Tag Archives: Edgewise ElectroLit Centre

“A Temporary Stranger” launch

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Sadly missed, I’ve been a friend and associate of Jamie Reid’s since 1994 after returning to Vancouver from an expatriate stint in Los Angeles, having gone down there with my band to become a rock star. Obviously, that didn’t pan out but all in all, it was a marvelous experience.

Eight months pregnant, I founded the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre, a literary arts organization whose mandate was to utilize and develop what was then new media and technology for the language arts. We published a multimedia online zine, used videophones to link poets and audiences site to site and provided a venue for videopoetry. Michael Turner helped plug me back into CanLit and told me about Jamie so I contacted him along with Neil Eustache, Sheri-D Wilson and Alexandra Oliver to invite them to read at our debut Telepoetics link-up at the Western Front. To say Jamie was adventurous would be understatement. He agreed, participated enthusiastically and was always a big booster, not just for me and the Edgewise but for pretty much everyone involved in Vancouver’s literary arts scene. For your information, The Edgewise ElectroLit Centre archive is now housed at Simon Fraser University Library Special Collections in Burnaby. It is open to the public and contains several videos of Jamie in action, as well as many other esteemed Canadian poets and artists.

On Thursday I will be reading and helping to launch Anvil Press and Jamie’s posthumous collection, A Temporary Stranger at The Cottage Bistro on Thursday May 25th at 7 PM. Jami Macarty will host a full roster of readers including: Carol Reid, Patrick Friesen, Karl Siegler, Dennis E. Bolen, Stephen Roxborough, Donato Mancini, Heidi Greco, Eve Jospeh, Joanne Arnott, George Bowering, Chris Turnbull, George Stanley, Renee Rodin, Lary Bremner, Mike Barnholden, Maria Hindmarch and moi. “This is sure to be a packed event, celebrating not just the new book, but everything Jamie, so arrive early to secure a seat.” Hope to see you there.

 

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This dream, this precious life

Stormy weather and animal dreams. I was in a slaughterhouse, looking at a hole in the wall. A mouse hole? A hand reached out to stroke the snout of a hippo. To soothe it? Are they related to swine or do they just look like they are? Then many hands emerged from the hole, not exactly waving. Next night, with a guinea pig on my shoulder, I watched as a woman in a window frolicked with four little lap dogs, all different breeds, housed within a kind of four-plex cage. So I don’t know what’s up with that but perhaps such bizarreness was triggered by news of an incident in North Carolina, a sheriffs’ department using stray dogs for target practice, which made me think of the sled dogs that were euthanized in Whistler post-Olympics, after they lost their usefulness. Ah, human cruelty knows no bounds. We treat each other like garbage too.

Word on the Street Festival endured more weather challenges than usual, tents on Hamilton Street blown down by high winds. I was astounded, thought they’d cancelled or something. That would be a first. Then we endured a colossal downpour. An hour later, rainbows and sunshine, me cursing. I always travel with sunglasses and an umbrella but that morning couldn’t imagine the sun emerging. I should know better after all these years of Vancouver weather. Highlights, Elizabeth Bachinksy’s Event Magazine writers/readers Wayde ComptonCharles Demers and Amber Dawn. They’re celebrating 40 years, as is Talonbooks. As usual I ran into many fellow maniacs, happy to see the majority. (Some) people will treat you like garbage, if you let them. One perk of maturity; I know life is precious. Ditto time.

And we are not dogs. Dinner with precious friends. Does wine tastes better in a restaurant or is it just me I asked? Laughter. It’s just you Heather. True enough. It’s just me.

Recovering from an intense weekend of Visible Verse Festival programming. Whew! It really has grown, this festival and I was forced to make some very tough decisions. There were more than a few submissions in the Maybe pile that I wanted to screen but ran out of time. I announced the program Monday, making quite a few artists very happy in the process. Guess it’s all worth it.

I’m posting the essay I wrote for Sheri-D’s Spoken Word Workbook earlier this year. She’ll be in town to perform at the Vancouver International Writers Festival next month and will facilitate a master class in spoken word as well. I’ve been asked how collaborating in music and video affects my practice, thought this answered the question:

S I D E W A Y S

By Any Medium Necessary

Subversive, sub rosasidewayslike a snake in the grass is often how an artist must move and technology can help us cover more ground. I address social issues in my work but I dread dogma as much as cliché. I believe that being an artist is a political statement.

Though founder of the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre, I am not a technocrat. I felt strongly it was Continue reading

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(G)literati and Fighting the Good Fight

Author Kevin Chong

Where’s the poem? Swamped this week screening submissions for Visible Verse Festival 2011 and up to my eyeballs in experimental film, which happens every year. Without being semantical, I have to say poetic is not the same as visible verse, or a video poem or a cine-poem, or whichever term you prefer. I think I just got semantical.

Still laughing and sharing photos from Kevin Chong’s book launch of new novel Beauty and Pity at Vancouver’s infamous Penthouse nightclub, the first and likely the last time I’ll ever set my ass down in there. I was surprised; the interior does not reflect the fading building facade. Neither did the carpet reek of stale beer, wall of framed 8×10 black and white celebrity headshots only one of its charms. Anyway, I’ve spent enough time in strip clubs. Bartending was the only job I could find in New York City when I resided, or rather survived a year there in the 80s. Man, it was a tough town, nothing like it is now, inhabitable. A friend of a friend got me a job at the Baby Doll, a topless bar on White Street, just down from the Mudd Club, where we used to convene after our shifts ended at 2 AM, or at the sushi bar imbibing hot sake, which goes down well in the company of bitterly cold Manhattanites. Club management kept trying to get me to strip too. I was quite miserable after my band broke up and told them, “No thanks, I don’t miss the stage that much.” I only had to watch the dancers—what was left of them—flaunt it, appalled by the Wall Street fat cat CEOs and bankers turned on by such pathetic junkies. No way I was going to wind up down there.

But back to Vancouver. I love book launches that are beyond readings. Kevin commissioned a book trailer, directed and produced by mutual friends Pam Bentley and Tara Flynn and it was hilarious. The book jacket states “Malcolm Kwan is a slacker twenty-something Asian-Canadian who is about to embark on a modeling career.” Kevin had Owen Kwong, a real male model, portray him. Later during the reading, host Charles Demers applied makeup to Kevin’s face, and not expertly, bestowing him with a magnificent unibrow. Kevin admirably kept reciting throughout the lipstick and purple wig application. What an event! And so glamorous. I’m enjoying the book immensely, can recommend it.

Attended a Continue reading

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Adapt or die

Brutal, Darwinian. Natural. Around the dinner table last night my family and I discussed life in the 21st century, digital native Junior marveling at how much technology has changed in his 15 years on the planet. An island boy, he doesn’t text yet but understands the appeal of the iPad. Me too. I’m getting tired of lugging my laptop around but it wasn’t so long ago that my iBook provided mobility as compared to my desktop-personal computer. We want it all!

A self-taught code warrior since the age of 14, Josef mentioned there are now laptops available for a few hundred dollars, but right away, Junior dismissed the idea along with their limited capability and RAM. Josef admitted that a USB port and word processing doesn’t cut it these days. People want to text, Tweet, iTune, email, Facebook, GPS, snap photos, shoot video, read the Globe and Mail and Google on the go. They want power, convenience. What’s so great about having a pound of newsprint delivered to your house so you can read one, or two, maybe even three articles, before running out the door? So wasteful, inefficient, messy and involves an errand- hauling it all down to the recycling depot. The other adaptation we’ve all made in this family is watching television on the Internet. We no longer have the patience to sit through network TV and its oppressive and boring commercials.

I’m slowly learning to text, with both thumbs, motivated in part by Continue reading

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A life roiling with verse, visible and otherwise

Let there be confusion and terror, bleached bones in the closet, crows soaring into the chimney. Here I sit, sweating in the dead of winter, mind and guts roiling. My new collection, Three Blocks West of Wonderland, is out, I’m feeling fabulous and working hard at workin’ it. That’s actually the cover of Gabrielle Everall’s remarkable verse novel Dona Juanita and the love of boys but there is so much life within this one life! My life. Such as it is. Still, precious.

This frenzied phase began about a month ago, in Gibsons of all places. Brian Palmu kindly invited me to read my poetry along with my dear friend Peter Trower. I had reassured Pete that I would go up there to help clear out the 40-year long residence he was vacating. Small house, big job. So, I thought I would kill the proverbial two birds with one stone, keep my promise and do the reading.

Pete grovelled, grateful for my well-honed organizational skills. I walked in, opened cupboards and drawers, asking, “What’s this? You keeping it? Giving it away?” Then I made piles, one for the Salvation Army, one for Stuff To Keep and one for The Dump. This town still has a town dump! Bear Watching we called it in Salmo, cheap entertainment, featuring the best in local talent. Voila! The packing took a while, we had to retrieve boxes and tape, but the work was accomplished with a minimum of fuss.

The next day, Brian and his girlfriend Verna graciously hosted Pete and I Continue reading

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