Monday, October 27, 2008


FREE SPEECH breaks out at Canzine.

Canada’s largest festival of zines and the independent arts was held at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West, when a unit of verse of the universe of the imagine nation of the Peoples Republic of Poetry trolled the gathering to implement the Papers Please program.

Canzine is organized by Broken Pencil, a zine of indie zines. Over 150 zines from across Canada on display and for sale! The heart of the event, indie publishers both in print and online come from across the country and the continent to show their wares! Be amazed at the creativity, ingenuity, and sheer weirdness.
High Heels Lo Fi (Mandy Wells on bass, Cynthia Gould on guitar, Patricia Humphreys on drums, Paisley Rae on guitar) took a few moments out from their hectic day to display their FREE SPEECH.

One of the rooms was dedicated to the entertainment of the High Heels Lo Fi, a hot-saucy group of girls, a bunch of babes, wanton wits, plucking strings attached in the chord of F U in FUN. It reminded me of the opening stanza of The Shooting of Dan McGrew:

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;

The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a rag-time tune;

Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,

And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

Their music is a cocktail of poetry and blues, with garnishs of glam, rock, cheese, booze, and hilarity - with pink accessories. The audience for their performances grew as the day lengthened, proving that pinko is not just a watered down communist. One of the leading luminaries of High Heels Lo Fi is Cynthia Gould, a performance poet, among other cultural activities. Her poetry has raw intensity married to a brazen honesty highlighted with a sense of humour. The following poem taken from ‘some words spoken’ is a fine example of a ‘fallen’ woman redeeming herself in a poem, a boozed broken heart rising from the debris of stars.

gutter stars

Don't tell me that you understand me
when you don't know all of the gory details
and the few you have an inkling about make
you nervous.

Don't tell me that you're listening to me
when every word from my mouth is
filtered through your mind's interpretation
of what I meant to say.

Don't tell me that you know where I'm coming from
when even your nightmares
could not resemble
the places I've crawled out of.

Don't tell me that you only want to see me happy
when you could never believe
that the moment I learned how to be happy
I was listening to glass shatter across the street
as the boy who had been my lover my love five minutes before
threw a bottle in rage
the contents of which were
the reason why I was lying on the sidewalk
he stomped away over the icy glass
which, like my heart, was smashed beyond repair
and I lay on that cold pavement
more alone than I had ever been before
in the rich neighbourhood between the skiddy bar
and my apartment
and I cried sobbed screamed
not thinking that someone might call the cops
not thinking of how I could possibly crawl home from there
not thinking that I was a glaring target for any sort of attack
not thinking of anything but my own miserable self
when I finally looked up past the gutter,
past the buildings, dark trees
I saw the stars.
twinkle tiny dancing magic sparkles
put there a zillion years ago
just to brighten my black black night right now
in the midst of my tragic loneliness,
they made me a little bit happier

Don’t tell me that you understand me
When you haven’t seen the stars from the gutter
And realized that it is me and me alone who
Decides whether or not I will be happy.

Canzine is largely a tossed salad of a cultural manifestation in its infancy. This is the place where emerging artists, poets, and other morphs, display their talent for the first time. It’s a place where one can acquire new publishing concepts and techniques, a sort of honing of craft. It’s a place where mediocrity, and there’s plenty there, does not rise above its current level. It is the very few genuinely creative talents that make their entry level display that makes a couple hours of browsing so worthwhile.

Canzine also has a few regulars, some that return to their roots, speak the same genre, such as CAROUSEL which is a unique gallery of page poetry/art that is being displayed in art: CAROUSEL is art itself.

But there is also a grand daddy publication which continues its efforts to be relevant after thirty years of publishing, FUSE, a magazine of “a diverse community of visual and performing artists, educators, community workers, writers, activists, organizers, policy makers, social thinkers, curators and other movers and shakers. Together we produce a quarterly magazine on art, media and politics.” FUSE magazine has enjoyed state financial assistance throughout most of its lifetime. As a recipient of government arts largesse, FUSE continues to be obedient to government standards as set forth and enforced by various human rights commissions throughout the nation. FUSE follows the government line in this regard.

This was a decent young man. No I have no idea what it is about. He was flogging his literary/drawings as displayed before him. I didn’t open his publications. I didn’t ask him about the outfit. I pretty much wanted a picture demonstrating that Roswellians can also have a say. I must have been nervous holding the camera.

I was still nervous when the minders of Steel Bananas pulled out their FREE SPEECH cards. They bought 300 hundred bananas for the occasion, from Price Chopper. So they exercised FREE SPEECH by handing out bananas bearing their website url. She selected a banana. Held it towards me. "This big one's for you." What a flirt.The Toronto Comic Jam, is a ‘gathering of artists, doodlers, and creative-minded people.” The group could be 10 or 50 people, each one contributing a square drawing to a developing comic zine. There is no dominant style, although there can be varying levels of drawing skill exhibited by individuals. It is a collaborative art formula that has yet to produce a masterpiece. Largely the process is a vehicle for community where each member encourages others and perhaps inspires one member to go off on a fruitful tangent. It’s fun.
Is she a teacher-assistant at a private elementary school? a tutoring student at a branch library? An articling student doing a survey on reactions to her colouring book? a brazen sweet young thing that enjoys illustrations of explicit erotica. The table top is strewn with crayons. Kindergarten for bedtime. Brings out the inner Lolita. It’s the Jenna Colouring Book put out by Yard of Blonde Girls, Inc. FREE SPEECH gives good oral tradition.
Stuart Ross, a Toronto fiction writer, poet, editor and creative-writing instructor, and co-founder of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, displays his FREE SPEECH with complete aplomb – he is the only one to display without using his thumb as a support digit. As poet, Al Purdy would say at the Quinte Hotel, “That oughta be worth some beer.”
Team Macho makes art, displayed on their website, and they show up here to display the fruit of their FREE SPEECH.
A. Jeminez and R. Eddington had a room of their own. They placed photographic postcards of urban landscape images on narrow poles, then invited guests to throw a styrofoam golfball at the card. Knock it off – it’s yours. Of course. It was only natural that FREE SPEECH found its place amongst the pylons.
And finally ...


truepeers said...

Good show; looks like the Gladstone has been cleaned up since I attended a few drunken poets back in the early 90s...

Wally Keeler said...

I didn't know it in those days -- well, not the inside. It was genuine derelict then. Now it is gentrified and uses the margins of culture as their enticement. Mutual masturbation.