Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
first up was Daniel Lanois' Later That Night at the Drive-In in front of City Hall
we got a bit cold, so we didn't stay for the full performance. instead, for something completely different, we went down Bay Street to check out the performance of Erik Satie's -hour piece, Vexations, written in 1893. i'm a big Satie fan (and in Paris, i live five minutes from his old tiny Montmartre apartment) so i was thrilled to hear and see this installation.
as the pianists finished playing a page of the score (which repeats 840 times, each page being identical), a folder retrieved the page and the people seated at this enormous table turned each page into a careful origami section. by the end of the night, that whole table must have been filled with jagged blue pages. it was a spectacular way to visualize the progression of the piece.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
"On trash night in ideal cities your other neighbors
swap stories in the alleys. Ideal cities
have margins that aren't pretty or bleak
and are without proper representation
but have no grievances. My ideal city
has a wish list written on the back
of an envelope scrap, an ATM slip.
My ideal city is peripheral and claims
- Erika Meitner
for the complete poem, go here to Poetry Daily
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
first thing, arriving here, i unpacked my lucky metal rat (the cat where i'm staying didn't seem too bothered.)
we opened "Breakfast in Vegas" yesterday at the Victoria Fringe--I was the very first show at the fest. i'm lucky to have a fantastic venue, Cabin12...it's a diner, and it's perfect for the "Breakfast" show concept. Victoria itself is so beautiful, i had to really force myself to stay inside for two days, working on the show. but now it's the weekend & i can explore...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
(this photo from computer re-Maker Jake Von Slatt)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
this is work-in-progress from Petra Stavast, the Dutch photographer who was in residence at Banff & who is working on a long series of portraits taken with a cellphone. considering how unenthusiastic i am about cellphones, i was surprisingly happy to sit still for the shoot... probably because Petra was really charming & her studio is in the woods, about as far from the mad shouting of cellphone beeps as you can get. and i like the idea of using cheap nasty contemporary technology to make something slow & sometimes beautiful.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Pine Siskin - tree swallow - cliff swift - many Robins - sparrows (innumerable) - crow - raven - magpie - mallard- Merganser - Canada geese - one solitary Harlequin duck - Gray Jay (also known as a Whiskey Jack)- several osprey (or the same one, flying about?) - Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Dark-eyed Junco (innumerable) - two Mountain Bluebirds.
And one bat.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
"implies a larger whole, an organized universe, an explanatory mythology, from which the scrap was taken... A scrapbook is made up of stories--and of gaps and silences. A scrapbook is a kind of code; the code allows us to bring into play whole areas of memory." - Kroetsch
two shiny scraps that caught my eye this past week: first, my friend Sue Chenette writing about Paris, specifically the city's relationship to language
and, thinking about books, a rather brilliant tank re-purposing:
Friday, May 14, 2010
turns out this anthill is a well-known landmark on the Hoodoo trail...the ants have been building this pile of dry spruce needles for several years. being right near the arts centre, the hill has been featured in a number of videos etc. Hard to see them in these small photos...but trust me, the needles are completely covered in black & red patterned ants. they're quite nifty-looking ants, actually, and apparently they eat other more destructive insects, so i am trying to like them.
they didn't swarm out and attempt to drag us into the anthill when we walked by...so i conclude that they are friendly. or at least, indifferent. which is fine with me.
Monday, May 10, 2010
which got me thinking about crows. i love this video, even though it is a group of caged crows, being studied. but still, the way the bird perfects the tool, clearly figuring out how to improve the wire it starts with...
Sunday, May 09, 2010
"Repairing the virtual cave, in the basement," he said.
Uh-huh. Mental note: never ask anyone what they're doing before having breakfast.
But he really is working on the virtual cave...i plan to drop by later in the week when it's operational again. not sure what to expect.
I've already visited the real cave, created by the mineral springs which are the reason Banff exists. (the sulfur springs gave this place a quasi-medicinal purpose and in order to protect the springs--or, to protect the potential profits they could make from the springs--the government of Canada created the very first national park here in the late 1880s. & soon after that, the Banff Springs Hotel was built...
not bad for a hotel built because of a cave.)
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
he made me think of Dickens and his pet raven, Grip. (above photo is Grip, stuffed--now owned by the Free Library of Philadelphia) i always associate ravens very much with Canada, especially British Columbia & the Yukon...but in fact a variety of raven exists all over Europe, and Dickens' raven is probably the most famous.
Dickens described the death of Grip, his tame raven, like this: "On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed `Halloa old girl!' (his favorite expression) and died."
for the record, Edgar Allen Poe apparently felt that Dickens' fictionalized raven in Barnaby Rudge deserved a more important role in the plot.
having seen the enormous glossy raven on the path here, I agree with Edgar: if you introduce a talking tame raven into a plot, you'd better give it all the best lines.
Monday, May 03, 2010
the view from my window...today:
...and the evening i arrived:
Sunday, May 02, 2010
for some links & photos http://www.janeswalk.net/
“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any once place is always replete with new improvisations.”
— Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
heading to Calgary to celebrate my amazing poetry publisher's latest crazy accomplishment: ten books of poetry are out this month to mark the tenth anniversary of Frontenac House...10 books in 2010. the dektet was chosen by jury--bill bissett, George Elliott Clarke & Alice Major (now that must have been an interesting discussion!)
Attenuations of Force, Lori Cayer
Children of Ararat, Keith Garebian
Confessions of an Empty Purse, S. McDonald
Ex Nihilo, Adebe D. A.
Fallacies of Motion, William Nichols
Falling Blues, Jannie Edwards
Learning to Count, Douglas Burnet Smith
[sic], Nikki Reimer
Standoff Terrain, Jocko Benoit
White Shirt, Laurie MacFayden
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
one night, i was at one of the nondescript downtown casinos--a very tame enterprise, in Vancouver, because you couldn't drink in the casino & mostly the clientele was made up of elderly men wearing cardigans. i'm not much of a gambler, and roulette was the only game whose rules i understood back then...so i sat down at the roulette table and played around with $20. i lost most of it, and was down to the last couple of dollars, which i placed in a single chip on the central number...the 20. because it was in the middle.
the weird thing is, my number came up, winning me a couple of hundred dollars. and then i tried another $20 bet & won a bit more. and then i cashed out, because even though the elderly Chinese guys at the table were encouraging me to keep on the winning streak, i wasn't convinced it was going to last.
so i left the casino & logically thought HEY i can put this money into producing a chapbook! because that's what everybody thinks when they win "big" at roulette, right? surely that was Sean Connery's first thought, too, when he used to win in Monte Carlo. (okay, maybe not.)
so that's how i initially got involved in the small press...i took my $320 of roulette winnings and spent most of that money on paper & printing & staples, and then my long-suffering gambling partner and i spent several rather lovely hours folding and trimming and stapling chapbooks on the kitchen table. those 21 poems about blackjack, titled 'green as the three of diamonds', had found a way into the world.
and i thought HEY this is fun. i like this. this is WAY more fun than roulette.
Monday, April 12, 2010
note the poster goes on sale April 13 to benefit 826 National
really it was a gorgeous day today & all i wanted to do was take pretty pictures of spring flowers, because i didn't feel absolutely, positively, and wholeheartedly like doing anything at all literary whatsoever...
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
We hear a good deal of complain that gambling should be allowed on the passenger-trains in this State. A few weeks since a man was swindled out of $50 in a Maine Central smoking-car by a blackleg, who introduced him into the beauties of "three-card monte." To be sure, it is strange that any man is so green or devoid of common sense as to be inveigled into card-playing and betting with strangers on railroad-cars--but such people there are in the world, and we do not think our railroads should be in the field for such knaves to ply their pursuits in. We have recently noticed warnings posted up in the Eastern Railroad cars, like this: "Beware of strangers who ask you to play cards." That is a very useful placard, to say the least."in Paris, i used to walk past a three-card monte game every weekend, near the Clignancourt flea market, where there seemed to be an endless supply of people 'green or devoid of common sense' enough to be inveigled by the older dude running the game. Because hope springs eternal. Or something. photo by Nelson Minar, 2006
Friday, April 02, 2010
I have even been advised to make it more clear.
I will refrain from doing this.
The poem does not have any third, seventh, or twenty-ninth meanings.
...i feel as if i can almost hear her distinct St. Petersburg accent, annoyed, saying this. i wonder what she would think, to find her lines as they appear in my copy of her collected work--which has so many notes for every poem, the book is 947 pages long.
carrying this tome around with me, i really wish some of the scholars had taken Akhmatova a little more literally.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
i didn't even know dog racing was still legal in the US until i drove past this track. and although i had the worst of expectations, when i went over to the inspection kennel, the dogs were less crazy in the eyes than race horses are.
so the fluffy stuffed animal is sent along the track on a wire...notice the white blur at the guy's feet in the photo...and the dogs chase it. and when they reach the finish line, they get dog biscuits.
overall, though, i still agree with my character Millard, in my novel: "Isn't fair," she says, "betting on a game the horse runs for you. No game in that."
Monday, March 22, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
i got to talk about CanLit with a great panel of people--Jocelyne Allen, Steven Beattie, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Tish Cohen, Terry Fallis, Stacey May Fowles, Jessica Grant, Mark Anthony Jarman, Andy Maize Jacob McArthur Mooney,John Mutford, Neil Smith, Zoe Whittall, & Steve Zipp, moderated by Mark Medley & Brad Frenette for the Canada Also Reads contest at the National Post. Apparently some of it will reappear in the paper, at some point...but meanwhile, check it out online at the Afterword.
we talked writing, marketing, locations, language...and small verus big presses. i was defending Jocelyne Allen's book YOU AND THE PIRATES from the excellent small press The Workhorsery. there's still time to vote for the book (go to the Afterword.)
read the Afterword's chat here
Saturday, March 06, 2010
i got to do two very different readings while in Montreal--a Friday lunchtime reading at the venerable Atwater Library, accompanied by the very fun & cool sax player Dave Turner, and the second at the Pilot Reading Series, which takes place every month or so at the Sparrow, a bar which is now on my all-time favourite top ten bar list for the planet earth. this, based on three essential facts: it has excellent Quebec beer; it has a beautiful staircase that goes nowhere; and it is conveniently close to an all-night bagel bakery. it also has some of the most beautiful wallpaper i have ever seen, in a bar or elsewhere.
a big giddy bisou to all who made the readings happen...
Monday, February 15, 2010
A few lines from her essay leap out to me, looking at them now: "mere space has power," Carson writes in Eros the Bittersweet. "The separating power of space can be marked with various activities; by racing through it, for example..." The lines seem purposely written for dance. "Eros... exists because certain boundaries do."
i had a lovely conversation with House about inspiration and the rehearsal process last week. and the resulting article is now up at Toronto's cultural site, Live With Culture, here.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
hang in through his routine curses to the last 30 seconds...ahhhh, much dreamed-of writer revenge! (note--it looks like a video but it's simply an answering machine recording)
(thanks to Bookninja for a perfect way to start my Saturday)
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
and why shouldn't our public buildings be grand, impressive, mysterious, beautiful... like these photos, taken by members of the Shadow Collective & D.K. Photo Group, supported by Heritage Toronto. photographers Olena Sullivan has a great description of the project, over here.
the show is up for the rest of the month, noon to 5pm daily on the 3rd & 4th floors of the Gladstone Hotel. with photos from Robert Dyke, Sean Galbraith, Rick Harris, Mathew Merrett, Timothy Neesam, Olena Sullivan & Toni Wallachy
Thursday, January 28, 2010
can't knock their goals: administration & networking to make art classes and activities accessible to kids and older students across the GTA. fabulous, and crucial. but when i go to an arts event and listen to feel-good educational stories from administrators, i get bored. fast. i would rather hear from the kids involved--what did they actually create, and what do they think about these new art skills?
last night's celebratory launch seemed to treat education in art as a spiffy extra that we can throw into the pot only when we have surplus funding. shouldn't artistic play be an essential part of educating the next generation? and if so, why isn't it important for the education minister to show up?
instead, we had Ontario's new Minister of Tourism & Culture, Michael Chan, who didn't address such questions--mind you, no one really expected him to (he's only had this portfolio for 9 days, so he's still looking a little shell-shocked, discovering all the cute artsy songs he now has to listen to). his speech emphasized that the new network is predicated largely on encouraging business to invest in the neighbourhoods in question. hopefully the network is going to spend some time talking about what kind of business these neighbourhoods actually need...or want...and where art fits in all this.
the idea of culture & arts education as a stimulus to animate the urban environment isn't new; the idea of capitalizing on the arts to revitalize the city isn't new either. but so far, Toronto's new network just seems likely to emphasize the divide between the people who talk about making art and the people who actually make the stuff. because playing with the idea of creativity, with cute little ditties and matching aprons, is all very well. but art, if it's actually art and not therapeutic crafts, isn't only a marketing tool and shouldn't be treated as such.
yes, the people involved in this new project seem very enthusiastic, and i do wish them the best. but just the same, it was an evening of Toronto administrators talking about art...even free food can't make that interesting. i left the event a bit down-hearted.
and then, art saved me.
i walked down the glass corridor of Harbourfront and noticed the gallery space was still open, with no one there apart from the woman at the desk. the thread installation by Amanda McCavour is what drew me into the space--because i could glimpse the work as i walked away from the launch (my photo doesn't do it justice at all). inside the gallery, i discovered Shuyu Lu's equally fantastic embroidery of small meticulous scenes of Chinatown & Kensington Market...detailed, thoughtful, mysterious, a real conversation with the city and with the viewer.
the work was gorgeous. complicated. technically demanding. and committed to considering Toronto through art.
while i was there, none of the arts administrators stopped in as they left the party. which seemed a pity.