Tag Archives: poetry

Slammin’ with Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie

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Reid Dickie

To end the week of slam poets I’ll feature two Winnipeg poets, Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie, info on local slam events in 2015 and finish with Andrea Gibson who was the inspiration for this series.


Click her pic for Kayla Fraser to perform The Poetry Game.

Winnipeg Poetry Slam has a new home at the Winnipeg Poetry Project which will hold the second of four events to determine the local slam poets that go to the nationals. The event is Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at the West End Cultural Centre. Sign-in 7:15. Slam 8:00. Details are available. You can see a tally of the top slam poets and their point totals on the site, videos and audio tracks of poets performing and an application form if you want to prowl the stage and share your wisdom.

Another event under the auspices of the Winnipeg Poetry Project is the annual Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, June 10 to 13, 2015 at the Gas Station Theatre. Details as they emerge.

A collaborative project called F-Wordz combining performing poets and filmmakers is evolving to its May 3, 2015 competition at the Park Theatre. The Winnipeg Film Group offers info.


Steve Currie is vying for a spot on Winnipeg’s Slam Team this year and reads a work pulled from today’s headlines about Manitoba’s 10,000 foster children. Click his pic to watch Steve perform To Whom It May Concern.

I recently discovered the performance poetry of Andrea Gibson and posted about her. Her work inspired my explorations of current slam poetry resulting in this series. To end off, two poems by Andrea Gibson. Click pic to watch her perform Prism

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Click pic for her performance of Panic Button Collector

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 What’s this series about?

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Slam Poetry

Andrea Gibson, Poet

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Reid Dickie

UPDATE: Andrea Gibson is performing in Winnipeg on Saturday June 27, 2015 at the Good Will Social Club, 625 Portage Ave. Tickets are $20. 

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your back pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
And when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
And postcards saying
Wish you were here

That is how Andrea Gibson’s poem Photograph begins. Listen to her read the whole thing.

From her websiteAndrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led her to the forefront of the spoken word movement – the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam – Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

I came across Andrea’s work recently while downloading some sound poetry. Her written words are provocative but it’s her inspiring spoken performances that give them vivid freshness. Her thoughts bombard you with a stimulating flurry of intelligence and awareness, as effective poetry should. Listen to her poem Stay.

YouTube has many videos of Andrea’s performances. This one is called Jellyfish. Click pic.

andrea vid

Andrea is currently on a North American tour which moves to Europe in the spring.

  • She performs in Toronto, ON on February 3, 2015 at a free show at Lunik Co-Op, Glendon College.
  • On February 17, 2015 she’s at Alix Goolden Performance Hall in Victoria, BC. Tickets available through her website.
  • On April 4, 2015 she’s back for the Toronto Poetry Slam at Bloor Cinema. For tickets contact info@torontopoetryslam.com

Andrea’s website is http://www.andreagibson.org/

Two more readings by Andrea to finish off: Asking Too Much and Say Yes.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Art, Inspiration, Truth, Wisdom

Oasis In Space – Found Sound Poetry and Video

        Reid Dickie

And the big Mississippi
and the town Honolulu
and the lake Titicaca,
the Popocatepetl is not in Canada,
rather in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Yes, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet,
Nagasaki! Yokohama!
Nagasaki! Yokohama!

Snapshot 5 (10-11-2014 2-48 PM)So begins Ernst Toch‘s fanciful sound poem Geographical Fugue composed entirely of world place names. Toch was a prolific Austrian composer of classical music and film scores who endeavored to stretch the boundaries of music. He’s credited with singlehandedly inventing an idiom called Spoken Chorus which combines the spoken word and music creating a new form of expression. Geographical Fugue, written in 1930, caused a sensation when it was first performed and remains Toch’s most performed work even though he dismissed it as unimportant. Snapshot 1 (10-11-2014 2-44 PM)

The piece strictly follows the form of the fugue with four voices entering one at a time: tenor, alto, soprano, bass. The basic structure is that of the canon or round (Row, row, row your boat) resulting in unexpected rhythms and harmonies. Composers John Cage and Henry Cowell translated the poem from its original German.

Snapshot 2 (10-11-2014 2-45 PM)I combined Toch’s sound poetry with footage taken of the earth from the International Space Station and offered with annotations by NASA.

I found both the sound and vision at www.archive.org. Click any picture to watch my 3 minute video.

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Filed under 1930s, Guff, video art

The Lonesomes #7 – Old Friends

Snapshot 1 (06-02-2012 1-45 PM)

Click the pic to watch The Lonesomes #7 – 4:07

Old Friends

Rusty old farm equipment suddenly spouts poetry.

Reid Dickie



Well, old friend, looks like we got through another summer without having to do a speck of work. How about that!


How many summers is it that we haven’t worked?


I lost track but I’m still tired. It sure is good not to have to pull a plough anymore.


You like just rusting away up here with this great view of the prairie and the highway, don’t you, old tugger?


I do, I love it. My tuggin’ days are long over. I pulled everybody and everything back and forth across hot dusty fields and down skinny little roads through the bush. I pushed snow away so everyone could move again. I pulled ploughs, harrows, wagons, stoneboats, binders, horses and wagons out of mires, big blocks of ice from the slough for the icebox, ha, I even pulled you a time or two, old thresher pal.


You did and you were strong and eager. Then they bought The Big Horse, as they called it, and you tugged other stuff after that. The Big Horse did most of my pulling. I mostly just sat there and let my gears tickle me once I was in action. But you were a strong tugger, my friend.


I had some fine metal days, didn’t I?


That you did.


You had your share of heroic days in the field, too.


Those times in late summer

when the heat was still on the land and the crop came in early,

those days, driven by more horsepower than I needed,

surrounded, serviced and fed by dozens of broad sweating men,

each trying to precisely match my abilities to reap,

to separate the seed from the stalk,

the gold from the grip

and deliver it

en masse

into a hopper,

the rich harvest bestowed.

I yearned all year for those weeks of thrilling work,

the rhythmic whine of the belt from the power takeoff of The Big Horse

playing counterpoint to the chugging beat of my cogs, gears and pulleys,

the dry shouts of the men feeding me the harvest,

the erotic embrace of virgin grain against polished metal,

that was my moment,

my bliss.


So that’s what you’ve been ruminatin’ about! You are a poet!


I am! I am the cutting edge of rusty and irrelevant farm machinery poetry which is rapidly taking over from cowboy poetry as the true voice of the prairie wind. Would you like to hear more?


I very much would and, hopefully, shall.


Indeed, you shall.

That small sound we both know so well,

it is the creep and peel of The Rust.

The Rust, The Rust, it rules us now.

Day and night, through every season,

subtle but unstoppable against the breeze and the dawn,

The Rust is omnipresent,

like God,

etching away at us.

We flake into the grey fall grass,

shatterings of us glint on cold snow and are buried,

only to glint again in spring turnings.

We are the hilltop beasts of burden,

brazen against the whip of the northerlies in January,

snapping in the August heat like brittle controlled insects

and always,

always the shedding,

the shedding Rust

speaking in its wee, timorous voice.


I can hear The Rust right now. (PAUSE) And I’m still tired.”


Character Backstory

As the scene indicates this is a modern conversation between an old threshing machine and an old tractor, both from the early part of the 1900s. The tone here is light and jovial, familiar, sincere and endearing.

The two male voices sound old and tired but the thresher, having a poetry mission, is more cheerful and slightly more energetic than the tractor who is just plain tired. They’ve literally been put out to pasture, relegated to a rise with a view of the asphalt highway below in one direction and miles of monoculture spreading away to the horizon in the other. The two old machines have witnessed vast changes in farming, suggested by mention of The Big Horse which describes a new and large tractor, an increase in the scale and speed of farming.

Both machines are sincere in their comments and accolades about each other; their individual triumphs in the field are noted with understanding and kindness.

Thresher delivers the poetry professionally with perfect inflection and phrasing. He wraps you in his voice and holds you there. After the last poem, Tractor becomes rather wistful which is soon overwhelmed by his ongoing tiredness.

My dear friend Chris Scholl masters the voice of Tractor and I’m Thresher.


 Location Information

I found this location along Manitoba Highway #3 just west of Cartwright. I was struck by the positioning of the old thresher and tractor in relation to each other, the sky and the rolling land around. The highway runs by at the bottom of the rise.

This is a site I shot twice. Just as post production began, at Kevin Uddenberg’s urging, I re-shot the machinery one afternoon using the classic film language angles we know as cinematic conversation. It worked very well. The high contrast in the wide two-shot is intentional to make the close-up pans more intriguing. I lucked out with the abundant swallows sailing about on my second shoot.  

On the second shoot I ran into the land owner whose permission I had not sought. He and his wife, Randy and Donna Pawich, were just curious about what I was doing. I talked to them about my heritage interests, leaving the story of The Lonesomes untold. They were friendly people and I’m sure they will enjoy the story I attached to their old equipment.

Creating the rust sound was a problem during the recording of The Lonesomes. I had a mental sound of the rust but didn’t know how to produce it. Finally I recorded the dragging of a metal rod over a concrete floor and slowed it down. Voila! The sound of rust!

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Filed under Prairie People, The Lonesomes, video art


Reid Dickie

Often, when Mom, Dad and me would go for drives to visit relatives, usually never more than an hour and half away, Mom would regale Dad and I with a spontaneous story. Her imagination was so quick and bright that she could spin a verbal yarn that lasted exactly the length of time it took to drive to Brandon or Dauphin or Hartney with the denouement happening just as we drove into the driveway. She even did various voices and accents if The Muse was being especially kind to her that day. Amazing!

         One of her recurring  stories followed the adventures of the Jones Girls, four sisters who lived on a horse ranch in Kentucky. Partially based on one of her lifelong friends, May Lee Scott, episodes of the Jones Girls never failed to compel, excite and stimulate us as we rode across the wide Canadian prairies in our little Chevy.

          I owe the vast majority of my creativity to Mom and her unabashed connection to The Muse which, along with car ride stories, spawned quirky short stories, poetry and even radio station contest jingles which she frequently won. I can think of a vacuum cleaner and a set of dishes we used for years that Mom won in a contest on CKDM Dauphin or CKX Brandon.

      This is a short poem about bachelors Mom wrote and sent in to a CKDM contest that won the set of dishes:

Why bachelors some men stay, that is the question of the day?

I humbly submit this little jingle, to tell you why I think men stay single.

They value most their independence, they shun the confines of a woman’s tendance

Some claim an unrequited love! Others a lack of God’s gifts from above!

But I still say they just want to be free. PS Thank goodness one changed his mind and married me!

         She was a teacher mom who’d graduated Normal School in 1932, taught during the Dirty Thirties and on into wartime while Dad was overseas during WWII. Though beset with frequent migraine headaches, Mom was well read, funny and worked part-time as a teacher’s sub, salesperson and postal clerk. She organized a book club in the little town which allowed me access to adult authors like Robert Ruark, Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey and Leon Uris. I remember struggling to understand their syntax and their meaning.

       Mom’s gift to me is the gift of the gab, as the adage says. In print, in person, on tape, on the air the gift translates through media and every time refers back to Mom’s original present to me. I am so grateful to her for this wonderful legacy. I only wish she could have had a computer to easily spell out her stories as I spell out mine. I can only imagine what tales might have arisen from her if she’d had a Dell instead of a sewing machine.

Mom died eighteen years ago today. She died exactly as she wanted to – in the little hospital in the town where she’d lived for 36 of her 80 years with her family around her, natural causes her final diagnosis. I thank her daily for the creative wonders she passed along to me. Today Mom, I offer you  special thanks for everything you gave me and everything you taught me. I am filled with gratitude. I love you. Reid

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Filed under Family, Love, Passages