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ZenRiver Poems & Haibun

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Hidden Brook Press  -  press release 8th December, 2008

ZenRiver Poems & Haibun by Chris Faiers
Hidden Brook Press
North Shore Series

Marmora poet Chris Faiers' 17th poetry collection, "ZenRiver Poems & Haibun", is being launched, along with four other area authors, on Thursday, Dec. 18, at 7 pm at The Bohemian Penguin in Belleville. Everyone is invited to the Hidden Brook Press launch/party/reading. The $10 admission will buy you a copy of the book of your choice by Mark Clement, Anthony Donnelly, Chris Faiers, Shane Joseph or Deborah Panko.

Chris Faiers has been publishing poetry for 40 years. His poetry has appeared in many of Canada's top literary magazines, as well as in 40 anthologies and scholarly works, including those published by McGraw-Hill and Simon & Schuster. His poems have been praised by major Canadian poets Al Purdy and Irving Layton, among others. Even Beatle George Harrison enjoyed his haiku poems in the late '60s.

"ZenRiver 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.

Faiers has been listed in Wikipedia for many years for his poetry activities, including founding the literary press, Unfinished Monument, organizing the Main Street Library Poetry series in Toronto in the 1980s, and being a founding member of the Canadian Poetry Association and Haiku Canada.

Much more of Chris Faiers' writing and information about his life can be read online. His 1960s memoir, "Eel Pie Dharma", is likely the most widely read English language haibun.

Faiers has lived in Marmora, a village in the Crowe River Valley on the edge of the Canadian Shield, for 18 years. He served as the Marmora head librarian for 3 years, and the Stirling head librarian for a decade. He spends his time writing, hiking the remote trails of Upper Hastings Country with his dog, Chase, and gardening at his fancifully named property, ZenRiver Gardens.

For the past 2 summer Faiers has coordinated The Purdy Country Literary Festival (PurdyFest). With major help from poet James Deahl and philosopherTerry Barker, poets from across Ontario have shared their words and visions in rural Ontario. Highly acclaimed poets, publishers and academics rub shoulders and share readings with first timers at this event, which is held in local libraries, bed & breakfast inns, and on the island in the middle of the Marmora dam.

Much more information on "ZenRiver Poems and Haibun", Chris Faiers, PurdyFest, and Hidden Brook Press can be obtained online, or from Chris. Review copies of "ZenRiver Poems and Haibun" and other Hidden Brook Press publications can be provided to interested publications.


Review by Katherine L Gordon

published in "Umbrella", the magazine of  The Quinte Arts Council
January/February 2009
page 5: Literary Arts
Review for Zen River, poems and Haibun by Chris Faiers
Hidden Brook Press, ISBN 978-1-897475-25-6,
54 pages, $15.95.
Reviewed by Katherine L Gordon
poet, publisher, editor, reviewer

Zen River is a lush little book of Purdy Country prose and poetry that will warm the winter-bound with its philosophy of the heart and promise of the cycling seasons.

The presentation is as refreshing as the leaf-bound river on the cover. It is a riveting romp from the sheer fun of the walking experiences with Chris's dog Chase in their melt into unspoiled nature, to the unavoidably sober sternness of the brooding shield. This rock of beginnings has challenged would-be iron men, gold-mining adventurers, vanished settlers, in fierce-country duel that only the lucky can win. The imprint of their trials shapes the land with songs and sorrows of survival.

Chris understands the pathos of this human journey as well as the pleasures of just surrendering to nature. He can make a turtle an event. Seeing through his empathetic eyes brings you face to face with the essence of fish and heron, spirits and shadows: "ahead on a trail/ shadow shape figure/ fades on approach."

Chris hikes us through this overwhelming country so that we come to know the challenge. Respect and awe replace trepidation, the vulnerability of the solitary man, as the land in its wilderness splendour intoxicates us: "red-headed woodpecker/stirs shaman instincts/" while Chris explores.

Chris Faiers has generously allowed his friends, contemporary writers, to share this adventure hrough the seasons of Al Purdy country. It is a thoughtful and inspiring read, from the wild lessons of the trail till: "your white flag/ tells us it's time/ to head home."

The twinkle of humour is spiced through the writing. Al Purdy in his A-frame would smile approval. This little green book will be a heritage favourite for those who treasure nature and our alluring lands of the shield.

Katherine L. Gordon.


Collection of poems 17th for PurdyFest organizer

The Community Press Online (Ontario)
Posted By Judy Backus, December 2008

Marmora and Lake - Chris Faiers has called Marmora home for the past 20 years, embracing the rugged countryside he hikes with his canine companion, Chase, ever at his side. The varying aspects of the land and its inhabitants have provided ample poetic inspiration for which Faiers has become noted. His work has been published in many of Canada's top literary magazines, and in 40 anthologies and scholarly works. It has been praised by Canadian writers Al Purdy and Irving Layton, the latter of whom wrote, "Your poems have verve, wit, range and rage. Bravo and an entire laurel tree of praise for them. They have lifted me out of the fits of depression that sometimes grip me reading the lifeless drivel that passes for poetry these days ..."

Faiers' 17th poetry collection, "ZenRiver Poems and Haibun," published by Hidden Book Press under its third set of North Shore Series books, will be launched along with the work of four other area authors at the Bohemian Penguin in Belleville on Dec. 18. Faiers says of the Brighton-based publisher: "Richard Grove has taken on an incredibly demanding project of publishing 30 local authors that are on the north shore of Lake Ontario." Faiers says the project will "give an artistic and literary presence to this area."

In the introduction to "ZenRiver Poems" Haibun explains its format as being a haibun, "a combination of prose interspersed with haiku. The form was created by its master, Matsuo Basho, who developed it writing travel sketches of 15th century Japan." In reviewing the book, Katherine Gordon, a fellow poet wrote, "ZenRiver is a lush little book of Purdy country prose and poetry that will warm the winter-bound with its philosophy of the heart and promise of the cycling seasons." Sections of the book highlight each of the seasons, with Faiers' involvement in the town's annual Halloween event featured in one. He writes, following a description of the festivities at the park:

"tiny witch
names me leprechaun:
young eyes still clear

four-year-old boy
in a skeleton suit -
me in fifty-five years..."

A founding member of the Canadian Poetry Association and Haiku Canada, Faiers has for the past two years, and with help from fellow poets, co-ordinated the Civic Holiday weekend PurdyFest which has attracted poets, both established and budding, from across the province.

During an interview in his Marmora home, Faiers said of Al Purdy: "One of the ongoing themes of his poetry was the land of defeat of his ancestors ... What has been said about me and what I am doing with ZenRiver Poems and Haibun, and what we are doing with PurdyFest, is we are not trying to conquer the land like the early Irish and English settlers who came here, and because we are up on the (Canadian) Shield, the land isn't generally hospitable. We are learning to live in concert with the land the way the First Nations people did and not try to beat it."

Faiers, who participated in the recent Showcase of the Arts, said he had always realized there were artists within the community but that there had been "no organization to pull us together." Such an association now exists and welcomes artists and artisans as well as writers, among them the seven whose work formed part of the showcase.

Chris Faiers - December book launch    Hidden Brook Press - December Book Launch

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photo of Chris Faiers by Judy Backus
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