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Thursday, 28 July 2022

Ode to my Dad: Patrick Connors

 Ode to my Dad
What I Am Left With

 

Walter Gretzky died two days before my Dad.
They were both born in 1938. Other than that,
they had almost nothing in common.

My Dad and me also had very little in common
except our first names
and our last

the propensity to drink
as a means of dealing with anxiety
and a deep and abiding love in Jesus Christ.

My childhood was a hopeless struggle, founded
on pleasing my Dad, protecting my Mom
and becoming the next Wayne Gretzky.

My Dad was deeply damaged.
He was torn between trying to save us
from this damage and sharing how it felt.

Finally, we became
a family, found the courage
to leave the source of our abuse.

I started to live my life
and make my own mistakes
and then, eventually, become sane.

Decades later, after
a few vain attempts to make peace
I found out my Dad was very ill.

I couldn't go see him.
In the times of Covid, 5 provinces away
it just wasn't possible.

From decades gone by
the distance may as well have been
a million miles, even in the same room.

My Dad died.
The pain he felt and the pain he inflicted
cannot be reconciled.

I never got to tell him how much he hurt me.
I never got to say I forgave him.
I never got to say goodbye.

 

Patrick Connors

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

health update and old age crazy car

 
I've been recovering a lot more quickly than I'd anticipated. And yep, I've been enjoying a lazy summer wading at Callaghan's Rapids Conservation Area almost every sunny and hot summer day recently. I've even managed to tan the foot long incision so that it hardly shows now. Of course I don't know what's going on inside my guts and how well the colon is healing, and I wasn't given instructions on how long it should take, or how active I should be, etc., so I'm just hoping I'm doing the right things by not being too active. I don't get or give a report with my surgeon until mid-September,  when I'll learn if the lymphatics which were stripped near the tumour were also cancerous. If so, I'll be scheduled for chemo and such - arrgggh. Fingers and toes crossed!

It may have been a subconscious anticipation, but I'm glad I took out the reverse mortgage loan back in March. I feel like I'm in a late-in-life reprieve after the life saving operation, and I want to enjoy this anticipated final decade (if I'm lucky) of my life. So a few weeks ago I bought a middle age crazy sports car. I think I'm regressing to my teen years, pre the hippie phase, when I tooled around in cheap but very cool British sports cars like an MGA and two bugeye Healey sprites  :  )- When I decided the hippie thing was more suited my personality I traded the MG for a beat-up old VW, but at age 74 I'm now zipping around in a 2006 Mazda miata. It's cliche red with red leather bucket seats, a 6 speed, dual exhaust, and 170 horse power. I used to be dismissive of miatas as a "chicks' car", but the newer models are a lot spunkier and sophisticated than the earlier ones.

 

 

See original image 

not my car, but same year and colour

Friday, 10 June 2022

Stone Woman - review by Patrick Connors

 Stone Woman
Review Article by Patrick Connors
 
Bernadette Gabay Dyer is a Toronto novelist, artist, storyteller, poet and short story writer. She is a member of the Writer's Union of Canada and worked in the Toronto Public Library system for 47 years. Stone Woman is her first full collection of poetry.
 

Early in the book is “For the One I Love”, a short but provocative poem which concludes with the following lines: “As I, in shivers/ Drown again and again/In liquid ice,/As I fall/ Into your flames.” There is a certain breathless allure to these words. But, it is not sensuality merely for the sake of being sensual. There is a maturity here, a depth, of an experience which can only be shared through true intimacy. In any case, this is not what one might expect from a retired librarian!
 

“When I write,” Dyer told me, "I am not thinking only from the point of view of a woman. Quite often, it is as though a disembodied voice, male or female speaks through me, and that is perhaps why some of my poems often are presented from entirely different points of view.”
 

Dyer has established relationships with many noteworthy writers and poets through her life and careers, both as a librarian and through her writing practice. One of the people she has rubbed shoulders with is George Elliott Clarke, the former Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Dyer dedicated the book in part to Clarke, and he was eager to lavish praise on her.
 

“Bernadette Gabay Dyer writes tales brimming over with magic and poems that sing with feeling,” Clarke proclaimed. “I am honoured that she thanks me for encouraging her art, but her response has always been courteous wonder and committed production.  Thus, out of the lava of her ink, these stone poems arrive—cool to the eye, but searing to the brain.”
 

“I first encountered George Elliott Clarke after having submitted a poem to an Ottawa magazine called “Possibilities”,” Dyer recounted. “George was then part of their team, and he was kind enough to contact me by snail mail and praise my work. I was at that time unaware that he was a literary giant. Our correspondence has lasted more than 25 years, as we continue to share our work.”
 

Her piece “The Domino Players” is a great snapshot of a scene from her native Jamaica. A great poem is often a simple telling of a specific moment in a manner which makes it special. “... the slaps, the whipping down/Of “hard cards,” the dominoes,/Whose terrible smacks and powerful whacks go/Against the heart, the breast of my memories,/And the players whose raucous shouts obliterate/The surrounding wonder.”
 

“I never approach my poetry as being a learning tool for others. I am a Story Teller,” Dyer said in capital letters, “and most of my poetry tells tales from different angles as well as unexpected revelations, since even the most disconcerting angle concerning the shouts and slapping down of dominos, by players being able to drown the impact of a landscape’s significance.”
 

An unexpected revelation here is the line, “Against the heart, the breast of my memories,”. There is something so primal about memory and how it impacts our experience for an entire lifetime, and she depicts that in such a meaningful and memorable way. As someone who has never been to Jamaica, I feel like I learned something about her native land through this poem.
 

In "Library Corners" we see some of the wonderful things about libraries, how they can be a microcosm of the community around them, but also how they can become a source for personal empowerment, why it would be awful for them to be subjected to cutbacks.. “Misunderstandings makes fools of us all,For mother/tongues no longer prove reliable/In listening to humanities secret wisdom/Of rich solutions,/Piety is imperative in these walls/Where poised in self-imposed isolation/A black boy is reading.”
 

“Working in a library is a perfect setting for those of us who love all things literary,” commented Dyer. “That environment is also the perfect place to get to know a community and their needs. It was a wonderful opportunity to see beyond all that is in plain sight.
 

“With my own eyes, and ears I had experienced a day of turmoil, and while wandering between library shelves, I happened upon a black boy quietly reading in a corner. The memory of which still brings chills since it broke the stereotype, and confirmed all that I had hoped for as a black woman.”
 

Dyer is a fine artist, with an unbridled musicality to her work which is incredibly engaging. She is just being herself, not trying to impress anybody, and that is the most impressive feature of her work.
I wondered how this book would have been different if it had come out 20 years ago?
 

“In life, it seems that timing is everything,” Dyer conceded. “Twenty years ago, I might not have had the maturity, empathy and observation skills I have now acquired.”
 

Dyer has another book project upcoming with Mosaic Press. This is an organization with an international reputation, and you can order their books online through your favourite bookseller, or directly from the publisher’s website: https://mosaicpress.ca/search?q=Stone+Woman


                                                                   ~    ~    ~


I agree with Bernadette that Toronto Public library is a wonderful place for a poet/writer to work. I worked for TPL for 6 1/2 years, at the Main St. Branch and then the Gerrard/Ashdale Branch. When I moved to rural Ontario to live closer to nature, the TPL work experience gave me the cred to become first the Marmora head librarian and then the Stirling head librarian for a decade. It was more fun and far easier work being a low paid desk clerk for TPL than being a village library CEO.        

- Chris



Thursday, 9 June 2022

had major surgery, recovering well

 Thanks for the prayers and concern of my many friends and acquaintances  :  )  I've learned that many of you have just heard the most bare bones account of my situation, so here it is in a nutshell. I'll try to expand on the details as I recover, and may write some sort of a comparison of my recent hospital stay with my first and only previous hospital stay over 40 decades ago in Toronto. Quite the difference. 

 

 I went into Emerg at Cford Hospital at 3 am last Wed. When they did blood work my hemoglobin count was 40, and it should be 160 in an adult male. When they did an MRI it showed a large blockage in my colon, which had to be removed.

Cford sent me to the Pboro Hospital in the west side for surgery (Peterborough Regional Health Centre). It took a few days and eight (!) blood transfusions to get my hemoglobin count high enough for the operation. The op was Sat. morning by Dr. Ebisuzaki and a great support team,  and so far successful. Dr. Ebisuzaki cut out the section of the colon with the tumor and sewed the colon back together!!!  Modern medicine is quite the miracle. So far I feel good, all things considered, and I seem to be regaining some of the strength of my "old self". So far no  pain when I'm sitting or lying still, or walking carefully. I get the band of industrial sized staples removed on next Tues., although I think they look kind of spiffy, and I'm sure some people would pay many hundreds of dollars for such a display of body art.

Chris
 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Wet'suwet'en plea for support and end to police surveillance and intimidation

 



Dear Chris, we are passing on this important message from our friend Sleydo’, spokesperson of Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Wet’suwet’en land defender (also known as Molly Wickham). Please read, RSVP,  and share widely.

 

Dear friends, allies and comrades,
 
While we try to live out our daily lives and conduct cultural practices with our elders and children, police barge into our homes without permission — everyday, with at least six officers — intimidating us, surveilling us, illegally arresting, and detaining people on our own lands.
 
It's a story as old as the colonial violence against Indigenous peoples to steal land, resources, and wealth. The sad truth is, it’s what’s happening right now: They want to intimidate us off our land so Coastal GasLink can start drilling in less than one month under our sacred headwaters, Wedzin Kwa.
 
In March 2020, thousands of you took to the streets, railways, ports and highways to stand with Wet’suwet’en and demand Coastal GasLink cease construction. We made global headlines — forcing Justin Trudeau and John Horgan to commit to entering into discussions with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs. [1]
 
But they haven’t made any progress with us on those title discussions, haven’t stopped construction and haven’t pulled RCMP or CIRG off of our territories. In fact, things have gotten worse. The UN has issued yet another letter to the so-called governments of Canada and BC, calling for an end to police violence and to halt construction. [2]
 
We need your help to stop the drilling and make them listen, and we want to give you an update with all the information you need to act. Will you join me and Sound the Alarm for Wet’suwet’en on Thursday May 26 at 4 pm on Zoom? In this call, you’ll hear from Chief Woos, Chief Na'Moks, and myself and learn about what you can do to support us in our fight against CGL.
YES!
 

Can’t make it? Help promote the event!
Here are the details:
What: Sound The Alarm For Wet’suwet’en
When: Thursday May 26, 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET
Where: https://bit.ly/3LnPld7
 
The Supreme Court of Canada, under the Delgamuukw v. British Columbia legal case, recognized that the Wet’suwet’en people never ceded our title to our land. [3] Yet over and over, both the so-called governments of British Columbia and Canada have paid lip service to reconciliation, claiming they respect Indigenous peoples’ rights.
 
And now, we face losing our land, our water, our way of life. It’s why I’m reaching out now, because we need to raise the alarm so people everywhere know what is at stake, and rise up in massive opposition to help stop the drilling.
 
Will you join the call to Sound the Alarm for Wet’suwet’en on Thursday May 26 at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET to learn how you can help stop the drilling and stand with Wet’suwet’en?
YES!
Can’t make it? Help promote the event!
 

The amount of pressure and stress I feel everyday knowing that my people and our land are under threat is made worse by the constant police presence — showing up at my house unannounced and questioning us for living our lives. My children are 2, 6 and 11 years old. They shouldn’t have to bear this burden — and they’ve done nothing to deserve this treatment.
 
At the same time, I feel immense hope. I believe in the thousands of people who have shared their outpouring of love and support for Wet’suwet’en. I’m energized by the beauty I see in the Wedzin Kwa river, everyday, and grateful for how the land provides for me, my family, and my community. Will you stand with me and join the call to Sound the Alarm for Wet’suwet’en on Thursday May 26?
YES!
With gratitude,
 
Sleydo’
Spokesperson for Gidimt’en Checkpoint, Cas Yikh House, Wet’suwet’en
 

Notes:
[1] Trudeau urges patience as Wet'suwet'en consider proposed land and title deal
[2] UN committee issues 3rd rebuke to B.C. and Canada over policing of Indigenous land defenders
[3] A Lay Person's Guide to DELG

Friday, 13 May 2022

UK interview about Eel Pie Island commune

 Yesterday I had an enjoyable trans-Atlantic interview with Marnie Woodmeade for a podcast about the Eel Pie Island commune of half a century ago. Great to have the chance to reminisce and it was helpful that Marnie had read Eel Pie Island Dharma to prep for the interview. 


 On 14/04/2022 10:29, Marnie Woodmeade wrote:
 

 Hello!
 I am a trainee podcast producer at Transmission Roundhouse. Transmission Roundhouse is a socially engaged podcast platform powered
 by the Roundhouse. A home for niche, innovative and groundbreaking
 audio-led content that champions the voices of underrepresented young
 creatives.
 I am making a series of podcasts about how people find alternative
 communities and versions of home in the face of unworkable housing
 systems. I am doing an episode that focuses on the commune on Eel Pie
 island and would really like to interview someone who was part of it.
 I would basically like to speak to as many people as possible, and I
 can make this as easy for you as possible.
 I'm happy to have an informal chat with anyone who's interested!
 All the best,
 Marnie

--
Marnie Woodmeade (she/her)
Trainee Podcast Producer

Roundhouse
Chalk Farm Road,
London, NW1 8EH

                           
                                                                ~    ~    ~

 

Hi Chris,

It was lovely to speak to you! You have a way of talking that really transports you, so it was great to hear your stories.

Thank you! I may take you up on that, I realise I totally forgot to ask you a few questions so I'm sure I'll be back in touch soon.

Sending positive vibes your way,
 Marnie

                                  . . . . . . 

On Thu, 12 May 2022 at 19:28, Chris Faiers <zenriver@sympatico.ca> wrote:
 

Hi Marnie,

l really enjoyed reminiscing about the Eel Pie Island days!

Best of luck with your podcast. If you need any missing pieces I'd love to add more memories  ;  )

peace & love,
Canadian Chris
                

Saturday, 16 April 2022

A poem I wrote on Ferlinghetti : Patrick Connors

 Finding Myself

Strive to change the world
in such a way that there's
no further need to be a dissident.
Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art, page 8


Rising up from deep within
the very core of my being
the essence of who I am

underneath my public image
is the need to find myself 
someone to admire.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti spoke the words
the world needed to hear
at that exact moment.

Best of the Beats
because he promoted the rest
above himself.

Paragon of enlightenment
inspirer of a new way of being
artistic role model.

Ferlinghetti would have loathed
such titles based on what
little I know about him.

He would have frowned
if not downright sneered
at such fanboy foppery.

In the same way
many reading or hearing this could be offended
by words like humanist, socialist,

countercultural, malcontent, protester,
activist, freethinker, nonconformist.

In the Coney Island of My Mind
- or, more accurately, Exhibition Place -
I get to play with words

turn image into meaning and back again
with enough musicality to form a poetry
of concise language and complex thought

imagine these words
making this world a better place
at least for a moment

and believe if I say them with clarity
and integrity for long enough
you may just listen to me.