Saturday, June 10, 2006


As Leonard Cohen, said,

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
and the ones who say there isn't.

As Christine Whelan, Regional Director for Chapters/Indigo Edmonton says,

and some of it, if, you know,
if it sat on your shelf for a year,
you probably don't want it to come back.
You're glad it's gone, and good riddance to that,
you know?


What’s a poor writer to do?

Another Writer Surrendering

Truth be told, writing is, like, um, like an obsolete art form, eh. It used to be that writers were, um, like, you know, the Walmart of the artistic world: propped up by huge university English Departments, eh, which trained dutiful readers by the, well, gadzillions, and with a complete monopoly on getting the word out.

So, the English Departments were kind of like warehouses, really, and the writers?


Who knew!

A Writer With Her Groom

Gail Anderson Dargatz and Robert Kroetsch
might have written about bees, but, hey, as you can see, they were already outflanked.

Warehouses are not a really good way of selling books, though. Books kind of get lost in there. They wind up gathering dust on the shelf, eh Christine.

You just ask Christine. She knows.

But, hey, that was then.

Chapters might crow that they aren’t selling midlist books anymore and are going to be as successful as Walmart, but don't be tooooooo sure. It could well be that they’re really just going down with


(Licensed paupers who wore a badge to prove it, and started the whole business of badgering -- like, well, like this blog, really),

Back Tenters

(small boys who scurried behind operating looms and cleared away debris)

and, my favourite, Bang Beggars

(parish officers who controlled how long strangers could stay in the parish -- an early iteration of family planners, perhaps?)

All gone, I’m afraid. Tschüß, baby!

Nope, now readers are writers. As Joseph Bednarik said as marketing director of Copper Canyon Press, American writing schools turn out more writers than the market can bear. His answer?

That everyone who writes should buy a bunch of books and read them.

Like, how old. It’s like, so old it's like, well Eben-Emael, that's what. You know, the impregnable Belgian fortress, which the Germans captured in 1940 by landing parachute troops on the unguarded roof. Well, ok, onto a low hill in behind, but same diff.

A Typical Creative Writing Department
Showing the Scars of Battle

When the Germans tried it again in Crete, the farmers got annoyed and stood down below with pitchforks while General Student’s pretty boys floated down, begging for mercy.

Well, guys, it’s a war. What can I say.

But, hey, wars aren’t new in the world, and writing is not the first fine craft to go obsolete. When I was a kid, back in the late 1960s, I used to go out in the orchard and scythe grass, an ancient skill which my father learned in Germany during World War II.

That was as high tech as things got then.

Now, it’s weedeaters. You just go on down to your local hardware store and try to buy a scythe. What’s it matter if it does a quicker, better job than a weedeater. That’s not the point. It’s just too darn low tech.

Weedeater Formation Descending on the Untrimmed Fields of Australia
A scyther might be an artist, but what’s the use of becoming the tool when you can become the machine?
Yeah, really.

Other obsolete occupations: Bellmaker, fletcher, horse collarer, salter, garlic monger, cloth trampler, girdlemaker, messiah.

But, hey, not so fast.

Check out this old picture of what looks like an Easter Celebration of the Greek Orthodox Church in Russia.

Jesus Christ as a Forklift, Becoming One With His Cross
Notice the jerry-rigged steering wheel

See what I mean?

You wouldn’t want your messiah to go careening out of control now, would you.

But, again, that was then.

How are things going in the war right now? Right now, while the US President is dancing on his lawn and dervishes are kicking up dust in Iraq?

Right now when the Chapters bookstore in Kamloops, British Columbia offered to host a book signing, if I brought my own books, cuz they don't carry them, see, and if I sold them to them at a 45% discount -- a 50% greater discount than I receive from my publisher myself?

Right now like that?

Well, pretty quiet really. Here are three poets I chanced on in a grove of wild apple trees in the Beaver Valley a couple weeks ago.

Poets on the Run
A Rare Sighting of a Doomed Breed
Fare well, Travellers.

I should have quoted some Leonard Cohen to them, but I was just trying to keep my dog from noticing they were there.

Like, dogs gotta learn some respect. More specifically? Well, my dog can’t see very well, but he’s got a good schnoz.

And those poets smell soooooooo good.

Poets Up Close

Get too close to a poet -- or a poem for that matter, I suppose -- and they get all blurry, don't they.

Well, as Leonard said:

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be a tourist,

And to give Christine the last word for this week:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there—but then, at the same time, there's a lot of Romance novels that are in our core list like, we have a list of about 1,800 to 2,000 books for a large-format store that are expected to always be in stock.

Thanks, Christine. Thanks, Leonard. Thanks, Poets. Good Night, Sweet Ladies, Good Night. Good night.


Napoleon: Out of what, 70,000 titles?

To be continued...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That brown poet from Beaver Valley showed up on Kootenay Pass on June 18. Amazing how writers get around! Just before he showed up another writer, very horny, bounded across the page.

Travel is educational.


7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've heard tell of that writer

kootenay isnt the only pass he'll make

always showing up in beaver valley asking after leonard cohen
and writing with invisible dink

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder when the poet will find his muse again.


9:45 PM  
Blogger ScaramoucheX said...

I am enjoying your blogwork immensely...I wonder, do you know Bute Inlet at all? stayed in the logging camps there, landed at the aeroport? Thanks for the great (and free) reading experience!

11:32 PM  
Blogger ScaramoucheX said...

Lol...'invisible dink' so funny...that was my first girlfriend's pet name for me...!?

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Exiled said...

Do you ever go to Nelson? There's a singing bridge there that could inspire some poetry.

11:10 PM  
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