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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Marvellous Marvin's CanPo Archives (update)

Hi Chris,
     Just a short note to say hello.  I trust all is well with you.
     I thought I would mention the names of several poets who have recently sent me material for the collection.  They are, among many others:  Paulos Ioannou,  Jeff  Seffinga,  Marco Fraticelli,  Anna Yin,  Lyndia Terre (artist and poet), Rachel Lebowitz,  etc.  I am expecting something from Terry Ann  Carter.
     It was good to see Bill Bissett's response to your e-mail. It is great  to know that he is doing well.  Did I tell you that, many years ago he sent me 5 handwritten (holograph) poems for my collection? 
      Once again, as always, many thanks for your continued support for my collection at the U. of C.  I think we are both doing our share  in helping to preserve  part of our literary heritage.  Thank you for your altruism.   Your librarian's heart is in the right place.
      Keep well.   May the Muse be with you always.
      Marvelous Marvin, a fan of yours in Montreal.

                        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~~ 

Halloween 2013

Hi Marvellous Marvin  :  )
All well with Chase & me, apart from the usual mild aches & pains which signify our 'elder' status  :  )  That's great news so many poets have contributed - I know I played my usual Judas goat routine with Paulos, Jeff, Marco, Anna & Terry Ann. Pleased to see they've taken my suggestion & followed thru on it!

One of these years I'll start sending the folders I have of my correspondence with bill bissett (yes, it was very nice to hear from him - he sounds great!) & many others. There are also files for each of the annual PurdyFests. Terry Barker & I were discussing your special archives last night, & it was Terry who crucially further explained to Anna Yin the importance of having her poetic materials archived.

During our conversation Terry suggested you acquire a copy of Shane Neilson's new chapbook/review on Milton Acorn. I told Terry I understand your special areas of interest are haiku and CanPo in general. I said I'm not sure if our particular interest in Canuck People's Poetry, a la Milton Acorn, is of interest to you for your archive (as "Acornites", we assume everybody associated with CanPo is completely fascinated with Milt & his legacy!).

As always, it's a comfort knowing that such a large part of my own CanPo personal work, & that of other poets I've published, featured, promoted & hung out with, is now preserved for ever and ever.

peace & poetry power on this Hallowed Eve!
Chris ... & Chase ArrrrrrrrrrrOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

old age pensioners - BEWARE! - poverty looms

published as a letter-to-the-editor in Central Hastings News
Stirling, Marmora, Madoc, Tweed & Area (Ontario)
Oct. 31, 2013, page 6
circulation 474,000

  hastings cover

old age pensioners BEWARE - poverty looms 

If you're approaching age 65 & anticipating receiving a living pension with Old Age Security, well, it ain't gonna happen under the cheapo conservative Harperite regime : (- The current rate is around $550 a month, the same as a welfare recipient. And you'll be treated with about as much respect as a welfare recipient. You now have to prove you qualify - receiving an OAS pension has become like qualifying for Unemployment Insurance (oops, I mean 'employment insurance' in Orwell's newspeak).

The Harperite tactic is just avoiding & ignoring you when you become a senior - after all, you are a supplicant - when all that money should be given to the big corporations, esp. big oil. Likely you've spent a lifetime working and contributing tens of thousands of dollars, likely hundreds of thousands, in taxes. Every time you buy something you are still paying the nasty GST - no matter how low your income. And no matter that you've volunteered thousands of hours of community service, or that generations of your ancestors fought to preserve Canada in 2 world wars.

IT'S YOUR DAMN FAULT YOU GOT OLD!!!! So just suck it up & accept our meagre hand-out which is less than half the poverty line.Yes, line up, seniors-to-be at the cat & dog food sales bins, cause that's where you'll find yourself if you're trying to live on under $1K a month. I know this is true, because it's my personal situation. I've worked my 40+ years in Canada, as a head village librarian & before that as a cook (chef papers from George Brown). After all those years of hard work & contributing now I'm being treated like a lumpen who's never done a day's work or contributed an effing thing in their lives.

In fact a lumpen drug dealer I know of, who never worked so didn't qualify for any Canada Pension Plan, received $1,350 a month - still pitiful. But this is far more than the $950 a month I'm currently receiving because I made the mistake of working, & then when I was forced into early retirement I had to withdraw 'too much' ($15K) from my depleted RRSP savings the year before I turned 65.

A beginning solution to some of this inequity would be to raise the minimum monthly OAS payment to at least $1K, which is a measly $12K a year (who can live on that???). But if I were receiving my $400 a month CPP plus $1K a month OAS, well, I could almost survive, and at least I'd be receiving the same amount as the retired local lumpen drug dealer.

And I don't understand why all the younger baby boomers aren't burning down the offices of their local Members of Parliament - these younger boomer suckers will have to work & wait until age 67 to begin receiving their OAS pittance!!!

What's so wrongheaded about chiseling seniors is that we don't have any surplus money to spend on luxuries like dining out occasionally, or traveling around Canada, or enjoying cultural activities like the ROM or AGO or even a frigging local evening at the cineplex, with maybe a beer afterwards. Henry Ford knew he had to pay a decent wage so his workers could buy his cars, but these Harperite ideologues are making it impossible for seniors to avail ourselves of the basic necessities of life, much less being able to stimulate our faultering economy by buying a few cultural extras.

As my Zen master is wont to say, PLEASE WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... future welfare OAS
hmmmm ... penury & pensioners - same root???

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A stepping stone towards honouring Ray Souster

Stairs first step in honouring Toronto poet Raymond Souster: Fiorito

A set of stairs leading down into a west-end parkette may soon bear the name of poet Raymond Souster.

Raymond Souster walks in 1984 along the Humber River, not far from a parkette where the proposed plaque honouring him would be installed.
Toronto Star file photo

Raymond Souster walks in 1984 along the Humber River, not far from a parkette where the proposed plaque honouring him would be installed.

There is a scruffy patch of grass, with a few trees, some swings and a sandbox, south of Bloor and a little west of Windermere. It is officially known as the Willard Gardens Parkette, but in the vernacular of the neighbourhood, it is known as Lollipop Park.
Lollipop, because it is a sort of bubble-shape; also, obviously, because kids play there.
Leading down into the park is a set of stairs with a railing. Toronto poet Raymond Souster used those stairs, and people say he liked them.
You remember Raymond Souster, who died last year. If you do not, then you do not know this city. Souster was to Toronto as Frank O’Hara was to New York. He was the city poet, personified.
And if you happen to find Ray’s book, Ten Elephants on Yonge Street — or any one of the 50 or 60 books he wrote — you should buy it.
Now back to the park:

There was a planning meeting the other night, because the local councillor has found some money to spruce up the park. And so a dozen, maybe 20 people came to the meeting; young parents, mostly.
I’ve been to such meetings before; organizing them is how I used to make a living. The talk was familiar, about swings and slides and monkey bars, and the development of children through play, and young parents are keen about these things and —

I have reached the age when the cuteness of children holds no appeal. But I am also a realist: all children — save the ones who end up in jail — tend to grow up and become taxpayers, and I have a hunch I will need health care in the future, so I do not begrudge them their monkey bars now.
The park will likely be ready next summer. And everyone was happy.

Enter George Elliott Clarke. He is the reigning poet laureate of this city, and just before the meeting wrapped, he addressed the parents with an idea.
An idea about Raymond Souster.
He began by reciting the poet’s accomplishments: here a Governor-General’s Award, there an Order of Canada; founding member of the League of Canadian Poets; influential publisher; and so on.
He also read “Flight of the Rollercoaster,” a Souster poem which Clarke said he first discovered at the age of 16. His delivery was enthusiastic, equal parts poetry slam and roller-coaster swoops.

The parents smiled.
OK, so what does this have to do with a pint-sized parkette and a sweeping set of stairs?
Souster grew up nearby, and Clarke thinks the stairs should be named in his honour, and there also ought to be a plaque, perhaps with one of Ray’s poems.

There is not a parent in the world who would deny a child a snippet of poetry. The councillor said the Parks Department was on side, and that the city was also on side, and it would be a nice thing.

All agreed, then.
One parent, in a burst of sunny enthusiasm, asked if the plaque could be shaped like a lollipop.
No. Ray Souster was not Robert Munsch, and anyway I think there is a city protocol for such signs.
Afterwards I asked Clarke, in his capacity as laureate, if that was going to be the end of it for Souster, a little plaque in a park near a set of stairs he used.

Clarke said no. He wants another, perhaps grander and certainly more central marker.
Here’s a thought: Ray worked all his life for the bank at the corner of King and Bay, where there is a bare and expansive square that would be enhanced by a bust or statue.
Let’s take those steps, too.

Joe Fiorito appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Email:

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Crows over Marmora Mine (a political haibun)

Today's hike with my little dog Chase was on one of our favourite trails, a section of the Trans-Canada Trail which passes the site of the Marmora mine. The hike begins with marsh on both sides of the trail, but soon slag heaps from the old iron mine come into view. After half an hour of sunny late October hiking, huge rocky heaps rise on both sides from millennial swamp. Three crows are hunting over the haunted mesa-like heap to the east:

crows skrawing overhead
thankful I'm not a mouse!


These black hunters screech horribly, floating on air currents, intent on flushing small scared creatures from their hidey-holes. Mice and voles bolt in terror when these small 'black riders' fly. I imagine their screeches amplified 100 times - 1,000 times - my little dog and I too would panic bolt.

The crows hunt continues,  crossing the trail to hunt the mine site. The giant blue water eye of the mine, gouged for our iron age hungers, is occluded. After the iron was ripped out, the huge hole lay dormant. A greedy corporation decided to fill the hole with garbage from Toronto - I'm not making this up. There are cracks and deep fractures, underground streams which run from here to Belleville and into the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario. The people of our nearby village opposed the black crow lawyers of GreedCoInc and this crazy scheme was squashed.

A new mine scheme has recently arisen, complete with its flock of black crow lawyers. Now it's 'pumped storage' - another scam scheme to enrich another GreedCoInc while endangering the rural villagers. This time the villagers are slower to awaken to the danger. It's never fun being David facing Goliath.

lawyers circle
hoping to flush
the truth away


This morning on CBC radio I sadly heard a woman's story of setting her tap water on fire. Fracking!  Another evil story in the reign of our current King, 'Sauron' Stephen Harper. I could hear the brave shakiness in her voice for taking on GreedCoInc - the larger the feast, the bigger the black riders.

Crows become vultures
blackening the skies  
over Marmora minesite

Ray Souster Tribute book update & launch info (James Deahl)

October 22, 2013

Dear Contributor,

         I thought it was time for an update on Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems for & about Raymond Souster. This anthology was to have been published by Fourfront Editions, an imprint of Quattro Books. It will now be published by Quattro itself. This is happy news. This will insure greater library sales

         Under the Mulberry Tree will be launched in Toronto on January 15, 2014, Ray’s birthday. Please let me know if you think you would like to participate in the book launch.

         Also, one of you contributors send a photo of Ray in a blue and red “Oberon” sweatshirt sitting at a piano. I have forgotten who sent this. It is to be used in the tribute book and I want to give a proper photo credit. It looks as though it was taken 20 to 25 years ago. If it is yours, please let me know.

         Finally, as a contributor you will receive one copy of the anthology in January. If you would like to buy additional copies at a reduced price, please let me know how many. Under the Mulberry Tree will likely be priced by the publisher at about $20. If so, I will be able to sell you additional copies at $15 (includes postage).

         Thank you for being part of the Souster tribute.


         .  . . James

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Alphabet Stones (review) - future Governor General winner

Clear room on your bookshelves for The Alphabet Stones. This book is a keeper - it better be a contender for the Governor General's Award, the Giller,  Canada Reads - all of Canada's major literary awards - it's that damn good!

Make room between Jane Urquhart's amazing novel, Away -  pioneer life amid haunting forest mysteries on the edge of the Canadian Shield, and Miriam Toews' coming-of-age novel, A Complicated Kindness -  growing up in a dysfunctional Mennonite community.

Acclaimed area author Ursula Pflug's novel parallels much of the territory of both these two pillars of Canadian literature, and much, much more. Pflug makes us understand and appreciate the abandoned homesteads, fields and forests of eastern Ontario where powerful local spirits prevail, which most humans fleetingly occupy with unseeing eyes. Special people, seers, young women open to all possibilities with shamanistic awareness, these are the finders of the gates to a truer and deeper awareness in all these novels. The prose in Stones is poetic, perhaps even more evocative and haunting than Urquhart's masterpiece of mental illness and Toews understanding of the incredible coping mechanisms a teenager much learn to survive among dysfunctional adults ruling a bizzaro fundamentalist world.

If you dare to see through the eyes of young seer Jody Bear, who was born to read the alphabet stones in a deserted First Nations fairy field, you will begin to comprehend the haunting truths which live out here on the edge of civilization. I have lived here, in what Al Purdy called "The Country North of Belleville",  for a quarter of a century, and I have also experienced powerful encounters with other realms, other times and realities. But it has taken a master storyteller, a magi with words and vision, to capture and tell this magic.

At this planetary juncture, even here on northern Turtle Island, we all live in a bizarro world ruled by the unwise and unseeing. Reading The Alphabet Stones will give you a crash course in learning where true magic still lives and thrives. There are real gateways and visionary options to lead us out of the mess this small planet is now in, and The Alphabet Stones is a good way to begin learning to read and live by ancient runes and signs showing  ways of becoming truly harmonious with our magical and sacred environment.

Ursula Pflug
The Alphabet Stones
Blue Denim Press, 2013
ISBN 978-0-9881478-3-6
227 pages, $20.00

available from Amazon and other online booksellers            

I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, from young adult (YA) up.

review by Chris Faiers

retired Head Librarian/CEO,
Marmora Public Library
Stirling Public Library

The Alphabet Stones a novel by Ursula Pflug

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Eel Pie Island Dharma: A Hippie Memoir/haibun

Eel Pie Island Dharma: a hippie memoir/haibun, by Chris Faiers, Hidden Brook Press,
(, ISBN 978-1897475-92-8, 2012, 122 pp. perfect-bound, $17.95

They say that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't actually there. Fortunately, this isn't always the case. In his haibun memoir, Eel Pie Island Dharma, Chris Faiers recounts his adventures as a survivor of those infamous years. Hippies, junkies, bikers and school girls all traipsed through the derelict Eel Pie Island Hotel in the late sixties, and Faiers was among them. If you are one of those who lived through those years, this book will provide you with enough flashbacks to keep you going for quite a while. If you are too young, or too old, or too cautious to have experienced those days firsthand, this is your chance to find out what it was all about. The following is a sample:

A path led down a lane to the monastery and the temple beside it. The service consisted of all present sitting in meditation in the comfortable chapel for about a half hour to forty-five minutes. It was very
relaxing and the meditations were led by a monk who sat in front. The layout of the chapel wasn't dissimilar from a Christian service - with the notable difference that no words were spoken, no hymns sung. It was up to each of us to make our peace with the world. 

Walking to meditation
through fresh snow

Yes, Virginia, there actually is an Eel Pie Island, and Chris Faiers was there. He even provides the photographs to prove it.

Marco Fraticelli

Vol. 7   Number 2
October 2013
pages 53 - 54

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Jim Christy: interview & poems in Toronto Quarterly

  1. Jim Christy is a widely-published author and visual artist who has exhibited his artwork throughout the world. His poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and magazines. This Cockeyed World (Guernica Editions, 2013) is his 30th published book. His previous poetry collection, Marimba Forever, was also published by Guernica Editions in 2010.

    For more information, visit Jim Christy at his website.

    The following poems are excerpts from This Cockeyed World by Jim Christy, copyright © 2013 by Guernica Editions. Used with permission from the publisher.

    This Cockeyed World

    Red brick houses burst from the snow
    Like boutonnieres from lapels
    Of your white, cashmere benny.
    You were here once in the same snows
    At the house on Gothic Avenue. We
    Rode taxis to pharmacies clear
    To Parliament for Benze-Dex
    Nasal inhalers that you crushed
    Into Rye and Sevens. Yesterday, I
    Repeated stories you told me:
    About the tap-dancing cuckold
    And the man who fell in love
    With a trolley car. They laughed
    At the coffee shop, here on a planet
    Still turning. A new kind of scene
    Where even an old rounder such
    As you has a place in a corner, however
    Remote, of the World Wide Web. World
    Where jazz is deader than
    The Diving Horse, every co-ed
    Has a tattoo and dope fiends have
    Taken over middle management.
    So sleep the long sleep,
    Your junkie bones meal
    For Jersey rats.

    Greenberg’s Drugstore

    He looked like he should be
    In the aisle with the toys, his
    Head lower than the top shelf
    Teddybears. Then you saw the liver
    Spots peeking through his thinning
    Hair, Greenberg, an old baby regarding
    You through Barney Google glasses,
    Spraying you like a cracked garden hose.
    I drove his Volkswagen van, first one
    I’d ever seen, 4-speed standard.
    Greenberg’s in green across the sides.

    His assistant was named Jim, a
    Japanese druggist who claimed to be
    Hawaiian, the war over only sixteen
    Years. His hair was like a neglected
    Lawn in a forgotten neighbourhood
    In a science-fiction film where
    The flora is all black. He didn’t
    Like me. I must have resembled hillbilly
    Yokohoma occupiers. Soon it was

    I did like making deliveries for measle-ly
    Children, hapless hypochondriacs and Mrs.
    Entwhistle. First day, I held out the white
    Bag with the receipt stapled across
    The fold, she reached out and grabbed
    My zipper instead. She was old, probably
    Forty but smelled good. She did something
    With the tip of her tongue that, not
    Surprisingly, I’d never experienced
    (still haven’t). Two days a week,
    I’d park the van out front of her
    house – mail box on a wagon wheel
    In a bed of geraniums, garden gnome,
    He resembled Mr. Greenberg, guarding
    The door – She always asked if
    I had some medicine for her. She
    Took to wearing dark red lipstick,
    And always wanted two doses.

    Back at the store, Greenberg took to calling
    Me Little Jim and the fake Hawaiian Big Jim.
    But I was tall enough to look down on his
    Abandoned crew cut. He told the boss that
    I looked at girlie magazines when I should
    Be stocking shelves. It wasn’t true. I’d
    Think of Mrs. Entwhistle, and didn’t need
    Magazines. The last time he told Greenberg,
    I overheard and demanded it wasn’t true.
    “Little Jim, you say Big Jim is lying?” –
    And I said he was. He had to let me go
    Because he couldn’t have any animosity
    But I could tell he believed me.

    I couldn’t very well go to Mrs. Entwhistle’s
    House without the delivery van though I got
    As far as the wagon wheel one time
    But was brought up short by the look
    On the garden gnome’s face. The lady
    Of the house would have to
    Get her medicine
    From somebody else.

    Tiger Man

    That Mess-with-me at-your-peril, -Bud
    Look, malevolent twinkle in cracker eyes, as
    If he knew what would happen if you did.
    Coming into second like a maniac pilot
    Landing on a jungle strip, top leg
    At forty-five Degrees, filed spikes sparkling
    In the sun of red dirt, green grass day games:
    My first god – Ty Cobb. The greatest
    There’d ever been or ever will be. Top
    Of the list in all categories from
    Bases to bastards. Hero, too; running
    Down Detroit streetcars to pull off hooligans
    Who’d mugged old ladies, and he left
    Them bleeding on the pavement. Made
    A million off a cocaine-laced soft drink.
    But received jeers not Ruthian cheers.

    And that’s the guy I wanted to be
    Just like. Aped his style and moves but
    Was neither bad enough nor good
    Enough. Couldn’t ever deal
    With the curves thrown at me. My
    Record notable not for hits but
    Misses. When there were spikes
    Women were wearing them
    And the money I never made
    Was the file that sharpened them.
    I stumbled on the basepaths, fell
    For the hidden ball trick, balked
    At responsibilities, and if I ever stole
    A single heart it was surely


    TTQ – What inspired you to start writing poetry and who were some of your early influences or mentors?

    Jim Christy – I wasn't one of those precocious kids who was writing poetry, or anything else, at eight years of age. I didn't write anything until I was twenty-years-old. The first thing I published was a spoof of bocce ball. I must have started trying to write poems not long after but it was a few years before I showed them to anyone or sent them out. But when I did, much to my surprise, plenty of them were accepted. Then in the late Seventies, Four Humours Press of Winnipeg published a small book of them called Palatine Cat. My influences were probably more musical than literary. I met a guy named Charlie Leeds, twenty-two years older than me who I still consider the best poet I have ever encountered. Thing is, he was really a musician. See my poem to him in the Guernica anthology, Poet to Poet.

    TTQ – You wrote a book about American poet Charles Bukowski The Buk Book: Musings About Charles Bukowski (ECW Press, 1997). How much of an impact has Bukowski's poetry had on your own work and what was it you most admired about him? Did you ever get a chance to meet him or attend one his readings?

    Jim Christy – Bukowski is funny and he could detect the bullshit in others and in life as it is and was. I corresponded with him but we never met. He may turn out to be the major influence on the poetry of his time, for better or worse. He put a light on people and a way of living that had so far escaped literature but no less important because of that. He showed that the subject matter of poetry is universal, not confined to the campus or the suburbs or the small towns. In baseball, he would be the designated hitter who only bats .188 but every once in a great while hits one so far out of the park that it is still up there somewhere. One never really knows who is an influence but I think a genuine "influence" is a writer who encourages you to write. So in that sense Bukowski is an influence although he is far from being my favourite writer. Critics will point out some things one has in common with another one and act as if they've discovered an "influence" --by which they mean someone you try to write like or emulate. So Bukowski lived in rooming houses, therefore…But most writers and critics never lived in a rooming house or knocked around or read anything by anyone other than Bukowski who lived in a rooming house, so if they know the name of one person that did, they'll compare you to that person.

    TTQ – You were born and raised in the ghetto section of South Philadelphia, lived in New York City and San Francisco, before moving to Canada in 1968, and you became a Canadian citizen in 1974. Tell me about growing up in South Philly and what motivated you to move to Canada?

    Jim Christy – South Philadelphia is a section of Philadelphia that for decades was an Italian enclave, most of the residents having come from Molise and Calabria. My people came from Molise; my real last name is Christinzio. The Democratic Party controlled that part of Philadelphia and there were Certain People who controlled the Democratic Party and, hence, the neighbourhoods. Curiously enough there was virtually no crime in the neighbourhoods and woe unto anyone who committed a crime. The exception was the people who appeared in shiny Buicks with guns inside their coats. They didn't shoot kids, however, so you were safe within your territory. You were not safe if you left it. South Philadelphia produced gangsters, singers, boxers and regular working stiffs. I'm the only writer I've ever heard of who was raised there. If there is another one, I'd like to meet him or her, and we can have a couple of Schlitz beers together and tell each other sad stories of the neighbourhoods. I left the United States because I was opposed to the War in Vietnam and the racial situation and just about everything else about the country.

    TTQ – How would you best describe your latest collection of poetry This Cockeyed World (Guernica Editions, 2013), and what message are you hoping your readers will take away with them after reading the book?

    Jim Christy – The message is that it's a sad and beautiful world, funny and tragic, too. I'd say that This Cockeyed World celebrates life; it's a song of life although perhaps in a different key than the usual tune. That's what I want someone to take away.

    TTQ – How arduous was the editing process for This Cockeyed World, and helped you get through and how important was their input in completing the book?

    Jim Christy – The editing process was not arduous at all; it consisted of Michael Mirolla asking of one poem, "Why did you change rhythms in this passage?" -- And I answered, "Because the narrator stops looking out the window and gets on the train and the new passage is written to the rhythm of the train." -- Michael, replied, "Oh."

    TTQ – What do you anticipate our cockeyed world being like a decade or two from now and do you see yourself right there on the front lines?

    Jim Christy – I hope the world is still around a decade or two from now. I hope I'm still around. I think unless we wake up we're in serious trouble. We are rapidly fouling our nest beyond the point of clean-up and creating a virtual world comprised of an -- to borrow a word big in my youth -- "alienated" population. Also, in North America, it's an infantilized population. In Canada, the work of our so-called creative writers usually doesn't provide an antidote to this situation. You can't turn to them for help or succor or to meet someone who could be a friend. Or, at least, I can't. It's basically an insulated, bourgeois literature. There is absolutely no daring, no chances being taken. There are not enough exceptions.

    TTQ – In your opinion, what constitutes a great poem?

    Jim Christy – A great poem is one that delivers a blow that you never see coming.

    TTQ – You’re also an accomplished visual artist and have exhibited your work throughout the world. Tell me about your artwork and to what degree does it influence your writing or vice versa?

    Jim Christy – The visual art and the writing come from the same place but I'd say the two go in different directions to wind up in similar territory. The great thing about making the art, mostly sculpture and assemblage, is that you don't have to worry about explaining things. Also, making the art is more fun and when you hang out with artists they don't gripe but mainly talk about materials.

    TTQ – What words of advice would you give to young aspiring writers and artists?

    Jim Christy – I would not give advice to young and aspiring writers for fear that they would take it and hold me responsible. I am an old-time writer who used to sit in front of a big old typewriter and make noise way into the night. Then I'd put the results in an envelope, mail it away and wait for a response. But I did not approach the Underwood until I had something to say to it, and I found what I had to say by circulating among mean women and animals and seeing what life was about. So if my heart was doing the talking, it would tell aspiring writers to go and take a look around. You don't have to cover a war or live among Indians in the Amazon, like I did but do SOMETHING. But, see, that would only be from my heart. My head would advise "Go to university and pursue a degree in creative writing; better yet get a Master's while you're at it and just to be SAFE. Then hobnob, network, hook into social media, join the Union, tweet, get a Facebook page and you're bound to make it (make what?).”

    TTQ – What’s next for Jim Christy?

    Jim Christy – What’s next? I'm ready for a big adventure or a new career, even. I'm open to suggestions. Also, I plan to drive from the Beaufort Sea to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, hopefully in a Nissan Juke. In the meantime, more poems, more sculptures.


            ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Thanksgiving, 2013

    Dear Chris,

                The Jim Christy interview in The Toronto Quarterly you just posted, as brief as it is, strikes me as remarkable in that there is no bullshit and no posturing. Just the straight truth.


                . . . James

            ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Hey, Chris:

    That was a good session today.

    I was interviewed by the Toronto Quarterly and they made a great mistake. I answered "Men, women and animals" to a question about influences, and the guy put it down as "Mean women and animals." That's more truthful, eh what!

    Type in Toronto Quarterly and my name.



          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

    Gail Taylor has left a new comment on your post "Jim Christy: interview & poems in Toronto Quarterl...":

    His hair was like a neglected
    Lawn in a forgotten neighbourhood; his words whisper like a forgotten part of me in that neglected part of my soul...amazing stuff.

    Posted by Gail Taylor to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 14 October 2013 08:36

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Friday, 11 October 2013

Financial Post (!) exposes Marmora power boondoggle

Marmora resident Kathy Hamilton has opposed this dangerous & whacko boondoggle scheme from day one. When I first learned of it, I thought it was a joke, it was so outrageously dangerous & Rube Goldbergesque. Our local politicians kept proclaiming there was no local opposition, although Kathy attended Council meeting after meeting to state her views. I wrote a piece opposing the project on my blog, & this piece was published in the local media. The cat was slowly slipping out of the bag that there IS substantial local opposition. Finally a handful of Marmora residents, my dog & I included, staged a small protest outside our municipal offices. 

Thank you, concerned citizen extraordinaire Kathy Hamilton, for finally getting a major media outlet to present the true story. The rest of Ontario's major media proved to be lapdogs for this insane project. Thank God for people like Kathy & for the power of freedom of speech through the internet! 

Ontario’s latest electricity scheme: Pumped energy storage

For ratepayers, none of this is working. Wind and solar are not just unreliable. Ratepayers pay unaffordable prices for their chaotic output. Adding the cost of storage puts ratepayers in double jeopardy.
Daniel Acker/BloombergFor ratepayers, none of this is working. Wind and solar are not just unreliable. Ratepayers pay unaffordable prices for their chaotic output. Adding the cost of storage puts ratepayers in double jeopardy.
As the Ontario government’s $1-billion gas plant relocation scandal slips into history, the province’s electricity ratepayers should not assume that the era of big-ticket rate-boosting power projects of questionable value is a thing of the past. Now comes the “Smart Grid” and a host of other projects.

Ontario’s Power Trip: Auditor General confirms $1-billion power plant boondoggle

Promptly at 3 p.m. Tuesday the Auditor General of Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk, confirmed the bad news many anticipated — she told the ratepayers of Ontario that they will pay somewhere between $675-million and $1.1-billion for the move of a power plant that saved a Liberal seat in Oakville.
Combining the costs of the Mississauga gas plant move with the Oakville move places the total costs of the two moves at the $1.5-billion level.

Continue reading.
Smart Grid is the new fad taking over power industry policy everywhere — it’s a flexible concept that gives utilities, contractors and governments room to justify ratepayer spending on “Smart Meters,” electric cars, power line automation and the new hot idea of electricity storage.

None of these ideas comes cheap, including pumped electricity storage, a plan making its way through the province’s electric industrial complex. Pumped storage was traditionally used where excess low-cost electricity was available during low-usage periods. The economic logic was that cheap excess power justified the cost of recapturing a portion of the excess for later use.

Ontario Power Generation operates a pumped storage facility near Niagara, built when Ontario anticipated excess nuclear production. Although it wastes one unit of electricity for each unit finally delivered, the storage system reserves some of the nightly water flow over Niagara for daytime use. This time-shifting optimizes power production by the main generators, while maintaining the scenic daytime water flow over Niagara Falls as required under international agreement. If this were stand-alone pumped storage, ratepayers would fare better with it closed.

But a new pumped storage proposal is under active deliberation around the eastern Ontario village of Marmora. The proposal comes from Northland Power for a stand-alone, 400-megawatt pumped storage facility at the abandoned Marmoraton Mine, on property owned by Aecon Construction. Project cost: Somewhere between $660-million and $700-million.

The Marmora project was endorsed by local council members without public notice. With local people in the dark, Northland Power announced it was “very excited to have the support of the people of Marmora.”
The design envisions the former iron ore mine pit becoming the lower reservoir, once most of its existing, spring-fed lake is pumped into an adjacent upper reservoir. The elevated man-made lake would loom above substantial portions of urban Marmora. When Ontario’s grid has excess power, the operator would pump water up from the lower reservoir. During high demand periods, if the upper reservoir is full and water had not filled the lower reservoir, the elevated water could be dropped through reversible turbines.

Advocates for electricity storage schemes have a new sales pitch. They are needed to offset the unreliability of wind and solar power. In Ontario’s electricity business environment, where cost is no object, adding more unreliable wind and solar creates a need for more storage to support grid reliability.

Recognizing that perverse synergy, the annual conference of the Canadian Wind Energy Association in Toronto this week is twinned with one promoting electricity storage. For Northland Power, also a major wind and solar developer in Ontario, this synergy is a core business strategy.
For ratepayers, none of this is working. Wind and solar are not just unreliable. Ratepayers pay unaffordable prices for their chaotic output. Adding the cost of storage puts ratepayers in double jeopardy.

In 2006, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the government’s electricity planner, considered pumped storage and its alternatives in detail, concluding that they were not justified. Last August the OPA issued an updated cautionary statement on storage, warning the Ontario Energy Board to “focus on fact-based applications of energy storage and not on perceptions.”

The political parties are jockeying for position. The Conservative MPP for the Marmora area, Todd Smith, has his party demanding “the Minister of Energy explain why his Ministry has delayed in arriving at a contract to produce power for the proposed Marmora Pumped Storage project.” Smith has just been promoted by party leader Tim Hudak.

The Liberals, perhaps aware of their falling status as stewards of the energy file, are balking. In mid September, Energy Minister Chiarelli warned that the capital cost of the project is “quite high” while “many of the benefits…can be provided at lower cost by existing…generators.” He said a cautious approach is needed to “protect ratepayers.”

When Ontario PCs issued their policy discussion paper on energy in May last year, they said the “Government must get back to its proper, limited role.” Now, their political energy is pumping in the opposite direction.

Tom Adams is a Toronto-based energy consultant. Kathy Hamilton is a Marmora homeowner.

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Kathy Hamilton has left a new comment on your post "Financial Post (!) exposes Marmora power boondoggl...":

I can't possibly express sufficient gratitude to the editors of the Financial Post, for publishing not only this piece but that precious reader feedback following it online, showing majority "negative" comments about Northland Power's proposal.

What remains unknown is when and how badly the far more sordid story that continues playing out in Marmora will end. I could never have told that one as clearly as the so-called "Marmora Pumped Storage Project" page on the municipality's site has been showing it to the whole world since it first appeared.

Please take time to meet and give your thanks to co-author extraordinaire Tom Adams, one of the most highly principled men I've had the honour and pleasure of knowing:

Posted by Kathy Hamilton to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 14 October 2013 02:28

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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Milt's homage to Kenneth Leslie: Ron Dart

                                              Kenneth Leslie and Jackpine Sonnets
                               Kenneth Leslie, poet, wrote it long and strong-lunged.
                               For his duty, critics ripped out his tongue.

                                                                                              Milton Acorn

 “Poem of One of the Poems for Which Kenneth Leslie was Damned”


Kenneth Leslie was one of the finest poets of the people in Canada in the 20th century. Leslie was from the Maritimes, like Acorn, and the publication in 1972 of O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems was Leslie at his political and poetic best. Leslie had been nurtured, when young, by the Song Fisherman Poets, Robert Norwood, Bliss Carmen and C.D. Roberts. Leslie achieved poetic stardom of sorts with his being awarded the GG Award in 1938 for By Stubborn Stars, and from about 1939-1949 he was at the forefront (more than most) in opposing American fascism and the anti-semitic mood (he lived in both Boston and New York in those years) that often accompanied such an ethos. Leslie was editor of Protestant Digest (later The Protestant) in the 1940s, and the magazine, at its apex, had about 50,000 subscribers. The film, God’s Red Poet: The Life of Kenneth Leslie (2008), tells the tale of Leslie’s engaged life and tells it well. Leslie returned to Nova Scotia in 1949 as the FBI, Herbert Hoover and Senator Joseph McCarthy turned up the heat on communist sympathizers. In fact, Life magazine in May 1949 listed Leslie as the only Canadian of fifty leading “fellow travellers” and “innocent dupes” who furthered the communist cause: other worthies were Arthur Miller, Albert Einstein, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Norman Mailer, Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Mann and Langston Hughes.

Milton Acorn dipped his political and poetic bucket deep in the life giving well of Leslie’s life and writings. Jackpine Sonnets (1977) was published a few years after Leslie’s classic O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems and Acorn, again and again, doffs his cap to Leslie. Jackpine Sonnets begins with these words, “As Shakespeare would say—To the Onlie Begetter of these Poems”—Kenneth Leslie. The poetic missive begins, therefore, with a conscious indebtedness to Leslie, then hard on the heels of such a nod to Leslie is a quote from Leslie’s GG winning book, By Stubborn Stars: “I sail by stubborn stars. Let rocks take heed: and if I sink; then sinking be my creed”. There is a definite sense in which just as Acorn wrote More Poems for People (1972) as a building on the poetic-political life of Dorothy Livesay, Jackpine Sonnets stands of the shoulders of Kenneth Leslie. It is significant that More Poems for People was published the same year as O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems.

The first poem in Jackpine Sonnets is “By Still More Stubborn Stars” and it is, of course, dedicated to Kenneth Leslie. The sonnet is a hard driving and compact visionary poem that sums up what it means to be a poet of character and integrity, skill and wisdom, justice and insight. Acorn saw himself as standing in the line and lineage of Leslie (who had died in 1974). There is a distinct sense in which “By Still More Stubborn Stars” is a eulogy to Leslie that sums up his poetic and political.

The main essay in Jackpine Sonnets is ‘Tirade by Way of Introduction’, and in this article Acorn  tracks and traces the history of some of the main themes of Canadian poetry, the essential Anglo-Canadian romantic connection and the origins of the jackpine sonnet---again Acorn turns to Leslie as his mentor and guide in his discussion of the sonnet. Acorn had this to say about the role of Leslie:
                 When we come to the loveliest of our orthodox sonneteers, Kenneth Leslie, the battle
                 for the Canadian voice is being fought, and he is winning it…….In Leslie the jackpine
                 sonnet is already there; but he uses it inconspicuously and rarely, always wanting to
                 give his readers the impression that what they see is an orthodox sonnet, however
                 unorthodox the content.

There is many a fine historic insight in ‘Tirade by Way of Introduction’ but there can be no doubt that yet again Leslie factors large in Acorn’s rethinking of both the form and content of the sonnet. Both Leslie and Acorn are redefining the sonnet, being careful to remain with the historic sonnet roots, but making the jackpine more flexible as it bends and grows throughout the seasons and winds of time---the poetic form is more willow like, the content more radical. It is in this sense, using the sonnet as a metaphor into the poetic vision of Leslie and Acorn, we can see are profoundly conservative both are and yet equally radical.

Jackpine Sonnets opens with a poem dedicated to Leslie and building on By Stubborn Stars, and the poetic missive comes, almost, to a close with another poem dedicated to Leslie: “Poem of One of the Poems for Which Kenneth Leslie was Damned”. The poem that Acorn is alluding to is Leslie’s longer poem (O’Malley to the Reds) in O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems. “O’Malley to the Reds” is a well told poetic-political drama that deals with the miners of Princess Shaft, Moses Coady and the tensions between the hard line ideological left and the religious humanitarian left. There can be no doubt where both Leslie and Acorn plant their flag. Both Acorn’s shorter sonnet and Leslie’s much longer graphic and not to be forgotten poem highlight the obvious affinities between them as both align themselves with the religious humanitarian left---both are, in a sense, Red Tories of the highest calibre and quality.

It is virtually impossible to read Jackpine Sonnets (1977) without a feel for the life and writings of Kenneth Leslie. Leslie died in 1974, and O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems was published in 1972.
Jackpine Sonnets is both a eulogy to Leslie and is similar to Acorn’s More Poems For People (dedicated to Dorothy Livesay). There is a significant sense in which Livesay’s Poems for People, Leslie’s O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems and Acorn’s More Poems for People and Jackpine Sonnets embody the pure gold of Canadian Peoples’ political poetry.

Ron Dart        


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Poems of Kenneth Leslie
Governor General's Award 1938

  Kenneth Leslie is the son of Western Society , the father of Gloria Wenk and Grandfather of Brigid Wendover, my wife and mother of my two daughters, Heidrun Tara Arthursdottir and Dagbjort Dipa Arthursdottir. This statement may raise a few questions which I will not try to answer here. 
I met him, 1975, once in a Halifax hospital. He was paralyzed and unable to walk or speak. Not the man that one thinks of. There I met Nora, his wonderful wife, by his side. 
I have taken the time to scan a number of poems from a poem book he published in 1972, called O’Malley to the Reds & other Poems. 
I have also scanned some sheet music which includes Cape Breton Lullaby. 
Arthur Wendover 
KENNETH LESLIE attended a one-room private school in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, known as the Arnold School located near the famous Victoria Park with its magnificent statue of Robert Burns. He played Rugby and Cricket. He studied Latin at an early age. 
The school was conducted by "Duck" Wad-dell, the Haligonian version of the Irish hedge-schoolmaster, a never-to-be-forgotten experience. He graduated from Dalhousie University, then studied a year at Colgate Theological Seminary where he helped form the Socialist Club. 
Then he continued studies at Nebraska University (MA) and Harvard where he passed exams for Ph.D. but failed the lingual test. 
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Available from Porcupine's Quill:

book photo Magnify

Typeset in Adobe Jenson. Printed on acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. Smyth sewn into sixteen page signatures with hand-tipped endleaves, front and back.

POETRY / Canadian
POETRY / General
ISBN-10: 0889843287
EAN-13: 9780889843288
Publication Date: 2010-03-01
Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in
Pages: 64
Price: $14.95

Friday, 4 October 2013

Christy and I share an intersection

(bad poem of the day)  

Christy & I share this intersection
Haight & The Bowery
Jim's flogging books of hipster insights
I'm selling flower power hippiedom

well no, it's Yonge & Bloor
& Stuart Ross is pushing absurdist short stories
Crad Kilodney's our key competition
but wait - that's bill bissett chanting
crazy sutras across the street
play kicking at a seagull & then offering
it stale bread from The Mission

Christy & I are half drunk -
hipsters & hippies come down to this
red wine goes plonk! and our street
sales money snatched from Acorn's
thorny grasp - Marxist diatribes & all

so we share the bottle with Milt's ghost
pour some on the sidewalk for Rimbaud
Baudelaire ... dead Red

at these crossroads we sell our souls
to the devil's delight
poems for sale in the street

down to this ... down to this
white light/white heat

the street corner preacher calls himself
Billy Blake ... it's all come down to this
crazy intersection - call it life, call
it poetry, call it madness

jones lights up a ghostly joint - tokes & passes
out ... damn it's getting crowded at
this small intersection - Shaunt is
drawing chalk diagrams - colouring
the sidewalk with mandala brilliance

damn this old blue barrel acid -
who said it wouldn't work!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013