31 December 2006

Blades: A Plausible Origin

Over the years I've heard various stories or theories of where the Blades family and name originated. After the American War of Independence heard that some Blades moved from the Eastern Seaboard to the still British colony of Nova Scotia and others moved south to the Spanish colony of Florida (why I jokingly want to call Rubin and Roberto from Cuba my "cousins").

In Nova Scotia the are two root families of Blades: (1) the Shelburne Blades on the South Shore; (2) the Musquodoboit Valley Blades in Eastern Nova Scotia after a decomissioned British Army officer land grant in that area.

Dad's from the Musquodoboit bunch. He's one of 15 siblings. A son of Roy Stanley Blades and Alice Loreen Blades (nee McCurdy). Claymore broadsword hung on the livingroom wall in the Chaswood house. Have heard half-stories of Northern England Lowlanders . . .

I'd suspected an Anglo-Saxon angle way back, but not Denmark specifically, because of words I'd chanced upon in A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Fourth edition (Cambridge University Press, 1970): bladesian, bladesnung, bladesnug.

Another book claims that Blaydes and Blades were Bladesmakers or Bladesmiths. Could be true. What else would one expect of a people known as Burseblades (Bewere's Blades). Sounds like a not-so-merry band . . . working for or descended from a Danish nobleman. I wonder how much diluteted viking is in the blood of the line?

Below is what one retail geneology site states:
The lineage of the name Blaydes begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It is a result of when they lived in Yorkshire, where they settled in a place called Blades, which is now lost. The family claim descent from Drago de Bewere, a Danish nobleman who settled at a place called Blades in north England around 1016. He obtained extensive land grants which were recorded in the Domesday Book Survey of 1086. The variant Burseblades emerged through a compounding of the names of the founder and the estate.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Blades, Blade, Blate, Blait, Blayde, Blaide, Blaydes, Blaites, Blaits, Blaides and many more.

Some of the first settlers of this family name or of its variants were: Timothy Blade who settled in Virginia in 1654; John and William Blades settled in Virginia in 1652; Antony Blades settled in the Barbados in 1634; along with Nicholas.

"The ancient arms of Blaydes":

T: Scream in High Park (2000)
loc: Fredfaxebock
temp: -8 C
sound: Mr Something Something Mr Something Something + snoring upstairs

30 December 2006

'nother fire on George Street

there were flames shooting out her front door when i stepped out of my building on the corner . . . hoped to get a picture but, snuffed quickly, I only managed to shoot smoke . . . really old woman lives there on George Street just off York, house beside the home of George of George E George Footwear . . . she's generally not seen except for some garbage Thursdays. UNB anguish dept prof woman w/ dog who lives across the street rushes over w/ blanket long B4 fireman arrives with thermal space foil blanket. good on her. asshole dzo only has camera in hand. there might be student apartments or someone else in the second unit in the house . . . but I don't think they were home while this was happening.

t-shirt: Scream in High Park (2000)
loc: Fredfirescene
temp: -5 C
sound: F'ton Fire & Police Depts

Iranian Poet Forough Farrokhzad

Received in an email yesterday:

Dear Editor

Forough Farrokhzad is one of the most famous Iranian poets of modern times.

Her poems are unjustly unknown to English readers as a result of the lack of proper translation.

The 13th February 2007 is the 40th anniversary of her tragic death at the age of 32. I translated a selection of her poems for her memory.

Here is the link: www.foroughfarrokhzad.org

I appreciate if you help me to connect to a large set of eventual interested readers. Many thanks!

Happy New Year.

Maryam Dilmaghani

The Tripod site built by Maryam Dilmaghani includes a goodly number of poems in translation into English plus bio info on the poet and the translator's personal reasons for undertaking this work. Thanks!

"Forough Farrokhzad (January 5, 1935—February 13, 1967) can be called the most famous of the Iranian poets of modern time. She not only contributed to the Iranian poetry tradition but also to the advancement of Iranian popular culture. Her outstanding lucidity and her uncommon courage in going beyond cultural taboos gave an unimitable example to all Iranian women and men who lived at the same time or after her."
—from www.foroughfarrokhzad.org

You might also want to visit www.forughfarrokhzad.com with audio files and much more . . .

T: Scream in High Park (2000)
loc: Freddabcan
temp: -6 C
sound: Great Songs of Indifference: The best of Bob Geldof & the Boomtown Rats

29 December 2006

Clarke Review of Let Rest

Only a year and a half after the book's release, here's a review by George Elliott Clarke, one of a handfull of great reviewers in Canada, of Let Rest by Acadien poet Serge Patrice Thibodeau, translated into English by Ottawa's Jonathan Kaplansky (Broken Jaw Press, 2005, ISBN 978-1-55391-035-0). Click on the image copy of the review to read it.

So much for the stupid retail notion that books, even Canadian poetry books, now have a shelf life of only six weeks [meaning that these great book resellers insisist that at six weeks a book passes its "best before" date and then goes stale or mouldy or becomes something similarly undesirable]. I doubt that there's any copies of this book in stores today.

P.S. There's a box or so of this book here in Fredericton looking for good homes everywhere!

T: Bagad Kelc'h Keltieg Kombrid
loc: Fredfreezer
temp: -10 C
sound: The Clash Klashing With The Clash

27 December 2006

Found Photo(s) du Jour +

Found 7 October 2006 by my parents on Highway 4 where it's joined by the dirt road from the falls near Ski Wentworth (on its open house day). Parents were parked eating lunch when a truck came out the road. Mom said she noticed something dark fly up and off the truck. The truck didn't stop after it turned and headed toward Folly Mountain, Folly Lake and points beyond loosely in the direction of Truro, NS.

Scores of photos of the falls and autumn woods, of baby, of baby and parents, of older sister/friend/grandma(?) and baby . . .

Camera has seen better days:
• Older Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom.
• Black camera bag.
• Held together, on the bottom, with packing tape. Is missing three essential little phillips screws meant to hold the case together. Maybe it's been dropped or bounced before?

T: great whale petroglyph
loc: Hawkeye Island
temp: a hair above 0 C
sound: wood stove, Dad washing dishes, Little Feat Waiting for Columbus

25 December 2006

Xmoose Day 2006

Happy, happy xmoose day!

Winter solstice 2006 sunset over Three Fathom Harbour.

What a day weatherwise this christmas day had been. Great for family and friends' travel. We can all enjoy the sunshine, the mostly green grass, the unusual winter warmth [except of some who really really really wanted snow for a white . . . ]. There's several hundred geese abobbing on the harbour waters out of the range of hunters if any hunters there be today. Wind out of the northwest.

I just pulled big bird from the oven. Dad has gone into Cole Harbour and will being Gram, Mom's Mom, back. Ruth and Mike (w/o Abbey, the black lab) will be over after Mike returns from visiting his mom in her nursing care home. Sister Carol will phone from Toronto between her lunch and evening social twirls. Best wishes to one and all, wherever you are.

T: Surf Joe Boards
loc: Hawkeye Island
temp: 7 C
sound: ""Hork the Harold" or somesuch song [could be "Merry Moose"]

21 December 2006

Poverty in Canada: a opportunity for artists & writers to speak up

Here's a blurb and link, slightly rewritten and added to by me, that was sent via a member's posting to a writer's group listserv. They had received the quoted blub and link from the Make Povery History campaign:

With so many Canadian writers and artists living in poverty, you might be interested in taking a few minutes to complete an on-line survey about poverty and how to reduce it in Canada. The last question in the survey invites respondents to suggest other ideas for fighting poverty—an opportunity to highlight specific issues for writers and artists, such as making EI benefits accessible to artists; eliminating income tax on royalties (as Quebec has already done); or creating annual artist incomes (as some European countries have done); or . . .

"The National Council of Welfare, an independent body established to advise the government on social development, has recently launched a web-based survey to seek input from Canadians on developing a poverty reduction strategy for Canada. They want to hear from individuals and organizations about why you think there is so much poverty in Canada and what you think we can do about it."

To participate click on: media6.magma.ca/www.leverus.com/ncw/?refererid=12

T-shirt: International Terrorist
loc: Fredpocket
temp: -1 C
sound: Killing Joke Killing Joke.

20 December 2006

then & now

World's first Xmas card-London, 1843Repro of what is allegedly the world's first Christmas card, London, UK, 1843. Received it in an unexpected email this week. Nice. I haven't sent cards to anyone, anywhere . . . not for the Christmasses, not for the New Years' celebrations, not even for this week's winter solstice. In some past years I have written poems, made art, printed cards . . .

                             —from The Taproom, Fredericton

Think I'll take a pass on this one, too. Wish there wasn't need for things like police spot-checks and Operation Red Nose to catch or keep a few of the Christmas season drunks from getting behing the wheel and driving themselves or others to a miserable death. Don't need drunk drivers anytime! Life is fragile enough without the destuctive potential of drunks at the wheel. Why not have a breathalyzer built into the steering wheel? One that automatically prevents the driver from starting or operating the vehicle when its sensors detect alcohol. Don't want a Twisted Sleigh Ride (or two) to get home.

Have happy and safe festivities wherever you are, whatever you do!

T-shirt: Access Copyright
loc: Fredbrokeninn
temp: -8 C (1-15 C wind chill)
sound: The Smiths "Singles"

17 December 2006

removal begun

out of necessity, out of self-interest in recovering my own space, i'm roped in to assisting with the move out, the double move out, to a still not secured move in

today i went over early to enable the removal of upriver wingnut's pottery kiln from the shed to a new purpose downriver. ron arrived driving a dark blue half ton pickup that he wouldn't shut off in the city for fear that it wouldn't start

before that i had haulled the brown chair curbside and had emptied and upended the ratty sofa in the living room doorway. after they left, the sofa went out the front door. then i hefted the baking soda freezer through the studio door and down the dangerously angled steps to the driveway. with cordless drill, i unscrewed the lid and removed it. used my colourfully stickered hand-truck to wheel sofa and freezer to the end of the driveway. added a few old plastic toys to the pile photographed

back inside i pushed the "DO NOT OPEN," toxic, taped-shut freezer from the dining room to where the sofa had been in the living room. plugged it back in. when the light trucking guys come, i hope it can go out the front door and not have to go back through the box-filled, congested kitchen . . .

T-shirt: Surf Joe Boards
loc: Fredcurbside
temp: 0 C
sound: Dave Matthew Under the Table and Dreaming

15 December 2006

Happy Hanukkah

T-shirt: History of Art
loc: Fredfriday
temp: 8 C
sound: Star Trek: Nemesis

14 December 2006

test poem-platter

This afternoon Ursula Sommerer came by my place with our test poem-platter from back in July. Four different processes resulted in four different colours on the lines of text. In the end, she used the blacker-making iron oxide used on my name. Several seriously twisted letters in my first use, my test use, of the letter stamps borrowed from Shanie Stozek (who just opened her pottery studio this past Saturday, December 9, at 271 Killarney Road, Nashwaak Village, NB).

The final, finished, collaborative platter, prison song 05, exhibited in the Casemates show in City Hall, was recently purchased by the City of Fredericton Art Collection.

Early in the new year, Ursula and I expect to collaborate on at least one more tall poem-platter . . . maybe more . . . Anyone seriously interested in one is welcome to email me :-)

T: Mojo Club
loc: Fredfaxebock
temp: 6 C
sound: The Chieftains The Long Black Veil

TWUC Postcard Story Competition

The Writers' Union of Canada is holding its annual Postcard Story Competition with a $500 prize awarded to the winning entry. The deadline for entry is February 14, 2007.

$500.00 Prize
What is a Postcard Story?

It can be anything; a memory, part of a longer story, an anecdote or even an experimentation. The form lends itself well to dramatic images and sharp ideas. It is a blend of prose and verse that is conscious of sound and playful with language.

This competition is open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants. Original and unpublished (English language) fiction or nonfiction.

Word limit: 250
Deadline: Postmarked February 14, 2007
Entry Fee: $5

How to Submit Entries:
- Typed or computer-printed, double-spaced and numbered on 8.5 x 11 paper, not stapled.
- Submissions on computer disk or faxes will not be accepted.
- Include a separate cover letter with title of story, full name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and number of pages of entry. The author's name should not appear on the actual entry.
- Make cheque or money order payable to The Writers' Union of Canada. Multiple entries can be submitted together and fees can be added and paid with one cheque or money order.
- Results will be posted at www.writersunion.ca. Manuscripts will not be returned.
- Mail to: PCS Competition, 90 Richmond Street East—Suite 200, Toronto ON M5C 1P1.

12 December 2006

casemate off-season

brass key atop folded papers with hand-
written notes and scratchings—some
seriously crossed out or loopy loop ink

obscured—key to the end of summer (call
it the start of another public school
and college of craft and design year)

casemate artist residency key not yet
returned by one of the last week's
artists by this second week of december

[and it wasn't me far far gone due
east across southern new brunswick
bay of fundy nova scotia atlantic

ocean france italy dinaric alps and
reka dunav in senta vojvodina serbia;
my custody of that key ended when

my residency ended in july] so this
action today is giving a friend closure
on another piece of their unfinished . . .

silk frame left in the casemate
frame pieces borrowed from claire
with small bulldogs and elastics

stretched silk hand-painted dyes but
not set—a household of gonfalons
in small test sketches before the real

buried at the back of the casemate
behind fence sections craft college
pottery worktables and raku kilns

outside the closed streetside window
at my back one of too many squirrels
chattering telling me off like security

province-contracted commissionaire
with military experience somewhere
now checking doors after work hours

shirt: long-sleeve burgandy knit
loc: Fredcampinn
temp: -2 C
sound: "rush" hour traffic & Grateful Dead Europe '72, disc 1

08 December 2006

inside Bearing Witness

Since I returned to Canada earlier than planned I, unexpectedly, have been able to see the Bearing Witness exhibition in the galleries of the UNB Art Centre (9 Bailey Dr, Fredericton, NB). The exhibit is up until next Monday, 18 December 2006. I had not seen any pictures of the collective exhibit while in Serbia and Bosnia so I didn't know exactly what to expect. I was fuzzy on discussion details from that last group meeting attended back in August and discussed work-in-progress doesn't always result in exactly the same thing as finished artworks. We filled both galleries: four artist in the East Gallery; three in the West Gallery.

Karen Burk: Funerary Urn for a Couple and Three Guardians, 2006. Stoneware, glaze, oxides and stains fired at cone 10 reduction. Urn: 72 x 20 x 9 cm. Guardians: 87 x 21 x 10 cm.

Linda Brine: Triptych: I Am You, 2006. Woven paper cloth, digital enlargements of family photographs, silver & holographic threads, hand-made paper. 177.8 x 218.4 cm

Paula Keppie: Songlines I (wall piece), 2006; Songlines (installation), 2006.

Vita Plume: (L-R) Column VKP, 2004; Yardage VKP 01, 2005; Alien's Passport, 1999. Hand-woven Jacquard.

Linda Kelly with LiAnne Kelly: various works on paper, 2006.

lori p morse: photo installation with flea market tables, 2006.

Joe Blades: Journals: 1983-2006; Casemate Poems (Coda), 2005; Casemate Poems (Reprise), 2005.

07 December 2006


T-shirt: Mojo Club
loc: Frednest
temp: 4 C
sound: Sly and the Family Stone "I Want To Take You Higher"

06 December 2006

above/ground press 2007 subscriptions

[a notice from rob mclennan]

poetry chapbooks that'll blow yr colon;
killing trees for literature since 1993 . . .
For those who have been waiting, I am doing a large mailout in December / January (once I'm recovered from this grand tour); otherwise, 2007 above/ground press subscriptions (& renewals) are now available for $40 (outside Canada, $40 US), including chapbooks, asides + broadsheets, drop magazine, STANZAS magazine (for long poems/sequences) + The Peter F. Yacht Club (our writer's group magazine). The next issue of STANZAS features a poem by Margaret Christakos, and the next issue of The Peter F. Yacht Club is a Calgary special edited by Laurie Fuhr.

Recent and forthcoming publications by Phil Hall (Toronto), Margaret Christakos (Toronto), rob mclennan (Ottawa), Andy Weaver (Toronto), Jesse Ferguson (Ottawa/Fredericton), Nicholas Lea (Ottawa), Lea Graham (Worcester), Max Middle (Ottawa), Jessica Smith (Mid-Atlantic), Nathaniel G. Moore (Toronto), Sharon Harris (Toronto), Jennifer Mulligan (Ottawa), John Newlove (Ottawa), Stephanie Bolster (Montreal), Stan Rogal (Ottawa), Karen Clavelle (Winnipeg), Barry McKinnon (Prince George), Wanda O'Connor (Ottawa/Montreal), Gil McElroy (Colborne), Shauna McCabe (Charlottetown), Cath Morris (Vancouver), Dennis Cooley (Winnipeg), Monty Reid (Ottawa) + others.

Payable to rob mclennan, c/o above/ground press, 858 Somerset Street West–main floor, Ottawa ON K1R 6R7, CANADA.

Some recent titles can be found here:

More information with links here:


rob mclennan: poet/editor/publisher ... STANZAS mag, above/ground press & Chaudiere Books ... coord., SPAN-O + ottawa small press fair ... 12th poetry coll'n—aubade (Broken Jaw Press) .... c/o 858 Somerset St W, Ottawa ON K1R 6R7 * robmclennan.blogspot.com

Give Us Your Best Shot

Gallery Connexion to host Photography Silent Auction

Dec 5/06—If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift, a hostess gift for this season's parties or something to decorate your home or office with, then try Gallery Connexion's Give Us Your Best Shot silent auction fundraiser. Over 100 photos submitted by prominent local figures, Gallery members, past exhibitors, artists and friends of the Gallery are on display this week until final bids are placed from 5-7pm on Friday, December 8th. Subject matter ranges from vintage black and whites to colourful worldwide travel.

Volunteers, who mounted the 8x10 photos into glass clip frames, were inspired by people's travel photos to exotic places such as South and Central America, China, Ireland, France, Italy, and Australia. "We have photos of Nicaraguan dogs, and an Indian snake charmer," says Carol Collicutt, chair of Gallery Connexion's Board.

Submissions came from notable photographers in the community including Brian Atkinson—a professional photographer known for his international photojournalism, and Peter Gross—head of photography department at the NB College of Craft & Design.

Local artist and former School District 26 art coordinator Clive Roberts submitted a beautiful collection of black and white photos from his travels during the 1940s. The images of people of Tibet, India, and Nepal are reminiscent of vintage National Geographic.

"We have a photo submitted by playwright Norm Foster, taken during a recent visit to Fredericton," says Collicutt, "and we have an interesting photo of Lieutenant Governor Hermenigilde Chiasson taken by Joe Blades." It was taken from a television set during an interview and includes English subtitles.

"Some of the most interesting images are a collection of black and whites by international photographer and scientist Dr. Reginald Balch who died in 1994," says Collicutt. His son Norval submitted the photos. Reg Balch, born in England in 1894, moved to Canada in 1913. He studied and worked in Ontario and New York in the field of forest entomology. He was appointed officer in charge of a federal government facility at UNB in 1930.

He traveled and photographed in Europe and Ireland and went on to publish two books of photography with Goose Lane Editions called, A Mind's Eye and Celebrations of Nature. His images also illustrate a book of Alden Nowlan's poems. "These are unique photos," says Collicutt. "His son is working on a book for the NB Provincial Archives collection of his father's images."

His photos range from the whimsical 'Girl Swinging' and the 'Nuns Picnic' featuring seven sisters in the deep woods near Mt. Ste. Hillaire, Quebec, to the eerie photo of an old barn near Sussex which was published with a photo of Alfred Hitchcock in Photography Year Book (London).

The photos are grouped in categories including; architecture, people, flora, fauna, and landscapes. There are pretty images of flowers including the world famous tulips at the Ottawa Tulip Festival, and amusing photos of exotic animals. Current exhibitor and internationally known artist Matei Glass has also donated a photo.

"We think there will be something that appeals to everyone," says Collicutt. On the night of the 8th, photographer Brian Atkinson and city councilor Mike O'Brien will give opening remarks. Live music provided by Steven Peacock. Food and refreshments will be served.

The Gallery, located at 453 Queen Street (back of the Justice Building), Fredericton, NB, is open all week from noon to 4pm for viewing and early bids. The photo party and final bids take place Friday, from 5-7pm with refreshments. Bids start at $10. Cash and cheques will be accepted. Proceeds will go towards the operation of the gallery.

For more information contact Gallery Connexion at 454-1433 or connex@nbnet.nb.ca

29 November 2006

Joe & ? to appear on Trevor Doyle LIVE

In an email seen at 1:50 am today:
November 28, 2006

Hello everybody, allison here with the announcement for the next odd sundays at molly’s event.

This Sunday, December 3, Joe Blades will read from his ever-growing body of work. We are all lucky that Joe has been working quietly and persistently over the years, keeping literature and book arts vigorous within and outside of this poetry province of ours. (Yay New Brunswick!) I am glad of his work, and glad he will be reading for us on Sunday.

To be noted: We will be on tv.

Channel 10 will be filming the odd sundays event this coming sunday. Specifically, Rogers will be gathering footage for use on Trevor Doyle Live, to be used in an episode that will focus on local poetry. This show will be aired the next day, Monday, December 4 in the evening, and possibly re-broadcast on Tuesday, December 5 at 2pm.

The tv show will tell the non-poets in the viewing audience what poetry is, allowing them to experience the richness of imagery, the elegance of lyricism, and the visceral power of metaphor. But it seems to me we should also be prepared to let everybody in on the unbridled joy that poetry revels in. In any case, for the open set, i suggest you bring a funny poem if you can—or banter, burlesque, caricature, causticity, chaffing, irony, lampoonery, mockery, parody, pasquinade, persiflage, raillery, sarcasm, satire, send-up, spoof, travesty, wit (especially wit)—along with the usual earnest stuff.

Our brief discussion following the featured reader and just before the open set, will focus on world poetry—which is to say, world poetry in translation. Perhaps Joe Blades will be able to enlighten us on his path to translation and readings in Serbia. (Surprise, Joe. Just thought i would spring this on you now rather than on sunday.)

It should be an exciting day. Hope to see you all there.

Take care,

This afternoon I received a phone call from Kirk Pennell, Producer, asking if I was available to appear live with other not-named poets on the Trevor Doyle LIVE program on Rogers Television's New Brunswick network this coming Monday night, 4 Dec 2006, 8 pm. This is in addition to the footage being shot @ Molly's on Sunday. Of course, I said, "yes."

T-shirt "I will not make boring art"
loc: Fredrooster
temp: 7 C, light drizzle
sound: Squirrel Nut Zippers, HOT

28 November 2006

Found Photo(s) du Jour

Found 5:05 pm, Tuesday, 28 Nov 2006, just off the Smythe Street sidewalk (west side) where the Valley Trail begins between the billboard corner of the FREX grounds and the Smythe Street StupourStore [former home of the annual Christmas lights-decorated bulldozer @ the Atlantic Cat dealership].

A whole film of photo prints torn into more than quarter sections then tossed. Some of them taken around or on Haloween with the kid in a tiger costume. The prints stuck together by humidity: frost or snow/rain.

loc: Fredericton
temp: 3 C
sound: Miles Davis Sketches of Spain

27 November 2006

odd sundays' poster

Seen and photographed in the window of Molly's, the poster
for my reading this coming Sunday. Don't have an actual copy myself . . .

T-shirt: Joe Canada
loc: FredFinePix
temp: 6 C
sound: NIN

25 November 2006

Lander's The Art of the Chapbook

Several years ago, when he was penny whistle and poeming his way across Canada, Tim Lander was in Fredericton . . . a long way from his home in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Usually, he spent his days in Victoria and Vancouver, with travels through the mountains to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Occasionally, he made it as far east as Toronto. But this time, March 2000, he was on his way to visit family back in England. Tim's a true itinerant poet-publisher.

One of the things that happened while he was in Fredericton was talks with me that led to him sending a pile of poems that, with my too slow work, and his responses, eventually became the manuscript for the long awaited and long overdue perfect bound, trade book Inappropriate Behaviour (Broken Jaw Press, 2006).

It's the second volume of Lander's collected poems. The first was The Glass Book (Victoria, BC: Ekstasis Editions, 1999).

Tim's lifework for decades has been the writing and performing of poems, and the publishing of these poems in small handsewn books and chapbooks that he's make as he needed copies. He'd earn his way by playing the tin whistle, or selling poems for a penny, and handselling his handbound chapbooks that were often composed in his handwriting and illustrated with his line drawings. Occasionally he's had letterpress printed chapbooks: you know . . . lead type blocked with furniture and grippers, ink on rollers, fed one sheet of paper at a time. Beautiful . . . and small print-runs! If you know him, or meet him on the street, chances are that you can buy copies of his chapbook publications. If you don't meet him "by chance" I'd suggest you go the "by appointment" route and order/purchase copies of both books.

A few months before Tim appeared in Fredericton, he had given a talk-workshop to the publishing students at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver (Jauary 2000). Here he rough typed version of his presentation and wanted some copies as a handout. I did a layout based upon his prefered format of paper-page-book, gave it an ISBN and published it in-house by printing it with my OkiPage 6e LED desktop printer on legal size paper. Since that time there had been info on Broken Jaw's chapbooks webpage for people to send a SASE to receive a free copy of Tim's instructional essay. SASEs with USA postage stamps do not work from Canada (and I'm pretty certain that more queries and requests for the essay were coming from the USA than from across Canada) . . .

This past week, I finally got around to doing something that I've wanted to do for at least a year. I've made a slightly reformated version of Tim's essay to be a free, downloadable PDF for/from the Broken Jaw Press website. As an eBook it should have greater accessibility to interested people everywhere. More so than the free print edition of 2000. It is still formated as a 4-up sheet to be printed on 8.5 x 11 (legal) paper. After you print the first side, you will need to rotate the sheet of paper 180% (top to bottom) before printing the second side. It's the only way you'll get the proper page allignment to sew a one-signature chapbook from the PDF.

Use the link below to get your copy today!

The Art of the Chapbook
(BJP eBook 51), essay by Tim Lander

23 November 2006

Go See Un Dimanche à Kigali

The Monday Night Film Series presents

Nov 27, 2006, 8:00pm
Country: Canada
Director: Robert Favreau
Cast: Luc Picard, Fatou N'Diaye
Runtime: 119 minutes
Year: 2006
Language: French with English subtitles

This eagerly awaited film adaptation of Gil Courtemanche's best-selling novel follows a Québécois journalist in Rwanda who falls in love with a Hutu waitress as violent civil unrest breaks out. After an absence of several months, he tries to find her. Resonating on many levels, the story addresses global politics, racial tension and powerful human emotions.

The Rwandan genocide has exhausted itself, leaving that country silent and decimated. Journalist Bernard Valcourt (Luc Picard) returns to once-familiar places, now recognizable only by a few remaining landmarks. He is desperate to find his former lover, a Rwandan woman detained as they fled together. Fragments of information prove inconclusive and frustrating.

"This book is fiction. But it is also a chronicle and an eyewitness report," journalist Gil Courtemanche writes in the preface to his novel Un Dimanche à la piscine à Kigali, upon which this film is based. Un Dimanche à Kigali moves between two time periods—before the genocide and after—and the juxtaposition starkly reveals the devastation that took place over one hundred days.

In the days leading up to the atrocities, Bernard meets Gentille (Fatou N'Diaye), a waitress at the Hôtel des Mille Collines, and they become involved. He is a rundown older man, she a stunning young woman; their affair could be a simple transaction, but they strive to keep their love pure. It is their grasping for something real that has the power to harm them most. As tensions escalate, they find themselves in inescapable roles: she is seen as a Tutsi and her life is more endangered every day; he is a white foreigner who can leave at any time.

Bernard knows Gentille didn't get out and holds himself accountable. This urgent unknown—what happened to her—creates a powerful inexorability that drives the film. His hesitation in leaving mirrors the paralysis of the West; upon his return, he can only search through ruins, willing a happy ending he hasn't earned. Picard is riveting as Bernard—his sense of urgency is palpable, his longing and regret unforgettable. Director Robert Favreau crafts a vivid, textured world where beauty and horror live side by side. The story unfolds with intelligence, emotion and uncompromising realism, and the cast is uniformly superb.

The Monday Night Film Series takes place at Tilley Hall-Room 102, UNB-Fredericton, Fredericton, NB. Regular admission $7. Memberships are available that provide discounted prices. Tel: 455-1632 or email info@nbfilmcoop.com.
[I had the great fortune to meet the author Gil Courtemanche and to be at numerous Beograd Book Fair 2005 and Canadian Embassy organized activites alongside him as he launched the Serbia edition of this book and did an incredible 38 television, radio and print media interviews. Sometimes we talked over casual beer & cigarettes (he smokes, not me) while waiting in the Palace Hotel lobby for the day's drives and book circus to begin. If you can't read French, you can read Patricia Claxton's powerful and stunning translation into English, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali. Highly recommended!—Broken Joe]

21 November 2006

was / was not

last sunday i was not waiting beside tito's blue train to meet the van of road faculty and drive west across plains and over mountains

last night i wasn't in the department office after hours on the one computer with internet access to check email and write another blog posting or any of the more serious stuff that appears and disappears as fast and far away as the meteors in saturday night's sky before cloud cover obscured all

this morning i was not in the department office before classes started to see another great plume of black coal smoke rise from the generally sawdust-burning town heating plant to mark the mountain sky

i did not turn from the window to see the malnourished office with its plain desks and one bookcase and on the wall over the rickety table closet to the door a flag and map of canada

the two morning classes already done so it's either lunch break and i'm not now standing in an assigned faculty apartman looking out its window or teaching a third class in a row as the faculty van climbs out of pale through the tunnel in its run back to beograde with a load of visiting professors and lektors

T-shirt: New Brunswick Highland Games & Scottish Festival
loc: Fredvalley
temp: -1 C
sound: light traffic through closed window

16 November 2006

some odd sundays at molly's

19 Nov, 2 pm: reading—odd sundays at molly's features Fredericton poet Robert Hawkes, author of several books including Poems for the Christmas Season (Broken Jaw) and Cranmer and Pole—Archbishops (Broken Jaw).

3 Dec, 2 pm: reading—odd sundays at molly's features Fredericton writer Joe Blades, author of several books including River Suite (Insomniac Press) and Casemate Poems (Widows & Orphans). There will also be an open mic set.

In October 2004, I was asked by Allison, and agreed, to be the inaugeral featured reader at the very first odd sundays at molly's. For several years I had coordinated the BS Poetry Society's River Readings series at Molly's Coffee House. Before that I had shown up to listen and read in Matt Stranach's Burnt Poems Served Hot open mic reading series when Molly's was in a different location on Queen Street.

odd sundays at molly's
Molly's Coffee House
554 Queen St
Fredericton, NB
For more info contact: Allison Calvern

T-shirt: Odawa Pow Wow
loc: Fredhiton
temp: 12 C
sound: Mr Something Something

15 November 2006

sometimes the unexpected

sometimes the unexpected happens . . . things fall apart . . . or never quite come together the way that was expected . . . required . . . promised . . . hoped . . . and a moment comes when you say "enough" or "this isn't working" or "help" or "i'm outta here" . . . sometimes it's the facilities or equipment . . . sometimes it's interpersonal . . . sometimes inadequate cash flow (from sales, wage or salary) . . . sometimes it's the travel or support structure . . . unexpected health issues . . . changes in rules and regulations . . . the weather . . . life's like that!

Yesterday, I was walking along Queen Street for the first time in over twelve weeks. Jackie, on the other sidewalk, called out, "What are you doing?"
       I replied, "Going to the credit union and post office."
       "No, not that. What are you doing in Canada?"
       "Oh," with a funny smile on my face, "Full-time job, but no paycheck in sight . . . nothing received. Couldn't borrow money indefinitely just to live when I was working for supposedly double the average income."
       "No. You do need money do pay for things. We'll talk later. Am on a mission . . . " and from further down the block, "You owe me a beer!"
       "Sure!" I said, while laughing.

T shirt: "That which does not kill us, still hurts a lot."
Loc: Fredsuitcase
temp: 11 C
sound: none

13 November 2006

farm and home produce

Farm and home selling of produce is very common in Serbia. The roadside stands in some area are unbelievably rich with the range of frints and vegetables. In other places it seems to be all cabbage, or all squash, or all paprikas.

On the road between Ruma and Novi Sad, over the slopes of Fuska Gora, is some of the best produce. On the road south to Nis I've noticed that there will often be people, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, sitting in a small straw lean-to with bags of paprika and cabbage beside them.

In town one will find a yard gate or house window hung with a bag of fresh paprika (bell peppers, hot peppers, hungarian peppers), potatoes, jabuka (apples), gerkins or cukes, or oher produce sometimes with a written sign, sometimes not: the produce is the sign.

Sometimes the display will simply be a jar or med / mez (honey) with a number that is the price in dinars, or there's a bottle of homemade rakija (brandy), usually plum, usually very strong at around 60-65% v/v. The commercial rakija are almost all the standard 40% strength (and sometime really taste watery).

Just a few houses further west on Topartska a neighbour offers a selection of rakija / palinka with a bilingual Serbian / Hungarian sign:

kajsija = apricot
kruska = pear
dunja = quince
sljiva = plum
vocna = fruit
jabuka = apple

Other people make rakija from grapes or peaches.

T: Moose by Alan Silyboy
loc: Topartska 23A
temp: 4 c
sound: Hot Toddy The Salty Sessions, vol. 1

07 November 2006

warning sign

More than anything else about it, I like the camera used to illustrate this sign. Just how many, how few, of this type of camera are still in use anywhere today? Looks like a profile of one of the earliest Kodak cameras, or a knock-off model. I had to do a double-take to understand the sign's meaning.

One sees this sign when approaching military bases, including crumbling army reserve facilities across Serbia, or in front of the American embassy, or at any number of other government operations. Travel advisories are clear in stating that one must not photograph the police or armed forces personel, equipment and buildings.

What's not stated anywhere is the level of personal restriction one might encounter when someone who doesn't even look like an official at a train station or bus station or office building insists that you not take a picture . . . also grain silos, schools, bridges sometimes . . . the old structural inventory thing, I guess. Don't know how much of this is a hold-over from the soviet state under Tito or from more recent "civil" war.

Even tourists posing in front of some of the remaining NATO-bombed buildings in Beograd can have difficulty taking pictures or getting themselves posed and photographed [I've heard that some of these bombed buildings are now included in some walking tours of Beograd . . . but that's not the problem or challenge]. It's the police and/or armed forces or security people on every streetcorner and especially on embassy row, between intersections in front of buildings, lounging with special police car escorts for potential motorcades, and they're waiting, watching, and wired . . .

For months, I've wanted a picture of one of these signs. One time, this past week, while out walking, I simply used my camera to photograph this "no cameras-no photographs" road sign in Senta.

Nema problema.

06 November 2006


hawks circle overhead
hunting from above
these dying fields

old woman's summer gone
and autumn almost driven
out before it has settled

there's frost in shadows
the first thin clear ice
on ponds and road ruts

on bank of the tisa
it's sun-warm with
autumn-chill wind

the welcome mat
long ago dog-chewed
and thrown away

deliveries of tree roots
deliveries of firewood
deliveries of brown coal

drying acorns changed
from green to brown
often lose their caps

paprikas on withered plants
pears and apples on branches
cabbage heads still in rows

coka town across reka tisa
and open fields now appears
thru nearly bare poplar grove

across from town hall
the fountain is shut off
and its pool drained

skein of geese above tito park
tonight i want nothing
one deer beer in the fridge but . . .

again i forgot the best lines
i'll never write down
that i leave noncommittal

today's sun thru clouds
looks like snow coming
then midafternoon flakes

in absolute yes-no land
goodbye and thanks
i can haul my own ass

sometimes it's boring
that's life or a part of it
how much nothing to afford

folded against wall like sofa-bed
toes crack for what reason?
i expect no phone calls tonight

forget about the tv repairs
i'll watch my stuffed suitcases
for a few more days

more to watch on a wall
water-stained or on a labelled
well-travelled steamer trunk

the fridge is empty
and unplugged again
no paintball or banana co

just a few fallen leaves
rustle in the gutters
blow across cobblestones

05 November 2006



He saw me as soon as I parted the doorway’s winter curtains to enter the club.
        I wished that I had a cellphone I could have used on the spot. I thought about immediately turning around to leave and go tell Ana, but that would give him too much recognition he didn’t deserve, or that he’d internalise as another small victory after the shit he’d caused this past week.
        I was stopped and stood in the queue to pay the Saturday night band’s small cover charge. Got the back of my right hand stamped. Hadn’t thought of it earlier but I was dressed like an acorn from one of the local oak trees: long green body with an orange cap. Cold enough a night for headgear and a ball cap just wouldn’t do. Hunter orange toque covered my ears well on the bike ride into town. Almost wished that I had worn gloves.
        He was diagonally across the club from the entrance, sitting on a stool at the one high table in the almost empty joint, watching in what looked like a medicated sloth slouch with a strange expression on his face. A sloppy, drunken grin. An “I’m too high, having fun. I’m about to hit my stride. Watch me. Watch me! You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!” look. His cigarette arm made long, slow sweeps, or arcs from his mouth down across the square table until his hand hung over the edge, and stayed that way long moments until the cigarette’s ashes fell to the floor of their own accord. Watching him was like watching a television program’s slow-motion film footage of an animal marking territory in the woods—making claw marks, or signs on trees and exposed rocks—without the voice over.
        It wasn’t my usual place in the club but I went to the left end or side of the bar, beside the stairs leading up to the Turkish toilets, kitchen and dining area. Wasn’t going to go to the right side with him there alone, looking as if he was presiding over the dance floor. Didn’t want to talk to him, but knew that even to avoid him would acknowledge him. I wanted to pound him.
        Two women were doing soundcheck vocals on the slightly raised stage: “voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” over and over again. They at least had the words well in hand. One of the women had short reddish hair like Bobana’s. The other woman’s hair was long, dark, thick, and looked to have come from an early ’60s beach movie. Man with a saxophone went next: blowing and leaning backwards with the instrument’s brass mouth pointed at the ceiling well behind him until the clear sound cracked too loud.
        I took off the green jacket and stuffed it a cargo pant’s pocket. Took off the brown sweater and tied it around my waist. Better there than hung on a wall hook behind people I didn’t know. Stood at the bar in a small cone of light and ordered a bottle of my usual deer beer, poured half a glass, and took my first sip of the cold, golden lager.
        Then I waited.

Woke up with Murphy and an incident without conflict resolution from many years before in my head. Had the stress, the panic on high but the story stopped in that moment of highest tension. Any conclusion would have been a wakeful attempt to appease my inabilities in real life.
        A neighbour’s dog barked as the metal gate on the street rattled while being unlocked. Minutes later, their kitten yowled at one of my doors or windows. It must have slipped out when whomever entered and let the dog inside the main house. That person climbed the stairs and entered the bathroom above my room. Ah! The refreshing sound of a man peeing into water: must be Matthew or his son, Alex. Nice! Very dark outside. It was definitely before dawn, but with the weekend’s falling backwards of time on clocks I couldn’t hazzard a guess. I would have to find my watch on the chair beside the bed, or get up and turn on a light. Going to the bathroom myself might not be a bad idea...if it helps me fall back asleep...or...

My sister’s head disappeared into the backseat of the taxi. She drove off with Mark for dinner downtown at La Fenętre before they went to the ballet. It was Nutcracker season again. Even though I had managed with her help to get a visa and had travelled all that impossible distance to visit her, she had so many other things to do, so many people to see, without me.
       I turned back to the half open EXIT ONLY door of the gym club, wondering how, in this cold rain with slippery leaves on the streets, I was going to safely get her motorbike and Dilbert the New Zealand sheepdog and her gym bag to her apartment. I wasn’t the most experienced of drivers, and definitely not in this city, this country.
        At the payment window I asked what the charge for today was, as I didn’t want my sister’s account to be charged for me.
        “Workout, private game room rental, juice bar...that’ll be forty-four fifty.”
        Dilbert started barking. I turned around to find some meathead untying Dilbert’s leash from the ironwork grill of the window.
        He turned and growled at me, “You can’t have dogs in here. Our founder, Murphy, was mauled by a dog.”
        I replied as I reached for the leash and the bags, “That dog has been coming here for years. It’s my sister’s. I’ve seen pictures of it eating out of Murphy’s hand.”
        He jabbed me and said, “You can’t have dogs here. I’m telling...”
        I pushed. I pushed him into to the potted plants—orange trees and big jungle leaf things—recovered Dilbert, and said, “Leave us alone, if you want to enjoy the rest of your days at Murphy’s Gym.”
        Another meathead tried to grab me while saying, “You can’t...
        “Back off! If you know what’s good for you. Murphy knows my sister. You don’t know me. You don’t want to know me. Capiche?” I said, while seeing more people converge on us. Had to get Dilbert and me out the door without buddy in the shrubbery, buddy in my face, or anyone else wanting to restrain, or pound on us...
        Since then, I’ve heard other stories about Murphy: How he’d been an air cav pilot shot down in flames in the first Gulf War. That he’d been awarded medals and has played golf with the President. Or that his best-selling autobiography didn’t tell the truth...but what’s the truth when one person, or their ghostwriter, sets out to tell the tale of a life lived? That he’d been running drugs when shot down by so-called friendly fire. That his several mansions were filled with beautiful women lounging beside pools. That in revenge for his face, he killed dogs with his bare hands. That he was incapable of sex. That he watched others kill dogs for pleasure. That he has at least a dozen children in five countries. That his global gym, or health and fitness training empire was worth over a billion. That the operation was really a front for the mob, or for a government agency...

The back neighbour’s light has come on. Their door opens and their little mop dog is let out. It’s garbage day. Someone at the neighbours’ house on the right must also be up. Through the closed window comes the sound of a corn broom sweeping the night’s fallen leaves from their walkway and steps. Get it done now and it should still look perfect when today arrives in half an hour or so. It’s time for the early birds to go to the farmer’s market and bakery.
        Not me. It’s not market time for me. Even here market needs money, or something to barter. Being alive, even doing things, doesn’t mean one has or gets money. Today, I’ve just a few words to mix together and some up with something better than an apology for Friday.
        I could be camped out in a field in a simple A-frame of grass or corn stalks on poles, a flock of sheep in my care. Small fire inside a circle of stones for the pot of boiled water for my one cup of coffee today. Chunks of kobasica and cheese in one coat pocket. The end of Saturday’s bread loaf in another. Tobacco and papers to fill my day. A small bottle of plum brandy to ward off the night.
        Grey overcast sky this morning. Brighter than yesterday morning before the showers arrived. Off in the distance, the highway between not-here places is filled with transport trucks, buses and cars. They flow faster that any river around here and are far louder than the lazy, winding rivers, but I can watch them the same way.
        Overhead, I sometimes see the trails of aeroplanes, but not today. On sunny days, I will sometimes see the light reflecting off their shiny bodies. It its shadow passes over the sheep and me, I shudder. It’s absurd to think there’s so many people buckled into seats up there going somewhere so far away that they need to be nine kilometres above the earth just to get there.
        Occasionally, a pair of fighter jets roars low overhead, or a dark green helicopter with a propeller in a hole in its tail patrolling above the highway veers away and comes closer to check me out. I don’t change position to stand up and look or wave. I stay in my sitting on my heels crouch, lit cigarette in the fingers of my left hand, eyes on my sheep and the dog on the far side. Just another shepherd in bulky nondescript brownish coat. That’s me.
        Only a few years ago, a decade or so, I was on the wrong side in the hills. We were all on the wrong side when the Americans came with bombs to stop the fighting. Sometimes, I shot at helicopters overhead. I shot at trucks. I shot at lights on the other side of the valley at night. I shot at movement or lights below if they weren’t ours. Am certain that sometimes I got someone, likely even killed people. I expect so. They shot at me. Everyone was watching and waiting and shooting. Twice I was hit: once in my right thigh; and once a bullet grazed my head just above my left ear. The hair has never grown back in the scar. That one was too close.
        Now I spend my days out in the open. Give me flat green fields. I don’t like the taller-than-a-man corn and sunflowers. Sugar beets, tomatoes, cabbage, soybean—I okay with those fields. Corn, I especially don’t like, because of when they burn the field stubble. Plumes of black smoke on every horizon, and nearer, reminding me of the burning vehicles, barns, hay mounds and houses during the war.
        Why do they do it? Why did we do it?
        The dog works real good. It’s bred into them. This one’s been with me for almost eight years. Came out of my father’s dogs. Guelph is her name, when I must name her for other people. After the city in Canada where my sister and her family lives.

I must oil or wax a few door hinges, some squeaky floorboards, that one step, he thought while getting water for a cup of coffee. I’d rather be silent than disturb the neighbours, or to give them things to talk about.
        “Alone in a place that could house a couple or a whole family...Why does he need so much space? Why didn’t he rent a single room somewhere else?”
        Grey light filters through the small window set high in the east wall, too high to look out through unless I tilt my head back and look up. Clear glass window, then a frosted glass window, then a cobweb- and dust-coated screen. Not that there’s much of anything to see: no sky, but there’s a two-storey brick wall with cement mortar on the lower part, a near horizontal drainpipe heading toward the street, the top of a window with white- and peach-coloured curtains and trim the colour of dried blood. Almost exactly the same tint of paint used inside here on the gas-heated hot-water radiator and its pipes snaked across two white walls.
        “What are his plans? What does he do? Does he have a job? So many people here don’t work.”
        The weighted box placed against the second entrance’s inner door kept it shut. The wood-and-frosted-glass door, meant to be held shut by two pair of magnets that don’t touch, repeatedly banged open, or creaked in gusty winds during the night. Someday, if the bricklayer ever gets back to town from a job in a neighbouring country, he is supposed to close up the holes around the outer iron-frame-and-frosted-glass door welded to pins installed in the brick wall days before I moved in. Might be a wise plan. Today is the eve of Samhain. The nights have gotten cold enough for the landlord to put on the heat for a few hours in the evenings and mornings.
        “I’ve heard strange music, mostly not our music, but never a television.”
        I stepped outside, a small grocer’s bag of accumulated garbage in my hand and walk through the covered entryway to the cobblestone street to leave it for collection. There’s mostly yellow leaves everywhere under the trees, on sidewalk and street. A few mare’s tails stream dark grey against the high undersides of some clouds. There’s a few blue patches as well. Looks like it will be an okay day to walk my hill-climbing sore leg muscles along the much flatter riverside levees. I’d bike but the bike is gone. Others came while I was away and their need was greater than mine.
        “Does he ever have visitors? I’ve never seen one.”
        A small floor mat, or carpet, would be good for the entry—for safety against slipping when the tiles, or footwear, are wet. Plus a carpet for the livingroom. And more mats for the bathroom’s tile floor by the shower and sink. But connecting the clothes washer to the plumbing in the wall takes priority; then, maybe, installing a kitchen sink and countertop. A working light on the bare wires over the outside door would be useful at night. A finished floor in the second room—parquet laminate, ceramic tiles, or wall-to-wall carpet—is a must on the bare, not even painted, cement. The sheets of cardboard—some of them flattened cargo boxes—have to go! Art on the walls, not just flags in windows, and more furniture would improve the appearance of being settled, but not too much stuff on the walls. Bare might be better for calm or inspiration.
        “He’s brought that dog around several times. I think it belongs to the woman that helped him rent the flat. She’s been there once or twice that I’ve seen. Maybe he needs help. Maybe he’s not all there in the head.”
        How long I stay here, how long I’ll live, are anyone’s guesses, but these autumn days this is my shelter, my house, my home. The refrigerated cache and electric fire for my food are here. Sure, I forage across the fields, along the rivers, in the forests, over the mountains, but this lair, this Old World cave, den, base camp, roost, my current “wall with the hole in”...call it what you will, it holds the pillow, the bed where I now lay my head.
        “His lights are on some nights, but other times it’s dark and completely silent for nights in a row, as long as a week. Imaging renting a place, then not even living there...”
        My skeleton opens a door in a wall on an old roman road.

02 November 2006

Bearing Witness exhibition

The Bearing Witness art exhibition opening on Friday, 3 November 2006, is the second group show in Fredericton this autumn to which I’m a contributing artist. It feels more that a little odd that I won’t be at the opening or affiliated activities, and won’t see it hung in the gallery. Maybe ironic is a better word. Guess it keeps me somewhat invisible, or just another reclusive artist.

[Just though this morning that the “cold” room in my Senta flat—with it’s bare walls, not finished cement floor, and an absence of direct sunlight except in mid-late afternoon—might make a good painting studio. But do I want to try and commit paintings here?]
My contributions to the Bearing Witness include the contents of five-cartons of my art journals from 1983 to 2006. I will be surprised to see how they get installed (presented, displayed) outside-of-the-box by lori p morse but I am looking forward to it.

Several “casemate poems” wall pieces written and created during my 2005 Fredericton Arts Alliance short-term artist residency and the Art Trek weekend will also be installed.

At one point I had created a group blog for Bearing Witness. Some of us though that it would be a useful thing, instead of daisy-chained emails, to use to share communication, images, thoughts, and planning. Would have been great since we are a geographically-scattered collective based in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Vita teaches in North Carolina, Paula was with her husband on his sabbatical for half of this year in Sweden, Scotland and elsewhere (17 different places in northwestern Europe) and I came to Eastern Europe in late August. We could post from wherever we had internet access. Didn’t work that way because of different levels of computer savvy (not that blogging needs much knowhow), pop-ups blocking on gov. school Macs, time, etc. . . . The Bearing Witness blog it didn’t come together as anticipated so I reluctantly scrapped that potential collective documentation contribution.

Emails, a few lunchtime meetings at NBCCD, and potluck planning and sharing meetings for those of us in Fredericton, were what we used to create this mostly installation-based art exhibition. During the almost yearlong process, the seven of us were physically together only once . . . on 16 August of this year . . . for another potluck get-together. At one point, I seriously thought that I was going to need to bow out of participating because I wouldn’t be in Fredericton. Turns out that I’m not the only one in the collective who will not be there.

Best wishes to one and all artists in Bearing Witness. Thanks to Maria Maltais and her staff for having us and this art exhibit in the gallery of the University of New Brunswick Arts Centre. Thanks also to Jennifer Pazienza for her contribution to next week’s panel discussion. I would love to know what she says about our varied arts practices and the work in the show. I so want to see how everything by everyone has come together. Can’t wait to see the catalogue, and photographs.

T-shirt: Joe Canada
loc: Topartska 23A
temp: 3 C
sound: barking dogs, a rooster, a train whistle

31 October 2006

Learn to Die Safely


Almost everyone has family they grieve for; that they pay respects toward. He had no one. No one here. He wasn’t here himself. He couldn’t be seen in the graveyards. Couldn’t be seen at the roadside memorials where the tragedy of travel had take someone to the final destination. Couldn’t be seen in the market or a convenience store buying cigarettes and mineral water. Couldn’t be seen in a café having a coffee: domestic or espresso. Couldn’t be seen talking with anyone because they would be seen by others to be talking with themselves.

Today felt like it was the dullest, deadest Halloween ever imagined, barer than a Scrooge Halloween. But that came of being so near the land of Transylvania, and not revelling in some post-Puritan city or town in North America. There were no pumpkins in windows with faces carved in them. No decorated buildings or offices. No workers in costume, Halloween costumes that is, going about their usual work, with a bowl of molasses kisses beside the cash register.
        The closest things seen to anything in the spectrum of Halloween spectres looked like good harvest tokens or tributes. Miniature smiling straw and corn husk stuff scarecrow men in shirts and pants sitting in wheelbarrows or on wreaths with small corncobs and dried flowers, occasionally with tiny, brightly-coloured gourds, plastic grapes, and replicas of apples, pears and other fruits.
        Some expats in the capital had their embassy’s Halloween party last Friday: a walking pumpkin, a handcuffed prisoner, high-steppin’ mamas—some in drag, Arabs in caftans drinking beer, naughty nurses and French maids, cowboys, courtly ladies, dead rock stars and actors, actresses, hayseed farmers, movie creatures, witches, skeletons, the grim reaper . . .
        Halloween in the middle of the week makes for more parties on Friday. This far north, where one has almost left one country, one culture, for another one, the local Catfish Bar wants a wild Friday night weekend kickoff: DJ Dawg on turntables, special drink drink specials, prizes for the best . . .
        Today’s farm market, at the end of the last day of October, at dusk, was still busy with vendors. Mostly sellers of flowers—singular and bunched . . . some of them plastic made in china—and farm and forest garlands—garlic braids, dried paprika strings, woven wicker and pinecone wreaths. The market busy with townsfolk who had left it until the last possible moment to buy the symbols they haven’t grown themselves, or otherwise made.
        Usually, by one o’clock, the market would have been empty of everything except a few squashed tomatoes and dropped eggs (except for that one toilet paper and plastic bag seller backed onto the vendors’ coffee booth—they bring their own cups/mugs to take their hot drink back to their own booths.
        Unless you’re serious, don’t get too close to the flower arrangements. Don’t appear so interested that you’d be read by the sellers as needful . . . The locals all know enough, or too much, about each other and their families: the living and the dead.
        Tonight, one could be painted, greased, wearing all black with metal—polished stainless steel stud and chain jewellery, hand-forged ironware, or from the hardware store or pet shop garden-variety pieces with purpose—for a multiple goth band and DJ underground Samhain party in the not-so nearby city of Sumbad.
        Could be sitting costumed in the livingroom or front porch of a decorated house with a bowl of “trick or treat” candy or something for the neighbourhood’s costumed children going door to door, cutting across lawn and through hedges, their footprints dark holes in the thin crust of icy snow on still green grass. Tomorrow it will melt and one would rake up chip bags and candy wrappers with the accumulated maple, poplar and birch leaves.
        Could be gathered with others of a similar spirit in a hilltop grove of trees. Everyone would have put something troubling them in a wooden box. After the homage, the blessing, the best wishes for a rapid journey to the faraway halls of untroubled afterlife, the box will be collectively lifted like a coffin to be placed in the bonfire. Consumed by flames taller than anyone standing in the circle around it, sparks will shoot even higher into the clear sky night. Always there will be a few passing airplanes on great circle routes to and from Europe and the occasional satellites winking between the people and their fires sparks and the so distant stars. The people will see similar bonfires on other hilltops. A bottle or two of uisca beatha will passed hand to hand around the fire, around the grove, heart to heart.

Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead. A big holy day. The biggest after Christmas and Easter. Some might say that it’s bigger . . . maybe in México where it’s especially celebrated. Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans is likely their biggest. But they have their dead there too. They respect them, and the man leading the parade.
        It will be more congested than rush hour at the cemeteries. Finding parking will be a nightmare. There’ll be no place for all the old bicycles and scooters to park. Misty-eyed families will walk hand in hand across the streets, between parked cars. The gates will be crowded with extended families festooned with gardens of flowers for their deceased family, and to be laid at the feet of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the monuments to locally celebrated saints and heros, fallen colleagues and friends. The gates will be clotted by flower vendors for the truly last-minute griever, or for those whose arms empty before their grieving and respects are done. The air will be filled with the smoke and the scent of chestnuts roasting in with metal boxes perched atop orange propane tanks. The graveyard will be as crowded as midnight madness sales before Christmas. For many, this will be the only time in the year that they’ll be certain to meet the families of their dead’s neighbours. The handshakes will go on forever. The constant hugs will warm the coldest person. Bottles or flasks of homemade brandy carried in the inside jacket pockets of the men will be shared and discreetly nipped. There will be such a flock of perfectly ironed handkerchiefs that they’ll outnumber the doves and pigeons.
        Every year, before they arrive they know that more people have died. More people they know are in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God. More people who left before their time. And people who slipped away quietly in their sleep, God rest their souls. May they find peace in the hereafter. More people who died in domestic situations. Who personally failed Who were victims of meaningless, senseless, pointless violence. Who died in war. Who died elsewhere and never made it home. Who died because someone else liked killing. Who died because they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every year, the discovery of the loss of someone unexpected will catch them off guard.

“Before you can be approved to play, you must learn to fight safely. How to hit with a sword. How to use a shield to ward off blows. How to two-stick. How to pole arm. How to use a dagger. A mace. A great axe. You must learn to recognize when and how you’ve been hit and know how to call out your wounds, especially the loss of and arm or leg. You must learn how to fight with one arm. How to fight with no legs. You must learn how to fall. To die and to stay dead. You must learn how to die safely. You must keep your legs together. Never cross your ankles when you’re dead! You must keep your arms tight to your sides. Your shield on top of you can me good, but only if you die with it in hand. We can’t be having unnecessary broken limbs on the dead before play stops. Once fighting stops, the dead must leave the field. Some of the big battles with thousands of fighters have only minutes or seconds of live fighting time. Removing the dead fighters makes for a cleaner battle. Don’t have watch as closely for their bodies. Them’s the rules.”

I’ve seen a ghost shadow of myself standing in a flat-bottom boat on the River Csardas.
        A ghost I not yet am. A boat I’ve never owned or been a passenger on. A river I’ve only once waded in. Nothing more. Never immersed myself in the sandy water. Never swam.
        I never drowned. My body was not found downstream, bloated and ensnared on fishing lines or boat ropes. My body wasn’t lost in a mass grave, or the fires after a bombing, train wreck, or volcanic eruption. The earth didn’t crack open and swallow me alive. My body wasn’t swept into the ocean.
        No one grieved my passing. Not my parents. Not my siblings and their families living elsewhere. No flesh of my flesh. No one said, “So young. Why did have to die so soon? Such promise.”
        No one spat on my grave and walked away. No one danced on my grave. No one celebrated. No one said, “Good riddance!”
        Nothing happened that way.
        But today I saw myself as a boatman ghost.

Broken Jaw @ Beograd Book Fair 2007

Yes, folks, Joe Blades made it to his third consecutive Beograd Book Fair. Another hot weather week with temps often in the high 20s C outside and warmer in the trade show halls. The Canada Stand was again a great success. It's an incredible commitment and dedication of embassy staff and resources to make everything happen.

The participating Canadians authors & their book translators, publishers, and adminstrators, along with a large number of pubishers from countries of the former Yougoslavia, the Beograde Book Fair Council, and more ever invited to a gathering at the Canadian Ambassador (Robert McDougall) official residence. [Note the date typo in lower section—BJ]

Joe Blades, publisher and poet, and Olgica Marinkovic, Academic and Cultural Officer at the Embassy of Canada in Beograd, Serbia, during Broken Jaw's presentation in the Canada Stand on Friday, 27 October 2006.