Sunday, March 26, 2023

a change is as good as a rest II

 My friend Michelle Porter recently asked me about my influences, who were the people I knew and/or read who had an impact on my development as a writer. I mentioned Anais Nin and James Baldwin, people I met only in book form, and Phil Hall, John Ditsky and Peter Stevens, as poets who had tutelage of me in my early days. 

After I left university, my brief stint at school, I went through a protracted period of reading only BIPOC writers, seeking balance: Sally Morgan, Michelle Cliff, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Beth Brant, Audre Lorde, Lee Maracle, Maria Campbell, and Walter Moseley were some of the people whose books spilled across my bed, and permeated my bodymind.

Sally Morgan

Walter Moseley

Lee Maracle

Maria  Campbell

I have so much respect and love for all of these writers. 

Beyond the Americas, the writings of Yasunari Kawabata (Japan) and Zhang Xianliang (China) have had profound impacts on me.

Yes, it took me a minute to work out that choosing to be an English Literature major meant that "colonial writers" such as myself would never be a part of the discussion. I trust that students in today's universities and colleges will have a much greater breadth of input, including colonial, post-colonial, and even neo-colonial writers (dread bastards) to base their understandings of life upon in the coming days.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

cyanotypes for the new year

photo by Brian Campbell, 1991
cyanotype by Brian Campbell, 2022

my first book launch
Wiles of Girlhood
Press Gang Publishers

Octopus Books, East Vancouver

two photos & cyanotypes by Faust Zenthoefer

Sophie at home


used with permission of the artists,
shared with thanks

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

a change is as good as a rest

My auntie Shirley shared this bit of wisdom with me. When there's endless work to be done, you can elude fatigue by changing from one job to the next, and keep rolling til mealtime or bedtime. She also told me that her approach to housework was to give it a lick and a promise, or a kiss and a promise, something like that.

Shirley & Vic

This pic was taken in a photo booth autumn 1972, when my dad, younger siblings & I moved back to Manitoba from east Vancouver. We lived with Shirley & Ab on their farm for a time, until we got our own place. I slept in the house and the rest slept in the shed kept for farmhands.

Shirley had two stoves in the kitchen, the old wood-burning stove and the newer electric model, side by side. Here I learned to drink tea and coffee, and heard stories about what a brat my father was, as a young one, interfering with his elders' rest with pranks.  

One of my strongest memories of the time was a late-night party that had us kids travelling home by car with Shirley and Ab. Once we'd left the town and highway behind, Ab shut off the headlights and travelled more slowly, by moonlight. Shirley told us he had cat's eyes, and was being nostalgic for the old days. She reminisced about their elopement, by horse cart, back in the day. 

My favourite memory of Ab, the old farmer, was an evening I found him in the livingroom, in a rare moment of rest. I'd started wearing makeup and he'd started teasing me mercilessly. I asked him to let me fix his hair, which he wore short at the back and long at the front, combed back. He sat patiently while I redid his do to something more acceptable to an early 70s preteen, parted in the middle and sweeping down alongside his face. I added the ghostly green eye shadow i'd been wearing. He batted his eyelids, enjoying being this new version of self, however briefly.

young uncle ab

Ab passed in the summer of 1990. Shirley passed in 2002, and my brother Vic a little more than a year ago, in autumn 2021.

Monday, October 3, 2022

go back project

 i've become a bit detached from my blogging project in recent years

it seems like a good time to begin a go back project, to bring back to mind the posts that linger and to make whatever summary statements should be made before archiving the lot

joanne arnott blog

i did my first post on my first blog 21 december 2006

under advisement of the great minds on the twuc email conversation list

it took years to make a second post 11 feb 2010

i made ten posts that year, 77 posts in 2011, 172 posts in 2012, and peaked in 2013 at 179 posts

this blog remained active til 2015, with occasional updates since

and links to joanne arnott too (2015-2020) and joanne arnott t*ree (dec 2020 to today)

vera manuel tribute

2010- today


mahmud kianush tribute


If you have a favourite post from any of these blogs, please let me know, and we will be sure to include them in a "best of" compilation, and/or in bookform. I have just one volunteer reader working on this so far: if you are interested in taking part, send me a note.


Saturday, September 3, 2022

September updates: chapbook, book editing, events

Thanks to rob mclennan & above/ground press for bringing my new chapbook pandemic friendship into the world. We had a wild shipping experience but in the end I have plenty of copies to sell by hand and the press has their portion for selling by mail.

My focus this year has been 'Returned: Collected work by Connie Fife.' Following notes Connie left in her journals, I have been pulling together this massive manuscript from her previously published works and her journals. Big thanks to Lila, Olivia, Harper for transcription work, and to Kurt Trzcinski and Mary Ellen Stinski for hosting me in beautiful Bend OR for a week of work and play. Thanks to Stephen Collis and the Shadbolt Fellowship folk, and my volunteer advisory committee, for support and guidance. 

One element of the 'Returned' project is a salon featuring Indigenous writers. Thanks to Deanna Reder for inviting me to launch this salon project at a gathering of the Indigenous Editors Association, and to Garry Gottfriedson and Jonina Kirton for coming out and speaking to the issues of being Indigenous writers and editors. I have many more beautiful writers who have agreed to attend the salon, mostly by zoom. I will post more details once I've worked out the tech side of things.

I will reprise a few roles this fall: Autumn Verses at Word Vancouver presents bilingual poetry in Chinese and English featuring contemporary poets connected with Lower Mainland BC.

And in later September I'll visit Prince George. See 2022 'Ut'loo Noye Khunni ~ Weaving Words Celebration for updates.

In December, Stephen Collis and I will attend SFU's Lunch Poems to showcase the works & lives of some of our loved ones. Stephen will be presenting on behalf of Phyllis Webb, and I will be speaking of my local goddess, Lee Maracle.

The Surrey Muse Awards have collected submissions in five categories and have made a fulsome report. Winners will be announced in November:

Surrey Muse’s Nov. 26 event, its 20th in a virtual setting, will feature author Darcie Friesen Hossack, poet Steffi Tad-y, performer Missy D, open-mic opener Catherine Lewis, Kagan Goh, art by Adrian Arleo and host Mariam Zohra D.


Friday, January 28, 2022

January updates

 Pardon my long lapse in blogging activity. 

Autumn was a sorrowing time, with three loved ones passing just weeks apart from one another.

My younger brother Vic passed of lung cancer in Winnipeg. We had a mixed zoom-in person memorial gathering, in-person in Winnipeg hosted by our brother Guy and zoom friends and family from all over.  (Image by Frockstar)

Lee Maracle passed not long after. Lee and I met in the early 90s when we both had books published by Press Gang Publishers, and over time she became my confidante and advisor, the person I turned to when all was not right in my world. She told me, "don't be a slave Joanne!" -- advice she had received from another strong female writer-advisor. (Image by Columpa Bobb)

Ron Hatch was my editor and publisher via Ronsdale Books, he passed a few weeks after Lee departed this world. I was able to attend Ron's memorial, and take in the loving stories of his family and friends. I shared a poem:

This poem was originally published in Mother Time, Poems New & Selected, the first of two books Ron and I worked on together. 

Ron as editor and Ronsdale as the publishing house were recommended to me by my dear friend Connie Fife. Ron mediated a connection with translators in Germany, and Connie and I and our dear friend Garry Gottfriedson were included in the resulting book, Gedichte fuer eine neue Welt, launched at the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair. 

Ron presented an update of Ronsdale presentations. See below, a mixed German and English language poetry celebration.

In 2022, I was happy to help Fiona Lam launch her Vancouver Poet Laureate Project, alongside other poets. Welcome the Year of the Tiger with Fiona and friends, January 30th, 2022.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

July updates

If you haven't heard from me recently, you are in good company! The intoxicating mix of hot weather, pandemic, and the joys of aging have rendered me ever more hermit-like, despite all the new ways to keep in touch.

I have been continuing with The Writers Studio's transition to online offerings. My poetry group has completed a very enjoyable term one and is now on vacation til September, hoping to meet up irl over the summer. I'm overdue with my recasting of an in-person one day writing workshop to an online, four week expression to be implemented this fall: nearly there.

On the book-editing side of things, I've worked with Jonina Kirton and Kagan Goh on forthcoming projects in recent months. Two very different manuscripts, both very engaging and emotionally compelling. In the fall I'll begin work on Connie Fife's long-awaited final collection, "Returned," on behalf of her family, under the auspices of a Shadbolt Fellowship.

Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast hosted a series of readings and workshops through the spring months, Exchanging Words, curated by Russell Wallace and supported by Warriors Against Violence and WePress. We are working toward Volume Two of The Salt Chuck City Review, to be provided as an online offering before the end of the year.

I worked for the Indigenous Voices Awards again this year, jurist for unpublished poets and mentor for four mentees with diverse genre interests. Congrats to Nathan Adler (Ghost Lake) and all the winning and short-listed word artists/word freaks. This project is hosted by ILSA: my final link below is to an essay and poem by Daniel David Moses, first created for an ILSA gathering at 6 Nations.

On the family side, the big news is that my youngest, Jules, has graduated from high school: thanks to Marie Radcliffe, Linda Malcholm (photos below), Mike Akiwenzie, Vince Shyong, and all who taught, led, and supported Jules through the process. Photos by Linda Macholm: Jules Among the Flowers, Jules and Faust, May 2021.


Mahmud Kianush Tribute: I have been updating with a mix of personal (from the archives) and public material gleaned through research. There is much in the way of poetry, akkashi images, reminiscence and translations coming up monthly. Giles Goodland and I recorded a joint reading of Mahmud's long poem "Nothing is Eternal," to be published in the near future.

Vera Manuel Tribute: We continue to share Vera's work at readings and events. I posted a short excerpt from her nonfiction essay "Indians and Residential School" (1987) quoting the words of Marceline Paul, under the title "I wasn't trained for anything." Upcoming: 22 October 2021, SFU Mate Program, "'I pass the talking stick to you' Sharing, Reading, Teaching Residential School Stories."

Transcultural Academy: No new posts on the blog, but I did have the pleasure of connecting via Zoom with Richard Ali, Beverly Nambozo, Micheal Onsando, and Otoniya Okot-Bitek, and via email catching up with Sophie Alal and Beatrice Lamwaka. Gifted word artists and literary activists all, we met via Richard Rathwell, in a project called variously Transcultural workshops, Transcultural projects, and Transcultural Academy. Regionally and politically diverse, this group of writers is near to my heart.

Chapbooks: 2021 publications (links added when available)

Kurt Trzcinski, Sacred Greens, Alfred Gustav Press

Justyna Krol, You Are Doing Excellent Work, Frog Hollow Press

Steffi Tad-y, Merienda, Rahila's Ghost Press

Catherine Lewis, Zipless, 845 Press

Finds: Hamilton Arts & Letters: Daniel David Moses, "A Ride Like Miss Johnson's 'Wild Cat'"  Issue 12:1 2019

a change is as good as a rest II

 My friend Michelle Porter recently asked me about my influences, who were the people I knew and/or read who had an impact on my development...