Goodbye, sweet world…

30 April 2013 — Vancouver, Canada

A funeral was held for me today on Mount Pleasant. For the record, here is somewhat of an obituary…

Samuel Wayne Reimer was born in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada on 26 May, 1949, the second son of John K. Reimer and Leona Ruth Reimer. Raised on “the Bible, hymns, porridge, borscht, home-baked bread, and prayer,” he discovered Shakespeare around the age of eight by means of a copy of Hamlet found in his grandmother’s basement. As he put it, “this confirmed my life-long passion for ‘the Word Over All,’ as the Beatles (John Lennon in particular) would do again a half dozen years later.”

In 1964 his family moved to Meade, Kansas, where Sam lived until 1968— “just long enough to be eligible for the Vietnam War and the draft”— an entitlement that caused him to “skip back home” to Winnipeg. Sundry jobs held him in Manitoba for a year or two (Winnipeg Supply & Fuel Company, & Canada Dry offices, etc.) before the happening zeitgeist of “tuning in, turning on, dropping out” swept him west to the BC coast (en route to San Francisco). In Vancouver, a ‘Jesus Rediscovered’ experience and a sojourn with Dave Milton at The House of Daniel would deeply influence his life-course.

Sam married Elizabeth St. John in 1970, a union that would bear a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Dylan. A stint of writing for Maranatha Free Press in Vancouver predated a 1976 move with kids in tow to Mission, BC, then to the mountainous country of Robson Valley, with spells of work as railway section-crew and in a plywood-veneer plant. A short-lived teaching role in creative writing followed, via Fraser Valley College’s Community Education program— two complete semesters with students aged 18–80! Then it was back to the urban setting of Vancouver, a separation in 1981, and a divorce in 1984.

Since 1987, Sam lived on his own in the Ivanhoe Apartments in Vancouver, where he penned literally thousands of poems. In 2008, a collection of 200 of his works was published in the book Gray Matter Graffitti.

Sam passed away peacefully at Vancouver General Hospital in the early hours of 26 April, 2013, with family members by his side. He is survived by his daughter Jennifer (Kaleeg) Hainsworth; son Dylan (Tonya) Reimer; granddaughters Ella, Huelwen, and Bridget Hainsworth; father John K. Reimer; brothers David (Katy) Reimer and Rod (Deborah) Reimer; sisters Lucille (Jim) Pfeifer and Arvella (Mike) Lucas. Sam was predeceased by his mother Leona Reimer.

Book review… in the Mennonite Historian


13 January 2009—Winnipeg, Manitoba

A spirited book review by Adelia Neufeld Wiens, Coordinator of Student Advising at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, appears in the December 2008 (Vol. XXXIV, No.4) of the Mennonite Historian. Here’s the review in full…

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Sam Reimer was born in Steinbach in 1949, lived in Kansas from the age of 15 till early adulthood, and then settled in Vancouver where he remains. This lovely book reflects a lifetime of writing and polishing by an eccentric, delightful poet and artist.

Reimer describes the contents thus: ”Some are autobiographical, some fictitious, some more serious, some angrier, some more sorrowful than others—ranging from the profane to the sacred, and en masse erring on the side of oddness.” I appreciate the summary except for the reference to “oddness.” Some of these poems are quirky, maybe, but if this is odd, then the world has worn me down and I just don’t see it!

Everything in this volume is burnished, from the charming introduction by Robert L. Peters to the biography and colophon at the end. This book will delight many, both those on the edge of faith and those in its warm, comfortable middle.

Divided into “chapters” with titles such as “Backroads Magic,” “Anarchies of Love,” and “Jesus Chrystals,” the poems are easy to read and wonderful to savour.

There are surprises. The art and graphic design complements the text, and sometimes enchants. On one page, I read the poem and then looked again. Printed on an angle, in lightly screened large font are these words: “To treat a man as a beast in a cage/serves only a greater beast to enrage.” An explanation follows: “This couplet got me disqualified from jury duty, among some other lines.” I could have so easily missed this!

Reimer’s observations of nature offers wonderful descriptions. “Impression: Along Molson Way,” concludes Give the earth a crack at the city/ & gardens grow in gangs,/daisies/ & morning-glories run in packs.

His descriptions of places and feelings are evocative. In “Dunster Sketch,” calligraphies/ from the moon/ shine blue-/ white with tall/ dark silhouettes/ poised for dancing/ against the sky/ across the snowdrift floor/ Bluejay night broods mellow/ moods in the valley.

Reimer is divorced. His pain at that is expressed in several poems, including “Liz Lost:” & where are you/ my shadow love/ my ring around the/ dark side of the moon you

There is haiku: Japanese woman/ in her early twenties a/ blossom breeze passing

And there is faith. Reimer’s metaphor for faith “Holding Patterns” concludes But we’re in a holding/ pattern, symmetrical, safe,/ & our pilot sees in more/ than a few dimensions,/ has eyes in his palms,/ radar under his hat,/ & when we land we’ll get to/ shake his hand & ask/ Him how it really went.

This small volume is a treasure. Reimer has been playing with words since he discovered Shakespeare as a child, and we are fortunate that this collection has finally been published.

“Within Word-Within-World Play” sums it all up:

As the work of poetry
Began with word-play so the humdrum-drudgery of editing
Must be made palatably entertaining
Ending finally as it began
Word-Within-World Play

Read this and enjoy. Words. Play. World.

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(Thanks to Dr. Lawrence Klippenstein).

The Bard… in The Carillon


23 October 2008—Steinbach, Manitoba

Today’s issue of The Carillon (published in Steinbach, Sam W’s birthplace) included a well-written piece by Doris Penner re: her impressions of Gray Matter Graffitti and the poetry reading and book-signing event at the Mennonite Heritage Village museum two weeks ago. Read or download a PDF of the article (176 KB) here.

“Reading the world its rights”—in Steinbach

11 October 2008—Steinbach, Manitoba

Sam W. returned to his birthplace yesterday for a poetry reading and book-signing event at the Mennonite Heritage Village museum in Steinbach. An appreciative audience (including the Bard’s parents and brother) was in attendance, and “avuncular Sam” held forth in style—for the most part more sacred than profane. Earlier in the day he made appearances on both Mix96 and CHSM radio. Thanks to Dr. Lawrence Klippenstein of Steinbach for all local arrangements and to the museum for the evening’s fine venue.

Dr. Lawrence Klippenstein introduces… you know who.

A Night of Live Art and Good Coffee—Victoria

10 October 2008—Victoria, British Columbia

If you’re in the vicinity of Victoria, you won’t want to miss this… plan to attend ‘A Night of Live Art and Good Coffee’ in the cozy lounge of the church by the lake on Friday, 7 November, 7pm — 5363 Patricia Bay Highway (across from Elk Lake, travel instructions here). Father John Hainsworth, the priest at All Saints of Alaska Orthodox Church in Victoria (aka Sam. W’s son-in-law Kaleeg) is hosting the evening—and it’s likely the Bard’s reading will be featured on one of the popular Paradosis podcasts.

Sam W. Reimer—now “live” on YouTube

9 October 2008—Winnipeg, Manitoba

You can now experience a selection of poems read by the Bard on YouTube, here. Enjoy…

Poetry in the Pembina Hills…

8 October 2008—Morden, Manitoba

Morden’s Pembina Hills Arts Centre (in the town’s splendid old historic clock tower-turned-gallery) was the venue for last night’s reading and book-signing. Arranged by local impresario Grace Warkentin (a resident of this prairie town for the past four decades), a small but enthused group of attendees took in Sam W.’s readings from Gray Matter Graffitti (along with some snacks and libations).

Sam W. Reimer looms large at the historic Pembina Hills Arts Centre.

Poetry… in the ’Peg

7 October 2008—Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Bard really shone last night at Winnipeg’s official book-launch and poetry reading at McNally Robinson’s Prairie Ink Restaurant at Grant Park. An appreciative audience lingered afterwards as Sam W. signed books and answered questions from those in attendance. A selection of the night’s poems may now be viewed on YouTube, thanks to Adrian Shum (more about this evening here).

Images: Sam W. Reimer with “agent provocateur” Grace Warkentin; the Bard holding forth in the Prairie Ink Restaurant.

The Bard… Manitoba-bound.

1 0ctober 2008—Winnipeg, Manitoba

Travel details are confirmed, and the Poet is making final preparations for his trip to the prairies. For anyone in the Manitoba area, here are the dates, times, and venues of Sam W. Reimer’s confirmed book launches, poetry readings (and signings) during the second week of October:

Winnipeg – 8pm on Monday, 6 October,
McNally Robinson’s Grant Park store,
(The Prairie Ink Restaurant).

Morden – 7pm on Tuesday, 7 October,

Pembina Hills Arts Centre (wine & cheese, etc.).

Steinbach – 7:30pm on Friday, 10 October,
Mennonite Heritage Village museum.

Look for a book review by Doris Penner in The Carillon later this week… and we’ve heard rumours that Sam W. (who many around Steinbach might remember as “Wayne” Reimer) might be heard on the radio some time later next week—on CHSM (more information will be posted here as it becomes available).

Book-launch in Steinbach, Friday October 10th

17 September 2008—Steinbach, Manitoba

Sam W. Reimer (the second son of John K. & Leona Ruth Reimer, and formerly known as ‘Wayne’ to most in these parts) will be giving a poetry reading and signing books in his birthplace, Steinbach, at 7:30 pm on Friday, October 10th. Appropriately, the Steinbach book-launch for Gray Matter Graffitti will be at the Mennonite Heritage Village museum (situated on Hwy. 12, 1km north of the town of Steinbach). This will be your chance to encounter the bard in person, buy a book, and get it signed… Sam W. has many relatives in the Steinbach area who are sure to “spread the word.”

And speaking of relatives, a special thanks to Lawrence Klippenstein for local arrangements…

Book reviewed by Jake Letkemann…

17 September 2008—Winnipeg, Manitoba

Reverend Jake Letkemann of Winnipeg has written a book review…


Gray Matter Graffitti
By Sam W. Reimer
Robert L. Peters, ed.
Circle Design Inc., 214 pages

First, a note of gratitude. If Lawrence Klippenstein had not asked me to review this book of some 200 short poems, I would have been bereft of considerable pleasure, some inspiration and at times befuddlement! Thanks, Lawrence.

Secondly, a disclaimer. You probably expect a review. When Lawrence requested that, I referred him to a contemporary poet and English professor, but he quickly compromised and agreed to settle for some “impressions” or something like that. What you get here is not a thorough book review, but some impressions and observations.

The poems were written during several decades, as Reimer born in 1949 in Steinbach, Manitoba, lived in this province, in the state of Kansas, in British Columbia, did various types of work including working for the Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company, a spell with a railway section crew and writing for Maranatha Free Press in Vancouver, married, had two children, was divorced and now lives alone in Vancouver. His comment about the poems is pertinent. He writes in part, “Some are autobiographical, some fictitious, some more serious, some angrier… some elegies, some eulogies, and some just plain better than others.” (p.5) Peters has grouped them under eight helpful headings.

“The Relay” (pp. 44-45) is a fine example of vivid description of a rustic scene. As a farmer’s plow disturbs a home of young rabbits, a hawk spies a meal. As it swoops down

hawk is surprised by first one then

both of them–the parents of the small prey.
Dashing, leaping, lunging, two bodies possessed
by a passion of blood, they race this relay

of life and death. The hunter can’t
land long enough even to kill quickly, or
for a morsel torn off on his way. Wherever

he would touch down, one or the other
sudden warrior is right there,
blazing acute angles, incisors poised like blades

until the hawk gives up and the rabbits soothe their young.

A sketch of a rabbit accompanies the poem. Many poems are enhanced by either sketches or photographs.

Reimer and his wife separated in 1981. The poem, “July 10, 1981″ (p. 98) is an example of an autobiographical poem loaded with poignant memories. Here is part of it.

. . . .

You & I stood on the gravel
shoulder at a corner of crossroads
in the cloudless noontime daze

& held each other in what
you will’d our
last embrace…

. . . .

In the mountainous noontime hush
a stranger stepp’d on board the bus
a steel door seal’d the end of us.

Reimer toys with a variety of styles. “4 one who” (p.115) illustrates one of these styles where he carefully arranges words and letters to enhance the feeling of aloneness. A sketch of a caged bird accompanies the poem.

4 one who
dotes on
sure do hate
wake or dine
sure do hate
bloody much
of my

“The Uni-Point: A Novelty” (p. 163) is a frivolous, playful thing using “point” sixteen times, punning on the different meanings. “To Certain Politicians” (U Know Who U R) (p.147) is a bitter attack by the speaker on some politicians ending with,

Slugs & worms
don’t make me sick—
U do.

One is often reminded of other poets and poems. For example, “First Snowfall in the Forest” for kids & critters (p. 137) reminds one of Robert Frost’s, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” However, the apparent simple description in Frost’s poem leads to a philosophical observation, whereas Reimer’s remains pleasantly light as though intended for “kids and critters.”

Several war poems (examples on pp. 149-153) illustrate the speakers’ impatience with war and violence. However, unlike Wilfred Owen’s powerful poems gurgling with blood and bitterness, Reimer’s poems remain more satirical and light in both style and content. For example at the end of “Freedom March: A Novelty,” where recruits are drilled with repetetive, “2 3 4″ as they “march for freedom,” one innocent young recruit is finally permitted a question and he asks:

Sir, why can’t we dance

I’m tempted to continue, but nobody would print it, and if they did, you wouldn’t read to the end. Therefore get the book and feast on the real thing!


Jake Letkemann

Bard to hold forth in Morden, 7 October 2008…

20 August 2008—Morden, Manitoba

Following the scheduled book-launch in Winnipeg on 6 October, the indefatigable poet will be regaling an audience the very next night in the town of Morden (a 90 minute drive SW of the city). The venue (arranged by local impresario Grace Warkentin, a well-known long-time Mordenite and also Sam W.’s able ‘agent’) is the Pembina Hills Arts Centre (in the town’s splendid old historic clock tower-turned-gallery). Come for 7:00 pm, take in the bard’s readings and some libations, get your book copy signed by the author, and enjoy an impressive juried collection of visual art to boot… did you know that Morden was honoured this year as a Cultural Capital of Canada?

McNally Robinson launch & poetry reading in Winnipeg on 6 October…

18 August 2008—Winnipeg, Manitoba

Sam will be in Winnipeg on 6 October 2008 for an 8:00 pm book-launch and poetry reading at the Prairie Ink Restaurant in McNally Robinson’s flagship Grant Park bookstore (be sure to arrive early to get a seat). Gray Matter Graffitti is now also available through all of McNally Robinson Booksellers’ outlets (Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary) as well as online through

McNally Robinson is one of Canada’s largest independent bookstores, well-known for its support and promotion of Western Canadian authors. More information about the 6 October launch and reading in Winnipeg here.

Now available in Steinbach…

30 July 2008—Steinbach, Manitoba

Sam W. Reimer’s book is now available at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, (Sam’s birthplace) thanks to arrangements by historian Lawrence Klippenstein (Sam’s uncle). The museum site “brings to life the Mennonite way of life from the 16th century to present” and is comprised of 20 furnished buildings, including the museum proper which houses a significant collection of antiques and manuscripts. Spread over 40 acres (17 hectares), the Mennonite Heritage Village “takes visitors back in time to when villages like this were all across Southern Manitoba.” Learn more about the museum here… (they say “it’s worth the trip.”)

The functioning windmill on the museum site (photo:

Posters & postcards… to promote the bard.

28 July—Winnipeg, Canada

Folks in these (and other) parts are “girding their loins” in preparation for upcoming poetry readings and book-signings by Sam W. Reimer. To assist in the promotion of such events, a PDF poster (2.8 MB) and postcard (48 K) can now be down-loaded from this site for local reproduction (your neighbourhood printer or copy-shop can use these digital artwork files to run off the desired quantities). Blanks have been left to insert specific information re: the Location and Date/Time of the event (imprint or hand-letter them, as you feel led).

Download the PDF poster here. Download the PDF postcard here.

Gray Matter Graffitti… now at City Lights in SF

24 July—San Francisco, California

Folks in the Bay Area have been picking up Sam W.’s book at City Lights (much to the bard’s delight, and thanks to the seeding efforts of friend James), the landmark all-paperback general bookstore known internationally for its expert selection and for its commitment to free intellectual inquiry. Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is one of the few truly great independent bookstores in the United States, a place where booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture’s only “Literary Landmark.” City Lights Publishers began with the Pocket Poets Series, through which Ferlinghetti aimed to create an international, dissident ferment—the world-famous store has now served for over half a century as a meeting place for writers, artists, and intellectuals. (If you visit City Lights, check out the Zapatista Mural covering the Kerouac Alley side of the store).

A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (who Sam acknowledges in his book as a significant influence) has written poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration, and essays. Often concerned with politics and social issues, Ferlinghetti’s poetry countered the literary elite’s definition of art and the artist’s role in the world. Though imbued with the commonplace, his poetry cannot be simply described as polemic or personal protest, for it stands on his craftsmanship, thematics, and grounding in tradition. Read more about Ferlinghetti here.

Images: The City Lights façade on Columbus Avenue, San Francisco featuring provocative banners by the SF Print Collective; Ferlinghetti’s painting
Unfinished Flag of the United States.

A is for alley… B is for bard…

10 July—Vancouver, British Columbia

These alley pics just in from Sam’s longtime friend Dan Schellenberg, who writes: “Though I have known him (Sam W.) for many years and have heard him recite his poetry from time to time, I never realized the greatness of his work until reading some of Gray Matter Graffitti… many years of hard work seem to be coming to fruition.” (Thanks, Dan).

Have poetry… will travel…

8 July—Vancouver, British Columbia

It sounds like Sam will be hitting the road again later this month… (watch this site for details re: postings about upcoming poetry readings and book signings in the B.C. Interior, likely followed by a sortie to Manitoba…)

Congratulations roll in… from Ottawa.

2 July—Vancouver, British Columbia

When Sam W. Reimer returned home to Vanvouver today he was met with a pleasant surprise… a hand-written kudo from no less than Libby Davies, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East (Libby is also the Deputy Leader of the NDP, the NDP Labour Critic, and the federal NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Reform, Solicitation Laws, and Infrastructure and Communities for the Greater Vancouver Area).

The card from Libby reads: “Gray Matter Graffitti… a very comprehensive body of work—Congratulations!”

Poet holds forth in McBride…

28 June—McBride, British Columbia

Sam W. Reimer has spent the past week in and around the mountain community of Dunster, nestled in the Robson Valley (between the Rockies and the Cariboo Range of east-central B.C.). Highlights have included readings (from his new book of poems) at the local Pioneer Days event, and various gigs with brother Rod and his band (Rod is a mountain man, trapper, and tree-planter extraordinaire—along with his wife Deb they also breed Russell Terriers). The poet is available for readings at similar festivals across the country… look for announcements here in the future.

The bearded Reimer brothers at McBride Bar… thanks for the photos, Deb.

Book launches on bard’s birthday…

26 May 2008—Vancouver, British Columbia

Gray Matter Graffitti, the first published compendium of works by downtown-Eastside Vancouver gem-of-a poet Sam W. Reimer, had its unofficial launch here in Lotusland this weekend—replete with readings at the Ivanhoe Pub (where many of the works were penned over the past few decades) and memory-enriched visits to some of the significant sites cited in the book’s 200+ poems (parks, beaches, crime scenes, and edgy slum addresses). The weather cooperated (as did the poet’s rheumatoid arthritis, for the most part) and the handful of celebrants were blessed with magnificent sunshine.

Active marketing of the book will commence in June… watch for more launch information as the book rolls out over the next weeks and months…).

Images: the book; “Bard in bar” at the lower Ivanhoe; Sam W. and cousin Lois (also a Reimer) at the Granville Island Market.

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