Sunday, November 30, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:52 AM
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Ciao for now, more to come from T.O. In the meantime, please keep an eye on this page for me. Someone keeps trying to remove certain facts from it...
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:00 PM
UPDATE: Speaking of Riddle Fence, Carmine Starnino has posted some praise for it over at the Vehicule blog. I have a copy of this issue and tho I've not read all of it, I'd have to agree so far that it's "effin good." Hynes' piece is one of things I've not read. Sounds like I should. Right fuckin now.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:27 AM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:05 AM
Friday, November 28, 2008
En conséquence do tout ce qui précède, le Tribunal conclut qu'au 31 décembre 2000, M. Wells n'était pas résident du Québec.
I was so elated, I pumped my left fist in the air, forgetting that the ceiling of my living room is only 6'3". (Only minor superficial damage to one knuckle.) For those who can't read French at all, the judge ruled that I wasn't a resident of Quebec in 2000 and so do not owe Revenue Quebec the $5700+ they've been trying to get from me since 2005. The judge said that "with all due respect, the Court holds that this position [RQ's that I was a resident] contains a manifest error concerning Mr. Wells's living habits between January and August 2000." I.e. what I was saying all along. A big victory for the little guy, although the whole affair did cost me somewhere around $1000 and untold hours of my life. It's been ... taxing. I'm glad the whole mess is settled now and so relieved that it worked out as it should have.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:23 PM
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:29 AM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 5:57 AM
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:29 PM
Further to the discussion on this post, I consulted my poet/lawyer friend Sharon McCartney about the phrasing in the CC juror guidelines. Here's what she has to say:
It's confusing because the phrase introducing the starred points indicates discretion ("may also exist") while the bracketed phrases use absolute language ("conflict of interest exists"). One of the basic principles of statutory interpretation (statutes arguably include such guidelines) is that you have to read each item in the context of the entire piece of legislation--and also reasonably, sensibly and in a way that avoids absurdity. So, reading the bracketed phrases in the context of the entire paragraph, you could argue that there's still some discretion to decide whether or not a conflict exists. That would be particularly so in light of the previous paragraph, the point of which is to list situations where an absolute conflict exists. If you read the bracketed phrases as indicating situations where an actual conflict "must" exist, then what was the point of the previous paragraph and why are the bracketed phrases not listed there? I think that's what a judge would ask. They try really hard (usually) to make sense even of poorly written material. And they assume that the legislation (or whatever is being interpreted) is well-written, well-organized and sensibly thought out.However, you could argue that the bracketed phrases are in contrast to the starred items in the sense of narrowing down the existence of an actual conflict of interest. Does that make sense?
It's just kind of stupidly written. The other argument to rely on is that any legislation has to be interpreted in a way that gives meaning to the purpose for which the legislation was enacted--the "broad, purposeful" interpretation. Where the purpose is to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of bias, you would err on the side of finding that the wording indicates where "actual" conflict occurs, rather than a "possible" conflict, and that this would help people (i.e. jurors) avoid situations where they would be in an actual conflict of interest.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:59 AM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
My reading was introduced by host Aubyn Rader, who's Matt Rader's cousin. Unbeknownst to me, Matt had provided Aubyn with an alternative intro for me. It goes something like this:
Zach rhymes with yak, which is a large bovine, related, but not closely, to the water buffalo, another large bovine found in, well, watery spots, which is what a well is, and the plural of well is wells. If you take a well and turn it sideways you have a tunnel and you can crawl through a tunnel or you can send something through it like a ball or your voice, but your voice will echo likely and be distorted as it passes through so that what comes out at the other end is something different but recognizable. The same can be said for the digestive systems of multi-stomached bovines such as the cow or yak. Yak I might add is a perfect rhyme for Zach.
Hung out briefly with a few folks, including Peter Trower, Rob Taylor and Brian Palmu. Had interesting conversations with people who made livings either betting on horses or selling vintage video games, Lego, etc. on eBay. Sometimes I think I've got the wrong idea working on the train.
I made a tape of the readings tonight, which I'm uploading at the moment. Should be up soon.
Tomorrow, I'm heading back out to UBC to take part in a poetry reading workshop with Tony Harrison, which I'm super psyched about. I'll be performing this speech from Harrison's translation of Molière's Le misanthrope:
ALCESTE Disgusting! Every modish socialite
bends backwards to appear polite.
There's nothing I loathe more than empty grins
and cringing grimaces and wagging chins,
politeness mongers, charmers with two faces,
dabblers in nonsensical fine phrases,
outvying one another in their little game
of praise-me-I'll-praise-you. It's all the same
if you're idiot or hero. What's the good
of friendship and respect if it's bestowed
on any nincompoop and simpleton
your praiser-to-the-skies next happens on?
No! No! Not one right-thinking man, not one
'd want such cheap and flimsy honours done.
Esteem's based on a scale, it's not much worse
praising nothing than the universe.
You'll be no friend of mine if you comply
with these false manners of society.
From the bottom of my heart I must reject
that sort of indiscriminate respect.
If someone honours me I want it known
that it's an honour for myself alone.
Flinging love all over's not my line.
The ' buddy ' of Mankind 's no friend of mine.
I just couldn't resist...
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:35 PM
So says Melanie Rutledge in the Star.
This morning, my intrepid cub reporter Michael Lista sent me the official guidelines, as sent to him by Ms. Rutledge:
For Canada Council’s Literary Prizes
(in addition to the conflict of interest points listed above)
Conflict of interest exists if:
- the assessor, the assessor’s spouse/partner or family member have a book in contention
- the assessor edited one of the books
- the assessor is a staff member or board member of one of the nominating publishing houses.
Conflict of interest may also exist if:
- the assessor contributed to the development of one of the books (conflict of interest exists if the assessor has made a direct, intellectual contribution to one of the books)
- the assessor has written a promotional text or review of one of the books
- the assessor’s name is listed in the acknowledgements section (conflict of interest exists if the assessor’s name is listed in such a way that it implies a contribution to one of the books).
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:47 AM
Monday, November 24, 2008
A powerful cause of dissonance is when an idea conflicts with a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as "I am a good person" or "I made the right decision." This can lead to rationalization when a person is presented with evidence of a bad choice. It can also lead to confirmation bias, the denial of disconfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:14 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Just a reminder that I'm reading on Tuesday. Hope you can make it:
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
6:30pm - 8:30pm
579 Dunsmuir St
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:30 PM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:51 PM
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Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:43 PM
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:17 PM
Hear Harrison read four of his poems here.
Read more of his poems here.
Read a profile of him here.
Read a review of his Selected Poems here.
If you're only going to read one thing, make it "V"
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:44 AM
Friday, November 21, 2008
Here's what I've sent to Melanie Rutledge, head of the Writing and Publishing arm of the Canada Council for the Arts. I'm cc'ing it to Robert Sirman, the Director of the CC:
Dear Mr. Sirman,
Below is the text of a message I have sent to Melanie Rutledge. As this matter applies not only to the Writing and Publishing division, but to the Council more broadly, I think it appropriate to send it to you as well. I remember when you started this job you said that you wanted less mediocre art to be rewarded. There are practical, concrete measures that can, and must, be taken to insure that, at least, awards are given in good faith and are not tainted by blatant favouritism, as was the case with this year's GG Award for Poetry.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns.
Writer and editor
Dear Ms. Rutledge,
No doubt you have been following the controversy regarding Jacob Scheier's win of the Governor General's Award for Poetry this year. It is clear that this decision has dismayed a great many people involved in Canadian poetry and has done much to undermine the credibility and prestige of this award.
I am writing to urge you, and the Canada Council more broadly, to adopt measures to make the award-nomination and -granting process more transparent, objective and fair. At a time when arts funding has been questioned and cut by government, it's especially important now that there is not even the appearance of taxpayers' money being disbursed in an unethical and inappropriate manner.
Thank you for taking the time to listen my concerns.
Writer and editor
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:54 AM
I'm very glad to hear that my old pal Peter Richardson has won this year's QWF poetry prize for his very fine collection, Sympathy for the Couriers. It's perhaps appropriate, given recent events, that many of the poems in this book delve into venality...
Also good to see that Rawi Hage won for fiction, after losing out in both the Giller and GGs. If you haven't got a copy of Cockroach yet, go get it. Incendiary novel.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:30 AM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
And the CC writing and publishing head has gone on record saying it's important to talk to jurors about conflict of interest, without actually saying that she talked to these jurors about it. Also, it's important to have rules, but also the freedom to ignore them. I'm glad that Ms. Rutledge clarified that for us.
Also, apparently the neo-dadaists are mad. I haven't heard them weigh in on this, but there's a pretty good chance it's true. They're usually mad about something.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:37 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Anyway, those of us without friends in high places have to do some slogging to find a public, so I'm off to read at UNBC tomorrow morning. Then another night here, then another 12 hour bus ride. I wonder if 12 hours is enough time to write a GG-worthy poetry book...
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:53 PM
Monday, November 17, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:01 AM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:50 AM
Sunday, November 16, 2008
It was better yet to spend some time with my old friends Mike and Natalie, and their delightful two-year-old girl Anna. On Saturday morning, Rachel, Kaleb and I joined Mike and Anna for an expedition to Goldstream Provincial Park to check out the chum salmon run. I'd never witnessed this awesome phenomenon before. The creek was thick with spawning salmon, as well as the eyeless corpses of those who'd done their duty. Gulls splashed about in search of unpecked eyeballs; the stink of rotting fishflesh permeated the air; eleven eagles sat in the bare branches of a tree on the bank. Really amazing.
Spent a lovely mild afternoon on Saturday walking around Victoria with Steven Price and Esi Edugyan, with whom we've become friendly since we moved out here. Victoria's a bit--a lot--too twee, but I kinda like it. Reminds me some of Halifax.
Saturday night, after the reading, Patricia and Terence Young had people over to their gorgeous home. Had a few good conversations before calling it quits and driving back out to Langford, where we were staying. We loitered around downtown today before driving out to the ferry. All in all, a very good weekend.
Next up for me, I'm Greyhounding it up to Prince George on Tuesday, for a reading on Wednesday at UNBC: 10:00 - 11: 20 a.m. – CFC 6-205. (I don't know what that means, but presumably if you're familiar with the UNBC campus, you will.) I daresay I won't be reading for the full 1:20 minutes. That would be good for no one. But I reckon there will be some discussion going on too.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:54 PM
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A reminder to CLM readers in the vicinity of Victoria that I'll be reading there this weekend.
And on Saturday, I'll be reading my contribution to the Rocksalt anthology at Bolen Books, #111-1644 Hillside Ave., 7 pm. I'll be one of a whole passel of Rocksalters.
Hope to see you.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:30 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:26 PM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 1:35 PM
Monday, November 10, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:13 PM
It's off to court I go. I think I'm ready.
Harold read last night at Blizzarts from the book, The Mountain Clinic. We both showed up at Blizzarts at exactly the same time. He had no idea I was in town (as far as he knew, the next time we'd see each other would be in Victoria, where Harold now lives, next weekend), so was surprised as hell to see me. The event was emceed by our common friend Geoff Cook. Also reading were Katia Grubisic and J.R. Carpenter. Also in attendance were Carmine Starnino and John Lofranco.
It was good to see all these folks and to spend some time relaxing before the hearing. Naturally, I stuck to tonic water, since a clear head is of the utmost importance today. The hearing's in 3.5 hours, as I type and I really don't think there's much more I can do to prepare. I've got my facts all lined up and I think they speak for themselves, so persuasive rhetoric shouldn't be an issue.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:44 AM
Heaney has not, it is clear, made peace with the experimental wing of contemporary poetry - he calls it "a refusal of the kind of poetry I write" - which begs the question any mirror does - isn't his kind of poetry a refusal, equally, of the avant-garde sense of what poetic language entails?
No, it's not. (And no it doesn't "beg the question," but that's another matter.) Why not? Because probably about 99% of writers who self-identify as "experimental" or "avant-garde" define their aesthetics in opposition to what they view to be "mainstream" or "establishment." The very metaphor "avant-garde," with all its military associations, is ample evidence of that. If it's not a negatively-defined, oppositional stance, then the label shouldn't be used. The fact is that the avant-garde is nowhere without the establishment, whereas the establishment could carry on quite happily without the existence of the avant-garde.
From what I've seen of Heaney's work as a poet and critic--which is most of it--he is not similarly opposed to "the experimental wing." Mostly, he simply ignores it, as an elephant would a mosquito on its arse. Which is of course what that noisy faction hates most. The only reason he mentions it in the interview is because he was specifically asked about it.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:28 AM
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:43 PM
My wonderful and talented wife has a special offer on. Drop me a line if you'd like to take advantage of it:
Hello, all. I am writing to let you know that for a limited time, I will be selling signed copies of my 2006 book Hannus, for only $10(plus $3 for shipping within Canada) -- over 50% off the cover price($23). Hannus (published by Pedlar Press and stunningly designed by Zab of Zab design) is a genre-defying book, consisting of poems, prose pieces, interviews, newspaper clippings, photographs, dramatic monologues, and more about the life of my great-grandmother, Finnish suffragist Ida Hannus. The book covers 50 years of Ida's life, from her BC beginnings in the Finnish colony of Sointula to her personal and political life in Vancouver. The book has been very well received and was a finalist for both a BC book prize and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction.
Moreover, I am also offering a joint sale: buy Hannus and get $5 off your purchase of my brand-new kids ballad picture book Anything But Hank! Anything But Hank (Biblioasis) is co-written by Zachariah Wells and illustrated by the fantastic Nova Scotia illustrator Eric Orchard. Regular price is $19.95, but for this package deal, I will only charge $25 for the 2 books (plus a $6 shipping fee within Canada).
I will be travelling for the month of December, so if you are interested in taking advantage of this deal for holiday gifts, please respond to this email this month so I can send you the book(s) as soon as possible.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:58 AM
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I am listening
I am listening to Al Purdy at the Rebecca Cohn
in underground sunlight
and you can tell that I am a sensitive man
And I notice that Purdy is a sensitive man too
as he reads a poem that says so
However jokily, I see it’s true
And he reads other poems as well
poems about beer and fights with his wife
and other things I understand
such as the
for I have been there
and I am a sensitive man
I have been to Pangnirtung
where I saw the ground willow
rooted stubbornly in its rocky bed
I have seen the delicate things
carved from serpentine by toothless old men
and I have seen noisy flowers
which I would bottle and press
as “small yellow shouts”
Okay, so those were poppies and saxifrage
and not “Arctic rhododendrons”
but the point is that I am a sensitive man
and what Al is saying, I dig
and I dig the big resonant voice
improbably emanating from that long lanky frame
topped by a mop of straight white hair
and I think to myself
Jeez, maybe I should write flower poems
But the North I know is not the same
as the place Purdy briefly toured in ‘65
There are more white people for instance
and more machines
and I am both of them
there is cable TV, cellphones
mansions on the hill over
Stone carvings get shipped by the planeload
on jets that thunder down Iqaluit’s 9000 paved feet
and those carvings are shaped
not by handmade tools
but with Dremels and sanders and drills
and when I go up to Al
at the end of the night
so he can sign the copy of his book I just bought
I see that he is a very tired old man
and I am sad
for at least one ivory thought
is about to grow cold
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:19 PM
To readers in the Vancouver area: come in out of the rain and hear me and several other folks read our contributions to the new anthology Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry.
When: Friday, Nov. 7, 7 pm
Where: Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch
It'll be a rocksalty good time.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:21 PM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 3:37 PM
Well, I've worked what should be my last trip of the year, tho I'll be taking the train out east at month's end. Pretty easy run. The train to
So you'd think I'd be home for a rest, but... I have to fly to
After that, we're off to
On the 18th, I'm taking the Greyhound up to
On the 21st, I'm doing another Rocksalt event in North Vancouver (32 Books, 3185 Edgemont Blvd., 7:30 pm), along with David Zieroth, Rob Taylor, Alan Hill, Trevor Carolan, Daniela Elza, Christopher Levenson, Heather Haley, Kate Braid, Daniela Elza, Russell Thornton, Joanne Arnott, Peter Trower.
On the 25th, I'm reading at the Railway Club (Vancouver, 579 Dunsmuir, ) with Tony Power, Ada Smailbegovic, Mercedes Eng, Larissa Lai.
And then, on the 30th, we hit the rails for
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:55 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Keeping me from sentimental verse
About your birth and growth and milestones.
Love like this is best left mute, though I curse
Each impulse to crush clichés like bones
Broken in a vise. Can’t say what’s worse:
Diving in headfirst or standing shin-deep
On a shoal. Never been much of a swimmer.
Vigils, my son, I’ve held, to see you sleep
In dusk-dim light and I’ve felt the dimmer
Numbness in me melt. I’ve tried to keep
Watch from a safe ascetic distance,
Emotion held in check—a trick that’s killed
Love in the past. The slant consonance
Linking us will stall me, until I’ve fulfilled,
Stubbornly, the demands of these constraints.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:52 AM