Saturday, 30 June 2012

Nizar Qabbani, Choose + Omar Offendum, Damascus

Uploaded by on May 4, 2010


I have told you to choose so choose
Between death upon my chest
Or on top of my notebooks of poetry
Choose love, or no love
For it is cowardice for you to not choose
There is no middle ground
Between heaven and hell

Throw in all your cards
And I will be satisfied with any decision
Tell me, be passionate, explode
Don't stand like a nail
It is not possible for me to remain forever
Like straw beneath the rains
Choose a fate between two
And nothing is more violent than my fate

You're exhausted and scared
And my journey is very long
Sink in the sea, or go away
There is no sea without whirlpools
Love is a big opponent
Sailing against the current
Crucifixion, torture and tears
And an exodus between the moons
Your cowardice is killing me woman!
Pull back the curtain
I do not believe in love
That does not bear the rashness of agitation
That does not break down all walls
That does not strike like a whirlwind
Ah, If your love swallows me
Pluck me out like a whirlwind

I have told you to choose so choose
Between death upon my chest
Or on top of my notebooks of poetry
Choose love, or no love
For it is cowardice for you to not choose
There is no middle ground
Between heaven and hell

كاظم الساهر - اختاري

إني خيَّرتُكِ فاختاري
ما بينَ الموتِ على صدري..
أو فوقَ دفاترِ أشعاري..
إختاري الحبَّ.. أو اللاحبَّ
فجُبنٌ ألا تختاري..
لا توجدُ منطقةٌ وسطى
ما بينَ الجنّةِ والنارِ..

رمي أوراقكِ كاملةً..
وسأرضى عن أيِّ قرارِ..
قولي. إنفعلي. إنفجري
لا تقفي مثلَ المسمارِ..
لا يمكنُ أن أبقى أبداً
كالقشّةِ تحتَ الأمطارِ
إختاري قدراً بين اثنينِ
وما أعنفَها أقداري..

مُرهقةٌ أنتِ.. وخائفةٌ
وطويلٌ جداً.. مشواري
غوصي في البحرِ.. أو ابتعدي
لا بحرٌ من غيرِ دوارِ..
الحبُّ مواجهةٌ كبرى
إبحارٌ ضدَّ التيارِ
صَلبٌ.. وعذابٌ.. ودموعٌ
ورحيلٌ بينَ الأقمارِ..
يقتُلني جبنُكِ يا امرأةً
تتسلى من خلفِ ستارِ..
إني لا أؤمنُ في حبٍّ..
لا يحملُ نزقَ الثوارِ..
لا يكسرُ كلَّ الأسوارِ
لا يضربُ مثلَ الإعصارِ..
آهٍ.. لو حبُّكِ يبلعُني
يقلعُني.. مثلَ الإعصارِ..

إنّي خيرتك.. فاختاري
ما بينَ الموتِ على صدري
أو فوقَ دفاترِ أشعاري
لا توجدُ منطقةٌ وسطى
ما بينَ الجنّةِ والنّارِ

Omar Offendum ~ Damascus

By Zalfa Rihani:



By Salman M. Hilmy:

Thoughts Inspired by PBS’s Two-Sentence Report on 

The Death of Syrian Poet

 Nizar Qabbani

I am interested in reading Nizar Qabbani's poetics 
(translated into english)
written by the famed Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani for lyrics & to download  
Zalfa Rihani article from p. 54, Translation Review 64 (2002)
 English translation of "Choose" ~translated by Chris, a student of translation, on Arabic Song Lyrics & Translation (blog)
vid1: notes from youtube
Uploaded by on May 4, 2010
Syria Sat 100503

- Syrian diplomat, poet, essayist and playwright, one of the most popular love poets in the Arab world. Qabbani wrote over 50 books of poetry. His central theme in his early erotic works was the physical attractiveness of women. He also revealed chauvinist attitudes of men towards women and urged women to rebel against their status in society. Later he portrayed the complex relationships between men. In the 1950s, Qabbani was with Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayyati among the pioneers, who started to use the simple language of everyday speech in verse.

Nizar Tawfiq Qabbani was born in Damascus (21 March 1923) as the son of a rich merchant. He studied law at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1945, and then started his career as a diplomat. He served in the Syrian embassies in Egypt (1945-48), Turkey (1948), Lebanon, Britain, China, and Spain. In 1954, the Syrian parliament considered demoting him from his diplomatic post due to his poem, 'Bread, Hashish, and the Moon'. In 1966 Qabbani retired and moved to Beirut,   , where he worked in literary journalism and eventually founded Manshurat Nizar Qabbani publishing house. He died 30 April 1998 in London.

jilluchiyama Uploaded on Jun 12, 2010
Syrian hip hop artist Omar Offendum performs "Damascus" at Harvard University. April 29, 2010

JnJ503Productions Info:

Omar Offendum Info:



A 2012JnJ503Production®

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Last year I enjoyed some of the literary wits online, poking fun at National Aboriginal Day acronym~ never ever express your enthusiasm by chanting "Go NAD!" opined one esteemed thinker. Now that the day has grown to a week, we have a new acronym to kick around, NAW... Alas I am not on facebook this year, continuing to prefer some flesh-and-blood "face time" with my community building experiences.

I am still often online, however, blogging and emailing with an array of correspondents.  One thing that I did that was quite silly, was to write a four page questionnaire about "secondary literature," and share it with forty or so of my writer friends. I have had a ten per cent return rate, thus far, and managed to conquer my immediate urge to write an "Important Update on Questionnaire!" within hours of the initial sending. Big playful energy, with real questions underneath, and more to tell or report about that on another day.

Richmond NAD~NAW Celebrations

In recent years we have had a banner between trees announcing our celebration and a big outdoor stage, dominating the space for a few hours of life, and inviting all to join in. RYSA/Pathways has been the main organizational spirit behind this, Rain Daniels, Rhiannon Bennett, Jelica Shaw being some of the overworked organizers in different years, showcasing many local talents and cultural greats from Chef Malu's annual presentations of affordable feasts, to Urban Heiltsuk Dance Group, M'Girl and Murray Porter, the Oskayak Drummers and Pathways youth, Richard Van Camp and myself as writers/storytellers/presenters from the literary publishing side of the arts world.

Many interactive activities, very visible and welcoming. Most years we have also had a school district graduation ceremony, a community supper, and last year we celebrated the signing of our Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement, as well. All's moving in a good direction, it seems, from the early 90s when Roberta Price first initiated the First Nations Parents Support Group, and we grew and grew... supported by the First Nations teachers of the school district.  While some continuities and positive directions continue to unfold, some wrong roads have also developed. I will try to notice both, in my report on what I saw, heard, and experienced this week.

This year, the day was cut in half, and delivered in two parts. June 21st was under school district auspices, and June 23rd by the RYSA/Pathways heroes.

On Thursday, I took my elementary school age children out of class in order to participate, along with classes of students from three area schools. It was a day of presentations and interactive activities at the Richmond Cultural Centre, hosted by Diane Jubinville. Urban Heiltsuk Dance Group performed and presented, and many thank yous were shared recognizing community partners and volunteers. Stations were set up for the classes to enjoy two of a variety of cultural experiences, some organized by a new community group, Kloshe’nem, and altogether these appeared to satisfy the youth and to  unfold smoothly.

In my personal view, regarding the presentations, the protocols on this day were not honoured.  The very first stated goal of our signed AE Agreement was given only token verbal nods, letter of the law interpretation, while the spirit and intention of the participants' goal setting in formulating the AEA was insulted, and local First Nations shoved far to the side: the Chief Dan George Song/Salish Anthem was presented deep in the sandwich of activities, in the thin reedy voice of inexperience and co-optation. The booming voice of the longhouse was not it seems felt to be needed, creating an unnecessary Them and Us that is genuinelt harmful to our community.

Every school child was given a bag of goods from the fedgov, hand delivered by the school district staff and volunteers. Many Canadian flags were also visible, and none for First Nations: we did not recognize our veterans, our elders or our families, our communities, in any kind of meaningful way. It was a school event for school children, and the community presence and involvement was extremely limited.

Having recently been informed that the cherished pull-out groups-- the small group community-building efforts that my children have benefited from since we arrived in the district-- have been summarily cancelled, and that Rhiannon Bennett-- a local youth worker with years of experience in this specific region, with both RYSA/Pathways and Tswassen First Nation as well as her home Musqueam First Nation, UNYA and more-- was summarily dismissed from her employment, it seems a very difficult turn in our collective journey.

Hey, we didn't need Mr. Porter to show us how to sing the blues in 2012. 

My children enjoyed their day of activities, and we took the afternoon off school to play in the sun, and be a family together. The non-indigenous guests had a very good experience, if not a reliable deeper teaching or orientation about actual First Nations protocols: a lost opportunity.  I enjoyed seeing a few old friends, long time area cultural workers and community organizers, and hearing the words and seeing the work of cultural people who are new to me this year.

At the same time, I did feel that my efforts over the years to speak in to the developing Way We Do Things Around Here have failed utterly, and that I must make a much better effort in the future. 

I think back over the years, my many impressions gathered at community celebrations. I see again the pleasure, the joy, in elder Larry Grant's face, looking down across the gathering in front of the big mainstage, having been called home to be with us as elder, speaker, to welcome us in and to share some of the history and life teachings he has gathered through his years. After his time on stage, just watching from the sidelines, I could feel and see his pride, and I liked to be close to that happy energy of his.

I think about visiting Britannia Shipyard with Terry Point, another day, and having him point out that the Native bunkhouse at that location was for diasporic Native people-- people from away. Musqueam fishermen and cannery workers didn't need a bunkhouse, of course, they just went home at the end of each working day. 

Musqueam people were already here: always here: that's so obvious, once you've seen it. It is hard to unsee once the blinkers have dropped, and the multicultural line that "Everyone Is From Away" is set aside, for the people to gather in truth together.

My experiences with Jelica Shaw and Pathways/RYSA continue to be a positive support and influence, but I do sense, today, that the powers-that-be in the Richmond school district simply don't get it, yet. That in effect we are busily creating a separated suburban community in a way that conflicts with, rather than is wholesomely aligned and continuous with, both the original First Nations of our district and the larger urban Indian context of the Greater Vancouver area.

My concern is that perhaps the organizational development is designed specifically not to threaten the settler society by which we are dominated, that it is too strongly affiliated with and identified with and accommodating of-- seamlessly bonded with-- the very mainstream school district structures and union structures that legislative call for agreements was meant to offset, and that no space has as yet developed for a meaningful third way to arise, one that honours and accommodates and integrates all, in a good and healthy way.

My feeling in the school district is that all is not well, that Something Fundamental is being overlooked.  Instead of honouring the people who were here first, by inviting a substantial and meaningful presence, by giving thanks for the "organizing principle" of coherence that we can benefit from by listening to and gathering under the wings of those who have been here from time immemorial, there has been a terrible shift away from respectful collaboration, and toward a marked preference for urbanized unionized hierarchic-- school district norms-- leadership and structures.

One example: imagine the shame, sorrow, anger, regret, so many of us felt, seeing a Salish elder shushed and told his voice wasn't needed in the singing of the Salish anthem. Is this what my children are being taught, as an expression of the mangled multiculti interpretation of indigeneity? To participate in a turf war rooted in arrogance?

Choices are being made, and it appears that we have taken a profound step away from our good road of dignity and cohabitation.  Better to say nothing at all about indigenous culture, than to demonstrate class-race insensitivity and bias as our best public effort of community expression on National Aboriginal Day.

June 23rd:

The second half of our day took place on Saturday, in the afternoon. Again we gathered at the Cultural Centre.  We did without the banner, this year, and the school district didn't share their expensive signage, so we made due with some sidewalk chalk on the paving stones, beside the stairs leading in to the cultural centre.  Those in the know would understand that the gathering was in the room behind the staircase. There were many more community members than school staff, who had all gone home for the weekend, and yet the room was not nearly as full as in previous gatherings. The only RSD # 38 staff person that I saw on Saturday was Rhiannon Bennett, because she is a community member with many years invested in the well-being and healthy communityt of this town.

On this day, the protocols were somewhat better respected. Marlene Hale~ Chef Malu~ was our mc, the Oskayak Drummers and youth storytellers performed, Mike (David) James shared his bundle and beautiful teachings, inviting the community into a circle of being. The Urban Heiltsuk Dance Group again performed, and again brought us up to dance together: these are meaningful community-building threads repeated year after year.

But the first half-day experience has got me very sensitized. Is it enough to take a big blender, and dump all of the stories and dances and traditions into a big pot together, and randomly draw from this to teach the different "learner groups," "elementary school children," "youth," "single parents," "mothers," "adult learners," "inmates," in all the different institutions of Canadian society/culture? Is it okay that when government funds NAD we can afford a big banner, rent a mainstage, and welcome the people in, and when the social engineering interests of the fedgov shifts, we must hide ourselves away, because we can't afford to make a big splash, to advertize ourselves in a mainstream way? How do we develop resilience as a community, independent of the whims of funding agencies?

Personally, I benefited a great deal from Traditional Parenting programs throughout the Lower Mainland, in the mid to late 90s, and while many of these fell away when the funding interest shifted (to the uplifting title, Suicide Prevention). I participated for a while in Multicultural Friendship Group programming within the school district for a few years, too, in the new millenium. However, the teacher sponsor bless her heart was not willing to allow the parent sponsor to lead, and so, after a dream-catcher making afternoon that featured a Chinese craftsperson helping us wrap our dream catchers with silk thread, and use golden threads to create the web, I retired. It was not an involvement without satisfaction and success: I was able to host a panel of Chinese mothers from Jamaica, Hong Kong, Singapore, and elsewhere, teaching the children something very interesting and meaningful about who all those quiet mums were outside the school classes, waiting for their daughters and sons.

Somehow, though, the road is much more difficult for indigenous mothers. We are not given the same platform to speak for ourselves, to lead from a solid sense of integrity, or to gather in community in a way that is respectful of and subordinated to the original Musqueam, Tswassen, Tsleil Waututh, Burrard people and nations... Salish,  and specifically this is my home-- First Nations.  

As was my experience with the Multicultural Friendship Group, I volunteered on the Aboriginal Agreement Enhancement Committee for a time, and I became demoralized by being present-and-not-accounted-for, rendered voiceless by the dynamic of middle class educated people speaking among themselves.  

For me, it is a health issue. I am deathly allergic to perfume, and it is not worth my life to sit again and again with people who cannot see or hear me, and cannot comprehend me when I do speak. It is demoralizing. Why should I take my life in my hands for this?

As a single parent I owe it to my children to maintain a healthy balance in life and a positive frame of mind, and so, I withdraw in the face of a hostile process, and attempt to influence through one-on-one conversation, and by keeping in touch by email.

In sum, I do take responsibility for what I see as a giant step toward defining a suburban indigenous school district that operates in a way ignorant of or hostile to actual original  local culture. I do take responsibility for having retreated for my own private comfort and relief, call it sanity, focussing on earning a living to support my family, and to support family members directly, rather than continuing to engage in the conversation, to remain vigilant on behalf of my family and community. It is just a fact that you cannot retire from the field, saying "you do it," then come back with a passionate backlash: "you didn't do it right!"

In answer to a question from the school district organizer, here is Mike James' blog and website. Mr. James has been teaching indigenous games in this area for over a decade, and perhaps the local poet-- rather than the long time First Nations teachers and community developers and organizers-- was not the best person to ask. But, I am very glad to provide the information now:

I believe he is a very close relative of Chief William Sepass, whose poetry I have discussed elsewhere in these pages (see a few elder writers of importance to BC and other entries linked to his name).

What felt very good for me was what felt very good for me, the very heartfelt contributions of good people, seeing community leaders I have known many years still engaging, still healing, still working toward the collective good of all. Seeing my family coming together within community celebrations, especially the youthful ones, who continue with community and school district supports to rise and shine. Sitting beside Mike as he gathered up his bundle and put it away, continuing the ceremony while the attention of the group and the needs of the organizational structure of activities moved on, and my beautiful son sang with the Oskayak singers...

Bit by bit and year by year, we all move forward together, no one left behind.

All my relations

Friday, 22 June 2012

Grit-Lit Live!

 Vancouver: An evening of performance!

Through a joint project between The Carnegie Centre + The Writers Studio @ SFU, three mentors have been working with six emerging writers to develop their manuscripts into pristine form. The three mentors are Fiona Lam, Charles Demers, and myself. The six writers, who participate in the active writers hub or hive at Main & Hastings and will be the featured performers at the upcoming
  Grit-Lit event at the Rhizome Cafe, are:

Ghia Aweida
Fran Diamond
Henry Doyle
Laifong Leung
Brenda Prince
Antonette Rae

Poets, fictionistas, and nonfiction writers, each with a unique project that they are bringing to light~ shaping their words to shine, with a little support and assistance from those who have come along the same road themselves at an earlier time.

It has been my pleasure to work with Laifong Leung and Ghia Aweida. Laifong is originally from Hong Kong, and Ghia is originally from Lebanon. Both arrived in Canada as children or young people, both are fluently bi- or trilingual, and both have lived and worked here for most of their lives. Each one married here. Each one has attended a variety of groups, classes and workshops at the Carnegie Centre, developing increasing confidence in their abilities to express themselves, not only effectively, but vividly, in written English.

Laifong is working on a massive nonfiction project, an encyclopedic literary reference book on Chinese writers since Mao. I knew going in that she had already signed a book contract: as I soon learned, she has taken early retirement from her teaching career as a professor, and this is her sixth nonfiction book (details below). In our very first meeting, she extracted a promise from me, that I would not dump her or disengage from the manuscript the minute the three month project development period was past! A long term project requires a long term commitment!  After our second meeting, we attended Alan Hill's  poetry book launch together, and stayed to enjoy the poetry gathering afterward. At the open mike, Laifong shared her poem, "Cold Tea," a very moving work, and her very first poem written in English.

Laifong writes,
I publshed a book on the Song dynasty lyricist Liu Yong (985?-1053?) which is in Chinese. The title is: A Study of Liu Yong and His Lyrics (Hong Kong: Joing Publishing Company, 1985); my other book on contemporary Chinese  literature in English is : Morning Sun: Interviews with Chinese Writers of the Lost Generation (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe Co., 1994), my book on teaching Chinese language through film and literature is: February: A Study Guide to the Film (Vancouver: W & Y Cultural Products, revised edition, 2004),  I have co-edited and contributed to the forthcoming book:  History of Literary Interactions between China and Canada (in Chinese). I also published a collection of essays in Chinese (2006) which were taken from my column essays for a well-known Chinese newspaper (Singtao Daily). 

We have met more or less weekly, for lunch, discussing both the nonfiction manuscript as it develops, and "what gets in the way" of the work, with a growing side theme of discussion focussing on poetry publishing, writing poetry, poetry editing, poetry translation, and the differences between trade or literary and academic publishing.

Ghia & Joanne
Ghia's project is poetry-focussed: our plan is to edit and develop a chapbook-length selection of poetry, work that is strong enough that publishers will be fighting for the opportunity to present her work to the world. I was attracted to Ghia's manuscript because her voice is very passionate, strong, and clear, and because I could see the framework of an Arabic style of poetry~ both in terms of presentation and in terms of content~ clearly in her work, often in flagrant contradiction to western "cool" aesthetics~ sentimental, admonishing, judgemental, loving, overflowing with human kindness.

Ghia Aweida is a founding member of Intrepid Pens, a reading-writing group that began at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) and now operates out of W2 Media Cafe (Vancouver BC). She was born November 15, 1965, in Beirut, Lebanon. She is of Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese descent. She attended elementary school in Lebanon, spent a school term in Greece (1976) and returned to Beirut for two more years, then relocated with her family to Cyprus in 1978, where she completed high school.  In July 1986, she immigrated to Canada with her family, settling in Vancouver where she continues to make her home.

Ghia began taking her writing seriously in the 1990s, and has published poetry online (Intrepid Pens,, in Megaphone, and in her self-published chapbooks, most recently, Poetry of Hope.
We have also met almost weekly, sharing lunch at the Carnegie and then retreating to our little meeting-room hideaway. I bring my laptop, and she brings her memory stick, and we work on the poems together. We discuss the challenges that come up for every emerging writer~ the happiness of having a new chapbook to share, the joy of a new flock of poems or an acceptance letter, the disheartening experience of tempering feedback in the form of a rejection letter. All of these are a part of the journey of becoming a professional writer, they are the predictable milestones and crossroads, and it has been my pleasure to be her mentor and fellow traveller, as she negotiates her path between the inner drive and conviction to create, and the mix of encouraging and chastening encounters with others.


Both writers' work attracted me in part because each represented an opportunity to learn more about a realm of literature that I was interested in learning more about. My discussions with Laifong, about the decades of literature and change in China since Mao, and about the contemporary and historical cross-fertilizations between Canadian and Chinese literatures, and with Ghia about the heroes and stars of Arabic poetry and song, have been informative and interesting tutelage for me, as well as the needed groundwork for each to articulate who precisely she is, and how precisely her work fits in to the wide world of letters.

Join us!

not to be confused with

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Congrats to + Music + Motherhood

  Vancouver, B.C. June 19, 2012

The New York Festivals Radio Program and Promotion awards, recognizing the World’s Best radio and podcast programs, took place last night in New York.

MBM Digital is thrilled to announce the episode “Electric Pow Wow” from the RPM podcast series has been selected as the recipient of the United Nations DPI Gold Medal as well as being awarded a Silver Medal in the Culture & The Arts, Audio Podcast category.

RPM is proud to be among this year’s winners, culled from entrants from 27 countries by an international jury of award-winning radio and podcast producers and industry experts. The United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) Awards, juried separately from the festival by members of the UN, honour programming that “best exemplifies the aims and ideals of the United Nations.”

Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island have been dancing and drumming for generations but, in the 21st century, that rhythmic spirit is finding new forms of creative expression. In the podcast episode “Electric Pow Wow,” the powwow gets plugged in, mashed up and remixed, through an exploration of the work of three Indigenous artists – A Tribe Called Red¸the Ottawa-based DJ collective whose eponymous debut album was long-listed for the Polaris prize last week, Cris Derksen, the classically trained, Cree electro-cellist, and Indian Nick, aka Tlingit/Aleut visual artist and musician Nicholas Galanin.

The RPM Podcast is produced by Paolo Pietropaolo¸ hosted by Ron Dean Harris, aka Ostwelve, with executive producer Lynn Booth, creative producer Jarrett Martineau, and production manager Christa Couture.

On the RPM Podcast, Indigenous music and culture meet in sound. Each episode we give voice to the music, stories, and experiences of Indigenous artists from around the world by exploring a place, idea, or tradition that inspires our songs and our people.

The RPM Podcast:

Episode #10: “Electric Pow Wow”:

New York Festivals:

Contact: Christa Couture, christa [at]
Congratulations to the team!


young mum artists on the road

RPM Podcast #013: “Motherhood”

In Episode 13, RPM looks at Indigenous motherhood and music.

Many nations around Turtle Island have references in their oral traditions and prophecies about the important role of the 7th Generation. This concept refers to the 7th Generation to be born after contact with European settlers and how we must live our lives in a sustainable way making sure the earth is sustainable for 7 generations to come. The people with the most direct connection to the next 7th generations are, of course, our mothers.
Episode #013 of the RPM Podcast hosted by Ostwelve explores three Indigenous mothers who happen to also be active musicians. Lakota Jones (Mohawk, Cherokee, Lakota) credits her children as her biggest supporters. Inez (Sto:lo) went on tour and was surprised to see that some communities were uncomfortable with her breastfeeding her son. Eekwol (Muskoday First Nation) shares stories about how music helped her heal from post-partum depression. All three women are learning how to juggle their careers with their new found commitment to raising the next generation.

The RPM podcast is produced & engineered by the amazing Paolo Pietropaolo.
Photo illustration created by the talented Joi Arcand with Achomawi Mother & Child by Edward S. Curtis.

DOWNLOAD: RPM Podcast #013: “Motherhood”
 or find & click on it below:


Lakota Jonez
More about Lakota Jonez + Vizion 9 (photo source)

 More about Inez Jasper + Hello Cool World (photo source)

More about Eekwol + !earshot (photo source)

RPM.FM: Your Host

Ron Harris aka Ostwelve

Os has traveled the world - from the Nokia Jam in Johannesburg to the North American Indigenous Games in Duncan BC - delegating and performing. He has shared the stage with Coolio, Snoop Dogg, Guru, K'naan, Living Legends, Litefoot, Rez Official, Digging Roots and Kinnie Starr just to name a few. Contact: ron[at]

online music magazine

sources: press release
+ as noted

Friday, 15 June 2012

old words~long life~big world

old words early script durable pages
To Flow

"Posted by admin [of the Purdue Chinese Calligraphy Club] on Wednesday, January 31

To Flow February 1, 2007

this word is quite visually poetic. the left radical is "water" and the right side is "birth" and "river". refer to

Birth March 29, 2007

"birth" is a picture of a plant rising from the ground."
 [extract from an earlier post by the same admin]



The oldest known Chinese characters were found on this 3000-year-old oracle bone inscription. The strokes are generally thin, like children's sketches, and the size varies.
Oracle bone inscription in the Western Zhou Dynasty(11th century - 771 B.C.). The letters are so small that they can be read only under a magnifying glass.
Another primitive Chinese script contemporary with the oracle bones was Jinwen (Inscribed Script). These characters were generally inscribed on bronze ware, with thicker strokes and more regular sizes."

时间:2010-08-11        来源:文通网        作者:          


Still thinking about the migrations between oral and textual language and literature. 

Beyond English and French in the ear, I received a lot of Latin as well, then Polish, via the churches attended, and through the eyes via the writing on iconography and signs and hymnals. Given the way that both Europe and European languages developed, very exclusive and powered along by conflictive churches, makers and hoarders of textual language and literacy, destructive bouts of decimation of local and original culture and controlling interpretations down to the present day, of what really is and what really is not, across the Americas and around the world, even in the realms of enforced literacy it is an ongoing hobble of the mind, to greater and lesser degrees, for all participants.* 

So, it was my pleasure in the mid-1980s, to spend some time at my local Taoist tan, as awkward there as anywhere else, absorbent of the languages of community and worship, of new production of spirit writing and the group sessions of translation, where we as a group of fellow travellers interacted very intimately at the interface of languages and realities. 

Whether or not I learned more than a word or two or a phrase or two in Chinese, classical poetic or pass the soup, I was immersed in a languaging experience that was a major life learning. It begins with a boyfriend who spends his spare time practising calligraphy, then follows the immersion in a community of worship and collaboration. Then follows a year or two of study of tai chi and kung fu under Peter Chau, and collaborations with him (and Henry) on the Four Sisters Housing bilingual newsletter, a chance to understand differently, to begin to embody some of the poetic forms and scientific principles through mimicry, and through relatedness. 

Immediately after my first book was published, I went to stay in Taipei, a six month further immersion where i learned important words like "shiao liao" [], said of a crow-like bird, and seeing for myself the altars in the tire shops, the fête-ing of deity, tortoise shell words and the inked notes, the ancient boney plates taken from the bodies of horses, way way way back in the day. The vast history of books from the bone to the fan and the scroll, the calligraphic arts and the printing presses, on down to the modern multi-lingual publishing industry and the Taipei Book Fair.

Becoming literate is only one way to relate to any given language.  We can love our languages however we come to know and meet them. The burden of cultural intervention and the vanquishing of languages, that has left a shard in the heart of so many non-European language speakers of the world, or at least of the Americas, and the ongoing missionary impulse to surge in with Christianity and Capitalism wherever a community becomes extremely vulnerable due to natural forces of the world, and shows it's belly~ all these are perhaps viewed most benignly in terms of the flow of energy, life force, qi. The answer to stagnation is stimulation, activity, nourishment, leading again to flourishing.

I once heard a friend express discomfort, a belief that indigenous people of the Americas are the only people not mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps there is some advantage to my coming to love language in a sensual and friendly way, rather than becoming a polyglot. I might have mentioned to her how cool it was, to see ads in the paper for Native Speakers of English-- imagine! But she has travelled to China, too, and so our conversations have always taken a different turn. It does seem to be important for me, however, to point again and again to the breadth of the world, and the depth of time flowing through us. To say, with complete conviction, there is no shame in that.

Jordan oldest Christian books

sources + notes:

*This riff is not meant as the whole story of Europe, by any means. Following a thread of truth means not following other threads for the moment. Given that the source of so much of cultural "West" is also called "Middle East," I settled on the bit that was a reasonable starting place for me.

I am not suggesting that Chinese historical evolutions are somehow magically free of the conflictive and controlling, the colonizations and the decimations of local cultures. Obviously not.

At the time I was visiting, Taiwan's opposition parties were only beginning to be allowed to protest in public, all language speakers had to learn Mandarin as the imposed language of choice, and below the settler class and the ruling class there are and were indigenous people, and a memory of Japanese occupation, fresh in the minds, visible in the social conventions and the shapes of the houses. 

The country had (and has) a landbase the size of Vancouver Island, with a then-population the same as Canada's, and a looming powerful fellow country, cousins in the same way Canada and the US are cousins, very nearby. 

In the second Purdue practise sheet above, "birth," I love the way another character is hinted at and almost seen, through the thinness of the page. That is a part of what I find so endearing. Everyone has ancestors and every community, every family has it's story, and whether or not these are known~ and how they are known~ nonetheless we embody the past in the present, and carry it into the future as we go.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Herman's House

Herman's House

vid  I:
Published on Mar 19, 2012 by
Screening at Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Festival - Toronto Canada

More information about our film please visit the website
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& Follow the film on Twitter

There are 2.2 million people in jail in the U.S. More than 80,000 of those are in solitary confinement. New Orleans native Herman Wallace has been there longer than anyone.
         Vancouver showing: Sat June 23rd 6 pm VIFF Vancity Theatre
The Best of Hot Docs
(Canada, 2012, 81 min.)
Directed By: Angad Singh Bhalla

vid 2:
Uploaded by on Nov 5, 2006
A song produced by Dave Stewart in protest of the incarceration of the Angola 3 featuring Saul Williams, Nadirah X, Asdru Sierra, Dana Glover, Tina Schlieske, Derrick Ashong and Dave Stewart.
Visit and for more info.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

pipe dreams + puppets: omnibus bill

Haida 2: A message to Stephen Harper

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (source

NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu

Extended discussion: democracy, demonization of environment

 Haida Raid


Haida Raid 2: A message to Stephen Harper
Published on Jun 7, 2012 by
The land of Haida Gwaii is threatened by the building of a giant pipeline and the arrival of oil tankers. Two brothers take matters into their own hands to find a solution, and end up getting some supernatural help from Raven.
Director: Ken Leslie
Story idea: Jaalen Edenshaw, Jason Alsop

By Resolution 2012-21, the UBCIC Chiefs Council strongly opposes the omnibus Bill C-38, including its erosion of environmental protections to serve the interests of industry while ignoring Aboriginal Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights, and the unilateral imposition of the proposed Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012. The UBCIC Chiefs Council calls on the Federal Government to immediately halt and abandon Bill C-38, and demands that the Federal Government work to separate the changes proposed in Bill C-38 by issue (e.g. 2012 Budget, Fisheries Act changes, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act changes, etc.) and then engage in appropriate and meaningful consultation with First Nations.
We advise you that we will continue working with like-minded organizations to strongly oppose Bill C-38. We implore you to stop Bill C-38 from proceeding.
~OPEN LETTER: Union of BC Indian Chiefs' Opposition to Bill C-38
Read in full:

Published on May 15, 2012 by
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill of more than 420 pages. Not only is the bill's content an affront to the democratic process, but also in the way in which the government intends to ram it through without proper examination. The Conservatives know it is inappropriate to make so many sweeping changes to so many different areas in a budget bill.
They know it is inappropriate to include a series of previously unannounced measures in a budget bill, like the measures that contribute to a less transparent and more secretive environment, including a massive gutting of the powers of the Auditor General. They know it is inappropriate to give themselves the power to change employment insurance rules without the approval of Parliament. They know it is inappropriate to gut environmental protection and rewrite Canada's fisheries laws in a budget bill. But they do not care.

More Q & A: Answering the Minister's three questions:
Is the Life Cycle Approach a useful technique for integrating economic and environmental costs so as to recognize the real value of environmental goods and services?
Yes, it is. ...
Is there a way to advance a Life Cycle Approach to environmental stewardship in Canada that supports economic competitiveness?
Yes, there are several ways. ...

What would be the implications of applying this kind of approach? The NRT sees many benefits for Canada from applying life cycle approaches generally to sustainable development and to particular issues.  ...

UN publication : Life Cycle Approaches [pdf]

Haida Raid
Uploaded by on Apr 26, 2007
A very short demo video showing our two puppets on a mission...


Whose puppet are you?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Red River to Ottawa ~ ongoing displacements

"The 132-year-old log and plaster home, where Louis Riel lay in state after his execution for treason in 1885, has fallen victim to the federal cuts to Parks Canada's budget."

I find it supremely annoying when media refer to Harper conservatives as representative of The West. It is a very specific version of the west that the conservatives are both drawn from and represent, in terms of class and culture, and the political empowerment, economic safeguarding, historical figures, culture heroes, and/or physical culture of The Actual West, are no safer in their hands than back in the day of John A.

The distance between the Red River and Ottawa has not collapsed from the time of Louis Riel's poetry or the time of Pauline Johnson's notes in The Shaganappi (1913), and the shipment of Manitoba historical artifacts (not only the contents of Riel House) down east is an insult to the region. In an era of return of artifacts to those to whom they hold meaning, this retraction of cultural possessions and jobs away from the people and province of Manitoba is another face of the imbalance that Thomas Mulcair so candidly observed.

It is not only the manufacturing industry that is languishing whilst the conservatives continue their lovefest with global oil.  With zooming unemployment in the arts and sciences and among the young, this government's interests are very specific. The kinds of jobs and the quality of life intended is precisely fitted to the needs of the oil patch and the pipelines, and resource extraction in general, and very disruptive to the breadth of Canada's population, going about our days (and generations).

The reformatting of Canadian history and current reality is an ongoing pledge, taken by Harper, Baird, Toews, and all of their classmates. It is fundamentally hostile to anything that might be reasonably described as "long-term" or "inclusive" Canadian interests, the formation of a super-settler state on the re-buried bones of our actual ancestors.

Some part of the funding earmarked for Defense Department overruns [bombing other people's homelands: my original read "the Canadian Museum for Human Rights" but Rhiannon Bennett  let me know the funding has been variously announced, clawed back, and minimally restored] should swiftly be diverted to protect the programming and support the ongoing access to actual local culture of Manitoba.

Parks Canada: Riel House
Manitoba Tourism Ambassador Monique Olivier
CBC: Riel House

 Manitoba history shipped to Ottawa
The future of Manitoba's past is going to be significantly impacted by federal budget cuts.

There are millions of artifacts currently housed in a McDermot Avenue building in Winnipeg's Exchange District.

Those pieces, along with dozens of people who catalogue and maintain them, will be moved to Ottawa within the next year, said Greg Thomas, a former Parks Canada manager.

That will affect sites such as Lower Fort Garry because the artifacts will be so far away, he said. Getting items sent back to Manitoba to set up displays could take several days.

"You would still have some of that expertise in Ottawa, [but] it's just that much more complicated and complex to deliver that story [from here]," he said.

Thomas hopes groups such as First Nations will still be able to have access to their items once they are moved to Ottawa, but says it will be much more cumbersome to study those items.

It was recently announced that the doors to the Riel House National Historic Site would be closed to the public for good, as of September.

The 132-year-old log and plaster home, where Louis Riel lay in state after his execution for treason in 1885, is one of the victims of the federal cuts.

Items in that house, which is furnished to an 1886 scene, will be among those being shipped off to Ottawa.

Related story in BC:

CBC: Radio, opening quote
Canadian Museum for Human Rights: more info + who's who
Parks Canada: Riel House
Manitoba Tourism Ambassador Monique Olivier (Riel House curator)
CBC: video, Riel House shuttered
Manitoba Human rights museum: archeology report

also see:
Breakfast Television: Riel House (I, II, III)  
Louis Riel

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Poetry Deal: Diane di Prima

  film by Melanie LaRosa

The Poetry Deal is an impressionistic documentary on the life and work of legendary poet Diane di Prima. It is a 26 minute celebration of poetry, imagination, rebellion and artistic integrity.

I Broke Filmmaking Rules to Capture Anarchist Poet

When the director started making a film about unsung female Beat poet Diane di Prima, she was cautioned against showing too many poetry readings. "It wouldn't be visual enough. It would be boring." But the clips were too electrifying to resist.
 ~ Melanie LaRosa, WeNews,  read more here

blog (image source)
website (trailer source)
view The Poetry Deal on vimeo: