Issue 55 Spring Spring 2008 2008 Issue
Heirlooms Cold Post reds : Rhoda Hodjati Poetry by Phinder Dulai Interview with Wayde Compton Gloria Personne on Identity
Memewar Magazine Editorial Collective Missy Clarkson AJ Ivings Andrew Lee Elliott Lummin Carmen Papalia Thor Polukoshko Aubyn Rader
Layout AJ Ivings
Website Maintenance Mike Hubbard Thor Polukoshko
Volunteers Amelia Pitt-Brooke
ISSN: 1912-3310 All material is copyright of Memewar, the authors, 2008. Memewar claims first-print rights and electronic-rights for memewaronline.com.
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Memewar gratefully acknowledges the financial support of: Those Attending the Release Party Arcprint & Imaging Inc.
past Tense Missy Clarkson One of the wonderfully odd things about being a kid in Minneapolis was the cultural effect of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival – a summer history festival with its own history. Built on acres of dusty terrain outside of the city, it boasted buildings modeled after real Renaissance structures and included regularly scheduled sword fighting, fire juggling, human chess, jousting matches and parades with elephants, royalty and belly dancers. Only the nerdiest of Minnesotans found ways to become one of the 600+ employees and entertainers, and I was in a small group of young Madrigal-singing “orphans” called the Tatterdemalions. The Festival rules were strict, and every year entertainers were required to attend a 6-week tutorial on 16th-Century etiquette, language and dress: no zippers, no nail polish, no Velcro, no rubber-soled shoes, and not even buttonholes – they weren’t invented yet. We were to stay in character at all times, stay in class at all times. When Royalty passed the lowly orphans, we were to drop and grovel. But people bent the rules all the time, breaking the suspension of disbelief just long enough for patrons to feel included, like telling a joke in Shakespearean tongue alluding to Napster or Bill Clinton. We recreated history, but it was some bastardized Renaissance, where fencing on chessboards was a daily occurrence, where pirates swung from masts of grounded ships yelling lewd jokes, where no one played characters that rotted away in Black Plague-ridden piles. It was a happy past. We view the past through the lens of the present, and the journey by which it finds us is a story in itself. The festival found me, and I wove it into my own history more than I appreciated the era it honoured. My memories of it are probably not entirely accurate. Our versions of history are always arbitrary and so, in essence, history and fiction come from the same place. In this issue of Memewar, our contributors illustrate a past they’ve created, remembered or learned from. Rhoda Hodjati shows us the struggle of a Chipewyan woman journaling through a changing history in “Cold Post Reds.” Phinder Dulai’s poems are delicate and haunting reminders of where we’ve come from. We will see where Wayde Compton has been. Gloria Personne will show us that even fictional histories give us our sense of place. As soon as we printed it, this issue was history. Here is how Memewar perceives the past – at least, until a new one comes along.
Cutting the record:An Interview With Wayde Compton
The Canadian poet, publisher, and social activist talks to Memewar about the importance of archiving cultural history, and his projects that do so.
Cold Post Reds
Journal entries of a Chipewyan woman that explore themes of cultural appropriation and elimination. This theme of erasure is contrasted by images of preservation from the UBC Museum of Anthropology: photos of a digitization project currently being undertaken by the MOA and some of the art and artifacts in the care of the museum.
From the autobiography of Gloria Personne
Questions arise about the fictional aspects of memory, identity and personas. Photo study of Gloria by Ami Sanyal.
Poetry by Phinder Dulai
Vancouver poet and South Asian Studies scholar offers a selection of haunting poems that pose questions surrounding freedom and displacement.
24 25 26
some kind of a RendezVous Oliver Rice Features Of Ashes Amanda Ryan Body of Print Amanda Ryan
Time Signatures: An Interview with The Italian edition Elliott Lummin Making the Past Present Thomas Vogl
Where People Feast Amelia Pitt-Brooke look who’s Jamming now: a review of ideogram’s “baby talk” Elliott Lummin
Digitization Studio of Museum of Anthropology Kyla Bailey, Jessica Bushey and Derek Tan
Front and Back Cover Images Courtesy of the Brown Family 3
Cutting The Record: An Interview With Wayde Compton
Photo by Nadya van Dijk
The first time I saw Wayde Compton read was at a little café on Main Street. At the time, I was doing a course involving hybridity projects, projects that blend together two mediums of artistic expression. Wayde had just published a hybridity project of his own, “The Reinventing Wheel”, a project that remixes poetry about hip-hop on turntables. Arriving at the café that night, I found out that Wayde was performing without his turntables that evening. Any trace of disappointment was quickly dashed as soon as Wayde began reading. His poetry created rhythm. I could hear the turntables anyway.
I quickly began to learn more about Wayde and his assortment of projects. The turntable project is a collaboration with the skilled DJ, Jason de Couto, where they form the duo, The Contact Zone Crew. Wayde is also the author of two books of poetry, 49th Parallel Psalm and Performance Bond, and the editor of Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. He is a social activist for The Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project and one of the founding members of the publishing house Commodore Books. The diversity of his projects do not remain confined within separate categories of his life, but blend together,
influencing and informing each other, something we at Memewar admire. I was happy to be able to catch up with Wayde at the local pub and discuss some of his projects. M: Is there anything coming up that you are excited about? W: Well, I’m looking at the next manuscript for Commodore Books right now and it’s pretty much done. Crawford Kilian has done a heavily revised edition of Go Do Some Great Thing, which is the only published history of blacks in BC. He published it in ’78, so it’s the thirtieth anniversary of its publication. This year also happens to be the 150th anniversary of when the first blacks came to BC, so it’s perfect timing. Since his book’s publication, Kilian has had thirty years of hearing different types of feedback and has seen it used in different ways by different scholars, including myself – I based a lot of 49th Parallel Psalm on the history that it uses. So, Kilian’s book is really important for a lot of people. For this new edition, he found a bunch of new information. The internet has made a lot of new things surface. In the past, you had to travel to the cities where the black immigrants lived in order to do your research. You needed a lot of money to do it. M: Whereas now everything’s published online, so it’s easier to access. W: Yeah. Even here, in BC, when I was editing Bluesprint, I could check through death records online. I think there’s a twenty year limit before the death records are released online and you can find it within a second. When Kilian was doing this, he would need to make a trip to Victoria and fight his way through the bureaucracy to get a particular piece of information. Now it’s so much faster. It really makes you realize what’s changed with the advent of the internet.
as a research tool to write poetry. It’s a different path than standard historical scholarly practice, where you use a variety of sources. I was doing the one source method in some ways when I did the research for Bluesprint. The introduction to that is a short essay, but it’s a literary history and now people have been using that as an actual history of blacks in BC. M: Really? They’ve been citing the introduction to your Master’s project? W: Yeah. Because there just isn’t anything else out there, right? So people gravitate towards it. This is what’s kind of cool about this. All the stuff that I complained about for years when I was in my twenties that I felt was a hassle and a hardship about being black in BC. A lot of that stuff has come around now and has been kind of cool. I like the fact that we have this really eclectic history and this weird mix of people. Everything seems jerry-rigged like it’s kind of… M: Hacked together? W: Yeah. Because there hasn’t been a body of black scholars in the province working on this stuff for thirty, forty years like you have in the States. Just surfing around on the web at one point, somehow I came across this site. It was a PhD that somebody was doing in California on black auto clubs. M: A PhD on black car clubs? W: Black car clubs in California, specifically. M: Just for the sake of our readers and not the interviewer at all: What is a car club? People just hang out and talk about cars?
M: You often involve history in your writing. Do you think of history as “the past,” or as a recorded written record?
W: A written record, probably. The way I’ve gone at it is looking at history as textual. I used Go Do Some Great Thing
W: Ha! Yeah. This paper was on the origins of black car clubs. And this is the topic of somebody’s PhD in
M: People do that?
When did we get here? Who was here? What were the laws like? Very basic things still have yet to be completed. That’s annoying in some ways, but in other ways it’s really exciting. M: You’re almost a pioneer, in a lot of ways, unearthing all this history.
Photo courtesy of Wayde Comp-
W: Well, yes and no. That’s the funny thing. It’s reinventing the wheel over and over again. I based my research on Crawford Kilian and Kilian based a lot of his research on another historian, a guy named James Pilton, who did the very first book, though it was never published, on the history of blacks in BC. He was an honours student out at UBC who did his BA and then his MA on their immigration into this province. He was a white guy; I don’t know what his interest was, in particular. I think he just discovered it and was interested. Kilian came along and did a much better version – more comprehensive, better written – and added information. So there are generations of people that keep coming in and working on it a little bit, then going off and doing something else. It’s different here in BC in that it’s individuals M: So in the States, the universities have whole departments of African-American Studies, but at UBC or SFU they only offer a course on the subject. Come to think of it, I think a lot of their course material relies on information that was dug up in the United States. It wouldn’t even be a course that was solely dedicated to African-Canadian Studies.
Black Studies or something? Maybe History? God knows what. When I saw that, I thought: “Jesus Christ, this is the difference between Canada and the United States.” In the US you’ve had black scholars working on things for a generation, really heavily, with official Black Studies departments in existence. They’ve gotten through all the really essential things like the basic literary history, the slave narratives, Black Power – the things that you would obviously think of as front line importance. It has all been done and now they’re down to black car clubs. Little things. Up here we’re still at the basics, the history itself:
W: Right. M: So, the publishing group that you’re involved in, Commodore Books, is doing something to help that history, aren’t they? W: It’s the first black press in Western Canada. And it might be, I’m not sure about this, but it might be the only black press functioning in Canada right now. M: Any writers you’d like to plug?
W: Fred Booker. Addena Sumter-Freitag. M: Fred Booker? I saw him read recently. He was really good. W: He’s a great figure because he was the writer I had in mind when I was thinking of making Commodore Books. I learned about him while doing the research for Bluesprint, my anthology of black writers. He was publishing in literary journals here and there in the seventies and early eighties. He had a book manuscript that was accepted by a publishing house and for a year they said that they were going to publish his book. Then their business died, so it didn’t get published. Fred was really discouraged and he went off and did other things, like working for General Motors repossessing cars. He quit the writing scene. But I found his writing while compiling Bluesprint and tracked him down. I remember the phone call when I finally got him on the phone. I asked: “Is this Fred Booker who wrote…” and I listed off some of his poems. He was completely surprised as he answered: “Uh…yeah? Um… how do you know me?” [Everyone laughs]
[Everyone laughs] W: It feels really, really good to go to somebody who had lots of bad luck, but is a really good writer, and be able to say: “Here, we’re going to do your book.” M: The name “Commodore” comes from a steamship or something that was historically significant, right? W: It was a steamer that ran between Victoria and San Francisco in the 1850s. When the blacks came here they came all at once. They had a big meeting and decided that they didn’t like the prospects of California politics. This was before the Civil War started and at the time people saw it coming they knew…
Photo courtesy of Wayde Compton
W: I told him that I was doing an anthology and I wanted to publish some of his work. Today he claims that he was underground and I sort of brought him to the surface
again. It’s great because there are younger, black writers meeting this guy who had been writing in BC during a period of complete isolation, without a black writing community. If he had been publishing in the late eighties, then he would have had the benefit of the identity politics movement, when it was easier to get published as a black writer in Canada. He was just ten years too early. So I was really happy to publish his book. His first book was published at age 67 and he said at the launch that hopefully it won’t take another 67 years to publish another one.
M: …the writing was on the wall.
W: Well, they received an invite from somebody. But it looks like…it makes sense… that it was James Douglas. So they decided that here was where they were going to go. Half of the black population of San Francisco left to come up here. First they sent up thirty-five representatives to basically scout out Victoria. They came on the Commodore.
W: Yeah. Before the Civil War, California was full of gold prospectors. Some of the blacks living there ran stores to service the gold-miners. They were in industries and small businesses and stuff. California was a territory, but it looked like it was going to become a state and the big question was whether or not it would become a Northern state or a Southern one. It looked like it was going to go with the Confederates as there were a lot of prospectors who came from the South. Because it was a territory, the racial laws were sort of ambiguous and it was unclear whether slavery was illegal or not. You’d get these prospectors that would come in with their slaves and get them to work the fields. The legality was questionable but, basically, it was unchallenged. In the run-up to becoming a state, California passed a series of segregation laws – encoding segregation, encoding slavery. The blacks saw this and thought: “This is awful. We came here to get away from this. We’re seeing it all happen again.” The leaders of the black population were pretty well-educated men of colour. They were quite motivated and had some experience with racial movements in places like Philadelphia and places like that. And so they made a plan to leave. They were going to go to…the choices were Panama, Mexico, or British Columbia. Their decision coincided with the Gold Rush here, and that was the deciding factor. It also seems like, though it’s never quite been proven, that they got an invitation directly from James Douglas.
W [laughs]: Yeah! It’s just like in football, you know, that strategy where you create a diversion and then run up the middle…
M: The governor of BC?
M: If they came up during the Gold Rush, were they promised land and things like that? I know a lot of the Chinese weren’t allowed to own land, despite government advertising. The Chinese immigrants could only buy land that was previously used and checked for gold by a white person, so the property had to be secondhand. Was this something that the black community had to face as well? W: Not exactly that. This is interesting, actually. It’s an interesting question because right from the very start BC was an unusual place in North American terms. Lots of other places in North America, like Ontario or Nova Scotia or the States, you get race laws where official racism is encoded in laws surrounding the blacks and Natives. In BC, that’s always been different. Here the race laws have primarily been aimed at Asians and Natives. This is in the whole history of blacks in BC. It’s one of the few places in North America where blacks are not the targeted minority. M [laughing]: So they kind of fell through a racist loop-hole?
W: But you see this from the start. Those laws were harsher on the Chinese than they were on blacks. But blacks still got their share of… M: The shaft?
Photo courtesy of Wayde Compton
W: Yeah. The main thing that the black population wanted was citizenship: the right to own land, the right to vote, the right to be British subjects. And it was promising because British law at that time was more progressive racially. The British had outlawed slavery twenty years before the Americans did. If you were born in England then you were a British subject and you could do whatever a British subject could do. So they were excited about that. But the promises weren’t quite true. They wanted to be naturalized as British subjects, and then they got here, and there was a series of controversies. The blacks were just being fucked with. When they went to vote in the first election, whites compiling the votes made excuses to not count them. It wouldn’t count if your signature was illegible or written outside of the lines or something like that. But, of course, every black person had some legibility problem when no one else did. They had to face a lot of things like that. And the idea that they could become subjects was not true. Instead, they basically had delayed status, so they had to own land and live here for seven years and then they could become British subjects. It was an unfair set of rights, but it was better than what was in the States, so they stayed. M: So you used a lot of that in 49th Parallel Psalm, right? How do you find that history playing a major role in your poetry?
W: Well, that was my first book. So I think I used it as context. As context-creation. I feel like that’s true in all my work. I don’t know if that’s a tick with me, in particular, or if that has to do with writing cultural work in a province that doesn’t have the history. There isn’t really a British Columbian black culture that I’m writing into, so I often feel like I have to do two things at the same time: either define the tradition, or discuss what the tradition is and then write into it. It feels like pulling double-duty, in a way. I think that’s why I put so much of it in there. M: And where’s your writing going? What are you working on now? W: Well, I’m working on short stories. Uh…yeah. M: Ha! That’s all you’ll give me? Well, we saw you perform the other night with Jason de Couto. It’s interesting, The Reinventing Wheel, where you guys reinvent and remix the thing over and over again. It’s like you two are breaking out of tradition each time. W: Yeah, and that’s a different tradition: hip-hop as a tradition, as a form. But, you know, if you read the text, a lot of that is about the problem of transplanting that tradition into a place like BC, where it’s not a clean fit. Hip-hop comes from New York. It’s a Northern, American, urban phenomenon. It’s created out of American-urban traditions in the north. I think that influences what the form is and the subject matter. M: What do you feel BC has done to bastardize hip-hop? W: Not enough. That’s the thing. Not enough. That’s what should happen. The hip-hop that I’m most inspired by right now is the hip-hop outside of North America:
world hip-hop. From Africa, France, Germany, Japan… M: Come to think of it, I heard some pretty decent Swedish hip-hop the other day. W: Really? It’s everywhere. Germany! I discovered that it’s the biggest market for hip-hop outside of the United States. It’s huge there. And created by white and black artists too. Afro-Germans, Black Germans, create a lot of it. A lot of them are mixed race, the kids of Black American GI fathers and white German mothers who grow up, often without their fathers around. Hip-hop is unique in those places. Especially in Africa, or, maybe in the third world as a whole, the music really seems to be adapted to those local conditions. If you listen to the stuff from Africa, it’s very different. There is no fear of altering the form or stretching the genre, and including traditional vocalizations with traditional instrumentation.
Value Village. Yard sales. You’ve got to dig and dig. Especially now, when it’s become a trend. You can go to used record stores and they know exactly what they have and nothing is cheap. Everything’s expensive. There’s something exciting about finding that weird, little thing. It even becomes part of the performance. It reveals what you’ve found. Like when we went to Kamloops, I thought “Well, since we’re in Kamloops, we’re going to look at some record stores” because they’re not as picked over as in Vancouver. We found some neat things, some real Canadian stuff out there. Weird Canadiana: strange CBC records and early recordings of Irving Layton. M: Is that where you guys found that Margaret Atwood recording you used the other night?
M: I remember during the question period after your performance with Jason the other night, Reg Johanson asked from the crowd if you guys were ever going to do something else besides remix the one poem.
W: You know, I can’t really remember where we found that. No, but we found these records made from acetate –temporary records. They still played and they must have been twenty to twenty-five years old. They were unmarked and I thought, “What is this stuff?” So I bought it for fifty cents or whatever and played it at home. It was some Pee-Wee hockey game.
W: Yeah, yeah, yeah…
M [laughing]: Are you going to remix something besides the one poem or are you…
W: Some play-off game or something. Someone had a recording made. I thought – I don’t know what I thought.
W: Well, that’s the thing. You asked earlier what I was working on right now, and I’m not writing that. We used to perform it more in the past and now we’ve been doing it maybe two or three times a year. It’s so much work to set it up and to arrange it. What you don’t see when we do a half-hour performance like the one the other night is that we practice for maybe two or three days beforehand, you know? So it’s hard to do all the time. It’s kind of a special occasion when we do it.
M [laughs]: That was a proud moment. Speaking of recordings, I recently saw you read a story about, oddly enough, interviewing. As in, interviews as history. In that particular story, it was like somehow history was untouchable. The camera just couldn’t capture it.
M: You and Jason put some obscure recordings in there. Where do you go shopping for records? W: Everywhere. Used record stores. Salvation Army.
W: I think it’s a problem of representing experiences of the previous generation – what it means to try to do that. That comes out of me doing these interviews for the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, an activist group that I co-founded with some other people to preserve the memory of Hogan’s Alley, which is a little neighbourhood in Vancouver’s East End that used to have a small black community in it. They were there from about the time of
World War I up until the seventies. It was mostly gone by the seventies when they put the Georgia Viaduct through. There’s a book out right now by Mike Harcourt and Ken Cameron called City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions that Saved Greater Vancouver’s Livability. M: Weird. Was one of those decisions “keep out the freeways”? W: Yes, which is really bogus. What happened to the black community is completely scrubbed out of that book. Yeah, they didn’t put the freeways through, but they planned to do it and the planning pretty much destroyed Hogan’s Alley. They built the first phase of it, which was the viaduct. The building of that freeway was right where Hogan’s Alley was, so the black community was right in the middle of the debate to halt its construction. That was the moment that the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) lost its total hegemony over city council. Losing
that battle was the first moment where the NPA was challenged by regular people. It was the formation of The Elector’s Action Movement (TEAM), and then later the the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), and all the oppositions to developer-based urban politics. I really see a line directly from the 1970s to now with the Olympics. We’ve got the NPA who are basically representing the interests of developers over regular citizens. They’ve learned the language of inclusion, so they kind of pretend to include people, but it’s all bullshit. It’s interesting how these things connect up. M: Well, thanks, Wayde. This has been good. I remember when David Chariandy introduced you at your last reading, he declared “There’s something about Wayde Compton that just makes you feel like he’s cooler than you.” W [laughs]: Well, I don’t know what he’s talking about.
Commodore Books "The first and only black literary press in western Canada, Commodore Books prioritizes work by black authors whose writing has value, both formally and culturally, beyond the terms of the mainstream book market. Our list features exceptional poetry, fiction, drama and non-fiction.
Commodore Books takes its name from the paddle steamer which transported thirty-five black migrants from San Francisco to Victoria in 1858. This small pioneer committee became the nucleus of British Columbia's first black community."
Cold Post Reds Rhoda Hodjati
Featuring images from The UBC Museum of Anthropology
Kyla Bailey photographing an Indian Ocean mask (Sri Lanka, before 1978).
Citation Information anout thr museum etc.....
Years from now, when Cold Post Reds will have been ‘discovered’ and The Catt’s descendants are kicking it in the Caribbean, I’ll remember that in the beginning, it was nothing more than a heap of documents, parts of which would occasionally surface on the internet and in the Special Collections of various libraries. This translation has been prepared mainly from photostats of originals, and, in some cases, the original manuscripts themselves. Three previous translations have been carefully studied in order to render the text liter ally while remaining conscious of ideas that were not clearly expressed in the original documents. For the most part, skeptics will call the whole thing a hoax, and then grudgingly admit that Cold Post Reds is a hoax of exceptional quality. If finally catalogued as a gothic tale, contemporary urbane folkmyth, or merely a ghost story, the text, itself, will still, sooner or later, slip through the confines of any one of those genres.
Starting in 2006, the Museum of Anthropology implemented a program to digitize 35,000 objects in their care. Not only will this project preserve important objects that are beginning to degrade, but it will improve both the physical and virtual access to the Museum’s collections.
Object handler Katrina Talei carefully placing a Kwakwaka'wakw transformation mask (Alert Bay, before 1961) to be photographed.
The Digitization Studio at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology
November 9, 1803 Fort Chipewyan America attacks itself again. But dis night I keep safe. I am swimmin Delaware in de sky. I have to watch out for snakes with rattles for words.
Photographer Kyla Bailey on the job.
No more Etlunay. Everyone knows der’somethin wrong wi’dem. Why should we trust any cloth? Women wouldn mind’e lace but der afraid to get any sorta material from white Dinnie now. Telkithy counna? No one will allow an order like dis to come through to us. What else? 10 nests sheet iron kettles 12 sheet iron kettles 7 S Green Coffee 10 Loaf Sugar 15 Cathy Y.H Tea 20 Powder Horns 4 boxes of raisins Mack is financin these, figures well. But how could’er tea ever come to replace ours? Dis’n what we all really need. Everything we need is right here. It always has been. But Mack wants to change all dat. And he will. He will. October 10, 1804 Fort Chipewyan Un autre’ve: “Lords.” Like dey were gods dat were fighting one another, an’dey had blades coming outta der hands like a Yess. But der was no good or bad side. Was just a collection o’ different groups gettin together an’den
The Museum of Anthropology’s digital network (known as the Reciprocal Research Network) will link Northwest Coast collections in institutions worldwide, allowing researchers, teachers and the public to access this information.
fightin demselves apart again. Maybe wasn’t a dream after all. Jessica Bushey photographing a Kwakwaka'wakw transformation mask (Alert Bay, before 1961).
10 barrel pork 6 bags coffee 1 barrel bacon hams 1 book for mens acct. 4 barrels of flour dozen Butcher Knives, 7 inches 20 brass mounted swords Mack is tryin to order these, as though dey would let such items come to dis Fort. As if dey would ever let us have these. Even if we really needed butcher knives dey wouldn let us have’m. What dey don’t know is dat we can make weapons ca noth na times de wickedness o’Telkithy and knives. Maybe dey do know bout dis, an’da’s why dey send Etlunay—whether we order dem or not. We don’t even’eed’em Etlunay. We can always weave our own. Dey want’o get rid of us. Da’s all der is to it. Dey think dey want de land all to demselves, as though dey would know better what’o do wid it. Quel blague. As though dey could get through it all without us. Dey wouldn last a moon without us, not one sah. October 19, 1804 Fort Chipewyan
The University of British Columbia encourages the public to view the Digitization Studio at the Museum of Anthropology, which will be operating as a “living exhibit” until May 2008.
It is very difficult to live de kinda life dat you believe to be true an good. Be de kinda person you want to be. More dan’ything else in life I want to be a good person. Eduyah. Eduyah. I’s not difficult because de path itself is difficult. I’s difficult ‘cause der is no path. It seems to me dat no’ne can tell anyone how to be a good person. Only I know what will make me good. I am my own god. I am aware of what I do and I remain accountable for all dat I do. An
what makes me good may not make anyone else good. What makes me good at any moment may never make me good again. When I think of ‘lying,’ it is’posed to be sin. But der so many stories dat need to be told. Who can tell us which ones are ‘true’? How can de whites tell us dat our stories are all lies? Untzee. Stupid, stupid people. I have never met a people so stupid. And yet, and yet, we were taken in by it all. We let der stupor surround us like a fog. We believed in der dreams and der promises. It’s true, dey betrayed us, but not before we betrayed ourselves. We let dem tell us der ways were better dan our own. We stopped believin’ our own stories an’ow we can never go back. We lost our own faith. We let dem scoop it out from under us. I am breathing her in, still. I am rollin myself in her smell. But I want’o keep her away from’e. I have to. She does not seem quite real. She feels like a dream, a Counn of pleasure dat has not left me yet. Ba ehoinichdinh. Estchounest-hinay. Love is a strange kinda plant. Sometimes it grows violently. If neglected, it can wilt an fade away. Der are times when it needs an incredible amount o’tenderness an care. At other times i’s best to leave it alone for a little while. November 2, 1804 Fort Chipewyan What is it to live? It is to feel all de possibilities of yer bein slip through your fingers. You get to watch your own choices slide by. So dis countin down. Naghur-Sasoulachee years? Is dat all der is? Da’s all you got, Chequois. Might as well do de best you can. Long way from bein tied to a house post every night while Mack sleeps. At least I wasn d’only Chequois’tuck der. At least der were others to talk to. No, I didn get away afterall. I’m still here all right. We’re all still here. It turned out we never had anywhere to go to. My body lies over d’ocean. My body lies over de sea. My
body lies over d’ocean, so bring back my body to me. April 11 Said I to myself, it seems dat der are some people who will grow der. I am full of sadness. Dis comes to me dans un autre’ve. In my life der are two questions to be considered. Before my fall? After my fall? De punishment: I am walkin my course through a room full o’furniture an’decorative arts. I’s filled with cupboards an bookshelves: here an’der are maps an pictures. Dis must interest people because here are Dinnie well-gifted wid instincts for de world. Dey are well-born. Dey are well-trained. What are dey wantin? De world, only de world. And’ey will have it. Dey will. Der is a Dinnie positioned at one corner and another in de corner across from it. De first Dinnie tells me all bout d’”installation” an’den says dat he’s only s’posed to be de Dinnie dat Eight Buttons by Nellie Jacobson, Nuu-chah-nulth. UBC Museum of Anthropology. Photo by Bill McLennan.
says do not touch, but he hates to see people walkin through without an idea o’what d’installation is about. D’other Dinnie jus looks up an smiles when I walk by. Der ar’Edthie watching over at each o’doorways. Another Dinnie walks by whistlin, listening as I write these words. I am only a collection o’sorts. I feel I have no hope for de future. While I write dis my lamp is fadin. What can be done without de light? April 14 Fort Fork Der seems to be less’pace here. I feel I-yah gatherin. Sometimes der is a large, Slieney, hairy beast in front of me. He can see every body’s’in. He makes judgement with’is long tail pointin, pointin, pointing, and’en it wraps round him. He makes judgement on a spirit Cedar Spindle Whorl, Coast Salish. UBC Museum of Anthropology. Photo by Bill McLennan.
before it has been born into de world. I have to tell him all, but he disappears. I feel dat he will send me down. Sometimes I hear singin’ dis place. It is’ad. It’urns into a wail, a storm never at rest, wants to beat me. Now here, now der, now down, now up it pushes me. Der is no rest. I feel dat it is’ent against me. Makes me want’o curse de power of der god. I wonder if I really am early or if dis Dinnie is jus not showing up. I wanted to have some vetements ready to sell today. But I could not get things done in time. Is dis him? Maybe not. I do not know what time it is anymore. I will sit here an wait for a certain amount o’time, regardless. It don matter too much now cuz I’m inside’ post. It cuts up day leyzong houlley. But I like jus watchin de sunlight outside. Feels good to have it back again. I am searchin for a nice spot’o sit. I believe dey are all of one race. Dey seem to speak different languages, but it all ends up de same. I can’t speak it at all. I try, but I can’t. It doesn make sense to me, ever. Dey are all white. Could’ey ever see how much dey have compared to’thers? I know I think dis way partly cuz I feel dat lately we never have’nuf to eat. But how can dey always have so much to demselves an still feel Leyzong? I don see how i’s possible. I hate it. Makes me wan’to smash dem somehow. But da’s impossible. None is worth so much. These are s’posed to be “good” people. How can dey do it? Over and over again. Don dey know’hen dey’ve got’oo much? I hate dem. Der’s jus no getting around it. I jus want der power. Da’s all. I could’o so much more with it. May 3 Three Rivers It will not stop Thinnelsee. De Toue falls all ways. It is heavy and Edzah an’damned. D’order o’things never changes here. Der are large hailstones, Yath, an’dirty Toue. It all po urs down through dell zin sky to de ground which gives off a Geddey. Sometimes I see a great’errible Sliengh
wi’three Edthie dat will never quit barkin through three mouths dat have awful Goo. Not one part of him stays still, ever. He has Deli couse Nackhay as big as’aucers, an Thless Losseh beards, enormous Bitt, law claws. It’ears through spirits. It skins dem away from der bodies. De Thinnelsee makes dem howl. Der are times when de beast looks like a big snake. Ganneh when I saw him, I scooped up de ground in my hands an threw it into his mouths. Den he made nothin seem alive. My spirit is becomin crushed under d’heavy Thinnelsee. It is turnin dell zin, not like d’earth, but like a night sky where der is no end. My face is puffing up. Will it lift me into de sky? July 28 McLoed’s Fort Der’s is’posed to be a merciful god who can take away all pain, but in order for dis to happen you must let your guilt eat up your insides. He is only made o’righteous’corn. On every side o’me I see great land crowded with I-yah. I roll de weight o’my guilt around, pushing it with my chest. Soon I will have a chest o’stone. I will shout instead o’sob. Why do you hoard? Why do you squandor? It is a rhythm. I spin an move to de next heart beat, nearly pierced through with sin. Before me I see many spirits, de covers o’der graves have all been removed and out o’dem come bitter howls o’remorse. Who are dey? I don’t know dem anymore. Long vines curl round’er mouths.
Such plants cannot be destroyed. Snakes are pushing up out of heads dat cannot feel anymore. Dey have been sent from Heaven. It is a sign for me to keep still an bow down. It is’aid’at injury is d’aim of every malice abhorred by Heaven. I do not believe it. Heaven requires I-yah, either by force or by fraud. It pleases god’e more so, de lowest and in more I-yah.
Argillite Dish by Charles Edenshaw, Haida. UBC Museum of Anthropology. Photo by Bill McLennan.
Will all dis writing help anything? What’s it for anyway? I am waitin for de right one to see my I-yah. I can’t cry out no more. Thoughts in de written word, instead of in angry, hurtful actions. Why would I anyway? “I’s very freeing.” I think it was Rod who said’at. He said other things dat I cannot recall because my Nackhay
have rolled right’o de top o’my burning Edthie where lies a dell-stained fury bearing de limbs an moods of a Chequois. I know’hat Mack would say: writing is all right for a Dinnie to do, but for a Chequois’ foolish. I am s’posed to concern myself wid havin babies, dat is all. Without children, a Chequois’ lost. Well, I was lost a long time ago. I think der mus be power in de written word. Da’s why a lotta white Dinnie would want’o keep it’o demselves. What a Miniature Totel Pole (4.4 cm h) by Roy Hanuse, Owikeno. UBC Museum of Anthropology. Photo by Bill McLennan. burden. What a secret’o keep. Why do I need to write down my thoughts in de first place? Maybe for de same reason dat I need to dance. Maybe I’m jus dancin wid a quill in my hand. Maybe we’re all jus dancing all de time, like flames in a Counn dat springs up unexpectedly. I must dance out my round of’lame. October 21 Old Establishment I don’t even know what I want anymore. I am a Chequois no longer wanting what I once wanted. I find new reasons for my change of mind, until I abandon what I had begun - I asked for candy, i’s here and I don like it. An somethin called “ORANGE MARMALADE.” I shall put it overtop of everything. I am having a hard time’atin lately. Coffee is’uch a strange drink. It requires’o much preparation, and even den, one’eds to add things to it. Why does everyone like it so much? I don’t understand. I would much rather have tea on any day at any time. But now we are’quired
to sell it everywhere. An tobacco. Everyone’eds’o much tobacco tout a coup. I’s like a tresor? De whites take everything an change it around. Dey need everything to be easy. While I write my light is fading. A dark little shop. I am leanin with elbows on de counter (a sin to be sure, but i’s in my Dell). Opposite to me is an old’ark Yess, sitting an weavin with a great pair of claws, or knives, or quills, or long, very thin bones. I can’t really tell what dey are. She is looking at me through a pair of spectacles. She is’ayin, “What is it that you want to buy? Dost thou think me so unlike myself and unmindful of my royal majesty that I would prefer my servant, whom I myself have raised, before the greatest prince of Christendom, in the honour of a husband!” Zi dinnie. I’ve already got one. Don see what good he’s ever done me. De worst sin of Dinnie is to be born. Dis’ why I will never have children: a Complexion so nearly white, that a stranger would suppose there was no Indian blood in him. A single drop of Indian Dell makes one a member of our Inferior Race. I can’t stand it. I won’t stand for it. I’ll faint dead away. I tell her to be silent. I tell her dat she eats herself up in her own greed. But den, here she’s going off again. “When you stand in the sweet ray of her whose incredible eyes see everything, you will the voyage of your life. I am sure there was not one o’them that ever was a second person, as I have been. Think you that I could love my winding-sheet? Princes cannot like their own children, those that should succeed unto them! And, in the end, this shall be for you sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin. Though after my death you may have many stepdames, yet shall you never have any a more natural mother than I mean to be unto you all.” She steals my Leyzong. When she is around I only have I-yah. C’est dur. C’est dur. C’est’out. Il n’y a rien possible. I am afraid. When will she turn? When will d’attack begin, finally? I can only think dat I will never be her. I would rather die. Do not be like d’one who made
me so, do not be like d’one who left behind his name, because I waited for what was mine an’obody ever came. I am trying not to listen to her, jamais. Bid Barheether. Gah. 4 and a half bags o’pemmican December 28 Cumberland House
The Raven and the First Men by Bill Reid, Haida. UBC Museum of Anthropology. Photo by Bill McLennan.
I bin working on poetry again. Dis can be very tirin, but I find it easier dan speakin, somehow. I can’t seem to stop writin. Whenever we run outta paper I start usin bark instead. How long have I bin here for? Long enough to make everything around me my own. I have marked my territory. Yes, I put vetements der, jus’o. Dey play a part in de grand scheme o’things here. But, what can be de meaning of all dis? Der is nothing in my actions. I float, dat is all. None feels what I do, jamais. Sometimes I can’t make out what’s happened here at all. Was a Yess in de post? I don quite know yet. But dis place is burstin with her fiery sad spirit. And I am not powerful enough to stop it. Her cries are de loudest at night. De sound of it takes over d’entire post. It is a painful howling. Even durin de daylight, tout a coup, de post will be full of all manner o’terrible things. Dis’ when I am sure dat she is here. D’insides of de post’art’o go rotten. Edzah draft comes up inside o’me. Whenever she is here, any shelf dat I look at will become quite empty, though others around it are crowded as full as dey can hold. I can chase after a large bright thing, dat looks sometimes like a lady’s Moroco heel pump an sometimes like a man’s Kip Brogan. But den de thing goes through de ceiling as quietly as possible. Dis’ because she has turned’e ceiling into a Dell zin vault. It is thick with spiders, all weavin together with tiny bones. Der is no light when she is arrived. No doors. Iron hides de wood. I used to take pleasure in darkness before I knew her. “Are you a child or a teetotum? I shall tell you that every one of you, and as many as are Englishmen, are children and kinsmen to me. But if you should have liberty to treat of it, there be so many competitors - some kinsfolk, some servants and some tenants; some would speak for their master, and some for their mistress, and every man for his friend - that it would be an occasion of a greater charge than a subsidy.” Yess is talkin to me again, taking up another pair o’bones.
“You’ll make me giddy soon, if you go’n turnin round like that. I will remind you that I forbid prophecies and astrological calculations of death. I know the inconstancy o’the people of England, how they ever mislike the present government and have their eyes fixed upon that person that is next to succeed.” She now has 14 pairs o’bones weaving at once. She looks more an more like a porcupine every moment! March 14 North Bentinck Arm I’s very tough havin’othin to look forward to. I have little things, but da’s bout it. I have been voyaging. I don’t yet know’here, though, I s’pose dat is de way with voyageurs. I do know dat I want’o meet de people who Na-houn-ny copper. I want to meet de Nuxalk. I want to know de Thless Trail, through it perhaps I can get away. I want’o see de land of Icah. I want’o catch d’oolichan with my own hands. These are fish who carry de light. An still de Yess follows me. She is become my gaoler, night and’ay. My trap is dis Shaluzee. “Can you row?” says’he, trying to hand me another pair o’those long, thin bones. Once again, I have no idea what she speaks. We are in de Shaluzee together these long days. I say nothing an we keep moving along. She will not paddle, ever, though she claims to have d’heart of a man. She says dat she is not afraid of anything. “Feather!” she cries as she takes up another pair o’bones. “My sex cannot diminish my prestige. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too! These seventeen years God hath both prospered and protected you with good success under my direction. Preserve therefore the mother and the children whom thou hast given her; thus’hall we serve thee better still to the good o’thy poor Church.” I always hated de Church, even Mack was not fond of it all de time. She mus know dis. She mus be a missionary
spirit who will not leave me alone. Perhaps she is a Jesuit nun. Every body has’in in its Dell. Who is to blame? It must be der god. Dat is d’only answer dat I can understand. But dey will not hear dis, ever. She is’till speaking. “early in the day drawn me back from the deep abyss o’natural ignorance (such as the one that you inhabit) and damnable superstitions, to make me enjoy this great sun o’righteousness which brings in its rays, life and salvation, even while thou leavest still many kings, princes and princesses in ignorance under the power o’satan.”
church be edified with power; so shall thy Gospel be published with zeal; so shall my reign continue with prosperity; so shall my life be prolonged with happiness; and so shall my self at thy good pleasure be translated into immortality.” April 11 A little crab! I think I should like that. “Didn’t you hear me say ‘Feather’?” She is addressing me while taking up another bunch of needles. Of late, she has begun to look like a sheep. Indeed, I did hear her. She’s said it very often and very loud. But, I want to
Sometimes I feel dat der is’omethin very strange bout de Toue round us. I believe dat it mus be Yess doin. Every now and’en a paddle Derek Tan looking over the images in the Museum of Anthropology’s Digitization Studio. will stick right in de Toue an will hardly come out again. Almost as though she wants de Shaluzee to stop. But dis’ not what she wants. She only wants us to travel slowly. She wants to map everything dat she can see. She wants to take it with’er somehow. “Feather! Feather!” Yess shouts, picking up more an more bones to weave. “We will be catching crab and all of the salmon directly, everything that this land has to offer. I cannot attribute this hap and good success to my device, without detracting much from the divine providence. We have a destiny to fulfill, you and I. So shall this my kingdom through thee be established with peace; so shall thy
know, where are the crabs? “In the water, of course!” She is striking some of the needles into her hair. “Feather, I say!” I ask her why she says ‘feather’ so often. I tell her that I am not a bird. “You are. You’re a little Gah.” Derek Tan photographing slides for digital archiving.
I am terrified. I don’t know how she learned that Chipewyan word. She must have taken it from me at some point. But I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything anymore. April 14 Her darkness will not leave. I cannot stay near her. She is all around me. I can feel her breath, always. I hate her. I can’t feel anything for her but hatred. Her eyes are shining big as teacups an so dark. She makes me feel sick. Her breath is always on me. She is always with me. She knows my fear. Dis’ where she attacks. She keeps me fallin through darkness. Der was a time when I loved’Yess. I had respect an compassion for all animals. Now I only want to know’hen she will finally bite through my throat, my heart, my head. She loves to play. She makes me hate everything that I see. I want’o kill all just’o keep her from it. Dis’ d’end of our voyage. We go no further. I will not lead her. She will never take dis land. My Shaluzee will burn on Toue. We will have no more future together. ________ So, I want’o stay with’her now. I need to end her spirit. I want’o fight past’he death of her body. I have killed many bodies. It is her spirit dat must die. I will kill past her body. ________ we are burning together, she and i when we are done, there will be nothing left of either one
Some kind of a rendezvous Oliver Rice There was Hannah Arendt lying motionless on a sofa for long moments, friends tiptoeing about, hands clasped behind her head, eyes closed or staring into oblivion, than rising, amiable again. There was Federico Garcia Lorca in the middle of a conversation suddenly departing inward, lips pursed, arms dangling, eyes gone vacant as in a trance, then waking, amiable again. Here are we, witnessing everything.
Features Of Ashes Amanda Ryan
I am learning to injure the dead you take fistfuls of orange dry leaves churn them in your fingers and speak to them lovingly you dig a hole in the ground and plant chicken bones and then read them a nice poem
Photo Courtesy Brown Family
The dead are smug. They need to be taken down a peg have their ashes hucked out the window of a still-moving car still if you sift them down like flour lick a finger then stick it in the pile they clump up take a shape and cling they become a thing
Body of Print Amanda Ryan
there is a window and in it a woman red and grey hair in pinwaves a real housedress and thinned apron we make her do somersaults and squawk like Donald Duck and teach us to pick peas from the pod thin reaching skeletons held up by sticks and string one for the bucket, one for me
Photo Courtesy Brown Family
Tell us the one when you got a thrashing, Which one, she said, I had to go out to the yard and pick my own switch we laughed we didnâ€™t really know what it meant
there is a photo tiny, tiny we put in the paper beside a greeting she is hanging by the ankle
by a hand that ropes around it and standing beside that hand a man tall, tall and laughing. That is the picture we put in the paper. I think because it was evidence I wonder what last picture will go in the paper lord knows she wants one sheâ€™s already posed and given it out at Christmas nothing garish, just a smile and cheeks like the Queenâ€™s and a greeting evidence that bones and string once green fall down into a bucket or belly whichever way youâ€™re looking at it.
from the autobiography of Gloria personne Gloria Personne
Photo Study of Gloria Personne by Ami Sanyal
Gloria Personne on Identity I have had my own identity stolen, experienced this crucial splintering or dissolution. The bank contacted me, then the grocer of a nearby town, for a bill that had not been paid. There was another Gloria Personne out there, doing things in “my” name, purchasing strange things on my credit. The police were unable to catch her; the abuse seemed to end, but “I” was never the same. With the advent of the internet I was able to “google” this Gloria Personne; I found no references to myself, but did discover a “Gloria Personne” who had been a French dancer and died, via a stroke, in 1977 (she had come to the United States to work with Merce Cunningham). Another name, “Fran Obediente,” did come up, as a known identity thief, now in jail in Portugal, amongst whose aliases was the name “Gloria Ann Personne.” Whatever “I” was, I did not seem to exist – and yet these others, in the past – earlier “Glorias,” dancers and thieves, who seemed to have lived my life for me – did. I could not get over this. I had been stolen before I had even been born. I found, once, amongst childhood papers (school exercises, reports, a diary from when I was 12), a short account of what I took to be a dream (undated). In the
account I was sitting alone in a small sail boat, crossing a sea at night. I sat at the boat’s stern, looking backwards. There was no wind, no sound, yet the boat sped on, and leaves swirled in its wake, drifting down to alight on the moon lit sea. I described needing to watch, to see each leaf fall into its place. I cannot be sure – cannot recall with certainty – that I actually had this dream. It was too long ago – memory, imagination, or something I had read and so absorbed? I could not escape the vision once found, so eventually I wrote a small poem about it. It was only later that I realized – the vision was not mine! It belonged to another – to one Stephen Collis, who had written the account that I had then copied out as a young girl – and I had, unconsciously, stolen it. I was an identity thief! I, who am no one, stole from the past of others, to make myself up. It is one of the most common crimes – the historical invention of ourselves.
Gloria Personne on Her Father It has been said that my father owned a Paris book store. This is something of an exaggeration. It was, in fact, a book kiosk – one of those mobile carts or colportages one finds along the side of the Seine. He was killed as the result of an argument over a translation of Homer – thrown by an irate (American) customer into the filthy river, beneath the grey surface of which he disappeared, never to rise above the rippling current again. I have often wondered what became of his cart. I can recall perfectly the image of those folding shelves, the cupboard doors that would close over them to keep the books in their place when the cart rumbled down cobbled streets. My mother has no idea (an Englishwoman, we soon returned, with few possessions, to her home country). Would it have been impounded? Taken by the authorities, auctioned off perhaps? Another bookseller would have bought it, and my father’s books would have continued to be sold, perhaps at just the place he had met his fate, another victim of Homer’s catalogue of the fallen.
Gloria Personne on Architecture My earliest memories are of buildings. Going round and round the Arc de Triomphe in a little careening Renault. Fountains in public places. Facades reaching up high above my childish eyes, dirty and old, ornate and imposing. In London it is Trafalgar Square and the pigeons – or else the tube – stations barely lit and filled with bustle. Most of these are not buildings as such. But they are built spaces. They are urban and social. I want meetings surrounded by stone. I want verticality as a backdrop to indiscriminate conversation, to the meeting of strangers. I think I love these open places – love to remember them, to recall the swirl of pedestrians, the urban loafers and flaneurs feeding stray birds – love these contradictorily open/closed spaces – because now I would not dream of entering them. Agoraphobia of a sort came with my late teens. I travel, still, between two cities – once a year in one direction, once in the other – and it is a painful and terrifying journey each and every time. But I seem to need that terror, just so often. When I arrive in the new city – Paris or New York – I immediately disappear into ground floor interiors from which I almost never emerge. Is it always what we have lost, what we only dimly remember, that drives us? I would be an architect of public spaces, even though I am a shut-in reading books and watching the television. I do not go outside. But I ponder the outside, inside. Today the television brings me the image of some public space somewhere on this burning world where a crowd has gathered by a low monument beside aging buildings. They are angry and the police are there in riot gear, their glistening shields (it has obviously rained recently) glinting in the light (of cameras? streetlights? the sky? we cannot tell). I have the sound off (as always) and watch the space, trying to reconcile the dimensions the different camera angles suggest. There is, I note, not enough verticality. Nothing soars. The crowd is dispersed. The police easily re-establish order.
Gloria Personne on The Past All of my thinking – all of my being, perhaps – relates most strongly to the past. History shapes us all (this is no great revelation), but we live in a time that has forsaken the historical. This is because the past, like everything else, is so easily digitally altered. Everything is rewritten the instant it is written. I type a sentence that is historically true, then backspace over it, writing something untrue. Where were we yesterday? I wore scarlet and came off a plane in San Francisco, a young woman in a new country. Or, was I – was I the same young woman I was in another country, or, even before that, in another language? Was I? All of my thinking relates to the past – and yet I am certain of nothing in the past. I have heard contradictory stories from everyone. My mother met my father when she was a student studying French. This was 1968. But I was born (so my certificate says) in June of 1966. Was my father my father? Or are the dates wrong? Was I born behind a barricade in 1968? Or did my mother, having given birth to an illegitimate daughter in England in 1966, flea to France, only to meet a man old enough to be her father, but willing to marry a young single mother and adopt her toddling daughter? I am making most of this up – but that is only because such familial lore – or the lack thereof – always seems made up, is always open to being made up. At some point I thought I would write myself into being. Now that I have begun to study architecture in earnest, after years of reading and writing about the subject, I think I may build myself – construct an identity and a history to inhabit. It’s what we do. With ourselves and others. Gloria Personne was born in Paris, France (where her father owned a used book store), June 6, 1966. After her father’s untimely death, she grew up with her English mother near London (1972-1979) and then (after her mother remarried) in the San Francisco Bay area (1979-1984). She currently divides her time between Paris and New York, where she works in the book trade and writes about literature and architecture.
An Interview with The Italian Edition
Photos Courtesy of The Italian Edition
The past, it’s been done. That is the sentiment of Victoria band, The Italian Edition, a band once stranded on Vancouver Island that is now making waves with their first album “Fable of the Mouse and the Frog.” Making them our featured musicians this issue, I got the chance to speak with their lead singer, Jack Derricourt, about the band and its debut. Evidently, it has been a struggle just to get this far; a struggle against what the band has sweepingly called “mediocrity.”
Here is what came out of our E-mail correspondence: Memewar: Some general stuff to begin with. What brought the band together and was the impetus or inspiration behind it? Jack: We’re currently starting the second incarnation of the band. Our original aim when we first started was just to possess a creative outlet. Every band member had grown up playing music locally, and we simply merged together at UVic to continue doing what we love: writing songs, playing shows, and thinking dynamically. We’re really lucky that we found two new members who share the same passion for writing and performing: Josh Van Leeuwen and Dave Sponaugle, and we hope to continue in the same vein for years to come. M: If you go back even beyond the formation of the band, what are your early memories of music? J: We all come from very musical families. We remember dancing in our kitchens to classic rock albums, sitting in churches filled with choral music, and, of course, singing along to our favourite TV theme songs: Fresh Prince, The Simpsons. Music has been a part of all of our lives from the get go. M: Plugging you guys into Google, I found your band continually characterized as one that had to fight “mediocrity” to get off Vancouver Island. J: The “mediocrity” is less to do with the Island and more generally concerned with popular music in the last three years. Things are bleak in our eyes. People just don’t seem switched on to art or originality. A bold claim considering the growing success of independent Canadian music. But then, The Italian
Edition raises a valid concern: with this increasing demand for the new and “progressive”, what will prevent the reproduction of the past and the “stagnancy” the band sees in mainstream music? It forces the question... M: Is independent Canadian music becoming complacent? Do you find that a particular sound is coming off of Vancouver Island, or even out of British Columbia and Canada for that matter? Still, Jack wasn’t about to name any names. J: We’ve played with a lot of bands that bring nothing new whatsoever to a show, and we see that as poison to a music scene or larger community of creativity. M: Following that question then, what does it mean to call yourself an “Indie” band? The term seems to carry with it some different connotations; or at least, people often have certain conceptions around what Indie music is and what it should be. Is the term being coopted? J: Real Indie music is definitely independent. As soon as it becomes more associated with a chic set of sensibilities, as it has in my opinion, and less with the empowerment of musicians to create something original, it rots away. Just like the Punk movement. In the end though, The Italian Edition is far more about optimism and inclusion than they are about doom and gloom. J: The wonderful thing about “independent music” is that the spirit hasn’t died out or faded away, it’s just reshaping itself into something totally different. It’ll emerge again five years from now as a whole new spirit, fashion, sound, and the process of evolution will start all over. Music, specifically the industry which consumers rely on for their musical
fix, is undergoing a revolution. For the first time, people have chosen their own format; the record companies never wanted a digital coup, it was regular audiophiles who made that choice. M: Do you see yourselves as part of a particular trend, then? Where would you place yourselves within the history of music?
J: The name was just picked randomly from a list of possibilities for our first gig, but over the years I think it’s gained some meaning. That’s why we’ve kept it. It can be seen as touching on monoculture and branddriven society, an inquiry into group identity in the new century.
J: As a band, we want to be a part of the change, to explore the new directions the downfall of the majors opens up, while also remaining accessible. Our favourite bands are those that pushed the envelope with their music, while still leaving enough room for people to make it their own. We’ll die happy if we can do the same. M: Does the band have a particular mandate? J: If we have any kind of mandate, it would probably involve legitimacy. Live, we always hope to give as much as we can of ourselves, do our best to show people what going to shows can be like. We all grew up thriving on that type of energy, and want to pass it on to as many other people as possible. When we write, we strive to make the music accessible, without compromising experimentation. Art and accessibility can’t be as separate as they are right not, or things just stay stagnant. We’d sound ridiculous claiming Great White Hope status regarding the state of things at the moment, but we sincerely hold originality as one of our aims. M: Why the name “The Italian Edition”?
Derricourt was also quick to defend Victoria and Vancouver Island as an example of how a local music scene should function. M: The band was described by LiveVictoria.com as being “stranded on an island paradise.” Is Vancouver Island such a bad place to try and put together a band? J: Vancouver Island has always been a freak of nature musically. There’s very little industry representation here, which encourages bands and individuals to work together to create a thriving scene. I’ve heard
mainlanders see our community as being backward, and I can understand their point of view, but after touring the country a couple of times, the band has really come to appreciate what Victoria and the rest of the island have to offer. An “island paradise” isn’t necessarily a bad place to get stranded.
M: What is the support like for new music and live acts? J: A couple of local bars keep the doors open for new talent, and all-ages shows have always encouraged wouldbe musicians, including us, to pursue what they love. M: It sounds like you guys were just barely able to afford to put out your album. Can you describe the experience of creating the album and how you feel about it now that it’s done? J: After touring this last fall we were in an interesting
position: we were broke, two of our members were leaving in the New Year, and we’d settled on putting together an album before the year’s end. “In Rainbows” has triggered a whole new way of thinking about music distribution in a lot of people, and we’re no different. We saw an opportunity to pre-sell our album at a show we put on ourselves, and then release the songs online in the coming months. We wrote an entire songbook of material, whittled it down to the best six songs for the EP, and are hoping to get the tracks mastered in the next week or so. It’s been a great experience, and we’re really glad we can offer up some free product to all the people who’ve helped us come this far over the course of the last three years. With their strong stance on music, how does The Italian Edition stack up then? Prior to the interview, I have to admit that my first run-through of “The Fable of the Mouse and the Frog,” I was expecting something on the fringe, when what I got was actually a familiar brand of Indie rock. After digesting the album and speaking with the band though, I found myself hurrying to find room for it on my iPod. The Italian Edition isn’t about resisting convention entirely, but about walking the line between the familiar and the unexplored. On that, they totally deliver. Their songs balance an epic rock sound with disruptive, jazz-like transitions, often to a tempo that will keep you moving. Jack’s lyrics and his delivery also speak to The Italian Edition’s range as a band. The album is out, now it’s just a matter of catching them on the mainland for a show.
Memewar presents: The Short Line Reading Series A space where artists can connect, debate and collaborate.
Smile Phinder Dulai
i want to sew on a smile stitch a blood thread a dried x across blistered lips dark and muddy make myself a ragged doll drink bleach for my new home to wash away the trouble the coloured hue of my story i will do this i will sign a note with a promise pledge to rename myself let distant voices fade mute a haunting scream that carries murder over 57 years
Photo Courtesy Brown Family
ask my guru to offer a morning blessing a thumb print of ash contours mapping the middle point on my forehead stay until you desire me no more remain silent agree that solitude is beautiful fingers and hand gently caressing my mouth xxxxxxx â€™d mouth lips thin and stretched. my history a quarrel a long starched thread an ember never allowed to curl.
Conversation Phinder Dulai
does amnesia capture the pathology of silence invisible skin of antennae nodes of knowing a stranded cell traverses becomes ecoli and races for infection starves becomes political without choice
okay thanks for thinking of me if you want me to you know I will they forgot one horse okay i’m not a horse but if i was i would ride from a blue sky undoing what my cousin started today i’m in the desert screaming when night becomes day… my master vaporized thanks for thinking of me i’ve been following ordered verse again
Making the past present Thomas Vogl
Photos by Nikki Rader
We are all born into a world that is already moving; things that have occurred before us will permeate and influence every aspect of our lives. We do not create the contexts into which we are born, but we are responsible for where we take them. People are naturally social beings and it is our condition to live in communities. There are
better and worse ways to live together; the way that would work best to maximize the public good – or that which is in the best interest of the community as a whole – involves the development of a critical awareness of history. As Cicero the Roman philosopher once said: “He who does not know history is destined to remain a child.”1 In order
to escape the ignorance of a childish state, we ought to contextualize ourselves in such a way as is beneficial to the public good. We will look at why this kind of contextualization is important in relation to a democratic Canadian perspective. While many of us would like to think that the world began at our own births, there had to be something there for us to be born into, and this thing has a story. This story is one that our parents, grandparents and ancestors lived. The American educator, philosopher, and educational reformer Joseph Tussman stresses, in his book The Beleaguered College, that “[the] social ‘present’ is generationally thick”2 and that not all of its members – those young, middle-aged, or old are at the same stage. Tussman goes on to say that this range of stages causes difficulties in the governing of society, as each stage has different interests as influenced by the contexts in which they were raised. For instance, someone who lived through the Trudeau government may have different expectations from the Liberal party than someone who did not, or someone who lived through Maurice Duplessis’s premiership of Québec might be concerned about religiousbased morals differently than someone who did not; even socio-economic perspectives between someone who lived during the 1930s depression, as opposed to someone who did not, may be different. Any of these examples and more factor into our perspective on contemporary issues and while it is impossible for someone not living at the time to have experienced these events, it is possible to gather enough information about them to understand in part why certain people hold the opinions that they do. With a better understanding of contexts, one gets a better understanding of those that lived within them. This would not only allow a much more effective integration of the social body, but it would help to avoid conflict due to generational misunderstanding and alienation.
Without context conducive to public life in the community, decision making is limited to helpless flailing in a turbulent sea. Without context there would be no reason to the choices a person would make; nothing would be informing the direction we would be taking the world. Not to say the world is moving towards some specific end, just that the world is moving and that part of that motion is informed by our actions. Tussman would say that education is crucial in this contextualization, “[for] education is also the initiation into the ongoing activities of a culture, its arts and enterprises, its fellowships and pursuits.”3 To stop flailing and to stay afloat in this world, we must start tethering ourselves to the life-raft of context and culture. In this way we can become true worldly actors. But why, we might ask, would we desire to be tethered thus? What of freedom? Tussman says that often “[the] commitment to membership in community is mistaken for bondage; slavery to desire and whim is mistaken for freedom.”4 We must help the misguided come to understand that the condition of life in this world necessitates living together; life in a community, not a life of self-interest. We have already been tethered to one another by the bonds of language and by our initiation into the specific community that is Canada. As such, we might as well attempt to protect the freedom our society affords us by fulfilling our obligation to participate in society’s move towards the public good. In order for our community to move in an informed way, not only must the members of our community that are in different stages be brought to a certain level of understanding of one another and also from whence they came, but we must also have some collective memory of these problems and come to understand their history to be capable of dealing with the problems we as a society face. As Tussman would say: “all our trips begin from where
“... but, to be capable of dealing with the problems we, as a society, face we must have some collective memory of them and come to understand the history of those problems.”
we are.”5 And where we are is rich in history. The Canadian author and essayist John Ralston Saul, in his book and Massey Lecture, The Unconscious Civilization tells us what use our memory has. “We ... if we use our consciousness, can know what we have already done and what the effects were.”6 This right away gives us a great advantage as we deal with things in the present because, as Saul continues, “[it] is the disinterested past, which acts both as a warning and a guide.”7
There is also the historical context of Canada being a nation founded on colonialism and immigration, a context which continues to this very day. And further, that the government is a democratic project, which needs to be continuously discussed in order to keep it alive and to determine which direction it needs to take. The question of democracy, as the system from which we operate, is probably the most important topic to look at, as it informs our stance on how we live in a community and how we deal with the social and political issues therein.
It may seem overwhelming to have to understand one’s overall context, especially given the tremendous number of events that have occurred over the course of the world’s history. While it does help to have an understanding of the world’s scope and issues, this is secondary; it is more important to know the context of the place where you live. Joseph Tussman expresses this point by telling us that “[our] real culture is a foreign culture to most of us; and you cannot understand a foreign culture if you do not understand your own.”8 So to know one’s own culture or context is the starting point, and from there one can branch off into the understanding of different cultures and societies. This, in turn, may inflect upon how one interprets one’s own culture. Not only does an understanding of our domestic issues help us tackle them, but these issues at home should provide a foundation or point of departure for the role we play in similar issues abroad. Learning to live as a community begins at home and it begins with looking at our context. With regards to the Canadian story there are many topics of interest; we will look at some of the more significant ones. There is the context of Canada having been initially composed of three distinct cultures, that of the English speaking Canadians, that of the French speaking Canadians, and that of the Aboriginal peoples.
Canada, as a democracy, has a responsibility to its citizens to teach them how to effectively participate in the governing of their own country. Our democracy, in light of the issues it faces, must be self-reflective and self-critical. We have come a long way from the founding principles of our democracy, as it has undergone some change, but we must not lose sight of responsible participatory government and the obligations that state entails. To ensure that everyone turns out a good civic actor, it is necessary that they have some understanding of how democracy (and its constitution) was decided upon and what it was laid out to do. As Joseph Tussman says, “[democracy] is not anarchy; it is an organized and complex way of life, and it requires the cultivation of its appropriate state of mind.”9 If our democracy has had any problems, it is our responsibility to look at them and ensure that they cannot occur again – or at least that we work on making that so. And if the democracy itself happens to be problematic we must work on changes that would make it better. This kind of responsibility requires that citizens have some understanding of the context behind their civic life and their civic duty. John Ralston Saul expresses this point when he says, “free speech and democracy are closely tied to an active, practical use of memory – that is, history – as well as an unbroken sense of the public
“We must understand that bias exists any time we look at history and that the only way to counteract that bias is to engage in the controversies that exist and to consider all of the diverse viewpoints that surround them..”
good.”10 The only way this kind of contextualization can happen is if the government can instill the values of its nation into its citizens when it can, which happens to be through its elementary and secondary education system. Tussman gives us the reasoning behind this necessity when he says “we interfere with the liberty of children and impose our culture upon them – our language and arts, our sciences and crafts, our categories and needs – preparing them for the processes of adult life and the rights, the liberties, and dignities of that condition.”11 We initiate children into adulthood when they possess an understanding of context and a sense of obligation to serving the best interest of the whole community. With a memory of what is past we will be better able to inform the present. We will leave off with a description of what Joseph Tussman considers an ideal state: “there is a not unreasonable dream that adult members of a democratic community will, as a normal part of their lives, read and gather to discuss materials out of which a common understanding will grow, a school that need never come to an end, a habit from which there is no graduation, a community made by taking thought together.”12
Footnotes Cicero. Quoted in John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization (Toronto: Anansi, 1995), 5. 2 Joseph Tussman, The Beleaguered College (Berkeley: Institute of Government Studies, 1997), 165. 3 Ibid., 174. 4 Ibid., 84. 5 Ibid., 185. 6 John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization (Toronto: Anansi, 1995), 190. 7 Ibid., 191. 8 Tussman, The Beleaguered College, 91. 9 Ibid., 99. 10 Saul, The Unconscious Civilization, 47. 11 Tussman, The Beleaguered College, 178. 12 Ibid., 146-7. 1
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My Yams Are Burning: an inexperienced review
Amelia Pitt-Brooke Usually cookbooks are reviewed by people who know food, often professionally. I know food, and I like food, however I am as useless in the kitchen as a hockey stick used to beat an egg, and about as dangerous too. Thus, reading Dolly and Annie Watts’ delightful book Where People Feast; an Indigenous People’s Cookbook was both a pleasure and an adventure.
Where People Feast by Dolly and Annie Watts Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007; $24.95
Dolly (Watts) McRae and Annie Watts are a mother daughter duo, and bring to this book the combined cuisines of their Gitk’san and Nuu-chah-nulth heritage. The Gitk’san territory is located in central British Columbia and the Nuu-chah-nulth territory stretches across much of the west coast of Vancouver Island. This geographical range is reflected in the diversity of recipes included in the volume, which feature ingredients like elk, buffalo, rabbit, duck and venison, as well as running the gamut of seafood and freshwater fish. Where People Feast is also the legacy of the Liliget Feast House, the local restaurant run by the two women for twelve years. Located near Vancouver’s Stanley Park, the Feast House is the “world’s only indigenous fine dining establishment”, and boasts an interior designed by architect Arthur Erickson. Involving the extensive culinary experience of our authors, the recipes in this compilation range from pre-contact, such as the Gitk’san Slush, to modern adaptations and non-traditional dishes like the Shiitake Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup or the Pacific Macaroni and Cheese.
This beautiful book is both simple and easy to use in the kitchen and just as pleasing to the eye. The large artistic colour photographs of different dishes inspired me to try my hand at making them. While initially tempted by the Wild Huckleberry Glazed Duck, my culinary inexperience lead me to the less intimidating Buffalo Burgers and Roasted Yam and Feta Salad. While a burger fan, as a recovering vegetarian I have never cooked with meat that hasn’t come pre-processed (hence my reticence with the duck). This also meant I wasn’t certain where to find buffalo meat, but a quick online search revealed that it can be found at several outlets in Vancouver, notably Granville Island and Whole Foods Market (culinary experiences in themselves which source many of their products locally), as well as specialty butchers. Buffalo meat is becoming a popular alternative to beef, and there are many ranches in BC and Alberta that farm these majestic animals. I found that in comparison to beef burgers, which hit me over the head with a generic “meat” taste (possibly due to their extensive processing), the flavour of buffalo is simultaneously more subtle and rich. The inclusion of the Watts’ Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar, cilantro and Dijon mustard in the patty also gave the burger a more multi-layered flavour. The authors recommend using their Just Like Grandma’s Bannock recipe for the burger buns, however I was so caught up in making the burger patty that I neglected to read that the bannock recipe makes 25 of the fried bread, a feat which I was unable to achieve mid-evening. While I had to rely on store-bought baked goods this time, I still have three burger patties in my freezer and look forward to enjoying the Buffalo Burger in its intended incarnation. The Roasted Yam & Feta Salad is a simple side or main dish, and despite being a salad is intended to be warm. I prepared this first, as it takes forty minutes in the oven. Before being roasted, the yams are covered in a mixture of grapeseed oil, sliced onions, brown sugar, and garlic
salt. After being cooked they are tossed with feta cheese and lemon juice, which provides a zing that contrasts with the heavy starchiness of the yams. Unfortunately and predictably I burnt them, but now I can say from experience that when chopping the yams into the recommended “bite-sized pieces” one should err on the side of larger bites, larger pieces being easier to turn over half way through the roasting period. And despite their accidental crispness they were so enjoyable and simple to make they have been added to my list of staple dishes. One of the most challenging thing about Where People Feast is the difficulty in finding many of the local ingredients. A testament to British Columbia’s industry based food sector and the legacy of factory farming, the ingredients hardest to find in non-specialty groceries are the ones which grow and live right here in BC, and are indigenous to the area. It is easier to purchase California strawberries than sopalali berries (a.k.a. soapberries or Canada buffalo berries), which grow in BC. While specifically showcasing indigenous cuisine, Where People Feast is also interesting from what it reveals about where our food comes from. It is also a delicious addition to my kitchen library.
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the trouble with tigers #6
Look who’s jamming now: a review of ideogram’s “baby Noise”
It’s late and my girlfriend calls to see if I’ll be packing it in. “I’ll be home in a few,” I say while eyeing the next band. Of the four guys setting up on stage only one looks over nineteen. How did they get in? There’s one of them in particular that stands out, a little brother brought from home to haul gear. That’s what I figure. It turns out that was fifteen year old Kai Basanta, the drummer for jazz-funk band iDeogRam. Make no mistake, these aren’t under age kids looking to get into bars; these are serious musicians. I could talk about their disc aptly titled “Baby Noise” to remind us of the assumptions around young bands. It features a single up-tempo track which experiments with itself, without alienating the listener. Still, to focus on the recording would be to overlook the essence of iDeogRam and what I understand jazz to be: improvisation. This isn’t just a case of: “They’re better live than they are on disc.” As a jam band, they have no definitive songs, just the quality of their comprehensive performances which span out in all directions. By the time they are done, you’ll get the sense that there is no other combination of sounds iDeogRam could have put together with their instruments – That they covered them, left it all up on stage. That night, I had to call my girlfriend back. I told her not to wait up.
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Contributors Poet and critic Stephen Collis is the author of three books of poetry, numerous chapbooks, essays on contemporary poetry and poetics and he is the author of two book-length studies. A member of the Kootenay School of Writing collective, he teaches American literature, poetry, and creative writing at Simon Fraser University.
or two. She is delighted to finally be doing something pertaining to her field of study as a Memewar contributor and volunteer.
Phinder Dulai has given readings and talks on Canadian literature, with an emphasis on migrant voices, for schools, colleges and universities both in and outside of Canada. He has worked in print journalism in Vancouver’s South Asian media and as an associate producer for Gabereau Live. His poetry has been published in many literary journals and several Canadian newspapers. He has published two books of poetry: Ragas from the Periphery (1995) and Basmati Brown (2000). He currently works for the BC government and lives in Burnaby with his wife and two daughters.
Oliver Rice has received the Theodore Roethke Prize, twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and twice featured on Poetry Daily. His poems have been published widely in the United States, as well as in England, Austria, Turkey, and India. His work appears in three recent anthologies: Ohio Review’s New and Selected, Bedford/St. Martin’s Introduction to Literature, and Random House/Billy Collins’ 180 More.
Rhoda Hodjati works for the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa. Gloria Personne was born in Paris, France (where her father owned a used book store), June 6, 1966. After her father’s untimely death, she grew up with her English mother near London (1972-1979) and then (after her mother remarried) in the San Francisco Bay area (1979-1984). She currently divides her time between Paris and New York, where she works in the book trade and writes about literature and architecture. Amelia Pitt-Brooke is nearing the end of her stint in the English program at SFU. While in the process of obtaining her degree she’s been moonlighting as drag king Edward Malaprop and has been known to produce a show
While fighting crimes of punctuation and the terror of plagiarism, Nikki Rader still finds time to dabble in one of her favourite hobbies: photography.
Amanda Ryan’s past work has appeared in issues of The Liar and Memewar. Presently she is working on compiling a collection of poems for self-publishing, and all of her most current work can found at www.amandaryan.blogspot.com. Ami Sanyal is a contributor for Beyond Robson – a Vancouver blog that is a source for arts, film, fashion, food, and news. Go to www.beyondrobson.com/author/ami Thomas Vogl is an aspiring philosopher who is finishing his third year at Capilano College. He is preparing to enter the beast that is the University of British Columbia as he journeys through his studies. He has been published in the Capilano Courier. The UBC Museum of Anthropology is digitizing works in their care with the help of photographers Derek Tan, Jessica Bushey, Kyla Bailey and object handler Katerina Talei.
All Uncredited Photos and Art Contributed by Memewar Staff
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