Friday, October 31, 2008


Doug Lloyd, in a letter to the Cobourg Daily Star, recently played with the idea of a name-the-fountain/rink pad contest. Among his suggestions was "Peter's Puddle." I would take it up a notch, in homage to former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, and name it PETER'S PUDDLE DUDDLE. Political satire is such fun.

There once was a mayor named Delanty
who voted an expenditure of insanity
made a concrete puddle
spurt with a duddle
and blessed a town with his banality.

He was followed by sock puppet Spooner
who posed as a cash prudent pruner
his critics he dismissed
you can rotary on this
and we found the crooner out of tuner

Poetry is Poetency!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


In the Introduction to poetry Anthology II by the Local Lot, James Pickersgill cleverly posits that “the fact I write poetry does not mean I am crazy in society’s eyes.” Pickersgill clarifies that the assembly of poets in this anthology, published by Ink Bottle Press, have a social function, reassuring each other that they are “not alone in this gentle madness.”

My employment in the Centre of the UnitVerse always prevented me from attending the poetry readings the Cobourg Poetry Workshop has hosted. Last month was my first. It was welcoming, warm, comfortable, intelligent and everyone spoke with bits of eloquence pirouetting off their tongues. They’re poets, eh?

Anthology II is quite a hash of poetry, from the sublime to the bland, from sharp to dull, and levels in between.

In Vexatious Stack, poet-photographer, Ted Amsden is brilliantly insolent about the labour conditions at the local newspaper, concluding

I could certainly do better than drag my ass into that
old word mill on King Street just to get in line
. . . . . . . . . . to pass the buck.
. . . . . . . . . .oh dear
. . . . . . . . . .so much memory
. . . . . . . . . .and oh so
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . little motivation

Paul Brown, in his poem ‘a softer sound’ has this gem of an image:

a crow in the overhanging maple
disturbed by the new air
makes a noise like a spike being pulled out of wood

What a wood-wrenching sound that would be, especially in a poem titled, ‘a softer sound’. But then again, 'Haiku is a one-night stanza'. Mr Brown recently told the Cobourg Daily Star that his "poetry attempts to be accessible to everyone, rather than exclusionary or esoteric. In current times, poetry is marginalized and completely off most people's radar."

Bridget Campion’s two poems are narrative in nature. There is none of the poetic clutter (metaphor, simile, alliteration, rhyme, etc) in her poems. Life Cycle is a wonderfully crafted narrative, right from the opening line, “My hands span the flat backs” all the way through to the closing lines “like a baby.” The narrative opens with baby and moves on to grandfather and neatly ties them together. The poem gives good closure.

Mark Clement has a great opening line, “The remembrance of spring is held by the earth.” This holds immense possibilities. What if the earth had a season of forgetfulness?

Marta Cooper’s poetry is rich with childish charm, notably, ‘turn’ which is a highly charged erotic poem about two frolicking kites making out in the heavens. In her poem, ‘scissors’, she captures the visceral urban grit of “alley garbage smells don’t wander through open windows to squat in our apartment.”

Glenda Jackson’s poem, Chocolate Seduction, has the heat of eroticism, but cleverly distributes it by avoiding any gender identification whatsoever. Is chocolate a man? Or is it a woman? I’m not prone to write poetry in rhyme, but Glenda pulls it off very well; it adds a flouncy charm of a summer dress. The hyperbole in the last stanza is excessive, but works.

Deborah Panko’s, Related, is another narrative poem that is deliciously subtle to the last line, a clever cinch: “This birdwatching thing, it runs in the family.”

James Pickersgill has a great opening stanza in Small Trance:

These flowers in beds enter me
In some glory of germination
Like preparing to seed themselves
From the tips of my fingers...

The way this poem reads, lends itself to conjecture that it’s a performance poem to be read aloud in the best oral tradition. In a recent Cobourg Daily Star interview, Pickersgill says that "much of the time the creative process happens while I'm running," perhaps as a fugitive on the run from mediocrity, and escaping quite diligently, I might add. He continues, [creativity] "can occur at anytime, while I'm having a bath, daydreaming at work." Poetically stricken.

Eric Winter has written a long poem. There are speed bumps of obscure references along the way, but the last stanza of the poem is a clincher, a diamond in the rough:

Time to work at the word bench
Among sharp edges
The blunted ambiguities
The slow turned word,
The ambiguous foundation,
The fabric of the thought
That is the father to the deed.
Time now for time past,
For standing on the shoulders,
For another sort of usefulness,
For getting back to the good old stars,
The celestial ones.

Grahame Woods’ poem, Winter Dusk, contains this striking image, “scanning corn field’s snow-lathered 5 o’clock stubble.” If this is not enough, he goes on to write, What If?, a poem of sharp dark satire, a good sense of humour with a smirk. “What does God do when the Germans pray to win the war?” Truth is child’s play for a child.

The Local Lot aka Cobourg Poetry Workshop have a good thing going. It’s small, it’s intimate, and doesn’t have a well-financed outreach program. Back in the day, when Foster Russell was publisher/editor of the Cobourg Sentinel-Star, he filled empty spaces for poems, continuing in the tradition of R.D. Chatterton who published Susanna Moodie’s poems in the Cobourg Star in 1833.

It’s a great anthology of a Local Lot of poetry.
It’s a great anthology of a Lot of Local poetry.
It deserves more attention -- in local schools.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Click on image to enlarge

Susanna Moodie Arboretum proposal goes to Council

From: Lorraine Brace
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 9:41 AM
To: Wally Keeler
Cc: Stephen Peacock ; Steve Robinson
Subject: Re: Letter to Cobourg Town Council
Wally Keeler:
Thank you for your letter to the Town of Cobourg Council and supporting documentation. Please be advised that your correspondence will be placed on the Executive Committee Agenda for the next meeting scheduled on Monday, October 20th. You will be informed of the outcome.
Yours truly,
Lorraine Brace

Lorraine V. Brace
Municipal Clerk / Manager of Legislative Services
Town of Cobourg
55 King Street West
Cobourg, ON K9A 2M2
T. (905) 372-4301 ext. 4401
F. (905) 372-7421
C. (905) 373-5751


>>> "Wally Keeler" 1:55 PM 10/14/2008 >>>
Hi Lorraine;

Attached is a letter to the Cobourg Town Council.
The letter is supplemented with a 3-page supporting document.

The letter and supporting document can also be accessed at my blog COBOURG OF ALL THINGS

Please confirm when placed on the agenda.

Wally Keeler
314 -- 37 Eden Place
Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2V6

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The Corporation of the Town of Cobourg
Victoria Hall
55 King Street West
Cobourg, Ontario K9A 2M2

October 14, 2008

Mayor and Town Councillors;

I thank the Council for their illumination of the fact that private individuals or private organizations providing sufficient money can purchase the naming rights of public property in perpetuity.

I don`t have the power of money to make a similar purchase to have the arboretum located on Elgin Street, east of Burnham, which currently exists without an attached honourific, to be named Susanna Moodie Arboretum.

Attached is a three page synopsis [below] of Susanna Moodie and her significance. There are valuable hyper-links in the text which can be accessed if this letter is read on-line, or off-site, it can be accessed at

I appeal to Cobourg Town Council to name the arboretum on Elgin Street: Susanna Moodie Arboretum.

Wally Keeler

Monday, October 13, 2008



Why Susanna Moodie?

The University of Western Ontario, set up a CANADIAN POETRY website to exhibit poetry and poets of the confederation era of Canada. Wanda Campbell focussed on Susanna Moodie, the poet, and presents many of her poems, especially those relating to Moodie’s experience of Canada. Ms Campbell wrote,

“Primarily because of Roughing It in the Bush; or, Life in Canada (1852), an account of her arrival and settlement in Upper Canada, Susanna Moodie has become one of the central figures of nineteenth-century Canadian literature, attracting considerable critical attention and achieving reincarnation in such texts as Margaret Atwood’s Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970) and Carol Shields’ Small Ceremonies (1976). Both Roughing It in the Bush and Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush (1853) contain a substantial number of poems that Moodie included “in order to diversify [her] subject and make it as amusing as possible” (Introduction to Roughing It xiii).

Most of these poems had previously appeared in newspapers and periodicals including the Albion (New York), the Literary Garland (Montreal), the Palladium (Toronto), and the North American Magazine (Philadelphia). In 1833, she complained to the editor of the Albion of Canada’s “chilly atmosphere” that was “little favourable to the spirit of Poesy” (Letters of a Lifetime 90), but her poems were, in fact, warmly received. In March, 1833, R.D. Chatterton, the editor of the Cobourg Star, reprinted two poems that had just appeared in the Albion: “With us the beauty and chief attraction of Mrs. Moodie’s Poetry arises from the delicacy of sentiment and the enthusiastic feelings, that pervade it. We meet not the lofty, gaudy, oriental language, which so illuminates the poetry of Mrs. Hemans, but a simple and energetic language which cannot fail to reach the hearts of every true lover of poetry.”

Ms Moodie was middle class in genteel Britain and an activist for the anti-slavery movement. She was the author of several anti-slavery publications, including THE HISTORY OF MARY PRINCE, A WEST INDIAN SLAVE (1831) and NEGRO SLAVERY DESCRIBED BY A NEGRO (1831). That same year she also had her first book of poetry, ENTHUSIASM AND OTHER POEMS, and married. The following year she landed on the wharf at Cobourg.

Thus began the life of Susanna Moodie’s greatest contribution to Canadian culture and history, a heritage that is worth considerable gigabytes at the Library and Archives of Canada which collects and preserves Canada's documentary heritage, and makes it accessible to all Canadians. The specific Susanna Moodie site has this to say:
“Susanna Moodie had four children (Agnes, Dunbar, Donald and John) while living in the backwoods and still managed to pursue her writing career. She sent poems and stories to several newspapers and magazines in North America, notably the Albion (New York), the Cobourg Star, and the North American (Quarterly) Magazine. A vital opportunity came when, after several of her patriotic poems appeared in a Toronto newspaper called the Palladium of British America and Upper Canada in 1837–38, she was asked to write for a new monthly Montreal magazine, the Literary Garland.”
So there she stands on the wooden wharf of Cobourg harbour, disembarking from a small wooden ship of minimum comfort after endless days of travel. No health insurance. No dental care. No antibiotics. No social workers. No assistance whatsoever. “You’re on your own, baby.” So she and her husband buy a field outside town and set up house from the raw. ROUGHING IT IN THE BUSH or Life in Canada, became her signature work, which went on to inspire contemporary Canadian poets of the first order.

CBC’s opus, CANADA: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY, described Moodie’s book as capturing “the hardships of her own pioneer experiences in this collection of reminiscences that have become synonymous with the Canadian pioneer experience.”

Referring to the inspired Journals of Susanna Moodie by Margaret Atwood, CBC wrote: “Atwood's famous book of poems written in the voice of the pioneer author Susanna Moodie, depicts the hardships and the internal life of the character as she attempts to make a home and raise a family in the unforgiving wilderness.”

So how is this anti-slavery immigrant poet/writer who survived and transcended the merciless pioneer experience honoured by her contemporaries in Cobourg, Northumberland, south-central Ontario? In the early 1990’s she inspired Susanna Moodie Elementary School in Belleville which provides a charming Flash presentation of Susanna Moodie.

The University of Manitoba hosts a web-site for CM (Canadian Review of Materials) which is an "electronic reviewing journal (of) Canadiana of interest to children and young adults, including publications produced in Canada, or published elsewhere but of special interest or significance to Canada, such as those having a Canadian writer, illustrator or subject." The site hosts a review by Mary Thomas of the ECW Press book, Susanna Moodie: a Life written by Michael Peterman. The review begins with this excerpt: "While her husband was thus engaged [in attempting to find an affordable farm in the vicinity of Coburg], Susanna endured her 'unpleasant' residence in the crowded 'house of public entertainment' as best she could. With leisure and..."

For those interested in downloading and reading the full text of Roughing It In The Bush click here.

FEMINISTS: In the zeitgeist of the times, Susanna Moodie displayed a civic mindedness that went beyond the kitchen and parlour. Her anti-slavery activity was up-front. Her loving and lasting relationship with her sister, Catherine Parr Traill, all speaks of a woman who lived life head-on, and transcended. If she’s good enough for Margaret Atwood, she’s good enough for all feminists.

MULTICULTURALISTS: This is the story of an immigrant, with nostalgia, miseries, significant joys, but especially as a role model, not only surviving, but thriving, transcending. She stood for freedom, individual equality, expressed in her anti-slavery work.

POETS/WRITER: Let’s face it, her stuff is not the quality to find parking space in the Oxford Concise Anthology of English Poetry. Her value is literate observation of her life within the time and place she found herself. Nevertheless, she chose poetry as a vehicle of expression, and she was not without some competence – bits o poesie. If she was able to inspire Margaret Atwood, then she should writely inspire the members of the Cobourg Poetry Workshop.

Why, she’s almost a leftist’s dream come true, except that she’s white skinned & Anglo, but then again, she’s a dead white poet, so that should even things out. But then again, she’s Christian, and we know how too many of them are regarding abortion, euthanasia, birth control, and other human rights, etc. But then again, check it out, Ms Moodie did not address any of these issues – she`s clean.

She certainly deserves to have her name attached to something in Cobourg. Unlike Belleville, which has a Susanna Moodie Elementary School, Cobourg has been inclined traditionally to name its public buildings after politicians or administrators. Part of the good ole boys payoff honour. Bureaucratic inbreeding. Bureaucraps and adminiscastrators are not an inspiring lot.

Irving Layton Library. Perhaps a bit too rich for Cobourg. Keep it local and call it Susanna Moodie Library. What are the connections?:
1. Moodie writes & gets published in London & New York.
2. Moodie is well-known in the Canadian literati.
3. Moodie has a very local connection.
4. Moodie is Canadian culture.
Cobourg preferred to be inspired, and named it Local High School Principal Library.

One day, in 1965, a high school principal called me into his office; made me an offer: cut your hair, or I deny you an education at this school. So I cut my hair and got an education – the unintended one.

Historically, Cobourg politicians, have been culturally illiterate. The only reason Cobourg has a Birthplace of Marie Dressler is because of the work of a private individual. Is there a Marie Dressler Street? Council after Council after Council of cultural illiterates preferred naming streets after themselves as politicians/businessmen/administrators. That is what passes as hand-me-down culture by the good ole boys of Cobourg Councils. Old codgers marking turf, making a lasting impression; their stains are a public display of mediocrity on most street corners in Cobourg.

Go to any European community and you will find streets, avenues, blocks, parks, subway stations, etc named after their culturati; composers, artists, poets, writers, the creative class. Yes, there was the usual crap of politicians and generals on horseback extolling themselves, but there was room for cultural honours. In Cobourg, the good ole boys don't know culture from a Philistine sinkhole. Sadly, English teachers and English dep'ts of Cobourg schools have little cultural depth or spine to promote a local literary icon of national significance. It's actually quite pathetic, tragic, and worst of all, typical. No wonder poetry has become nothing more than an obscure parlour act with the pizzazz of porridge. If it's not poetent, it's not poetry.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Click on image to enlarge
This is the first clear cut evidence that the imagine nation of the Peoples Republic of Poetry (PRP) was behind the textual assault of Cobourg's east pier.
Robert R. Mason found a crumbled piece of paper littering the west pier and immediately turned it over to the local dissidents. It appears that the PRP had been documenting its operation, which is part of a long serving program called Watch Your Words.
The photo shows the shipping container blocks that had been unloaded onto the pier during the night, with no other purpose than to be photodocumented as soon as possible in the daylight, then to disappear, ephemera. The PRP moves all its supplies around the world in container blocks, a practice it has been doing for the past 25 years. It is a proprietary system called Child's Play.
It is not often that the PRP is clumsy in its operations. They have been known for their stealth and dedication to details.
Below is a digitally enhanced picture of the textual assault that occurred on Cobourg's east pier.

Wally Keeler, a unit of verse of the universe, asserted that the photo "could well have been planted there by an agent of the pulp friction industry, with the purpose of stalling the momentum of the current Watch Your Words pogrom."

The Minister With Poetfolio declined to comment on the photo-find as we went to blog.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


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Click on image to enlarge
"It was so easy; almost without effort; life wiped out like that. There's something psychopathic about it" said Doug Curran.

"It looks so casual, like the dismissive gesture of a royal hand," declared Terry Woolf.

It was unrelenting. No sooner was LIFE engraved onto the face of the earth, when a wavelength tongue licked it away. It was so natural, so organic, so lethal," said Wally Keeler.