but would he have had a blog?

Madly Singing in the Mountains

There is no one among men that has not a special failing:
And my failing consists in writing verses.
I have broken away from the thousand ties of life:
But this infirmity still remains behind.
Each time that I look at a fine landscape:
Each time that I meet a loved friend,
I raise my voice and recite a stanza of poetry
And am glad as though a God had crossed my path.
Ever since the day I was banished to Hsun-yang
Half my time I have lived in the hills.
And often, when I have finished a new poem,
Alone I climb the road to the Eastern Rock.
I lean my body on the banks of white stone:
I pull down with my hands a green cassia branch.
My mad singing startles the valleys and hills:
The apes and birds all come to peep.
Fearing to become a laughing-stock to the world,
I choose a place that is unfrequented by men.
- by Po Chu-I (772-846), translated by Arthur Waley


hap poetry open mic

Wednesday, December 5th
7 PM
Highland Pub, SFU Burnaby Campus



pictures of penises poking out of pants

Google searches that have led to my "on waterslides" piece:
"blogspot cumshot" (twice)
"cumshot blogspot"
"cumshots blogspot"
"download porn blogspot"
"farm cumm" (?)
"fucking sixteen"
"funny porn blogspot"
"funny slides"
"girls on water slides"
"pictures of penises poking out of pants"
"site: blogspot.com cumshot"
"titty poems"
"birney speard sex" (somehow my Birney review [and Britney Spears?] got tied into the whole sordid affair)


two more "blogspot cumshot"s
"corndog porn"
"waterslide top came off"

p.s. I can only imagine the hits that will result from this posting.

p.p.s. Goat sex. Hot pix of cheerleaders riding mechanical bulls. Bugger bugger bugger. Necrophilia!!!!


i wrote a series of titles for this post that featured bad puns about how he'll soon be your "new love" but all that did was make me feel pathetic

Jacket Magazine's latest issue features three poems by John Newlove. "Ride Off Any Horizon," one of my favourite poems, is one of the three. You can read the poems here (and for goodness sake, do!).

Newlove is right up there in my books when it comes to Canadian poets worth reading, and when he gets it right...wow...there is little better.

If you like what you read, Chaudiere Books in Ottawa just came out with a new Newlove collection: A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove. Check it out at an obscure bookstore near you!


my wife tells me about the plane crash

the two hundred or so
charred bodies smouldering
in the fuselage on a
sao paulo runway
and i look up - i lift
my head - and i meet
her eyes and say
'that's terrible'
and for once mean it,
then i turn to my notebook
and write this hurriedly,
before it's gone.

from the November 2007 issue of High Altitude Poetry

read more of my poems from HAP here.

p.s. no, not married yet...next summer...


Birney review

My review of Earle Birney's "one muddy hand: Selected Poems" is now online at PoetryReviews.ca. You can read it here.

Also, PoetryReviews.ca is in need of help! It's a great site, so if you can lend a hand - doooo it.


on waterslides

My feature/commentary (poem?) "On Waterslides" has been published in The Peak. Thanks Peak!

For some reason the intro to the piece, which set it up in a number of ways, was cut from the printed version (as was my excessive italicization and capitalization...though they capitalized "jesus" and "christ", which was quite counterproductive, if you ask me), so like my review from last week's issue, I've reprinted my original below. You can read the "print" version online in .pdf form here (my contribution is on the last page...and you can also read a conspicuously related Peak Speak on page three. Have I started a movement?).

Anyway, here it is:

On Waterslides

Waterslides: big windy cocks that shoot us out like cumshots of joy. Wait, it’s too soon for that. I need a soft opening...

Waterslides: bullet chambers that fire us deep into the chest cavity of joy. Much better. Ok, now that we have a common image going, let’s get sliding!

First: The Ascent. This is always the worst part for me, what with my fear of heights. I suppose it doesn’t make sense to fear climbing when what you’re really afraid of is falling. But the truth is, if I ever did fall I doubt I’d be afraid. I’m pretty sure this makes me strange. Like airplanes, how everyone is afraid of flying in them even though they’re more likely to die on the way home from the airport - the steering wheel of their station wagon impaling their chest cavity and all that blood spurting on the windshield - because at least then it was probably their own damn fault. At least then they can believe they could have swerved out of the way, y’know, if they tried really hard. Me, I’m the opposite. Being in a plane, hell, that’s when I finally relax, push my chair back that extra two degrees, read over the movie schedule in that crappy little magazine, and buckle and unbuckle my belt a few hundred times. But cars, jesus, those things scare me to death. I still have my “N” and I’m not going back to get rid of it - you hear that, multiple passengers in my motor vehicle, I’M NOT GOING BACK! I failed the test twice because I kept speeding in a playground zone. Why is every side of Mundy Park a playground zone when there’s only a playground on one side of it (and ever since they took out that giant wooden pyramid, a shitty one at that)!? Now that pyramid, that was a blessing. When you climbed up the middle to use the slide, you couldn’t see how high you were. It was a fear-free zone. And once you got to the top, you were already on the way back down, which was the easy part. Of course, I had to go along with the other boys and try to climb the outside of the pyramid. Soiled a few pairs of underpants doing that. It was a stupid idea - it was dangerous and the pyramid wasn’t built for it so the wood would get all mushy and deteriorate - but our parents never said anything. Strangely enough, the damn thing fell apart. Now there’s no point in going there, so I have no clue why they need a playground zone! I suppose there’s still a chance a kid might come by, and hitting a kid would suck. I’d much rather fall out of the sky and land on a kid. Then I could blame my parachute or the fucker that pushed me out of the plane. And it would be sort of magical, how the kid broke my fall and sacrificed himself to save me and all. But if I slipped climbing the stairs to a waterslide and landed on a kid, geez, I can see the headline now: CLUMSY CLIMBER CRUSHES KID’S CHEST CAVITY. It’s enough to get a guy pretty damn nervous. Just put your head down, get to the top and let God and gravity take over.

Second: The Wait. This only applies for popular slides. If you don‘t have to wait in a line at the top of the stairs, then you are on a piss-poor waterslide - go to a new, more reputable, waterpark immediately. The Wait is the best part of the slide, because everyone around you is funny. The little girls are funny because they are squealing and holding their dads’ arm hair. The little boys are funny because they are chattering their teeth and tugging at their crotches. The teenage girls are funny because they are squealing and arching their backs. The teenage boys are funny because they are chattering their muscles in the direction of the girls and tugging their machismo. The adults are, well, just you and the parents, who, when it comes to waterslides, are more life preservers than participants. So it’s you and the kids and the teenagers and the life preservers and that sixteen year old guy who slouches in a deck chair and waves his arm every minute or two. You probably hate him. Most people do. Fucking sixteen year old training-wage-retard gets to decide when you slide. And think about this: after his shift is over, he doesn’t even slide down himself! He walks down the goddamn stairs! Hate him even more now? Not me, I love him for that. He’s living a different dream, a make-six-bucks-for-waving-your-arms-then-get-a-Slurpee-
and-corndog-and-go-download-porn-in-your-parents-basement dream. I’m hear to slide, he’s here to make Slurpee/corndog/porn money. That’s great stuff. Raise the minimum wage, I say! Let him subscribe to some real nasty chatroom shit! Think about the alternative: that guy is sitting there his whole shift just waiting, dying to go down the slide - but the man makes him sit there waving at the squealing, chattering masses. He’s not slouching because he’s dreaming of a Slurpaccino and man-on-man-on-dog action in the back of an abandoned station wagon, he’s slouching because he can’t slide! And there you are sliding over and over again in front of him! You’re rubbing it in, you capitalist prick! So, the next time you see that guy walking down the stairs, tip your metaphorical hat to him (not your real one, those things are BANNED in all reputable waterparks) - he’s totally disengaged so you can, like, totally engage!

Third: The Slide. This part is pretty dull. You don’t move around or anything. It doesn’t last very longer. Much less time than The Ascent and The Wait. In theory you can do spins and shit to mix things up, but these are BANNED in all reputable waterparks.

Fourth: The Splash. I’m willing to bet this is what Jesus felt like when John the Baptist dunked him. A few times I’ve seen birds when I’ve emerged. Usually crows. One time I saw a seagull, which is sort of like a dove. Anyway, my point is that this part is great. You usually slide gently into a shallow pool of water, though sometimes, at the more reputable waterparks, you sort of fall out of the sky into a deep tank. If the waving guy at the top did his job, you shouldn’t land on any kids, but mistakes happen. One time on one of those drop-landing slides, I saw a woman’s bikini top come right off! She sunk to the bottom of the pool, but her top stayed on the surface. Then she came up and was egg-beater swimming with her hands on her boobs, trying to figure out how to grab her top without flashing everyone. She tried sticking her elbow in one of the cups. I looked up at the waving kid to see if he cared, but he was too busy thinking about dog porn. It was a great moment. I’ve heard of people who don’t like The Splash, usually because they don’t like getting water up their noses. These people are insane. Not liking The Splash is like not liking sex. After all, The Splash is the cumshot from the big windy penis that is the slide, and everyone loves cumshots, with the exception, of course, of the women in pornos who don’t end up getting paid because the production company is not reputable. Because for them it’s all about the money. You think they’d be doing that if they weren’t getting paid? I mean, that’s only legal in Belarus, for christ sake! Most people don’t like to think about that - porn stars only working for the money. It ruins the whole illusion. I like it, though - they have their own dream, I have mine, the waving guy has his, and we all move along at the same time. We climb the stairs together. We wait in line together. Then we go down one at a time, bursting out slathered with stupid grins.

That’s how it works.


it's the cabbage patch kids all over again

The resemblance is uncanny...

A year and a half after its release, I'm finally out of copies of splattered earth (they are still available at Magpie Books and The People's Co-op Bookstore, though). I'm still waiting for my new manuscript, child of saturday, to be rejected by a swath of chapbook publishers before self-publishing it. In the interim I'm thinking I might do a second printing of splattered earth, just so I'll have something to give to people if they are interested after readings and such.

I think I'll also throw in another "China" poem of mine, "pen pal", which I wrote after publishing the chapbook, though that will probably send the formatting all to hell. Gooooo, white space!

At this point, though, I just wanted to say THANKS!!! to everyone who grabbed a copy (or two) and helped me clear up some shelf space.


two poems with "Vancouver" in the title, neither of which has anything to do with Vancouver

The Centrifugal Eye, an American online mag, has published two of my poems ("flying to Vancouver" and "a Vancouverite throws Toronto a bone") in its "Oh, Canada" issue. The poems can be read here.

Also, I got to make a bunch of smartass (and some not-quite-as-smartass) comments in their Round-Robin discussion on Canada and Canadian poetry. That can be read here.

Thanks, Centrifugal Eye!


Atwood review

I have a review of Margaret Atwood's The Door in this week's issue of The Peak. You can read it here. Thanks Peak!

The title they gave it misses the point a bit, which is more the fault of my poor communication than anything, I suppose (and reinforces that I should darn well stop submitting untitled things to people).

Unfortunately, they had to cut out the funnest part of the review, so here's the whole thing in it's original form:

I’d just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s new collection of poetry The Door, when Mike Hingston, The Peak’s Arts Editor, sent me a note asking me to rush my review in order to fill a space in an upcoming issue. I quickly started jotting down notes. My plan was to open with this excerpt from an Al Purdy poem (“Concerning Ms. Atwood“):

There is Margaret Atwood
—she is meeting Premier Peterson
in the Ontario Legislative Buildings
he is congratulating her
for being Margaret Atwood.

There is Margaret Atwood
—she is swinging a champagne bottle
against the bow of a super icebreaker
It winces noticeably from the blow
and escapes into the water
"My name is Henry Larson"

There is Margaret Atwood
—she is accepting the Nobel Prize
and reporters are crowding around
with tears in their eyes
asking why she is so marvellous
she replies simply and modestly
"I am Margaret Atwood"

I’d then go on to explain how I felt bad for the poems - not for Atwood, but for the poems themselves - because they aren’t terrible. Some of them are really quite good. If they were contained in a new poet’s debut collection I could see most people saying “A pretty good start” or something like that. But these poems have to carry the weight of being penned by the Queen of CanLit herself. They have to appear in a collection whose publisher’s promotional blurb describes them as “lucid yet urgent poems [which] range in tone from lyric to ironic to meditative to prophetic,” and as being “brave and compassionate.” I was going to point out that most of those terms have little connection to the poems in The Door. It doesn’t seem to matter what Margaret Atwood writes, if it is good, or awful, or, as in this case, mediocre. What matters is that Margaret Atwood writes it. In other words, it appears the publisher doesn’t even have to read the book to write the blurb. And that’s not fair for the little poems.

And little poems they are. Rarely “prophetic” or “brave,” they are instead mostly quiet and reflective musings. Generally speaking, they read like the love children of the poems of Wislawa Szymborska and Billy Collins, which makes for a comfortable, if not always challenging read. While some of the poems appear polished, many seem to go on far longer than necessary. Take, for instance, the opening to “Enough of these discouragements”:

Enough of these discouragements,
you said. Enough gnawed skulls.
Why all these red wet tickets
to the pain theatricals?
Why these boxfuls of ruin?
Whole big-block warehouses full.
Why can’t you tell about flowers?

But I did tell, I answer.
Petal by petal

Now that’s great stuff. Unfortunately, the poem continues for another four stanzas, adding little to that powerful opening image, and ending up overstretched and drained of its original energy.

My plan was to say all this and then ultimately defend the book, to say: look, I know people are going to slag this because it’s not as amazing as something touched by the divine, autograph-robot-constructing hand of Ms. Atwood ought to be, but that doesn’t mean it should be discarded. I was all prepared to conclude the review by saying that the poems in the collection will probably get a raw deal from most in the poetry world, but in reality, while they won’t change your life, they will still make for a good Saturday afternoon read.

But then Mike sent me an e-mail saying he had found something else to fill the spot, and I could relax for a while. So I did. A couple days later, my review still unwritten, the Governor General’s Award for Poetry nominees were announced…and whaddya know, The Door is, apparently, one of the top five Canadian poetry books of the year! Perhaps I would understand this if the judges’ only criteria were the hype in the press blurb and the glowing reviews of past works by The New York Times and Washington Post that appear on the dust jacket, but otherwise…geez. After all my concern that the hype would bury the book many feet deeper than it truly deserved, it turned out the hype had, in fact, worked.

So I thought of changing everything, of really ripping into the book and explaining that yes, great poetry is being written in Canada, and no, it is no longer being written by Margaret Atwood. But then, that’s not my point. Instead my point is that we shouldn’t be evaluating on, or responding to, images and reputations, but instead on the poems themselves. We shouldn’t assault the book simply because Atwood is an easy target, just as we shouldn’t nominate her for a GG that there is little question her book doesn’t deserve. Both are unfairly distortive.

So, ultimately, my conclusions are the same, GG or not. I still feel bad for the poems, perhaps more so. More significantly, I feel bad for us Canadian poetry fans for all the meaningless noise we have to endure in our search for some good poems. The poems in The Door make for an ok read - there is much better and there is much worse out there - and if that is enough for you, then I encourage you to check out a copy.cl


a flicker of content on the horizon + events

Some poems and a book review are coming real soon...until then, two more (free) events:


Shortline Reading Series
November 19th
6:30 - 9:00 PM
Railway Club, Vancouver

The series bills itself as “featur[ing] a mixture of talent from students to professional writers, often putting people together who have never been in the same room”. This month features readings from two profs who both work next to earch other in SFU’s English Department. Yeah, it seems strange to me too… Despite the misleading hype, check it out.

More info here.


World Poetry Series Reading
November 26
7:30 - 9:30 PM
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
350 W. Georgia St., Alma VanDusen room

Poetry and music from around the world, presented bilingually. World Poetry hosts are Ariadne Sawyer and guest host Diego Bastianutti.

Featuring readings by: Ashok Bhargava, Kyle Christensson, Jean Kay, Jaye (Julianna Low), Mandana Rastan.

Featured musicians: Pancho & Sal.