Postcards of the Great War

As a part of researching my family, there are just a few archival items that have been passed along in our family and some of those are a little worse for wear.  There are two postcards, written by my Great Grandfather John Moors addressed to his son, my Grandfather John Moors.  One is in my auntie’s possession and the other is in my father’s possession.  The first one is known as a silk, easily identifiable because of the stitched front side.

Background and production

Embroidered silk postcards do not all date from the First World War – they were used for sentimental greetings in France before 1914. First exhibited in 1900, they continued to be manufactured until the 1950s. Production peaked during the 1914-18 war, as the format proved especially popular with British soldiers.  The hand-embroidery is thought to have been carried out in domestic houses as ‘out-work’ by civilians in France and Belgium, and in the UK by Belgian refugees. The designs were repeatedly embroidered on rolls of silk.  These were then sent to cities (mainly Paris) for cutting up, final assembly and distribution, in what was probably at that stage a factory operation.

The silk that we have in our family is now behind glass.  I apologize for the glare as it did impact the photograph, but it is great to have a digital image and to be able to share its contents with my family.

John Moors Post Card from Auntie Eleanor's House

On the backside…lovely words…a father to his son.  John asks for mailing information for Walter and George.  I’m pleased that I have placed both of them in this photograph prior to heading overseas.  He writes very much as my grandfather spoke, with a bit of formality.  I reach across time and space to give him my love.  This is August 2016, mid ocean.  My Great Grandfather died, while a patient, during the bombing of Etaples Canada Hospital on May 19, 1918.

Post Card John Moors 11

Walter and George both appear in the 40th Field Battery photo taken at Camp Borden.  I don’t know if my Great Grandfather had any opportunity to reconnect with them.  They both survived the war, though there are several references that put their military units at such locations as Vimy and Passchendaele.

R Walter Haddow 4th fr lft 2nd row frm back

My Great Uncle Walter…

Walter haddow 40th field battery

My Great Uncle George…

George Haddoe 1915 40th Field Battery

The second postcard was more simple issue, sent as my Great Grandfather was returning to the war, after a leave in Paris.  It’s strange, but this object is a real treasure, in my mind.  When one thinks about letters or postcards, there is an intimate relationship between the hand, the eye, and the heart…these two items were held in the hands of my relation.  Quite amazing that they have managed to move through the passage of time!

A couple of things I wonder…

…if my Grandfather sent his father letters.

…if anyone has a photograph of my Great Grandfather in uniform.  As far as I know, the photograph that appears at the bottom of this post is the only one in existence.  This is also a digital image.

I am forever-grateful for these two postcards, the last one post marked March of 1918, two months prior to John’s death.

Front Side Post Card John Moors

John Moors Postcard

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Writing on the Studio Wall

I have a long history of writing on walls.  But, what a friend recently told me is that Sharpie fades and will only last so long on drywall. (this explains why my affirmations, written on my bathroom wall in metallic gold pen, have begun to disappear)  So, as I looked at my studio walls, I DID realize that many of the original song lyrics and early writings of friends have begun to disappear.  I have documented these so that as they fade, they can be remembered as they become a part of the history of place.

I’ll begin with the most recent signing…that of my furnace tech, having just cleaned out my furnace and vents for this year.

If you do not see your writing on my wall, it is time for a studio visit!  Scout…looking for your writing. ;0)

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I need to change my filter more often.

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Annie Lennox: The Saddest Song I’ve Got (yup…sometimes when you’re painting, you feel sad and I would have been playing this CD while I painted, likely after I saw her playing a concert with Sting.)

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My oldest Kananaskis Country map plastered on the studio wall. I think about the mountains whenever I’m not in them. When I thought to, I recorded the odd hike…just so that I could remember the circumstance. Most times I forgot.

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Oh my gosh…winter hot dog roast at Sandy McNabb…that was a long time ago! I DID DO RAE GLACIER again!

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I didn’t keep this up…but, I thought it would be cool to list the new CDs that came into the studio. Don’t know what the Martha Stewart Wedding memo was about.

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This boy has a big influence on me. He got over some addictions. He helped me recently.

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Alan put up some shelves in the studio when I first built it…now, that was a long time ago! It seems we reused wood. I painted it up and it looked great. I remember when the studio was empty.

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Pat, from the Ironwood, was out with another buddy. I was bugging him about the fact that when the move happened from the present day Blue’s Can, they took Mussels off the menu. We were drinking wine in the studio that evening. These things happen.

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My niece, Mandi, wrote beautiful words for me on the morning of my first born’s wedding…and it’s almost impossible to read them anymore. I treasure them and always will. I send her love, abundant love.

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Bee, my dancing partner, when there’s good Honky Tonk music playing, continuously shares hilarious bits of blah blah…usually, I write them down.

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Oh, good grief…weird stuff ends up hung on my studio wall, but, I am always prepared. Nothing’s worse than having to leave a painting, in order to floss your teeth…and times wasted looking for it.

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Oh my gosh…I was obsessed with getting large storage for my big canvases. Thank you to all my friends and family who had to listen to my musings on this subject and to the two men who eventually built them. I’ve been afraid that they are going to fall on me while I paint, ever since. lol

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Yes, I was this obsessed. To the right, a beautiful mosaic created by a Larche artist, a gift from Father Clair Watrin a zillion years ago.

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One view of the storage that I love so much.

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The other side…

 

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Chris and Clayton…former students. Every so often the kids come back to visit…they’re both grown up now. We don’t forget, though. Proud of both of these dudes.

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Broken hearted, I cut three travel journals up into little squares, when my trucker boyfriend dumped me over the telephone. (I may as well be honest). Chances are that if you’ve got one of my paintings since 2006, one of these squares is buried in your painting. I thought it would be good to send a bit of my heart out with each new piece…the nice thing to announce is that it barely hurts at all any more. This is what happens with broken heartedness.

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Awe…my cousin, Clayton, just before he headed out for a huge walk for the support the Kidney Foundation? Correct me, if I’m wrong, Clay. Karina and Clayton…a gift to share an evening with them.

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Jen Hall took the first and only ‘real’ portrait that I’ve had done of me…and Max…and she documented a few paintings for me. She’s awesome.

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I have a habit of picking up things in old frames, especially if they look like they were hung in some one’s kitchen for a zillion years…where mayhaps tea was served and ladies talked.

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I read stuff about our animal/bird/insect/plant species that are in trouble…I clip them here…I don’t want to forget. Some of these land in paintings…it all depends what I’m thinking about at the time.

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My son….he was my very young batman…he wanted to keep everyone safe and happy and calm. These are two of my favourite photos of him. The other one…well, you saw it earlier.  James and sister, Cayley, at Angel Glacier.

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Yeah…more journal squares…a piece from Ashleigh Bartlett’s workshop at Esker…more salvaged religious memorabilia from the second hand stores…a postcard of Tim Belliveau’s glass…my all time favourite glass artist.

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Book suggestions…words from my sister-in-law, Grace. Aaron, Angela and Wisdom visited me and took away my teaching table so that I would never, again, be tempted to teach in the studio, but instead, paint.

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Yes…my daughter’s wedding. Trying to remember neighbour’s names…

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Karina…beautiful. I wish more of my relations from Raymond and Lethbridge and Magrath would stop in for visits. Love them so much.

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Youngest person to visit my studio…Wisdom is growing up so fast. Love the Sponge Bob!

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Leaves of Grass: Walt Whitman Read it! WHEN the true poet comes, how shall we know him— By what clear token,—manners, language, dress? Or shall a voice from Heaven speak and show him: Him the swift healer of the Earth’s distress!

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Bill used to move my art…I loved him so much.

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Bill Webb…still painting luminous landscapes of the Livingston Range and winter roads. New adventures are happening for my dear friend.

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James Blunt…during heart wrenching moments in the studio.

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Margy…oh my gosh…how many times did we watch the music video and sing along with this tune??

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Bob Nelson…drove all the way from Helena and we went down to Knox and listened to acapella music. High school friend and talks about life, the world and Kant. I’m catching waves.

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I didn’t see this note about the scissors until today. Cayley, sorry that I wasn’t helpful. lol The scissors are hanging in the scissor place over there!

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Beautiful lady, Angela. And, I guess some sort of recommendation from Dylan. Dylan and Kristan, former students, have visited. But…it’s been a while. Both are doing inspiring and exciting things. I still have a JH self portrait in a portfolio for Kristan to pick up. lol

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Oh dear…I can’t read this. Can you? Please let me know…something about meditation…I can read “Remain Radiant”

REMAIN ‘RADIANT,’AS JOYCE PUT IT, IN THE FILTH OF THE WORLD.

The goal of life is to be a vehicle
for something higher.Keep your eye up there
between the pairs of opposites
watching your play in the world.Let the world be as it is
and learn to rock with the waves.Remain ‘radiant,’
as Joyce put it,
in the filth of the world.”~ Joseph Campbell, Excerpt From: “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.” Joseph Campbell Foundation, iBooks

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This young man…an accomplished and published photographer/journalist out of Toronto. Look for his stuff on cars…and his road trips! Proud of you, Clayton.

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My brother, owner of Cliff’s Chinook Charters out of Comox, wrote about the plight of the salmon. I love my brother…he knows how much I think about him. I caught a big one out there, while sharing a trip with my daughter and father.

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Leslie Champ, former student and amazing man! Christmas visit 2013. The little piece matted in purple, a piece of art created by student Katie McGreevy for me when I taught at St. John’s Fine Arts School…again, a zillion years ago. A couple pieces of my paint-by-number collection.

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I cherish Leslie’s words.

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Jen…another artist extraordinaire. A part of a powerhouse teaching team at AGC when it was before the boss woman went down in flames.

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Middle Child, daughter Cayley, is one of my two daughters. Both have taught me about courage. I could not have learned the lessons of courage in life, without them.

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Thank you.

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Rita, I miss you. You opened up so much discourse. You supported me.

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First born. I can’t type anything about her without getting teary. Such a warm, funny, organized, loving human being! Brave! Pam and Larry, that was a fun night! Such fun!

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“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” ― Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

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lol You’re welcome, Larry.

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In two places.

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Jen, I miss you. A bit of a piece done with Asheigh Bartlett, as a response to work by Jack Bush.

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People leave me stones, shells and earth from places they have traveled…these came from Australia. Thank you, Bob.

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Natasha…former student studying art in Vancouver. Love you and so proud of you.

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Darwin stones.

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Prince Edward Island Sand…touch it every once and a while and my mother comes to mind.

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Shells and stones…Prince Edward Island. I get teary looking at these.

My Mandy-Girl

Call it ‘by any other name’, but I have to say that the time spent with my niece, Mandy, was pure heaven.  Up until recently, this is all I ever really knew of my girl…here, in the arms of my younger brother.  A sweet little red head…quiet…introspective…artistic…vulnerable.

Cliff and MandyAs she grew, she sent her Gramma and Grampa a drawing that Grampa still has hanging in his hallway.  Mom and Dad were/are so proud of her.

I received a special card in the mail, an image that I framed and have displayed in my sanctuary…another treasure.  I noticed at that time that my niece was becoming a little artist.

??????????In 2008, on my daughter’s wedding day, along with the rest of the family, Mandy left her words on my studio wall.  It was such a blessing to be together on that day.  I will never forget it.

??????????“Life is special, and yours will always be unique, as will everyone’s.  Don’t waste a moment of it, but always take a second within those times to step back and absorb what is happening.  Reflect on it, turn it into something you’ll remember always and will still be just as alive when you think of it. – Mandi”

And then…a collision with her energy and our own time shared recently at my place!  What a gift!

DSC_0488 Mandy Arrives Mandy Market Collective 2 Mandy Picking Garbage With Me Mandy in Snow Storm September 2014 Mandy With Cousins Mandy Market CollectiveWe shared special talks and shared peaceful silence…we were creative together…purchased B.C. fruit together…shared meals and wandered the city together.  I will always appreciate that this time was for us alone.  I’m so very happy for that.  I drove Mandy to the airport and then cried, (as I always do when I drop special people to the airport), driving south on the Deerfoot.  When I arrived home, I found Mandy’s words…pages of them…stacked on my red table, along with a parting gift.  This little penguin purchased at the Market Collective, will remain an object of affection for always.  Thank you, Mandy, for taking a break to come and be with your Auntie.  I can hardly wait until my niece, Eliane, does the very same thing.  And, mayhaps, when her hectic life slows down, I might even have a couple of weeks to go exploring with and get to know my niece, Ainslie in this same way.  Love you, my precious girls!  Love you, Mandy.

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Love Notes

P1150418 P1150419 P1150420My cousin, Margy, received Love Note #11.

I sent off the last two Love Notes two days ago, apart from the one that I have kept for myself.

P1150403 P1150406 P1150408 P1150409 P1150411 P1150413 P1150414I painted the series in 2004.  It’s difficult to believe that already ten years have passed.  Their story follows.

Love Notes

A Series of 12 Paintings

2004

 

In 2004, I took up running along the ridge and down on to the lower trail along the Bow River.  I had stopped to take a break at a random point.  It was shady.  I was completely alone, and to the right of me, the river flowed a blue green.  I bent to tighten my laces, when at my toe, I saw a single rose.  Bewildered, I picked it up and held it in my hand, looking.  I spoke out loud at that time and said, “If this is some sort of a sign, Lord, thank you.”

I had lost at love again.  It had become a ritual with me in my life.  This time I was stumped and struggling to get back on track.  The rose was a gift for me, a gift of healing.

Just next to the path and under some trees, I found a bench.  I decided to sit and rest there for a time.  I didn’t notice them at first, but there, hung by ribbon from the trees, were eleven roses.  I gasped.  All of a sudden, I felt that the space, the landscape and the river were more sacred.  Something had happened at this location or someone special/an event had been remembered.  I sat quietly for the longest time.  Instead of continuing on a run, I turned for home, the rose still in my cupped hand.

I decided to paint a dozen roses…nostalgia, memory, love, symbols…

Eleven people have now received a Love Note…I have kept the one.  The process: I flipped the paintings over in a grid of twelve and I wrote out my own love note, left to right, from top to bottom.  Writing had, over the years, become an essential practice for me...this, along with exploring the visual world…objects…landscape…faces.

four by three

One to TwelveThe painting at the top left was titled Love Note #1, all the way to Love Note #12 in the bottom right.  If you received a Love Note, it was because something in you lit a spark in me.  This was a very random, but time-impacted process.  It would take an amazing moment in the gyre of life to bring the owners all together so that they might read the complete note on the back, something that connects all of you!

The original rose that I found at my toe remains in my studio, a reminder of the lessons taught in my favourite book, Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  If you received a Love Note, I would love to hear from you…and hear about the moment when you received a painting gift from me.  I would enjoy reading your love note to me.

P1150422 P1150423 As time passes, I lose friends.  I hold onto their memory in words and images.

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Four Years After 9/11

In 2005, I began writing this blog.  It had something to do with the privacy or public notion of words.  I was thinking that morning about the impermanence of life…of all of the floating papers of our lives…of art.   And so this blog was born at the remembrance of those papers fluttering to the ground, from those broken buildings and from all that is ephemeral, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

It is an interesting thing to go back to September 2005 and consider the words that I chose to write down…a blog was born out of those words.

 

WORLD TRADE CENTER

Memory

Posted on September 11, 2005

 

I was spinning my wheels that morning.  There were things to get done as always and so I busied myself with those rituals when one of the children called upstairs to me, “Mom, what is the World Trade Center?”

 

 

As I remember it, I stepped out from the bathroom, into the hall where I could see the television clearly.  A voice said, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.”

 

 

As I set myself down on the couch, a plane hit the second tower.  Smoke and flame billowed heavenward… it was truly something that seemed unbelievable.  It remains so.

 

 

It is very early in the morning.  I’ve just come in from the studio…it is only right that I should remember in the silence of this first bit of morning the many who lost their lives and the families they left behind, shattered and rebuilding to this day.

 

e. e. cummings

http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/eecummings/11909

here’s to opening and upward,

to leaf and to sap and to your

(in my arms flowering so new)

self whose eyes smell

of the sound of rain and

here’s to silent certainly mountains;

and to a disappearing poet

of always, snow and to morning;

and to morning’s beautiful friend twilight

(and a first dream called ocean)

and let must or if be damned

with whomever’s afraid

down with ought with because

with every brain which thinks

it thinks, nor dares to feel

(but up with joy; and up

with laughing and drunkenness)

here’s to one undiscoverable

guess of whose mad skill each

world of blood is made

(whose fatal songs are moving in the moon)

I have enjoyed a beautiful half moon tonight….walking from the studio to the house!  Good night, dear world!  Be kind to those who are lonely or hopeless tonight.

In the Classroom

Posted on September 12, 2005

 

I played two songs for my students this morning.  One was Deja Vu written by John Fogerty and the other was Wake me up When September Ends by Green Day.  I thought there were common themes in these two pieces of writing and that the melodies were rich, emoting ‘stuff’ that the students could think about, given the circumstances in Iraq.

 

Just recently they have been considering Ray Bradbury’s short story, All Summer in a Day…and there are also some parallels there; with the seven years of rain….and issues of isolation, sadness and abandonment.  The image of the sun gives us some insight about  hope and its potential in very dark moments.

 

After listening, I distributed both sets of lyrics and led  some rich discussion about ‘seeing the writing on the wall’. I felt pleased that the people sitting in front of me were going to take some learning with them.

 

As a follow-up, they will first write a comparison of the two songs and their themes and then go on to discuss which song they prefer and why it is preferred.

 

Finally, they will find a pathway into the lyrics and write their own narrative based on thoughts that surface as a result of considering the writing of these two powerful songs.  I was excited when one of the boys came to ask me if he could write from a voice in the song Vietnam by Creedance Clearwater Revival.  Good!  I told him that I was especially pleased that he had extended the suggested activity as it will mean more to him this way.

 

It was a very rewarding day in the classroom.

 

This writing has provided me a brief shift in posture and in focus.  Now I must return to the studio where work is really pushing forward.  I hope that the energy can be sustained.

 

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.

Cat by J R R Tolkien: Starring My Peanut Meister

P1100785 P1100786 P1100788The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.

The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard,[note 1] dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps on his meat
where woods loom in gloom–
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet,
he does not forget.

Beauty

The word BEAUTY seems almost an understatement for how I feel about nature and the changing sights as a new season unfolds.  I just could not think of an adequate title for this post.  I would also guess, knowing my attachment to nature, that I have likely used this title before in order to write about the very same thing.  Being redundant about beauty or nature, however, does not seem to be a fault, but rather a wonderful celebration and so I’ll carry on.

The sparrows have returned to the feeder.  As they ready their nests, they seem to be building up their stores.  So, where seed has fallen, the other critters gather and this beautiful rabbit nibbled fearlessly for quite some time on Sunday afternoon.

I was captivated by the beauty and miracle of the changing of its colour…from the pure white of winter through this next transition of soft brown.  I never cease to be amazed by these daily observations.

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The Beauty of Things

By Robinson Jeffers

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things—earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars—
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality—
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant—to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

Gorilla House LIVE ART: March 20, 2013

The weather in Calgary was spectacular on Wednesday.  It certainly provided impetus for heading down to the Gorilla House although I felt drawn to the red sofa and a snuggle with the cat.  Instead, after Max and I walked the perimeter of the pond, I purchased a beautiful plywood panel that was riddled with six beautiful knots.  There is a bit of a shift in dynamic or motivation when an artist sees a new box of water colour pencils or a gorgeous piece of wood.  Possibilities begin to bounce in the brain.  This piece of wood did that for me.

I’ve been trying to eat Mediterranean recently, but I lined up at the Harvey’s Burgers joint and picked myself up a single burger, slathered in onion, lettuce, relish and tomato.  Not exactly Sonoma, if you get my drift.  What we do as a way of speeding up our lives…sad, but true. Regardless, I was on my way.

A bowl of sugared candies and friends were waiting…waiting for friends, painting, experience, bedazzled moments of genius under pressure.  It is true that a person feels welcome, once at the Gorilla House.  Priscilla had a new hair cut.  Tamara…another week gone by without her son…a few tears…a hug that lasted.  Karen’s smile.  I wandered in to her studio space and snapped a picture.  I so admire Karen’s meticulous work.

P1090910Those are river stones wrapped in white silk threads, under the blown glass globe.  Exquisite.

The concepts for the evening were….

1. Moon Horror or Sun Shower
2. A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes, Aficionado.
3. From Barbara Ann Kipfer’s Word Nerd: More than 17,000 Fascinating Facts About Words, Kabuki

I thought that it was interesting that the night’s concepts included two sources linked to words.  So, to begin with, on my panel, I recorded those two sources at the bottom.  I then turned my panel so that the dark knots of the wood were linked on the far right of the panel and the words were parallel to them left and right.  I was thinking about the power of words…their ability to bind people together and the way that they pull people apart…both internally and in communion with their fellow beings.

An example: FELLOW BEINGS

Definitions

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  1. n. A fellow-creature; especially, any member of the human race as compared or contrasted with any other.

Some, in today’s global culture, would take offense to this term, given that we are now avoiding being gender specific and fellow being assumed to be male in nature.  I don’t hold too many hang ups about this.  In fact, I become frustrated with the forced inclusion of inclusive language.  I don’t like taking liberties with language if I can help it.  Does this make me ‘conservative’? Does it make me less ‘progressive’?  insensitive? Am I not a ‘feminist’?  Do I not care about women’s rights in the bigger picture?

When I think about people who have ‘stood up’ for the down trodden, I am begoggled by the will and the courage to initiate change and to fight for the freedoms who those who have not.  It goes so much deeper than the words we use and perhaps ‘the words’ merely represent these greater notions.  Example:

The Persons Case and Womens Right to Vote in Canada

{The Vote: Suffragists were relentless campaigners, lecturers, demonstrators and petitioners. They bravely faced politicians’ ire and the aggressive opposition of public opinion. By 1918, some women were granted the right to vote and to have a say in the political future of Canada. For many other women, their race, ethnicity and religion still barred them from the vote and, for them, the fight continued for almost 50 years. It wasn’t until the introduction of the Universal Right to Vote in 1963 and the addition of the equality clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985 that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, mental or physical disability, or gender.}

The “Famous Five” and the Persons Case:

Early activists challenge conventional views to change Canadian history ==è The Famous Five achieved not only the right for women to serve in the Senate, but they and their many contributions paved the way for women to participate in other aspects of public life and the assertion of women’s rights ==è Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards

“We want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are persons.”

– Emily Murphy – 1931

The early 20th century and the courageous women who challenged the existing status of women are now part of the historic landscape of Canada. Five women created legal history in women’s rights by contesting the notion that legal definitions of persons excluded females. If women were not legally persons, then they had no rights.

These words borrowed from here…

1918!  What a remarkable thing that up until this point, women had no say in the decisions around their government and its policies for their lives.  What a great day it must have been to cast the first vote as a female.  I remember reading something about this as I studied my own family history and it caused me to weep.  Equity and equality are such important concepts to uphold.  But, as is my typical style, I digress.  (This is because my van is being maintained and I am home for the day.  Digression is sometimes a luxury.)

Another woman who was, in her simplicity, an inspiration in her time and as a result, timelessly so, was Rosa Parks.

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.
Rosa Parks

I painted Rosa Parks.  While painting…or just as I began to write a few words on my panel, a new visitor to Gorilla House LIVE ART, stopped and visited.  I think her name was Barbara.  (If that isn’t your name, please write to me and tell me because I know you are reading.)  Let’s, for now, call her Barbara.  Another example of the importance of words!  Barbara has begun to draw.  She attends figure drawing on Thursday nights at the Gorilla House, but hadn’t been in for the Battles.  What she was about to share moved me to the core, so much so that I wanted to put down my brushes and chalks and sit on the sofa.  Her words were ‘enough’.

Barbara shared about reading my words…about using the Public Library computers to read my entries about the Gorilla House LIVE ART battles.  I guess, in our imaginations, when we write, we don’t think about there being a ‘reading audience’.  The words spill out for ourselves…well, at least mine do.  But there, in conversation with me, was someone who reads my words and actually, it seems, looks forward to reading them.  This was a real inspiration to me and supports my experience as a writer.  So, I thank you, from my deepest heart and I hope to see you again.

Thank you to Melissa, who generously purchased this piece at auction.  I so admire you for your knowledge, for your connections with Arusha and for your courage to use Calgary Bucks.

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