& Instinctive Acts

 

As the sand drains to the bottom of December 31’s remaining hours, and just like the end of 2017, lasts, like this day, point me toward reflection and acknowledgment, announcement and celebration. In my last post, I took stock of my year in poetry, bowing to those who joined and supported me. 

In this post, I announce Instinctive Acts, my third chapbook of poetry, published in October 2018 by Nomados Literary Publishers, edited by Meredith Quartermain and Peter Quartermain

Here’s Meredith Quartermain unveiling Instinctive Acts on October 19, 2018 at Nelson The Seagull (cafe). Instinctive Acts joins my other two chapbooks of poetry. 

In my first chapbook, Landscape of The Wait (Finishing Line Press, 2017), a poetic response to my nephew William’s car accident and year-long coma, the landscape is hospital and waiting rooms on the Atlantic coast in the Northeastern US, where I grew up and where my family still lives, and the conceptual landscape waiting carves in the minds and hearts of the waiters. In my second chapbook, Mind of Spring (No. 22 Vallum Chapbook Series, 2017) the landscape is the Sonoran Desert that surrounds Tucson, Arizona, and includes streets and neighborhoods (Barrios) of the city’s Downtown. This long poem in three parts also takes place in corporate America and oil-rich Middle Eastern countries surrounded by the Arabian Desert. 

I A covers (2)

The landscape of Instinctive Acts is Vancouver, British Columbia’s Downtown Eastside and Gastown neighborhoods. In these poems, I’m writing to locale/dis/location; place/dis/placement; neighbor/neighborhood. The poems are written as taking place in the city and so by that association they are of a city. Weirdly perhaps, I do not think of them as commentary on city (the urban) or in contrast to the (suburban) small village I grew up in on the other side of the continent or to the desert. Place is important because of a feeling of exile, displacement, immigrant status. And the loneliness that comes with being new and other in a place, especially one that tends to remind you of your otherness. 

Everyone has their pre/occupation. In these poems, mine is: How do I and my neighbors live together? What is neighbor/neighborhood? Who belongs–the geography of self? Who is inside/outside–figuratively and literally? How do we connect? Where do we find community? What is home? Where is it found? To what elements of deconstruction are connection, community, and home vulnerable? 

The vulnerabilities are revealed through: Woman walking. Violence–against women. Writing-on the wall, as literal and metaphoric implication. Talking to walls. Speech. Communication. Listening/watching in order to locate. In order to be. In relationship. In community. With self, other, streets, alleys, restaurants, birds (nature), and rain. It would n’t be Vancouver without rain.

In Vancouver, rain is often a source of complaint, keeping residents inside. By contrast, in Tucson, rain is a cause for celebration, dancing residents into the streets. I’ve always loved the rain. Rain that washes but that’s not what it’s for. Rain that punctuates but that’s not what it’s for. Rain no matter what. Rain on everything. Rain indiscriminately. 

Rain–its absence or presence. Birds. Location. These are three constants in my work.

I want to tell you a bit about how the cover came to be.

As with the other two chapbooks, I wanted a photograph for the cover. Meredith Q. was hesitant, so I was in the process of accepting a text only cover for Instinctive Acts when I had a dream. A gargoyle, as I call it, in an alley near where I live became the cover of the chapbook. The next morning, I contacted Vincent Wong, my friend and a wonderful photographer to see if he’d come take the gargoyles picture. He agreed! 

Here are some of Vincent’s beautiful captures of the day.

Once I had Vincent’s wonderful photographs, I selected the one (bottom left) and mocked up a cover for Meredith to see. She loved it, and when I told her about my dream, the new cover was born! 

What a joy it was to collaborate with Meredith and Vincent on the book! I bow to them, and to Joanne Arnott and Wayde Compton, who offered their endorsements for the poems. Terrific artists all, who make Vancouver’s arts  and my community more vibrant.

With the book all together, it was time to celebrate! 

Rolf, the owner of People’s Co-op Bookstore, where we gathered to celebrate Instinctive Acts welcomed us. First up: Jacqueline Turner, a new friend and wonderful poet read from her new work forthcoming from ECW Press. Next Jacqueline and I read part of a poem we wrote in collaboration for Pandora’s Collective Poetic Pairings reading (October 30, 2018). Then, it was my turn! I read 10 poems from Instinctive Acts. The reading closed with Japanese poet, Soramaru Takayama and I reading two more poems from the chapbook. I read in English, Sora read his translations of my poems in Japanese; then, we read the poems in our respective languages simultaneously (Go to this post on my Facebook page to listen to Sora’s and my performance).

There’s another chapbook of my poems into the world. Tra la! Will you read it and then share with me your response? That’s a poet’s hope! Happy All Year!

 

 

& MAKING SPACE

November. The 11th month of 2018 during which I’m thinking about space–being made for my poems and me–and those who generously made it.

Making space for makers is a community-minded, inclusive action of high order!

I am deeply grateful to those who have made space for my poems and me the months of this year in their readings series, at their microphones, in their ears, in their eyes, in their bookshelves, in their imaginations, in their conversations, in their publications…

Come on this tour of gratitude-filled maker spaces…

In reading series–

  1. Phoenix Poetry Series: Finishing Line Press Poets 

Fri Jan 26, 2018 at 7pm | Phoenix College, 1202 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ

A panel-style craft talk about the challenges of writing familial trauma by three Finishing Line Press (FLP) poets: Jami Macarty (Tucson), Virginia Chase Sutton (Phoenix), and the co-host of PPS, Rosemarie Jeana Dombrowski, followed by a reading of our poetic works. Thank you pro hosts Rosemarie Jeana Dombrowski and Nadine Lockhart!                Images: John R. Welch

2. Casa Libre presents…

Sat Mar 24, 2018 at 7pm | Casa Libre Reading Room, 228 N. 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ

With a much compromised voice, I read from Landscape of The Wait and Mind of Spring, with admired Tucson poet Joni Wallace, who read from her Kingdom Come Radio Show and some new work, followed by a Q & A to an audience of intimates at Casa Libre en la Solana. Thank you intrepid host: Sally Roundhouse! Images: Eleanor Kedney

3. Poets Corner Reading Series

Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 7:30p | Massy Books, 229 E. Georgia St., Vancouver, BC

I read from Landscape of The WaitMind of Spring, and new poems with lovely Vancouver poet Daniella Elza, who read from her new work, followed by a Q & A to a receptive audience at Massy Books. Thank you smiling hosts James Felton and Franci Louann! Images: Deb DeJong

4. Dominion Reading Series #16

Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 6:30p | BC Artscape Building, 268 Keefer St, Vancouver, BC

With special colleagues and poets Bonnie Nish and Cythia Sharp, I breathed poems–from Landscape of The Wait, Mind of Spring, and a new collection–into the rarified air of the monthly reading series, taking place in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Candie Tanaka, the coolest, is the host of this literary salon and conversation where each writer gets 20 minutes:  10 mins for a reading, 5 mins for discussing their creative process, 5 mins for talking about a hobby or something else of interest, and an extra couple of mins for questions. Plus, Candie offers the best snacks and refreshments. Thank you, host extraordinaire: Candie Tanaka! And, for the images: Bonnie Nish! Listen to my reading!

In radio Interviews–

5. Wax Poetic (Listen on CFRO 100.5FM)

Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 2-2:30p | Co-Op Radio, 370 Columbia St, Vancouver, BC

wax poetic.png

In this interview (prerecorded on May 29 at 3:30pm), I joined hosts Pamela Bentley and Kevin Spenst, allowing each poem I read–from Landscape of The Wait and Mind of Spring–to guide us in conversation at the confluence of the words the world inspires. Thank you thoughtful hosts: Pam and Kevin. Listen to the interview!

In artistic collaborations–

6. Tower of Babel

Sat, Jun 2, 2018 at 1-3pm | Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC

In this outdoor public poetry reading, Japanese poet’s Soramaru Takayama’s “Tower of Babel,” was delivered in 20 voices, giving breath in 20 languages, to celebrate Vancouver’s diversity. I had the honor of reading the English parts of the poem. Thank you bows to gracious hosts Tasai Collective, Steve Frost, Yurie Hoyoyon, and Soramaru Takayama! Images: Manto Nakamura

7. Sustenance Anthology Reading

Sun, Jun 17, 2018 at 11am-1pm | Farmer’s Market| Dude Chilling Park, Vancouver, BC

Sustenencae reading Dude Chilling Park June 2018

Fresh local poets who contributed to the anthology Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond of the Subject of Food, were paired with produce at the BC Farmers Market. Proceeds from the sale of Sustenance go to support the BC Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program. Purchase a copy and help provide a family in need with local, fresh food, all the while supporting BC farmers, ranchers, and fishers. My poem, “Hunger” is at this meal of writing, and I acquired and edited 10 other voices also included in the word feast. Thank you to hosts Rachel Rose and Anvil Press!

8. Pandora’s Collective: Poetic Pairings

Tues, Nov 30, 2018 at 6:30pm | Britannia Library| 1661 Napier St, Vancouver, BC,

This is one of my absolute favorite events in Vancouver, programmed by Pandora’s Collective executive director Bonnie Nish, wherein two poets are paired for approximately three months during which time they put their imaginations together and arrive at a collaborative response to concerns of their own creative design. This is the second time I’ve had the good fortune to be included in these most fascinating proceedings, and this time I worked with wonderful Vancouver poet Jacqueline Turner on a two-phase poem, each of six parts, concerning itself with risk the saying as antidote to demands of silence related to violence against women. Thank you to respectful host: Mary Duffy! Images: Wendy Bullen Stephenson

In publications–

9. Celebration of SFU Authors, Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2), EVENT, Light – A Journal of Photography & Poetry, Otoliths, and The Paddock Review (a Finishing Line Press project)

My 2017 good luck publications Landscape of The Wait and Mind of Spring were recognized at the annual Celebration of SFU Authors in March 2018. The literary journals: Contemporary Verse 2 (Canada),  edited by Sharapal Ruprai and Jennifer Still accepted two poems; EVENT (Canada)edited by Joanne Arnott accepted one poem; Light – A Journal of Photography & Poetry (United States), edited by Manny Blacksher accepted five poems and appointed me a Featured Poet (!) of the issue, Otoliths (Australia), edited by Mark Young, accepted six poems and The Paddock Review (United States), edited by Leah Maines accepted one poem. Each editor took a chance on my poems (15 in total); their confidence in my work is a life spark. I am deeply grateful to these editors for their support.

In ears, eyes, & bookshelves–

10. You!

On day 310 of the year 2018 and all seven days of each week in these 11 months–thank you for welcoming my poems and me into your ears and eyes and bookshelves. Thank you with my whole art heart for your welcoming! Poetry Love!