All posts by Heather Haley


Photo: Peter Haskell

“We will soar, for we are armed
knowing where the lies land us.”

My son and I recently visited New York and the 9/11 memorial, which was equally eerie and moving.  Though effectively a tourist attraction, it was beautiful, evocative and respectful of the souls lost. I wrote the poem below a couple of years after that terrible event.

I still love flying. How human is that, to continue to take risk in the face of tragedy and despite fear? Courage or folly? Both?


Before you-know-what, you-know-when,
I flew in an airplane. I won’t say what.
Or when. People are sick from it.
NASDAQ crashed. Family plan with it.

I remained on the upswing. Going somewhere.
Chicago specifically, e-poets’ geo-conference.
I am digerati. A doyenne of new media culture.
Still, airport security confiscates my apple.

My orange. Half my dinner. They take nothing
from the hinky, hacky-sacking Travis Bickle
doppelgänger who must pose more of a threat,
though that’s like comparing potheads to divas.

Pick up my e-ticket. Wait with the other sulky,
wannabe passengers, SeaTac muggy as a laundromat,
air fouled with KFC. Machines vend to the grounded.
Concrete pillars tremble in the wake of each landing.

Since this is before you-know-what, I don’t assume
a 747 will take out the Space Needle or land
right through us. I don’t equate ‘jet’ with ‘bomb.’
I need only worry about the quake. The Big One

Vancouver and Seattle—sitting queenly
upon the Juan de Fuca fault line—are overdue for.
I am anticipating flight, savouring my thrills,
bumpy joyrides, like motherhood.

Junior calls. Yes dear, Mommy will be home soon.
Before the split, his father cautioned us:
Mercury in our mouths. Vaccines.
Population control. Microwaves.
A conspiracy of urologists.
Fluoride. Fallout. Wheat.

He has found a healer. Can he be cured?
We all know I’m doomed to be infected.
I’m the one who will eat tainted salmon
at the barbeque, the one with stretch marks

and eyes closed in the photographs. The one
who defected, the one who didn’t want
what he wanted, sixteen hours on a film set,
baby languishing with a sitter.

He gets on the phone. Another forecast.
I dreamed you died in a plane crash. I saw you
flailing about in the ocean with your books.
Oh stop polluting my trip with your Eeyore pooh.

I am part of a feminist plot against fathers,
and it was a controlled explosion
set off by the U.S. government.
Suddenly he is solvent, taking me to court,
re-staking his claim to our precious cargo,
crusading to save his son from the new world order.

I board. Window seat. Always, despite dire warnings.
Junior likes to compare the people to ants.
Houses are Lego, mountains, papier mâché.
We land. Kurt appears in the flesh, our virtual rapport
downloaded to O’Hara minus the time-outs and errors.

I feel at home in Chicago, loose in its Loop, towers,
Art Institute. Go to live in Chagall’s epic blue
glass dream for a day, emerge bestowed with wings,
like all his lovers and madonnas.

I have not flown since you-know-what,
you-know-when. We are saddled with dread
after witnessing steel crumple like tin.
It is safe to grieve. Cockpits secured.
Air marshals on board. We will fly again,
prepared to take down any motherfucker
who thinks he’s going to hijack anyone.

We will soar, for we are armed
knowing where the lies land us.


As my heart breaks, I send love and best wishes to friends and family in affected areas and a work in progress from my forthcoming collection. Not much solace sorry, just truth telling.


Supercharged ambiguity, uncertainty
in overdrive, the opacity of an interminable
summer of corrosive fumes obscures
culpability as we mince toward oblivion.

Hurly Burly Commerce Fair
and haggling traditions continue,
the haze’s origin indistinct from cause,
human error upon human error,

extinguishing efforts wasted
on an alleged civilization
barrelling toward its expiration date,
beyond band aids of sea walls,

green treaties and carbon taxes,
our boreal forest so vast
we burn instead of cut.
Arsonists at heart,

we rely upon smoke screens
to keep the status quo
propped up against
the altar of human industry.

Language in my Blood, language in my Bones

Apparently, I’m a throwback. Shared this with my long-lost sisters. Now I can tell those who ask where I acquired my bent for writing; my DNA! Brushing up on Scottish history, I found reference to Robert Fergusson, the poet.

I only discovered five years ago that I’m a Ferguson and descended from a long line of Robert Fergusons, also the name of my biological father. This Robert Fergusson was an “18th century poet who despite his short life is widely considered to have provided inspiration to the Scottish Enlightenment and for having influenced the likes of Robert Burns and Allan Ramsay.” I will look for him when I get to Edinburgh. And he was quite the bohemian. “Fergusson involved himself in Edinburgh’s social and artistic circles mixing with musicians, actors, artists and booksellers who were also publishers.” Sounds familiar.


Ferocious as I am elegant
I did not ask for this
protracted neck, pale plumage,

penchant for the pond.
I may appear to be gliding
but my palmate feet paddle.

Neither did I ask to be a versifier,
foolishly speaking
in the voice of a swan.


We did not ask for this fate.
Who in their right mind would,
the gift of life bestowed without consent.

Born with words in my mouth,
put there by some outer force,
whether I believe in divinity or not.

And what does it matter, my faith?
I can identify with a waterfowl
or the Virgin Mary for all anyone cares.

Blame it on nature.
Biology. Tribe vibe perhaps:
Yeats, Baudelaire and Burns.

The words burst forth,
language in my blood,
language in my bones.






Crime Was Never Truer…

I had the privilege of visiting my best friend in New York City recently. A year younger, Cathy was my sisters’ classmate and came over to our house one day after school. We smoked pot, blasted tunes and danced. We clicked, and have engaged in a strong bond ever since. We were 15 and 16.

That summer we decided to hit the road and spent two months hitchhiking all over BC. Got as far north as Prince Rupert, where the sun remained high in the sky until 10:30 at night. We were extremely resourceful.

Is there any better way to survive in this world than to be oblivious? I swear that’s how I got through myriad misadventures and a long, misspent youth. Child murderer? What drought? Night Stalker who? Crack epidemic, where?

Screwed up I know but I was in my own world. And lived to tell the tale of my trials and tribulations, things like sexual assault, addiction and a toxic marriage though my poetry and novel, The Town Slut’s Daughter.


 Crime was never truer.

Vaguely aware

though thoroughly unconcerned,

fresh meat risk takers

roamed BC highways

for two prolonged teenage months.


With haplessness and gall

we made it all the way to Prince Rupert,

partying enhanced by lingering dusks

and belated sun downs.


What saved us

from casual misogyny

and monstrous vanities?

We had no protection.

No knives or mace.


We were tall, clever, formidable.

I was angry, seeking revenge,

a raging Amazon bent on freedom,

bent on compensation for years

served in a prison of a childhood.


What saved us

before crime was trendy?

What saved us

from the jealous girlfriend

brandishing a switchblade?

What saved us from the stalker’s

pursuit of the youthfully new?


By that summer I excelled

at sensing danger,

deciphering contorted twists of intent,

trained eyes appraising drivers

while combing the periphery.


Because Murder Is Wrong…

Been a while, thought I should come up with a blog entry, such as it is; my blog I mean.

Recently had my meagre pension clawed back, which came as quite a shock. Apparently I’m not impoverished enough. As little as I earned last year I still owed CRA money. I will consult with an accountant next time.

There is a push for UBI in Canada and as I told a friend, it’s in the proposal stage, will likely not make it to ‘the ballot.’ UBI is unfortunately and still too radical a concept. And I sill can’t abide the puritanism and punitive approach to social ills, suspect that ultimately it would save money, along with lives. Is it even possible to tally the cost of impoverishment, drug addiction and mental illness? While trillions of tax dollars and private funds are spent on the military and flying to fucking Mars. Our priorities are skewed.

On the artist front, I’m in a quandary regarding my manuscript. I despise it. And or, dread it. I should be working on my fourth collection of poetry, working title, “Ask Alexa” and was on a roll at the beginning of the pandemic, penning about 90 poems but my output, slowed to a trickle then nothing for the past six months. *sigh* Just life. Sidetracked by life: some bad, mostly good. Along with work, obligations, etc. I keep a journal and it’s all subject matter but I never feel like myself until I ‘get it back;’ my writing practice. Composing is the greatest challenge.

In the meantime, I am creating some unique songs with Pluviophiles partner Keir Nicoll. Despite myriad setbacks we persist and now have a solid set of material. Think I’m even  feeling confident enough to perform at a party next month and go on a little road trip to the Cariboo, play Williams Lake. Woo hoo! Love road trips. This is dedicated to we working class heroes.


Find a way
to find work.
Find a way

to get through work.
Find a way out
of dispiriting work
yet find a way to pay the bills.

Find a way out
of the trap
while finding a way
to eliminate dirt, please the client.

Good trick.
Become the client’s own personal wiccan
working magic, erasing her troubles.

No more mess, no more misery.
You’re welcome.
Hope it occurs to the client
that a tip would be lovely.

My tunes, tools as vital as mop
and broom, tunes blasting,
belted out between scrubs.
I will survive!

Plots and schemes
abet a roiling mind,
wrest me from my genes,
lift me from my knees,

out of the hearth, beyond grime,
scrapes, lingering anger,
last night’s wrangle.
Screw Prince Charming,

I want to be alone. Find a way.
Find a home, use these sapped hands
to tidy my own house. Be me,
a professional human. Full time.



“I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes.” And Modes.

There was a period in my life when I felt like an utter failure. Like so many others I’d migrated to Los Angeles with every intention of being a star. A rock star. That’s how naïve I was. I tried, got tantalizingly close to the fabled brass ring but not close enough. I fell into a downward spiral of drug abuse and toxic marriage. I regretted not possessing the required killer instinct, the inability to hustle. To succeed.

I did emerge, miraculously intact and entered into a new mode; fully engaged as a cultural worker, coordinating events and plugged into a vibrant arts community. I came home. I had a baby. I published my first book. I may not have had much of an interior life but was heartened to learn that my creative life wasn’t over, that I’m capable of reinvention, of putting things-including my struggles and disappointments-into perspective.

These days I’m just as ambitious but armed with the knowledge I possess the ability to adapt, even transcend. And grateful to have lived to tell the tale in one of my books, The Town Slut’s Daughter.


The Life Force…

Lily Seika Jones

Someone made a meme with this artwork by Lily Seika Jones, had to share.

As a woman, brought up to always be ‘nice,’ I bear in mind that every creature on this planet, no matter how tiny is equally fierce; entitled to, and WILL fight to the death when necessary. The life force?

Which brings to mind this song, one of my Zellots songs from the past that Keir and I as The Pluviophiles have resurrected.


Some life is invisible
Some life is hard to see
Some life is so tiny
She cries, “Don’t tread on me”

Life by life
Year by year
Kill by kill
Sea by sea
The light is coming

The lighthouse keeper is just a little girl
She sees every life to the bottom of the sea
The keeper of the light is just a little girl
She saves every life, far as the eye can see

Some life is invisible
Some life is hard to see
Some life sows forever
At the bottom of the sea

Happy Year of the Rabbit!


“If I’d been the Virgin Mary I would have said No.”-Stevie Smith.

A pretty good year, aside from a certain amount of stress and chaos. I got to go on a long overdue book launch celebration tour of “Skookum Raven,” visiting long lost friends along the way; Victoria, Salt Spring Island, Winnipeg, Bowen Island and the Cariboo. Each event was like a reunion. Even sold some books!

Partner-in-musical crime Keir Nicoll and I made our Pluviophiles debut in May at Massey Arts and recorded a bare bones demo with pal Jesse Waldman in June. Our tunes are available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and the others. We’re working hard to nail down a set and will seek gigs and festival appearances in 2023. I love our material! And it feels so good to be singing and writing songs again. It saves my sanity, nourishes my soul.

Gawd I despise Old Man Winter. We’re all enduring a long, bitterly cold December with record shattering temperatures and a lingering arctic front/air mass which has evolved into “king tides” and flooding in Vancouver. I feel reluctant to emerge from hibernation but we are reminded of those pesky obligations and resolutions with each approaching new year.

I was exhausted after two days of shopping, cooking and cleaning but enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Eve. Zoomed a visit with our Ferguson kin in Ontario. I wasn’t thrilled with my efforts; cheesecake cracked; stew took too long in the slow cooker. Ha! I forgot to add the green peas, dammit. Didn’t particularly like the new salad recipe and I had knocked over the juice for the dressing. Ugh. Menu too ambitious. Next time I will stick with the tried and true. I wanted a traditional turkey dinner but the snow storm and ensuing daunting logistics kiboshed that plan. Kids didn’t notice, far as I could tell. Lucas and Ayana ate everything up and drank their wine.

Hauled out some old photos for a trip down Memory Lane. It’s weird watching my autistic son being affectionate with a woman. I’m not used to PDAs. I liked her. She’s beautiful. Charming. Asked if I danced? “Lucas doesn’t know how to dance.” They were cute together. Good natured banter and teasing. Happy together. I hope it will last.

Christmas day I read,  binged on leftovers-cheesecake impossible to ignore-and movies; American Splendor, Glass Onion/Knives Out, Lost In Translation and Home Alone. Apropos I suppose. Got weepy. Christmas conjures up melancholia/my inner Mick.

I’m enclosing my Christmas poem; well, it’s more an ode to the Virgin of Guadalupe, written while visiting the Yucatan one year.


Enchanted morning swim, matrix of turquoise
lagoon. Silver palometas, yellow damselfish
caress my legs. Casa Ocio walls whitewashed
in cactus milk. Coconuts on the lawn.
Palm fronds bowing, rippling like sea anemones.
Heavy mahogany Hemingway digs.
Gecko chirps from behind a gilt frame.
Cool terrazzo marble pulls sand from toes.
Double rain showerhead. Full throttle bottle bar
under a palapa. I ponder the power
of local masonry to withstand hurricanes,
why it seems odd to name them after men.

Beneath an arbor of pink bougainvillea
sit my dubious nephew, delicate girlfriend,
doubts sinking slowly into the deep
purple cushions. We are going to town. To Playa.
Soft brown doves adorn neon.
Turtles bask on green tile mosaic. Red house
hosts a party tableau of orange Fanta, blue corn
flowers, flags of paper lace, chocolate pan de huevos.
We smell agave, chili, vanilla, coriander and anise,
hear mariachis blaze a mighty La Bamba. Gobble
pumpkin tamales, snow-white beach cooling our heels.
Mongrels expire at the feet of professional urchins
soliciting pesos. I will not cry, select a white handkerchief
festooned with poinsettias embroidered by his mother.
No, I can’t buy them all. Though downcast he will not cry.
Our Lady of Guadalupe provides. Protects.

Christmastime but it’s Mary I see. Everywhere. To the faithful
the forever virgin manifests in reefs, rays and schools
of gobies and fairy basslet. In the crystalline water
of a cenote near Merida. In the mynah’s cry.
They live in Mother Mary’s shadow, warm as her embrace.
Queen of the Americas imperial as the iguana
gnawing hibiscus, sunning atop Tulum’s serpentine stairways.
She is wing carved into rock, three pelicans soaring above.

Even Mary, standing on the moon, presiding over the jungle
in a cloak of stars, could not stop the calendar,
marauding anthropologists or games to the death.
On every altar she towers over the crucifix, candles,
iron crosses, golden grapes. She is under their skin,
her miraculous portrait inked onto their muscles.
Hammered in copper, in tin. On murals.
Santa Maria assures and comforts all
her Mexican children. Heals. Entirely and ever
Virgin Mary is the horizon, sea and sky colliding
in azure, cobalt blues. Sacred to all. Taxi drivers.
Marimba players. Deejays and charros. She waves
from the cruise ships, watches over fire dancing,
blesses the portrait of two young lovers lost
in a car crash. Her people feel the harbour of her arms
around them. Her mercy. Infinite. Close.
First comes Mary. Holy Mary. Mother of God.

ENTANGLED THREADS: A Canadian and an American chart videopoetry throughout their lives

 It’s been a wild ride! Presentation by Kurt Heintz and Heather Haley at the videpoetry symposium as part Tom Konyves’ Poets with a Video Camera exhibit at the Surrey Art Gallery, available to view until Dec 11, 1022.

1973-10 (October) – Kurt
It’s the homecoming game at my high school. I’m lucky enough to have access to a computer. My teacher runs statistics on the teams. I’m there because the computer is open. I wrote a program that is supposed to generate poetry. It does. It sucks. But it works.

1978-08 (August) – Kurt
I get my first computer, an Apple II. I write a paint program for it that ultimately digitizes video. I share the program with my college teacher. She shares it with her boyfriend, who then publishes a top-selling paint program for the Apple II. I question my teacher. She says my work is academic, and therefore outside copyright. Thus begins my adversarial relationship with the academy. The “video output” on my Apple II points me to television production, which I study and love.

1980-01 (January) – Heather
I was a singer/songwriter and front person of one of Vancouver’s first all-female punk bands, the Zellots, when I abandoned everything and moved to Los Angeles with absolutely no doubt of rock stardom. Ah, the hubris of youth.

1980-12 (December) Kurt
My final project in advanced television features a suite of performance art pieces. (albeit, undergraduate caliber) It’s titled “463: a television experiment,” the high point of my college years. The premiere party ends in depression, however, as news breaks during the show that John Lennon was murdered.

1980-1992 – Heather
Along with writing songs and fronting a band, I fully engaged in LA’s diverse and vibrant art and coffee house scenes while working for the LA Weekly and the Woman’s Building, a feminist gallery and mecca. An autodidact, I learned by doing about performing, writing, poetry, publishing, video, installation art, spoken word, performance art and collaboration, inspired by the city’s rampant pollination between genres and disciplines, exposed to and influenced by the likes of Judy Chicago, Jeff Isaak, Branda Miller, Johanna Went, Rachel Rosenthal, the Guerilla Girls, Gronk, Daniel J Martinez and Judy Baca.

1982 and later – Kurt
I’m a bench tech for Western Electric in the Chicago suburbs, but I join the Center for New Television, Chicago, where I attend workshops and video art screenings. I meet video artists such as Steina and Woody Vasulka, and Bill Viola. This is way better than art school. Cheaper, too. Video art is real. But any such video art with a voice resembling poetry is simply called “narrative.”

1982-1987 – Heather
With Peter Haskell, I edited and published the innovative and experimental poetry journal, Rattler, my first attempt at fusing text with image. It featured a parade of LA luminaries such as Linda Giurbino, Georganne Deen, Rocky Schenck, Jonathon Rosen, Kathi Norklun, Mark Mothersbaugh, Henry Rollins, Lydia Lunch, Exene Cervenka and Perry Farrell.

1984 – Heather
I met Doug Knott-Poet and Beyond Baroque/Lhasa Club impresario who would later produce videopoems and a cable show called POETRY TV. (4-DougKnott.png, unless there might be something more appropriate?) Also, the Olympic Arts Festival engendered an explosion of artistic expression. I believe its fallout had a direct impact on the city’s culture along with me and my fellow artists.

1986-01 (January) – Kurt
I discover Butchie’s Get Me High Lounge, Chicago, home to Marc Smith’s first weekly poetry open mic. At the time, we all call this “performance poetry.” Performance first, is our credo. When this gig moves to the Green Mill, I witness the creation of slam poetry and I receive a wild, bar-side education on creative writing. No video and few books, but lots of voice.

1987 – Heather
I bought my first computer, a Macintosh SE to run the office of the Ethical Pool, our recording studio in Silverlake.
What took you so long?-Kurt
I’m not a geek. Neither am I rich. 😉  -Heather

1990-12 (December) – Kurt 
I bought an S-VHS tape editing system the previous year. So I create video and perform poetry for On Division at Wholesome Roc Gallery. It’s about the dark side of gentrification and the rise of HIV. Susen James, a poet and a licensed nurse, draws a sample of my blood, which the audience sees in close-up over multiple monitors. I press the sealed, warm test tube against the cheeks of front-row guests and whisper in their ears, “What do you feel through the glass?”

1991 – Heather
I attended Telepoetry events at the Electronic Café, founded by-Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz-in Santa Monica, witnessed videophone linkups with Boston, New York, Phoenix and Paris.  I met poet and facilitator Merilene Murphy.

1991-06 (June) – Kurt
I am part of the Loofah Method, an ensemble that includes poet cin salach – one of Marc Smith’s circle – and musicians and filmmakers. I add the video component to salach’s live performance poetry. Patricia Smith and I are both fans of the Loofah Method. When we reminisce about them, we sing, “I’m your TV…”

1991-08 (August) – Kurt
I work with Quraysh Ali Lansana and Larry Winfield at the Guild Complex in Chicago to present the Guild’s first Poetry Video Festival. We show videos to an audience at a nightclub called The Hothouse. The audience loves it. Larry made his video with his Radio Shack TRS-80 computer. We’re definitely not “bi-coastal.”

1992-93 – Heather
I was introduced to the Internet, or, the World Wide Web, by friends and associates and learned HTML.

1992-09 (September) – Kurt
The Guild’s Poetry Video Festival features Bob Holman, who has also become part of Marc Smith’s circle (then). This is a lot more curated. Open calls bring us jewels and crap for submissions. Filtering them is a bitch.
Jean Howard, a poetry colleague of Marc Smith, brings me news of the Electronic Café International and Merilene Murphy. For next year’s Festival, we team with the Center for New Television and Merilene hosts a poetry workshop for us by videophone, from Los Angeles.

1992-12 (December) – Kurt
I connect with the San Francisco Poetry Film Festival, and discover a (then) 17-year history of poetry and cinema there. I hold my own, scoring prizes for two of my videos.

1993-94 – Heather (Edgewise ElectroLit Centre)
The Art of Connecting People. Awarded an Explorations grant by the Canada Council for the Arts, I founded the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre in Vancouver with a mandate of employing technology, (the Internet and ‘new media’ to) advance the work of poets and artists.
We procured Netscape, set up a web site and having been raised with television/moving images, working with video came naturally, as I employed a camera to document events, produce Telepoetics linkups and videopoems.
Video’s history of experimentation is a fundamental aspect of the medium and its populist nature appeals to me. Accessibility and affordability are important considerations as well and as Robert Graves said, “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”
Some participants included: Robert Bringhurst, Evelyn Lau, Sheri-D Wilson, Gregory Scofield, Larissa Lai, Roger Blenman, Adeena Karasick, Lillian Allen, Kate Braid, Wayde Compton, bill bissett, Terrie Hamazaki, Jen Lam, Bud Osborne, Phinder Dulai, Marilyn Dumont, Billeh Nickerson, Patricia Smith and Henry Mah.

1993-01 (January) – Kurt
I make more poetry videos with Lisa Buscani, a member of the Neo-Futurists, and again with cin salach. The Loofah Method performances with salach are now in Live Bait Theater, not some soundstage but a real theater with a real reputation. Theater critic Hedy Weiss refuses to review us, however, since our poetry, “has no conflict and therefore no drama.” Baloney.

1993-08 (August) – Kurt (Merilene Murphy)
The American Film Institute, L.A., awards me a prize for a poetry video that I had to enter in AFI’s music video category for Sony/Visions of US. AFI didn’t recognize poetry video, so music video was the next best category. Merilene Murphy attends the reception. Wow! After so many voice and video calls, I finally meet her in person. By the way, I came in second place to a group of LA rappers dressed as cowboys. They really did music. The late Bob Saget gave out the awards.

1994-08 (August) – Heather (L.A. Times article on Telepoetics)
First Edgewise ElectroLit Centre event; Telepoetics link up with Los Angeles at the Western Front in Vancouver. The EEC spawned three major programs: the Edgewise Café, one of Canada’s first online multimedia magazines, Telepoetics and the Vancouver Videopoem Festival, which evolved into Visible Verse at Pacific Cinematheque.

1995-02 (Feb)– Heather (Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet)
I saw Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet, considered to be a “visual poem.” Made in 1932 I think of Cocteau as the first poet with a camera, at least that I’m aware of. Surely, he melded word and image like no other. Intrigued, I researched and became aware of the works of Maya Deren, George Aquilar, Jill Battson, Herman Berlandt and others.

1995-04 (Apr) – Heather
Verse volley with Kurt Heintz and Chicago’s U-Lab, a crucial facilitator and partner in the Telepoetics network which included far flung sites in Toronto, Calgary, San Francisco, Montreal, San Antonio, Alert Bay and New York. Kurt and I collaborated in virtuality for six or seven years before meeting in person.

1996-09 (September) – Kurt (Quraysh Ali Lansana’s poetry video Passage)
WTTW/Chicago (PBS) gives me the Bob Award, usually reserved for video art, but in my case for a poetry video with Quraysh Ali Lansana, Passage. Poetry video is real at last, in Chicago.

1997-04 (April) – Kurt (Anaïs Nin in Bells of Atlantis)
I attend a conference at SUNY/Buffalo and hear William Wees (McGill Univ.) speak about poetry video. He presents a reel with some ancient clips, one by Anaïs Nin called Bells of Atlantis, which is older than I am. I’m impressed. Jill Battson and I dish this, and I travel back to Toronto with her.

1999-02 (February) – Kurt
In a video link-up from the Neo-Futurarium, I join Heather for “Love and Lust in North America,” on a Valentine’s tangent. Totally breaking the fourth wall, a Vancouver poet flirts with one of the Chicago audience members.

1999-05 (May) – Kurt
I join Heather in a videophone link-up between Vancouver and Chicago poetry students: high school students. My kids are with Young Chicago Authors.
This is in the aftermath of the Columbine School shooting. Chicago kids complain about not being allowed to talk about Columbine in class, and of metal detectors as they enter their school. This leaves the Vancouver kids dumbfounded. Never has the difference between Americans and Canadians been so sharp for me.
(Sadly, the differences appear to be blurring.”-Heather)

1999-11 (November) – Heather  (Vancouver Videopoem Festival, 1999)
See Or Be Seen-launched the Vancouver Videopoem Festival, the first festival of its kind in Canada. From the program: “This hybrid genre has received scant attention despite being a creative field of growing interest for Canadian poets and artists since the 70s. Vancouver’s Edgewise ElectroLit Centre is hosting this inaugural event wherein the most innovative treatments are explored and presented. Work from Canada and beyond will give local audiences a survey of the accomplishments in videopoetry for the past 20 years.”
(Vancouver Videopoem Festival, 2000)
When asked repeatedly to define videopoetry I answered, “A wedding of word and image.” The bottom line is language. We’re language artists and the emphasis in a videopoem is language, not personality. Language in all its guises, including text, voice, image and sound, their integration the greatest challenge. And this is the year I met Tom Konyves, of the Vehicule poets, an innovator who characterized the hybrid genre as “videopoetry.”

2000-03 (March) – Kurt (Radio Free Monterey, Betts, Jess)
I link from Chicago to Barbara Steinberg at Radio Free Monterey (California). Our video contributes to their RealVideo livestream. Chat lines handle Q&A traffic between Monterey and my home, where Tara Betts and Tyehimba Jess are the featured poets. If only we’d patented this. Our network design postulates what has since been used in distance learning. Barbara and I publish our “experiment” in Mantis 1: poetry and community, by Stanford University. (BTW: Jess wins a Pulitzer for poetry, for Olio, in 2017.) As humble as our live stream was, we can say now that our videopoetry has touched the stars.

2001-2012 – Heather (scenes from videopoems by Heather Haley)
Produced a series of videopoems, official selections at dozens of international film festivals. They may be found under mediapoet at VIMEO:
2002-2015 – Heather

See The Voice. Curated and hosted Visible Verse at Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver, at one point the longest running videopoetry festival in North America. (Yes, it’s safe to say I have invested significantly in this genre.)

FYI, both the Rattler and Edgewise ElectroLit Centre archives are housed at Simon Fraser Library’s Special Collection in Burnaby and open to the public. (EECArchve@SFULibrary.jpg)

History of a Genre

Whew! Life is a whirlwind. I mean, more than usual. I’m working against a deadline of Nov 5 where I will be presenting a talk with Kurt Heintz on videopoetry at a symposium organized by Tom Konyves, author of Videopoetry: A Manifesto. The three of us have been working in this compelling hybrid genre for many years, individually and collectively. As part of my research, I came across this list of Edgewise ElectroLit Centre events which serves as a time capsule.

The Edgewise ElectroLit Centre: A Chronology of Live Events:
• October 4, 1994: First link with Los Angeles.
• April 9, 1995: Verse volley with Chicago’s U-Lab.
• June 4, 1995: Telepoetics Salon with Camden, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Chicago.
• July 29,1995: Launch Party for the Edgewise OnLine and Telepoetics link with Calgary.
• August 15, 1995: Telepoetics reading live from the Glass Slipper with Toronto.
• September 24, 1995: Chicago and Vancouver journalists read poetry, live from their respective Press Clubs.
• October 22, 1995: Telepoetics from the Grind and Gallery help Toronto celebrate their annual Spoken Word Festival.
• November 19, 1995: Telepoetics from Bowen Island with San Francisco. Robert Bringhurst read.
• May 17, 1996: CU SeeMe link up with Brisbane, Australia from Edgewise Salon in Vancouver.
• June15-22, 1996: Telepoetics link with Los Angeles and Chicago from the Gastown Theatre.
• August 29, 1996: Telepoetics link with San Francisco, at the Edgewise Salon.
• February 16, 1997: Telepoetics Web Cafe’ Link Site: Los Angeles Features: Mercedes, Baines David Campbell, Kedrick James, Evelyn Lau.
• March 16, 1997: Telepoetics The Web Cafe’, Link Site: Calgary. Features: Sheri-D Wilson, Gregory Scofield, Cass King, Rick Keating
• April 20, 1997: Telepoetics Web Cafe’ Netcast: Over World Wide Web via The Web Cafe’. Features: Larissa Lai, Roger Blenman, J McLaughlin, Hilary Peach, Adeena Karasick, Mohammed Ahmed.
• May 24, 1997: Telepoetics The Western Front, Electronic Cabaret, (Part of the Body Electric Electronic Arts Festival at The Western Front Link Site: Chicago. Features: James P McAuliffe, Andrea Thompson.
• May 11-25, 1997: Telepoetics at The Web Cafe’. Link Site: Chicago
• July 29, 1997: Telepoetics @ The Web Cafe’ Link Site: Auburn, Washington. Features: Kate Braid, Wayde Compton, Kimberly Klaas, Jamie Reid, Justin McGrail.
• October 17, 1997: Edgewise Poetics Virgin Megastore Unplugged. (Part of Bravo Vancouver! The Vancouver Cultural Alliance’s celebration of the arts. Features: SR Duncan, James P. McAuliffe, MC Exu, J McLaughlin, Rob McGreggor, Cassandra Onyejikwe.
• October 26, 1997: Telepoetics @ The Web Cafe’, (Part of The Vancouver International Writer’s Festival’s 10th Anniversary) Link Site: Chicago. Features: bill bissett, Sheri-D Wilson, Jill Battson, Kazuko Shiraishi, Adeena Karasick.
• December 15, 1997: Telepoetics: She Words The Vancouver Press Club Link Site: San Francisco, Features: Abby Wenner, Terrie Hamazaki, Jen Lam, Hilary Peach, Christine Taylor.
• July 13, 1998: E-zine launch Vancouver Press Club, Features: Bud Osborne, Miranda Pearson, Jamie Reid, Phinder Dulai, Loranne Brown.
• January 30, 1999: First Nations Telepoetics from the Liliget Feasthouse. Link Site: Alert Bay. Features: Mahara Allbrett, Marilyn Dumont, Marie Annharte Baker, David Campbell.
• February 11, 1999: Love and Lust Telepoetics Style. Link site: Chicago. Features: Leanne Averbach, Billeh Nickerson, Mahara Allbrett.
• May 17, 18, 22, 29, 1999: Telepoetics from Video In. Link site: Chicago Features: Ana Bella,
Host Anna Wagner, Poet, Justin McMillan, Vanessa Engle. Tech: Vanessa Larouchelle, Dickson Chow.
• September 6, 1999: Labor Day Picnic & Lone Star Linkup. Link site: San Antonio, Texas. Live from Spanish Banks in Vancouver featuring Carmen Rodriquez, Susan Mullen and Verbomotorhead.
• October 2, 1999: EEC Web Site and Virtual Workshop Launch featuring readings by the Seven Sisters Writing Collective and our revamped site/zine.
• November 7, 1999: The Vancouver Videopoem Festival featuring works by Adeena Karasick, Tom Konyves, Zaffi Gousopolous, Jason da Silva, Jannie Edwards, Bob Sherrin, Jill Battson, Alyson Vishnovska and Annabelle Chvostek, Bud Osborn, bill bisset, Jason LeHeup, Kurt Heintz, Patricia Smith and others.
• January 19, 2000: Bravo Arts Channel and Book Television Linkup with Director Kurt Heintz from Atlanta, Georgia, and EEC Executive Director, Heather Haley.
• May 7, 2000: Telepoetics with Chicago Authors, hosted by Vanessa Larouchelle. Participants included Glen Sutherland, Mohammad_reza Mohseni, Katrina Lim, Gabrielle Martin, and Hayley Crittenden.
• Saturday, May 27, 2000: “TWO MOMENTS” Interactive Event as part of Asian Heritage Month: featuring Kyle Hawke, Jen Lam, and Henry Mah in Vancouver and Tetsuro Shigematsu in Montreal.
•Vancouver Videopoem Festival @ 1999-Video In
•VVF 2000 @ Pacific Cinematheque
• VVF 2001
• VVF2002