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About Varied / Artist Member Joe GirardMale/Canada Recent Activity
Deviant for 6 Years
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Sorry, freer
verse, we're
still made
from fad-
ing forms,
fads, norms,
status quo
atoms, though
we want
new font
to distract
from fact,
all we
can be:
cursed chemistry,
floating endlessly.
Form Less
I don't think there is, or should be, some big war between free verse and form verse, but the question is often raised in interviews with poets about the state of the trend, and where the fad is leaning. Personally, I liken it to a kitchen. If the best chef in the world had a kitchen with every tool imaginable, sure, s/he'll be able to make whatever, but does removing certain utensils from the kitchen deprive the chef of their title? No. Being outstanding depends on what you do with what you've got, whatever the result.

But I ruminate on the issue myself mostly because I've had form pieces rejected by groups on devART, who then accepted the exact same poem when I messed with the structure, to bury the rhymes (these are not, it should be stated, groups which stipulate a presence or lack of rhyme). What better proof is there that there's a stigma against rhyme? There really shouldn't be. Good poetry is good poetry.
There is a world
Where everyone cares
Because no one cares

When love stepped down
From the weary throne
To the dirty ground

It had held up the world
When all else
Fell sick off

But its pointed face
Was so hard
To stare at

In its reflections
It seemed to show
Every important thing

But really
Just five
Maybe four

Pleasure lost its chancellery
Duty and honour their fiefdoms
And finally innocence

It was still fun
Back in the world
Of wider circles freedoms

But the face of love
Grew flatter
Relaxing like a steam bath

Til finally
You saw me
I saw you

And it was okay
And it took strength
And I felt my heart
Breaking the Spell of Love
I'm really trying to write, lately, from a less cerebral place. Emotionally, intuitively. The last two years were almost unbearably difficult for me, due to life stresses which include my family's disintegration, my relationship's severe testing, the possible death of someone very close to me, quitting my government job to move across the entire country for my wife's schooling, the terms of which were changed after we arrived, robbing us of all our savings, and leaving us virtually destitute, if not for the loving support of friends and family back home. 

Most days, it's all I can do to encounter one true feeling, while balancing that sensation with the sane maintenance of two lives. Around this time last year I was diagnosed with PTSD, caused by childhood trauma, and the shoe does indeed seem to fit. It's hard to write about with any deft, carefree insight. Most times I feel like its all I write about, despite never mentioning it. Facing your worst problems is, as every hero's journey has suggested, the hardest thing you'll do.

But life doesn't unfold in three acts. Every worst challenge, and I've seen my share, suggests a low point that may never again be reached, but like a diver turning back when the oxygen gets low, there's at least some knowledge of a deeper, blacker place. I never ever want to find it, if it exists for me, after I recover from all this madness. I honestly don't know if I can take it. I seem to be rising in earnest now, hoisting up from the pit, by some mechanism, internal or external.

All I know is...I'm so grateful to the love I have, that it held up the world for so long. That it carried me through to this next safety. It's really time I reintroduced myself to life.
there was nothing left
to do with the peak
conquered all that came after
was a shallow petty thing life
gone from bees trees
now wrappings fill the earth
with air the drunk oil invents
an atmosphere of hollow costs

what price momentarily
perfect lost perception
of a generation fogbound
at the water’s edge splashing
to make the best reflection
even better telling ourselves
what our minds can’t see beyond
the other children our children beyond
the other lives our lives beyond
the other realities our lies
important beyond doom

the lone jammer tries
to focus wifi scrambles
thoughts passing through you
like neutrinos can’t take it
with you isn’t logic
stopping anyone from trying

suicide was sitting there
staring like a mirror
you don’t see porn
to thieve experience as
fleeting as a compliment
you imagined wealth
unknown all around but on what
Narcissus did you spend
your value
The Beautiful Suicide of Narcissus
My spouse, Simone, loves to read my work over my shoulder, as I read it to her. For some reason, probably having to do with my love of acting, I hate doing that. I want to know she's getting what I'm trying to say through my demeanor, as well as my words.

So, that's a big part of why I'm trying to write in a way where you get as much out of both approaches. Or, to put it another way, hearing it and seeing it at the same time no doubt enhances the experience of jaggedily-staged pieces like this. Once again, Simone makes my life better, ;). But, yeah, there's supposed to be at least part of each line embedded in the folling or previous line, except at the stanza's end.

I seriously debated the use of punctuation in this one. 

Here's another one I could go on and on about, but I'll let you make of it what you will. Though I just want to mention it was inspired by the Douglas Coupland art exhibit Everywhere is Anywhere and Anything is Everything. Particularly the room-sized model of the modern city.

Well, okay, it was inspired a lot by my realization recently that our culture's narcissistic trends are doomed to suicide. That's kind of the nature of narcissus, right?
you’re told to cut off
a piece of yourself
any piece any
piece you can live without

what can you live without
the game is loss
the winner is nothing
but what is essential

we never follow the winner
back into the world
where you can still find waiting
that total absence

of story
Reality TV
Since its inception, I've avoided reality TV. Last year saw a marked change in that trend, after I discovered RuPaul's Drag Race and Face Off. I've watched the entirety of RuPaul, with my wife, probably ten times in the last fifteen months. And Face Off two or three times. RuPaul appeals to my love of gender norms being questioned, gay culture, and some frankly talented individuals of every stripe and creed (besides heterosexuality and homophobia, I guess). Face Off appeals to my love of film and the visual artist trade. 

RuPaul works because it never takes itself as seriously as a Survivor or a Big Brother (lol, that name...), and it cops to its own stagecraft. Face Off works because art is, and always has been, and always will be, cool. Honestly, I think visual artists could profit from simply installing CCTV in their studios and live-feeding the internet (though, seriously, don't do that).

But I still don't quite get why people are watching other people cook (when they could be watching, and talking to(!), someone they know cooking (and then actually eating something slow-cooked afterward, seriously). And I don't get why it's fun to watch others sell used scrap, besides maybe some subconscious desire to gain further insight into the collapse of mineral-depleting, consumerist-slave-driven, not-so-secretly-oligarchical capitalism. And the fun of delineating someone's sweet singing against someone else's sweet singing completely eludes me.

We've long known that the ultimate fun of reality TV is in how it grants the viewer the chance to indulge in the sensation that their judgments and opinions matter. Whether that's a literal opportunity, like voting online for your favourite dancer(s). Or a figurative opportunity, like demonizing and lionizing certain judges on the show, depending on how closely their opinions align with your own; you even get to judge the judges!

And let's not forget the vicarious, voyeuristic thrill of invented celebrity.

But while that may have become the dominant understanding of reality TV, my first impression of the format, some fifteen years ago, was that it was a danger to human perception.

The importance of drama being drama is in that it's essence lets you know: this isn't real; you can use it to augment your real life, but it's a fiction. Well, children often believe it's real. So, reality TV is kind of like a way for adults to be children again. To make the fictitious non-fiction again. I have to worry about the effect this will have on human behaviour. 

Though I wasn't crazy about Argo from an entertainment aspect, the point it makes about story and reality is an important one. Reality needs stories to save it from chaos, but stories can cloud history, which is just as important for understanding how to improve life on earth. If we can't meet history clear-eyed, we'll never understand where we've been and where we're going. Hence the significance of ritual in early civilization.

But if we confuse history with story, there's a danger there: it cheapens both. Like a religious text that wants you to believe that impossible things happened and happen might become inspired to strive for something impossible yourself, like a world dependent on fossil fuels, or you might adhere to logic that made sense at one point in history, but no longer makes any sense, like screwing your own daughter, because you're afraid that otherwise your family name will die out, or maybe you need a few more farmhands around to survive, or whatever. (And you might create beautiful art or donate to charity or run a food bank, to be fair.)

The only thing that used to bug me about my own avoidance and dismissal of reality TV was in that I'd never watched any, so how could I really have an opinion? Well, now I've watched it, and it's given me this impression: we must strive to perfect ourselves. All the contestants and judges, on a psychological level, represent ourselves. A well-produced show knows to stagger the talents of both the contestants and the judges; part of ourselves has power and part of ourselves doesn't. Our conscious self and our instinctive self. It's telling of our times that our 'conscience' is held supreme over our 'instincts'

This subtle condemnation of our instinctive nature is important.  How many times have you looked back on a sequence of actions and said to yourself, 'I knew as it was happening that I shouldn't have been doing that, but I couldn't seem to stop.' The advertising world wants you to think that instinct is defined by cravings. Give in to your primal, cave-person urges, some ads suggest. Be wild and act with abandon. The insinuation being that you're innately bad at best, and amoral at worst. There's even a glamourization of this invented perception of instinct as abandon. But, sorry, I'm getting off track.

In reality TV instinct is the subject (the contestants) and the conscience is the object (the judges). And the relationship is a bit like Job and God. Hence my poem.

These shows encourage a narcissistic culture, because, in the end, only the winner is important/remembered/rewarded. The Hunger Games is a great example of why this does and doesn't make sense. Katniss must eventually choose to use her winner-ness to undo her own celebrity (I've only seen the movies so far, no spoilers, please), because she comes from a more collectivist culture, where people are forced by economic hardship to depend on each other. She's a paradox. She's the noose the capitalist sells you to hang them with. 

The cure for this problem may be equilibrium. Instinct and conscience are equally important tools for life. To place them at odds may be to forget ourselves, and our world, and the important exchange taking place there, constant as a raging river.
You might forget me,
Past, but I can’t
shake this labyrinth of

‘What if?’ I become
past, but I can’t  
revive; my being haunted.

What if I become
nothing…if they don’t
revive my being? Haunted

victor grants the victim
nothing (if they don’t
strike back). To the

victor grants the victim
all thought—that missing
strike. Back to the

vault of shame, where
all thought that missing
child would learn to

vault. Of shame—where
a ghost hopes that
child would learn to

shake this labyrinth of
a ghost—hope’s that
you might forget me.
The Oubliette of Past: A Pantoum
Here's another labyrinth of words for all you pantoum lovers out there. 

I've been dwelling on the past lately, but more and more I'm realizing just how much my present life has been soupifying as a result. I used to be way more in the present. Longing to return to the present has become something of an occupation. A few weeks ago I realized it felt a pit like prison, but not one anyone really put me in. Or, not deliberately. I've been obsessing over a past few others remember. I'm cursed with a great memory, and a tendency toward depression. Depression flavours the past, memory. But the ease with which I sometimes blast out of my depression, rocketing back into the now, perhaps speaks to the closeness between depression and acceptance on Kubler-Ross's (dubious) five stages of grieving scale. 

I sort of realized the other day, thinking of all the high school Facebook contacts I have, but never interact with, just how bizarre it is that the past that lives on in my head is probably the only library left of certain events. It's often the case that friends and family depend on me to provide definitive answers to clear up certain stories. Not that everyone always agrees with my version, and while I trust myself to a certain extend, my mind may be a library, but it's not a computer. Like a library, certain stories end up with second or third or fourth editions that may not exactly resemble the first edition, to everyone's satisfaction. As the oracle in the Matrix says, "Some parts you keep, some parts you lose."

But watching so many people who probably don't really remember the old me, and certainly don't know the present me, for someone with a memory like mine, it makes you feel a bit schizoid. It puts you in the oubliette of past. 

This is another poem dealing with my victimhood, and at the end, the ghost is the self that the oubliette has killed, creating this waking death I've gone through. On a parallel, since escaping that victimhood of old, I've undergone a sort of second childhood, with my partner, Simone, who's been a brilliant shepherd, facilitating my rebirth. But it still kind of sucks to want that old part of myself to die. I've struggled with changing my self, and memory is a big part of self, or at least my self. 

And, yeah, like most westerners of my generation, I heard about oubliettes from the movie Labyrinth, which some have said is a perfect presentation of someone dealing with a narcissist in their life. More on that to come.

Check out TwilightPoetess and her new title poem, Tell Me What You've Gone and Done Now, a poem comprised entirely of devART poem titles! Pretty swanky, I think you'll agree. A title of mine is in the mix, is one of yours? I guess you'll just have to go see to find out...!
  • Mood: dA Love
  • Listening to: Kavinsky - Nightcall
  • Reading: Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
  • Watching: Meet the Fokkens (Documentary)
  • Playing: Mario Kart Wii and Dungeon Keeper
  • Eating: Falafel
  • Drinking: Sweet sweet water


Joe Girard
Artist | Varied
Here's my interview with PoeticalCondition, after I was elected Poet of the Month: poeticalcondition.deviantart.c…

And here's my feature from when NicBelroque named me Daily Lit Deviant:…

As an actor, I've performed for the queen of England. As a film-maker, I've participated in several film festivals, placing first in the Toronto Art Festival 2006, in the digital film category. As a zen gardener, my designs have appeared in the Absorb art show.

My poems and short stories have been published in journals and magazines across north America, on and offline. On devART I've received one Daily Literature Deviation commendation for the poems:

Self-Made Men (…)
The 1998 Housefire At 198 Wentworth Street South (…)
Untitled: A Sonnet Told In Titles (…)
Piano Armageddon: An Image Poem (…)

Daily Deviations were awarded for the poems:

Come Home (…)
The Craven (…)

And my music has appeared on radio stations and at concert halls in numerous countries across North America and Europe. I've written music for the bands Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers, Hobo Sapiens, Uvenburd, and my eponymous solo project.

An anthology of short stories, In the Wings: Stories of Forgotten Women, edited by Bernadette Rule, includes my short story The Changeling (unavailable on devART, sorry :3). In the Wings was published by Seraphim Editions and is in its third printing. Other magazines I've been featured by include Switchback, WTF, The Perceptive I,, and In My Bedroom magazine, among others.

Most recently, In My Bedroom magazine published my piece Threesome (…) in their Vol 4 Issue 2 release, Menage a Trois.

These are my websites (so far):

Download my album

My CBC Radio profile

If you've enjoyed reading my popular works featured around devART, may I recommend the following others as highlights that had people talking:

The Horse-Fall: A Villanelle (…)
Spiritual Sex (…)
Big Top (…)
Hyoid (…)
Spacefeint (…)
The River: A Pantoum (…)
16-Bit Haiku: First Half (…)
16-Bit Haiku: Second Half (…)
Watch Your Step (…)
Monster Patient (…)
Anxiety Attack (…)
Weep Western Tears (…)
Hard Like a Star's Iron Heart (…)
Lick (…)

Here's a few more poems that are personal favourites of mine:

Dead Skin Deep (…)
The Werewolf Monologue (…)
Stitches: A Sonnet (…)

Here's a collection of my forty most favourited zen gardens:

The Gates of Moria…
Zenstellation Series: Ursa Major…
Cherry Blossom Modern Art…
Elemental Cycle Pt. 1: Water…
War of the Worlds…
Path Between Two Waterfalls…
8 Colour 4 Bit…
Porch Swing…
Pac Man…
Bag End…
Zenstallaion Series: Taurus…
Year of the Rabbit…
No Face…
Nine Were Given to the Kings…
Totem Pole, Telephone Pole, Tree…

And if you like nature art, here's the one's fans liked best:

Vertical Rath…
Natural Shoji…
PAranoid Schizophrenia…
Big Bang…
Samurai of Slate…
Geodesic Dome…
Origami Mistake…
Satellites Over Toronto…
Born on a Ghost Ship…
Tower of Pebel…
Rock Out…

And here's some highlights from my dabbling in origami:

Eastern Dragon…
Neko Cat…

Current Residence: Ottawa
Favourite genre of music: Percussive
Favourite photographer: Edward Burtynsky, maybe. Gregory Crewdson?
Favourite style of art: Nature Art
Favourite cartoon character: Calvin. Or Homestar Runner.
Personal Quote: Familiarity breeds birth defects.

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Add a Comment:
Berlin-Steglitz Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014
Thanks for the fave :)
Vielen Dank :)
sandzen Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014   General Artist
My pleasure. It's an awesome twist on something so many have done. Thanks for the fresh perspective.
SenhArt Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2014
Flowers fella (Love) Thanks a lot for faving!
sandzen Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2014   General Artist
No problem. It was subtle, beautiful and really sparked the imagination.
GrimDreamArt Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks so much for :+fav: on "Fantasy Pond"!
sandzen Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2014   General Artist
Not at all. There's a stark, grim chill present in your work that feels almost like Dr. Seuss, Edward Gorey and Edgar Allan Poe had a baby. It's all wonderful, really.
JAE462 Featured By Owner May 31, 2014
thanks for the fav
sandzen Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014   General Artist
No problem. A truly sensuous capture.
TheSphinx Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for faving my [Red Light 2047] :)
sandzen Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014   General Artist
Not a prob. Loved the immersing totality of ambiance.
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