An anthology + heading off

In about a week I’m headed off to read in Toronto (Nov 5, 6) and Montreal (Nov 8) to read from The things I heard about you. All the details about the readings are in my previous post and I hope you’ll join me. Thanks to everyone who came out to the Vancouver launches.

In the meantime, I’m honoured to have had a poem published by Descant nominated & selected for this year’s edition of Best Canadian Poetry in English, edited by Sonnet L’Abbee. The anthology will be published in November by Tightrope books. If you’re in/near Toronto the info for the launch in late November is here.


Toronto and Montreal launches of ‘The things I heard about you’

In a few weeks I’m heading off to do readings in Toronto and Montreal from my new book, The things I heard about you. Many thanks to my press, Nightwood, and to the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting these readings. Although I’ve lived in and around Vancouver for the whole of my writing life so far, so much of my writing has been published by magazines in central & Eastern Canada, by journals such as Descant, Matrix and The Fiddlehead, so it feels great to take this work to different audiences. These readings are all free & open to the public. Books will be for sale at all events! At the Livewords event, just come up to me and ask. And make sure to ask me to sign your book.


LAUNCH with readings by Prathna Lor and Sarah Pinder

Facebook event here

Wednesday November 5th

Type Books, 883 Queen St West

7 PM, Light snacks provided

I’m very excited to be reading with two amazing poets, Sarah Pinder and Prathna Lor.

A little about them:

Sarah Pinder is the author of the poetry collection, Cutting Room (Coach House Books, 2012). Her writing has been shortlisted for the Expozine Small Press Awards and included in magazines like Geist and Poetry is Dead. A zine-maker of over a decade, you can find her work in Montreal’s Distroboto art vending machines, as well as a mailbox near you. She lives in Toronto.

Prathna Lor is the author of a poetry chapbook, Ventriloquism (2010) and is currently working on a prosimetric novel, HEROISM/EULOGIES, or the Mekong Blue.

LIVEWORDS reading series with Donato Mancini, Lynn McClory, and Jacob McArthur Mooney

Facebook event

Thursday November 6th Betty’s (upstairs lounge) 240 King St East

7:30 doors, readings at 8


LAUNCH with featured guest readers Linda Besner and Daniel Allen Cox

Saturday, November 8

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly 211 Rue Bernard Ouest

7 PM

Facebook Event

Daniel Allen Cox is the author of the books Shuck, Krakow Melt, Basement of Wolves, and Tattoo This Madness In. He co-wrote the screenplay for the Bruce LaBruce film Gerontophilia. Daniel has appeared at literary festivals and universities across North America, and has been a columnist, editor, juror and fiction mentor. Daniel’s fiction has been nominated for the Lambda Literary, Ferro-Grumley, and Re-Lit awards, and has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. He lives in Montreal where he is the vice-president of the Quebec Writers’ Federation and is working on a new novel.

Linda Besner is originally from Wakefield, Quebec. Her poetry has appeared in journals across Canada and been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry 2012. Her first collection of poetry, The Id Kid, was published in 2011 by Véhicule Press, and was named as one of The National Post’s Best Poetry Books of the Year. She lives in Montreal, where she writes a weekly column for Hazlitt magazine. bookcover

First response

My book The things I heard about you isn’t technically out until October 10th, but today I was pleased to get this response from poet Catherine Owen on her review blog, Marrow.

“There is matter here: memory, relationship, ecology, oppression overcome, beauty, but it is the experiment of paring down to fragments of saying that is the core, I preferring when the flesh still graces the bones of Leslie’s fierce and Marlattian landscapes” -Catherine Owen

Vancouver launch + an interview

The Rusty Toque (a great online literary journal) interviewed me about my writing process. You can read the interview here. Details about the Montreal and Toronto launches are below the interview.

My new book, a collection of prose poems entitled The things I heard about you, will be launched in Vancouver in a couple weeks.


Thursday Oct 9th
Pulp Fiction (2422 Main Street)
Doors 7, Readings 7:30
Launch of ‘The things I heard about you’ by Alex Leslie
With readings by Rita Wong and lee williams boudakian
Facebook Event

This event is taking place on the unceded Indigenous territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish),and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations

About lee and Rita:

Rita Wong lives on the unceded Coast Salish territories otherwise known as Vancouver, BC, where her work investigates the relationships between the poetics of water, social justice, ecology, and decolonization. She is the author of three books of poetry: sybil unrest (co-written with Larissa Lai, Line Books, 2008), forage (Nightwood 2007, awarded the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and Canada Reads Poetry 2011), and monkeypuzzle (Press Gang 1998). Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies such as the Winter We Danced: Voices From the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement; The Enpipe Line; Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry; Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry and Poetics; The Harbrace Anthology of Poetry; Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature; Canadian Literature in English, and more. Her forthcoming book of poems is entitled undercurrent.

lee williams boudakian is a queer gender diverse mixie currently based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories. they are cultivating a practice that includes interdisciplinary art-making, writing, performing, community organizing and facilitating arts-based workshops. their work explores intersectional identities and social justice – seeking to share un(der)represented stories of survival and make visible systemic oppressions that impact daily life, relationships, and bodies. lee is currently working on their second play entitled Dear Armen, an interactive-theatre experience integrating a blend of traditional Armenian dance, erotic performance, monologue and live music. Co-created with Saboteur Productions, Dear Armen tells the story of Garo, a genderqueer Armenian who is studying and inspired by the life and work of Armen Ohanian, an enigmatic Armenian performer and survivor of the early 20th-century anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku. As Garo grapples with the discrepancies between Ohanian’s biography and memoirs, they are forced to confront memories from the past, unraveling experiences around gender, sexuality, ethnicity, family, and the role of the artist. The show will tour Vancouver, San Francisco, Oakland, & LA in the fall of 2014. For more info visit:

Accessibility info:

The doorway to Pulp Fiction has no step and is wheelchair accessible. There is a washroom that is quite small. Accessible washrooms nearby: the Mount Pleasant Community Centre is just around the corner at Kingsway & Main and is open until 10 PM; washrooms there are fully accessible. Also nearby is Our Town on Broadway at Kingsway; the washrooms there are accessible and there is a ramp entrance to Our Town from Broadway & Kingsway entrance. You can plan for the readings lasting from approx 7:30 to approx 9 give or take a bit. There will be limited seating (chairs are hard-backed, wood chairs with no arm rests) and if you require a seat for any reason please let me know and I’ll reserve a seat with the name you provide. If there’s any additional info you need, please don’t hesitate to contact me at It’s important to me that this event is as accessible as possible.

Book love

My book of prose poems The things I heard about you is out with Nightwood in about a month. It’s been great to see it turn up on a few lists of anticipated titles — on this CBC fall book list, on the 49th Shelf’s Fall Poetry Preview, and in The Quill and Quire’s most anticipated poetry and graphica for 2014. The book will be available on October 10th and you can pre-order it from Amazon here. I’ll be posting the October & November readings from the book here soon.

My writing friend Marguerite Pigeon is releasing a new book of short stories Some Extremely Boring Drives with NeWest Press and I’m happy to be reading at her book launch with Meredith Quartermain. It’s a rare chance for me to read some fiction-in-progress. The launch is at the Dunlevy Snackbar on October 1st at 7:30 (433 Dunlevy St, Vancouver). If you do the Facebook thing, the event listing is here


Dear rivers

Yesterday I read at a poetry event honouring the work of Chief Dan George — the reading was part of the Salish Sea summer gathering hosted by the Tsleil Waututh nation in the Burrard Inlet, not far from where I grew up in Vancouver. The Tsleil Waututh are currently fighting Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion in their territory.

I was asked to read some of Chief Dan George’s work and to respond in whatever way I wished. I wrote a poem, which you can read following the photographs. With the environmental disaster at Mount Polley in the news, my poem is also a response to those events.

Wil George of the Tsleil Waututh was part of the reading and reminded all of us before he read that Chief Dan George’s writings are not poems in the Western sense, but are teachings and teaching stories from the ancestors.

Before the reading, the poets were invited to paddle with the Tsleil Waututh across the Inlet to the Kinder Morgan plant as part of a ceremony that preceded the festival. As a non-Aboriginal person who is a lifelong resident of the Lower Mainland, I was honoured to be part of this canoe journey with the original keepers of the waters. For me, the invitation to speak to Chief Dan George’s words felt connected to the invitation to be part of this paddling journey. Thank you to the Tsleil Waututh for being gracious hosts and for giving me the opportunity to contribute my writing to their resistance. The ceremony carried out by a Tsleil Waututh elder during the canoe journey reminded me on the many forms that resistance takes and that these water have their own ways of healing.


photo 2

My paddle-buddy, Glen Campbell of Musqueam. Tsleil Waututh wolf on the paddle in the background.

Kinder Morgan in the background. Tsleil Waututh paddle in the foreground.

Kinder Morgan in the background. Tsleil Waututh paddle in the foreground.

Look ahead

Look ahead


Here is the poem I wrote for the event. It’s a response to Chief Dan George’s piece, ‘Words to a Grandchild.’


Dear Rivers


Dear and open misspelled rivers the very blood running

through my veins

waterways radial arteries

fresh to my small salt vessels


Dear and open misspelled rivers your laughter fills the air

Full of yellow machines rolling in your wake

In your depths the old blood has thickened

But darker grittier now, oil in my veins


Dear and open misspelled rivers I’ve swum in a few of you

Quietness and beauty, now my body rises

in my dreams trailing tailings

a bird cannon on each shoulder


Dear and open misspelled rivers according to BC laws

a natural body of water can be “impounded”

to make a tailing pond – how can the law impound

something that is always in motion? A river

cannot be impounded. So you must be choked.


Dear and open misspelled rivers I know my maps

Mining tailing pond flows into the Quesnel River which flows

into the Fraser River which has flowed my entire life

into my throat which flows into my stomach my bowels into

the Pacific which flows into the clouds

which flow into


Dear and open misspelled rivers Chief Dan George wrote

“there is good in everything” – where is the good in this

is it how a creek became a highway

is it how impounding a lake forces a reminder

is it that water always lets itself happen

is there no good in this – is the lesson that we’ve gone too far


made salmon swim out of their own skins


Dear and open misspelled rivers in 2013 at Mount Polley

406 tonnes arsenic and its compounds

177 tonnes lead and its compounds

326 tonnes nickel and its compounds

18, 413 copper and its compounds

3 tones mercury and its compounds:

Disposal only.


Dear and open misspelled rivers

English is a slippery river

A tailings pond can be a landlocked sea

A tailings pond can be a vast desert no human or animal or bird

Can walk across

A tailings pond is a world

That eats worlds


Dear and open misspelled rivers

The elder on the evening TV news tells the journalist

“it’s like a death in the family, what’s happened to the river”

behind her the water walks past

its own dead path

like a stranger to itself

the golem before the holy words

are slipped into its mouth


Dear and open misspelled rivers

How will you heal

Skin and bone

Mercury and arsenic

Fresh and salt


Dear and open misspelled rivers

What are you thirsty for

Now that your salmon

Cannot drink of you


Dear and open misspelled rivers

As Chief Dan George wrote,

“The spoken word

is not enough”


Looking forward

I was happy to see that my book, The things I heard about you, is on The Quill & Quire’s most anticipated poetry book list for this fall season. I’m looking forward to the new books by Lisa Robertson & Patrick Lane, two of my favourite writers.

This summer, the Frank theatre company has been running a series of writing workshops in downtown Vancouver for self-identified queer, trans*, Two Spirit and questioning youth. These workshops are free and open to youth at all stages of exploring their writing. This Tuesday I’m the guest artist at the weekly workshop — I’ll be talking about publishing and doing a few exercises. You can find more info about the workshops here.

And this Sunday there’s the poetry reading responding to the work of Chief Dan George — I am glad to be reading with a group of writers involved in local social justice and environmental issues. All info about that reading is here.