For the Georgia Straight’s 18th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2013.
Best smokin’ poetry purveyor
Back in the days of Dylan Thomas and W. H. Auden, poetry and cigarettes went together like football and beer. Times have changed. Poetry is still its wiry, mysterious self, but the funky old cigarette machines that were once everywhere have gone to the scrap yard—if they haven’t been brilliantly repurposed. Through the month of September, keep your eye out for the vintage vending machines (including ones built decades ago to sell candy) that the Word Vancouver festival has converted into poetry-dispensing devices and planted at various downtown locations, such as the Vancouver Public Library’s store, book’mark, Paper Hound bookstore, and Bean Around the World café at Cambie and Hastings. For the price of pocket change, you can punch a satisfyingly analogue button and get one of 95 different poems by Elizabeth Bachinsky, Jan Zwicky, Rita Wong, Michael Kenyon, and a host of other widely respected versifiers. And if you don’t run across one of the machines in the next couple of weeks, you’ll find all of them gathered for the main day of the multifaceted Word Vancouver literary fest (formerly Word on the Street), on September 29 in and around the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch (350 West Georgia Street).
Best place to find works of Filipino literary giants
Again Treasures Unlimited
1868 West Broadway
Included in this small nostalgia store’s global collection of books, art pieces, European movies, classical and Broadway music, and souvenirs are masterpieces in Filipino literature. There’s an English version of Noli Me Tángere (translation from Latin: “touch me not”), the most influential political novel in Philippine history. Originally written in Spanish by Philippine national hero José Rizal, the opus sparked the first nationalist revolution in Asia against western colonial rule during the 19th century. Also occupying a special place in this cultural oasis are the 20th-century verses of the late Jose Garcia Villa, a celebrated Manila-born and, later, New York–based modernist poet (sometimes known as “the comma poet”). Presiding over the lifestyle boutique is proprietor Mel Tobias, a former Hong Kong–based correspondent for Variety and Hollywood Reporter who now reports from Vancouver for local and international publications.
Best written advice on how to save the Earth
UBC economist Marina Adshade suggests that getting married means more than just regular sex. It’s also good for the planet, according to the author of Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love, because living together creates a smaller carbon footprint compared to when two singles live separately.
Best all-access community literary exchange
Who says the book is dead? Well, the iGeneration, of course. But we (not Wii) all know that’s not true. Witness the rise of Little Free Libraries, tiny pop-up bookshelves that have been appearing all over the city, such as LFL #6304 at 2305 McLean Drive (near 7th Avenue). The concept, which began in the U.S., is as simple as this: users can borrow a book or leave a book. (In fact, the idea became so popular that there is now a visual-art version in Guelph Park called the Dude Chilling Art Exchange, where visitors can browse, donate, or take artwork.) You don’t need a membership, or an iAccessory, or even electricity. And it’s free. Now that’s access.