Saturday, 28 May 2016


I biked by this beauty an hour ago.

Anticipating my poet laureate gig in my hometown this summer I've been checking out boyhood material, most of it stored at memory's place. It's an easy list--what's still with me from my first ten years. 
I lived the next ten about a block from the hydrant. Taking the photo, my back's to the west entrance of Gardiner park, between Gardiner and Anderson. Our family house was 5 Anderson, second from the east end on the right. Original hydrants, now age 60, live themselves a lifetime. As I circled back on my bike to snap this one, I repeated a route I'd taken decades before. It could be these ten years I go into. (See Hillsdale Book.)
I notice that every poet laureate gig comes down to, it seems, what conditions of light have we lived through today. 
Even saying such a thing--that's the hometown talking.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

This Time Around Lake Wascana

When I saw that the legislature resembled a sphinx, I took a photo.

The body waits for its head. The head, in copper so bright, will shame the body.

For a while yet even the dome sits below the apex of a tower crane taking everything down. Not far away, a fountain.

Further south, outside the Mackenzie, we can feel Fafard's calf.

I remembered those photos of Stalinist architecture and thought about Leboldus, though they're not the same.

That brought me to the former City limits, since the fifties part of Hillsdale.

This black and white manhole on page 86 of Hillsdale Book seems to be have been replaced.

Signs said go make the tahini paste.

Go stew the rhubarb.

I sped home

and put my feet up.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Day in the Day

People ask me, the poet laureate, what I do all day. Sometimes I'm hard-pressed to answer. "By 'day' do you mean the time before right now?" I said once.
But Giselle had dropped her monkey yesterday into the courtyard closed to all. Nothing spurs the poet laureate more than a grand-daughter in need.
I showed up early, morning traffic duking it out with lilacs. No sign of the monkey.
Yesterday, hearing the story from Giselle's mother, my daughter Emmaline, I hadn't absorbed the courtyard scene. I knew it generally as a grey, concrete pit where nothing grows or breathes or colours. 
I threw my poet laureate's weight around, activating first one circulation desk worker then a second. They initiated a two-pronged plan. I supervised. 
One, call maintenance. Two, security. Somehow, the five of us zeroed in on the monkey, in the hand of the maintenance guy, which re-appeared from a City of Regina garbage can on 12th Avenue. 
He wiped it off and handed it to me, with a "really sorry, really sorry."
Just another morning for the poet laureate. I tuned up three or four pages of a manuscript, planned events for Thursday night and Saturday afternoon.
And beyond: an idea to film the poet laureate's return to his home town in late July or least toss candy to kids during the parade (to be enjoyed from a vintage convertible, say a '65 Chev).
But job one was to hand over the monkey.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Reading

For my second and final spot at this year's Edmonton Poetry Festival, I found myself featured as a "well-aged" poet in a "vintage poetry" event at a seniors centre.

The long-time host had died. His successor read a poem in his memory.

While I enjoy cukes as much as the next person, I felt ambivalent about being selected for the seniors context.

The hospitality was first-rate, of course.

And a heart-warming collection of former team-mates and high school mates showed up, along with my publisher, Douglas Barbour of NeWest Press.

Everyone felt comfortable enough.

I did sell a book or two.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Standing For It

They might call this table 1, at Tangerine, a coffee shop at Lorne and 14th, this table that comes hip-high to me (I'm six-three+). I can prop myself as I chat with the woman just leaving, with whom I'd shared a silence for the previous twenty minutes. 
If I was extolling the virtues of standing at my desk, as the Tan table has become, I'd be hard-pressed to say something new. It diversifies my entire approach, I will say. All that fussing over what next to say gives the core a workout.
What got me on to this topic was all the sitting I do. And those stand-up bars in Lisbon the espresso drinkers hit five or six times a day for a total of about six minutes. 

Right about now, 5:10pm, in Lisbon.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Right Now

I came here to work on some poems and catch some Canada-Sweden Women's Worlds in an hour. Here = Vic's Tavern in downtown Regina. Leafs-Flames in front of me right now, but I'm not paying attention.
So far, not much of an entry! I promise it will get better.
I've committed to a "my brain on poetry" talk for the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild, (dang that apostrophe). My default on that topic would be either or both of (a) Jean Piaget's notions about the building (assimilation) and revising (accommodation) of cognitive structures in the brain, and (b) Glen Gould's "the function of art is to increase our capacity for wonder" (in which wonder is not just curiosity, useful as that is, but something like awe, in the older sense of the word). My story from the Gould quote is that if we're not careful in our lives we restrict ourselves to a narrow band of experiences, perceptions, and other less-than-scintillating Latinish words. Cutting across a basic horizontal timeline, in this scenario, are the slashes of the wonder axes, as I call them, or "art" for short. These axes take us, if we let them, to the wilds in every sense--to the extremes of terror and beauty, sanity, consciousness, darkness and light, and so on. Not a great idea to stay out there, probably. But we need to visit once in a while.
Where was I. So, what (a) and (b) have in common, I suppose I need hardly point out, is that we have to stay new somehow. We have to challenge ourselves not to settle for the already known. 
The already intended. 
After that I might show a study of some text over time, what I've done with it.

Later: That all seems a tad pompous worded that way. I'm doing the un-stated option (c) anyway. Why not tune in on April 4!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Half Way

I'd been planning to catch Mustang at the library film theatre tonight but on the way there I've got myself stuck into the Brier final at Vic's Tavern, Newfoundland vs. Alberta, Koe one up with last rock in the 4th. At the 5th-end break I'll order a bite to eat.
My, what a scintillating entry so far!
I've hauled along to Vic's my manuscript called Occasional Cities, which I'm on the verge of sending to a publisher. The reason I point this out right now is that about a third of the manuscript, as of a week ago, is entries from this blog two years ago. At first I just pasted them in with few revisions. The more I read them now, the less I leave them. Stop me before they lose all sense of their moment at some cafe, bench, depot, bar or beach.
I noticed a lot of references, in those entries from two years ago, to the Olympics, especially men's hockey, the final of which I watched with some Swedes in Lisbon. (In case you don't remember the result, I'll tell you that it wasn't me who filed miserably into the Lisbon afternoon that day.)
A few more days with my OC and I'll hand it in.
4-2 Koe after 5.