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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Dorothy Livesay feature for PurdyFest #7 - Pauline Johnson for PurdyFest #8!

Dorothy Livesay (oops)

There's been a lot of discussion in the couple of days since the initial proposal from Terry & me for having D'Arcy McGee & Jose Marti as the theme for PurdyFest #7 (the "two Ms" Terry now calls them).

Poet Pearl Pirie of Ottawa sent me a brief email commenting on the lack of women features at the fests. She's 100% right, and I 'challenged' the women who attend the fests to take action - which they did immediately! Joyce Wayne offered to help organize next year's fest with a featured female poet & to present a paper. Anna Yin also immediately volunteered to do a video presentation as well. So the die was quickly cast!

Even Jim Larwill's 'familiar', that drunken reprobate Wilber Walnut, chimed in on the discussion & proposals. Many emails further confirmed the building consensus that it's past time for PurdyFests to honour our Canadian women People's Poets.

I had been holding fire for a few days to get further input and to let the consensus jell before I publicly confirmed the joint decision for next year's fest. But the overwhelming and continuing support has conclusively decided that the poetry, politiks & legacy of Dorothy Livesay will next year's fest (LivesayFest!), and then the work of Pauline Johnson will be featured the following year (PaulineFest!)

Featuring these two key women poets will help restore balance to the fests, and will also continue with the 'reverse chronological' documenting of People's Poetry in Canada. We have (unintentionally) been working our way back thru PP history with the fests:  Purdy/Plantos/Acorn/ - next back to Livesay & then Johnson. Wasn't planned this way, but the historical, poetical & politikal logic makes great sense  :  )    

Featuring Livesay and Johnson will also open the doors to many key issues in Canadian poetry and culture: more Marxism (Acorn was a devotee of Livesay)/feminism/racism/First Nations culture/internal colonialism/performance poetry/traditional poetry/moderism's beginnings  ... the list goes on and on.

I hope many of you make plans to attend again next summer, and perhaps you'll feel inspired to perform pieces by Livesay and Johnson (not so subtle a hint to Honey Novick - what a treat to have you perform some of Pauline's performance pieces - Wilber Walnut would be entranced into tranquility for once!!!)

p.s. Terry & I haven't forgotten "the 2 Ms", just going to relegate them to PurdyFest #12 or something  :  )

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Dorothy Livesay feature for PurdyFest #7 - Pauline...":

Right on!

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 30 August 2012 07:52

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Congratulations, Chris, on this excellent strategy and the approach that led up to it.

I remember suggesting Dorothy Livesay a couple of years ago, and I really like the sequence of having her follow Acorn.

My commitments re: the very ambitions Fall season for Quattro Books prevented my attending AcornFest, but I hope to make it to LivesayFest next year. 

All the best,

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Great stuff! Great discussion! I'll start right now preparing my schedule for them.... hugs for you, pats for Chase, Katharine
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Dear friends,

I've been reading the volley of emails with great interest.  From where
I sit, the Acorn festival (and the Toronto book launch) were a great
success and a revelation of sorts for me. It was all about the magic of
place and connecting with people that I haven't  seen much of since CLM
days. Sometimes we forget what a huge influence Milt exerted on all our
lives and honouring him in the way we are doing, is definitely the right
thing to do.

As for next year...I must admit to having some reservations about D'Arcy
McGee and Jose Marti, although I'm more sympathetic to Marti than to our
own Canadian.

Could we agree that it's time to tackle a woman people's poet and see
where she fits into the picture of people's poetry?  Jim Deahl's papers
are a great place for us to start because Jim defines people's poetry
and puts some meat on its bones by talking about who counts and what the
tradition is about. I'd be content with either Pauline Johnson or
Dorothy Livesay.  Milton and Al both respected Dorothy and she certainly
fits the bill, but then there is something remarkable and intrinsic to
the landscape about Pauline Johnson.  We would be breaking new ground if
we decided that Pauline Johnson's life and work could be seriously
explored next year.

I'm more than happy to help, both in terms of organizing and delivering
a paper on Johnson.  There is also a recent documentary on her life, I
believe, that we might screen at the library or at night in the Marmora

Let's continue this discussion and see where we end up.

In peace,

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Dear Chris:
What a lovely message.  thank you.
Yes, I will definitely look into Livesay's poetry and it's musical quality.  What a great thing to do.  Hope to see you soon.  Be very well until then.
we'll be in touch

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On 2012-08-26, at 8:05 PM, Jim Larwill wrote:

Hi Again Chris,

DON'T ENCOURAGE WILBER!  You don't have to deal with him.  You would think two cases of Quebec buck-a-beer beer would keep him busy for more than 15 or 20 minutes... he is already half way through the first 24.   Sheeh....  And I thought he was distracted while I was checking my email...

Wiber's passing comments....

"Now you tell yr little friend Chris that I have in principle nothing against keeping women in a ghetto or a harem, and believe me, me and my one eye have seen our share of both...  "   (The train of his thought has been broken and he has shot off rambling on with some quite frankly disturbing antidote about a three way he once had with Emily Carr and her pet monkey....   I'll never look at those paintings in quite the same way.  ...  Especially in the ones with a totem pole only showing one eye to the viewer...  God help me where is that case of beer...)

Okay after a break and fortifying myself I think Wilber is about to make a salient point of some kind and I will transcribe it as best I can.

"In my experience the only problem with a harem is they inevitably sneak in a very sharp knife and I thank my one remaining eye that at least that time their aim was way too high.  So tell your little friend Chris it might be better to pick one woman at a time.  Six years of men being a separate features at Purdyfest, each male in their own right, and then maybe after next year there will be a "woman's peoples poetry" symposium?  Okay I realize woman in Canada weren't legally people until the Person's case in 1929 when our British over lords in the Privy Council overturned the Supreme Court of Canada's unanimous decision that woman were not persons in Canada, but despite the contradictions of colonialism, what about the next three years being dedicated to Pauline Johnston, Dorothy Livesay, and Jane Jordan; each in their own right, as they more than deserve to be."

He has finished and he has gone out for a pee, so he will be a while.  I swear his hundred year old bladder is in much better shape than mine which is half the age of his.  So anyway I really don't know what to think about Wilber Walnut's one-eyed semi-feminist spouting other than some how or other at age 100 he is still just trying to get laid.

God help me "Wolf-fest at the Raven's Nest" is coming up the labour day long weekend and I already have a hang over....

Hopefully Wilber will just wonder off distracted by a chipmunk or a random wild flower or something and I will get time to send you a notice for yr blog

! # % ^  ^ ^ & * * ** * & G G G Y %#** &&  $( H F DF J!!!

On 2012-08-26, at 12:10 PM, Jim Larwill wrote:

Hi Chris,

Pearl makes an interesting point.  As it happens Wilber Walnut has been visiting and was looking over my shoulder as I was reading the recent posts.  Now, the one-eyed Wilber is never to be trusted, but apparently this year at Acornfest he was skulking around in the bushes watching us at Zen River  (which might account for where some of those beers disappeared to and explain the unpleasant odor in that heavy clump of belching Sumac).  The elder Walnut (he is over 100) seems to have formed a less than appreciative opinion of our poetic endeavors and after reading Pearl’s comment he has been sent off on a bit of a rant.

Pauline Johnson!  Pauline Johnson!  Pauline Johnson!  He keeps proclaiming.

Now I don’t know much about Pauline Johnson, but my mother Rejeanne, who claimed to be of very mixed heritage, years ago after hearing of my interest in poetry and my trying to tell her about Milton Acorn she scolded me with a simple… “Jimmy!  If you want good poetry go read Pauline Johnson!!”  At the time I dismissed her advice assuming her taste in poetry had been informed by residential school nuns,  only now after looking at some of Pauline Johnson’s poetry all I can say is I wish I hadn’t waited this long and I want to go read more.  It seems to me Pauline Johnson it the quintessential Native Canadian Poet.  World famous best-seller in her own time.  Forgotten and ridiculed upon her death by traitor academics who do not root poetry “in the land” but judge with imaginary elsewhere theory – at best upon our deaths any Canadian success is a lesser example of the firmament of high-blown “excellence” elsewhere, a footnote pushed off the page of history.  Most Great Canadian Writers upon there deaths don’t even get to stay on the margins.  Twenty years after Margaret Atwood dies it will be…. Peggy Who???

Coming back to Pauline Johnson it seems to me I remember Acorn claiming to be descended from a first-nation princess, and while he may have been referring to a genetic connection to the past, I strongly believe he was drawing his poetic line directly back to the poetry of Pauline Johnson.

Now the one-eyed criticism of Wilber Walnut is never mild.  And after going out into the woods he has come back with some sort of single barreled blunderbuss, a muzzle-loading flint-lock shot-gun of some kind, (to be honest it looks like a small hand held cannon) and he has now pulled the balance weights off of my van’s tires and is melting them down pouring the lead into some ancient casting mold for over-sized musket balls.

So if you hear the bushes rustling at Zen River … BE CAREFUL!!!

I will go buy beer to try and distract him and hopefully the now rough ride of my van will shake the bottles up to the point of exploding in his face when he opens them; however, he has written a poem and I guess I should attach it here.  As far as I can tell it is a rip-off of a Frank Scott poem (Wilber is hardly ever original and yes he also claims to have known F.R. Scott).   It seems in Wilber’s opinion, today’s People’s Poets are not much better than the “Canadian Authors” of Westmount back in the 30’s.

The People’s Poets Meet

Beneath a sketch of Milton Acorn
poets before and since they scorn;
they grieve loss of the Canadian muse
now that tea has been replaced by booze.

The mulberry bush is now transformation
at last, at last THEY alone define a nation,
Carman, Lampaman, Roberts, Cambell, Scott,
can passing be mentioned, but best are forgot.

By the river the famous People’s elite
are stumbling to and fro on their feet,
psychedelic sixties - their pearly time;
other ages, merely grunting of swine.

Perverts past sixty who once lusted with passion,
I hate to say it, for now it seems a limp lashing,
forever not a lick next to a Double Wampum maid,
her Victorian doggerel makes them seem staid.

Academics and their what-ta-bes from other states
teach trendy progressive forms, and what to hate:
For here grand sails always arrive claiming to travel,
rolling them up, we stick to our songs of the paddle.

Well Wilber’s view of things tends to be myopic… what can I say?

The Raven King…. aka   Jim Larwill….. notes from the Raven’s Nest with a one-eyed mad-man in tow… a hundred year old past who refuses to remain buried!


!! $ % ^ & &^ % % & &*    **** *  !$ G H ( Y^& @!!!!!!!

Hi Chris,
   I am really looking forward to receiving  your latest package of
Unfinished Monument Press booklets.  They will be important additions
to my collection at the U. of C.  It is great that your publications
will be preserved in western Canada, for future generations.
   I continue to get copies of your exciting e-mails.   Chi-miigwetch!!!
   I thnk it is wonderful that future PurdyFests will feature both
Dorothy Livesay and Pauline Johnson.Dorothy is the mother of modern
Canadian poetry. She deserves the attention you will give her.
Pauline Johnson has been neglected by the non-Aboriginal community
because she was not part of the modernist movement.  Her style is very
traditional.  My collection in Calgary includes her very rare first
book of verse published in 1895.   I acquired it many years ago at an
antiquarian book fair.   I have always enjoyed listening to the song
her paddle sings.
    It was with delight  that I read  there will be a Layton
happening at the Univ.of Ottawa. No doubt Seymour Mayne is behind it.
    I must go now. As soon as your parcel arrives, I will let you know.
    I shout love!!
    Marvin, in Montreal West.

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September 3, 2012

Dear Chris,
            Glad to see the news about LivesayFest! A much-deserved tribute to a very fine poet.

Poetry Power!
            . . . James

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Hi James,

Thanks for sending these important talks on to Joyce. She has offered to both present a paper and to emcee next year's symposium on Dorothy Livesay. And I'm pretty sure I've posted both these pieces on my blog recently.

PurdyFest #7, "LivesayFest", is shaping up to be another keynote examination and amplification of People's Poetry. I hope you have the time to present a paper on Livesay, or on any parallel aspect of People's Poetry next summer.

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  HearOurWords has left a new comment on your post "Dorothy Livesay feature for PurdyFest #7 - Pauline...":

Perhaps Chris could post some examples and we could check in and comment.

Posted by HearOurWords to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 6 September 2012 16:05

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Chris, YES. This is a great decision to dedicate PurdyFest #7 to Dorothy. I would dare suggest not because she is a woman but because she is a great poet
whose time has come to be "officially" celebrated.
I was suggesting to Terry that we do something for James but it does not have to be at PurdyFest.

In any case, if you agree, I would be prepared to provide an analytical perspective on her work. I have some of her books but I do not believe I have all.
I will talk to Terry. But if you have any of her works let me know.

Paulos Ioannou
Sept. 19/12



Tuesday, 28 August 2012

WOLF FEST!!! - Labour Day Weekend




Every year there is a fall gathering by a humble lake in Quebec.

The Raven’s Nest is an hour north of Ottawa, and half an hour away from Wakefield, Quebec.

People come for

- festive camaraderie

- the writing and illustrating of poetry flags for the Wolf Circle Cathedral Spruce Gallery

- endless flame licked garlic pork roasts cooked on a spit (affectionately referred to as “The Buddha’s Last Meal” and served barbarian buffet style by the out door anvil)

- competitive rounds of Frisbee golf on a course that challenges with its curves, hills, valleys and trees

- camping/swimming/canoeing/and general cavorting

- and this year there will even be poetry in the form of the “Water Reflecting Raven’s Poetry Path.”   This collection of 56 poems in four seasons, have not be seen in their complete form since the Third Purdyfest when they were featured at Zen River.  They have now found their home at the Raven’s Nest and are waiting to be read along a weaving trail that makes its way though 4 directions, 4 seasons, 4 colours…. a shoreline, a cedars swamp, a hill top, a twisting slope into a rocky ravine…. however; the path its self is the poem and it will speak to you through your own meditative footsteps… the printed poems mere illustrations to slow you down on your “way” into this humble landscape…  in nature your path is made with your footsteps…

For information and directions email Jim Larwill


Monday, 27 August 2012

newspaper article on "AcornFest" (PurdyFest #6)

For this year, PurdyFest became AcornFest

Posted Aug 9, 2012 By Judy Backus

Click to Enlarge
 Rachel Berenzon was one of several to read from their own works during
Photo: Judy Backus
Rachel Berenzon was one of several to read from their own works during "another dam poetry reading" held in conjunction with the Annual PurdyFest.
EMC News -Marmora -Marmora and Malone were, for the sixth consecutive year, the headquarters of the annual PurdyFest organized by Chris Faiers. A Saturday afternoon symposium held at the Memorial Building, featuring the work of the late poet Milton Acorn, was attended by many, both from nearby and afar.

One of the presenters, poet Jim Larwill, who now lives in Quebec, gave, as Faiers says, "a very well received paper at the Symposium on Milton Acorn and his Legacy." Larwill has attended all five of the past PurdyFests, where he helps campers at the Malone site "set up their tents, find the outhouse, build campfires (when the burn ban isn't in effect) and generally make everyone feel comfortable and welcome." Later, during a reading by the dam, Larwill gave a heartfelt and very spirited performance of Milton Acorn's classic poem, "I Shout Love."

Professor and author Terry Barker, along with publisher and scholar Joyce Wayne, were also in attendance, leading presentations on Acorn and his recent posthumous collection, "In a Springtime Instant."

As is the tradition, the symposium was followed by what is termed, "Another Dam Poetry Reading," located on an islet in the Crowe River next to the dam. With fishermen nearby, cicadas humming in the grass and ducks landing on the placid waters, it was a perfect setting for poetry.

A peaceful musical interlude, provided by Morley Ellis, was followed by a round robin session with the poets presenting either their own works or those of fellow poets.

Just prior to the start of the readings, Faiers commented on the symposium, saying that this year's PurdyFest was being called AcornFest in honour of Milton Acorn, who, he said, "didn't get the proper recognition as a Canadian poet."

One of the last to read was Jim Christy of Stirling, whose poem, "Elder Legend," spoke of Marmora and playing cards in the "room beside the library at the Memorial Building." It concluded, after talk of rheumy glances, and aching joints, "Now forever banned from golden age

Opportunities, exiled to Marmora's

Few streets, the shadow I cast on no-

Nonsense limestone wall, as crooked

As my past and bent like

The knobbly cane vanity left at home.

I'll be pointed at from pickup trucks

And Bruce's barbershop: A legend at last."

Toronto videographer Henry Martinuk, who Faiers describes as a widely respected media expert, is in the process of filming documentaries on other important Canadian cultural activities and recorded all the "AcornFest" events, with Faiers saying, "It is nice to know that PurdyFest, all the poets, and Marmora and area are being recorded for posterity."

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Only One - Anna Yin poem (commentary by Chris)

The Only One

I do know the silence
since I talk a lot in silence.
There are many colors in it;
I name each as my siblings.

But I am the only child.
I don’t have anyone to fight
or to accompany.
God says,
we are all the same, brothers and sisters.
But he too is lost,
and the lonely one.

As I walk with my shadow
I think of his journey.
I wonder
how could he carry all the burdens.

The road in front becomes foggy.


Best wishes,

Anna Yin

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Welcome back, Anna  :  )

I'm pleased to hear your trip was enjoyable and that the poetry interview in China went well.

Yes, PurdyFest #6 - AcornFest - was fun and yet another great "vacation for poets"! (thanks for coming up with this definition - it's making my life much easier when I try to explain the fests as briefly & accurately as possible).

And I really like your poem. It seems somewhat of a new direction for you (?)

(use of humorous self-deprecation)

I love the metaphysical irony and self-deprecating humour of "since I talk a lot in silence" - to me it sounds like you are becoming increasingly 'Canadianized' in your use and understanding of humorous self-deprecation in your poetry - this is a major, maybe predominant, Canadian personality trait. The best Canadian poets use this to strong effect - esp. Al Purdy. Milt also used this in what I consider his most humanized poems, like "Riding with Joe Hensby" or "I'll become a statue to myself". A little self-parody in poetry goes a long way to making poetry accessible - perhaps it should be considered a key aspect of People's Poetry.

(spiritual viewpoints: Christian/Buddhist)

Another new (?) aspect in your writing is a shift in your spiritual perspective (I could be wrong on this, as I don't know the body of your older work).

Our personal situations are possibly a mirror image, from what little I know of your spiritual & cultural background. You are from the East, China - the Orient, where the dominant spiritualities and religions are more internal, and yet I understand you are a practicing Christian.

I'm from the West, and was raised in that most traditional and establishment of Christian churches, the Anglican (or Church of England - same as Terry). I was a true believer and even the head altar boy until about age 15. Around age 14 I seriously began to question the sincerity of my fellow parishioners, including my parents and our priest. It seemed that no one either really believed or practiced what they claimed to believe at Sunday morning services.

I remember at age 15 driving to church with my parents and younger brother, and then climbing over a large wooded hill to a secluded lake. I found more spiritual sustenance roaming around the lake in a state of mild reverie than I had ever felt in church, even as a participant in preparing and serving the sacrament to the parishioners. Those Sunday strolls in nature likely became the early foundations for my later adoption of a nature oriented spirituality (like the romantic Lake poet Wordsworth) and which further broadened into a Buddhist awareness.

When I was 18 I became eligible for the draft for the American War in Vietnam. Even the popular media of the time exposed the hypocrisy and wrongness of the war, but I had to make and live by my own spiritual and social guidelines. I bought a used paperback on meditation to help me cope with a stressful schedule of attending college full time (while also working a 30 hour week - now this would be considered a full time job). I also had to commute several hours a day between school and work, and out of desperation with my situation I found a relaxing answer in practicing yoga.

The book also had some advice on breathing during the yoga asana poses, and some hints at meditative practices. I took to both yoga and meditation like a duck to water, and I've practiced meditation to some degree the rest of my life. It was also during this time that I discovered haiku poetry, and again I took to it as if continuing something begun in another lifetime (which I now believe).

(use of doubt in your poem)

Of course there is some minor history of the benefit of doubt in Christianity (Thomas Aquinas, etc.), but I find the point of view in this poem to be more Buddhist in outlook than Christian. The dominant theme is silence, and yet 'speaking' within this silence - sounds like meditation or 'true' prayer to me.

My understanding of Buddhism is that we all have a Buddha within, just as Christians supposedly carry the Christ spirit. But almost all the Christians I have met believe that God is somewhere OUT THERE, not primarily, or even at all, inside themselves.

But when an individual human is 'lost' in maya, 'worldly illusion', the Buddha within may be considered occluded (hidden, obscured). And this is how I interpret the conclusion to your poem, that in a Christian belief system there is just too much confusion for one God to deal with ("how could he carry all the burdens").

From what I consider an almost Buddhist perspective, you conclude the poem with the protagonist's  "The road in front becomes foggy".

It's a very strong poem, Anna, and the spiritual questing and questioning resonate with me and my belief systems. Well done!

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... wrffffffffffffffffffffffff! (get me outta here - you've been typing for an hour - time to head to ZenRiver for the day)

p.s. be interesting to hear what Terry makes of my interpretation
p.p.s. I'm cc'ing this to Marvin Orbach, a retired archival librarian who is collecting materials for the Univ. of Calgary special Canadiana literary collections - hope this is OK?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Poet Founding Fathers: D'Arcy McGee and Jose Marti (topic for PurdyFest #7?)

Honourable Thomas D'Arcy McGee
Last Thursday evening Terry Barker and I got together at the Hanoi 3 Seasons Restaurant in Toronto to begin planning PurdyFest #7. We agreed an interesting theme would be a comparison of the 'founding father poets' D'Arcy McGee (Canada) and Jose Marti (Cuba).

We both feel that the first six PurdyFests have covered a sufficiently wide range of Canadian People's Poetry, and that perhaps it is time to 'go more international' with the fests.

Your input on this proposal appreciated.

Terry is keen to present a paper on McGee, and we hope Tai Grove (President of the Canada-Cuba Literary Asociation - CCLA) and perhaps Lisa Makarchuk (of the Canada Cuba Friendship Society) would be interested in presenting papers on Jose Marti. 

Thumbnails of the first 6 PurdyFests

PurdyFest #1 evolved from a series of "Controversies" regarding Canadian People's Poetry organized by poet James Deahl and Terry Barker.

PurdyFest #2 then logically focused on our namesake poet, Al Purdy.

PurdyFest #3 had a haiku theme, and haijin Terry Ann Carter and Claudia Coutu Radmore led a renku session.

Fest #4 focused on the legacy of Toronto People's Poet Ted Plantos. Special thanks to Kent Bowman and Mick Burrs.

#5 focused on resurrecting the legacy of seminal Canadian poet Raymond Souster. This led to a widely attended tribute evening at Runnymede Public Library, Ray's home library branch.

And the recent #6 focused on resurrecting and restoring the legacy of Canada's greatest poet, Milton Acorn.

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Poet Founding Fathers: D'Arcy McGee and Jose Marti...":

Hi Chris

I love the new 'international' emphasis and the D'Arcy McGee/Jose Marti nexus. Congrats to you, Chris, for putting Cdn poetry on the map. I hope one day you'll write a sort of biography of the movement: which might turn into a sort of 'manifesto' text Canada-wide.

My only concern is that Purdyfest not become too 'academic': discussion yes, and participation from everyone but I hope you'll avoid the temptation to go the "specialist"'s route, poetry for "experts" only. This is antithetical to the People's Poetry ideal.

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 25 August 2012 13:35

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Thanks for the support, Conrad  :  ) The ideal person to write such a biography would be James Deahl, or perhaps a co-authorship with Terry Barker.

No threat of PurdyFests becoming overly academic. The Symposiums (ia?) give the fests some focus, but as Anna Yin wisely noted, "PurdyFests are vacations for poets!" There's just too much energy from the Shield, from nature and nature spirits,
from the collective energy of so many great Canadian poets just hanging out & reading together ( and of course the occasional magickal libation from the LCBO) to keep everything from getting 'too' serious.

- Chris/cricket ... and Chase ... Wrfffffffffffff!

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Poet Founding Fathers: D'Arcy McGee and Jose Marti...":

"PurdyFests are vacations for poets!"

I like that!

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at
25 August 2012 15:42

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first reaction. really? not a single woman did or said or was anything?


Infinite Diversity, Infinite Beauty; Blog it all.

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Interesting point, Pearl. Maybe we should do a Symposium on women People's Poets, starting with Dorothy Livesay.
- Chris

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email of Sept. 3/12

Dear Friends,
I was honoured to be invited in on your discussions in regard to the suitability of Darcy McGee or Louis Riel at Purdyfest. It is an interesting dilemma and one in which the introduction of the potential of honouring Jose Marti bears consideration. I think if we were to ask Milton Acorn or Purdy himself they would have some pretty strong opinions, especially when it comes to McGee.

I have been researching Riel for well over 25 years and although I have great admiration and respect for his work as well as his poetry I would be challenged to recommend him as a major subject at Purdyfest as his subject matter is largely religious and his political poems, word-plays are very often in French and dated in their connotations. In regard to McGee I am agreement with Katherine that he leaves a great deal to be desired politically especially if he is to be compared to Marti, and although he left behind a significant amount of poetry it too is dated and frankly maudlin. Purdy would be looking for youth and vigour, poetry to lead us into the future. 

I am including a short booklet from my research into McGee & Riel, it is a follow-up to The Prophet and the Apostle of the New World, Louis Riel & Jose Marti, my tribute to two great revolutionary leaders of the Nineteenth Century. I have sent this work to Cuba and hope to have a Spanish-English version available for 2013.

Warm regards from the Great NorthWest, and please feel free to share this e-mail with your CC list.

David Doyle
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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Shaman Medicine Lecture/Ten Pine Trees (haibun)

Snow Lion Lecture Series 2012
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

"Shaman Medicine and the Language of Spirit"
with: Theodore Tsaousidis

At the Snow Lion 708A Pape Ave.

Time: 7:30PM to 9:00PM*
Cost: Dana / donation (according to your means)

As a child Theodore’s relationship with the spirit world was natural and effortless. As an adult he understood that while most did not feel this same connection they did suffer an innate longing to reconnect to spirit and healing.  Many of us experience a disconnect to our mundane world as well.   Our conditioning, our wounds and our brokenness separate us from both worlds.   The longing for healing exists across all apparent boundaries.

The language of spirit is the infinite communication that permeates all worlds.

Learn to listen with your eyes, see with your ears, perceive without boundaries  -  one interdependent reality.

Information will also be available for the 3-Day Mindfulness Shamanic Retreat Sept 14-16th

*Please arrive early as the doors will be closing at 7:30pm (no admittance after doors close)

You are receiving this email because you have opted in at our web site or signed our email request form.

Snow Lion: The Meditation Shop
708A Pape Ave.
Toronto, ON M4K 3S7
416 461-1611

Copyright (C) 2008 Snow Lion: The Meditation Shop All rights reserved

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I'm so pleased with the success of the inaugural Al Purdy Literary
Festival, especially the the involvement of so many poets who were
willing to bare their souls  at the reading on the Marmora dam. The
highlight for me, though, was our picnic with Al Purdy at his
gravesite in Ameliasburgh. 

I've been involved with Buddhism for over forty years, especially
with haiku and haibun poetry, but you never know how seriously
you are taken by more experienced practitioners. I took two of our
visitors to the Purdy Festival to meet Thay, the Buddhist monk who
oversees the Zen Forest Buddhist retreat in Actinolite north of

I showed Thay some photos of my neo-Buddhist retreat, ZenRiver
Gardens, with some trepidation. Thay is an extremely venerated
Buddhist monk, the descendant of generations of Zen masters, and
I was concerned he might consider my efforts silly. Thay smiled
while looking at the photos, commented that ZenRiver needed more
trees, and offered to give ten pines from the Zen Forest to the

     ten pine trees
march through the night
Zen Forest to ZenRiver  

Last weekend I visited Toronto to care for an old friend recovering
from a breast cancer operation. On Saturday I visited the Snow Lion
Buddhist Shop by the Pape subway station. The steward of Snow
Lion is Theodore, and again I was concerned that the neo-Buddhist/
shaman conversation I had previously shared with him might have
seemed silly. Theodore hugged me when I arrived, showed me their
new Zen garden, and told me that  holding a picnic with the dead is
very much in the Buddhist tradition. He then gave me an incredibly
valuable bronze Buddha statue for ZenRiver Gardens.

So the dharma road is wide open and ZenRiver Gardens has
apparently been accepted as a valid retreat among fellow Buddhist
practitioners. The positive follow-ups to PurdyFest have manifested
themselves in so many unexpected ways, for so many people, we'll
definitely have to do it again next year.

more rare than the cougar
snow lion comes to water
         at ZenRiver   

from ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun
Chris Faiers/cricket
Hidden Brook Press, 2008
ISBN 978-1-897475-25-6
(limited number of copies still available by request from me)

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Monday, 13 August 2012

Katherine L. Gordon: Two New Poems


From gentle rain so hesitant to clear
the throat of cloud meeting
a rumble arose in percussion sections
of lowering sky-draped tiers
then the flash of Valkyrie warning
as the deluge came in walls
of water drowning the day
a tabernacle darkness
rent by lightning lancers
temptation to close screens, doors and pores
yet deep desire to watch the desert turn
to re- jungle the Ygdrasil centre
of our restless, drought withered
still unruly hearts.

A Dearness of Doomed Humanity

bright and brave
brutal and ruthless
loving and lusting
we poured across savannah
tamed horses
galloped in conquest
over a beauty of planet
fresh and fertile
life as numerous as stars
until each space was filled,
now we reach for the vanished
see the barrens with guilty eyes
life thrill diminished
exalting as holy the time
before the evil of oil
took the wild away,
return to sun worship
an instinct encoded
but the angry sun now scorches
his fearful greedy children.

Katherine L. Gordon
August 2012

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Katherine L. Gordon: Two New Poems":

Thanks, Chris, for posting Katherine's works,

Canada's only true poet-seer. We would all do well to heed her "Valkyrie warning".

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 13 August 2012 11:37

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 HearOurWords has left a new comment on your post "Katherine L. Gordon: Two New Poems":

I enjoyed Katherine's poems especially the subtle references she makes to the important issues without the use of a club.

Posted by HearOurWords to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 14 August 2012 05:42

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Friday, 10 August 2012

my library career: fiction and a real life witch hunt

Note: email to Marvin Orbach after he asked about my career in library work
Aug. 2, 2012

You piqued my interest with this request for my background & history in library work. While I'm waiting for this morning's caffeine hit to take effect, I'll attempt a brief biography  : )

I was born of a Brit dad, stationed in Canada near here during WW2, and an 'upper class' mother from Ancaster, Ontario. It wasn't an especially happy marriage, and typical of many new postwar families, we moved around a lot. We ended up living in the U.S., where I attended school from ages 7 to 20. The Vietnam War came calling, & I made the mistake of departing for the UK, rather than returning to Canada, where I was born.

The reason for this background is the role it has played in my political and poetical developments and awareness. In England I lived briefly with my cousin, who was a middle class brit snot, who literally threw me into the streets of Kingston-on-Thames after a month or two. I ended up living (surviving) in the derelict Eel Pie Island Hotel for almost 2 years, and then traveled across the UK and even into Spain for the remainder of my 3-year sojourn in the UK.

I decided to return to Canada in 1972 at age 24. I enrolled at the Univ. of Guelph, but after 3 years of street life, I just didn't fit in. The "kids", and even the profs, seemed hopelessly naive, & unaware & disinterested & irrelevant to world affairs, so I joined the Canadian Liberation Movement (CLM) at a campus book table. It was through the CLM that I met Milton Acorn, which led to my renewed interest in writing poetry.

But all this political awareness and jumping from country to country had also led to my almost complete disenfranchisement from mainstream society. I worked at a steel factory in Guelph, Ontario for a year, attempting to organize a Canadian 'splinter' union. Then CLM moved me to Toronto for 're-education' - Hoo, what a scary misnomer that is!

I worked as an unpaid volunteer for CLM from around 1974 until its dissolution from extreme sectarianism and social fascism around 1975. I was forced to find some sort of work to eat, & I got a job at New College at Univ. of Toronto as a delivery driver for Saga Foods. In the kitchens I was asked to become a cook, & I became the first apprentice cook for them at George Brown College. I eventually completed all my apprenticeship requirements and exams and received "red seal" status as a cook/chef.

But on the side my real vocation was writing, esp. poetry, and working as a cook was just too grinding, too hard and soul-destroying to consider as a permanent lifestyle. While cooking I decided to organize a poetry reading series at the local branch of Toronto Public Library, the branch on Main Street in Toronto's east end. I founded the monthly series there in 1979,  the year after I founded Unfinished Monument Press.

After organizing the series for several years, I began looking longingly at the comparatively easy & literate jobs the library workers enjoyed, and I decided to try and join them. I'm probably one of the few published ("serious") Canadian writers who has directly benefited from employment with a Canadian public library.

An irony is that I was hired as an entry level desk clerk, a "clerical" in TPL lingo. As a clerical I wasn't supposed to be organizing events, but as I had already been doing this for 3 years, the library and the union turned a blind eye to this infraction  :  )  I wasn't allowed to be paid for organizing the readings, tho, and basically no librarians showed any interest in attending the series, altho a 'who's who' of Canadian writers read during its 6 years (Milton Acorn, Afua Pam Cooper, bill bissett, bp Nichol, George Jonas, Mary diMichele, Lillian Allen with reggae band Truth 'n Rights, James Deahl, Robert Priest, Daniel Jones, Roo Borson etc. .)

As I never bothered finishing my BA, and obtaining an MA to become a librarian just didn't look economically possible, I was stuck with being a clerical at TPL. In 1985 I somehow managed to buy a small starter house near the Gerrard/Ashdale Branch of TPL, and I transferred to working there as a clerical. In total I worked 6 1/2 years for TPL, and I found the work extremely easy after the gruelling years of working as a gravedigger, a steel worker, and an institutional cook. The easy job left me lots of time to focus on literary activities, both my own writing and expanding Unfinished Monument Press, organizing the Canadian Poetry Association etc. .

The Toronto housing boom of the late 1980s made me feel I'd won a small lottery after a lifetime of low paying and generally unsatisfying and unchallenging jobs. I decided to cash out & move to rural Ontario to write the great Canadian novel  :  ) I landed in the old mining hamlet of Cordova Mines in April 1989, and lived off the profits from the house sale for a couple of years. After about 2 years in Cordova I tired of the impossibly high heating bills in the uninsulated old farmhouse, & bought a small bungalow in the nearby village of Marmora from my friend Morley Ellis' grandad. I've been in this house for over 20 years, many times the longest I've lived at one address during my lifetime.

As the house profits dwindled, I realized I had to find a job, and I took the extended real estate courses and tests & obtained my real estate license. Unfortunately, this was the time of the recession of the early 1990s, & altho I had the most sales in my Bowes and Cocks branch, I couldn't make a living at real estate. The Marmora village needed a head librarian, & I was hired there part time in the early 1990s - I believe I eked out a living on around $12K a year! After 3 years I was fired for supporting one of the volunteers I had recruited. The gutless small town library board didn't support my principled stand against a local political martinet with a very checkered past.

After a year's unemployment, I was hired to be the CEO/Head Librarian with the larger Stirling library. But history eventually repeated itself, & after a decade of creative & committed  service, I was viciously fired in what can best be described as a rural witch hunt. Again, a gutless board refused to even let me speak to the trumped-up & nebulous charges, & so with the help of a good lawyer I received wrongful dismissal pay. This was almost 6 years ago at age 58.

I've somehow managed to economically survive since then, and have even managed to co-found the annual Purdy Country Literary Festivals (PurdyFests). So my almost 20 years of service as a public librarian was certainly a checkered one, & one with a mix of positive and negative memories!

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Time to poopify Chase, and emails have started arriving, prob. re the beginning tomorrow of AcornFest.
gotta go,
peace & poetry power!
Chris & Chase ... Wrooooooooooooooooooooof!

On 2012-08-02, at 7:12 AM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
  Cheers, from Montreal West.
P.S. Maybe in some future e-mail you could tell me what kind of
library work you did in years gone by.

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(email from poet/photographer Stan White)
Aug. 13, 2012

Thanks, Chris for Katherine’s poems.

I was intrigued by your biography. In my own case I worked like a dog all my life resulting in a carefree moneywise retirement. I was “fortunate” in never realizing I had any choice, so I just did it. I have been retired for 20 years. Now I could never go back to working. Not because I’m old, but because I can’t see any point to it. I believe that long workless periods inevitably create this effect. It happened to you when you were young. To function in this world it is necessary to retain the blinkers that you are born with. If you see it for what it is, it is very difficult to do what it demands of you when it is just for money. The conundrum is: to give up comfort now for comfort in the future. As soon as you realize this is the deal you can’t do it. It’s a no brainer.

Outside of the values that the world imposes it is difficult to say which of us got the better deal but we probably had no choice. We are all victims of ours own circumstance.

Thanks again,


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(my email reply to Stan)
Aug. 13/2012

Hi Stan,
Thanks for sharing your perspective on employment. I'm pretty sure we both did the right thing - we both did 'OK' given our personal circumstances -  I wouldn't change anything - I'm glad I traveled in my early 20s and did all those crazy things. The upshot, tho, was that I was later disenfranchised or marginalized in the work world for most of my adult life.

In a small way it was like being black - no one takes you seriously when you've been marginalized - it's kind of what the women's movement used to say - you have to work twice as hard and accomplish twice as much to be taken seriously - by which time I'd usually lost respect for my employers & co-workers for being so blinkered and biased.

Doubly difficult when you know you're an artist, a Canadian artist at that, & you come to realize the economic futility for most. So I did what I could to ease the burdens of the work world, & ended up the head librarian/CEO at Stirling-Rawdon Public Library for a decade. And then the f*ckers got me anyway - maybe I did too much for them, & that just pissed them off more than if I'd been a good Canuck, muddled along, & done the bare minimum.  

I'm going to publish your comments on my blog under my "library career" posting - OK with you?

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

p.s. I'm doing comfortably in my premature 'forced' retirement. In my early 30s, after less than a decade in Canada, I seriously studied how to succeed economically here. BUY A HOUSE & PAY IT OFF was what I learned, which I did within 4 or 5 years. So I've got no mortgage, a nice retreat (ZenRiver Gardens), a 'cool' older car (2000 Subaru rally sport - almost a full-blown rally race car) & all the time I wish to write, organize poetry events here & in TO, walk Chase, drink beer, whatever. And if I had waited until now to travel, well Interpol/CSIS/CIA etc. would prob. put paid to that fantasy pretty quickly  :  )

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(email from Katherine L. Gordon)
Aug. 13, 2012)

Read your bio dear Chris,  quite the story, and yet you turned out to be a great influence on modern poetry and on some marvellous contemporaries.
And now you have Chase, Zen River and a great  blog!   Did it your way, hence more interesting than the slogging slogs.  A great blessing well-earned.
Do you know of the international magazine, World Poetry Organization I think,  called  Sketchbook?   They have asked to do a profile of me,
all my book covers, a photo, a bio ( I did a non-boring one I hope)  6 poems and a big questionnaire.   It should appear in the fall issue, I’ll let you know.    Hope Quern gets launched this fall.   What would we do without the Muse of our hidden sanctuaries?
Love to you and the Chase,   Katherine.

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Thursday, 9 August 2012

PurdyFest #6 article in EMC newspaper - Aug. 2, 2012

This is PurdyFest weekend in Marmora

Posted Aug 2, 2012 By EMC News

EMC Entertainment -The sixth annual Purdy Country Literary Festival (PurdyFest) will be held this weekend in Marmora and the hamlet of Malone. Poets from across Ontario will again gather to celebrate and share their poetry. The focus of this year's festival is resurrecting the legacy of Canada's "People's Poet" Milton Acorn. Professor/ author Terry Barker and publisher/scholar Joyce Wayne will lead presentations on Acorn and his recent posthumous collection, In A Springtime Instant, at a symposium in the Marmora Library building from 12:30 to 2:30 on Saturday, August 4. Copies of Milton's book (Mosaic Press) will be available at a special festival price of $20.

After the symposium poets and musicians will gather on the islet in the Marmora Dam to share a round robin poetry reading. Everyone is invited to participate in this fun event, Another Dam Poetry Reading, which will be kicked off by popular Marmora musician Morley Ellis.

Two big events will be featured on Sunday afternoon at organizer Chris Faiers' retreat, ZenRiver Gardens, in the hamlet of Malone. That Not Forgotten, edited by Kingston poet Bruce Kauffman, is an anthology featuring the work of over 100 poets, many of them from this area. Tai Grove, the book's publisher with Hidden Brook Press, will host this large reading, which will include a performance from professional singer Honey Novick. Tai will then switch hats and emcee a group reading by members of The Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance. Time permitting, poets will be able to share in an open mike reading after the group readings.

The annual potluck supper is a great chance to meet and mingle with the Fest's poets/publishers/musicians/ visual artists. It will be held late Friday afternoon, August 3, at ZenRiver Gardens.

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "PurdyFest #6 article in EMC newspaper - Aug. 2, 20...":

Congrats, on another Purdyfest!

This is the mother of all Canadian poetry festivals.

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 10 August 2012 10:43

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vid of Henry driving to Zenriver Gardens/Chris reading Purdy's "in the caves"/Honey Novic singing /

I've edited together my video of driving to ZenRiverGardens with Chris' reading of Purdy's "In The Cavess" and Honey's "Milton's Song" for a Chernozym Video. Just click on the link below:

Please let me know what you think.

[I compressed the drive video; I don't drive that fast]

cheers, Henry

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Hi Henry,
 I laughed thru the whole vid - man, maybe you DO drive that fAst!

Also an instructional vid for those driving to ZenRiver Gardens for the first time 
I followed every twist & turn on the
Deloro Road - I drive it every day and every nite in my sleep!

please post wherever, whenever ... a truly instructional video  !!!   : )

a grrreat fest, Milt was there ... and Big Al ... the crows and ravens gave them away ...

thanks for attending,
peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff! (hey, you made me a matinee idol for dogs!!!!!!)

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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Milton - poem by Jim Larwill (post "AcornFest")

Hi Chris... another great fest... sorry I didn't stick around to visit longer... maybe I needed to get back here to write this one?

You can post it if you want.


"I'll seep down into earth, rise and become that bird"  Acorn


My influences are not pushing me
we are on the same timeless train;
I am in the toy car ahead of them.

This circular track moves forward
Laughter is the sound of its wheels:
Motionless the engine pulls a dream.

In center of it all there is a child
trapped by a world of imagination.
Outside this window a dog barks.

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(email from David Day/Aug. 7/12)

Hi Chris

I'm really sorry I didn't make it, but I couldn't catch a ride with anybody on Saturday, and I needed to get back to TO late that evening. I found that I could get a bus up on Saturday morning, but the only return bus was at 3:00 in the afternoon - so, I would miss everything after about 2:30 in the afternoon - which would have been a bit ludicrous.

Anyway, glad to hear it was a successful Acornfest. I have been reading 'In a Springtime Instant' over the last few weeks. I knew a few of Milton's more famous poems, and did have a few encounters with him, but these were in his declining years when he was not in good form; so I must shamefully admit until I read 'Springtime' I hadn't really looked deeply into his work, and hadn't appreciated what a large and solid body of work Milton had behind him. James did a brilliant job of editing this book, and Terry's talk at the Burns monument really gave me an important historical context for him - and the significance of the Free Speech Movement.

How many poets in this country have ever been directly responsible for the changing of a law - especially one that was so obviously in direct contravention of human rights!  Hopefully, this book and events around it like Acornfest will bring a new appreciation and consciousness of Milton's place in Canadian Literature.

All the best
David Day

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(email reply from Chris/Aug. 7/12)

Hi David,
Yes, it's really far too much to expect people to wend their way up here for one day. I managed to finally convince Terry to book a cheap motel room for the duration, & we had a great time festing & generally hanging out between events. This is really the goal of PurdyFests - getting city poets out here to Purdy country to explore & enjoy the land. As Terry noted in a phone chat last nite, the range of PurdyFest is far broader than just the Marmora and ZenRiver areas.

Hopefully you'll consider doing the same for a future fest & stay longer than the Saturday. The Belle Vista Motel is extremely reasonably priced - under $50 a nite - about $53 with taxes! It's a real time warp place to stay - right out of the 1950s. It's neat & clean, even a small fridge & TV - but no pool, no hot tub ...

Thanks for relating your growing awareness of Milt's place in CanPo history - & in the broader politikal context of Canadian culture & zeitgesit. Best damn poet this country's produced, bar none!!!

see you in TO,
peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffffff! (I missed you, too)

p.s. how about posting these comments on the NOW mag site - Robert would appreciate it, as would all "Acornites" - I had no problem posting using my Google account

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Hi Pearl & Brian,
Great to see you & Brian at AcornFest!!!! I'm almost too hi to type right now ... how about posting your pics on the BOOK ONTARIO site as  well?

So pleased both of you were able to make it this year - getting higher by the moment   : ) - better stop typing ...

great fest!!!
Chase &  I say hi
peace & poetry power!
C&C ... wroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof! (from both of us! )

On 2012-08-09, at 1:30 PM, Pearl wrote:0

Pearl has left a new comment on your post "Milton - poem by Jim Larwill (post "AcornFest")":

Hi Chris.
Wonderful of you to host this gathering. always such a friendly vibe.

I put some pictures up. Some names have slipped my mind:

Posted by Pearl to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 9 August 2012 10:30

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Monday, 6 August 2012

"AcornFest" a Success/Picasso Poem (Virginia Dixon)/A-burgh trek

Hi Carol,
Following is my poetry selection for the Sept./Oct. issue of UMBRELLA. I heard Virginia read it at ANOTHER DAM POETRY READING during this weekend's PurdyFest, & asked her permission to publish it. It's a great poem, & shows us where a major local visual artist got her youthful inspiration!

"AcornFest" was a super success, despite a slow start. We had a handful of visitors at the potluck supper on Friday, but we got an far better than expected attendance at the Symposium on resurrecting Milton Acorn's legacy on Saturday - we had 20+. Even more people showed up for the dam reading (25 - 30) and then on Sunday we crammed two pavilion tents with double group readings from the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance and the pre-launch reading from the new Hidden Brook Press anthology THAT NOT FORGOTTEN (hard to estimate, but I'd guess 40 -50).

This afternoon I was able to take co-organizer Terry Barker to visit Ameliasburgh and Purdy's gravesite and A-frame for the first time.

All in all a great weekend for People's Poetry!   ... know we did Milt proud  :  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffff! (who enjoyed all the attention!)

Voice of the Land sm

Our poets at rest: Al Purdy

Alfred Wellington Purdy Born: Wooler, Ontario; December 30, 1918 Died: Sidney, B.C.; April 21, 2000 Buried: Ashes buried in Ameliasburg Cemetery Photo: Linda Rogers Gravestone epigraph This is where I came to when my body left its body and my spirit stayed in its spirit home. Al Purdy was one of the most influential and popular Canadian poets of the 20th Century. He wrote more than 30 collections of poetry, the last of which, Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, was published posthumously, in autumn, 2000. He won two Governor General’s Awards for Poetry, the first for The Cariboo [...]

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Hi Chris,

thanks very much for inviting me to send my poem/ text for publication in Umbrella. This excites me as I was just at the current Picasso exhibition in Toronto and it completes the experience for me.

We took Jean out to Zen River this morning and she was awed by the beauty and Jim's stupa. She has a train to catch in Belleville this afternoon so we didn't stay long. Jim's heading back however so you'll meet up over more poetry.

Hugs for Chase!


PICASSO MEMOIRS     Virginia Dixon

I loved pictures before I loved Picasso but at age nine, while visiting the “Picasso and
Man” exhibition at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal I fell in love with desire;
lines on paper by the hand of a man whom I knew to be living, somewhere in France,
older yes, but alive at the same time as me on the same planet. It seemed incredible.  

I felt insistently many things.  Who were these nude women? Trapped in a child’s
body I was jealous of their breasts, their eyes and hair between their legs, which
seemed to demand Picasso’s blackest hatchings or spills of ink. I could feel their flesh
under the touch of his pen; feel his eyes’ amusement at my curious glances.

Arithmetic calculated that Picasso was now eighty-two. If I left for France
at sixteen that would put him at eighty-nine....then suddenly rage!
I was no model longing for the artist’s gaze! I was the artist, making all of these
feelings now dangerous. Would Picasso ever take my drawing seriously?  Could two
great artists share the planet at the same time?  Thank God he was old. Thank God I
was safe in my little girl body.

The following day my father read aloud the review in The Gazette over breakfast. The
critic quoted a child’s overheard comment, “I liked the bare ones best!” They’re called
“Nudes” I said to myself, relieved at the distance between Montreal and Paris.

When I was twenty-two I went to France. Picasso had died three years earlier and I
remember leaning on a stone wall overlooking Vauvenargues, his villa, imagining him
as I had seen him in photographs seated in a large room looking at a canvas, smoking,
with sunlight angling through tall windows.  A housekeeper was visible in the garden
and I half wondered if she’d let me in if I dared explain the situation.  She grew
impatient with my lingering and waved at me to move on. I didn’t know he was
buried near by.

Can you bury Picasso?  Lately, when I drink too much red wine, I start crying over the
guy. He’s not faring so well at the close of the century; feminism is rewriting his
history and painting in general is ridiculed. When Francoise Gilot came to
Harbourfront to read from her book Matisse and Picasso I stood in line not for her
signature, although I got that too, but to look into the eyes
that had looked into his as a woman, a lover, a painter. She was seated at a table, I
was standing, which required her to raise her eyelids as she handed me back my copy
of her book. She allowed me a glimpse before lowering them again, putting a closure
on my dreams for Picasso.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

AcornFest hour-by-hour updates : )

AcornFest updates Sunday morning: Aug. 5/12

Following are a couple of info emails I sent to EMC (local newspaper) journalist Judy Backus.

Hi Again Judy,
Still waking up after a long day of poetry festing yesterday. It might be worth mentioning in your article for EMC that Toronto videographer Henry Martinuk is recording all our "AcornFest" events. Henry is a widely respected media expert who is in the process of filming documentaries on other important Canadian cultural activities (yesterday he mentioned a current project on noted artist Charles Pachter). Nice to know that PurdyFest, all the poets, and Marmora and area are being recorded for posterity.

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Begin forwarded message:

From: Chris Faiers <>
Date: August 5, 2012 9:41:41 AM EDT
To: judy
subject: the poet from Quebec is Jim Larwill

Hi Judy,
You asked me during our interview yesterday about the "poet who came from Quebec". That's Jim Larwill (I think of Jim as an Ottawa poet, but he lives in Quebec in a cabin without running water on a small lake - a true rural shaman/poet!).

Jim presented a very well received paper at the Symposium on Milton Acorn and his Legacy yesterday. The doc should accompany this email.

Jim has attended the past 5 PurdyFests, where he acts as the 'kamp kommandant", helping the campers set up their tents, find the outhouse, build campfires (when the burn ban isn't in effect) and generally make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.

Jim is also the 'star' of every PurdyFest he attends - it was Jim who gave us the shaman chants and howl songs last summer, and it was Jim who gave the great performance of Milton Acorn's classic poem I SHOUT LOVE! yesterday at the dam reading.

Thanks for staying for the whole reading - I know you had other plans & obligations, so it's a credit to the poets that you stuck around, regardless  :  )

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

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From: Chris Faiers <>
Date: August 4, 2012 11:01:29 AM EDT
To: anna yinSubject: Hi from AcornFest - Terry & Chris

Hi Anna,
It's almost 11 am on Saturday morning, & Terry and I have just had coffee at my little house. Last nite we had a great, but small, gathering for the potluck supper at ZenRiver. Jim Larwill arrived at noon, & then I met Terry at the Belle Vista Motel where He's* staying for the weekend & we drove out to ZRG for the evening.

After the potluck (& Shane Neilson & his family arriving at dusk to set up camp), Terry & I returned to Marmora to visit Joyce Wayne & her friend at the Marmora Inn. We shared a beer and then took them for a walk around Marmora so they'd be comfortable finding the library this morning for the symposium & the dam reading.

Everyone says hi to you - we miss having you & Jack & Jason to share stories & poetry at ZenRiver and here in Marmora.

Good luck on the 10th on your TV interview in Beijing!!! 

peace & poetry power!
Terry, Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

* Terry appreciates me deifying him with the capital "H"    ;  )

weather is fine, but still lively hot & dry
tomorrow may be very busy with the 2 group readings - will let you know

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Hi J & S,

We had 30+ at the dam, & then most people headed back to ZRG. I burned out after eating more of Dan's seafood delite, & just got home around 8:20. Shane & his family are at Dream as well somewhere.

Simplest directions to ZRG:

Turn west onto highway #7 (towards Ottawa). Drive a couple of kms to the flashing orange overhead lights (Deloro Road). Turn left onto Deloro Road & continue another couple of Kms to the hamlet of Deloro.

Everyone misses where the Deloro road turns sharply left onto the main street of Deloro. Not to worry - the road dead ends in a hundred yards if you miss the turn.

Return to the Deloro Road & drive thru the hamlet. Continue on the Deloro Road about another 7 or 8 kms to the even smaller hamlet of Malone.

Turn right onto MALONE QUARRY ROAD (it's dirt). ZenRiver is a hundred yards down the road on the left (by the bridge). There should be a whack of cars there tomorrow. We picked up another 3 or 4 or more campers at ZRG this aft at the dam reading & at the symposium.

Great day for Milt & CanPo!
thanks for presenting!

C&C ... wffffff (very tired - about to nap)
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12:30 P.M. TO 2:30 P.M.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

William Shannon Room, Marmora Public Library

Chair: Terry Barker

Acorn the Shaman  Chris Faiers
Remembering Milton  Joyce Wayne
The Place of Acorn in Canadian Poetry  James Deahl (presented by Terry Barker)
Acorn and Pound  Jim Larwill
Miltn Acorn's Spiritual Experiences  Terry Barker

Presentations should last about 15 minutes, with 5 minutes following
each for questions. There will be a general discussion at the end
(time permitting).

Copies of the new Acorn Selected (In a Springtime Instant) are available from
the Chair for $20 (special reduced price). 

Notes: This is the handout of the agenda prepared by chairperson Terry Barker. I counted 19
present, but there may have been more, as several people arrived after the symposium began.

Attendees arrived from Toronto (Terry Barker, Henry Martinuk, Joyce Wayne & friend Sandy),
Quebec (Jim Larwill), Guelph (Shane Neilson), Ottawa (Pearl and Brian Pirie), Marmora
(Morley Ellis, Gail Taylor, John Hamley, Chris Faiers), Kingston, Cobourg area (Tai Grove), plus Anna Plesums (distant small town Ontario). Apologies for others whose names I don't know (or
remember properly).

We arranged ourselves in round robin fashion around card tables pulled into a small square. Interaction was positive and often, and I hope our symposium will help lead to the resurrection of
Milton Acorn's proper place as the most important Canadian poet of the 20th century (as proclaimed by Joyce Wayne - and the consensus of most present).

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Friday, 3 August 2012

AcornFest Arrives! sneak peek Jim Larwill's presentation

           Organice Earth Love



You growing and your thought threading
the delicate strength of your focus,
out of a clamour of voices,
demanding faces and noises,
apart from me but vivid
as when I kissed you and chuckled:

Wherever you are be fearless;
and wherever I am I hope to know
you're moving vivid beyond me,
so I grow by the strength
of your fighting for your self, your life.

Milton Acorn 

          (Drawing of Milton Acorn by Greg Curnoe)


You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hands,
Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you.

I who have seen you amid the primal things
Was angry when they spoke your name
In ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind,
And that the world should dry as a dead leaf,
Or as a dandelion seed and be swept away,
So that I might find you again,

                                            Ezra Pound
                                                                                                          (Drawing of Ezra Pound by Gaudier-Brzeska)

Day and night. Good and evil. Life and death. Left and right. Dialectical matter in motion and idealist framing of thought. You Growing and  Francesca.  Milton Acorn and Ezra Pound.

Today we are living in a time when all clearly drawn lines of our recent history and indeed our distant past are being distorted and confused around us.  What once seemed to be within our grasp is now out of reach.  Like a child we had been learning to walk holding onto walls and furniture.  These walls, tables and chairs provided security while we explored a new plane of existence.  The child had even come to imagine a day when she would walk free of all external support.  A bold vision.  A vision that filled the child with fear, so filled the child with fear of her own power that she rejects walking: She returns to the floor to crawl and now finds as she looks up, what was once familiar is distant and distorted.  She feels small and alone for a time but soon will decide to stand up and walk, her path no longer mapped by the positioning of tables, chairs and walls as she comes to determine her own future course upon a new path of life and existence.  “Walk with me and sometimes cover your shadow with mine” as Milton Acorn suggests in his poem Live With Me On Earth Underneath The Invisible Daylight Moon.

A poet once commonly stood physically before their audience and two physical representations that shed light upon the subjects in question are upon the cover page of this paper: on the left, a fine line drawing of Milton Acorn by Canadian Greg Curnoe; on the right, a harsh brush stroked representation of Ezra Pound by the modernist Gaudier-Brzezka.

Acorn, in the Curnoe drawing, is looking over his shoulder, as a man might be rowing a boat towards a self-defined future “taking direction from where they’d been/with only quick-snatched glances at where they’re going” (The Squall, Acorn).  His hair is wind swept and unkempt; his eyes well defined and focused; his rotten toothed smile the half cocked grin of a divine carnival jester.  A face alive with organic fractal growth.

In contrast, Gaudier-Brzeika’s Ezar Pound is an image devoid of life.  It is as if it were an embossed silhouette carved into a tombstone.  The mouth is clenched shut; the eyes closed or at best staring into “the obscure reveries/Of the inward gaze” (Pound, 20th Centery Poety and Poetics 29).  Even the hair, while falling forward, seems pressed ridged into place.  This drawing comprises of four parts: the neck, the skull cap, the hair placed upon and in front of the skull cap, and the mask – a mask looking like the side view of a skeleton’s face.  Here fragments cast a fixed shadow that never moves with the sun’s course.

Clearly Acorn’s You Growing is a rewrite of the earlier Francesca and one can by simply reading the two poems see why Acorn included You Growing as an illustration in his essay On not being banned by the Nazis right before he starts railing away at the Ezra Pounders who “look on life as a process of decay” (Acorn).  The two poems are two opposing views in what on the surface appears to be very similar poems.  With twelve lines each Pound and Acorn both unequivocally define a relationship with a distanced love-one.  Subtle differences of form blend with their content.  Acorn uses regular lines of six to nine beats in balanced stanzas of six lines; Pound uses irregular lines of one to thirteen beats broken up into two uneven stanzas of four and eight lines.  Acorn creates a soft singsong tone with a melodic and harmonious rhythm.  Pound’s many single syllable words shoot out one-at-a- time.  Acorn showers his love with the soft nurturing sound of rain.  Pound sprays his possession with the angry machine gun beat of bullets.

As the world around us may indeed be drying as a leaf, do we strive to be free of the ordinary?  Do we continue to fill out hands with flowers?  Or do we simply learn to kiss gentle petals and chuckle as we find a vivid focus out of today’s demanding clamour of voices?  The struggle of poetics and its connection to the world continues.  For… “I Whisper Love with the cool breath of spring as nestling feathers tickle your neck… hoping to free you with a heart.”                                                                         
                                                                                                                             Jim Larwill              

Aug. 3/2012

Above is a sneak peek at the paper Jim Larwill be be presenting at tomorrow's Symposium on Milton Acorn:
William Shannon Room *** Marmora Library Building *** 12:30 - 2:30 pm

The symposium will be emceed by professor/author Terry Barker, who will present a paper by James Deahl, editor of the new selected of Acorn's work, IN A SPRINGTIME INSTANT Author/professor Joye Wayne will also be presenting, and Mamora poet Chris Faiers will read his poem showing the mentorship role Acorn played as a shamanic influence.

After the symposium, around 3 pm, popular Marmora singer/songwriter Morley Ellis will entertain on the islet in the Marmora Dam. Joyce will read a chapter from her new novel, and everyone is encouraged to participate in a round robin poetry reading. 

On Sunday afternoon two group readings will take place at ZenRiver Gardens retreat in the hamlet of Malone. Tai Grove will host the launch of Hidden Brook Press' new anthology
THAT NOT FORGOTTEN (edited by Kingston poet Bruce Kauffman). Then Tai will host a reading by members of The Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance. Readings should begin around
1 pm (maybe a bit later - it's a major heatwave here!)

All Welcome to events
peace & poetry power!