Chris Faiers - Poet

zenriver@sympatico.ca                                                                                                                          http://riffsandripplesfromzenrivergardens.blogspot.com/

Click here forChris Faiersfull collection list

Chris Faiers has led a picaresque life. Born on Hamilton Mountain, Ontario, Canada in 1948, his family emigrated to the southern U.S. when he was seven. Although a Canadian citizen by birth, he was eligible for the draft for the Vietnam War as a resident alien. Chris became an anti-war activist in Miami, Florida, attending demonstrations, organizing a campus group and publishing an underground newsletter. Around 1968 Chris began writing haiku poetry under the tutelage of Eric Amann, the publisher of Haiku magazine. He left the U.S. forever in June 1969.

Chris lived for two years in the largest commune in the United Kingdom, the derelict Eel Pie Island Hotel in Twickenham. Eel Pie Island Dharma: a memoir/haibun,  tells a story of his explorations and adventures in the late '60s and early '70s.

After three years of street-level poverty Chris returned to Canada in 1972 and joined the anti-imperialist Canadian Liberation Movement. In the CLM Chris met poets Milton Acorn and James Deahl and resumed writing poetry, influenced by Acorn's ability to write accessible and lyrical poetry with a political message.


Milton Acorn is Full of Poetry


In addition to writing haiku, lyrical and political poetry, Chris founded the literary press, Unfinished Monument, in 1978. He founded The Main Street Library Poetry Readings the following year. Chris was also a founding member of The Canadian Poetry Association, with James Deahl, Shaunt Basmajian and Wayne Ray and a founding member of Haiku Canada, with Eric Amann, George Swede, Margaret Saunders and others. Chris was the main organizer for eight Purdy Country Literary Fesitvals (PurdyFests) from 2007 - 20014.


Picnic with Al



"Some of the highlights of my poetry calling are receiving the first Milton Acorn People's Poetry Medal in 1987 for my book FOOT THROUGH THE CEILING

(Aya/Mercury Press, Toronto). I've had 19 collections of my poetry published, some with recognized Canadian presses like blewointmentpress and Hidden Brook Press, and others with my own Unfinished Monument Press.

Of most interest and local relevance is my 2008 collection,   Zen River: Poems & Haibun."

Hidden  BrookbPress writes,

"Zen River Poems & Haibun" is a reflective work, primarily haibun (concise prose pieces) interspersed with haiku. Faiers has been a leading voice in English language haiku (a 'haijin') for 4 decades. 'ZRP&H' is the mature culmination of those decades of leadership and creativity."

The book is arranged in the traditional haibun format, with sections devoted to winter, spring, summer and fall. The book concludes with a 'backward forward' section of 3 haibun written about the renaissance period of the late 1960s. These chapters give insight into his formative period as a lyrical and political poet, whose life was forever changed by the turmoil of the Vietnam War. 

Click here for three glowing reviews.


Spring Haiku


In Memory of Jon Penner


Farley Hill


Hanging with Bubo

Bubo the owl

Photo credit - Anne Philpot


Bushrats

in memory of Joe and Bob Hill

Scott's Dam                                     Photo credit - Anne Philpot

Callghan Rapids

Callghan Rapids

guy at the liquor store
old dude like me
12 pack on the conveyor belt
asks if the snow on my empties
is from ice fishing on Crowe Lake

'nope, just snow drifted into my porch
haven't been on the ice drinking beer
hoping for a pickerel bite in decades'

'Say, you must know some friends of mine?'
I answer with the Hill brothers,
Joe & Bob
old bushrat brothers who taught me
to fish & hunt when I moved here
quarter century ago
both been dead for a decade or more

'Don't know them,' he replied
what about Fred Smith?
yeah, he was a neighbour for a while
beautiful wife
'yeah, she left him for down south'

I say, 'I'd rather have liquor than a wife!'
half joking - maybe not
yeah, Joe & Bob Hill
they had a bunch of other brothers
but it was those two bushrats
who showed this big city kid
the ropes of rural life

Cordova outlaws - yeah
some tall true tales from those two
fought like all brothers
told some nasty stories on each other
maybe true
medals from World War Two
but which one!
or both

hydro crewmen
dynamite, booze
cooking in camps
on the hydro line cuts
which civilized this area
if Al Purdy had held a steady job
he'd a been one of them

Bob & Joe
tried to teach me to fish pickerel
Scott's Dam - bottle of rye
in my back pocket
sipped it to impress them
& dull the black fly bites

flies leave me alone now
they don't like bushrat blood
anyway - 
but flies sure loved my
virgin rye-laced freshness

after the LCBO drop-off
Chase & I wander Callahan's Rapids
the haunted trail - den-laced cedars
tracks everywhere - underground creeks
as well - careful every step
Chase & I take or we could be stranded
broken legs

and I think back on Bob & Joe Hill
can't remember if I promised not to write about them
crazy blood brothers who lived in this
halfway land of muskie rivers, creeks, swamps
Bob bragged he'd fucked on every island
in Cordova Lake
a challenge I've never followed
(well once or twice)

Bob & Joe
dead too young from alcohol
& doctors who don't respect bush people

Bob & Joe's stories reverberate:
the big bank robbery in Havelock
robbers had a boat stashed across Belmont Lake
when the dirt track ended the cops' chase lakeside
they paddled across smooth as silk
money & robbers never found -
some still looking for both

never thought before
but was it them?
my old bushrat buddies
Joe drove a new Lincoln
but his money I bet
came from his slicko gambling
slyer than the Campbellford
doctors & lawyers from campsite poker
he'd suck them in with mispronounced words
lose a few hands to the city suckers
then bang down big when the pot grew large
or ...........
all this aft's walk I thought of Bob & Joe
long, long gone to that big swamp in the sky
bushrat brothers, Bob measured his winters
by muskies lying on the snow of Blairton Bay

guess I'm the next generation now
not half as tough, but still upright
growing craggy & beer bellied
still walking the trails they showed me
the secret fishing holes
the icy islands where they lived & loved

Chris Faiers
January 20, 2014


Crow Visits Wolf

Altar bell clears consciousness
prayer wheel spins
day prepared

on water tower trail
3 inches new snow
glistens stunted trees

sun flash all blue
reminder to practice
blue sky mind

new shaman appears
pokes snow wolf tracks
wishes well

blue sky  mind crow call
Milton Acorn?

around around
cawing crow circles
kite mind string

as caws fade
where I stand
wolf tracks cross

Chris Faiers