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Monday, 25 June 2012

Unfinished Monument Press redux: donation to special collections, Univ. of Calgary

Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques

"Patriots of 1837"

Patriots of 1837
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted April, 2011
Patriots of 1837
Here in the western end of the Toronto Necropolis is this monument which was erected by the Matthews Family & Friends A.D. 1993, according to information on the plaque. Here's what it says:
Plaque coordinates: 43.66759 -79.36290
This memorial is to honour the memory of Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount, who, without praise or glory died for political freedom and a system of responsible government.

Their minds were tranquil and serene
No terror in their looks were seen
Their steps upon the scaffold strong
A moment's pause...
their lives were gone

Peter Matthews was the son of Capt. Thomas Elmes Matthews, a United Empire Loyalist, and Mary Ruttan Matthews. Peter was born in the Bay of Quinte region of Upper Canada, now Ontario. He grew up and lived in Pickering Township in the area now known as the Village of Brougham, on his family's farm.

June 25, 2012 (emails)

Hi Marvin and James,
Yes, I'd be delighted to donate a selection of Unfinished Monument Press books to the University of Calgary, Special Collections!

A month or so ago I spent some time going through a boxful of Unfinished Monument books, & I donated a few for sale in the recent Haiku Canada 35th anniversary silent auction.

There is a casual assortment of books in the box, most in pristine condition, and I'd feel comforted knowing they have found a good and lasting home where their contribution to Canadian literary culture will be appreciated.

What I'd propose donating would be at least one copy of each Unfinished title I have (not sure of how many individual titles there are).

Yes, Marvin, please email me your snail mail address and I'll post the selection to you asap. Thank you for your concern and dedication in preserving a crucial part of our culture.

peace & poetry power!
Chris Faiers

(founder of Unfinished Monument Press in 1978 - publisher until the early 1990s, when I turned it over to James Deahl and his wife, Gilda Mekler)

Thanks, James, for passing this on to me  : )

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June 25, 2012

Dear Chris,

     I have just heard from this fellow from the Univ. of Calgary. Perhaps you have some extra copies of UnMon books.

. . . James

Dear James Deahl,

Please let me introduce myself. I am a volunteer book selector for Special Collections, at the University of Calgary. Several years ago I donated my large collection of Canadian poetry to this library. Since then I have been adding material to the collection on a regular basis. If you would like to read up on the collection, just google my name, in quotation marks.

For the past few years I have read and enjoyed some of your poetry. I was wondering if you would be willing to donate some volumes of Canadian poetry to the collection. Some of your own books, or even some volumes published by Unfinished Monument Press. My dream is to create a collection that reflects the poetic soul of a nation. If you would be willing, I can give you my address. It would be my pleasure to pass on your books to the U. of C., Rare Books. Your books would be looked after  in a state-of-the-art facility by professionals who have a deep knowledge and love of Canadian poetry.

Please let me know if you are interested.

Marvin Orbach, in Montreal

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Perhaps other small press publishers are also caretaking valuable collections which they would like to donate.
- Chris

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June 26/12
further emails re donations, including list of first 10 Unfinished Monument Press books

On 2012-06-25, at 5:33 PM, marvin orbach wrote:

Dear Chris,
  Thank you so very much for your kind offer.   I look forward to
receiving your books, reading and enjoying them, and then forwarding
them to the U. of C., their final resting place, where they will be
preserved in pristine condition for future generations of scholars and
researchers.   For me the Univ. of Calgary Special Collections
is biblioheaven.
    I should mention that my collection consists of two parts,
books and manuscripts. The collection includes signed handwriten poems
by our most famous poets. Just in case you would like to add one or
more to the collection, please feel free to do so.
    I have read some of your poetry over the years, and enjoyed it very much.
   A great big thank you for helping to advance Canadian literature.
Canada needs more people like you.
   Perhaps you could inscribe a book or two. It is always nice to
include personalized copies in the collection.
   Marvin Orbach
May your summer be filled with fields of lavender.
   Marvin, in Montreal West.

June 26/12

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First batch of donations

Hi Marvin,
Thanks for the kind words, which very much apply to yourself as well!

I did a quick browse through the 'Unfinished Monument Press' box, and was a bit disappointed to discover how few duplicates I've kept over the years. I plan to send the first batch of books this afternoon, but unfortunately it consists of just 10 books. I'll explore further, and perhaps there are more duplicates in hiding elsewhere  :  )

I also have a quite extensive and eclectic collection of small press poetry. I coordinated the Main Street Library Poetry Series in Toronto from 1979 to 1985, and many of the poets gave me gift copies of their books (some signed). I've often wondered what to do with these books as I slowly enter senility (turning 64 in 2 days). Perhaps I should start donating them as well ...

Following is the list of Unfinished Monument books I'm sending today:

POETS WHO DON'T DANCE - Shaunt Basmajian
the dead leave holes - Ben Phillips
PCB JAM - Lynne Kositsky
QUANNI LORE - jw curry

All these books were published during my 'editorship' of Unfinished Monument. I may supply some further data, time & energy permitting.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers)
now off to my ZenRiver Gardens with shaman dog Chase (wrfffffffffffffffff!) to help poet/playwright/artist Jim Christy build our magick stupa installation

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Batch #2 of donations
July 4, 2012

Hi Marvin,
I found some time this evening to prep the second batch of books for you to donate to the Univ. of Calgary special collections.

Two of the books are poetry collections by me with other presses:

ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun (Hidden Brook Press, 2008)
unacknowledged legislator (blewointmentpress, 1981)

The others are rare copies of Unfinished Monument Press chapbooks (which I didn't know I possessed):

Real Poetry by James Deahl (1981 - an essay on James' poetics and his first book)
Lount and Matthews: a commemorative booklet by Peter Flosznik (1982)
Original Innocence by Leslie Webb (1988) 

There is more of a personal connection with these books than with most of the Unfinished Monument books I published. As noted, this was James Deahl's first book, and he and I have been comrades and collaborators since our early days as poets.

Peter Flosznik was my best friend for a short while. He was killed in front of me riding motorbikes while we were on holidays in Freeport, Bahamas in 1982.

Leslie Webb was a girlfriend, and we shared an intense relationship.

I'm also including a broadsheet of mine, "Moon City", published by Mark McCawley's Greensleeve Publishing in 1989;

and Tough Times: When the money doesn't love us, essays edited by John B. Lee for Black Moss Press, 2010.

The copy of "ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun" is a special 'illuminated' copy, with art pen illustrations drawn by me. The dedication is to you and the University of Calgary Special Collections library.

Marvin, I hope you are feeling better and that your recovery is proceeding quickly and painlessly.

Thanks again for your dedication to the world of small press Canadiana poetry.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers) ... and Chase ... wrffffffffffffffffffffffffff!  - my familiar companion, currently in dog disguise  :  )

On 2012-06-28, at 9:05 AM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
   I have read the ten books that you sent me.  It was a wonderful
experience.   They will be in my next box of books to Calgary. Thanks
again for your kindness.
    I mentioned to Allan Briesmaster that perhaps a note in the
League's newsletter would   bring me overwhelming results.  I am
having second thoughts.  Maybe the collection should be written up in
the newsletter.
     Thanks for your very kind offer of writing reviews  for your
blog.  My instincts have always been for collecting rather than
I can't spend too much time in front of the computer since I am still
recuperating from an operation.  I must very sadly decline for now.
Your  offer gives me much honour.  Thanks again.
     The volumes that you sent will make great additions to the
collection at the U. of C.  Miigwetch.
     Cheers, for now.
     Shanti, Shalom.

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 July 9/12

Hi Marvin,
Thanks for letting me know the package arrived OK, and many thanks for the compliments on my dubious artistry with the 'illuminated' copy of ZR:P&H  :  )

I'm not sure how many copies I've illustreated* in this manner - definitely fewer than 10. All have been gifts to other poets (e.g. Pearl Pirie, Jim Christy). I really enjoy doodling with the art pens - probably got the idea from bill bissett and his books ... I'm a big fan of bill's - he published my first 'real' collection of poetry with his blewointmentpress way back in 1981.

So pleased to know that these older chapbooks are being read & enjoyed, and then will live life anew in the AC controlled special collections at Univ. of Calgary - surely a sort of heaven for poetry books!

I'm about to head into TO - This Thursday is the launching of the new selected of Milton Acorn's poetry, IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT, fittingly at the Parliament Street Library. We're going to hold a small reading in Allan Gardens beforehand, to commemorate Milt's leading of the Free Speech Movement 50 years ago.

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and a heatstruck Chase ... wffffffff

*this was a typo, but Milt taught me to always accept typos of this nature - 'illustreated' is a great neologism - some might say I not only illustrated the books, but I also mistreated them in the process  :  )

p.s. glad to hear your recovery is progressing ... I passed another kidney stone a few nites ago ... getting so it's no big deal for me to drop one into the toilet bowl from time to time - arrgggghhhhh

On 2012-07-09, at 1:49 PM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
  Your package arrived  today.  What marvelous books you are sending
to the Univ. of Calgary!!   Thank you so much.   Your illuminated copy
of ZenRiver...    is something to behold.  It will be a treasured
addition to the collection.  I am sure the librarians in Special
Collections will be very excited  about it.   Have you illuminated
many of your books?  You are quite an artist.   I am looking forward
to reading and enjoying the books in my favourite armchair by the
     Thanks once again for your kindess and generosity.
      My recuperation is coming along  very well.   Thanks for your concern.
      Blessings. from Montreal West.
      Toda raba  (thank you in Hebrew).
       Shukran (thank you in Arabic).
       Shalom, salaam, and shanti.

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Hi Marvin,

I'm sending you one of my personal notebooks for the Univ. of Calgary archives. I've kept these notebooks much of my adult life, & they contain information on just about every aspect of my life, from mundane financial records and 'to do' lists to drafts of haiku and longer completed poetry manuscripts.

This notebook in dated Aug. 1989 on the cover under "subject". It's a green, cirlox-style spiral binder, approx. 8 1/2 X 11 inches, 108 pages, "FANCO" 3 subject notebook.

1989 was a crucial time in my life. I had bought a derelict century house in the mining hamlet of Cordova Mines after selling my small semi-detached 'starter' house in Toronto's east end. Two years earlier I had received the inaugural MIlton Acorn People's Poetry Medal for my collection, FOOT THROUGH THE CEILING (1986, Aya Press, then Mercury Press, Toronto).

I moved to Cordova Mines, Ontario, about 100 miles from Toronto, in early April, 1989. This notebook would have detailed my early experiences and musings in my new rural Ontario surroundings.


There are many drafts of haiku, some included, some rejected, for what would become my book, EEL PIE DHARMA: A MEMOIR/HAIBUN (self-published with my Unfinished Monument Press, 1990). Almost at the end of the notebook is a list of the 28 chapters which would become this seminal English language haibun (and now much-referenced history of the tail end of the 1960s in London, England, and the hippie/squatting/music scene).

EPD has been quoted in EEL PIE ISLAND by Dan Van Der Vat and Michele Whitby (2009, Frances Lincoln Limited, London, England). It was also used as a reference for WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN: THE WHO FROM LIFEHOUSE TO QUADROPHENIA by Richie Unterburger (2011, Jawbone Press, London, England).

Noted English novelist Hari Kunzru credits EPD at the back of his novel MY REVOLUTIONS (2007, Penguin). It was nice of Kunzru to formally credit EPD as a source, but there are enough similarities between my life and that of his protagonist (named "Chris"), that I suspect EPD was as much an inspiration for his book as a resource. 


Among the myriad notes, poetry drafts, financial records and jottings are drafts of a book review on a posthumous collection by poet Marty Singleton. I was probably doing this as a regular contributor for CANADIAN BOOK REVIEW ANNUAL.

Another poet who died young was Shaunt Basmajian, and there are notes on my plans to attend his poetry wake in Toronto.

Another project I was involved with was co-publishing an anthology titled SMALL PRESS LYNX with Edmonton poet Mark MCCawley. There are also travel plans for a Canada Council sponsored reading in Edmonton which Mark arranged for me.

Another project with Mark was his publication with his Greensleeves Press of a broadsheet of my poetry titled MOON CITY. There is a checklist of the poets and magazines where sent copies of this broadsheet on the next-to-last page. 

All in all, this old notebook provides a fascinating snapshot of the life I was beginning to live in rural Ontario, and a glimpse back at the very active life I had led in Toronto on the poetry and political scenes. It covers the year I turned 41.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers) ... and Chase wffffffffffffffffffffff (who has slept thru this pleasant hour of typing & reminiscing)

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Aug. 9, 2012
4th batch of donations

donation: "Small Press Lynx" anthology package (signed copy anthology, letters & original mss, notebook from that time period)

via Marvin Orbach for the Univ. of Calgary Special Literary Collections Archives

Hi Marvin,
AcornFest was an unqualified success and party! Can't get any better than that.And of course there's all the ongoing inspiration created by this annual thronging of poets : )

Today I'm sending you the complete package for the 1991 SMALL PRESS LYNX Anthology, co-edited & co-published by myself and Edmonton poet Mark McCawley.

The package contain one copy (of the two I own) of the anthology. Taking a quick glimpse thru, I'm amazed at the scope of the contributions. Several of the artists were better known as visual artists, so the antho contains some striking art work (including the cover by Beth Jankola).

From what I remember, Mark & I solicited pages from the poet/artists, rather than individual poems. Contributors were asked to do whatever they wished with 'their' page, and many of them took us at our word! I'd forgotten what a fun & freeform project this was.

I'm also including the complete folder for the project. This includes the original submissions & misc. correspondences between the editors and the participants. As many of the contributors have passed on, these letters may have particular value for the archives (Daniel Jones, Shaunt Basmajian, Margaret Saunders, Herb Barrett, Tom Crane, Ted Plantos, etc.).

I'm also including my personal notebook from this period, a 3-ring spiral "Fanco" booklet dated August 1989. I've discussed this "Cordova Mines" notebook & its history in an earlier email. It contains notes, haiku drafts for my EEL PIE DHARMA: A MEMOIR/HAIBUM (about to be republished this fall by HIdden Brook Press), drafts of reviews I was writing for CANADIAN BOOK REVIEW ANNUAL (from re-reading one I now suspect why a certain People's Poet prob. dislikes me ... with some justification) ... even finances and 'to-do' lists. Future sociologists, as well as literary historians, will enjoy this stuff immensely.

gotta go poopify Chase & then head off to water the transplanted pines at ZRG,

think you'll enjoy this batch ...

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase wffffffffffffffffffffffffff (just get me outside so I can pee & poop!)

p.s. Marvin, most of my recent work, including haiku/haibun, is online on my blog, Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens:

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Package #5

Faiers/Unfinished Monument Press archival material for Univ. of Calgary via Marvin Orbach
Aug. 14, 2012

correspondence folders:
Ted Plantos/Chris Faiers
Mona Fertig/Chris Faiers
Ben Phillips/Chris Faiers

Hi Marvin,
Again, I'm so pleased to have found a home for all my personal literary documents!
The Plantos folder is thinner than expected - likely there is further, earlier correspondence elsewhere. Ted and I did a lot of poetry activities together, and it was my suggestion to Tom Clement for Steel Rail Publishing to bring out the anthology POEMS FOR SALE IN THE STREET. This would have been my first contact with Ted, circa 1979. Over the years I featured Ted at The Main Street Library Poetry Series, and we did a reading together once at Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library.

Ted and I were friends, along with fellow poet Shaunt Basmajian. I remember the three of us holding a beery movie night in Ted's tiny living room on Columbine Ave. in Toronto. The only memory I have is of watching DUNE, and shouting "Ride the wild worm!"!  Ted was a science fiction fan, I'm not, altho I had read Dune as part of a scifi course at Univ. of Guelph.

It was Ted who initiated the annual Milton Acorn People's Poetry Medal. I was the inaugural recipient in 1987 for my Aya/Mercury collection FOOT THROUGH THE CEILING.

I published chapbooks by both BenPhillips and Mona Fertig with Unfinished Monument Press. Their folders are thicker, and I noticed some letters still in their original envelopes.

Thanks, Marvin, for being such a dedicated supporter of CanLit/CanPo. As you noted in your email, you have also sacrificed much to give this support. And yes, we'll be forever linked in the archives at Univ. of Calgary - hopefully, an honour to both :  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and a very patient Chase (past poopifying time late this morning/early aft) ... wfffffffffffffffffffffffff (get me outta here!)

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Batch #6 (Unfinished Monument Press chapbooks from Chris Faiers)
Aug. 28, 2012

PCB JAM  by Lynne Kositsky
WHITE RASTA by Chris Faiers

INTO THIS DARK EARTH by Raymond Souster and James Deahl  (signed by both authors - limited edition #86/99)

POETS WHO DON'T DANCE by Shaunt Basmajian
QAANI LORE by jw curry
THIS IS HILARIOUS by Marshall Hrlyciuk

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Batch #7 (Chris' collections)
Oct. 9/2012

Hi Marvin,
I'm taking a break from the fourth (arrgggh) & hopefully final proofing of EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA;  I'll make the fourth visit down to Tai Grove's old farmhouse near Lake Ontario this Thursday.

After a proofing session & morning coffee I did some browsing thru a box my mother, Marianne Claire Faiers, sent me a few years ago. She was cleaning out her small condo on Hilton Head Island, & she wanted to ensure that she returned any of my writings and publications which might be of importance. Now I'm passing some of these 'rarities' on to you. I'm esp. pleased that I found an almost pristine copy of my 1978 chapbook  DOMINION DAY IN JAIL (I mistakenly call it my first chapbook in the intro, but I'd actually published those 2 haiku collection in 1969).

So into today's mail go my collections:

,  Unfinished Monument Press, 1978
WHITE RASTA, Unfinished Monument Press, 1980
UNACKNOWLEDGED LEGISLATOR, blewointmentpress, 1981 (signed to my mother
ISLAND WOMEN, HMS Press, 1983 (signed to my mother)
THE UNFINISHED ANTHOLOGY Vol. I, editor, Unfinished Monument Press, 1984
ZENRIVER: POEMS & HAIBUN, Hidden Brook Press, 2008 

Time to poopify a patient Chase, who's still digesting leftover turkey,
peace & poetry power!
yer pals
Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

Batch #8
Nov. 26/12
page proofs for EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA
Gwen Macewen memorial CD (donated by Virginia Dixon)

Hi Marvin (& Virginia),
Almost every Sunday afternoon for the past several months poet/novelist/etc. Jim Christy and his artist partner, Virginia Dixon, and I have met at The Ranch, a family roadhouse restaurant on Highway #7 between Marmora and Havelock. We're lured there by the incredibly cheap turkey dinners (under $8), & I  especially appreciate that they have Rickard's Red beer. We are often joined by other area artists, including my friend Morley Ellis, and a ZenRiver neighbour, Warren Fraser.

Last night we celebrated the arrival of Jim's newest book, and we started making plans for a local joint launch of our two newest publications.

Virginia thoughtfully brought a very rare and unique gift for me - a CD compilation created for the benefit for The Gwendolyn Macewen Memorial.
Virginia said the CDs weren't made for sale, but were gifts for donors of $20 or more. The CD contains archival tracks of Gwen reading, and also includes readings by Margaret Atwood, George bowering, bill bissett, Jim Christy, Irving Layton, Dennis Lee and Joe Rosenblatt.

The CD is exquisitely packaged, & much of this info is included on the jewel box. Virginia said she believe either 100 or 200 copies of the CD were made, adding to its rarity & archival importance.

After thanking Virginia for the gift, I told her about you & how you're collecting CanLit & CanPo material for the Univ. of Calgary archives. Virginia reached into her purse & handed me a second CD, which will be enclosed with the package I'm sending you this aft.

The other item in this package is the page proofs for EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA (as promised).

Virginia also enlcosed a zip drive of info on the event, but for some reason my Mac system won't cooperate & let me open it. If the zip pdf doesn't arrive with this email, Marvin, let me know & perhaps Virginia can forward it directly to you. It should be preserved alongside the CD.  

Off to the post office to mail this incredible find,
peace & poetry power!
Chris ...and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffff!


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