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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Big Al On Point: Chris Faiers

Big Al On Point

for Patrick Connors

Barrow by barrow load
Big Al built his special point on Roblin Lake
waterfront sells by the foot
& tho Al & Eurithe wished for a secluded spot
a small space for coffee meditations, well ...
poets can handcraft more than wordy magic

Always resilient (and poor)
this was before fame
Al lugged his barrow loads for weeks & months
planted some soft maples and a few firs
sat back & drank - composed - relaxed
and let Nature do her work for a few decades

Years on I finally found his reclusive retreat
...  found Al's grave marker first
made many treks from Marmora to A-burg
to honour Al & his best bud, Milt
But it was years before I finally found
the magic landscape of Al & Eurithe's hand hewn refuge

on the work day last summer
prepping for the inaugural A-frame Open House
I gave myself the pleasant task
of gardening Big Al's special point

on the way in for my restorative chore
I wandered the dirt road for a place to pee
for my little dog Chase & me
and I met a neighbour woman with her young in tow

I asked if she had ever met Al Purdy
as her family cottage is but three doors away
& she replied that Al was almost a recluse
so shy that when she was a teen
eager to see the now famous poet's abode
she and a boyfriend (husband now)
paddled slowly towards Al's point

in the shade of his fully grown arbor
Big Al himself sat in a deck chair
reading perhaps, or composing deathless lines

the People's Poet looked up
saw the canoe of teens approaching
abruptly turned his chair away
back towards the A-frame
and his meditations

Chris Faiers


in the shallows
blue heron awaits
his old friend

Marmora, Ontario
Jan. 25, 2014

inspired by A-frame email from Patrick Connors

published in Umbrella (Quinte Arts Council magazine) September/October/November
issue 2014, p. 29

published in Crossing Borders, Bruce Kauffman, editor, Hidden Brook Press, 2015, p. 29 


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This is a lovely image Chris...the bombastic drunken poet hiding in plain sight on his point of land in Roblin Lake.
Have you been following all the buzz generated from last Monday at the Monarch? Descant interview? etc.
Advance notice - August 30 - we have another event at the Active Arts church in Rednersville. More complete news as soon as I hear back from our Writer in Residence. And the Picnic's scheduled (did I tell you that already?) for July 26.
Exciting times...I can't keep up to it on the blog (which I am sure has an international following hungry for news of Al, she said, sarcastically)
I have been hiding on my own point of land, scribbling an architectural essay for a local magazine.
Is Chase keeping his head above the snow?
Are you?
hugs, Lindi

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On 2014-09-12, at 11:52 AM, James Deahl wrote:

September 12, 2014
Dear Chris,

         Thank you for sending the new UMBRELLA. I enjoyed your poem as well as Patrick's review of PurdyFest.

Poetry Power!
         . . . James

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Monday, 20 January 2014

Ray Souster Tribute Launch - Patrick Connors

Under the Mulberry Tree

New Book and Launch event Honour Raymond Souster
Patrick Connors – Toronto:  On Wednesday, January 15th, Quattro Books released Under the Mulberry Tree, a book of poems celebrating the life and legacy of Raymond Souster.  A true “People’s Poet”, Souster passed away in Toronto last year at the age of 91 after a lengthy illness.  This tribute to his work and personality was edited by longtime friend James Deahl.

James Deahl with Quattro Books employee Kristen Blank – Photo Credit: Anna Yin

“Even if Ray Souster had never written a poem, edited a literary magazine, published a book, or hosted a public reading, he was a truly great and honourable man,” Deahl said. “Ray showed how to live a life of grace and compassion. It was a privilege to know him.”
“I first encountered Ray Souster’s poems almost half a century ago,” said Norma West Linder, a contributing poet to the anthology. “Seeing the way he made the ordinary into the extraordinary with the art that disguises art, I was inspired to try my own hand at writing poetry.

In all, there are 35 poets to the book, paying affectionate and admiring tribute to Souster, widely considered one of the most important figures in Canadian poetry in the second half of the 20th Century. He was a groundbreaking poet of wide-ranging influence who distinguished himself as an editor, publisher, readings organizer, and mentor. The contributors include some who knew Souster personally and others from younger generations who are extending the tradition of modernist “People’s Poetry” in a Sousterian spirit.

“When I consider the mutual friendship I had with Ray, I’d have to say serendipity and pleasant fortune is my connection to him,” said Michael Fraser, another contributing poet, and a co-ordinator of the excellent Plasticine Poetry reading series.  “I was immensely fortunate to have been welcomed into his house and have the opportunity to bask in his brilliance.”
14 of the contributors appeared at the launch event, held in the upstairs of Tequila Bookworm, located at 512 Queen Street West.  One of them was noted Toronto-based poet and editor Mick Burrs.

“2 years before Ray passed away, James Deahl told me that I lived in the same neighbourhood as Souster,” Burrs said.  “In fact, I had been for a number of years.
“He was a major Canadian poet, and I got to meet one of my idols in person, although it took 70 years!

“After James introduced me to Ray, I in turn introduced him to Kent Bowman, who is also in the anthology.  Ray and Kent were jazz afficionado’s, and could talk about music for hours.
“Also, we would always talk poetry with Ray, sharing our poems with one another.  In general, he stood by a lot of poets, encouraging them, even starting the League of Canadian Poets.
“I felt saddened when he died.  You just enjoyed being with him.”

Burrs poem, “Basho Watching Baseball”, appears in the anthology, and marked the beginning of the reading.  “Another thing Ray and I talked about was baseball.  We would discuss it on the phone, how the Jays were doing, during commercial breaks.”

The second stanza is simply:

“During a dull night game
 at last the dome opens –
     ah, the full moon!”

“This is something I experienced at a Jays game, and, of course, many others have, as well.  Inside the climate-controlled environment of the Rogers Centre, you are not experiencing the reality of the outside world.  The shock of the last line, the appearance of the full moon, is what makes it a haiku.

“Whenever Ray was talking about something he was passionate about, whether it was jazz, baseball, or poetry, he forgot he wasn’t feeling well.  In turn, we forgot he wasn’t feeling well.”
The launch event itself included stories of Souster’s influence on the presenters, both personally and poetically.  It was emotional without being maudlin, and brought everyone in the crowded room into a kind of communal participation, whether they knew Souster or not. 

“I think one measure of the success of a book launch is the number of the writers in attendance who are not there to read their own work or promote themselves, but to celebrate the poetry of some other writer,” Deahl said. “More to the point, there were about 15 people in the room I had never seen before. When people attend a poetry event who you did not personally invite, that is amazing. It demonstrates the respect people have in their hearts for Ray Souster.”

Also, the service at Tequila Bookworm was very good.
In 2012, there were revivals of the extraordinary work of Irving Layton (, as well as Milton Acorn (  I am hopeful that 2014 will see a compilation of Souster’s work released—or at least set in motion—to bring his work and his place in the Canadian literary canon to a new generation of readers.
with files from Quattro Books

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Signing up for Marvin's Archives

Hi Marvin,
I wasn't able to retrieve my Sube from the mechanic until 5:30 yesterday aft, so as expected, I wasn't able to drive into TO for the launch. I did have an hour long update chat with Terry Barker this afternoon, & Terry succeeded in circulating both of the author's copies I'd requested from the editor, James Deahl. Twice over the course of the evening James kindly announced that these 2 archival copies of UNDER THE MULBERRY TREE were being circulated, with one copy designated for the special Marvin Orbach archives.

Terry said approx. 50 people were in attendance, & that likely all of the 12 - 14 readers signed both copies by their poems. As suggested, Terry also encouraged EVERYONE present to sign the copies as well - even the surprised young bartender was pleased to be asked  :  )  The usual suspects who attend many of our People's Poetry events like PurdyFests were present, & of course signed, & some even added spontaneous marginalia & commentary. It'll be very interesting to read these copies. I'll select the most 'marked up' copy & send it on to you as soon as I receive them from James. Many thanks to Terry, who spent much of his evening circulating our copies among the readers & guests alike.

Some of the signee readers are also regular 'PurdyFesters', like Kent Bowman, Mick Burrs, Terry Barker, James Deahl, Allan Briesmaster (Quattro editor for the book) & his artist wife Holly & poet daughter Clara,  Anna Yin & activist poet Patrick Connors. Other PF regulars who aren't in the antho, but who also attended & signed include David Day, Honey Novick, Joe Fiorito (Toronto Star columnist & his wife), PF videographer Henry Martinuk, PF photog Peter Rowe & wife Carol. Other reader/signees include Quattro publisher Luciano Iacobelli, Laurence Hutchman & Sarnia poets Lynn Tait & Debbie Oakum & Margaret Patricia Eaton (yup, THAT clan - flew in from Down East) etc. etc. - quite the gang!

Terry also met a Univ. of Calgary student, David Eso. Prior to the event David wasn't aware of your collection, but now he'll be scouring it (he's one of the contributors to MULBERRY TREE). 

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffff!

Last night while surfing the web I found this page about your archives:   

Special Collections
Book Collections
Manuscript Collections
Digital Collections
Manuscript Collections » Literary and Art Archives (Canadian) » Marvin Orbach
Marvin Orbach


Marvin Orbach collection of archival material relating to
The Marvin Orbach Collection of Contemporary Canadian Poetry.
0.94 m of textual records.

Canadian librarian and book collector Marvin Orbach was born in Toronto on June 13, 1940, and moved to Montreal in 1951 where he has lived ever since. He received his B.A. and two library science degrees from McGill University. He worked at Concordia University Library,  first as a cataloguer, and then as a reference / selection librarian, for a total of 39 years. Now retired, he devotes much of his time to building his collection of Canadian poetry: his love of Canada, his love of books, his love of poetry, and his collector's instinct, all combined to make him a passionate lifelong collector of Canadian poetry. Mr. Orbach's dream is to create a collection that reflects the poetic soul of a nation.

Fonds consists of archival material included as inserts or sent along with the books donated by M. Orbach. Includes: manuscripts and published poems by, and correspondence with, Rienzi Crusz; correspondence (including email) with and poems by many other Canadian poets such as Henri Beissel, Anne Cimon, Chris Faiers, Ralph Gustavson, David Helwig, Susan Ioannou, Irving Layton, Seymour Mayne and Sharon H. Nelson; interviews by M. Orbach with Sharon H. Nelson and Artie Gold; broadsides by Mavis Jones, John Newlove, Jay Rugesky, Fred Wah and Dale Zieroth; publishers' press releases; reading notices; bookmarks and book wraps; poem cards; and miscellaneous items removed from books.
Donated by Marvin Orbach between 2002 and 2013.
Text in English.
No restrictions on access.
Further accruals expected.
MsC 365


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Jan. 17, 2014

Hi Chris,
     Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done   to make Calgary's copy of the Souster book a real treasure.   And thank you very much to your colleagues who assisted you.  This book will be an outstanding addition to the collection.  I am looking forward to holding it in my hands and reading the inscriptions..   Wow!!!
       The piece that you sent on my archival collection has been around for a while.  A few months  ago I requested that your name be added to it. The Univ. of  Calgary Library, Special Collections,  has been doing a marvelous job of looking after the collection.
        A big thank-you for doing so much to help preserve  our  country's literary heritage.
        It was my lucky day   when I first met you.
        Marvin, in Montreal West.

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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Memories of My Mom (Gail Taylor)

Memories of My Mom

Marvelous Mavis... what was in that name?
Dad would call her Alma or that woman
when he was impatiently waiting for her
Her brother, Jeff, nicknamed her Tamer
for all her feistiness and determination
She was Aunt Mavis to many,
great grandma to six
She has been Mom to five,
grandma to four 
and she has been called a blessing
by the countless children in the hospital
who wear her hats and slippers
or play with her crocheted animals
She was called a radical by the Weed Man
or maybe something worse
She was called friend by her neighbours
and Miss Daisy by the cab drivers
with whom she has long conversations
but most of all she was called Love
                    by all those whose lives she has touched.

Mom died Sunday night.


Gail Taylor


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Ursula Pflug has left a new comment on your post "Memories of My Mom (Gail Taylor)":

Blessings, Chris.

Posted by Ursula Pflug to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 14 January 2014 20:28

Friday, 10 January 2014

Tribute Launch for Ray Souster Jan. 15th

QB Launch: "Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems for & about Raymond Souster"

When: Wed, January 15, 7pm – 9pm

Where: Tequila Bookworm, Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada (map)

Please join editor James Deahl, consulting editor Allan Briesmaster, and a dozen of the 35 contributing poets for the launch of "Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems for & about Raymond Souster", from Quattro Books . Under the Mulberry Tree is an anthology of poems paying affectionate and admiring tribute to one of the most important figures in Canadian poetry in the second half of the 20th Century. Raymond Souster (1921-2012) was a groundbreaking poet of wide-ranging influence who distinguished himself like no one else, as an editor, publisher, readings organizer, and mentor. The poets contributing to this anthology include some who knew Souster personally and others from younger generations who are extending the tradition of modernist “People’s Poetry” in a Sousterian spirit. 

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The shy man was absent

(Raymond Souster Tribute, Nov. 22, 2011)

The shy man was absent
from his own poetry tribute
sixty plus of us crammed
the second floor of Runnymede Library
the shy man's bookish retreat
for most of his 90 years

The shy man's imprint was Contact
(irony universal in poetry's ascent)

he made contact with poetry readings
poetry magazines and poetry organizations
poetry of the best, by the best
but poetry for everyone

The shy man slipped his teller's cage
miraculously to birth, with a few close friends
the modern age of Canadian poetry

A bank teller, for God's sake
who never swore, womanized
stole a dime, overwrote a line
Will he even show up for his own funeral?
will we file past an empty casket
the shy man busy elsewhere, composing perhaps

When the shy man passes
to join his legion of friends
in the Canuck poetry pantheon
we earthbound ones will need
a statue or two
to fix his shy spirit a place

beside bronze Al in Queen's Park?
(Al shy? - all poets are shy)
or comfortable yards apart
from an even shyer genius
Glen on his permanent bench
outside CBC quarters?

until the time of bust in bronze
poet after poet visits Ray
in a nursing home just around
Runnymede's comfortable corner 
But tonight the shy man's legacy connects
a tribal gathering of poets his tribute
       not one empty chair

Chris Faiers

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Jan.9, 2014
Hi James,
Your wonderful tribute to Ray arrived yesterday. I picked it up last night on my way over to watch bad TV with Chase at Morley's. Heartfelt content - every damn poem! - beautifully produced - great intro which gives the scope of Ray's contributions to CanPo. What an honour to be in the company of such great poets - it's a Who's Who of CanPo. I was bragging to Morley about how many of our co-contributors are GG winners. Morley asked if that was as high an honour as receiving the Order of Canada. I explained there are dozens of OofCs awarded every year, but only ONE GG for poetry. Morley was suitably impressed  :  )

As with the Milt issue of THE AMBASSADOR, every one of your projects hits a new high. It's hard to encapsulate everything you've done for People's Poetry, Milt, & CanPo in general over the decades. I told Terry during our marathon 'chat' this week that even tho the Cuban censors, or Tai, or God knows who omitted Terry's piece on Milt & Che, well, this just adds some major spice to the stew (to hopelessly garble metaphors) of your many projects.

My mechanic told me on Tuesday that the Sube should last a while longer after about $1K in repairs. So good news all around, except the mechanic won't be able to round up the parts for the major work on the Sube's suspension until next week, so my participation has become even more highly unlikely for the launch of MULBERRY TREE    : (  :  (

I'm also looking forward to the spring release of Terry's new book on People's Poetry. Our tribe (Fellowship of the Acorn?) is sure doing a lot of moving & grooving on the CanPo scene these days. And People's Poetry festivals are springing up everywhere like dandelions (yeah, but we did it first 8 years ago!).

Mucho thanks & congrats again, James!

peace & poetry power!
Chris ...  & Chase Wrffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

LESSONS FROM 2014: Stuart Ross


For your information, when
you eat things they go into you.
I learned this last year.
This year, however,
I cannot write a poem. I just
can’t do it. My dog skids
around on the ice outside,
I’m bleeding the radiator
with fifty leeches, seismologists
curl at the foot of my bed,
episodes of F Troop are shot
in my living room, guppies
do tricks in the depths
of my teacup, plus:

confusion is the basic unit
of all living organisms. It has
been dubbed the building block
of life. A single confusion
divides to produce two daughter
confusions. Let’s pack a lunch,
pile into the station wagon
and sit in the driveway.

In closing, then:
Blank sheets of paper
scribble poems on me.
A lamp throws a shadow
into the wastebasket.
The radiance of the night
is just about endless.


Stuart Ross
January 1, 2014