Wednesday, November 30, 2005

shifting calgary's switch

Please Join The Mercury Press and McNally-Robinson Booksellers as we celebrate the publication of:

edited by derek beaulieu, Jason Christie and Angela Rawlings
(The Mercury Press, 2005)


McNally-Robinson Booksellers
120 8th Ave SW
Calgary, AB


Featuring readings by:
derek beaulieu,
Jason Christie,
ryan fitzpatrick,
Jay Gamble,
Jill Hartman,
Larissa Lai,
Julia Williams


Over 2 years in the making and featuring 41 avant-garde poets from across Canada in almost 200 pages, SHIFT & SWITCH challenges the reading and writing status quo, and questions what a poem may be.

While contemporary poetry anthologies may emphasize traditional lyric poetry, SHIFT & SWITCH offers a unique alternative: radicality, experimentation and innovation with sound, visual elements, mathematics, surrealism and 'pataphysics.

Crack open the spine to this highly anticipated collection, and discover Canada's next generation of innovative poets and their work!

our home on native land

here's the view as of 9:30 this morning, outside my front window. liberal government toppled in a no confidence vote two days ago. i'm back home in the land of snow and bureaucracy. in a state of great despair over how i'm going to get the move to vancouver into gear, and this apartment in shape for sandy to move in. i did a bit of one-hoof yoga this morning, which helped. if i could only have my full practice back... i owe all kinds of paper to all kinds of people. i'm in no mood to do it. too bad so sad. must get to work.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Some sisters at last! Yukiko Chino is a really interesting writer and journalist who has just published a book on the history of Barbie. She has lived in Beijing for a number of years and writes about cultural misunderstandings between Japan and China-- an issue that's getting hotter and hotter as China's economic fortune rises. She introduced me to Favianna Rodriguez, a San Francisco-based Latina activist involved in all kinds of cool stuff, including the WTO protests. To the right is their friend Ziggy and her sister Chisako, who joined us after supper and took us out for a taste of Tokyo nightlife.

in the early 90s, sister vision press published a landmark lesbian of colour anthology called piece of my heart. this week, this t-shirt was a particularly devastating encounter. the photo is small, so it's hard to make them out, but there are us army appliques all over the front.

sexy clothes in harajuku

Roy Miki; Shigeki Takeo, who specializes in Asian Aboriginal issues at Meiji-Gakuin; and lovely Yoshi, whose last name I didn't catch, who reads all the 17th century stuff my parents love-- Leibniz, Spinoza, Descartes and all that, and who kindly and attentively wheeled me around the city in a wheelchair the university provided for the evening. We're drinking beer and eating roasted almonds under a heat lamp at a bar called La Boheme. Asia loves a dream of Europe.

Ayako Sato, who hosted us at Meiji-Gakuin University last Friday; Brent Edwards a smart young professor from Columbia, who gave a very interesting paper on the future of the term "diaspora", and a Langston Hughes poem "Letter from Spain," in which the speaker encounters a dying Moorish soldier who was fighting for Franco's army; and Chieko Mulhern, a professor emeritus who taught in the US for 17 years and now lives in Tokyo. This photo was taken in a one-room restaurant that specializes in soba (buckwheat). The husband and wife who run it live upstairs. It is part of movement in Japanese cooking that jazzes up traditionally "low status" dishes. The food was amazing-- smoked duck, buckwheat sprout salad, grilled miso with chopped walnuts, thick omelet, tempura, cold soba noodles, and some very potent buckwheat shochu. One-hoofing up the steep narrow stairs was hard work, but worth it.

talent in the family

congratulations to derek beaulieu and gary baldwin on the launch of frogments from the frag pool on saturday. sorry i missed the party.

big kudos to angela rawlings, jason christie, derek beaulieu and contributors on the vancouver launch of switch and shift, a new collection of contemporary canadian poetry. you guys rock!

pachinko lady. we all need to feel lucky sometimes.

okonomiyake boy in the basement of a department store in nagoya. i was so happy just to be able to sit down...

islands in time

back in calgary. living in the island of my own time zone. woke up at 5pm today. it was light out, and i thought good, it's morning. hah. made a veggie burger, ate a bunch of toast with my dad's marmalade on it. crawled around my apartment trying to get rid of stuff. i have to get this move on the road. hung out with lenny, listened to a bunch of the music i bought, thanks to wenchi lin, in taiwan. recommend-- getting dark, insects awaken. watched the first episode of the forsyte saga-- coronation street projected back a century. would give anything for a perfect bowl of udon. would give anything to get back to yoga. the transition is deepening.

Monday, November 28, 2005

phallus shrine at the fertility temple

bev curran hosted us in nagoya

hello my familiars. fox shrine in a parking lot near the meiji-gakuin guest house in toyko.

late night arrival in the land of manga last sunday. photo from the bus window. are we in the future yet?

wayde sought and found evidence of hip hop culture in the taiwanese universe.

two-wheeled paradise

sebastian and garry

for love milk human

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Me and Taipei City Cultural Commissioner Liao after the final panel two Fridays ago. This pub is in an old Japanese house. It has an extensive bar menu and a great Chinese food menu. Fabulous local greens, ma po tofu, clay pot rice. I wish there was a place like this in Calgary.

a painting in the foyer of the rido. "look at them," says roy, "they are all asians." we long for a reflection of ourselves in the history of the other-- colonial mimicry or propulsion into a miscegenated future? love letters to a fantasy europe, our home away from home...

roy and rita kitty corner to the rainbow market of the handicapped on our first day in taipei

my deluxe bedroom at the rido hotel, aka the love shack, in taipei. my room was japanese style. some of the others had euro style rooms vaguely reminiscent of some palace in versailles in the 18th century, with divans, dark wood, fine china and frilly pillows. the hotel was a compelling fantasy space somewhere between colonial occupation and nostalgic "return" of a privileged home-that-never-was. comfortable uncanny. dizzy disney wonderful.

chapbooks and comic books at Magpie, a magazine store on Commericial Drive in Vancouver. i return to the neighbourhood of my lost youth next month.

butterfly encumbrances

i love you blogger, you endlessly attentive extension of my electric brain. i've missed my calgary friends, but it's too late to call anyone. i'm stumbling through the floozy wooze of re-entry jeg lag. the shock of self-confrontation, this disastrous apartment that needs to be picked up and moved into the future. it judges my bleary eyes and one leg badly. some people are skilled declutterers. i'm a clutter butterfly, entangled in the sticky twisty fibres of its own cocoon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

temples and alley ways

Yesterday Bev Curran took us to this lovely little fertility temple complex in Nagoya, for people who want children or have lost children. There was a wish tree, a snake god, a kwan yin, a phallus shrine, a giant buddha, a shrine for lost pets and a pet cemetary. Beautiful Japanese maples turning brilliant colours above. I'll post photos when I get home.

Roy and I spent the afternoon looking for lunch in the basement of a large department store. It was amazing-- all these stalls selling cakes, obento, sushi, croquettes. But nowhere to sit. We finally found an okonomiyake place with three stools wedged in against a counter. Bullet train back to Tokyo. It left us at the main station, and we had to find our way back to Shinkansen on our own. We met a nice lady who was very concerned about our welfare. She found a train station man, who took us on the underground handicapped route to the subway tracks. Lots of trucks, workers, supplies moving through that dark, labyrinthine space. Thought I'd one-hoofed my way straight into a Neil Gaiman novel.

We are back in Tokyo now. I'm sad today. A good friend has lost her father.

Prepping my talk for Meiji-Gakuin University tomorrow-- conference on Canadian writing and globalization. Right up this alley cat's alley.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Just back Aiichi Shukutoku Daigaku where Roy and I visited an amalgamation of three classes to talk about our work. Lots of stuff on the table-- mythology, the future, cloning, biotechnology, growing old, family, language, the JC internment, being Japanese, being Asian, flowing, travelling, limping. Hope it was productive for the students. The group was almost all women. There were four men.

On the way back we were delighted to have a cab driver who was studying English and wanted to talk to us. He had a DVD player in his car, with an English lesson DVD in it. There's a lot less English signage here than in Taiwan-- a sign that we're in a first world country, says Roy. It's hard figuring things out with minimal access to language, but we haven't yet had any major mishaps. There are, however, an awful lot of stairs without railings in this city.

Enjoyed riding the bullet train (Nozomi) from Tokyo, very fast and sleek. Leaned over the aisle to watch the suburbs go by. We'll have tempura supper soon with Bev Curran, who hosted us. We're staying at the Nagoya Marriot. It's attached to the train station. There's a big department store in this complex also. Might be time soon for a little light shopping.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

participating in the local economy

I have photos of our Friday night rampage through Taipei, which I'll post when I have access to a computer with English Windows. I'm on one for public use right now, in the basement of the Meiji-Gakuin guest house. Everything is in Japanese, which I can't read. I feel like I'm caught caught in a high-stakes round of the card game Memory.

On Saturday, the ever-generous Wenchi Lin took Wayde and I on a media shopping tour of the city. We visited two Eslite locations, and I bought a whole bunch of cool stuff, including a Hou Hsiao-Hsien boxed set, and half a dozen cds of Taiwanese music. Wayde found some Taiwanese hip-hop, which he'd been seeking since his arrival. Eslite is an amazing store. It carries a vast selection of local and international music and movies. We met Fred and Roy afterwards. They'd gone to the electronics market and bought matching mp3 player recoders. Both Wayde and I were very envious, but now we don't have to be because Wayde was able to buy two through an electronics shop near our hotel. The joys of consumption!

Sumeeta made us a delicious curry dinner at her home later that evening. Yes, we are spoiled. It was a successful end to a successful tour.


On Friday evening, Roy, Wayde and I did a panel discussion with three Taiwanese writers-- Hao Yu-Hsiang, Lin Wenchi and Feng Pin-Chia, moderated by Liao Hsien-Hao, the Commissioner for the Taipei City Government Deparment of Cultural Affairs. The Canadian writers were to talk about our impressions of Taiwan; the Taiwanese writers were to talk about their impressions of Canada.

Our respective assumptions about the content of the talks was as interesting as the talks themselves. In our inimitable activist way, we were critical and perhaps somewhat rude, laying out all the tough stuff-- 228, aboriginal issues, betel nut girls. In their open and generous way, they were kind and personal. I wondered afterwards if we'd offended. In Asia, I am sometimes very aware (though always after the fact) of my clumsy blunt North Americanness. I'm coming from a good place. But what if my drive towards liberation is rude? Are in-your-face politics always productive?

an extraordinary moment of connection

I'm in Tokyo right now at the guest house of Meiji-Gakuin University. It's just me and Roy now. Everyone else has gone back to Canada.

On Friday, I went to a meeting of Taiwanese Aboriginal peoples at the alumni building of National Taiwan University with Garry Gottfriedson. They were gathering to discuss the pros, cons and uses of tourism in keeping their communities healthy and running. Ken Chih You presented Garry with a knife. In his tribe, this is what one man gives to another to create a bond of brotherhood. The aboriginal people we met were thrilled to bits to meet Garry, as he was to meet them. This meeting was a real watershed moment for Garry-- he'd been actively seeking discussion with Taiwanese aboriginals for the whole length of the trip. As for me, it was a honour to witness the extraordinary moment of connection. We were well taken care of by Cheryl Robbins, a reporter on aboriginal issues for an English paper called Taiwan News.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Garry Godfriedson acquires a brother

Thursday, November 17, 2005

the haunted tower at Tsing Hua, where Guy's office is-- I'm told it sits atop a Ching Dynasty graveyard

Fred, mobbed for a photograph

the bright-eyed faces of this morning's audience at National Tsing Hua University

roadside Buddha through the bus window

chatting to Wayde on the bus to Hsing Chu this morning about the possibilities of "retro-speculative" as a novel form

Fred and Sumeeta quaffing a couple of brewskis at the Taipei Shannon

Fred thought "braised tofu in paper pot" was one of those charming grammatical errors one often finds on Chinese menus. It turned out not to be an error at all. Or else, the dish is a visual manifestation of the error, a joke materialized. I love that kind of stuff. It was tasty too. How do they keep from burning the paper?

National Tsing Hua University

Up early this morning to visit Guy Beauregard and his class at National Tsing Hua University in Hsing Chu. We were met in the lobby by Paul, an MA student there who is doing work on Said and Foucault. Short jaunt by cab, and an hour and a half on the bus, watching the suburbs go by-- farmland flanks the roadside, interspersed with lots of factories. Hsing Chu is an industrial district. Lots of electronics are manufactured there. Interesting for me, as this is what is also going on Shunde in China, where my (long ago) roots are. Guy's office tower sits atop a Ching Dynasty graveyard, and is reputed to be haunted. But someone else told me it's haunted because a woman committed suicide by jumping from the tower. Rashomon, where are you?

The class consisted largely of young women. As in North America, there is a hugely gendered split between the humanities and the sciences.

Wayde talked about how, as someone originally interested in oral work (hip hop), he came to be a poet. He talked about how the concerns of Black Canadian artists differ from those of their American cousins, then shared a snippet from his amazing second book of poetry, Performance Bond.

I talked about the roots of my second novel, Salt Fish Girl, in oppositional politics on the one hand, and an politics of responsibility on the other. Talked about migrant labour, consumption, genetic engineering, Dolly the cloned sheep all as influencing the writing of Evie. Then read a snippet from near the end of the novel, when Miranda meets the mutant durian tree.

Fred talked about working on the hyphen, messing with Mr. In-Between, and faking it. He wanted to be a writer today, not a critic. Read goodly chunks of Diamond Grill and Isadora Blue.

My lively discussion afterwards about things like whether hip hop could be a hegemonic form, whether Fred feels homeless and what makes my work different from that of other "Asian Canadians."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rita and Roy in the future


Mall Ratdom 101

Left to my own devices today in Taipei. Rita, Roy and Garry have gone on to Chi Nan University, the others are on their way back from Dong Hwa. I guess I'm being given down time to take the pressure off my one functional leg, but I'm restless.

This morning Roy, Rita and I saw Glen off, then went to 101, Taiwan's largest mall and tallest building. I stayed on for the afternoon while they went on to catch their bus.

"Malls not war," says Roys. "Shopping not guns." We are being lulled into the future by dreams of consumption. Consumption, in fact, in this spacious, airy place is practically a spiritual act. I am one with my purchases.

We had lunch at the food fair in the basement. I was impressed. Much beautiful food to be observed and eaten. I could get with consumption... It is nothing like food fairs in North America. Here, the food is actually good-- hooked, I guess, to a long Asian tradition of night markets and street food. I had lunch from a Hakka stall. I might need to get back to my Hakka roots, if the blood quantum is sufficient! It's interesting how Hakka is being produced as an identity here-- Wenchi says its been going on for only two or three years. I told Roy and Rita I could embrace it only as a product of capital-- ha ha.

101 is not gimp friendly. I could access only three of the five shopping floors by elevator. I'm scared to crutch on to the escalator. It moves much too fast. There's a big Page One bookstore there though. Perused the aisles for a couple of hours. If there's a local Taiwanese literature, it's not yet available in English. I was disappointed about that. On Friday Roy, Wayde and I will sit on a panel with two local Taiwanese writers-- Hao Yu-hsiang and Lin Wenchi (who hosted us in Chungli yesterday.)

I wonder if one-legged people blog more than two-legged people? Thank-you, Rita, for leaving me your computer. It is hard to part with one's prosthetic brain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Buddha on the back of a truck (in Chungli)

Bennett Fu, who I always meet in a different city, and our organizer extraordinaire, Sumeeta Chandavarkar from the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei

Rita Wong and Roy Miki at Kingstone books

Wayde Compton

Opening Night Party

CTOT organized a party for us at Kingstone Books. We're posing with CTOT Executive Director Gordon Houlden.
Back row L to R: Wayde Compton, Glen Lowry, Roy Miki, Gordon Houlden
Front row L to R: Larissa Lai, Fred Wah, Rita Wong, Garry Gottfriedson

teaching canadian writing in taiwan

For those pedagogically inclined and able to read Chinese, check this:


It's Wenchi Lin's site for teaching English to Taiwanse students. We are planning on setting up a section that will deal with the work of the writers who are here on this tour. We've also been discussing the possibility of a course on Canadian and Taiwanese contemporary writing to take place online, with instructors and students from both locations.

independent taiwanese film

Thanks to Wenchi Lin we had a speed tour through some interesting local film:

Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Dust in the Wind-- about a group of friends from a small rural town who move to the big city (Taipei) in the 1970s

The Last Rice Farmers aka, No Rice, But Be Happy-- like Canada, Taiwan is good at documentary. This one is about rice farming in the countryside, carried out mostly by old people, since all the young have moved away. Very interesting to those of us (prairie children) who are interested in farming practices from the small and local to the mass factory farm, traditional farming techniques vs biotechnologically enhanced ones.

recommended: Life (a doc about the recent earthquake), Jump Boys (about a Taiwanese gymnastics team), Best of Times (about Hakka people in a small suburb of Taipei)

Somewhere Over the Dreamland-- we just saw a small, small snippet, but this one looks really interesting-- about an aboriginal truck driver who gets laid off and goes back to his home town.

Had a little listen to Wu Bai's Long Bird on a Branch. Wu Bai is a Taiwanese rock dude who sings about things others wouldn't dare-- like the American bombings of Taiwan during the war.

bbq and beer

Rita Wong and Garry Gottfriedson. We went to barbeque place for snacks before meeting Sumeeta at the CTOT on Sunday night. Rita and Garry drink Evian, because they are pure, unlike the rest of us...


The KMT rounded men up, linked them by threading rope through their palms and ankles, and forced them into the river. The last man in the chain lived to tell the tale.

228 museum

betel girls and love shacks

But before I sleep... Interesting snippet of local culture. National Central University is located in Chungli, a sort of working class industrial district, with a large Hakka population. Along the highway at intervals you can see these little storefronts, which are essentially display cases for pretty young girls who sell betel nut, a chemically enhanced but originally organic stimulant favoured largely by truck drivers. It might be about betel nut, but it's as much about the gaze. Favours beyond the betel nut are, Wenchi tells us, not unheard of. Girls will charge "$100 for three," ie, one betel nut and two of something else.

Taipei seems pretty sexed up as Asian cities go. Our hotel (which is perfectly clean and nice) rents rooms by the hour. There are many joyous noises to be heard in the hallways, however, at all hours of the day and night.

"I know a little shack by the side of the road..."

cultural crash course

Hanging with Rita at the end of a long day. Roy Miki, Glen Lowry, Rita Wong and I spent most of it with Wenchi Lin, organizer and professor extraodinaire at National Central University. We were treated to a compelling media tour of Taiwan (details in my next post)and lunch at a local Hakka restaurant. (My great grandmother was Hakka, from a village in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, where the race track is now.) We spent most of the afternoon talking about how to structure a website that would make the work of Canadian authors available to Taiwan instructors and students. Wenchi, with the help of engineers at National Central has designed a pretty handy bit of software to explicate all kinds of cultural texts for students. We also talked about the possibility of an online course that would include both Canadian and Taiwanese instructors and students.

You will notice I got a photo up, of three fellow travellers in Sumeeta Chandavarkar's office at the CTOT. Yay!

Lots of good discussion today. But the jetlag has got me. More soon.

Canadian Trade Office in Taipei

Wayde Compton, Glen Lowry and Fred Wah laughing

first day on the job

Panel talk yesterday at National Taiwan Normal University with Fred Wah and Rita Wong. Question on the table: What is the difference between Asian American and Asian Canadian Literature? There probably are differences that one could discuss if one wanted to make certain generalizations, as I did in an earlier, brainstorming blog. But talk/thinking it through with Fred and Rita beforehand, we found ourselves agreeing that these categories are more interesting when they are resisted than they are when hailed and validated. We talked about the historical construction of the term "Asian" as it circulates in North America. Fred talked much about the founding traumas of racial identity as it works in Canada-- The Indian Act, the Chinese Head Tax, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the use of the War Measures Act that brought about the Japanese Canadian Interment. He spoke about the Trudeau's Multiculturalism Act as one that legislated difference, but also functioned as a sort of "sedative politics" that allowed the nation much self-congratulation with effecting any real material change.

Rita talked about the gendered implications of the Head Tax (which tended to limit the immigration of women). She talked about our generation having to dig for this history-- it was not taught to us at school. She asked what it means to live in a colony that remains centred around whiteness, and asked if there are other ways of living on the land, with a different kind of relationship especially to history and the law.

To continue the conversation, I began by talking about what it was like for my own generation coming, through much hard work and grief, to an awareness of this history. Our problem is how to construct a liberatory subjectivity for ourselves, that is neither assimilated nor so attached to the trauma of the past that it doesn't have being beyond it. It seems to me that writing is a very important tool to work these questions through. Much of the initial work of the 80s and 90s had, necessarily, to be about bringing repressed histories of trauma to light. The problem is that as soon as these narratives take book form, they become products ready for the market. While they provide a measure of entry into polite society, they also become tools for the entry into hegemonic power in ways that the writers might not have envisioned or desired before publication. One might say of the book what Hardt and Negri say about the nation state-- that it is the poisoned gift of national liberation movements.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Surprisingly not jetlagged. Quick visit to the Market of the Handicapped (that'd be me...) that sells local crafts, teas, jade etc. I'd like to bring some tea back, still trying to figure out where to buy it and how.

Went to the 228 Memorial Park and Museum afterwards. February 28, 1947 was the start date of a 2 month killing spree undertaken by the KMT government in attempt to quell civil discontent. 28,000 people across the island of Taiwan were killed. Those remaining were forbidden to speak about it until the lifting of martial law in the 1980s.

Taiwan has suffered waves of imperialism, beginning with the Dutch in the 1600s, then the Spanish, then the Ching dynasty, then the Japanese, then the KMT (Republic of China.) Interesting the way national identifications get contructed here, depending on aboriginal status or wave of immigration. Looking forward to talking to people about these things. Still digesting the import of this history.

Have lots of photos. Can't get them up through Hello, Flickr or Blogger itself. Grr. Macs are not better.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Anyone know how to upload photos onto Blogger using a Mac? Photos stored on iPhoto. The photo upload button on the Html tab inside Posting doesn't work. PC girl is grumpy... Why can't I just see the &**&%$$ code? (But grateful to Rita for providing the use of her machine...)

air time

Safe in Taipei, and not even jetlagged. Drag a lot of nice green tea on JAL, took a bunch of assorted pharmaceuticals-- Cold FX, homeopathics for jet lag, lots of vitimin C, some decongestant to ease head pressure during landing and take-off. I'm a human laboratory.

Much fun flying with Roy and Rita (who took great care of me.) Trying to sort out content for the colloquium we'll have as part of my residency at SFU next fall. Thinking of calling it something like: "The Time of the Political: Histories, Futures, Presents." Rita had an interesting book of discussion among Butler, Laclau and Zizek at her apartment in Vancouver, which I browsed while she graded. An interesting question, from Butler (I think): If revolution in the 50s meant agreement among individuals on politics and the point of collective action, what about the present? How do questions of contingency and difference affect the way progressives think and act as groups? ie. If my experience and your experience are pointedly not the same....

Discussion on the airplane: Rita thinks one of the crappy things about the Canadian nation state is that it draws its model of history only from European settlement. What if we were to redeploy other knowledges more attached to the land, as a way of taking care of the environment, and sustaining it. My critique-- isn't that just an idealistic return to the garden? We agreed-- wouldn't it be interesting to have a think tank that considers how to re-engage non-Western models of engagement with the land in a way that is future-oriented, that doesn't necessarily cling to the past purely for the sake of tradition, or even purely for the sake of rectifying trauma? What would that look like?

Friday, November 11, 2005

one day in van and the world's your oyster

Sushi on the Drive, Magpie Magazines, High Life Records. It's fall here and there are orange and brown leaves scattered all over the sidewalks. I had my first wipe out--slipped on some wet red brick in front of a new clothing store beside Cafe de Soleil.

I've found myself a really cool place to live-- a loft room with its own bathroom in a cute little house just off Victoria. I'll live with Aimee of the many hats (doula, massage therapist, artist's model, carpenter), and Kevin (poet and transcriber of conferences), a dog called Chester Brown and a cat (who I'm a bit scared to meet, but it should be ok).

After visiting the house, I crutched back to Cafe de Soleil, drank a blueberry and banana smoothie and read a goodly chunk of Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age. Then off to Gyoza King, my favourite Vancouver restaurant, with the marvellous and generous Rita Wong, who has just passed another birthday.

I've caught a bit of a cold. The body has not been cooperating these days...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

itinerant's itinerary

Check it out, if you're interested.

trans-scribing Canada

I'm off to Vancouver this morning, and fly to Taipei the next day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

leg breathes briefly

Went to the cast room this morning and had the plaster cast removed. I was allowed to hang out with no cast on it for about 40 minutes, during which I pointed and flexed for all I was worth, and applied as much moisturizer as my skin would soak up. Then Jim, the technician, wrapped my leg in a handsome blue fibreglass cast, which is much lighter and more comfortable. I get four more weeks in this one, still no weight bearing. Not thrilled about this. I've been reading about newer therapies where they get you moving much faster, with supervision, of course. Do not much like the idea of how much my calf muscle with atrophy, and also it is crazy stiff, which can't be good.

Images of tendon surgery, for those of you with strong stomachs:

The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction

supper at The Coup yesterday with Aruna Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

asian can vs asian am

What's the difference between Asian Canadian literature and Asian American literature? That's the question for the first day's panel in Taiwan. I like to think things are more fluid up here, that we use the concept of identity but don't cling to it like a life raft. It's problematic because to claim racialized identity is to accept the binary white/asian-- very useful when one is working in oppositional mode. Opposition is necessary to force the recognition of traumatic history. But the very same binaries can be limiting when one wants to speak of other things-- capital, globalization, bio-technology, machine technology, gender, nation, shopping, borders, prisons...

In the US, especially in the academy, there was much more of a push to crystallize identity for the purpose of establishing a location from which to speak, write, work, organize, as well as to get institutionalized and paid. But that doesn't mean all Asian Americans are into this.

Look what I just found:


retro-action and recovery

The plaster cast comes off early tomorrow morning, to be replaced by a lighter fibreglas one. Yip!

I'm gearing up for Asia-- really looking forward to the trip, although slightly concerned about my enforced helplessness. I found an envelope of Taiwanese New Dollars in my foreign currencies box from last time. Very happy about that.

Got a note from Charlotte Sturgess, the conference organizer at Strasbourg, today, with contribution guidelines for the proceedings. I'm glad I'm still able to contribute to that discussion at some level, though still sorry to have missed out on those talks. I had all these ideas about borders, papers, dna, technology, travel, gender and nation that I wanted to try. It seems to me that in Europe discussions around things like genetic engineering are much more progressive than here. If the current riots in France are any sign though, bodies and borders are still burning issues. It would have been great to take those discussions with me to Asia.

I'm looking forward to the architectural, technological, cultural and shopping wonder I'm sure to experience when I'm there.

Fun stuff: In the biography section of Jon Paul Fiorentino and Robert Kroestch's fabulous new poetry anthology, Post-Prairie, Ryan Fitzpatrick was incorrectly credited with having published my recent chapbook, Nascent Fashion, though MODL Press. We thought we'd make the lie true. So Ryan will run a new edition, with cover art single-handedly executed by (Titanium) Travis Murphy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

poetry and politics

Received this today from Derek Beaulieu. Looks like a good one:

Call for papers: Poetry and Politics. A Conference at the University of Stirling, Scotland, 13-16 July 2006.

Poets and speakers to include Moniza Alvi, Eavan Boland, David Dabydeen, Marilyn Hacker, Linton Kwesi Johnson, David Norbrook, Tom Paulin, Deryn Rees-Jones, Jo Shapcott, and the Norton keynote speaker, Adrienne Rich.

Papers are invited which consider the theme of politics in relation to poetry from classical antiquity to the contemporary. The following list suggests some possible areas for development, but proposals in any area relating to the conference theme of poetry and politics will be welcome: The politics of stratifications and hierarchies based on constructions of race, class, age, religion, gender or physical / mental ability; notions of the public and the private; the figure of the exile; the politics of dialect and 'non-standard' English; the protest song; prophets and seers; the figure of the committed poet; patriotism and nationalism; globalisation and parochialism; the politics of landscape and environmentalism; mythopoeia; conservatism and radicalism; the politics of tradition; the politics of reading and teaching poetry; the politics of language and the ineffable; the politics of translation; sites of protest, such as the coffee house, the tavern or the rock concert; modes of protest; popular dissent and politics; scurrilous verse and libel; patronage and politics; poetry and religious politics.

Abstracts of 200-250 words of papers not lasting longer than twenty minutes in delivery should reach the organisers by December 15, 2005. The poetry conferences at Stirling have a track record of valuing the work of practising poets. Accordingly, a number of spaces are available for delegates who would like to offer short readings of their own work. Preference will be given to those poets whose work most closely coincides with the conference theme.

The deadline for the submission of requests for slots, as for the submission of abstracts, is the 15th December 2005. Enquiries about these readings should be directed for the attention of Andrew Sneddon. We are happy to accept enquiries and abstracts via email to . Abstracts may also be posted to Poetry and Politics Conference, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA. Further details are available on the conference webpages:

Conference organisers: Glennis Byron, John Drakakis, Marilyn Michaud and Andrew Sneddon.

the first word, the last word, and all the words in between

I'm following the riots in France that began ten days ago when two youths of African descent were electrocuted while hiding from police. I always find it odd and frustrating the way newspapers document violence before context. Let's see the people of colour be out of control first, and talk about why later... Grrr. People are responding to a history of exclusion from the job market, housing and other necessities of daily living. Interior minister Sargozy calling them "scum" does not help the situation. There have been car burnings in several of the cities I was meant to visit-- Rouen, Strasbourg, Avignon. I suppose I'm glad to be safe from the violence, but I'm still sorry not to be there talking to people and trying to make sense of all this. France is, after all, the country that refused the war against Iraq.

Chirac says, "The law must have the last word." What words will address the low-grade systemic violence of racism and exclusion? This isn't just a French problem, of course, or I wouldn't be talking about it. It's a problem of contemporary democracy with its histories of colonialism and classism. We face the same problems here. I'm not suggesting throwing the law out the window either. But until systemic inequity in and outside nation states is addressed in a serious way, it seems terribly disingenuous for any of us to be surprised by outbreaks such as these.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the level of the cell

My Achilles heel is the taking on of too much stuff. The world is so full of possibility, it's hard not to take the biggest bite possible. Much as though I've been griping about my confinement, it's been good to rest.

Now-- trying to sort out my talk for the Asian trip next week. Trying to work through the Deleuzian idea of "a people to come," as a useful way of thinking through the liberatory subject. The "people to come" draws its subjectivity not just from the traumas of the past but also from the possibility of the future. So my Evie, as fully a product of all the abuses of colonialism, militarism, and capitalism is nonetheless biological in a way that exceeds the ability of any of these systems to define and control. Evie isn't very nice. But who said nice was necessary or useful? To be unpredictable at the level of the cell-- is that a way getting freedom back?

Andrea dancing Posted by Picasa

Bandage boy Posted by Picasa

Trav's hand. Yuck! Posted by Picasa

Chris Ewart, Derek Beaulieu, Paul Kennett outside Cafe Beano on a sunny November Sunday Posted by Picasa