Thursday, July 30, 2009

Read Good Writers

I am up early, enjoying a rather cool but sunny summer morning quietly. I go for The Globe and religiously seek out and remove the Book Review section first. I scan this section for key words that catch my eye, pull me in and this determines which of the articles I read first (however, I will eventually read the entire section).

Al Purdy’s name jumps out and I settle in on ‘Shadows and footsteps’ by Alex Boyd. The main point of his article was to read and respect the writing of good authors that have gone before. To paraphrase, read good books, be humble and this will make you a better writer. “Young writers need to be inspired and to admire older writers…meeting them can be a very different experience.” He goes on to recount a meeting he had with Al Purdy in Toronto at the library where Purdy had been giving a reading. After waiting for his turn to speak with the author, Boyd mentions to Purdy with some energy that his poetry was along side some of Purdy’s in Ink Magazine (not very humble I might insert here). The lanky rather complacent Purdy responded with a blunt “Great” ending the conversation and leaving Boyd a bit deflated, and disappointed.

I know a little of what that can feel like having met Al Purdy’s wife (and co-author to a few of his books), Eurithe, earlier this year. It was at an affair for the late Al Purdy where many well known authors and peers of Purdy were speaking. Afterwards, I was looking forward to meeting with Eurithe, who was surrounded by the crowd. I went and got myself another glass of wine while I waited; there was much wine available at this writer’s event, as it should be. Eventually, my opportunity to speak with her came, and I did my best to suppress some childish giddy that was emerging. I also reminded myself that it might not be a good idea to mention that I and a friend had snuck about her property searching for the famous A-frame house they lived in there and attempting to catch a glimpse of the life known to Al Purdy. I am sure some of this energy escaped as I approached and blurted out something in admiration which was met with a quiet “Great” that finished the meeting. I watched in a bit of astonishment as this spry 82 year old woman turned and sprang up the stairs towards the wine and cheese.

I was not, however, disappointed in Eurithe herself, although I may have been a little in me. From what I have read about and by the Purdy’s collectively, they are everything that it is to be humble. Al Purdy himself was met with some harsh criticism in his early days from some great authors like Irving Layton who called Purdy’s early poetry crap of some sort. I am sure Al took that to heart, being a ‘sensitive man’. This humble man and great writer did improve working hard at the craft and surrounding himself with other great writers. He went on to spend a great deal of time with Layton and many others meeting at times at the aforementioned A-frame house.

I guess my point is, if Alex Boyd thinks authors have a role to play, he should come right out and say it. Maybe he is just warning us, reminding readers that we may form our own story about the authors we like, and then come to be disappointed when we meet them in person. I am not too sure. Either way, I do think it is important to read good writers, and I do think that can make you a better writer yourself.

Some wonderful suggestions…

Taxi – Helen Potrebenko (set in Vancouver in the 70’s – this book is a great insight to human nature and culture).

The Blue Hour of the Day - Lorna Crozier (although I also suggest you read everything by this author)

True Stories – Margaret Atwood (provocative cover image depicting a heart that looks like a vagina or vice versa – worth seeking out)

I am off to discover a new to me poet and author Jeanette Lynes from Nova Scotia…

Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lambent Lament

The golden rod has returned
To the lambent field
It stretches high, higher everyday, waiting
In the lambent field
As the golden rod has returned


Finding "The"

As I sat at the piano

Counting my fingers through

The basic notes

I felt someone with me

It was Hannah Schmitz

And she was counting her words

To The Lady With the Little Dog

It was the same.

Her young lover was teaching her.

Again, same.

Now, I am on my own

As she was on her own

And I am finding 'the' on the piano.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time Has Told Me

Life is messy.
Life is difficult.
Life is chaos.
Life is beautiful.

The more we try to understand, analyze and control life, the more we realize this is futile. We have Darwinism, Freudianism, Marxism, Existentialism, and if you were to look critically at any of these you find yourself into yet another ‘ism’, if it only be that of criticism.

(photo jam343)

Control, tame, limit, contain, dominate, master...these are all terms that allude us when we think of life and growth.

Life forges on, around, and through. It appears as chaos. That is beautiful.

Time Has Told Me - Nick Drake

Time has told me
You're a rare rare find
A troubled cure
For a troubled mind.

And time has told me
Not to ask for more
Someday our ocean
Will find its shore.

So I`ll leave the ways that are making me be
What I really don't want to be
Leave the ways that are making me love
What I really don't want to love.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Uriel's Gaze

I feel You gazing at me
What message do You scribe
From what divine source do You abide
Uriel, sitting with St. Peter, amidst the heavens
From Your divine source I shall abide
The message You do scribe
Feel me staring back at You


Still gazing at The NaiSaiKu Challenge

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Odyssey of Ali Howard

I decided to check up on my facebook today. I have found that Facebook is a world of its own and every now and then it gets interesting in there. Sometimes it is a friend request from some long forgotten boy from the past, sometimes it is an invitation to an interesting event, and then sometimes it is an update from one of the groups I follow.

This one caught my eye - Ali’s Facebook Group - what is going on with Ali Howard? She is in the Vancouver Sun. I clicked on the link and read with some inexplicable sentiment sitting in my throat.

She takes to the water tomorrow!

This led me to my own blog, to re-read an article I posted back in March of this year when I first heard about this inspiring girl.

Ali Howard

To recap, she is swimming the entire length of the Skeena River (610 km) starting at the Sacred Headwaters and finishing in the Pacific Ocean. Ali’s purpose on this adventure is to raise awareness of the importance of the Skeena watershed. The river is one of the longest un-damned rivers in the world, the swift cold waters mean big healthy fish, and it is one of the longest runs of wild steelhead on the planet!

Something about this story makes me a little bit home sick, makes me proud of having some connection to B.C. and, since she is originally from Ottawa, Ontario, just makes me proud to be Canadian. OK, I got a little wishy-washy there – but I really do throw my support behind Ali. I am once more struck with the awe of this venture and the gusto with which she has pushed forward.

Again, feel free to e-mail this new Canadian female inspiration at .

And again, good luck Ali on your odyssey to become the first person to swim the entire Skeena River.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Employ Your Creative Mind

Last night I was invited to a very charming gathering at Fields On West Lake – better known in The County as The Red Barn.

The Red Barn is a romantic heritage spot in the middle of nowhere at the centre of everything. When asked to say a few words about this special place, the owners actually choked with sentiment; their passion for this inherited property was clearly evident.

When I arrived, I noticed the beautiful old century brick home surrounded by farm land and that locally famous barn. Upon entering the barn, I was delighted with the surroundings. High ceilings, large windows allowing plenty of natural sunlight in, and those hanging lamps that made for dreamy lighting later in the evening.

The focus of this gathering was on the ‘Creative Mind’ which in essence encourages and supports creative ways to exist in the County, or as I heard a few times during the evening 'igniting our Creative Rural Economy'. There was a wide variety of people in the audience, from farmers to wine makers, local shop owners to publishers, artists to authors, quite an eclectic group.

My favourite presenter was the very lively Peta Hall who delivered the most memorable quote of the evening (in my opinion). After briefly listing the many places she had visited around the globe in order to find her home, she related that upon coming to the County she felt instantly welcome. She was thrilled with her luck, loved this place and the people and said she felt as though “I landed my bum in the butter.”


In these days of big box stores, over consumerism and the need to sell, sell, sell, this meeting of creative minds served as a confirmation of sorts for me.

One can certainly live on, by and through their true passion.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Slow Down Busy Backson

I am driving back to work after spending my lunch hour in a hurry picking up supplies. I am picking up the last minute supplies for summer camp, vegetarian options for a BBQ at the neighbors’ tonight, and the gift ideas as the BBQ includes a birthday. My mind is busy; I am ‘Busy Backson’, as my daughter has pointed out from The Tao of Pooh. My window is down, it is lovely out and I am listening to Rufus Wainwright; okay, I admit I am singing along with him as if I know him personally.

He will fall from the stars, Studio 54


I see the familiar lights of a police cruiser up ahead, followed by what looks like traffic mayhem. The police escort a long line of cars in a funeral procession as it slowly makes its way through the busy lunch hour traffic on this main street. Traffic slows to a standstill. Lights are blinking, mourners dressed respectably in appropriate funeral attire with matching stoic expressions have their eyes straight ahead, driving, following.

Life seems to slow along with this convoy, time slows too. I am in this moment.

Better pray for your sins, better pray for your sins

The line of cars appears endless at this point. The funeral home is located just over the crest of the hill off of this main street, so I am well aware of the fact that traffic will remain still for the duration of this procession. I find myself sitting up straight, feeling calm and open. There is this unwritten respectful human law whereby we are to remain so, allowing the mourners to stay together en route to the cemetery.

I watch the cars pass by, I look into some of the cars at the people inside and then my eyes are drawn up. I find myself looking around at the scene. The sky is a bright blue contrasted by the white of the clouds, some parts are dark with pending rain and there is a breeze, a more than welcome breeze.

Better pray for your sins, better pray for your sins

A friendly looking gentleman decides he needs to cross these lanes of traffic right now on foot. He cuts through in front of my car, stops and gives me a quick wave and a smile. I nod, bemused and smile back. He continues on, managing to stop and go his way through the cars safely to the other side. He does go right through the funeral procession, although it is evident that he is unaware of this fact. I watch him the entire time. He is interesting, and I am interested. I am interested in the fact that he is oblivious to the funeral procession, I am interested in his friendly face, I am very interested in the fact that from the waste up, he appears to be a sheriff of some sort. He is wearing a dress shirt, vest complete with shining Silver Star and a black cowboy hat. In opposition, and to complete his look, his attire from the waist down consists of jean shorts, pink tube socks and what appear to be women’s shoes. And Rufus is singing…

Wearing tube socks with style, and such an innocent smile.”

Thus my smile, my bemused smile.

I am grateful for these life moments that remind me, force me to stop, breath, and look at life.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shine On Me

(dreamer by neslihans)

Summertime, a favourite past time
The favourable past we attempt to live by
Which haunts us so
We icon against Marilyn herself

What was done, has been undoneAdd Image
It's undoing now done
And so I, too, am done.

The favourable past, which must be left in the past
As now IS our favourable time to live by

The NaiSaiKu Challenge

Monday, July 6, 2009

Love Your Writing

Over the weekend, as I sat outside on the summer kitchen porch, I wrote. I had risen early that Saturday morning (unlike me), snuck about the house to make strong coffee and attempted to not wake anyone with my putterings. Let me be clear and honest, this was not out of respect to allow the family a sleep in, but rather selfishly to afford myself some quiet time.

The strong coffee was grande in these early hours and I began my morning hiatus reading Nino Ricci’s The Origin of Species. I had waited in a rather long queue at the local library for this book, eagerly and excitedly signed it out when my turn came round, only to find a copy new-to-me for sale at the same library. Out of pure and raw need to possess (Buddha I continue to fail) I now have both copies in my possession. I don’t really understand my happiness at this.

Anyways, I was reading away, and drinking my breakfast when I was inspired by the early morning air, the smell of basil nestled in the pots about me, the wind as it messed about my hair; whatever it was that made me put down the book and pick up the pen (I have taken to carrying a journal with me wherever I take the book I am reading). Whatever made me write was known only to me and God at that moment (yes, I am paraphrasing Ezra Pound here).

I wrote pages. I wrote short poems, ideas, dreams, everything that made my pen move. I did not hold back. I was unabashed. I was lost in it. Other than the small death of love making, or the out-of-control laughter that grabs me at times when I am with my family and the closest of friends, I have nothing that absorbs me more than that steady hum of the pleasure of my writing. That is what writing is to me.

Writing is my chance to purge the many ideas that well up and are residing inside my head, waiting for their turn. The pen is my voice, the paper the air. I am free to speak my mind. It is my free voice to use and let it all out.

I am no stranger to the spoken word; I am not shy to speak out, by any means. I am well aware of the rules by which we are governed with this spoken word. For example, once uttered and heard, words cannot be taken back; swearing around elders is questionable at best; and generally when you talk about someone behind their back, they are likely standing just behind you – yes, behind your back (sorry Mrs. Turner). In writing, one affords themselves a carte blanche of sorts as it can be put away for one’s eyes only (one hopes!).

When I am in this free moment, this euphoric state of mind, when I give myself the liberty to say the things as I think, when I liberate my mind and desires, I really feel awe – like I could do anything. These are my moments – I am writing for me. I am generous with me, unselfishly generous.

Now, it is confession time – although I have not practiced for almost a decade, the Catholic girl is always inside, talking to me. She confesses now.

I do not allow everyone to read what I write.

This I have grown to be ashamed of. It is in the aftermath that the voices creep in, the judgement is laid down, and my ideas are reconsidered. This is the cross I have to bear. “Oh, that would offend my mother.” or “I cannot say that as so-and-so may think I am referring to them” and “What would the neighbours think?” and so on, and so forth…

My best work happens during chaos, when there are no limits and no rules. Therefore, I encourage myself first, and then you also, love your writing. It is your gift, it is your voice, and it is your freedom.

Write for yourself alone. Be generous with yourself, your ideas, and if you have the courage, share what you can afford to the world (or at least with me, I promise you I will read it, my appetite is ferocious these days).

As I write this, I am sitting propped up in my bed, surrounded in comfort which includes the CBC airing a medley of Frank Sinatra tunes, and oh how I love Frank Sinatra tunes…

I’ve got you under my skin
I’ve got you deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart, that you’re really a part of me
I’ve got you under my skin

I’ve tried so not to give in
I’ve said to myself this affair never will go so well
But why should I try to resist, when, baby, will I know than well
That I’ve got you under my skin

I’d sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in my ear

Don’t you know you fool, you never can win
Use your mentality, wake up to reality
But each time I do, just the thought of you
Makes me stop before I begin
cause I’ve got you under my skin

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alma gêmea

(Syrup and honey by 6eternity9 via devantArt)

We soften each others fears
Allusions, illusions
Aimlessness, lives together
Twin brain, twin soul, soul mate
Aimlessness lives, together
Alluded, illuded
We soften each others fears

Still 'illuded' by The NaiSaiKu Challenge