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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Keys of the Covenant: poem for Jack Layton (Katherine L. Gordon)

Hi Chris and Chase,  here is a poem for Jack Layton,  I do fear for him and rail at the untimely blow of fate.
We are well and happy in the lovely valley, hope summer is bathing you in beauty and light, an armour against the dreaded fading.  Love from Katherine!!!

Keys of the Covenant
(for Jack)

A key to Stornoway
as his pocket prize,
yet another on a chain
offered by a distant lockmaster
he would wish to deny.
A cane of courage
a crutch of ideals
all the fervor of a failing heart.
We will keep your place in history
to stretch those dreams
for every working man,
you have done more than you know.
Your spirit will still guide us to grow
on the road of decent fairness
to every struggling traveler,
not jails or sanctioned poverty
but shared freedom and wealth.
We keep our covenant with you.

Katherine L. Gordon
July, 2011

Thursday, 21 July 2011

glowing review "Zen River Poems and Haibun" by Terry Ann Carter

Following is a glowing review of " ZRP&H" by Terry Ann Carter in "World Haiku Review" Vol. 7, issue 1
March 2009

ZenRiver Poems & Haibun
By Chris Faiers
Hidden brook Press ( 2008
ISBN: 978-1-897475- 25-6
perfectbound, English language, $15.95 CDA

Reviewed by Terry Ann Carter

Shaving his head and donning the robes of a Zen monk, Matsuo Basho and his travelling companion and fellow monk, Sora, set out on a journey between Miyagino and Matsushima, Japan, in the spring of 1689. From early 1690 into 1694 Basho wrote and revised his “travel diary” Oku-no-hosomichi the narrow road within; the narrow way through the interior. Oku-no-hosomichi is much more than a poetic travel journal. Its form haibun combines short prose passages with haiku; yet, the heart and mind of this little book, its kokoro, cannot be found simply by defining form. His account grew out of arduous studies in poetry, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism and some very important Zen training. Basho was a student of Saigyo, a Buddhist monk-poet who lived five hundred years earlier (1118 – 1190), and who is the most prominent poet of the imperial anthology, Shinkokinshu. Like Saigyo before him, Basho believed in a co-dependent origination, a Buddhist idea holding that all things are fully interdependent, even at the point of origin.

And like Basho before him, Chris Faiers, an English language haiku poet, meditator, custodian of a Buddhist retreat, ZenRiver Gardens, believes in the interdependence of all life, the reflective power of creative meditation, the reverence for walking and dreaming. Faiers, a long time devotee to the Japanese literary forms of haiku and haibun, has established himself as a haijin (teacher/poet) and leading voice in the haiku community. His poems have appeared in forty anthologies and scholarly works including those published by McGraw-Hill and Simon & Schuster. His poems have been praised by major Canadian poets Al Purdy and Irving Layton. Even George Harrison (of Beatle fame) enjoyed his poems in the late 60’s.

Faiers’ newest collection, ZenRiver Poems and Haibun is a little book filled with a large heart mind (kokoro) spirit. Although Faiers is the main contributor, there are selections also by Stan White, Warren Fraser, James Deahl, and Katherine Gordon. The book consists of an introduction, seasonal haibun, and three haibun written during an earlier period: A Psychedelic Basho, Lavenham, and Formentera.

The haibun is a literary form that consists of a short prose piece concluding with a linked haiku or a longer prose piece with interspersing haiku; haiku being that (often) three lined (or shorter) seventeen syllabled (or shorter)grasp at the aha moment. January Thaw, although not the strongest piece in the collection, serves as an introduction to the poetry and to the new year to follow. Filled with temperature reports and the antics of his beloved dog, Chase, the first haibun concludes with a haiku by Warren Fraser, containing a beautiful image of snow drifting by sumacs. It is not until Faiers heads into Hangin’ With Bubo that things get really interesting. Faiers’ description of the Ontario trails near the old quarry hamlet of Malone and references to Buddha, sundogs (parhelions) and rainbows, reminds a reader of the grace of his mentor, Basho, and the linked haiku

Buddha so beautiful
a veil is required

becomes stronger with each subsequent reading.

The haiku sequence titled Crow Visits Wolf includes haiku and haiku-like poems. Perhaps the Zen presence is giving way to words like “consciousness” and “blue sky practice” appearing in haiku when (traditionally in North America) abstract notions have been omitted. blue sky mind crow call/ Milton Acorn? might have been better suited to a longer homage to the Canadian people’s poet.

In Snow Melt Meditation, Faiers’ explains his meditation, “ to not slow down the process with any rituals of any kind ...” and later “I’ve been practicing meditation for forty years, as long as I’ve been writing haiku. Sometimes I’ve been a devout and regular meditator, but more often meditation lightens my “monkey mind” thoughts... occasionally I compose poetry during inspired moments entering or leaving a session, and every now and again, I’m privileged to sit with the Buddhas.” We are privileged to join Faiers on his self exploration, his experience of white light, as he writes, “the river carrying the white lightness of the spring snowmelt so bubbly and fast flowing.”

As the haibun move through the seasons, so we as readers progress through daily meditations and reflections. Not a morsel goes unnoticed by the keen senses of this finely tuned poet. We find great blue herons, shaman carvings, haunted pumpkin walks, palm frond reflections, the flap of prayer flags, the carcass of a frozen whitetail deer. One of the finest haiku in the collection is this one:

dry leaves
fill the basin below
moss covered falls

With its allusions to opposites (the dry leaves, the waterfall) the presence of absence, the shape of the dry basin clearly outlined against the growing moss covering fallen stumps which gives its own olfactory resonance, this haiku captures an ordinary moment with extraordinary skill.

If the seasonal haibun give us glimpses of Faiers’s thoughts as he hikes (present day) through the ZenRiver Gardens with his trusted companion Chase, then it is the ending haibun that give us great chunks of his heart as an earlier poet, a peace activist during the Vietnam War era, a traveller in Britain with an aging father, an explorer of the remote and mysterious island of Formentera, off the coast of Spain. It is in this last piece that prose becomes its sweetest and the linking haiku, a gem.

“The next day we roamed around looking for a place to rent. This was a dharma time for me, and I met an American who was about to return to the States. He offered to let me rent the crude farmhouse he had been living in, as he still had a month’s rent left. I paid him a few hundred pesetas, and Mette and I prepared to move in the next day. The farmhouse was stone, and beautiful in a rustic way. There was a well in front, and the name “Maria Jerome” painted over the front door. There were only three rooms, a kitchen, a bedroom and a den with an open fireplace, but to us it was a mansion. “

of sesame seeds
in honey

As in every poetic collection since the beginning of written time, some offerings are stronger than others. Faiers is a poet of constancy; he keeps true to the lineage behind him and the vision he sees in front of him. He is quick to add his own twists and turns, even keeping a keen sense of humour (frogs croak/spring horniness/April Fool’s Day). The kokoro of this little book is mighty.

Terry Ann Carter is a haiku/ tanka poet who travels the world with a small spiralled bound notebook. She has composed poems in the rainforests of British Columbia, the mountains of Peru and Tokyo Central Station. She participated in the Basho Festival in Ueno, Japan, in 2004 and has given readings in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore. Her poems appear in haiku and tanka journals world-wide.

World Haiku Review

The Magazine of the World Haiku Club

Staff Image by Susumu Takiguchi

About WHR

Submission Guidelines.
Types of Haiku

New Publications

The Twaddle of an Oxonian

by Susumu Takiguchi

Journal of Renga & Renku

by Norman Darlington 
and Moira Richards

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sue Hutton, musician, to perform at PurdyFest #5/PF plannings/Buddhism

Hi Chris,
PS - in regards to the music, I'll likely do a bit of acoustic instrumental, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Fairport Convention type stuff...maybe Patti Smith...

This live clip here is with my old band, about 10 years ago, and hardly, hardly resembles me now.

This was one that has been used lots in film/TV, that horrible re-make of "La Femme Nikita" used it quite a bit.

Let me know if you need anything else...

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 2:28 PM, Sue Hutton wrote:
Hi Chris,

I read further into your blog while I was just waiting for a doctor's appt - great stories. Amazing adventures.

Also - Kent (Carolyn's son, and my partner) read your email - and said "Wow. I think this might be that amazing librarian who was fired - for ...bringing in good books....!! Kent mentioned his mom thought very highly of you. I reconnected with Kent shortly his mom died, so sadly, did not ever get to meet her. Always felt sad I didn't get a chance.

Yes, we will be staying at her old place on Beaver Creek - I'll check with Kent about the scheduling stuff that works best - but sure - as far as the music, 3PM -ish sounds just fine. Is your friend crazy enough to want to sit in on my set too? (Ie. play a few chords along with me....I could pass on to him what I'm doing, chords etc. ) All pretty simple stuff. Shall I bring a microphone and mic stand? Do you know if there is a little amp there?

Back to the grind here.. so glad to have connected.

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM, Chris Faiers <> wrote:
Hi Sue,
Carolyn helped me return to meditating about a decade ago ... small world : ) She led weekly sessions in a local church basement, and somewhat surprisingly, there were at least two or three of us in the group who had some experience with meditation. She was a very beautiful person, I think of her often, and I've looked for her gravestone a number of times, without success. So this is a bit of a full circle for all of us.

Yes, the Celebrate Marmora events are very kid friendly, with things like face painting, balloon animals, etc.,  so Kai should have a great time as well as the adults. Of course some of the Dam poetry reading can be 'adult', but if the readers see a child sitting there, I'm sure they'll take this into consideration.

So what I'm thinking is this ... I'm not sure how interested you and your family are in the other PurdyFest events. It would be great if you could attend our potluck supper at ZenRiver Gardens on the late Friday afternoon (July 29). Then on Saturday we have the Symposium on Toronto poet Raymond Souster from noon to 2 pm. And you're most welcome to camp at ZRG - it's rough camping, but very beautiful, even idyllic.

Then there's a fairly large time gap between the Symp. and the start of the dam reading. My friend, Morley, will kick off the dam reading location with a song or two, and then Ottawa poet Jim Larwill will do a set from his new CD, which we're launching. Then I'm planning to have Morley play a longer set (guitar & singing - he does everything from Beatles to Dylan to country - Dwight - etc etc  - even punk!).

So perhaps you could lead off the dam events much earlier. I like the long break, as I scurry home after the Symp. and eat and try and nap before the rest of the day's excitement. But many of the poets have driven in from ZRG, and quite a few have driven from TO for the day. So Jim Larwill has been encouraging me to tighten up the events on Saturday, and your proposal fits perfectly. Perhaps you could start a set around 3 or 3:30, so there would be just an hour break between the Symp and the start of events on the dam.

Starting performances earlier would help us draw a crowd from the many visitors wandering round the park where Celebrate Marmora is focused. We're a few hundred yards further north along the Crowe River. And having you perform a half hour+ set would fit in perfectly with everything - give our poets an enjoyable performance, bring in CM people, give you some 'rehearsal' time, and ultimately lay the groundwork for the another Dam Poetry Reading.

Will you be staying at Carolyn's place, or are you interested in camping at ZRG? Also there are two great B&Bs in Marmora now, but you prob. already know this.

re Buddhism, I don't follow any particular school. In reading thru some literature, I learned I have a 'private Buddha'. I tell a bit of my early experiences in Eel Pie Dharma, which you've read online. To relax myself, and to focus on the right course of action re the Vietnam War, I taught myself yoga and meditation from a little paperback in 1968. I could sit in full lotus for hours, and I found that by measuring my breathing while doing asanas, meditation followed naturally. I'm basically self-taught in just about everything - including poetry. I like to read the master poets, but I can't imagine taking a creative writing course!   

A good friend here in Marmora, Dr. John, is far more knowledgeable about the different schools and practices in Buddhism. In a way, we're playfully evolving a Canadian, or northern Turtle Island, form of Buddhism at ZenRiver. A bit of Zen, a touch of First Nations wisdom and shamanism, some Tibetan prayer flags - lots of haiku and other poetry forms. We even have our own teaching rockface, with a powerful cleft joining physical and spiritual worlds.

Thay, the head monk at Zen Forest, visited ZRG two summers ago, and he very much enjoyed the experience and pronounced strong feng shui at ZRG. If you are planning a longer stay, you may want to visit Thay at ZF, or Lama Jigme at the Tibetan monastery. Also the Petroglyphs Prov. Park is less than an hour's drive from here - very powerful place.

better go walk my dog, Chase

Thanks again for making the connection  : )
peace & poetry power & music!

p.s. my home phone # is 613-472-6186, but I'm usu hard to reach by phone - a bit of a phonophobe

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Open Book: Ontario - interview for PurdyFest #5

3 July 2011 21:34, Chris Faiers <> wrote:
Hi Grace,
Here are your questions and my answers. Feel free to edit as you wish. I'll possibly give longer answers than needed, so you can pare them down.

1.) What was the genesis of PurdyFest?

Chris: In the summer of 2006 poet James Deahl and professor/philosopher/author Terry Barker visited me in the village of Marmora. James and Terry had coordinated a number of symposium "controversies" on the current state of Canadian People's Poetry, that is poetry in the tradition of Milton Acorn and many others. James and I had been comrades in the Canadian Liberation Movement with Milton Acorn, while Terry has published several books on Acorn.

James and Terry suggested we hold the next "Controversy" on People's Poetry in Marmora, to broaden the geographic scope of these meetings, and to honour the legacy of Al Purdy, "The Voice of Canada", who had lived in the Quite region. The three of us wandered around the village, admiring Marmora's scenic riverfront parks and the dam. On our ramble I suggested poetry readings should be included in the controversies, and while on the islet in the dam, James remarked that this would be the perfect spot to hold a poetry reading. And the First Dam Poetry Reading was born. 

James had also visited Al Purdy at his A-frame cottage in Amerliasburgh. During these visits Big Al had suggested enlarging and formalizing his famous house party poetry gatherings. James envisioned Purdy Country Literary Festivals as the fulfillment of Purdy's wish.

2.) What makes the Quinte region unique as a literary destination?

Chris: Definitely Al and Eurithe Purdy's presence in Ameliasburgh and their above-mentioned gatherings of a generation of Canada's best known authors. Once I was given a tour of the upper floor of the Belleville Public Library, where a young Farley Mowat lived. And Susannah Moodie wrote some of her seminal works about this area, including "Life in the Clearings" about Belleville.

The northern part of the Quinte/Hastings County region is the foot of the Canadian Shield, an icon of spiritual and physical presence in Canadian art via the Group of Seven, and often a metaphor in much Canadian literature. James Deahl has written an insightful essay on this legacy. And one of the first books I read on moving here from Toronto in 1989 was Jane Urquhart's powerful tale of Irish settlers, "Away". 

3.) What are you most looking forward to at  this year's festival?

Chris: The camaraderie and camping at ZenRiver Gardens. There are many poets who return to PurdyFest year after year: Jeff Seffinga, Simon De Abreu, Tai Grove, Anna Plesums, Jim Larwill, Katharine Beeman, RD Roy, Kent Bowman, Allan Briesmaster, Pearl Pirie, Paulos Ioannou, Peter Rowe - the list of regulars continues to grow. And Ottawa poet Jim Larwill always makes the dozen or so campers at ZenRiver Gardens feel immediately welcome to  the rocky toenails of The Shield along the banks of the Upper Moira. This year Jim will be launching his new CD of shaman chants, and Morley Ellis will again introduce the dam readings with his guitar laying and singing. The annual Friday night potluck supper. Terry Barker and Anna Yin honouring Raymond Souster. Tai Grove MCing the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance reading.

4.) What is the role of the late great Al Purdy's poetry in the festival?

Chris: I'm sure Big Al's poem "The Country North of Belleville" has played a substantial role in luring PurdyFesters to the Marmora area.

5.) What do you forsee for the future of the festival?

Chris: This will be PurdyFest #5, and this summer we'll be honouring seminal modernist poet Raymond Souster. To date about a dozen poetry collections have been launched at our fests, and the Hidden Brook Press' anthology about Purdy, "And Left a Place to Stand On", was conceived at an early fest. Dozens, more likely hundreds, of poems have been written during fests, and the friendships created have helped establish an ongoing link and bond between generations of Canadian poets. Each year a few more poets, and lovers of poetry, join to celebrate Canadian People's Poetry. Perhaps PurdyFests will continue to grow, maybe the emotional and attendance highpoint already peaked with last summer's 'love-in' for Toronto poet Ted Plantos, but no matter the future of PurdyFests, Canadian poetry will continue to grow and evolve in the grand traditions of Milton Acorn, Al Purdy, Dorothy Livesay and so many others.          

Chris Faiers
Marmora, Ontario
July 13, 2011

On 2011-07-13, at 7:12 PM, Grace O'Connell wrote:

Hi Chris,

I've attached some questions for a mini-interview that we will run on Open Book: Ontario along with a summary of the festival and this year's line up.

Congratulations on an amazing project! I'm a big fan of Al Purdy, so I think this is a wonderful idea for a festival.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

many thanks,

On 13 July 2011 10:32, Grace O'Connell <> wrote:
Hi Chris,

My sincere apologies for not getting back to you yesterday! Things got a little bit nutty. I'll send you over some questions later today if that works for you. You're welcome to take your time in answering.

Many thanks,

On 11 July 2011 18:21, Chris Faiers <> wrote:
Hi Grace,
Of course! This is exciting, and I'd be most willing to do an email interview. I've learned to be very prompt and concise when working with media, so this isn't a problem at all for me. Most likely I'll complete the interview immediately.

I think the Open Book Ontario site is a great concept - I've been promoting CanLit and CanPo for well over three decades now.

peace & poetry power!

Monday, 11 July 2011

first Glastonbury (Magic) Music Festival/a hippie Forrest Gump

Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (23)   |   next chapter (25)
original Glastonbury Festival web page   |   official Glastonbury Festival web page

Chapter 24 - Glastonbury Magic Festival

Word went out through the hippie grapevine of a magic festival to be held in Glastonbury.  Glastonbury was a legendary sacred site in England, with a cathedral where one of the apostles had planted a rose bush which bloomed all the year round.  Nearby loomed a mysterious conical hilltop, called a tor, which was rumoured to be hollow.  Glastonbury Tor was said to be a 'sending station' on the system of ley lines, a power grid which lay over the English countryside, and which is the planet's equivalent of the magnetic fields which surround the human body which acupuncturists use.

Jeremy and I had earlier visited another of these mysterious tors, Michael's Mount off the Cornish Coast.  Another such tor is Mont San Michel off the French coast.  In the olden days festivals were held to replenish the 'dragon power', or earth magic which kept fields fertile and the inhabitants prosperous.  Supposedly the twelve signs of the zodiac were laid out around Glastonbury Tor, and from the small chapel on top of the Tor one could see the zodiac's unusual shapes blended in with the English countryside.

This was an event not to be missed.  The festival was to be held for the summer solstice, June 21, and I left my dossing friends in Cornwall and began to hitchhike.  I got a ride as far as Salisbury, travelling quickly through the ancient fields of Stonehenge country.  Walking through Salisbury, a hippie/student came up to me, and gave me a hit of acid wrapped in foil.  He bragged how he and his mates had put hits of acid into the milk bottles which the local police used for their tea, and how that day a couple of cops had gone to hospital with hallucinations, while the other policemen wandered about in a happy daze all day, smiling at everyone.

I thanked him for the acid, and not knowing what to do with it, and not wanting to be caught with it in my possession after hearing his story, I put the foil packet in my mouth and resumed hitching.  Rides followed quickly.  First a van full of black musicians on their way to a gig picked me up, hoping to score some dope.  Then a mysterious business-type man in a sleek Jaguar told me to hop in.

As we sped through the darkening evening his conversation became more and more questioning.  He seemed to know a lot about the forthcoming festival, and was eager to know as much as I could tell him about it.  I realized that I was beginning to babble, and then it occurred to me that the acid had been dissolving in my mouth, depite the tinfoil.  So I was starting to trip, and at this point, speeding through the night, my mysterious driver told me he was the police chief for the area, and that he wanted to know what to expect from the festival goers.  I tried to put his mind at ease, that we weren't going to be smuggling dope or sacrificing virgins.  I also realized that I wanted to get out of the car before a full-blown acid trip took over.

He let me out on the outskirts of Piltdown, after pointing me in the general direction of the farm where the festival would be held.  I wandered down the lonely highway in the dark with only starlight to guide me.  The white lines in the middle of the road began stretching and blurring in an effect I knew was the result of a mild acid trip, but the effects weren't overpowering.  At the juncture with the road I was to follow the next day, I slipped into a field and fell asleep, exhaustion overcoming the weak acid dose.

I awoke late the next morning, still feeling some effects from the acid, and lay in the field watching the clouds make incredible patterns in the clear blue sky.

Finally excitement at the thought of the festival overcame my lethargy, and I started to walk down the country road.  Surprisingly I got another ride, this time from a local who also had heard a lot about the festival.  He was dubious about the quality of our hippie magic, as the weather had been overcast for the past few days.  His tone wasn't ironic, and I realized how many of the British, especially in the countryside, still believe in magic and a lot of the Celtic mythologies.

The road was becoming jammed with fellow festival goers, and when my ride let me out, I joined the throng.  This was a more serious and committed type of hippie.  We were the true believers for the most part, not just students growing their hair long for a wild summer.

A local farmer let us use his fields, with his stone farmhouse as headquarters.  By the time I got to the site it was dinner time, and some self-styled diggers had set up a kitchen beside the farmhouse in the barnyard.  I ate some stew dippped from a huge iron pot, and soon was reviving old friendships with people from the Richmond scene and elsewhere.

There was a magical excitement in the air, and the view over the festival site was typical of Somerset's hilly beauty.  I wandered from the throng at the soup kitchen, and fell asleep on a hill in the middle of a field.  A very odd snuffling noise awoke me very early the next morning:

Asleep in a field
    a browsing cow
        my alarm clock

I was too excited, for once, to fall back asleep, and made my way down the hill to where some vans were unloading around the base of an unusual structure.  The rock'n'roll bands were going to play on a platform part way up a scale model of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, which we were going to build with construction scaffolding which an enlightened builder had loaned us.

Everyone was smoking dope and unloading trucks in a flurry of manic activity, and I joined in.  I was proud of the muscles I had developed as a gravedigger, and I spent hours unloading scaffolding.  After unloading, I joined the construction crews, and very quickly the pyramid began taking shape.  One job I had to perch on a rail high in the air and saw off the end of a piece of pipe with a hacksaw.  Halfway through the job, someone handed me a carrot carved into a chillum and stuffed with pungent hash.  We were a crazy looking construction crew, but somehow through the haze of hash smoke, the pyramid grew skyward.  Boards were laid for the performance area, about twenty feet off the ground, and the scaffolding continued to a peak about seventy feet above that.

After working on the pyramid all day, I took off for a tour of the festival site.  The farm was about a hundred acres, with hedgerows dividing the area into several major fields.  Tents were appearing everywhere, and many hippies were building huts in the hedgerows.  Banners and tents and colourful people were everywhere, like some medieval camp before battle.

For a bunch of spaced-out freaks, things were amazingly well organized.  Six-foot deep latrines were dug, and metal pipes were laid across them.  Another free kitchen sprung up towards the bottom of the site, and everyone looked like they were going to be housed and fed.  At the bottom of the hilly fields, the pyramid stretched into the sky, and after several days of building, the musical part of the festival was about to begin.

I settled in a giant wigwam tent, at the bottom of the fields about a hundred yards from the pyramid.  Quickly our tent became a family, and I met a blonde girl who hitched into Piltdown with me to buy food for our tribe.  That night about ten of us dropped acid together while we sat huddled in blankets before the stage.

Arthur Brown was the first performer, and he tried to bum people out.  He sang about how the Aquarian dream was a fake, and that we should all examine our consciences.  We countered his rock star negativity by staying in our group, and whenever one of us looked a little uncomfortable, the rest of us would put our arms over them and tell them they were in a big egg and about to be reborn.

The positive group dynamics soon had us all on great acid trips, and we felt free to wander as a group.  We danced and listened to the music under the stars with hundreds of other stoned worshippers, and all was at peace.  Someone had gotten hold of a jug of scrumpy, a strong local cider, and that also helped ease any acid paranoias.

Later in the evening, one of us had to take a dump, and so the whole gang of us dutifully trooped over to the open air latrines, and all of us sat in a long row on the poles and had a good shit or pee, men and women, young and old.  It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life, all of us sitting there in the open air under the stars, making the natural and rude noises we all must make every day of our lives without any embarrassment.  Some of us got the giggles from the acid, and the relaxing sound of laughter mixed well with the rock music and the sounds of nature.

We all stumbled into the wigwam and fell asleep in each others' arms.  I slept with the blonde girl, but we wanted to remain celibate to keep the spiritual atmosphere.  In the middle of the night there was a commotion outside, and when we went to investigate, we noticed a giant shining star.  On acid it hung in the sky like a space ship  -  it was the morning star, and we all stood in awe for several minutes.

After a week of wandering in the fields, listening to music around campfires and eating with our fingers, we were incredibly dirty.  I decided to walk the mile to a little pond where there were thirty or forty skinnydippers splashing around.  I slipped off my dirty bellbottoms, and swam around in naked bliss, the water cool under the high afternoon sun.

Late the next morning a hippie gave me a hit of acid, and then suggested we walk across the fields to Glastonbury Tor.  It was a long hike, and after the usual hour the acid started coming on.  It wasn't enough to overwhelm us, though.  After several miles we came to a country road with a pub, and we stood and watched the swaying patterns the wind was making by sweeping through the ivy on the walls:

    through ivy mat
        pub walls

Finally we reached the Tor, and began the slow hike up.  After twenty minutes we completed the steep climb, and there below us was laid out the Somerset countryside.  Try as I might, I couldn't make out the mythical zodiac patterns, but the old chapel on the top of the Tor had a very magical aura about it, and the view itself was enough to make any other kind of magic irrelevant.

The festival had lasted over a week.  It was much written about in the British musical and countercultural press, and I believe that the festival is still being held annually, almost twenty years after our inaugural event with the great pyramid.

Eel Pie Dharma is protected by international copyright laws. Individuals may print off a copy of this work for personal use only to facilitate easier reading.

a hippie Forrest Gump:

This morning I was lying in bed as usual, listening to Jian Ghomeshi on CBC radio. His guest interview was with Carrie Fisher, and she mentioned how she had returned recently from hearing her ex, Paul Simon, perform at Glastonbury Music Festival. Carrie commented how Glastonbury is now one of the largest music festivals on the planet, and this brought back the above memories of the first festival. Several hundred hippies in a field ... and now, decades later, hundreds of thousands of music lovers. In four decades will thousands of poetry fans flock to Marmora and ZenRiver Gardens to honour Canadian poetry? One can hope ...

My brag:
At the end of the 60s I was on some sort of hippie dharma path. I was living in Miami and attended the Doors infamous concert at Dinner Key Auditorium, where Morrison supposedly exposed himself. Then I dodged the draft for Vietnam, and ended up living in London, England. Just in time to attend the Stones memorial concert for Brian Jones. And the 144 Piccadilly Squat, met George Harrison, who told friends he liked my haiku poetry, shared girlfriends with rock stars like Marc Bolan of T-Rex, attended both Isle of Wight concerts - heard Jimi at the second one - also had heard Jimi on Miami Beach, as well as Lou Reed and the Velvets at Thee Image, also on Miami Beach, surfed South Beach when it was just a parking garage behind a breakwater, in UK lived for two years in the Eel Pie Island Hotel, where the Stones, Sabbath, etc etc played first gigs and honed their chops ... damn good thing this hippie Forrest Gump wrote some of this stuff down in my 1990 haibun/memoir Eel Pie Dharma or I might not believe or remember it myself  : )

good news:
Tai Grove, publisher of Hidden Brook Press, has asked to reissue Eel Pie Dharma:a memoir/haibun.
When I first published EPD in 1990, a girlfriend thought it was brilliant (?), but that the times weren't yet right for a hippie memoir - still too close to events, and the times were reactionary (altho not as reactionary as currently).

bad news:
When I was fired in what could only be described as a vicious rural witch hunt almost five years ago, patrons at the library where I had been the head librarian were initially told I had been fired for putting "sexual content online". Yep, Eel Pie Dharma!

good news again:
But the vicious firing freed me up at age 58 to continue writing without further fear of rural retribution. And to found PurdyFests.  What kind of library board fires a librarian for writing? Only in rural OntariaariarrriiiiOOOOOOOO!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

4 more "Island Women" poems


I miss the morning taste
of herb tea
in a styrofoam cup

and  you still have me laughing
remembering how you called
the busy dumptrucks scuttling
beneath our sterile office highrise

Jessie, I see you over the sink
washing this new cook's pots
filling and emptying the twin sinks
with all the patience
of the Jamaican tides



Every Christmas you return
to Jamaica, Barbados
stuffing plastic shopping bags
with diapers, records
and cosmetics

hand-plaited bags filled returning
with mangoes, rum, coconuts and
which fades so much more slowly
than a tourist's sunburn



a true story in Barbados
the mother came home early
to find her baby daughter
playing with the viper.
She was kissing and caressing it
as it slithered
over her giggling body.

the mother fainted

when she awoke
neighbours filled the hole
with cement

the little girl died soon after
from a broken heart



The evening tourists
waist deep in the dusk
between sips watch the island boys
pulling the stubborn thick rope
past them down the breakwater

As we touch the beach
one finally realizes
that we are successfully

Friday, 8 July 2011

two more Caribbean poems/reverse racism in the 1980s

Jessie, Maisie and Pat

After cleanup you slowly emerge
for the changeroom like so
many red and pink hibiscus blooming
so many spiky green aloes
and golden sunsets waving
across blue seas of cloth

The subway at University and Dundas
has never burned before
in the middle of a snowstorm



Before you had blown out
I was surfing your jigsaw waves
storm-crazed six-footers
ripping sideways into the beach

Hurricane waves you carried me out
beyond my ego, my depth
I remember swimming
desperately for shore
barely making it
on the sands
Hurricane, hurricane

These are the other two of my poems published in the special lyric issue of Grain magazine in August, 1982 (Vol. X, number 3). They were also included in my Island Women chapbook with HMS Press, 1983, and as part of the same sequence in my 1986  Aya Press collection Foot Through the Ceiling (1986 - recipient of the inaugural Milton Acorn People's Poetry Memorial Award - 1987).


1980s  reverse racism:

A funny story, reminiscent of the times (early 1980s). I was contacted by CD, an Ottawa poet who was gathering material for an anthology on Caribbean poetry. We had a long phone conversation, and it appeared he was soliciting several poems from Island Women for his project.

Unusual for an editor, CD didn't seem to want to edit my poems, or force the usual ego-driven petty changes I've learned most poetry mag or anthology editors insist upon. But CD was hinting at something I couldn't pinpoint. Was he looking for an overt favour trading of publishing my poems in exchange for a gig at the Main Street Library Poetry Series I was coordinating?  Nope, that didn't seem to be his drift.

Finally CD stopped beating around the bush, and asked me where I was from. I said Canada. More bush beating. Finally CD asked, "Well, what colour are you?" "I guess I'm white," I replied, and that was the end of our conversation. So none of the Island Women poems appeared in this early collection of Caribbean poetry. Good poems, bad timing for politikal correctness and the 'appropriation of voice' madness of the times.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Farley Hill, Barbados

We climb past Bajan Sunday drivers
picnicking among the flower garden
ruins of a slave plantation.
Pine trees skirt the brow of Farley Hill
their needles reminiscent of a colder land
a colder people.
Below us the earth drops
                        and then gently rolls to the sea.

The homesick plantation owners chose well.
It does look like Scotland.
Focus on the sea
ignore the rippling motions
which only wind through sugar cane makes.
Transport from this beautiful island
of sugar and bleeding flowers
to the primmer beauty of a Scottish highland
where virginal heather only hints at blooming.

There is a force too strong here to ignore.
If you looked to the sea to hide your thoughts
you would slowly have been swallowed  . . .
Those endless swells have travelled
six thousand unbroken miles from Africa.
They have not seen land until they reached your shores
and their force was not broken on your beaches
but only coming home.

Chris Faiers

I visited the island of Barbados from Boxing Day 1979 to New Year's Day 1980, staying in a hostel for island travelers. I was treated like a long lost family member by the incredibly friendly Bajans. All the workers in the National Life Insurance Company kitchen, where I worked as head cook, were from "the islands", and their stories of island life encouraged me to visit.

Barbados, my sister/fellow workers and the beautiful Bajans inspired me to write a sequence. Three of these poems were published in a special lyric issue of Grain magazine in August of 1982,  guest edited by Paul Bidwell. I received the then princely sum of $25 per poem, but more importantly, I finally felt confirmed as a legitimate Canadian poet.

In 1983 Wayne Ray, publisher of HMS Press, produced my chapbook Island Women. This sequence was also included in my 1986 collection, Foot Through the Ceiling, published by Aya (now Mercury Press - thanks, Bev and Don Daurio).

Having a blog gives me the opportunity to reflect over my life as a poet, and to post online those poems which have stood the test of time. My current publisher, Tai Grove of HMS Press, has encouraged me to begin sifting and sorting poems for an eventual selected works. I'm sure Farley Hill, Barbados will be included.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


Peter, in the last days
we shared the 101 secrets
which made our lives important
24 hours a day for 6 days
and still not one fight over
who should buy the suntan oil
ask the girls from New York to dance
get drunk or not get drunk
Peter, all the cliches of "the good die young"
are ringing truer

You quickly learned the haunts
of curly-tailed lizards
The holiday wasn't complete
until you spotted the first one
scuttling in the undercut caves
of pine roots and beach sand.
I showed you how to shake a clump
of beached seaweed
free tiny shrimps
to dance on demerara sands

Peter, I would compare your life
to that mad shrimp dance
but I remember a single fish among the shrimplets
slipping loose from the seaweed rag
struggling to return
silvery free to a finer element
so much like my tears

in memory of Peter Flosznik, who died in a motorbike accident while on holiday in Freeport, Bahamas, 1982

published in Foot Through the Ceiling: poems & haiku by Chris Faiers
Aya Press, Toronto, 1986
recipient inaugural Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award, 1987

Saturday, 2 July 2011

TO Star (Fiorito): Canada Day/Necropolis/1837 rebellion/ Faiers-Terry Barker-Briesmasters

s to you for this chris! love judy
Fiorito: What exactly are we celebrating on Canada Day?

Published On Fri Jul 1 2011

Joe Fiorito, Toronto Star

The Hudson’s Bay Company belongs — lock, stock, barrel and blankets — to the Americans. Eaton’s is not ours any more, nor are the mills in Sudbury, and the 407 highway belongs to the Spaniards.
Most of what we buy is made in China. Our foreign policy is made in the USA. And the state — municipal, provincial, federal — is a bully with a billy club who took off his badge and arrested more than 1,000 people at the G20 in Toronto.

Worse, some of our malls and shops are open today, which means that many Canadians are earning minimum wage and no benefits on this, our national day.

What exactly are we celebrating?

Anybody with an open mind would think we need a rebellion, which is a roundabout way of saying that Chris Faiers was in town the other day.

Chris is a poet. He lives in Marmora. He came to town for two reasons: to celebrate his birthday, and to make a pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage is what is apt here, but you should know that he and I were born within a week of each other and, although we just met, we share many of the same literary, musical, social, pharmacological and political references.

I digress.

Forty years or so ago, Chris was a member of the Canadian Liberation Movement, the best part of which was a brief, bright push for independence, socialism and Canadian unions.

The worst part?

I still shudder.

In those heady old days, the CLM used to have an annual march to celebrate the Rebellion of 1837; the march tended to end at the Necropolis, where the Canadian martyrs Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews are buried.

Every year since the CLM collapsed, Chris, along with some of his old CLM pals, and his colleagues in poetry, stroll over to the monument to read a poem that Milton Acorn wrote for the martyrs, and . . . wait a second.

You could not, from now until the fireworks tonight, find a dozen people under the age of 30 who could tell you the first thing about the martyrs.

Allow me.

Lount and Matthews were hanged — the correct phrase is judicial murder — for their role in the 1837 Rebellion; the site of their execution is the corner of Court and Toronto.

Their grave is topped by a partial pillar; it is known as the Unfinished Monument, because their work remained unfinished at their deaths.

Frankly, the whole damn country remains unfinished, and if you return to the beginning of this column, you will find more reasons than one for another rebellion.

Chris invited me to make the pilgrimage this year, in part because we share a love of poetry, and also because he knows I flirted briefly with the CLM up north so many years ago.

With us on the walk were the poet Allan Briesmaster and his wife, Holly; and the teacher and unofficial historian of the CLM, Terry Barker. We read Milton’s poem for the martyrs, and then we walked among the graves.

We found the resting place of George Brown, the newspaperman and politician who was a member of the coalition that created the nation we celebrate today.

A coalition created Canada?

Take that, Stephen Harper.

We paused at the mass grave of those who were buried in the potter’s field that once occupied the corner of Bloor and Yonge.

And finally we stood with William Lyon Mackenzie, the reformer who was the first mayor of the City of Toronto. Hmm; a mayor, and reformer.

What was that about a rebellion?

Happy Canada Day.


Judy Haiven, PhD