“In her thoughtful epic work, Sophia Writ Large / Sophia Writ Small, Canadian poet Ruth Colombo takes Jung to task.” So writes Daryl Sharp in his newly published book Trampled to Death by Geese. His book combines memoir and commentary. It is spiked with humour and an enthusiastic appreciation of the lyrics of pop songs as well as of the verses of new and traditional poets.
Sharp’s work is issued by Inner City Books, one of the world’s leading publishers of books devoted to the influence of C.G. Jung. (The book’s tongue-in-cheek title comes from the writings of Kierkegaard.) In the chapter titled “Sophia Matters,” Sharp quotes close to fifty lines from Ruth’s long poem “Jungian Sophia,” lines that touch upon the goddess, the analyst, Satan, Yahweh, and Job.
As a dedicated Jungian, Sharp is not wholly convinced by Ruth’s feminist argument, which finds fault with aspects of Jung’s “Answer to Job,” but he does find that “her attitude and poetry touch my heart.” So it seems, after all, “Sophia matters”!
Gnomology is an old word for an old activity: the study, the collection, or the writing of aphorisms and aphoristic expressions. James Geary, the English writer and authority on the subject of aphorisms, has dubbed me a “modern gnomologist.”
Imponderables is the title of my latest collection of 1,500 of these expressions. These aphorisms offer insights and outlooks on topics arranged alphabetically from the letter A to the last word Zombies!
Imponderables is published by Colombo & Company in a trade paperback edition with a stunning cover designed by Bill Andersen. The edition, which measures 5.5 inches by 8.25 inches, consists of 226 pages. ISBN-10-894540-60-3. List price $30.
I continue to collect and publish on an annual basis the poems and effects that I wrote during the previous year. Now available between soft covers are some 200 “poems and effects” written betwen January and December 2010. The 184-page collection is titled Entresol and its contents are certainly as unusual as its title might suggest. The four-colour cover is visually engaging and the inspiration of designer and friend Bill Andersen.
I used to review a lot of Canadiana, but lately I have focused on other writing. Yet I did succumb to a dedicated and talented editor’s blandishments to write a long, comprehensive review of Peter C. Newman’s twin volumes called Heroes and Mavericks published by Harper/Collins. If you type into a search engine like Google the words “The Court Jester by John Robert Colombo,” you may read the review in its entirety, as it appeared in the Jan.-Feb. 2011 issue of Literary Review of Canada.
If you would like to see and hear JRC chat amiably for thirty minutes on a variety subjects, directly to a 3D videocamera, check out this YouTube posting (below). The so-called “video-portrait” was produced, directed, and videographed by Reg Hartt, the proprietor of the Toronto-based Cineforum. He set up his new camera on the porch of his brownstone opposite the Beer Store on Bathurst Street and asked me to sit on a stool and talk. Reg is off-camera the entire time (and unaccustomedly quiet!). The footage is difficult to watch (imagine Andy Warhol splashing the screen with swatches of 3D colour), and it is hard to listen to (noisy deliveries of cartons of beer), so I do not advise anyone to watch much of it. A couple of minutes will suffice to give everyone a “taste” of this concoction — or creation! Here is the site in question:
The year 2010 has proved to be a busy one. In that year alone I published two collections of poetry, End of Greatness and Poems of Space and Time; two works devoted to my favourite popular writer, Sax Rohmer, these being The Sumuru Omnibus (426 double-columned pages) and Tears of Our Lady (62 pages); plus an anthology, edited with Brett Alexander Savory, Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories.
For JRC’s impressions of the Munk Debate on religion and society with Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchins, click here.
Tesseracts 14 is the lastest volume in the on-going series of anthologies of fantastic literature written by new Canadian writers. The series was founded by Judith Merril, and this year’s anthology is edited by John Robert Colombo and Brett Alexander Savory, and the co-editors gave this volume the subtitle “Strange Canadian Stories” for the reason that these works of fiction and poetry are truly w-e-i-r-d. The publisher is Brian Hades of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, the format is trade paperback, the size is 5.5″ x 8.5″, the ISBN is 978-1-894063-37-1, and the pagination is x+288+vi. See the Edge website for further particulars, but let me (JRC, as co-editor) say here and now that the collection opens and closes with super-superb stories by Tony Burgess and Jerome Stueart (that’s how he spells his name; the book is weird!). There are imaginative poems by David Clink, Michelle Barker, and Sandra Kasturi, not to mention “The Transformed Man,” a tour-de-force by Robert J. Sawyer. There is a lot to puzzle the mind and set teeth on edge in Tesseracts 14
John Robert Colombo has long been a fan of the writings of Sax Rohmer, the Anglo-Irish novelist who created the infamous character Dr. Fu Manchu as well as other imaginative master criminals along with their dogged secret-agent nemeses. Rohmer’s vital years are 1883 and 1959 and his publishers liked to boast that his books of mystery fiction were “published simultaneously” in London and New York. Indeed, between the two world wars, he was a very popular writer of fast-moving yarns of mystery and detection. Largely overlooked has been the alluring woman known as Sumuru whose incredible exploits are chronicled in five novels which appeared (in London and New York) throughout the 1950s. The full texts of the English editions of these novels are reprinted in Sax Rohmer’s “The Sumuru Omnibus” with an introduction titled “International Woman of Mystery” contributed by John Robert Colombo. The book has been published by George A. Vanderburgh’s Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, ISBN 978-1-55246-905-7, hard-cover, double-columns, 8.5″ x 11″, 448 pages.
Tears of Our Lady is a book that resists ready description because it is singular. It attempts to recreate the monograph called Tears of Our Lady which was introduced by the English mystery-story writer Sax Rohmer into the pages of the five fantasy and action-adventure novels that he wrote in the 1950s. These novels are devoted to the amazing (and absurd) schemes, conspiracies, and adventures of Sumuru, the beautiful and mysterious femme-fatale intent on world domination. (She is a successor of Rohmer’s earlier and infamous fictional creation, Dr. Fu Manchu.) John Robert Colombo, author and anthologist and long-time connoisseur and collector of Rohmer’s writings, has contributed an informative essay titled “The Wisdom of Sumuru.” He has “recreated” the theme if not the text of the fictional monograph through quotations from passages of dialogue and speech that appear in the five novels. It is a companion-piece to the same editor/writer’s edition of The Sumuru Omnibus.) Tears of Our Lady is a booklet published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 5.25″ x 8.5″, 62 pages. ISBN 987-1-55246-917-0.
Congratulations! You have reached the home page of Colombo & Company and its proprietors Ruth and John Robert Colombo. Here are the co-ordinates.
Phone: 416-782-6853 (voice). Fax: 416-782-0285
Email for John Email for Ruth
Mailing address: 42 Dell Park Avenue, Toronto,
ON, Canada M6B 2T6.
For JRC’s latest reviews and commentaries, press the Green Button.
Contents The site lists more than two hundred books, from the earliest to the latest, and it identifies those titles that are still in print. [Total of all books in July 1, 2016: 231 titles.] Those books should be ordered directly from their original publishers (including C&C). In addition to lists of books, there are essays on various topics. Check the Subjects of Interest category with its drop-down menus. Also check the Blog where I explain what I am currently doing.
Online Poetry The texts of six of JRC’s poems appear online in the immense website known as “Representative Poetry” hosted by the University of Toronto Library. This link will take you to them. These are earlier poems composed by JRC.
Poems of Space and Time is a collection of some 360 poems inspired by the power of the fantastic imagination – science fiction, fantasy fiction, weird fiction. They were composed by John Robert Colombo and are selected from thirty volumes of poetry published over the last fifty years. Here are poems about imaginary inventions and fantastic discoveries in the vein of H.G. Wells’s Stories of Space and Time. They indeed roam these dimensions! Included is an account of the author’s involvement in the “record” attached to the Phoenix Mars Lander of 2008 as well as the text of his address at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in 2009 where he was introduced by Robert J. Sawyer whose words of introduction are reproduced here. Poems of Space and Time is a trade paperback published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 5.25″ x 8.5″, 266 pages. ISBN 978-1-55246-919-4. $30.00
Here is a collection of all the poems that were written during the year 2009 by Toronto author and anthologist John Robert Colombo. Is there another poet anywhere in the world who is issuing a volume of verse a year … and has been doing so for the last dozen years?
End of Greatness offers the reader 160 or so poems on a great range of subjects, with tributes to Louis Dudek, Phyllis Gotlieb, Fletcher Markle, Treasa O’Driscoll, Carl Sagan, et al. The collection concludes with the latest installment of the poet’s ongoing dream diary. In one of the poems in this collection the poet writes as follows: “We do not need to be asleep to have dreams. / We do not need to be awake to have nightmares.” Toronto: Colombo & Company. ISBN 10-894540-57-3. Trade paperback. vii + 141 pages. $30.00. Four-colour cover with a superb design by Bill Andersen.
“Not that Whitman needs monuments but Canada needs Whitman!” So wrote Flora MacDonald Denison in March of 1916. The ebullient feminist who made this statement was then the owner of the “wilderness estate” of Bon Echo with its inscribed rock that dedicated the site to the “democratic ideals” of the great American poet Walt Whitman. Bon Echo is now one of Ontario’s most beautiful and popular provincial parks. Flora’s statement serves as the epitaph of Walt Whitman’s Canada.
This newly published trade paperback – 234 pages long with dozens of black-and-white illustrations and Charles Pachter’s full-colour cover painting – traces the influence of Whitman, Whitmanism, transcendentalism, theosophy, and cultural nationalism on at least three generations of Canadian artists and writers. It also describes Whitman’s visit to central and eastern Canada in the summer of 1880 which was arranged by his colleague Richard Maurice Bucke.
The compilers of this book are Cyril Greenland and John Robert Colombo. ISBN 978-1-55246-893-7. Price: $30.00. (Order through the publisher, The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.)
Click photo to enlarge.
Here I am admiring the first copy of my latest book. The photograph of me as well as of the book’s front and back covers were taken by the book’s designer, Bill Andersen. He took the pictures on December 9, 2009, and I think he did a great job! His design incorporates a wonderful watercolour on paper bas-relief that was executed by the artist Richard E. Prince who titled it “The Tempest: Prospero’s Observatory.” The book itself is called Indifferences and it consists of some 2,000 aphorisms. It is another publication of Colombo & Company, and it is available from the publisher or through special order at any better bookstore.
John Robert Colombo’s latest publication The Big Book of Canadian Hauntings is another jumbo-sized collection of told-as-true ghost stories told by Canadians past and present. It measures 7 inches by 10 inches and comes to 536 pages. It offers first-person accounts of the appearances (and disappearances!) of ghosts and spirits as well as considerations and discussions of their effects on observers. Some of the scary tales are reprinted from newspapers and periodicals of the past, but the majority are based on verbatim accounts preserved in the words of the witnesses themselves.
So whether you believe in ghosts, spirits, spooks, spectres, or poltergeists, or not at all, after reading these narratives, contributed by Canadians from all walks of life, you definitely won’t be indifferent to them!
The Big Book of Canadian Hauntings has been published by Dundurn Press. ISBN 978-1-55488-449-0. $29.95