lary timewell: Two new poems

lary timewell : photo credit: Lorraine Gilbert
lary timewell : photo credit: Lorraine Gilbert

In the 1980s, North Vancouver poet, editor and publisher lary timewell (bremner) co-founded and co-edited the late chapbook press Tsunami Editions, publisher of some of the earliest work (and often, first books) by writers such as Dorothy Trujillo Lusk, Peter Culley, Jeff Derksen, Dan Farrell, Gerald Creede, Kathryn MacLeod, Susan Yarrow, Calvin Wharton, Nancy Shaw, Robert Mittenthal, Arni Runar Haraldsson, Peter Ganick, Kevin Davies, Lissa Wolsak and Lisa Robertson. In his “12 or 20 (small press) questions” interview in December 2010, he briefly discusses how Tsunami Editions began: “Peter Culley, Gerald Creede, & Arni Runar Haraldsson & I met in the 80’s to talk about writing. We never talked about writing, but Tsunami Editions, Vancouver, got started.” By the early 1990s, he had moved to Fukushima, Japan (passing Tsunami Editions over to Michael Barnholden), where he “wrote, married, had a son, and operated an English/eikaiwa, until the Tohoku earthquake of April 2011 necessitated a return to North Vancouver.” He survived, as he once said, the physical fallout of the tsunami, but not the financial one.

Having published alternately as lary timewell and lary bremner, he explains: “timewell is the name i was born with (long story) and bremner has been my legal name since about 7 years old (step-father who was a great ‘father’ but died fairly early). when i started to have things published i decided to go with timewell, but tsunami publications involved (minimal) taxable income and other such ‘real’ world complications so i stayed bremner there. i know some of my writings on photography and art are attributed to lary timewell bremner… to further complicate (clarify?) things.”

After nearly twenty years of publishing silence, he founded Obvious Epiphanies Press in Japan in 2010, a small publishing house he has continued upon his Canadian return, publishing print-on-demand and e-books by lars palm, Gerry Gilbert, Pearl Pirie, Adeena Karasick, Monty Reid and myself, as well as a couple of his own small works. Further in his “12 or 20 (small press) questions” interview, he discussed the process of publishing again after two decades:

Just started some months ago. I was making a handmade book for photographer friend Lorraine Gilbert & remembered how much I liked the process. Around the same time, I discovered that American poets Norma Cole, Ted Greenwald, and others were using online services to publish chapbooks. I got the bug again.

His publications include the anthologies East of Main (Pulp Press, 1989) and Writing Class: The Kootenay School of Writing Anthology (New Star Books, 1999), the chapbooks Jump/Cut (Tsunami Editions, 1987), posthumous spectacle nodes (obvious epiphanies press, 2009), Pas d’Affiches (obvious epiphanies press, 2011), the ubiquitous gaze of che (obvious epiphanies press, 2011) and tones employed as loss (above/ground press, 2013), as well as catalogue essays for Lorraine Gilbert’s Allowable Cuts (Or Gallery, 1985), Pierre Coupey’s Cutting Out the Tongue: Selected Work 1976-2012 (West Vancouver Art Museum & Art Gallery at Evergreen, 2013) and the forthcoming Parsing the Tropes of Authenticity: Lorraine Gilbert’s Le Patrimoine (2015). He hopes to see his nearly-completed molecular hyperbole (which includes the chapbook tones employed as loss) published in 2015.

Citing numerous influences on his writing, including George Bowering, Jack Spicer, Michael Ondaatje, Amy De’Ath, Colin Smith and various of his KSW contemporaries, he “cites the aesthetics and energy of the late Gerry Gilbert as his greatest initial/ongoing influence, having worked with him for a number of years as the amateur studio-operator for the Gilbert-hosted radiofreerainforest weekly CO-OP Radio poetry program” as well as a “‘peripheral’ involvement in the Kootenay School of Writing – mainly as a Fostex-toting recordist […]” Unlike Gilbert, timewell’s poetry moves in a kind of shorthand cadence of twists and turns, reminiscent of some of the more recent explorations by Ottawa poet Pearl Pirie. His poem, “northpaw,” included as part of the “Bowering’s Books” issue of The Capilano Review (3.24) bounces quickly from point to point along a trajectory that includes:

Consciousness has no seigneurial tithes, no

King George stamps. Just ask Malcolm Lowry,

Al Neil’s neighbour in Dollarton, Cuernavaca,
halfway to Deep Cove’s (S)HELL torches,

just a fast-pitch away, a vita brevis as long-
armed from left, from Peachland to present.

Critic Frank Davey, in his seminal From There to Here: A Guide to English-Canadian Literature since 1960 (Press Porcepic, 1974) had this to say about the work of the endlessly prolific TISH-adjacent Vancouver poet Gerry Gilbert (1936 – 2009): “To Gilbert, experience is endless non sequitur.” The expansive collage and non sequitur has long been an important element of timewell’s poetry, both in his earlier and more recent work, even looking back to his poem “Translating Michel Gay: Including,” from Writing 18 (July 1987), that includes: “expanse, cut up / little pieces of anatomy / and, without noise, / resistance: traces. // without props.” As part of a recent short essay he wrote for Evening Will Come, “spooky action at a distance (or, a conceptual graffiti: “quantum rules ok”),” he describes some of his more recent directions:

I’ve been working with false couplets a lot: the gaps between the lines (sense) are the quantum leaps effected by phonetic twists, broken grammar, foiled collocations of semantic/idiomatic expectation, etc. Just as in ‘real’ science they find entanglement ‘absurd’, the meta-lingual which results seems to run parallel to the classical (the prosaic) sense. The writer (who? me?) thinks s/he is putting his/her spin on things. This is, I think, Einstein’s ‘spooky action’ & Spicer’s radio rolled into one perfectly savory al dente won ton gyouza snack-wrap. I hope you don’t think I’m making an analogy out of (crudely understood) science. I think we actually sense it as the real effect of writing that writing we may still dare to call poetry. Teleportation, a stretch, but a distance crossed that creates difference is the difference. What is the poem before you read it, what after? Poems exist only when we read/observe them; protons tunnel through the walls of what we think we solidly know. The reader thinks back to try to trace the prior before reading state of it, gone. I’ve been clumsily testing this by using highly personal memories & associations, words that cannot possibly have the specific emotional charge (let alone reference) for the reader that they have for me. For the reader they are perhaps only (at best hope) photons of the present ‘on the page’ as a reconstituted language event. In this sense, any poem has as many (overlapping) possibilities as there are readers of that poem. And the thing that the writer wrote/read/printed is, therefore, each time, destroyed in the process. New ‘originals’ shunting all over the place. Hardest-core Marxists will find that a highly impractical, non-pragmatic, interval in process; the CBC & book-prize salivating readers will dismiss it as being just absurd. Bad science, worse politics, the worst of poetry. Theoretical faux-poems of sloppiest misconception. (Here a character from H.G. Wells enters to say, “I wouldn’t step into that time machine if my life depended on it.”) The 0/1 fuzzy mixture is that oscillation; the sensation is the poetic. Partly here in print, partly there in you. How it, in body-mind, (is that Duncan or kokoro heart/mind?) feels to you.


& when we have enough energy we’ll really lay down the law

reading all day to get some in other words down on papier
over a languid & recurring memorabilia i choose e-i-e-i-o

the earth shook & said it was
time to divest    of everything

it was the    countdown
i had been counting on

good time
to use bad

collocations of heart leaps to mouth the
artifacts that  (not yet brittle)  unfolded

itunes says it will now sync you with
each of your real-world counterparts

all treasure maps are
intentionally vague x

marks the knot    means
imprisoned in hindsight

look at this picture poem &
tell me what you think  it is

i think it’s   a column of light
rising from a vegetable patch

hey where’s the void control on
this baby? the rgb on your abc?

analogue to digital i won’t likely
live to see the biochemical shift

i get up &  go out the door to face dissociating drizzle
a landlord who loves uprooting a rosebush metaphor

fragrant issue in the mailbox in an instant
i lament those disastrous   those finishing

touches to
undo i add

be it resolved instinct will
now sleep with eyes open



can’t have the rapids without the rocks

Wildflowers at the junction, unmolested
Island animals still. There are yet enough

free-floating signifiers in anyone’s poem
from which to pluck sustenance. There is

a faux-Mahayana socialism emanating from somewhere
deep in the dockside bullrushes of Port Hardy, B.C., from

a gill-netter wintering, a cowboy-coffee coffee urn steaming
economical savory chicory upwards from an iron galley stove.

The boat rocks, the books read, the
fish push light around underwater.

All things now slap the
sides, sing at once, say

hello to the anthropomorphic
clouds, to their alphabet bird

beginnings. Pick a word, any word, even
the thirsty one,
love. Walk around town,

dispensing your intrusive conceits
of self-invented folk wisdom as

kindnesses. There is more than
enough time to chew on

the succulence of each
causation, more than enough

reason to bucket
rainwater for tea. To

untangle, turn liquid;
to forget,{to forget}