Walks, melt, poems

In the fall, I placed a poem by Bob Hogg in a spot near a fenceline along the Scotch Line trail that runs between Kemptville and Merrickville. The poem sits near an extended patch of dolomite limestone and edges a fence line with oak, scrub, and hawthorne. It’s about 1 km past the info cairn on the Merrickville side. About a month or so ago, after a few days of mild winter weather, I accessed the trail from Donahue Road — it’s about an 8-10 km hike. I’d walked some of it the weekend earlier from the Merrickville side, when everything was frozen. This time, those puddles were now in a state of slush or soft enough to crack if I walked on them. I was curious to see how the poem, “Circles”, had fared over the winter.

There’s a large tract of land that encloses the trail — in the 1980’s Limerick Forest, a managed forest (and hunting) area, was created from abandoned farms and homesteads. It is now quite a large tract of land that includes a variety of wetlands, and the railway cuts through part of it. A train did come through carrying freight and blowing its whistle; its movement and sound blocked my ability to listen for or to anything else for about 10 minutes. It was very disconcerting to not be able to hear a thing but for the whistle and sound of wheels on track. It was a quiet day for sound, otherwise, most of what I heard before and after the train were chipmunks or chickadees. I could hear activity from woodpeckers (likely downy and/or hairy), and I startled a ruffed grouse. Visually, I was also following animal tracks that paralleled the trail — deer and coyote. There is talk of the Eastern Cougar inhabiting the area, some say yes, others, no — regardless, I’d prefer not to run into one of those or have one follow me.

It’s a lovely walk — there are side paths that lead toward the Wolford Bog, once you’re over the tracks; large erratics; evidence of homesteads through either the landscape formation, remains of foundations, or piled stone.  Bob’s a well-known poet who lives in the general area, however, he’s also well known for his organic farming/milling and wholesale organics business (which he still has a hand in but has retired from). His poems are sensitive to felt spaces, or work within/alongside felt spaces; they are carefully crafted, often having an inherent rhythm and an accessible narrative core that transition into singular or particular concepts. His critical eye is very reliable and his stylistic sense wide-ranging. above/ground press recently re-issued his chapbook Lamentations; he has several books that are worthwhile finding.

I had to cross a section of trail that runs between a marsh that, forming a creek on the other side, runs into another marsh. It was flooded, so I sloshed across, quite pleased at the rate of water flow  into the small creek, as well as the sound of it. Once I’d crossed this section, I ran into people — small groups of families, teens, walkers with dogs. The creek was the natural border that the walkers did not cross. From nobody to about 20 — this section of trail probably has the most regular walkers in relation to the other trails that host footpress poems. “Circles” was still there, too —when I first planted it, I wasn’t able to embed it too deeply into soil because of the rock beneath. It is held securely by a pile of stones, shallowly piled, around the base. The poem seems planted securely enough, but it seems as though the sheet of plywood and plexi has been twisted a bit, has loosened. The poem, however, is in good shape, regardless.


What happens when

What happens to the poems in rout/e is somewhat unknown, once I’ve planted them along the trails. There have been times when they’ve been far enough away (or in a direction I don’t go very often) that I haven’t returned to them for a year or two. I’ve commented in a low-key way before about this. For the most part, the poems stand up very well in all types of weather, but the most predictable component of this footpress is the unpredictable. Kudos and appreciations to the poets who are willing to contribute a poem that might become destroyed or, with weathering and other conditions, change. Because each ‘planting’ is made up of 5-10 poems only, and they’re spread out on various trails, the readability of the poems is subject to the numbers of folks who use the trails – and, honestly, on some trails that won’t be a lot of folks. A few times, the poem has been destroyed or changed – by paintballs or removal – but a few other times, some unknown person has been a ‘caretaker’ for the poem. This has happened to angela rawlings’ “The Great Canadian”; Amanda Earl’s “until even now” and, more recently, Jason Christie’s “Trail”.

angela rawlings‘ “The Great Canadian” has been detailed in the link above – and recently was rendered into a incredibly lovely chapbook by Michael Flatt of Low Frequency Press. Amanda Earl‘s “until even now” was placed beside a beaver pond in Marlborough Forest, surrounded by wild strawberries and a fringe of trees. When I walked by it in the fall, the stake for the poem was absent and someone had placed her poem in a tree, visible, but safe. Amanda and I have collaborated on a video-poem, which is available on Vimeo, using an image or two of her poem, as well as open source images and clips.

Jason Christie‘s contribution, “Trail”, was placed in Merrickville, Ontario in fall of 2015. A few weekends ago I walked along a corduroy road/track from Scotch Line to Merrickville, passing by rout/e contributions by Bob Hogg and bruno neiva, respectively (more on those in another post soon), and came upon Christie’s poem. It had been moved from its former site, which would have just edged the flood zone in spring melt. I found it on higher ground, lying  near a tree on higher ground. It had not been damaged; it could not have been planted because the ground was frozen, so someone had placed “Trail”on the ground with its plexi-face facing down. I stood the poem upright again against the tree – and, because I think there might be an Easter gathering somewhere near that point this year, wonder what will happen next. Attached to the poem via a q-code is a link to this: https://jasonchristie.bandcamp.com/album/trailing. For a couple of years now, some of the poems have been accompanied by a q-code that links to a sonic piece of the poet’s choice. Christie’s poetry is enjoyable to read –  carefully crafted with a clear line of wit. above/ground press recently published his chapbook, The Charm.


I placed Christine LeClerc’s “echoherence” in the fall, slightly off the track that used to lead to a  train station on Bedell Road; the track cuts west-ish through carefully cultivated agricultural lands from the Kemptville Agricultural College and then runs south, edging the margin of forest and a small wetland that I haven’t yet explored. On walks through this area, at dusk, I have been sure I’ve heard the sound of dogs barking off in an rural estate style development, but after stopping to think about it, have recognized the sounds as that of owls, and not that far off. Acoustically, this section is quite rich a variety of calls in different seasons, or the sounds of wind or water movements. Often, especially in winter, footprints indicate that deer cross the track, entering in and out of the wetland and other places; this winter I saw mink and squirrel prints that crossed each other. Possibly there are bears somewhere in this section too, though they have rather vast ranges; there are certainly fox and coyote. The area hosts some rather large coyotes with whom I’ve crossed paths a few times now, either when riding my bike or on foot — once, a coyote paused, sitting, watching to see what I’d do, and another time a coyote crossed my path about five feet ahead of me with a long loping stride. I imagined, that time, that he/she had been sitting in the railway bed, blending in, the way a coyote will do. Rarely do I see others folks walking, although the track is well used; at times I use it to walk to Oxford Mills.

At the end of this track used to be a train station that would take folks from the area into Prescott or Ottawa. Friends who grew up in the area tell me that they used to take it when younger; at other points along the way you could apparently wait with your hankie and wave the train down.

Christine LeClerc’s contribution to rout/e comes from a collective glossary of ecological terms, edited by Linda Russo. Given the wendings of rout/e, I was appreciative of both Christine LeClerc’s contribution, and Russo’s overall project. Below is Russo’s introduction to her “Place-relation ecopoetics: A collective glossary”:

To be local is to be emplaced, to pertain to a particular site, to have spatial form. To “be a local” is to be from a here, but to be “local to” is to create a relation to a place, to create a notable here anywhere. “Local” from the Latin locus, meaning “place.” What lines of thought does poetry course along when written through/as relation(s) to place? How do poems articulate (conceive of, imagine, recreate) place as a site of relations? What forms of “local” do poems take?

Much of what might be gathered under the unfurled and unfurling banners of ‘ecopoetics’ expresses the complexity of speaking of (from/with) the human impacts on our (our/their) un/natural environments/ecologies. I’m interested in the gestures that relate poetries to places, and in how poets can help us comprehend and redefine our placed-ness and place-making practices. This commentary will index and explore more-or-less contemporary instances of emplaced poesis – of poetry as a form of inhabitance. (Russo: from the online contemporary poetics journal Jacket2).





trail markers and looking ahead

I’ve changed the site a wee bit – see Then another footprint

Poems by Christine LeClerc, Robert Hogg, Jordan Abel, Eric Magrane, Hiromi Suzuki, bruno neiva, Jason Christie, Steven Ward, and Jamie Reid are now posted!

There is a videopoem of Jamie Reid’s “Homage to Paul Éluard”.

Low Frequency Press published a lovely chapbook combining arawlings’ “The Great Canadian” and pieces from her forthcoming echolology with rout/e images.

& onward to 2016…

After a long summer, fall

I’ve mostly finished constructing the poems for rout/e and am planning the next phase, which is to place them along various trails I frequent. Today, Bob Hogg’s poem, “Circles” and Hiromi Suzuki’s poem, “A Swimmer” were placed along the Scotch Line Trail – an old railway bed that has been converted to a multi-use trail that runs east to west, and is accessible from Merrickville, or from Kemptville.

Bob’s poem is about 1.5 km east from the Merrickville entrance, fronting an oak tree, some hawthorne, and a few small yellow birch. The track shows abundant evidence of dolomite limestone – common in this area. An old cedar fence backgrounds the oak, and behind that, an unused field.

Hiromi’s poem lies alongside a track that connects to the Scotch Line trail; I have never seen the track dry. It’s a lovely spot.

I’ll post all pictures soon – once all of the poems are planted. Participants are: Robert Hogg, Hiromi Suzuki, Jordan Abel, Bruno Neiva, Jamie Reid, jwcurry, Christine LeClerc, Eric Magrane, Jason Christie, and Steven Ward.

Jamie Reid – Memorial Bench

Fine poet and friend Jamie Reid passed away suddenly, and too soon, in June. He is missed. Family and friends across many artistic and political communities are placing a bench and plaque in his honour at Stanley Park, in Vancouver. Here are some online readings of Jamie’s — from his completed and unpublished Fake Poemshttps://archive.org/details/WaxPoeticMay30JamieReid; from his book Prez, included as part of a documentary about Lester Young: https://lesterlives.wordpress.com.

Should you want to donate, or learn more, the details are below:

Memorial Bench and Plaque Jamie Reid 1941— 2015

To honour the life and legacy of Jamie Reid, a park bench will be dedicated in his memory. The bench will be located on the seawall in Stanley Park overlooking Burrard Inlet, and will bear a bronze plaque and dedication inscription in his name.

If you wish to contribute to the purchase of this memorial for Jamie, you can make a donation directly through the Vancouver Parks Board website. Go to the Donate Now page at http://donate.vancouver.ca/ and select Create a Designation. In the Designation field, select James Reid in Memory Fund.

More on rout/e

I’m working out the next rendition of rout/e; the stakes in the garage are going to have to sit out the winter. I think the next sequence of poems (spring/summer 2015) will have a slightly different design. I have a lovely poem by Jamie Reid, to replace the one that got taken; Steven Ward has given me a new piece, also — very pleasing to have one of Steve’s poems as he’s a very fine poet whose poetry is difficult to find. There’s no reason, either, why rout/e can’t split into a few additional versions…something in the works on that ~

Amanda Earl asked me to put together an essay for her Angelhouse Press. Amanda’s poem is one of the ones in Marlborough Forest. Someone mows around her poems, and there are wild strawberries at its base, too. The essay on some of what makes up rout/e is here: https://angelhousepress.com/essays/Chris_Turnbull_rout_e.pdf .