Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Happy New Year a day late and here's why

I've always wanted to write an on-trend clickbait style blog post title, so there it is. Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you to everyone who made 2017 the incredible, fully-rounded, strangely-crated, strangely-cratered year that it was. Thank you to everyone for enriching my life, supporting my efforts, propping me up, and sharing in the fun.   

I am a day late, though I'm not sure why, really. I wasn't sure what I wanted to say, for one, not that that's new, and even now I pause more than I write, as I imagine many writers do, Backspace ever my key of choice. Space, though, might be a reasonable place to start.

On New Year's Eve I was in bed reading The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin, the second book of the Broken Earth trilogy, when fireworks began cracking through the cold. I went to the window, but saw nothing but smoke from the neighbour's chimney and the usual lights of the neighbourhood, few and spread out as they are in this low density semi-industrial zone. A dog up the street barked a few times, maybe in reply to other dogs across town, maybe as part of a community response to threat, but its bark, I sensed, was more of a warning to keep going, whoever you are. The fireworks were coming from every direction and, because of the book, cracking was the word that came to me. Ice crystals caught the streetlights on their way down. The moan of the mining complex went on. And that moon. It was easy to imagine being part of a post-apocalyptic world.

Before dark I'd gone out to shoot the moon, the wolf moon as they call it, hoping to capture in its features the spirit of the occasion, but happily the stand of birch across the street has really grown, taking away a once reliable vantage point. I couldn't get an unobstructed shot. Back inside, I went from window to window as the moon rose until finally I found a space between the branches beyond through which I could zoom.


It glares through the frost,
glares through three panes of glass.
Is the wolf not full?

This I posted to Twitter.

After the fireworks, I immersed myself again in a world of sci-fi fantasy, a world rubbing hard against everything I worry about. It turned out to be a late night.

New Year's Day and there I was. I made it. Coffee in bed with social media, then straight to the computer. I decided to start the year off by writing and sharing a triolet. It didn't go well, but it was fun trying and share I did. I decided to try again: I'd write and share a sonnet. It didn't go well either, but it was just as fun and share I did, this time on the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Facebook page. I set the sonnet on an image in the space beside the moon and that was that. By that time it was dark and I was tired. It takes a lot of energy to meet formal demands and demands of your own. But instead of sleeping, I returned to the post-apocalyptic world. I finished The Obelisk Gate at midnight and moved on to The Stone Sky.

This morning a diesel engine, a metal bucket scraping asphalt. I knew before looking it had snowed overnight. Wind from the north. Snow drifting. Back to sleep, go back to sleep, but H appears just then. Come see the sundog, he says. There's just one and it's huge. I had no clear shot, but I trusted others were seeing what I was seeing, each from our own place.

last night a wolf moon
this morning's sundog is more
wolfhound

Each of us full and celebrating.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Laureate City was magical

...and already feels like something I just imagined. Thanks again to everyone. Here's what I posted on the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Facebook page:

I'm back from Laureate City and wow! What a dream to read at the beautiful National Arts Centre / Centre national des Arts in Ottawa and to be among so many wonderful poets. All the readings were amazing! And so was the audience. Thank you to Arc Poetry Magazine, VERSeOttawa and l’association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario francais, the organizers of Laureate City, for bringing us together in your great city and for making me feel so welcome. Ottawa is awesome.

I wrote a couple of poems to open my reading on Friday night. Here's one:

Sonnet for Laureate City (2)

So. On Monday it snowed and I thought whoa
what am I going to say in Ottawa
that’s worthy of recording? I could go
on about the fireball people saw

burning through the dark over Saskatchewan
last Friday, but that mystery was solved
before this week began. I guess for fun
I could claim, like space junk, I too revolve

around something much larger, simply caught
in an orbit not my own. I could claim
I fell into this fine atmosphere. What
old rocket body wouldn’t do the same?

Poets propel resupply missions then
re-enter. I think. I feel. The friction.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

My (small press) writing day

...is a wonderful series on the writing life. Big thank you to Rob McLennan for publishing my piece. This is how the link looked in my feed this morning. 


You can read the piece here.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English

...was published this fall and it's my pleasure to point to the Saskatchewan elements of this anthology. Included are poems by Saskatchewan poets Dave Margoshes, Medrie Purdham, and me, as well as poems by a number of poets born and raised in Saskatchewan and those who went to university in Saskatchewan. I know this because in the poets' biographies found at the back of this anthology, Saskatchewan and places herein are named.

In addition to poems, The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English contains great essays by the editors and fascinating and valuable commentary by the poets themselves on their poems.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Laureate City in Ottawa, December 1-2

Laureates from across the country will gather at the beautiful National Arts Centre in Ottawa on December 1 and 2 to read and present at a number of events. I'll be reading on Friday December 1, 7 pm. Ottawa has a great writing community and I know and admire the work of many poets living in and around the city. I look forward to meeting everyone! Thank you so much to the organizers for inviting me.