This past weekend was a whirlwind of an experience. As you know, Friday the 10th marked the release of Stanford Cheung's first full-length poetry collection, STRUCTURES FROM THE STILL. And, as you may have guessed, Stanford lives in Toronto. And, as you have no doubt intuited, i do not. So, early Friday morning, i packed up my car with books, snacks, and a friend (Maria, i will road-trip with you anytime!), and hoofed it up to the i think birthplace of my pops (it's either Toronto or Montreal, i can never remember).
On the drive up, i made note of a few interesting things:
- rural Pennsylvania/New York feels like most of the other rural US i've visited, just with more hills
- my car's defrost will default to AC-level cold air even when the AC is off
- my cell plan covers international roaming
- bear roadkill and cryptid roadkill look almost indistinguishable
- Toronto itself felt like an unusual, albeit viable, pastiche of US cities (of note: Seattle, Miami, and a dash of 80s era New Orleans). Montreal also felt like this, which makes me wonder if all Canadian cities do.
Almost as soon as we got to the city, it was time for the launch. If you ever visit Toronto, i highly, HIGHLY recommend a visit to knife | fork | book. The store is situated in a corner of a sizable belly-dance studio and is resplendent with wood floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and heaps of large, inviting, and nestle-able chairs.
And Kirby, the founder/owner of knife | fork| book as well as a poet and publisher, is someone you ABSOLUTELY need to meet and forge a friendship with. He is a consummate curator of space and one of the major hubs of and beacons for the Toronto poetry scene.
As for the launch, what can be said? The intimate group that braved the incredibly pleasant summer evening to be a part of the evening were treated to a powerhouse reading: JC Bouchard primed us and Stanford caught us in a wholly new, collective dreamscape. It was hand's down one of the best readings i have ever been to.
I posted a few videos on my instagram, but they don't do the evening justice.
And, after the reading and talkback, the after-mingling and book sales, the launch was over. We all went our separate ways: to home, to the Night Market, to dinner, to an airbnb. . .
It's fitting, i think, that this launch happened in the middle of August. The best image i can muster for the event is a breathtaking summer sunset: the mountainous clouds dyed the soft yet magnetic tones of the vanishing sun, the sky itself stacked and striated with colors that have no right to exists so well together, to blend so seamlessly into each other, but somehow do, somehow gradient this miraculous way every evening, and then they're gone, then everything is gentle and blue and at peace.
It was a everything befitting of Stanford's book, and so much more than anything i could have hoped for.
STRUCTURES FROM THE STILL is out now and can be purchased here.
Kirby's beautiful photos from and write-up of the event can be found here.