Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Keiko's Defense

Keiko Hart's defence generated great discussion and she passed without revisions. I was happy to spend time with Jeanne Randolph, who I first saw back in the 1990s when Lorna Brown brought her to town, and my own grad committee supervisor, Ashok Mathur. Soyang Park is a new face, while committee chair Andrea Fatona is a friend from 1980s Vancouver.

Jordan Abel's Cartography (12) (2017) Polygon Gallery installation came up in the context of Keiko's in(Living)between (2019) performance and support paper. But where Jordan's text was applied to a vinyl transfer system and installed by a contractor, Keiko applied her text "live" and stream-of-consciously.

Monday, April 29, 2019


You can't really call it a seascape, but this retail window is close: an ice beach populated with dressed-for-dinner fillets.

We were in Oakville on Saturday for Rebecca Brewer and Rochelle Goldberg's Waves and Waves exhibition. Most notable with both artists -- what they share -- is a restraint uncharacteristic of more recent work. Rebecca has introduced a deep dish framing strategy for a new suite of ground-friendly paintings, while Rochelle's confident handling of clay is almost lost (submerged?) in her navy blue glazes.

Here is a framed painting by Rebecca:

Here is a framed assemblage by Rochelle:

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Local Kitchen & Wine Bar

Last night's view of a candle through a wine glass containing dregs from a 2009 bottle of Macchiona La Stoppa.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

One and More Chairs

Two exhibitions that feature works made with chairs. Nari Ward's Savior (1996) at the New Museum (above) and something more recent by Jessi Reaves at Bridget Donahue (below).

Friday, April 26, 2019

Judy Linn at MBnb

The south wall of MBnb's current Judy Linn exhibition. Entitled Splay, the exhibition features 16 pictures of various sizes and croppings, none framed.

The picture below is one we are accustomed to seeing on the Pacific northwest coast. But in this instance, Linn has chosen a different view. The usual view is behind (underneath) the overturned tree(s), yet like Beau Dick's masks (currently on display at White Columns), that view is hidden from the public.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Photo Prose

A simple idea. The ICP Museum invites eight writers to select and respond to a photo from its current Portraits from the ICP Collection show, and Diane Exavier selects a photo from Alonzo W. Jordan's Glenn Beatty's Funeral (1965). However, in the middle of her reading/description, Diane realizes that the picture projected is the wrong picture, which, given her description of what we thought we were seeing, makes sense. After a long pause she says, "This is the wrong photo. I mean, it's the right funeral, but it's the wrong photo."

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


A self-portrait by Brancusi that had me blurting to the nearby gallery attendant, "That's looks like Dan Graham!" To which the attendant said softly, "Do you know, Dan?"

Upstairs, in the Museum's Long Run exhibition, Miró's Hirondelle Amour (1933-34) with the word "hirondelle" in the painting (detail at bottom).

Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill once told me that all L'Hirondelles are related. I entered "hirondelle" into my French-to-English translator and what came up was swallow.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Against the Grade

Hilma af Klint is known for her spirals. What better place to see them than at the Guggenheim in NYC. R.H. Quaytman has done more than anyone to bring HaK's drawings and paintings to life. For the Guggenheim show, which closes today, HaK curator RHQ positions her own white and black paintings so that they appear on a straight line, not the line of the Guggenheim's sloping ramp.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The coffee was weak this morning. There was one croissant left, but I had zucchini bread and a blueberry yoghurt instead.

Four blocks to Spring Street Station. Uptown on the 6.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Refind Home Furnishings

Refind looked more like a knick-knack museum than a furniture store last Wednesday. Not sure if the above has a title (a 6"x6" copper-topped piece of wood for $47), but if it "kneeds" one, how about, I Got Your Back?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Thinking Aloud

Seems the more I read, the more my time is taken up with writers who have a lot to say on topics they know everything about. Very little uncertainty is conveyed in these writings, and I wonder if I am not the only one who believes that the uncertain conversation is lacking and someone should do something about it.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ottawa Poetry Newsletter's "On Writing" series

An invitation to contribute to an ongoing project is to first familiarize oneself with that project. I tell this to anyone interested in a life of writing. “You can’t just send the New Yorker your poems without having read an issue or two,” I said recently to an emerging writer. “Why not,” the writer demanded, “they pay more than The Fiddlehead!" When asked if the writer was familiar with The Fiddlehead, the writer burst into tears and confessed, “I can’t do everything, you know!” (more)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Three Notices

One here (Kingsway):

One coming (Victoria Drive):

One looking (Victoria Drive):

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Above and Below, Ahead and Behind

The image above is a "live" screen grab I took from an early online feed of yesterday's Notre Dame Cathedral fire. This morning I scrolled through my "History" tab but could not find its source.

Below is a 1907 photo by Félix Thiollier (1842-1914) of his daughter Emma Thiollier painting atop one of Notre Dame's towers:

Monday, April 15, 2019

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

My pattern of late is to wake up three-and-a-half hours after turning off my night light. Sometimes my thoughts are stormy and anxious; other times less so. Returning to sleep is to think of nothing.

If I wake up again (with under 90 minutes left in my seven hour minimum), I turn on my bedside radio and doze along with the public broadcaster.

Last week's listening was weird; I had to email the station to ask if a) they had a phone-in competition for tickets to a Herbie Hancock concert for the first caller who could "correctly identify" the Hancock tune they played after announcing the competition, and b) if the morning host had to later tell listeners that the name of the tune ("Canteloupe Island", 1964) is not "Watermelon". And it's true, they did. And yes, the host said this!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Gallery Visits

Yesterday I walked to Equinox Gallery to take in its shows. From there to Macaulay & Co. Fine Arts, grunt gallery, finally to CSA. This stretch is among the proposed routes of the new Skytrain extension that would pass through the building that houses Equinox and Monte Clark Gallery, tunnel past the grunt and MFA, before popping up at the southeast corner of Broadway and Main, across the street from CSA.

Moving to and through these spaces I could not help but look at their exhibitions with the Skytrain extension in mind. Perhaps a review is in order, one that uses an infrastructural alteration (the extension is not unlike the Great Northern Railway's filling-in of the east end of False Creek in support of its 1917 railway terminus) as a framing device for a sequence of events that, like boxcars (or Skytrain cars), unite and uncouple, unite and uncouple... I could call the review "Walking the Line", after that lyric from the last line of the last verse of the Louvin Borthers' 1959 song "The Christian Life".

The picture atop this post was taken at the northwest corner of Thornton Street and Great Northern Way -- a creek vignette, like the other creek vignette at the northwest corner of 8th and Scotia Street, across the street from the Western Front. Why a creek motif? Because years ago these creeks were the final leg in the road home for the salmon, whose spawning grounds could be found as far south as 33rd Avenue. With the arrival of settler colonists, these creeks were culverted and, like the east end of False Creek, smothered in land-fill.

Something to think about the next time a condo developer is asked to supply the neighbourhood with a cultural amenity: not a sculpture of a creek -- but the unearthing of a real one! Who knows, maybe it will bring back the salmon? 

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Jim

Are there any Jims under forty? When I was growing up, all Jameses were Jims or Jaimes; all Cathleens (Kathleens) or Catherines (Katherines) were Cathys (Kathys).

Walking through a westside park the other day, I heard a parent address another parent's child with the short form of James, and all hell broke lose! You would think the one parent had called the other parent's child "a name".

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Overheard at a Book Fair

BOOKSELLER #1: Give me a break!

BOOKSELLER #2: Sure, if you give me a culpa.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Mistah Culley -- he dead

Peter Culley (1958-2015) died on this day. In his sleep. After an evening of dinner and dancing, said Daphne.

In 1986 Tsunami Editions published his luscious Fruit Dots. Have a look. Read a line out loud!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

by the well of urd

On Sunday I attended the opening of by the well of urd at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art. Curated by Lee Plested, the exhibition features drawing, painting, digital imaging, sculptural installation and video by interdisciplinary artists Judith Copithorne (Flatter, 2018 above), Carole Itter, Rhoda Rosenfeld and Trudy Rubenfeld. Hopefully I can find time next week to put together a proper review.

Monday, April 8, 2019

No narrative poetry after Aw shucks!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Poetry Essay by Brooke Clark

In honour of Poetry Month, the Walrus has published an essay on poetry. Entitled "The Narcissism of Contemporary Poetry", it is followed by the cut-lines: "The poetry world is broad, but remains shallow. Do writers need to do more than simply write about themselves?"

There is so much to object to in this connoisseurial essay. But rather than pick its low-hanging fruit, let's consider those lines.

"The poetry world is broad..." Thankfully! But you wouldn't know it from Clark's essay, which zeroes in on lyric poetry, which the author calls "the selfie of the poetry world." While I agree that the lyric has its excesses (in the mid-1990s I referred to the poetry of Anne Michaels as "too candied," and have paid for it ever since), it is not the lyric that carries the auto-portrait but the narrative (recall George Bowering's example of the egoceptive poems of Irving Layton: "I placed/ my hand/ upon/ her thigh").

Rather than follow that first (dependent) clause with "...but remains shallow" (especially for a general interest magazine like the Walrus) imagine how refreshing it would be to read, "...so let's take a moment to talk about its tendencies," and from there read about the increase in confessional poems (as a result of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?), repetitive list poems (as a result of an almost forty year old slam culture?), but also the ongoing experiment in the genre, as manifest in New Media, science and technology, or even the word's increased appearance not as genre marker but as an adjective used to describe how we might chose to live our lives -- poetically.

"Do writers need to do more than simply write about themselves?" I would say no, only because the argument for "no" is more generative. Writers write about themselves because writing about another has never been more difficult. Rather than challenge those difficulties and, as Jesse Wente points out, accept the critique from those whose bodies, lives, lands and languages you will invariably trample over, writers have taken refuge in themselves, their own bodies. In that sense, writers need to write more difficultly about themselves, not through oops-I-did-it-again confessions or love/hate litanies but, well, how about proprioceptively?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372)

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: READING EDITION, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998, 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Friday, April 5, 2019

A 2018 Song by Joan Armatrading

I Like It When We're Together

The eyes go slowly when you close the door
And you leave me here by myself
How do I fill my days when I feel so sad
That your warmth has gone away

I bite my lip to stop the tears
But the tears come anyway

I like it when we're together
I don't care if I'm selfish
I want you to stay
Everything, every single thing
Everything I do
I do because I love you

I'm built to be alone you know
I get anxious when I'm on my own
No need to be opposite sides of doors
No need to talk through walls

I hate that hollow stomach feel
When you turn and walk away

I like it when we're together
I don't care if I'm selfish
I want you to stay
Everything, every single thing
Everything I do
I do because I love you

I like it when we're together
I don't care if I'm selfish
I want you to stay
Everything, every single thing
Everything I do
I do because I love you

I know I make you feel the guilt
And my reasons are emotional
But we can deal with all demons
In their various appearance
Let's remind ourselves how far we've come
Let us look at how we really feel
If we tear from each other
Would we ever fall in love again
Ever fall in love again

I like it when we're together
I like it when we're together

I like it when we're together
I don't care if I'm selfish
I want you to stay
Everything, every single thing
Everything I do
I do because I love you

I like it when we're together
I don't care if I'm selfish
I want you to stay
Everything, every single thing
Everything I do
I do because I love you

I like it when we're together
I like it when we're together
I like it when we're together
I like it when we're together

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A 2018 Poem by Tacey M. Atsitty

Apricot Lament

Just when he thought to loom the backyard for bud &
Just when he came to admire, or thought to dote over
Already he rues stick-thin arms, whose petals brave the late
Whose middles freeze; we’ve gone without
All ramose till now, empty skirts anxious to round back for
It’s the fourth year lips have gone without any such
Already hips full of leaves and none
Else, years by last, the lone — it splat behind
My back, it came to ache as the rake clawed at
We’ve gone into partial burn, without even
No matter for bloom, the seasons no longer allow
The trouble with doting over blossoms is
In a swollen tub of ruth, wanting nothing but his

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

An Ancient Poem by Sappho (trans. Mary Barnard, 2012)

[To an army wife, in Sardis:]

To an army wife, in Sardis:

Some say a cavalry corps,
some infantry, some, again,
will maintain that the swift oars

of our fleet are the finest
sight on dark earth; but I say
that whatever one loves, is.

This is easily proved: did
not Helen—she who had scanned
the flower of the world’s manhood—

choose as first among men one
who laid Troy’s honor in ruin?
warped to his will, forgetting

love due her own blood, her own
child, she wandered far with him.
So Anactoria, although you

being far away forget us,
the dear sound of your footstep
and light glancing in your eyes

would move me more than glitter
of Lydian horse or armored
tread of mainland infantry

Source: Sappho, Translated by Mary Barnard (University of California Press, 2012)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A 2015 Poem by Rae Armantrout

Background Information


There’s a lot going on in
zombie apocalypse.

But wouldn’t she recognize
that her mother
was a zombie?

I mean zombies
are a thing.


The last thing she did
was point
to one corner of the ceiling

with a horrified stare.
The nurse called this “a seizure.”

As if words
drained experience
of content and continued

to accumulate.

As if words
were sealed containers
stored for safe keeping.


The background
is everything

that, for now,
can be safely


Monday, April 1, 2019

Bedside Reading

Almost finished the "Palestine" chapter of Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919 last night. Those familiar with the book will know that the end is near.

While Clemenceau (France), Lloyd-George (Britain), Wilson (US) and Orlando (Italy) authored the Treaty of Versailles, it is lesser-known figures like Gabriele D'Annunzio (Italy), Gertrude Bell (Britain), T.E. Lawrence (Britain) and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Turkey) who steal the show. But that's often the case with epics, and why the Academy Awards came up with its one-of-a-kind Best Supporting Actor(s) categories.

All of these figures are immensely quotable. Here is one from Lawrence, whose wartime adventures were popularized by American journalist Lowell Thomas, who covered Lawrence's work with the Hashemites in what is known today as Jordan:

To have news value is to have a tin can tied to one's tail.

I would like to see a proper sequel to Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), this time with greater emphasis on Bell and King Faisal I (of Iraq), as well as Abdulaziz (Ibn Saud). I would also like to see the story told from a different angle or angles. For example, in All the Shah's Men (2003), we learn that while Britain was pumping oil out of Persia/Iran its Persian/Irani workers were living in mud huts. And yes, a film on Mohammad Mossadeq too.