Leona Theis dropped into Luther the other day. The next two days I spent in Winnipeg at Thin Air, where I had a couple of readings.
Leona talked and read with my students, a great addition to our class. They made each other think, I think. I know I wrote a bunch of stuff down.
In Winnipeg I enjoyed the hospitality of Thin Air. With 7 of the 14 longlisted Giller writers on hand, I was surrounded by fiction writers. All the better. I laid a little Human Comedy on them.
At this point, I could try to explain either why I tape photos of Virginia Woolf and Gabriel Dumont to my office door, or why in Winnipeg I walked to the downtown Mountain Equipment Co-op store and Louis Riel's grave.
Either way, I had to press Friday morning to prepare for talk of Bruce Rice's "Story of a Tree" in one class, and a kind of journal-essay assignment in another. The talk of the Rice poem proceeded like this: I ask for questions or observations. Silence. Silence over here too. More silence. Ok, talk about it in groups then, I say. That works. Turns out, these readers were experiencing the very process the poem itself was more or less describing (increasing abstraction in Mondrian paintings of a tree). We moved on to something else eventually, but now I'm thinking we should come back to this idea for an update: how do you read? do you need specialized knowledge when you read poetry? can you live with surrender?