Dead Poets, Living Words

I am looking forward to Sunday’s installment in the Dead Poets Reading Series in Vancouver, when I will have the delightful task of reading Maxine Kumin’s work. Here she was, back in 2008, reading three of her poems, including one of my favourites, Apparition.

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Art & Poetry Walk

Yvonne Blomer kicks off the tour at Victoria Public Library

Yvonne Blomer kicks off the tour at Victoria Public Library

Last weekend was a busy time for me, with my Saturday in particular fully booked. I was part of Poets Converse with Street Art | A Walking Tour – a cultural recreation organized and led by Victoria’s poet laureate Yvonne Blomer, and featuring Victoria’s youth poet laureate Zoe Duhaime, plus local poets Wendy Morton, Daniel G. Scott, Garth Martens and me – all asked to write poems in response to our choice of public art within a walking radius of the public library. There were also readings of Victoria poems by Carla Funk, John Barton, Robert Service, Rudyard Kipling and Michael Kenyon. Here’s how it looked on a day of all weathers:

Wendy Morton reads poem to steel sculpture by George Norris

Wendy Morton reads poem to steel sculpture by George Norris

Carla Funk's Poetree

Carla Funk’s Poetree

My chosen piece: Crystal Przybille's “Raising a Tea Cup”

My chosen piece: Crystal Przybille’s “Raising a Tea Cup”

Local historian John Adams reads Kipling's record of a boozy visit to Victoria.

Local historian John Adams reads Kipling’s record of a boozy visit to Victoria.

Emily Carr's monkey Woo who inspired John Barton's poem

Emily Carr’s monkey Woo who inspired John Barton’s poem

Lekwungen artist Butch Dick's "Spindle Whorl"

Lekwungen artist Butch Dick’s “Spindle Whorl”

Daniel G Scott reads poem reflecting Crystal Przybille's "Holding a Mirror"

Daniel G Scott reads poem reflecting Crystal Przybille’s “Holding a Mirror”

Wendy Morton admires Crystal Przybille's "Panning for Gold"

Wendy Morton admires Crystal Przybille’s “Panning for Gold”

Crystal Przybille's "Tying a Rope to a Mooring Ring"

Crystal Przybille’s “Tying a Rope to a Mooring Ring”

Crystal Przybille's "Holding Binoculars"

Crystal Przybille’s “Holding Binoculars”

Garth Martens reads to Robert Wyland orca mural.

Garth Martens reads to Robert Wyland orca mural.

Michael Kenyon's poetry trapped in morse code on Broad Street

Michael Kenyon’s poetry trapped in morse code on Broad Street

Yvonne leads us down dark alley

Yvonne leads us down dark alley

Yvonne Blomer reads Running Away, to Cameron Kidd (and street artists) graffiti mural

Yvonne Blomer reads Running Away, to Cameron Kidd (and street artists) graffiti mural

Yvonne and Zoe respond dynamically to String Figure Art Anne J Steves

Yvonne and Zoe respond dynamically to String Figure Art Anne J Steves

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Poets & poetry back in YYJ

Ex-ville_CoverI’ve been to a few poetry (& other) readings since my return to Victoria, and even given one, and time to report on a bit of that with more on the horizon.

But first, I recently found this generous and thoughtful review of Ex-ville, from the online UK arts-zine London Grip, lurking in my inbox via Facebook, and this lovely one on GoodReads via Twitter. Social media seems to be kicking in to take the place of our print reviewing platforms, shattered as they were in recent years.

It’s gratifying to have the recognition: most of us are small fish in a small pond and it can make for a life of overcrowded isolation. These were the first reviews in any Cartographymedia that I’d had for the book, and I’m delighted. Not least because my last collection.  Cartography, of which I remain very proud – a dozen years in the making – garnered not a single print review, nomination or mention since its publication in 2006. That is, until social media struck most kindly again in December last year, and then out of the blue this month with a warm and thorough online review.


Chris Levenson (poetry)


Cathy Ford (poetry)

So. Returning to Victoria after the infinite literary delights of London… I have been more regularly attending Planet Earth Poetry, our local weekly readings series, than I had been able to over the last couple of years while travelling up and down Vancouver Island in search of nutrition training. We’ve had some great readers passing through from near and far, among them Christopher Levenson from Vancouver, Cathy Ford from Sidney,George Szanto from Gabriola Island, and Julie Paul from Victoria.


George Szanto (fiction)


Julie Paul (fiction)

Swiftly ollowed by Lorri Neilsen Glenn who took a cherry blossom break on the West Coast from a truly ugly Atlantic winter in Halifax to read us a mixture of poetry and memoir; and by Alice Major, taking a green break from a prairie winter in Edmonton, who read mostly new and unpublished work.

For my own part, I gave a local reading back in February, in the friendly performance space at Gorge-ous Coffee. The place is fully booked with events of all kinds, musical, poetic and beyond, so was delighted to find an open slot.

Coming up soon: April is National Poetry Month, and I have three performances booked for that. The first is billed as a Read Local BC event, Poetry Without Borders, and takes place on Wednesday April 8 at the very lovely Munro’s Books in downtown Victoria. I’m reading with local poets Patrick Friesen, Beth Kope and Inge Israel. Next up is Poets Converse With Street Art – a poetry tour organized by Victoria’s own newly crowned Poet Laureate, Yvonne Blomer, which will be a poetry tour of Victoria, with poets strategically placed to read works inspired by public art; look for me beneath a sculptural streetlight, as I’m engaging with a pair of hands that were part of The Hands of Time, a project that marked Victoria’s 150th anniversary in 2012. That takes place on Saturday April 25, with morning and afternoon strolls planned. On Wednesday April 29 I’m part of a Food, Farming & Fishing Poetry Potluck at Haliburton Community Organic Farm, with Brian Brett, Linda Rogers and Dennis Reid.

And that’s the poetry bulletin for today. Next time I’ll do a little food security/urban agriculture update. My interests and involvements are like a spreading pool, so I have to keep track of the rivulets and my inner librarian is trying to create order in all this. You’ll find most of my hands-on, face-down food writing taking a decidedly nutritional vein, over at the Go Local Nutrition site. I’m also tweeting @iambiccafe and @golocalnut, and Facebooking at Digging the City, Go Local Nutrition, and Rhona McAdam (my writer page) (please Like these pages rather than trying to Friend me if you don’t know me personally).

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Cambridging, graveyards, poets & lots of fibre

Last weekend I went on a fascinating, moving and timely tour of four Jewish cemeteries, which Tamar Yoseloff led, photographed and blogged here. I have a few photos of my own to contribute.

2015JanGraveyard1Wall 2015JanGraveyardBancroftRoad 2015JanGraveyardBancroftRoadStone 2015JanGraveyardNewGraveyard


My last reading in the UK was on Tuesday in Cambridge. I enjoyed a day of wandering in town, which I hadn’t properly done or perhaps not for ages. I poked my nose into a couple of galleries and had a look at the Ian Hamilton Finlay show at Kettle’s Yard, but his work leaves me a bit cold. Though I enjoyed a few pieces – Catameringue was my absolute favourite – I either wasn’t in the right mood for it or it’s just not my thing. I found more to wonder over at Primavera, which stocks a huge and stunning selection of contemporary British jewellery, art and craft. I missed the reportedly wonderful show at the Fitzwilliam, but one cannot be everywhere at the right time. I did find myself 2015JanCambridgePintShopPorkBellyin the right place for lunch though: The Pint Shop was pleasant and delicious. I had the pork belly with Heaven & Earth (it was sat on a disc of black pudding and surrounded by pleasingly tart stewed apple) and washed it down with a modest little glass of Sirens chocolate porter, which was suitably dark and complex and worked well with the pork.

The CB1 Poetry venue has changed since my last appearance there some years ago, and is currently at the Gonville Hotel. The granting agency requires the series to offer disabled access, which unfortunately narrows the options and cuts the charm of available spaces. Still, the organizers have done their best to soften the corporate feel of the room, and aside from a bit of spillage from the Rotarians meeting next door, it was a comfortable and well equipped reading space. There were some good readings from the floor before Rebecca Perry and I took the stage. Rebecca’s work was great – varied, funny, edgy and moving. She works a lot with found poems and deconstructions. We had a good natter on the train back to London and I look forward to having a closer read of her first collection, Beauty/Beauty, when I have time to catch my breath.

And I’ve been walking around London getting a few last views in before I leave next week.

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The last couple of days have involved dining out – lunch in Brixton with poet pals at a restaurant I’ve undertaken not to discuss but whose very interesting work is described here, and lunch in Whitstable with Kent poet Sue Rose and Canadian poet/novelist Steve Noyes. And… I attended a British Nutrition Foundation half day seminar on fibre research, and have discussed that in more detail at my nutrition blog, Go Local Nutrition.

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Travelling Through… London

Travelling Through BookshopLast Wednesday’s reading at Travelling Through Bookshop went well. A cosy crowd gathered in the downstairs cafe of this newly opened shop on Lower Marsh to hear poetry of place & travel from three poets. I was reading with Sue Rose and Tamar Yoseloff, poetry pals from way back. Sue and Tammy have small and lovely collections from Hercules Editions. Sue’s is called Heart Archives, poetic responses to Christian Boltanski’s Les Archives du Cœur audio installation and gorgeously assembled with her own photos. Tammy read from Formerly, which features her poems responding to Vici MacDonald‘s photographs of disappearing London. And I of course read from Ex-ville, which is perfectly suited to the reading theme, bristling with travel poems of many kinds. Thanks perhaps to Tammy’s apt observation that the book was not otherwise available in the UK, I enjoyed brisk sales: thanks to all my book-buyers!

Lower Marsh is a rather special little street tucked away behind Waterloo Station. I was very pleased to happen upon Greensmith‘s, a very different kind of supermarket, made up of a kind of accretion of different independent businesses – butcher, baker, greengrocer, coffee specialist, and wine merchant – and together able to provide just about anything an urbanite might need to keep a small household going. In a pleasing patchwork of adjoining rooms where visitors find a happy surprise on every floor.

GreensmithsGreensmiths CheeseGreensmiths Produce



Hercules Editions takes its name from William Blake’s last home and printing works in Hercules Road, Lambeth. I had a wander down this road and happened upon some ceramic reminders of Blake’s time there. More about the mosaic project here.





Another wander down memory lane took me to Daquise, a Polish restaurant that’s been around since 1947, clinging on in South Kensington through an era of fast food and chains. They’ve updated the decor since my last visit and now have their cooks serve at the table, which is quite fun. The menu has been upgraded too: almost sorry to find the borscht is not what it was (used to be thick with grated beetroot and other delights) but is tasty and elegant nonetheless.


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