Tag Archives: Lincoln Clarkes

Don’t tread on me! 9/11 fallout poem

Swamped. Fighting a virus. Sick of editing but if the manuscript isn’t 100% print ready, it’s pretty darn close. So, so long slogging, hello hustling. As soon as I square away a swack of domestic duties and finish screening nearly 60 videopoems for Visible Verse Festival which happens on Friday, Nov. 4 this year. Forge. That’s what I’m doing. Well, aren’t we all? Born forgers we are, regular blacksmiths.

Had an interesting exchange with a friend who was reluctant to remove a photo of moi from a Facebook album, which led to a discussion about FB photo posting etiquette. She suggested that the protocol was to tag only the pics that the subject liked. I said protocol schmotocal, friends remove pics that friends aren’t comfortable with. Common courtesy, common sense. To me. But then I’m media hack from way back and make no apologies for it. Fundamental in this age of Facebook and social media. I realize absolute control is impossible but it’s my right to have input over the end result of our collaboration (mine and a photographer’s, which I always discuss ahead of a shoot) and the distribution of said images. But that’s just me. I think the real issue is integrity. Trust. Mutual respect between artist and subject. Artists are not gods, above or beyond their subjects. But it’s a slippery slope indeed because what we do is vital and the truth must come out. I think of Lincoln Clarkes and those incendiary photos he took of drug addicted women in the downtown Eastside, and Diane Arbus, both whom I believe always asked permission. It also happens to be the way to a better photograph. I’m also suspicious of a lot of *documentary* films. We all know how easy it is to skew facts with editing, etc. Which makes me think of the Strickland character in Robert Stone’s novel, Outerbridge Reach, a true opportunist/artist, some would say sociopath. But if you pose for a photo, presumably you are taking a bit of a risk, she said. I said, I try not to presume anything. Posing does not necessarily equate with permission. License.

And here’s my other 9/11 poem. Or perhaps it’s more about the fallout.


It’s so lovely here. Burdock wafting, whooshing.
Sleek cyclist slows for no man, woman or child.
Kamikaze starlings chase off rivals reflected in glass.
Springtime. Neo-hippie chicks and plump lesbians.
Round, orange buoys in the cove. Boatload of mental
cases on an outing covert as a DARPA project.
A prattling punk rocker can’t conquer fear
but can contain it, her sunbathing Labrador
sleeping through everything. Loudspeaker honks.
“This sale is an extravaganza! Prawns. Maple syrup.
Smoked salmon. ALL on special!”
A longwinded lute maker. Old world restaurant,
pickle juice in the potato salad,
bird lover training orphaned fledglings.
Florida flight schools, Atta and eighteen others.
Big clue, red flag, CIA too bullish to see.
Why take flying lessons only to play
hooky on Descent & Landing day?

It’s lovely here. I have nothing to complain about
except, some people complain too much.
My new friend Sophie, whining
about the pub’s crappy coasters, catching a nasty cold
from a cabbie in Reno, the jerk she moved here to marry,
a lazy fisherman, busy cutting the head off her mettle.
She grows defensive as a row of swaying cypress trees
when I offer suggestions. I retire to the gazebo,
hear a train and some blues huffing across the water.
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee?

I wake to news of coffin-sized cells. Torture.
An American Extraordinary Rendition Unit
nabbing suspected terrorists for one-way flights
to top-secret sites around the globe. For questioning.
I am informed there are no railroad tracks near Sechelt.
Those rhythms must have come from machinery
at the cement quarry on the other side of the inlet.

My cranium feels like a washbowl.
Mascara brush too fat,
like trying to apply a bumblebee
to my eyelashes.
Oh, I have nothing to complain about.
It’s lovely here.

Who remains. Undead, unbowed, vital.

Hairiness; much hairiness! Who has time for spring cleaning with all that’s been going on? I’m still recovering from the premiere of Susanne Tabata’s punk rock movie, Bloodied But Unbowed. I couldn’t decide whether, or how to wear the Subhumans-Incorrect Thoughts, Rock Against Racism and Avengers buttons I dug out of my collection. Hey, I didn’t brandish badges then, why start now? I didn’t shave my head or wear a black leather jacket either. I couldn’t afford one! I stuffed the relics in a pocket to share with my Vancouver punk rock homies.

I was delighted to see former band members Conny Nowe, drummer of my first group, the all-girl Zellots-who just happened to be visiting from Toronto-and The 45s Brad Kent and Randy Rampage. Conny’s been playing music, currently in an outfit called Swamperella with renowned bassist Rachel Melas. I marveled at how marvelous she looked as we chatted before the movie started rolling.

I’ve run into Randy a few times over the years but hadn’t seen Brad since I was nine months pregnant, my son, now 15. I’d been walking down the street near 12th and Clark in Vancouver when I heard a voice braying “Hollywood and Western,” the scene of a notorious east end rehearsal space the 45s used. I turned around and there was Brad! The meeting was a little awkward and fleeting but at Thursday night’s after-party, he came and sat with me, gave me a big hug and apologized profusely about breaking up the 45s on the eve of our gig with PiL at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. “I’ve been wanting to say that to you all these years.”

My biggest regret . . . Continue reading

The last Real Vancouver Writers Series reading/Doin’ the Cultural Olympiad our way

Old school. Punk rock. DIY.

Still harbour a bit of a bad attitude and though I’ve watched a little hockey, have largely dodged the Spring Olympics. Oh, I’m sure there is a ton of fun to be had downtown Vancouver but it’s the type of fun that was vitally important to me as a teenager when the rodeo came to Cloverdale every long Victoria Day weekend. My sisters and I practically lived at the midway, chasing boys, drinking bootlegged beer behind the barns and throwing up, rides or no rides, or games in this case.

At the invitation of the smart, discerning and affable Sean Cranbury of Books On The Radio, I did very happily venture down to the city Feb. 17 to read at an exciting new series called Real Vancouver Writers housed at W2, an exciting new arts and media centre across from the refurbished Woodward’s Building which happens to be a few doors up from our punk rock stomping grounds at the Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret. I was ten, I joked. Very appropriately, one of the artists featured in the W2 gallery was Bev Davies with a series of her quintessential DOA shots.

What a fabulous event! I haven’t felt such enthusiasm at a reading since the 90s and the Edgewise, I swear. Talented poet, lovely person Elizabeth Bachinsky graciously hosted the standing room only evening and I had the privilege of seeing all my cool FB peeps/literati in the flesh- Continue reading

The eternal struggle to look good, recent bird spottings, Charles’s MFA in film

I know why some women “let themselves go.” Looking good is a lot of work! My weight for example. Take my weight. Please. I’ve been struggling with it all my adult life, especially after hitting forty and peri-menopause, which wreaked havoc on my metabolism, mainly by slowing. The pounds creeped on imperceptibly. One day I got on the scale and the needle flew, way, way, way over 150 pounds. At 5’8”, I think my ideal weight is 140 pounds.

I had been thin/pure but was too young and dumb to realize it, always feeling like I was never thin enough, always feeling inadequate in other words. At least I had time to shop and though I couldn’t afford designer labels, was very resourceful and adept at finding highly stylish things to wear. Life was simple. Not so anymore, not with a kid and home schooling and running a household, like this woman in the van in front of me, full of wee ones, including a newborn. She has a look in her eye, like prey. Guess I’ve always suffered from a lack of self-esteem, boo hoo, and now I get to factor in aging as well. Buck up. As they say, aging is not for sissies. At least I have perspective along with the sore feet. My innate fashion sense and high quality garments are more important than ever, thus I spent hours and hours downtown looking for a dress to wear onstage. I’m wiped out!

Thunderstorm last night. Does it explain the vivid dreams I’ve been having? In this one Junior and his pals were seated on a Murphy bed. I was alarmed when I didn’t recognize two of them and asked Junior who they were. He, they, wouldn’t tell me. I got frustrated and closed the bed up, with them inside. I asked Junior to open it again, to give me the key. He laughed, said he didn’t know where it was. He found this very amusing but I was getting scared, on the verge of panic. I couldn’t open it!

Bird enchantment report: I spotted a new species by the feeder yesterday though this guy was on the ground. I thought it was a sea bird but looked it up in my guidebook and found out it was a woodpecker, a female. I get such a thrill every time I successfully identify a species. I can see why people get hooked on birding. Apparently, though most woodpeckers spend most of their time in trees, some will forage on the ground for insects. I was surprised to identify an exotic bird that resembled a parrot as an Evening Grosbeak. The poet in me is equally enchanted with bird names and categories: Loons, Grebes, Shearwaters, Petrels, Boobies, Gannets, Bitterns, Egrets, Spoonbills, Limpkins, Rails, Coots, Lapwings, Plovers, Skuas, Jacanas, Oystercatchers, Stilts, Terns, Skimmers, Auks, Cukoos, Nightjars, Trogons, Tryrant Flycatchers, Shrikes, Vireos, Larks, Wrentits, Verdins, Creepers, Nuthatches, Warblers, Gnatcatchers, Thrashers, Bulbuls, Accentors, Wagtails, Pipits, Tanagers, Towhees, Longspurs, Weavers.

Enjoyed an evening with new friends Tina Schliessler and Charles Wilkinson at their house in Deep Cove where they were celebrating his MFA in film from UBC. Tina is the artist whose phainting graces the cover of our new Aural Heather new cd, Princess Nut. I had the privilege of meeting their many intriguing and fabulous friends and family, including one of Tina’s favourite subjects, her son Pablo. I chatted with Charles about Tina’s enormous talent, humility and ability to put her subjects at ease. He said my face looked different in the flesh. I hope he meant it in a good way and there you have it, the afore mentioned insecurities roiling to the fore once more. Later Charles screened a documentary he directed called Down Here, a portrayal of several women that reside in the downtown eastside. The subject has been covered before yes, notably by my dear friend Lincoln Clarkes’ Heroines project, but Charles’s approach was equally uncompromising, authentic and quite striking with excellent cinematography and editing.

A weekend off the rock

Recovering from a wild weekend, well, wild for me these days. Booked accomodations for the beasts at the Dog Ranch and a cheap hotel room for us in town so we could attend our dear friend Kyle Hawke’s Groundhog Day party. Not sure it was in honour of groundhogs though he did request food with holes in it. I suspect it was just a convenient date for a party which I am as ready for as spring. Been feeling a little shack wacky lately. It was good to get out and off this rock.
My AURAL HEATHER collaborator, Roderick Shoolbraid and I were meeting in the afternoon for a photo shoot with Lincoln Clarkes. We need pictures for the cd. It was a hectic day, Saturday, and it seems no matter how much time I give myself to prepare I’m always in a panic Continue reading