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The Danforth Review Interviews Jay MillAr

From "The Danforth Review Interview: Jay MillAr"

Jay MillAr is a writer, editor, publisher, bookseller and environmental research assistant. His latest book is False Maps for Other Creatures (Nightwood Editions, 2005). He publishes chapbooks under the imprint BookThug and distributes these titles through Apollinaire’s Bookshoppe—his “imaginary bookstore specializing in publications that no one wants to buy.” He lives in Toronto with his wife, Hazel, and their sons, Reid and Cole.
Interviewed via email in May 2005.


...[read the full review at The Danforth Review]

TDR: Tell us everything about False Maps For Other Creatures, your new book.

JM: Well, in 1992 I was living in London Ontario as a student and went to a reading by bill bissett. I was both enthralled and frightened by bill's performance, enough to spend some time in the university library reading his work. That's when I discovered blewointmentpress, his one-man publishing empire named after a cure for body lice through which he published most of the important poets of his day. I also discovered an entire world of smallpress publishing by wandering through the library stacks looking for books without spines. And because of this I decided to start my own small press, which eventually became BookThug.

In 1992 blewointmentpress no longer existed -- bill had sold the press in the mid 80s to an unsuspecting couple who ran the press as blewointment for a few titles and then switched to name to Nightwood Editions, which underwent various changes over the years but still exists today primarliy as a publisher of poetry. Silas White, the managing editor at Nightwood, decided that Nightwood should tap into its own history and reinstate a 'blewointment' imprint, which would allow them to explore some literary territory that they haven't explored for a while. And False Maps For Other Creatures was chosen as the first title for this reinstated blewointment imprint. I called the book False Maps For Other Creatures because that seemed like a good description of what poetry is. To me.

The book is a little different from my last collection mostly because it doesn't have the overall conceptual drive that created Mycological Studies. False Maps is a collection of poems. They do take influence from natural science as well as from poetry, but in a different way than Mycological Studies, and so the result is a collection of poems, rather than the idea of “thinking in books” like we mentioned above. Which makes me a bit of a hypocrit, I suppose. Which frightens me a little -- about as much as it excites me. I suppose I assume people will be looking for something based on what Mycological Studies is. But at the same time I have to wonder why poets are always expected to write exactly what they wrote the last time they wrote a poem. So I wrote the poems a little differently this time. That's okay too. I've been reading from False Maps enough now that I'm finally coming to understand what this thing is that I've made.