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Monday, 30 December 2013

Acorn and the Che Myth (Terry Barker)




Acorn and the Che Myth

            by Terry Barker



            Shortly after the death of Che Guevara in 1967, a biography of this hero of the Cuban Revolution appeared which differed from most of the writing about the guerrilla leader published at the time. This was Daniel James’ Ché Guevara (1969), which deliberately set out to explode what its author believed was a growing international cult surrounding the late revolutionary’s life, death, and exploits. While obviously written from the point of view of an American social-democratic (and anti-Communist) journalist, the book was thoroughly researched and closely argued, and James was at pains to detail parallels to aspects of Guevara’s thought in the Marxist-Leninist tradition and its antecedents, and in plausible cultural influences (e.g. the Jesuits and Don Quixote), in an effort to explain both his subject’s undeniable wide appeal, and ultimate failure (as James takes it) in terms of the structure of his character. In his final chapter, “Does Ché Live?”, James brings this analysis to a focus in a discussion of the guerrilla tradition in Latin America and of the Nicaraguan Augusto “César” Sandino, the anti-U.S. imperialist guerrilla of the early part of the twentieth century, “whose ideas were . . . closer perhaps to Che’s thought and style” than those of any other Latin American predecessor. However, just at the point where the reader expects a revelation of the sources of Guevara’s extensions of orthodox Marxism-Leninism, the author drops this line of inquiry, and no more is heard of Sandino, or of his ideas.



            Both Che’s “extensions” of Marxism-Leninism and Sandino’s ideas (which fused elements of Marxism-Leninism with theosophy, millennialism, Masonic lore, and nationalism) constitute a “spirituality” (in Che, expressed in Socialism and Man in Cuba, as James acknowledges). The “Che myth” (in any sense of the latter word), it would seem, needs to be analyzed spiritually, i.e., from a “religious” point of view.



            Sandino’s “religion”, in which he came to understand himself and his movement as manifestations of a new humanity, returns modern political ideology to its roots in the apocalyptic-Gnostic movements of early modernity, a development which facilitated the spread of these ideologies in the so-called “underdeveloped” world. Sandino’s life and martyrdom at the hands of a U.S.-backed military regime became paradigmatic not simply for Latin American revitalization and revolutionary movements, but internationally; when the Guomintang (Chinese Nationalists) entered Beijing in 1928, one of their divisions was named after Sandino, and the Nicaraguan guerrilla leader was a hero to the interwar U.S. Peace Movement. A revival of interest in Sandino in the 1960s accompanied the rise of “Third World” socialisms, the development of the “New Left”, and the emergence of new international socialist heroes, such as Guevara himself, who combined nationalism and socialism.



            The Canadian People’s Poet, Milton Acorn, whose apogee as a writer and public figure occurred in the 1960s and early ‘70s, captures this new-old socialist spirit, in its form as guevarismo, in his poems about Che, two of which appear in the new edition of Acorn’s selected poetry, In a Springtime Instant (Mosaic Press, 2012). Acorn’s own combination of Marxist-Leninist, Canadian nationalist, Gnostic, and Christian structures of consciousness makes him the perfect vehicle for the understanding of the full amplitude of the “Che myth”, as expressed in these lines from his “Where Is Che Guevara?”:



            These are miraculous days . . . Worms sing! The sound

            from their burrows is as lively as birds

            but not so pleasant. And right now they are singing

            “Where is Che Guevara?”



            Che Guevara is beauty . . . The terrible and persistent beauty

                                                            that’s the end of those who can’t stand it,

            The end of worms.



December 30, 2013


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Dec. 30, 2013

Dear Chris,

            Thank you for posting the Terry Barker piece on Che and Milt. Too bad it was left out of The Ambassador.

Poetry Power!

            . . . James


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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Ice Storm Patrollers

Ice Storm Patrollers
a haibun for Marvin Orbach


For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow storms and rain storms, and did my duty faithfully; surveyor, if not of highways, then of forest paths and all across-lot routes, keeping them open, and ravines bridged and passable at all seasons, where the public heel had testified to their utility.


Henry David Thoreau
from WALDEN, first section "Economy", 1854



A major ice storm hit Ontario last Friday, and for several days it was unwise, basically impossible, to drive. Exploring the beautiful results of the storm wasn't possible until yesterday, Monday. Chase & I visited one of our favourite trails on the rocky plateau above the village. I call these the water tower trails.

ice storm
fleshes the bones
of old tipi sticks


 
Walking was very difficult. Fortunately Chase and I found a snowmobile track sunken under the ice crust and were able to crunch along above it. After a half mile the snowmobiler had circled back, and hiking was far more difficult. I sank heel deep with each step, while Chase skidded on top, enabled by his 'four-wheel-drive'. Walking was so laborious for me we didn't continue far. On the return hike, I noticed an ethereal surprise in the unblemished snow:
 
each footprint
glowing
bodhisattva blue


 
Day 2: The Reeve's Trail

This trail is part of the greater trans-Canada Trail, which was originally the old CNR railroad tracks. The rails were removed decades ago, but fortunately the rail bed was acquired and turned into long stretches of our national trail. It is extremely rare for Chase and I to encounter another hiker. The only humans we see are snowmobilers whizzing past at high speed in the winter, and ATVers in the milder weather. Chase and I enjoy our daily exercise and appreciate nature at an enjoyable pace. The crazed riders enjoy bruised kidneys and the aroma of small whining engines. The fuel scent lingers for minutes after their passing in cold weather. 

 

stunted dogwood swamp
magick fairyland today


boring stretch of trail
transformed to crystalline
archway

facing the sun
the whole swamp glistens
crysta
l

 

Chase & I turn our backs on the sun to start the return hike to the car. Sadly, the magick crystal swamp has returned to its usual dross colour. How can this be? Without the sun's brilliant magnification, the ice no longer reflects. Also the sun has also melted the ice on the south side of the cattails and dogwoods. Same swamp, two visions.

 

sun behind us
the swamp returns
to dull browns

looking back
crystal magick returns
with the sun's eye

lone black wing
swoops off the slag heap
this magick day


On day two the ice surface has hardened enough to bear my weight. I think of the sweet bread pudding I baked last night with its brown sugar crust. Tonight the forecast is for 25 below - no melt forecasts more ice magick tomorrow. 

 

Day 3: Water Tower Trails Again

It's a Christmas Day tradition to hike a certain section of these trails before Christmas dinner with my friend Morley and his family. While I hike I remember the image of the Christmas Day Chase & I flushed a snowshoe rabbit from a brushpile on this plateau.



faint sun
makes new magick:
all is silver-white



 

Even the daily high temperature has remained far below freezing since the ice storm visited. These sub-zero temperatures are tempering the ice crust to a steel-like hardness. Now it is a rare surprise when I fall through the crust. The edges are knife sharp, and I have a gouge on my thumb from one of these stumbles.

I worry that small animals may be trapped in their burrows by this once-in-many-decades ice storm. It would be reassuring to see tracks, but

 

even humans
leave no tracks now
in the frozen woods


 

Chris Faiers/cricket
Christmas Day 2013


Sunday, Dec. 29 : Thaw Day

I took Chase for a great ramble at Callahan's Rapids Conservation. Haven't been there in a month. I tried to explore the 'haunted woods' section by the rapids, but the thaw was in effect today, & I realized I couldn't make the round trip I like to do because the little creek was no longer frozen. So Chase & I hiked back to the parking lot, over the bridges, & took the little side trail which comes out in Riverside Pines.

Because of the thaw birds & little animals were finally out & about today. The warmer weather created a mist which made the hike feel like we were walking thru some primordial soup. From the bridges:

thaw day
beaver's slap a monk's tap
awake

 
Lots of falling ice & snow in the woods. It sounded like large invisible beings were tromping around in the woods, & a few times large chunks fell dangerously close to us.

We hiked for almost 2 hours, & I was so hungry I went to the Ranch by myself for crispy chicken. When I got home at 4:30 there were emails from Jim & Virginia, & another one from Gail. So I left Chase to warm up & drove back to El Rancho for a holiday drink with Jim & Virginia.



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Ancestral Roofs has left a new comment on your post "Ice Storm Patrollers":

Thanks Chris for this lovely wander through the ice storm woods - such dangerous beauty and now all signs gone, just broken branches to remind us where the ice lay heavy.
You two keep well.
Lindi 


Posted by Ancestral Roofs to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 30 December 2013 07:04


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Friday, January 10, 2014: Wraiths on the Water Tower Trails

Hi Marvin,

Thanks for letting me know the 2 UMBRELLAS arrived OK. I'm pleased I was able to feature the work of Martin Durkin in one, & that of Kathy Figueroa & Ursula Pflug in the other.
The small package of ephemera should arrive early next week. Chase & I were finally able to hike on our favourite trails for the first time in a week this  aft - first it was the ice storm & then the arctic vortex making hiking dangerous & unpleasant. Chase had a great time, it's hard to believe he's around 16 years old & not still a puppy sometimes. I'm still enjoying my time with HDT - about 90 pages to go.

Chase bounding
over fresh snow
and scary tracks  



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Arctic Vortex Aftermath

There are no gods in the wilderness
only wolves remain scavenging
in the four corners of the savage winds,
angels are made of black iron
refrain from kissing their frozen feet,
in the tangle of crushed trees
a flurry of fur and tails,
monkeys are returning.

Katherine L. Gordon
frozen January, 2014.


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Saturday, January 18, 2014: Changes

Hi Katherine,
Many thanks for your poem"Arctic Vortex Aftermath". I've done something a little different with it - I've been adding daily haibun to a posting I initially started about the ice storm, but then I have continued adding posts, including my last one about the arctic vortex. So what I've done is add your poem as another link to this 'renku' (linked) sequence. I think it works???
peace & poetry power!

Chris & Chase Wrffffffffffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!  - both very full after a big dinner - today's hike was a major one way back to the 'shaman ponds' on the old quarry properties behind ZenRiver. We encountered a lot of wildlife for a change. Perhaps nature is also restless after the recent overwhelming wintery intrusions. At the start of the hike a young doe, perhaps 3 years old, bounded across the trail within 50 feet of us. Later, another startled adventurer:


ghost rabbit
boots over the trail
ears still brown


When we started the hilly & dangerous return journey from the distant ponds, a pair of crows noisily flew overhead (Milt & Al?). Close to where we saw the first deer 2 yearlings slipped into the woods. By the main quarry a woodpecker was busy tap-tapping for hidden snacks in low lying scrub thorn trees.

both trees I signed
by the shaman ponds
gone this wild winter 




  

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Sunday, January 19, 2014:  Sewage Bay Swamp


Today I took Chase for an hour hike on the Sewage Plant trails. It was snowing quite heavily, & we enjoyed our first annual visit thru the frozen swamp to 'sewage bay'. It's a haunting place - only accessible in the height of winter freeze-up, & even more haunting in the midst of an increasingly heavy & windy snow storm. There was a very ramshackle lone ice hut on the little bay - it would have made an interesting picture (by the marge/of Lac Labarge).


camo canoe
resting against
winter cut stumps

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Sunday, 22 December 2013

the Peace of Walden Pond



picture of Henry David Thoreau's retreat, Walden Pond


Hi Marvin,
Thanks for your commiseration, it's very much appreciated  : ) I'm not at all surprised that WALDEN is your all-time favourite book!

Last summer I picked up a thin copy of Thoreau's writings at the used book store in the nearby village of Madoc. I think it cost a buck, which went to supporting the Madoc Library. I read WALDEN and "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" in my late teens. Of course both strongly resonated with me - I've always been a lover of nature and a solitary person by preference. But it was especially appropriate and inspiring that I read Civil Disobedience while I was in the process of sorting out my beliefs and course of action during the upheaval of the VN War. I wish this essay were more widely known & read.

So it's been almost half a century since I first explored Walden Pond and its surrounds with HDT  :  )  I admit that long stretches of Walden can still be a bit tedious, but on a more relaxed re-reading I'm finding there are many nuggets of wisdom scattered on every page, which I would have glossed over in my teens.

I'm also surprised at the breadth of Thoreau's knowledge & imaginings - wisdom. Much of the tone & tenor of Thoreau's writings reflect what I consider to be Hindu/Buddhist principles. HDT even mentioned the Bhagavad-Gita in the section I read last night.  HDT praised simplicity, reverence for nature, respect for one's fellow humans & neighbours, but with a healthy dose of New England Yankee distancing, which some might consider standoffishness.

The iconoclast in HDT is something which also resonates with me. I could perhaps interpret it as  'save yourself first', before you try to save the world. Keep yourself apart from the world as much as possible, & if the world & its craziness impedes too much on you, well, you have to take a moral stance, even if it means going to jail for the night in Concord for not paying your poll tax! Thoreau was an avid abolitionist of slavery, and he did occasionally break his own guidelines by giving public lectures against this.

Yes, on re-reading WALDEN I see that HDT had a much greater influence on the young me than even I realized. I had one very supportive English prof at the University of Miami, & every paper I turned in he'd praise with the suggestion that my newest production could be my Master's thesis. My thought was to do my thesis on HDT, but three draft notices in a week cut short my academic career, & a few months later I found myself living on Eel Pie Island in the middle of the Thames River on the outskirts of London, England! Living on Eel Pie Island wasn't exactly retreating beside Walden Pond, but it was one heck of an experience!

HDT's youthful influence is still reflected in my life. Now I've got my own quirky version of HDTs retreat with ZenRiver Gardens.  I'm 90% joking about going to live a Thoreauesque life at ZenRiver Gardens, but there is a 10% temptation to follow HDT's fine example. His cabin was 10 by 15 feet, while my shaman shack is an even more modest 10 by 10 (but then I do have the luxury of a 60 square foot deck!). It was a hoot to again read HDT's penny by peny accounting of the cost of building his shack, & the same New England penny-pinching accounting of his personal income & expenses. On further thought, in the warm months I do spend more than 10% of my time at ZenRiver, so I'm living a life at least partially in accordance with HDT's high standards.

Thank you Henry David Thoreau. Almost unknown and unread in your time, but a bellwether writer & thinker for the current state of life on our shrinking hillbilly planet.

peace & poetry power!
Chris/cricket and Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz  


On 2013-12-21, at 10:35 PM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
   I am sorry to hear about all the problems you are having. I hope the new year brings   some relief.
   I send you happy solstice greetings.
    BTW,   Walden is my all-time favourite book. I worship Henry  David Thoreau.
     Cheers, from Montreal West.
     Marvin.


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 Dec. 22/13

Hi Chris,
    I am not all surprised that Thoreau had such an important influence on you.   I was profoundly affected by his writings when I was a student. 
    As a matter of fact,  in my mind,  you are to some degree a Canadian Thoreau.
    Peace, Shalom.
    Marvin. 
 

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Dec. 22/13

my Walden Pond ? the puddle I make when I piss of of the deck !
I call it Mellow Yellow Pond !

ciao, Ed

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Dec. 31/13 (email excerpt)

Hi Gerry,
I'm still plodding my way thru WALDEN - I'm finding I can absorb just a few pages a night. There are more parallels with my life & HDT's WALDEN than I first realized - even his cabin has similar surroundings to my shaman shack at ZenRiver Gardens. There are sumacs in his side yard, white pines at the back, & of course the pond at the front (while I have the river). We both share visits from many of the same species of birds and mammals.  Some of Thoreau's descriptions of his day-to-day life have probably subconsciously influenced my haibun/blog postings. Of course I'm a fan of the Quakers - it was the Miami Friends Service Committee who offered me the most support with resisting the Vietnam War, & they let me print my underground newspaper, PAPERS, at their headquarters.
 - Chris

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 from Wikipedia:


Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau.jpg
Portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham (daguerreotype) of Henry David Thoreau in June 1856.
Born July 12, 1817
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died May 6, 1862 (aged 44)
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Era 19th century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Transcendental idealism[1]
Main interests Ethics, Poetry, Religion, Politics, Biology, Philosophy, History
Alma mater Harvard College
Notable ideas Abolitionism, tax resistance, development criticism, civil disobedience, conscientious objection, direct action, environmentalism, anarchism, simple living
Signature Appletons' Thoreau Henry David signature.jpg

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Northern Winter Solstice - Sheila Martindale




Northern Winter Solstice

Sol sistere
sun standing still
motionless
hovering
momentarily
on its polar axis
poised midway
between darkness
and light

as if one degree’s shift
would plunge the planet
into endless winter
as if one divine breath
would blow the world
off its perilous progression
change its direction
turn it
to face
eternal night

We crave stillness
on this the shortest day
praying
even if we never pray
for that pendulum to begin
its infinitesimal reversal
its slow forward swing
its painstaking passage
towards
another spring

                                    Sheila Martindale

winter solstice photo:  Winter_Solstice.jpg

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

"Little Acorns and Milton" - Robert Acorn's memoir


Hi Robert,
The package with your three books arrived today. Many thanks! And thanks for signing all of them, especially the copy of LITTLE ACORNS AND MILTON which you dedicated to me.

After opening the parcel I immediately began browsing LAAM. I love the stories of your childhood adventures with Milt. The image of you chasing Milt around with a hammer as a small lad keeps playing in my imagination ;  )  I can remember a time or two, especially when Milt was my house guest on Rhodes Avenue, when I considered doing the same! The book is a real family treasure of the Acorn family and friends. So many stories - you & Milt going for a hike, & then hitchhiking for the first time. Your dad tying Milt's hands at night so he couldn't pleasure himself - these are priceless insights.

There is something for everyone. Terry Barker will love "The Cross Bearer" chapter for many reasons, one of which is that it gives him fodder for his belief that Milt retained a lifelong devotion to high Anglicanism  :  )

I believe memoir writing is extremely important. Who knows a person and the times they live in better than the person himself, or perhaps his siblings? There are lots of people who wish to re-write history for their own agendas, literary and otherwise. So reading a family history 'from the horse's mouth' establishes a baseline for the truth.

There are other benefits to memoir writing. A quarter century ago I wrote and self-published EEL PIE DHARMA,  my memoirs of living on the streets of England as a hippie draft dodger. My initial intentions were to write a traditional autobiography, but the manuscript turned into one of the first English language haibuns (prose interspersed with haiku). EPD remains a poet's memoir of course, but it has became a lot of other things over following years. It's been used as a reference for the hippie era on Wikipedia, for a BBC documentary on the Thames Valley Music Scene, and a biography of Peter Townshend. It was also a reference & seemingly an inspiration for Hari Kunzru's novel MY REVOLUTIONS, about the Angry Brigade in the UK in the early 1970s. A side benefit of publishing a memoir is we no longer have to keep our memory banks plugged up with these stories, and we can finally refrain from annoying our closest friends with our constant retelling of these adventures.    

I am sure we'll want to use at least a chapter, and perhaps more, of your book in ACORNucopia. Your story(ies) will add a strong dose of authenticity and background to our tribute to your brother. I'm so pleased that Terry Barker remembered you had written it.

After I browsed LAAM and thoughtfully sipped on a beer, I realized that Terry Barker would love to receive the second copy asap, so my little dog & I slipped off to the Marmora Post Office. Terry & I shared one of our long 'editorial' chats tonight, & I assure you he's thrilled that his copy of LITTLE ACORNS AND MILTON is on the way to him.

Thanks also for your other two books, BLACK RASPBERRIES and WHITE STRAWBERRIES. I now have enough reading material to get me through the holidays  :  )

peace & poetry power!
SOLSTICE GREETINGS!
Chris ... and Chase wrfffzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

p.s. I'll do a posting on my blog about your books - it's fairly widely read among the PurdyFest poetry community



Oak branch with acorns -


On 2013-12-18, at 9:09 AM, Ron Dart wrote:

Chris,

do you order a copy of Robert's book for me?--seems like a keeper and
charmer.

RSD

Hi Ron,
Perfect description - "a keeper and charmer"! To request a copy you should contact Robert Acorn yourself, by email or even snail mail - Robert isn't addicted to email the way the rest of us are  :  )

robert.acorn@pei.sympatico.ca

TWiG Publications
R.S. Acorn
763 Brackley Pt. Rd.
Route 15
Prince Edward Island
C1E 1C4

LITTLE ACORNS AND MILT is a very well written and published book. Perfect bound, beautiful cover, some nice b&w photographs, 150 pages, no price given. Robert has divided the book into 3 sections: 1.) Milton and Me  2.) Milton's People  3.) Me.

Last nite I read the first 5 of the 6 chapters about Milt:  Tasting Blood, Ice, The Cross Bearer, The Fire, Hotel Fire (Milt's poem), & tonite I get to enjoy the final piece in this section, "Scout's Pace".

Last nite I jumped ahead and read "The School Street Gang's Slingshot Caper", which is sans Milt. It's a hoot as well. I'm sure Robert has created a valuable piece of literature which will transcend his initial intentions & which will go into the annals & canon of PEI literature. There is a lot of PEI history recorded in LAAM, and the book is extremely readable and enjoyable. These are the kinds of books which are slow burners - like Robert himself, who is a late bloomer to literature compared with his older brother. There is an almost dreamy quality to the writing, perhaps because it is a reminiscence of times long past. But there are hints of that sly Canuck humour which Robert shares with his famous bro, & several times I made a mental comparison with SUNSHINE SKETCHES. I suspect LAAM will enjoy a longevity and eventual readership which will surprise the author, Robert, most of all. 

I'm starting to feel we should include a substantial number of chapters from LAAM in ACORNucopia (if Robert's willing). Howard gave Terry & me carte blanche when I asked several times how long ACORNucopia should be. Howard repeatedly replied, "As long as it needs to be." Perhaps ACORNucopia needs to be long enough to include all or most of Robert's 6 chapters on Milt.

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

 

Friday, 6 December 2013

my anti-apartheid poem from 1978


The Red Menace

KICKED A CADILLAC
(Dented a Daimler)
By Chris Faiers

South Africa is very much in the news these days
invading my consciousness again
like when I was a longhaired hippie
idealistic gravedigger - 22
and summerstudent Brian
who shared Bob Dylan graveyard duets
and was Anglo - Indian
recommended other culture to me
and so I went to see ‘End of the Dialogue’
about South African apartheid
alone, one hot summer night

That was 7 long years ago
all I remember of that smuggled movie
is British-made RB'47s loaded with napalm
based 10 minutes flying time
from black African compounds
tales of murder, passes, degradation
reminded me of 5 years in Georgia
prison gangs amplified
Lester Maddox controlling a country

I am proud that sitting there alone
my anger built and built and built
until neatly filing out of the cinema
into London streets
a big white curbside Rolls or Daimler
or to me a 'Cadillac'
I freaked — I went completely fucking bananas
class elites — imperialisms — socialisms unheard of
I saw the enemy
and in my workboots I kicked the shit
out of that car
right in front of the theatre.
No one stopped me
nor applauded
and I didn't look back
as I strolled away
but I remember hoping
that the rest of the departing viewers
were kicking shit out of that car
in the calm and business-as-usual British way
as they streamed by

Later at Richmond station
I met a young black friend and I told him, shaking a bit
what I had done.
'Congratulations, Chris', he said,
'but that's not like you. You're
so peaceful.'
Right fucking on, brothers in Soweto!
I'm getting even more peaceful.
I'm trading my boots for a 303.

 

HEADLINE OF THE MONTH
Vorster may get mandate to turn to dictatorship


Published in The Red Menace, Volume 2, Number 2, Spring 1978

A Libertarian Socialist Publication

Monday, 2 December 2013

Gwen Hauser, 1944 - 2012 (James Deahl)



Gwen



         Gwen Hauser, 1944 – 2012




What you remember from the farm

is the annual slaughter of steers,

the screams of pigs being castrated,

your father’s blood-streaked hands working

the sausage machine, is your own mother

reduced to someone less than human.

And being piss-poor, always piss-poor.

Of your high school years in Medicine Hat

you remember — can never forget —

the provincial mental hospital,

whose doctors prescribed medications

you refused to take. You fled the Prairies

and that hard-scrabble farm for Toronto,

running all the way, to find what?

A girl does not run from something;

she runs to something. Toronto.

In the Big Smoke you found Bergman’s Silence,

that pervasive Swedish despair.

You found men who would not love you enough,

and a hard-scrabble life on the streets.

Poor Gwen, we sympathized, poor Gwen,

but sympathy and gentle thoughts

have never healed a broken heart.

And, yes, you found poetry and courage

to speak it: a strong voice, and true.

Early this morning I learn of your death

and watch winter’s rain soak the fallen leaves.

You hammered out poems laced with pain

— yours and the sufferings of those you loved —

a poetry of survival on the margins;

I pray your divided heart’s been healed.




James Deahl



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December 7, 2013
Dear Chris,

         Late last night this came in from our old buddy Krisantha. Best thing that has come my way since I spread the news of Gwen's death. It captures Gwen and her total commitment to poetry. Thought you might like to post it.
         . . . James

Dear Jim,

I woke up this morning in Colombo to this, telling me of Gwen's possible 'cease and desist'.

Still trying to digest. Are you sure she has passed away? She has a way of showing up in unexpected ways and in new disguises.......:)

I guess I first met her in 1976 at the Parliament Street Library where Ted Plantos would do a regular gathering, and she was an active presence.

Funny but I had a dream just the other day of another PSL poetry partaker who I barely knew who then jumped off the Bloor Viaduct. I remember Gwen talking about her situation and writing about what may have driven a young woman to do such. She had truly 'Canadian experience' of the horrible treatment of 'mental' patients. She also would openly take on those who wrote sexist or fascist crap.

I also remember an argument between her and the CP cartoonist Mike Constable (with Mike arguing Canada was 'liberal' and Gwen insisting it was truly 'fascist'!)

Gwen wrote about the city, and about work in factories and laundries, and yes, of Toronto and Alberta and Canada in ways no one else did. Ardent is the second word that most comes to mind. And yes, it's a tribute to Fred Cogswell, that despite the wasteland of vapidity of what he or others usually published, that he published her).

We worked together putting readings at the grey 519 (former Granite Club!), (in fact, Partisan organized an early gathering there where I read) and then together we did a huge (100? I exaggerate perhaps) Toronto Festival of Poets in 1978 (?), and also did another (crazy) day long fest called the Goldflower Festival (named after a Chinese red feminist) in 1979, but was ahead of its time in the sheer compass of the people involved.  We also helped facilitate the set up of the women's poetry sessions at the 519 as well... And it is through her I met Himani Bannerji and Dionne Brand, etc......and then came the 'multivultural' 1980s.....

After I launched my last poetry book, Cheqpoint in Heaven, in Toronto in 2005, she came and read some poems, brilliant in many ways and as always – but I did disagree with her take on history ( I thought she had taken to defending the Nazis versus the Soviets!) ..she had also taken to going to church, which I thought odd, even tho it was the MCC....

Still, her commitment to writing about the here and the now and what she thought would come next, was truly inspiring, and regardless of who remembers her and how, she was more than anyone I knew a truly 'Canadian' and 'Toronto' poet, for she talked of real people and real things..

I hate writing about people after they have passed away. But I do think she will still jump out of bush and hit someone with one of her many bags overflowing with poems.

Funny, I am about to go to a monthly poetry gathering Poetry P'lau we organize in Colombo (called by most people, Kolamba) and I woke up early to send a final note about it, and now, I am not sure I can go back to sleep....

Krisantha


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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

What's the Problem with (dis)Services Canada and Seniors' Pensions?

Following is the letter-to-the-editor I sent yesterday to Terry Bush, Central Hastings News. My first letter was published several weeks ago, and this is my response to Anne McNeill's letter-to-the-ed.

This letter was published on page 6 of Central Hastings News, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Total distribution 474,000.
 

Dear Editor (Hi Terry):
Several weeks ago you published my warning to seniors that receiving their old age pensions and dealing with Services Canada will likely prove difficult. My warning still very much stands, despite the snarky letter in last week's paper claiming this was misinformation. 

However, Anne McNeill's letter did provide some basic information that I've been unable to obtain from the Services Canada website or from their employees. According to Ms. McNeill the basic annual guaranteed income for a senior is $16,573.20. I thank her for finally providing the supposed financial baseline for all seniors. Unfortunately, what should be, doesn't always mean it is! Ms. McNeill wrongfully assumes that I haven't applied for the supplements GAINS and GIS, which I definitely have done. I made all my applications well ahead of schedule, and twice I've provided additional financial statements to SC back up my applications. Despite being so proactive I continue to struggle far below the poverty level on under $1K a month in pensions.

Services Canada has handled my applications and requests for help and information in the same style manifested by the Prime Minister, the one who prorogues our Parliament to avoid uncomfortable situations. Simply, there have been no written replies from Services Canada. Ms. McNeil at least puts some information in print. This situation is not unique to me. It appears to be quite universal among seniors. When I discuss pensions with other seniors, seemingly everyone is getting a different amount, no one understands why, and many are not receiving even the baseline support presented by Ms. McNeill.

A friend in Hamilton was in a similar situation with SC when he qualified for his senior pensions several years ago. He was also being grossly underpaid, and it took the intervention of his MP for him to begin receiving his fair pensions. And yes, Ms. McNeill was frustratingly right here, as he now receives approximately the same $18,353.76 she believes I should be receiving. So does this mean each senior in Canada will have to visit their MP to get personal political help to begin receiving their fair pensions?

Guess this is a heads-up to our MPs as well ...

 (signed)
Chris Faiers
12 Main St.
Marmora, Ontario
K0K 2M0

613-472-6186

zenriver@sympatico.ca

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November 27, 2013

Dear Chris,

         I have been reading your recent pieces with great interest. What you report is completely correct. ALL Canadians living on the government pensions alone are forced to live below the poverty line. The poverty line (by the government’s own calculation) is about $20,000 at the present time for a single person. But the highest pension amount (C.P.P. plus O.A.S. plus G.I.S.) is considerably under $19,000. Exactly as you report.

         But hold on Chris, it actually gets worse. Last year I received a cheque for $600 from my publisher in royalties. Since this was a year ago, it was my first royalty cheque since going on the O.A.S. and the G.I.S. Guess what? The government cut my pension by $42.36 per month. $42.36 X 12 is $508.32. I was only able to keep $91.68 of my $600 in royalties! (This is absolutely true.)

         I went to my M.P. (a Tory, unfortunately, but that’s not my fault) and inquired. I was told that this is the way the system works for retired people.

         This is not a one-off. I read Good Times magazine. They have a financial consultant reply to questions from readers concerning retirement issues. A reader of Good Times earned $200 in interest. And guess what? The government took most of it by reducing his pension for a year. So he wrote to the financial consultant at the magazine and was told what I had been told by my M.P. That’s the way the system works for retired folk.

         In my opinion this is TOTALLY outrageous. If you are poor and do manage to earn a few hundred dollars, the government will take almost all of it!

         In the future I will tell my publishers to keep my royalties. As poor as I may be, I would much rather take a pass on $91.68 if it means I can keep $508.32 out of the hands of the federal government.

Fraternally,
         . . . James
                            


p.s. Please feel free to share this letter with others.

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Hi James,
Thanks for the further information. Arggggghhhhhh This is such a crock of shite!!!!  :  (  I'm sick of having to fight evil & incompetent governments & bureaucracies my entire adult life. I'd naively hoped that in my dotage I'd finally be able to devote myself full time to literary activities - my own writing, of course, but also coordinating events like our tribute to Ray Souster, the Imperial Public Library gig last year to Milt, PurdyFests (year #8 coming up!) etc. etc. .

Somehow I've managed to do all these things on an extremely limited budget (& also publish 2 books with Hidden Brook Press), but as I continue to age I know I'll be able to do less & less, & if I have to spend a substantial amount of my time & mental energy doing EXTREME budgeting, well, some of my planned golden age activities just ain't gonna happen. I'd love to finally tour Canada - I've never been to B.C., for God's sake. And I should be able to afford decent dental care - I need at least one root canal and possibly several fillings.

Even my little dog, Chase, is subject to the harshness of extreme budgeting. He is due for a visit to the vet, but I'm holding off on that. My old Sube is rusting & is possibly getting dangerous to drive. I sure won't be driving it on the 401 on a regular basis, which means I haven't been able to visit friends in TO, or attend literary events there for some time. Some good news, tho, as my mother has earmarked a nice $ gift for me, so I should have enough from that to repair the Sube into a temporary safe driver, & then in the spring buy a newer & safer used vehicle.   

But this is just so wrongheaded & counter productively cheap of the government to skin seniors for a few bucks. $500 more a month would mean a world of difference for me - the difference between being a happy, healthy & extremely productive senior, & one who is slowly sinking into dubious health & who is unnecessarily financially limited with his ability to contribute to society in so many areas.

Great to hear from you ... say hi to Norma from Chase & me ...
as always, peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

p.s. I accepted your offer to share your letter, & it's now posted on my blog (following)


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Nov. 28, 2013

Hello,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write us. We really do appreciate your response to the program as we always love hearing from our listeners. Due to the high volume of mail we receive at the show, I can not reply to each of you individually. Please be assured that all our incoming mail -- regardless of whether it is supportive or critical -- is distributed in our daily mail pack that is sent out to the entire staff here at The Current. This includes story ideas so producers who are interested in creating a pitch for the show can make a pitch at the story meeting.

I apologize for the impersonal reply. But please know we do read your letters and love hearing from you.

If you are requesting information, I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Lisa Ayuso
Associate Producer
The Current, CBC Radio One


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October 09, 2009

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Springtime in Paudash: Kathy Figueroa



Springtime In Paudash
 

~by Kathy Figueroa

 

Spring hath graced the land
With a golden hue
Winter's ice and snow hath given way
To gentle dew
Bright flowers unfurl and bees do hum
As I roam about in delirium

Oh, mighty God
Oh, Mother Earth
Your creation is esteemed above all worth
You are so infinitely wondrous,
Magnificent and wise
But tell me: Why black flies?

Two billion wings doth beat as one
As a ghastly shadow darkens the sun
The spectre of frogs and locusts
Falling from the skies
Would be a relief
Compared to a billion black flies.

Bubonic plague infected rats
Swarms of hungry, rabid bats
Hornets, slugs and buzzing gnats
Won't suck your blood until you die
Like the flying piranha known
As, “Black Fly.”

Oh, woe to you, foolish mortal
Who would venture through
An open portal
To mow the lawn
Or walk the dog
'Tis better, right now, to be a frog.


This poem was first published in The Bancroft Times newspaper on May 25, 2006. It was printed again on May 15, 2008, and June 17, 2010. "Springtime In Paudash" was also published in the April, 2008, issue of the Mohawk Nation Drummer newspaper and it's included in Kathy Figueroa's book Paudash Poems, which was published by Brian Wrixon Books in July, 2012.

Click to preview Paudash Poems pocket and trade book

Canadian poet, Kathy Figueroa, lives in a rugged rural area of Ontario known as, “Cottage Country.” This beautiful, scenic region and its inhabitants have often provided the inspiration for the poetry she writes. Kathy likes to create the old-fashioned style of verse that tells a story and serves to entertain an audience. Well-known to newspaper readers in the Bancroft area, Kathy’s poems have been published since 2006 and her freelance newspaper articles and photographs first appeared in 2004. Kathy’s first book, “Paudash Poems,” was published in 2012.
http://kathyfigueroapoetry.blogspot.ca/ https://soundcloud.com/kathy_figueroa_poetry

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

BUILDING SANCTUARY (Vietnam War resisters in Canada) UBC Press

Yesterday I received an email from author Jessica Squires that this book has been published. Included is my haiku "draft resister/watching the ducks/fly south". This is the umpteenth publication for this very personal and political poem.  Here's the blurb from UBC Press:




.
Building Sanctuary
The Movement to Support Vietnam War Resisters in Canada, 1965-73

Jessica Squires  


$95.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 10/4/2013
ISBN: 9780774825245  


376 Pages




OTHER WAYS TO ORDER




About the Book

Canada enjoys a reputation as a peaceable kingdom and a refuge from militarism. Yet Canadians during the Vietnam War era met American war resisters not with open arms but with political obstacles and resistance, and the border remained closed to what were then called "draft dodgers" and "deserters."

Between 1965 and 1973, a small but active cadre of Canadian antiwar groups and peace activists launched campaigns to open the border. Jessica Squires tells their story, often in their own words. Drawing on interviews and government documents, she reveals that although these groups' efforts ultimately met with success and helped shaped debates about nationalism and Canada's relationship with the United States, they had to overcome state surveillance and resistance from police, politicians, and bureaucrats.

The sixties live on in the memories of those who experienced them and in the imagination of a new generation seeking a deeper knowledge of contemporary protest movements. By telling the story of the Canadian movement to support Vietnam war resisters, Building Sanctuary not only brings to light overlooked links between the anti-draft movement and immigration policy -- it challenges cherished notions about Canada in the 1960s and Canadian-American relations today.


About the Author(s)

Jessica Squires is an independent scholar of Canadian political, social, and cultural history who lives and works in Gatineau, Quebec.
Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction: War Resisters in Context

1 We Help Them Because Their Need Is Great: The Canadian
Anti-Draft Movement

2 Transnational Connections: US Groups and Other Canadian
Groups

3 Deserters: Treatment, Tactics, Identity

4 Opening the Border: 1969

5 The Limits of Left Nationalism: The Campaign to Open the
Border

6 Hegemonic Reflections: Inside and Outside the Movement

7 Last Chance to Get Landed: Immigration Department Strategies,
Anti-Draft Movement Responses, 1971-73

Conclusion: A Contested Refuge from Militarism

Appendices; Notes; Bibliography; Index
Reviews

Building Sanctuary is a fascinating study of war resistance and the sixties in North America. Based on official police records as well as oral interviews and newspaper evidence, it not only tells the engrossing story of the immigration to Canada of about forty thousand US war resisters but also subtly analyzes the political and ethical issues raised by resistance to the War in Vietnam. At a time when a reactivated militarism once more challenges progressives throughout the world, Jessica Squires provides us with an inspiring, insightful account of how an earlier generation of activists fought the madness of war -- and emerged with some precious, if fragile, victories. A must-read for students of modern Canada, antiwar activism, and the sixties.
-- Ian McKay, Department of History, Queen’s University
Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]
Related Topics

History > Canada

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Building Sanctuary from UTP Distribution at: UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8
Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832
Email: utpbooks@utpress.utoronto.ca

Ordering information for customers outside Canada



© 2001 UBC Press
2029 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z2
t. 604.822.5959 | f. 604.822.6083 | e. frontdesk@ubcpress.ca

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Anti-War Day poem: Jim Christy

'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem

--Chris, couldn't resist typing this up and sending it along. First published ten years ago in
the Georgia Straight in Vancouver. It will never go out of date ---------




Poll indicates desire for stronger defensive
capabilities. More destroyers,
bombers, missiles needed.

Me, I wonder who's buried beneath
soldiers' bones in Flanders Field

Quick: Who fought the Hundred Years War?
Was the War of the Roses anything
but a bad movie? What the hell
was that Franco-Prussian thing about?

Ten thousand buddhists
with begging bowls
on the moonlight road
of 1310.

Which was the first to rise
and flourish
and expire? Olmec,
Toltec or Aztec?

Did Etruscans have insomnia
same as me?

The lives of entire generations
of women and men make up
but a few lines in the palimpsest
of the Great Spirit.

From tree tops and belfries
through the skies of my dreams,
falling ass over tea kettle,
all the snipers of history.

What constituted paleolithic
pillow talk?

Into the Stein River Valley cave.
we tumbled eager for our love
and loved, and only then,
sated, saw three deer on the wall.
Who drew the deer family?

You who are
in charge:   stick your
stealth bombers up your ass
Go fuck yourself with your polls
and politics.

That's you and me, my sweet,
spooning skeletons of Nagasaki.


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Ed Baker has left a new comment on your post "'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem...":

WOWOW !

and now as then or is "it"
then as now and we who are
in the now here continue
the seemingly useless thrusting:

the writing down of our own-ed bones

write on .... Mother !

Posted by Ed Baker to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 November 2012 09:02

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem...":

"You who are
in charge: stick your
stealth bombers up your ass
Go fuck yourself with your polls
and politics.

That's you and me, my sweet,
spooning skeletons of Nagasaki"

Love this poet!

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 November 2012 09:14

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Ed Baker has left a new comment on your post "'spooning skeletons of Nagasaki': Jim Christy poem...":

just thought of something phunnie
re: the drawing ...

all that is left
two lovers' skeletons
who from here can tell

which one has the boner

Posted by Ed Baker to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 November 2012 09:21

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haiku/senryu for JC


gold tooth glint
enters the room:
Jim Christy



- Chris/cricket
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Friday, 8 November 2013

fan letter for EEL PIE DHARMA


I so love Eel Pie Dharma

Practically everything in it is part of my history too. I was born in Twickenham, and my parents then lived in Kingston upon Thames – long story as we as a family moved away but at 13 I went back on my own as I ran away from home and lived in squats and on the street in an area I felt at home in, which was  Kingston and South London.

And ‘The Three fishes’ pub was a huge part of my life then and a place where both my husband and I went


It was an important place for me and apparently also my husband  as  in the late 60s and 70s we both went there - yet ironically we did not know each other then as we only  met and got together as a couple in  about 1983/4 in Raynes Park where by then we both lived .

But we probably even talked to each other in the Three fishes or in and around Twickenham, Surbiton or Kingston.– and as I was soooo promiscuos then, sometimes I rack what is left of my brains to work out if he was ever one of the many I picked up there and had sex with ??

My husband  says not! He says he would remember if he had ever met me and especially if he had sex with me then (a liar but flattering just the same )
But also adds that like many guys at that pub then he was usually too stoned or tripping ( LSD) to have sex as any part of his agenda or possibility ( this is probably more near the truth)

We both visited  Eel Pie island – again did not know each other but we both went to it as did many young people who lived around that area in the 60s and 70s and as we are 60 and 61 long before we were old enough to be there as we were probably 13 or so? Saw some bands play there too if I remember through the mist of time and destroyed brain cells??

I dabbled with being a skinhead for a while sadly – many women could and did interchange – I had Julie Driscol hair ( do you remember that ?

And when I wanted to take Blues or Dex and dance ( driminal or Dexedrine ..speed ) I would join the skins and when I wanted to lay back and chill smoke and take Acid I would join the hippies – as said women could be flexible with who they hang out with depending on mood, men could not do this so easily

But  my husband was a mod but was a skinhead for a little while before he discovered LSD
I squatted – but my squat was the top floor flat in Elgin Avenue, shared with someone called Joe
Went to a few free Hyde park concerts
I went to 2 the Isle of Wight Concerts – Dylan I think  was 15 then when at this one and I bunked in, no ticket, climbed the wall and Hendrix so out of it remember I was there but nothing else

Stayed with the Hare Krishnas when homeless in central London at one point.
Stonehenge – lived down the road form there for a while in the late 60s , spent many a night stoned on the stones


Worked just outside of Penzance in 1971 met Ralph M and others as I worked at the Station hotel Penzance  where the folk and rock music was held then

Went back to London lived in another squat in Notting hill
Certainly got the clap , a few times and visited clap clinics
Went to the first Glasto and before that sheperton Mallet festivals
Lived on a small holding in Wales for a while


Ironically I live with HIV now – I was faithful to my husband since 1986 but my husband gave it to me when I was about 50 as he was not

Funny how life seems to go full circle in a way as I live back in Cornwall on a smallholding

Yes this book of yours read like a  huge ‘blast from my past’

Brought back so many memories and I have often thought of writing them down – maybe now I will?

V

A Hidden Brook Press book "The Texture of Days, in Ash and Leaf" by Bruce Kauffman

Saturday, 2 November 2013

doctor acorn (chapbook 'review' of IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT)



frog hollow press

Offered as a Sewn soft-covered limited edition book of 52 pp. Printed on 57 lb. 100% PCW paper with a full colour cover and multiple greyscale endpapers.
Typeset in Garamond Premier Pro.
Note: this book will be launched at UNB’s Poetry Weekend, in Fredericton, New Brunwick, October 4-6, 2013.
Pre-orders can be taken prior to the launch date.
Edition of 150 numbered copies.
ISBN 978-1-926948-12-6 Price $17.50


Hi James,
Thanks for the update on the MULBERRY TREE launch. Yes, if the weather holds, & I can manage to replace my dilapidated Subaru in time, I plan to enjoy dining with everyone at the Supermarket.

My eyes are still very blurry from my first read-thru of Shane Neilson's chapbook-length 'review' of SPRINGTIME INSTANT -  "doctor acorn, or: how I joined the Canadian Liberation Movement and learned to love the stern nurse fusion-bomb sun". Congrats to both of you - not many poetry collections warrant a 50-page, limited edition chapbook for a review!

All in all, Shane is very positive about your editorial selections. There is a hoot of a description of the IFPOR launch, but then, making fun of poetry readings is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel (a popular sport out here in redneck country). Ask me sometime about Morley, the first Crowe Lake fishing contest, & our 'bass in a rain barrel' escapade.

It's fascinating how each of us takes from Milt & his work such different things, & yet we are all in eventual agreement on his genius as a poet. Whether it's as a political poet (yeah, making fun of the whole People's Poetry thing is just shooting a few more bass in barrels), or the appreciation of Milt's sweet nature poetry, or his fiery combining of opposites (dialectics) - Milt's strong personality & presence are always present in his best poems.

You gotta buy one of the 150 copies, if you haven't already ...

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffffffffff! (resting up for dinner)

p.s. Terry managed to scoop me & read it first - I've never known Terry to giggle like a schoolgirl before  :  )
 

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Marvellous Marvin's CanPo Archives (update)






Hi Chris,
     Just a short note to say hello.  I trust all is well with you.
     I thought I would mention the names of several poets who have recently sent me material for the collection.  They are, among many others:  Paulos Ioannou,  Jeff  Seffinga,  Marco Fraticelli,  Anna Yin,  Lyndia Terre (artist and poet), Rachel Lebowitz,  etc.  I am expecting something from Terry Ann  Carter.
     It was good to see Bill Bissett's response to your e-mail. It is great  to know that he is doing well.  Did I tell you that, many years ago he sent me 5 handwritten (holograph) poems for my collection? 
      Once again, as always, many thanks for your continued support for my collection at the U. of C.  I think we are both doing our share  in helping to preserve  part of our literary heritage.  Thank you for your altruism.   Your librarian's heart is in the right place.
      Keep well.   May the Muse be with you always.
      Marvelous Marvin, a fan of yours in Montreal.
      


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Halloween 2013

Hi Marvellous Marvin  :  )
All well with Chase & me, apart from the usual mild aches & pains which signify our 'elder' status  :  )  That's great news so many poets have contributed - I know I played my usual Judas goat routine with Paulos, Jeff, Marco, Anna & Terry Ann. Pleased to see they've taken my suggestion & followed thru on it!

One of these years I'll start sending the folders I have of my correspondence with bill bissett (yes, it was very nice to hear from him - he sounds great!) & many others. There are also files for each of the annual PurdyFests. Terry Barker & I were discussing your special archives last night, & it was Terry who crucially further explained to Anna Yin the importance of having her poetic materials archived.

During our conversation Terry suggested you acquire a copy of Shane Neilson's new chapbook/review on Milton Acorn. I told Terry I understand your special areas of interest are haiku and CanPo in general. I said I'm not sure if our particular interest in Canuck People's Poetry, a la Milton Acorn, is of interest to you for your archive (as "Acornites", we assume everybody associated with CanPo is completely fascinated with Milt & his legacy!).

As always, it's a comfort knowing that such a large part of my own CanPo personal work, & that of other poets I've published, featured, promoted & hung out with, is now preserved for ever and ever.

peace & poetry power on this Hallowed Eve!
Chris ... & Chase ArrrrrrrrrrrOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

There IS a Ghost in the Gazebo


There IS a Ghost in the Gazebo

 

A legend we knew and smiled at
in that benign old garden artifact
with swinging seat
faded initials carved in pillars,
the seasons decorating
according to the book of time,
always an icon in its connection
to Eramosa’s pioneer past.
Some asked to see it at Halloween
and we indulged, but never understood.
This All Hallows Eve that weighs in age for us
brought a darkling difference
to the cupola’s aura,
we trained lanterns towards it
in the sudden black depth of this October night.
He hung there ---
and we saw him with a ghastly recognition:
a mid-aged nineteenth century man
in frayed and greasy clothes
nothing to shield his bulging eyes
desperate tongue and twisted face
emanating more despair than horror,
a man without hope making his statement
to a stern unaccepting society,
his sad pain engulfed us
with pity more than terror
his lone and desperate ending
keeping him suspended there
in pitiless  eternity.
 

 

Katherine L. Gordon.
 

a grisly sighting imprinting us
end of October, 2013.


hanging man photo: Dead man hanging Photo159.jpg 

 

Sky-Stoned

A noisy sky
scattered sleet
in ragged peltings
by the door
even the sinless were scarred,
god does not always sort us out
but warns from time to epic time
that any soul
boy, dog or lovely maiden
can be torn open
like a tattered sky.


Katherine L. Gordon
October sleet, 2013.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

old age pensioners - BEWARE! - poverty looms

published as a letter-to-the-editor in Central Hastings News
Stirling, Marmora, Madoc, Tweed & Area (Ontario)
Oct. 31, 2013, page 6
circulation 474,000

  hastings cover

old age pensioners BEWARE - poverty looms 




If you're approaching age 65 & anticipating receiving a living pension with Old Age Security, well, it ain't gonna happen under the cheapo conservative Harperite regime : (- The current rate is around $550 a month, the same as a welfare recipient. And you'll be treated with about as much respect as a welfare recipient. You now have to prove you qualify - receiving an OAS pension has become like qualifying for Unemployment Insurance (oops, I mean 'employment insurance' in Orwell's newspeak).

The Harperite tactic is just avoiding & ignoring you when you become a senior - after all, you are a supplicant - when all that money should be given to the big corporations, esp. big oil. Likely you've spent a lifetime working and contributing tens of thousands of dollars, likely hundreds of thousands, in taxes. Every time you buy something you are still paying the nasty GST - no matter how low your income. And no matter that you've volunteered thousands of hours of community service, or that generations of your ancestors fought to preserve Canada in 2 world wars.

IT'S YOUR DAMN FAULT YOU GOT OLD!!!! So just suck it up & accept our meagre hand-out which is less than half the poverty line.Yes, line up, seniors-to-be at the cat & dog food sales bins, cause that's where you'll find yourself if you're trying to live on under $1K a month. I know this is true, because it's my personal situation. I've worked my 40+ years in Canada, as a head village librarian & before that as a cook (chef papers from George Brown). After all those years of hard work & contributing now I'm being treated like a lumpen who's never done a day's work or contributed an effing thing in their lives.

In fact a lumpen drug dealer I know of, who never worked so didn't qualify for any Canada Pension Plan, received $1,350 a month - still pitiful. But this is far more than the $950 a month I'm currently receiving because I made the mistake of working, & then when I was forced into early retirement I had to withdraw 'too much' ($15K) from my depleted RRSP savings the year before I turned 65.

A beginning solution to some of this inequity would be to raise the minimum monthly OAS payment to at least $1K, which is a measly $12K a year (who can live on that???). But if I were receiving my $400 a month CPP plus $1K a month OAS, well, I could almost survive, and at least I'd be receiving the same amount as the retired local lumpen drug dealer.

And I don't understand why all the younger baby boomers aren't burning down the offices of their local Members of Parliament - these younger boomer suckers will have to work & wait until age 67 to begin receiving their OAS pittance!!!

What's so wrongheaded about chiseling seniors is that we don't have any surplus money to spend on luxuries like dining out occasionally, or traveling around Canada, or enjoying cultural activities like the ROM or AGO or even a frigging local evening at the cineplex, with maybe a beer afterwards. Henry Ford knew he had to pay a decent wage so his workers could buy his cars, but these Harperite ideologues are making it impossible for seniors to avail ourselves of the basic necessities of life, much less being able to stimulate our faultering economy by buying a few cultural extras.

As my Zen master is wont to say, PLEASE WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... future welfare OAS
pensioners
hmmmm ... penury & pensioners - same root???