Audio by sound artist Lance Lim and poet James Witwicki:
The 13th Annual Heart of the City Festival wrapped on November 6. The Thursdays Writing Collective was proud to be a part of this vital festival, and we will keep its creative inspiration alive until next year.
Here are some quotes we wrote about the Festival:
“This festival not only happens in the heart of Vancouver but it activates the city’s heart.”
“The Heart of the City connects us with artists who are flourishing and provides joyful access for those of us who are seeking connection through creativity. the organizers are extremely inclusive, forward-thinking and respectful. its one of the highlights of my year.”
“art is the oxygen of the downtown eastside
carried in the blood of its artists
it slows down at the capillaries
art galleries, music venues
carnegie theatre, thursday’s collective etcetera
where it feeds minds and souls of artists
then gets pumped on and
is renewed every time we meet and share
and see one another’s thoughts and words”
On Thursday November 3, we had the distinct pleasure of receiving a guided tour of the Walker Evans: Depth of Field exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, seen now through January 22, 2017.
As guests of VAG, we were treated to an illuminating guided tour by curator Grant Arnold. Walker Evan’s striking photography and the rich history of his life as an artist made for a truly inspiring afternoon.
After the tour, we wrote about our reflections of individual photographs and on the tour as a whole. Please visit our website again as we will share some more of our thoughts and writing.
A huge Thursdays thank you to our generous friends at Vancouver Art Gallery: Ahn Le, Daina Augaitis and Grant Arnold
Lately, the Thursdays Writing Collective has a lot to be grateful for. With the Heart of the City Festival in progress, we’d like to thank all our friends at the Festival, as well as at Gallery Gachet, for providing a platform for our most recent reading. Poetry is in the Eye of the Beholder took place on Thursday October 27, and featured Special Guest Jordan Abel. Abel performed from his collection Injun. Composed of text found in western novels published between 1840 and 1950 – the heyday of pulp publishing and a period of unfettered colonialism in North America – Injun then uses erasure, pastiche, and a focused poetics to create a visually striking response to the western genre. We were also honored that Abel read from new, unpublished work AND led us in a 10-minute writing exercise.
The reading was followed by an hour-long open mic. Each reader was given a suggested three minute time slot – and the variety of voices and work was amazing. Thanks for our wonderful audience for going on this creative journey with us!
The annual Heart of the City kicks off it’s Festival today. Writers and Artists from Thursdays Writing Collective can be seen and heart throughout the Festival. Check out all the events on their Festival website.
We have two events in the Festival. A reading and writing event on Thursday October 27 at 7 pm
And on Wednesday November 2, author Karenza T Wall will be featured on Co-Op Radio’s Wax Poetic.
Jordan Abel + Thursdays Writing Collective at the Heart of the City Festival!
- Thursday, Oct 27, 2016
- Gallery Gachet, 88 East Cordova St., Vancouver, BC
Where do the mind’s eye and poetic heart meet? To celebrate our 9th season, Thursdays Writing Collective will explore the overlap between words and images and we invite you to join us. Guest Jordan Abel, a Nisga’a experimental writer from BC, will read from his highly visual and critically compelling work, followed by writing prompts and open mic.
**Bring your pens and notebooks for this event of live reading and writing.**
Jordan Abel is a Nisga’a writer residing in Vancouver. He is currently completing his PhD at Simon Fraser University where he is focusing on digital humanities and Indigenous poetics. Abel’s conceptual writing engages with the representation of Indigenous peoples in Anthropology and popular culture. His chapbooks have been published by JackPine Press and Above/Ground Press, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals across Canada, including Prairie Fire, The Capilano Review, and Canadian Literature. He is an editor for Poetry Is Dead magazine and the former editor for PRISM international and Geist. Abel’s creative work has recently been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry (Tightrope), The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (Arbiter Ring), and The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayword). Abel is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award) and Un/inhabited. Abel’s third book, Injun, was released from Talonbooks in spring 2016.
13th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival runs Wednesday October 26 to Sunday November 6, 2016. More than 100 events take place at over 40 venues throughout the Downtown Eastside. Thursdays Writing Collective is thrilled to participate once again this year. Check out all the Heart of the City Festival events!
Gallery Gachet is a non-profit artist run centre located in the Downtown Eastside.
Gallery Accessibility Info:
front door: 5 feet width
front door step: 6 inch height
ramp: 34 inch width
washroom door: 33 inch width
toilet: 10 inch clearance on left side
14 inch clearance in front to sink
the washroom has a handrail
The annual Hope in Shadows Calendar launched on October 17, and the story of the twelve winning photographers has already been covered by CBC News.
It’s no surprise that two talented writers from Thursdays Writing Collective are among the winners. Congratulations to James Witwicki and Page Turner. And a congratulations to Joan Morelli for modelling in Teresa Ng’s winning photo.
Our writing friend Debbie Blair, who was active with Thursdays Writing Collective off and on for several years, disappeared on a hike on September 29, 2016. We were stunned to see her name and likeness appear in the news that evening. The development of the story was excrutiating as searchers related their attempts and the challenges of negotiating Cypress Mountain in bad weather. There is a wiki page about her disappearance.
Three days after her disappearance the North Shore Rescue team suspended the search, believing her survival in the cold exposure to be impossible. Our DTES community has responded with warmth and connection in remembering Debbie, a busy arts lover who added her creativity to so many moments of our lives. So many questions about her last day persist but a few friends remember her speaking about her idea of a peaceful, perfect ending being a long walk in the forest. It’s almost spooky.
As I look back at my email correspondence with Debbie throughout the years I remember a woman who was curious abut creativity, eager to attend Bard on the Beach with our group, happy to join in activities and willing to stay connected despite challenges such as having her phone or laptop stolen. She was quiet in our classroom setting, watching and listening but confident in her own sharing – and when she read her pieces to us she had a glimmer of both humour and defiance in her eye.
She is remembered as, “an incredible community member” by Mutya and “a welcome sight whenever I was working or attending an event in the DTES” by Liisa. “We always had a few laughs,” Liisa wrote on Facebook.
The people at Heart of the City Festival wrote, “Thank you Debbie for your big heart, sense of fun and humour, and love and commitment to our community. We are going to really miss you. Your memory lives in our hearts.”
We wish all of Debbie’s family and friends peace. It’s a difficult circumstance and we are so sorry she is gone.
On Thursday October 13 the writers gathered and we took a trip to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) to see the permanent collection and the outstanding Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories.
We had been looking at Yuxweluptun’s artwork together as a group, and reviewed his Vancouver Book Award Winning Unceded Territories art book (see previous post).
It was an honour to be invited by MOA to visit. Please check back to our website for our responses to the exhibits.
Review by the Thursdays Writing Collective: 2016 Vancouver Book Award winner “Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories”
Review by the Thursdays Writing Collective: 2016 Vancouver Book Award winner “Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories”
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Karen Duffek and Tania Willard
Reviewed by various members of the Thursdays Writing Collective
To date, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Karen Duffek and Tania Willard was the very first art book our collective has responded to. As a group, we had a lot to thing about and discuss regarding Laurence Paul Yuxweluptun’s provocative and eye-catching artworks, and about Indigenous rights in the unceded territory known as Vancouver. Artwork and Indigenous justice are valued within the Downtown Eastside, so this book prompted much discussion.
Together, we read quotes from Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s artist statement and looked at his paintings. Some quotes we focused on were: “Your back rent is due, British Columbia…” and “I’m looking at global issues … the one percent of the planet that tells the rest of the world what to do … [they] want to destroy whatever they want and take whatever they want. British Petroleum (BP) is an example.”
We discussed how might British Columbia pay up? How might government officials and/or greater BC society pay some form of rent to Coast Salish Peoples? We also discussed what – on these unceded lands – most needs protection? What needs our love, respect and protection?
The three paintings that most captured our attention were: “Fucking Creeps They’re Environmental Terrorists” (2013), “Christy Clark and the Kinder Morgan Go-Go Girls” (2015), “Red Man Watching White Man Trying to Fix Hole in the Sky” (1990), and “Killer Whale has a Vision and Comes to Talk with me about Proximological Encroachments of Civilizations in the Oceans” (2010).
The following reflects some of our discussion quotes while looking at Unceded Territories:
There are some people who believe that global warming is just a big scam. It is fortunate that governments might actually listen to what First Nations people are saying. [We need] jobs that afford us the ability to live well so that we too can have the luxury to become part of the solution to global warming.
– Cindy McBride
Lawrence Paul captures the present and future by going into the past to reveal the suffering of the Coast Salish People on the Unceded Territories through his creative artistic talents and his paintings. His talent shines through in the beauty of his paintings, drawing me into his imagination, taking me into the journey of the unknown, the suffering of the past, the reconciliation of today and a future of unity. Great work, Lawrence Paul.
– Ghia Aweida
Poetic response to “Killer Whale has a Vision and Comes to Talk with me about Proximological Encroachments of Civilizations in the Oceans” and “Red Man Watching White Man Trying to Fix Hole in they Sky”
—the sky is blue
—these are Not differences
—the light in the piece is not defined
—the light in Killer Whale comes from a sun gone nova
Paper clips, crayons and Lego.
Oil paints and egg tempura.
Exploding sun. Transcendent sky.
Shape. Texture. Colour.
Why is the artist fragmented?
Torn apart? Sheltering a pile of
This is my shape!
This are my forms!
Get Over It!
– James Witwicki
Response to “Killer Whale has a Vision and Comes to Talk with me about Proximological Encroachments of Civilizations in the Oceans”
i chose to go beyond the dichotomy of ‘race’ and nature. into a global event happening between homo sapiens and the rest of the natural world. which, i think, is not that different from lawrence paul’s vision. the painting is rich with symbolism, layers of meaning upon meaning. is the blood dripping from orca into the ocean? are there feathers dripping with blood? is the orca, and the feather bleeding into the sea? yes, a visceral yes chants my body. and the sun, a flower bursting it’s petals to rain down on the earth and her beings. the thick clouds, three layers, each resting on a flat surface, a line. thick blobs of whipped cream, shaving cream, dream whip clouds. like boulders in the sky. why? what does this mean?
is there meaning? or is it just because they came out that way. from his mind/thoughts and onto the canvas, no intermediate thinking. and the blood spreading across the purple whine sea. the homo sapiens stands on shore, a bright mechanical man in rich colours. behind him are the mountains, colourful boulders, each boulder with it’s own pattern. is there meaning? and the homo sapiens head is fish bird like skeletal. no fill in colours. skeleton head with the sky blue showing between the bones. a prophecy?
what do these patterns mean. is their some aboriginal short hand going on here? the orca is so small in comparison to the homo sapiens. and he is so large when compared with the mountains. and i think that perspective has nothing to do with this. is this how homo sapiens views himself?
since lawrence paul has named his work i need to figure out what he is saying. especially since one word is a fusion created by him. so has distinct meaning. so i checked out these words. proximal is something situated nearer the body or the point of attachment. in geology it is relating to an area close to a centre of a geographical process. ology is a subject of study, a branch of knowledge. and oxford says it informally and humorously used. i beg to differ. so i choose the meanings that, to my mind, approximate the closest to what the artist is saying. proximal is something situated to a centre of geological process. thi studied by many disciplines, philosophies, historians and other shamans. encroachment is intrusion onto territory, rights. and this is what i am understanding lawrence paul’s words to mean…
whale bleeds from his polluted territory, polluted by humans. the structure of the oceans altered, because of their proximity to pollution. nay, the pollution is within ocean. and the geology of the ocean is changing. how can it not. i like this painting because of it’s rich meaning. meaning that i have made for myself, which is not necessarily what the artist means. i love the name he gives his work, the rich language, the density of it is consistent with his painting. the symbols in both art forms complement and enhance each other.
thank you lawrence paul and karen duffnek and tania willard
– Karenza T. Wall
Thursdays Writing Collective
Thursdays Writing Collective runs free, drop-in creative writing classes at Carnegie Community Centre for members of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, an area challenged by poverty-related issues and beloved by residents for its optimism, activism and creativity.
Since the Collective’s inception in 2008, more than 150 writers ranging in age from 18-86 years old have participated in writing sessions, events and festivals including the Heart of the City, Spirit Rising, Candahar Art Bar at the Cultural Olympiad, Word on the Street, V125 Poetry Conference, the Memory Festival and numerous artistic collaborations with diverse literary communities, including UBC Law, Music and Performance students.
The Collective has published seven chapbook anthologies with the support of Canada Council, City of Vancouver, SFU and Carnegie Community Centre.