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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

reading Conrad's poetry on the shaman shack deck (Bridget bird review)

I received Conrad DiDiodato's book a few days ago, and took it with me for a couple of afternoon readings on the shaman shack deck at my ZenRiver Gardens retreat. This is a test of sorts - the poetry had to compete for attention with the Moira River's spring run-off, newly arriving songbirds, Chase begging biscuits, cold Zywiec beer, and a nagging kidney stone.

Bridget Bird, Conrad's first collection, passed this literary gauntlet with flying colours. It's hard to believe this is his first book, at age 55. The poetry is masterful, engaging and relaxing. Instead of competing with the constant peaceful distractions, Conrad's poetry flowed as naturally through my afternoons as the river's gurglings and the birdsong serenades. A lesser book wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes, and a bad book risked being flung into the not-so-mighty Moira's flow to the Bay of Quinte.

The familiarity of the circumstances of the first poem grabbed me. Sixteen Mile Creek is the story of an autistic boy who drowns. Two locals died in similar tragic circumstances in the Marmora area last spring. One man took a shortcut home across a too-thawed beaver pond, and never returned alive. His widow and I chatted several night ago in the Mac's Milk parking lot. This introductory poem's synchronicity made me immediately receptive to the book.

Sixteen Mile Creek

At mid-stream, adrift in reedy sand, face down,
he likely caused rifts in this creek.

        (for raw hands slap down last,
              careless how they land)

Hard like spites in the ear
is the last splash (as only the leaden do, at dawn)
         of faith, hearts & poor Ron

                   Same to god if autistic boys sleep or drown

Cleaving to leaves is futile
unless lights can tell hair from starfish, shoes from shorts
            Suns scratch them out, like this,
                     and discount
                                  clothing clotted & sent to port

Poor discounted Ron! I'd say I was the first to see him
and seer enough to shake a few lines loose
         out of miles of leaves & sands : &

                   reedy waters slapped
                             hard in the autistic ear

This is humane evocative "people's poetry" in the tradition of Canada's greatest poets, Milton Acorn and Al Purdy.

I read on, and began dogearing favourite poems and passages for repeat reading and for writing this reflective review. I should have stopped this task after vandalizing the first few pages - in less than a week the book has that ratty, well-thumbed look of other favourites on my poetry bookshelf  :  )

from the poem Zebras & Things

But it's an old spidery autumn moon
 deep in the night,
prickly, wild-eyed & bright

 can poke the water
so full of holes that the stars fall through
 & glisten in sandbar

Almost haiku, and maybe even more so!

More sandbars in the poem Lake (no pun intended):

Sandbars, not too far out, a shale-brown foot
 below the water
(not a lot down there, in just
 a foot of water)
But tides here ripple withe the minnow & serve as
 fish- or eel-comfort

Kell Verses is a beautiful homage to poet Katherine L. Gordon

it begins:

She sits on her stone seat,
 beside two tractor wheels,
musing, the jug beneath her feet,

 earth of clay round her heels -
dear Kate, prophetess of rivers,
 who sends me lone breezes.
When day dies, giving pale slivers
 of light, and night freezes.

In just 63 pages of Bridget bird Conrad manages to share his clear-eyed and yet mystic vision. Again, hard to comprehend this is his first collection. And I know he has already written new poems  which prove his creative arc is growing. Conrad kindly let me blog post his poem on the recent 'honour killings' of three sisters and their aunt. His heartfelt, yet almost simplistically styled poem, For Zainab,Sahar, Geeti, and Rona, sits among the highest ranking pages of my 300+ postings. To my chagrin, it is the most-read poem on my blog, far ahead of any of my creations. Congratulations and thank you, Conrad, for sharing this fine collection. 55 years is far too long to wait for your next collection  ;  )

Bridget bird by Conrad DiDiodato
Serengeti Press, 2012
63 pages

Serengeti Press
Box 146, RR #3
Puslinch, ON
N0B 2J0

Edited by Jeff Seffinga (no wonder the poetry is so damn good!)

reflective review by Chris Faiers
For several years I was a regular poetry reviewer for Canadian Book Review Annual.
I've also reviewed for the haiku mag Inkstone as well as other poetry mags.
Recently I was a national judge for both the Acorn/Plantos People's Poetry Medal
and the annual Canadian Poetry Association contest.

credit: This review and Conrad's poem For Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and Roma was published in
Quinte Arts Council's magazine Umbrella, May/June 2012, Volume 22, Number 2 - p. 7                             

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "reading Conrad's poetry on the shaman shack deck (...":

Thanks, Chris

the "16 Mile Creek" (in Oakville) poem is based on a true incident, about 10 years back. It's actually one of my favourites (of course, Bridget bird is numero uno)Most of these poems are actually at least a decade old. And your perceptive eyes saw the 'haiku' influence: I was for many years involved in an active Eastern community where I met some amazing people.

Thanks for a kind and compassionate reading of a book it's taken this ultra-late bloomer a long time to write.

Have a good one!


Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 27 March 2012 10:39

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

C Duffy has left a new comment on your post "reading Conrad's poetry on the shaman shack deck (...":

Do pass on my congratulations to Conrad Didiodato on his first book in print. I'm leaving this comment here because for some reason I am unable to leave it at his own blog.

Posted by C Duffy to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 29 March 2012 10:08

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Resurrection of Canada's PEOPLE'S POET Milton Acorn Imminent

IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT, the new selected of Canada's People's Poet Milton Acorn, is about to go to press!

Last night I caught up with Terry Barker, the godfather who initiated this project, and Terry assured me the many and various final details have been ironed out, and copies of the book should be printed within weeks. 

Now we need your help in resurrecting the legacy of Milt, a major poet in Canada's literary canon, and one many sister/fellow poets consider Canada's very finest. 

The Mosaic Press book committee, consisting of editor James Deahl, Mary Hooper, Milt's sister and literary executor, poet Joe Rosenblatt, publisher Howard Aster and behind-the-scenes eminence Terry Barker have done their work. Others have helped where needed, including Toronto poet Anna Yin, Milt's other sister, Kay, his poet brother, Robert, and me in a minor role as tub thumper. 

It's been over a quarter of a century since Milt passed, and we are concerned how best to resurrect Milt and his poetry through sales and distribution of this book.  

If you would like to help Mosaic with this project - book sales &/or launches, reviews, readings, radio or TV interviews, or even anecdotes about Milt  - please email me and I'll forward your information to Howard at Mosaic.

Or contact Howard directly, or any other member of the book committee.

Thank you for your help with this. Peace and Poetry Power in Milt's memory!
- Chris Faiers
from blog Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens:


following is an earlier posting on the new Selected

beginning the Resurrection of Milton Acorn ... PurdyFest #6=AcornFest

Our 6th annual Purdy Country Literary Festival (PurdyFest) will honour the life and legacy of Canada's People's Poet, Milton Acorn. Following is my review of Terry Barker's 2006 book to give readers an idea of the importance of Milton Acorn to Canadian poetry.

Mosaic Press will be releasing a new selected of Milt's work, In a Springtime Instant, in 2012. The 250 page collection will be introduced with forwards and introductions by James Deahl and Terry Barker. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Milt's organizing the Free Speech Movement in Toronto, along with fellow poet Joe Rosenblatt and many others.

This summer's Symposium will feature the life and work of Milton Acorn, and we are inviting presenters to participate.

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

The Unacknowledged Acorn

"Beyond Bethune:
People's Poetry and Milton Acorn's Metaphor for the Canadian Fate"
by Terry Barker

review by Chris Faiers

Milton Acorn received Canada's highest literary honour, the Governor General's Award for Poetry, in 1975. A few years earlier a motley congregation of fellow writers, including Margaret Atwood and Al Purdy, had laid the foundation for Acorn's overdue recognition by presenting him with the unique "People's Poet Award" at a disreputable bar on Spadina Avenue.

Terry Barker is an academic who was a longtime friend of Acorn and other practitioners of "people's poetry". Barker, too, is deserving of special recognition for his ongoing contributions to analyzing Canadian poetics - in a time when poets and their art are completely marginalized and ignored.

The essays in Barker's book add up to a full-bodied historical forum on the philosophy, poetics and practice of people's poetry in Canada. Unfortunately, his book is likely too academic, too unhip and obscure to register on more than the most sensitive of antennae.

But the messages Acorn thundered from the ether of the northern lights, the power of the spirit of the true north, strong and free, will be read and intuitively understood by those crucial few vibrating antennae. Barker knows poets are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, the unacknowledged legislators of our age. Terry Barker takes poets and their messages very seriously. In these final years of the American empire, the necessity of an awakened Canadian spirit with a backbone as strong as the Shield are a requirement for our northern survival. Acorn preached this, and every Canadian worth their salt should learn more about Milton Acorn, Canada's People's Poet.

Barker's book will stretch you philosophically, socially, politically, poetically and spiritually. Terry, Uncle Milty the raven shaman, is cawing his thanks!

Beyond Bethune is published by Synaxis Press
37323 Hawkins-Pickle Road
Dewdney, BC
Canada V0M 1H0
174 pages; paperback. $30

Review "The Unacknowledged Acorn" is copyright by Chris Faiers.

Reviewer Chris Faiers received the inaugural  "Milton Acorn People's Poet Medal" in 1987. His poetry has been widely published, anthologized and broadcast. Faiers spent a decade as the head librarian in the village of Stirling, Ont.

and another earlier posting


the Uncles are bird spirits now (poem for Milt & Al)                                                                                                                                                            

the Uncles are bird spirits now
flying thru realms
tricksters, obvious in their choices

Milt, the raven spirit
and Al,
the gawky blue heron

your poems foretold this
Milt cawing angrily at the dense humans;
Al, more sanguine
more grounded,  multi-dimensional:
heron lives in water
air the daily flightpath home

these only two of the incarnations
you love to fool us with now …
Uncles, so many days you visit
flying, laughing free
through the spirit world
only poets & shaman
can begin to comprehend

we earthbound beings
yearn to fly with your flocks

raven, heron floating above
trickster turtles swimming with awkward strokes
sun basking in A-burgh’s millpond

poet friends transform
before my inner eye …
Jim D. chooses heron
as does John B.
while Larwill is the new raven king

the sun shines too brightly
through your new kingdoms
water transparent
as these words

heron zazen stalks
while turtles meditate
all deeply carved
into the teaching rocks
at Petroglyphs Park

we would miss you
except you visit so often
you are almost as annoying
in the next world
as you were in this one 

Chris Faiers

From my blog: Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens

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Monday, 19 March 2012

* * * spring haiku * * *

          spring sun
melting children's snow fort

    frogs croak
spring horniness
April Fools Day

frogs jumping

 first spring rain
crossing the road

      stone house
   roof demolished
wallpaper flowers sun

cabin one week old -
 a bird nest growing
    in the rafters

Green Tara dusk:
 on a calm river
 reflections flow

green garden hose
    a rainbow

   middle aged May Day
I stain my backyard fence

     in this cove
   waves stirring
palm frond reflections

    tropical gardens:
walking on pathstones
    of seafan fossils

    spring flood:
on a runaway dock
    ducks nesting


Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "* * * spring haiku * * *":

the gull's shriek is
all there is

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 20 March 2012 04:38


To celebrate the Spring Equinox I've presented the "spring" chapter
from my 2008 collection ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun
2008, Hidden Brook Press.

Some haiku were written in the 1960s and published in the handful of
existing haiku mags such as Haiku, Haiku West, Janus SCTH, Haiku Highlights,
Southwind  and in my two 1969 chapbooks Cricket Formations and Guest in a Garden.
Others were composed from the 1970s through to several years ago.   
The Vietnam War and the changing of countries and locales many times
during my life, as well as the lack of a keen interest in academic 'counting coup'
regarding publication, has limited my ability to accurately record
the publication history of many haiku. Apologies and thanks to the missing

Green garden hose and First spring rain did appear in
Anthologie Canadienne/Canadian Anthology (1985).

Green garden hose also appeared in Synesthesia in Haiku
and Other Essays (1990),  Canadian Haiku Anthology
(1979),  A Magical Clockwork (2000), and The Modern
English Haiku (1981).   

'Retirement' is finally allowing the time, stability & potential boredom
to track down further anthologies and texts where my haiku have been published
over the decades.


Today is the first day of Spring, {in the northern hemisphere}  the zero point of Aries. Each sign has thirty degrees starting from zero and culminating in the twenty-ninth degree. Aries is the first of four cardinal signs. The others are Cancer {first day of Summer} Libra {first day of Autumn} and Capricorn {first day of winter}.

Cardinal signs are outward oriented. They begin changes in the outer world. Don’t ask these folks to happily change themselves first. Johnny Paycheck, Aries,  wrote a couple of songs that exemplify this theme; You Can Take This Job And Shove It .... and ... I Wish That I Had A Job To Shove.

Think of Aries fire as a great meteor streaking across the sky. Think of Aries as charging ahead with executive power. It’s a powerful time in our lives. When I think of Spring I imagine revolution. Plants pushing away gravel and rocks to reach for the sun. Retailers put away winter clothes, we clean well, everything. The skies are dappled with returning migratory birds. We see what the white blanket of snow has hidden.

We return to feast our eyes on the miracle planet.

Don’t expect the world of politics to become more peaceful now. Aries is ruled by Mars, the god of war. Look to my next paragraph to shed light on why. This zero point of Aries in your horoscope has buckets of meaning. It’s the destruction point of past conditions. Your astrologer can help you find it.

Try to spend a little time in the next few days contemplating what you need to really change to get a better deal from yourself and the world, like a peaceful heart and mind, or better material or spiritual living and especially think of , etc. As we finally wind down from Mars’ last month of retrograde and Mercury’s trickster’s ways ending its retrograde on the fourth of April, you will better know what to keep and what not to keep.

The Sabian Symbol for the zero point of Aries is so intriguing; a woman emerges from the deep sea, a seal is embracing her. This image conjures the Jungian archetypes of the divine feminine rising to awareness, caregiving of our internal and earthly ecologies, and the embrace that the natural world has for us as mature caregivers and stewards. A kid steps on an anthill with unconscious pleasure, an adult watches the industry and miracle of ants skillfully creating a home in the earth. And which are we?

We have the choice of taking up arms against our anxieties, big pharma loves this, or listening to our dread, our never ending sense of aloneness. So all the changes are not external, Spring can germinate within. Astrology tells you that you are connected to a living and responsive cosmos.

How can I help?

Michael Zizis

96 Benson Ave.,

Toronto- M6G 2H8

ph: 416/651-0096



Sunday, 18 March 2012

England/sheep grazing/among gravestones (haibun)

following is a chapter from my memoir:

EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers

Chapter 22 - Lavenham

My father came over to visit me one summer.  He wanted to see how his son was doing, of course, and he wanted to show me Newmarket, the little town he was raised in.  He had rented a car, and after visiting me in the hotel for a day or so, we drove into Suffolk, a county to the north east of London.

Like much of England, it was like driving back in time. Little villages on narrow, hedge-lined roads winding through neat fields.  On the outskirts of one village we even had to drive the little Escort across a cattle crossing - the road dipped into a stream bed, and we had to slowly cross through half a foot of lazily moving trout stream:

sheep grazing
among gravestones

We toured Newmarket, my father's boyhood town, a picturesque village which had long been the headquarters of Britain's horse racing and breeding.  For a treat he decided to show me the ancestral home of the Faiers, an even more quaint and tiny village called Lavenham.  There was one main street, where the many coloured thatched houses leaned drunkenly into each other down the hill. We booked into the Swan hotel, a famous landmark often used in BBC films and tourist promotions. After dinner we strolled to one of the several local pubs. The tiny pub only seated about twenty or thirty, and on this quiet summer evening only eight or ten of the local men were slowly sipping their pints:

houses staggering
down main street

Eric told me that most of the people in Lavenham were named Faiers, and that afternoon we had met one or two locals who duly turned out to be distant blood relatives.  The facial features were quite amazing to me, many of the people having the same narrow configuration around the nose and eyes as my father and my brother and myself.

To make his point further, my Dad asked if anyone in the pub was named Faiers.  All the locals nodded assent, and then he asked, "How many of you spell Faiers F-A-I-E-R-S?"  Again all nodded assent, and Eric said, "A round for all the Faierses in the house!"  The locals didn't seem to mind this bit of show-boating by the dapper little Yank with his longhaired son, and everyone drank a toast to the name Faiers:

Balding father
hippie son
in an ancient pub

The next morning Eric dragged me out of bed early, and we had bacon and eggs in a cafe on the main street.  We were quiet, as I was still coming to life.  and as we were preparing to leave, an old gentleman who had been sipping his tea came up to us and said, "Good morning, Mr. Faiers, and Good morning to you, too, Master Faiers."  One of the regulars from the pub from the night before had recognized us, and it was a welcome way to greet the morning, feeling a part of the history of a town where our family name had been the mainstay since at least 1066, when the Domesday census was collected.

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.

Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (21)   |   next chapter (23)

also published online on Weed's website since the early 2000s

Haiku Canada Review, Volume 3, #1  February 2008

ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun, Hidden Brook Press, 2008

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

first collection by Conrad DiDiodato

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Bridget bird" is out!

"Bridget bird" held proudly by me

I am pleased to announce that my first book of poetry, titled Bridget bird, is out! If you would like to purchase a copy of my book (15$), please contact me for the mailing address at

An appetizing excerpt from poem "Bridget bird" on page 8 :

A leaf pressed into the red thirsting beak
    of a bird!
The harder the catch, leaf, slug, the harder you spin
    like a Bridget bird!

You a hipster and the Sun commingle wherever
    bugs are, glossing
over fields and looking bird-deep into a fresh face of
    sunny sunny things

Details of the book launch will be posted in a week or so.

I'd like to thank you (in advance) for your kind support.

                            * * * * * * * * * * *

Congrats, Conrad!

                             * * * * * * * * * * 


Hi Conrad,
Cheque's in the mail - in fact, I just folded a $20 bill into a tacky greeting card (5 bucks for postage & hassle!).

Please be sure to sign your collection ...!!!

Yeah, I'm the same way re poetic inspiration. If your Muse hasn't called, at least 2 or 3 times!!!, well, the poem just isn't ready.

And of course, mainstream be damned. Peeple don't know shit (or shite!). We have to write for ourselves (& our Muses) and People's Poetry - or why fucking bother!

with anticipation,
peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... wrfffffffff (you'd better read me some of Conrad's stuff or I'll bite your sorry butt!)

On 2012-03-14, at 8:28 PM, Conrad DiDiodato wrote:

Thanks, Chris!

I'm not too prolific...poems here cover about a 10 year period. I'm in no rush. The poem tells 'me' when it's ready: I never never force it. And I never never write to please mainstream tastes, a fact which I wear like a badge of honour.

Again, thank you!


Send cheque to: C. DiDiodato
                            12 Darrow Drive
                             Stoney Creek, ON
                             L8E 4P5

On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 8:16 PM, Chris Faiers <> wrote:
Congrats, Conrad!
Let me be one of the first in line to buy a copy! Long overdue I suspect. You have written some beautiful, powerful & evocative poetry - & that's just from the small sampling I've read in the past year on your blog (esp. the poem about the 3 murdered sisters and their aunt).

Please sign and mail to:

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

let me know your mailing address & I'll send a cheque tonite ...

again, many congrats!!!  :  )

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Monday, 12 March 2012

hippie pub drug bust 1970: The Three Fishes

Following is a chapter from my 1990 haibun/memoir Eel Pie Dharma.
I'm anticipating its republication this year with Tai Grove's Hidden Brook Press.

Chapter 20 - The Three Fishes

Pub life in London reflected the British tendency to divide into classes and areas of interest.  There were upper class pubs, right wing pubs, Irish Republican pubs, working class pubs, and one unique pub where all the regulars were very short, young males who only listened to Eddie Cochran on the juke box.  There were skinhead pubs and of course hippie pubs.

The Three Fishes was a hippie pub, located on the corner next to the Kingston-Upon-Thames rail station.  The lights were dim, the music blaring rock'n'roll, and the clientele longhairs of both sexes.  At that time in Britain, kids as young as fifteen could get away with going into pubs, although the legal drinking age was eighteen, so there was the expected quota of schoolgirls and boys.

It was just the sort of atmosphere I loved after a hard day of digging graves.  On one of my first visits, a gorgeous young girl of about sixteen came and knelt before me, as if before a medieval knight.  She clasped her long hippie shawl about herself, and even I found I couldn't take advantage of her, and offer the expected walk home through the park:

Young girl
    in an old shawl

One summer evening I made the long ride into Kingston on my bike after work, and had a pint or two at the Three Fishes.  It stays light very late in Britain in summer, and so dusk was just turning to dark when I left after 9 p.m., and began undoing my bicycle lock.

In the half light I noticed something very strange.  There were several police vans parked outside, and more arriving every second.  In the dark I made out the shapes of several dozen policemen, and I realized that a raid was about to take place.

I wasn't drunk, only stupid, and some sense of hippie brotherhood won out over common sense.  I walked back into the Three Fishes and began yelling "It's a raid! - It's a raid!"

The office in charge followed me through the doors, and I was the first one grabbed.  "You're nicked," he snarled, and passed me to another bobby.  Bustled back out the door, I caught a glimpse of the pandemonium as drugs were dumped under most of the tables.  I was pushed onto a bus, much like a large tour bus, which the bobbies had requisitioned for the occasion, and soon I was joined by thirty or forty other longhairs.  Then the bus and several van loads of miscreants were taken down to Kingston police headquarters and booked.

I didn't get to sleep that night, as it took the police all night to process so many of us.  In the early morning light I found my way back to my locked bicycle, and slowly wound my way back towards Twickenham.

Our case didn't come up for a month, and the courtroom was a mob scene.  When my turn came, I pleaded "Guilty, Your Honour" to the charge of interfering with the raid by warning everyone, but I added, "I don't feel guilty, though."  The courtroom burst out laughing, both at the oddity of my charge, and at my unusual plea.  I was given a fine of thirty pounds, which was then my wages for about three weeks.

Hash aroma
    and stale beer
        under the table

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.

Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (19)   |   next chapter (21)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

old guys in shades ... (Faiers poem)

old guys in shades -
think Purdy on the A-frame lawn
Plantos  outdoors in Cabbagetown
Milt - cigar forward thrusting
I'm one now
Morley said I looked like Ray Charles
almost cool ...!
at the dam reading last summer

hair thinned & graying
and longhair not cool for decades anyway
youthful looks long gone
time to pose in dark sunglasses

on this springlike March 11th
Chase and I wandering farm roads
to avoid muddy snowmelt
on our usual bushland back trails

beer in my backpocket
swigged out of farmhouse sight
face in the sun - minutes pass
perpetual biscuit bribes to Chase
then I catch the pose -
old poet in shades
harsh face sunthrust -
wind sweeping gray hair
mind in the cosmos
crows in the fields
noble poetic posing

last swig of beer
transforms the loose-held Zywiec bottle
into a hoser Aeolian harp

a nimble mouse skips
free from roadside brush
tiny brown squirrel chitters
at licorice allsorts dog
and old guy in shades
poetic posings

Zywiec works its magic
and that kidney stone fragment ceases
its annoying journey to an outlet
all now perfect on these parallel ridgetops
miles north of Highay #7

this is Purdy Country
and I've caught myself mid-Purdy pose
much shorter and dumpier perhaps
but reminiscing - imagining - poeticizing
on this fragmented day
strange chest twinges
and stoney irritants forgotten
we pause too long on our sunny stroll

Chase and I continue ...
lovers on a 4-wheeler pass
between sugar shack rendezvous
we wave - and I lose my best pocketknife
stuffing the Zywiec bottle back pocket

this hike is a four-step
a boxed walk north of Deloro Road
we turn lake south and magic reveals
a damp glen of mystery - sexual

where teen boys - lured by tree nymphs
spurt virgin cum on mossy green mounds
nymphs will rub this spoil
ecstatically into woody hollows
to spawn fey ones humans only guess at

a statue to myself
like Milt thrusting Cuban cigars
like Al on the A-frame lawn
like Ted posing somewhere in Cabbagetown

old guys in shades
lucky to find solace
harsh old faces sunthrust
dark shades protecting
minds in the cosmos
memories in the hollows
with wood nymphs and schoolboys

first draft March 11/2012
Marmora, ON

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

true secret story of Wilber Walnut, Milt Acorn, & Big Al Purdy

Hey Chris,

Re: Wilber Walnut’s relation to Milton Acorn – The ‘other’ house guest.

Now I am not sure if Wilber Walnut is actually related to Acorn in any way given that his parentage is questionable and anything he says about himself is at best dubious.  He does claim to have met Acorn and Purdy once, both at the same time during that winter Acorn and Purdy spent in the A-frame.  Wilber was their senior, god only knows how old Wilber actually is as there is no record of his birth given he was born way back in the bush a heck of along time ago, but if he was playing around in the woods with Grey Owl before the outbreak of the First World War he is well, well over 100 now; even if he doesn’t look a day over 92.    I think it was Acorn who invited Wilber up to the A-frame much to Purdy’s chagrined, Wilber was never well known as a poet but Acorn had heard of him in left-wing circles and wanted to meet him.

Now the “House Guest” story is that Acorn and Purdy were actually getting along just fine before Wilber showed up and started to drink all of the wild grape wine he could lay his hands on no matter where they tried to hide it.  And as far as I know, the fact is, Purdy and Acorn never, ever, spoke of Wilber’s visit during their A-frame time and this may be an indication of how things went.  Furthermore Wilber isn’t very forthcoming on the subject either.  The only hint I know of is Purdy’s last line from his poem “House Guest” which is “and I guess I was wrong about those eggs” and Wilber’s comment on Purdy that the man is a menace of mayhem in the kitchen and then begins to mumble random culinary terms such as “scrambled, poached, fried, over-easy, broken yoke, caudled, omeletified, smashed, souffl├ęd, baked, soft boiled slashed in the center with a bleeding skewer of toast on a fork” while readjusting his eye patch and adding…. “Salvador Dali has nothing on Purdy when it comes to eggs.”    (As an aside, Wilber also claims to have met Salvador Dali and to have one night left a clock on the stove, proving Wilber is also a menace in the kitchen, and in my experience every other room of the house.)

“I am also a poet who isn’t a carpenter” is Wilber’s only comment on Acorn that he is willing to make at this time and I can’t get anymore out of him, he is on his way out of the cabin door just now… all of my beer is gone.


(You can post this on yr blog if you want but Wilber was mostly incoherent (drunk or senile how can you tell?) as I managed to glean his random thoughts and rants which I then tried to weave together into yet another fragmentary “true story” of Wilber Walnut.  Why do I bother?  Wilber will never manage to be immortal as long as he is still alive and continually refuses to die!)

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thanks for the further cornfusion, Jim  :  ) I wouldn't have posted this, but I AM drinking right now!
- Chris/cricket

hey, did I ever tell you about my great uncle DArcy MacMurray? Your description of "drunk or senile how can you tell" brought him to mind. He was in that same tradition of rebrobates as Wilber, Milt & Al  - I lived with him for a very brief time during CLM. We drove each other nuts. Went to visit him one time afterwards, & found him dead on a cement slab in the backyard, a pool of blood congealing under his head. Called emergency & the ambulance quickly came screaming up. Darcy was in his 90s then, & I thought 'not a bad way to go, hanging out in your idyllic suburban backyard near Glendon campus' - I led the ambulance attendants to the 'dead' Darcy, who lifted an eyelid and told them to fuck off (possibly saltier language than that!). The old fucker wasn't dead - just dead drunk. He refused to go with the ambulance guys, & I had to carry him back inside & throw him on his bed.  He finally died in his mid-90s on K Wing (veterans floor) at Sunnybrook Hospital. To the very end he was flirting with the nurses and cheating me at gin rummy.
 RIP Uncle Darcy ...

There were 7 crazed MacMurray brothers, and one beautiful, spoiled baby sister, Naomi (my grandmother).
Brother Dave (I think - finally starting to take an interest in my twisted family tree at age 63). Dave was an undertaker (& I'm sure another reprobate). A freighter sank in a great lakes storm, & Dave was standing on the end of the dock with a measuring tape when they started bringing in the bodies!
No wonder we're poets with ancestors like these  ;  )

Of course there's the earliest 'famous' MacMurray, my ancestor Archdeacon William MacMurray. He married a First Nations princess, and is buried in St. John's Anglican Cemetery in Ancaster, Ontario.
The rest of the MacMurray clan has spent over a century trying to outlive & rectify  our family name after this one oddball, venerable MacMurray clan member. Last year I did a posting on the Archdeacon
hisself - but it's taken a beer or two to finally acknowledge & reminisce about Darcy, Dave and even Naomi  :  )

- Chris/cricket

Monday, 5 March 2012


(Larwill/Faiers emails preparing/fantasing about PurdyFest #6 - Acorn Fest)

Hi Jim,
What I'm envisioning re "Acorn Fest" is a performance featuring your incredible thespian talents. Anything featuring Wilber Walnut would be fine & appreciated, as Wilber is some sort of half brother to Milt (I believe, if I've got the story straight). I'm copying this to Simon de Abreu as well, as he did a great job directing you at PurdyFest 2 years ago.

Or maybe a piece from Milt's play, THE ROAD TO CHARLOTTETOWN, or a dramatic reading of Milt's poetry ("I Shout Love"?)

A Jim Larwill performance could serve as the centre piece for Acorn Fest. I remember Cedric Smith at the memorial for Milt in Charlottetown in 1987. Cedric does a great impersonation of Milt, he really hams it up ...  and everybody loves it! Maybe Cedric will come out of the woodwork, wherever he is, & show up to resurrect Milt's voice & mannerisms ...

The possible framework Terry & I have discussed is a repeat of last year's very successful tribute to Raymond Souster. There were only 13 or so present at the Marmora Library Symposium on Ray, but then we took this 'practice run' to Toronto - where 4 months later the event filled the Runnymede Library meeting room (60+ - standing room only).

We had some top names in CanLit (John Robert Colombo, Greg Gatenby, etc.), as well as Joe Fiorito, who both participated in the event and then wrote a nice column about it for the TO Star on Ray's birthday this year! Also Toronto Public Library videoed the evening for posterity.

So Terry and I envision an initial launch in TO on July 15th I believe, followed very closely 2 weeks later by the foofaraw of Acorn Fest. Then if we can successfully duplicate the pattern of last year's promo of Ray, we could return to TO after Acorn Fest with some sort of fall performance package to further promo IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT - and I can see you being a major part of this "MILTON ACORN ROADSHOW". 

It would get you and your work some great exposure, promote Milt's new book & his legacy of People's Poetry, etc. .

Who knows who might attend? The old BOHEMIAN EMBASSY gang? - thinking esp. of George Miller and Don Cullen ...

Anyway, we're in the dreaming stages now, but like yourself, I forsee this summer being a special PurdyFest, thanks to Milt.

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

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Hey there Chris,

Looks like PF 6 is coming together gang busters.  Good work!

In an earlier email you asked if I had an essay on Milt and I do have
one "Acorn vs Pound:  You Growing  vs  Francesca"  where I compare
Acorn's "You Growing" with Pound's "Francesca" which is the poem Acorn
based his "fight not plight" rewrite upon of the earlier poem by Pound.

"Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you."  Pound

"Out of a clamour of voices
Demanding faces and noises."  Acorn

The comparative perhaps sheds some light on the aesthetics of People's
Poetry verses Facist.  (Or in Shamanic terms Raven's are good mimics of

It is an old essay so if you did want a presentation of some kind I
would want to rework it, so let me know what you and Terry think.

Keep marching.


Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Wake - Gail Taylor

The Wake

By Gail Taylor

From the wake,

that turbulent flow

of errant emotions

riding the crests and

  troughs of my despair,

arose an inner thought…

wakened at first

as an ever-expanding

shock wave of despair,

moving methodically

through my memories

searching for a path,

a harbour…

a retreat from pain,

but now awakened

by the collapse

upon a distant shore,

of an undertow

which is returning

with its dredges,

 those sands of regrets,

whispering, whining

and wailing

that I stand alone

ever in the wake

of time

Saturday, 3 March 2012

into the Mystic: Akashic Record (for Dummies)

book reviews/reflections

THE AKASHIC RECORD (the complete Idiot's Guide to)
Dr. Synthia Andrews, ND and Colin Andrews
2010, Alpha Books - Penguin Group
314 pages
isbn: 978-1-59257-996-9

For many years Terry Barker and I have discussed our mutual interest in spiritualities and philosophies considered Eastern. Several months ago Terry picked up the book Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West at a used book store. I bought a copy so we could find more common ground in our discussions - a shared vocabulary at least.

Re-enchantment turned out to be a chronology of mini-biographies of the people who have explored and introduced Tibetan Buddhism to the West for the past 150 years - interestingly, mostly Westerners - and the book does give a good introductory overview of this movement.

What surprised me in reading RE was the amount of cross-influences early Westerners have already exhibited on our understanding of Tibetan (and other) Buddhist practices.  

A month ago I picked up The Akashic Record to deepen my own Buddhist understanding, and to further Terry and my rambling discussions. I loved the first third of the book - and I kept praising it to friends. Then I felt the middle section of the book devolved into New Age mush, and I almost stopped reading. I diligently plodded through, shrugging off some of the stickier self-helpism, and then I did feel I was finding some major answers, or at least plausible explanations,  to cosmic issues in the final third.

So what is the Akashic Record? In one of Terry's many carefully typed letters he quotes Norman Blundson  in A POPULAR DICTIONARY OF SPIRITUALISM:

Akashic Records: an occult term said to be a cosmic picture gallery and record of every thought, feeling and action since the world began. Often advanced as an explanation of clairvoyant and psychometric perceptions. Somewhat akin to the idea of Cosmic Consciousness. Yogis believe that this record can be contacted when in certain psychic states of consciousness.

Synchronistically - and AK points out several times there are no accidents, and  as human consciousness evolves, we will all experience far more synchronicity in our lives - the first section of the book covers much of the same ground at RE. I had always considered Westerners, especially occultists like Madame Blavatsky, harmless spiritual goofballs.

But the combination of long chats with Terry, his well-thought-out letters, and now this New Agey Complete Idiot's Guide were giving me a new respect for and interest in these early Western spiritual pioneers.

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     (time out to walk Chase - more later - both books are a great read & highly recommended)

It's a dangerously windy early March day - I decided it was too risky to drive to any of our favourite trails, so Chase and I braved the 70 km winds and marched to the boat launch.

                                                            blustery wind
                                                            blows the honk back
                                                            into the geese

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

an observation

I've been observing and participating in the merging of Eastern thought (consciousness) with my Western upbringing and lifestyle since I was 18 or 19. I believe yoga and meditation saved my life in the mid 1960s, when I was eligible for the Amerikan draft as a resident alien Canadian.  Through these practices I encountered a 'private Buddha', opposed the Vietnam War, and then left the U.S. forever in 1969.

For almost half a century it has both annoyed and amused me to observe the way we Westerners incorporate Eastern consciousness and practice. It seems we always incorporate Eastern ways at the lowest level possible.

First was our love affair with martial arts - judo and karate - rather than with yoga and meditation.

And as Westerners we always have to screw with methods long proven in the East. Yoga has slowly become mainstream, but first we had Pilates and Madonna  : ) And even now, there are probably as many wannabe yoga practitioners parading in "LuluLemon" yoga wear as people actually practicing yoga.

To me, yoga is just the form for practicing meditation. Sure, it's healthy, but so is taking a good windy walk. I believe the point of practicing yoga is to meditate, but we are taking our good time incorporating these powerful Eastern concepts, always first commercializing and bastardizing them.

Haiku: A case in point is haiku. I've been writing and publishing haiku - following the haiku path - since 1968, when Eric Amann kindly published my early efforts in his seminal magazine Haiku.
Yesterday I skimmed the intro to the latest Haiku Canada members' anthology (our 35th anniversary!)
The intro noted there were about 35 Canadians writing haiku (haijin) in the late 1970s when a handful of us formed Haiku Canada (initially the Haiku Society of Canada I believe), and now there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of Canuck haikuists.

I've also kept abreast of the international English-language haiku movement. Apparently haiku has become the latest fad in creative writing. There are milllions of sites on haiku/haibun on the web now! But how serious, how in tune with the spirit of Basho and the early haiku masters are most of these self-proclaimed haijin? Is this a bad thing? No, of course not. Just as anyone even attempting yoga has at least taken a first step on the path to meditation (and ultimately enlightenment), so anyone observing their life and recording it in haiku is on a genuine path, whether they realize it or not;  and of course it's irrelevant if they annoy the hell out of me with their arrogance and silliness ("sci-ku"??)  My problem, not theirs  : ) 

but ultimately, is the poet/haijin on the path to Buddhahood (bodhisattva) or just to ego aggrandizement?

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back to reflecting on the 2 books
(March 5/12)

I've had a couple of more days to reflect on these two books. I've come to the conclusion Re-enchantment was disappointing, in that it didn't tell much about Buddhism and its practices. Not surprisingly for a Western author and publisher, the book focuses on individuals rather than a movement, or what I believe is an ongoing and major shift in consciousness.

On the other hand, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Akashic Records may tell readers 'too much'. If New Age hippie/dippyness bothers you, this definitely isn't a book you'll enjoy. But if you have begun to experiment with yoga, meditation, Buddhism, or any of the other mystical practices such as I Ching, this book may answer some questions for you and provide guidance further along these paths.

Want to contact angels, or spiritual guides and ascended masters? AK's authors are only too willing to give you advice! Want to read your own life past & future (!) histories - read on.

Humans are at a planetary crossroads. Our little spinning ball  - our home itself - has become collateral damage to our recklessness. Physical science has brought us to this very edge of destruction (cue song The Eve of Destruction). In the West we have developed physical powers which are sadly beyond our own mindless ability to control.  In the East, and in many First Nations cultures around the globe, humans have found ways to live in harmony through a developed 'higher' spiritual awareness and consciousness. The time has come to merge these seemingly disparate and opposed cultures - the yin and the yang if you wish. The completed whole of human physicality incorporated with a higher awareness will lead us to a New Age almost beyond our current comprehension.

Reading these books makes me write silly things like this! ...

peace & poetry power!
- Chris/cricket