Tag Archives: George Bowering

(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

Reading the ground with a bear’s eye

Frantic week behind, hectic week ahead but I always make time for a walk in the woods. Josef opened up some of the deer trails on our property recently which has encouraged my bushwhacking—or our bushwhacking—the mutts and mine. I love it when they kick up layers of needles, lichen and loam. Is there any richer smell? It’s a fairly strenuous workout, with all the climbing up and down boulders green with moss and crumbling cedar logs. Like all the islands and the Sunshine Coast, Bowen was clear-cut about 100 years ago. Imagine how convenient it must have been tossing all that timber into the ocean. I’m kidding. Sort of.

I spotted this remnant lying on the ground and it brought to mind the cover of Robert Bringhurst’s A Story as Sharp as a Knife. I’m no anthropologist—though I harboured aspirations at one time—but it would appear the shape could have inspired west coast native artists. It’s an eye! See?

A bear’s eye. Bringhurst talks of reading as an “ancient, preliterate craft. We read the tracks and scat of animals, the depth and lustre of their coats, the set of their ears and the gait of their limbs. We read the horns of sheep, the teeth of horses. We read the weights and measures of the wind, the flight of birds, the surface of the sea, snow, fossils, broken rocks, the growth of shrubs and trees and lichens. We also read, of course, the voices that we hear.”

Speaking of voices, I’m still recovering after hosting Penn Kemp at a boisterous salon on Saturday. Is that an oxymoron? Well, our salons get pretty festive. Penn is droll and vivacious, possessing a singular voice, literally, figuratively. She was a big hit with the 35 or so die-hards who turned out despite a nearly constant downpour, including some of my favourite urbanites Kyle Hawke, Warren Dean Fulton, Shannon Rayne and Rhonda Milne who took pleasure in the food, poetry and water taxi experience from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove. Penn had Josef perform some of her poetry in German! Now that’s a first, I’m glad we got pictures. I participated in another piece called Poem for Peace in Two Voices. Soundings—what Penn calls her readings, and sublimely sonic they are. Later, we let our hair down, madly dancing and rockin’ out, then lolled about in the hot tub before finally conking out around four in the morning. “Thanks to you, Beauty, for your magnificent presence and hospitality. What a hoot and holler! Glorious to be with you. And I so know how much work went into the grace of the evening!” Penn’s right. It was a hoot.

Last Thursday, I attended Anvil Press’s launch for a deluxe edition of Continue reading