Phoems = pho + poems

A little while ago Rachel Rose, Vancouver’s new poet laureate, put out the word that she would like proposals for food related poetry events — readings, workshops, whatever. This is part of Vancouver-wide programming she’s doing during her…laureateship? My dear poet-friend Adrienne Gruber asked me if I would like to bring our special method of workshopping our poems to the public. Of course I said yes.

For four years, Adrienne and I have workshopped our poems over Vietnamese pho. We have done this through multiple chapbooks and book launches between the two of us, and one baby, Adrienne’s daughter Quintana, who is growing into a healthy pho-lover. Sharing a meal is the best way to discuss and process our writing together and pho restaurants do not care how long you stay. Therefore PHOEMS was born.

Pho + poems = phoems.

On Sunday April 26th at noon, we will be hosting a public PHOEM workshop — the world’s FIRST phoem workshop, yes that’s right — thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets. The pho is on the house and it is first come first served (literally!), with photicipation capped at 10. Location TBA. If you would like to use your noodle and soup up your poems, please join us! All are welcome, especially those who can tolerate my sense of humour. For all info on how it will all boil down (sorry) and how to register, email Adrienne at

The Facebook event is here. 

Also this event is free! Register soon — it is likely to fill up quickly! If you have never workshopped your writing before, this could be a good place to start.

Here’s a bit about Adrienne: Adrienne Gruber is the author of the full-length poetry collection This is the Nightmare (Thistledown Press) and three chapbooks, Mimic (Leaf Press), Everything Water (Cactus Press), and Intertidal Zones (Jack Pine Press). Mimic was awarded the 2012 BpNichol Chapbook award. Her second full-length poetry collection, Buoyancy Control, is forthcoming with BookThug in 2016.


What kind of soup is this? BABY soup!!!!

Note: Phoem workshop is now full!

A review from The Peak

Thanks to poet Nav Nagra for this review of my book in The Peak, the newspaper at Simon Fraser University.

Leslie’s The things I heard about you is a masterful exploration of the blurred lines between writer and reader. Leslie explores social issues with enlightening subtlety that will leave you reeling.

Merging genres effortlessly, Leslie explores the art of borrowing, and the erasure of prose into poetry. One might conclude that Leslie simply creates prose poetry only to narrow it down to the barest, most intimate essentials.

You can read the whole review here.

Two reviews

Thank you Douglas Luman for this wonderful response to my book at The Found Poetry Review. It is so gratifying to read such a thoughtful, thorough response.

The form of the book, the feeling and space that it inhabits, is reminiscent of Kaia Sand’s Remember to Wave, though the subject matter and arrangement of the books are as different as they are alike. The immediate ability draw the reader in is palpable, and does not let go fully, even if the final speaker of the book attempts to disengage. The potential offered by such a use of self-erasure certainly demonstrates that the space occupied by the second hand, one often vacated or ill-attended by poetry, can be a powerful place in which to meet a reader and establish relationships that, even if they aren’t exactly us, offer the possibility of seeing ourselves in them.

You can read the whole review here.  Michael Dennis has a response to the book up on his blog, writing that the book is “magnificent and intriguing stuff.”

It is a bit like watching grapes become wine, wine become brandy.  True alchemy.

You can read it here.

Sometimes I leave my cave and go out in public

I have a few public readings coming up in the next while. I’m reading on February 6th to support the land defenders on Burnaby Mountain against the Kinder Morgan pipeline development. I am reading with several poets and activists, including Audrey Siegl from Musqueam and poet Stephen Collis, one of the profs sued in the legal case. The event is at the Biltmore at 8 PM. All funds go to the land defenders. There are also bands. Here is the Facebook page.

On February 18th I’m reading at SFU (Simon Fraser University) with Roy Miki, a poet and thinker I respect very much. Roy was a key figure in the Japanese Redress movement’s social justice work for the Japanese Canadian Community. I am honoured to be reading with Roy. All details about the reading are here.

On February 24th I’m reading at REVERB reading series. I’ll post the details for that soon. And looking ahead, in late April I’m reading at the North Shore Writers Festival.

Then I go back into my cave and eat Doritos. True story.

Review & interview in Matrix

Thank you to poet Fazeela Jiwa for her review and interview about my book in Montreal’s Matrix Magazine. 

From Fazeela’s review: “It would seem fitting to describe these iterations as Russian dolls, except that analogy implies that each version looks like the original, only smaller. Instead, Leslie’s distillation and rearrangement of the original words opens new worlds within the same story. Subsequent versions may be smaller but despite this, the startling re-combinations of words and phrases explore the creases of the first iteration.”

Creases. I love that.

You can read the whole thing here.

Thank you Fazeela!

A few things before we all disappear

Happy Chanukah.

Thank you to rob mclennan for his response to my book on his blog. You can read it here.

And thank you to Contemporary Verse 2 for this lovely response to my book:

The things I heard about you is best described as self-erasure poetry. Alex Leslie’s debut poetry collection is almost the exact opposite of Graham’s Her Red Hair Rises. Instead of breaking free from a formal restraint, Leslie uses erasure to tighten 13 poems to the point of near extinction. The unpublished manuscript of this poetry collection was shortlisted for the 2014 Robert Kroetsch award for innovative poetry and for good reason. The beauty of Leslie’s poetic process is difficult to explain, so we’ll just show you an example: “The things I heard about you – driving past I looked at bathtubs of glass light, garden intestines, spaceman. Leave him. Stringing and string up glass and you know the difference. Design in salt worn against the rising.” But even this poem is not small enough: “Smaller” Leslie writes beneath it and so it becomes. The final revision of the poem is nothing but one word: “Thumbprint.”

I’m reading in February. Here are the details:

February 18 — with Roy Miki at Simon Fraser University
Lunch Poems series
Teck Gallery at SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre, 515 W Hastings, Vancouver
Noon. All are welcome!