Light filtering through (PoemTalk #132)

G. Maria Hindmarch, 'Kitsilano (1963–1969)'

from left: Erín Moure, Karis Shearer, Deanna Fong

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In this special episode of PoemTalk we discuss a poem by G. Maria (formerly known as “Gladys”) Hindmarch, who lived and worked at the center of the emerging avant-garde and counterculture literary scene in Vancouver the early 1960s and later. Maria attended the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, established productive connections with Black Mountain poets among many others; founded TISH magazine in 1961; published three books; published her writings in dozens upon dozens of magazines; and made audio recordings as a feminist, materialist, and literary communitarian. The poem we discuss is currently still unpublished; it is titled “Kitsilano (1963–1969).” (Kitsilano is neighborhood located on the unceded territory of the Musqueam People in Vancouver.) Deanna Fong and Karis Shearer have been working closely with Maria, and are preparing a collected works for publication. A few months prior to our gathering in Montreal, Deanna and Karis had met at length with Maria, talked about this poem (and others), and made a recording of the poet performing her poem. Listeners to the PoemTalk episode will hear some discussion of several ways in which Maria improvisationally revises the poem as she reencounters it in the present — always with an eye and ear to the idea of such a communal witnessing in verse to be archivally current and responsible, and alive. (Here is the text of the poem.)

Speaking of Montreal: yes, PoemTalk went on the road once again to make this episode. Al Filreis was joined on this journey by Anna Strong Safford (coordinator of ModPo and instructor with Kelly Writers House and Penn’s School of Liberal and Professional Studies), Zach Carduner (PoemTalk’s editor and one of the two lead IT coordinators for the ModPo course), and Chris Martin (IT manager for CPCW/KWH and founding IT coordinator for ModPo). The team recorded (audio and also video — see the video below) this conversation during a five-day visit to Montreal; they also filmed a series of conversations around the city, conversing with Montreal-based poets about experimental Canadian poets. Among these video extras were several episodes of the YouTube series “ModPoMinute”: one on Victor Coleman with Andrew Whiteman; another on a prose poem-story by bpNichol with Derek Beaulieu; another on Nasser Hussain’s “ISL AMO PHO BIA” with Nasser himself.

We noted above that for this episode we were joined by Deanna Fong and Karis Shearer. The third PoemTalker here is eminent Montreal-based poet Erín Moure. Erín generously hosted us in her home, and we at the Kelly Writers House want here to express our gratitude to Erín for her hospitality and indeed for providing us the perfect instance of the open-door communitarianism commemorated (for the earlier Vancouver scene) in Maria Hindmarch’s poem.

Above at right: G. Maria Hindmarch, still from film of a 1975 reading now collected as part of the Western Front Archive, available at Vimeo. Above at left, from left to right: Deanna Fong, Karis Shearer, and G. Maria Hindmarch, 2018, Vancouver.

PoemTalk was edited this time, as always, by Zach Carduner and was filmed by Zach and Chris Martin. We are grateful to Elizabeth and Nathan Leight for their ongoing support of PoemTalk and to Anna Strong Safford who coordinated the Montreal visit.