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Monday, 28 February 2011

Readers: MAIN STREET LIBRARY (Toronto) POETRY SERIES: 1979-1985

Main Street
Library Poetry Series
1979 – 1985 Toronto, Ontario, Canada
On November 15, 1979 I founded this monthly poetry series at the Main Street Library in Toronto’s east end. The main Toronto literary venue at that time was the Axletree Coffeehouse located downtown, and this series was created to provide both a local forum and an alternative and additional outlet for poets. The readings ran until December 11, 1985. The following poets and musicians performed during these 62 readings:

PETER ACKER                                  SUSAN GLICKMAN       LESLIE NUTTING
MILTON ACORN                               SHARON GOODIER        PAM OXENDINE
LILLIAN ALLEN                                AMANDA HALE              SUSAN PARKER
With TRUTH AND RIGHTS              CHRIS HEGGE                  BEN PHILLIPS
GAY ALLISON                                    LARRY HOPPERTON      TED PLANTOS
DAVID AYLWARD                             BRUCE HUNTER          ROBERT PRIEST
HERB BARRETT                                SUSAN IOANNOU       BRIAN PURDY
SHARON BERG                                 BETH JANKOLA            DAVID REID
DENISE BERTRAND                         PAT JASPER                    JIM ROBERTS
ROBERT BILLINGS                          GEORGE JONAS            HUGH RUDDEN
bill bissett                                             jones (Daniel)          MARGARET SAUNDERS
ANDREW BROOKES                         CLIFTON JOSEPH          LIBBY SCHEIER
BRIAN BURCH                                ANITA KELLER              JEFF SEFFINGA
HEATHER CADSBY                           LALA KOEHN               DEE SEPTEMBER
LESLEY CHOYCE                            MARK LABA                MARTY SINGLETON
TOM CLEMENT                                 DONNA LANGEVIN      JIM SMITH
DENISE CONEY                               ERIC LAYMAN          PATRICIA K. SMITH        
HELEN COSTAIN                              JUSTIN LEWIS          GEORGE SWEDE
JENI COUZYN                                  FRIEDA LING           KEITH SOUTHWARD
RITA COX                                  DALE LOUCAREAS          JAN DAWSON
TOM CRANE                                   RICHARD LUSH           IRENE MCGUIRE
jw curry                                            JULIE MCNEILL        LOLA L. TOSTEVIN
BEV DAURIO                               CAROL MALYON       YVES TROENDLE
JAMES DEAHL                              RAY MARTIN             ANDREW VAISIUS
MARY DIMICHELE                   ERIN MOURE                CARLY WHITE
ABBE EDELSON                     NEIL MUSCOTT               BARBARA WILSON
GLENN FREW                             bp nichol                         
STEPHEN GILL                                                                   ROBERT ZEND

peace, poetry power! and great memories ...  Chris Faiers, series coordinator

Saturday, 26 February 2011

thoughts of George (Harrison) and A.C. (founder of Hare Krishna) - together in Brahma

EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers

Chapter 3 - The Day We  (Sort Of)  Met George Harrison

It was late summer.  A bunch of L'Auberge regulars decided to take a Sunday trek to see George Harrison, who was rumoured to be living in a little village named Esher.  We hopped on the double-decker bus in Richmond, and after an hour or so of riding we arrived in Esher.  The ten of us were a scraggly lot, all would-be hippies trying to grow our hair long, the girls dressed in shawls and long skirts and granny boots.

Our goals were the standard ones in 1969 - California Jon, Canadian Peter and a couple of other guitarists had made a tape, and wanted Harrison's opinion of it.  I had a copy of my just printed haiku chapbook, Cricket Formations, and I hoped to get up enough nerve to present my poems to my idol.  And of course we all wanted to meet a real live Beatle!

Harrison was my favourite Beatle, largely because he was the one closest to me in physical appearance, with his craggy face and dark hair.  I had modelled my haircut and clothes on Harrison for some time.  I also thought he was the most interesting Beatle because of his enthusiasm for Eastern mysticism.

Someone had gotten good directions, for we actually found Harrison's house without a lot of trouble.  Located in a very staid, upper-middle-class suburban neighbourhood, the house stood out like a psychedelic advertisement.  A high fence bordered the large lot, and the house was painted a myriad of colours, like something out of the movie Yellow Submarine.  We were all entranced to be setting foot in a sacred preserve of Beatledom, and after knocking on the door and receiving no answer, we boldly began surveying the premises.

"MICK & MARIANNE WUZ HERE!" was spray painted on the front wall, and this further consecrated the property.  Our rock heroes actually lived here, visited with each other, slept together, and had probably done these wild paintings on acid trips like our own.  We were all strengthened in our faith as true believers in hippiedom.

Some of the group camped by the front door, and the guitar payers started scratching on their ubiquitous instruments.  I wandered around, and found a pair of George's jeans hanging on a clothesline.  For a fleeting moment I was tempted to steal them, to see if my hero's jeans would fit.

Manicured lawn
    would-be hippies wait
        for a Beatle
A touch of the Beatles' famous ironic humour was present in a large wooden cross leaning against the back fence.  I even had the nerve to peek in the draped windows.  On the window ledge of one room was a collection of seashells.  Miracle of miracles - there was even an apple tree - how appropriate for the founders of Apple records.  If there was a heaven on earth, this was it for Beatle fans.

Seashell    lined window
    apples rotting in the yard
        suburban fences
I rejoined the group on the front lawn, and soon a mini-car came scooting up the drive, quickly followed by a luxury sedan.  The driver of the mini got out, and a not-very-pleased looking George Martin confronted us.  He wanted to know what we were doing, and while we all sat there stunned, George and Patti Harrison disembarked from the sedan.  George wasn't really very prepossesing at all, but Patti was a vision of beauty, a psychedelic queen who smiled on us and calmed down the two very aggravated Georges.  She knew that we were harmless fans come to honour Beatledom, and while she smiled her guileless smile, we felt like we were in the presence of a divine goddess from another reality.  Canadian Peter recovered first, and awkwardly handed George Harrison the tape, mumbling something.  I followed suit, even more awkwardly giving George my thin booklet, and saying I hoped he would enjoy it.

An invitation inside was not forthcoming, although I believe Patti wanted to ask us all in.  We were all so enthralled at meeting George and Patti, awkward as all involved had been, that we decamped and blissfully headed back in the dusk for the bus to Richmond.

Several weeks later, a few members of the entourage went back to pick up the tape.  Apparently a record contract wasn't immediately offered, but Canadian Peter did have some good news for me. " George Harrison told me to tell you that he really liked your poetry."  I was thrilled, even though I now realised that Harrison was a mere, awkward mortal, and I was no longer in his thrall.  As a postscript, I note that George Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass, had the lyrics printed on the sleeve like poems. I like to fantasize that maybe my booklet had some subtle influence, but that's wild hope and speculation ...

Eel Pie Dharma is protected by international copyright laws. Individuals may print off a copy of this work for personal use only to facilitate easier reading.

Feb. 26/11
Yesterday, Feb. 25, would have been George Harrison's 68th birthday. I was reminded of this while listening to Jian Ghomeshi  on CBC Radio 1 yesterday morning. Born Feb. 25, 1943 in Liverpool, George died on Nov. 29th, 2001. The above brief chapter from my memoir gives some small measure of the appreciation for the love and respect I've held all my adult life for George.

It is probably not wise to blog while one is marginally high -"impaired" - but both George and A.C. Bhaktivedanta again provided enlightenment to my life in December, 2003. I was suffering from an extended series of kidney stones, I counted 17, and doctors at Campbellford Hospital pushed to admit me for deyhydration and treatment. Being thoroughly stubborn, the doctor reluctantly agreed to let me convalesce at my home in Marmora, and every day I would visit one of the local trails here in rural Ontario to walk off the incredible pain from the kidney stones.

During one extended hike on the Trans-Canada Trail from Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area, I had to scream in pain while urinating blood. On the snowy return walk home I entered into a state of walking meditation, and in extremis, I asked the cosmos the cliched questions of 'who am I?', and  'where am I headed'? First one spirit guide, and then a second, popped into my consciousness. It was George and A.C. - they comforted me as spirit helpers, gave me guidance, and appeared again, far more physically, much later that night - their late-night presence finally became so overwhelming that I had to appeal to them to stop - the manifesting proofs of their spiritual presence - the obviousness of their beings, the otherworldly incense smells, etc. etc. - I knew they were going to persist until I fully acknowledged them - which of course I did - and they finally desisted.      

So to George and A.C., together in Brahma, I give eternal thanks.

In another post I'll put up my 1969 meeting with A.C. at the London, England, Hare Krishna Centre.


Today my familiar, Chase, and I explored the 'den trail' at Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area. We slogged through the snowy cedar forest beside the Crowe River, small and large dens everywhere. Thoughts and prayers to George and A.C. ... namaste ...  : )

                    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~

Chapter to appear in second edition Window Fishing (HIDDEN BROOK PRESS, 2014)

Hi John,
Nice to hear from you, & thanks for including my piece in the second edition of HBP's Beatles' collection WINDOW FISHING. I still reflect on the 1960s, the Beatles & resisting the Vietnam War almost every day.

A 20 word bio is a fun challenge. Maybe I can make it into a kind of minimalist poem, or at least a string of odd descriptors ; )

I'll send you another email with info on this summer's Purdy Country LitFest. It's hard to believe we've reached our eighth year! This summer we're focusing on the life & legacy of Pauline Johnson as we've worked our way back through key figures in the tradition of Canuck People's Poetry. Terry Barker's new book on People's Poetry is scheduled for publication soon with Synaxis Press - it'll be an interesting read for sure.

Canadian born VN War resister, seminal haiku/haibun, 19 collections, over 100 mags & anthos, Acorn Award, village librarian, coordinator Purdy Country LitFests/ZenRiver Gardens

phew! got the word count down to the twenties  ;  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

                                    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

On 2014-06-18, at 9:38 AM, wrote:

Hi Chris

Would you please send me a brief 20 word bio for inclusion in the second printing of Window Fishing.  Your piece appears in the Encore section of the book.

all good things, John B.

                     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Thursday, 24 February 2011



(a plea, a rant)

Thursday, Feb. 24/11
I was so upset watching the barbaric rampage being inflicted in the streets of Tripoli I had trouble sleeping last night.

Obama gave a milquetoast speech while the blood of hundreds – thousands – flowed. Obama looked like an ineffectual relief teacher, admonishing a spitball hurling class clown, while AK47-toting mercenaries took target practice on innocent people. I lost it at 3 AM and started shouting obscenities at the gormlessness I was witnessing on the tv screen.


This could be Canada’s chance to again shine internationally – to step into the breach and become the saviour of the people of Tripoli? Why not send in Canada’s famed and respected Blue Helmet Peace keeping troops? In a blink Harper’s ongoing obsequious behind-licking of the yankee-doodle empire might be erased and international respect for Canada restored.

Silly, stupid wishes … that the yanks, the biggest bully in the international schoolyard, or the lackeys Canadians have become for them, would intervene. The Yankee empire is only interested in its self-interests. It was almost acceptable for the Yanks to stand idly by while their bought and paid for dictator, Mubarak, was deposed by the populist uprising in Egypt. They fence sat as long as decorum would allow – after all, the weaponry in the hands of the dictator’s army was all stamped ‘made in USA’, and the Yanks had supported his corrupt dictatorship with billions of dollars.

But in this murderous situation in Tripoli, The UN, the Yanks (yipes) or even we lackey Canucks could send in a relatively small number of highly trained troops and impose sanity.

But mostly what I’m hearing is concern that our gasoline has gone up 10 cents a liter today. Oh, and that oil is a good spot for business speculation … and yeah, maybe we’d better start thinking about getting our own citizens out of the fray …

Please, planet citizens, show some humanity. When you have the power to stop a crazed bully like Gadhafi from murdering his own people, why not use this power?

Chris Faiers
Marmora, Ontario

A shortened version of article is in the current NOW Magazine (a large circulationToronto entertainment guide)  as a letter-to-the-editor:
March 3 - 10, 2011
Vol. 30   No. 27  

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

"CROSSING LINES: Poets Who Came to Canada in the VN War Era" TVOntario interview

Download CrossingL...doc (30.0 KB)
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Dear Poets,

This is a letter telling you about some exciting news regarding our book, “Crossing Lines,” with a link to a web-cast interview that Mick and I did recently with Steve Paikin of TVOntario. The letter explains how this came about – and the link will let all of you watch it, and share it with your friends and colleagues.

I am sending it out to all of you (BCC) on behalf of Allan Briesmaster and Mick Burrs.  Allan also adds these words: Since I was last in touch with you all as a group, I have been very pleased to see news of many recent publications and honours. For instance, there is now another Crossing Lines Poet Laureate - Eric Folsom in Kingston. 

 Ellen Jaffe

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Raymond Souster's Contributions to Canadian Poetry @ PurdyFest #5 (2011)


Hi Everyone,
Terry Barker has expressed an interest in featuring the poetry and many contributions of Raymond Souster for this summer's PurdyFest #5. Terry has also offered to MC the event. Terry has been visiting Mr. Souster, who is in his 90s, at a Toronto nursing home.

During a long phone chat Terry explained some of Ray Souster's key contributions and historical significance to Canadian poetry. Now we're seeing if other poets and academics are interested in presenting papers or talks on Ray at this year's symposium (Sat., July 30 - exact Marmora area location to be confirmed).

If you are interested in presenting something on Ray, his work, his significance in Canadian poetry, or any other aspect please contact Terry Barker (1-416-491-8676). Terry can also be contacted by email at:

Please copy me, Chris Faiers, as well:

If you have other ideas or suggestions for the Symposium, please send them to both of us.

Last year's Symposium on the life and legacy of Toronto poet Ted Plantos was a well-attended heartfelt success. Many thanks to last year's organizers, including Kent Bowman, Julie McNeill, Terry Barker, Mick Burrs, Morley Ellis and Allan Briesmaster.

It's still early days for prepping for PurdyFest #5, and so far planned events include the traditional POTLUCK SUPPER on Friday night (July 29) at ZenRiver Gardens in the hamlet of Malone. As in past years, camping will be free at ZenRiver, and campers are most welcome to arrive early and stay late to enjoy the benefits of wandering, writing, reading and dreaming on the rocky shoreline of the Upper Moira River.

Tai Grove, President of the CANADA CUBA LITERARY ALLIANCE (CCLA), will host a reading featuring their members on Sunday afternoon (July 31st) at ZenRiver Gardens.

And of course the regular ANOTHER DAM POETRY READING will be held on the Saturday afternoon on the islet in the middle of the Marmora Dam after the Symposium.

I anticipate PurdyFest will again be part of the second annual CELEBRATE MARMORA festivities.

There are lots of pics and articles on previous years' events online - Google away and who knows what you'll find ...

peace & poetry power from the frozen north,
... and Chase wrrrrffffffff!

Empire of the Living Dead (poem)

Empire of the Living Dead

As the pop song said, the head is dead
zombie nation thrashes thru history
headless, heartless, brainless
simple Tinman, Strawman and Cowardly Lion no longer
now big screen beings transmogrified into Zombie Nation

with no head nor heart,  riven with hunger
and ruled by its asshole(s):
munitions makers, oil conglomerates
rightwing “Christians” and drug-pushing pharmas
zombie nation’s cannibal appetite
creates clones with its unchecked hunger
despotic kingdoms where rulers feed off their people
and cast-offs tidbits rendered from the head Zombie Nation

zombie nation boasts of democracy
while jailing the highest percentage of citizens
on our hillbilly planet 

Canada could once have shown leadership
from the cooler climes of Turtle Island
become the missing head, even the brain, perhaps
but our universal default buttons have frozen and rusted
we’ve been brainwashed by yankee TV
where cops are our friends
and psycho killers endlessly charade
diverting us from the real monster’s
devouring rampage

so Zombie Empire thrashes in its final days
too stupid to recognize its long ago death
vampire zombie empire, bankrupt, corrupt
breathing fiery flames and decay across our TV screens
you spreadeagle death across the globe

first draft Feb.7, 2011
week two of the populist Egyptian uprising

second draft (posted) Feb. 22/11

Monday, 21 February 2011

killer reading by poet Jim Christy - Amazing Coffee, Madoc, Ontario - Feb.16,11

killer reading by poet Jim Christy/ Feb. 16/11 - amazing Coffee, Madoc, Ontario

congrats, Jim
A killer reading last nite  : )  great ambiance - beatnik cafe ca. 1963 -  late '40s/early'50s noir overtones in many poems - loved the upright bass noodlings - shades of Bukowski - Purdy's Caunuckery & loquaciously generous long poems   -   but all killer Jim Christy

when I got home, opened my bottle of fuZion red, started reading MARIMBA FOREVER back to front (I'm lefthanded) - felt inspired to dedicate a poem to you - drank more wine - rewound the tale of being drunk & 18 at 1967's 24 Hours of Sebring race - ran across the track - hung out in the pits push starting the race cars - even then my hair was long enuff that I guess I looked like a pitcrew guy - eventually ran back dodging the 150 mph cars - got picked up by the Sebring cops - thrown in the drunk tank - the cons were friendly, but I was one of the last thrown in, and as bottom of the pecking order, had to sleep in only available space, almost with my head in the latrine - had money for bail in my shoes (streetsmart beyond my years) - hitch-hiked a ride with a crazy crew member with a gutted bus with "Bellvue Mental Hoptial" still displayed back to the track at dawn -

at this point ran out of steam - but that's always a sign of great poetry for me - when I feel inspired to start mentally composing a poem of my own after hearing or reading another poet - so thanks for a great evening

maybe I'll write my poem for you at ZenRiver this summer ...  something about the older brother I never had ...

peace & poetry power!

p.s. all 4 of us, Morley & the 2 Drs. John (both the older guys at our table were Dr. Johns - musical composition & marine biology) ... thoroughly enjoyed your reading & presentation

posted this Monday, "Family Day", Feb. 21/11 after hiking to 'Sorrow Falls' on the trans-Canada Trail with Morley and Chase - endorphins still flowing - & Holsten festbock - the blue Buddha statue we placed at Sorrow Falls last fall now fully visible after the recent snow melt - last weekend when we hiked there, only the tip of Buddha's head was visible - and special thanks to Dr. John for the incredible LCBO marmalade chicken breast dinner last nite!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

CROW VISITS WOLF (shaman haiku sequence)


Altar bell clears consciousness
prayer wheel spins
day prepared

on water tower trail
3 inches new snow
glistens stunted trees

sun flash all blue
reminder to practice
blue sky mind

new shaman appears
pokes snow wolf tracks
wishes well

blue sky  mind crow call
Milton Acorn?

around around
cawing crow circles
kite mind string

as crow caws
where I stand
wolf tracks cross

Chris Faiers/cricket

first published  Myth Weavers: Canadian Myths and Legends
Katherine Gordon, editor  
Serengeti Press, 2007

published  ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun
Chris Faiers/cricket
Hidden Brook Press, 2008

Today, Feb. 20, Chase and I hiked these same watertower trails. Sadly, the 60 mph winds of the other night had knocked over many huge old white pines. The larger spirits were quietened, our only encounters were chick chick chickadee - unseen tiny ones flitting in the chaos.

Zen Peace Garden on Leslie Street Spit (haibun)

Feb. 20, 2011


by Chris Faiers/cricket

An index finger of industrial rubble jabs five kilometers into Lake Ontario from Toronto's derelict portlands.

Over the decades nature has established herself. Stands of cottonwood poplar shade fields of wildflowers and weeds. Everywhere vines and saplings poke through a post-apocalyptic crust. Delicate yellow flowers assert themselves in crannies along the crumbling asphalt verge of dump truck roads.

The Leslie Street Spit has become a major stopover for thousands of migrating flocks. Swans swim in sepia lagoons. Furry brown things scurry into tiny burrows beneath crabapple trees. Hawks soar, hunting the furry things.

Humans, too, seek refuge and renewal by harmonizing with nature's resilience.

For visionaries like the Peace Garden's creator, Brian, the Spit was ready for the creation of a special meditative space. An inspired garden where children of all ages can playfully construct and destruct with the detritus of old buidlings to create a sacred place among the flowering weeds.

bone white driftwood
Buddha gate welcomes

dawn waves break
spraying awake
lone Zen gardener

seven windy holes
in cracked concrete blocks:
Buddha's chakras

lush comfrey plant
the heart chakra
of our garden

a young rabbit
and a gardener
share their path

small boy laughs
when the lost glove
waves for him

fall thistles
transform a hubcap
into the Green Man

two older ladies
share a sunny pew -
no walls this Sunday

postscript: My friend Sylvia and I have had to rebuild the Peace Garden twice since we first stumbled upon it two years ago. These destructions seem intentional and almost professionally thorough. Sylvia was saddened to report that on a recent winter hike she discovered the garden has again been completely vandalized. Sylvia was so disheartened she turned back from her walk. But I promise that come this spring, we'll again be magickally recreating the Zen Peace Garden.     

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Sat., Feb. 19, 2011
Chase & I returned just now from a chilly visit to our ZenRiver Gardens retreat in the pioneer mill & mining hamlet of Malone. The false spring thaw of the past 2 days lured us there for the first time in 2 months, but a very bitter and wildly windy front had come thru last nite, and after hanging 3 sets of prayer flags & wandering around thru crunchy snow, we headed home.

CHASE'S CANINE CORNER: "Dogku" (dog haiku)
Two winters ago Chase and I hiked on the Marmora sewage bay trail. Chase communicated a series of linked haiku to me during our hike:

rolling on my back
kicking snow in the air:
sun on my cold belly

(personally, I mistrust 17 syllable haiku, but then this is Chase's poem)

sniff, snuffle
porcupine den tree:

old enemies
this muskrat and I
exchange blood

wonderful! wonderful!
fresh, fresh snow
cleaner than my lazy master's house

bored with his heels
I leap ahead:
my turn to break trail

pee smells, poop smells
wonderful! wonderful!
cold air amplifies

sniff ... hmmm
this is a BIG dog
master says timber wolf

What! what ...
brush pile
full of wild smells

my ears so shaggy
where is Chris?
where? where? there!

sniff . . .  snuffle
happy days
happy nites

Chase ... wrooooof! the Zen master dog

Friday, 18 February 2011

Namaste : ) welcome to the blog of Chris Faiers/cricket

Feb. 18, 2011
This is the inaugural posting to my poetry blog. Content will be an eclectic mix & discussion of all genres of poetry, including haiku/haibun, politikal, lyrical and updates on annual Purdy Country Literary Festivals (PurdyFests). Also appearing will be threads on Canadian People's Poetry, my ZenRiver Gardens retreat, spiritual topics - focusing on meditation/Buddhism, "crazy Zen wisdom", and  shamanism ... oh, & saving this hillbilly planet ... 

peace & poetry power!
Chris Faiers/cricket and Chase (my shi-tzu on steroids) - wroooooof!