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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Chinese Communist Party Protest

Some of the Ottawa Chinese community protested on Parliament Hill on Friday, March 30 2007, against the tyranny of Chinese Communist Party.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Shilling Head

Found whilst looking in the free full book section of


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Inside Your Heart

The Four Horsemen Project was on the ol' agenda tonight. And I can positively say it was a wonderful evening at the GCTC. I haven't seen anything like this since the Montreal performance of Cabaret Vehicule back in April 2004. (I can't believe it has been three years already.) At the time, the founding Vehicule poets were celebrating their 25th anniversary with a fantastic musical event performed by Step Dans Fuego, directed by Liz Valdez. There's definitely something to this fusion and interpretation of sound poetry, dance and music live on the stage. There should be more of it. But maybe, however, there's just enough. Go see the Four Horsemen Project before it's over.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don McKay

Poet Don McKay read Tuesday evening at the Tree Reading Series. This special event was held at the Library and Archives in Ottawa.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stephen Rowntree

Ottawa writer Stephen Rowntree (without books piled on him).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Books on Rowntree

There's nothing I like better than to ensconce my subjects in books...layers of books.
The willing model in this instance is Mr. Stephen Rowntree of Ottawa. He's a good lad who writes awfully good prose on

Melissa A. Thompson and Angela Carr

Left: Melissa A. Thompson is a writer, artist and researcher currently living in Montreal. Her written and photographic work has appeared in various Canadian literary magazines and her installations have been exhibited in Canada and the U.K. Her novel Dreadful Paris (snare books, 2006) is her first full-length publication.

Right: Angela Carr lives in Montreal where she is a contributing editor for Matrix magazine. She will be launching Ropewalk (Snare, 2006), her first book of poetry.

Both read at Ottawa's Factory Reading Series on 22 March 2007.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Speaking of Poetry...

Barbara Gowdy is coming to town as part of the upcoming Ottawa International Writers Festival.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Where are the poems?

John Steffler has been the Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate since December 4, 2006.
So, where are the new poems of the week?

Roy Miki

Vancouver based poet Roy Miki visited Ottawa to read from his books of poetry - his latest being There published by New Star Books, 2006. He read at the Manx Pub as part of the Plan 99 Reading Series.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hubert Aquin 30 Years Later

Today marks 30 years since Hubert Aquin killed himself in Montreal on 15 March 1977. Gordon Sheppard, author of HA! A Self-Murder Mystery has been dead for just over a year now, too. In the end, it was Sheppard's own failing body that kept him from spreading the word of his dramatic version of Aquin's suicide. Perhaps the answer to this mystery was only made known to him on the other side.

Though a soft cover edition of HA! was posthumously published in 2006, I wonder if the book will ever resonate to the extent Sheppard envisaged. He was always hoping for a wider appreciative audience and sought a kind of approval a review in the New York Times or New York Review of Books could bring. Alas, they did not materialize. Despite some very positive reviews in Canada, he strove to find ways to get more people to read this mammoth book. I figure that getting the book in the public's hands was one mystery that he could not solve. It was a vexing marketing conundrum that was beyond his steadfast pursuit.

At the time of his death I had been corresponding with Sheppard since November 2003 when I first read this fabulous big red book, HA!. Earlier that month I went to a sparsely attended reading at the Library and Archives in Ottawa and it was Sheppard who sent me the first email that touched upon his neverending quest for publicity:

Dear John

It was a pleasure meeting you in Ottawa last week. And answering your questions.

I'm also gratified that you have gotten so much out of the book. In this regard, you might be interested to know that Bill Richardson, on his CBC-FM show on Friday, called the book 'magnificent".

Sales seem to be going well in Montreal. We're trying to get the book reviewed by the Citizen to get more exposure in Ottawa.

I have a clear sense that the book can become a best-seller if we can find the right approaches to the publicity and marketing. Ideally this will include local book clubs, where word of mouth can hold sway.

With best wishes,

Gordon (Sheppard)

Normally (in my experience anyway) it is the fan who seeks permission to contact the author for further discussion. This was not the case with our meeting that evening. I was surprised when he asked for my email. Thinking nothing of it at the time I did not know what I was in for. Recently, with Aquin's 30 year anniversary in my thoughts, I went through my email archives and counted 230 emails directly from Sheppard since this first meeting.

Just last week, a mutual acquaintance, Lubin Bisson contacted me via a comment he had written in my blog about Sheppard's passing. Curiously, someone else left a comment questioning Gordon's relationship with Ellen Stratton, Playboy's first Playmate of the Year for 1960. Lubin confirmed that Gordon's first wife was, indeed, Ellen Stratton. There's also a short bio of Stratton in wikipedia which references the short marriage between the two.

Lubin also provided an interesting link to a piece Sheppard wrote in 2005 telling about how he came to make the 70s film Eliza's Horoscope. It's been over a year since Gordon's death and reading this immediately brings Gordon's voice back to life - like he never went away. No one said "The End" yet. I am still waiting for the film to end.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

They Grow Up So Fast

Matthew, "Photoshopped", of course -- his eyes aren't that blue.

Restored Faith

Yup. Nothing like spending an afternoon at the office of Passport Canada to restore one's faith in humanity.

(Just kidding)

But seriously, though, behind their high glass cubicles they have these neat, life-like, uh, let's call them 'automatons' that look like humans, breathe like humans, but they kept on repeating the same thing over and over and could not think for themselves. So, that's how I know that they're not real. Pretty life-like, however. Could have fooled me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Two Photo Book Review

"The world not so bitter in photos."
- Clare Latremouille, The Desmond Book of the Dead

"crisp winter shifting"
- Clare Latremouille, The Desmond Book of the Dead

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vampire Sherpas Need Only Apply

Remember when you were a young adult and a "part-time job" meant working Mondays and Wednesdays? Or working only on the weekend? Well, no more.

Personally, I am looking for full-time employment myself, and I came across this ad this morning that caught my attention. (The Ottawa Citizen is hiring again.) Not that I was interested in this particular job.

It seems this ad is fit for a person with no life, essentially a vampire sherpa -- with "Key boarding proficiency". Surely they mean keyboarding? Part-time nowadays means working 7 days a week at 4am and 9pm. Wow!

I quote the job description at length in case anyone else is interested. (P.S.: Be sure to drink plenty of Vitamin D fortified milk.)



The customer service representative will effectively handle administration and distribution duties and liaison with our Contact Centre via email and telephone.

The successful candidate will have a minimum of 3 years experience in a CUSTOMER SERVICE setting and possess excellent communication skills, both oral and written English. Key boarding proficiency is essential.

The individual will be working in a dynamic environment

The individual will be able to work in a dynamic environment and is available to work varied shifts 7 days a week, between the hours of 4 a.m. and 9 p.m.

In order to be considered for the position, resumes must be received by the Human Resources Department, quoting job #07-029 by 5:00 p.m. Friday, March 16, 2007:

The Ottawa Citizen
Human Resources
1101 Baxter Rd
Ottawa, ON K2C 3M4

• Applications received without the job number quoted will not be considered for this position.

• It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all relevant experience and/or skills are identified on their application. Only information provided on the application/resume re knowledge, skills and ability will be considered.

• We thank all applicants for their interest. However, only those applicants considered for the position will contacted.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Global Erickson Interest

I am pleased and surprised in the overwhelming interest of my weblog post earlier this week on the subject of architect Arthur Erickson and Masud Taj. I not only have had local Canadian viewers of this post, but hits have been registered from all over the USA, Egypt, India, Australia, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan and Morocco to name but a few countries. I have not received hits like this on my weblog since since bandying my photos of celebrities like Alan Rickman, Brigitte Bardot, Bill Clinton and Lance Armstrong. Now, if I could just get paid for my photography, that would be aces.

Nevertheless, so strong is my urge to shamelessly pander to my audience, and out of respect to the global outreach, I shall post a few more new pics to sate your architectual lust. ;-)

Arthur Erickson acknowledges the audience's applause after his introduction.

H. Masud Taj in a pensive moment during Erickson's introduction, prior to his conversation with the architect.

Define Poetry

Ottawa writer, Noel Taylor, in an op-ed letter in the Citizen today, contends that what bus riders should read on their commute is "a more popular category of light verse" comparable to the Ottawa Valley Writer's Guild annual contest "The Joker is Wild". Taylor's article, of course, refers to OC Transpo's on and off again competition to display the poetry of several winners where ad space is usually placed on the city's buses. I posted an entry about this event last year.

In the above photo, Sheila Forsyth of the Valley Writers' Guild hands out the "The Joker is Wild Award for Humor" on 25 May 2006 at the Library & Archives at the Ottawa Book Awards event. Frankly, her 'comedic' presentation preamble was delivered in such a way that I just had to take a photo.

If Noel Taylor believes that the masses just don't get 'contemporary poetry' then I for one thought her skit at the awards ceremony was some sort of attempt at post-modern-anti-humor that I failed to grasp entirely. Yeah, that's it. But at least Mr. Taylor's heart, (and Citizen letter) is a step in the right direction. Transit riders are entitled to have some daily literary interaction beyond viewing the omnipresent advertising which bombard us at every turn.

You may also want to read Amanda Earl's take on Taylor's column in her weblog post today. Who am I to define what is and what is not poetry? Unfortunately, I do not ride the OC Transpo buses as there is no bus service offered in my part of the city where I live -- but that's another topic altogether. Your thoughts may vary depending on your poetic tastes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jay Ingram

Jay Ingram, Host of Discovery Channel's Daily Planet will be speaking tonight on the topic Can Animals Think? Mr. Ingram was in Ottawa in November 2005 for a lecture promoting his most recent book, Theatre of the Mind: Pulling Back the Curtain on Consciousness.

TV science journalist Jay Ingram packed the Azrieli Theatre at Carleton University on a chilly Wednesday evening to discuss, among other things, bird brains.

Jay Ingram goes over some last minute logistics with Shawn Hayley, who introduced Mr. Ingram to the audience.

After Jay's lecture, some time was granted for socializing and signing of books.

Robert Burk (right) hands over a commemorative poster of the evening's lecture to Jay Ingram.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Arthur Erickson

Arthur Erickson - Dead at 84

Vancouver-based architect Arthur Erickson was interviewed by the poetically insightful H. Masud Taj at the National Gallery in Ottawa on Monday, 5 March 2007. The audience showed up in droves this evening for the final event for this year's Carleton University School of Architecture Forum Lecture Series. Strictly standing room only for those unfortunate to arrive late.

Erickson stayed on after the interview to sign a few copies of his books.

A slide show of six of Erickson's major works was featured throughout the evening with colour commentary provided by the architect.

Retired Canadian Senator and former broadcaster, journalist and author Laurier LaPierre was in the audience and posed for a photo. I grew up watching this gentleman on TV back in the 70s and 80s.

Arthur Erickson signing a copy of his Critical Works for a fan.

Janine Debanné, who teaches at Carleton University School of Architecture, co-coordinates the Forum Lecture Series and invited Arthur Erickson to Ottawa. Janine Debanné introduced Arthur Erickson and Massud Taj that evening. The event's conversational-style format provided a more intimate style which came off very well.

Arthur Erickson was accompanied to Ottawa by Cheryl Cooper, the founding director of the Arthur Erickson Conservancy. Cheryl Cooper elaborated that "the conversation style was based on a similar format they used in Vancouver for the opening of the Arthur Erickson: Critical Works Exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in May 2006, where Arthur Erickson was in conversation with the curator and editor, Nicholas Olsberg."

During the evening's talk, images of six public projects were projected on the background as a visual reference for both the conversationalists and the audience. Carleton's Director of the School of Architecture, Dr. Marco Frascari, appreciated the idea of an interview on the stage of the National Gallery and recommended H. Masud Taj, who is experienced in interviewing Forum speakers and many international architects. According to Ms. Cooper, "the images were prepared by Mr. Erickson, the graphic designer in his office, Nicole Milkovich, and Cheryl Cooper."

(more photos here)

Thought this may be of some interest: I came across a blog post with photos of a 'typical' Arthur Erickson well-designed living space:

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Taj & Erickson in Conversation

On Monday in Ottawa, renowned architect Arthur Erickson will discuss his public projects at the National Gallery, 6 p.m., a free event that is part of Carleton University's Forum Lecture series. He will be in conversation with poet-architect Masud Taj. You may remember that H. Masud Taj was a featured reader at the Dusty Owl Reading Series last September. You can also read an interview with him in conversation with Amatoritsero Ede in Sentinel Poetry (Online) #51. From Taj's website: ..."his post-professional architectural dissertation (Distinction) was titled: Doctoring Strange Loves; Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying Stanley and Love Monsters in Scholarship, Chess, Films and Architecture. He was nominated TVOntario's 2005 Award for Ontario's Best Lecturer."

(photos from the event here.)

Wild Flowers

Wild flowers I planted from seed in the summer of 2006 in the back yard. Spring is here in a couple of weeks. Are you ready? Are wild flowers just one word? Wildflowers? Or two words, wild flowers?

I still can't believe this photo of cornflowers is top most searched image for "wild flowers" on Prints of varying sizes are available for purchase from me, don't you know?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Go On...Indulge!

"Go On... Indulge!" Here is a flash back memory from a sunny, warm day at Andrew Haydon Park in the summer of 2006. Photography is all about juxtaposition, isn't it? The snowfall we received today in Ottawa made me want to revisit some of my summer photos.