Friday, 17 February 2017

Highway 6

I mean it when I say lucky me today, heading up highway 6 from Regina, straight north. 









What choice did I have? The one time I tried to drive where the highway wasn't, I got stuck. Taking this photo.









I called the motor club and got terrific service from the young buy running the towtruck from Southey, about 15 km north of my bog on the north slope of the valley. Needing to winch my car straight back, to prevent it from sliding further into the ditch, he rigged up a pulley system at the back of his truck so that force applied to it translates to force applied perpendicular to my rear axle. 










The diagram is not drawn to scale. The back of the truck was another half-length back. He got me going and I carried on.



Waiting for the truck, I'd begun a piece called "Lorca in Saskatchewan." What he'd find holy here.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

At the Moment

I'm excited about going back into my Cities manuscript, pieces based on travels in Europe and beyond in the last few years. Of course, the fact that I'm composing this blog entry says much about what "excited" means here: a glam opening, the sheer fun of what I'm about to do, before I do it. 
Still, I look forward to breaking down the pieces not so much in terms of language (they've been stripped down) but in terms of stanza and line form. 
Previous intrusions of prose journal-esque entries: delete. 
Remove "City" from name of poem. Bread, instead of City of Bread. 
Remove date and location (though saying so, I feel a shudder). 
Saying all this, I remember A Dictionary of Altitudes in the Dominion of Canada--found in Nelson, somehow, 1981-82--a listing, by altitude and source of survey, of every location in Canada where altitudes had been measured. As if attracted to the look of its pages, I produced poems named after towns, with the rest of the data included in each title. I swung beginnings of lines back and forth. Some of them worked great. Others, well, cut to Regina a year later. Get Paul, Anne, Bruce, or Brenda to tell you how I closed one line with "passing" and opened the next with "wind." 
A few of these--known (as the months passed) as the "better ones"--were published, in Dandelion and places I've forgotten. I felt at home with the approach. I didn't see any reason not to. It gave me a lot of room. 
The only snag was that after the first seven or eight poems, things got a tad repetitive. Neat bits were buried in fussy regularities of form.
So it has gone with my Cities. More than a half-dozen have found homes in print. The rest continue to hover, now that I've brought them to mind again, like aircraft on the fringes of a storm. 
Time to land them, I can't help saying. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Ten Reasons To Love La La Land (the movie)

The irresistible vein of its pop hooks.

The good-natured nod to its own traditions in terms of theme (boy meets girl, boy and girl chase dreams) and look and pace.

A slew of non-Hollywood allusions, to boot. Take them or leave them.

Virtuostic performances by Emma Stone, and Gosling's not bad either--a blend of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

That opening number on the LA freeway. First you fear it's a Coke commercial, then WHAM!

Surprise, plenty available.

Courage and artistry to evoke potentially asphyxiating elements of story but develop them freshly.

The devotion to place. LA, obviously. Like everything else, this devotion is delivered cheerfully, with full knowledge of its own impossibility.

That the representation of jazz music isn't any more reductive than it already is.

Lorca would love it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Farewell Puerto Morelos

No doubt my dedicated readers--good day, uncle Dano and aunt Dana--will have blamed chronic sadsackitis for that melancholy that shows up whenever I leave a place.  This time it's Puerto Morelos, on the Mayan coast of Mexico, where I've lived for three weeks, the first two down the block from a sister or two. I blame it on lifestyle routine which, once established, is what living means to me and which, once lost, as today, leaves life a little hollow.
What is this routine I speak of? Mornings at the notebook, afternoons at the beach, in short (and I don't forget you, my angels of coffee, beer, chitchat, reading, food, walkabout).
As for the notebook segments, let me try to show you. The other night this line came to me in bed: If we were now a rowboat. Most of the time in my writing life, I would try to build from that, as in, say, If we were now a rowboat we'd be strong in the sea's long arms or the like. However, that's precisely the mode I've been struggling to avoid, preferring, as noted in an earlier entry, to write wrong, as in If we were now a rowboat pacing you-know-who, the rooster next door, Ashok would come to mean us.
How this matters, who knows. But I've written--or will have, with one more spell up at the airport in an hour or two--five thousands words embracing wrong. 
But farewell, Puerto Morelos. Whoever's in my chair, enjoy!


Friday, 20 January 2017

Booking

As a frequent solo traveller [accidental comma I deleted but like: As a frequent so, lo traveller . . .], I'm often seen, if seen at all, in the company of books.
Let me tell you about three I packed down to the My Paradise beach club for a six-hour session in the sun, shade and water today:
First, The Remains of the Day (K.Ishiguro), told in a butler's voice, a marvel of decorum and restraint which gives up its thematic kicks ever so subtly. 
Second, The Art of War, which accompanies my re-integration into the world of online backgammon.
Third, and most important for my present writing purposes, The Poet in New York by F.G.Lorca. This is the second time this book has blown up my world. Three years ago, it provided text-track for my poet-in-Andalusia travels. I brought it to Mexico now for more poet-in-a-new-land orientation. But, you faithful readers of this blog--buenos tardes, Uncle Copa and Aunt Vaso--will have noticed something or other a few entries ago about a certain non-approach approach to writing that I'm now calling "writing wrong," as in writing that refuses itself. What it looks like so far is five thousand words which may interact conventionally with nearby words but, a few words further off, have lost touch. Wouldn't you know it: that's sort of what Lorca was up to during his visit to New York in 1929-30. I'm no Lorca, you understand. But I'm trying to write evasion. (See Lorca's "Imagination, Inspiration, Evasion" in his Conferencias.) 
Come to think of it, Ishiguro's novel is full of evasion of the English butlerish sort. 
And Sun Tzu's 2500-year-old treatise on the theory of warfare is famous for this nugget: "All warfare is based on deception."

Monday, 9 January 2017

Red Flag

No fishing today.








Plenty warm enough but windy, good chance of rain. My sisters work on pelicans.








Pelicans chase smaller birds off their perch.









Puerto Morelos parks its low-tech charm.









And the boys pour concrete for a new restaurant.








Later, there were fish after all: catch of the day.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

For a New Year's Eve

I'm not sure why I've cleared the decks of obligation to publicize what I write. Got to be something more than well shit, no one takes interest anyway
I've licked the cup of the coffee I drank. 
New to language is not as
easy as it sounds. Look how long
a line takes, a countdown 
100 top tunes of 2016. Number seventy.

I've wiped the birth from my fever.
I've driven truck and a case of water, sure.

Whatever it takes to stretch in the Yucatan
hint: sun. That's where you'll find me or me you.

And the toast I offer tonight says
may you take and be taken by the best in '17.