TISH – Vancouver’s poetry magazine 1961 – 1966

Cascadia logo

Brigand Brewer is undertaking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in Innovative Cascadian Poetry, at Cascadia College in Bothell, Washington – under the guidance of Jared Leising. Naturally, he is using a nom de plume in the course.

This week’s assignment was to discuss Vancouver’s TISH poetry magazine, which had its heyday in the early 1960s.

As always, one must begin with a sense of place, followed almost immediately with a sense of history. One of the challenges faced by TISH and other Cascadian poets (as well as other creative persons) is that San Francisco has been, is and probably always will be the capital not only of North and Central California, but also of Cascadia, despite the bioregion having three great cities of its own – Portland, Seattle and (this week’s subject) Vancouver. I am not quite sure what one can do about San Francisco’s cultural dominance, except to note that it extends further north than south, because of competition from Los Angeles. When one asks about poems/ artefacts and their connection with TISH aesthetics, it strikes me that it is resonating with greater San Francisco. Yet, the original source of inspiration to TISH was undoubtedly Black Mountain College. Its closure in 1957, and the movement of many of its most influential poets to San Francisco, reinforced San Francisco’s status.

Why couldn’t poets at the University of British Columbia find their aesthetic inspiration from Canadian sources? As I write this I am trying to find my own inspiration from a watercolour in my living room, painted in 1909. It is of someone in a dugout canoe, a deserted beach and the mouth of the Capilano River between North and West Vancouver, with the Lions (mountains) in the background. What did those early settlers seek in a wilderness? It has always been easier to travel north and south, both inside and outside of British Columbia than eastwards. British Columbia only joined Canada because of the promise of a railway, and in many ways, its attachment to eastern Canada was originally only as thick as the railway line, and some nonsense about The Empire. It is thicker now because of several highways leading into Alberta, but the thickness measures in meters, rather than hundreds of kilometers. The empire is dead, and its replacement, the commonwealth, is dying. My maternal grandfather from northeast England knew he wanted to immigrate to Cascadia, although I am also sure he never knew its proper name. In 1910, he endured a sea journey from Liverpool, followed by a rail journey from Montreal. Arriving in the Promised Land, he flipped a coin to decide if he should stay in Vancouver or travel onward to Seattle.

As noted in the Canadian Encyclopedia’s article on TISH, “Most controversial among TISH poetics was the conviction that poets can co-author their poems with the local physical and cultural environments in which they write, as well as with the language itself, and must be alert to explore such interactions. In this they were working from both New England poet Charles Olson’s influential essay, “Projective Verse,” and its suggestion that place and history offer cultural fields of force which can energize one’s writing with “secrets objects share,” and Robert Duncan’s belief that the images, rhythms and sounds of one’s own lines can point the way to unanticipated subsequent lines and subject matter.”

I try to enter the mindscape of the original TISH poets about 1960, fifty-six years ago. Help comes from the Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver, as well as online resources.

British Columbia has not always been a cultural mecca. It’s economic history has always been focused on resource extraction. First, fur trapping, then the Fraser goldfields, followed by more mining, including coal on Vancouver Island, and more valuable minerals in the Slocan Valley. There are rich soils for farming in the Fraser Valley, and less fertile land suitable for ranching in the interior. Irrigation has allowed fruit farming in the Okanogan Valley. The sea permitted harvesting of vast fisheries resources. Forests have also been major resources to exploit.

From its first settlement to at least the 1950s, British Columbia was racist. The Canadian Pacific Railway used Chinese labour, but Canada imposed a head tax on Chinese immigrants in 1885. Sikhs faced extreme difficulties in exercising their rights as British Subjects, most famously in the Komagata Maru incident of 1914. Internment and restrictions were placed on 20 881 Japanese Canadians from 1942 to 1949.

Yet, it has also been a home for the religiously oppressed. Between 1908 and 1912, about 8 000 Doukhobors moved to the British Columbia interior. They were pacifists, living communally, with little regard for materialism or education. In 1953, children of Sons of Freedom Doukhobors were forcibly interned in the same New Denver residential school that previously served Japanese internees. The Sons of Freedom retaliated with arson, and nude protest marches. At Argenta, a Quaker meeting was established in the 1950s by three families who had been school teachers in California. They refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the United States, and lost their jobs then moved to Canada.

In 1958 British Columbia celebrated its Centenary of the mainland colony of British Columbia. Century Sam reinforced a mining heritage. This was also a time when the transportation infrastructure began to expand, with the Trans-Canada and Hope-Princeton highways opening up the interior, and British Columbia Ferries improving connections between the mainland and Vancouver Island. Notorious Ripple Rock was blown up in the largest non-nuclear explosion to that time. Located near Campbell River, it had sunk more than 100 ships and taken more than 100 lives.

After the depression of 1929 and throughout much of the 1930s, modern life was kickstarted with the return of veterans from World War II. Time to conceive the boomers. But to begin with those modern times had their challenges. Housing, then as now, was a scarcity.

Personally, I regard the start of Cascadia’s modern era with the opening of Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. In particular, I remember taking the high speed elevators in the Space Needle, as well as travelling on the Alweg monorail. Then, there was some house of tomorrow, with its electronic wizardry. During this period most North Americans were caught up in the Space Race, and the cold war. By October, Modernity had descended into fear. With the Cuban Missile Crisis, and America’s nuclear Naval Submarine Base Bangor, housing a fleet of nuclear submarines. There were real fears that we would end up like the citizens of Hiroshima in a holocaust of radiation sickness outside a bomb shelter, or dying of starvation inside. With the assassination of president Kennedy in 1963, the modern age came to an end, after 580 days.

To end this summary of the TISH timeline, I will conclude with some approximate dates for the start of my own personal Post Modern era. The Vietnam War caused enduring pain. As Canadians, we were not directly involved with it. Indirectly, we befriended draft dodgers and deserters. In 1964, LSD came to the attention of the world. A child had eaten a sugar cube containing this unknown substance. We were curious and our chemistry teacher spent one hour giving us detailed information about it. A kilometer away from my house, at the Hollywood Hospital in New Westminster, “Acid” Al (Cappy) Hubbard, was becoming the Johnny Appleseed of LSD. Read all about it.

What do the artefacts reveal? Beginning with the TISH editorial, one can immediately see that this is no Century 21 journal. Nor does it retreat to the delicate world of William Morris’ Arts and Crafts Movement. Instead, one descends into a mimeograph underground. One wonders if the editors would have preferred to write disposable poems, printed on toilet paper, if it was technically possible. They confess to an obsession with sound, which doesn’t always come through on the videos of Marlatt, Bowering and Wah.

Acknowledging a liking for puns, one wonders what sort of movement the editors share with other people? The term bowel, comes to mind, and is reinforced with “coins dropped in its slot” and “TISH will be always on the bum.”

Arendt Oak Speser wrote one of the discussion postings that awakened interest: “I’m always struck with the difference between poets that listen and those that don’t. And sometimes good poets stop listening; I tend not to like the poems that come after that.” I wondered if he was trying to convey something similar to Greg Bem: “… none of the video recordings really resonated with me, …” then continues in another posting a quotation from Richardson dismissing Canada as an entity for poetic composition. Perhaps that is the ultimate fate of TISH. It fails to resonate with its intended audience.

Unlike Joe Chiveney, I never felt that Cascadia with its densest green, was a place to escape to. Even short distances take time, when mountain passes determine every east-west route. I am more inclined to agree with him that authenticity is important. However, I expected him to add that people lacking real authenticity, should at least try to project fake authenticity. I am not certain that everyone has the capability of being truly authentic. Rather, they purchase the latest iPhones and Teslas, and pretend that consumption is living. Perhaps I am being too, critical. I am forgetting Joe’s advice that people “who live in wood houses should not be throwing matches”.

If I comment on Teresa Lea Schulze, I have to agree with her that traditional poems, Blake as an example in my case, take me to a harmonious realm, where I feel secure. I am not sure that I like the world TISH inhabits. I am not sure that I am capable of using the vocabulary they use. At the same time, I am not certain that TISH are true revolutionaries. Brendan McBreen’s reference to Matsuo Bashō was most appropriate, in stressing that poets are not followers, but seekers.

I would like to thank Carol Blackbird Edison for pointing out Daphne Marlett’s use of water as a unifying Cascadian force, and her vision of the rainstorm as a drumming call. I also agree with her that a sense of “soul” was something that was lacking during the early TISH period. However, I am uncertain if the TISH poets provided any of the impetus that encouraged many to seek alternative spiritual understandings. I am not sure that they were leaders promoting an understanding of First Nation cultures, or that they were instrumental in encouraging feminism, or reducing the rampant racism of the time. Regardless, I am very happy that we are celebrating ethnic diversity.

Perhaps the most revealing note I have read this week comes from a Wikipedia article about Jamie Reid.   Some time around 1969 Reid “joined the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and stopped writing for 25 years in favour of political activism “because [he] didn’t have a way of working the language of politics into the language of poetry.” Relevance in a time of austerity is possibly the challenge poets face in our current age, and think particularly of the works of Thomas Piketty, “Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century” and Robert J Gordon, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth” and their concern for growing inequality, and the massive wealth extraction undertaken mercilessly by the elite.


Universal Athletics – Manifesto

Every self-respecting protest movement has at least one manifesto. Here is a first attempt to write one for Universal Athletics. Suggestions for improvements are appreciated.

1. Value God, your family and yourself above any sport.

2. Participate in sports and athletics that you find fun and keep you fit.

3. Cooperative sports are to be preferred to competitive sports.

4. Sportsmanship is the moral essence of the Athletes.

5. Many if not most competitive teams are wealth extraction organizations.

6. Team loyalty is nonsense, and pits your interests against those of a team.

7. Avoid sports related and other branded merchandise.

8: Exercising and playing is better than than watching others exercise and play.

Negative Gearing

I’m Precious Dollar. My role at the Unit One Collective is to discuss world economic issues.

Today, I’d like to report on the work of one of my heros, Yanis Varoufakis, once the Greek finance minister. He has written two influential books – The Global Minotaur and, most recently, And the weak suffer what they must? This week Yanis is in Sydney, Australia, to promote his new book. At a talk at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, he said that Australia could be a new Greece.

Yanis is not just someone who views Australia from afar. He lived and taught economics in Sydney from 1988 to 2000, and is an Australian citizen. There is an election campaign in Australia, and one issue being debated is that of negative gearing – a tax minimization strategy for property investors. Investors are being subsidized by taxpayers to invest in existing housing stocks, to the detriment of productive investments.

Yanis points out two unrecognized economic truths about Australia. There is massive private debt; the social economy is unsustainable. Private debt has created a (property) bubble in which the upper middle class are living an unsustainable, luxurious lifestyle,  despite a national current account deficit.

Companies are shuffling more paper, rather than producing more stuff. Chinese investors are buying more (subsidized) property, but car manufacturing stopped in 2013-4 with a loss of 200 000 jobs. This is a major error.

Yanis contrasts Australia with the United States. While American ideology focuses on a free market, American practice is for the state to invest heavily in whole networks of innovation and production: the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex, even the prison industrial complex. They create networks of value creation, and actually produce things. In contrast, Australia is divesting itself of production.

Mariana Mazzucato in her 2013 The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths debunks the myth that the state is a lumbering, bureaucratic monster inhibiting a dynamic, innovative private sector. In a series of case studies—from IT, biotech, nanotech to today’s emerging green tech—Mazzucato shows that the private sector only invests after an entrepreneurial state has made the high-risk investments. Every technology that makes the iPhone ‘smart’ was government funded: the Internet, GPS, its touch-screen display and even Siri.

Mazzucato argues that the State has not only fixed market failures, but has also actively shaped and created markets. In doing so, it sometimes wins and sometimes fails. The State’s active risk taking role is unacknowledged. The public sector socializes risks, while rewards are privatized.

Yaris notes that capitalism is undermining itself.  Capitalism is failing to produce sufficient good-quality jobs. Millennials are getting heavily indebted to get a good education, and who are expecting to be able to land decent jobs. Simultaneously artificial intelligence is on the cusp of destroying hundreds of millions of good-quality jobs without replacing them.

Karl Marx predicted in the 19th century that the evolution of technology was going to destabilise the capitalism that created it.

Yaris ended his talk in Sydney with some simple questions for Australians: Do you need to have a crisis before you plan for the future? Are you going to move headlong into a crisis simply because you are refusing to plan ways of preventing the bursting of the bubble? Do you want to be forward looking or backward looking as a nation?

A more complete version of Yanis’ talk can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/25/yanis-varoufakis-australias-negative-gearing-is-scandalous


Universal Athletics – Logo & Motto

Today’s effort was to work on a logo for Universal Athletics. The first version has no text, the next ones incorporates the English language motto, “Having fun, Keeping fit”. This is followed by Norwegian and Swedish versions with the same motto in translation.

Without text

UA Logo

English Version

UA Logo + Motto

Norwegian Version

UA Norsk

Swedish Version

UA Svensk

Universal Athletics

The Olympic Games hold little appeal. They represent yet another example of how the world’s elite allow taxpayers to subsidize their participation at events, where a class of entertainers called athletes – many using performance enhancing drugs – compete.

The only way the majority get to see the Olympics is on their television screens. Rights to the events are sold to media corporations, who inflict viewers with excessive advertisements, to extract wealth for themselves – and the very exclusive 100 members of the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympic Games got off to a bad start. Nationalism was at the root of Greek interest in reviving the Olympic Games after the Greek War of Independence,  which ended in 1821. Games were held sporadically in 1859, 1870 and 1875.  The International Olympic Committee was started in 1894, organizing the 1896 Olympic Games. The committee focused on nationalism, inviting countries to compete against countries, rather than athletes to compete against athletes.

Participants outside the elite were also discriminated against, with an artificial distinction between amateur and professional. Two incidents were of particular importance. Jim Thorpe was stripped of his pentathlon and decathlon medals when it was discovered that he had played semi-professional baseball before the Olympics. Swiss and Austrian skiers boycotted the  1936 Winter Olympics in support of their skiing teachers, who were not allowed to compete because they earned money with their sport.

Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) is particularly interesting. Not only was he of mixed Native American and European ancestry, he excelled at many different sports. At Carlisle Indian Industrial school he competed in football, baseball, lacrosse and ballroom dancing. The pentathlon involves long jump, javelin throw, 200 metres, discus throw and 1500 metres. The decathaon features ten events over two days. Day 1: 100 metres,  long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 metres. Day 2: 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 meters. Later, he played baseball, football and basketball professionally. An ABC Sports poll voted Thorpe the Greatest Athlete of the Twentieth Century in competition with 15 other world famous athletes.

Jim Thorpe

The Olympic Games were envisioned as a means for the aristocracy and other members of the elite to promote their own interests. This began to be eroded with Eastern Bloc state-sponsored full-time amateur athletes. Amateurism was gradually phased out of the Olympic Charter from the 1970s to 1988, when all professional athletes were made eligible to participate.

The reason behind this post is that Russian polevalter Yelena Isinbayeva says she will file a discrimination suit if Russia’’s ban from global track and field competition is upheld and she is barred from competing at the Rio Olympics. What this says is that the country, not the athlete is important. This is the wrong emphasis.

What I would like to happen is for people to forget about national teams and to encourage local athletics and sports. Athletics should be fun. I hope people will use their time between 2016-08-05 and 2016-08-21 to develop their own athletic potential, rather than sitting in front of a screen watching others.

If enough of us begin at the local level, a universal athletics movement can’t be far behind.

Pavel Golokin 2016 Yelena Isinbayeva
Yelena Isinbayeva

Unit One & Enhet Én

While Shelagh was helping me get my iPhone aps up to date, her alterego – Inger Færøl – was over at Enhet Én, helping the crew there make avatars of themselves. They kindly included an avatar of myself.

With Shelagh back in San Francisco, I was pressed into helping Karsk Skjenning when he needed some help  He is making a limited edition book(let) “Hyllest til Hylla” (Homage to Hylla, a village of about 370 people in Inderøy municipality). The 20 page A5 booklet is a collection of photographs taken there in 2015.

First, I cropped the rectangular photos in Adobe Photoshop, to square ones that Karsk prefers. Then he wanted an avatar for himself, similar to the ones Inger had made the week before, along with a logo for Enhet Én – Trønderland. While I was at it, I made a derivative logo for Unit One – Cascadia. This involved Adobe Illustrator.  Once this material was available, I then used Adobe InDesign to pageset the photographs.

Hyllest til Hylla remains a work in progress, because Karsk is having a hard time deciding on photo captions.

Here is Karsk’s avatar, and the logos for Enhet Én – Trønderland and Unit One – Cascadia. Happy McLellan, was very happy with the typeface selected. It is called Elephant, a fat face, ultra-bold serif typeface for digital display purposes. It was designed by Matthew Carter in 1992, and was originally released by Microsoft.

Thank you, Inger Færøl!

Inger gained valuable experience as a kindergarten teacher today. Her charge was 67 years old. In order to create a logo for the Unit One website, he only had to consult Shelagh eight to ten times for advice, in addition to the hour tutorial on using Adobe Illustrator.

This is a larger version of the image. While the house was made locally, the tree and apple barrel was downloaded from a website no longer accessible: http://www.pageresource.com/clipart/nature/trees/cartoon-apple-tree-clipart

Inger also made avatars for each of the members of the Unit One collective.

Billi Sodd



I used to write poetry. Was it at Lester Pearson Senior Secondary  School, or was it Vincent Massey Junior Secondary School? Some of my poems were even published. To find out when and where will undoubtedly involve offline research.

Currently, I am undertaking an exploration of my soul, in yet another MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Innovative Cascadia Poetry, offered by Cascadia College in Bothell, Washington, through the Canvas Network.

Looking for cargocollective.com, a personal publishing platform, memory failed me. I thought Cargo was called Canvas. Reaching the Canvas network I realized my mistake, but spent a few minutes looking at the free courses on offer.

We all know that just a few minutes of innocent diversion can have serious consequences, and so it happened once again. Another enrollment in yet another course.


The past is such a haze.
I cannot remember
which are the true memories.

False memories are overrunning my mind.
Which are the deliberate lies?
Which are the innocent distortions?

It all would have been so much easier
If I had recorded it all:
video, audio, photos and words.

Film, tape, paper and hard drives
are more reliable than brain cells
with their endless mindstorms.

New Artwork

I’d like to thank Shelagh McLellan for her work making new artwork for me. These include both a personal avatar, as well as rectangular and square versions of a logo for Cliff Cottage.

Cliff Cottage-01
The rectangular version of the Cliff Cottage logo.
My personal avatar

The artwork was made using Adobe Illustrator. They use Futura typeface.

While I live !!!

Both my son, Alasdair, and my daughter, Shelagh, are at home, and I am trying to get some order into my blogs.

[Note: Originally there were three blogs: Brock at Cliff Cottage: brockmclellan.wordpress.org; Design Needs, Seeds & Weeds: designeeds.wordpress.org; and, Unit One: unitwon.wordpress.org. These were subsequently merged into one on 2018-04-03 at 9:00: brock.mclellan.no This post originally appeared in the first, and original, one. The second, looks at design. The third, started the day before publication of this post, involves a number of personas interacting harmoniously and otherwise. ]

As of today, I retire in 232 days. I am looking forward to entering a new age of freedom, that ends with frailty, forgetfulness or death.

In my original post I mentioned “Prosperity without Growth” and our addiction to novelty. Now, I’d like to mention Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” which addresses internet addictions. I am now trying to spend at least an hour each day reading books.

My Citroën Evasion died in 2012, and was replaced by a Mazda 5. It is not the best of relationships. Every time I refuel I feel a twinge of guilt about global climate change and local emissions. I am looking forward to a future with three important forms of transport: walking as my primary means of transport,  a more occasional use of Lyft (not Uber) combined with autonomous electric vehicles, and – for intra and intercontinental travel – the hyperloop, which a couple of days ago had a successful test run of its propulsion system.


I am trying harder to avoid being inspired by the literature I’ve read as a child. I am actively trying to find new literature. Not many new authors of fiction, with the exception of works by Ivan Doig (1939 – 2015), Armistead Maupin (1944 – ) and Colin MacInnes (1914 – 1976). Marc Reisner’s (1948 – 2000) Cadillac Desert has been inspiring. Carmen Aguirre (? – ) has been fun. Robert Riech (1946 – ), Joseph Stiglitz (1943 – ), Ha-Joon Chang (1963 – ) have improved my understanding of economics.

Travel Goals

Islands and archipelagos continue to attract, especially British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, and Washington State’s San Juan Islands. In Europe, the islands of the B-7 Baltic Islands Network hold considerable appeal, Denmark’s Bornholm, Germany’s Rügen, Sweden’s Öland and Gotland Islands, Estonia’s Hiiumaa and Saaremaa Islands, and the Finnish autonomous Åland Islands.

Portugal and Portugese territories continue to attract, especially the Azores and Madeira.  In the USA, Hawaii attracts me, the wind, the waves, the geography, the geology, the volcanos and hot springs, the plants, the animals. With Shelagh living in San Francisco, I would like to explore more of California.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is still at the top of my travel list.


As mentioned before, Norway’s winters do not appeal, and I would still like a home in a winter warm area. Contenders still include: France and Portugal. There are large English speaking populations in Provence, the Algarve and on Madeira.


While I speak and write English and Norwegian, I have spent 500 days improving my French (and Swedish).