Category Archives: blog

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.


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.


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.


Snake, Rattle & Roll: Raising funds to finance the zine

Photo: Gary Leonard
Spoofing National Geographic

The Benefits. Wow. In addition to editing and publishing Peter Haskell and I produced myriad events in order to finance Rattler. We were fortunate to have the support of many esteemed Los Angeles poets, artists, performers and musicians: Choir Invisible, The Shrews, Lawndale, John Doe, Excene Cervenka, Minutemen, Dred Scott, Seditionaries, Henry Rollins, Cheri Gaulke, Marisela Norte, Doug Knott, Taquila Mockingbird, Perry Farrell, Jane Cantillon, Thea Other, Terry Dorn, Greg Burk, The Fiends, Vagina Dentata, Thelonius Monster, The Debbies, Sacred Antenna, Kathe Burkhart, De De Troit, Dave Alvin, Robin Carr, Chuck Dukowski, Louis Lista, Victor Noel, Christine Papalexis, Candye Kane, Carlos Guitarlos, OFF, Barry McBride, Aromatic Prawn Experience, Craig Lee, Louis Lista, Jane’s Addiction, Malocchio,  and naturally I pulled in my band, Heather Haley & the Zellots. That’s a lot of hats! And the possibilities, endless.


A Snake in the Grass: publishing ventures “Rattler” and “The Edgewise Cafe”


I lived and worked in Los Angeles for many years and along with Peter Haskell published Rattler. Four issues of the zine, from 1982-87 feature many prominent LA artists and writers including Henry Rollins, John Doe, Excene Cervenka, Lydia Lunch, Dave Alvin, Mark Mothersbaugh, Linda Giurbino, Michael Hyatt, Georganne Deen, Jeff Isaak, Doug Knott, Ed Colver, S.A. Griffin, Deborah F. Lawrence, Marisela Norte, Rocky Schenck, Michael Mollett, Victor Noel, Kathe Burkhard, Jonathan Rosen, Elena RyyannaKathi Norklun, Ewa Wojciak, Margaret Von Biesen, Lori Black, Greg Burk, Suzanne Gardner, Kari Lee Krome. I hope to find a home for Rattler, boxes currently stored in an attic on Bowen Island. I hope. Venturing over on Wednesday to retrieve them. (I think that’s where I put them? Gawd I hate moving.)

Later I founded the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre and we published The Edgewise Cafe, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines. This was the early 90s when a lack of bandwidth created a major challenge. Its archive is housed in Simon Fraser University Library’s Special Collection, along with the Edgewise videos and files. We also produced the Telepoetics reading series employing videophones and the Vancouver Videopoem Festival. Check out this list of events that included many outstanding Canadian poets:
• October 4, 1994: First Telepoetics link with Los Angeles: Alexandra Oliver, Jamie Reid, Neil Eustache, Sheri-D Wilson
• 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.
• 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: Lyle Neff, Gerry Gilbert
• 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 Heather Haley and Raquel Alvaro-Pacific Cinematheque
• VVF 2001 Raquel Alvaro
• VVF2002 Warren Dean Fulton



Running with SLOW

Photo: Bob Hanham

SLOW were in town recently for ten nights at the Penthouse, a concept as bold as their sound, stance. The shows were upstairs in, not exactly a secret space-warmed by neon glow-but certainly rarely used. I and others were invited to perform, a thrill for I admire this fabled group and was glad to get to know them a little. I was impressed not only with their talent and musicianship but each of them as individuals. Christian Thorvaldson, Ziggy Sigmund, Stephen Hamm and Terry Russell are friendly, enthusiastic stand-up guys and Thom (Thomas Anselmi) an exceptional band leader. Dennis Mills and I had one rehearsal and though a little hairy, pulled it off; he delivering a scintillating Success by Iggy Pop and I, a pithy little Pretenders tune, The Adultress, despite its heavy weight of irony.  In fact, we blew the roof off the Penthouse while providing an incredible cap to their run which Grant Lawrence summed up nicely in the Courier.

I never got to see them back in the day as I was living in Los Angeles but later Thom and I wound up residing there at the same time. Playing music together is a bonding experience but there was always less than six degrees separation between us and turns out, an easy rapport. We revel in discussing writing, performing and life in general. They’re currently, touring Eastern Canada, get out to see them. As the reports report, they’re better than ever.


All my Fabulous Friends: Gabor Gasztonyi, photographer, author, filmmaker, activist


I am privileged to run with wild pack of exceptional writers and artists and have known award-winning photographer Gabor Gasztonyi since 2011. I’m not sure who introduced us but as we’re Anvil Press stable mates, it might have been writer Dennis Bolen. In any case, I’m grateful to whomever as we hit it off and have been pals ever since. We share interests-like fishing-sensibilities, gossip and a wicked sense of humour. He bases his myriad operations from a studio/gallery in New Westminster and is currently featuring his favourite black and white portraits taken over a ten year period at the Plasket Gallery until the end of March.

Seriously intrepid despite being afflicted with polio as a child, Gabor is the author of gritty, unflinching and intimate A Room in the City. He plays wheelchair basketball, traveled to Africa last fall for Ethiopia National Immunization Days, working with Rotarians to eradicate polio, and to London’s  International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema in February where his documentary No Way Out was an official selection, nominated for several awards and won Best Editing.

Most importantly, he makes me laugh.

I admire him greatly.

Rock on Gabor!



Poets die, poetry persists…


…because we resurrect it. Well, nerds do. I will be reading Anne Wilkinson’s works at the Dead Poets Reading Series Sun, March 11 at the Vancouver Public Library at 3 PM.  Thanks to Kevin Spenst, Diane Tucker and all the organizers of the series.

“Anne Cochran Wilkinson (September 21, 1910 – May 10, 1961) was a Canadian poet. She was part of the modernist movement in Canadian poetry in the 1940s and 1950s, one of only a few prominent women poets of the time, along with Dorothy Livesay and P. K. Page.”

I had heard of Wilkinson but rediscovered her in the comprehensive, fascinating Poetry by Canadian Women anthology edited by Rosemary Sullivan (Oxford University Press, 1989). As I told a friend, it’s dangerous for me to enter a used book store. I invariably emerge only after having blown 50-100 buck on various volumes of verse. But, some days it’s required.

This is my favourite so far:

In June and Gentle Oven

In June and gentle oven
Summer kingdoms simmer
As they come
And through flower and leaf and love
Their sweetest juice.

No wind at all
On the wide green world
Where fields go stroll-
ing by
And in and out
An adder of a stream
Parts the daisies
On a small Ontario farm.

And where, in the curve of meadow,
Lovers, touching, lie,
A church of grass stands up
And walls them, holy, in.

Fabulous the insects
Stud the air
Or walk on running water,
Klee-drawn saints
And bright as angels are.

Honeysuckle here
Is more than bees can bear
And time turns pale
And stops to catch the breath
And lovers slip their flesh
And light as pollen
Play on treble water
Till bodies reappear
And a shower of sun
To dry their langour.

Then two in one the lovers lie
And peel the skin of summer
With their teeth
And suck its marrow from a kiss
So charged with grace
The tongue, all knowing
Holds the sap of June
Aloof from seasons, flowing.