You want chapbooks? We got ‘em. Broadsides? Got you covered. Beer? Oh you better believe it.
Odourless Press, founded by Puritan author Bardia Sinaee, launched its first Toronto-based season this past Wednesday with chapbooks Sucks To Be You and Other True Taunts by Suzannah Showler and Cloudpeople by Matthew Walsh, as well as broadsides “Song of the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son” by Ben Ladouceur and “Hashtag Apocalypse” by Mat Laporte.
The Ossington’s cozy back room was filled to the brim with a veritable who’s who of up-and-comers in the Toronto lit scene, all eager for some new poetry. All four poets gave wonderful readings, both from their Odourless pieces and beyond, with ample time for ‘smoke and piss’ breaks between. It turned out to be a perfect night full of poetry and conversation, at least for those of us not still hung-over from the Bronwen Wallace Awards Gala the night before (Laura Clarke & Suzannah Showler, I’m looking at you …)
The first thing that struck me about all four releases (only $15 all together!) is how gorgeous they are. Sinaee does all of the design and production himself, so it’s surprising to see how individual each piece is visually. Unique graphics, rounded corners, chapbooks with spines—for a minor chapbook fetishist like myself, there’s nothing quite as exquisite as a quality binding job.
But let’s not get too caught up in aestheticism. All four of these works are exquisite. Ladouceur’s evocative language in “Song of the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son” and Laporte’s jovial social commentary in “Hashtag Apocalypse” oddly compliment each other. I’m never too sure what to do with a broadside, but these are definitely going up on the wall. Showler’s poems in Sucks To Be You are all titled after school yard taunts, but the poems themselves go far beyond, reaching into the deeper insecurities beyond accusations like “I know you are, but what am I?” with a gorgeous compression of language.
Walsh’s Cloudpeople, half taken-up with the flaneurial epic “Cloud Grape,” is full of feats of linguistic acrobatics, sensual poems that mingle the specific with the ethereal. It’s impressive for a first chapbook, the poems consistent in their depth throughout, and I think we can look forward to great things not only from Walsh, but all of the poets from this season.
If this year’s launch is any indication, Odourless Press is certainly proving itself to be a hotbed for local talent. This fall, we can look forward to chapbooks from Mat Laporte and Town Crier blogger Phoebe Wang, as well as a broadside from Puritan co-founder, Spencer Gordon. With spring launches coming to a close, I can’t wait to see what the fall will bring for Odourless and all Toronto small presses.
Jessica Bebenek is a Toronto poet and writer with work appearing/forthcoming in The Rusty Toque, [PANK], Steel Bananas, The Flying Walrus, and Uncharted Sounds magazines. She is the founder of the micro-press Loose Ends Press and published her first chapbook, I, Family, this past spring. She lives downtown with two pet rats and a prose writer. www.JessicaBebenek.com