All posts by Heather Haley

I AM A FERGUSON

Ferguson

My arduous 25 year quest to find my father is over at last. I am a Ferguson. I have four sisters, plus 12 or 13 nieces and nephews. I am elated, reeling from these recent developments and working hard to assimilate the news. It proves my theory that the truth always surfaces, like a law of nature and no matter how long it may take.

In 1992 my mother Corona blurted out on her death bed, “Danny is not your father.” I dismissed it as she was suffering from dementia, weaving in and out of lucidity. Most unnerving, but her declaration slowly sunk in and began to make sense, explain many things, like a certain tension between my mother and Danny’s family and people often asking if I was adopted. I do not resemble my mother nor my two younger sisters and certainly not my alleged father. I believe that’s the legal term. These days it’s called paternity fraud. Those questions, that scrutiny must have panicked my mother, that is, if she knowingly lied. I have a feeling, knowing capable-of-delusion Corona that she’d convinced herself Danny-the man she married, the man who raised me-was my father, though I can only speculate.

My biological father is 87. We don’t have much opportunity for a relationship at this late date but with no name or leads I had given up hope of ever finding him and certainly didn’t expect him to be alive. It would be lovely if I’ve inherited his longevity genes along with his red hair.

It’s all so bittersweet and I wince every time I hear what a great guy he is. Danny was a decent fellow but cold, remote and often surly. He did instil in me an affinity with nature though. I think the only time he was happy was when he was in his element, in the woods with us hunting, fishing, hiking. Danny was a feminist, didn’t condescend or expect us to be ladies. He worked us hard-mowing lawns, chopping and stacking wood-while encouraging my sisters and I to be strong and competent. We had to be.

I asked Danny to take a DNA test. He consented and the results ruled him out as my biological father. He was shocked and said, “I never would have married her if I’d known,” which rather stung but I understood his feelings. Corona betrayed both of us. All of us.

Over the ensuing years I made several trips to Matapedia to interview Mom’s remaining relatives. No one could recall who she may have been dating way back when. I found no answers, not even one tiny clue.

I gave birth to my son in 1994 and though focused on child rearing was determined for his sake as well as mine to uncover our genetic makeup though I had no idea how. Eventually I registered my DNA through Family Tree DNA, which provided more distractions than answers. I didn’t have the time or finesse to pursue resulting genealogical matches. Then about a year ago I signed up for a new program called Family Finder and discovered Amy, a cousin, who happens to be a professional genealogist. She put my profile up at GedMatch which identified Valerie as my first cousin. Then we found another first cousin, Kathy. Valerie had been adopted but knew the name of her father who turned out to be my uncle. One of my father’s daughters kindly took a DNA test which after an excruciating wait revealed her to be my half-sister. Hallelujah!

It occurs to me that dear old Ma effectively deprived us of the Beliveaus and Haleys as well. I might have been bilingual but she became entirely assimilated after moving west. Growing up, my sisters and I were isolated. Dad had one brother who lived on Vancouver Island hence there were no cousins, aside from an occasional visit. We moved nearly every two years, in and around Winnipeg until I was ten, then spent two years in the Kooteneys because the Plymouth station wagon broke down at the top of Rogers Pass and Dad had to get a job in order to pay the motel room and wound up working on the Duncan dam as a welder. We finally settled in the Fraser Valley when I was twelve.

My parents were miserable together. I will spare you the gory details but our home life was harrowing, rife with neglect and abuse. My parents did not belong together, could not provide their children with stability or security.

There is much discussion around Corona’s motivations. Perhaps she wanted to leave small town Quebec, the past. I know she’d endured a terrible upbringing. And being Catholic, no doubt there was enormous pressure not to bear a child out of wedlock, though her mother first suggested an abortion. I wrote a poem about it, Where Sins Are More Sinful. “Sins are more sinful when the whole town knows.” In any case,  surely Corona had her reasons but there’s not much point dwelling on that along with what might have been.

I was appalled when someone once asked, “Why do you care?” “Likely the same reason you do.” Of course I want to know. No one asks to be born, we are entitled to our heritage. Close proximity to our roots facilitates establishing one’s identity which surely anchors us through life’s tempests. I never had that sense for it turns out  I was a changeling. Foisted.

My son and I are flying out to Toronto in January to meet the clan.  The Fergusons have only been kind, warm and welcoming, another huge relief. I find it poignant and fitting that a bee rests atop a thistle in the Ferguson family crest, that we are, “Sweeter After Difficulties.”

 

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My Friend Peter

Me&Pete

Sadly, Peter Trower has died. I met the legendary west coast poet in 2008 at a launch party for ROCKsalt, the Mother Tongue Press anthology of contemporary BC verse. Afterwards we convened at a local pub with Rob Taylor and Zach Wells. A consummate raconteur, Peter regaled us with stories including the time he got high with Leonard Cohen at a party in Kits. Kindred spirits, we became fast friends. I had a lot more time and resources then so was able to squire him around to various events and the readings we performed together, often meeting at his favourite watering hole, Sailor Hagar’s. Pete liked to imagine I was his agent, that we were a couple and could get extremely jealous and possessive. But he was lonely after losing his long-time companion Yvonne. Outwardly tough and gruff, Pete was an utter romantic softie.

He was passionate about music as well, especially jazz and blues, often idly whistling or humming, which could drive me me nuts. Naturally Pete knew all the words and delighted in singing together. He performed on several CDs including Kisses In the Whiskey with Greg Potter at the producer helm.

He asked me to be his literary executor and though I knew that wouldn’t pan out happily assisted with errands, packing up his house in Gibsons and acting as go-between for Pete and Where the Nights are Twice as Long/Love Letters of Canadian Poets editor David Eso.  I did love the old scoundrel, miss him and his voices, both the sandpaper speaking and the distinctive poetic.

 

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SHADOWMAN

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I feel compelled to pay homage to artist Richard Hambleton. It seemed odd that the man I met in Vancouver repeatedly reappeared in shadows during my brief Lower Manhattan sojourn. Spooked, I kept looking over my shoulder wondering why. How. How did we wind up in New York? At the same time. I remembered seeing his jarring Dick Trace-It faux crime scenes back home. Home seemed so very far away. As I told mutual friend Lincoln Clarkes, we weren’t exactly close. Richard was rather hostile in fact but I tried not to take it personally. I knew he was weird and I was too preoccupied to worry about it. I was in survival mode, working at the Baby Doll Lounge, struggling to play music despite New York’s high temperatures, crime rate and cost of living. I admired his work though. It was powerful, fascinating, seminal. Certainly he deserved more recognition but sadly that’s the way with so much art and so many artists. R.I.P. Richard Hambleton. Here’s the New York Times obituary with some exceptional video links.

 

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Some of the bands I’ve shared billing with…

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Just for fun and because the subject came up more than once during our recent interview with Nardwuar; a list of some of the bands I’ve shared billing with during my oh so illustrious career, a time capsule of sorts as well.  And as Bill Thomson pointed out, “you could create an urban poem or a musical chant with the band names.” ZELLOTS-Vancouver-DOA, Rabid, Subhumans, K-Tels, AKA, Tunnel Canary, Modernettes, Devices, Perfect Stranger, Private School, Rude Norton, The Visitors. THE 45s-X, The Braineaters, No Exit, The Gears, The Weirdos, B People. HEATHER HALEY & THE ZELLOTS-Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thelonious Monster, Jane’s Addiction, Beat Farmers, L7, Henry Rollins, Legal Weapon, Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians, Firehose, Precious Metal,The Pandoras, Lucinda Williams, Candye Kane, Bobby Brat, Babylon Warriors, Chris D & The Divine Horsemen, Rik L Rik, Jim Lauderdale, Craig Lee, Giant Sand, Marvin Etzione, Poison Ivy, What Is This, Peter Case & Victoria Williams, Screamin’ Sirens, Rosie Flores, Double Freak, Sacred Antennae, Crowbar, Bay of Pigs, Divine Weeks, Donner Party, Holy Sisters of the Gaga Dada, Mary’s Danish, Snake Farm, Milo Bender, Tupelo Joe, Fifteen Minutes, The Raunch Hands, New Flesh, The Bel-Fires, Downy Mildew, Ringling Sisters, Zoogz Rift, Leaving Trains, Saqqarea Dogs, Miracle Legion, Aromatic Prawn Experience, Rhino 39, The Beginners, Dust Poets, Black Bambi, A Band Called Horse, To Damascus, Lunchbox, Cold September, Shredders.

 


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Oh What Zeal!

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Everything’s coming up ZELLOTS!  Deliverance! At last. Years of hard work-Jason of Supreme Echo and mine’s-is paying off. “Old (school) punk rockers never die, they just get reissued” but the Zellots have been “unearthed” in an archival recording.  The three carefully mined and refurbished Zellots songs are getting quite a lot of press including a piece in Exclaim! and a story by Allan MacInnis for the Georgia Straight. We also had a blast at an interview at CiTR with Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

I can’t thank Jason enough! As I said in the liner notes, I am grateful to him for his dedication, indeed zeal for music, bands and history. I am also indebted to the original demo producer Peter Draper for his stellar work, vital contribution.

Saturday, Sept 23 is the big day! We will be making a series of in-record store appearances and then celebrating at a launch party at What’s Up? Hot Dog! at 8 PM.  Free admission, a great DJ-Jeffrey McCloy-and videos. Hope to see you there!

Day-time In-Stores:
NEPTOON MAIN STREET @ 1 -1:45 PM
REDCAT HASTINGS 2:15-3 PM
MUSIC MADHOUSE BURNABY 3:30 -4:15 PM

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ZellotsCover3jpgCiTR

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Hello Dad?

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It appears there might be some progress on the paternity search! My cousin Amy, the genealogist found my 1st cousin Valerie through GedMatch. We have my father narrowed down to one of two brothers. I’m not going to name names until we receive the results of a DNA test my potential half-sister is taking. Said brothers live in Ontario but are from New Brunswick where I was born. Valerie’s origins were nearly as obscured as mine but her adopted mother revealed her father’s name. I never had a name.

In any case, I am a Scot! Ironic that my Ukrainian alleged father gave me a Scottish name. Mom wanted to call me Debbie. So I’m cautiously optimistic and pinching myself, can’t believe this is happening! I had given up hope of ever finding my kin. Our kin, mine and my son’s.  It will be interesting to see what develops.

 

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Open Call! 6th CYCLOP International Poetry Film Contest

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I’ve been out of the videopoetry, poetry film loop since stepping down as Artistic Director of the Visible Verse Festival in 2015 but will be serving on the international jury of the CYCLOP coming up in November. Here’s the lowdown:

Submissions are now open for the 6th CYCLOP International Poetry Film Contest. The deadline for submissions is September 30, and the screening will be during the 6th CYCLOP Poetry Film Festival, which will be held on November 25-26, 2017 in Kyiv.

6TH CYCLOP INTERNATIONAL POETRY FILM CONTEST | ENTRY FORM!

6th CYCLOP International Poetry Film Contest

1 August — 30 September 2017

Rules and regulations:

Films of up to 10 minutes duration that are no more than two years old (January 2015) may be entered.

There are no limitation about subject and language restrictions. All films that are not in English must have English subtitles. Each application must also contain the text of the verse in English.

Video can be performed in any techniques using any necessary equipment (video, animation, flash etc).

Each video should be placed on the Youtube channel in free access.

By sending your film, you confirm that the film may be shown at the CYCLOP Poetry Film Festival. The artist must have all property and screening rights.

Each artist can’t send more than two videos.

All videos must be sent with the following characteristics:
File format: .MOV or .AVI.
Standard: PAL. Codec: H264.
Resolution: HD — 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 (16:9) / SD — 640 x 480 (4:3) or 640 x 360 (16:9)

Terms of the contest:
Acceptance of applications — from August 1 to September 30
Scoring — from October 2 to October 15 (remotely)
Longlist announcement — November 1
Screening the best videos — November 25/26 (during the festival)
Announcement of the winners — November 26

Contact information
Email for questions and suggestions: info@cyclop.in.ua
Website: cyclop.in.ua | Facebook Page: facebook.com/CYCLOP.in.ua

 

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Happy Pride Week & My gay uncle

 

Happy Pride Y’all! I’m queer, don’t exactly wear it on my sleeve, much like my beloved Uncle Doug whom I am very proud of because he did out himself in spite of growing up Catholic in small town Quebec in the 50s. Both my mother Corona’s brothers were tall and handsome and very “sharp” dressers. Doug was the younger and fair. I think my son inherited those ears! He was very kind and loving, smart and funny. I miss him.

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Girls With Guitars-ZELLOTS Record Release Party!

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All right! We have a date; Sat, Sept 23. I’m working with Jason Flower of Supreme Echo on promotion though he’s already lined up several interviews and record store appearances. Also, after much intensive scouting and thanks to DJ Jeffrey McCloy we’ve found a skookum venue, What’s Up? Hot Dog! on Hastings in East Van.

Girls with Guitars         ZELLOTS Record Release Party!

Come celebrate with the Zellots, fans and Supreme Echo who have just released the never-before-heard and complete recordings of the all female Vancouver punk rock sensation the Zellots, with Heather Haley (vocals), Christine deVeber (guitar), Jane Colligan (bass), and Conny Knowe (drums). Modernettes member John ‘Jughead’ McAdams replaced their original drummer and is featured on the recording. Three incredibly catchy and memorable songs with a high level of musicianship and witty tongue in cheek lyrics sung by the phenomenal Heather Haley whom later formed the .45s (with Randy Rampage of DOA, Brad Kent of the Avengers and Karla Duplantier, ex-Controllers).

Do not fear the flexi ! This deluxe DMM mastered, silver label, custom round 7″ comes housed in a dye-cut paper dust sleeve with a thick closed-pocket cover and booklet! An important piece of herstory! Limited 525 copies.

Rare and collectible indeed! I hope you will join us.

 

 

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Fighting To Remain

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I wrote a darkly funny poem called How To Remain for my last collection Three Blocks West of Wonderland that was largely about how to preserve one’s body and thus life but lately it applies to our fight to remain in the city we love-and love to hate at times-Vancouver.

And oh how I love waking to the irritating and now familiar sound of suitcase spinner wheels rattling down the sidewalk. Thanks Air BnB. I harbour ambivalent feelings about this pervasisve sharing economy. Several friends use Air BnB to help pay their rent, and with Vancouver’s astronomical cost of living, who can blame them? But, of course, that makes it difficult for people to find places to live, people like my son and I. We lucked into this tiny, cockroach infested 1 bdrm after nearly a year of looking and Junior’s been trying to find an apartment for the past eight months. Craigslist is a wasteland so thanks to word-of-mouth he is now waiting for a family friend to move out so he can move into her place. Anyone who has lucked into affordable rents can’t afford to move as one is unlikely to find a better deal, if any deal at all. I’m desperately trying to get into a co-op, can’t see how I’ll be able to remain here in the long term any other way.

I recently took in friends Charles Wilksinson and Tina Schliesser’s documentary No Fixed Address which handily documents the crisis and is beautifully shot, by the way. Several things I took away; British Columbia’s main industry, which at one time variously used to be lumber, mining or fishing, is now condos. The problem is global, and, I’m determined to stay and fight. Why should I-or anyone- be forced out of our beloved home? But like one of the film’s subjects I find myself contemplating a move to Mexico. Despite my skepticism I can’t help but hope this new government will actually do something about the problem, specifically the fixed term lease loophole, the type of lease we felt we had no choice but to sign. I was even spurred to action, wrote my MLA. I received an automated response of course, let’s see if I get a real message or any action.

 

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