Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tour notes, day three; November 3, Prince George to Vancouver BC

Barry McKinnon gave me a hug after the reading at UNBC, just before he had to leave; I think he liked the reading? Worried about the coming storm, he drove immediately off to Tumbler Ridge. Canadian poet Ken Norris, down there teaching lit at the University of Maine in Orono since about 1985, started teaching McKinnon a few days ago, once he was finished Sharon Thesen. In an email the day before yesterday, he wrote:

Tell Barry that the students from the mill towns of Maine are very appreciative
of poems like "The the." We've been having some very intense discussions about
his work.
Words that make me suddenly aware of my own accent (Ottawa Valley?): “room” (as “rhoom”) and “buried” (as “burr-eed”).

After last night’s dinner, with some younger folk I didn’t catch the names of (awful, I know) as well as Belford and Budde, we wandered off to the upstairs of Books and Company, where an open performance of music and poetry was already underway; Budde had got us on the bill, but Brockwell was in a listening mood, and decided not to read. I read three poems from “gifts,” just before poet and musician Jeremy Stewart (Budde published a chapbook of his a while ago) performed the most amazing original material, accompanied by his lovely partner on accordion. Apparently he’s been in a bunch of bands over the years, and is salvaging much of his older material into something that he’s working to group together on a potential CD. I think the kid is going places; Brockwell and I were fading, so we (unfortunately) had to leave before richard kruegar got on stage. Budde says he’s great too, and working toward producing a CD of his own material. I was disappointed to not get the opportunity to meet hardy f., but apparently he was caught in that snow squall and couldn’t make it into Prince George. Jeremy Stewart gave me a new chapbook of his, and wrote inside it (for me), “Culture is happening all around your hair.”

In the breakfast billion-dollar morning nook, writing:

from “the other side of the world”

a snow that anywhere else

might become a delicacy; a man

of letters & a man

of numbers / comparisons

announce themselves; who are you

for counting? dry mouth

outta get out

when the gettings good, outta

drink a lot more water; I am

--when the water hits the air

it bends--

a desert standing in the pouring rain

Flying soon back to Vancouver, where everything else will probably happen; staying with Warren Fulton for a few days while I figure out the rest of my life (I usually stay with Anne Stone (who finally has her third novel out in the spring) and Wayde Compton, but they're both away). Already dropped a few postcards into the mailbox outside of the hotel. Brockwell and I want to know who to thank officially for all of this; Budde has done a spectacular job hosting us. Who could ask for anything more?

At the airport lounge later in Vancouver (after watching two RCMP officers transport a prisoner from the north on our little flight...), even though I have to figure out baggage before meeting up with Fulton hours from now, sitting with Brockwell an hour before he heads home (to re-appear on Monday night for the reading, on his way to California for meetings). Ah, me in the Vancouver airport Air Canada lounge; what the hell am I doing here? Filling up on soups, drinks and whatever I can carry. Oh, Air Canada lounge, let me love you a long time; I know I could live here forever...

Tour notes, day four; November 4, Vancouver BC

Hard to imagine, over the past two months: Westminster to New Westminster. You don’t even want to know about getting myself finally from the airport to downtown, sitting hours waiting for transit that never happened, to pay nearly $40 for a taxicab to get my larger luggage stored overnight at the Central Station via/greyhound building. Hours of broken umbrella and raining before finding Warren’s children (aged 4, 13 and 15) and lovely wife Nancy home in their snug apartment off Commercial Drive. Moons and moons ago, Fulton was part of The Carleton Arts Review with me from 1993-4, co-editing two issues of the now-defunct journal (the people that happened after we left weren’t nearly as responsible). Fulton also ran poetry slams at Zaphod Beeblebrox under the title “The Vogon Reading Series,” as well as readings at the Lois & Frima’s ice cream store on Elgin Street he used to work in, later starting up Pooka Press and eventually, the Kamloops Poets Factory after he headed west. Now he lives in Vancouver and works in film (after Vancouver Film School), working on such things as The Fantastic Four movie, X-Men 3, Stargate, Blade 3, and various movies of the week (extremely cool). Maybe I should ask him if he knows someone who would want to option Clare Latremouille’s novel into a film? (He used to hang out with Clare before she left Kamloops…)

Sitting in a coffeeshop at Hastings and Richards (for some reason the police have it blocked off), right by the Simon Fraser University building; I read there last summer as part of that West Coast Poetry Festival (I hope they still do that over here); did a talk there a few years ago to a class full of students in the publishing program about making little chapbooks. One kid tried to get me to justify the publication of poetry at all, if they don’t sell 100,000 copies; I told him that wasn’t what I was there for. Sitting here with the first two volumes of Charles Olson & Robert Creeley: The Complete Correspondence, edited by George F. Butterick. I’ve been wanting these for years, ever since I saw them in Windsor, Ontario, on a shelf in Marty Gervais’ (founder/publisher of Black Moss Press) house. Apparently Toronto poet (now teaching at the University of Calgary) Christian Bök reads at 3:30 on Monday at Capilano College, the Library Building, room #321; I haven’t heard him read since that West Coast Poetry Festival. (I hear he’s reading somewhere on Sunday too, but don’t know where…) Why is I only see him in Vancouver now?

Finally reading Suzette Mayr's second novel, The Widows (Edmonton AB: NeWest Press, 1998). I heard her read from part of it last year when she was in Ottawa for Alberta Scene (100 years of the province; but I still ask outgoing Mayor Bob Chiarelli: where was the Ottawa scene for our 150?). I completely loved her Venous Hum (Vancouver BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2006). She lives and teaches in that Calgary; will I see her when I get there? When will she ever have that long-promised poetry collection?

Apparently, according to Warren, our old acquaintance Jennifer Amey now lives in Toronto, and has a novel out (I haven't seen her for years; this is me looking it up), called sundowning. Apparently tonight we're going to the premiere of a documentary by a friend of Warren’s; should be entertaining. He’s been telling me stories of interacting with Halle Berry and Robin Williams and Tom Green. It is pretty cool, when you think about it. But enough of this blogging, I've got work needs to be done...

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