Category Archives: aw… poop

RIP Poetry Angel: for Marty Kruse

I’ve been avoiding my blog because I don’t know what to say. The usual stuff has been superseded by a friend’s death. My throat hurts when I try to speak. I’ve been floating around my day in a sad happy sad.

Life is so amazing right now. I’m living my dream. And yet, underneath it all is a current of sadness for friends and family lost. Each new one reminds me of the others until I go all the way down the line to a boy from my high school who died of cancer. JD was the first friend of mine to die. We had barely graduated.

My Seattle poetry posse has lost a second member. Both to cancer. The first was poet and videographer Gabrielle Bouliane. A few days ago, we lost dear poetry angel, Marty Kruse. He was the kind of guy who would literally give you the shirt off his back. Or the shoes from his feet. He did all the books and merch for our poetry events, and selflessly helped out the community in any way he could. He was an organizer, a rabblerouser, and a big softie at heart.

He and Gabrielle were friends and the three of us were friends and we all ran around in the same circle of friends. It seems like the Seattle Poetry Scene circa 1993-2003 should have a name – the SOMETHING decade – because it feels like a piece of history. For those of you who were there, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe it starts earlier than that, but around 2003 many of us evacuated the area or started other lives.

But we’ve always remained connected. They were formative years. Creative and dramatic. We wrote and performed poetry with and for and through and against each other. A dysfunctional family that loved each member for the part he or she played in it all. We’d seen each other at our best, and seen each other at our worst. We loved each other because of, not in spite of.

When we lose someone, it reverberates through all of us and we are once again connected to and through that scene.

That’s how I’ve always felt, at least. And then I saw this lovely note from Marty himself. He must have written it years ago. This was posted by his friend Marie on a FB page of “Marty Stories.” It’s his entry in her junior high graduation book.

Life is just too short for anyone in our circle of friends. In the event that, God forbid, that any of us depart, we shall not perform the same way. Our circle is unbreakable.

I guess he’s always been the kind of guy to connect a circle of friends.

Marty, man, cheers to you. You done real good.

(and if you ever need a motivational kick in the ass, watch Gabrielle Bouliane’s last live reading. yeah.)

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Mid-Week Mourning Poem (for Victor Gato)

I haven’t posted in so long I think the three people who actually read my posts have probably given up on me. I guess I’ll have to make some new friends.

If you are new here, hi, hello. I generally leave a weekend writing exercise at the end of the week and post a new piece of writing at the beginning of the week, but today I’m bringing you a mid-week exercise and a poem.

One of the reasons I haven’t blogged in a while is because my cat was very sick and it became clear several days ago that he wasn’t going to make it. It was that delicate time when one has to decide in the cat’s best interests rather than one’s own. It was time to let him go.

I find the periods of my life when I am in mourning to be inspiring creatively. In particular for poetry and song. Emotional pain might not feel “good” – but it’s powerful stuff. I’ve learned to just be in it.

This week the workout is to write a “3-Stage Mourning Poem.” By “stage” I basically mean stanza. With each stanza, you need to “switch direction” but keep them related.

If you aren’t mourning a person or a pet right now, mourn anything. A plant, a favourite pair of shoes, your youth, your favourite restaurant, your ignorance, your idealism . . . whatever, just pick something to mourn.

Most importantly: bring in TANGIBLES. Familiar things we can see, hear, touch, etc. We so often feel pain when we see objects or hear songs that remind us of our loved ones. Show us those objects, weave them into the poem. If you start to get abstract, bring it back down.

And BTW, It doesn’t have to be a serious poem. (or piece of prose for you prose peeps out there)

In Mourning Cats

I know many cats in heaven.
All grandparents, a dad, cousin-in-law, acquaintance,
and at least three friends.
I may know two mice, if mice go to heaven
but my thought is mice
get an automatic rebound
back to the material world maybe
in the form of squirrels

They say cats have nine lives and I believe it.
Once you get to be a cat in heaven
you get to choose your next life.
That’s why cats always act like they own the place
because they do and when they commune with the mother ship
we are the butt of their jokes
how we suffer
how we break our hearts
how they just walk off in the middle of the night
without so much as au revoir

merci

We get close to the void
and write poems about getting close to the void.
Death makes us narrative.
We need to tell it straight
so family members can slip into the words
weave through remnants of troubled dreams
the stories weighing us
like magnetic ghosts

Victor Gato (1995 - 2011)

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Filed under aw... poop, poetry, random poop, weekend workout, writing exercises

for Gabrielle Bouliane (1966-2010)

Gabrielle’s last live reading.

The poem below is the best I can do right now… and it doesn’t feel like enough. How, ever, can words communicate what is ripped from the heart. I feel like I should watch this video every day, so that I remember how to live.

for Gabrielle Bouliane
(1967 – 2010)

you disappear on a full wolf moon but not really
in the age of a technology you shaped from, created you
send messages across miles and friends echo
that feisty stance, fiery angel,
oh, poet, gift-giver, love-master, my hours
in your presence are locked, sealed and
delivered  – – my dream-memory
days and nights spent on projects for literary minds
together building a factory to keep those hearts alive
smoke breaks outside the office in rusty Seattle
mother hens to spoiled wordsters all worth
while, our while, through earthquakes and madness
and divorces and spilled salt
we know life turns, tears, surprises for the
girls next door, tomboys and hippies and
drive, you had it, rode long highways, following
a bliss only shadowed by your gracious love

I can’t say good-bye, not here, not now
not with those wide-eyes in mine —

I’ll see you backstage, poet, that’s a promise
and meanwhile, this light you lit, I’ll shine.

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Filed under aw... poop, every day angels, music / poetry videos, poetry, spokenword, truth and beauty

Artless PSA by BC Filmmaker

It’s happening across north america, the tendency to let arts funding go (in schools, in our cities) when in an economic crunch because it isn’t deemed vital to society. Here in BC the government has been steadily making ridiculous cuts to arts funding and will continue to do so over the next few years.

This is so short-sighted on so many levels. Not even taking into consideration how art enriches our lives, the arts and cultural sectors and B.C.’s creative industries generate $5.2 billion each year and employ 78,000 people. I’m one of them. And so are most of my friends.

What kind of mixed-message is BC sending when in its bid for the 2010 Olympics, our government boasted about our province’s vibrant arts and culture scene?

A friend of mine, director Kryshan Randel, created this beautiful piece to demonstrate, visually, what an artless life would be like:

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Blake Snyder – R.I.P.

If you haven’t heard yet, screenwriting guru Blake Snyder died of a heart attack yesterday. He was best known for his Save the Cat books and workshops.

The news is so strange to me, so unexpected. First of all, he was still pretty young. I have many friends around his age. But also, he has been so present in conversations lately. I just saw him at the PitchFest in L.A. and we were talking about brining him up to Vancouver for PitchMarket. He was one of the most popular screenwriting teachers out there.

save the cat

save the cat

I had some personal differences with some of the things in he said in his book, but he had some excellent pre-writing and writing exercises. He also inspired thousands of writers and not many out there can say that. He was also a genuinely nice man.

Someone on his website commented that they would dive with renewed passion into their own scripts in his honour. I will do the same. Here’s to you, Blake!

Best wishes to his family and friends. Losing a loved one is never easy.

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