Did you miss me?
And where have I been, in almost a year? Not here. Even though I thought about posting, I didn't, and the longer I went without doing so the harder it became to think about starting again. Finally, it came down to either I would blow the dust off this blog and see if it still runs or I'd leave a little note saying I'd gone on to doing other things. I mean, I couldn't just leave it with the last post being about the Man from T.H.U.G. (The Harper Un-Government), could I?
When I fired up Facebook this morning I discovered it's World Poetry Day, there being a Day For Just About Everything now, have you noticed? I spent a little time yesterday trying to change the header picture on this which involved looking through the photos that happen to be on this computer to see if I could find one that suggested both mountains and purple.
I finally settled on the one you now see above, taken from the Nelson cemetery last summer when forest fires were raging all over British Columbia and our valleys were so full of smoke you could hardly breathe. We've long been saying that our region is overdue for a fire, and indeed the ridge above Six Mile north of Nelson, where I grew up, had a major one. This picture was taken after it was under control, but you can still see the smoke.
But back to World Poetry Day, here are a couple of videos of me reading poetry. This first one was filmed in La Manzanilla last February. I was getting over a cold, hence the somewhat stuffy-sounding voice, and it was made for the online component of Rocking the Page, described as a virtual writers' festival initiated by School District #10 (Arrow Lakes) in BC. In addition to preparing an introductory video I spent an hour doing a presentation to students in a couple of different schools thanks to the magic of the Internet. The schools in question were in New Denver and Nakusp, and I gave the students (who could see me although I couldn't see them, which was quite strange) an assignment to write a pantoum. They put the results online and I was able to comment on them, and in May there was a three day "live" festival where most of the writers who were involved in the initiative came to the Slocan Valley and worked with students in the classroom. I'm not a teacher so I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be a blast. I worked with students from Kindergarten through to Grade 12 in New Denver, Nakusp, and Edgewood, talking to them about different ways of writing poetry and encouraging them to try writing some of their own. (The Kindergarten bunch deserve a special shout-out. I have never made up so many rhymes on the spot in my life! Stuart Ross was along for that ride.)
The other video is from an open mic at Palapa Joe's here in La Manzanilla a couple of weeks ago. I teamed up with Denise Brown on djembe which was a fabulous experience as in my head I've always heard that poem with a beat. Here's Could Have Been Rich reborn as a rap!
On the publishing front I have a few things to report.
I have a sentence in A Rewording Life: Finding Meaning in the Wor(l)d edited by Sheryl Gordon whose mother suffered from Alzheimer's Disease (as did my father) and who sought contributions of sentences containing unusual words from writers all over Canada. My word? Chatoyance, but you'll have to buy or borrow the book to see the sentence! A portion of proceeds from sales goes to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
Two of my poems, Fences and When Talking Ends, are in Voices from the Valleys—Stories and Poems About Life in BC's Interior, edited by Jodie Renner. I brought an extra copy of this with me to La Manzanilla and put it in the Helping Hands Bookstore. It was gone in no time! Net profits from this anthology go to MSF/Doctors Without Borders.
And recently my poem Looking For God on the Oak Bay Ferry wound up in Filling the Void: A Selection of Humanist and Atheist Poetry edited by Jonathan MS Pearce out of the U.K. This is particularly cool, because now I can say I've been published in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and the UK!
My poetry manuscript continues to collect rejection slips which is a drag but certainly not unexpected in today's publishing climate. I suspect I should have put it together and started sending it out about a decade ago!
I'm still making books. This green one was a commission and is now living out its life as a guest book.
Having filled the last book I made for him, my son Jesse commissioned this one, with a blank page on one side for word notes and staves on the other for his musical ones.
My very dear friend and long-time patron, Jan de Bruyn, continues to write mysteries that I produce for him in editions that are limited to him and his offspring. Three books this winter, and I have lots more of his still to do. Jan's 97 now. A former UBC Professor, he was one of the guys who started Prism International back in the day and he is an inspiration to me.
Carol A. Stephen and JC Sulzenko asked if I'd publish Breathing Mutable Air for them. These Ottawa-area poets write good poems and it was an honour to make these chapbooks for them. I'm working on a new collection for them as we speak (or would be, if only QuarkXpress would play ball. Long story. Not happy. Suffice it to say the new chapbook will be ready as promised, which means there will be one or two long days of book work when I get back to Canada). Here's Breathing Mutable Air, ready to be shipped.
Brandon Crilly, a speculative fiction/sci-fi writer from Ottawa contacted me about a year ago to see if I was interested in producing a small collection of his micro fiction. "Ah ha!" I thought when I'd seen the manuscript. "This might be the very thing to put into a book that utilizes a really neat folding of one piece of paper."
A wedding invitation arrived in this format almost a decade ago and I've been wanting to do something with it ever since. Here's a look at how it works:
I know, I know, how neat was that! So last March a bunch of us in La Manzanilla chartered a bus and went to Patzcuaro for a few days. Out of that came Lost in Pátzcuaro, just a few poems, and the format worked for them as well.
And in the inexorable way that one thing leads to another, this week I fiddled around with some amate paper, with which I have fallen in love, and on which I spend far too many pesos at the Friday tianguis, and made this little book. The poem is Note, I wrote it a couple of weeks ago when jazz magician, (no, that's not a typo), Bindu Gross was in La Manz, playing at Bambu Sunset Bar.
Two new chapbook projects are in the offing, as well as Carol and JC's. And I'm still doing Coptic bound notebooks like these, too.
And soon as we get back to Ootischenia I'll be doing a bunch more as Ted and I are participating in the Columbia Basin's Culture Tour again this summer. August 13 and 14, 2016, we'll be at home, available for visiting so you can see what we do, where we do it.
This has turned into a much longer post than I'd anticipated at the outset. And you know, it feels good to be back!