A Rohmer Miscellany


My latest publication is titled A Rohmer Miscellany and it is a modest contribution to the study of popular fiction, to the appreciation of mystery and detective fiction, and to the enjoyment of the seventy-odd books written by Sax Rohmer, the once-popular novelist who 101 years ago created the arch-villain Dr. Fu Manchu.

The present book, 116 pages in length, collects the thoughts and the research of John Robert Colombo who became enamoured of this author’s writings in May of 1950. It includes an original letter written by Rohmer to Colombo. An unusual publication: Colombo & Company , 6″ x 9″, 116 pages, ISBN 978-1-894-540-72-8. Cover design by Bill Andersen. $30.00 plus postage and handling.

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A One-Volume-Frye

northrop-frye-cover-300For the last ten years friends of mine have been listening to me describe this “work in progress.” The work is The Northrop Frye Quote Book, and while it took a decade to research and compile, it has finally appeared in this handsome, trade paperback edition published by Dundurn. The text consists of 3,600 “quotable quotes” from the writings of the country’s and one of the world’s leading literary critics and scholars. I selected the quotations, complete with their sources, to illuminate 1,100 subject-headings which range from Abortion to Zodiac. There are 356 double-columned pages and the volume includes my Introduction as well as a Biographical Appreciation written by Jean O’Grady of the Northrop Frye Centre of Victoria College, University of Toronto. Here is an ideal book for browsing and reference. It may be described as “a one-volume Frye.” After reading Northrop Frye’s “quotable quotes,” the world will appear more wondrous than ever!

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Colombo’s Latest Book of Poems

front+backA World of Differences is the title of the latest collection of poetry written by John Robert Colombo. It is a trade paperback, 6″ x 9″, 300 pages in length. It brings together the “poems and effects” composed by this busy author during the calendar year 2013. Some poems are playful, others solemn. The volume has an unusual neo-noir cover, the work of designer Bill Andersen, and another notable feature of this publication is that the entire text, cover and all, is offered on a complimentary basis (no charges at all) to the readers of this website.

All you have to do is CLICK HERE for the download link to the free, complete PDF version of A World of Differences. (6.1MB)

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Four Hundred Years of Rob Sawyer


Three guest speakers — author/anthologist John Robert Colombo, Quebec novelist Elisabeth Vonarburg, and New York editor Robert G. Hartwell — pose with celebrated, Toronto-based author Robert J. Sawyer at the conference held in his honour and titled “Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre.” It was sponsored by McMaster University, Sept. 13-14, 2013. Reproduced here is the text of Colombo’s tribute to “Rob” Sawyer who donated his archives to McMaster’s Mills Memorial Library.

Invited Talk, Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre,
An International Conference Featuring Robert J. Sawyer,
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario,
September 13-15, 2013; delivered September 14, 2013

No doubt you are as pleased as I am to be participating in this conference. I am particularly pleased to be invited to deliver one of its opening addresses. On this occasion what I have to offer is not scholarship or analysis but some perceptions and appreciation. I hope you will keep these words in mind, if only because I will do the same … and I would not want you to be led astray, expecting forceful Final Words on our subject. Instead, expect some suggestive First Words!

The acquisition of Robert J. Sawyers literary papers reflects well on McMaster University, as does the sponsorship of this conference to celebrate at midpoint the career and accomplishment of this remarkable writer. His fonds reside in Mills Memorial Library, not far from where we are meeting, where they will resist the incursions and erosions of time, alongside papers by Bertrand Russell and J.R.R. Tolkien and other writers of note. (Let me add that they also reside alongside the papers of John Robert Colombo, which the library acquired in 1969. I am still awaiting the conference to mark that occasion!) Continue reading

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The largest collection of its kind ever published

big-joke-book-250There are over 1,000 jokes and anecdotes in John Robert Colombo’s latest book. So it’s a big tome, over 450 pages in length, and the compilation is entirely devoted to Canadian humour and lore. The jokes are arranged by topic – hockey, Newfies, weather, multiculturalism, etc. – so the book is an ideal and funny way to spend the rest of summer, fall, winter, and spring! The title is The Big Book of Canadian Jokes. Jump to the publisher’s site – The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box – to order your copy.

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The Eighth Volume!

standing-wave-smallFor the last seven years I have been issuing “poetry annuals.” (An “annual” is a collection of all the “poems and effects” that I wrote the previous year.) A Standing Wave is the title of the eighth volume in this series. It collects over 170 “poems and effects” composed during the calendar year 2012, along with the relevant entries from the year’s “Dream Diary.” The volume a straight-forward compilation of inventive, imaginative, innovative, and ingenious poems, works that may take the reader by surprise. Here are some details: A Standing Wave: Poems and Effects of 2012, Toronto, Ont.: Colombo & Company, 2012. ISBN-10 1894540-70-0. 5.5″ x 8.8″. xi+181+i. $30.00. Trade paperback, with Bill Andersen’s striking cover design.

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Two New Books


I am often asked, “Who is your favourite author?” I try to avoid a direct answer to this question because like the sultan in his harem I have “many favourites.” Yet I especially favour one prolific writer. Way back in the 1950s, I began to I collect his books, and by now I have copies of his seventy-odd novels and story collections.

The author is Sax Rohmer, and he is remembered these days – when at all – as the creator of the arch-villain Dr. Fu Manchu. My good luck is to be involved in the publication of first editions of two new works by the British author. They are appearing 54 years after his death.

Pipe Dreams brings together Rohmer’s “occasional writings” – 35 articles, sketches, and memoirs that shed light on his interest in sorcery, occultism, music hall personalities, Harry Houdini, writing, etc. The Crime Magnet consists of a series of 16 crime-detection stories originally issued between 1937 and 1945. They feature the eccentric Major Bernard de Treville and his sidekick Digger. They are collected here for the first time.

I have introduced both volumes. The first one bears a foreword by Lawrence Knapp, the second one a foreword by Gene Christie, both gentlemen recognized as commentators on crime fiction. The publisher of trade paperback editions of these titles is The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.

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Introducing Paul Beekman Taylor’s new book on G.I.Gurdjieff

I am the contributor of the Foreword to this new work of scholarship, written by the Geneva-based historian and biographer Paul Beekman Taylor, published by Eureka Editions of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The text of the Foreword may also be read on the Cambridge-based website which is accessible here.

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Three tributes

JRC was chosen by University College, University of Toronto, as one of 100 “Alumni of Influence” 2012.

JRC was chosen by the Humanist Association of Toronto to be “Humanist of the Year” in 2008.

JRC was chosen by the University of Toronto to be one of 300 “Great University of Toronto Alumni: People Who Have Made a Difference” (Thinkers’ Category) 2002.

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Sax Rohmer Lives!

I am currently preparing for publication two books by Sax Rohmer, the creator of Dr. Fu Manchu.

The first is a collection of the British author’s “Crime Magnet” mystery stories, never before assembled. The second is “Pipe Dreams,” a compilation of this author’s first-time-collected sketches and memoirs.

Until these are published, later this year, fans are invited to read the text of a paper I delivered on “Fantastic Elements in the Fiction of Sax Rohmer” (2010).


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Colombo on YouTube!

To my surprise, I discover that I have a substantial presence on YouTube.

Do you want to see me being interviewed by film exhibitor Reg Hartt (in 3D, more or less)? Do you want to see and hear me reading poems from the recent collection “Poems of Space and Time”? Do you want to view the National Film Board’s animated version of the poem “Riverdale Lion”? Do you want to enjoy film-maker Kristin Somborac’s poetic trilogy prepared for the Bravo! TV network? (It has the general title “The Colombo Plan,” and it consists of joyous, animated versions of the following poems: “Domestic Weaponry,” “If the Rest of the World,” and “Recipe for a Canadian Novel”). These are all very imaginative “takes” on one writer’s work.

Keyboard “YouTube” and then “John Robert Colombo”! Or here, I’ll do it for you.

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New Publication!

Less of Light is the title of the latest volume of poetry composed by John Robert Colombo. It consists of all the poems and literary effects that the author and anthologist wrote between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2011. The “added attraction” is the inclusion of the log that describes the dreams and nightmares experienced (or not experienced) by the author over the last 365 days. Less of Light is unusual if not unique; it is not known that any other writer issues “poetry annuals” or writes “poems and effects” like these. Colombo & Company. 166 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, paperback, multi-colour cover specially designed by Bill Andersen. ISBN-13-978-1-894540-69-8. $30.00

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Last book of 2011

Aphorisms are on my mind these days. I have released a new collection of them. A Quaint and Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore consists of 104 pages of aphoristic expressions, comments, and observations that go from Abkhazia and Achievement to Zombies and Zoos. It is not a general collection but a specialized compilation focused on the notion of traditional thought, its prevalence, persistence, and power. It may be seen as a riff on Denis Saurat’s notion of “philosophical poetry.” The visually engaging cover is the inspired work of designer Bill Andersen (with a nod to the spirit of the “magical boxes” of artist and sculptor Joseph Cornell). Colombo & Company. 6″ x 9″. ISBN-10-1-894540-59-X . $30.00

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Poetry Reading

The poetry readings that I give these days are few and far between. But when I do give a recital – as I did as part of the Wordstock Festival in Collingwood, Ont., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 – I focus on new and unpublished work. In fact, the occasion marked the “first reading” of only those poems that I had composed since the first of the year. They will appear in next year’s collection and probably nowhere else.

So my recital was a literary presentation, not a performance of proven “platform” poems. This fact was appreciated by the audience (largely composed of fellow writers). John Irving reads only from novels in progress. I now do the same for poetry in progress.

Most recitals slip by unnoticed; nobody thinks about them, so the spark is extinguished in the dark maw of history. That did not happen at the Wordstock reading, for one member of the audience was the lively poet (and one-time protégé) Stuart Ross, who has made a name for himself as an innovator and publisher. To my surprise he wrote a column for his blog about the Wordstock reading. It is informative and it recreates the ambience of the event. Here is the link.


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Jeepers …

Jeepers Creepers …

Yes, the title of my latest book is Jeepers Creepers … and it consists of about three dozen ghost stories … that is, told-as-true accounts of encounters with ghosts and spirits reported by Canadians from across the country. This is not a book about haunted houses … instead, it is a collection of first-person narratives involving events and experiences that are weird and sometimes wonderful but always mysterious and perhaps even miraculous! This is not folklore These are true reminiscences from real people and they were complied by John Robert Colombo, the indefatigable anthologist whose books include dictionaries of quotations, collections of little-known facts about this well-known country of ours, and volumes of poetry and aphorisms. Jeepers Creepers: Canadian Accounts of Weird Events and Experiences lives up to its subtitle! Experience the uncanny. Think about the paranormal. Read this book! (Subliminal suggestions!) Published in trade paperback format (6″ x 9″, 216 pages) by Dundurn at $19.95.

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Fascinating Canada is a book about offbeat Canadiana. It is not a quiz book, though it does consist of questions and answers – 357 short questions and 357 long answers. The subjects cover the waterfront (from Highway of Tears to the peculiar portrait of Brian Mulroney that hangs in the House of Commons). The book could be described as consisting of “trivia,” but I describe it as consisting of “treasures,” because one of the components of self-knowledge is national knowledge, nourishing a curiosity about what has happened here in the past and what is happening here right now. The arrangement of the book is by four categories: People, Places, Things, Ideas. There is an Index and a Preface which explains what it is all about. Fascinating Canada is published by Dundurn as a trade paperback: 6″ x 9″, 246 pages. It is available, as we used to say, “at better bookstores.” $19.99. Chimo!

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