Listen Here

27/10/2020

My right hearing aid broke yesterday when I took off my mask. My glasses were already broken, and somehow I failed to hang on to the hearing aid and it fell on the floor. It was the better fitting mould plastic that chipped off. This has happened before, and it’s time to move to the rubber tips instead.

I have my first attempted ghazal out and I figure I have an idea what the weaknesses are. I need to restrain myself from identifying them myself, could be wrong, as often happens. See that’s depressive talk. The bigger question is the difference between appreciation and appropriation, and whether I should switch forms and retreat into what my ethnicity has to offer.

Then there is the need to decolonize my hearing, and not appropriate Indigenous forms, and teachings, and hearing outdoors with respect to the First Nations. No doubt I am a settler. My curiosity continues and there is a lot I can learn by asking and searching. Wish me luck!

 


What we call absence

26/10/2020

What we call pleasure, and rightly so is the absence of all pain. – Cicero.

 


E (Archives)

25/10/2020

E is for Enns, our origin story. Twins left by the river Enns. One died, the other they called Abraham.


Books

24/10/2020

BOOKS By Victor Enns

AFGHANISTAN CONFESSIONS! (Hagios October 30, 2014)

Canadian troops arrived in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, though with a much larger presence following 2006, served as fully committed war-fighters until 2011, and in training and support roles until 2014. Stationed in Kandahar Airfield (KAF), Canadian soldiers led the fight in southern Afghanistan, maintaining Forward Operating Bases (FOB’s) “outside the wire,” in the heart of Taliban territory, seen by most observers as the most dangerous place to fight in the country.

This was the first time since Korea that Canadians at home were seeing our soldiers as war-fighters, boldly upsetting our dearly held notion, since Lester Pearson’s Nobel in the 1960s, of our forces as blue-helmeted peace-keepers.

Few of us will ever have to shoulder the burden of taking another human life, or seeing the death and destruction common to all wars. As thought provoking in subject as they are accessible to read, Afghanistan Confessions challenges assumptions Canadians may have about the conflict, and the thousands of soldiers that fought Canada’s longest war.

I was never a soldier, but traveled to Kabul with the assistance of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council in May 2008. I interviewed  members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) based in Shilo, Manitoba, on my return.

During the time I was working on this collection I established an email correspondence with Neil Maclean, a career soldier, introduced to him by another writer and a running partner in civilian life. Maclean agreed to serve as a sounding board and as a technical advisor making sure I was using proper Canadian slang and military parlance, and referring to military weapons and equipment correctly.

The soldiers I interviewed had their own ideas of why they were there, inside or outside the wire of Kandahar Airfield, probably different motivation for each of them. Only a few are raised in the collection including classical notions of giving and getting glory, seeking adventure, doing a professional job, supporting a family. There were many others given in interviews from a need of structure and love of routine, to the camaraderie and the tight loyalty of a fighting unit, and service to Canada.

This collection is dedicated to my mother Susann Enns, raised in conservative Mennonite southern Manitoba in the 1930s. Mennonite fundamentalists did not believe in educating women beyond what they need to know for Kinder, Kirche, und Kueche.[1] Girls were usually taken out of school after completing Grade Eight, more education than most Afghan girls receive even now.

While these poems stay in an imagined Afghanistan, our soldiers do not.  The damage continues at home with many returning veterans suffering PTSD and some taking their own lives. Even career soldiers are getting war weary. As Neil Maclean, who served three tours in Bosnia before going to Afghanistan, texts after checking the galleys of his afterword –


“In Germany, transitioning to the Middle East. This will be my third war. Getting a little old for this.” – Neil Maclean.

 


[1] Children, Church, Kitchen

boy (2012 Hagios/Radiant)

 This time poems even before Jimmy Bang set in my home-town of Gretna, with a beautiful (still standing) red brick post office with a flag, and a weather station providing temperatures often read on the CBC. These poems are what I remembered in 2006 of growing up, my old house, my new house, my family, my peers, my bullies, my wish for a lakeside holiday. Wrote these poems in 2006, the year Lynn Chalmers was in Toronto doing her Ryerson/York PhD coursework leaving me with the family dog, Stella, a Husky and a runner.

READ MORE>

Lucky Man (Hagios, 2005)

Twenty years between books, for family, for work, for exploratory writing like Involuntary Tongue, which I read to a startled group of my friends and colleagues in  a Regina warehouse space I had rented, preparing them with my favourite cocktail, the Rob Roy. Question then as now was, so who is going to publish this stuff? This stuff was Involuntary Tongue, click here for more in Works.

READ MORE>

Correct in this Culture (5th House, 1985)

Correct in this Culture, was published in the fall of 1985, edited by the owner of 5th House, Caroline Heath, a fabulous editor. I did the revisions by mail in my brother’s farmhouse near Aubigny where the Manitoba Writers’ Guild was inaugurated, using the St Agathe Post Office.

READ MORE>

Jimmy Bang Poems (Turnstone, 1979)

My first publication was Jimmy Bang Poems in 1979. I left town before it was released, and came back in January 1980. I hadn’t received a copy, so I wanted to go to Mary Scorer’s on Osborne to buy a copy. Foolishly I asked my dad for a ride, and told him the truth when he asked why.  But instead of just dropping me at Confusion Corner, he insisted on coming into the bookstore with me. I quickly picked up my copy from the rack displaying Turnstone chapbooks , paid, and fled. My dad in the store, turned to the first poem “They fucked/for a girl/so they said.  ….Planned for comfort/got me/instead.“ Mom said later over tea before bed that Dad was upset, but would get over it. She said “having read Margaret Laurence I know what goes on in books these days. Dad prefers the older stuff.”

READ MORE>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


B (Archives)

Bruce, Lenny (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966) 

I own a treasured copy of The Essential Lenny Bruce, a Ballantine paperback published by Random House in 1967. If you ever come across a copy at a used book sale, or store, get it. Pick it up. Run to the till.

Lenny Bruce was a lot of things but most of all he was very very funny. From casual one line observations like “shoes are to keep the dog shit off your feet.” Or “You can’t get snot off a suede jacket,” or “ So Reform, they’re ashamed of being Jewish,” to multi-character (doing all the voices himself) mini-dramas about integration, the return of Christ and Moses (one of my favourite’s) and sex.  His work broke trail and laid the foundation for comedians like George Carlin and especially Richard Pryor (a pretty direct link, riffing on the “n” word, I’ve always thought).

 Lenny’s  “To is a preposition come is a verb” is not only very funny, it is also a sound poem, unlike Dada, making sense, making fun, and long before Canada’s Four Horsemen hit the Canadian poetry scene.

 Bruce was Jewish, but not a Jewish comedian like anything before or since, Mort Sahl (born in Montreal) probably coming closest in his willingness to take on large social issues, though acceptable enough to write the occasional joke for President Kennedy’s speeches. Bruce, on the other hand, was repeatedly busted for obscenity, and drug possession becoming obsessed with the American judicial system; ending his career reading court transcripts, and his life with a drug overdose.

I seduced my second wife in a Manitoba country farmhouse after listening to Lenny Bruce’s Carnegie Hall February 4th 1961, New York City live triple album. Though the peppercorn steak flambé and the bottle of wine may have helped. Still have the vinyl.

 You can see some of Bruce’s work on YouTube, and the Carnegie Hall triple album is now available as a two cd set. There is a huge 6 cd boxed set, but I would say this concert was Lenny at his best, despite the snowstorm in New York that night and the midnight start. I would include him alongside Robert Kroetsch, Julia Kristeva, George Bataille, and Leonard Cohen as one of my more significant influences.

 “People should be taught what is, not what should be. All my humour is based on destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil without disease and violence, I’d be standing in the breadline – right back of J. Edgar Hoover.”

 – Lenny Bruce

 

 


The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

17/10/2020

About my blog

I will post anything and everything that pops into my head as often as I can,  appropriate from my thinking. This is the most likely spot for He was the kind of guy, jokes, quotations, journal and diary entries. It is born free, as free as the wind blows (remember) which way? This starts to sound like FaceBook, and it would be my time better used. There will always be room for comments.

About will also be free, but I need to enlist paying subscribers usually to pay other artists to make the pages interesting enough to draw your eyeballs like the image by Murray Toews to the right, so Patreon is the place to subscribe to MLIP (also being considered as my spoken word persona), Listen, Here to support costs of the listening and writing project,  pain room,  and the New Revised Standard Version of Vicipedia. The old Vicipedia will be stuffed into the Archives with access limited to subscribers through Patreon or directly to my Website, my loyal first 50. 

CHAOS

I keeping thinking of Get Smart, a sitcom from my youth. CONTROL good CHAOS bad in the Spy VS Spy vein during the cold war. Chaos also describes what I haltingly call my writing process. This will become evident in its expression in the remake of my website. I hope to stick to the new headings and just keep going while I stuff all the old material into my archives as I go. Relish has given me the basic set-up and will redesign the Front Page banner by the end of January. Murray Toews will be helping with the construction of the archives with some snappy images along the way.  I had a good start this morning but am fading fast.

Thursday, Oct 22, 2020

I realize my website fantasy will only ever  border on reality at best. I realize I want to blog for every heading in my banner. So for now, I am double posting my blog, aka my daily flog or fog until I can be sure the “first” blog has settled in under B in the archives. That’s not all, I plan to blog for “Listen, Here,” for sure and then create content unsteady as he goes for MLIP (My Life In Pieces) which will largely be video and audio podcasts, “pain room,”attempting to become an outsider art show, and annotate The complete Jimmy Bang,which now has many more new and blues poems the original 32 punk poems. And what to do with the Mennonite Book of the Dead, aka Dead Mennonites, Boundary Creek and What Men Do.

SHORT INTRO
This old thing is my favourite poem by Delmore Schwartz, and in my top 100 favourite poems. This one is copied from the Poetry Foundation site, citation at the bottom.There may be many good pictures of Schwartz but I haven’t found them. These are from https://pcolman.wordpress.com/tag/lou-reed/. A blog by Padraig Colman.Lou Reed took a course from Schwartz in the 1960s and considered they were both poets from Brooklyn. I admire them.

The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

 
1
The children of the Czarhttps://pcolman.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/later.jpg?resize=152%2C183
Played with a bouncing ball.
 
In the May morning, in the Czar’s garden,  
Tossing it back and forth.
 
It fell among the flowerbeds   
Or fled to the north gate.
 
A daylight moon hung up
In the Western sky, bald white.
 
Like Papa’s face, said Sister,   
Hurling the white ball forth.
 
 
       2
 
While I ate a baked potato   
Six thousand miles apart,
 
In Brooklyn, in 1916,   
Aged two, irrational.
 
When Franklin D. Roosevelt   
Was an Arrow Collar ad.
 
O Nicholas! Alas! Alas!
My grandfather coughed in your army,
 
Hid in a wine-stinking barrel,   
For three days in Bucharest
 
Then left for America
To become a king himself.
 
 
       3
 
I am my father’s father,
You are your children’s guilt.https://pcolman.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/atlas.jpg?resize=331%2C548
 
In history’s pity and terror   
The child is Aeneas again;
 
Troy is in the nursery,
The rocking horse is on fire.
 
Child labor! The child must carry   
His fathers on his back.
 
But seeing that so much is past   
And that history has no ruth
 
For the individual,
Who drinks tea, who catches cold,
 
Let anger be general:
I hate an abstract thing.
 
 
       4
 
Brother and sister bounced   
The bounding, unbroken ball,
 
The shattering sun fell down   
Like swords upon their play,
 
Moving eastward among the stars   
Toward February and October.
 
But the Maywind brushed their cheeks   
Like a mother watching sleep,
 
And if for a moment they fight   
Over the bouncing ball
 
And sister pinches brother   
And brother kicks her shins,
 
Well! The heart of man is known:   
It is a cactus bloom.
 
 
       5
 
The ground on which the ball bounces   
Is another bouncing ball.
 
The wheeling, whirling world   
Makes no will glad.
 
Spinning in its spotlight darkness,   
It is too big for their hands.
 
A pitiless, purposeless Thing,   
Arbitrary and unspent,
 
Made for no play, for no children,   
But chasing only itself.
 
The innocent are overtaken,   
They are not innocent.
 
They are their father’s fathers,
The past is inevitable.
 
 
       6
 
Now, in another October   
Of this tragic star,
 
I see my second year,   
I eat my baked potato.
 
It is my buttered world,
But, poked by my unlearned hand,
 
It falls from the highchair down   
And I begin to howl.
 
And I see the ball roll under   
The iron gate which is locked.
 
Sister is screaming, brother is howling,   
The ball has evaded their will.
 
Even a bouncing ball   
Is uncontrollable,
 
And is under the garden wall.   
I am overtaken by terror
 
Thinking of my father’s fathers,   
And of my own will.
 
Delmore Schwartz, “The Ballad of the Children of the Czar” from Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge. Copyright © 1967 by Delmore Schwartz. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.
Source: Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1967)

REPRISE: BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTER B

14/10/2020

Some Assembly Required

MY LIFE IN PIECES is a videocast autobiography in ten minute instalments, now going up as a separate page on my website and Patreon site. Pieces is a rolling story picking up fragments of my life, investigating parts of my body and pieces of my mind to prompt writing in multiple forms. I’ve had the company of Murray Toews (Graphics, animation), Kevin and Caden Nikkel (live film, recording and editing) to provide video accompanying my words for the first three episodes. The first episode “Beat the Clock,” is available through Patreon, the second Some Assembly Required is freely available, and will move to Patreon when episode three “Pain Room” is posted in November which will be free until December. The first season, brought to you by the letters a, b, and c from the “Abject Alphabet” is my “Season One.” Ha, I know, who do I think I am? Stay tuned for episode three for the answer.


My story for World Mental Health Day

10/10/2020

The first time I said “I am mentally ill,” I had a good cry in my psychiatrist’s office. I desperately did not want to cope with the stigma of having my brain make me sick. I had a good understanding of physical illness, fractures, etc., and the stuff of the body was acceptable because it was visible and because it wasn’t my fault. It was my body’s fault, an unreliable instrument at the best of times. But mental illness was my fault because my I-ness, my being, was head quartered. Whether it was my genes, biology, or environment, it was all me. I was making myself sick, I was weak.  I was lacking any kind of manly resiliency, losing.

I was first diagnosed when I was 19, in 1974. But I refused treatment because it wasn’t cool, while self-medicating was. So I was eccentric, depressed, had a mood disorder (a term that always smells of adolescence to me), or was disordering my senses because that’s what writers did. I read my Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Genet, Bataille, Hart Crane, Theodore Roethke, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Randall Jarrell, and especially John Berryman who pitched himself off a Minneapolis bridge in the winter of 1972. I called my mental illness absolutely anything and everything else, especially if it sounded romantic. Hell, treatment might dampen my creative spirit.

(more…)


R IS FOR RECIPES

28/09/2020

From My Vicipedia 

Komst Borscht  (derived from my mum’s recipe)

  • Stock made with
  • 1 good chicken (fryers suck for this), fresh, free range  is best
  • 2 sticks celery
  • ½ – 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, 2 if you like the soup a little sweeter
  • pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves

Boil, reduce to low boil for 2 hours, skimming the fat and gunge. Strain.


Soup

  • ½ + shredded green cabbage (can be more, but I like the broth more than cabbage)chopped by hand
  • ½ to 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 medium size red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • dill & lots of it – fresh is best
  • 2 dried chili peppers (or more to taste), can substitute red chilli flakes and cayenne
  • Add back some of the chicken, cut finely (I usually cook out most of the flavour even of the best chicken, so I often roast some skinless chicken thighs, removing the bone after they’re cooked, then cut that chicken to the soup)
  • cayenne & ground black pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup (to get the right colour, definitely if following mum’s recipe and I still use it) or strained tomatoes

Cook until all vegetables are tender – Add one can of Campbell’s tomato soup – bring back to a very low boil stirring the soup into the soup

This is a soup that often works better on the second heating, and also freezes well.

Makes a big pot (has to be big enough for the chicken anyway).

Serve with fresh old- fashioned crusty French,  baguette  or sourdough white bread – for dunkin.

Boil, reduce to low boil for 2 hours, skimming the fat and gunge. Strain.


 


R is for Recipes

From My Vicipedia

The big chili

(winter dried herbs version)

What you need
1 12 quart (or bigger) stainless steel pot for on top of the stove

1 – 2 onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, crushed & diced
olive oil

2 lbs (up to 1 kilo) of fresh (never frozen) ground beef – or mince as they say in Australia

2 cans Primo red kidney Beans
1 can Primo mixed beans
1 can Primo chick Peas
1 can Primo  black beans
1 can pitted olives, whole or sliced
1 can Italian plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons to 1 small can of tomato paste
1 cup of a heavy bodied red wine

2-3 bay leaves (that have not been on the shelf for more than six months)
fresh ground pepper (50 turns of the grinder)
coarse sea or kosher salt ( 2 teaspoons  or  more depending on your taste)
dried oregano
dried basil
2 hot, 4 medium, 6 mild tablespoons of chili powder (the more powder you use the more likely the chili will seem a bit gritty or sandy,  better to learn how to cook with hotter spices)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
two dried chili peppers (optional)
hearty dash of Worchester sauce
dash or two hot sauce (after tasting)
cayenne to bring to increased heat, or put it on the table next to the hot sauce
with grated cheese, salsa, hot  sauce, plain yoghurt as other calorie rich options.

What you do

Drizzle some olive oil in the pot, add diced onions and minced garlic. Cook until translucent and just starting to turn brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Brown hamburger thoroughly making sure it doesn’t burn or stick to the pot.
Open beans and olives, rinsing with cold water in a collander one at a time until you have 8 – 10 cups of goodness.
Drain hamburger thoroughly, add  beans and olives, stir.
Add one cup red wine.
Add 28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes, and some tomato paste. I used one full (little) can yesterday and it was too much, and I had to add more red wine.
Add all of the spices and remaining ingredients, stirring frequentl. Bring to a boil then a low simmer, stirring frequently enough that the chili doesn’t burn. Cook for one hour or more depening on how “wet” it is. Serve with white long grain rice in a wide bowl. Switch up the rice with tortilla chipsto change the texture or to use with leftover chili.

Freezes well, and is an excellent potluck main course.


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