BEFORE ZOOM-Telepoetics and The Edgewise ElectroLit Centre

By any medium necessary. Just a friendly reminder folks that before Skype or Zoom poets were using videophones to connect, to exchange verse, despite a myriad of limitations and challenges, by whatever means necessary.

By today’s standards said videophones were primitive machines but hey, we thought they were skookuum. One phone line was required for video, another for audio, that aspect alone a Hurculean feat. We would drag seeming miles of cords and cables from one adjoining business to another. Once on Second Beach we plugged in at the nearest concession stand, after jumping through hoops of bureaucracy for a permit.

Telepoetics was founded by Merilene Murphy in Los Angeles and became a program of the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre which I founded upon returning  to Vancouver in 1992. We published The Edgewise Cafe, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines at a time when a lack of bandwidth was always an issue. We felt lucky just to get online. I’ll never forget the sound of those beeps and boops. But again, whatever it takes! We did.

The Vancouver Videopoem Festival, later known as Visible Verse was our third program. The Edgewise archive is housed at Simon Fraser University Library’s Special Collection and open to the public by appointment.

“We” includes Kurt Heintz, Michael Turner, Victor Bonderoff, Steve Duncan, Kyle Hawke, Andrea Thompson, Raquel Alvaro, Ken Sullivan, Michael Raycevick, Andy Matovich, Liam Gorem, Debra Margolis, Kedrick James and John Anderson who were on board from the beginning, generously assisting with tech, promotion and funding. Then later, Josef Roehrl, Jen McLennan, Martha Cervantes, Warren Dean Fulton and others my brain can’t recall at the moment. It was a long time ago. And the poets of course, who graciously participated in such a weird endeavour.

Check out this partial list of Edgewise ElectroLit Centre events that includes many outstanding literary luminaries:

• 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; Judy Radul, Hilary Peach, Lillian Allen, Tom Synders, Catriona Strang, Paul Dutton.

• 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 reading.

• 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.

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