Channel this!

I’m delighted to have a poem included in the current issue of the Irish environmental literature journal Channel.

The editors accept poems from around the world and have managed the question of how to celebrate each issue with a launch by inviting participants to record readings and some photographic context. Then they put it all together and livestream it!

I read two poems from my upcoming book Larder, and sent some photos which the editors invited us to provide, to give context to the contributors’ lives and environments.

This issue is celebrated on Thursday November 11 at 8pm GMT – which for me is noon in Victoria. See you there?

(From the Facebook event page🙂

Details

We’re delighted to announce that the launch of Channel Issue 5 will take place via YouTube Premieres on Thursday 11 November at 8.00pm.

The online launch will feature readings by Irish and international contributors drawn from a pool of over 1800 submissions, along with photography capturing the settings that have inspired their work. We love the poems and stories gathered in this issue—ambitious, disruptive pieces that seem at home in the flux we’re living in today—and we can’t wait to share them with you all.

Also featured will be an introduction to the work of our Issue 5 cover artist, Kevin Mooney, a Cork-based painter whose practice explores the migration of Irish people and the gaps wrought in Ireland’s visual culture by this history of displacement. Kevin’s current exhibition, ‘The Erlish Tide,’ opened in the Excel Gallery, Tipperary, on 30 October, and features large-scale paintings informed by his research into the history, mythology and folklore of Samhain and Halloween. ‘Peasant,’ the painting featured on our Issue 5 cover, is taken from a body of work exploring links between the folk cultures of Irish émigrés and the cultures of the Caribbean.

Issue 5 is now available for pre-order via our website at https://channelmag.org/current-issue/.

Those who can afford to further support our work may consider subscribing to Channel to receive each new issue upon its release, or becoming a patron to also receive access to our digital archive of back issues as well as acknowledgement in print and online.

The launch video will be viewable from our website at the time of its release, or open the video in YouTube to chat with other readers and contributors during the event. We look forward to seeing you there!

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The Future… and the Rice Porridge

I attended (virtually) the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery again this year, with much less time available to spend perusing the papers and attending the followup question and answer sessions, but it was delightful to spend some time with fellow food obsessives from around the world.

One of the keynote speakers this year was Rob Hoskins, founder of the Transition movement, speaking on “What is to What If”. I was much taken with his Rilke quote

The future must enter you long before it happens

which he used in the context of the power of imagination to make change in this world that so needs it. His talk coincided with the launch of the millionaire’s rocket and the inhumanity of that gesture in a time of such need.

“Capitalism sells us short term pleasure,” he remarked – together with all the social and personal perils that ensue when expectations don’t meet reality.

In a more grounded session, I got my hands dirty.. well, food-encrusted anyway, at a Kitchen Lab online workshop. Organized by Danish chef Birgitte Kampmann in Copenhagen and featuring a diplomatic chef in Ottawa, Cameron Stauch, we delved into several unusual ways with rice, inspired by Stauch’s cookbook, Vegetarian Viet Nam. Here’s my version of his delicious recipe for Mixed Mushroom Rice Porridge (Cháo Nấm) – well garnished with home made crispy shallots, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro and spring onions – which found its way that morning onto my brunch table… despite a momentary power outage in the midst of the session, which knocked out my modem long enough to miss a few crucial steps!

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Joining the Poets Caravan

Some years ago, when I lived in central London, an Afghan restaurant on Baker Street called Caravan Serai was one of my favourite places. In one of those life coincidences, I’ve found myself on another caravan here in Canada.

For much of this year, the Planet Earth Poetry series in Victoria BC has been filming local poets reading their poetry in their chosen location. Poets Caravan is a project that maps the various locations using Google Earth; the texts of many of the poems are shown alongside the readings. The poems are also available on Youtube (without the texts).

Here’s mine from Youtube (click here for the Google Earth version – patience: it takes time to load). I chose to read at Haliburton Community Organic Farm where I’ve been volunteering since 2008. I selected poems suited to the environment I was reading from, which prompted the videographer to ask me if I was an entomologist! (Nope, I’ve just been spending time looking closely at what bugs me and my garden, heh heh.)

Most of the poems are from my new manuscript, Larder, which will be published by Caitlin Press in 2022. One (Vegetable Kingdom) is from my 2006 collection Cartography.

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Life on Planet Poetry

Way back in 1988 I visited England for the first time as an adult. I had just published my second poetry collection, with a third on the way, and was keen to learn more about what was going on poetically in the UK. Before I left I got in touch with Mike Shields, then editor of the long running litmag Orbis, where I had had a few poems published. I asked if he knew any London poets I could meet, and he sent me the names Judi Benson and Peter Kenny, both of whom I met that visit and who both became longtime friends.

Towards the end of last year, Peter started up a podcast, Planet Poetry, with fellow poet Robin Houghton. Still fairly new, it charmed me from the outset with its straightforward approach; it feels like joining these two in the pub for a pleasant chat about poets they like, and what they’ve been reading and what they think about it.

So I was charmed to be invited into the virtual pub recently for a chat with Peter about long ago poems and themes of Arrivals/Departures. Hope you enjoy the trip!

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Over and Out: BC Seedy Saturday 2021

Well – long in the preparation and now over! Some 450 people from around the province registered for BC’s Virtual Seedy Saturday, and there were audiences of around 150 for each session.

I attended most of the events, with growing admiration for the Farm Folk City Folk team’s stamina. They were on hand at every session to keep on top of technical issues, monitor the chat and field the questions, so speakers were well supported.

Poetry videos began most of the sessions (and can now be viewed here: )

The live sessions were not recorded. These zoom days we have become accustomed to having recordings at our disposal if we cannot attend an event. The organizers explained, when this came up on the last day, that a great deal of thought and discussion had gone into the decision not to record sessions. One reason was simple logistics: how to distribute recordings after the fact to participants. Another was permissions: the speakers would have had to consent to having their images and content shared, potentially to people other than those who had registered.

And my feeling is that the sense of constant availability really knocks participation down, since many people (guilty!) do sign up for things and then don’t attend, thinking they will watch later. But this means fewer people in a live audience – which affects the energy in the ‘room’ and means some questions don’t get asked or answered.

Among my favourite sessions, though, and there were many…

Vandana Shiva kicked things off on Friday night with a fiery talk on the importance of seed and food security, and the value of local action for both.

On Saturday The Master Gardeners Q&A was lively and well-attended, with MGs from around the province, able to discuss garden issues that differ hugely in the wide range of growing climates in this province. Kristen Miskelly of Saanich Native Plants (at Haliburton Farm) gave a great overview on the value – environmental, cultural and ornamental – of native plants for gardens and restoration. Saturday’s screening of Gather was a pleasure – I’d long wanted to see this film on indigenous foodways.

On Sunday, a panel on invasive species gave some helpful reminders on the perils of random seed and plant sharing, an update on problematic species of plants and insects, and recommendations on contacting local experts to report suspects when spotted. There was Bob Wildfong‘s (Seeds of Diversity) helpful talk on how to preserve seeds and build a usable local seed collection of any size. And Connie Kuramoto gave thorough coverage of seed germination and healthy soil.

I’ll be reflecting further and then discussing my takeways from the weekend at Frances Litman‘s Creatively United webinar on Wednesday Feb 24.

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