Thursdays Writings from the Carnegie Centre
poems and prose Edited by Elee Kraljii Gardiner John Mikhail Asfour
Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre www.thursdayspoemsandprose.ca ISBN 970-0-9811835-1-0 Otter Press, Vancouver, BC Copyright 2009 Design by Trica Thompson & Kei Baritugo Printed on 100% recycled paper
Thursdays Writings from the Carnegie Centre
Introduction “Talking hasn’t worked and writing is all that’s left.” For many of the writers in this second anthology from the Thursdays Writing class at the Carnegie Community Centre in Vancouver, Neil Benson's comment on fighting the development adjacent to his First Nations reserve rings true. For others, such as James McLean, writing and voice are one in the same. McLean’s piece, “Slipping Away,” confronts class struggle in a dialect that twines itself into the storytelling. In her stark coming-of-age poem, Muriel Marjorie moves away from sophisticated line construction to testify about child abuse with compelling directness. Other pieces experiment with form via stream of consciousness, prose poetry and even 12 bar blues constructions. All are evidence of how the contributors have taken control of the text. What remains constant is the energy of expression. Several authors commented that our time in the classroom, “unleashed a beast in me,” “jumpstarted my creativity,” “made something click after writing on my own for 20 years on the streets.” For some, having their words edited was a surprising experience, despite our caveat that editing suggestions were just that: suggestions, and that the onus of the words rests with the authors. The open-mindedness the writers exhibited, sometimes challenging and accepting changes within remarkably short periods, is testimony to their readiness to reach an audience. These are writers who know their message. It has been a joyful voyage to the page with them.
—Elee Kraljii Gardiner & John Mikhail Asfour
Acknowledgements To the Coast Salish Peoples, whose spirit imbues the land where we write; Simon Fraser University, The Writers Studio and Betsy Warland; the Historic Joy Kogawa House; Carnegie Community Centre; Hemlock Press and Richard Kouwenhoven; The Brickhouse; Trica Thompson and Kei Baritugo for design and production; Danielle Arsenault, an apprentice whose commitment is inspirational. To the generous anonymous donor. To the writers who turned a third floor classroom in a building at Hastings and Main into a playground. Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre 5
Table of Contents
om tly d Ro Ligh ce n e u c o Dan da Prin ergr oyle Und enry D en r B by by H
16 e rjori
ur by M
a iel M
rat x3 Air it Shim r by I
10 12 14
h roug n Th rn a g pin s McLe Downtu Harris p i l S eith ame by L by J nada Chi hen e m jazi hoic .C fro A C ike He ogs n Z. M D Two Dr. Joh by M y b ht ham e Lig ng h eart unning t H b u a y C Gr nn Yo In M raham by A G by
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e lems In M b r o e r i t l ss ri lP el e W ur Wei Pane an Mor Th h t o r by J wn by A Cro y n or s A Th : cces g u n S i Soft rsenault ereotyp enson t B S A l ei lle and anie by N ve L i D t a y b N From de s a e m n d Sce en Han y King dom Junaide n o a J R akir en arm C by B y b nge n Cha one o t rees ompso Th ject ivingst b n Th u I S L ica byn y Tr o b R by e er Mor y o Skin i Gardin N e o l e t r o n i e I j ick F uH Slip lee Kral t Yo by Patr n E a by ’t W Don e W ords g W four i B s ith g W y John A n i l a b De
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Dance Lightly by Brenda Prince
for the love of innocence she remains a child for a good meal she uses all four burners she unplugs the phone for the love of solitude and for the love of the pow wow she dances lightly for the love of music she opens her mind for a good movie she lets the phone bill slide and she waits for the right moment for a good laugh she borrows widely for the love of her cat and for the love of love she rereads wuthering heights she rearranges her schedule for the love of her friends and for the love of her children she did what she had to do for the love of her partner she bares her soul and for the love of mother earth she remains an indian
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Underground Room by Henry Doyle
Trying not to disturb sleeping madness in my little underground welfare room, drinking yesterday away and hiding from today in my typewriter, I look into a black hole of depression and type out a lost life spent in society’s wasteland. Hating myself with evidence, and yes, you, also, I head out into the dark rains of January in steel boots to the slave labour pool. I walk into a stale-aired office to put my mark on the worksheet. The place is packed like rotting sardines and an old man sleeping in his workboots has pissed himself. Moving seats as I watch in disbelief while skinny rat-faced drug addicts get all the jobs. I end up on a construction site making $8 an hour working beside some kid half my age. He tells me he’s making $22.50 an hour with hated eyes on me. Society has tried to stop me from becoming a loser, not understanding its part of my destiny. It hangs it’s heavy signs on me as I march through rush hour heading for the Downtown Eastside to pick up a cheque for 52 bucks minus the $12 government fee. I head now for the bar, sit in a dirty fish bowl smoking room in the corner behind blue eyes with pen, paper and write down the sleeping madness of poetry.
10 Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre
by Muriel Marjorie
At sixteen I thought would I ever get kissed, would I ever get kissed, get kissed by a strange boy my age? I hide, my hair cascades to my shoulders, peek-a-boo from beneath the veil. Too afraid to wimper. I pretend, preen in my smock top, ragged faded jeans an insert at the knee causing them to flare. Thick dark glasses. Not an inch of fat. Forever in the same size bra. 32AA: developed and stalled at 13. Waiting. For the promise of change. Run-a-way, run-a-way mirage of who I’ve been. I pretend in a Barbie doll game what normal is. Smoking cigarettes, fanning my need, my addiction. Smoke screen, hanging out in the back of the school. Easy talk with the cool kids. Admiring their language. Taking notes. Mirroring courage to speak. “Cool,” and “groovy” on my lips. Nothing spacious, nothing to elaborate. One night I perform in the back alley all my foster father taught me. Clairol shampoo was the prototype, moaning what I learned to do from these movies just us two viewed. Mimicking love, for a moment I belonged.
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Air x 3
by Irit Shimrat
1. Air and being up in it: Airplanes make no sense to me. How can all that metal, equipment, cargo, canned air and human life get up into the sky as though gravity were a joke, and then zoom away? But: the joy of moving through the air like, yet not at all like, a bird. The orgasmic thrill of taking off. Looking down at clouds and mountains, seas and cities, I can never get over being able to fly through thin air. 2. Air in a sandstorm: Israel. Walking home remembering the pleasures of the day. Sudden wind lifts a desert full of sand and sends it swirling, hissing. Pull kefiya up over head and face. Breathe through it, grateful for air making its way into your lungs as land and sky, seen through the cotton fabric, disappear. Arriving home, then in, and bang! Close the door. Windows shuttered against a storm the opposite of rain. Inside, familiar objects — and air, transparent again. 3. Air on the psych ward: Gasping for it. Wrists and ankles tied to bed, another emergency admission. Nurses chatter. A day like any other. “I’m choking!” I try to tell them. “There’s no air in here - I can’t breathe!” Of course it’s all in my mind, in among cluttered visions the drugs they’ve shot me up with only intensify. Airlessness: metaphor risen up to devour me. No escape. Restraint and locked door read as suffocation. I know I’ll be in hospital pajamas, my brain a medicated pudding, for weeks like centuries. This knowledge sits on my chest, stops my mouth and nostrils, smothers me. How long before fresh air is mine to breathe again?
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Slipping Through by James McLean
A door to which I found no key, there was a veil through which I could not see. Some little talk a while of me and thee there seemed - and then no more of thee and me. —Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam, 32 Could I slip through a door as it closed without touching it? Being a slippery fellow, my response was, “but of course.’’ Which begs another question: once in, how do I get out? During WWII in Glasgow, Scotland, my family of six brothers and sisters had no coal or money. Solution simple: steal some coal. Done during a snow fall. It was throwing the coal over the wall that led to my downfall. The origin of carbon footprints was all. Leading to our door. My solace was “Oh, Mammy, oh Daddy, wish I had not done it!” Being 16 years old at the time, not acquainted with expletives, it was all I could cry. Now then, once the fire got going there was no place for my conscience. At midnight I pondered, weak and weary, will I go to gaol? Being a hunter and gatherer, it’s a simple fact of life, those footprints setting me on an incorrigible path and lifestyle. After graduation from Her Majesty’s Prison Dartmouth Devon, my pals and colleagues named me as “Summa Cum Laddie.” Now age 82, my title of “Summa Cum Laddie,” is replaced with the curious appellation of agent provocateur, lumpen proletariat, a senior man about town, A PERSON OF INTEREST KNOWN TO THE POLICE. Am I a butterfly, just an everyday chameleon? James, a slippery fellow slipping through the door. NIL DESPERANDUM
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Downturn by Leith Harris
Bubble of plastic bliss; pumped with glee, balloon flying high in the sky, busy, rich and free pops. Deflated into deficit abyss; bankruptcy, hoping to get by. Scary. Those who invested claim to be hit hardest; lies concealed and truths exposed level the landing field. Could recession lead to greater compassion, cure obesity and heart disease? Could reality inflate equality?
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Two Dogs from Chinada by Dr. John Z. M. Chen
I am a white dog from the Eastside of Vancouver I have a stub for a tail and a long shirt
a yellow dog from Canton a tail that wags not a single piece of clothing
I was neutered and my sister was spayed so we can frolic without producing litters
I was never sterilized I run anyway I like, this and that way my partners are everywhere, my children are dozens
A Chinese couple says, Your dogs behave so well, they never mount each other, though they do sniff between men’s and women’s legs
Foreigners in my country say the one-family-one-child policy is killing the nation. I show them how to make love and grow to be a billion people
I eat Chow-Chow for food I eat the leftovers from the shelves of Safeway and am unable to drink what he drinks My siblings’ faces No special meals for me decorate the colorful can I wear clothes in winter, get shampooed daily; my sister wears perfume that turns men’s heads
wear nature’s clothes, dive into the river for a bath My mother, after giving birth to litters, attracts attention from men
I eat any meat but my own kind I sleep with my lady I’m never in the pot
I am free to make a meal of all sorts of meat, including my kind I have never slept in a human bed It’s too clean for me
I get “Good boy,” “honey” all the way; men envy me after my lady kisses me. I’m put on a leash.
I’ve been playing in the outhouse. I long to lick his lips but I have only baby’s bottoms. I roam.
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by Mike Hejazi
Tomorrow is the basis of today and yesterday is what we have been through today and the accumulation of what we have acquired of knowledge and experience! I am here because of yesterday’s journey in life and I don’t know how to make the journey more pleasant than the experience of yesterday. I do not know how I could possibly separate both those concepts. Yesterday and tomorrow are so much inseparable and I would like to have them both as they affect me in the same way.
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Grab the Light by Anne Young
Why is it separated by grief and pain you never see your friends again? Is it contagious? Avoiding her like leprosy does this seem sad, or outrageous? Has she fallen off the ends of the earth or into its bowels spiralling into darkness in the black, black abyss? Why can’t friends have the courage to have a change of heart and practice kindness? It has never been her fault. He was mean, abusive, plus secret dealings was the name of his game. And all she wants is equality, a chance to be herself, be “just me.” She has come a long way from despair, somehow, she has to reach out and grab the light.
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In My Heart
by Graham Cunningham
Forgive me for telling truth from lies at an early age, but not speaking up till now, for being independent, for speaking out against popular beliefs, for standing up to oppression. Forgive me for not loving my parents, for testing friendships and losing friends, for not returning unconditional love, for ignoring the contracts of love. Forgive me for not helping others more, for not considering some worthy of help for having feelings in a world of calculation for loving the sea more than sailors.
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Panel Problems by Joan Morelli
Last night I was a panel member, downtown venue as I remember. Olympics, housing, political talk, a seasoned activist, no reason to balk. Walking out, however, I was alone. Out of the downtown eastside zone on a deserted business street, an athletic con man I did meet. I’d gone to help, to lend my voice and I met the artist without a choice. He threatened me with, “May I carry your bag?” “No, thank you,” I’m not a foolish hag. A potential user with an ordinary look he stepped closer with this hook: “May I have some money?” I moved away, it wasn’t funny. I suppose I look an easy mark but to such artists aren’t we all in the dark?
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The Writer in Me by Arthur Weiss
He needs to put things into words, explain himself to the world. His world is papers and he knows where every sheet is, what is written on it. He has a supply of inkwells and quill pens. Parchment by the baleful. He places each word in order. He writes with passion and flair, and seldom puts the pen down. He stops for a cup of tea and some cookies. He has no idea how knowledge accumulates in his head. He lights another candle and writes. It is a wonder how he scripts his thoughts into a style; Baroque or Roman or Italicized. Throughout the night and into the day, he writes and the housekeeper makes sure there is a good supply of hot liquid for him. Writing flows into his mind as if from the infinite universe. There was a time when he found himself empty of ideas; all drained out. He panics; why are there no letters, no context, no flourish? Itâ€™s as dry as a dead stream bed. Not a drop of an idea. He pales; he is despondent. Why has this happened to me? I have always had a flood of ideas and a flow of emotion I can put on paper: dry, dry! Like a well without water. He prays and pleads. Thoughts begin to materialize. His abilities and feelings are uplifted. His thirst is quenched. He is renewed.
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Soft Success by Danielle Arsenault
Each morning the girl stepped into her boat alone and rowed to the middle of her sea. All day long she sat; her line hung low, the blood in her lilting back and forth with the waves, singing the fishes to her. Her song was a wing against the open air, the fish willed themselves to it and her baskets steadily filled. But as each day neared its end, the girl rowed herself back to a tenderness that pressed upon her more than her own. As she busied herself on that familiar shore, the prize in her baskets began to spoil. Each night as she slept, her glistening catch swam itself back to sea. There were years worth of days like these and yetshe continued to row herself further out to sea each morning pulling for the day she would taste her own song.
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Sterotyping: A Thorny Crown by Neil Benson
Before the European traders arrived on our shores, the Indian art of living life on the land involved fishing, hunting, crop cultivation, food processing, and the harvesting of natural resources. Animals and plants were a spiritual resource and provided food for Amerindians. Early accounts reported Amerindians living only on herbs. Some believed that animals caused disease in humans and that plants provided the cure. The folklore of Native people is known for beliefs entrenched in Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK). TEK teaches respect and gratitude for the gifts of nature by blending the spiritual, political and social elements of normal life with the “wisdom of God that is manifested in the works of creations.” The lore of Native people is a social science that informs us of our relationship to all substances and restores integrity. It commands each being in the Universe to sustain personal relationships on a daily basis. “With the coming of the whites’ guns and horses there had been important changes in the Indians’ lifestyle and in their relationship to the gifts of nature. Horses being mobile, were a type of material wealth that could be accumulated by individuals, which eroded the old egalitarian structure of society.” The “Columbian discoveries” effect was the domination of ethically and morally degenerate, anti-social settlers’ perceptions and exploitations of prehistoric customs. Historians noted in their deliberation on the preColumbian era the absence of farm animals and have tended to underplay, and even disregard, Amerindian plant expertise, allowing the impression that Amerindians were essentially ignorant hunters and gatherers. The repercussions of this stereotyping have long since been a thorny crown and a source of resentment for Aboriginal people. There is a great need to remedy all the wrongs that have been inflicted on us. Most importantly, increased awareness through education of the need to improve living conditions, health services and communication, as well as the elimination of poverty and disease should be mandatory. If governments and private service assistance are not applied, Natives will always suffer and our situation will not be improved. It’s inspirational for me to use someone else’s words. Like a salmon that comes up the stream to spawn and then goes out to the ocean, I’m using their words. Sources used: Transcript of The Way of the Indian broadcast on CBC Radio; Aboriginal Resource Use In Canada. Kerry Abel and Jan Frieson, 1991: 12; Bridging Native and Western Science. Convergence, Vol. XXI, Number 2/3, 1988: 55.; Aboriginal Resource Use In Canada. Kerry Abel and Jan Frieson, 1991: 85
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by Carmen Joy King
She traveled to Tunisia to lose herself. Two summers ago, she saw a quote on a magnet in a Calgary gift shop that said, In order to find yourself you’ve got to get lost. At first glance she thought it meant, If you’re talking to me about trying to find yourself, then get lost. The quote washed around her head for the next year until one day when she picked up an Economist in her gynecologist’s office and skimmed an article about Libyan gangs. She stared at the tiny map in the sidebar. Six months later she found herself in Tunisia in a guesthouse located between a synagogue and a mosque. “Handmade, Madam”, Luc said. She beds this clever, smooth-skinned boy who took one look at her in his father’s paper shop and knew. “How old are you?” the boy asks. “I was born in 1978.” “Ah, oui,” he says. “So you 27?” “Yep. 27,” she whispers, peeking out the curtain of a small window behind the bed. “And you?” “I was born in the 1988.” He grins, softly batting her earlobe with the tip of his index finger. “Oh, right, you’re 17 then. Just make sure nobody sees you when you leave, OK?” She gets up from the bed and pulls on her long, white skirt. “Ne t’inquiètes pas, don’t worry, ma chère. I slip out here like Tigre Snake.” He makes a hissing sound, moving his hand up her bare back and onto her neck. “Leave however you want to, Teegruh. Just leave this between us.” She runs her hand across the bumpy surface of the paper. “Yes, I thinking you like feel something real.”
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Random Scenes From Native Land By Bakir Junaideen
Along the crowded street shoulders brush, narrow roads, traffic jams, clouds of exhaust spin out from sardine-packed busses. Bajaj full of sari-clad, bejeweled wives, all-white uniformed kids all take one-way lane. Even at the Ayurveda hospital lined up early to get a number, a woman murmers her condition, the clerk needs to send her to the right clinic. He bawls, “You can go to room four, fertility doctor will see you.” Giving high interest–saving counsel to the man wearing white sarong, the Customer Service Representative calls the waiting, “Yes, what can I do for you?” “I need talk to you about getting a personal loan,” informs the thin mustache. “Come, sit down.” CSR offers a seat, two opened windows on his desktop, side by side. The Food City and other so-called supermarkets are making inroads, the village pola, still holds grip in the community life, a range of clatters, some are unmelodic like someone weeping in a coconut or a frog singing at BMICH hall. Labai labai …lot for 25 rupees, mangos for 10 rupees. Saphire-blue skirt and orange scarf lady on her way back home from a job in the town, gets her fresh coconut for the evening feast without having to stand in line. Pathola, karawila, boanchi, and brinjals, fresh from organic farmer’s back yard, available at the pola.
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The forgotten art of weaving: old craftsman seems to have a lot of fun, imagines all the pretty young things in their swim suits coming to him on their way to the beach, for sun hats made of young palm fronds; they last only a day. Talking about a good customer base! At a tiny shop with an oversized sign board, “Bombay Sweets Cafe.” Front of red and white-bricked mosque, young man with a prayer hat, debates what to be indulged, gulab jamun, ras malai or faluda, after Asar, the late afternoon prayers.
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Subject to Change by Robyn Livingstone
Streets scream, alley’s louder. Humming, hawing, creepy-crawling, electric buzzes, blasting, shrill, be still, no way, rubber screeches, sheets of water pelt puddles shallow, slick, winds flap, bullets with back-up, slouch an’ slump! Bumper to bumper coughing cars, trucks belch with rubbish crumpled, bent and twisting, too big, get small, shiny rigs, stand tall. Concern, protect, sustain, alright! Bring your tools, got any smokes ‘r papers, or maybe finish yer butt? Loose change, deranged uncontained, unconstrained pipe dreams, in a coma, chemical scream, belch and wreak havoc. Alright, turn the page, rage, break rigs, bend rules. Twist the tape for timed suspension; body heat, blowing steam, lungs constrict with a suffocating breath. Please touch me, and mean it: am I unreal? Watch your backs ‘cause there’s plenty of robbing and stealing goin’ down, and love in the afternoon - I hurt so hard, aches and pains, steady, I dig contact. I’m cooking with boiling blood, collapsed veins, static brain, glitching body parts, congealing and massive mayhemmed memories, like sterno sludge, coagulating until congealed, the body ticks down in a slow beat into the big sleep. Grim threats, gone to earth, no anchor, no more, no deal. No time to think, computer brain, no doubt is on the blink. The bashing of existence is highly overrated. You’ve got the list, so check it off, create bad dreams - ya get the point? Just stay fast and loose, while piles of pathetic people are left on display for my world to see.
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by Trica Thompson
I A Toe I have given you one toe but you insist on the whole leg. II Ventured Each tip ventures Its own region To lick To smother To build To tear To caress To speak To take and together create this verse III Mended If I could see my emotional scars I could massage them. See and touch them like this chip on the wall. People would see my cuts and bruises, and know how I have beaten me. But also like this chip on the wall they would see the putty I used to mend me. And I could see how I have mended me. Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centreâ€ƒ 27
We Don’t Want You Here No More by Patrick Foley
What are you doing on our corner At Hastings and Main? You say you pushers are selling dope, Yes, it’s really trouble and pain. You sell your up and down And you sell crack and speed, You even sell them little white pills But they ain’t what we need. All you boys on the corner Listen to what we say. The sun don’t shine down here no more And the moon she hides her face, And them little white stars don’t twinkle ‘Cause it’s such a sad disgrace. You stand there like big shots And pretend you’re in the know, While someone else pulls the strings And collects all the dough. All you boys on the corner, You listen to what we say. Well, the Downtown Eastside Is where the poor folks come, The old, the sick, the lost, the hurt All live in this here slum. But when folks are desperate They’re bound to rob and steal, And when they’re on their last leg, You still want to make a deal.
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And another thing you boys should know Is every dog has his day. What would your dear old mamma say If she saw you standing there? “Don’t you tell me that’s my boy. It’s more than my heart can bear.” You are blocking up our sidewalk You are blocking up our door, In fact, you are always in the way And we don’t want you here no more. No, no, more.
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Slip Into Skin by Elee Kraljii Gardiner
When I am a man I think in verb. I do not hear tone. I retreat to my man cave It is quiet. I guard the entrance and no one is allowed in. It is not a place, but a space. I think about one thing at a time. If my hands are empty, I may hear you. Maybe not. When I am a man I get big; my actions enlarge. I haul cargo from the trunk. I sear meat. I steal the last parking spot and claim the empty chair just for my bag. When I am a man, I take what I want. I pay attention to whomever I want for as long as I want. On the sidewalk, I make men move out of my way and I do not look down as they pass. They see me as a woman for the skirt, the legs, and wink at me. They notice me walk away from them,
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stare dumbly until they jostle back to life, punch each other in the arm. This is man-math: the more they want me, the less I notice. Women are wary when I am a man. They smell me out, withdraw, turn towards a different light. They gather their babies in arms and continue chatting. I would like to tell them then that I am a mother, too, and know how to soothe, that I was only trying it on. Their backs respond eloquently. I feel bare until I pull off the trousers, slip back into the skin of a woman.
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Dealing with Big Words by John Asfour
I do not like to deal with them, they are cumbersome, too unwieldy. They make me sound pompous, perverted and so far removed from the mundane. I want to use what is promptly manageable, what is readily understood. I do not want to flash a dictionary in people’s face and do not want to think of the origin of each word as Latin or Greek. Simultaneously, I’d like to use words out of my experience and close to my reality. Like them to come out cajoled, enticed, unruffled and after I caress them, smooth their hair and give them a fresh look, I’d experience them disentangled, unravelled, a waterfall and having a compos mentis flow. I want them to rub shoulders as they come out or stick together as they face their fate. Let immigrants use them with no hesitation and refugees feel at home in them. I do not like them etched on grave stones and do not like to see them stumbling on any sidewalks. And there are the small words with multitudes of meanings: yes, no, maybe, never, we all use them every single day of our lives. Sparingly? Perhaps. And the words we do not mean at all: forgive me, I’m sorry, I hope and I wish: how they all fill out spaces and hang down from rafters!
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I often wonder how Joyce shaved their beards, how he extended philology into the text with ease and how Maghut turned them into a mouth for the voiceless and how the woman next to me spoke them and gave love a new embodiment! Others may have mastered them and rang their necks, but I plead with them at times and at times I deplore each word, yet not the image or the nature of its movement. Let them come down from their high, they may have the same need for my arms as the need I have for their body passion. Let them spill on the page in any shape and any form, stagger, flutter, jump and disassociate, but let them fall off my tongue and onto my lap unformed, chaotic, unorganized. As for sorting them out or editing them, I will have to deal with that later.
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Manifesto Our Collaborative Determination For all voices to be heard equally. To accept difference. To respect honesty. To encourage each of us. To keep the pen moving. To share, and respect each otherâ€™s writing. To write from the heart. To speak for those who cannot. To listen, listen, listen. What does the speaker mean? To use the pen(cil) as an instrument for good, never as a weapon. Let us abandon pretense and hypocrisy to be who we really are. To write in such a way that people from all classes, genders and races can understand, appreciate and communicate.
Meet the Authors Brenda Prince
Compassionate, artistic, sensitive, funny, introspective, generous.
Brenda, aka Middle of the Sky Woman, is an Anishinabe from Winnipeg, Manitoba who loves her children, grandchildren, her cat, writing poetry and short stories, and participating in ceremonies.
A warrior poet on a drunk.
Henry is a writer poet from the Downtown Eastside who works part time as a janitor.
Muriel: point of fire, quenched thirst.
Muriel is a returning member of SSSSSSS. F. U.’s Thursdays class.
Irit Shimrat is an escaped lunatic.
A longtime antipsychiatry activist, she was first locked up in the late 1970s. In the ‘80s and ‘90’s, she edited the national magazine Phoenix Rising: The Voice of the Psychiatrized; co-founded and coordinated the Ontario Psychiatric Survivors’ Alliance; presented two programs (Analyzing Psychiatry and By Reason of Insanity) on the CBC “Ideas” radio show; and wrote a book, Call Me Crazy: Stories From the Mad Movement (Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1997). She is madly in love with language, and sometimes likes people as well.
Born in 1927. Shelf life: long–term.
James was born in Scotland and is well travelled, having visited 39 jails on one night stands. At 82 he is anonymous. “What’s in the bottle, Scotty?” “Eternal emptiness, Sergeant.” Case dismissed. Free again.
Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre 35
Mother no more, worry far less
Leith lives and writes in the DTES. The Thursdays writing group is a wonderful sounding board for the genius of our neighbourhood.
Dr. John Z.M. Chen
Fought for fame, fortune; fell short.
Author of The Influence of Daoism on Asian-Canadian Writers and editor of Reshaping Identity, Memory, and Ideology: Essays on Asian North American Literature, Dr. John Z.M. Chen has published poetry in New Voices and Thursdays. He has also interviewed some twenty Asian Canadian writers and published some interviews.
Human with a mission in mind.
I am a layman serving humanity. Most of us have an objective in our lives. My objective is to serve under-developed countries! To achieve that is a long and difficult exercise. I believe it is not an unachievable task. Service is my motto.
Passionate about nature, birdsongs calm me.
Nature’s child: that’s me! My forest is my happy spirit. Surrounded by trees I feel as if I’m in my mother’s womb, safe and tranquil. I’m passionate about the rights of women and violence against women. We don’t want much: only equality, fairness and justice. On a fun note, I love jazz and modern dance classes.
Without socks or underwear seemed normal.
Graham treads gently on earth, plays in water, looks inside for answers.
Too serious, not playful enough today.
Joan is an activist, writer and actor of the Downtown Eastside. Joan hopes to hear the Pantages Theatre will be used for performing arts.
36 Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre
Optimistic, visionary, jovial, mutable, awed, inspired.
All who know me just call me Art. I am a disabled senior (elder) who writes material regarding social problems in Vancouver’s inner city. I recently completed a sci-fi novel that I hope to publish.
Danielle Arsenault Time ain’t what is was anymore.
Danielle is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio (2005) and has a Masters degree in Education. She lives on the Sunshine Coast with her family, where she is at work on her second poetry manuscript. She recently co-launched Peeled Onion Press and regularly teaches writing and art-making workshops. When spare moments present themselves, she spends them pulling ivy from her various gardens. Selections of her first manuscript have been published in Emerge and under featured writing at www.TheWritersStudio.ca
Ontological chronicler, anthropocentric, iconoclast, polemical, pedagogue.
Neil Benson is a defender of traditional life ways and native philosophy. He is a member of the Glen Voewell band near Hazelton, BC.
Carmen Joy King
Recovering hedonist, (where’s the party?)
Carmen read a Salman Rushdie book once where she learned the Arabic word mohajir means “emigrant” or a person who moves. She likes to see herself as a mohajir looking for the next place to land. This fall that place will be Brazil.
Bakir searches aesthetic, unexpected, unexplored things
Bakir is a graphic designer and writer. He is currently working on Theme & Image, a reflective image poetry project. His recent projects include promotional materials for “Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge, and Access to Essential Medicines,” a conference hosted by global outreach student associations. He also designed the first edition of the Thursdays chapbook.
Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre 37
Melodramatic, mystifying, mesmerizing, multifaceted, malcontent.
Somewhat of a writer, poet, full-time actor both on and off stage and screen, raconteur, and bon vivant, mischief maker of merriment and mirth, friend to the misbegotten.
Trica’s white noise has found a station.
Trica is curious by nature and has therefore moved in various creative directions. She is currently moving her way through the SFU Writing and Publishing Program. Revealing her literary voice is the most frightening, challenging and satisfying exploration yet.
A hopeful messenger of the muses.
Patrick ponders really big questions: why was the world created? How do other couples get along? And which shoe is better to put on first: the right or left?
Elee Kraljii Gardiner Feels it through the pen nib.
Elee is a freelance writer and mother who is the 2009 Poetry Adjunct at Simon Fraser University’s Writers Studio. She is the founder of Otter Press and teaches creative writing at the Carnegie Centre.
John Mikhail Asfour Left Vancouver, wants to come back.
John is the inaugural writer-in-residence for the Historic Joy Kogawa House. He has published four books of poetry in English and two in Arabic and is the editor and translator of the landmark anthology entitled When the Words Burn. He lives in Montreal.
38 Thursdays 2: Writings from the Carnegie Centre
This second anthology from the Thursdays creative writing class at the Carnegie Community Centre on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is packed with compelling voices. The honesty of the work is undeniable. Meander through the pages of poetry, prose and nonfiction, but prepare to be jolted by the immediacy of these writers.
Brenda Prince • Henry Doyle • Muriel Marjorie • Irit Shimrat • James McLean Leith Harris • Dr. John Z. M. Chen • Mike Hejazi • Anne Young • Graham Cunningham • Joan Morelli • Arthur Weiss • Danielle Arsenault • Neil Benson Carmen Joy King • Bakir Junaideen • Robyn Livingstone • Trica Thompson Patrick Foley • Elee Kraljii Gardiner • John Mikhail Asfour