Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Empire Line (1998)

Artist Antonia Hirsch is a former Vancouver resident now living in Berlin. This Saturday she is opening a new exhibition at SFU Gallery (Burnaby), entitled Negative Space.

Here is what artist Marina Roy wrote about Hirsch's Empire Line (1998) on the occasion of the Vancouver Art Gallery's 2001 These Days exhibition.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"subject line"

Tiziana La Melia is a Vancouver-based visual artist who writes poems, some of which are about, amongst other things, haircuts, make-up and clothes; some of which can be found here.

This Friday an exhibition of La Melia's work and the work of Chief Beau Dick, Dan Graham and Jeremy Shaw will open at Macaulay & Co Fine Art, under the title Altered States.

The poem below is, amongst other things, La Melia's response to Ezra Pound's "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter" (1917).

subject line

the first major

line i stole in my

20s was from

ezra pound

who translated the line

from a chinese poet

Li Po

a line about a hairstyle

graphically producing a line

the line along the forehead

of a girl

i took this being unformed

and ill formed

and emotionally ill

those were forming years i

can't undo, i try

the line was something like

i cut my hair straight across my forehead

in the original poem, his

and his

and mine

about some girl

bent over


i picture her grey-blue dress

something a mennonite might

wear, but without the gathering

below the waist

an identity crisis

again and cut

my bangs again.

i look like an

earlier self,

i do not mind.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Encore," Encore

One discovers all kinds of things while travelling, including books one spent time with, lined up on thrift store shelves.

I have read most of the stories in the Anguses' 1967 Contemporary American Short Stories, one of which is James Purdy's "Encore" (1957).

Upon my return I removed from "Encore" everything but the attributions, a "subtracted" work that behaves more like a poem than a story.


"Encore", Encore: Attributions, Adverbs and Attitude from James Purdy's 1957 Short Story

Merta told her brother

Spence said, wearily attentive

she said

her brother said

she continued, anxiously stepping in front of him to detain his going

Spence said, a kind of cold expressionless tone in his voice

she repeated, almost without emotion

Spence said

she cried as though seeing something from far back of dread and ugliness

Spence said

she accused him

she returned to the only subject which interested her

she said urgently again

Spence said

she said

Spence said, the irritation growing in his manner

she said vaguely, as though it was Spence who himself had mentioned him and thus brought him to mind

he paused on the word

she said

he said irritably

she said coldly angry

he told her

he said and he put on his hat now, which she looked at, he thought, rather critically and also with a certain envy

she forced herself to say at last

he said, and then winced at his own words

he hurried on with another speech

Merta said, pretending to find humour in his words

Gibbs said, putting down some books

she said in a booming and encouraging voice whose suddenness and loudness perhaps surprised even her

he told her

Merta said, trying hard to keep the disapproval out of her voice

Gibbs said, sitting down at the far end of the room and taking our his harmonica.

she said

she smiled, closing her eyes.

he wondered

she replied laughing

Gibbs said, and while she was saying Tommyrot! Gibbs went on

Merta said

he said with sudden fire

she began, white, and her mouth gaping a little, but Gibbs started to play on the harmonica again, cutting her off

Merta said above the sound of harmonica playing

he cried

she repeated, a little embarrassment now in her voice

he asked, putting down the harmonica with impatience

she said, a touch of sophistication in her voice, as if the coffee here were unusual and exotic also

he said

she said, her bitterness returning now against her will as she stood in the kitchen

he said belligerently

she feigned sweet casualness

Spence said loudly and indifferently

he told her

she cried. Then, catching herself, she said

he suddenly turned on her, and taking the dish of jello from her hand he put it down with a bang on the oilcloth covering the tiny kitchen table

he said in his stentorian voice

she said weakly

she said eating

Gibbs snapped at her

she wondered taking her spoon out of her mouth

she countered

he said, a bit weakly, and he took out the harmonica from his pocket, looked at it, and put it down noiselessly on the oilcloth

she said gaily

he said

she told him suddenly again with passion, forgetting everything but her one feeling now, and she put out her hand to him

she said

he said

she said

she said, and she brought out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes, making them, he saw, even older and more worn with the rubbing

he said, picking up the harmonica again

she said laughing a little. Then understanding his remark more clearly as her weeping calmed herself, she said, commanding again

she said hurriedly

she said

she said

he said, bored

she said

she said, suddenly very white and facing him

she said

she hurried on as if testifying before a deaf judge

she said now as though powerless to stop, words coming out of her mouth that she usually kept and nursed for her long nights of sleeplessness and hate

she said

she cried

she told him, quieting herself with a last supreme effort

he said

she said suddenly wiping away the tears, and tensing her breast to keep more of the torrent from gathering inside herself

she said

he said, and he got up and as he did so the harmonica fell to the linoleum floor

she said tightening her mouth

he began

he began again

she said, struggling to keep the storm within her quiet, the storm that now if it broke might sweep everything within her away, might rage and rage until only dying itself could stop it

she said

she said desperately

he said, deathly pale

she suggested

she said beating her hands with the heavy veins and the fingers without rings or embellishments

she said

he said

she commanded

Friday, August 29, 2014


Yet another picture taken through the window of a moving car, this one of a friend's 200 acre ranch at the northwest end of Lake Okanagan. To the left (southeast), desert hills; to the right, those associated with the Pacific coast.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


While driving west of Lillooet, I had time to reflect on the many wineries that line the highway between Osoyoos and Oliver. With all these wineries, and relatively few varietals, things are bound to get competitive. In an effort to get a leg up, some offer fine dining; others, such as Rustico, a no less market savvy form of hokum.

After purchasing bottles of their Gew├╝rztraminer, Pinot Noir and Meritage, Rustico's cowboy-proprietor (and former Jim Pattison Group marketing executive) suggested a visit upstairs, where he operates a gallery -- "home to over sixty artists, most of 'em local." The painting below is my favourite.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Like Vernon (versus, say, Kelowna), Lillooet is a town that has more in common with what it was than what it wants to be. An example can be found in the building above: a stuccoed-over structure that, through a careful application of paint, attempts to revive its past.