This free performance begins at 7:00 pm at the Slow Coast Café, next to Medicine Beach Market (5827 Schooner Way on Pender Island).
Some 300 people live and sleep on the streets of Nanaimo, BC, where I live. Many of the city’s homeless are barred from a zone of exclusion in downtown Nanaimo known as the ‘Red Zone’ (almost certainly unconstitutional). One morning, when I was walking through a downtown underpass beneath the Island Highway, I heard disembodied voices drifting through the cavernous space. I discovered that a group of homeless people was sleeping behind the cement wall that was holding up the highway. I could see the hand-dug tunnel in the sand at the base of the wall, allowing their worm-like passage to safety each night. Dozens of footprints around the tunnel’s dark mouth marked weeks’ worth of comings and goings. RED ZONE was born on that morning.
RED ZONE has been taught in literature courses at Vancouver Island University and elsewhere. Critics have compared the book to the writings of Allen Ginsberg, John Steinbeck, Marge Piercy and George Stanley.
My previous collection, Ride Backwards on Dragon, was a finalist for Canada’s Gerald Lampert Award for poetry. The book contains 66 poems, patterned after the 66-move sequence of the ancient martial art of Liuhebafa, which I have studied since 1997. The poems trace my own tumultuous journey through a decade of inner chaos while I was immersed in the arcane practice of Taoist internal alchemy.
My reading on Pender Island is sponsored by The Writers’ Union of Canada and The Canada Council for the Arts. And Epic Thanks to fellow author, friend and TWUC colleague Trysh Ashby-Rolls for organizing this event!