Monday, January 18, 2010

In my wanderings this morning

...I read Nikki Reimer's post over at Lemon Hound and the comment that followed. It immediately brought to mind the session called "Poetry: The Short Form and the Long Form" that I attended at the SWG conference in October. The panelists were Hilary Clark and Robert Kroetsch. As expected, the room was packed and so was the session. I rarely take notes at sessions these days, but I was among the many jotting things down. I didn't want to forget anything. So this morning I dug the notebook out of my bag. I wanted to see what Kroetsch had to say about the long poem and failure. Here's my notes.

Apparently I failed to jot it down.

Annoyed with myself, I crawled on the bike and pedaled my way through Kroetsch's Seed Catalogue. Not exactly punishment, I know. All the while I thought about accumulation and delay and how it might apply to what I'm working on.

Serendipity is a dippy word in my opinion, but it did come to mind when I hit these words on page 17:

This is a prairie road.
This road is the shortest distance
between nowhere and nowhere.
This road is a poem.

Though I've read those words many times before, it was never when I needed them. I know I need them now.

As for what Kroetsch said about failure at that session, I can only guess. I now have several versions going through my head, none of which sound quite right. What I know for sure is where he was looking when he said those words. I remember the expression on his face. I could easily sketch it. And as I pedaled I thought a sketch was indeed in order. But then I hit these words on page 23:

We silence words
by writing them down.

What if by sketching him I silence the expression? If I silence the expression, I'll lose my link to the words. I'll lose my direction. At that point I found myself pedaling faster, despite the increased tension. My heart was pounding. I knew I was getting carried away. But that's allowed. Then came a clue on page 36:

He is somewhere under the failed wave.

So there I go.


Lemon Hound said...

Fabulous post, Brenda. Love your reading of Kroetsch, and the image of your notes. I was looking through Seed Catalogue a few days ago, looking for a good seemed to have down much better than I did.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks! Big thanks to Nikki's post and your comment. It's funny how one can be bogged down in a swamp and then suddenly find good footing. And maybe a way.

tracy said...

Thanks! You helped me think again!

Brenda Schmidt said...


Ian LeTourneau said...

ditto tracy's comment!

great post!

Brenda Schmidt said...

Ha! Thanks!

And no one has commented on my crappy penmanship! You guys are so nice!

Lemon Hound said...

You seem to have "done" much better than I did...damn...not. enough. time. in. day.

Here's to more good footing.

About the penmanship: the harder I'm thinking the more illegible.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Ha! Yes, my handwriting ain't what it used to be. I do less and less of it. Even first drafts are all done on the computer now. I never thought I'd abandon the pen. But hey.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Tracy posted her notes from that session, which are lovely and include what I failed to write down.

nikki reimer said...

Thanks for your post Brenda, and your notes as well.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks Nikki! I'm enjoying your posts at LH.