What Comes to Mind at the River

Reading and then meeting Kyo MacLear affirmed, for me, everything that’s been formulating inside me the past several years…about birding, art, nature and life.  Many things have formed me into this person who shows up at the Bow River around 10 on a winter’s morning, taking pause above the river and observing wildlife.

My friends and family wonder and ask…mostly not asking anymore, “What are you painting?  Why don’t you paint?”  and at those questions, I can only sit with who I am and be grateful for the grace of anything and everything that led me to this place where I find myself.  As I drove up from the parking spot this morning, I just kept saying, aloud, “I love my life. I love my life.”

I will paint again.  But, the truth is…painting was a lot about ego.  It was a lot about around-the-clock commitment.  It was about trying to balance full time work, raising children and keeping it all together.  My stomach sometimes hurt as deadlines for shows approached.  I was terrified in front of blank canvases.  I couldn’t assert myself with dealers, set boundaries or say what I needed.  I didn’t have money to buy those outfits that seem to be required if you are an artist, especially a female artist. Painting had lost its magic and so, when I paint again, it will be profound because it will be for all the right reasons, not for all the wrong reasons.

Doris McCarthy said, “Paint every day.”  I think more about her as days go by, without painting, than anyone.  She explained how those muscles work.  She explained how time also rushes by. Doris was my friend and she gave me a lot of strength. I think about Doris when I know that I will physically paint again.

Now…did the painting really stop?  I argue, “No”.  I have been intensely researching my next body of work for years now…having painted about 15 panels related to a Covenant series, I then began to connect again with the landscape.  It just happened.  It happened at the reading of two poems, the first,  The Wolf Between the Trees by George Bowering.  I used his poem, with permission, embedded in the poem along with a cup full of ash…remains of personal papers I had burned in the studio.  This is the painting…

Wolf

 

and secondly, a tribute poem written by Paulette Dube for the Caribou.  I’m including her words, here.  I hope you will read them.

In the new days, magic was on the surface of things, the shine of it all, quick and bright and fast as new rivers.

 Now Rivers winds Under Earth, has to be convinced, to play her deep song, entreated , to show herself.

 The Celts call these « thin places », where the other side is so close, the veil shivers your arms as you reach through.

 The First People travelled (sic) these sacred pieces of earth, to think on things in the presence of Creator.

 I know them as mountains.  I see them with my spirit eyes, walk them with blood and bone legs.  They teach, as clear as bird song or scolding squirrel lesson, bracing as clean water through moss.

 This alpine terrain is grey onion paper, thin as ash.  Feet must be wide to avoid lace-like flower and moss, spider web and lichen.        Be mindful.

 The Creator’s ear is earth as we do not see it.  Make joyous noise if you want to be herd.  Get yourself a song and string from bone to bone, a home of light and wind.

 She moves.  She feels her calf, inside, taking nourishment from her own bones and teeth.  The calf moves (as my son once did)  deep in the dreaming place.  The cow’s thickening body keeps the Small one warm, keeps him from hunger, keeps her     moving.

 Born where the dark forest gives way to lake, loon’s perfect call – silver sharp tremolo – traces the surface of this morning sky :  clear as mountain water scythes the earth.

 Loon calls from the lake face, that voice – shapes my form-    coming through the trees.

 The land reacts to our presence when we belong

 Noise of a sow grizzly and her two cubs.  To each a place, to each, a means of prayer and play.  To each, the necessary silence.

 Sacred whorl of grey and brown, blow open the gate.  Allow a wild glimpse of self.

 When you descend to leaf litter, feathered legs and all, you are an angel – touching Earth.

 The engine that is me, hears the song that is you…

 …coming together is a song I cannot bear for long.  Satiated by my own irregular rythmes.

 Promises shape who we are, what we will become –

we pray.

 His brow is unfurrowed.  Streamlined, he walks the wind, easily.

 Healing is water over stones, wind over grass, gaits – fearless.

Feral hearts wander – oblivious to fences of human design.

 Survival embodies existence but – does not define it.

 He moves through sunlight to scrub, deliberate – elemental – muscle.

 Hummingbird hears colour – Coyote knows crack in a leaf is direction – Bear walks trail made of wind.

 If Humans could once again divine the essential – would we find home ?

 A candle in a church is a thing of beauty – a flame in the wilderness is a miracle.

 Find something big to pit against – to throw loneliness into –  Amid bone, snow and stone –   caribou.  The precious, the delicate of design – we live here.

 Fire and earth – water and air – there is no room for anger.

 Memories permit us to speak of things –

our heart tends to in the night.

The resulting painting, upon hearing this poem is posted below.  The words to the poem are written into the painting.  It was at this punctuation mark in my life, at this painting and the other, that I realized my painting would always be about ‘place’.

Caribou 3

So, as an artist, what I’ve been doing ever since is sorting that out….the surface, the paint, collage, text, subject matter.  It might take a lifetime to make sense of it.  I don’t know.  But, in the meantime, I am energized and interested and creative and LOOK!  I write!

Everything I’ve been doing, in the sorting,  has made for this wondrous life of mine.  It’s taken me out into the landscape.  It’s caused me to notice more.  It’s manufactured poems, paintings, photographs and connected me with videographer, Liam of Beam Media and the photographer,  Jack Breakfast.

And this morning, I met Doug Newman.  It was after two cups of coffee at home and after two posts about books that I have read that I headed out into the cold with Max man.  The roads were bad, so I decided to get us down to a parking lot that edges the Bow River and to explore the first wintry day on the river.  There was only one other car in the lot…a man speaking on his telephone.  Max and I headed out.

This is what I wrote once back inside the car…and after snapping four photos on my cell phone…and after turning up the heat and settling in with CKUA.

I didn’t bring a camera with me, but hiked the edge of the Bow River this morning. I watched a Bald Eagle fish, its wings, so powerful. Three times, it landed on tree tops to the left of me, by 200 meters. The geese, exhausted and resting, lifted off of the dark water, along with the cacophony of gulls each time the eagle dove toward the water. Two deer swam, gracefully, from this side and shook off like wet dogs, once arriving on the shore across from me. A perfect morning.

From an interview with Kyo MacLear, writer of Birds, Art, Life… this…

Q: In the book there’s a list, the “Pantheon of Smallness,” in which you compare items such as blackbirds and Rembrandt’s etching. Equating the arts with nature was deliberate, no?

A: It was. It was also a bit playful. I wanted the readers to come in and fill in their own ideas. The Pantheon of Smallness was a way of thinking about smallness differently. Sometimes we make small things, sometimes there are small bird songs, but it can have an enormous impact. Sometimes you have to whisper to be heard. Our culture is very much one of “bigging it up,” always upping the noise level in order to produce a louder signal. What you see in the bird world is sometimes that the smallest tweet can actually pierce through the cacophony in a different way. That became a metaphor for thinking about art. Emily Dickinson did quite miniature work that had a very profound, almost epic, impact, culturally speaking.

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While typing that paragraph, I saw the gentleman leave his car, carrying a camera and sporting a huge lens.  I watched, discreetly, as he took photographs.  I saw him pan as geese took flight.  I saw him quietly observe for quite a long time.  Finally, as he turned to get back into his vehicle, I rolled down my window and we began to chat.

It turns out that Doug also posts photographs to Alberta Birds.  We introduced ourselves to one another and I began to ask him questions about photography, equipment and we shared some of our ‘bird’ moments.  It is such a pleasure to discover another birder along the quiet pathways of my every day.  It was nice to experience his enthusiasm and his excitement.  He opened up his photograph of a goose taking flight and I was in awe of the detail and the strength captured in that single image.

I love my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Poems of Clea Roberts

The poetry of Clea Roberts has been a source of great inspiration since attending a Wordfest session, Into the Quiet, this year.  Every poem is an elegant string of words, sparse but potent.  I am left, after reading, with a sense of wonderment about this world of ours.

Because of the immediacy of social media, I have been able to access other people’s travel, adventure and world exploration over months and years…Nepal, Venice, Spain, Croatia, Haida Gwaii.  I get the sense of how vast our life experiences can be…to eat seafood in Japan, observe the art of the masters in far off galleries, stand at the top of the Empire State building.  I enjoy all of this very much.  It all comes into my home, while I sit in my pyjamas at the keyboard, with my cup of coffee on the desk, to my right.

However, nothing moves me more than these poems.  Because somewhere in these images, lies the remembrance of camping with my parents, the smell of woodfires burning, the soft conversations as neighbours drift off to sleep.  The childhood listening.

It was some years ago that I spent time observing this schematic, the scale of the universe.  I realized even before encountering this illustration that just as there are so many more places to explore beyond our own communities, there are a multitude of places to visit in our own intimate surroundings, and to go deeper still, there are internal landscapes to explore.  The universe offers so many compelling and endless possibilities for discovery that it is an easy thing to become fascinated with the world that lives even on the petals of a flower.

The poems of Clea Roberts take me to that beautiful intimate place of connection in a much smaller place, full of limitless possibilities.

In the meantime, for two weeks, I have been observing a single Horned Grebe on a pond, hoping to capture a just one focused photograph.  I have watched muskrats frantically building winter homes in the cattails on the north side of the fence while bulldozers plow and reshape former dwellings.  I see miracles every evening as the sun begins to set.

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One poem to share this morning…from Auguries by Clea Roberts

If Suddenly My Dreams Are Premonitions

There is music or
there is snow falling
on the white-tailed deer.

They strip the ash berries
with precise, needful tugs.

There is music or
there is the gliding silence
between their hoofbeats
as the wind changes.

An introduction is made.
A small part of me
goes with them.

 

Beyond Remembering

Listening to Fleetwood Mac’s When I See You Again, as I type.

I wrote away to Amazon for Beyond Remembering: The collected poems of Al Purdy before driving east, the morning of my mother’s birth day,  July 27.  Since then, I’ve been pouring through the poetry and visiting the places that Canada’s poet, Al Purdy, visited and sometimes thought and wrote about.  I heard Eurithe’s strong voice over the telephone, positive and supportive and carried to me all the way from Sidney, British Columbia.  Al’s wife gave me the generous permission to use bits of Al’s poetry in my paintings, all produced in my studio bedroom, generously offered to me by my loving father his summer.

I’m still working on small panels and told myself they would be completed by September 1 and I will hold myself to that and I will rest for September, taking in the new autumn air and visit my brother and sister in Ottawa before I drive west to Calgary.

If you haven’t had a connection with Al Purdy’s writing, do give yourself that opportunity some time, when it’s right.  The summer of 2013 was the right time for me.  I had picked up George Bowering’s book about his friend, Al, his writing…and I became suddenly, profoundly connected…not just with Al Purdy’s writing, but also George Bowering’s writing and more than before, Margaret Atwood’s.  I was excited by Al’s connection to my all-time favourite author, Margaret Laurence, and went in search of correspondences between the two and poems where he wrote about her…even to the point of the description he gave in one of his poems of his writing space and the images of both Gabrielle Roy and Margaret Laurence that hung there, on his wall.

Yes…I became a fan.  George Bowering co-authored a book with Jean Baird, The Heart Does Break: Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning.  Drowning in a dark pool of grief for my mother, all of these beautiful circumstances, all surfacing through poetry, writing and literature, gave me a nudge into my personal journey of grief.  I have to say that tentatively, visually, my relationship with the folk of the Gorilla House (you know who you are) and then the Rumble House in Calgary, also provided a string to my practice.  But, I have to face it, for years, I’ve been broken and not particularly functioning on any level as an artist.  I painted in my head and pulled off these two hour blast outs every Wednesday night.  I was happy to let go of them at auction on the same night because I was suffering too much to want to hold on.

Somehow, I knew that this summer I had to create a segue into my practice of painting.  I had unloaded all of the furniture and other stuff that I had pushed into my studio space, as a physical way of avoiding painting.  I finished projects that were created as a way of distracting me from the fear, the incapacitation and the flat out avoidance of canvas or panel or paint.

And so I find myself here, painting the shape of Purdy’s words, in as much as I can over a period of four weeks.  I am sitting here crying as I type.  Dad isn’t home.  Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks…singing to me through the single speaker.  And…I feel good to be in the act of painting again.  A bit illustrative in nature, I don’t necessarily believe that this is the direction my work is going…but, it is the beginning of the direction and for that, I’m grateful.  It makes sense that I should begin in this beautiful, lush, humid, Victorian city of Belleville, on the edge of the Bay of Quinte…not far from Purdy’s resting place and his little A Frame on Roblin Lake.  I know that when I get home, I already have a ‘shitload’ of content from a pond that I love, that will give me a subject for my winter’s exploration.

I will add the poems, a bit at a time, to this post…I really need to get back to those small panels I mentioned.  After all, it’s the 28th of August.

Mom, I love you.  I love you with all of my heart.   Something about what I’ve painted this summer is about you…home…Canada…experience that is the very most mundane…things in the day-to-day that all too often go unnoticed.   Painting again, with joy…not pain…is home for me.

Thanks to Mary and Pat…two friends back in Calgary, who tentatively asked…and supported my journey of grief as it related to my painting.  Thanks to Pricilla.  You know why.  Thanks to my Dad, who feeds me.

The paintings can be seen, thanks to the generous opportunity given by Lisa Morris and Peter Paylor at Artists and Artisans: Studio and Gallery on Front Street, show beginning on Thursday, September 6, with a bit of a sha-bang on the 11th from 2-4 and with the potential of after hours viewing any time.  I hope some of you can see these.

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From the poem, May 23, 1980 in the collection, Beyond Remembering…the final stanza.

I have grown old
but these words remain
tell her for me
because it’s very important
tell her for me
there will come one May night
of every year that she’s alive
when the whole world smells of lilacs.

Al Purdy

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Day 2 Moose Jaw to Winnipeg

Max and I spent the morning wandering around a part of Moose Jaw that found me a bit emotional at times, places where my father had been as a high school student.  The city is seeing a lot of construction this summer.  It looks like they are replacing a lot of pipe on the residential streets, but I was able to walk most places.  Another hot and sunny day!

First, I headed for Moose Jaw Tech, now called Peacock Collegiate.  I thought about Dad and his sports, shop, choral and political activities as I made way around the lot.

John Moose Jaw Tech

My Dad: Moose Jaw Tech

My Dad: Moose Jaw Tech

Tech High School Moose JawThe above photo was in Dad’s old scrap book from his high school days.  I notice that there are full banks of windows on the sides of the building.

I love the warmth of the brick and can only imagine the stories those beautiful walls would tell, given the chance.  The first thing I did was walk around the track; this, after deciding not to sneak in one of the doors propped open by summer a summer work team.

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Not far from the school and back on Main Street, was Zion United Church.  This is an amazing piece of architecture and I imagine that the songs and performances of many years are contained there, still, absorbed by the granite foundation and powerful structure.

IMG_0148 IMG_0149 IMG_0150 IMG_0151 IMG_0152 IMG_0153 IMG_0154The next stop was Dad’s former home, 562 Ominica Street.  I looked at the trees and even the stump that remained from a former tree.  I wondered what it would have been like with my relations, so young, living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

IMG_0160 IMG_0159 IMG_0158 IMG_0157 IMG_0156Other places that I was drawn to photograph included some of the wall murals related to the soft ball teams and St. Andrew’s United Church…after this, Max and I were on our way to Winnipeg!  (Had we not had a time change, I was going to be heading north to Margaret Laurence’s home, Neepawa, Manitoba…but it will wait for the East-West Migration!)

IMG_0144 IMG_0145 IMG_0146 IMG_0139 IMG_0140I followed signs and turned off the highway, just before entering onto the ring road to the Motor 6 Hotel, just short of Assiniboia Downs.  While making it impossible for a Angela-Rylan visit, it was such a dog-friendly and economical venue.  I was super happy with the decision.  Max and I bunkered down and I consumed my second dinner of Italian meats on bunwiches with hot pickles and cheeses and my token glass of wine.  The furnishings included a small banquet, also perfect for painting.

IMG_0161IMG_0294 IMG_0298For my Purdy Postcard of the trip, I chose a few lines that were just perfect for the highway hotel…also, I felt such gratitude for the many miles of activated sky and the changing shrub vegetation.  Nothing is more wonderful than watching the landscape evolve on a long cross country drive!

 

 

Reflecting

I’m sorting things out, in order to spend time with my father in the east.  The Christmas cards for 2015 are in the mail.  Doctors appointments, Max’s grooming, the vehicle checks and household chores are now being tackled.  The past week has meant a lot of beautiful indoor time with booming thunder storms every afternoon.  I feel like I’m on a retreat because the house is so quiet…just Max and me.  I can eat popcorn whenever I want.  In the evening, a glass of red wine.  Last night, I baked salmon in parchment paper…fresh lemon squeezed over the beautiful pink meat.  Every ritual seems lovely and intentional.

For the most part, it’s been productive and satisfying.

I’ve decided that my pond study will wrap up the morning of Mom’s birthday, July 27.  I’ve walked the circumference of the pond at Frank’s Flats every day since October 13,2015 with the intention of taking a single Instagram photograph of a single location, a bush that grows at the pond’s edge.  I have seen it through the seasons and watched how light changes everything.  I’ve developed rituals around these observations, recording, writing captions, creating mental sketches and noting the changes in the animals and vegetation as time passes.  I’ve much reference material now and in the autumn, I want to create a response to all of it.  I’ve had some faithful followers as, for most of the experiment up until July, I’ve documented on social media (Facebook) as well.

Bush October 9, 2015Bush February 16, 2016 1056 beauty, warmth, timeBush December 1 2015 1129 the water burps blue skies up above everyone's in loveBush Dec 25, 2015 Merry Christmas Beautiful light the hawk is perchd in the evergreen

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Yesterday, at the pond, I observed the only two Ruddy duck babes, alongside Mom.  The teen-aged Coots and Grebes are now taking diving lessons and doing so very successfully.  Mr. and Mrs. everything are swimming further and further from their youngsters, although the teens still cry out helplessly and give chase, not wanting to be separated from, at the very least, their source of food.  With the horrendous amount of rain recently, I fear that the Ruddy ducks’ nests have been drowned…the two babies that I observed, came to be only days before the first thunderstorms hit, so I’m guessing all of the other mothers were sitting at that time.  I’ll see.

I think that flying lessons are beginning…I notice that the adult Coots, while remaining on the water, are flapping hard and traveling on the surface.

While I stopped putting out seed at my feeders (as a way of settling down the vole and mouse populations), I got emotional when I realized that Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow, in the vent across from my kitchen window, were trying one more time to nest.  The children are crying ravenously with each entrance to the vent from Mr. or Mrs.  I just need to see this family have a successful season, after two former attempts.

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The crows are big raiders in this neighbourhood these days, as those adults also struggle to feed their demanding young.

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As I reflect upon the last while, I continue to feel gratitude…especially for the lessons of nature and of solitude.  I like slowing things down.  I’ve been particularly inspired by a poem by Al Purdy, titled Detail and so I will post it here, along side a few photographs that I snapped yesterday.  In 1981, when doctoral work was typed on typewriters…Elizabeth Jane Douglas wrote a thesis titled the Mechanics of Being Alive: Major Themes in Poetry and Prose of Al Purdy.  This absolutely impacts my past year’s ‘work’ and ‘reflection’.

Al Purdy Abstract

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all winter long
… the apples clung
in spite of hurricane winds
sometimes with caps of snow
little golden bells
·         ·         ·
For some reason I must remember
and think of the leafless tree
and its fermented fruit
one week late in January
when the wind blew down the sun
and earth shook like a cold room
no one could live in
with zero weather
soundless golden bells
alone in the storm

(Beyond Remembering 135-36)
Al Purdy The Season of Man
Al Purdy the season of man 2
And then, there are those of us who believe that beyond this, there is so much more.  But for now, I leave this reflection.  I have a border collie, eager to run in the green wet grass.
Prayers for Billy and his family and for little Taliyah Marsman and her mother and their family.

Politics & Art: Rumble House July 22, 2015

Today, in Calgary, we experienced extreme weather.  I know that we react excessively to changing weather, but today I feel compelled to describe that I, in fact, for the first time in my sixty years, saw a funnel cloud and watched it, ominous, in the western sky and that I did feel that what I was seeing was apocalyptic in nature.  To know that there is such power in weather is a revelation when it is your own experience and not a feature on a news story elsewhere.  I watched golf ball sized hail drop on my yard, bashing trees and creating a sound I have never heard.  It was a day of amazing moments.

A beautiful friend offered to drive me down to Rumble House this evening and to pick me up again, at the end of the auction.  I have been more than a little disappointed that during my healing, I have not been able to drive anywhere. This offer was so generous and I am more than grateful that she would do this for me.  I feel well-loved. Thank you, Kirsten.

There were a lot of reasons why I wanted to incorporate the poem, Of Politics & Art into my piece tonight.  For one, I have been recently sorting through some new and residual material on my grief journey…the incomprehensible loss of my mother.  Everything about this particular poem resonates for me….the teacher, the reading of Melville’s Moby Dick, the description of the community of whales, likely bubble feeding, the females and their young…loss…storms…the passage of time and the passage of life.

by Norman Dubie

Here, on the farthest point of the peninsula
The winter storm
Off the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.
Mrs. Whitimore, dying
Of tuberculosis, said it would be after dark
Before the snowplow and bus would reach us.

She read to us from Melville.

How in an almost calamitous moment
Of sea hunting
Some men in an open boat suddenly found themselves
At the still and protected center
Of a great herd of whales
Where all the females floated on their sides
While their young nursed there. The cold frightened whalers
Just stared into what they allowed
Was the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow’s
One visible eyeball.
And they were at peace with themselves.

Today I listened to a woman say
That Melville might
Be taught in the next decade. Another woman asked, “And why not?”
The first responded, “Because there are
No women in his one novel.”

And Mrs. Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.
Coughing into her handkerchief. Snow above the windows.
There was a blue light on her face, breasts and arms.
Sometimes a whole civilization can be dying
Peacefully in one young woman, in a small heated room
With thirty children
Rapt, confident and listening to the pure
God rendering voice of a storm.

A wonderful reflection on the poem may be found here.  The writer states that he/she has not read Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  I have.  The description of whales and their behaviours are very detailed and elegant, if not sometimes, extremely so, and one can not help but ‘know’ whales at the conclusion of the book.

When I set about on tonight’s piece, I began by writing the poem into a circular format, with thoughts of air and breath…life.  I included a small piece of Chopin music…music…life…the whale song.  “The blue…blue light on her face, breasts and arms.”

I depicted a family of whales…thinking in terms of personification and the self.

A very personal painting, purchased by a visitor who had stopped and shared a brief conversation with me about music…thank you, Lois of Choiceland, Saskatchewan.

It was a beautiful and funny night.  I loved the conversation on our drive.  I enjoyed the many conversations on site, the colour, laughter, layers of music, the grapes and the olive crackers, the stage, the jokes and always, the friendship.  I will sleep well tonight.

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Wogibi Press and Incunabula

DSC_1328 DSC_1327 DSC_1326It’s magical when things are small.

There’s such a push in life to be big, have more, accumulate more, consume more, make more, do more…

…sometimes the small stuff is what can really take your breath away.  Sometimes the small stuff can leave you weeping like a baby and remind you to be grateful.

The other night I had opportunity to enjoy the launch of a fabulous book titled Incunabula.  Only fifty published, I feel blessed to own #35.  It is a beautiful object.  It is a beautiful piece of poetry.  Created collaboratively by poet Melanie Boyd, illustrator Bronwyn Schuster and woodworker MJ Boyd, this is a treasure.

Trea Jensen’s song, Orphan was one of four songs that set the tone for the evening.

Readings delivered by Melanie Boyd were captivating.  Eggs In the Field written by Sean Virgo/illustrated by Ryan Price and Incunabula were both performed with powerful voice and both stories gave way to chills down the spine.

 

 

 

 

The Nuisance Grounds & Listening to Derek Beaulieu on 93.7

I was thinking about writing a poem as I was depositing my trash bag into the bin today, Another hour or so at Frank’s Flats, and I was left feeling that I had entered into the personal narrative of a community…browsing deep into the sock drawers of strangers.

Driving home, I heard Derek Beaulieu, Calgary’s 2014 Poet Laureate, reading his poem, Please, No More Poetry on 93.7

For a moment, I second-guessed myself and thought it would be a waste of time to write.  But, only for a moment.  And then I decided, instead of Netflix, I would go ahead and write a poem.

October 5, 2014 Frank's Flats

October 5, 2014 Frank’s Flats

 

The Nuisance Grounds

My feet sweat inside my
rubber boots
and the sun shines,
lighting up other people’s waste.
Those other people
leave no more secrets.

Five more granola packages today
and three plastic pudding containers.
I didn’t find the spoons.
Many pages of coloured paper announce the deals
for this week and weeks before.

A bag of human defecation wrapped and tied
neatly, left under a tree.
McCafe cup, broken plastic bits.
Coloured straws, other-worldly in
natural surroundings.
Red hawk calling from above.
Ducks, skittish, paddling out from shore.

This is other people’s nuisance.  Not yours.
Bags with yellow liquid swishing at their bottoms.

Bags with brilliant logos of Wal-Mart,
Home Depot
mostly, today.

A long length of bubble wrap
dazzled dots in the light,
wraps around and hugs a
tree…larch…autumn…beauty.

Styrofoam falls apart
at my pinch, a myriad of white spheres
separate
and
fall
into the grass.
I’ll have to be more gentle next time.

It’s at this point, I think about writing
a poem.

I am at odds
because there is no one to blame.
This is not yours.

©Kathleen Moors

Thirteen!

In the company of create! creatives yesterday, we celebrated the experience of the Helping Hands mural and then, once back at the Golden Age Club, stepped into our paintings through a discussion about the illusion of space and creating depth.  I wanted to reveal to the participants some of the most basic mysteries behind trompe l’oeil and creating depth through one and two point perspective. I wanted to fiddle around a bit with block lettering and show some tricks to bring flat shapes into the three dimensional realm.

I had been thinking, as I drove down to the East Village, about a famous piece that was based on the number seven and wished that I had an image to show the class.  I had decided that since it was Friday the 13th yesterday and a full moon as well, I wanted the subject of the paintings to be the number 13.  Unfortunately, on my drive home, I remembered that the painting that had come to mind had really been based on the number 5, The Figure 5 in Gold by Charles Demuth. It causes me a big laugh at the keyboard as I type this admission. Regardless, I will bring a stack of my art books down to class next month and share the image, based on the poem by William Carlos Williams, The Great Figure.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems
Four Seasons Company: Boston 1921

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thirteen!

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The Elephant

The grade three students were excited when they learned that their teacher is an artist. I’m happy that they think that there is something fascinating about the act of making things. I like their curiosity about art. I showed them this image.

Mueller Art Folder 005After asking the students to answer the questions, What do you see?  What do you notice?  How does the painting make you feel? they wrote  acrostic elephant poems.

E
L
E
P
H
A
N
T

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of some of the heart-felt poetry that they shared, but they were very well done.

The Elephant

By Dan Chiasson

How to explain my heroic courtesy? I feel
          that my body was inflated by a mischievous boy.
Once I was the size of a falcon, the size of a lion,
          once I was not the elephant I find I am.
My pelt sags, and my master scolds me for a botched
          trick. I practiced it all night in my tent, so I was
somewhat sleepy. People connect me with sadness
          and, often, rationality. Randall Jarrell compared me
to Wallace Stevens, the American poet. I can see it
          in the lumbering tercets, but in my mind
I am more like Eliot, a man of Europe, a man
          of cultivation. Anyone so ceremonious suffers
breakdowns. I do not like the spectacular experiments
          with balance, the high-wire act and cones.
We elephants are images of humility, as when we
          undertake our melancholy migrations to die.
Did you know, though, that elephants were taught
          to write the Greek alphabet with their hooves?
Worn out by suffering, we lie on our great backs,
          tossing grass up to heaven—as a distraction, not a prayer.

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