Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Gerry Gilbert was the first real, living, kicking poet I ever saw, heard. A long way from the E.J. Pratts & F.R. Scotts of my Grade 12 high school textbook, but just a short bus ride over Lion's Gate bridge to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Georgia & Broughton, (or was it Bute?) across from the old CBC, itself visible from atop the air-raid siren of the classic NVan redbrick edifice of Ridgeway Elementary School (I know, I climbed it.) And there he was, bobbing & weaving like a skinny prize-fighter, comical & dangerous. I got it, was hooked from the first. Gerry was also the last poet-friend I saw before leaving for Japan.

In 1973, George Bowering published a book, with Coach House Press, called Curious. (You no doubt remember, too, the photo section tucked at the back, everyone with cigarettes in hand.) Affectionate tributes to & for fellow poets, sometimes written in something of the style (or 'voice' as we were wont to say then) of each. What friendship, foresight, & presence. To address the poet-person & the poet-work -- not to make too fine a point of that false distinction -- & dwell with them, swap hats with them while they were still burning bright with the writing life. Leafing the book again last week I was sad to note that of the 48 poets included, 27 (by my uncertain count… and I would happily stand corrected, George, if you're out there) have left us. Robin Blaser &David Bromige so recently, & now Gerry.

The day I heard Gerry Gilbert had died, I took my dog Mojo, hulking Flanders Bouvier, for a walk in local Kaiseizan-koen, & when my trusty old (yes, already old) mp3 gizmo started playing an all too-meaningful sequence of Fred Neil, The Flamingos, Miles, Little Willie John, Warren Zevon, Blossom Dearie, Weezer, Ramblin' Jack Elliot & The Fountains of Wayne, I knew right then a Gerry (perhaps Creede, probably Gilbert) had taken telepathic control of the Shuffle function.

Went home to write this:

music of the spores

(in memory of Gerry Gilbert)

He will bring happiness in a pipe,
He'll ride away on his silver bike
And apart from that he'll be so kind
In consenting to blow your mind.

- Fat Angel, Donovan

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The drought of Marche hath perced to the roote,

put on

your high-heal sneakers, wear that

wig-hat on your head.

Let's cut to the chorus

& the fine line

between imitation

& homage,

arise & join the luminous



if I hadn't stopped to write this poem I would surely have

eaten those pickled herring rollymops by now

every cat comes up to me I think Gerry

Gilbert's ghost

scratch him under chin before he

disappears back into overgrown ivy

might I avail myself the use of your pompe de bicyclette?

just throw it in the trunk of the Chevy Biscayne

we's off to Whytcliffe to salt

sun on that big lump of rock the size of Moby



Geothermal guy, surely fire-

eater in another life,

nitty & gritty &


in a Slim Pickin's pistol-packin'

compact bulk kinda way.

Reported annually, recorded


To me always

a canny blank,

a diptych in the morning


On air

& live

stepping out

of a daguerreotype,

the gestetnered oratorical

all over town.

Remember that job

you were

so lucky not to get,

the one you took

you were

born to.

Go figure, go


the slug

line &

take your



Lary Timewell Bremner on his relationship to Gerry Gilbert and Vancouver poetry:

"... mainly a hanger-on at readings all over town. Met the Kootenay kids (as they were) Jeff Derksen, Deanna Fergusson, Denis Denissov, Calvin Wharton, et al, and the mentor group Wayman and Browne and. Began the project of recording KSW and other readings, making a tape library for them. Began to work at CO-OP Radio as an operator on radiofreerainforest, which is where I got to know Gerry better... as opposed to being the long time 'fan'. Started Tsunami chapbook series to fill the KSW gap, funded by salmon fishing income (or more correctly by UIC, as it was called then, in the off-season..."

"Some of my own work was published in Cap Review, Verse, Raddlemoon, Writing, West Coast Line, Motel, etc., small output. Jump/Cut was a Tsunami chapbook, but always had the taste of 'self-published' to me. Most work, if published, was published as Lary Timewell, the name I was born with. Left for Japan in '92, not knowing what I was going to do for work/career as I had hit middle-age. Now have an English school here (the irony of teaching grammar to students, deconstructing it in my free time, is not lost on me) and like living in Japan but miss Vancouver tremendously, (or is it my youth I miss, Jamie, my youth? Ah.)"

Photo at top: Lary Bremner with Gerry Gilbert, supplied by Lary Bremner.

Please note that the full poem about Gerry Gilbert, and a great deal more, can be found at Lary Bremner's blog, which he characterizes as a "work in progress."



  1. I want to direct people to the film I made with Gerry in 1967: Life With Dada. He appears mainly in the second half.

  2. A young Gerry, a timeless Kits Beach. Nice to see how Dada is not outdated... or, is it that Dada has come full circle? I swear I see "Dollar Forty-nine Day" on the newspaper!