Saturday, 25 July 2020

Surrey Muse Virtual Gathering July 2020

I attended my first "watch party" last night, and gained a renewed respect for the technical aspects of online gathering (how challenging they may be). I was able to watch an entire movie on Netflix, between the intended launch time and the actual, three hours later.

In my own home, it took multiple tries to record my bit, 20 minutes of poetry, initially upbeat and (a week later) sad. What made the difference was the passing of Daniel David Moses, alongside the themes of my recent work (death and friendship).

I was using a camera/mike acquired by one of my sons a decade before, and abandoned due to lo res everything. The household cat goddess, Sophie, likes to speak back when she hears me apparently talking to myself. In the end I removed her to one of the upstairs bedrooms for a time.

There were other glitches in the transmission, primarily in audio quivers during Mariam's introductions of some of the guests.

Nonetheless, it was a fine night. I am happy to share it.

I felt some of the joy and surprise that the irl Surrey Muse gatherings have long provided, though irl we would also be sharing food and (some of us) cigarettes.

The line-up:
Joanne Arnott (poetry, friendship + death)
Jonina Kirton (memoir, mixed race families)
Tariq Hussain (song + storytelling)
Steffi Tad-y (poetry)

Steffi was the "open mic opener."

Fair warning: while Steffi's poetry was very much aligned with all that came before, the subsequent presenters were on a different path (all hell breaks loose).
If you love the smooth, this ends at 1:21:30.
If you would like to cleanse your palate of all that with a little cacophony, stay tuned.

My personal favourite across the presentations was Tariq Hussain, with his quirky songwriting and easy storytelling.

Like Jonina, I am rooted in Treaty One territory, and like Tariq, radio was a profound influence in my younger life.

My dad was a guitar player, known for it. While he was not a professional, he did inspire his wives and the majority of his nine children to pick up guitar. One of my fondest memories is a particular mother's day, when my elder sister Marni and I, and my two eldest sons, each picked up the guitar and shared a song. I felt deeply affirmed-- in spite of all-- the guitar family continues to cascade through the generations.

My thanks to Surrey Muse, Fauzia Rafique and Mariam Zohra D, for bringing together diverse artists on a regular basis, irl or online as the moment commands. Thanks to Aaron Paquette for the beautiful art infusion.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Surrey Muse July 24 2020

Art work ‘Equilibrium’ by Aaron Paquette. Poster designed by Mariam Zohra D.

The 5th Virtual Gathering of Surrey Muse

95th Gathering

 – Friday July 24 / 2020 – 

LIVE Watch Party
Friday, July 24, 2020
5:30 -7:30 PM (PT)
Join us on YouTube
Surrey Muse Channel on YouTube
Featured Guests
Author Jónína Kirton
Poet Joanne Arnott
Performer Tariq Hussain
Open Mic Opener Steffi Tad-y
Featured art by Aaron Paquette
Host Mariam Zohra D.
View previous program videos at
Surrey Muse YouTube channel
Free event
Donations welcome
Updates will be posted here
Videos will be posted here
More about the gatherings
‘LIKE’ us on FB
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Surrey Muse gatherings take place
on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Oklahoma! + redemption stories

I was happy to see that SCOTUS (Supreme Court US) settled the land question on the side of the Tribes, rather than on the side of the state of Oklahoma.

Still in my first year of Twitter participation, I posted two links-- one US, one APTN-- before receiving a retweet from one of my friends, on the same topic-- "Please don't retweet...[on this topic]."  The body of the tweet cautioned against misreading the full story.

I acknowledge that I am not up on the full story, tho I did do some research (local, national media) ("This Land" podcast, Crooked Media) before posting. One thing I noticed, in my reading, was that the pushes toward recognition of Tribal jurisdiction over lands not ceded (in Oklahoma) in recent years have been outgrowths of criminal cases.

In an ideal world, gruesome murders and child sexual abuse would not be the bases from which collective rights are re-affirmed. But, I ask, which of us is living in the ideal world? There is a sense of peace, for me, in seeing non-virtuous people spearheading incremental improvements for all: traumatically gone-wrong situations can indeed morph into variations on redemption stories.

By affirming that the fed gov US was sloppy in its pursuit of extinction of Indigenous rights in relation to Oklahoma lands, a century ago, SCOTUS has not only inconvenienced a bunch of people by creating a situation where state criminal trials must be re-tried federally. It has also affirmed a new legal platform from which Indigenous people may challenge the old decisions, and regain some of the autonomy once enjoyed, then promised, then submerged under the colonial day-to-day.

Q&A: What does McGirt ruling mean?

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, said the decision sets an important precedent and affirms the federal government’s obligation to uphold and honor treaties.
~Indian Country Today

'Good day to be Indigenous': High court ruling cheered

Supreme Court ruling 'reaffirmed' sovereignty

~The Oklahoman

Justices rule swath of Oklahoma remains tribal reservation (CP + APTN)

For those sensitive to punctuation: Oklahoma! was the first musical theatre I saw, performed in a park in Windsor ON, the first live theatre I saw after several MB Shakespearean offerings.
The Unbearable whiteness of ‘Oklahoma!'!In new Broadway revival, the blinding sunshine of the Territory exposes the violence beneath the romantic myth

Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, an Oklahoma journalist and citizen of the Cherokee Nation

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Friday, 5 June 2020

test reading

Alongside many other people, this spring I was vaulted into online video realms.
Covid-19 and pandemic counter-maneuvering guided my transition from all-text 
all-the-time writer to i-see-you you-see-me conversational forays. 
Big thanks to my mentorship crew at The Writers Studio SFU 
for co-thinking and co-testing our online options: 
we settled on zoom.

I was disappointed to move online two in-person jobs I really enjoy,
poetry reading and poetry workshop. I am one of those people
who is sensitive to the energies in the room,
and it is a much different room online than in person. 
The energies are not absent, but muted. 
There are deeply engaging embodied activities 
that I wanted to share with you, but these were not 
transmittable in the disembodied realms.

As poets we composed Covid-19 poems, 
alongside our usual work of readings and critiques.
We were together when the George Floyd murder occurred 
and went viral, and all the eruptions since then.

In upcoming weeks, I'll be guest at podcasts that celebrate 
Lesbian Oral History, to speak of Beth Brant, 
and LCP poets responding to the concept of decolonial feminism. 
I'll do my second-ever online workshop, 
seeking to connect emerging writers to their inner realms
and to the formal expressive space we call poetry.
I'll also be doing online readings in the community.

I did a test reading today from my chapbook Pensive & beyond.
The two poems I read-- one on silence, one on police actions--
very much reminds me of the moment we share today. 
There are a lot of excuses for silence, but overall it's not healthy.
The police actions in Egypt in 2011 are not different 
from those in Washington DC in 2020.

My motivations in sharing this post are, 
yes, to test my tech, but more to the point, 
to speak to the roiling societies dealing 
with the twofold pandemic
of racism and coronavirus. 


Last word to Ian Williams:

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Dr. Ranil Senanayake: The Living Skin


I found Dr Ranil's talk marked by clarity and compassion: teaching the basics liberates the possibilities.

DilmahConservation hosted a lecture on the 28th of August 2019 as a part of the 'Climate Reality' interactive workshop series.

South Asia's first systems ecologist Dr. Ranil Senanayake discusses the vital role of soil and the ecological services it provides us. Referring to soil as 'the living skin of the earth', he discussed the importance of understanding and incorporating sustainable soil conservation practices as we look towards building climate resilience for the future.

Top image: Ranil, 2017

Ranil Senanayake, Doctor in Systems Ecology and pioneer of Analog Forestry is the subject of the artwork; a large-scale portrait of Senanayake is grown in chlorophyll through the process of photographic photosynthesis using rice and red millet.

Artists: Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey (more info)

Re/Evolution/Ackroyd & Harvey

Sri Lanka, 2017 

Cinnamon Colomboscope
Sri Lanka
2-7 September 2017

Climate Reality Project

For more of Dr Senanayake's thoughts in a slide format:

Principles of Analog Forestry

#the living skin






what we owe the

dirty world


how we can begin

to make amends

Saturday, 25 April 2020

healthy streams

healthy streams

in a building splashed
with autumn ivy
circled by old roses
bowed in their beds
the workers gather

stepping away for a while
out of the ordinary patterns
of life
to come together
to share stories

under ceilings high and ornate
we speak the simple truth:
in the voices and in the eyes of others
we see ourselves received
heard, understood

with every story
we soften— the caretakers
the caregivers—
gathered for an in-house exchange
the focus on us for a change

as the stories collect
in the common pool
they begin to reflect back and forth
upon one another
and the colours shift

new insights gleaned
burdens dissolved or lifted away
strategies gathered and
with them, hope
new pathways opening

sisters and brothers
stronger together
storytellers replenished
world shapers stepping back
into the flowing stream

Joanne Arnott
commissioned poem for Stronger Together,
CUPE National Health Care Sector Meeting
Victoria BC
21 October 2010

In a time of global pandemic, and much discussion 
about the economic and work safety conditions 
for caregivers in all walks of life, I decided to post
this poem as an online version of the applause 
that many neighbourhoods have taken to giving
to the caretakers, caregivers, care workers, in thanks--
in stark contrast to the current conditions-- 
in affirmation that this capacity to come together 
is wholly natural
is still ours