, obscure. What gets foregrounded is the
poet’s ego and not image or melody or rhythm or the host of language attributes a poem is made of. So while I believe a good poem can and
often does strive to express the ineffable through metaphor or indirection, and ought to make full use of the resources of language in non-linear,
non-rational ways even, a poem, is first and foremost, a language construct, a made thing. It is not consciousness made manifest; it is not the
proprioceptive process arrested in all its banal and epiphanic wanderings; it is music and image carefully sculpted to release all of language’s
denotative and connotative cultural meanings. And, yes, language can be a virus: it can act as a social meme and carry the freight of too much
prior association, whether the poet is conscious of the viral code or not. Still, it is the poet’s job to craft by wit and intuition a language construct
that did not exist in the real world prior to his or her rubbing the words together that produce a flame.

My own poetry ranges over most of the aesthetic tradition and freely ransacks the emerging post-modern canon as well, but whether I am
employing the techniques of the anecdotal realist, the imagist, the surrealist, the neo-surrealist, the symbolist, the objectivist, or the
projectionist, my first goal is be comprehensible to the average educated reader. I am not interested in language for its own sake and am
generally motivated to write a poem by apprehending a telling image, participating in or witnessing or hearing about an event, hearing a snatch
of dialogue or a melodic or rhythmic riff in my head; and the process of writing a poem for me is a process of satisfying an itch, of running that
image, observation, snatch of dialogue, anecdote, narrative fragment, or riff to ground. Since words use us as much as we use them, the final
product doesn’t often catch the epiphany or experience I have had, and the Platonic ideal generally outruns the word net I spread to catch it, but,
occasionally, when the rhythms, melodic fragments, and images coalesce, a new thing is born that may be equally as attractive. Rarely, when I
am working at the top of my form, the words will tell more than I know. Finally, it must be admitted, language is the teacher, not lifestyle or
experience, and clarity and precision is the goal, even if the poem is only gradually revealing its hidden meanings to the poet in the act of
composing the poem.

I am as attracted to traditional prosody – rhyme and meter – as I am to modernist and post-modernist prosodies , and try to situate my work
within the mainstream tradition because, it seems to me, poetry is a craft that must be learned before it can be an art that has been mastered. I
don’t think of the genre as being exempt from any of the verities of good communication in any other genre, so, yes, Pound was right: poetry
has to be at least as good as prose; it ought to be written to express something, not to impress or adhere to a theory. The good poems in any
tradition are good by virtue of the felicities of language and form, not by virtue of the specialized knowledge of their creators. The white page is
pristine and beautiful; it seems to me that if we are going to make footprints in all that lovely snow, they ought to go somewhere.

My interest in monster lore, nonsense, and light verse go back to my childhood when a beatnik neighbor would give me a scene-by-scene
accounting of the Friday night creature features I wasn’t allowed to see on Saturday mornings in the big oak tree next door. So whether I see
the poet as post-literate shaman or storyteller, the folk ritual of passing on the blarney is never far away. I suspect the really good poets are half
mystics, half snake oil salespersons anyway.