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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas 2015 (Errol Sharpe)/The New Year (Anna Yin)

Christmas – 2015
Errol Sharpe

As I sit down to write this poem

My mind it does begin to roam

It’s files I sit and seek to comb

There’s not so much up in the dome

I know that up there much is stowed

Can’t seem to find the password code

I guess to many roads I’ve hoed

Should I dump some of the load?

But as I think there’s lots to say

So many they have lost their way

Their feet so often made of clay

My friends for them we all must pray

Refugees they come from far

Have no money, have no car

Are they running from the czar?

As they seek to heal the scar

In Canada we dumped the man

But does the new one have a plan?

For as across the land I scan

I just see another clan

The left it sings a mournful song

Its weak, its weak, not very strong

And as it muddles all along

It’s them not us who tune the gong

So we must sing another tune

Not wait my dear for a blue moon

For if we do not do it soon

I think that all of us will swoon

So come now people, let’s be brave

Dig us all out from the cave

A new direction we must pave

For this old planet we must save

Now as we look to the New Year

A new road we can help to steer

My friends we all must tune our ear

To a new path, a path that’s clear.

               ~    ~    ~   ~    ~

The New Year

This is a New Year poem made by you and me.

On a 12 month-long canvas, with its significant marks,

the horse year has rolled over:

Floats of the season spread seeds for flowers and fruits;

the great green land breeds rich cultures and thriving lives.

Children sing and dance along their everyday routines;

parents work hard to provide pleasure and prosperity.

From rural area to urban center,

new buildings rise and broad roads extend.

Through community to community,

diversity spreads and dignity is shared.

We paint joy and praise peace.

We respect equity and agree to disagree.

From time to time,

somewhere in the world, the sky is falling;

we extend our hands and spirits for support.

Here and there,

our passages are clogged with chaos;

we work together to create great fortune.

New forces gather and signal changes.

Our city and country are leading with promise.

This is a New Year poem.

It has been made by you and me.

On a 365 daily calendar,

each of us makes a difference

so that we can share love and enjoy peace;

each of us kindly contributes

so that together we all can celebrate.

As 2016 arrives,

another New Year poem will form.

It will be made by us.

Here is our land; here is our opportunity.

Together we will guard this land,

together we will build our great fortune.


Anna Yin/ Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate


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

On Sat, Dec 26, 2015 at 10:46 AM, Chris Faiers <> wrote:
Thanks Errol ;  )-
Sentiments so many Canadians share. At least the dark clouds of the Harpy decade have been lifted, altho the electorate flocked like sheep from one traditional party to another. At least they flocked. I honestly thought Harper would enforce some national emergency law to stay in power, he's such a neo-fascist. Wait, that was Justin's dad who enacted The War Measures Act. arrgggggh!  (but a hopeful arrggh nonetheless).

Anna, would you pls send Errol's poem back inside an email so I can post it on Riffs & Rips?  - many thanks

best wishes to all for 2016!
Chris ... & Chase wrffffzzzzzzzzzz

p.s. look what you've started, Pearl   ;  )-

                                       .    .    .    .

That was quick ;  )-   your poem is very powerful & heartfelt - truly the Canadian vision for the future. I'm going to post it with Errol's poem - hope this is OK?
thanks again!

On 2015-12-26, at 10:51 AM, anna yin wrote:

Here it is and also my new poem to read at our city's Mayor Levee on Jan 3.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Twas the night before CanLit Christmas: Pearl Pirie

Twas the night before CanLit Christmas by Pearl Pirie

The night before Christmas, all through the nation
Not a poet was paid cash, not even at this station.
Poet stockings were hung over their sofas with hope,
For Nelson Ball or Ann Carson, not soap-on-a-rope.

Thammavongsa was lodged deep in her albums,
michael e casteels was musing vispo amalgams.
Catherine Owen was at a riverside photoshoot,
While Rita Wong was out foraging our national roots.

Some writers were staring, tense in their beds,
While metaphors of death pranced thru their heads.
Amber Dawn in her ‘tats, and Bök in his promo beret,
opened their books, and sipped pumpkin lattés.

Erin Mouré was translating more poems by Chus,
While Monty Reid rosined his strings, then his shoes.
Liz Howard stayed tight in her shaking tent.
Lorna Crozier was out of country, at an event.

What was that sound? Lynn Crosbie channeled dread.
Across the country Chase barked, Faiers tilted his head.
Dave O’Meara couldn’t hear it over a patron’s news
And Domanski was out in the bush chasing a muse.

But out in the CanLit scene there rose such a firecracker,
Quill & Quire turned their opera glasses to the matter.
Running from the window, John B Lee was The Flash.
Humming, beaulieu stencilled the dog, the shutters then did the sash.

Karen Solie looked up from her road, past tractor hill.
Jenna Butler paused planning where to plant and till.
NourbeSe Philip heard a suicide, but not that noise.
Ben Ladouceur was distracted by all the pretty boys.

While McGimpsey played his I love noodles card,
The cacophony grew louder and louder out in the yard.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an access paycheck, pulled by nine clever reindeer.

With a magic carpet rider, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment, it must be… A.F. Moritz.
More rapid than submissions or applications they came,
And he whispered, and rumbled, and called them by name:

“Now Dempster! now, Christakos! now, Bowering and Mooney!
On, mclennan and Brossard! Howell, Dumont and Connelly!
To the top of the Parliament! To the top of the field!
Now’s holidays! Holidays!! But you’re all strong as steel!”

As Carter brandished scissors as haiku’s sentry
There began to build an interesting energy.
What it was, I wasn’t sure…but it had to be good
Like a Vancouver Conference in my very own hood.

As I drew out my phone, and was loading Instagram,
Through the window A.F. Moritz came with a…gall dang.
He was dressed all in wool, from his suit to his slippers,
And his clothes were all burnished with toner and glitter.

With photocopied chapbooks saddled on his hip
As an antlered Yann Martel one gave reading tips.
Poem broadsheets were falling like so much fresh snow.
It was Rudolph mclennan tossing them from the cargo.

Their eyes—how they twinkled! Their giggles, how merry!
Their cheeks were like so…cheeky, noses like… for expediency, let’s stick with “cherries”!
Stuck out of Moritz’s pocket was a PoetSeries bandana.
mclennan’s wry little mouth was drawn up like a Santa’s.

They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
And joined in the vowels of Wayde Compton, and blerrrrks
of Paul Dutton. Sandra Ridley slipped in as the fifth.
then McCaffrey and jw, McNair and Stephen Ross Smith.

The rest of the reindeer soon circled like a wreath
And learned new ways to vibrate their teeth.
Folks texted out, poets flooded in. Shauntay Grant,
Burdick, Wells, Priske, Brockwell and Di Brandt…

Stuart Ross added his aspirants to the chorus.
Soon sound itself became the great northern forest.
Chrisses Johnson and Turnbull mmmed. Gary Barwin whistled.
Sound poetry; CBC’s focus drifted like down from a thistle.

A wink from Fred Wah and a nod of his head,
Soon gave all to know we had nothing to fret;
As a group with passion attracts more of the same
Soon onlookers and curious joined in the the game.

Judith Copithorne clapped to the happy din.
Mia Morgan finger-snapped. The next improv kicked in.
Overtones crescendoed, a wall of sound was evaded.
The sounds swelled and softened and finally abated.

Even the angels took notes on how the sounds layered.
If you missed it, you missed it — you had to be there.
Leaping back to the carpet, (bought with OAC grants)
Moritz said we should do this each year, if we get a chance.

Turning down the idea, all agreed the one time was fun.
They drifted off in dribs and drabs, in bits of bodily hum.
They left not a book but as they disappeared from sight,
I heard someone call “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Pearl Pirie

A note from the author: “Twas the Night Before Christmas was previously believed to be authored by Clement Clarke Moore, I give thanks to Major Henry Livingston Jr. (1748-1828) who Don Foster traced the poem to in Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous.”

Photo credit: Brian Pirie        

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fun with can lit///hello from the rainforest...happy new year to all

over Thetis Lake
winter in her wings

terry ann

Friday, 4 December 2015

Star article on Allan Gardens with pic of Milton Acorn

Your Toronto / Once Upon a City

Once Upon a City: Allan Gardens’ rich history of revolution

From the founding of the National Council of Women of Canada in 1893 to anti-Nazi riots of the ’60s to the G20 protests, Toronto’s Allan Gardens has been ground zero in the shaping of the city’s social fabric.

Beloved Canadian poet Milton Acorn recites poetry in Allan Gardens in July 1962 to protest a bylaw that prohibited speeches in all but three Toronto parks and led to much debate over freedom of expression.
View 10 photos

Toronto Star Archives

Beloved Canadian poet Milton Acorn recites poetry in Allan Gardens in July 1962 to protest a bylaw that prohibited speeches in all but three Toronto parks and led to much debate over freedom of expression.

Allan Gardens’ iconic glass-and-iron domed Palm House is a familiar landmark for Toronto residents and visitors alike, nurturing a permanent collection of exotic plants from distant climes inside its heritage walls. Yet the conservatory and its protected flora are only half the story of Allan Gardens. Designed by prolific city architect Robert McCallum and opened in 1910, the Palm House is the central pavilion of what is now a 16,000-square-foot conservatory, with five greenhouses added over half a century until the late 1950s.

The surrounding park, bounded by Carlton, Sherbourne, Gerrard and Jarvis streets, boasts some 300 trees, many perhaps as old as the pavilion, and today features a brand-new playground and two fenced off-leash areas for dogs. The gardens began in 1858 with the gift of a five-acre plot to the Toronto Horticultural Society from George William Allan, president of the society and 11th mayor of Toronto, recently retired after a two-year term ending in 1856. Allan then entered national politics, representing York at the Legislative Council of Upper Canada from 1858 until becoming one of Canada’s first senators following Confederation in 1867.

Guided by its motto, Beautify Toronto, the horticultural society built a rustic pavilion for its exhibitions that would also serve as a venue for evening concerts and social events. The Horticultural Gardens opened Sept. 11, 1860, with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, planting a maple tree in front of the new pavilion using a silver spade; he opened Queen’s Park the same day, making them two of Toronto’s oldest parks.

In 1864, the city bought five additional acres from Allan for $11,500 and leased them to the horticultural society, which maintained stewardship of the expanded park on condition the conservatory be open to the public free of charge until 8 p.m., after which admission could be charged for private events.

“Shrieking ‘kill, kill, kill,’ a hate-filled, hysterical mob of 4,000 watched as eight suspected Nazis at Allan Gardens Sunday were beaten with fists, clubs and boots,” begins the Star’s top story from May 31, 1965.
Eddy Roworth/ Toronto Star Archives

“Shrieking ‘kill, kill, kill,’ a hate-filled, hysterical mob of 4,000 watched as eight suspected Nazis at Allan Gardens Sunday were beaten with fists, clubs and boots,” begins the Star’s top story from May 31, 1965.

In 1879, a glass Horticultural Pavilion replaced the original wooden structure, financed by the society with a $20,000 mortgage, where budding aesthete Oscar Wilde lectured in 1882, before writing his more famous literary works. Although the venue was popular, the horticultural society was unable to cover its debt with the revenues from evening programming, and sold the original plot and the pavilion to the city in 1888.

When George Allan died in 1901, the conservatory and grounds were renamed Allan Gardens in memory of his contributions. The following year, two things happened in the park: the Horticultural Pavilion burned, and the people’s poet of Allan’s ancestral Scotland was immortalized, the monument remaining to this day.

“Robert Burns had an unpleasant experience last night in the person of his statue now being erected in Allan Gardens,” the Toronto Daily Star reported on July 19, 1902. “Twice the scaffolding gave way, and the second time carried with it the pedestal and statue, to the dismay of a large crowd of spectators. However, neither pedestal nor statue were injured.”

Six weeks earlier, the news had been much worse. “Smoking ruins in Allan Gardens,” read a Star headline on June 6. “Splendid palms, some of them declared to be the finest in America, have been ruined, while the work of years is now withered and dying.”

The current Palm House was built in 1910 at a cost of $50,000, replacing the Horticultural Pavilion, which burned down in 1902.
Toronto Star Archives

The current Palm House was built in 1910 at a cost of $50,000, replacing the Horticultural Pavilion, which burned down in 1902.

With the recent opening of Massey Hall, the loss of a concert venue was scantly mourned, but the resurrection of a horticultural pavilion had the sustained support of several city officials, and the current Palm House was built at a cost of $50,000, following council’s rejection of two more costly proposals.

Outside the glass conservatory, another, civic garden was sprouting political tendrils.

Situated near the seats of provincial and municipal government, amidst industrial and various strata of residential neighbourhoods, the 10-acre park was a natural seedbed for ideals carried in by the city’s two-legged fauna, who began thronging the park to voice enthusiasm or outrage over social issues.

The Star was quick to reveal some rather blunt tools in the city’s garden shed. “Police smoke out meeting but crowd won’t disperse,” read the front-page headline on Aug. 16, 1933. “Charging mounted policemen, motorcycle exhausts belching oily fumes and scores of constables on foot put a stop to speech making, but failed to disperse thousands of persons in Allan Gardens last night, at a meeting announced by the Workers’ Ex-Servicemen’s League . . . to protest against treatment accorded war veterans.” Police intervened just as the rally began, enforcing a bylaw that prohibited speeches in all but three city parks. Thirty years later, the bylaw was revised, after it sparked much debate over freedom of expression, when challenged by a group of poets holding unauthorized readings in Allan Gardens.

The Horticultural Pavilion, shown here sometime in the 1890s, served as a venue for the Toronto Horticultural Society's exhibitions and also for evening concerts and social gatherings.
Toronto Public Library

The Horticultural Pavilion, shown here sometime in the 1890s, served as a venue for the Toronto Horticultural Society's exhibitions and also for evening concerts and social gatherings.

“First Milton Acorn, a 39-year-old former carpenter, started with the Song of Solomon,” the Star reported in July 1962, explaining, “the bylaw allows religious speakers.” Police scribbled in their notebooks as Acorn turned to his own material, proclaiming, “I shout love, love,” before addressing the back-row critics: “Listen, you money-plated b——. When I shout love, I mean your destruction.”

The Star observed that, ironically, “the poets couldn’t gather in their favourite position by the statue of Robert Burns because Frank Correnti, a religious speaker, got there first.”

Three years later, the free speech debate raged into a riot. “Shrieking ‘kill, kill, kill,’ a hate-filled, hysterical mob of 4,000 watched as eight suspected Nazis at Allan Gardens Sunday were beaten with fists, clubs and boots,” begins the Star’s top story from May 31, 1965. Angry citizens — and wary police — had gathered in anticipation of a scheduled Nazi Party rally. “Six of the victims were youths who happened to be wearing black jackets or shirts . . . They had come to Toronto looking for work,” the Star reported.

“It began like an avalanche, slowly . . . Someone yelled ‘they’re Nazis’ and the whole park came alive.” Allan Gardens remains a hotbed of political uprising, with demonstrations over homelessness, gender issues, abortion, environment and other concerns continuing to this day. In 2010, the first of the G20 protesters began their rally at the park; since 2013, the annual Dyke March has ended there in one of many colourful Toronto Pride celebrations. 

Children beat the sweltering heat at the Allan Gardens fountain on Aug. 26, 1948.
Toronto Star Archives
Children beat the sweltering heat at the Allan Gardens fountain on Aug. 26, 1948.

Back in 1893, in the shelter of the Horticultural Pavilion, 1,500 women shared a vision of equality with Lady Aberdeen, wife of the governor general, as she established the National Council of Women of Canada.

A glass ceiling was eventually broken in 2013, when a “century plant,” Agave americana, planted in the conservatory during the Second World War but dormant for 50 years, shot up suddenly, requiring a hole to be cut in the greenhouse roof so it could bring forth hundreds of tiny yellow blossoms.

“All these years, the succulent plant has been gathering energy to be marshalled into the buds, poetic in its one final flourish,” the Star wrote. According to Allan Gardens superintendent Curtis Evoy, the stalk would wither and die within six weeks. “But there is good news: offshoots, a new plant, is growing near the base.”

Radicals, you could call them.
Story idea?

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Allan Gardens’ popular annual Christmas Flower Show opens the first Sunday in December and runs until mid January. Admission is free.

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Thanks to Peter Rowe for forwarding this - I somehow missed this article yesterday. My friend Sylvia and I have made annual visits to the conservatory a seasonal rite. The Christmas Flower Show is not to be missed!