Who is Weyman Chan?

Shannon McClennan invited me to put together a painting around the words to a Weyman Chan poem.  I felt I had no option but to begin with layers…and in the end, create a pseudo-portrait on the surface.  I think that as artists, we all inject ourselves into our art.  The process is very personal and I think the product becomes that. The painting was started at the Gorilla House this past Wednesday and finished over morning coffee this morning…a challenge after a night at the Alberta Flood Relief Concert.  A wonderful part of this particular event was sharing time with Margy and meeting up with Jackie and Rick on the train.  We visited about music and just how artists are called to create from an innate place in their spirits.  We are a blessed people.  While the journey of the artist is sometimes a tricky one, it is so essential and at such a deep level, rewarding.

Weyman Chan writes About Chinese Blue

Drawing on more than two thousand years of ancient Chinese tradition that present diverse philosophical modes of being, whether it be the spiritual teachings of Kong Zi or Lao Tzu, the military dicta of Sun Tzu or the complex sensibilities expressed by poets such as Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju, Li Bai, Du Fu and Wang Wei in the wake of a tumultuous imperial government, Weyman Chan restates these concerns of the past while addressing other “first world problems” in our own contemporary era.

In Chinese Blue, the poet “character” sifts through the earth’s long history of geological layering and forgetting, grappling with the perpetual fragmentation of identity. The poet struggles with the prospect of any inky blots that suggest the finished work of a creator, subject to expediencies—ambition, romance, betrayal—that leave us flawed and human, taking the reader on a spiritual quest burdened by an endless sea of flotsam.

In a stoic attempt to reconcile biological drives with a stance of non-presence and to find a place beyond “perpetual worry” where he can accept ancestral mistakes while tentatively channelling the voices of advertising that condition our vernacular and massage our minds—offering a cliché happy ending to what remains of our physical existence—the poet finds himself wading through jazzily visionary delineations of the modern city, numbed and soundly crushed between “the word and the thing.”

Here is Weyman Chan at his most fiercely ironic, tracing a lineage he interprets subconsciously and through the intricacies of its raw genetic material, with keenly biting language that echoes the rhythms of Qu Yuan in contemplation of his own mortality beside the flowing waters of impermanence:

I would prefer to jump into the river and be entombed in the stomachs of fishes than to bow while purity is defiled by vulgar pestilence.

I hope that the People’s Poetry Festival is enjoyed by all and encourage anyone who has that artist within them, waiting to be expressed, to land yourself at the Art Party.  Create art around words!

Weyman Chan

The break up by Weyman Chan

Go on. Fight desire with clarity.

Why bother our muscle with
Your Dadaist halo? We
eat from the same neglect,
athletes run, they don’t argue about synaesthesia-isn’t
that the reason? The terms.
The terms.

There’s no saint of snow. Only fire.

If Roman baths were an escapement,
misery wouldn’t run on
second hand news.
Tonight, an ant speared
the moon with her salacious
purse. You, even pursier.

So, Who is Shannon?

It would be an interesting thing to write an additional blog post each week, a profile about the person who purchases my work at auction.  After last evening’s encounter, this makes perfect sense.  Shannon McClennan is the the Director of Marketing & Communications for The People’s Poetry Festival.  Last year, a wonderful injection of funds came along for artistic projects throughout the City of Calgary.  This year, projects and programs are struggling to keep the momentum going and so I wish to, in my own way, promote this particular festival.

From Huffington Post August 8, 2013

“Shannon McClennan is a Calgary writer, poet and arts-and-culture junkie. She has a Master of Arts in International Journalism from the University of Leeds, UK, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Calgary and has done time as a communications specialist for big business and not-for-profit. Shannon currently works in provincial politics and is director of communications for The People’s Poetry Festival. When not writing, ranting about politics or planning festivals, you’ll find her doing yoga, sleeping, and taking in the local arts and culture scene—but rarely at the same time. You can read about her exploits here; follow her on Twitter; or check out her personal blog for more.”

P1120143Poets have been very generous people in my world.  In fact, the poetry of Al Purdy, in some ways, kept me afloat these last two months.  When a person is grieving, words so easily slip into the soul and speak kindness.  I don’t mean this in the corny way; let me clarify.  Grief brings on all sorts of feelings…numbness, anger, dark sadness, fear.  It is the kindest thing…that poetry mirrors back to you, all of these emotions.  I want to have my mother back in my physical life…to hold her and kiss her and skype with her…to laugh with her and sing with her.  I can only describe this utter frustration with not having her in this physical world as breathlessness…an inability to breath…a seizing up of everything in me.

Poetry gives me breath.

Back to Shannon.  Shannon McClennan is a writer.

She has passed a poem to me on bond paper…words by Weyman Chan lined up against the left margin.  This week, I will paint the words and donate the piece to the festival.  I feel graced by this opportunity.  Thank you, Shannon, and nice to meet you.

Weyman Chan

The break up

Go on. Fight desire with clarity.

Why bother our muscle with
Your Dadaist halo? We
eat from the same neglect,
athletes run, they don’t argue about synaesthesia-isn’t
that the reason? The terms.
The terms.

There’s no saint of snow. Only fire.

If Roman baths were an escapement,
misery wouldn’t run on
second hand news.
Tonight, an ant speared
the moon with her salacious
purse. You, even pursier.