23 June 2011

Berlin Berliner

Happy hour in Berlin!

Festival opening event, Dichtraum Denkraum, had champagne in U-Ban Brandenberg Tor station with writers writing live [something I can really relate to]. It was followed by Poesiefestival Berlin's official opening with speeches all in German, comp wine and great nibblies in the top floor club room and on the balcony of Akademie de Künste overlooking Pariser Platz on the East Berlin side of Brandenberg Gate: USA and French embassies here, British around the corner, Russian + Aeroflot building on the next bock along Linden..
[A week earlier, 9 June, I was a non-tranferable invitation guest at the Premier of Ontario's Awards for Excellence in the Arts gala at the Liberty Grand Entertasinment Complex in Toronto; and days earlier on Tuesday, 7 June, was a guest at Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick Justice Graydon Nicholas's opening of the NB Provincial Heritage Fair Showcase in his official residence, Old Government House, Fredericton … something of a lalaland gala schedule.]
People in the square costumed as bronze statues, American, German, and Russian military with flags and some lite attempt at a Checkpoint Charlie for the swarms oftourists to pose with, to be photographed with in East Berlin. So many vendors with "I ♥ Berlin" stuff while elsewhere in Berlin I found a different message:

At the meeting of international poetry festivals.

Artist Lawrence Lee (Khui Fatt) in Black Box with his initial pen and ink sketch of me. He wasn't official festival artist but visiting Berlin from Switzerland. He should look into becoming a Poesiefestival Berlin artist-in-residence.

"18 June: Poetry Discussion: Silvio Rodríguez—The other string. Academy of the Arts, Pariser Platz, Club Room. With Silvio Rodríguez, Cuba, and Dieter Ingenschay, Romance scholar, Berlin. Rodríguez is one of the best-known singer-songwriters in Cuba and possibly even in whole Latin America, he was the voice of the Cuban Revolution. Since the 1970s, he has been famous not only for his songs but also for his film scores, his guitar-playing and his political work as a convinced communist. Dieter Ingenschay [was] asking Rodríguez about his poetry, his music and his dream of a rightous Cuba."—from the Poesiefestival Brogram in translation.

New Arabic World traditional poetry to performance poetry to rap: Deeb (Egypt), El Général (Tunisia), Hend Hammam (Egypt), Hind Shoufani (Lebanon), Abdouldaim Ukwas (Libya), moderated by Pyranja Rapperin, journalist (Berlin) at far right.

After the evening readings and tourist street cafes closed we resort to the hotel's Checkpoint piano bar. Here are Berlin publisher, Daniela Seel of Kook Books, and Thomas Möhlmann of the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Breakfast in Berlin—vast buffet at the Maritim proArte Hotel—with smoked salmon, rolmops, sherry herring, cheeses, many multigrain breads, fresh & dried fruits, organic yogurts, eggs, wursts, salamie and other meats, bacon, coffees, teas, great juices and more.

Found in situ poem on a U-Bahn station escalator.

Poetry reading on a boat on the River Spree. This is Catherine Hales (from Surry, England and living in Berlin, not the visual artist Catherine Hale in New Brunswick). This reading not part of Poesiefestival Berlin but part of the simultaneously occuring 48 Stunden Neukölln 13. Kunt- und Kulturfestival with many gallery & opened artist studios.

Eleanor Livingstone (Scotland) and me on the poetry reading boat.

Pricey lobster fest at the hotel. Didn't partake … but in the days after my return to Fredricton I bought three seabugs (weighing 3.3 kg in total) at $5.99/lb for my own happy hummerfest …

Der Bär writing in Dichtraum Denkraum event.

Billy Collins, former USA Poet Laureate, and Ron Winkler, poet and translator, Germany.

Brandenberg Tor at night.

21 June 2011

Between Brno und Berlin

Cathedral of St Peter and Paul atop Petrov hill, Brno, as seen from the train station platform. Milan Kundera, the novelist, from Brno.

Sunrise at the Brno train station. My train on the track at the right. It was supposed to depart at 5:35 AM from the track on the left but there was some confusion …

Later, in Praha/Prague, I learned from two travelling Finns that there had been a Czech Transport train workers strike the day before. No trains moved in the country and all international trains stopped at Czech border. Explained why there wasn't a dining car and why the numbered car with my reserved seat was not in the train. What luck!

Route sign on the train Johannes Brahms. Most of the international trains had names: Hungaria, Vindobona, Carl Maria von Weber, Alois Negrilli, Gustav Klimt to name a few.

One of the Castles overlooking the River Elba/Labe

Děčín last stop before Germany.

Views of the valley of the River Elba/Labe. Bicycle trails on both sides of the river. Many little passenger ferry boats. Towns, if towns they be, with gasthaus and spas line the incredibly beautiful river.

Berlin Hauptbanhof.

16 June 2011

Brno, Czech Republic

Namesti Svobody / Freedom Square in central Brno with summer beach bar, saint someone on a pillar, Old Town Hall, and more ...

A visually striking, ornately flower-decorated building.

Sunrise on the hills and buildings of Brno. Better seen by the camera held out the windrow than me through the A4-paper high windows in metre-thick walls of the attic-based Uni Hotel of the building housing the offices of the university rector.

Building with I've been staying. Mararykova is a 45,000 student university. As I am a grad student doing thesis research/Canadian Studies research here the room was covered (with thanks) by a grant CEACS has for that purpose. Very nice!

Yesterday morning, as planned, Zuzana J. met me at the entrance of the university hotel. We walked first to see Don Sparling in the Canadian Studies Centre office (just an admin office—with shelves of Canadian Studies books and journals published by Muni Press) in the Faculty of Arts building. Was given a book by Don, written by six scholars hin ere at Mararykova Univerzita, that he had a hand translating and editing. Seems like some of it might be useful for my work.

The university library

I can't get internet in the university library without an administration-complicated user name and password process … but I can sit in the cafe on the corner near it with a coffee or beer and there my computer automatically signs me into the eduroam network (also at University of New Brunswick—where I registered my notebook for eduroam) and I'm online. So easy and comfortable.

Staropramen on tap (stay away from the Stella). [Starobrno beer, clearly a Czech beer, is owned by the Heineken group.]

Kasematy entrance to a museum at the hilltop fortress, not castle, Brno-Mesto in the hiltop Park Špielberk. Was already closed for the day when I got there.

Why is “(Collected)” on my latest book?

Since the release of my latest book there’s been several author, book, and scholarly creative work events that I’ve participated in with introductions by other people. Despite giving them the proper information, none of them have said the “(Collected)” when introducing my book Casemate Poems (Collected) published by Chaudiere Books in Ottawa.

I know, “(Collected)” seems like a subtitle similar to the retrospective “new and selected” or the “collected poems” volumes usually published posthumously. I’m not dead. I’m still writing (contractions included). What if I had called it “(Collected) Casemate Poems” or “Collected Casemate Poems” without the brackets around “Collected”? How would that be read? Would “Collected” still be dropped or would it become the short title for the book?

What if I said that “(Collected)” is not a subtitle—it isn’t a subtitle—but that it is consistent in style with section titles within this poetry collection? The book has five parts:

near ghazals nb
casemate poems
casemate poems (part two)
casemate poems (reprise)
casemate poems (coda)

These are the poems from the 2004 edition of casemate poets (Widows & Orphans) with the addition of the 52-part “(reprise)” and the 6-part “(coda)”: that's what has been collected here!

* * *

What if I told you, dear reader, that there is another poem “casemate off-season” written in 2005 after the “(coda)”, after I returned from a Canadian Studies conference in Niš and the Belgrade Book Fair, Serbia? Should it have been included in this volume? I suggested it, without response.

I guess that it’s one for another book (after probably appearing on my next a little something … poem broadside next month (July 2011) for my Fredericton Arts Alliance-approved Artists in Residence 2011 Summer Series week—with “Casemate Poems (Redux)” the accepted residency’s project title. My first residency in the FAA casemate since Summer 2006 when I started writing the “Prison Song” poems).

How wonderfully (un)collected all this makes Casemate Poems (Collected)! I leave it open to the potential for new developments …

15 June 2011


[pictures at 11]

said i am too busy
of late to blog
and i want to post
need time to write
or work photographs
while doing going being

Nela's crew  on 27 mayo 2011. photo by Sophie Lavoie.
džo hublot whirled through
the so full congress
with two papers presented
five group poetry readings
three books launched
books sold and gifted
friends seen and met

Hugh Hazelton meeting and reading 1st time with Lynn Davies

then proofing a paper
for publication in romania
while making myself aware
of member issues in prep
for league of canadian poets
agm in toronto—doing it
and losing my wallet—keep
moving—26 hours back
in fredericton for laundry
id quest and repack

Joe in LCP reading @ Supermarket, Toronto
picaroons irish red
at airport before
flight to montreal
then montreal messed up
on eve of air can strike
departed two hours late
because plane left the gate
without two passengers
whose luggage was onboard
—a strickly forbidden—
so after taxiing to runway
had to return for them
a man and your daughter
and to top up the fuel

waiting at Dorval Airport
arrived in brussels
almost one and one half
hours late rebooked to
berlin–tegel to arrive
over two hours late
and aim for i don't know
which train to brno
and late night arrival
wi-fi in brussels airport
minimum of 5 euros
i'll save for elsewhere
have apple and bagel
dried fruit and seeds
to get me through:
b.light economy class
on the rebooked flight
included comp quiche lunch
with jupiler beer (my
first jupiler since 1983)

jupiler blonde
berlin-tegel to berlin hauptbanhof
was an easy 2,30 € direct bus

so i caught next train @ 14:40
via dresden and praha

got to brno at 22:22
after over 24 hours travel

night view from room