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Saturday, 30 June 2012

my best Canada Day: JAILED, for opposing American control

Note: This is a re-posting from last year. The blog was just several months old then, so here's a chance for newer readers to learn my sordid history ...


(Celebration 1975)

I spent last Dominion Day in jail
in a cold cell
on a steel bench -
cold, sleepless, angry and proud
tho almost wanting to feel foolish.

Fed a cheeseburger and a coffee in 24 hours
stripped of my shirt
frogmarched - mugshot

All this for the patriotic crime
of daring to say YANKEE GO HOME!
to the Yankee Shriners
parading thru downtown Toronto.
They thought it was the 4th of July
(Canada Division).

Cold, sleepless, hungry, angry
that I was cold, sleepless, hungry, angry
and not enjoying the July sun
lounging on the green grass in Queen's Park
or lining the parade route for the Shriners.
This growing pride made my solitary jail cell
a celebration of Dominion Day.

Chris Faiers

some publication history and notes:

This poem tells the true story of my arrest in 1975 for the heinous crime of wearing a bright yellow teeshirt emblazoned with YANKEE GO HOME as part of a protest against the Americanization of Canada. Our pro-nationalist group, The Canadian Liberation Movement, had recently adopted this slogan.

I was charged under the new Ontario "hate crime" laws, an example of the police misinterpreting a new law to suit a political agenda. Several other CLM members were also arrested as part of this somewhat misguided campaign - the Canadian people were definitely not of a mind to rise up and bear witness against the ongoing assimilation of our country into the United States.

We fought the charges all the way to the Supreme Court of Ontario, a process which took well over a year. I was acquitted by the Supreme Court, and the judge admonished a testifying officer for his lack of credibility.

In 1978 I started the literary press, Unfinished Monument Press, with intentions to publish more radical poetry than was generally published in Canada at the time (with some notable exceptions, including Milton Acorn and bill bissett).

The first collection I produced was my chapbook, Dominion Day in Jail. The poem was subsequently included in further collections of my poetry as well as in the Steel Rail Publishing poetry anthology Poems for Sale in the Street, edited by Tom Clement and Ted Plantos, 1979. The idea and title for the anthology were mine, suggested to Tom, who was boarding in the house I rented at 2128 Gerrard Street East in Toronto. A new generation of poets made appearances in this collection, including Jim Brown, Rosalind Eve Conway, Mary di Michele, Len Gasparini, Greg Gatenby, Gordon Gilhuly, Gwen Hauser, Jane Jordan, Julie McNeill, Robert Priest, Alfred Rushton, Sara Spracklin, and Kris Sri Bhaggihadatta. Steel Rail Publishing was founded by former members of the CLM house press after the CLM splintered and dissolved over issues of sectarianism and social fascism shortly after the ill-fated Yankee Go Home campaign.



Posting my old poem caused me to reminisce about those bad old days of opposing Amerikan control of Canada. The night before my arrest I was wandering on Yonge Street with two friends and comrades, Bob Chandler and Peter Flosznik. We were bravely sporting our emblazoned YANKEE GO HOME!  tee shirts, when a flying squad of cops forced us into an empty storefront entrance. I can't remember everything about this illegal harassment, or whether we had to turn our tee shirts inside out or whatever. But I do remember the head cop threatening us, You'll be wearing your balls for bowties if you keep those shirts on!!!

ah, SERVE AND PROTECT  (whom?)
June 30, 2012

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This is the second posting on my participation and writings on political protests. The first was the previous post, Street Fightin' Man, 1969. The concluding post will be my piece on the Human Summit, a group meditation at Woodbine Park, held during last summer's G20 protests.


Conrad DiDiodato said...
Incredible story, Chris.

Ever thought of writing a book: a sort of memoir of an anti-American activist?
Chris Faiers/cricket said...
Hi Conrad,
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm finding writing this blog is serving the purpose of creating an ongoing memoir while filling in the gaps in my lifelong activism.. My online 1990 memoir, "Eel Pie Dharma", tells the story of the months before I left the U.S. to avoid participating in the Vietnam War, and the subsequent three years I lived on the streets of the UK.

It's not that I'm anti-American, I'm anti-imperialist, and I've also demonstrated against apartheid in South Africa, British troops in Northern Ireland etc. . But I was raised in the U.S., and so feel thoroughly inoculated against all the hype and overwhelming cultural propaganda that empire churns out by the bucketload.

As Canadians we are completely susceptible to all this 'imperialist' propaganda, and I've always felt it's my duty as a writer and a poet to inform people about the dangers of misunderstanding and underestimating the intentions and abuse of power the American empire manifests around the world.

This part of why I so much respect the legacy of Milton Acorn. While other poets of his generation were avoiding the issue of Canadian complicity in the VN War, or the general apathy and neo-colonial mentality of most Canadians, Milt joined our wacky Canadian Liberation Movement and wrote poems opposing the American empire. I remember Irving Layton was the writer-in-res at UniGoo when I was a student there circa 1973, and Layton supported the VN War!

Next year will be the anniversary of the War of 1812. Surely a proud moment in Canadian history - our forces repelled the American invasion and then marched on Washington and burned the White House - creating its now-famous colour!

We were the first country to successfully resist the yankee imperialists, and it took over 150 years for another country to do so - Castro and Che and the Cuban Revolution. Then the Vietnamese under Uncle Ho's guidance bloodied them again. The Afghanis are in the process of doing this once more.

When I ask friends who were schooled in Canada "Who won the War of 1812?", they reply, "It's the war nobody won." Bullshit! They invaded, we repelled them, and then we marched onto their turf. We won!!!! We are teaching our schoolkids a neo-colonial history - a false history imposed on us by the 'big elephant in the room' ... oops, big elephant on the shared continent.

Canadians have a far more progressive history and legacy than the Americans. They are still working out universal health care, pensions, civil liberties - and their legacy of treatment to First Nations was one of a far more brutal conquest, altho we're certainly no angels in this national regard. And of course the Americans persist in imperialist wars around our hillbilly planet, under various guises, but always for THEIR benefit.

peace & poetry power!
Conrad DiDiodato said...
"Canadians have a far more progressive history and legacy than the Americans. They are still working out universal health care, pensions, civil liberties - and their legacy of treatment to First Nations was one of a far more brutal conquest, altho we're certainly no angels in this national regard. And of course the Americans persist in imperialist wars around our hillbilly planet, under various guises, but always for THEIR benefit."

Right on, Chris!
Conrad DiDiodato said...
Oh, by the way, I also happen to believe that we've been paying a literary price for the last successful American invasion at Simon Fraser in the 60s: the invasion of the forces of Olson, Creeley, Duncan et al. Tish has done a real number on our literary heritage (imo)
Chris Faiers/cricket said...
I had a 1 1/2 hour chat with Terry Barker tonite, who is possibly the most knowledgeable person on the history of Canadian poetry. This is partly because Terry studies it to the point of near obsession, and more importantly because he has known and befriended so many of our major (and "minor") poets for many decades.

Terry discussed this very issue you've raised about the Tish movement, in fact I received an incredibly informative half hour tutorial on the role Raymond Souster played in the introduction of these modernist American poets to Canada.

Terry contends that Souster first read, and then brought these poets to Canada as an antithesis to the velly velly British poetic tradition we had been saddled with as their colony. Terry says the war-weariness of the Brit poets was primarily negative. The Brit empire was weakened and destroyed by the two world wars, while the American empire came out of WW2 somewhat rejuvenated. The American poetic was more robust and positive than the ennui ridden and devastated poetic Europeans manifested.

Anyway, I'm prob not doing Terry's explication justice. He visits Raymond Souster on a regular basis, along with his best friend, poet James Deahl. Several other PurdyFesters,including Allan Briesmaster, Kent Bowman and Mick Burrs, also visit Ray regularly.

So when Terry presents his paper. "Moderate Modern: Raymond Souster, the Troubador of Toronto" at this summer's PurdyFest Symposium,
we'll be getting some accurate insight into this critical juncture in Canadian poetics.

It's a fine line for Canadian poets, finding and keeping our unique voice, while sometimes learning from, and often forcefully opposing, the poetics of imperialist powers which seek to dominate us culturally.

There were those who vociferously challenged and denounced Souster for giving entree to the Black Mountain school, and according to Terry, Souster himself is not particularly keen on them. But he did what he felt was the necessary thing at the time.

It is best to 'know your enemy', or a 'wrong' position in any discipline so it can be countered and dealt with accurately, be it poetry or whatever. So it was inevitable that Canadian poets would have to deal with this movement. The strength of the 'great generation' of Canadian poets, Acorn, Purdy, MacEwen, Layton, etc. etc., shows that our poets were able to effectively deal with and overcome the downside of the Tishites.

I'm looking forward to hearing Terry present this and much more on Souster's legacy in person at PurdyFest #5 (now proclaimed SousterFest).

peace & poetry power!
Conrad DiDiodato said...
Ah, Souster let them in. I didn't know he was that pivotal. Something definitely worth exploring on my own.

Thank you for Barker's insights into Tish, and yours
Chris Faiers/cricket said...
Hi Conrad,
Yeah, apparently Souster was incredibly pivotal and crucial to the develpment of CanLit, esp. poetry. He was a founder of the League of CanPoets (as much as I've hated and fought them in the past, still a crucial step forward in the development of CanPo). . Terry Barker gave me a long dissertation on this part of CanPo the other nite. You should connect with Terry - I've been telling him about you, how you've been a major supporter and participant on my blog, and a very active poet re Can. People's Poetry.

I hope you can make it to Marmora for PurdyFest #5, esp the symposium on Souster. I think you'd thoroughly enjoy it, and you'll also get the chance to meet some other very interesting 'influential' people in the CanPo 'movement'.

I'll copy this to Terry, & if you're both OK with this, I'll help exchange phone numbers for you.

Ray Souster's legacy is incredible ... personally, I have no pretences whatsoever towards scholarship - I've always considered myself a poet first - altho in recent years I've come to consider myself a Buddhist first (in the broadest terms possible), and a poet second, and a politikally engaged Buddhist thirdly, historian and scholar of CanPo unfortunately doesn't even rate a ranking for me ... and sometimes Terry surprises the heck out of me with just HOW knowledgeable he is about the history of Canadian poetry.

I'll copy Terry and his close friend, Anna Yin, on this email, so hopefully you two can connect.

peace & poetry power!

p.s. a thought is coalescing in my brain pan - perhaps a further presentation on Ray Souster could be given in TO after the PurdyFest Symposium. Both Terry and Anna will have presented their pieces at PF and be well rehearsed, and perhaps we could entice Greg Gatenby & others to participate in a TO based symposium on Ray.

just a crazy thought, but the guy's still alive and kicking, and it's better to honour our major poets while alive than the alternative ...
Conrad DiDiodato said...
Right on!

Connecting with Souster readers/scholars would be awesome! Thanks. I think a CanPo movement is still one in the making, and regionalizing it in the way we're doing (let's face it: Purdyfest is iconic) could be a significant way to bring back the Souster days of significant Cdn poetry. I think poetry is being assailed from the 'experimentalists'.

Interesting that your buddhism comes before your poetry. Or perhaps I oughtn't put it that way, as if you're prioritizing.
Chris Faiers/cricket said...
Hi Conrad,
Terry Barker and I had another long chat early this aft - one of the benefits of being 'retired' from the daily grind. We're going to give TO Star columnist Joe Fiorito a tour of the Toronto Necropolis on Tues. evening. We'll show him George Brown's grave & marker, the unfinished monument grave & marker, W.L. Mackenzie's large monument with the celtic cross, etc.

Also Allan Briesmaster (he co-edited the Crossing Lines antho) & his wife, Holly, who is a visual artist, as well as poet Anna Yin will accompany our visit with People's Poetry ancestors.

During our chat I asked Terry if he minded me giving you his phone number. He was pleased to be asked:

I've mentioned you several times to Terry, and he's always keen to discuss CanPo with another interested practitioner. So go ahead and call him if you feel so inclined. He's not a nite hawk like me, so early evenings are prob. best at a guess.

Yeah, Buddhism & poetry go hand in hand with me - kinda back and forth or more accurately, interconnecting - they're very compatible interests - at some level, they're really the same thing I believe - the whole striving for and sharing higher levels of consciousness.

It's interesting that you mention 'experimentalists'. Back in the late 1970s, when I was first writing poetry again and involving myself with founding Unfinished Monument Press and the Main Street Library Poetry Series, politikal poetry was far less mainstream than experimentalism. These poets are basically nice, but the whole surrealist/experimentalist/post modernist/deconstructionalist thing always left me a bit cold. It's interesting that most of the poets who once ignored or even denounced politikal (People's Poetry) now write it, while I've continued to ignore most experimentalism as a dead end.

However, I was (and continue to be) a leading practitioner of English language haiku/haibun, which some might consider avante garde or experimental or whatever (at its worst, even pseudo-Orientalism).

I hope that after PurdyFest and the Souster symposium, Terry and Anna Yin and other fans of Ray Souster will hold a second symposium in Toronto - after all, most of those interested already live there. Terry and I also briefly discussed this possibility this aft.

peace & poetry power!
Conrad DiDiodato said...
A Toronto symposium would be great, and more accessible for me! Please advertise in your blog when the time comes.

Yeah, the experimentalist 'digital', flarf, conceptualist, etc poetries (a lot of it coming out of Calgary) leave a lot of us cold. There's probably a good reason for it.

Please email me Terry's number if you have it. It doesn't appear here.

Again, thanks and have a great Marmora day!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

haiku/haibun for Jim Christy and his stupa

Poet/novelist/artist/world traveler/raconteur/hipster Jim Christy is creating one of his 7-foot concrete and mosaic installations at my ZenRiver Gardens retreat. In deference to the spirit of  ZenRiver, Jim is kindly calling this unique work a stupa, a symbol of Buddhist inspiration.

As Jim reminded me today, he doesn't take breaks - they interfere with the artistic flow. But the other day Jim paused briefly during his labours, and a monarch butterfly instantly landed on his fingers:

Zen perfect
a monarch resting
on my finger


Mosaic 2 Mosaic 1 Mosaic 4

Above are some samples of Jim's mosaics from his website. Our ZenRiver neighbour, Warren Fraser, is the 'official' photographer of the stupa's progress, and sooner than later we'll post
Warren's pics of the completed stupa in all its glory.  

Citizen upset over Marmora Mine 'lake-in-the-sky'

 The Marmora Mine site, surrounded by its slag heap - proposed site for the 'lake-in-the-sky'

Following is a letter-to-the-editor* from Marmora citizen Kathy Hamilton about the recent Council meeting she attended, where further plans were presented regarding the 'pumped water storage' scheme at the old Marmora Mine site.

When I moved to this area 23 years ago, a similar scheme was being floated: to fill the huge open pit mine, now a gorgeous sky-blue lake, with Toronto garbage. I kid not. Locals formed the group MARMORA TAKES NO TRASH (TNT) and this ill-advised scheme was squashed. I remember marching in a long ragtag line of protesters on a hot summer day to the mine site, and also attending public meetings at the town hall. So there is a history of activism in this small village (population around 1,500) once the public becomes fully aware of the scope and potential 'problems' with these various schemes.

* I sincerely hope the two area newspapers will publish Kathy's letter, and also the media in the closest larger centres, Belleville and Peterborough. According to Kathy, she hasn't had much success having her views publicly disseminated in area media. 
- Chris 

June 26, 2012

Dear Editor,
My knickers practically knotted in excitement when I noticed the Agenda for the media-attended, regular afternoon meeting of the Big Gov't Wannabee Council for the Municipality of Marmora and Lake of June 19, 2012 said there would be a Delegation by Mr. John Wright, Northland Power - re: Update of Pumped Storage Project.
Surprise! Two representatives from Hatch were brought along, with Mr. Hans de Meel giving an additional presentation.

Could this mean the Sold-Out Little People in Marmora might finally get to immediately, publicly rebut and openly debate Northland Power representatives and their statements ( even better, those from Hatch too), for the first (and last?) time since the same day of June 10, 2011 that this post-dated project proposal was initially revealed to them - following its secretive council sanctioning June 7, 2011 and top-secret negotiating “for about a year” (or maybe “for several years” depending on who is quoted) prior to that?

Was news forthcoming, unlike that December 2011 Newsletter “Update” newspaper ad propaganda, posted to the municipal promo page?
Notta chance. Meeting opened, Delegate presentations made, Presenters packed up and Departed while meeting carried on. 3 minutes allowed for "public input" wasn't 'til near meeting end – pointless. Our private discussions outside won't count; weren't recorded or witnessed by anyone unbiased.

Northland Power's Tim Richardson had seemingly been brought along to enable getting Mr. Wright's microphone correctly adjusted, so we could hear his project "update" presentation of nothing much beyond "he said, they said, we said" favourable gossip from meetings with the Bigger (and Smarter?) People of Importance Still Holding Out, Elsewhere – whose “update” inferences must likewise flow as freely as cheap wine.

Mr. de Meel's “update” regurgitated Northland Power's insistence that project design safety guarantees are provided by following criteria under strict government and industry dam safety regulation, then shifted “update” focus onto providing his rendition of the local opposition's year-ago-studied Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) details and causes of Taum Sauk's similarly-constructed, original upper reservoir's catastrophic breach.
Anyone who has lived here long or knows this mine's history was surely impressed to get “update” information that the spring-fed lake in the mine pit had merely developed from precipitation? This gem provided today's basis for “update” confirmation that there could never be any such overtopping of the upper reservoir here in Marmora like the one that caused the Taum Sauk catastrophy, because of this limited water availability for the "lower reservoir" pit.

Whomever may have questioned any project supporters' sudden, latter-day interest in this long-avoided topic may have felt equally "reassured" by Mr. de Meel's exhonerating confirmation that any flooding due to any such overtopping problem here would just go "into the river" (with the people, vehicles, debris and homes inbetween?).

Neither he nor Mr. Wright gave an "update" to there remaining no explanation as to why the people whose lives and homes to be potentially imperilled in Marmora should not have been publicly assured on June 10, 2011 that they equally deserve and will be given the same level of protection from this upper reservoir's posing unnecessary potential for catastrophic, man-made flooding – as was provided to the surrounding, lower-elevation lands not even permanently human-occupied between the NEW Taum Sauk upper reservoir that was reconstructed to far superior and modern “public safety” standards – with “update” roller-compacted concrete walls.

That should have been the "update" that wasn't – just like there wasn't, but long ago should have been: "update" provisions for an open public debate between the "representatives of the proponents" and the well-informed local opposition; "update" media interviews with the local opposition; "update"apologies from every complicit politician continuing denial of political voice to local opposition concerns - and the "update" results of that multiple-Ministry "review" of this so-called "MarmoraPumped Storage Project" that was to have been under the leadership of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as stated in a letter dated August 24, 2011?

Kathy Hamilton – Marmora

Monday, 25 June 2012

Unfinished Monument Press redux: donation to special collections, Univ. of Calgary

Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques

"Patriots of 1837"

Patriots of 1837
Photos by Alan L Brown - Posted April, 2011
Patriots of 1837
Here in the western end of the Toronto Necropolis is this monument which was erected by the Matthews Family & Friends A.D. 1993, according to information on the plaque. Here's what it says:
Plaque coordinates: 43.66759 -79.36290
This memorial is to honour the memory of Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount, who, without praise or glory died for political freedom and a system of responsible government.

Their minds were tranquil and serene
No terror in their looks were seen
Their steps upon the scaffold strong
A moment's pause...
their lives were gone

Peter Matthews was the son of Capt. Thomas Elmes Matthews, a United Empire Loyalist, and Mary Ruttan Matthews. Peter was born in the Bay of Quinte region of Upper Canada, now Ontario. He grew up and lived in Pickering Township in the area now known as the Village of Brougham, on his family's farm.

June 25, 2012 (emails)

Hi Marvin and James,
Yes, I'd be delighted to donate a selection of Unfinished Monument Press books to the University of Calgary, Special Collections!

A month or so ago I spent some time going through a boxful of Unfinished Monument books, & I donated a few for sale in the recent Haiku Canada 35th anniversary silent auction.

There is a casual assortment of books in the box, most in pristine condition, and I'd feel comforted knowing they have found a good and lasting home where their contribution to Canadian literary culture will be appreciated.

What I'd propose donating would be at least one copy of each Unfinished title I have (not sure of how many individual titles there are).

Yes, Marvin, please email me your snail mail address and I'll post the selection to you asap. Thank you for your concern and dedication in preserving a crucial part of our culture.

peace & poetry power!
Chris Faiers

(founder of Unfinished Monument Press in 1978 - publisher until the early 1990s, when I turned it over to James Deahl and his wife, Gilda Mekler)

Thanks, James, for passing this on to me  : )

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June 25, 2012

Dear Chris,

     I have just heard from this fellow from the Univ. of Calgary. Perhaps you have some extra copies of UnMon books.

. . . James

Dear James Deahl,

Please let me introduce myself. I am a volunteer book selector for Special Collections, at the University of Calgary. Several years ago I donated my large collection of Canadian poetry to this library. Since then I have been adding material to the collection on a regular basis. If you would like to read up on the collection, just google my name, in quotation marks.

For the past few years I have read and enjoyed some of your poetry. I was wondering if you would be willing to donate some volumes of Canadian poetry to the collection. Some of your own books, or even some volumes published by Unfinished Monument Press. My dream is to create a collection that reflects the poetic soul of a nation. If you would be willing, I can give you my address. It would be my pleasure to pass on your books to the U. of C., Rare Books. Your books would be looked after  in a state-of-the-art facility by professionals who have a deep knowledge and love of Canadian poetry.

Please let me know if you are interested.

Marvin Orbach, in Montreal

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Perhaps other small press publishers are also caretaking valuable collections which they would like to donate.
- Chris

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June 26/12
further emails re donations, including list of first 10 Unfinished Monument Press books

On 2012-06-25, at 5:33 PM, marvin orbach wrote:

Dear Chris,
  Thank you so very much for your kind offer.   I look forward to
receiving your books, reading and enjoying them, and then forwarding
them to the U. of C., their final resting place, where they will be
preserved in pristine condition for future generations of scholars and
researchers.   For me the Univ. of Calgary Special Collections
is biblioheaven.
    I should mention that my collection consists of two parts,
books and manuscripts. The collection includes signed handwriten poems
by our most famous poets. Just in case you would like to add one or
more to the collection, please feel free to do so.
    I have read some of your poetry over the years, and enjoyed it very much.
   A great big thank you for helping to advance Canadian literature.
Canada needs more people like you.
   Perhaps you could inscribe a book or two. It is always nice to
include personalized copies in the collection.
   Marvin Orbach
May your summer be filled with fields of lavender.
   Marvin, in Montreal West.

June 26/12

* * * * * * * ** * * * ** * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * ** * * * 
First batch of donations

Hi Marvin,
Thanks for the kind words, which very much apply to yourself as well!

I did a quick browse through the 'Unfinished Monument Press' box, and was a bit disappointed to discover how few duplicates I've kept over the years. I plan to send the first batch of books this afternoon, but unfortunately it consists of just 10 books. I'll explore further, and perhaps there are more duplicates in hiding elsewhere  :  )

I also have a quite extensive and eclectic collection of small press poetry. I coordinated the Main Street Library Poetry Series in Toronto from 1979 to 1985, and many of the poets gave me gift copies of their books (some signed). I've often wondered what to do with these books as I slowly enter senility (turning 64 in 2 days). Perhaps I should start donating them as well ...

Following is the list of Unfinished Monument books I'm sending today:

POETS WHO DON'T DANCE - Shaunt Basmajian
the dead leave holes - Ben Phillips
PCB JAM - Lynne Kositsky
QUANNI LORE - jw curry

All these books were published during my 'editorship' of Unfinished Monument. I may supply some further data, time & energy permitting.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers)
now off to my ZenRiver Gardens with shaman dog Chase (wrfffffffffffffffff!) to help poet/playwright/artist Jim Christy build our magick stupa installation

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Batch #2 of donations
July 4, 2012

Hi Marvin,
I found some time this evening to prep the second batch of books for you to donate to the Univ. of Calgary special collections.

Two of the books are poetry collections by me with other presses:

ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun (Hidden Brook Press, 2008)
unacknowledged legislator (blewointmentpress, 1981)

The others are rare copies of Unfinished Monument Press chapbooks (which I didn't know I possessed):

Real Poetry by James Deahl (1981 - an essay on James' poetics and his first book)
Lount and Matthews: a commemorative booklet by Peter Flosznik (1982)
Original Innocence by Leslie Webb (1988) 

There is more of a personal connection with these books than with most of the Unfinished Monument books I published. As noted, this was James Deahl's first book, and he and I have been comrades and collaborators since our early days as poets.

Peter Flosznik was my best friend for a short while. He was killed in front of me riding motorbikes while we were on holidays in Freeport, Bahamas in 1982.

Leslie Webb was a girlfriend, and we shared an intense relationship.

I'm also including a broadsheet of mine, "Moon City", published by Mark McCawley's Greensleeve Publishing in 1989;

and Tough Times: When the money doesn't love us, essays edited by John B. Lee for Black Moss Press, 2010.

The copy of "ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun" is a special 'illuminated' copy, with art pen illustrations drawn by me. The dedication is to you and the University of Calgary Special Collections library.

Marvin, I hope you are feeling better and that your recovery is proceeding quickly and painlessly.

Thanks again for your dedication to the world of small press Canadiana poetry.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers) ... and Chase ... wrffffffffffffffffffffffffff!  - my familiar companion, currently in dog disguise  :  )

On 2012-06-28, at 9:05 AM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
   I have read the ten books that you sent me.  It was a wonderful
experience.   They will be in my next box of books to Calgary. Thanks
again for your kindness.
    I mentioned to Allan Briesmaster that perhaps a note in the
League's newsletter would   bring me overwhelming results.  I am
having second thoughts.  Maybe the collection should be written up in
the newsletter.
     Thanks for your very kind offer of writing reviews  for your
blog.  My instincts have always been for collecting rather than
I can't spend too much time in front of the computer since I am still
recuperating from an operation.  I must very sadly decline for now.
Your  offer gives me much honour.  Thanks again.
     The volumes that you sent will make great additions to the
collection at the U. of C.  Miigwetch.
     Cheers, for now.
     Shanti, Shalom.

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 July 9/12

Hi Marvin,
Thanks for letting me know the package arrived OK, and many thanks for the compliments on my dubious artistry with the 'illuminated' copy of ZR:P&H  :  )

I'm not sure how many copies I've illustreated* in this manner - definitely fewer than 10. All have been gifts to other poets (e.g. Pearl Pirie, Jim Christy). I really enjoy doodling with the art pens - probably got the idea from bill bissett and his books ... I'm a big fan of bill's - he published my first 'real' collection of poetry with his blewointmentpress way back in 1981.

So pleased to know that these older chapbooks are being read & enjoyed, and then will live life anew in the AC controlled special collections at Univ. of Calgary - surely a sort of heaven for poetry books!

I'm about to head into TO - This Thursday is the launching of the new selected of Milton Acorn's poetry, IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT, fittingly at the Parliament Street Library. We're going to hold a small reading in Allan Gardens beforehand, to commemorate Milt's leading of the Free Speech Movement 50 years ago.

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and a heatstruck Chase ... wffffffff

*this was a typo, but Milt taught me to always accept typos of this nature - 'illustreated' is a great neologism - some might say I not only illustrated the books, but I also mistreated them in the process  :  )

p.s. glad to hear your recovery is progressing ... I passed another kidney stone a few nites ago ... getting so it's no big deal for me to drop one into the toilet bowl from time to time - arrgggghhhhh

On 2012-07-09, at 1:49 PM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
  Your package arrived  today.  What marvelous books you are sending
to the Univ. of Calgary!!   Thank you so much.   Your illuminated copy
of ZenRiver...    is something to behold.  It will be a treasured
addition to the collection.  I am sure the librarians in Special
Collections will be very excited  about it.   Have you illuminated
many of your books?  You are quite an artist.   I am looking forward
to reading and enjoying the books in my favourite armchair by the
     Thanks once again for your kindess and generosity.
      My recuperation is coming along  very well.   Thanks for your concern.
      Blessings. from Montreal West.
      Toda raba  (thank you in Hebrew).
       Shukran (thank you in Arabic).
       Shalom, salaam, and shanti.

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Hi Marvin,

I'm sending you one of my personal notebooks for the Univ. of Calgary archives. I've kept these notebooks much of my adult life, & they contain information on just about every aspect of my life, from mundane financial records and 'to do' lists to drafts of haiku and longer completed poetry manuscripts.

This notebook in dated Aug. 1989 on the cover under "subject". It's a green, cirlox-style spiral binder, approx. 8 1/2 X 11 inches, 108 pages, "FANCO" 3 subject notebook.

1989 was a crucial time in my life. I had bought a derelict century house in the mining hamlet of Cordova Mines after selling my small semi-detached 'starter' house in Toronto's east end. Two years earlier I had received the inaugural MIlton Acorn People's Poetry Medal for my collection, FOOT THROUGH THE CEILING (1986, Aya Press, then Mercury Press, Toronto).

I moved to Cordova Mines, Ontario, about 100 miles from Toronto, in early April, 1989. This notebook would have detailed my early experiences and musings in my new rural Ontario surroundings.


There are many drafts of haiku, some included, some rejected, for what would become my book, EEL PIE DHARMA: A MEMOIR/HAIBUN (self-published with my Unfinished Monument Press, 1990). Almost at the end of the notebook is a list of the 28 chapters which would become this seminal English language haibun (and now much-referenced history of the tail end of the 1960s in London, England, and the hippie/squatting/music scene).

EPD has been quoted in EEL PIE ISLAND by Dan Van Der Vat and Michele Whitby (2009, Frances Lincoln Limited, London, England). It was also used as a reference for WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN: THE WHO FROM LIFEHOUSE TO QUADROPHENIA by Richie Unterburger (2011, Jawbone Press, London, England).

Noted English novelist Hari Kunzru credits EPD at the back of his novel MY REVOLUTIONS (2007, Penguin). It was nice of Kunzru to formally credit EPD as a source, but there are enough similarities between my life and that of his protagonist (named "Chris"), that I suspect EPD was as much an inspiration for his book as a resource. 


Among the myriad notes, poetry drafts, financial records and jottings are drafts of a book review on a posthumous collection by poet Marty Singleton. I was probably doing this as a regular contributor for CANADIAN BOOK REVIEW ANNUAL.

Another poet who died young was Shaunt Basmajian, and there are notes on my plans to attend his poetry wake in Toronto.

Another project I was involved with was co-publishing an anthology titled SMALL PRESS LYNX with Edmonton poet Mark MCCawley. There are also travel plans for a Canada Council sponsored reading in Edmonton which Mark arranged for me.

Another project with Mark was his publication with his Greensleeves Press of a broadsheet of my poetry titled MOON CITY. There is a checklist of the poets and magazines where sent copies of this broadsheet on the next-to-last page. 

All in all, this old notebook provides a fascinating snapshot of the life I was beginning to live in rural Ontario, and a glimpse back at the very active life I had led in Toronto on the poetry and political scenes. It covers the year I turned 41.

peace & poetry power!
Chris (Faiers) ... and Chase wffffffffffffffffffffff (who has slept thru this pleasant hour of typing & reminiscing)

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Aug. 9, 2012
4th batch of donations

donation: "Small Press Lynx" anthology package (signed copy anthology, letters & original mss, notebook from that time period)

via Marvin Orbach for the Univ. of Calgary Special Literary Collections Archives

Hi Marvin,
AcornFest was an unqualified success and party! Can't get any better than that.And of course there's all the ongoing inspiration created by this annual thronging of poets : )

Today I'm sending you the complete package for the 1991 SMALL PRESS LYNX Anthology, co-edited & co-published by myself and Edmonton poet Mark McCawley.

The package contain one copy (of the two I own) of the anthology. Taking a quick glimpse thru, I'm amazed at the scope of the contributions. Several of the artists were better known as visual artists, so the antho contains some striking art work (including the cover by Beth Jankola).

From what I remember, Mark & I solicited pages from the poet/artists, rather than individual poems. Contributors were asked to do whatever they wished with 'their' page, and many of them took us at our word! I'd forgotten what a fun & freeform project this was.

I'm also including the complete folder for the project. This includes the original submissions & misc. correspondences between the editors and the participants. As many of the contributors have passed on, these letters may have particular value for the archives (Daniel Jones, Shaunt Basmajian, Margaret Saunders, Herb Barrett, Tom Crane, Ted Plantos, etc.).

I'm also including my personal notebook from this period, a 3-ring spiral "Fanco" booklet dated August 1989. I've discussed this "Cordova Mines" notebook & its history in an earlier email. It contains notes, haiku drafts for my EEL PIE DHARMA: A MEMOIR/HAIBUM (about to be republished this fall by HIdden Brook Press), drafts of reviews I was writing for CANADIAN BOOK REVIEW ANNUAL (from re-reading one I now suspect why a certain People's Poet prob. dislikes me ... with some justification) ... even finances and 'to-do' lists. Future sociologists, as well as literary historians, will enjoy this stuff immensely.

gotta go poopify Chase & then head off to water the transplanted pines at ZRG,

think you'll enjoy this batch ...

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase wffffffffffffffffffffffffff (just get me outside so I can pee & poop!)

p.s. Marvin, most of my recent work, including haiku/haibun, is online on my blog, Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens:

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Package #5

Faiers/Unfinished Monument Press archival material for Univ. of Calgary via Marvin Orbach
Aug. 14, 2012

correspondence folders:
Ted Plantos/Chris Faiers
Mona Fertig/Chris Faiers
Ben Phillips/Chris Faiers

Hi Marvin,
Again, I'm so pleased to have found a home for all my personal literary documents!
The Plantos folder is thinner than expected - likely there is further, earlier correspondence elsewhere. Ted and I did a lot of poetry activities together, and it was my suggestion to Tom Clement for Steel Rail Publishing to bring out the anthology POEMS FOR SALE IN THE STREET. This would have been my first contact with Ted, circa 1979. Over the years I featured Ted at The Main Street Library Poetry Series, and we did a reading together once at Northern District Branch of Toronto Public Library.

Ted and I were friends, along with fellow poet Shaunt Basmajian. I remember the three of us holding a beery movie night in Ted's tiny living room on Columbine Ave. in Toronto. The only memory I have is of watching DUNE, and shouting "Ride the wild worm!"!  Ted was a science fiction fan, I'm not, altho I had read Dune as part of a scifi course at Univ. of Guelph.

It was Ted who initiated the annual Milton Acorn People's Poetry Medal. I was the inaugural recipient in 1987 for my Aya/Mercury collection FOOT THROUGH THE CEILING.

I published chapbooks by both BenPhillips and Mona Fertig with Unfinished Monument Press. Their folders are thicker, and I noticed some letters still in their original envelopes.

Thanks, Marvin, for being such a dedicated supporter of CanLit/CanPo. As you noted in your email, you have also sacrificed much to give this support. And yes, we'll be forever linked in the archives at Univ. of Calgary - hopefully, an honour to both :  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and a very patient Chase (past poopifying time late this morning/early aft) ... wfffffffffffffffffffffffff (get me outta here!)

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Batch #6 (Unfinished Monument Press chapbooks from Chris Faiers)
Aug. 28, 2012

PCB JAM  by Lynne Kositsky
WHITE RASTA by Chris Faiers

INTO THIS DARK EARTH by Raymond Souster and James Deahl  (signed by both authors - limited edition #86/99)

POETS WHO DON'T DANCE by Shaunt Basmajian
QAANI LORE by jw curry
THIS IS HILARIOUS by Marshall Hrlyciuk

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Batch #7 (Chris' collections)
Oct. 9/2012

Hi Marvin,
I'm taking a break from the fourth (arrgggh) & hopefully final proofing of EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA;  I'll make the fourth visit down to Tai Grove's old farmhouse near Lake Ontario this Thursday.

After a proofing session & morning coffee I did some browsing thru a box my mother, Marianne Claire Faiers, sent me a few years ago. She was cleaning out her small condo on Hilton Head Island, & she wanted to ensure that she returned any of my writings and publications which might be of importance. Now I'm passing some of these 'rarities' on to you. I'm esp. pleased that I found an almost pristine copy of my 1978 chapbook  DOMINION DAY IN JAIL (I mistakenly call it my first chapbook in the intro, but I'd actually published those 2 haiku collection in 1969).

So into today's mail go my collections:

,  Unfinished Monument Press, 1978
WHITE RASTA, Unfinished Monument Press, 1980
UNACKNOWLEDGED LEGISLATOR, blewointmentpress, 1981 (signed to my mother
ISLAND WOMEN, HMS Press, 1983 (signed to my mother)
THE UNFINISHED ANTHOLOGY Vol. I, editor, Unfinished Monument Press, 1984
ZENRIVER: POEMS & HAIBUN, Hidden Brook Press, 2008 

Time to poopify a patient Chase, who's still digesting leftover turkey,
peace & poetry power!
yer pals
Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

Batch #8
Nov. 26/12
page proofs for EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA
Gwen Macewen memorial CD (donated by Virginia Dixon)

Hi Marvin (& Virginia),
Almost every Sunday afternoon for the past several months poet/novelist/etc. Jim Christy and his artist partner, Virginia Dixon, and I have met at The Ranch, a family roadhouse restaurant on Highway #7 between Marmora and Havelock. We're lured there by the incredibly cheap turkey dinners (under $8), & I  especially appreciate that they have Rickard's Red beer. We are often joined by other area artists, including my friend Morley Ellis, and a ZenRiver neighbour, Warren Fraser.

Last night we celebrated the arrival of Jim's newest book, and we started making plans for a local joint launch of our two newest publications.

Virginia thoughtfully brought a very rare and unique gift for me - a CD compilation created for the benefit for The Gwendolyn Macewen Memorial.
Virginia said the CDs weren't made for sale, but were gifts for donors of $20 or more. The CD contains archival tracks of Gwen reading, and also includes readings by Margaret Atwood, George bowering, bill bissett, Jim Christy, Irving Layton, Dennis Lee and Joe Rosenblatt.

The CD is exquisitely packaged, & much of this info is included on the jewel box. Virginia said she believe either 100 or 200 copies of the CD were made, adding to its rarity & archival importance.

After thanking Virginia for the gift, I told her about you & how you're collecting CanLit & CanPo material for the Univ. of Calgary archives. Virginia reached into her purse & handed me a second CD, which will be enclosed with the package I'm sending you this aft.

The other item in this package is the page proofs for EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA (as promised).

Virginia also enlcosed a zip drive of info on the event, but for some reason my Mac system won't cooperate & let me open it. If the zip pdf doesn't arrive with this email, Marvin, let me know & perhaps Virginia can forward it directly to you. It should be preserved alongside the CD.  

Off to the post office to mail this incredible find,
peace & poetry power!
Chris ...and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffff!


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Raymond Souster Award created by League of Canadian Poets

(from an email by Toronto League of Canadian Poets rep, Allan Briesmaster)

Dear Friends,

At the League of Canadian Poets Annual General Meeting in Saskatoon on Saturday, my motion was approved unanimously, and the new annual award for the best book of poetry by a League member is now named the Raymond Souster Award. I would appreciate it if one of you who regularly visits Ray would give him this news.

The Award will be presented for the first time at the next Annual General Meeting, which will very likely be in Toronto on the second weekend in June next year, though there will not be an official announcement for a while yet. The League’s Nominating Committee proposed David Day, Louise Halfe, and Barry Dempster as the jurors for the Award for 2013, and they were approved by acclamation. Penn Kemp volunteered and was acclaimed as the Alternate juror.

As you know, this Award will be administered in the same way as the League’s other prestigious awards, the Gerald Lampert and Pat Lowther awards. It was long overdue. There are currently some 675 League members, and of course a new book by any of them will be eligible.

Thank you, David, for coming up with this idea and putting it forward at last year’s AGM.
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I bet the “tropical” weather is far more bearable, if not downright pleasant, out there in the Gardens, compared to here! Say hi to Jim for me and Holly. We are fine, thanks.

peace & poetry power!


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1 – 1 of 1
Blogger Conrad DiDiodato said...
This is a good day for people's poetry
20 June 2012 10:00
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Monday, 18 June 2012

WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS: arbitrage scheme to put lake on slagheap above Marmora village

Hi Kathy,
Thanks for sending this info. All along I've considered the 'pumped storage' proposal crazy and dangerous. Building a lake on top of the old Marmora Mine slagheap, using electricity to pump water UP HILL to this lake at off-peak Ontario Hydro hours, & then letting it flow back downhill to generate electricity at peak rates, is a Rube Goldberg fantasy at best. I've never believed anyone could take this whacked-out idea seriously.

The whole concept is based on Ontario Hydro's current rate charges for different times of daily use. All Hydro has to do is change its rate structure, and the whole silly project collapses (sinks).

The monetary aspect of this is nothing less than gaming Ontario Hydro's Byzantine rate structures. In effect, it's arbitrage, the same game bigtime financial traders use to skim money from international markets. This project creates nothing, except a dangerous 'lake' perched high above a small village. Cue the soundtrack to any number of disaster movies here!!! Or that old standby classic song, WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS ...
"Tell me it ain't so, Joe."

This proposal can't really be happening, can it?

Thanks, Kathy, for being such a concerned citizen and watchdog for our little community.

best wishes,
Chris (Faiers)

On 2012-06-18, at 2:09 PM, Kathy Hamilton wrote:

You can download our local council agenda for their Tues June 19 (2pm) regular afternoon council meeting, here:

There are TWO delegations of much interest that I may "speak to" during the allowed 3 minutes per person, for their "public input" before the meeting adjournment. Hopefully, others present will partake of the same opportunity to have their say as local ratepayers who pay the bills accumulated by our municipality.

I urge you and anyone you know or might wish to bring along, to attend this meeting. Please consider forwarding at least this sentiment and agenda link to everyone you know. This will be the first  and only (and could be the last?) opportunity - since the "public info meeting" of June 10, 2011 to reveal the big "project" surprise kept secret from us for several years - that any local people will have been provided, to personally address both Northland Power reps and their local council at the same time - publicly and with witnesses including the local media.

Beyond my own site, the primary public exposure related to Marmora's local "pumped storage" controversies have been provided by Toronto-area bloggers, whom I've credited and linked to in return.

If you call me or drop in at prearranged mutual convenience, I would be happy to share of the photos and recount the rewarding experiences a few of us posing objections to Northland's proposal here in Marmora enjoyed on Manitoulin Island on June 15 - with our participation in an event outlined in a June 14, 2012 posting by Toronto blogger and energy consultant Tom Adams, here:

This provided a few of us representing the unorganized and majority publicly-invisible opposition here in Marmora with a very enjoyable "first" opportunity to personally meet and publicly present an on-principle as well as project-specific combination of inseparable "greed energy" concerns related to Northland Power projects and interests shared by others who are battling local "greed energy" projects elsewhere, that actually DO qualify as "renewable" by provincial definition - unlike the non-renewable pumped storage "greed energy" proposal from Northland Power here in Marmora.

I anticipate experiencing more of this off and online interactivity between geographically near and distant members of this fast-growing, new and self-integrated Ontario community without borders, of their indivisible opposition-on-principle members, that Northland Power and its own or partner projects representing "greed energy" have graciously inspired, helped introduce and cemented together in principled solidarity, in the near future.

You can share of June 1, 2012 background info about this MERE protest development on Manitoulin Island, here - you may also find this project "local approval" painfully familiar?:

This posting was followed by additional June 4, 2012 related background info, here:

You might also want to watch for after-the-fact media sharings of related MERE protest photos and interviews. Reporters from CTV, CBC, the Manitoulin Expositor, the Sudbury Star and unidentified others were monitoring both David Suzuki's presence at the "opening ceremony" and its inspired local "opposition" peaceful public protest.
I will be updating my site asap, to publicly share our photos and comments resulting from our participation in that MERE protest near Little Current, of June 15. Few here realize the depth of knowledge that First Nations Elders, Grandmothers and band members from Manitoulin Island (and everywhere else!) have of Marmora, the Marmoraton Mine site and Northland's "interests" that have led to Marmora's similar community divisions, political intrigue and related Greed Energy AND glocalized Greed Economy-based "developments".

You may also be interested in personally learning of recent developments on another "glocal" battle front that a few of us here began local engagement in last fall, involving another project approved by local council - this time at their "planning" meeting August 2, 2011, that we felt threatened our private property rights and represented local council's required approval for the provincial "balancing" of our previously exclusive interests in our private residential property.

Front-door and comprehensive private property expropriation looks great in comparison, once you understand the "special process" and all implications of its private property interests "balancing" act - from having personally battled against its imposition upon yourself and your own private residential property for months, in predetermined futility.

I spoke about this "special process" and its local implications to all private property ownership "interests" as a delegate to the regular local council meeting of May 15, as was lightly referenced in the local EMC edition published on May 24, online here:
Of the 3 local ratepayers who had formally objected to this largely unknown local council approval throughout related County "public meetings" last fall and formally requested the exclusion of our residential private properties - which was denied without explanation by our local council, Hastings County and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing -  I followed up by filing a pertinent Notice of Appeal for an Ontario Municipal Board appeal before I departed for Manitoulin Island on Thursday June 14.

If my appeal is allowed and entertained on the pseudo-eligible "grounds" I've provided to the OMB through the MMAH, all proceedings should be local and open to the public. On this becoming a reality, I hope you would attend and I would welcome advice from any who may have had past experience with the OMB appeal process or input from any others who have researched the impacts within and without similarly-imposed Urban Growth Boundaries established for enforcing local "Smart Growth" policies  - particularly from any other residential private property owners here in M & L.

Most research to date is specific to larger and more densely populated "human settlement" urban cores within the comprehensive municipal geographical boundaries, but public policy analysis experts in this area that I've already spoken with suggest the widely-recognized paradoxes and impacts of such "Urban Growth Boundary" imposition - to be soon realized by the greater than average number of homeowners with lower than average incomes here (and the impacts on their private residential properties) - will likely be "felt" proportionally here in more rural Marmora and Lake.

It would appear that Ontario's policies imposing punitive land-use restrictions for protecting "Greenbelts" from "urban sprawl" are being shifted in their focus from the provincially well-publicized Greater Golden Horseshoe and Northern Plans to the lesser-known plans for all lesser-urbanized areas of Ontario. If you have not yet studied all background "Glocal" concepts and planning pertinent to our area of Eastern Ontario and dating back to 2002, I suggest you should.

Sincerely, Kathy Hamilton - 76 Cameron St, Marmora - home phone 613-472-5285

See "delegations" to the June 19 meeting, as copied from the referenced meeting agenda, below. FYI, re CVCA means about our local Crowe Valley Conservation Authority



4. PUBLIC MEETING – Road Closure and Sale of Land – Page 1 - 2
To close and declare as surplus, Parts 24And 34 of Plan 21R-6145, being a road widening on Deloro Road acquired by the County of Hastings in 1986 and subsequently transferred to the Municipality of Marmora and Lake.
2:10 p.m. Mr. John Wright, Northland Power
Re: Update of Pumped Storage Project

2:40 p.m. Crowe Lake Waterway Association

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

REAL GONE: Jim Christy's guidebook to the 60s (review)

Real Gone by Jim Christy

Real Gone turns the myth of the Sixties on its head. The protagonist may be a peripatetic young man on an intense search but he knows that the gaff is in. There are sex and drugs, of course, and politics, even a little rock and roll. There is also Rhythm and Blues, and jail and murder; some famous people have walk-on parts but they are no match for a wild assortment of obscure rounders, radicals and roustabouts. Set in 1967-1968, the novella records the very moment that an empire reached its peak and started its decline.
Like the protagonist of Real Gone, Jim Christy grew up in Philadelphia, led a knockabout life in the United States which included carnivals, hoboing, and professional boxing, was involved in radical politics and moved to Canada in 1968. As well as being a writer, he is also a widely exhibited visual artist and has recorded CDs of poetry and music and performed in various countries. Recent books include the novel The Redemption of Anna Dupree (2004) and the nonfiction book Scalawags (Anvil Press, 2008).
Jim Christy

Following is my review:

Real Gone, Jim Christy
Quattro Books, 2010
125 pages, $16.95
isbn 978-1-926802-01-5

I've been hanging out from time to time with 'my new farm neighbour' Jim Christy. I first met Jim and his partner, artist Virginia Dixon, at the Another Dam Poetry Reading at PurdyFest two summers ago. Immediately I recognized fellow travelers in this striking couple - esp. Christy with his killer grin, two front teeth glittering golden. Someone introduced us, and though our literary paths have criss-crossed, it was the first time we'd actually met. I was a bit star-struck, and mumbled, "You're THE Jim Christy, the iconic Canadian writer?" or somesuch blather. Christy responded by giving me his latest book, reviewed here, & signed it: To Chris, please forgive my anti-Americanism! your new friend, Jim Christy   

I'm always swamped with books during PurdyFests, most gifts, some purchased. REAL GONE drifted to the bottom of that summer's various piles, and in the procrastinating interim, I've had the pleasure of hearing a few of the anecdotes in this book in person. Christy is a master raconteur, and that's one of the things I like most about this slim volume. Christy doesn't overwrite his incredible anecdotes about being everywhere, doing everything, and meeting everyone. If he had, this book would be a thousand pages. Better to use the book as a guidebook to both the 1960s and to Christy's stories, and to sip a beer and listen - closely - to Christy personally fleshing out the details in his tall, but all true, tales.

My one complaint is I wish the publisher had provided an index. On his writerly dharma path through the 60s, Christy encountered just about every famous personality, and attended just about every key event. There are the earliest days of hippiedom in Haight-Ashbury,  Jim Garrison and the Warren Commission, 'on the road' escapades to Mexico al la Kerouac, Janis Joplin, the Pentagon demonstration, the Chicago Democratic convention riots, Peter Orlovsky, Valerie Solanas, Martin Luther King's funeral - quick takes on each. I'd like to be able to thumb through an index and easily revisit events and characters. And as Christy experienced such an incredible array of characters and events, an index would make this memoir far more accessible, especially for future documentarians, historians and writers on the 1960s.

That silly 60s' cliche, "If you remember them, you weren't there!" doesn't apply to writers. Memories are a writer's stock in trade, and Christy remembers very well. Even the dialogue is fresh and immediate - I'll have to ask Christy sometime if he has a photographic (phonographic??) memory. Almost two decades ago I heard a radio interview with Eric Clapton, and Mr. Clapped-Out claimed he had no idea what he was thinking in those heady times. Christy remembers.

He remembers and captures for readers what the U.S. of A. was like during the waning era of Jim Crow in the American south. As a workingclass but progressive hitchhiker in the 1960s, Christy was rousted time after time by the cops for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Christy  remembers his youthful thoughts and political awakenings, the angst and turmoil of dealing with draft boards and the ever-present horror of the imperialist War in Vietnam.

Reading REAL GONE I realized how many common experiences Christy and I share. We both consulted and worked with Quakers Friends Service Committees, hoping for conscientious objector status. Neither of us was successful in obtaining CO status, and while we negotiated and avoided our draft boards, we somehow lived day-to-day through those turbulent times.

My father and I also had a very similar and parallel confrontation to Christy and his father during the riots at the Chicago Democratic convention in the summer of 1968. For both of us, watching TV with our parents proved a seminal and deciding moment in our ultimate decisions to avoid the Vietnam War and to move to Canada. Whereas Christy and his dad came close to blows, my father and I came even closer. During one particularly vicious assault, probably on a young woman being beaten by the Chicago cop/thugs, I couldn't stop myself from yelling out at the TV, "You motherf...ers!" My father started to swing on me, I blocked his punch, and was about to return the favour, when he whimpered, "You'd hit your father!" "You'd hit your son!", I told the man who'd been a Squadron Leader for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War Two. I'd long realized my father was a rabid anti-Semite, and the contradiction of him fighting against Hitler had started to confuse me, but his reputation as some sort of brave hero dissolved that night in our screened porch on Key Biscayne. All I could think was what a coward, expecting to hit a young man appalled by police brutality. And then cowering when I had the effrontery to consider hitting him back. Since then, no one has assaulted me without  risking my immediate response.

What were we thinking? What were we feeling back then, in that heady apocalyptic and decisive decade? Christy remembers and records the internal as well as the external, all too well. No revisionist historians, no jealous younger writers will be able to change our recordings of those times. We WERE there, and we DO remember. REAL GONE is an important historical document, as well as the fascinating memoir of a major modern writer updating the experiential tradition of Jack Kerouac and George Orwell.

Chris Faiers
June 12, 2012
from my blog, Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens:

My book on the 1960s is online as EEL PIE DHARMA  (find on Google) to be republished this fall by Hidden Brook Press as EEL PIE ISLAND DHARMA
Another interesting resource is THE TASTE OF METAL: A DESERTER'S STORY, by Jack Todd,
2001, Harper Collins, 253 pages  

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thanks, Anna  :  )
He's a very important figure in CanLit and CanPo. When I called him an icon, he replied, "That's just 'noci' spelled backwards."

When I asked Jim how his book had been received, he said it basically fell thru the cracks. Too bad. The 1960s were a seminal & critical decade, esp. in North America, & Christy's book  (and mine) are important memoirs of that period. I hope my review & your posting will stimulate further purchases & reviews of REAL GONE!

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... wrfffffffffffffffffff! (we're hiding from a thunderstorm, & I'm drinking chiraz red wine)

On 2012-06-12, at 4:57 PM, anna yin wrote:

Hi Chris,

Jim is very interesting.

I posted your review and his website to (english garden).


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Real Gone

Real Gone is a meandering novella about a draft dodger in the 1960s who moves to Canada. Written by one-time American Jim Christy, who relocated to Canada in 1968, the book reads like a memoir.
The narrator, also named Jim Christy, reconstructs a year or so of his life when he was in his early twenties, driving around America with buddies and girlfriends, contemplating the cruelty of bigots and the naïveté of hippies, getting arrested and drafted, deciding to flee north, and taking part in a murder trial.
Written in Christy’s customary plainspoken prose style, Real Gone presents a portrait of an America polarized between revolutionaries and racists. The narrator fashions himself as an anarchist and has no kind words to say about the crazies on either side. If he identifies with any group, it’s the black underclass. He has a deep knowledge of old time rhythm and blues, studies at a black college, and is the only white guy to attend a lecture by Muhammad Ali on the Nation of Islam. (Ali shakes Christy’s hand and hams it up for the cheering crowd while whispering in his ear, “What you doin’ here, boy?”).
Increasingly, Christy has no answer to that question. He attempts to go to Atlanta for the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral, dodging race riots along the way, but ends up in a North Carolina jail for being out on the street after curfew.
America, he concludes, has no place for the likes of him. Before he can leave, though, he’s called as a character witness at a good friend’s trial for murder. The trial goes better than expected, but the accused man is still convicted. Christy heads for Canada, and the book comes to a sudden close.
Ultimately, this slim volume is more first act than complete story. Canada, in this fiction, is the Promised Land, or at least not the Land of Chaos. Canadian readers may find this storyline comforting, but the mythology of the 1960s as the most important decade – and Canada as the Great, Sane, Liberated Place – is more than stale. Entering Canada, Jim Christy (protagonist) leaves behind the outrageous U.S., but this doesn’t offer the reader narrative satisfaction.

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