Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This is the day that Australians and New Zealanders remember their war dead.

Today is also the day Canadians are honouring the eight soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan on Easter and the following Tuesday.

Friday, April 20, 2007

NPM Event a success!

Last night saw a number of loyal poetry-appreciators show up for our local NPM event. This while the Canucks contended in what could have been the last game of this round of playoffs. Talk about dedicated to the arts or what!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Talkin' Passport Blues

Well, I got me some pictures taken, lookin' grim as can be
You might think I've got myself a toothache or worse
Then I printed off some forms and got some photocopies made
Had 'em all signed up nice and purdy, like they said,
Made 'em all official, real important.

So today I put a bunch of pricey fuel into my car
Buck-twenty a shot, and that's fer regular, nothin' fancy
Drove on down the freeway, found a spot in some mall
Parking lot, then strolled down to the gover'ment
Office for such things.

The front of the building looked like there was some kinda strike
All those people standin', till I saw they were in line
So I turned the corner, went 'round the side, down the lane
But there were still folks in a row, snakin' to the corner and
Back behind that turn, even more.

So I got in behind 'em, pulled the hood up on my coat,
Opened up my book, tried to read, well as I could out in the
Rain. Stood fer an hour and a half 'n more, movin' nearly
To the corner -- back corner -- not quite the side lane yet
When out comes this guy, 'Commissionaire'.

He brags to us how this is the best of all the passport places
All across the land, how folks fly in from Calg'ry, even Winnipeg
To see just how this office gets 'em through so speedy, so efficient.
Airfare out to YVR, well worth it get so they claim, but us?
Well, we're not gettin' anyplace today.

So now I'm thinkin' I should maybe get my camping gear
Outta the shed. Set out in darkest midnight, bring a cookstove,
Sleeping bag. Get there before sunrise with those other folks
In line, the ones who got themselves into that old gover'ment
Passport office, quick, while it was still this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A day for remembrance

I can hardly type. Two more Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. My favourite author, the one I sent November 11th birthday letters to every year, Kurt Vonnegut, has died. What more can happen. I don't think I want to know. Besides, isn't that already the proverbial three? Enough for one day.

It's National Poetry Month!

In fact, it's already a third of the way through. So quick, here are five reasons to write poetry.

1. Every culture seems to have a poetic tradition; it’s a world-wide form. So I guess that means poetry shares certain aspects with the Internet – it’s world-wide too. No wonder there’s so much poetry blossoming online.

2. Poetry is the oldest literary form. Unlike the novel, it’s been around for a really long time.

3. Poetry is the newest literary form. Constantly changing, it adapts to the times – although maybe it’s the times that adapt to the poetry?

4. Poetry is the most efficient form of the literary arts, packing the most meaning into the fewest words.

5. Poetry is portable. We can carry it in our mind, can even repeat memorized lines of it. All those rhythms, even when they’re subtle, love to imprint themselves on the brain.

And if those five reasons aren’t enough to get you started, turn off your computer and step outside into whatever the elements have to throw in your face.

Listen for what your inner voice wants to scream back at the sky.

There. You have the first piece of your poem.

Once you get the rest of it written, why not send it as a comment?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ironic, eh

That as all those names of Canadian war dead scroll by at Vimy, six more Canadians died in Afghanistan, doing the bidding of who-knows-who.

One of the most powerful scenes in the book I referred to in a recent posting (And in the Morning) occurs when the young soldier meets an arms maker business man while riding on a train.

It seems that nothing has changed.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Remembering Vimy

As time came to commemorate the 90th anniversary of this event, I decided to read a book about World War I. John Wilson's YA novel And in the Morning is told mainly through one man's diary entries. These are embellished by news clips, memorabilia, and poems. Although the book wasn't as powerful as Charles Yale Harrison's Generals Die in Bed, I'll admit to a few tears at the end.

The novel, with its inclusion of poems, made me want to find other work from and about that era. Work by and John McCrae, of course, but also by others -- Charles Hamilton Sorley, Isaac Rosenberg, Charlotte Mew, Siegfried Sassoon, Laurence Binyon...

Here is one of the classics from that time, Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
-- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, --
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
There's a website that's running the names of all the Canadians who died in the Battle for Vimy Ridge. The names begin rolling on April 8 (Easter Sunday) at sunset.

They called World War I 'the war to end all wars' yet obviously, were wrong. Somehow, we must find a way to bring about an end to all wars.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Doors in San Francisco

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Light My Fire. So the following tribute to San Francisco seemed appropriate.

Door of nails

Sculptured doorway

Self-portrait with door and bus

Theatre doors

Alcatraz door

Door that speaks for itself

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More San Francisco Times

Strange as it probably seems, one of the highlights of the trip to SF was a visit to Alcatraz. As tours go, it was probably the best I've been on. Headsets ensured we all heard the same information. They also meant we moved in small groups, and not as one giant herd.

One of the other highlights -- something that really made me feel I was in the City of Poets was encountering a guy (Thom Schimer) on the street selling tiny little books. We chatted a bit about lit magazines. I was happy to learn he's familiar with both Broken Pencil and sub-Terrain.

Anyway, I bought a pack of Thom's little comix. One of my favourite lines from one: "I like it when it rains: You don't feel guilty about staying inside and you get time to yourself if you go walking around." Pretty much the way I feel about our climate here in the Lower Mainland of B.C.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

What a kick-off to National Poetry Month!

Friday night (yes, still in San Francisco) I received the email containing this year's ten words. And no, this wasn't some spy mission. It was CV2's annual Two-Day Poem Contest.

As usual, the words were bizarre, with the worst being the dreaded 'eschew' -- a word I always do my best to eschew! (At least it wasn't 'saraband' -- yes, that was one of 'em back in 2002.)

There'll be other mentions of National Poetry Month, you can be sure. Right now, I'm wiped out from celebrating a monster birthday and finishing my two-day poem by the deadline.