Steve Collis

Poetry's spatial and aesthetic relationship to power

Olympics protest in Vancouver, February 2010
Olympics protest in Vancouver, February 2010

Jules Boykoff

Whenever I went to Vancouver in both the run-up to and the aftermath of the Olympics I always sought out Nicholas Perrin for thought-provoking analysis, deep thinking, and good cheer.

Nicholas deftly blends creativity with brass-tacks organizing in ways that forge solidarity and hope. He is an artist, poet, and cultural activist who studies and works in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. A former member of the Kootenay School of Writing, Nicholas currently curates a series titled Imminent Future with a collective of friends who began working together during the Olympics. He is also a member of the Lower Mainland Painting Co, a conceptual artwork and research initiative seeking to situate shifting forms of value and the modes of labor and negotiation through which artists work and dialogue amidst broader social forces and struggles. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, he teamed up with Cecily Nicholson and Am Johal to create the “Safe Assembly Project” at the VIVO Media Arts Centre during the Olympic moment in 2010.

Poetry and activism

A much-photographed, controversial mural by artist Jesse Corcoran at the Crying Room Gallery in Vancouver

Jules Boykoff

 As a youngster I had unequivocally positive feelings about the Olympics. In part this was because I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin where winter sports were bigger than Jesus. During the 1980 Winter Olympics, which took place in Lake Placid, New York, I cheered mightily for fellow Madisonian Eric Heiden as he won five gold medals in speed skating, yelping at the tv screen as he swirled elegantly around the rink. This brought the poet out of ABC’s Keith Jackson who later described him as “a spring breeze off the top of the Rockies.” My parents even got me a stylish Eric-Heiden-esque rainbow hat, which I wore with great pride. (Later I attended Madison West High School where Heiden also went). That same Olympics the US hockey team won the so-called “miracle on ice.” The moment the hockey team won the gold-medal game is etched in the chalk and bones of my then-10-year-old mind. I remember the unbridled exhilaration pumping through my little body.

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