Sunday, March 11, 2007


Blue Orange, in alliance with DaDaBaBy, announces the publication of the poetry book RULES OF THE RIVER by Richard Rathwell with artwork by Pierre Coupey and edited and created by Jamie Reid, with a cover by Carol Reid.
For orders, email


I clarify 'topple.'

I mean topple artistically in the political sense, especially as an example of the practice of communalism in the arts, as a corrupting influence on culture, and as being anti-discourse and market.

And a bunch of other antis. He is clearly a damaging terroristic sort of guy.

And an impediment to the free market.

Also not seeking the marvellous in the real and seeing a thing in its own sake.

I do not mean topple in the mental sense. I know Mr. X has always been missing a piece of gnos.

That meant he saw life, being of private income, as a kind of troublesome circle of support and praise. Later, after failures, this became a sort of auto erotomania in a playpen pretending with friends to be winning a horse race.

Because he has invested so much in building his place in a circle of similar gnos, including an anti-art, anti-activism gnos, his unsettling attraction to the poem, to me as a nineteen year old 'barging into intimacies', and his attraction to your reckless out of the box commitment, and to the rest of my my life, and yours, created the completely unbalanced response. It is a sign of a damaged person and declining mind. He particularly sees the artist as a betrayal, someone getting outside of the punishment/reward circles he should be in.

X by the way can never have a friend. The guys in the play pen aren't there for that.

His problem is that the book is attractive. Its ideas are beyond him.

This cannot be if he is X. He is attracted. This cannot be. He loves it. This cannot be. It doesn't love him. So he must fly at it. Negation of the negation. Spending a life demeaning what he desires, he has toppled himself.

He will be a figure of fun and he is beginning to know it.

assessing asses in Albanian

What methods of assessing donkeys in Albania can teach us all.

First of all before we begin let me tell you there are several international charities committed to dealing with abused donkeys and giving them peaceful retirements. I urge you to seek these out and donate.

Next, as an aside, the Albanian name for donkey is 'gomar'. In other forms, the diminutive and the plural, it can mean automobile tire or motor mechanic. Albanians, as we all do, do not like to give up their roots easily as time passes and things change. The language works in a way, for example, that the word turkey might become, through a construction like `small talk turkey', a parrot or, equally, a poem.

Now I am entering into this discussion not as a dilettante. I did assess donkeys in Albania and I do know how to make love in Albanian. The root is 'duo'.

There is a right way and a wrong way to assess anything in Albania. In fact to do anything. If you do it the wrong way you are called a gomar. If you are a gomar in Montana, however, you might be a congressman, and son of a congressman. But not in Albania.

Donkeys can be assessed in a way usefully applied to Chinese cats. That is, it doesn't matter whether they are black or white but whether they catch mice. That is cats in China and only in certain classes. Donkeys of course do not catch mice except by accident when eating. I was assessing them as to whether they can climb a mountain carrying a burden. But the principle is the same. It is the same as with poems. They have different colours too, like donkeys, but that doesn't matter much in terms of their purpose.

What is the purpose of a cat in Toronto or Vancouver? The same difference.

Anyway we gathered a bunch of donkeys in Albania in a mountain valley town called Puke which means something like Puck. That is a playful spirit in many languages. You can name a donkey 'Puck'. Or a loved one, or a town. You can say `te duo Pucki'. But you can't say 'te duo gomari' neither in the day nor night. That is indescribably wrong. Well in Albania maybe not in Montana. This is away in which donkeys are different from poems and people.

I paid an Albanian to help assess the donkeys for three reasons. One is that I knew nothing about the art or science involved but wanted to learn at a fair price and two the donkeys would be carrying pipe up through a guerrilla zone and the helper was probably one of them. Guerrillas not donkeys, although every Albanian is a gomar about something to every other one.

Finally it was because they were not his donkeys or a relative's.

He was from out of town (from up the mountain actually).

This worked as the donkeys were not stolen, nor was the pipe. However the water pipeline we built to the town was blown up, but only after it was completed and the donkeys had left. Evidently the guerrillas thought we should pay rent for the mountain.

As you do for a donkey.

Like a poem, or love, or a cat you do not assess a donkey as to whether it is good or bad, whether it is strong or weak, a strong donkey is not necessarily good for anything. Whether it is merely beautiful or well bred. You do not assess its relatives and birthplace.

You do not assess it by hitting it with a stick and calling it names. In fact in Albania this is particularly useless as the worst thing you can call anything is 'gomar.' I know this because I am published in Albanian.

You assess it as to whether it is fit for purpose. As a thing in itself for a purpose. Can it get up that mountain with a load of pipe, never mind how it behaves or how it does it because that is up to the donkey person with it. But can it do it?

Because that is the beautiful thing, the true thing, the purposeful and consequential thing. The thing in itself about that old donkey, or young one or three footed one. It is that right donkey for purpose. There can be no other except another like it.

Assessing a donkey is like reading in some ways. You don't do it by calling the book names. You don't do it by wondering how Jesus might read it, or do it the way you might skin a caterpillar, or make love in Albanian.

When assessing donkeys for climbing mountains you don't do it bycopying the way the fearsome donkey whipping bully in the next valley assess donkeys. That is you don’t learn to see donkeys his way or you will get hit, like a gomar assessing, too. That is the same as with reading or loving.

They were beautiful and true those donkeys in a long chain going up that mountain, pipes on their backs, honking and wheezing, doing it in their own terms, in the rain and sunbursts, to help create a line for clean water down for the little kids in Puke. Whether they knew it or not.

Just as they should be. And I donated to their charity for that reason.


This is in the category of 'I thought you would never ask and you didn't' or 'I can't resist ducking even if I'm not punched'. It is a backchannel gone bad about the recent discourse. But so what.

I am grateful for everything, most of which was soulful rage at police criticism but some of which was support for my being.

Rules of the River is an object made partially of translations. The first poem in it is a mature poem which is ferocious about the limitations of depicting a complex horror and way that horror works on the person's vision. The rules of it. It is a stitching of fragments showing external editing. It is literally done outside of me. It is about an actual incident dealt with by poetry. Translated to poetry. It maps the eye and mind moving to 'take in' that horror.

The second poem, the series, is a game the reader is invited to play about poetry. It starts with a very 'young' poem (the basic thing was written when I was nineteen, I translated it a little later to be the work of a quite dark, fragmented woman in a book I wrote called "Borderline: Casebook Translations", then I contained it in a chapbook called "Poems From the Beak" which was to have been written byher. But forget that. It's over. Get on with it.)

That poem was chosen for the game ruthlessly. Not because it was goodor bad but because it was a fit subject, authentically happened, and had a kind of feeling good to throw to mutilation and fragmentation and then try to bring it back, to see what it was. Like me. The fragmentation comes from the 'others' like the other languages, images, words, ideas, realities.

The first poem is not mature but has a voice of apparent weary and wary experience, like it actually is.

That first poem then deals with the frustrating limitations of vision as an exploration of both language and how the eye works with images, and the pain of that. It is too a fragmented poem but this time one that isn't resolved except by the pieces of the image it is moving over, or that are is going through it, like a Prism. It just can say what it ends up with as the input shifts.

It is trying to get at a woman and a river.

Then come the translations. Not completely Babblefish, not much, but however limited and ruled by the way in which the poem tries, with eye and mind to do absolutes by moving through changes, hurt but helped by that as well. It had a personal background in looking at some of the translated poetry in each language and knowing some people. It has references and associations. But each part is on its own, outside of me, from the integrity of choosing the original, to giving it up, so that each one continues the game and reveals things also on its own.

The overall object ends up being, I think, like heraclitan waves (how rivers work in physics and philosophy), if you read it out loud, and consists of some poetic curiosities of how the meanings were found. It does invite the reader to make poems outside of themselves in language. And some do.

It is also furious in voice, pained, as it keeps going on, the rules keep changing, the absolutes contend. Sometimes redemption. Sometimes not. Sometimes alive grasping, sometimes not. That is a fair play depiction. With optics. At cost.

The eye context provided for this game by the artist's work is that in part the artist's work requires the eye to move around too, with the mind and make a narrative, which it can't do. It has to leave the art stand. The artist's pieces reflect on one another in a way like the poems do, and vice versa. My contention is that by doing that, observer is invited, in images and limitations, and works of fragments integrated somehow by the art itself, to try to get at something, perhaps beautiful in a new way outside themselves. Visual art is a translation of the real in optics. And interaction (dare I say dialectic!)

Even if it is only the beautiful horror of the rules just about a river and a woman, and a poem, and trying to get it.

The book is an object. It is a made object by many hands and adiscourse of them in selection and execution which is interesting as an event. As an object like its makers it has biography.

Well put together and edited. Bless them all. And it should be dealt with as a thing in itself. You don't need explaination of course, unless you want someone to participate in another way.

But what do I know.

are you afraid of ghosts?

Are you afraid of ghosts, Mr. X?

Your piece on Mr. Y's Rules of the River was not a review of the poetry contained therein but an attempted character assassination of both Y and one of the editors, who I believe created an excellent publication. Reflecting on this I can only assume that you were trying to smother these two voices, to stop Y at least from coming in from the cold, or to return from the heart of darkness. I wonder what causes this unease, this fear you obviously have for the two. To dedicate so many words to hurting them and to stopping them from being read – which is patently, by the way, counterproductive – in such a personal and vicious manner will only make your readers question your own security, and also what really happened all those years ago. It is certainly not anyone else but you who seem to be stuck there. Is there something in there you are not proud of?

I laughed when I read that, in your paranoia, you sensed Mao lurking in the two poems. I laughed when you stated that in one of them Y ‘implies that he’s been conducting espionage for some Maoist NGO in Egypt or Somalia, or wherever.’ As you state yourself, you know little of Y's actions since he was a young man, and obviously have not seen much of the world or seem to care much about it. Incidentally, in Egypt he worked for an organization called Terre Des Hommes, which works to protect the rights of children – I doubt that he was conducting Maoist espionage on them. In all other contexts he was doing similar work, and if you had been googling responsibly you would have come to the same conclusion (although you’d have probably still proceeded with the attack regardless). You may need to expand your horizons, Mr. X, and move on. For the past thirty-five years, unlike yourself, Y has had a career in the real world. He was not in ‘the heart of darkness,’ at least not metaphorically, not in the ‘murk,’ not in the ‘wilderness (where is that exactly, Mr. X? Anywhere outside of your own experience?),’ and he was certainly not ‘institutionalized’ as you imply (one of the most unimaginative and savage attacks your clumsy article contains). There were no Maoists, Mr. X – in your irrational unease at seeing Y's and the editod's names haunt you again you must have gotten you overexcited and maybe a little paranoid.

Your rather concise critique, added like a postscript to disguise the slander as a book review, of the poetry itself is just as misplaced, clumsy, and anxious, and typed with just as much bad faith, as your ad hominems which form the bulk of the piece. You criticize the poetry for being ‘obscure and insinuative rather than articulative,’ and for coming ‘with no accompanying contextualizations.’ As your readers will know, this comes with the territory of poetry. Even if you disagree, it is certainly not a valid, God-like criticism of anyone’s work. The poems are not even obscure by anyone’s stretch of the imagination (well, perhaps by yours).

As for the contextualizations, you seem to ignore your friend's excellent artwork which would resonate clearly with an objective reader, rather than one who’s pulled out the dagger before opening the book. And for the record, he was shown the layout prior to printing and was very happy with it, and happy with the outcome, and therefore your objection to the workmanship and descriptions of his work are misplaced. It may seem odd to your readers that the artist, who you obviously admire, colluded with Y on this work, which, if I can hazard a guess, you will not be nominating for any awards. Could it be that the artist liked the poetry? Could it be that your readers will to, if shown it? Is that why you are afraid of this haunting? Also, hilariously, you take the title of ‘Rules of the River’ literally, and offer as a critique the fact that the name of the river itself is not stated. The river isn’t the Nile, and Mao isn’t paddling along it, Mr. X. There are more things in heaven and earth.

I am glad, though, that you admitted not being able to penetrate the poem’s eleven rules, because ‘they are evocative rather than disclosive statements unlocated in a delineated landscape.’ I think Y would have no trouble agreeing with this, although I’m not sure he would apologize for not delineating a landscape you would recognize (downtown Toronto?). I might also say that one rule at least should have seemed quite disclosive to you, quite easy to penetrate, even in your state of nervous excitement – ‘the law of lek: everything fights back.’

In any case, I urge you to type out the first poem on your website and let your readers judge for themselves.

I also can’t help but balk at another curious falsity that you have asserted: that Y had attempted to court an ex-wife of yours. I wonder why this troubles you so. I also wonder why you must resort to this sort of attack in what is supposed to be a book review. Did she mention that Y had read Rules of the River to acclaim at a major conference of poets? Did you? Did you ever think that it might be true that there is a street named after him in Uganda, or a tree in India? Or is it beyond your capacity to say a good thing about people who try to produce a book? Maybe you have had no trees named after yourself, Mr. X. It also seems to me that all your criticisms apply to you rather than him. From your piece I can guess why not. ‘Egomaniacal monologuing’? Check. ‘Composition without intellectual responsibility, discipline or research’? Yep – was your piece responsible? Was it disciplined or researched? ‘Cognitive contraptions’? Check – again, your piece on Rules of the River was an interesting study. ‘A man who doesn’t appear to have altered his intellectual procedures or his attitudes towards others in three and a half decades.’ Check – how many enemies have you made with this sort of slander, Mr. X? Perhaps it is time to confess. ‘What a waste’? Well, we shall leave that for the river to decide. Certainly not you.

I am sending you another of Y's works for you to review – Re: The Dead Arts. I think he’s done well with the title, don’t you? Boo!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

the secret's daughter

The Secret’s Daughter
by Aine, blue orange writer

I am the secret,
I hide in the shadows,
In the dark is where I lurk.
No one knows me
And my daughter never tells a living soul
About me,
About who I am.
I’m kept closed up
And locked up
In an unknown place
That not one person has ever been,
No one ever dares to go.
Their too afraid and scared too go.

My daughter exists,
She lives on this world
And she keeps me a secret
And nobody knows why,
They don’t ask
And she never talks.
My daughter walks, and she breathes.
I am her secret
And she is my daughter
Only she and I know the truth.

Everyday I watch her grow more beautiful, wonderful,
Good and right.
She goes to school and is well educated,
Qualified and well trained for the world
And her future is right ahead.
I seen her come and go, out and in.
She’s bright, light, clear and pure,
Even innocent and too real and true.

She doesn’t live with me anymore,
She moved out when she was old enough to go,
She use to sneak me out for important events
Like graduations and other events
She even snuck me out for her wedding,
The day when she got married to her husband
And now she lives next door to me,
With her husband and her children, my grandchildren.

My daughter is living the life I’ve always long, yarned and desired for.
That I always dreamt, hoped and wished for
In all my life.

On some days and nights I watch by the window,
I witness her children play,
I seen them come home from school,
I can hear the sounds of joy, life, excitements and happiness,
Even laughter rang loud and clear like the sound of bells ringing,
It sounds like little angels.
My daughter, my incredible and beloved daughter,
I wished I told her that I love her,
I wish I have gave her everything she ever deserved to have
And much more,
That I’ll move heaven and earth just to be by her side,
And hold her close and near me tightly and tenderly, gentle
While singing sweet songs.

All I am now is a secret, a secret that not one person will ever know.
I am the past from long time ago
That reminds unknown from the universe

My daughter just buried me just last summer,
After I died mysteriously
And I just left this poem for her to read.
No one must know about this poem that I wrote,
Just me and her,
I am her secret mother, she is my secret daughter,
The secret’s daughter.