Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Part 1: NYDC BLUES: How I Tried To Escape The Sick World Of Poetry

The rules were that you had to give your name and occupation before reciting your first poem. Naturally, I tried to evade this unnecessary formality which to me seemed akin to a rooftop sniper announcing his name and address before firing upon the crowd below. But before I could begin they started yelling, “What’s your name?”

I looked around the room. It was jammed full of people.

“José,” I answered with some difficulty.

“What do you do?” they shouted.

That was a even tougher question. I didn’t have a job, and for me to declare that I was a writer at this point would be presumptuous on my part. I thought about it for a second, then said, “I’m an alcoholic. What the hell are you?”

I hadn’t had a drink in weeks, but here I was—shitfaced and hostile, staring out into a crowd of poetry addicts at some place in Washington called The 15 Minutes Club. I’d fallen off the wagon in a horrible way, but it wasn’t because I was drinking. It was because I was reading poetry.
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A massive mix, focusing heavily on themes and subject matter so often so severely lacking in Canadian literature. Indeed, a condemnation on the current state and status of Canlit: it’s writers, publishers, and critics. A mix that reveals the full extent of what is creatively possible to the transgressive, urban post-realist writer. Truly, truly exceptional works.

Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The editor generously thanks bart plantenga for his contribution of several rare, hard to find tracks in this mix.

Eddie Woods writes poetry the way he lives life, intensely. Experience informs his art, and vice versa. Passion, raw edges, nothing left out. Sex, love, politics…coupled with an unrelenting drive towards awareness, the need to understand what universal reality is all about. The Irish poet Ewart Milne said of the poem “Mary,” following its publication in Peter Mortimer‘s Iron magazine [Issue 43, Tyne & Wear, England]: “It’s very powerful, strong and fearless, and it troubles the hell out of me!…It reminds me somehow of the brothel scene in Ulysses.” “My words are like bullets…Plus I have enough ammunition to wipe out as much opposition as will ever come up against me. And every bullet will hit the mark, because I am a good shot.” From the telephone prose-poem “Bloody Mary.” If, indeed, Eddie Woods’ words are bullets, then his poem “Mary” enters the listener’s ears like a wordbomb, exploding inside the mind, and reverberates down the spine like electroshocks from the brain’s pleasure centre. Introduced by the Amsterdam performance artist AnAmontAnA at Salon dAdA on May 1st, 2011 (in the above video), Eddie Woods describes AnA’s Salon “as pure Dada. Usually laced with clear sexual overtones and occasional nudity. You’ll find acts calling themselves The Sugar Sluts, et cetera.”
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Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Usually a writer learns more from failure and rejection than from anything else, I suppose, given the tremendous amount of both the writers I know seem to have accumulated throughout the years. That is, except for one particular and peculiar occasion in which I learned more from what at first appeared a writing success.

It was May or June of 1986, the CBC radio program Alberta Anthology had accepted a suite of my poems for broadcast. Along with the letter of acceptance was a standard ACTRA contract which I was required to sign if I wanted to be paid the $140.00 the program was offering for the broadcast of my poems. Being a young and hungry writer, I signed the contract and mailed it back to the CBC.

To say I was dissatisfied with the broadcast of my suite of poems would have been an understatement. The actor the program had hired to recite my poems had no concept of each poem’s unique nuances, inflections, vernacular, tropes and idioms. Even worse was the hokey, mawkish background music which further altered the original meaning of my works.

As final insult, though, the same contract I had signed to get paid had also given them the right to censor language they deemed offensive. Fuck became Frick. Shit, crap. Hell, heck. And so on. To me, it was an early and important lesson I learned in the commodification of Canlit, and how it determines content in Canada’s conformist publishing culture.

That single experience has motivated me through the years as a writer, editor, and publisher to never take for granted what it is the writer says, and how it is they say it, never altering one word without their prior knowledge or approval. As you listen to this and other Urban Graffiti Mixes, imagine just how much their meanings would be altered by the arbitrary changing of a word here, or a phrase there.

Note:

Special thanks goes to CO-OP Radio 102.7 FM and the hosts of the program Wax Poetic from which the works of both Catherine Owen and Evelyn Lau have been excerpted. Click on each writer’s name, respectively, to listen to their entire interviews at length.

Listen to the entire Stuart Ross reading at the Test Reading Series, here.


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Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The prose poem has always been a welcome form of poetry in the pages of Urban Graffiti from the very first issue of the litzine. It allows the poet to freely explore sometimes extremely difficult territory unhindered by form. The prose poem also allows the poet to rise beyond metaphor and begin to speak with an allegorical voice. I don’t know of a single major Canadian poet that hasn’t written in the form. Many appear in one of my favourite anthologies of prose poems, The Lyric paragraph : a collection of Canadian prose poems, edited by Robert Allen, published from Montreal’s DC Books in 1987. In the inaugural issue of Urban Graffiti, the very first prose poem I happily accepted for publication was a poem entitled, “House of Unfulfilled Dreams” by Montreal poet and small press publisher, Stephen Morrissey. In this poem, he explores those dark spectres of anger and rage which sometimes haunt and kill a marriage. I’m pleased to reprint it here for your enjoyment.

House of Unfulfilled Dreams

Details of events aren’t necessary; it is enough to say that a madman involved with religion murdered a woman. Then there was the murder house, a door left open by the police, and my curiosity about the murder. There was also my own hell; slowly parts of myself were being shut down: I was a house with most of the rooms shut and locked, and those still used were barely furnished. I accept the blame for everything. What else was there to do? What was left but resignation? I would leave my house not saying where I was going and enter the murder house by the back door. It was quiet there, no restless ghost of the murdered woman came to bother me; I was the only restless spirit in that house. I would enter the house and sit near the living room window which had almost the same view as from my own living room window. I would watch cars and trucks passing on the highway. It was cold, February cold, but not uncomfortable in this unheated house; frozen vines and plants in the house seemed almost alive. I would think how strange it was that the only place I could find quiet and peace was in this house where there had been a murder only a few hundred feet from my own house. Each visit I would go through the murderer’s papers, his mad writings about God and religion. Then I would look at his pornographic magazines and consider the absence of sex, loving, caring and tenderness in my own marriage. Meanwhile, at night, I was being tortured: secretly parts of my body were being removed: one finger tip, a toe nail, a bit of flesh on my upper arm; I would awake the next day in pain and wonder about this loss. Gradually my body was being dissected. For several months I would visit the murder house and feel relaxed, at peace with myself, before returning to my home where anger was increasing to the amount of peace I found elsewhere, in the world where people love and hate, go mad and murder each other, or find a lover for the peace and quiet and love they can’t find in their own homes.UG

Stephen Morrissey, poet and teacher, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1950. In the 1970s Morrissey was associated with the Vehicule Poets, a group of young poets (Ken Norris, Endre Farkas, Tom Konyves, Claudia Lapp, Artie Gold, John McAuley, and Stephen Morrissey) who published and organized poetry readings at Vehicule Art Gallery in Montreal. Morrissey’s first book of poems, The Trees of Unknowing was published by Vehicule Press in 1978. Morrissey also published two literary magazines of poetry, “what is” (1973-1975) and “The Montreal Journal of Poetics” (1978-1985). Since 1976 Morrissey has taught English and Humanities at Champlain College, where he is still employed. In 1983 Coach House Press in Toronto published Morrissey’s second book of poems, Divisions. The book was accepted for publication by bpNichol and edited by Frank Davey. Family Album (1989) was published by Caitlin Press in Vancouver. Morrissey has also published five chapbooks of his poems, Poems of a Period (Montreal, 1971), The Divining Rod (Edmonton, Greensleeve Editions, 1993), The Beauty of Love (The Poem Factory, Vancouver, 1993), The Carolyn Poems (The Poem Factory, Vancouver, 1994), and 1950 (The Poem Factory, Vancouver,1996). Stephen Morrissey has one son, Jake Morrissey, born in 1979. He married poet Carolyn Zonailo in 1995. In 2000, they founded Coracle Press, in Montreal, Canada.

Photograph which begins this post is entitled “Urban Winter: I” by Devin McCawley. For prints, contact him through his website.