Finally, a feel-good story from the East! Moncton is “the place to be,”  says Canadian travel blogger Andrew Gunadie – Hurray! Down here, we all know that we live in a special place and I recently heard it said that ‘There’s the good times, the bad times and the Maritimes!”
But let’s start with a bit of background information. The first and the most famous travel writer was Herodotus, the Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC. The role of any travel writer, he said, “is to be the tourist’s perfect companion: to be articulate, well informed, a skilled raconteur; to include in what he tells [sic] a fair share of the unusual with a dash of the exotic; to tell it all with infinite zest.”  Gunadie has many of those qualities, he is articulate, engaging, charming, and I want to believe him. But there is something in his travel truth that made me pause. To say that the City of Moncton is the ‘place to be’ or not, is not the aim of my commentary. I am curious about the tone, the coverage of his story and ultimately what it says about us.
When I first saw Gunadie’s video, I was delighted. Imagine, my hometown was the best place to be! Joy! My second impression was more nuanced. There is something steering the clip that reads like an advertisement. Maybe the ‘place to be’ reminded me of the infamous New Brunswick licence plate tagline, the “Be … in this place”. I understand the necessity of naming things (cafés, pubs and restaurants), of speaking in clichés or memes (beach for oneself, beautiful sunset), but I believe that it is possible to write about a place without sounding like an ad.
A lot of travel writing is about selling something to someone, but it does not have to be like that. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Ernesto Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries are examples of two great works based on actual travel adventures. The genre continues to reinvent itself. In December 2016, Canadian Art Magazine awarded its Art Writing Prize to Calgary Art Critic, Ginger Carlson for her travel essay describing “a journey with artist Nicole Kelly Westman to former mining town Wayne, Alberta, to produce a new work.”
The script of Our Country: Gunnarolla on why Moncton is his favourite place could have been lifted from a Tourism New Brunswick brochure. It is all niceties, product-oriented and we heard it before:
The East Coast is where the friendliest people live Does anyone do seafood like the East Coast of Canada? Moncton is perfect for road trips Having a beach for oneself Amazing sunsets Walking ‘on the ocean floor’
This ‘walk on the ocean floor’ has been repeated like a mantra by the operators of the Hopewell Rocks as well as by the New Brunswick Department of Tourism. It is probably something that everybody in New Brunswick does in his or her sleep, but to talk about Hopewell Rocks without mentioning the recent collapse of the Elephant Rock, one of the more popular of the Flowerpot formations, is puzzling. Gunardie surely wants to focus solely on the positive.
The suspension of my belief came in a two-pronged realization. The first prong happened last month when the New Brunswick Department of Tourism announced that it was investing $1.1M for travel writers to promote tourism over the next 4 years. Could this Canadian Geographic feature be part of that program? The second prong came a few days ago, when CBC New Brunswick published an article about Gunardie’s video. When I saw the video on Facebook, I thought that it walked like an advertorial and it talked like an advertorial, so I thought that it was an advertorial, but it did not trouble me, as after all, it was on Facebook. But to see it on CBC News was like seeing a little red flag on the horizon. The question is, why would CBC News would cover an ad? It is important to distinguish between the genuine article and the advertorial. Otherwise, we should have news stories about Leon’s couches.
How we see ourselves is important to consider, how other people see us might be more crucial. Our enthusiastic reaction to the Gunardie’s story is natural, but our social identity and the positive emotions we experience from belonging to any social group, or place, must not be shaped by marketers alone. The book has already been written, it’s called: Tourism Marketing for Cities and Towns and chapter 3: Analyzing the City or Town as a Tourism Product offers food for thought.
Today is the 269th anniversary of Jeremy Bentham’s birth. And I wonder why Google did not create a Google-Doodle for the founder of modern utilitarianism.
In his studies of English law, he realized early on that it was not “what it was said to be; neither was it what it ought to be.” In the 1770s he described his despair and resolution:
“… I entered upon the task. I had been taught to believe both in print and in conversation that it is in [its] . . . several parts as beneficial to the people as the whole together is profitable to those who study it as a profession: that it is as near to perfection as any thing can be that is human; that if it has any imperfections, they are like spots in the sun, absorbed in the splendour of superior beauties. As I advanced every page I read seemed to furnish an exception to those general rules; till at last I began to be almost at a loss to conjecture upon what particular observations could have given occasion to these magnificent positions.
… I saw crimes of the most pernicious nature pass unheeded by the law: acts of no importance put in point of punishment upon a level with the most baneful crimes: punishments inflicted without measure and without choice: satisfaction denied for the most crying injuries: the doors of justice barred against a great majority of the people by the weight of wanton and unnecessary expense: false conclusions ensured in most questions of fact by hasty and inconsistent rules of evidence: light shut out from every question of fact by fantastic and ill consider’d rules of evidence: the business of hours spun out into years: impunity extended to acknowledged guilt and compensation snatched out of the hands of injured innocence by . . . impertinent & inscrutable exemption: the measure of decision in many cases unformed: in others locked up and made the object of a monopoly: the various rights and duties of the various classes of mankind jumbled together into one immense and unsorted heap: men ruined for not knowing what they are neither enabled nor permitted even to learn: and the whole fabric of jurisprudence a labyrinth without a clew. These were some of the abominations which presented themselves to my view . . . From the view … I confess resulted a passionate desire of seeing them done away.”
The Moncton Times and Transcript Entertainment, Saturday, January 28, 2017, p. E4
New Brunswick Art Bank acquisitions exhibition on until Feb. 6
Margaret Patricia Eaton
Every two years, the New Brunswick Art Bank presents a touring exhibition of its recent purchases. It opened at the Dieppe Arts & Culture Centre on Jan. 12 and will remain until Feb. 6, after which it moves on to Fredericton, Florenceville, Edmundston, St. Andrew’s, Saint John and Campbellton, wrapping up in October in Miramichi.
When the tour ends the 18 acquired works will become part of the permanent collection of the Province of New Brunswick, which was established in 1968 to celebrate and promote outstanding contemporary art. As such, they’ll be displayed in government offices, boardrooms and public spaces in provincial government buildings. Some of the works may also be included in the VanGo Program, a series of exhibitions which tours public schools throughout the province.
This biannual exhibition is one I enjoying as it provides an opportunity to see the work of artists from across the province. More than half of the artists represented 11 of 18 are from southeast New Brunswick, suggesting there is something special going on in the art scene in our region. Out of the five selection collection members only one is from Moncton, JeanDénis Boudreau.
The evening presented an opportunity for me to get caught up with some of the artists I’ve profiled in the past, including Dominik Robichaud, who’s completing her degree in art therapy and will be mounting a major exhibition at the Dieppe Arts & Culture Centre on Feb. 11. It was also an opportunity to meet other local artists that I knew of, but hadn’t met. As a result I was able to speak briefly with internationally acclaimed fibre artist Anna Torma and the multidisciplinary team of Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas, who told me about a recent journey to Kenya where they were invited to read poetry. I’m hoping that within the next few months I’ll have an opportunity to get to know them better and feature them here.
Marjolaine Bourgeois, Moncton, fibre arts, printmaking;
Marsha Clark, Fredericton, paint and mixed media on Mylar; Daniel H. Dugas, Moncton, literary arts, media arts, digital technology;
Alexandrya Eaton, Sackville, painting;
Paul Griffin, Sackville, sculpture/photography;
Denis Lanteigne, Caraquet, installations, photography;
André LaPointe, Moncton, sculpture/ land art, photography;
Valerie LeBlanc, Moncton, visual, film and digital arts;
Mario LeBlanc, Moncton, sculpture; Mathieu Léger, Moncton, photography, video and installation work; Ann Manuel, Fredericton/St. Andrew’s, multidisciplinary;
Paul Mathieson, Saint John, painting;
Shane PerleyDutcher, Nekootkook (Tobique) First Nation, weaving, wood carving, silver work; Dominik Robichaud, Moncton, painting;
Neil Rough, New Brunswick born, Torontobased, photography;
Karen Stentaford, Sackville, photography;
Anna Torma, Baie Verte, fibre arts;
Jennifer Lee Weibe, Fredericton, painter.
The Selection Committee
Ned Bear, Fredericton. During his 35year career as an Aboriginal artist, Bear has focused on contemporary interpretations of traditional spiritual beliefs as expressed through masks and sculptures. He is a graduate of the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design, NSCADU and UNB. He is also the recipient of a 2006 fellowship from the Smithsonian Institute.
JeanDenis Boudreau, Moncton. After studying animation before graduating with a visual arts degree from l’Université de Moncton, Boudreau was the Atlantic region finalist for the 2007 Sobey Art Award and has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions.
Élisabeth Marier, Caraquet. Marier holds a degree in graphic arts, worked for over 20 years in glassmaking in Montreal at Éspace Verre and is a founding member of Caraquet’s Constellation bleu, an artistrun centre.
Michael McEwing, Carlton County. McEwing holds fine arts, multimedia and education degrees and is cofounder of the River Valley Arts Alliance and Woodstock’s annual DoorYard Arts Festival.
Jean Rooney, Fredericton. Rooney achieved a Master of Arts in Ireland, has exhibited internationally and in addition to her studio practice is an instructor at the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design.
Margaret Patricia Eaton Margareteaton16@gmail.com A freelance writer, photographer and poet, Margaret’s weekly column focuses on artists, galleries and art issues in southeast New Brunswick.
Autoportrait de Gotlib pour la couverture de Rubrique-à-brac Tome 4, Dargaud, 1973
En 1971, j’ai découvert la série de livres Rubrique-à-brac. Ç’a été un évènement catalyseur qui m’a initié à l’humour absurde, caustique et fantaisiste de Gotlib, mais qui m’a aussi fait découvrir le monde où je vivais. J’habitais Lévis et je savais – je ne sais plus comment, mais je l’avais su – que les livres de Gotlib étaient en vente à la librairie Archambault dans le Vieux-Québec (à l’époque située sur la rue St-Jean). Je partais de chez moi avec l’argent que j’avais gagné à livrer les journaux à domicile et je me rendais au traversier pour aller à Québec. De là, je montais jusqu’à la librairie. La route qui menait vers le rire était parsemée d’inconnu et de surprises et chaque fois que j’achetais un nouveau tome le monde entier m’apparaissait plus éclatant. Gotlib m’a fait découvrir un humour « glacé et sophistiqué » comme il le disait si bien et m’a fait explorateur de la vie. Merci Marcel Gotlib !
5th International Video Poetry Festival
55 VIDEO ARTISTS & POETS FROM 21 COUNTRIES
6 HOURS SHOW
SATURDAY10/12 STARTS 20.00
H. Bozini + P. Papadopoulos | Th. Panou | Y. Deliveis
F. Averbach (Void Network) T. Kapouranis | A. Chatziioannidi
Ch. Sakellaridis | V. Velli | Y. Lianos (Lokatola Collective)
S. Oikonomidis |Demi Sam (Group Avgo) | K. Shabanova
P. R. Aranda | C. Bustamante
A. M. Giner
S. Otter | M. Depatie | V. LeBlanc | D. H. Dugas
P. Chiesa-S. Cinematografica
F. Gironi+G. Daverio | F. Bonfatti
D. Douglas | C. Cameron | B. Dickinson | E. Cay
M. Piatek | A. Cook | O. Smith | J. L. Ugarte| D. Taylor | M. Lland
S. Chang | H. Dewbery | S. Negus | H. Gray | M. Mullins
H. P. Moon | C. St. Onge | R. Anderson | T. Becker
T. Moshkova | C. Preobrazhenskaya
P. Bogaert & J. Peeters
M. Goldberg | I. Gibbins
Is. Martin | C. Moreno
O καιρός της Τέχνης πέρασε πια. Το θέμα τώρα είναι να πραγματώσουμε
την Τέχνη, να κατασκευάσουμε αποτελεσματικά και σε όλα τα επίπεδα της ζωής ό,τι παλιότερα υποχρεωτικά
παρέμενε μια καλλιτεχνική αυταπάτη ή μια ανάμνηση που ο άνθρωπος ονειρευόταν ή συντηρούσε μονόπλευρα.
Δεν μπορούμε να πραγματώσουμε την Τέχνη παρά καταργώντας την. Ωστόσο, θα πρέπει να αντιταχτούμε
στην σημερινή κατάσταση της κοινωνίας, που καταργεί την Τέχνη αντικαθιστώντας την με την αυτόματη κίνηση
ενός θεάματος ακόμα πιο ιεραρχικού και παθητικού.Μπορούμε να καταργήσουμε την Τέχνη μόνο αν την πραγματώσουμε
organised by +the Institue [for Experimental Arts]
supported by Void Network
About Void Network and +the Institute [for Experimental Arts]
The yearly International Video Poetry Festival 2016 will be held for the fifth time in Athens, Greece. Approximately 2500 people attended the festival last year.
There will be two different zones of the festival. The first zone will include video poems, visual poems, short film poems and cinematic poetry by artists from all over the world (America, Asia, Europe, Africa). The second zone will include cross-platform collaborations of sound producers and music groups with poets and visual artists in live improvisations.
The International Video Poetry Festival 2016 attempts to create an open public space for the creative expression of all tendencies and streams of contemporary visual poetry.
I have participated in many poetry festivals, each series of events is unique, but the fourth Kistrech Poetry Festival had something that others don’t have. To begin, there are not many venues for international poets or artists in Africa, the economic realities of the continent dictate this scarcity of opportunities. Christopher Okemwa, the director of the festival has been working hard to create an event where the audience and the poets can share insights and discussions. Another thing that made this festival standout was the fact that our group, the invited poets and a large section of the audience, were always together. We were together in the conference room, at lunch breaks and we were together in buses travelling to different locations. This created a sense of belonging and gave us a chance to get to know each other more closely.
Most of the Festival events took place at the main campus of the Kisii University from October 3rd until October 8th with writers from Nigeria, the USA, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Canada, and Kenya. Student participants came from both Kisii University and Nairobi University. A series of readings by internationally based, Kenyan poets as well as student poets took place on the Kisii University Campus, at the Genesis Preparatory School, the St. Charles Kabeo High School and on the shores of Lake Victoria. In addition to these, papers were also presented: Beatrice Ekesa (Nairobi University) talked about issues of globalization in the context of Spoken Word in Kenya; Martin Glaz Serup (Denmark) presented the Holocaust Museum, a conceptual post-productive witness literature that deals with the representation of Holocaust; Eric Francis Tinsay Valles (Singapore) delivered a text about trauma in poetry; Seth Michelson (USA) talked about the process of translation and the practice of human freedom; Micheal Oyoo Weche (Kenya) spoke of oral poetry and aesthetic communication practiced by children within the Luo tribe; Tony Mochama (Kenya) discussed the modernity of African poetry in Kenya; Godspower Oboido (Nigeria) compared Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo with Russian poet Alexander Pushkin; Margaret N. Barasa (Kenya) explained the convergence of language and culture in Manguliechi’s Babuksu after-burial oratory and Valerie LeBlanc and myself (Canada) presented our poetic work created within the Everglades National Park biosphere.
This was the first time that the Festival was held during the University’s Cultural Week. The campus was alive with students and many attended the festival’s lectures and presentations. Throughout the festival, there was a constant flow of energy, of shaking hands, of being truly part of the whole, like the Festival’s program states.
Here are two key moments, two events that made an significant impression on me. Both happened on October 6rd 2016.
GENESIS PREPARATORY PRIMARY SCHOOL
We were on our way, to the Genesis Preparatory Primary School to meet and to read to the children. As with every morning, the light was intensely beautiful; the sky blue and the sun hot. At the school, three hundred children, dressed in their dark green uniforms with green and white checker shirts were waiting for us. They actually had been waiting all year for this moment and had a program of poetry, songs and dances prepared for the occasion. We all sat outside in the courtyard under the sun and under the shades of pine trees, on blue chairs and yellow chairs, on green chairs and magenta chairs. There was electricity in the air. A teacher came up front, to welcome us and invited a group of students to take place on the stage. Many students had a chance to perform poetry and to sing. To my surprise, a lot of the songs were in French. The Principal told me later that they wanted them to learn English, Kiswahili and French as many countries in the regions speak French. After that, it was our turn to read. Gunnar Wærness (Norway) created a song for a crow that was perched in a tree above us; Martin (Denmark) read 100 words from a children’s book; Jennifer Karmin (USA) involved the children with a participative poetry reading and so on.
After the readings, we were invited to plant trees on the school grounds. Poets planting trees: ‘Poet-trees’ said someone. The holes were already dug and the little seedlings were sitting in a wheel barrel, all ready to go. As each poet was busy planting, students would gather around, looking at our techniques and cheering for the forest to come. Many of the holes were sewn with yellow flowers that looked similar to squash flowers. This seemed to present a wish to protect and encourage the future growth of the trees. The man in charge of the grounds made sure that the dirt was well packed and that the seedlings were straight. When we left it looked like a little forest had been added to the valley.
When we stepped out of the bus, I don’t think any of us expected to be greeted with such enthusiasm. A musician was already playing his nyatiti, an eight-string instrument, as loud as he could. There was a lot of laughing, clapping and dancing. In the blink of an eye, we were dancing as well, which generated even more laughter. Then, each of the poets was taken in charge by one or two villagers for a personal tour. I left with my two hostesses and Cornelius, a Kisii University student who was translating the exchanges. In Kiswahili I said ‘good morning’ to the women. They both laughed. Cornelius told me that in the afternoon, the custom is to say, ‘good afternoon.’ I wished that I had a pen and a piece of paper to add this to my list of Kiswahili phrases. I repeated it in my head a few times like a mantra as we walked on the main road until we took a path down the hill. The earth is red. Everything is lush. The air is warm and humid. The pathways are incredibly complex, there are paths going everywhere. We walk past mango trees, papaya trees, banana trees, avocado trees, sugar cane and cornfields. Here and there a goat tied to a post looks at us as we go by. Cornelius tells me that the two women are widows and are cultivating their plots and raising their animals by themselves. We finally arrive at a house. As we go in, a few little chicks scramble to get out. The air inside the house is heavy and the sunlight makes the dust appear like diamonds floating in the room. The walls are covered with a lacework-like fabric. I notice two pictures on one of the walls and go to them. They are images of two smiling men. Under the images are their names and two dates. The men are dead. They are the husbands of the two women. The oldest man was born in 1963 and the younger in 1985. The images and the frames look old, as if they had been on the wall for a long time, but the younger man died just a couple of months earlier. After a while, we pull away from the wall and sit on couches. From there I can feel the heat radiating from the tin roof. Cornelius tells me that when one of the women’s husband died, she had to wait for planting the corn and this is why hers is so short compared to the rest. There is a silence. We hear the wind rustling through the nearby sugar canes. At that moment, we also feel the absence of this husband. Then the older woman gets up and goes out. We follow her lead back onto the paths. Red soil. Corn fields. The sun feels good. We arrive at the second home. The woman opens the door. The light floods into the main room. It is very hot and very bright. We sit and rest there for a while.
I can’t remember much from this house; my mind was still filled with the other place. Then we were back on the main road. There were many young people walking to the river to get water. It looked like they just came back from school. All carried yellow jugs. The river, I am told, is not far. I asked Cornelius to teach me how to say, ‘How are you’, and then I repeat this to a group of young boys. They all laugh. Cornelius tells me that there is a difference to whether you speak to one person or many. He teaches me how to say ‘how are you’ to many people, which I say many times during the walk back to the village centre.
The weather was turning. Big dark clouds were gathering and it started to rain. Instead of eating outside, we all went inside a large house to share a meal. We had yams and uji, a porridge made from ground millet. By the meal’s end, the weather had cleared up and we were invited to go back outside. We sat on plastic chairs in a big circle. The musician was in the middle with his instrument and dancers came from behind him. Eventually, it was the poets’ turn to join in the dance. Later, as we walked back through the pathways toward the bus, we saw a rainbow arching over the valley.
The night before we left, two women were killed by the police at the market. Some people at the hotel heard what sounded like fireworks. I heard nothing. But two women died that night. Then there was a riot and wooden stands were thrown into a bonfire as people protested. In the morning as we drove down the road, the market looked empty, here and there were piles of charred wood. A few days later, the University of Kisii introduced new fee payment rules for its students. This change resulted in a massive riot, this time by students. A fourth-year woman student was shot in the head by a stray bullet, but survived. The Daily Nation (Nairobi) newspaper, reported that 10 students had been arrested while the Standard (Nairobi), mentioned that more than 30 students were arrested. According to the newspapers, the fee collection office and a School of Law office were set ablaze. Images of soldiers on the grounds of the University were unsettling to see. Many of our young poet friends from the Kisii University and University of Nairobi (Elly Omullo, Ombui Omoke, Roberto de Khalifa) wrote poignant texts on their Facebook walls, putting words to what was happening around them.
In this landscape
of shovelled earths
and un-shovelled earths
of arched goats
of speeding Boda-Bodas
and Boda-Boda sheds
In this land of Churches
and Choma zones
of men with shovels
dreaming of self-sufficiency
of yams and sweet potatoes and bananas
In this cosmology of paths
In this endless network
of paths of life and death
of paths taken and abandoned
of paths like the energy of the Big Bang
like the music rising
from every bus
from the music
that envelops everyone
There is no stopping the going
and no stopping the rhythms.
A path goes this way
another one that way
veer between bushes
They are the tentacles
of giant octopus’
dancing a waltz
to each limb
light up this
East African night
The paths are
the way to go
the way to come
what is left
of having to go
of wanting to go
They are what is passed down
to the children who in turn
will invent new roads to travel upon
and new rhythms to walk along.
Daniel H. Dugas
October 9, 2016
God is everywhere!
Especially as decals on buses
in bold letters
racing on a dirt road
God in the middle of the wilderness
incarnated in every speeding Boda-Boda
God is everywhere!
I see him
in the diesel fumes of buses
I see him
in the whirlpools
of papers and bags
in the tails
of small goats
eating in ditches
I see him
in the yellow plastic jugs
balancing on heads
I see him in the tarps
flapping in the wind
in the wind that controls everything
I see him
in the smoke of every fire
of this never ending choma zone
He is here,
present on each kernel of corn.
Daniel H. Dugas
Oct 10, 2016
I would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts and the New Brunswick Arts Board for their support. / Je remercie le Conseil des arts du Canada et le Conseil des Arts du Nouveau-Brunswick pour leur soutien.
Artiste numérique, poète et musicien, Daniel Dugas a participé à des expositions individuelles et de groupe ainsi qu’à plusieurs festivals et événements de poésie en Amérique du Nord, en Europe, au Mexique et en Australie. Son neuvième recueil de poésie L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time vient de paraître aux Éditions Prise de parole.
Daniel Dugas is a poet, musician and videographer. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events in North America, Europe, Mexico and Australia. His ninth book of poetry: L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time has just been published by Les Éditions Prise de parole.
Daniel Dugas es poeta, músico y videocreador. Ha participado en exposiciones individuales y colectivas, festivals y eventos literarios en Norteamérica, Europa, México y Australia. Acaba de publicar su noveno poemario, L’esprit du temps / The spirit of time (Les Editions Prise de parole).
L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time est un projet de transmutation du paysage publicitaire en paysage poétique. Ce livre est à la fois un livre de photographie, un recueil de poésie et un essai lucide mais ludique sur notre société matérialiste. Il a été produit en numérique et imprimé en quantité limitée.
Date : Décembre 2015
Genre : Poésie
Collection : Poésie
ISBN : 9782894239629