We milled about in the big room of the old Khyber
friends, family, local poets and Joe, who made sure books were
stacked, drinks were set out, and a working mic was ready. Even
my physician had shown up. I was elated; I felt I’d finally landed
on the planet where I belonged.
Joe Blades came into my life at a critical point. I
to write another academic article. After finishing a manuscript
of poems, I entered the Poets’ Corner Award offered by Broken
Jaw Press. I knew nothing of small presses or of contests, but
Joe’s press, one province over, seemed welcoming. To my
shock, I won, which meant the poems would be published as
a book. Joe was gracious and calm as we worked to prepare
the manuscript. Yes, I could use a striking photograph my
husband had taken for the cover. Of course, I could send the
work to an external editor before it went to press. It all happened
in about two months.
During that launch in Halifax, Joe threaded in and out
crowd, wearing his enigmatic smile and holding one of his
legendary commonplace books, a journal so stuffed with notes,
drawings, brochures and clippings, so full the leaves fanned
out wantonly as if the book was originally a circle, trying to
make itself whole again.
I think of Joe as a spine of one of those journals,
in words, people and ideas--pages of ephemera and insights
that spark conversation and creative works, opening them all
to one another. I am forever grateful for his work in the literary
community and for publishing my first poetry collection.
Joe Blades was a contemporary rhapsode, traveling from one
town to the next, sewing together stories.
After years as a scholar, Lorri Neilsen Glenn published All the Perfect Disguises with Joe Blades’ Broken Jaw Press in 2003.
Lorri Neilsen Glenn is a mentor in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program and Professor Emerita at Mount Saint Vincent University. Halifax’s Poet Laureate from 2005-2009, Lorri is the author and contributing editor of fourteen collections of poetry, creative nonfiction and scholarly work, and has received awards for her innovative teaching, ethnographic research and her work in the arts. Following the River: Traces of Red River Women (Wolsak and Wynn, 2017) is her award-winning exploration in hybrid form of the lives of her Ininiwak and Métis grandmothers and their contemporaries. Lorri’s essays and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and her poetry has been adapted for libretti by composers Tawnie Olson and Kala Pierson. A Red River Métis, Lorri lived on the Prairies before moving to Nova Scotia in the 80s. She divides her time between Halifax and Rose Bay, NS.