Category Archives: blog

Escaping the Big Smoke

Near Lillooet

Got to go on a road trip, one brief summer escape; drove up to 70 Mile House in the Cariboo to visit my previously estranged sister Donna. Despite my trepidation there was little to no awkwardness, as if nearly 20 years hadn’t passed. Well, we went through hell together, which creates an unbreakable bond. Both Donna and her partner Gord were kindly hospitable. She doted on us and he made several repairs to my vehicle. Also, escaped the Internet, caught up on some reading; relaxing.

Got my dog fix as well! Went on a walk along Watch and Green Lakes with sweet border collie Davis and my sister’s friend Sonja, owner of an  exuberant beagle/lab cross named Ridley; thrilled to hear the call of the loon,  the area dotted with wetlands. Donna carried an air horn, in case of bear encounters, though we weren’t exactly in the wilderness.

Enjoyed driving in wide open spaces! Visiting parts of the province I haven’t seen in a long time reminds me how epic this place is, how fortunate I am to live here. My new 2002 Camry performed well. I need to add oil more consistently, she got somewhat overheated in those mountain passes. We travelled Hwy 1 up and returned via the 99 south. Felt so good to get out of the Big Smoke. Lyle had another scooter stolen recently! Nothing to be done about it apparently, certainly not by the VPD. I will always love Vancouver but I don’t need to reside here. I’m a small town girl at heart. These days, all I want to do is get the hell out of the city, permanently. We’re discussing the possibility which might even become Plan A.

Poetics of Poetry Film

I was contacted recently by  Sarah Tremlett of Liberated Words out of London, UK regarding the forthcoming book, Poetics of Poetry Film published by Intellect Press. Me plus Whore in the Eddy, the videopoem I produced on Bowen Island with my son Lucas are to be featured. Nice to know I’m not entirely out of the loop. I had dealings with Sarah and her Liberated Words associate Lucy English when I was the Artistic Director of Visible Verse at the Cinematheque, of which they were big boosters. As I told her, I’m counting the days until I semi-retire next spring-hopefully-and can get back to writing, perhaps even videopoetry.

The latest…from most fronts…

It was a huge relief to have the cast removed after six weeks. Any degree of debilitation is irritating so a fractured radius constituted a huge challenge to my finances and morale. I am grateful for the Internet and good friend Thesa Pakarnyk who kindly facilitated a GoFundMe to cover rent, bills and groceries while I was off work. I had applied for income assistance to no avail. Ignored for two weeks, when the ministry finally made contact I was given nothing but a series of hoops to jump through; sent in 20 documents and still they wanted more! I gave up in disgust.

My latest challenge is buying a new old car with a $2000 budget, financed by my dear son. The Volvo is on its last wheels; broken doors and a leaky sunroof. I’ve decided I will not drive out to Surrey to look at cars, no matter how long it takes to find a deal closer to home. So many scam artists on Craigslist!

Oh! And speaking of poetry, after years of searching for a home for Rattler, the 80s zine Peter Haskell and I published in Los Angeles, Simon Fraser University Library’s Special Collections has acquired it and are in the process of cataloguing. Oddly, no one in So Cal could see its value.

And lastly but not leastly my poems Houla and Birdwatching appear in the current issue of EVENT Poetry & Prose. Nice to be reminded that I am a poet. I hope to write verse again in the not-too-distant future. Might as well post them here:

HOULA

An infant is not a toy.
An infant cannot breathe underwater
Or fly though the air. Do not drape it
Over the prone man’s head

Or dress it up like a doll.
Journalists view the grisly scene.
Post. Share. Tweet.
UN observers abort,

Prominent commentators punt.
But the drunken skipper acts,
Ordering clean sheets and neat rows
Down below in the hold.

Rogue unidentified man
Hoists the limp boy
Aloft.
Let’s not quibble.

It matters not if the child
Is southern or northern,
Whined or knew pride.
It is as good as dead.

Crooked passages.
Limping messengers.
Frantic, dog-chasing-tail orbits.
A million ships cannot transport us.

BIRD WATCHING

 Binoculars resting on the sill

Blackly inveigle us to look.

The luxury of observation,

Rackety silk.

Cotton sheets abuzz,

I sleep with a mad bomber

In a bed too narrow

To contain explosives.

Eroding acres encroach

Shores of receding flesh.

Grip off, I watch

 

Elfin hummers amok,

Flap-happy mallards

Swarm a blustery afternoon.

I recall bionic gunrunners, East Van,

First day back from gangster land.

Recoiling at the forecast I’d fled,

Cramped in a compact car,

A woman piloting the wife at last.

Blindfolded against his scrutiny,

Foiling implicit shame, I skirted

Roadblocks, sculpted my spine

Straight, forced it

To withstand gales. Tolls.

 

Lousy steward, I drop

The argillite raven,

Gleaming abalone eyes divided.

I slap my back with hot plasters

So it might bend when necessary.

Fit inside. Repair.

When will listening

Reveal the shape? When

Will seeing decode the trick?

 

 

GROUNDED

Mangled my arm recently, which is why I finally have time to blog, albeit slowly, with one hand, the left. Suddenly I’m a southpaw and stranded since I can’t drive either. Survived a long winter of cold and flu viruses, snow days, then, bam! Only thought I was in the clear. Freak accident. I was sitting on the floor, leaning on a folding chair when it suddenly collapsed, crushing my forearm. Ouch! It’s the same radius I broke in a horrific car crash as a teenager. Surgery was required again, this time to remove the metal pin used to set it way back when and replace it with lighter, stainless steel hardware. I got an upgrade! I’ve been in a lot of pain and off work for a minimum of 6-8 weeks according to my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank. Being self-employed I am not eligible for EI or such benefits. I’m currently subsisting on meager savings which will run out soon. Dear friend Thesa is kindly setting up a GoFundMe campaign. There is hope. There is always hope.

And wings. Flight.  I am grateful to my fellow avian afficionados across the street that hang both songbird and hummingbird feeders. Once again I have a use for my binoculars. Such a lovely distraction.

I Am A Quitter

I used to smoke. A lot. Though it took at least three major attempts I finally succeeded in breaking up with cigarettes. Nicotine has to be one of the most insidious addictions! Don’t quit quitting, I always say, eventually it will stick. I’m celebrating nearly 25 smoke-free years!

Happy Anniversary! One year since our Ferguson (Re)Union

 

We are celebrating! As I related in my blog, on November 13 Kelly received long-awaited results of her DNA test proving we are half-sisters. I have three other sisters Cindy, Tricia and Janet, 13 nieces and nephews and numerous clan members. Many thanks to cousin Amy Newman, whose genealogical expertise put me in touch with first cousin Valerie and then everyone else. Sadly my father Bob Ferguson died mere weeks before my son and I were scheduled to fly out to Toronto to meet him. Still, I am grateful to have finally solved the mystery and found our kin who are unerringly kind and warm and fun to be with. I began to think it might never happen.  We are happily getting to know each other and establishing relationships.

ISLAND BOY

Photo by Gabor Gasztonyi

Our island boy is now a smart, handsome talented young man, an urban dweller and turning 24 today. Being a millennial, he’s also a digital native, Internet and media savvy, so much so he’s earning a living via his YouTube channel RAYCEVICK.

Being Asperger’s, Junior is a loner, content in his lair/studio producing videos for 300,00 plus subscribers. He is very exacting and does it all; writing, editing,voice-overs. There was a time when we were certain he would become a golf pro-people swooned over his natural swing- but he lost interest, or perhaps hope at puberty, which has a way of colliding with one’s dreams, of putting reality into harsh relief. But, surrounded by poets, musicians and artists from a tender age, Lucas learned to create content by osmosis, teaching himself to edit video and launching his first YouTube channel at age ten. Happy Birthday my son, you truly are a blessing.

ISLAND BOY

Is it cold enough for hot chocolate?
Yes. We’re baking cookies. Come and help.

The kid that insists on blueberry candy canes
would rather drive through virtual streets of San Francisco

or James Bond jet-pack over snow drifts
than join us in the kitchen.

Takes no heed of time until the sun
sets on his screen. He has heat. Love. Pockets

of pizza. All the bare necessities. He is beyond
baking, toy aprons or pretending

to wash the dishes, toddler hands lost
inside flock-lined rubber gloves.

Helmeted in his racing seat
before the steering wheel our boy laughs

at vintage Looney Tunes, unaware
their blackface is racist, Porky Pig’s stuttering

politically incorrect. Where will he find ferocity
knowing nothing but Disney warfare?

Molokai, lost in time island where he refused
snorkeling, even to wet his head. He will jump

on a trampoline, will not punch a bag.
Kick the can. Form a fist.

He will sink a 32-foot putt
but can he take a hit? No worries.

He’s happy biding island time, its moat
foiling the bears, bores, kindergarten foes.

My Favourite Agitator; RIP Randall Desmond Archibald AKA Randy Rampage

Photo: bev davies

Randy means so much to me. We were in a band, the short-lived, ill fated 45s, which I chose to believe was about vinyl, not firearms.  Few life experiences are more bonding than writing songs and performing together. I met him at a time in my life when I was fumbling, uncertain. NO FUTURE after all. He provided direction and made me feel like I could do anything, by example, through sheer exuberance, and with kind and encouraging words. I marvelled at his unparalleled self-assuredness. Certainly he could do anything! And did. His confidence and sense of purpose were infectious and for that I am eternally grateful. It was a privilege knowing Randy and Randy will remain an inspiration. Always.

More photos here.

Happy Throwback Thursday-Sean Cranbury speech

With absolutely no time or the wherewithal to write I’m going back in time today, to 2012 when I was awarded a Pandora’s Collective Literary Award presented by the inimitable Sean Cranbury, a precious memory indeed.

“As the recipient of the same award in 2011, I presented the 2012 Pandora’s Collective Literary Organizer/Promoter Award Presenting Speech to Heather Haley.
Heather Haley is old school in the very finest sense. She embraces a vigorous DIY spirit in all the work that she does. Whether that’s recording music and touring the coast in seminal Vancouver punk bands like the .45’s and Heather Haley and the Zellots, through publishing her poetry with independent presses like Anvil Press and Ekstasis Editions, creating indie music videos, or organizing literary and cinematic events that even after twenty years still seem to be ahead of their/our time.

Heather embraces multimedia and technology as valuable vehicles for ideas, energy, poetry and beauty. And it’s not a selfish pursuit, it’s the work and vision of someone who cares deeply about her community and wants to experience and support the creative work of others.

Heather doesn’t wait for permission to create the space necessary for artists and writers to work but simply does it because – I believe – that her instincts compel her to act. Because it would be impossible for her not to act, not to bring her vision into reality.
She is an innovative cultural programmer with a strongly held conviction that artists, especially poets, should be represented on the World Wide Web. Heather founded The Edgewise Café in 1994, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines, along with the non-profit arts organization, the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre. The EEC facilitated the Vancouver Videopoem Festival and Telepoetics, a videoconferenced reading series founded by Merilene Murphy. The Edgewise ElectroLit Centre’s populist mandate and innovative programs effectively made poetry accessible to all and assisted Canadian artists in expanding both their audience and potential. Since 2004, Haley has been the host and curator of the Visible Verse Festival, North America’s sustaining venue for the presentation of new and artistically significant poetry film and video.

As a literary event programmer myself I look at Heather’s track record with no small amount of wonder. Her work confirms for me something that I think about all the time – that if we want to build great things like literary culture or communities, then we need to get off our asses and respond to the creative instincts that tell us: “DO THE WORK. JUST FRICKING DO IT.”

The DIY spirit that I admire in Heather is based on ACTION, on DOING THE WORK.
(We are among that spirit here tonight.) Creating a better world to live in by helping artists and writers to share their work locally and around the world.

It is my honour to present the 2012 Pandora’s Collective Literary Organizer/Promoter Award to Heather Haley.”

 

Hanging in. On.

Can’t seem to wrap my mind around writing anymore. At all. Can’t seem to get any music off the ground either. I always reassure friends with “fallow doesn’t mean finished.” Should take my own advice, but my lack of focus is dismaying. Too much work! Drudgery. Too many financial woes. Worries.

I don’t feel like myself sans a creative outlet. Still, I’ve had a lively 2018 thus far. I get bogged down, can’t see beyond the banalities of every day life sometimes. I flew out to Toronto with my son to meet our long lost kin, the Fergusons, enjoyed a fabulous birthday celebration and read at the Dead Poets Reading Series, sang with SLOW and just returned from a wonderful northern BC jaunt in Smithers, BC. I will count my blessings, soldier on. Rock on.