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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Simon's comments on Ted Plantos/Lake Poets/PurdyFest/can poetry save the world???

hi Chris,
What follows is the post i wanted to leave at Riffs and Ripples but the sight was not allowing me to post.
i would repeatedly send me to the log in page - i logged in with my gmail account.  oh well, great blog entry :)
Here goes:
Somewhere out there and here with me Ted LIVES . . . Chris i am pleased to have read your hasty review of Purdy Fest. #4 :) . . . i too "warmly remember last summer." :) . . . and i am quite pleased Conrad’s remarks sparked a passionate, informative response. J

You mentioned how Ted had favourites among the "Lake District Romantics" . . . i have heard that term before and do not know much about this group :) . . . SO, i googled the phrase as is the fashion in the 21st century :) . . . and found myself reading links that would bring me right back to your blog Chris :)
. . . however, i did see one link that brought to me, where Wordsworth was said to have referenced one of Lake D. Romantics as stating, “Poets are legislators of the world.”  i found this somewhat provocative; so, i clicked on the link to and found the following Question:

Can Poetry save the World?

And then i thought of you Chris J when i read what followed the question:

"In Godard's film "Notre Musique," the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish contemplates on the role of poetry in social/political/national conflicts. His main example is Greece. He says he is looking for "the poet of Troy." He wonders if poetry is a tool or a symbol of power, i.e. whether the Greeks took Troy because of their poetic superiority, or if their poetic superiority was a symbol of their overall superiority."

Do you find this all academic?  i found it somewhat interesting. :)

Then what followed was a host of question that got me thinking some more.  What do you think about the following questions?

"What then is the role of poetry in contemporary conflict? Can it help ease the tension between nations? Can it give power to those who need it? Can we make poetry a part of our identities, and a tool for our progress? Or have we given that right only to our technology?

I wonder what Milt & Big Al would say?  Would they blow off these questions as more dribble to occupy academics and distract the masses from their own communal production? :)

Through you and shared friends like Jeff S., James and Jim L. i have learnt more about and read our favourite Canadian non-academic poets, Acorn, Purdy and Ted.  This is why i LOVE PURDY FEST.  What has inspired me to write poetry is the very fact that Acorn and Purdy were self-educated . . . so, I was so please you mentioned CanPoet/People's Poet Bill Bissett, "another self-taught poet."  i shared the stage with him and other poets at an event at the ArtWord Art Bar in Hamilton last year.  Now that was one of the most SUPER FANTASTICAL AAH INSPIRING days of my life :)

And YES, “the dance continues between the academics and the 'Wild Ones'” :) . . . the brave ones in and outside the academic walls :) . . . i feel that the more citizens that dance, the more poetry will be created, shared and remembered.

I thank you Conrad and Chris for providing the ground work for me to build this series of poetic comments.  I agree with you Chris that this certainly is “an interesting start to a ongoing dialogue about the interaction between academia and poetry.”

Peace, Poetry and Performance power! :D
There it is :)
May 29/11
Thanks for all your food-for-thought, Simon  : )
My system has been acting up this afternoon, so I'm hoping to finally post this and reply to some of your ideas and questions later.
Before I do so, tho, I'm going to brush up on Percy Bysshe Shelley's insightful essay:
A Defense of Poetry
Shelley wrote it in 1821, but it wasn't published until 1840, years after his death.
The final sentence reads:
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
peace & poetry power!
Chris & Chase ... wrfffffffffffffffffffffff!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Conrad Didiodato's response to 'Strange Tango: Poets and Academia"

Hi Chris,
here's my reply to your latest blog article. I can't seem to post it directly to your site so I'll give it here instead. Bloggers acting up again.
you're right: it is important to initiate dialogue about the academia-poetry interaction because, to this point, it's been a pretty dismal one, with most of the damage being done on the academia side.
I won't mince my words: academics have killed poetry, and there's nothing worse than an academic who tries writing poetry, slavishly tying 'pet' PhD theory to their work: Doc Bok is a notable example whose recent work on the "poem in a genome" experiment is an embarrasment to Cdn literary scene (There are notable exceptions: none in Canada that I know of but in the States: John Berryman, James Wright)Their arrogance appals me. Most of what they say is a grievous offence to poetic decency and insight. They speak in an almost incomprehensible sycophantic gibberish that passes for learned discourse.
Best example of this sort of near incomprehensible (badly written) scholarly writing is a book called "Writing the Roaming Subject:The Biotext in Canadian Literature" by Joanne Saul.They've gummed up the publishing works (in cahoots with gov't and Canada Council)for the longest time, and the Internet may finally put a stop to their wasteful print regimes.A lot of academics are still in denial about the end of print literacy.
How's that for starters!

"My heart is my own, the trapped hare belongs to the hour." (Frank O'Hara)

May 26/11
Chris' reply:
Thanks for sending this by email, Conrad. I'd suspected you'd have a strong comment on this topic, which has been on my mind, and that of many others, for decades. I had a long phone chat with Terry Barker this aft about this very posting, and we reminisced over the many similar conversations we've held over the years on the complex and often frustrating co-dependency between poets and the academy.
It's annoying when people have probs posting - I know of several other poets who have experienced difficulties posting on the blog. Despite these occasional internet probs re comments, I'm very much hoping to continue opening dialogues on a wide variety of topics re Canadian People's Poetry (CanPo), haiku/haibun, the 'way forward' for CanPo etc. etc.
Terry and I also discussed plans for this summer's PurdyFest #5, which will feature the work and contributions of Raymond Souster. Terry was impressed with your suggestion of a collected works of Ted Plantos, and Terry and his circle of associates are capable of mounting such a project, as they are in the process of completing a new Milton Acorn collection!!! 
The web is certainly opening up the possibilities for freeform discourse ...
peace & poetry power!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

strange tango: poets and academia

thanks Conrad : )

Somewhere in the ether (or in Heaven or Brahma or Poetry Valhalla) Ted is pleased at being so warmly remembered last summer. I'm positive some of his poetry has already joined the English language poetic canon with the likes of Ted's favourites among the Lake District Romantics and the major Canadian People's Poets like Milt & Big Al.

Your comment about being ignored by the academic community is interesting, something I've often speculated on myself, tho never in print so far as I remember.

My favourite Canadian poets are almost exclusively non-academics. Acorn and Purdy (and Ted) were all proudly self-educated autodidacts. I believe the living CanPoet who most exemplifies this trad of People's Poetry is bill bissett, another self-taught poet.

All these poets have thoroughly educated themselves in the traditions and techniques of English language poetry, but the fact that all of them are self-taught gives rise to the suspicion that there is something bordering on the destructive regarding too much academic association. My friend jonbaku and I have discussed this seeming contradiction many times.

Jonbaku (who has a PhD) has toiled in the minefields of several of Canada's most prestigious universities, and these mostly negative experiences in academia have caused him to now believe that academia is stultifiying and even counter creative to many of the arts.

I've always found it ironic that profs (and yes, librarians) make their livings off the work of those often more talented - the creators of art, rather than these johnny-come-later interpreters, deconstructors and of course arbiters.

But these two solitudes need each other - the academy for its very fodder, and the 'true' or 'real' poets for the exposure and canonization - immortality - I suspect all poets wish for.

To be painfully honest, many of the arts are hot house labours of love, with woefully small audiences. Poetry, or at least good poetry of the caliber of these Canuck People's Poets, would likely fade from public awareness were it not for academia.

And so the dance continues between the academics and the 'Wild Ones', the true poets ...

Conrad, this has been an interesting start to a possibly ongoing dialogue about the interaction between academia and poetry. Thank you for broaching this topic.

peace & poetry power!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

PurdyFest #4 (2010): Ted Plantos Fest

(Aug. 1, 2010)
Here is a hasty review of Purdy Country LitFest #4 written as a media release:

Events began early when Ottawa poet Jim Larwill arrived on Wednesday, July 28, and set up camp at ZenRiver Gardens. The following day 4 poets, Katharine, Simon, Melanie and Chris, made the pilgrimage to the 'teaching rocks' at Petroglyphs Provincial Park for spiritual inspiration for the festival. All four were profoundly affected by the visit.

On Friday evening the campers at ZenRiver were joined by about 20 friends for the annual potluck supper - the large chocolate cake read "PurdyFest #4". Marmora guitarist and singer Morley Ellis entertained the diners until WILBER WALNUT made a sudden appearance in Jim Larwill's poetic one-act play, which is the closest I can come to describing this jaw-dropping humourous performance piece.

On Saturday over 35 poets gathered in the William Shannon Room of the Mamora library building to celebrate the life of Toronto poet Ted Plantos, who died in 2001 at the age of 58. Most of those in attendance had been mentored by Ted in one of his many poetic activities, including his hosting of  the seminal Parliament Street Library Series and the publishing of Cross-Canada Writer's Quarterly, Canada's third largest distribution literary magazine.

It was the brainchld of Kent Bowman, Mick Burrs, and Allan Briesmaster to toast Ted Plantos at this year's Poetic Symposium. Julie McNeill MCed the event, and author and academic Terry Barker led the discussions with the presentation of his paper "Placing Ted Plantos" (the introduciton is included at the end of this email).

Mick Burrs then made an impassioned statement that Ted Plantos should be better honoured for his poetry, poetics and large personal contribution to the tradition of a Canadian People's Poetry by the academic establishment. Mick said Plantos is often grossly misplaced as a 'minor poet' by academia, if he is mentioned at all. A CD of Ted reading his most popular poems was then played, and the audience listened once again to Ted's incredible baritone readings.

Julie then invited each person present to tell a brief anecdote about their association with Ted. The memories were funny, inventive and bittersweet as the audience came to fully appreciate Plantos' legacy and the role he had played in the development of so many poets present. Ted's widow, May, drove from Toronto to hear the gathering's praise, and she was moved to tell how she and Ted met while both were working at the Parliament Street Library in Toronto.

An article by Susuan Ioannou, Ted's assistant editor at Writer's Quarterly, was among the remembrances:

"My Bay Street niece once asked if Ted Plantos wore tweeds, smoked a pipe, and spoke with a British accent between sips of sherry. I smiled as a picture of the much hardier editor/publisher I knew came to mind, of Ted after the first summer issue of the magazine had rolled off the press. In his usual rumpled T-shirt and jeans, he could be seen trudging the shady streets between the nearby printer and his home, then several days later puffing to several postboxes, one arm laden with thick brown envelopes, the other dragging behind him bundle-buggy loads of magazines to mail - That is, until the afternoon a small dog clamped its teeth on his pant leg, and despite frantic kicks, swinging, and muttering, wouldn't let go. After that, Ted got friends to drive him, or splurged on a taxi."       

After everyone in the room had had a chance to remember Ted, comments were made by the few who hadn't known Ted personally, of what a loss theirs was that they hadn't known this great poet. We left the room saddened at missing Ted Plantos in person, but unified in the literary camaraderie which was always Ted's generous gift at poetry gatherings.

At 4 pm Morley Ellis and Kent Bowman began gathering a crowd of over 50 Celebrate Marmora visitors on the islet in the middle of the Marmora Dam. They alternated singing and playing their guitars, and soft musical shades of Woodstock and the 1960s swept round the island with the Crowe River current.

Host Chris Faiers gave a brief introduction to the poetry reading, and Allan Briesmaster introduced the four poets who were launching poetry collections: Kent Bowman, RD Roy, Katharine Beeman, and Anna Plesums. The attentive crowd applauded constantly, and a large black raven perched across the river and added occasional noisy commentary.

Poets then read in a round robin set: Pearl Pirie (Ottawa), Jeff Seffinga and semi-professional kickboxer OmahaRisinG (Hamilton), Theodore, the steward of Snowlion Buddhist Centre in Toronto, Jim and Alastair Larwill (Ottawa), Stella Ducker, Carol Malyon and Julie McNeill (Toronto), Marie Wilkins and John Hamley (Marmora), and many poets whose names I don't know or can't remember (apologies), but everyone gave inspired, funny and political insights into their own and all our lives. The readings continued into the near dusk, when the crowd began drifting off for Shakespeare in the Park, or beer, or a quiet walk by the river. We were especially honoured to have an icon of Canadian literature among the audience, Jim Christy, who has bought a farm in the area with his wife.

Thus ended the formal parts of PurdyFest #4, but as I write this late Sunday afternoon, campers are still poeticizing by the banks of the Upper Moira River at ZenRiver Gardens. If you missed Purdy Country LitFests #1, 2, 3 and 4, the profound success and enjoyment of this year's LitFest guarantees you will have the chance to correct this lost opportunity next year.

to quote Kent Bowman: 'May the Fest be with you'

peace & poetry power!
Chris Faiers
host, Purdy Country LitFests

Sunday, 15 May 2011

haibun as memoir, historical document and sacred biography (EelPie Dharma)

Writing Eel Pie Dharma:
Haibun as Memoir, Historical Document and Sacred Biography

Chris Faiers/cricket

I wrote  Eel Pie Dharma: a memoir/haibun in the fall of 1988. I had quit my job as a desk clerk at Toronto Public Library, and was living on unemployment insurance.  I self-published it in 1990 with Unfinished Monument Press. About a decade ago my webmaster, Weed, put it online.  

EPD is the story of my adventures from the summer of 1969, when I dodged the draft for the Vietnam War, until 1972, when I returned to Canada, land of my birth. During much of those three years I lived in an abandoned hotel in Twickenham, England with a band of hippie squatters, the Eel Pie Island Commune.

For two decades I had told and retold stories of those heady times. After almost two decades, I decided it was crucial to capture these adventures while the memories remained fresh. So I quit the library, with plans to write my debut novel, a bildungsroman perhaps, like James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Or more likely a freeform memoir like one of Jack Kerouac’s biographical tales of being On the Road as a wandering beatnik Dharma Bum.

I set a strict daily schedule, and every afternoon I would go for a long hike to encourage the endorphin flow before settling at my typewriter for a minimum of one hour of productive writing.

An “accidental” haibun

There was no initial intention to write a haibun. I drew up a list of the most memorable events, and then began writing short passages about each. The first chapter, A Psychedelic Basho, contained a lot of haiku. I am fortunate to be in the second wave of English language haiku poets, and this first chapter chronicles my introduction to a lifetime of writing haiku.

Other passages also contained haiku, and I found remembering poems I had written keyed profound memories of events.  I was in the process of creating both a haibun as well as a memoir, with these two genres interacting and stimulating the creative process. However, these passages were still intended to be notes for a later fleshing out into full-fledged chapters in a traditional novel.

In January of 1989 I sold my tiny house in east end Toronto and moved to the old mining hamlet of Cordova Mines. I bought a rambling and ramshackle century farmhouse, and spent that summer fixing it up as best as possible. In the winter I renewed my task of writing EPD, sitting upstairs every night peering through dusty windows at the rundown church across the way basking in the dull glow of the solitary Cordova streetlight.

I decided to copytype a cleaner version of the manuscript over the winter months. I had revised many of the 28 “chapters” that summer, adding haiku to the chapters which lacked them. In my subconscious I was creating a haibun, although I hadn’t yet consciously reached this conclusion.

Poet Mark McCawley arranged a Canada Council reading for me for Valentine’s Day 1990. I stayed with Mark and his wife for a week in Edmonton, where they were friendly and supportive hosts. One night I shyly mentioned the manuscript to Mark. The next morning Mark gave an enthusiastic response to the work-in-progress. But Mark added a twist, “Publish it as it is. It reads well and it’s concise.”             

And so EPD greeted the world as a 58 page, cirlox bound, 8 ½ by 11 inch book photocopy published by my small literary press, Unfinished Monument. Over two decades later I still feel indebted to Mark for encouraging me to just go ahead and publish the manuscript “as is”.

The first copies were published with the subtitle “a memoir/novella”. Although there are now hundreds of thousands of entries for haibun on Google searches, in 1990 there were only two previous Canadian haibun of which I was aware.

Two earlier Canadian haibun

Jack Cain published his evocative short haibun, Paris, in 1964. It is available online at:
pages 12 – 15 of  up against the window: contemporary haibun Volume 1
edited by Jim Kacian and Bruce Ross.

 Rod Willmot  published the lyrically beautiful The Ribs of Dragonfly with Black Moss Press in 1984. So to the best of my knowledge, EPD was the third Canadian haibun and only the second published Canadian haibun of book length (again, not counting the incredible beat generation books by Jack Kerouac). I have the vaguest memory of telling Rod I was quitting my library job to write fulltime, as Rod had inscribed my copy of TROD with Chris – welcome to vagabondage!

In retrospect I wonder why we haijin members of Haiku Canada were hesitant to publish haibun. Perhaps we were daunted at presenting our work for comparison with ancient masters  like Basho. For decades most haiku poets remained content to publish small chapbooks of haiku, and without the prose framework, the context of these individual haiku was missing. No matter how evocative the poems, without a supporting prose structure, the haiku remained orphaned slices of momentary awareness.

Surprise use as online resource

It’s been over two decades since I first published EPD. Fellow communard from Eel Pie Island days, Weed (once Chris Whitehouse), encouraged me to let him post it online about a decade ago. According to Weed, EPD has since been accessed by tens of thousands of readers. An unanticipated result of EPD’s availability on the web has been its establishment as an historical document. In an earlier blog posting, EPD quoted in 2 recent rock histories: WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN & EEL PIE ISLAND, I’ve recounted its value as an historical reference for the sixties rock music scene.

British novelist Hari Kunzru also used EPD as an historical resource for his novel My Revolutions. Kunzru credits the chapter on the 144 Piccadilly Squat for background insight into the mindset of a young revolutionary member of Britain’s Angry Brigades.

U.K.’s All Out Productions also interviewed me as a resource for a 2007 BBC Radio 4 documentary on the Thames Valley Music Scene, in which the Eel Pie Hotel Ballroom provided a nurturing venue for the early days of The Stones and many other groups.

Sacred biography

Victoria Urubshurow, in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: The Life of Buddha, uses the phrase “sacred biography”. I love her term “sacred biography”, for this is what all true haibun are. There have been periods in my life when I’ve ‘lost myself’, forgotten the highest levels of consciousness I have experienced and described in several chapters of Eel Pie Dharma:  meditating with a Buddhist monk in the London monastery, or having Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta, the founder of the Hare Krishnas, look me in the eyes and tell how he remembers working with me for the betterment of mankind in previous incarnations. This aspect of haibun has been the most personally beneficial for me, although when I re-read EPD every few years I always reflect on the Grateful Dead’s famous lyrics, “what a long strange trip it’s been!”

Marmora, Ontario
May 15, 2011

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

hummingbird's shadow

hummingbird’s shadow

at the empty feeder

ZenRiver Warm-Up

Chase barking at the back door cancelled the rest of this morning’s Jian Ghomeshi program. Poet/playwright/novelist/reporter/raconteur/boxer Jim Christy was at the back door with his gold-toothed smile, and we continued our acquaintance over late morning coffee.

The furnace guy came and went in less than half an hour, $100 richer for his labours. Dr. John agreed to share this beautiful spring day with Chase and me at ZenRiver Gardens, so beer was purchased and the daily trek to ZenRiver was underway.

Driving down the dirt
Malone Quarry Road
we spied John Hamley’s (snowflea) green econobox parked on the verge of ZenRiver. We could see John’s outline from the road, sitting in the rocking chair on the shaman shack deck. We hadn’t visited with John since his return from his trip to Cuba, and the three of us drank beer and chatted for half an hour.

I wandered off, shovel and rake in hand, to spread more of the five yards of topsoil by ZenRiver’s entrance. PurdyFest  preparations. Dr. John remained on the deck, busy with his laptop. He has grandly named this writing aspect of ZRG “The Basho Writers’ Colony”.

Dirt spread, Chase and I returned to relax on the deck with the two Dr. Johns. We began discussing haiku, and snowflea joked about all the “Mac/haiku” currently being published, and I spouted a horrible spontaneous Mac/haiku:
beer in hand/dog at my feet/moon in sky.

The easy camaraderie turned to reverie, and I noticed a fascinating shadow bobbing on the trunk of an apple tree. It was too defined to be a leaf, and when I raised my gaze, a disappointed hummingbird buzzed away from the unfilled feeder and zipped across the river.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Psychedelic Basho

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

Chapter 1 - A Psychedelic Basho

At community college I began writing bad poetry around 1967.  When I realized that I was not cut out to be a science student, I immersed myself in arts courses and declared myself a poet.  Some poems submitted to the student magazine reminded the editor of haiku.  Having never heard of haiku, I didn't know what to make of the comment, but browsing through a literary magazine I found a classified ad offering copies of Haiku magazine from a Toronto address.

Haiku duly arrived, and I fell in love with the haiku form.  The similarity between haiku and the brief poems I had been attampting was obvious, and soon I was submitting haiku to the editor of Haiku, Dr Eric Amann.

After initial rejections.  I was thrilled when Eric Amann accepted several haiku for his magazine.  Encouraged, I began to devote myself to writing haiku.  Basho, the wandering haiku poet/priest of medieval Japan, was added to my role models.  The lonely life of a commuting college student in Florida presented a few of my early poems:

Christmas vacation
    tame ducks starving
        by the campus lake
    gray doves
        strung on a wire
Light breeze
    striding across campus        
        a thin professor
Almost from the beginning of my student days I had been fighting an appeals battle with the draft board.  Unfortunately I had registered in Georgia, just before our family moved back to Florida.  In retrospect, and after corresponding with former classmates many years later, I believe that I was an easy target for the Atlanta draft board.  Living out of the state, drafting me wouldn't stir up any local antagonisms, and the fact that I was also a resident alien (as a Canadian citizen by birth) probably didn't help my cause.  Ongoing struggles to keep my student status caused me to intensely question the Vietnam War, and I was living day-to-day with the life-and-death questions of duty to country versus participation in an unethical war.  This personal turmoil provided a fertile ground for writing haiku poems.  Often I had insomnia, and I would think back over my life.  A family vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains provided:

Cavern pool
    tourists watching                 
        blind fish
Memories of a far off Halloween in Canada when I was five years old inspired:

    a young boy
        in a skeleton suit             
Some days I would escape to the beach after class:

Lobster antennas
    waving from the twin caves 
        of a cement block
Blue sea
    bobbing red and white
        lobster trap buoy
Summer moonlight
    rotting on our roof
        a starfish
As I became more and more disillusioned with the Vietnam War, I began to hang around with the other radicals and longhairs on the campus.  Miami was, and is, a very reactionary city, and psychedelia, which had flowered in California in 1966, was just reaching Miami in 1968.  I was one of the first long hairs on campus, and the second guy on Key Biscayne to grow long hair.  The centre for the slowly evolving hippie community in Miami was Coconut Grove, an artistic haven located around the Dinner Key docks and the adjacent waterfront park:

Bay wind blowing
    Coconut Grove sailboats
        tinkling rigging
First green appearing
    buds on the new stake hedge
        and chameleons
The flower
    of this old tree
        a treehouse
At the peak of the Vietnam War, in June 1969, I received three draft notices in a week.  It was time to leave.  I flew from Miami to Nassau:

Mounted sailfish
    lining the walls
        of Nassau airport             
From Nassau I caught a flight to Luxemburg, and then I caught a train from Brussels to London:

    black paint on pink brick     
        U.U. swastika A. A.
I lived with my cousin and his wife on the outskirts of London for several months.  It wasn't a comfortable arrangement for any of us.  I continued writing my haiku, always carrying a notebook with me in a tote bag.  One of my first visits was to Piccadilly Circus, where the traffic island in the centre of the world's busiest intersection had become an international hippie rendezvous under the statue of Cupid.  The day I visited Piccadilly there was a bust for hash smoking.  A bobby was about to arrest me when he spied my London guide book, and he let me go:

Piccadilly Circus
    Cupid's fountain spraying    
By now I had a large collections of haiku, many of them published in Haiku and numerous other small haiku journals which had sprung up in the United States.  I spent many days visiting Kew Gardens, and after one afternoon of meditation, I explored a side road on my way back to Kew Station.  I found a little printing company, and somehow got the courage to go in.

I'd like to publish a collection of my poems, I shyly told the balding, potbellied printer.  Despite my hippie appearance, my American accent tipped him that I might have money, and he got me to show him what I wanted.

When he saw my Luxemburg poem with the swastike, he wanted to know if I was a fascist.  I convinced him that I wasn't a fascist, only a poet, and he agreed to print my poetry in little booklets for £50 for 500 copies.

A week later I went back and picked up the box of my first chapbook, Cricket Formations.  I lugged the booklets down the hill to the post office in the hamlet of Kew, and spent the afternoon mailing them all over the world.

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.

Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   next chapter (2)

Eel Pie Island (words & pics)   |   history of haiku   |   Alan Watts - This Is It   |   draft resistance

comments to
revised 24 October 2005

Note: May 7, 2011
This is the first chapter of my 1990 memoir/haibun Eel Pie Dharma. Many thanks to fellow Eel Pie Island Hotel communard Weed for posting EPD online about a decade ago. A few years back Weed reported that EPD has been receiving over 1,000 visits a month on his website - this would likely mean that after a decade online EPD has been read by tens of thousands of viewers, making it possibly the most widely read English language haibun (well, if we don't count Jack Kerouac's seminal books like  Dharma Bums).

So far on my blog I've somewhat resisted temptations to overt self-indulgence and self-promotion (I hope). But one of the functions of a blog is personal narrative, so sooner than later I plan to drink a bottle of FuZion red, or several bottles of chilled Zywiec beer, and tell the history behind the creation of EPD.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

some pre-election levity

The Men Who Would Be Mayors

In the 1980 Toronto Municipal elections I ran for the mayor of Toronto, while my good friend Peter Flosznik ran for the mayor of North York. We were candidates of the False Nose Society of Canada, sort of wannabe Rhinoceri. Our platform’s brilliant proposals, most sadly unfulfilled after over 30 years, await brave new politicians to implement them:

Public transit: replace Metro’s car-clogged major transportation arteries with canals and public gondolas, supplemented by moving sidewalks on the canal banks powered by hot air from Metro Council.
Property tax reform: tax the churches, and with that money …
Help the unemployed: provide FREE BEER for the unemployed
Police headquarters: make the Barracks gay steam bath the new Metro police headquarters
Don Jail: turn it into the long-awaited convention centre for American tourists
Toronto Islands:  turn the grounds of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and the island airport into a dope farm.
Parks: appoint a dog as Parks Commissioner. Dogs use the parks more than people do and therefore know more about them.
Bylaws:  repeal the bylaw of gravity
Metro Chairman: should be chosen by Russian roulette.

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow – for anyone but our dictator-in-waiting. If Harper doesn’t achieve a majority, we’ll truly have something to smile about when the polling booths close.