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Showing posts from June, 2011

Catching Up with Trevor Holder!

As the provincial minister for Wellness, Culture, Sport, Parks and Tourism in New Brunswick, Trevor Holder has his hands full. Recently the life-long resident of Saint John stopped just long enough to speak with Arts East about the state of the arts in his home province.

AE: Why do you think that your province enjoys such a strong arts community?
TH: New Brunswick has so many positive assets when it comes to our involvement in the arts. Not only do we have a privileged position within Canada as the only bilingual province in the country, but we also boast four universities, one of which is francophone, as well as the NB College of Craft and Design. We are also fortunate to have many nationally and internationally recognized arts institutions here, like the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Symphony New Brunswick, and acclaimed artists such as Measha Brueggergosman, Herménégilde Chiasson, Shirley Bear, Edith Butler, Antonine Maillet, and many more. I also have to commend the leadership of the …

Matt Robinson Too!

AE: Has the internet helped or hurt poetry?
MR: Yes. And by that I mean I'm sure, if you look narrowly enough, you can make a near-irrefutable argument for either position. Me? I'm lazy in some some ways, surprisingly optimistic in others, so I'm not keen to sprint into one absolutist corner or another and raise that fighter's hand. Access to information and art is good, as far as I'm concerned. Period. Does that mean access to bad art, amateurish stuff, and -- even -- hateful / hurtful stuff? Sure. But it also means access to the most amazing art out there, too. We just need to be thoughtfully critical consumers, or art, of poetry, of anything on offer. So then: I probably lean pretty heavily to the 'helped' side. While lazily sheepish consumption of anything is less than ideal, I'm still optimistic enough to believe we have that ability to sift through and critically, thoughtfully, and meaningfully read/experience and evaluate what works for us and wha…

Matt Robinson Opens Up!

Halifax poet Matt Robinson understands the ages-old adage that artsts are driven to conceal themselves in order to reveal themselves. The young scribe's latest collection is Against the Hard Angle. Previous collections include no cage contains a stare that well and A Ruckus of Awkward Stacking. In this first part of a two-part interview, he opens up about his personal and professional life.

AE: When did you start writing poetry and why?
MR: I don't have a great story here; there's nothing particularly poignant or interesting or cinematic. In the movie of my life they'll never make, there's no one scene a director would demand appears. I did the usual English class bits from grade school onward; I wrote in high school a bit -- and, of course, that was at least somewhat related to girls. I started writing again a bit when doing my undergrad at SMU while working at CFSM (the radio station there) because there were a bunch of other creative folks around. But I suppose I …

Joel Plaskett Rediscovered!

Joel Plaskett
Emergencys, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations. 1999-2010
New Scotland Records 2011

As a compilation of “demos, outtakes, rarities and B-sides” from the last decade of Plaskett’s east coast nostalgia-rock—the poetic yet humorous title is an apt representation of all the roads this local musical hero has traveled. A Deeper and rougher collection of 20 recordings pulled from the archives, “Emergencys” showcases the playful artistry that has become Plaskett’s claim to fame.

With the fable-like observation that fans have come to expect, songs collected on “Emergencys” are at once lullabies and rock anthems, making it a choice album for anyone who enjoys swaying melodically to music that laps gently, familiar and consistent as a rolling wave. Tunes vary between those like “Extraordinary”(2002) that can be ingested slowly like a fine ale, to the saxophone-heavy Southern-rock inspired “Blood in My Veins”(2005), and th…

Talking Shop with Whitney Moran!

Halifax resident Whitney Moran is quickly making a name for herself as one of the region’s finest poets. The twenty-something scribe has received a slew of critical acclaim from those-in-the-know over the last while for her stirring, lyrical style – what one of her peers called “a perfect mix of passion and precision.” Recently Stephen Patrick Clare spoke with Moran about her life and work.

AE: What do you like most about living and working in Halifax?
WM: It's a real community. Our streets are an organic art gallery. We have an
incredible amount of culture per capita, but because there also exists such a
strong sense of peer support in Halifax you can really make a name for yourself
here if you take advantage of that. There are simple reasons too--like knowing
that you'll run into friends anywhere you go, but also having the space to explore
the city on your own. Oh, and being this close to the ocean is necessary for

AE: When did you start writing poetry and why?
WM: Since I could …

Quick Hits!

Brooke Miller – Shake It off
CandyRat Records

I close my eyes, and I’m sure she’s there. She isn’t of course , but the sound of her is almost tangible enough to touch. With a whole lot of feeling and soul, Brooke Miller’s latest offering, “Shake it Off” is nothing short of incredible. Very seldom does an album make you feel like the artist is right there. This disc is a masterful work of acoustic guitar and entrancing voice, with soulful melodies and well-thought out lyrics, that easily paint a vivid picture for each song. ~ Tony Arsenault

Crisp ~ Review by Chad Pelley

Crisp By R.W. Gray NeWest Press / 171 pp / $17.95

More luscious than lyrical, and served up with a minimum of filler, these stories go down well and linger. If you’re looking for fresh, crisp, and engaging short fiction, this one is a pleasant surprise. The title, Crisp, is taken from the title story “Crisp,” a story in which two brothers watch their father get burnt to a crisp in a car, and the younger brother takes up hurling rocks at the firemen who subsequently “service” their mother afterwards. It’s a fantastic, odd, and unforgettable story. Crisp would also be the right adjective to describe Gray’s luminous writing in these stories that “confront the unspeakable parts of memory, meditating on characters caught in isolation and struggling to make sense of grief, disappointment, and the occasional dinner party gone all wrong.”
Quite simply put, R.W. Gray is a great and engaging writer, and this book ties with Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting as the best book of short fiction by an…

Cape Race

Robert C. Parsons is one of Newfoundland's most popular and prolific writers specializing in stories of shipwrecks, rescue and survival in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Canada's Maritime Provinces. In his twenty-three years of research and writing of North Atlantic ships and sailors, survivors and victims, especially those of Newfoundland and Labrador, his sea stories now number in the hundreds and he has published twenty-two books. Recently Arts East spoke with Parsons about his latest effort, Cape Race; Stories From the Coast That Sank the Titanic.

AE: What inspired you to put this collection together?
RP: I like to get out to book signings, launches and trade shows to meet the general public – the book buying people, the consumers who actually read Newfoundland Labrador (NL) non-fiction and fiction. I not only get leads for stories, but also feedback on my work and books as well as ideas for potential books. And that is exactly what happened in October …

Thank-Q! Review by Stephen Patrick Clare

If you’ve got a real hankerin’ for a hearty, hungry-man’s chow-down, a taste of the Deep South can now be found here on the East Coast.

The recently-opened Q Smokehouse and Southern Barbeque on Argyle Street in Halifax is the real deal for beef and pork ribs, suckling pig, brisket, chicken and hickory-smoked turkey.

There’s nothing fancy about the tender, fall-off-the-bone beef ribs (3 for $16) smothered in “bad attitude” hot sauce. Simple, straightforward and scrumptious, the well-seasoned sides slide succulently down the palette, settling well in the belly. Complimentary side-orders of corn-bread and grilled onions and red-peppers do well to compliment the main meal.

The sweet and savoury Pulled Pork Sandwich ($9) proved moist and meaty and more than a mere mouthful. My dining partner, the Divine Miss M, noted that the bread had a fresh, home-baked quality. The old-school coleslaw was a nice touch too.

Be sure to sample the House Made Sweet Lemonade ($2.75) which transforms into a Lynch…

Jimmy Swift Band - When All is Said and Done...

Produced by Aaron Collier, the newest album includes his rhythmic keyboard style and Mercer’s intricate guitar riffs—only this time with more of a twist. If you can imagine a backdrop of funky pop/dance beats and ambient instrumentals with the band’s usual gritty rock style, you might begin to imagine some of these songs. Each one is unique, in true JSB style, and the band even brought back some of their older tracks to remix. The album proves that as the culture of music progresses, JSB’s creative scope will expand to incorporate it. - SO