Jamie reading that middle section of his homage to Lester Young, languid in mid-summer North Van backyard, audible bee sounds around, rich purple wineglass coronas, lucky sun-glints alive in the lens of my tiny Harinezumi 3-inch camera. “...WHAH-WHAH -- the buzzing of the blues, / the sound / of dead jazzmen, still paying their dues....”
I count myself as one of the many who have been so fortunate to have known (and, by knowing, love) Jamie Reid. He really did it all: from hippy Be-In organizer, to the rising TISH star Whose Path Was on Fire; from volubly political deep-thinker, to the self-deprecating and wise poet of the Fake Poems. And throughout, one of the most inclusive, generous-spirited presences in the long and storied Vancouver writing scene.
The last time I saw Jamie, he was happily tucking cock-a-leekie soup into the fridge, wearing his widest Joker grin, and waxing newly enthusiastic about the writing project he had had time to mull over, had begun researching while dutifully (i.e., impatiently) waiting for his cellulitis to finish healing. A big, long, “Olsonite, composite, truth and reconciliation poem... a book maybe,” he said. That renewed energy, poet and activist again, with more than enough commitment, spirit, and time to pull it all together at last.
Photo: Jamie and Carol in Calgary, 1965 -- from Curious by George Bowering (Toronto: Coach House, 1973).