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