the world beneath the world

“The world beneath the world” is what Dionne Brand called it, when she was here reading for Play Chthonics last fall. The world we’d live in if Columbus hadn’t sailed the ocean blue, if Lenin not Stalin, if Mao without the Cultural Revolution, if Kennedy not Nixon, without the Viet Nam war or the war in Iraq…. She says that world still exists beneath the surface, that it has a language, that we can go there. Roy and Slav say there are signs all the time, if we pay attention.

Yesterday I went there, for a few moments– dinner hosted by the gracious Jeff Bear for his sister Shirley Bear, and us– her friends– out at Jeff’s house in Musqueam. Such food! I tried kaaw for the first time, ate oysters, chunks of smoked cod, salmon, halibut. Shirley and Roy remember the possibility of the 60s before the disillusionment of the 70s, hang on to hope, justice in the cells. That world is still possible, if we can figure a way through this one, churning out students like human widgets. My friend Margot calls it a chicken factory, grade ’em by size and quality, so the corporations can pick their minions.

I had to leave just as the fish was arriving. Me and the little dog Decker, we salivate… But left for a good reason– to attend and read for the launch of Fist of the Spider Woman, edited by the lovely and amazing Amber Dawn. There are women out here on the east side actively making that other world, and I am grateful to be able to go there sometimes.

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