Thursday, 26 February 2015

Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water

Please feel free to post your presentations and/or thoughts on Thomas King's novel Green Grass, Running Water here.

Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony

Please feel free to post your presentations and/or thoughts on Wayson Choy's novel  The Jade Peony here.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Cultural Events in Greater Vancouver

Attending Cultural Events is always fun. Here some suggestions - but please do not feel limited to my list. Enjoy - and tell us about your experience!

CafĂ© Deux Soleils – Poetry Slam:

Pandora’s Collective Literary Events:

Firehall Arts Centre – Theatre:

The Cultch – Shows:

PUSH Festival (Jan 20 to Feb 8):

World Hijab Day (Feb 1):

Maha Shivatri (Feb 17)

Lunar New Year Celebrations (Feb 19 to 22):

BC Heritage Week on Main Street (Feb 16 to 22):

Carnival (Feb 16 & 17):

Black History Month (Feb 1 to Feb 28):
See also: Black Strathcona Project:

Chutzpah Festival (Feb 19 to Mar 16):

Holi – Indian Festival of Colours (March 4-6):

Vancouver Web Fest (Mar 6 to 8):

Celtic Fest (Mar 7 to 17):

International Day of Happiness (Mar 20):

Sharing our Stories – Canadian-Iranian Culture (Oct to March 28th):

Vancouver International Dance Festival (Mar 2-29):

Pesach (Apr 3 to 11):

Vaisakhi (Apr 11 to14):

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Spoken Word / Slam Poetry

There is a lot great stuff "out there" - both in the real world and on the internet. So please do your own research and share your findings, in particular if you think they are good!

What I have found and would like to share in this context is the following:

Shane Koyczan - TED Talk:

Francis Arevalo - TED Talk:

Ikena Onyegbula (& Nathanael Larochetto), "Misfit's Lullaby":

Chris Tse, "I'm Sorry I'm a Christian":

Boona Mohammed, "Signs Canadian":

Zacceus Jackson, "Revolution":

Liam coady, "Big Bang Masterpiece":

Mary Pinkoski - TED Talk:

Ian Keteku, "Something You Might Not Know about Canada":

Of course, this is only a start....

Please feel free to comment on any of these poems/ performances or on other poems/performances that you would like to comment on in this context.

Again, you are most welcome to share your own spoken word performance here - preferably in the form of a youtube link since this is probably the easiest way of sharing a recording in the comment section.

Please also check out the live slam sessions at the Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial!

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Sound Poetry & Visual (Concrete) Poetry

Please have a look at the following clips and comment on some of them:

Phyllis Webb - Interview with Bill Bissett and bp nichol - two parts:

Selected Poems by Bill Bissett and bp nichol:

"What Is a Poem?":

"Love Poem for Gertrude Stein": 

"Gypsy Dreamer": 

"Four Horsemen": 


"First Screening": 

-> See youtube sidebar for more options :o)

You are also welcome to share your own sound or visual poem here! Enjoy!

Hugo Ball's "Karawane" 
[Please note: Hugo Ball is one of the German Dadaists; this means he is not Canadian!]
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Creating Meaning

Writing a poem can be a form of play, an attempt to create something out of the infinite possibilities  that feels true. It can also be an attempt to make sense out of what otherwise might look like a series of coincidences. Or it can be something like a prayer, a form of spiritual expression. In any case, it can be something that helps create a more meaningful life.

Please comment on one or more poems that in some way or other create meaning - or share one of your poems that fits this category.

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Identity through Poetry

Please find a poem about identity and comment on it - or share your own poem about identity here!

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Love and the Absence of Love

Love - well, what else makes the world tick? So please find some Canadian expressions of this hottest topics of all :)

Oh yes, and don't forget to do something nice for your Loved Ones on Valentine's Day....

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Two topics that have also been very popular in many Canadian poems and stories:

1) relationships to fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, children, siblings, etc
2) remembering (lost) family members

Please select two or more poems or other texts that fall in one of the two categories and compare them with each other.

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In many poems, language draws attention to itself - either as topic for reflection or as the material out of which the poem is made. Please choose two or more Canadian poems that focus on and/or foreground language and describe their similarities and differences.

You may (but you don't have to) consider the conditions (historical, cultural, philosophical, political, social, etc) under which the poems of your choice were written in this context.

You can also share your own poem that thematizes or plays with language here.

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Poetry and Music

From the beginning of poetic expression on, poetry has always bee closely linked to music. Please select two or more Canadian poems in which music and/or sound are foregrounded and/or become an important topic.

Alternatively, play with this topic yourself and post your creative piece.

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Seeing and Sight

Photographs and paintings - as well as sight in general, including vision and imagination - have intrigued many poets, storytellers, and novelists in Canada and elsewhere. Please choose two (or more) poems or fictional texts that focus on the seen world in some way or another and comment on them in detail.

If you prefer, you can write a poem or short story yourself instead (or in addition) in which sight plays an important role and publish it as comment.

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Laws, Rights, and the Freedom to Choose Your Life

Margaret Atwood's poem "Marrying the Hangman" and Afua Cooper's poem "Confessions of a Woman Who Burnt Down a Town" seem to have some similarities despite all their differences. Please read and compare the two poems with each other.


Margaret Atwood:

Afua Cooper:

Alternative: write a more creative/fictional response to the poem(s) or to the topic(s) raised in them if you feel inspired to do so.

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Perspectives on History and/or Society

When different people describe the same event, we usually get many different stories about "what happened." The same holds true for the writing of history, of course - as well as for the analysis of social and/or political situations.

Please choose one or two poems that deal with Canadian history or society and discuss the historical/ political/ social events in question - as well as the perspective(s) from which these events are described.

If you like, please comment also on the truth of poetry (and fiction) in comparison to the "truth" you find in history books and media reports.

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Depiction of the Natural World in Poetry

The depiction of the natural world has been one of the most popular topics in mainstream Canadian poetry since the first Europeans set foot on the North American continent. Please read some of these early - and/or more recent - poems that deal with the Canadian landscape and comment on them.

Feel free to compare the poems to paintings with similar topics, for instance, to paintings by Emily Carr or by the Group of Seven if you wish.

Alternatively, feel free to illustrate one of the poems yourself and post a picture of your illustration - or write a poem or a piece of music about your favourite Canadian landscape or landscape painting and share it with us. Enjoy!

Jack Pine by Tom Thomson
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Myths Told by the First Nations of Canada

Just a few hundred years ago, what is now called Canada has been the home of many different First Nations Cultures. And each of these Cultures had a variety of stories and/or myths. Please do some research about at least one of these First Nations and find out more about this particular culture's mythology. Please share here what you have learned from your research - in particular, what you think contemporary Canadians/ North Americans should learn from these earlier cultures.

Bill Reid's The Raven and the First Men - at MOA