Wednesday, February 04, 2015

"WHEN EVERYTHING FEELS LIKE THE MOVIES" -- A CRINGE-INDUCING TOUR DE FORCE

§

I know, I know, I know. I haven't been here in ages. I actually made a couple of stabs at posting something, I see via drafts. The first one's subject line is, "I Got Nothing" and the second one is, "When the World is Too Much With Us". I didn't get very far with either one.

Sometimes the words just don't want to come. I've learned it's best not to poke at them when they're like that.

My "I Got Nothing" post went like this:

Ever have those periods in your life when you feel like you have nothing to say?
Less than nothing?
If nothing was a basket full of stars, it would be empty?
If nothing was a single grain of rice on your too-large plate you'd never be able to gnaw though it?
If nothing grabbed your hand and pulled you into the playground you'd slip and fall?
If nothing lurked under the bed, it would keep you up all night?

That's something.

That's where I am these days.

Well, now that we've got that out of the way, hello, and Happy New Year! I'm just into week four in Mexico, in the delightful village of La Manzanilla. I've been walking lots and yes, eating and drinking lots, too.

And reading, which is where I'm actually going with this post.



I just finished the most amazing book. Raziel Reid's When Everything Feels Like the Movies is getting all sorts of press these days thanks in part to a commentary it received in the National Post. It's a fresh take on the coming-of-age story. There have been such stories since time began and they will flex and shiver and take on new guises in the future as they always have done and always will. I expect the book would have raised the odd eyebrow even if it hadn't been tagged as being for Young Adults, a category of literature directed, according to a quick Google search, in Canada, towards kids aged 13–18. 

Jude Rothegay, aka Judy because ever since he can remember he's liked to present as a girl, tells the story in first person. He's funny. He's astute. Should I be using "She's" funny; "she's" astute here? I'm not even sure, and I'm fairly well versed in the world of LGBTQ, but there are still many confusions. When Everything Feels Like the Movies takes a hard look at such confusions, especially prejudice and bullying towards the two-spirited community (that god knows has been going on for far too long) and it's hard not to want to look away. Jude has an unrequited crush on a guy, Luke Morris, a complicated relationship with his fag-hag friend, Angela, who screws everyone she can and is not a stranger to things like abortions. But there's something about Jude's gaminess, his teenage brash, his forthrightness, his lewdness, his burgeoning sexuality, his preceptive observations with regard to his parents and his tenderness to his little brother that all blend to produce a character who reminds me of the good and bad and huge spectrum in the middle of all the me's I've been and all the them's people I know have been and I'm reacting to the truth of the story. The gut-wrenching stuff is just too, too believable in a world where politicians support waterboarding and kids like Matthew Shephard and Larry Fobes King, to name only two, have lived. And died. (Emily Keeler, also of the National Post, talks about the true story that inspired the book.)

I have to admit the Young Adult designation is both disturbing and thought-provoking. I have two grandsons who read like crazy, who at 11 and 12 are getting very close to the arbitrarily imposed entry age for reading books in this category, and I cringe at what they might learn about from this book. Extreme bullying. Blow jobs. Abortions. Anal sex. But then I remember when I was 11 and went to Camp Koolaree and someone had a copy of Peyton Place that fell open to the really, really good part which was most instructional, as I recall, for someone who had the mechanics of sex down pat but had somehow missed the memo that those involved actually did it on purpose. And I wonder, if I was a LGBTQ youth, wouldn't a book like When Everything Feels Like the Movies be something like a godsend?

And to the woman, whose name I don't remember and can't be bothered to look up, who wrote the shitty NP commentary of the book, all I can say is, you totally missed the fucking point. Which probably is, when you get right down to it, the point.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies won the 2014 Governor General's Award for Fiction in the Young Adult category. It is one of the books chosen for this year's CBC debate, Canada Reads. This year's books were chosen on the basis of "...books that can change perspectives, challenge stereotypes and illuminate issues." Should be interesting.

§



Thursday, November 20, 2014

POETRY IN RIONDEL, BC, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2014

§

POETRY READING IN RIONDEL

A CELEBRATION OF WORDS

at DUTCH HARBOUR
RIONDEL, B.C.
NOVEMBER 22, 2014
2:00 – 2:30 pm 
Alanda Greene
Linda Crosfield
2:30 – 3:00 pm Refreshments
3:00 pm – 3:30
Kuya Minogue
Luanne Armstrong
3:30 – 4:00
Lets talk about books – maybe buy some – and see if there’s any food left.

That would be local time. Riondel, a mere breath over t'other side of Kootenay Lake, is an hour ahead of the Nelson/Castlegar/Kaslo/Trail etc. crowd. My task for this weekend is to get there on time. Not too early. Definitely not too late!
I will be reading something to do with walking, I think. Yep, made it back safely from Spain, where I walked 360KM (almost 225 miles) in 15 days! 
Now that I'm home for a few weeks, I'm up to my ears in publishing commitments, baking for Christmas, redecorating the bathroom, etc., so my blog is suffering. But I wanted to mention the upcoming reading this weekend.
§

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

SOME BOOKS WORTH MENTIONING

§

Today I thought I'd give a shout-out to several books I've recently read, or am reading now, or am about to read. After that I'm offering some excuses about why I may not be blogging for the next month or so.


Joanne Arnott, who I met at the Cascadia Poetry Festival, is a wonderful poet. Her latest, Halfling Spring, is a delight. It chronicles, as is suggested in the subtitle, a relationship that began in cyberspace.

poem-centric

it may not be perverse
but it is certainly inverse
& perhaps obverse, as well

any poem-centric relationship
is bound to be verse
of some kind


Dianne Hicks Morrow is Prince Edward Island's poet laureate. Met her in La Manzanilla last winter. The poems in Long Reach Home are as warm and inviting as the house on the cover. They examine relationships — parent/child/parent; husband/wife — with perception and humour.

Thirteen

Nearly six feet tall, totally cool:
shock of dark hair flopped over forehead,
styling gel firmly in control,
designer jeans casually topped by
Red Eraser shirt, sleeves rolled
just so.

Mirror-approved for departure
he steps into his hundred dollar
size twelve sneakers. Big-man
hands reach to tie laces
the bunny-ear way he learned
when he was three.


E.E. (Elly) Nobbs is another PEI poet. (Wonder if she and Dianne know each other?) I've subscribed to her blog for ages, can't remember what took me there in the first place, but a month or two ago I dropped in again and decided to order her chapbook. It won the Doire Press 2nd Annual International Poetry Chapbook Competition in 2013. Love the poems in this one. For example:


Documentary

At the end, we see
the blue whale and her calf. Breaching —
               their two tails punctuate
the ocean's clean slate,
their motion like mime
or signing. Perhaps they know
               we're deaf.             


Fishing for Mermaids is Nanaimo poet Mary Ann Moore's first book of poetry. She's been published in several chapbook anthologies that come out of the Patrick Lane workshops on Vancouver Island. That's how I first met her, back in 2007. So great to see some old familiar poems in this collection, as well as new ones. See if this one doesn't make you want to go eat something!

Oregano

If I were asked
to praise something
I would choose 
oregano,
its sagey greenness,
pungent bouquet,
its aliveness on the feta,
in memory of Sappho's prayers
to Aphrodite,
the Lesbos circle,
Greek odes
accompanied by the lyre,
goat bells on the hill,
dancing, arms entwined,
hibiscus in our hair.

Cover illustration by Alun Hollyman

Four Small People in Sturdy Shoes is Vancouver Island poet, Linda K. Thompson's first chapbook. She begins:

   (from Stand Up for the Wallflower Words)

I am somewhat afraid of poems
I do not wish to wrestle belligerent ones into submission.
Nor do I wish to flood them with klieg lights to get to 
    the guts.
A poem like that, I find it sensible to avoid.
In fact, I would march myself right out of that cell,
and even as the lifers are rattling their stanzas on the      
    bars,
I will be looking for an outside door.

This poem and the ones that follow bask in the gentle light of keen observation. No klieg lights here. Four Small People in Sturdy Shoes is published by Hot Tomato Studios.

Middle Child of Summer is a sweet little chapbook from Leaf Press. It's very dear to my heart because it contains 31 poems that originated as postcard poems, and readers of this blog will know how much I enjoy that particular discipline!

Untitled, Day # 23

Even goodbye sounds
inviting from under
a Stetson —
the shade and dust of it
the bent crown and tattered band
as believable as anything.

It's when you squeeze it
into the sideways dawg days
the trouble starts.

Finally, drum roll, Jennifer Craig has been brewing a new novel and you can get it here. Jenny is one of the funniest writers I know. Can't wait to dive into this one!

I am leaving in a few days for Toronto where I will be visiting old friends, then carrying on to Barcelona where I will, in the company of my sister and two more friends, take a plane or a train or something, and wind up in or near Hermanillos, and then start walking. The Camino. Half of it, or so. Which is still a whole lot of miles, and I'm not sure I'm physically capable, and I'm a bit nervous, and so on and so on, but I'm also getting really excited. Not sure if I'll be able to efficiently and effectively update my blog while I'm away as I won't have my laptop; traveling light is a basic requirement for this trip. I'll try, though. (Hate trying to type on tiny-screened devices). Here are a few pictures of where I've been walking around here. Training, as it were.


On the Kinnaird bridge, looking at lower Ootischenia. 
On the Robson bridge, looking north up the Columbia River, the pulp mill in the background.

On the Robson bridge, looking south on the Columbia. 

On the old Doukhobor bridge at Brilliant. They were setting up for a wedding.
From the old Doukhobor bridge at Brilliant, looking at the "new" bridge, which, I might add, is a scary one to walk over. It really shakes! (This is why you haven't seen a picture taken from it yet).

Panorama shot from the pathway beside the airport, looking back towards Robson.
And that's it for now. See you when I see you!

§

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

READING AT MY HOUSE THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 15th, FEATURING POET, YVONNE BLOMER

§

Kootenay folk, this Friday we have a treat for you. Victoria poet, Yvonne Blomer, is going to be in town and she's reading at my house! 
7 PM
Ted and Linda's Place
932 Columbia Road
Castlegar
(really Ootischenia)
(250) 365-7434

Yvonne was born in Zimbabwe and came to Canada when she was two years old. Her first collection a broken mirror, fallen leaf was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Yvonne has also published two chap booksLandscapes and Home: Ghazals (Leaf Press, 2011) and Bicycle Brand Journey (JackPine Press, 2012). In 2012 The Book of Places (Black Moss Press) was released. Yvonne is the co-editor of Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press, 2013) out of the Planet Earth Poetry reading series, of which she is the Artistic Director. In 2014 her third full collection of poems As if a Raven was released with Palimpsest Press. In it Yvonne explores creation, destruction and beauty through birds and biblical references.



Reading from As If A Raven at the 2014 Cascadia Poetry Festival in Seattle

I'll be reading some poems, too, including new work from my week at St. Peter's Abbey in Saskatchewan earlier this summer.

There will be stuff to nibble on and beverages and fun people to talk to. And Yvonne is a very fine poet, so you should come!

§

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

COLUMBIA BASIN CULTURE TOUR THIS WEEKEND. COME ON BY!

§

This Saturday and Sunday (August 9–10) Ted and I are participating in the Columbia Basin Culture Tour. (That sweet little wooden bowl in the photo I borrowed from the Columbia Basin's Facebook page is one of Ted's).


This means that from 10 AM until 5 PM both days you can come see what we do where we do it. To that end, I've been busy making books, some of which are pictured below. 

 













Sewing a Coptic bound book




Ted will be turning tops and things in his shop and has lots of wonderful work you can look at (and even buy, if you're so inclined). More about him on the CBT website here. And to whet your appetite, here's a sample of what he does:






I will be busy sewing chapbooks and maybe even writing the odd postcard poem (it is, after all, August). More about that here

This is the first time we've done this so we have no idea what to expect but we're game if you are so come on by!

§

Sunday, July 20, 2014

IT'S ALMOST AUGUST. WANT TO PLAY POSTCARD POEMS?

§




If you've been thinking about joining the August postcard poem exchange this year, you've got six days to get yourself on the list. All the information you need is here

You just have to commit to writing an original poem on 31 postcards and sending them to the people who are below you on the list. This year we're already up to 350 participants. I've been doing this since the first year (2007) and it's been so much fun watching it grow. 

The idea is to write your poem directly onto the card. For the first few years I found this to be well nigh impossible. What if I got going and ran out of room? What if I got the line breaks wrong? What if it was too bad to send? What if I thought of a better subject to write about? Well, honestly, after a few years of sketching the poems in a notebook first, I came to realize that I could write directly on the cards and the world would't end. Now I love the process. I love surprising myself with what comes out of my pen. And there's something very satisfying about the physical act of mailing the card to someone — most often a stranger, and it's both amazing and gratifying that many of those strangers have become "friends" through Facebook. Many of us send the requisite number of cards to the assigned people plus several others to folk we've exchanged with in the past. 

And it's nothing short of delightful to open your mailbox and find a postcard poem just waiting to be read. 

Paul Nelson is compiling the list of names this year. If you want to be on it, get in touch with him no later than July 26th. 

§




Friday, July 11, 2014

BEGIN WITH THE CORNERS — ALMEDA GLENN MILLER'S NEW POETRY COLLECTION

§

A few weeks ago I had occasion to spend part of the day in Trail, so I headed up to Rossland to CafĂ© Books West in search of a copy of Almeda Glenn Miller's new book of poems, the wonderfully titled Begin With the Corners from Big Bad Wolf Press.  




The young lady who took my money said, "This looks interesting." 

"Yes," I replied, "and she's local!"

She studied the cover. "Really?" 

I didn't have the heart to tell her Almeda and her husband used to have that bookstore when it was called Gold Rush Books. 

The poems are rich and fruity and sparkle with Almeda's trademark humour coupled with intelligence. 

Coffee and poetry, with a river running by. Doesn't get much better than this!
Begin With the Corners was launched when I was still in Mexico, and I was away when she read from it in Castlegar, so I've not yet managed to hear Almeda read from this collection. I knew she's been presenting the poems with the local group Motes and Oats providing backup musical arrangements and I was dying to see how that worked, so you can imagine my delight when a CDBaby download card floated out of the book when I was reading it down by the Columbia River near Gyro Park in Trail. The card gives you a free download of five of the poems that appear in the book, including The Book of Failures which I really enjoyed, both on the page and through my speakers. You, too, can listen to these poems by downloading them at CDBaby or on iTunes. Or, for an even better deal, buy the book and get the download card!

§