The More and the Toronto Book Awards!

I was bowled over this week to find my book, The More, on the longlist for the City of Toronto Book Award. Not only a complete surprise, but one that comes with gift of seeing the book leaning up against the other longlisters. I'm grateful to my publisher Beth Follett at Pedlar Press for submitting the book without telling me. :) 

The long list for the 2018 award is:

Ronna Bloom
New Poems

I have two new poems in the summer issue of Juniper Magazine. Here's a bit from the first one called, "Speak Heart."

"My heart is having a conversation with you.
It says, “I miss you.” Says,
“when I’m tired like now, can you take me out
and rinse me off with cool water,
and put me back?”
Or, “lift me by the ventricles.”
I don’t know for sure, I don’t speak heart."

Read more.

Ronna Bloom
On now in Toronto: PLANT Architect's installation of the poem, The City

Courtesy of PLANT Architects, my poem "The City" is now painted 20 metres long on King Street, Toronto as part of the King Street Pilot project. Here's what Azure Magazine had to say:

 "Asphalt Poetry, Plant’s temporary installation at Brant Street, also makes an outsized impact. A collaboration with poet Ronna Bloom, the poem can be read equally from both the north and the south, and – ever cognizant of its surroundings – is legible to be read in pieces. 

Emblazoned in the telltale colours of the road (namely, asphalt grey and surface-marking yellow), the poem is an ode to urbanity, placed in the one of the pilot project’s newly created transit waiting areas. Like a body’s arteries, the poem suggests, cities rely on their roads for connectivity and survival.

“I don’t know where I’m going and the city calls to my voices, my limbs, all my uncertain directions, saying: Lie down in the not knowing,” says the poem. “Lie down in me.” It implores us to embrace the unknown future of King Street – whether it’s animated by public art or by traffic.

Mark Teo, Azure Magazine 

Ronna Bloom
The City, a new video in the Bathrobe Series

The poem THE CITY has been installed on King Street in Toronto by PLANT Architects. To celebrate that public event more quietly, here is "The City" as one of the Bathrobe Videos.

The Bathrobe videos are made to reflect a less dressed, less stressed poetry practice. Writing prompts included.

Ronna Bloom
PLANT Architects paint my poem "The City" on King Street, Toronto

In collaboration with PLANT Architects, my poem "The City" has been painted on King Street as part of the King Street Pilot Project. 

The poem can be read from the sidewalk. Or you can just grab phrases as you go. If you want to read it all, use your body as eyes, walking back and forth as the lines are around 30 metres long! Some phrases are upside down so they can be read from the streetcar. "The City" will be on view throughout the summer. Or until it fades from sun, is rubbed out by the dirt, and bike tracks of the city.

King Street West at Brant Street (Just west of Spadina)

Ronna Bloom
... apples and pears in their own boxes


A line from my poem “Kensington Market” accompanied the recent exhibition at the Toronto Reference Library, “Toronto Revealed,” paintings, drawings and linocuts from the 30’s to now. The poem is from my book Personal Effects (Pedlar Press, 2000.) It is one of the poems featured on the Toronto Poetry Map.

For a perpetual record of how poems emerge from and record the life of this city, have look at the Toronto Poetry Map. A great way to tour Toronto!  

I had a dream I went to China

I had a dream I went to Beijing for five days. On the runway, the captain said "the computers have figured out how to get to China, but we need 10,000 more tons of gas. The gas truck is just pulling up." We landed 15 hours later. The next day. It was night.

We blurred our way to the Beijing Bookworm, a restaurant-bar-library-bookstore-haven. Peter Goff the owner and singlehanded bringer of international writers to the annual book festival met us at the door. He welcomed and feted us. By us I mean there were four other Canadians in my dream but I think they were dreaming too. I seem to remember a lot of Margaritas. A lot of shelves, books. A lot of people happy to be there. I left early to head back to the hotel alone in the dark and someone said, "make eye contact with drivers crossing the road." Crossing the road on a green light in Beijing at night is like jaywalking with your eyes closed in Montreal, New York and Toronto put together.

The next day I sat on a panel called "Poets for the People" with Welsh poet Ifor Ap Glyn and Chinese poet Dai Weina. Each read in their own language then in English and spoke of translation. Someone asked about my work in hospitals and I talked about writing people poems on the spot. Its own kind of translation. Dai Weina said, "Every act of poetry is a translation of inner experience."

Earlier that day the dream was in The Forbidden City. It was snowing. Across the road, 3000 party officials were meeting for the Party Congress. The Great Hall of the People had red flags around it.

There was a panel on poetry in education with American teachers from Shanghai. A Chinese teacher in the front row asked how to bring more spontaneity to his students. But it was his own offering that woke the room. "Kids love to make mistakes," he said. I dreamt said "how can we encourage them?"

In the dream, I took a walk the long block from our hotel one morning, past embassies with guards, Balenciaga, Prada, Brutalist architecture, motor bikers with protective blankets on their knees and gloves that looked like oven mitts. People wore every style of N95 particulate mask. The air was relatively clear that day, at least to my lungs.

On the last day, we walked 4 of the 21,000 km of The Great Wall. Steep up. Steep down. Actually, we took a cable car up and a slide down. But along the top we walked. We shed layers in the sun. Leaned out, looking up and down the mountains, and stumbled on the uneven stones laid for horses. It was such a big place, such a big place. Yuan our volunteer guide and I strolled and chatted. She said, "we must walk more slowly to feel what's under us."

When I woke up I had these pictures.

Ronna Bloom