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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Dorothy Livesay feature for PurdyFest #7 - Pauline Johnson for PurdyFest #8!

Dorothy Livesay (oops)

There's been a lot of discussion in the couple of days since the initial proposal from Terry & me for having D'Arcy McGee & Jose Marti as the theme for PurdyFest #7 (the "two Ms" Terry now calls them).

Poet Pearl Pirie of Ottawa sent me a brief email commenting on the lack of women features at the fests. She's 100% right, and I 'challenged' the women who attend the fests to take action - which they did immediately! Joyce Wayne offered to help organize next year's fest with a featured female poet & to present a paper. Anna Yin also immediately volunteered to do a video presentation as well. So the die was quickly cast!

Even Jim Larwill's 'familiar', that drunken reprobate Wilber Walnut, chimed in on the discussion & proposals. Many emails further confirmed the building consensus that it's past time for PurdyFests to honour our Canadian women People's Poets.

I had been holding fire for a few days to get further input and to let the consensus jell before I publicly confirmed the joint decision for next year's fest. But the overwhelming and continuing support has conclusively decided that the poetry, politiks & legacy of Dorothy Livesay will next year's fest (LivesayFest!), and then the work of Pauline Johnson will be featured the following year (PaulineFest!)

Featuring these two key women poets will help restore balance to the fests, and will also continue with the 'reverse chronological' documenting of People's Poetry in Canada. We have (unintentionally) been working our way back thru PP history with the fests:  Purdy/Plantos/Acorn/ - next back to Livesay & then Johnson. Wasn't planned this way, but the historical, poetical & politikal logic makes great sense  :  )    

Featuring Livesay and Johnson will also open the doors to many key issues in Canadian poetry and culture: more Marxism (Acorn was a devotee of Livesay)/feminism/racism/First Nations culture/internal colonialism/performance poetry/traditional poetry/moderism's beginnings  ... the list goes on and on.

I hope many of you make plans to attend again next summer, and perhaps you'll feel inspired to perform pieces by Livesay and Johnson (not so subtle a hint to Honey Novick - what a treat to have you perform some of Pauline's performance pieces - Wilber Walnut would be entranced into tranquility for once!!!)

p.s. Terry & I haven't forgotten "the 2 Ms", just going to relegate them to PurdyFest #12 or something  :  )

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Dorothy Livesay feature for PurdyFest #7 - Pauline...":

Right on!

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 30 August 2012 07:52

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Congratulations, Chris, on this excellent strategy and the approach that led up to it.

I remember suggesting Dorothy Livesay a couple of years ago, and I really like the sequence of having her follow Acorn.

My commitments re: the very ambitions Fall season for Quattro Books prevented my attending AcornFest, but I hope to make it to LivesayFest next year. 

All the best,

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Great stuff! Great discussion! I'll start right now preparing my schedule for them.... hugs for you, pats for Chase, Katharine
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Dear friends,

I've been reading the volley of emails with great interest.  From where
I sit, the Acorn festival (and the Toronto book launch) were a great
success and a revelation of sorts for me. It was all about the magic of
place and connecting with people that I haven't  seen much of since CLM
days. Sometimes we forget what a huge influence Milt exerted on all our
lives and honouring him in the way we are doing, is definitely the right
thing to do.

As for next year...I must admit to having some reservations about D'Arcy
McGee and Jose Marti, although I'm more sympathetic to Marti than to our
own Canadian.

Could we agree that it's time to tackle a woman people's poet and see
where she fits into the picture of people's poetry?  Jim Deahl's papers
are a great place for us to start because Jim defines people's poetry
and puts some meat on its bones by talking about who counts and what the
tradition is about. I'd be content with either Pauline Johnson or
Dorothy Livesay.  Milton and Al both respected Dorothy and she certainly
fits the bill, but then there is something remarkable and intrinsic to
the landscape about Pauline Johnson.  We would be breaking new ground if
we decided that Pauline Johnson's life and work could be seriously
explored next year.

I'm more than happy to help, both in terms of organizing and delivering
a paper on Johnson.  There is also a recent documentary on her life, I
believe, that we might screen at the library or at night in the Marmora

Let's continue this discussion and see where we end up.

In peace,

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Dear Chris:
What a lovely message.  thank you.
Yes, I will definitely look into Livesay's poetry and it's musical quality.  What a great thing to do.  Hope to see you soon.  Be very well until then.
we'll be in touch

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On 2012-08-26, at 8:05 PM, Jim Larwill wrote:

Hi Again Chris,

DON'T ENCOURAGE WILBER!  You don't have to deal with him.  You would think two cases of Quebec buck-a-beer beer would keep him busy for more than 15 or 20 minutes... he is already half way through the first 24.   Sheeh....  And I thought he was distracted while I was checking my email...

Wiber's passing comments....

"Now you tell yr little friend Chris that I have in principle nothing against keeping women in a ghetto or a harem, and believe me, me and my one eye have seen our share of both...  "   (The train of his thought has been broken and he has shot off rambling on with some quite frankly disturbing antidote about a three way he once had with Emily Carr and her pet monkey....   I'll never look at those paintings in quite the same way.  ...  Especially in the ones with a totem pole only showing one eye to the viewer...  God help me where is that case of beer...)

Okay after a break and fortifying myself I think Wilber is about to make a salient point of some kind and I will transcribe it as best I can.

"In my experience the only problem with a harem is they inevitably sneak in a very sharp knife and I thank my one remaining eye that at least that time their aim was way too high.  So tell your little friend Chris it might be better to pick one woman at a time.  Six years of men being a separate features at Purdyfest, each male in their own right, and then maybe after next year there will be a "woman's peoples poetry" symposium?  Okay I realize woman in Canada weren't legally people until the Person's case in 1929 when our British over lords in the Privy Council overturned the Supreme Court of Canada's unanimous decision that woman were not persons in Canada, but despite the contradictions of colonialism, what about the next three years being dedicated to Pauline Johnston, Dorothy Livesay, and Jane Jordan; each in their own right, as they more than deserve to be."

He has finished and he has gone out for a pee, so he will be a while.  I swear his hundred year old bladder is in much better shape than mine which is half the age of his.  So anyway I really don't know what to think about Wilber Walnut's one-eyed semi-feminist spouting other than some how or other at age 100 he is still just trying to get laid.

God help me "Wolf-fest at the Raven's Nest" is coming up the labour day long weekend and I already have a hang over....

Hopefully Wilber will just wonder off distracted by a chipmunk or a random wild flower or something and I will get time to send you a notice for yr blog

! # % ^  ^ ^ & * * ** * & G G G Y %#** &&  $( H F DF J!!!

On 2012-08-26, at 12:10 PM, Jim Larwill wrote:

Hi Chris,

Pearl makes an interesting point.  As it happens Wilber Walnut has been visiting and was looking over my shoulder as I was reading the recent posts.  Now, the one-eyed Wilber is never to be trusted, but apparently this year at Acornfest he was skulking around in the bushes watching us at Zen River  (which might account for where some of those beers disappeared to and explain the unpleasant odor in that heavy clump of belching Sumac).  The elder Walnut (he is over 100) seems to have formed a less than appreciative opinion of our poetic endeavors and after reading Pearl’s comment he has been sent off on a bit of a rant.

Pauline Johnson!  Pauline Johnson!  Pauline Johnson!  He keeps proclaiming.

Now I don’t know much about Pauline Johnson, but my mother Rejeanne, who claimed to be of very mixed heritage, years ago after hearing of my interest in poetry and my trying to tell her about Milton Acorn she scolded me with a simple… “Jimmy!  If you want good poetry go read Pauline Johnson!!”  At the time I dismissed her advice assuming her taste in poetry had been informed by residential school nuns,  only now after looking at some of Pauline Johnson’s poetry all I can say is I wish I hadn’t waited this long and I want to go read more.  It seems to me Pauline Johnson it the quintessential Native Canadian Poet.  World famous best-seller in her own time.  Forgotten and ridiculed upon her death by traitor academics who do not root poetry “in the land” but judge with imaginary elsewhere theory – at best upon our deaths any Canadian success is a lesser example of the firmament of high-blown “excellence” elsewhere, a footnote pushed off the page of history.  Most Great Canadian Writers upon there deaths don’t even get to stay on the margins.  Twenty years after Margaret Atwood dies it will be…. Peggy Who???

Coming back to Pauline Johnson it seems to me I remember Acorn claiming to be descended from a first-nation princess, and while he may have been referring to a genetic connection to the past, I strongly believe he was drawing his poetic line directly back to the poetry of Pauline Johnson.

Now the one-eyed criticism of Wilber Walnut is never mild.  And after going out into the woods he has come back with some sort of single barreled blunderbuss, a muzzle-loading flint-lock shot-gun of some kind, (to be honest it looks like a small hand held cannon) and he has now pulled the balance weights off of my van’s tires and is melting them down pouring the lead into some ancient casting mold for over-sized musket balls.

So if you hear the bushes rustling at Zen River … BE CAREFUL!!!

I will go buy beer to try and distract him and hopefully the now rough ride of my van will shake the bottles up to the point of exploding in his face when he opens them; however, he has written a poem and I guess I should attach it here.  As far as I can tell it is a rip-off of a Frank Scott poem (Wilber is hardly ever original and yes he also claims to have known F.R. Scott).   It seems in Wilber’s opinion, today’s People’s Poets are not much better than the “Canadian Authors” of Westmount back in the 30’s.

The People’s Poets Meet

Beneath a sketch of Milton Acorn
poets before and since they scorn;
they grieve loss of the Canadian muse
now that tea has been replaced by booze.

The mulberry bush is now transformation
at last, at last THEY alone define a nation,
Carman, Lampaman, Roberts, Cambell, Scott,
can passing be mentioned, but best are forgot.

By the river the famous People’s elite
are stumbling to and fro on their feet,
psychedelic sixties - their pearly time;
other ages, merely grunting of swine.

Perverts past sixty who once lusted with passion,
I hate to say it, for now it seems a limp lashing,
forever not a lick next to a Double Wampum maid,
her Victorian doggerel makes them seem staid.

Academics and their what-ta-bes from other states
teach trendy progressive forms, and what to hate:
For here grand sails always arrive claiming to travel,
rolling them up, we stick to our songs of the paddle.

Well Wilber’s view of things tends to be myopic… what can I say?

The Raven King…. aka   Jim Larwill….. notes from the Raven’s Nest with a one-eyed mad-man in tow… a hundred year old past who refuses to remain buried!


!! $ % ^ & &^ % % & &*    **** *  !$ G H ( Y^& @!!!!!!!

Hi Chris,
   I am really looking forward to receiving  your latest package of
Unfinished Monument Press booklets.  They will be important additions
to my collection at the U. of C.  It is great that your publications
will be preserved in western Canada, for future generations.
   I continue to get copies of your exciting e-mails.   Chi-miigwetch!!!
   I thnk it is wonderful that future PurdyFests will feature both
Dorothy Livesay and Pauline Johnson.Dorothy is the mother of modern
Canadian poetry. She deserves the attention you will give her.
Pauline Johnson has been neglected by the non-Aboriginal community
because she was not part of the modernist movement.  Her style is very
traditional.  My collection in Calgary includes her very rare first
book of verse published in 1895.   I acquired it many years ago at an
antiquarian book fair.   I have always enjoyed listening to the song
her paddle sings.
    It was with delight  that I read  there will be a Layton
happening at the Univ.of Ottawa. No doubt Seymour Mayne is behind it.
    I must go now. As soon as your parcel arrives, I will let you know.
    I shout love!!
    Marvin, in Montreal West.

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September 3, 2012

Dear Chris,
            Glad to see the news about LivesayFest! A much-deserved tribute to a very fine poet.

Poetry Power!
            . . . James

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Hi James,

Thanks for sending these important talks on to Joyce. She has offered to both present a paper and to emcee next year's symposium on Dorothy Livesay. And I'm pretty sure I've posted both these pieces on my blog recently.

PurdyFest #7, "LivesayFest", is shaping up to be another keynote examination and amplification of People's Poetry. I hope you have the time to present a paper on Livesay, or on any parallel aspect of People's Poetry next summer.

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  HearOurWords has left a new comment on your post "Dorothy Livesay feature for PurdyFest #7 - Pauline...":

Perhaps Chris could post some examples and we could check in and comment.

Posted by HearOurWords to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 6 September 2012 16:05

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Chris, YES. This is a great decision to dedicate PurdyFest #7 to Dorothy. I would dare suggest not because she is a woman but because she is a great poet
whose time has come to be "officially" celebrated.
I was suggesting to Terry that we do something for James but it does not have to be at PurdyFest.

In any case, if you agree, I would be prepared to provide an analytical perspective on her work. I have some of her books but I do not believe I have all.
I will talk to Terry. But if you have any of her works let me know.

Paulos Ioannou
Sept. 19/12




Conrad DiDiodato said...

Right on!

HearOurWords said...

Perhaps Chris could post some examples and we could check in and comment.