Saturday, June 21, 2008

Book Bags

I could spend all day looking at can check out some more at Rebound Designs.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

And my personal fave: Pride and Prejudice.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

There Was the Moment of the Puddle in the Path

A walk out at Terwillegar Park this morning, very wet after the downpour last evening. The dog delighted in tromping through every one of these puddles.

Couldn't post these photos without a tantalizing excerpt from a prose poem by Sina Queyras from her book Lemon Hound. The title of the poem: "There was the moment of the puddle in the path" (taken from Virginia Woolf).

And the puddle was the word. And the puddle
reflected everything. And the puddle grew. And the
puddle spoke back. And the puddle was nothing.
The puddle unplugged her. It drained her. And the
puddle was silent. The puddle went on forever. It
struck fear in her. And the puddle was thin and
spreading. The puddle spoke Greek and the puddle
knew all.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Positioned By the Last Unknown Reader

Collocation No. 4 (Today)
Archival Inkjet Prints on Rag Paper, 2007
Fifty 24 x 16 Images at McKnight Fellowship Exhibition
Mickey Smith, Artist

From the website of Mickey Smith:

Volume is an ongoing project documenting bound periodicals and professional journals in public libraries. Most of these publications are being replaced by their online counterparts, and in many cases the printed versions are no longer bound. Several titles photographed in the process of this project have been removed from the stacks due to space and budget constraints. Searching endless rows of these utilitarian texts, I am struck by the physical mass of knowledge and tenuousness of printed works as they fade from public consciousness.

The act of hunting for and photographing these objects is fundamental to my process. I do not touch, light, or manipulate the books and words – preferring to document them as found in the stacks, created by the librarian, and positioned by the last unknown reader.

The irony and graphic quality of repeating titles fascinate and draw, no matter how mundane, from known to obscure, from Vogue to Blood. I focus on simple, provocative titles that transcend the spines on which they appear.

Note: Collocation is defined as "the act or result of placing or arranging together, specifically: a noticeable arrangement or conjoining of linguistic elements (as words)."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Her Serious Elocution Was Without Flourish

Jeff Carpenter has put together a blog with panache for the Olive Reading Series, which takes place the 2nd Tuesday of the month from September to April. He's gone to the trouble of uploading the chapbooks from past readings, including the one I did, Forest of Disappearances, way back in 2005. (This is an excerpt from my M.A. creative thesis, Red Velvet Forest, which has been taken on by Muses' Company, forthcoming 2009). Thanks Jeff! He also talks about the reading and tells a funny story about the "the tyranny of an overzealous spell-checking program." Jeff has been incredibly charming and kind about this whole business over a single letter and has never once called me a quirky or irksome poet. Well, at least not to my face. So. DO check out the beautifully designed and seriously amusing Olive Blog -there's a treasure trove of poetry to be found there.

The bit that Jeff writes about the reading itself was interesting - I think I remember the din. There's almost always a din at some point in a poetry reading, not a bad thing necessarily. I mean, it keeps it all in perspective somehow. Mainly my friends and family lie to me after a reading and tell me they could hear me perfectly well, that I didn't mumble too much and that my face was hardly red at all. A few rows back no one would have noticed how pink my ears turn. Usually I'm terrified throughout a reading, and need several large drinks after. Did I mention I'm shy? I'm anxious. I swear like a sailor on the way to the reading. I'm always on the look-out for a good stunt double for readings. I'm surprised when I'm asked to read. Especially by people who've heard me before. But here I go on the 17th of June, I'm reading at the Factory West series, along with Kath MacLean, Heather Simeney MacLeod and Rudy Wiebe.

I try to be myself as much as possible at a reading. Which means, I'm shy and am never going to be wildly entertaining. Also, I mainly write serious poems and never get many laughs. That's okay. While writing a previous post on a friend, Iman Mersal, I came across a piece she wrote when she was at the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 2003. Here's an excerpt about a reading she attended:

Thursday 19 June

I don't know what it takes to stand and deliver a good reading.

Classical Arabic poetry, with its internal rhythm and its metaphors, lures one to perform a magical elocution. The present day poem is different. I don’t know when I started to love anxious poets as they read their poems. Their hesitancy is probably due to a failure in separating oneself from the moment of writing. Maybe objectivity is the triumph of divorcing oneself from that intimate moment.

The reading of Lidija Dimkovska was the most inspiring. She waited for a silence; her voice sounded strong and confident without intending any particular effect. Yet it wasn't an objective reading at all. She read:

You in my death
And I yours will meet only, only then,
Because I do not hope to turn again home, ever.

Her serious elocution was without flourish. Lidija changed my idea on the poetic reading I used to prefer for ever.

You see, I have something to strive for.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Deeper Into Daydreams of Nests

Nest, Robert Lemay, oil on canvas, 2008

Rob and I have been scheming. My book Calm Things will be coming out this Fall, and he's planning a show at the Douglas Udell Gallery for some time in October that will be a series of smaller, meditative still life paintings also called Calm Things. I talk about nests as subject matter for still lifes in one of the essays so I was really pleased when he painted the nest as one of the first in his series.

I'm late coming to the book, The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard, first published in English in 1964. (Okay, really late). It's been on my list for a while but I finally got around to reading it, and was delighted to see chapters titled, "Nests" and "Shells." I've written about both of these in my book in the context of still life. Here is what Bachelard says about nests: "If we go deeper into daydreams of nests, we soon encounter a sort of paradox of sensibility. A nest - and this we understand right away - is a precarious thing, and yet it sets us to daydreaming of security. Why does this obvious precariousness not arrest daydreams of this kind?" One of the essays in my collection is titled, "Precarious" though I come at it from a slightly different angle...

Justus Juncker, Still Life with Pear and Insects (detail), 1765,

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Photo: Artothek

There is a show on at the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt currently called The Magic of Things: Still Life Painting 1500-1800. It moves to the Kunstmuseum Basel from Sept 5, 2008 - January 4, 2009. I would sorely love to go....not so much in the budget. The catalogue to the show was though! It just came yesterday and is Gorgeous. A lot of images in the monograph that you don't often see - for example the cover image of the pear by Justus Juncker.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Dream of Trees

I visited my favorite tree in Terwillegar Park yesterday. A nice place to do a bit of daydreaming. When I came home I looked in on a favorite site: The Hermitary. Take a look at this article on the Humboldt Hermit.

There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees...

(Mary Oliver)

More tree poems here.