Total Pageviews

Monday, 31 October 2011

Samhain - Katherine L. Gordon


Here we edge-sit
dressed as casual
waiting for the surgeon
in a fear-soaked room
cleaned into shabby fray
chairs eloquent -dark though mute
no words from anyone
only covert look-overs.
We touch hands.
This is the Halloween bridge
between the land we know
and the shaky mist of terrain
on the far side,
there will be blood
will there be life?

Katherine L. Gordon
October 31st, 2011.

Friday, 28 October 2011

OCCUPY PurdyFest/OCCUPY ZenRiver Gardens/OCCUPY Marmora

The young are showing the way, as it should be.

The worldwide OCCUPY movements are transformational paradigm shifts: from the capitalist model to the moneyless and free, from the autocratic to the democratic, from the hierarchical to the participatory, from the structured to the freeform, from the ossified to the creative.

The OCCUPY movements have given us a name and an evolving practice for a way forward for the human race on this hillbilly planet. It IS 1968/69 all over again. This is the potential start-up for a new and truer AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT. I was listening to the Beatles' album Revolver while reflecting on all this, and for the first time in too long I felt the subtle sacred rush of kundalini energy and giggled.

The times they are a'changin, the wheel of dharma ("wheel still in spin") is creaking and groaning as  we slowly start to break with the old ways and enter the new.


In the past several days it has become clearer to me how much the annual Purdy Country LitFests (PurdyFests) I've helped organize for five years are similar to the OCCUPY movement. No money is involved in the organizing, no poets are paid, no one receives top billing, or even billing. The poetry is read in group round-robins, with everyone present encouraged to share their work. During the week or so of camping (free) at ZenRiver Gardens, meals are communally prepared and shared around campfires.

Creativity abounds, and many projects have come out of the gatherings. Different people put forward ideas for the coming year, and each PurdyFest grows into its own unique character. This is the pattern the OCCUPY movements are demonstrating for us, and it is quite miraculous to again be living in such powerfully energetic times.

Revolver ends with the song Tomorrow Never Knows, and the lyric, "where I can see a different kind of man there".  The Occupiers are here, and they are us.



Haunted Pumpkin Walk (haibun)


Haunted Pumpkin Walk

Marmora Lion's Park 2007

Councilor Cathie replies to my Halloween email with a request for me to fill in for a sick volunteer. She needs help carving nine pumpkins and placing other spooky decorations around the village's beautiful main park beside the Crowe River. Her idea is to have trick or treaters follow the park's circular paths along a haunted pumpkin walk to several candy stations -

Tomorrow birds will feed
on the drying seeds
we drop in haste

At dusk we return to the park. I'm no longer a particularly social being, having many years service as a village librarian. I find I now prefer the rare, but always honest, awareness in wild animals, a few fellow crazed poets, and solitary monks. But handing out candy to children on All Hallows Eve appeals to me. I set down the plastic cauldron of candy, break a large weed bedraggled branch from the muddy river bank, and -

At the first bend
black & white dog & warlock
greet stirring river mist

Tiny witch
names me leprechaun:
young eyes still clear

4-year-old boy
in a skeleton suit
will be me in 55 years

My small dog
leaves just once
to visit another dog

Slowly shadows
circle the park
swirling dead leaves

The monster mash
makes my stupid feet move
into the mystic

Fairy princess
after fairy princess
many kingdoms on display

Chris Faiers
November 2007

Chris Faiers (home)   |   biography & bibliography   |   Eel Pie Dharma

comments to
revised 4 December 2007

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

'Open Book Toronto' posting for Ray Souster Tribute

Tribute Evening for Raymond Souster

Share |
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 6:00pm
Runnymede Branch Public Library
2178 Bloor Street West
(upstairs meeting room)
Toronto, ON
M6S 1M8
Join Allan Briesmaster, Terry Barker, Anna Yin, Greg Gatenby, Joe Fiorito, Norma West Linder, Kent Bowman, Mick Burrs, and others in this tribute to Raymond Souster.
Souster, now 90, has lived in Toronto for much of his life and has been called Toronto's most loved poet. He is a founding member of the League of Canadian Poets and he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.
"One of Canada's most important, widely-read and enduring poets, he has been a vital force for the renewal of poetry since the 1940s. His poems describe life in Toronto, ordinary people and the daily events, feelings and experiences of modern city living. A co-founder of the Canadian League of Poets, he has been a source of encouragement and inspiration to several generations of poets while promoting Canadian literature among students of all ages." - Ian Lancashire, University of Toronto Libraries
For more info about the event or to contact the organizers, visit:

Monday, 24 October 2011

TRIBUTE TO RAY SOUSTER: Toronto Public Library Publicity

Tribute to Ray Souster

Tue Nov 22, 2011
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
90 mins
Runnymede Program Room
Join us for a very special evening celebrating the work of legendary Canadian poet Raymond Souster. Allan Briesmaster will act as host and will introduce the League of Canadian Poets new Raymond Souster Award. On hand will be Terry Barker, Anna Yin, Greg Gatenby, Norma West Linder and other surprise guests!

Related link:

Find Ray Souster's books here:


The eh List



Saturday, 22 October 2011

seasonal shaman haiku from "Simply Haiku"

Simply Haiku: An E-Journal of Haiku and Related Forms
| Contents | Archives | About Simply Haiku | Submissions |

Chris Faiers
Old hotrodder  
racing with the harvest moon  
. . . in the rearview  
  owl swoops and dips
  soars and shares
flashing white night visit
from a rusted wheel well . . .  
  shaman neighbour
  visits wildcats
night wolf hunt - - - which are extinct
distant flames,  
northern lights!  

Chris (Christopher) Faiers was born on Hamilton Mountain, Ontario, Canada in June 1948. He began publishing haiku in 1968 under the guidance of Haiku Magazine’s Eric Amann. He had an enlightenment at age 20. Cricket was his childhood nickname and is his haijin name.
At 21 he left the US, where he grew up, in opposition to the Vietnam War. For 3 years he lived in the UK. Eel Pie Dharma: a memoir/haibun is online at His 1969 chapbook Cricket Formations is also online there.
Chris has walked many thousands of miles, night and day, often in moving meditation or shamanistic awareness, on the remote trails where he lives in rural Ontario. He works as a librarian/CEO. He hopes this is his last incarnation on Earth for a long while, although it probably isn’t : )

Chris writes: I don’t have a digital camera or even a recent pic. I’d prefer a stylized pic or photo of a cricket to accompany my poems - I trust your artistic judgment to select a good cricket : ).
Editor's Note: The Chinese cricket glyph, pictured right, is Simply Haiku's choice, as requested, to represent Chris. It comes from inscriptions found on tortoise shells in archaeological sites in China. We aren't sure whether this image actually looks like Chris, but we hope that it satisfies him. The glyph was taken from the Chinese Cricket Culture website. We think that the glyph carver might have been pleased at the thought of having his artwork honored several millennia after his thousand mile walk ended.

Copyright 2003/2004 Simply Haiku

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Unfinished Monument Press: revisited on the web

Oct. 18, 2011

Like many of us, from time to time I Google myself to see what's out there. The other night I Googled Unfinished Monument Press, the poetry chapbook press I founded in 1978. After browsing several pages I found the below list of books the press had published. It was embarrassing to realize I had forgotten many of the poets and their books I'd published thru the imprint several decades ago  : )

I founded UMP in 1978 while working as a cook in the kitchens at the University of Toronto. The Canadian Liberation Movement (CLM) I'd been a member of had imploded several years earlier, like most of the other Maoist/Marxist/Leninist groups, thru a combination of sectarianism, social fascism and the general disinterest of the Canadian public. I returned to writing poetry, now with a social and politikal awareness.

Although I had managed to get some of my poems published in progressive mags like Alive, This Magazine, The Red Menace and Gut, I didn't have any connections for publishing a collection. I knew I'd have to publish myself, and came up with the name Unfinished Monument as a tribute to the marker to Sam Lount and Peter Matthews in the Toronto Necropolis Cemetery.

In 1978 I published the chapbook Dominion Day in Jail.  UofT student Peter Treen, who worked as a breakfast runner, drew the cartoon illustrations.  

After initially publishing with UMP, a cross-section of poets have gone on to leave their marks on Canadian poetry, including Robert Priest, Bruce Hunter, Lynne Kositsky, James Deahl, Wayne Ray,  (Daniel) jones (RIP) and many others.

Around 1991 I gave the press to James Deahl and his wife, Gilda Mekler. I had moved to rural Ontario from Toronto, and had tired somewhat of the CanPo scene and the demands it makes on one's life. For over a decade I had little involvement with CanPo, working as a small town librarian in the villages of Marmora and Stirling.

James and Gilda expanded the UMP list of poets. James is the poet and publisher who has most promoted the legacy of Milton Acorn, "The People's Poet". James published some of Milt's final works with UMP. James also published a collaboration between himself and another seminal Canadian poet, Raymond Souster. James and Gilda also established a chapbook award which continued the tradition of publishing up-and-coming Canadian poets with UMP. 

Even in my rural retreat, my poetic past eventually caught up with me, and after a decade I was viciously fired as the head librarian from my last job for 'putting sexual content online' (this is what the person who replaced me initially told people). The "sexual content" would have been my seminal English-language "hippie"  haibun Eel Pie Dharma! Of course even out here in the boonies this wasn't grounds for dismissal, so the library board and the township lawyers trumped up various charges. I fought them with legal help, and received wrongful dismissal pay for 8 months. My evil past as a Canadian poet had finally caught up with me.

In my forced retirement I have since returned to writing poetry, publishing this blog, and organizing annual Purdy Country LitFests (PurdyFests). I have no plans to revive Unfinished Monument Press, altho I'm very proud of its legacy in Canadian poetry and literature.

Following is the interesting, altho somewhat garbled & incomplete UMP publication list, from the website I Googled which stimulated memories of the glory days of UMP  : )

Unfinished Monument Press
Toronto, Ont., Canada
Books of this Publisher

<< >> 1 2
13 bohemian dreams
by Chris Faiers
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1988.
ISBN: 0920976409   Edition: $2.00

Wayne Ray
Publisher: [Toronto] : Unfinished Monument Press, 1983.
ISBN: 0920976212   DDC: 811.54   Edition: $2.50

The dead leave holes
Ben Phillips
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, c1983.
ISBN: 0920976190   Edition: $2,00

Dear little old lady
Helen Costain
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1983.
ISBN: 0920976174   Edition: $3.00

Eel pie dharma
Eel pie dharma: a novella/haibun
Chris Faiers
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1990.
ISBN: 0920976425   Edition: $20.00

Five minutes ago they dropped the bomb
Chris Faiers
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, [1984]
ISBN: 0920976247   Edition: $0.99

A flock of blackbirds
A flock of blackbirds: haiku and senyru
by Margaret Saunders
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1979.
ISBN: 0920976042   Edition: $1.75

For Christ and Kropotkin
For Christ and Kropotkin: poetry
by Brian Burch
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1987.
ISBN: 0920976336 

Into this dark earth
Raymond Souster & James Deahl
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1985.
ISBN: 0920976271   DDC: 811.54   LCC: PR9199.3   Edition: (pbk.)

Jack and Jill in Toronto
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1983.
ISBN: 0920976204   Edition: $3.00

Last minute instructions
Last minute instructions: poems
by Mark McCawley
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1989.
ISBN: 0920976360   Edition: $3.00

Lount and Matthews
Lount and Matthews: a commemorative booklet
compiled by Peter Flosznik
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1982.
ISBN: 092097614X   Edition: $1.00

Making waves
Dee September
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, c1979.
ISBN: 0920976034   Edition: pa. :$2.50

The Northern red oak
The Northern red oak: poems for and about Milton Acorn
edited with an introduction by James Deahl
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, c1987.
ISBN: 0920976352   Edition: $10.00
On the road for poetry

On the road for poetry: a tour journal
by Mona Fertig
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, [1985]
ISBN: 0920976263   Edition: $4.00

Original innocence
Leslie Webb
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1988.
ISBN: 0920976379   Edition: $4.00

PCB jam
by Lynne Kositsky
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, c1981.
ISBN: 0920976115   Edition: $1.50

Poems 1980
Marglamb Wilson
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1981.
ISBN: 0920976085 

Poets who don't dance
Shaunt Basmajian
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1985.
ISBN: 092097628X   Edition: $3.00

Qaani lore
Publisher: Toronto : Unfinished Monument Press, 1985.
ISBN: 0920976255   Edition: $2.00

Friday, 14 October 2011


Autumn is in the woods
And mists hang softly in the narrow aisles,
Now is the time of toadstools, -
Fawn; mouse-gray,
Brown-lacquered; yellow and orange, gay
Gold-bronze and scarlet Milk Caps,
Sinister Morels black as witches' hats,
Tatterdemalion Shaggy Manes;
Cloudy Clitocybe, - Oh, lovely name!
As if a constellation earthward came to rest,
Starring the silent woods
Where cold Death Angels spread their pallid hoods,
Mushrooms like moonstones scatter through the grass,
Smoke from the brushpiles, drifting, passes
Blue between the dank and songless trees;
And on the ground are mats of tarnished leaves.
On every rotting log
A pixy glade of mosses;
Lichens arrayed
In muted pinks and green,
Brown-lobed and saffron clasp
Old stumps,  gleam
Pale as corals from the fissured bark.

by Girsha Gowing
published in the December 1945 issue of
Canadian POETRY Magazine
Vol 9, No. 2  page 16

Last night I was browsing thru tattered copies of "Canadian POETRY Magazine" and I came across this beautiful poem. Hope I'm not broaching any copyright, but I feel obliged to share this seasonal treat.  Towards the end of this slim volume is a poem by one Alfred W. Purdy, Definition. It's pretty Godawful, but then it's undoubtedly one of Al's first publications!   : ) I wonder if he learned from Girsha's poem?

                                           * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "NOW IS THE TIME OF TOADSTOOLS by Girsha Gowing":

Lovely, lovely to see my Grandmother's poem on your blog. My daughter has just finished reciting one of my grandmother's poems at our local speech arts festival. Memories of my own recitations of my grandmother's poems were strong this week. Imagine my surprise when my daughter's teacher mentioned that he had found Girsha's name on google! Thank you for reviving memories and bringing such joy to my day.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Hypocrisy alive and thriving in Tarnished (Stirling): letter to local editors

Dear Editors:
Every week I await the latest copies of the local papers to discover what shenanigans are going on in the little village of Tarnished (formerly Stirling). Absurdities reached a new level in both papers this week, with news of former mayor (a decade!) Peter Kooistra's wild rant at the current Council.

Former Stirling-Rawdon mayor gives council an earfulShare
Posted 3 days ago

Kooistra's crazy-sounding behaviour wasn't the main absurdity for me, though. It was contained in several of his published quotes in "The Community Press".

One paragraph reads "Instead of talking to him personally, he said (Kooistra), they "didn't have the guts and had to put it in the paper."

Kooistra then adds, "I was always proud of the staff we had and respected them."    

I also served the people of Stirling-Rawdon for a decade, as the head librarian. During my tenure I extended the library hours at no increase in staff pay, automated the library, headed many successful fund drives, coordinated the hundredth anniversary of the library, implemented the creation of the Local History & Genealogy Centre and worked a few other miracles.

My reward? With no warning I was sent nasty letters threatening arrest by Tarnished's finest if I set foot in any municipal building. I wasn't allowed to present  a defense against the
multitude of trumped-up charges in person. Not one member of that Council, including King Kooistra, or of that library board, had the courage to do their duty and inform me of what was about to happen to me. This is called a witch hunt by some, a kangaroo court by others, and by the more literate, Kafkaesque (re "The Trial" - recommended reading if you live near Tarnished).

The hypocrisy of Kooistra saying he 'respected staff', while the above happened to me on his watch as Mayor,  and his nerve in calling others cowards, when he hid behind his small town police force and lawyers' letters while this travesty occurred, is hyprocisy of the highest order. Or black humour ...

Enjoying every article on the craziness in "Tarnished",

Chris Faiers

p.s. thanks to the incompetence and cowardice of Kooistra's reign I received substantial wrongful dismissal pay
p.p.s. the Chairperson of that library board published a local editorial column encouraging people to "man up" - still waiting on that one

Chris Faiers
12 Main St.
P.O. Box 69
Marmora, ON
K0K 2M0


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Poet is Waiting at the Racetrack

The poet is waiting at the racetrack
has boxed the 3 longest shots in the final race
hopes for a long triactor payoff
The poet is waiting for 3 overdue losers
to prove that there is justice in the world
poetic justice

The poet is promising while he paces
others may pray
The poet is promising half the winnings
to the Nicaraguan Revolution
half the winnings
to publishing unknown Canadian poets
half the winnings to buy a house
to share with his girlfriend and fledgling press
half the winnings so they won't have to work
half the winnings to his racetrack buddies
The poet promises on
his math is terrible

He defies the odds and all logic
while smog rolls off Lake Ontario
One day the Marines will pull out of Grenada
one day all workers will organize
and on this fated day the Canada Council
and the Clique of Canadian Poets will honour him

Seagulls soar squawking above the finish line
hope springs eternal in the nasal voice
of the announcer
3 lame longshots are loping clear from the smog
of the far turn
heading for home in a dream of poetic justice
the racetrack poet knows is coming
as sure as Jesus Christ
the Governor General's Award
and the Marine invasion of Nicaragua

Chris Faiers

published in Foot Through the Ceiling 
Aya Press, Toronto, 1986

(Chris Faiers received the inaugural Milton Acorn People's
Poetry Award for this collection in 1987)


Anna Yin passed on the following call for submissions for poems, haiku and flash fiction on Toronto. I submitted the above poem, as well as my Ashbridge's Bay poem and a number of others.

Subject: [LCP] Fw: Diaspora Dialogues invites Torontonians to share their stories about the city
To: Listserv Google <>

Calling all writers! Toronto is a city of a million different stories – and we want to map them all. Give us your place-specific flash fiction or your haikus, and the best ones will win a prize. Contestants can enter multiple stories and poems, where each story should be 300 words or less. The contest will close on October 15, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. and there are prizes for both fiction and haiku entries. First prize includes professional feedback on a short piect of writing, as well as featured on the Diaspora Dialogues site.

Please visit to enter and for more information.

After Work on a Small Rock in Ashbridge's Bay

Small fish hover hoping to nibble
flakes of sunburn from my dangling legs
waves lap while the fish feed and the
fragrant weeds spread slowly among the

There are few gods left
I can only believe in the small perverse
god which is me -
and in the empty can of Henninger
which I'm about to crush
I was going to bring the Layton biography
but there is only room on this
tiny island for one ego

The rock is flat and fits me perfectly
like a tomb I think
At 6 the sailboats jostle out of harbour
owners hurrying to forget the ratrace
The wives of the bourgeoisie
lead perfect lives
The widows of the bourgeoisie
lead even better ones

Should have written this poem 2 weeks ago
when I had a whole island in Georgian Bay
and a full cooler of beer
On my rock the sailboats make me paranoid
it is a $56 fine for pubic drinking
on a small and private unpurchased rock

If Leary was right
and beer was the psychedelic of the 1970s
then property is the psychedelic
of the 1980s
sailboat wakes scatter
these stupid thoughts

It is the end of a perfect hour
even the Ashbridge's sewage stack
has withheld its yellow spume
As I prepare to leave my rock
there is a big smudge on the back
of one leg
which I have generously been dangling
for the fish

Chris Faiers

published in Instant Anthology '87
Meet the Presses
Toronto, 1987
selected by Christopher Dewdney, Maggie Helwig, Charlie Huisken

Monday, 3 October 2011

Tribute to Ray Souster Nov. 22 @ Runnymede Public Library/plans firming up/new RAYMOND SOUSTER AWARD

Hi Everyone,
Plans are going well for the evening tribute to Raymond Souster at Runnymede Branch of Toronto Public Library (TPL). Terry Barker has confirmed the date and time with Branch Head Helen Flint:
Tuesday, Nov. 22.

We have booked the library from 6 to 8 pm, and the tribute will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.

The tribute will be in the upstairs meeting room, which seats about 60. This is intended to be a casual event, and we are hoping for a 'comfortably sized' attendance.

The tribute fits in well with Runnymede's ongoing author reading series, the "Eh List".
Runnymede Branch is also Ray's local library, and it is the site of some of the founding meetings of the League of Canadian poets, so it is a most appropriate venue for many reasons. 

Things are still in the developmental stages, but following is the initial anticipated schedule:

Poet Allan Briesmaster will MC the Tribute. Allan is the Toronto rep for the League of Canadian Poets. To honour Ray, Allan and David Day have promoted the new Raymond Souster Award, which will be given to the League member with the best annual poetry collection (to be ratified at the League's annual meeting next June).

Allan will intro author/poetry historian Terry Barker, who will present a brief overview of Ray's life and seminal contributions to Canadian poetry.

Poet Anna Yin will give a multi-media presentation.

Several writers, in various genres, have agreed to present reminiscences on Ray and his influence on and support of their writing.  Greg Gatenby will speak on how Ray's founding of TO's first reading series inspired him to found the Harbourfront Reading Series. Toronto Star columnist and author Joe Fiorito will tell of meeting Ray, and Ray's encouragement, when Joe first came to Toronto. Poets Norma West Linder, Kent Bowman and Mick Burrs will also give tributes.
If you are, or know of, someone who should be invited to give one of these brief presentations (about 5+ minutes), please contact Terry Barker at 416-491-8676 or contact me by email (Chris Faiers:

Ray Souster is 90, and blind, and we are hoping he will be able to attend and recite from his recent collection BIG SMOKE BLUES to conclude the evening. Come prepared to buy a copy  : )


Anna Yin is arranging publicity photos of Ray and his book for TPL. The evening will be promoted by TPL in the Runnymede Branch flyer and on TPL's website.

Several participants, including Anna and Allan, are members of the League of Canadian poets, and they will coordinate publicity thru the League's newsletter and other resources.

We are starting to beat the drums ssssooffffffffffttttllllllly. The event is almost 2 months away, and we want a nice-sized audience, but we don't want to overwhelm Ray, the library, or ourselves. Everyone involved is very busy with other projects and jobs, except me, and I'm isolated out here in the Marmora hinterland.


The tribute is happening because a number of Toronto poets and friends have been visiting Ray: among them Terry Barker, James Deahl, Donna Dunlop (need her email address pls), Allan & Holly Briesmaster, Kent Bowman and Mick Burrs. It was Terry's suggestion to feature Ray's life and work at this summer's symposium at the Purdy Country LitFest (PurdyFest). Terry and Anna enjoyed giving their well prepared presentations, but it seemed a pity that Ray himself wasn't present.


Suggestions are most welcome, and please direct them to Terry or myself.

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... wrffffffffff  

p.s. thanks to Karl Jirgens for copies of the RAMPIKE magazine interview with Ray

from my blog: