I’ve been working my way through The Count of Monte Cristo, as a previous post here will show, but in between that, work, and house renovations resulting from flooding in my basement, I’ve only managed time to read from two books of poetry.
Though I love Canadian poetry classics from the 20th century, I’ve yet to read much of Al Purdy’s work. Of course, I’ve read the odd poem in anthologies and other publications, but have never dedicated time to reading a collection of his. What I do have, courtesy of a guy who lives just up the street (which reminds me I owe him a couple issues of Riddle Fence I borrowed), is Being Alive:The Selected Poems of Al Purdy. It’s the 1980 second edition, making it as old as I am, but inevitably more interesting. I’ve only just scratched the surface yet, but have already been inspired to attempt a poem or two of my own after reading some of his early work (in particular “Transient” and “At the Quinte Hotel”). What comes through immediately in Purdy’s writing is an honesty that is gripping and real, partly present in the subjects he chooses to write about, but also the language, rich and removed from the elevated sort one encounters too often, at times.
Another book I’ve taken to is Chris Banks’ Winter Cranes. Besides being a beautifully designed book, it is filled with an approach to poetry and the world which immediately connects with me. Banks is concerned with the moments in life that have a lasting imprint on memory or the soul, which can range from a scene in Rome considering the life of John Keats, to experiencing an autistic 23-year-old flapping his arms as if to fly. What I enjoy so much about Banks’ writing is the meditative quality to it, how he doesn’t rush a single image or sacrifice the integrity of the moment he’s allowing the reader to experience. I’m only halfway through yet, but I’d already recommend this as a title you must read.
Not a lot happening on my side of the writing world right now. I’m working on the odd poem here and there as well as rethinking whether to burn the manuscript or not with each new day. Been reading Chris Banks’ The Cold Panes of Surfaces and enjoying the heck out of it. Some lovely poems in there. I love Banks’ writing style and his approach to the subject matter about which he writes. Slowly getting back into reading poetry again after a couple months without much of it.
Coming up for me is the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador’s AGM. This year it’s taking place in Grand Falls and I’m registered and ready to go. There’re a couple sessions I would like to attend and it should also make for a great opportunity to chat and catch up with fellow writers I haven’t seen in a while. Living in Central NL has it’s negatives and one of them is the small writing community and the inability to attend the literary events in the big city I would like. Oh well, such is life at the moment and I make do as best I can.
Look forward to seeing those of you who will be attending the AGM in November.
So I’ve been spending quite a bit of time over the last month or so doing research for two things: a writing project for which I have received NLAC funding and another project dealing with translating Horace, which I’ve referenced here. It seems I’ve done more reading about these topics than actual writing, but still I’ve been making some progress and I’ll be happy to see where these things go.
I’ve been lining up so much reading that I’m starting to get bogged down in it. In an effort to patch some of the holes in my reading of the classics of English, I’ve taken up Joyce’s Dubliners. It’s turning out to be better than I thought, which is always a good result. I’ve also started Stephen Fry’s (yes, you heard right) guide to writing poetry called The Old Less Travelled. It’s really intended for amateurs or people wishing to experiment with forms and approaches to writing, but it’s an entertaining read thus far. More on this when I complete the thing. I’m going through a couple of books of poetry as well: Chris Banks’ The Cold Panes of Surfaces and Don McKay’s Strike/Slip which, surprisingly, I have not yet read in full, though I have read excerpts here and there. “Pond” from this collection is a piece of brilliance.
Jake Mooney from Vox Populism has posted a couple of photos of the Poetry is Public is Poetry display at the Toronto Reference Library. It’s a project run by Dionne Brand, the poet laureate of the city, as a way of making public excerpts of poetry written by a variety of writers who have had some impact on the community. Jake includes a list of all who’ve had their work displayed on the wall as well. I must say, this is a wonderful idea and a great way to publicize poets who, though they have relatively small readerships compared to the James Patterson types, contribute an incredible amount to the world of literature and indeed to culture as a whole. Is there room, I wonder, for this kind of presentation in Newfoundland? Maybe in the St. John’s area? In recent years, we have had poems posted on buses and public transit, but I don’t recall having this sort of long-term, stationary presentation. Maybe someone can clarify this for me.
Enough for now.