the border is open

September 16, 2020

Crossing into Canada will be no problem for those who attend this year’s Victoria Festival of Authors. The Festival will be held entirely online, Wednesday, September 30, through Sunday, October 4, 2020. Visit the VFA site for schedule and registration.


April 20, 2019

This evening, Saturday, April 20, 2019, 7:00-9:00pm, at the University of Victoria, David Lam Auditorium, celebrate the life and legacy of poet Patrick Lane, with music, readings, and performances by friends and former students.

Haiku Canada

The Haiku Canada 2015 Conference, “Coasts and Islands,” begins this Friday, May 15, 2015, and continues through the weekend at the James Bay New Horizons Community Center in Victoria, B.C. Activities include haiku readings, presentations, workshops, a book fair, the annual general meeting and a collective renga, as well as plenty of exchanges and discussion among poets and haiku enthusiasts in a relaxed setting. See more on the Haiku Canada website and conference page.

March across the border

February 18, 2015

WordsThaw 2015

WordsThaw is an annual spring symposium on literature in its many forms. Co-presented by The Malahat Review, and held at the University of Victoria (and some other locations around Victoria, BC), it includes readings, panel discussions, workshops and a great opportunity to hear the voices of Canadian writers.

In addition to the three days in March, WordsThaw 2015 includes “prequel” events on February 27 and March 10. See the complete schedule for details. (Note: there will be a master class in poetry taught by Phil Hall on Sunday, March 22. There are just a couple of spots left in the class, so if you’re interested, act now.)

Yvonne Blomer - As if a Raven
This is a guest post by Yvonne Blomer*, who introduces Planet Earth Poetry by sharing a New York School-style poem she wrote as part of her poem-a-day commitment for National Poetry Month.

Living on Planet Earth Poetry/ a NY School poem in honour of Poetry Month
     for Wendy Morton

In 2009 I took over the running and organizing of a place called Planet Earth Poetry, informally PEP. PEP is a weekly reading series in Victoria, B.C., where people walk through the door and step onto the planet called Poetry.

It was 2009 darling, do you remember?
My baby was three and you coasting toward 70.
The Moka House was still The Black Stilt and
birds or bars were endangered everywhere — renovations,
relocations, The George and Dragon’s dingy darkness
eaten and regurgitated as The Fernwood Inn
all shiny and bright in its hope for the future.
Every Friday, sweetheart, just down the hill
corner of Scott and Hillside we spread arms
and flew (still do) with Daniel, Dvora, Judith,
the Wendies and Davids
Rhona or Rhonda or both. Their wild poems, wild hearts.
Folks had to park at Hillside Mall and dodge traffic,
then squeeze in the room the night Patrick Lane read,
the students cross-legged on the floor around him.
If the Fire Dept. had come you would have said, arm on
your hip,
“F*** man, it’s Poetry Night!” And I, the new impresario,
would have wagged my shoulders a little,
tossed my head. Then Brian Bartlett, Brian Brett
his ginormous voice and poems out for the moon.
Pamela Porter sang to us one night and the years just
kept spinning.
Macha became the rage, though Sheila steadied with her
and glass of red wine, the scarf or sweater getting long.
When Naomi read, her twin sat, a perfect replica of Atwood.
Imagine, my love, if Atwood read, what then?
May as well call it quits, and throw in the towel.
The years, and the years and now Lane no longer smokes
and more and more poets dying of old age than suicide
or overdose.
How many books have you launched from this stage,
though now
you’ve turned your eye to the young, their elders,
the plight of our nation’s first people while I send out
my third, all birds, in that time.
We built, and we build this place on a crowd and
a microphone,
the crowd steady, the poets’ voices clear even when
the mic falters.
Remember that night the lights and mic went out? You swore
“S**t” and rolled your eyes my way. But it all went fine
as poet after poet stood on chairs, hollered out their Yeats,
Eliot, Pound,
Bishop, Dickenson, Neruda, and Purdy,
I sold raffle tickets by the length of my arm for Medicine
sans Frontier,
then did that every year. It feels like forever ago,
and it feels like the same night, every Friday, but a new
song on the stereo.
Poetry rings the dinner bell, scratches the buttocks,
whispers in the ear,
dreams humanity in fedoras and rain coats walking
Hillside Ave.
stopping to peer in through the windows,
wait for a pause, and step off this earth.

*Yvonne Blomer is the Artistic Director of Planet Earth Poetry, a poetry-reading event that happens nearly every Friday night at Hillside Coffee and Tea (formerly The Moka House) in Victoria. [Ed. note: go!] Her most recent book is As if a Raven (Palimpsest Press, 2014). In 2013 she and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham co-edited Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press), an anthology out of the reading series. Read an interview with Yvonne in commatology, visit her website and come hear her read from As if a Raven on Sunday, May 4, 2014, at 4:00pm at Village Books. She will also be participating tonight, Thursday, May 1, and Saturday, May 3, in the reading of Force Field (Mother Tongue Publishing) at the Cascadia Poetry Festival.

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