RAJALA, Daniel




Author Tags: Poetry

DATE OF BIRTH: December 5, 1954

PLACE OF BIRTH: (Port Arthur) Thunder Bay, Ontario

ARRIVAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: 1963

ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: Finnish

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Yuletide (Match Stick Publishing (2016) 978-0-9865051-9-5
King of Spades (2015) 978-09865051-8-8
Red Horses (2014) 978-0-9865051-7-1
My Cat Family (2013) $9 978-0-9865051-5-7
The Laughing Bird (Nanaimo: Match Stick Publishing 2012) $9 978-0-9865051-6-4
The Blue Room (Nanaimo: Match Stick Publishing 2011) $9 978-0-9865051-2-6
Marigolds (Nanaimo: Match Stick Publishing, 2010)
Ferry Crossings (Multicultural Books, 2006). 1-897303-04-1
Paradise City (Self-published chapbook, 2005)
Waiting for Tamara (Multicultural Books, 2003) 0-9681948-8-5
Blood Sky (Multicultural Books, 2001)

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS:

Daniel Kane Rajala's family moved to Campbell River, B.C. in 1963 and he graduated from high school there. Raised in a working class family, he attended the Vancouver School of Art in 1973, now the Emily Carr College of Art and Design. During this period he saw a streaker at a Beach Boys concert and was impressed by the powerful impact that someone 'wearing no clothes' could have on a crowd. He tried streaking himself one night, from his apartment in the West End of Vancouver, running down Barclay Street. He graduated from Art School with a diploma in painting in 1977 and started Post-graduate studies under Don Jarvis.

Rajala met his birth father while visiting galleries in Toronto, Montreal and New York in 1977 and changed his name from Kane Daniel Doknjas to Daniel Kane Rajala in January 1978. He continued his career as an artist through the Eighties helping to start the Gallery Reflections in Gastown. He worked for theatre companies in Vancouver for a few years and streaked in Vancouver for sixteen years, including a streaking incident with mayor Gordon Campbell.

In 1995 Rajala was on the board of directors of the Unit Pitt Gallery and started doing the Cul de Sac show with Co-op Radio, during which time he aired short stries from the "Tales of the Streaker." One of these stories, 'The Cleanup Man' was published in Minus Tides magazine from Courtenay, B.C.,
that also printed his first poem for publication, 'Last Dance with Cocaine' in 1996.

He did volunteer work at the Carnegie Centre in downtown Vancouver for a number of years and had more poems published in their newsletter. One poem, "Diamonds', was included in anthology edited by Paul Taylor, 'Heart of the Community.'

While living in cheap hotels in the downtown area of Vancouver, Rajala found himself seriously addicted to cocaine. He started on his recovery while squatting in houses on Grouse Mountain until 2002. Sitting in an old outhouse reading Poetry of our Times by Louis Dudek, Rajala was impressed and decided to become a Poet in 1998.

After his house on Grouse Mountain burned down, he found another and self-published numerous chapbooks. He also worked as a volunteer at the Carnegie Centre and contributed poems to its newsletter, one of which was reprinted in the anthology The Heart of the Community, edited by Paul Taylor.

Rajala has given several readings in Vancouver. One person who was very supportive was George Kohler of Black Sheep Books. At one of the readings at Black Sheep Books on Fourth Avenue he met Joe Ruggier, a writer and publisher, who published Blood Sky in 2001.

Rajala moved to Powell River and met Allan Brown, a local poet, who edited his chapbook Every Day Working Man. Also written in Powell River, Waiting for Tamara contains poems inspired by living close to nature and reflects the disappearance of freedom in British Columbia. Rajala continues to streak. According to his publisher Joe Ruggier, "Daniel Rajala has faced a lot of difficulty not presenting the right image of a poet that other people in the literary community would like to see. They are still under the impression that a poet has to be a university professor living a quiet and respectable life. As the old saying goes, 'Everyone expected a monk and they got a monkey'."

In 2006, Rajala released Paradise City, cited as his 21st title. "Every book I've written has a story of its own and twenty five years after John Lennon was murdered I finished my twenty-first book of poetry called 'Paradise City.'" Joe Ruggier published Rajala's Ferry Crossings (2006), dedicated to his first publisher, Hillel Wright, and all crew members of BC Ferries. According to Rajala, it has "a Hallowe'en theme covering my departure from my last big relapse on cocaine." Having stayed clean for a year, he completed an English course at Malasina University-College in 2006. In 2009 he cited Love Palace as his 27th self-published book. The title poem of his collection Marigolds concludes: "Even though my life can feel / like a war ravaged land at times, / there is some reassuring calmness to / be found wit something beautiful, / that I brought into the world to look / at, on a bright sunny Fall afternoon."

In 2014, Daniel Rajala resumed his Captain Under Pants show on Monday nights with the Community Radio Station CJMP 90.1 FM in Powell River where he has often been involved as an activist in community issues.

"If there is no peace in your mind," writes Daniel Rajala in Yuletide, "there can be no peace in the world." This collection of sensitive, humour-tinged inner thoughts mainly consists of Christmas-related poems from 1998 to 2015. They include 'Christmas in July' in which Rajala ruminates on the idea that Saint Nick could still be around in the summer but he doesn't need all those winter clothes. The cover image features a young, handsome, store-window-like-mannikin figure in white underwear with a traditional Santa hat on his knee. There is an overriding wistfulness at play, as if the poet is wishing the good feelings that often arise at Christmas can resonate throughout the year. A poem called 'Birthday Boy' from December of 2005 begins, "The one day you will / find you turn fifty-one. / They put you out on an / iceberg and then you are / left alone to die and / doesn't seem like a lot of fun." Rajala's estranged eccentricity has an affinity with bill bissett's 'soul of sweet delight' reverence for life, verging on childish wonder, but he's also burdened with a darker perspective, perhaps arising from loneliness. He's describes being still determined to revive the "the old popular fad" of streaking. "And when the Supermarket was / Packed with shoppers like big logs / To fuel the furnace, standing still / I streaked past the checkout stands / The most Holy Communion ever had...." A streaker can get arrested for creating a public nuisance; a poet is usually ignored. Neither brings happiness.

[BCBW 2016] "Poetry"

Letter



Since Susan Musgrave’s write-up on Confessions to a Plant I have continued writing books of poetry into the twenty first century. My twelfth book Purple was finished for St. Patrick’s Day this year and I had fun selling it—with my body painted purple and wearing clown hair. For a long time I have been streaking Vancouver, and the idea is to see public nudity decriminalized.

For the last seven years I have been squatting in houses on Grouse Mountain, which ended this summer. Didn’t want to die in a cheap hotel in the city, so I moved to Powell River where rents are cheaper. Guess to some people I can be seen as a criminal, having trespassed on private property and using means that are illegal to write poetry. Perhaps my work could be called ‘Outlaw Poetry.’

Daniel Rajala
Powell River (2003)

[Spring 2003 BCBW]


Marigolds by Daniel Rajala (Nanaimo: Match Stick Publishing $12.50)
Article



Marigolds by Nanaimo’s Daniel Rajala is a collection of love poems and meditations covering 1998-2009. Raised in a working class family in Campbell River, he attended the Vancouver School of Art in 1973. Impressed by the impact of a streaker at a Beach Boys concert, he tried streaking one night, running naked down Barclay Street in Vancouver’s West End. He has continued streaking as a theatrical event. In 2009 he cited Love Palace as his 27th self-published book, but Marigolds is his first perfect-bound collection. The title poem of Marigolds concludes: "Even though my life can feel / like a war ravaged land at times, / there is some reassuring calmness to / be found with something beautiful, / that I brought into the world to look / at, on a bright sunny Fall afternoon.” 978-0-9865051-0-2

[BCBW 2019]