Wednesday, May 18, 2022

At the garden centre

Last week I visited our local garden centre, then I returned a few days later for what I didn't get the first visit. Don't be cheap; within reason, buy more than you think you'll need, that blackberry bush won't be there the next day or, if it is there, only the plants that other people have picked over will be left. Vincelli's Garden Centre is gone, now it's just an overgrown city lot where, two years ago, you could buy perennials that weren't sold at larger garden centres. BTW, last fall we saw a rabbit near Vincelli's, we thought he must have been someone's pet that had escaped and that he wouldn't survive the winter; about a week ago we saw him again, worse for wear but still alive. Here are photos from the garden centre at Reno Depot on rue St-Jacques; I've come here for years. Prices this year are about 40 to 60% higher that what you paid a year ago. If you have mostly perennials this won't matter, there may even come a day when you won't buy any plants. 

The first photos were taken on May 5, the garden centre was still being set up; return visit was on May 8. 

What I bought a few days after my first visit; geraniums, a lavender plant;
a stringy blackberry bush that has since flourished.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Zoom book launch for Ekstasis Editions books

Here is the text I read at the Zoom online book launch for several of this years new Ekstasis Editions books, including my own The Green Archetypal Field of Poetry, on poetry, poets, and psyche. This event was online on Sunday, 15 May 2022 at 2 p.m.


Book Launch, Zoom, 15 May 2022, 2 p.m.

Place in Poetry

Thank you to Richard Olafson for publishing these books that are being launched today, and thank you to Endre Farkas and Carolyn-Marie Souaid for organizing this book launch.

This book, The Green Archetypal Fields of Poetry, on poetry, poets, and psyche isn't poetry so maybe I should just say a few words to introduce the book.

This is my second book with Ekstasis Editions on poetics and memoir, on becoming a poet. The first book was  A Poet's Journey: On Poetry and what it Means to be a Poet. Thank you Richard, I really appreciate your work for poetry.

The background to the book, what created it, its reason for having been written, is that we live in a place, a city or a community, and this is a commitment to a specific geographical location, it is also a spiritual location. For me, this location, this place, is Montreal. In fact, the whole book refers to Montreal. Montreal is my psychic centre.

But think of place in the work of Charles Olson, it's Gloucester; or William Carlos Williams, it's Paterson; or Raymond Souster, it's Toronto; and for Louis Dudek and John Glassco, it's Montreal.

Montreal is where modern English Canadian poetry was born. If you were a poet in Canada you wanted to live, even for a short time, in Montreal. PK Page, Phyllis Webb, and many others lived here for a while, and this is the birth place in the 1920s of the Montreal Group of Poets at McGill University; they included FR Scott, AJM Smith, and John Glassco; also in Montreal were others, Louis Dudek, Irving Layton, and AM Klein.

This is where we came from and we haven't left.

I also wrote about the Vehicule Poets, "Starting Out from Vehicule Art Gallery", a history of our early days as poets, the Sunday afternoon readings, and that essay is in the book. Of course, the Vehicule Poets are in the line, the lineage, of the Montreal Group and other groups of poets that started here. That is our canonical lineage because all poetry is a part of a canon and a lineage of poets and poetry, however poetry changes it is always in the context of a lineage.

There is also our ancestral heritage in Montreal. For me, personally, my family have lived and worked here since 1840; not as long as my Quebecois and Quebecoise friends, and certainly not as long as the Indigenous people, but still a long time, and I have written about this as well, for instance the Morrissey Family History website.

Poets aren't nomads and we're not from nowhere. We're from a specific place, but this specificity of place is being lost in the economic and political globalism of the world, in every city you visit the condos are all the same, the stores and music we hear is the same, the politics is divided, and what is specific and local is being lost.

More specifically, my psychic centre, what made me the person I am today, is my family history but this is located and symbolized in my grandmother`s home on Girouard Avenue in Montreal`s West End. No one had money but family kept us together.

So place works on a number of different levels, it works as a geographical place, but it's also an ancestral and spiritual place, it's what formed us as people, it's the the birth of psyche.

That's how I became a poet, it began here in the City of Montreal.

Montreal is our home as poets, it's our centre as poets. 

Here is a short excerpt from The Green Archetypal Field of Poetry:

We are increasingly living in a deracinated world, in a global community, but a global community is an abstraction, an invention of committees and legislation and driven for profit and by people’s personal ambition; it is an intellectual construct, it is not born organically, a process that may take hundreds of years of human migration, political and military strategies, layers of cultural change, and spiritual vision. There is also a spirit of place; spirit of place manifests in the natural world, but it also includes our ancestral memory and family history and stories. If we are not careful we will soon be living in Huxley's Brave New World or Orwell’s 1984 world of geographical regions and the repression of creative individuality, not places of vibrant specificity that are containers of soul. A geographical place is specific and local, it is not abstract but concrete; globalism is an abstract concept that has little or no connection to community or place. Abstraction denies the specificity of place; place emphasizes the diverse world of things. Poetry requires community; it requires the diversity of a specific place.

Thank you all for being so patient and listening to this.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Walking to the golf course

Here is the trail along the train tracks to the back entrance to Meadowbrook Golf Course and then to the St. Pierre River. This was my walk on May 10th. There is a long history of people having gardens along railway tracks, you can still see some of them from the Westminster Bridge. In recent years the Canadian Pacific Railway has forced people off of this land which belongs to the railway. People grow vegetables, they aren't squatters. This trail (below) is on a ridge adjacent to the tracks, let's hope it remains as it is in perpetuity... because they're building condos on every square inch of land everywhere else.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Walking to Meadowbrook Golf Course

Life is mostly repetition, woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head... Even going for a walk falls into a pattern, the same route, the same streets and stores and people. So, here I am again, walking to Meadowbrook Golf Course. Life is repetition, people are basically fairly conservative and enjoy the same old same old, the same breakfast for the last thirty years, the same job, the same conversations; repetition gives us stability, it gives us our sanity and, ironically, it gives us the opportunity to be creative and not have to reinvent the wheel every day.  

Photographs taken mid-April 2022.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Sparrows having fun

Here are some sparrows enjoying splashing around in the water. It's an improvised bird bath, they don`t care, they're having fun.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Why do birds like bird baths?

A bird bath is a small purchase but it brings years of happiness. Birds love to sit in water, flutter their wings in water, and they'll line up and wait their turn to use a bird bath. The main thing for people to do is to change the water, keep the water fresh and clean in your bird bath and you'll have happy birds visiting your bird bath. But why do birds like to take a bath? I've tried to find out and, from what I've read, science hasn't really answered this question. There is one simple answer, it is that they are having fun, like people they like to cool down on a hot summer day, they like to be in water, it's just a fun thing to do. That's what I think but, of course, I could be wrong.

Here is a robin in our bird bath, May 1st, 2022.

Monday, May 2, 2022

How to make your garden larger

If you like an expanse of grass, no problem. But if you want something different, something that combines a feeling of being unfettered, a bit wild, then a cottage garden is the way to go. But if you also have a small space for your garden then you might want to make the garden larger. Often gardens are an expanse of grass encompassed, or framed, by a garden that is on the periphery of the grass, but the grass dominates the garden, it larger than than the garden, even if your garden is made up of perennials and the border of the garden isn't a straight line but various curving designs and formations. To increase the number of feet of garden space, and to make it more interesting, I suggest islands of flowers, garden plots that are cut from the grass. There is an illusion here, when you stand in front of a specific part of your garden you aren't looking at the garden as a whole, but at the specific place where you are standing. You can increase this "standing view" by increasing the paths in your garden and the easiest way to do this is by cutting islands from the grass, and this will increase the length of the paths. Islands of garden plots create paths through the garden. Here is a way to test this, pace off the length of your garden, the border of flowers and other plants on the periphery of the grass, then (if you've added these islands of flowers), pace off the garden including the paths around the islands. Your garden will be larger, you will have added to the variety and number of plants, and the whole garden will have a feeling of being in nature, not in a city garden. Avoid annuals, go for perennials. Aim for a controlled wild look. Grass is okay if that is what you want, but I like a garden that combines different flowers, different types of plants, perennial flowers, shrubs, rose bushes, a few herbs, a different sensibility, a garden that is inviting and welcoming to all who visit, and so on.

This is my garden as of May 1st, 2022. I work slowly so the "islands" don't look like much in these photographs, it's also spring here in Montreal and the season is slow. Just wait! Also, I work slowly, I like to plan and think out what I'm doing. It's the way I work and since a garden is a work in progress, this is what I've done so far. But you never know, I may never change the garden as it is, it's wait and see.

Those are day lilies on the right; they were growing in different parts of the
garden and I've moved some of them to the space on the left. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Farewell, Village Shopping Plaza

The sky over the Village Shopping Plaza

The windows are boarded, the doors are locked, electrical wires are disconnected, the water has been turned off, the halls are empty, the stores are closed and littered with junk, the rooms and halls are in darkness, The Knights of Columbus moved years ago, stores have relocated, stores have closed permanently, no children at the daycare, no one buying bread and bagels at the bakery, no antiques being sold, concrete stairs are disintegrating, windows are closed, everything is silent, the parking lot has been sealed off with large concrete blocks, no one is here, no beer or food being consumed at the Robert Burns Pub, what's left to do? Tear it down, tear it down and build some condos say the developers. Tear it down and let us make money say the developers. It`s just an eyesore now, so tear it down! Soon, the Village Shopping Plaza will be demolished.  

BTW, this location would have been a good site for a commuter train station (talk has included a train station behind the Cote-St-Luc Shopping Centre). There is lots of room here for parking, it's close to the train tracks, and it's a very large piece of land with an adjacent piece of land for sale next to it. Just an idea...


Friday, April 22, 2022

Books on the Beaver Hall Artists

Back to the Beaver Hall artists. I highly recommend a film, available on YouTube, "By Woman's Hand"; made by the National Film Board of Canada in 1994; the film gives some of the history of Prudence Heward and two other members of the Beaver Hall group who were also Heward's friends, Anne Savage and Sarah Robertson. At 13:51 there is a photograph of William Brymner and a class of art students, some of them are future prominent members of the Beaver Hall group; included in the photograph is Darrell Morrisey, an artist I have researched since 2010.

Books that might interest you.


Catalogue for the 1920s Modernism in Montreal exhibit,
published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2016

The Women of Beaver Hall, Canadian Modernist Painters by Evelyn Walters, Dundern Press, 2005

The Beaver Hall Group and its Legacy by Evelyn Walters, Dundurn Press, 2017

Painting Friends, The Beaver Hall Women Painters
by Barbara Meadowcroft, Vehicule Press, 1999

Periodical from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, issue 15, 2016