Tuesday, October 22, 2019


In 1967 Colin Low and his collaborators made 27 films on and about Fogo Island under the National Film Board's "Challenge for Change" banner. Here is how the NFB describes "Challenge for Change":

The objective of the Challenge for Change program is to shed light on social problems through the production of films. What is Challenge for Change? What happens with children from deprived areas when they are given a free hand to make their own films? Who can be a better voice for Indigenous Peoples' needs and aspirations than an Indigenous film crew? How angry are the black people with the way society treats them? How do government representatives react to social change and the role of the Challenge for Change program? Can a film project serve as a cohesive agent and catalyst for change within a community, and at the same time serve as a means of communication with government? What is community organizing? What role can film play in participatory democracy? Does controversy lead to violence? How useful are the films from Challenge for Change going to be? This film has some of the answers.

The question Can a film project serve as a cohesive agent and catalyst for change within a community, and at the same time serve as a means of communication with government?  often appears without its second clause (and at the same time serve as a means of communication with government?) Important that this clause be there, lest we confuse it with other well-intentioned projects, from Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (1982)

to Zita Cobb's Shorefast Foundation.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Election Projection

An October 20, 2019 Canadian federal election projection (above), according to Mainstreet Research.

Click here for Mainstream Research CEO Quito Maggi's statement on how his company erred (dramatically!) in predicting the 2017 Calgary Municipal election.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry

There was always a pen or a pencil and a book of blank pages. Then one day a black vinyl sketchbook Carolin gave me, inside which came figures drawn, printed or pasted, if sourced from a magazine or, like a leaf, from Nature. In my early twenties -- poems brought to life through an interest in reading them, especially new ones (like mine might be).

The magazines that published new poems were in the UVic Periodical Library, and I can still see myself walking through its doors and strolling excitedly towards them, spaced out flat on gun metal shelves. Prism International, Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead ...

My first submissions were rejected. One from The Fiddlehead included a clipped-on note encouraging me to "Please re-sumit!" A second submission to The Fiddlehead was returned with notes on the pages! A third had notes on the pages but also a paragraph on a separate card identifying what the editor thought I was and wasn't doing.

My fourth submission to The Fiddlehead contained five poems that did not so much come to me, as ideas or feelings, but through me. These were poems that felt easy to me, too easy, but in another way felt right, as in true. Two of them ("Hitch-hiked" and "Leaving Liberia") were accepted for publication (Winter 1984, No. 138) by the person who had read my work from the first submission, Fred Cogswell.

I never met Fred Cogswell, but last week I was notified by my publisher that our book 9x11 and other  poems like Bird, Nine, x and Eleven is one of five titles shortlisted (by judge Fred Wah) for the Royal City Literary Arts Society's 2019 Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Yet another of life's infinite circles returned.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Poetry Workshop

Just a quick note to apprise you of a Poetry Workshop I have devised and will be facilitating for Mobil Art School at the Sun Wah Building in Chinatown on Saturday October 19 10:00am - 1pm.

The focus of the workshop is on writing inspired by the writings of others. In this instance, writing poems from extant song lyrics.

Without getting too complicated, I have developed a method for creating "original" poems that bear no (visible) relation to their source -- very often turning injurious songs (misogynist, bullying, hateful) into more meditative, reflective poems.

Here's a link to the remarkable Mobil Art School, which I urge you to look up if you have not heard of it. (Lower Mainlanders are badly in need of an art school after ECUAD turned into an Institute, then a College, and now a University!) https://www.mobil-art.ca (Scroll down for the school's Misson Statement.)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Guess Who's Coming to Vancouver?

A 40+ year Cindy Sherman survey comes to the Vancouver Art Gallery this month. The question is, Will it include her Bus Riders (1976-2000) series, where she dressed up as NYC bus riders -- Black, white and of Colour?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

am friendly, people

feel comfortable

approaching, sharing

their lives, listened to

with interest, without

judgement, leaving

happy, returning

to a world of doubt

angry for sharing

so freely is how

I came to love them

Monday, October 7, 2019

Two Scenes of Glass and Passion

In Dr. Zhivago (1965), Zhivago says goodbye to Lara, knowing he will never see her again. As her sled departs, he races upstairs because he can't get enough of her.

In Body Heat (1981), Matty says goodnight to Ned, who walks back to his car, only to return to the doorstep where he sees Matty staring at him through a window. He tries the door -- it is locked. He moves to another window (locked), then a glass door (also locked), before throwing a chair through it.