Tag Archives: language

We all love poetry…don’t we! This little one is called……………..the name

the name

Identity has been watered down for me
In these names they have called for me
Like a thousand yellow birds that have been laid down
On the sea

A white sheet shifts over top
Every wing holds another
Every wing sways to a dancing weight of body and bone
And my blood knows my name
And my blood knows your name
And my blood dances
Like weight

And my name sinks under earth
And my name vanishes in air
It will not meet the throats of many

My name has country, body, blood, time
I want them to stumble over and see

I cannot get over this
I cannot let this sit forever
It is thrashing in the stomach

Let my body fall
And let that body be beautiful through fall and when limp

The most beautiful

Will you gather to hear my name whispered past dead lips
Will hundreds kneel; their hair a silken blanket
Will hundreds crawl, knees bloodied
Waiting for a name past lips lost


a little poem – UNTITLED

see these bones

feel these bones

touch these bones

test these bones

teach these bones

break these bones

suck these bones

taste these bones

memories from the Toronto Hospital for the Insane



Artwork from Nuit Blanche exhibition
“In SANITY”, The Story Behind The Wall
Presented by Workman Arts Project Ontario

This sculpture was done by Annalise and is based on the profile of Cynthia H. a patient who was held in the Toronto Asylum for the Insane from 1904 – 1909

All works were based on patient bios from Geoffrey Reaume’s book Remembrance of Patients Past.

Cynthia H.’s fallopian tubes, uterus and one ovary were removed while at the hospital. At the time doctors believed that a woman could be cured of ‘insanity’ by removing her reproductive organs.

All sculptural works at the exhibition reminded me of each individuals struggle but also identified them very specifically as personalities. Each work appeared as an homage to the person being depicted.

for the images in your head listen to the sounds in my throat

A video I made a few years ago with 3 youtube parts. After re-visiting I realize its extremely eery aspects couched in nostalgia.

The same video can be seen in one unbroken 17 minute stream here. For some reason the videoplayer wasn’t embedding into my blog. The quality is better as well.

Ira Glass on building a story

I found these videos on YouTube and I think they’re a really helpful resource. Ira Glass is one of my favorite storytellers.

Tom Waits –CONNECTION– sailboat home & abandoned Mexican bay

probably my favorite Tom Waits song–Small Change

Phosphorescent’s bubble and boil around my mother’s undecipherable body emerging from the ocean and onto the sailboat. My eyes zigzag upwards until they reach a starry Mexican sky. Beside me my mothers satisfying sigh is muffled by a towel. I bring a glass of water to my lips. I start taking in a large gulp and then spit it back into the cup. In a jabbing motion my arm extends forward dumping the contents of the glass into the ocean. Using as much strength as I can muster my intention is to create a giant neon explosion. Water hits water, sparkles pop and fade very quickly. My mother heads down to help with dinner.

The 42’ sailboat I stand on is named Dumela and is the home of family friends. It would be my home for a few weeks in the summer of ‘94. It has been a memorable experience so far, snorkeling above Manta Rays and enjoying campfires on deserted beaches on the northwest Mexican coastline.

Music swirls upwards from the Galley. I make my way down. Everyone is sitting down to eat and listening to Graceland. By now I know every single word to every song on this album. While eating, I twist my torso and mumble along with PAUL SIMON. Tommy, one of our hosts on Dumela, gets up and moves towards the stereo. “I have something you guys have to listen to,” he says.

“No, no. Can we wait until the end of the song,” I complain.

“You can listen to it another time,” my father chimes in.

After a little fumbling we hear the high-pitched sound of a CD swirling around. This is followed by the tired sway of a piano. The music continues and a low-gravely voice asserts itself.

The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York, the jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut, and the spotlight looks like a prison break
And the telephone’s out of cigarettes, and the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking…

I’ve always been an especially attentive listener of lyrics and his are hard to ignore. The album cover is passed around. TOM WAITS, Small Change. I look across the table at my dad. He’s leaning against a cushion, arms extended in front of him. Looking up, his eyes are as wide as mine, even wider. He laughs, “This is great”. I think to myself ‘How did my father not know about this musician? Why wasn’t I aware of Mr. Tom Waits?’ Up until that point my father was my music guru. Everything he listened to, it was certain I would enjoy. Now I knew he was missing out on way too much. Mr. Waits continues. His music is gritty and honest his words nostalgic. On every note you can hear the heavy dip and sway of his heart just sitting there matter-of-factly, hanging out through an entire song.

After that night I listened to The Piano Has Been Drinking enough times to almost memorize the song and then enough times to piss-off everyone else on the boat. I have since moved on to more songs but my bias cannot be hidden. My favorite TOM WAITS album is still Small Change.

I dream of seeing a Tom Waits concert simply to listen to his captivating stories.

The Click Song by Miriam Makeba — CONNECTION — Mom & Miriam help me master the click in ‘Xhosa’

The Click Song sung my Miriam Makeba. Another one of my favorites; where did that naughty little flea go…huh?

Tongue reaches for roof of mouth, flicks forward as other letters tumble out through vocal strings. I’ve almost mastered the pronunciation of Xhosa. Once again, tongue suctions to roof of mouth and snaps down, over and over again. Xhosa, Xhosa, Xhosa. I ask my mother to repeat the name of this language I am currently obsessed with. The Xh is like a wet snap in the mouth, o sounds like aaaahhhhhh this is finally followed by sa.

Before attending an all-white boarding school and before being fully introduced into the absurd world of segregated South Africa my mother grew up on a farm surrounded by these sounds, by these clicks. Like most white and therefore privileged South Africans of the time my grandparents had help on the farm. This came from a Xhosa family who lived there and whose children were my mothers friends until it was time to be whisked away to not an entirely different world but to one in which the rules and laws of the land were explicitly made clear by new authority figures.

We’re on a short drive to the bottom of Smithers ski hill in northern BC, Canada. I ask mom to say the words once more “say it again, say it again.” I am so close but my mother has tuned out, tired of my demands. We have about 10 minutes before we arrive at our destination, just enough time for Miriam to chime in on the lesson. “Okay fine,” I say “can we listen to The Click song then.” My parents continue talking. “The Click song,” I repeat firmly. Mom leans forward and presses play, her back tense with irritation.
Miriam begins:

In my native village in Johannesburg there is a song that we always sing when a young girl gets married.
It’s called The Click Song by the English because they cannot say ngqothwane.

The song starts and one line is repeated:
Igqira lendlela nguqo ngqothwane
Igqira lendlela nguqo ngqothwane

I focus on these two lines every time they come up in the chorus. Meandering around my mouth my tongue begins its gymnastics. Clicks are thrown here and there bouncing around the car as it swerves between white cold stuff stuck to the sides of the road. My shoulders bop up and down. We are almost there, not quite enough time to press repeat or to prepare myself for cold, blizzards and downhill.

And finally, I cannot end this post without a brief Xhosa lesson.