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Read an excerpt from Way Down That Lonesome Road

0 March 5, 2012 in Non-fiction / Music by
Read an excerpt of Mark Miller's book Way Down That Lonesome Road at Point of Departure

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Opal sings again ! – a capella

0 March 3, 2012 in Spotlight by

Here's another r&b tune, My prayer, sung by Opal Nations. This time it's from a rehearsal with the back-up vocal group The Renovations. It was recorded in 1989.

Listen to: 01 My prayer

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The Style of the Author

0 February 14, 2012 in Views & Meditations by

It was French poet Paul Valery who said, "A poem is never finished, it's simply abandoned."

But what if a certain poem is never abandoned, that it finds rebirth in another poem, yet the poet never realizes that he/she is writing a continuum, and continues to write the same poem – call it variations on a theme – or perhaps, over time, the poet is trying to make a definitive statement, where none is necessary. After all, poetry is a 'floating world' where the poet seeks definition but where his/her art can only echo relationship, can only map consonances and dissonances.

As a writer, I have no 'style', no 'voice'. Ever since I read Charles Olson and his essays on projectivist verse, I proceeded to explore the relationship between form and content. In my reading of Olson, I perceived that he felt form and content should reflect one another and, hence, content should determine form and, likewise, form should determine content.

This, to me, was a methodology to free me from the constraints of ‘style' and 'voice'. It meant that I could write content in various forms, and create forms to house content. I was free from the 'authority' of the Author's voice, the narcissism that demands each work should 'sound' the same, be stamped in the author's 'style'. I don't have a recognizable 'voice' or 'style' – readers who do not admire changeability in my work, therefore, can not be comfortable picking up my next book because – will it be experimental fiction, avant-garde poetry, traditional speculative fiction, lyric Romantic poetry, prose poems, homolinguistic translation, concrete or visual poetry???...And the concerns within the writing – will they be the same, or will they have changed, perhaps as drastically as the writer's life has?

In this regard, then, a writer can only write his/her self. If a writer’s life does not change, neither does his/her writing change. This, then, is the essence of a writer’s ‘style’ or ‘voice’ – an inflexibility towards change, a limitation of creative options and visions – and this leads to a form of banality, to a repetitive sameness, an homogenization rather than a diversity in the writing.

(posted by Richard Truhlar)

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I just keep putting it off / Brian Dedora

0 January 27, 2012 in Spotlight by

I just keep putting it off, pushing the whole thing away, tomorrow and tomorrow the fester of procrastination. You can whip that back to the Latin root cras, the word for tomorrow; the unsatisfying non-thrill of shopping or movies or better still seeking out a bookshop to find a book hit to fill the hole until even that doesn’t work while the pressure mounts and the steam valve of stolen self-pleasures becomes flaccid and the edifice built on the foundation of cras comes crashing down. As the dust settles finally dishevelled and shrivelled by guilt of this engineered waste of my time begin rummaging to rebuild the structure I’ve run from in the beginning: the next proyecto, Spanish for project from the Latin iacere, sometimes jacere, meaning to throw – the upcoming project a throw forth.

The following from Cassell’s New Latin Dictionary:

J see I
The Latin i, when used as a consonant, was
printed as j in earlier dictionaries and
classical texts. This practice has become
rare. As a consonant, i was probably pro-
nounced as y- rather than as j-.

This is the Modernism of connections: Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon whose authorization is quickly surpassed by the third chapter of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man while Paul Scott’s The Corrida at San Feliu is from the bull’s perspective; the vantage point of Post Modernism.

So then, is there an inheritance remaining or is it tied up in the court of public opinion presided over by the judge of inattentive span?

OH…that..?

Doubt, a far cry from pot-bound metaphors or prevalent columns of fireside philosophy is to distinguish between ham-fisted metaphors in which the linking depends on what is impressed (or not) makes it possible for this bit of dreariness in this instant of time for a sentence or phrase to imply…

To comply with the harp-wires of utterance upon which a set of fingered linguistic directions is the common target of these verbal harpings. What we supply doesn’t have to be humpy like humps, “afternoon burns upon its wires”, the stringing of ordinary language can be something supplied of the missing literal world.

With the publication of A Slice of Voice at the Edge of Hearing and A Few Sharp Sticks, two thirds of my planned trilogy concerning a view through the lens of gay sensibility is coming up to be the most difficult book I’ve yet attempted to write. But about that view; it’s not looking at but looking from into the more novelistic of Those Low Hangin’ Fruits which poses, in the writing, two problems: the age old tussle of content & form plus the how-to of dialogue & exposition. I own many stories within the parameters of my chosen subject but how do I continue with, as Stuart Ross states, “my increasingly audacious experiments in narrative”?

Two quotes from West Coast artists come to mind as I try to answer. The first from Jack Kidder whom I met while attending UVIC, “The problem is always left to the artist to solve,” said on the evening of my departure from Victoria to Toronto. The second, years later and back on the West Coast in Vancouver, from the artist Geoffrey Farmer on winning the Viva Award (particular to British Columbia,) “Art making is hard.” They’re both right. So then, the difficulty is mine to resolve. Having arrived at a working regimen that is comfortable through finally understanding that I write in bits and pieces highly concentrated in the moment of writing and that the end product could reflect this I’m getting closer to how this book might appear; a paragraph book. “Aren’t all books made up of paragraphs?” you ask. Well, yes they are but if they reflect the strung out way I work, could that be a resolve? Could that reflect the discrete memories on which the book depends? Could that be a way of reinventing, for me, the “I went here and did that and met so and so” of memoir to make it more? I didn’t say the struggle would end. I’m just proposing for myself a way to bend around the problems.

Take a gander at what Fowler says, “Paragraphing is also a matter of the eye. A reader will address himself more readily to his task if he sees from the start that he will have breathing-spaces from time to time than if what is before him looks like a marathon course.”

Setting aside the male centric quality of that quote, those breathing-spaces are time. The time, when memory can be lost, found, or become even distortionate in the way of memory. What if in those breathing spaces another paragraph is inserted while acknowledging that this intrusion inherently carries its own breathing space fore and aft but could resolve dialogue and exposition as an aside inside the writing. The key is remaining true while remembering the caveat, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Oh my, but then again...

There are two ways in proceeding to work: jumping into the centre and working oneself out or circling outside and inserting oneself where there’s an opening. Acknowledging, of course, that oneself is the opening. At the end stages of my procrastinatory circling I’ve found my opening and have more than set foot in while unwinding my spool of golden thread (better than bread crumbs) to meet the bull at the centre of things as I enter that stage where you load the bull on your back.

So then, the best part of working is the vision and revision. You’ve got to need it or you can’t do it because it’s with you wherever you go, having coffee, watching a movie, eating dinner, playing solitaire or looking for the book hit in my own bookstore. The learning curve becomes vertical while the 'story', if you will, becomes horizontal to fit the book as machine, the bull-dozer at the centre of things.

(posted by Brian Dedora)

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Opal sings!

0 December 20, 2011 in Spotlight by

One of the great satisfactions in launching our new press Teksteditions was being able to publish this year Opal Louis Nations’ book Mr. Body. I became a fan of his writing back in the mid-70s, when I myself felt I was still on training wheels. Browsing today through my library, I’m still delighted by books such as Stabbed to Death with Artificial Respiration (Coach House Press, 1977), The Strange Case of Inspector Loophole (Véhicule Press, 1977), This Book (The Eternal Network, 1975) and The Browser’s Opal L. Nations (Coach House Press, 1981). His works were also popping up all over the place in various periodicals like Rampike, and he ran his own underground magazine Strange Faeces where he publish many young writers.

 Not being interested in writers’ biographies at that time (except for those who had slipped our mortal coil,) I didn’t know much about Opal beyond his writing. So in publishing Mr. Body, I came to read about his wonderful various careers – as the lead singer for the British band, The Frays; as singer with other musical groups such as The Renovations or back-up vocalist for the The Velvetones. He worked with such luminaries as Sandy Robertson, Anthony Paul, and the Hummer Sisters.

 His own band, The Frays, speaks volumes (no pun intended) as the other members included Nicky Hopkins (piano) and John McLaughlin (guitar). His love of R&B and Gospel music was evident in all the music he touched.

 Here’s a cut from the Decca album (F 12229), The Frays, recorded on September 3, 1965 at Abbey Road Studios in London, with Nicky Hopkins (piano), John McLaughlin (guitar) and Opal singing For your precious love.

Listen to: 01 For your precious love

(posted by Richard Truhlar)

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