31 May 2005

Where Locus Solus was published

A few things to wrap up my Norway posts. "Faghandler" signifies in general terms that someone is a specialist at selling a particular thing. So the big word "faghandler" and the image of the chainsaw had no scarey implications.

My last full day in Norway I spent mainly an hour north of Oslo, visiting the novelist and journalist Gunnar Kopperud, who I first met in Ottawa in 2002. He's an amazing man, and was in a great mood as he'd just had family and friends in on the weekend to celebrate his 59th birthday. We had a light lunch at his place, a beautiful cottage on top of a hill in Brandbu, a rural village, then he drove me to some astonishing sights in the country; occasionally our conversation would stray to politics, and he had to pull over his car whenever we talked about George W. Bush, as he became too angry to drive.

Along these tiny roads in the hills we passed an old man pushing his granddaughter along in a wheelbarrow, a gorgeous woman in full riding regalia trotting along on her horse, as if she had strayed from a riding competition, heaps of cows, sheep, ponies, oddly enough a lot of bathtubs sitting out along the edges of fenced-in fields.

Gunnar is one of the most interested and interesting writers I've ever met. He's philosophical, good-humoured, passionate about his art and his journalism, and extremely generous. Read his books in English -- A Time of Light, which I've read, and Longing, which I own but haven't yet read.

In the evening, Dana and I went for tea and ice cream ($40 for the two of us!) with the Norwegian curators of The Idea of North -- Yngvild Faeroy and Søssa Jorgensen. Very nice visit after all the pressure of mounting the show was finally in the past. The third curator, a Torontonian named Rhonda Corvese, had already left Norway for shows elsewhere.

And now, we are in the tiniest hotel room in a magical neighbourhood in Paris. I cannot believe that I am in Paris. I imagine that all the neighbourhoods here will be magical. Didn't arrive till evening and looking forward to exploring a corner of the city tomorrow. It's already more exciting and beautiful than I'd imagined.

I wrote two poems while in Norway, poems that still need some serious finishing, and made some good headway on my novel. I'm excited now to be in Paris, where John Ashbery lived for a stretch, and Ron Padgett, and I believe Ted Berrigan. And Samuel Beckett and Patricia Highsmith. I guess it would be nice if I could name a few French writers whose residual molecules I'll enjoy walking among. We'll see....

Over and out.

29 May 2005

Moss (A Rolling Stone Gathers No)

I'm in Moss now, at Galleri F15, for the opening of Idea of the North. In the mad rush to leave Oslo this morning, I left behind 5 shortwave radios needed for Dana's show. Luckily, she already had 2 at the gallery, and there are some others kicking around here. Oh, the idiot I can be!

The opening is in three hours, so there is much activity. Up in the galleries, I imagine some artists are having nervous breakdowns, perhaps throwing mad fits and destroying walls, windows, and various gizmos. Otherwise, they are very nice folks.

I'd like to come back to Norway sometime, and really do some exploration. Yesterday I poked around a big bookstore and found a few Norwegian novelists whose work appears in English. The interesting ones: Linn UIllmann, Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Finn Carling. I'll explore them further when I get home.

Weird to think that in two days I'll be in Paris, and I'll be thinking Paris instead of thinking Oslo. This whole travelling thing is rather odd, don't you think?

Better run now before the person whose office I have commandeered arrives to work.

Over and out.

28 May 2005

Norman Mailer IS Harry Houdini

A rushed post tonight, as this internet cafe is about to close. This afternoon was a lovely one in downtown Oslo. Raining but fun. Went to a great contemporary art gallery whose name I can't recall, but it was something like Feargal Sharkey. Anyway, a great room had a screening and many astonishing artifacts from Matthew Barney's Cremaster 2. Did you know that Norman Mailer plays Harry Houdini, the supposed grandfather of Gary Gilmore, in Cremasters 2 and 5? It's true! The best thing was a one-eight-size rendition of the Mormon Tabernacle made of beeswax. Now I must go before they lock me in here!

Tomorrow is Dana's opening in Moss -- the opening of the Idea of North exhibition!

Over and out.

27 May 2005


On the bus into Oslo, after I arrived in Norway on Monday, they had a screen in the front running repeating ads. One of the ads for a "faghandler," and the image they showed was a chainsaw. A little scarey, I think!

Spent today, as yesterday, helping Dana put up her show at the art gallery in Moss, where a show called "The Idea of North" opens on Sunday. The show features Canadian, Norwegian, and Icelandic artists. Dana's piece is an audio installation, but there is a visual element: arrows showing the Arctic currents on a wall. The Norwegian explorer Nansen figured he'd just hop those currents, like the cute little frogs in Frogger hopping on logs floating down the stream. (An interesting side note: tomorrow I'm going to an art opening for something called "Kiss the Frog"!)

Anyway, I climbed very high up on ladders today, while performing delicate operations that necessitated the use of both hands. And I have a serious fear of heights. I had to really concentrate and get in a sort of zen-like mood. I felt very proud. I wish writing had something like that involved -- where you do something physical and practical, and at the end you look at a wall and see a lot of arrows.

This is the third show I've helped Dana put up. It's fun, though it's always just before the show opening, so it's also very tense. The first show involved climbing not quite as high on a ladder and wiring 16 little speakers on the walls; the second show mainly involved painting a lot of walls white, and then filling up an old library card catalogue with catalogue cards.

Tomorrow, I will wander Oslo a whole bunch and reward myself after doing so much work. Oh, also I've been working on my novel. It often takes being a long way from Toronto to get me writing.

Over and out.

26 May 2005

How to find a Norwegian poet

Because I was so enormously busy at home for the last few months, I didn't prepare properly for this brief trip to Norway. I should have found some poet contacts, so I could meet up with a poet, perhaps, and find out how poets live here. The Internet hasn't been particularly helpful, or perhaps I'm too lazy to dig deep enough.

Anyways, my one contact here did phone me this morning, on Dana's mobile phone. I'd left a message for him through the Arts editor of Dagbladet a couple days ago. I met Gunnar Kopperud a couple years ago at the Ottawa International Writers' Festival, and really enjoyed conversation with him. On the day of his departure from Ottawa, and of mine, we had breakfast together and he said he thought our paths would cross again.

Well, we're meeting up on Monday in Oslo, the day before Dana and I take off for Paris. Really looking forward to seeing him again. He's a fine writer, and a really cool guy. A newspaper reporter who, in his 50s, decided to tackle the novel form, as he wanted to cover the *human* side of war. I read his World War II novel, A Time of Light, and loved it. He has one more book in English, Longing, but I see in the bookstores here in Oslo that he has at least a couple of other books, including the just-released Inauguration (actually, the title is in Norwegian, but I don't remember it right now; the book hasn't yet appeared in English).

Meanwhile, I've begun to adjudicate the Stuart Ross Award for Poetry Adventurism -- given to the most promising poet among Grade 12s in Nakusp and New Denver, BC. To my chagrin, only four students applied; I asked the teacher responsible to encourage some more to submit work. The bigger the net, the more chance of a prize catch worthy of my stinkin' $250.

The rain has finally abated, so I think I'll go walk the winding, interlaced streets of Oslo a bit now, leave a few of my little poetry leaflets around in places that might attract an interested reader. If anyone knows of a Norwegian poet who might like to talk with me, let me know.

Over and out.

25 May 2005

Things to do in Oslo When You're Dead

Well, I'm not dead. But I am in Oslo. And Dana is in the editing room here at NoTAM, so to amuse myself I'm starting this blog. It's either that or go out and spend 70 kroners on a pint of beer. 70 kroners is about $14. 14 is the number that Dave Keon wore when he was a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player.

And so ends my first ever blog entry. It's 10:24 p.m. Oslo time, and it's not quite dark yet.

Over and out.