Poems and Chills

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In the middle of National Poetry Month, it feels like I’m on a moss-covered stone in the middle of a stream that’s about to rise and rise. I wanted to write a poem a day and I’ve nearly done that, if you spread them out. Some days have offered two or three, and others have offered work and tennis and gardening, and at least one was spent fuming about the inevitable happening: the deer found my beloved, citrus-scented red tulips.

Last weekend I took part in the craziness that is CV2’s 48 Hour Poetry Competition, and I played around with the ten words they sent, jamming and enticing and coercing them into a poem, as per instructions. (And I made it, a serial poem as a result of taking a mind-stirring workshop with Phil Hall last month). In the end, the new episode of The Game of Thrones and a few glasses of Tempranillo were my reward, more reliable than any unlikely award from the contest—that and a brain with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This probably didn’t do me any favours the next day, when I spoke on CBC about a fun event I was part of, two nights ago, for Read Local BC (along with Aaron Shepard and Charles Tidler). Radio’s a weird medium for a writer—no chances at redrafting, no gestures, no audience feedback to gauge how you’re doing. But the new host of All Points West (Robyn Burns) is lovely, and I got it done, although I did say “MmHmm” a few too many times.

It’s getting’, it’s gettin’, it’s getting’ kinda hectic around here, and the upcoming weeks promise more of the same. What richness. This week, my friend and writing group buddy Alisa Gordaneer launched her first book of poems, Still Hungry, to a full house—and even sang along with her choir, Steve Winwood’s Higher Love. Chills everywhere. Speaking of chills, I got them at the Whitehorse concert last week, too, but mostly when Seattle’s Noah Gunderson and his sister Abby performed as the opener. Excellence in songwriting and moodiness, esp. with only the two of them onstage, performing spare and intense versions of his songs. I bought two of his albums, and while I’m enjoying them, and plan on trying to cover “Ledges” with my hubby-musician, just for fun, I preferred the live to the recorded: it’s less orchestrated, more in-the-moment. And isn’t it that alchemy that works its magic at all live performances, whether it’s music or words or theater or dance? More chills, please.

Poetry and art met at the AGGV last week, too, when local poets responded to the photographic exhibit “In Another Place, And Here” and read their poems, live, in front of the artwork. It was Yvonne Blomer’s first official event as our new Poet Laureate, and she did a wonderful job—all the best as she heads into her four year term spreading poetry and supporting local writers in Victoria.

Tonight, another book club appearance, and tomorrow night, Planet Earth Poetry, where an old neighbour and friend Danielle Janess will read poems alongside Warren Heiti. Next weekend brings the CNFC conference to Victoria, too, and I’ll be attending that. It seems a little strange, because being a writer of creative non-fiction is an identity I have not really claimed as my own, but here I am. I’ve got an essay coming out next month in the anthology “This Place a Stranger,” published by Caitlin Press, about cycling alone through Europe back in the late 90s, and I was long-listed for the carte blanche contest for an essay about our year of living in Montreal. (It didn’t make the shortlist, but that’s okay. It’s looking for a home now… ).

And then, speaking of home…my Ontario tour is coming up. I’m so excited! Four stops, including one as part of Authors For Indies, in Perth:

 

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More on this closer to the time. I hope to be doing a bit of research when back home, for my poetry manuscript in progress. Here’s one from that MS, pub. last year in Canadian Literature: Rules of the Kingdom. 

Hope spring is springing, wherever you are.