Word on the Street + Pants!

i went to the strike and rain beleaguered Word on the Street fest today (and the WotS and rain beleaguered library picket line) and picked up a back issue of One Cool Word that i missed while in Ghana (featuring a poem by Liam Ford and my poem "hook"), a copy of Viral Suite by Mari-Lou Rowley, and possibly a cold.

more important than all that, my one pair of blue jeans inexplicably descended (literally) to a new level of disrepair. before, they hung so loosely on my twigly frame that i could shake them off of my body by running with a narrow gait for a few blocks. now it's five or six normal steps and they're down, while at the best of times they are clinging desperately to my hips. i was the only gangsta at WotS, i believe.

i have developed two strategies for keeping the things up (and no, neither is a belt - don't get me started on belts):
1. the one-finger beltloop hook: this one works quite well, and is the only strategy that works when jogging/running, but it's also very obvious that you're holding you pants up, which, it turns out, often makes normal conversations take a turn for the awkward.

2. the two-handed pocket grab: this isn't very reliable and is guaranteed to fail when jogging/running (besides, who jogs with their hands in their pockets?). when using this strategy, it is hard for others to tell that your pants are falling down, but easy for them to tell that you have something valuable in your pockets and/or that you have an obsessive need to graze your balls with your thumbs every thirty seconds or so. surprisingly, this strategy does help you maintain more normal conversations than does #1.

more than anything, my current plight got me thinking about gangstas - i've got no problem with the look, but i now appreciate how damn frustrating it is to know that your pants could fall down at any moment. so, i've invented "Spurious Slacks": normal fitting pants with a fake second pantline that hangs below your shirt. comfort and style in one! tell your friends!


you damn hippies

here are two things to keep you busy:

1. send a letter to the PM re: Burma + Security Council + Action here. and if you want to harass Bush on the same subject (tho he seems pretty gung-ho already - that boy loves his democracy), you can do so here.

oh, and i just got news of a rally:
Location: Robson Square, Vancouver Downtown, Vancouver
Date: Sept. 28, 2007 (Friday)
Time: 5pm
Organization: Vancouver Burma Roundtable and local groups
Contact: Naw Seng at 778-998-0966, San Aung at 778-888-1918 and Htay Aung at 604-941-5385

2. "Hello Al, Goodbye Gateway" rally against the Gateway Project this Saturday at 5 PM at the Westin Bayshore. Marta and i will be there gearing up our chanting for the 7 PM Lions game. more detail here.


night of the dead poets 2

Marta and i went to the first one of these earlier this year, and quite enjoyed it. i'm planning on taking in this one too. let me know if you are interested in coming along. here are the details:

Upstart Crow Books

Friday, October 12, 2007
7.00 pm.

The Night of the Dead Poets 2

You’re invited to listen to five readers bringing poems from the past to your ears.

- Poems of William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) read by Harvey De Roo
- Poems of William Stafford (17 January 1914 – 28 August 1993) read by David Zieroth
- Poems of Raymond Carver (25 May 1938 – 2 August 1988)
read by Rhea Tregebov
- Poems of Saint-Denys-Garneau (13 June 1912 – 24 October 1943) read by Richard Therrien
- Poems of Denise Levertov (24 October 1923 – 20 December 1997) read by Susan McCaslin

Enjoy language worth listening to. In each presentation you will hear a brief introduction to the poet followed by a reading of selected poems.

Upstart Crow Books, 238 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, is just a few blocks up from the Seabus. For more information, call 604-980-2769.


new books + "Yo, Raphael!"

as a challenge to my recent assertion that no one i know is publishing anything, two friends have whipped up new books:

first, Leopold McGinnis has released his novella, Bad Attitude. at 104 pages (well, 103 and a penis), it's a quick, engaging read about a big-box electronics store employee who is only slightly less deranged than the all-consuming monstrosities (read: suburbanites) he finds himself surrounded by. you can buy it for cheap off his site, read the whole thing online (he's serializing it - he's on chapter three right now), or check it out from my Vancouver lending library (the only lending library in town right now, i believe...).

second, Colin Stewart is soon to release his novel, A Question of Extremes, and has set up a website to hype the little beast. i don't know much about the book, but the excerpts look interesting. check it out here!

and as a special bonus for reading this far: "Firefighters rescue man trapped in chimney trying to enter home; says he was drunk". the tv newscast is here, featuring its own gems of "after that lewd gesture wrapped up in a bit of sarcasm" and "Alejandro Valencio: Chimney Climber". ah, poor, under-educated Americans - the media's best target of ridicule in order to feed their (and our) superiority complex. well, them and rich, under-educated Americans. and whatever is going on here. and Barbara Walters, when she does crazy shit like this.


ms. hunter, i salute you

Aislinn Hunter is currently my favourite Vancouver-based poet (she teaches creative writing at Kwantlen). her two poetry collection are damn good, and she keeps getting better as she goes along.

her books, Into the Early Hours and The Possible Past are available in my Vancouver lending library (as is a second copy of The Possible Past that my mom won as an iamb event door prize - in her Port Moody lending library).

anyway, i'm writing this now because i finally found a site that's posted some of her poems (granted, i wasn't looking terribly hard, but still: what's with all the poem-hoarding? it's as though people think they can turn a profit off these things...). the posting, a feature on Hunter, is part of Arc Poetry's Scotland-Canada exchange project, and includes a very good introduction of her work, by John Burnside. an excerpt:

At this point in our history—in human, rather than natural history—the most urgent questions are ecological: questions about how we dwell in the world, questions about what we leave for our children, questions about “quality of life” in the most urgent sense. Yet, strangely, the most effective tool we have to defend the environment—from ourselves—is not polemic, or statistics. What matters is that we stop taking the world for granted and begin to see where it is we live. What matters is that we find a new way of thinking about, and feeling, and appreciating the world. This new way of thinking depends, not upon understanding and so taking possession of everything we experience and encounter, but upon making space for the mystery—making space, and participating, in all humility, in a Being that is, as Sartre says, haunted by nothingness. Reading Aislinn Hunter, I find a poet committed to that quest: a quest, not for authenticity, so much as immediacy, a quest to partake of the eternal through a more vivid engagement with time.

after Brunside's write-up are three of Hunter's poems - "The Story as I See It" has been one of my favourites since I first encountered it, and her "Barriers" sequence is downright incredible (though i don't believe that the section selected is the strongest).

hell, enough babbling by me. check it out yourself.

p.s. thanks to this wicked book for the subject line.


there we go

Science is just one of the many ideologies that propel society and it should be treated as such (this statement applies even to the most progressive and most dialectical sections of science). What consequences can we draw from this result?

The most important consequence is that there must be a formal separation between state and science just as there is now a formal separation between state and church. Science may influence society but only to the extent to which any political or other pressure group is permitted to influence society. Scientists may be consulted on important projects but the final judgement must be left to the democratically elected consulting bodies.

- Paul Feyerabend, "How To Defend Society Against Science"


two events

1. Memewar's Short Line Reading Series is back for another year - starting tonight, it seems. It's a free show at the Railway Club and who knows, Elizabeth Bachinsky might actually show up this time... Dunno the start time, but that's all part of the fun. Further readings will be held on October 22nd and November 19th.

2. One Cool Word is hosting a fundraising concert/button making party on October 4th from 7-10 PM at Rhizome Cafe (317 East Broadway). If you are a facebook zombie, there's more info here.



writing the land

the folks over at blueskiespoetry.ca have a neat project going called "Writing the Land", in which they profile poems about Alberta's landscapes. you can read the most recently posted poem here, then scroll through past poems using the "Next Poem" link.

the poems are hit and miss - though there are quite a few hits - and i think it's a fantastic idea. while i was in Ghana i was missing Vancouver and poems about the city, and i had the idea of setting up a site for writing on the city - not just sweeping generalizations about "VanCity" ("Asialopolis"?) but about particular places, artifacts, and histories - then mapping them all using GoogleMaps or something so people could actually go around and see the things and places the writing was referencing - sort of a literary tour of the city.

but then i started noticing a number of magazines that were interested specifically in writing on Vancouver (most notably one cool word and Vancouver Review) and i lost a bit of my gusto. at the same time, i began to appreciate the complete lack of venues for writing on Ghana, so i put my energies into One Ghana, One Voice.

OGOV is ticking along quite smoothly right now, and my guess that i might be able to find 10-15 Ghanaian poets out there has proven very short-sighted, which is damn exciting. it looks like we might even get a book...?

so, OGOV is keeping me busy. in addition, my interests in setting up a vancouver-focused crap-chapbook publisher and in helping to revive the slumbering giant that is High Altitude Poetry, have helped ensure that the "literary tour of Vancouver" idea stays shelved in the cluttered and dusty stockroom of my mind.

but reading things like "Writing the Land" gets me wanting to pull out the stepladder and explore what i've got stored back there. i'm still probably not going to do it - but if anyone else is up for it, i'd be sure to lend a hand.

photos by Marta Iniewska and genericstockroomphotos.com


i recently found out that a friend from university and sometimes-HAPer, Asim Chaudhry, has been missing since late july - you can get more info here.

i don't know how i was so out of the loop on this to have only heard about it now, but if it's news to you, too, please do your part and help spread the word.


i sometimes wonder about fruit flies

i sometimes wonder about fruit flies
whole civilizations born from
two horny bugs
empires that hover over
my decaying nectarines

they cluster and swarm
and i worry about inbreeding
about the thousands of retarded spawn
they must be producing

i worry that maybe it
gets so bad
that they forget how
to have sex

they fly around jabbing their
penises into each other
poking out eyes and shattering wings,
dying alone and loaded with sperm.

how tragic that would be, i think
as I drop the nectarines into the trash.

the cloud of flies scatters around the room
the buzzing grows steadily quieter.

from the September 2004 issue of High Altitude Poetry

more of my poems from HAP here.

save bukowski's bungalow

the place where Charles Bukowski lived from 1963-74 is slated to be demolished, but some keen people in L.A. have started a campaign to save it, and are looking for your inbox-clogging support. so get to it.


stating the obvious

the pumpkin is dead! a new template for silaron! not many big changes to the content of the site, just a less cluttered archive and a few easier ways to browse the site by theme.

the refurbishment is this site's reward for reaching 10,000 hits, devastating its competition in the big race.

the final results:

spread it like a roll of nickels: 10,000
Saturdays in the Park: 9,651
One Ghana, One Voice: 9,609

thanks to all who participated in my elaborate gambling ring!

also, while i'm posting, High Altitude Poetry is going to be signing up members new and old on the 11th and 12th from 10 AM 'till 3 PM at SFU's Burnaby Campus. if you want to get (or stay) involved, come sign up!


two poets

i spent the weekend away with friends at Green Lake and got the chance to read a couple of books by authors i hadn't read before, and i can safely say i recommend both.

first, Mark Haddon's The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea had me from the title. it's not terribly amazing stuff, but it is a good deal better than the average fare. the collection is a hodgepodge with a good deal of humour, some self-pointing-poet stuff, and occasional beauty ("A Tally Stick," for instance). the world certainly won't end if you don't read it, but it might pick up a little if you do.

second, Fran Bourassa's debut chapbook Songs for Fools. this was the best chapbook i've read in a long time. truthfully, that's not setting the bar terribly high (for all the obscure literary circles i involve myself in, no one seems to be coming out with anything), but Bourassa's collection far exceeds the usual "first chapbook" expectations. at times, in fact, the poems in the collection seem too "professional," too caught in the words and meters and blah-ness of "the good stuff" that fills literary mags and isn't really all that good. more often than not, though, the poems rise above this and are very readable and satisfying. the chapbook is only available at Upstart Crow Books in North Van, so if you are in that area be sure to take a look.

so maybe i'm reviewing books on this site now. or, more possibly, i'm posting one-paragraph blurbs on books i like. i doubt it will catch on.

poems poems poems coming soon, i promise.