April 25, 2005

Hardy Friedrich, Way to Inuvik [review]

A lot of Canadian writers have traveled north to find
something, or get away from something, and have come back
with an extra literary (or extraliterary I suppose) awareness
that produces great writing. Maybe it’s that kind of absence
that pulls out language from somewhere other than the same
old always already. Hardy Friedrich found it along the Dempster
in 2004 and at least part of the result is a punchy little chapbook
called Way to Inuvik.
Friedrich is way too cool for his own good. He reads his
poetry with a slick chic groove that suits the playful and under-
stated poems he tends toward. There is very little pretension here,
partly because of the brashness of Friedrich’s youthful (read
‘hormonally induced’) tack. But also there is a lack of overcon-
structedness that is so easy for new writers to get caught up
in. In Friedrich I hear the awareness and fluidity of bissett or
Purdy, the grittiness of Gilbert or McKinnon, the lust of Cohen
or Kroetsch.
Way to Inuvik is a sixtyninebuffalo production—one
of many chapbook presses that are revving to life in Prince
George. It is expertly laid out with luxurious margins and crisp
style. Despite Friedrich’s penchant for poems about aimless
young male angst, the poems in the book are first and foremost
about cultural contact, colonialism, and the narrator’s complicity:

The violent sun of Yukon forest fires
mends the raven hair of a passing girl

know nothing
the edge of her stare
pushes a blade into
my history

The landscape is not so much imagery as a collection of clashing
myths and violations (“violent topography”). There is a careful
narrator here, one that asks hard questions about subjectivity,
history, and race:

copper forever
covers the history
of a crown

Friedrich articulates a deep Caucasian fear: the fear that we
really don’t belong here. And what are we going to do about it?

. . . more like a raven
so big
will slaughter us on our Starbuck
sofas and bars and save-ons
and corporate political or not . . .

In the place of arrogant colonial presence, Friedrich inserts an
insecure and questioning consciousness:

I am alone

Part of being a writer in Prince George is a sense of alienation, a
kind of alienation that allows a kind of easy affinity to those others
who are exiled in this country. Ken Belford, another roving Prince
George poet, has written of his connection to the Carrier First
Nation peoples “I am one of them.” Friedrich offers a similar affinity:

And far from home
that is the sky
where now I
hold my bones
Inuit style
in a pink-lined sunset.

Friedrich’s range is growing and he is yet another new Prince
George poet to watch.

April 21, 2005

Richard Krueger, a new map [review]

Richard Krueger’s writing is like ice; it’s hard, cold,
multifaceted, at times necessarily ugly (those slug-like
creatures that inch over gutters as winter progresses), at
times wondrous. The poems are there and not there. They
catch on your tongue. Even sting. The cover of Krueger's
a new map of the bird perfectly signals that difficult
terrain--jittery, wintery, jagged.

There is no such thing as authentic poetry but Krueger
does not put on anyone else’s poetics. He is influenced by
Prince George and, so, Barry McKinnon but also, I would guess,
a host of other eclectic experimental poets. Krueger plays with
a lyrical deck of cards but plays that lyric with a variety of formal
tricks; he cheats, palms the ace, calls in the pot too soon, and
hums inappropriate tunes. The innovative forms Krueger adopts
displays a poetic maturity that comes out of the artistic drive for
to reinvent the world. These crystalline poems are chiseled finely
and they can cut, leave a reader bleeding, cursing. The poems
refuse to allow very much down-time; there are not many
places for security in subject-matter or tone. When there are
concrete images, they have to do with place, Prince George and
region, but only fleetingly—Krueger does not give in to pastoral
temptations--or language and communication models, which
don’t lend themselves much to image construction. The first
section from “the town south of salmon valley”
exemplifies Krueger’s contemplative narrative stance,
some of his thematic concerns, and his use of form to
accentuate and layer meaning:

the fence,un
-aware,cuts deep

into the field,di
-viding the textures

into slow circles,ha
-rsh squares.ideologies

into which faith is ke
-pt sealed,like churches

in towns,towns we pa
-ss every second or third

hour / / our

town repeats itself in ma
-ny indistinguishable locations. (22)

The ‘town south of salmon valley’ is Prince George which
is quite a bit larger than the hamlet of Salmon Valley;
Krueger likes to make perspective strange. Like an eccentric
postmodern poetic Icarus, Krueger enacts a kind of ironic
failure over and over again:

wiper blades
per blades wi
r blades wipe

there’s a permanent poem in my wi
ndshield,in that frame,but no matte
r how hard i strain,i can’t get wet.th
e rain never reaches the page. (43)

Probably Krueger’s most challenging piece is the long poem
the folding season.” Like most of his other work,
this poem consists of many diverse discourses and the
discourses fold into each other with a loud grinding sound.
Nothing is easy; the sections range from a catalogue of fatal
illness, aboriginal words for seasons, diagrams like fractals,
html code, reflexive references to the material poem, and
footnotes on language, animals, and myth. The folds erase
the page and all that is left is pure agency, the motion through:
“(every word is true.it is only their / meanings which are false)” (104).

One of the distinctive devices Krueger uses is his collapse of
the spaces around commas and periods. The effect of this is to compress
and force a recognition of signs irrespective of spatial cues. It sets
the easy visuals of text on a page off-kilter. Krueger is a twitchy, angular
fellow and his poems match his physicality eerily. Whenever I talk to him,
language always seems off-kilter. This is true for most great artists I
think—a necessary unease to the work, a falling away, or a sudden

navelmaybe we’ve got it all wrongmaybethe drumlin
is not a convex bump
on the face of the earthmaybeit’s concave

maybe we’re on the inside,looking out (63)

Krueger is a prolific chapbook maker--look for his newer productions
A_box_full_of_clouds and Aries. What makes these books
even more exciting is the fact that it is part of a much larger book that
Krueger is assembling. Its working title is The Monotony of Fatal
and all of Canada should be looking for that one. A new
map indeed.

April 8, 2005

Upcoming Events


is meeting every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.
at Art Space (above Books & Co. on 3rd Ave., Prince George)

Contact Jeremy Stewart for full information.

Here's the schedule for May:

Wednesday, May 18 - 8 PM - Artspace
Album Launch / Concert

The band formerly known as Carrie Jane Grey will
be performing its last show and releasing its full-length
album as well as staging an album-listening at this event.
There is no workshop for this night. Admission is $5 at
the door--the album will be $10.

Thursday, May 19 - 7 PM - Café Voltaire
Writing Workshop

This is less of a serious workshop and more of a sharing
session, intended to keep us up to date with each other
and offset the large number of other events this month.
It won't run all that late. Writers of all stripes: bring your
unfinished work for a chance to benefit from others'
experience through constructive criticism. All other
creative types are also encouraged to come and meet
and greet.

Wednesday, May 25 - 8 PM - Artspace
"Pushing the Edge"

This will be the first performance of Peter Stevenson's
Northern BC Free Jazz Ensemble. It is not a workshop
or a jam; it's a concert. Tickets are $10 at the door or
at Books & Company. This will be a very exciting show
for our city.

Thanks, everyone, for your continuing support of our
group. This is an important time for Prince George and
its creative people; be a part of the action. Musicians,
writers, visual artists, and other artists are welcome!
See you there!

Suggested donation $2 to pay for meeting space.



Kiosk = a light open-fronted booth from which food, newspapers,
tickets, poety, skilled & dynamic talents… a building in which
refreshments are served such as in a park or zoo… kiosk’s can
fill a traditional market with color, magic, vibrancy, crafts, jewelry,
paintings, books…

WACK! Hoping to raise a wack of funds! Hoping to have a wack of fun!

The WACK night is being ‘guest hosted’ by (at least) one
representative / activist of the following organizations:

Northern Women’s Wellness and Information Center
The Elizabeth Frye
The UNBC Women’s Center

Core supporters or ‘kiosk divas’ include representatives from the
UNBC Continuing Education Department, the Social Work
Department, the English Department, and the UNBC Women’s
Studies Department.

- to raise money for those four organizations who serve women
in this community
- to celebrate and recognize the role of creativity in our healing/
well-being/ empowerment
- to let the wider community know that ‘women’s issues’ include
self-care, fun, delight, fooling around, play… (i.e. we are not just
concerned to avoid/stop violence – we also want to fully actualize
and have roses and sparkle in our lives!)
- to help new students/ community members know which
organizations and in which roles they might want to do volunteer/
activist work (and where they might go for support during the
rest of the year)

Contact Si Transken for more information!


UNBC First Nations Writers and Storytellers Festival
September 23 – October 6, 2005

UNBC’s First Nations Studies, the First Nations Centre, the English Program, Social Work Department, and Prince George
community organizations are organizing what will be one of the largest and most exciting First Nations writing festivals
in Canada.

We are coordinating a series of storytelling festivals across the north in communities and nations which will then send a
representative storyteller to the Prince George festival in the fall. This promises to be an exciting combination of literary readings, performance, and traditional storytelling events.

Confirmed performers/readers are:

Eden Robinson
Marie Clements
Thomas King
Marilyn Dumont
Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm
Marie Annharte Baker
Lee Maracle
Tomson Highway
Jeannette Armstrong

With a special guest talk by American Indian activist and thinker
Paula Gunn Allen.

Also local performers,
an opening Gala,
Poetry Train 2,
storytellers from across Northern BC
and more!

Contact Rob Budde or Paul Michel for more information.

April 6, 2005

Jeremy Stewart, one hour more light [review]

There are six or seven poets in Prince George (that I am
familiar with) that I am positive will be widely published
before long. Jeremy Stewart is one of them. I know Stewart
mostly as a poet but he is also a successful musician/songwriter
and painter. In all his endeavors he is relentless and hard-
nosed. Fine Prince George pedigree.

one hour more light was published by my chapbook press,
wink books, in 2004. It is the first chapbook I’ve published that is not
my own. It may seem odd for a publisher to review his
own publication, but chapbooks are a bastard form and all rules
are off. I will describe the book to you. Find it and make your own

The poetic persona of this book is a Prince George street. It’s
a kid on a Prince George street who, despite the street’s
violences, believes in the street. Believes it is in him. It’s an
awkward gruff language that greets him. He loves it:

a raspy throat crows a hoarse cry
/ calls out:

wire birds sing the day before a black cloudburst
/ descant with ghosts
who will not answer

this is my street
so I sing along

Stewart’s poem “(lines for my famous father . . . )” is now a
Prince George anthem and captures the essence of the city
in its abused but loveable town mascot/statue “Mr. PG,” a
cartoonish character made of fake logs. Stewart’s chapbook
is about place and the negotiation of place—the kind of odds
Prince George artists are up against and persevere.

In the poems, Prince George is laid bare: its boom and bust
(“that was the bust that nursed me”), its stalwart poets in the
Sears Country Inn (“sitting across the cafeteria / from Barry
McKinnon and John Harris unbeknownst to us / laugh
now a secret convergence of poets"), the haunted landscape
(“the horizon through the scrawny lodgepole pines
green blackening”), misguided graffiti (“FAg”), and songs
from real places (“7th Avenue, Legion Hall parking lot”). The
chapbook is a sourcebook on surviving with creativity in a
northern logging town. It is history, memoir, and tall tale. It is
sprawling, bold, unabashed, young, and heading out:

to break down
decompose the black
and white lines
on the sheet of news-
print that lies
under the fallen poplar
rotten beyond recognition
when the snow melts in
spring seeping
sustenance from dead layers
into the green earth

that is the creative process
of a northern poet


Stewart, Jeremy. one hour more light. Prince George: wink books, 2004.
44pp. unpagenated. Printed on Digital color Xpressions text stock and
Blue Sandstone cover stock. Photograph and drawings by Jeremy Stewart.

April 4, 2005

Derryl Murphy, Wasps at the Speed of Sound

Prince George's own Derryl Murphy has released Wasps at the Speed of Sound through Wildside Press.

11 of Murphy's stories have been collected under one cover, with an introduction by Peter Watts. The stories are Lost Jenny, Island of the Moon, Those Graves of Memory, Father Time, Day's Hunt, Wasps at the Speed of Sound, What Goes Around, Blue Train, The Abbey Engine, The History of Photography, and a story original to the collection, Summer's Humans.

All of these stories fall under the banner of environmental science fiction, although some more loosely than others.

For purchasing online: Wildside Press; Amazon in the US; and Amazon in Canada. See Derryl's Site for more inofrmation.

April 3, 2005

The Northern BC Rules -- Brian Fawcett et al

(As of March 20, 2005)

Fawcett invites any and all contributions to the list of
"Northern BC Rules" . . .

For more Fawcett go to Dooney's Cafe.

Life rules:

1.) Only things designed in the north work in the north. Everything is designed in the south.
2.) Don’t even try to say anything good about Northern B.C. during breakup. People complain for a reason, and don’t deserve to be humiliated.
3.) Never get beaten up for the same thing twice. If you do, people will know you’re stupid.
4.) If you can make that big sonofabitch laugh hard enough, he might not beat the crap out of you.
5.) If you say ridiculous things with a straight face, 50 percent of people will believe you.
6.) Speed, agility and calculation are more important than strength—except when you’re changing a truck tire without a jack.
7.) The wrong person always gets caught or killed.
8.) Once you discover where the smoke is coming from, it’s more important to discover where it is going than to douse the fire. Sometimes it really is a forest fire, and knowing where it’s going will tell you where to run. Other times, the smoke may be blown at you by someone is trying to put one over on you, or on themselves.
9.) Always be polite to the police. They have guns, and it isn’t their job to care about why you’re so drunk or angry.
10.) The furnace only dies when the temperature is below -30. The first repairman never fixes it properly, and the second repairman doesn’t come for ten days because he’s fixing all the other furnaces the first repairman screwed up.

Bush Rules:

1.) Never pretend you know what to do if you don’t. In the bush, pretending will get you one of two things: lost or hurt. In the larger world, this is true, too, but the penalties take longer to arrive.
2.) Learning to fall down in the bush without hurting yourself is slightly more important than finding ways to get where you planned to go. Both are more important than standing tall, which is most helpful in getting your head taken off by a flying choker cable or a dead branch up your posterior when you slip on a log.
3.) Don’t assume that those hunters know you’re not a moose.
4.) Never go brushshooting when you’re drunk. (No one brushshoots unless they’re drunk).
5.) Never hike for the fun of it. If god meant us to walk long distances, she wouldn’t have invented motor vehicles.
6.) Never rest anything heavier than a pack of smokes on a tree branch. (This applies specially to axes and loaded guns.)
7.) Never try to talk to wild animals. They can’t talk. Neither can trees.
8.) Never be the first person into the water. Water is cold, and it can harbour bloodsuckers.
9.) Never wear blue-jeans or other fashion items in the bush. Standing out in the bush is the same as making yourself an attractive target, except that you attract blackflies and moisture, not hunters with poor eyesight. After one hour in the bush while it is raining, an average pair of denim pants weighs roughly the same as a grand piano, which you don’t want to be dragging around the bush, either.
10.) There’s no such thing as scenery in the bush unless you’re inside a 4x4 pickup truck. Keep your eye on the trail.
11.) Whistle while you walk—or sing “Stairway to Heaven”, if you have to. Bears don’t Really like to shit in the woods, which are filled with sharp brambles and devil’s club spines. Sensible bears prefer to use the edge of a logging road or a hiking trail or a carpet of moss in a moose meadow, and they expect privacy. Pretending that you’re the Last of the Mohicans is a good way to end up necking with an angry bear.
12.) Never take mugshots of standing moose during the winter with your new digital camera. Those moose are standing by the side of that road because their shins are barked bloody, and they’re hungry and irritable. They don’t want to be 1500 pound Supermodels.
13.) Never eat bananas while you’re working in the bush. Aside from attracting blackflies and mosquitos, it’ll tell everyone you’ve just arrived.
14.) Always remember that everyone who works with choker cables is either incompetent or deranged.
15.) Don’t chat with fallers while they’re working. They have short lives because there’s no reliably safe way to cut down a tree taller than an adult human being.
16.) Don’t decide that you’re out of the woods when you get to a road or clearing. You’re not out of the woods until you’re inside your pickup, and it starts. Until then, you’re just another moose to those drunk American hunters.

Bar Rules:

a. Looking people in the eye means you’re willing to fight. Holding eye contact means you want to fight right now.
b. Bumping people in bars after 11 P.M. reduces you to two options. Hit the person you bumped as hard as you can, or hit the floor face down.
c. Never look at anyone’s private parts while you’re standing at a urinal because it’s likely to start a brawl. This is because the male penis, viewed directly from above, appears smaller than it actually is—the other guy’s is always bigger.
d. Wearing T-shirts from other B.C. towns is equivalent to wearing a T-shirt that reads “Beat Me Up.” Best not to wear hockey jerseys unless they are size XL and you don’t need shoulder pads to fill it out.
e. Always be prepared to walk home. You don’t have to get into the truck with those crazy bastards.
f. She’s married to a faller, and he’s 6’4”.

Snipe Hunting Rules:

1.) Standard equipment for a snipe-hunting expedition: 1 blanket; one axe (to chop firewood, not to be used for clubbing snipes); waterproof matches; one fishnet; at least one bottle of Canadian Club or 18 bottles of beer per

2.) Chainsaws and leaky cans of gasoline are not advisable due to injury risk. Flashlights are permitted, but not batteries.

3.) Don’t take poor people snipe hunting. They may be hungry. The optimal novice snipe hunter works for a multinational corporation and makes in excess of $100,000.00 annually.

4.) Never take a gun on a snipe-hunting expedition.

5.) Optimal snipe hunting grounds should offer: a.) clear sightlines for no more than fifteen feet around the fire. B.) natural hazards known to the experienced hunters but not the novice; C.) at least one stand of mature timber within 20 metres.

6.) Optimal weather conditions for snipe hunting: a.) wind speed
of at least 20 KPH: to attract snipes, the blanket needs to move, and
the trees need to make noises. b.) light dusting of snow to aid in finding lost snipe-hunters.

7.) It is sadistic to snipe hunt during black fly season unless you
share the mosquito dope.

8.) Do not snipe hunt during hunting season. You never know who’s out
there, what they’ve been drinking and what they’ll mistake you for.

The Writing Way Up North, March 29-30

Brian Fawcett
“The Northern BC Rules”
Tuesday, March 29
8:00 p.m. UNBC Room 7-150

The Writing Way Up North:
A Symposium on Northern BC Writing
Wednesday, March 30
all panels in UNBC Room 6-205

9:00 – 10:20
Lynda Williams--
Reflections on Water: Seven Years of a Northern Experiment in Creativity.

Si Transken and Jorge Kelly--
Prince George Writing: Creating Community Differently

Kelly Wintemute--
The Three Ecologies: Environment, Society, and Psyche in Fawcett's Virtual Clearcut.

11:30 – 12:45
Jeremy Stewart--
"An Architecture, However Crude": Crumbling Form in Barry McKinnon’s BOLIVIA/ PERU

Betsy Trumpener--
Frozen Ink: Northern Writers on CBC Radio

Michal Latala—
Barry McKinnon and George Stanley in the Face of the North

Mark Peil--
Spirituality and Blackened Lungs: The Religious Third Space in Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach

1:30 – 2:45
Earson Gibson--
Richard Krueger’s aries: Poetry from the Fringe

Ken Belford--
Lan(d)guage writing: post language writing in Northern BC

Rob Budde--
Central Disturbances: Ken Belford’s Ecologue Writing the Outside In.

Robert Creeley 1926-2005

Robert Creeley died Wednesday, March 30 at 6:15 a.m. of pneumonia in Odessa, Texas. He was active and ferociously alive up until the end.

Full biography

Robert Creeley was born in Massachusetts in 1926 and graduated from Black Mountain College where he befriended Charles Olson and edited The Black Mountain Review. Publications include: For Love (1962); Words (1967); Pieces (1969); The Finger (1970); St Martin's (1971); A Day Book (1972); Thirty Things (1974); Away (1976); Later (1978) and Memory Gardens (1986). He has also written prose, including The Gold Diggers (1954/65) and The Island (1963); as well as essays A Quick Graph (1970) and Was That a Real Poem (1979). He was awarded the Horst Bienek Lyrikpreis from the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant and was New York State Laureate from 1989-91. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and lives in Buffalo, New York. He held the poetics chair at the State University of NY at Buffalo prior to Charles Bernstein.

"Why poetry? Its materials are so constant, simple, elusive, specific. It costs so little and so much. It preoccupies a life, yet can only find one living. It is a music, a playful construct of feeling, a last word and communion" (selected Poems 1945-1990).

For over 50 years Robert Creeley has given shape and breadth to a unique form of verse. Lee Harwood writes: "he has an amazing intensity when he reads. Every 'and', 'the' and 'but' matter. No superfluous words or literary pirouettes. Just trying to get to the heart of the 'matter'".

Click here for readings etc..