Posts Tagged ‘Daniela Elza’

winter escapes

October 20, 2011 4 comments

by Daniela Elza

the snow       was unwelcome.

still     it blooms lilies on the dust
pad    of busy feet 
on signs          with missing letters.

before             the day is over
we plough it              aside.

I flip my life              over
like a carpet  on the snow
stomp             to paisley crescendos
of Brownian               emotions

in this city      abscessed
with growth              and cranes.

what do we call the lily-of-the-valley
after the valley is gone?
back home we know it as Virgin’s Tear

now acidly sheds      on the surplice 
of cities        where clergy will gather
in peach coloured rooms
to ruminate   over convenient beliefs.

another obstacle to overcome
today              melted with  the snow
before              I could          touch it—

this fractal fire           that lingers
on the fringe of a snowflake

before it fails to be white.

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Daniela Elza (blog) has released more than a 150 poems into the wor(l)d in over 50 publications. This year she completed her doctorate in Philosophy of Education at Simon Fraser University and launched The Book of It. Daniela’s book The Weight of Dew is forthcoming with Mother Tongue Publishing (April, 2012). She lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada.

Categories: Worship Tags:

what holds (us

November 5, 2010 6 comments

by Daniela Elza


crow.d I

as a child I would hear them	       at dawn
in my bed 		   on the eighth floor

(imagine them)	   all huddled around
chimneys and	   TV antennas

		   in a chorus 

high above   the winter city.

at such a time
			     I could even hear them
through	     the thinning walls of dreams

just before 	    the first high heels	clatter
onto the morning pavement.


crow.d II

we weave our destinies daily
with a scream and a rattle

a whine and a coo
a caw and a cackle.

among the city’s n.eon signs humming
homing us in.	  crooning

from warm beds	  from cedar lined nests
cradling speckled eggs.

when we chopped the trees down 

and offered you dumpsters to dive in
back alleys to raise your young

what do you choose to line your nests with?


crow.d III

they perch behind   my ear.	
nest there     in my hair.	
their carrion breath 		permeates
the spaces 		 between. temples 

full 		 of r e s t l e s s

the place turns 		     so b.lack
I could 	   mistake it for 



“All the words, all the silences disguised
as words, adrift between us and the unsaid.”
—Robert Bringhurst

crow.d IV

I hear the black charred voice of 
all the words		from the c r o w ns of trees

it is here among	        all the silences
disguised as words that one raven speaks

among many 	        crows.

only the water a.drift		            between us
reflects 	 as we cross 	everyday

back 			        and forth
from the city 		(its skyline call.igraphy)

to perch in the st.ark branches of memory

and the unsaid

	 we are 

		in between 
				is where (we float
		our meaning.


crow.d V

from this far 	 
		 from this end of the field
p.ages flutter into    memory	     )   )   )
	with	 my eyes half closed

even the gallows looks         (as if
it has always been	    

take turns      passing on      sharp-
eyed		secrets.	

the letters—		faceless.

caught heavy		in the mind’s gravity.
named	crows		      turning 
white.		as black 	      snow
falls on	deaf ears.

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Daniela Elza (blog) has written with and around crows for more than a decade. The crows remain a mystery to her. She know, for sure, they have a lot to say. She has decided to put them in a book and let them sort it out. Daniela’s work has been published in over 42 print, online, and peer-reviewed publications. Daniela is the recipient of this year’s Pandora’s Collective Citizenship Award.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

god    is a poet

August 8, 2010 7 comments

by Daniela Elza

Metaphors evoke one another and are coordinated more than sensations,
so that a poetic mind is purely and simply a syntax of metaphors.

—Gaston Bachelard

Literature… is the Promised Land in which
language becomes what it really ought to be.

—Italo Calvino

the language of god

(the burning bush
(the stone tablets
(the serpent

that made us
f all like a ripe apple.

(the elevation
of the mountain

parables of

(the seeds
that take root in fertile soil
(I didn’t make this up)

or those un fortun ate ones that fell on the rocks.

(the lamb.

do we forget we speak in tongues of

between the image
and the lack of a tangible presence

there is a gap
through which

to meaning

(in metaphors.
neatly folds

his mortality. and language becomes
what it really ought to be

the mistake

(he can make) is to take
the making of the world in seven days

lite r ally.

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Daniela Elza has released more than 120 poems into the world in more than 40 publications. Most recently her work appeared in Vallum, Matrix, ditch, educational insights, BluePrintReview, One Ghana One Voice, 4 poets (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2009) and is forthcoming in The Trumpeter and The New Orphic Review. Daniela lives with her family in Vancouver and sporadically blogs at Strange Places.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Andy Warhol (The Vancouver Art Gallery, 2004)

June 21, 2010 11 comments

by Daniela Elza

an i.con turned around
upside d.own until it does not

make sense.
until symbol is b.led from

the hammer and the sick.le—
they lie flat as if the workers were

in a hurry for their lunch break. and
someone forgot their shoe in the picture.

until camouflage is not in.visible—
evolves into what should be seen

reds and p.inks and yell.ows.
make it something to zero in.

while Michelangelo is reduced to a hand
in the corner of a canvas. Christ

is an.other face—
the cross a memory we have misp.laced.

the last supper— flagged in
a 50$ bill. t.rust and freedom

the shapes of photography
the s.hades of pain.ting

until the electric chair has f.illed
a whole room with itself replicating

through the n.eon col.ours of oblivion.

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Daniela Elza has released more than 120 poems into the world in more than 40 publications. Most recently her work appeared in Vallum, Matrix, ditch, educational insights, BluePrintReview, One Ghana One Voice, 4 poets (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2009) and is forthcoming in The Trumpeter and The New Orphic Review. Daniela lives with her family in Vancouver and sporadically blogs at Strange Places.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

rounding up the seasons

April 10, 2009 Comments off

I want one of those figs stewed in heavy sweet syrup
my mother used to make for winter. you quickly learn

one is enough. served with a glass of water to wash it down.
who still wants “progress”?

uterine wasp’s nest, Fall harvest feels foreign in the city,
obsessed with large,
: it’s metastatic. not cyclic.

such weak mutagens UV rainbow, espresso
summer is a small pithy room we have plastered
with (blank) images.

heterotrophic memory, lined with new walnuts
my father used to crack between rocks and feed to me

forest floor velvet convert lichen:
their advanced agriculture. I need a language
to be able to digest this singularity.

when DNA can’t spell it becomes GMO, grows
Roundup Ready™ into the small vertebrae of Spring.

by Christina Shah and Daniela Elza

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Process notes

Christina and I used to get together to write regularly before she left Vancouver. We wanted to call ourself Burning the Cheese writing group, partly because the coffee shops we wrote in seemed to be burning the cheese all the time. Still we got together. When I saw this call for submissions I thought it would be a great opportunity to really write together.

A good analogy for this process would be that of Cordyceps sinensis, a medicinal mushroom that grows out of a caterpillar. Hence the name, “winter worm, summer grass.” I felt like my part was that of the worm, and Daniela’s was that of the mycelium.  I provided the initial concept, running with the actual Mutating the Signature idea, and Daniela provided the framework.  But this was most definitely a symbiotic (not a parasitic!) relationship.

Most of our collaborating happened over the phone and intermittent emails. We did not seem to haggle much over things, but we kept mishearing words.

Daniela misheard ‘lost’ for ‘wasp’ (3rd stanza) and we kind of liked how that sounded — and played with and laughed with it.  So it would be ‘uterine lost nest’s’ which Daniela thought sounded quite cozy.

When I read Christina’s work, there is always something I have to look up, so at one point I told her I feel I need to take a language course to work with her. She tries to pack so much. So I spend some time unpacking.

Yes, Daniela compared working with me and my tendencies toward density to stewed figs in heavy syrup.

And the figs, and the language and the lost nest made it into the poem one way or another, on the lexical or idea level.

silence: a courtyard

March 22, 2009 4 comments

I shudder through the bones
of the courtyard

the silence it seeks is a curious sound

how speak a cluster of pines?
how hold such small echoes:

words in two voices a flutter in two
hearts a finch
I fear to touch a whisper
behind my ear

under the blooming cherry
this place a single word
dreamt and    wrapped in dormant
seeds, a slice of black     earth

I clang the gate shut — the scattered clouds
look me straight in the eye
push me about because they can.

by Rob Taylor and Daniela Elza

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Process Notes

Our collaboration was preceded by a bit of creative borrowing on both our parts. Having only met once at a local reading, I became enamored with the form Daniela was employing in her work, the triptych: three vertical columns of words that read both horizontally (across the columns, left to right, like a traditional poem) and vertically (down each of the three columns). These triptychs were, in fact, four poems in one, and I was very interested in trying my hand at one (four?). I was especially interested in using blank spaces in the columns to emphasize silences — to see how hollow parts of the poem became when a single word from a single column was removed. I wrote a poem entitled “We speak of silence, not in breath,” which focused on the theme of silence and included the sudden interruption of a quiet scene by a bird.

I sent my poem to Daniela, quite unsure if she would either be upset that I was moving in on her form, or dismissive because I didn’t really get what the triptych was all about. Instead she was enthusiastic, so much so that when I sent her a note about qarrtsiluni’s collaborative writing issue, she quickly responded with a revised version of my poem — and we were off!

I sprinkled in nature images, Rob kneaded the emotions in. At first we had a bit of a hiccup. We took too much out. I went back and dragged some of the stuff back in. There were dormant moments between. There were questions: what makes a good poem? I feared about the process at times because I had never done this with someone I practically did not know. I did not want it to fail. All along I cherished the fearless meeting of minds.

I was nervous about adding to the poem after the initial creative moment. When I edit I am almost always paring away at the poem, but if that’s all both peole do in a collaborative exercise then pretty soon you have nothing to work with. My excitement was in seeing the poem go places I know I would never have taken it — rarely does a cherry blossom spontaneously appear in the middle of one of my poems, or a line like “how speak a cluster of pines,” a question I’ve asked to myself many times without finding a way to put it on paper.

All the while the poem was molding and shaping itself, and was saying, “Hey, guys, cut it out with these process notes. What about me? Over here? This is about me, after all, not about these notes you keep processing.” We thought in the beginning the poem was about a single word. But at the end it seemed to be about so much more.


February 26, 2009 6 comments

alleys(have no fixed addresses):
no front door stoops;

# shortcuts coding the city
# with their pragmatic and dirty

/* kind of beauty. an apothem’s
relentless straightedge */

functions() of a hyperbolic map
where roads only turn right;

<the> alley fails a pi[d]geon-faced dealer
his bicycle navigating </crowds>

whoDwellBehind theNormals in
life. thisMetaspace of precariousCables;

dumpsters_and_bugs crashing

among-the-crows, the-circuits
of old-benches, where travellers
chalk their-secret-language

(on (the (underbelly (of) the) city)—here)

a thousand: kilometers of: short cuts
threading the: longest path: through


to {the | pharmacy} with {no | pain} killers

by Dethe Elza and Daniela Elza

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Process notes

Dethe writes:
Hearing Daniela every day for the past few weeks talking about one collaboration or another, it just seemed natural to try one together. I sent her a poem about the alleys of Vancouver.

Daniela writes:
The alley topic sat dormant in my head for a few days. One night we brainstormed around alleys: these shortcuts, like in coding, and suddenly there was an explosion of ideas. Especially after the lights went out. To the point that we wrote notes under the light of a cellphone, thinking that was it. We laugh now, why we did not turn the light on.

I have often wondered how to put computers and technology into poetry. Poetry has had a big influence on how I write code, but the influence hasn’t gone the other way very much. The sparking of these ideas helped to bring the two together.

I could not go to sleep. I got up and wrote trying to give shape to what had just happened. It was 2am when I finally settled down. I sent that to Dethe the next day.

When I went through it, each line triggered new ideas. Under each line I wrote the line it inspired: a re-working of Daniela’s line, and sometimes a more drastic change. The result was like taking the poem through a looking-glass, basically the same, but also entirely different. I thought it was really shaping up.

When I got his email, I was shocked. It felt like he did not keep a lot of the phrasing. I felt like I introduced stress in the process by commenting on that. But when I looked at it the next day, I realized what he was doing. He was riffing off, tightening up, taking out what he did not want. I rewrote the poem using my lines and his lines.

With a couple of very small changes, I was happy with it. At this point, the poem felt done to me. There was one word that was misspelled (“pidgeon”) and I wanted to keep it because we were using a pigeon both as imagery and as metaphor (alley denizens), while we were also playing with language, especially the simplified pidgin language of computers. I resolved this by putting the “d” in square brackets, then mentioned that it made it look kind of like code.

At this point I wanted it to look more like code, and asked Dethe to go further, to introduce different aspects of coding.

The result isn’t really code, but it carries the feel of various programming languages. A different programming language or construct is reflected in pretty much every stanza. Trying to work those constructs in without destroying or distracting overly from the poem was a challenge. I still don’t know if it was successful or if we pushed it too far.

Icon in a Green Walnut Shell

February 5, 2009 9 comments

the sound of wind shifting stones, slowly,
over centuries, is how a woman walks

the land.        a sound you can only hear
when you grow               still

between        the thud of heart
(the blue vein of the horizon)

and the night              (the red veil
of the lung).

a man is how we silence trees. the sound
of the wind shifting stones

is an avalanche      in the white sheet of
the tongue. is how a child grasps

wheat fields, scratches stars down
from the dark.              We use words

borrowed from old countrysides.              look up.
their meanings as if they are vials

full of nostrum brewed by     no one.    the rest
is the way a    man speaks

trees,       that blossom into houses. then  prays.
the green veil of the               fingers

plucking the sky from its                      roots
is how a woman listens. slowly, over centuries

is how        plutonium blossoms in the core
of our bones. is how a child gasps The

call of the raven startles us
into a story,        where we are not

the beginning, and words
not the end       or the telling

but what we break open.        in our half-lives.
what we share, what we crouch to eat.

on the edge of night

by Harold Rhenisch and Daniela Elza

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Process notes

This process started years ago, when I (Harold) used to climb my walnut tree in the mountains of British Columbia and shake down walnuts which I picked up from the fall chrysanthemums, and, far away in Bulgaria, I (Daniela) was falling in love with a walnut tree in my grandmother’s yard, staining my fingers on their husks, eating the milky fruit inside.

After that, things were quiet for many years, we both became better writers while working with Daniela’s poems, and began to wonder how we could apply what we had learned. We discussed working out the parameters of a new method of teaching, but it was difficult to get beyond the roles of teacher and student, although we were neither. I (Harold) got the idea that the next step might be to write poems together, without selves, to write them as shared objects. I conceived of them as dramas. W>i<e made a couple attempts that went nowhere, as the process began with poems that appeared finished and the work of breaking them, so they could be reformed, was more difficult than w<i>e anticipated. Thus invitation was already there.

Then Daniela found a line in a story of Harold’s in The Malahat Review, quickly added a few verses to it, and sent it Harold’s way, suggesting he mutate the signature.

I (Harold) had fun with it, picked up on the rhythms (I) Daniela had set up, modified them, depersonalized adjectives, and ran with it as far as I could.

W>i<e both continued this process of shuffling and movement, and within two days of tossing it back and forth w<i>e had a poem that was larger than w>i<e were (was). Most of what was exchanged between us was the poem back and forth. Not much else in terms of explanations. Now that w<i>e have found a way to balance form with improvisation, w>i<e will be writing many more.

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