Friday, October 2, 2015


Canadada stamp by Ed Varney.

We do not see any special characteristic which sets this poetry apart as 'art'. It exists in the same way that the objects it names exist--part of the general stream of objects, thoughts, incidents and events that ceaselessly enter perception and consciousness.

It comes to us as part of the bric-a-brac of the everyday world and everyday living.....jr

hard to find

you got


even on the phone

disappeared from your own life

reappeared at odd times,

white-haired ghost of your former self

bicycle left behind

still cheerful

still clear-eyed

still fully present as before

but now so rarely

(when words hurt

at least as much

as sticks and stones

silence too

Gerry Gilbert was known as Vancouver's bicycle poet.


Converting angst and despondency into security and contentment. 

Passive resistance: resistant passivity.

The materials, the grammar, the underlying elements of modernism distinctively reprocessed and delivered in original form.

More work : less pay.

You say you just don't want to hear when you mean you just don't want to listen.

Post atomic, post-electronic poetry. Freeze frames before and after the quantum leap, the tectonic shift, the turning on and off of the light.


The life of the sixties made insecure by the threat of the bomb.

Accepting relativity and indeterminacy as the basic condition of life. Not something to be explained, but something underlying all understanding. What others are still assimilating, already made into a complete and fully integrated outlook.

Settling for what is really and readily available, determination to "make the best of it."

Poetry from the urban experience, the people, objects and animals that chance and the ordinary round of life bring him into contact with, the chance remarks he overhears, and then records. What isn't present as important as what is present.

The subtracted, the ignored, the left out, the suppressed. Throw everything out into the poem. Readers free to take what they can use, freely reject what is worthless to them.

The process of embracing, accepting and celebrating the world is itself an exercise of the human imagination. The recovery of the world of objects equals the recovery of the human world.

The cracks and warts, the fuzz and farts are all just right.


photo below copyright John Leighton

No single poem a completed work. Each a fragment of a larger work in progress. Notes and commentaries mainly: never a complete system of thought.
The poems do not fit seamlessly together, either with themselves or with the world. In the end, a kind of edifice appears, but all the cracks and seams are deliberately allowed to show.

No added meaning to the poems. Rather, divesting words of associations and meanings, leaving them free to follow their own destiny, as it were. Surrender to THEM, to the words themselves.

Mastery lies in giving words their freedom, letting them speak for themselves, announce their own presence, command their own meanings. No meanings other than the meanings that the words themselves, left to themselves, bring out on their own.


Each poem a signpost, a signal, a moment in the stream.
Keep broadcasting. Someone
is always listening. There is always
someone listening.


A distinctive voice, but only one among the general hum and buzz.

Hence: the three line haiku : the fourteen line sonnet each couplet made of a fresh insight provoked by a verbal contradiction, often a pun. Where verbal invention fails, conceptual invention steps in. The poem stops at fourteen lines quite arbitrarily.

Why go further? One meaning as good as five and five as good as ten.

To undermine all conventional ideas of permanence. To enshrine the moment which is always disappearing. Not recherche de temps perdu (memory of lost moments) but salvaging the present from the past and the future from the present.

Gerry Gilbert's house behind the New Era Social Club in East Vancouver


What remains of the Rousseauian "natural man": only the desire to resist the forces of so-called modern civilization.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not live off others.

Art both an end in itself and a means: but it cannot be an end without first being a means. A conveyance. A from here to there.

Poetry as a guide to living. Not to make you better, to enlighten, educate, inspire or otherwise bring anyone to any kind of realization.

Mainly: to realize.

Definitely not to improve human beings: quite good enough as they are.

Reality not in black and white, but in tones of neutral grey.

An outsider by virtue of belonging so completely to the same world that everyone else belongs to.

Once you stop seeing,

you will once again be allowed

re-entry into all the places

where blindness rules.

Photo above by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


Gerry Gilbert died of a brain tumor on June 19, 2009.
This photo was taken a few days before his death
by his son Jeremy in St. Paul's Hospital inVancouver


fielding the last of lost feelings

let that leave now

all come back in time

the snow the sun

memories of wished for things,

things that never happened

things that did or didn’t

not that way,  this way,

another way to go

another place to be

weep what you grow

never seen it happen twice

once upon a time

sleep now

gone now

go be

Photo by Joanne Mousseau Erickson

A list of comments by friends, fellow poets and others can be found at: