KERRY SCHOOLEY (1949-2010)a.k.a. Slim Volumes;  a.k.a. John Swan

Remembering Kerry Schooley

Kerry Schooley, well-known Hamilton poet, teacher, publisher, editor and noir-fiction writer, passed away on September 21, 2010. Born in Hamilton, he was heartened by the growth of the arts community and celebrated literature in every possible way. A man with a gentle disposition, funny, enthusiastic and always full of vitality, he was a cornerstone of the Hamilton Literary scene, lending his enthusiasm and creative endeavours to projects such as the LitLive reading series which he established, assisting the Kairos Literary Society and the gritLIT festival as well as operating his own noir fiction website, Murder out there.

For some time, Kerry was a member of the Tower Poetry Society. He served on the Executive, offering a fresh, creative perspective for the Society's future direction. He was responsible for creating the Tower Poetry website, and brought TPS into the digital age with a well-presented website.Always quick to credit Chris Butler with the original idea, it was Kerry who took on the challengeandplanned its execution. The broad outlines of the website remain much as Kerry designed it around the time of the Society's 50th Anniversary(2001).Kerry adapted several clipart imagesto suitTower's purposes;these remain a lasting testament tohis imagination, sense of humour, and key role in this venture:

Once the website was up and running,offering monthly Poetry Picks and its first Poetry Feature, Kerry passed on the webmaster torch to Eleanore Kosydar. Heoffered severalsuggestions for futureexpansion and development of the site, andinsisted that internet codingof content continue to be done by hand and notwith the use of fancy software that may not be affordable for future webmasters. When Eleanore hesitated to take on the role of webmaster before having a grasp of .html coding, Kerry assured her that she would easily pick it up on her own just as he had. And with that blessing, he moved on with characteristic enthusiasm to tackleother ventures and new challenges. Hisprediction proved to be right, forhis fine example has inspired his successor to do likewise.

Thanks toKerry Schooley's vision and initiative, and to the ongoing collaboration of Website Assistant Stella Mazur Preda and TPS Editor-in-chief Jeff Seffinga, the TPS website has grown and prospered, a fitting tribute to a remarkable man.

As Slim Volumes, the poet, his work was daring, energetic and diverse. But the pleasure was in hearing Slim read his poetry, hypnotizing his audience with the nuances and lilts of his powerful voice. Along with Chris Pannell, he was one half of the performance poetry duo, The New Phrenologists. To see The New Phrenologists in performance was an absolute treat. His poetry found its way into such diverse venues as Frank, Mystery Review, Black Cat 115, Kairos, Tower Poetry, The Globe and Mail, Hammered Out and the CBCs Fresh Air. Here are some samples of Slim Volumes poetry for your enjoyment ...

down the black crepe

and come on down
to the skanky basement
high life manhattan
old fashioned
chilled cocktail neon blues
chatterstage patter
a thumpa wail
limbs flail into
the sweat wet gap
between jitterand bug
to jump-cheek
hair andmascara decline
 nipples rise
lips swell
blood hot
and hands
a prowl of

one tooth grin
of flick ice-steel.

Previously published in Kairos 11

by Jackie Washington

not where he should be
laughing behind the beat
skipping a half-beat ahead
a happy truant from
the tension of lines
pulled across a page

like I dropped from a sentence
like an incomplete image
like action off stage
like the space between open arms
the reader the viewer the audience
the lover, drawn
into the joy of creation into
the sweet emptiness of completion

Previously published in Tower Poetry, Volume 58 #2

As John Swan, Kerry penned noir fiction that took him to unexpected places, brought his colourful characters to life and forever captured the interest of his readers. John Swan was described as a former cop, although there is no record of his tenure with any police forces. Some speculate that John Swan is not his real name, Swan has had his work published in Kairos; Blood & Aphorisms; The Unsilenced Voice; Canadian Storyteller Magazine; Rampike; Prophile; Front and Centre; Zygote; and the anthologies Your Baggage is in Buffalo, Between a Dock and a High Place, Burning Ambitions, ICED, the New Noir Anthology of Cold Hard Fiction and Hard Boiled Love. In 1996, a collection of mystery stories, The Rouge Murders, was released by Jasper Press, in which John Swan was one of the characters, still claiming to have been a police detective. Authorities suspect the author lives in Hamilton, Ontario under an assumed name, writing articles, teaching creative writing and reviewing books in the mystery genre. Here is one of his short stories ...

THE CRIMSON SWIRL (taken from The Rouge Murders by John Swan)

One blow to the base of the skull dropped him to his knees. He'd experienced bar fights before when the man in front would begin throwing punches to his head until he went all the way down. Then they'd put the boots to him. But he knew, this time, it would be much worse. He tried to raise his arms, but could not. He became aware of a large hand pulling him up by his hair. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash. A blade sliced deeply through his neck, the ease of soft flesh and artery, the springy pull of tendon, the scratchy drag of cartilage, then again through tendon, flesh, vein. He screamed, but heard only his breath wheezing through the wound. The man in front stepped aside and the hand behind guided him, gently, face first into the urinal, cheek resting against the cool white porcelain. He heard footsteps on the tile floor, the door swish open and the brief blast of rock music from the bar beyond. His heart pounded. He told himself to relax, to reduce the deadly beat. The urinal flushed automatically. Able to move only his eyes, he saw the pattern made by his thick sweet blood mixing in the rushing water and knew he was watching his life swirl down the drain.

Kerry Schooley was a man for all seasons, with many gifts and creative talents, which he would happily share with anyone interested. Those of us who had the privilege to know Kerry and his many personas will miss him very much.

Stella Mazur Preda      
TPS Website Committee      

February 11, 2011