Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Near the End of a Long Month

The safer route would be to talk about the essay mix cd my students collaborated on (I piped up with my own choice, Tom Waits' "Hold On") to accompany an anthology of one-pagers about "favourite all-time song".

What's most on my mind is the way we tend to overlook the local for something else. Maybe I'm already over-emphasizing what identity people might derive from where they are.

I should try to keep a positive shape to what I'm saying: as artists our first source, first figure in view, even first responsibility (I'll say, for purposes of argument) is the local--that which gives us everything and is not to be taken for granted.

Next, if there is a next: why the local should be our first focus of critical attention.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Tonight, Freehouse, 8:00

Now that my book is out, I'm resuming my career (which never before has been) as the public voice of Stan Still's songs. The character is fictional, but, as we say at Stan Still headquarters, the songs are real. At least we hope so.

In preparation for my performance, I've been marking essays, watching Spurs-Suns basketball and Blue Jay baseball, and now the Habs-Bruins from Boston.

That and watching for rock doves (who, I've discovered, don't like bombardment by wads of frozen peas).

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


Road trip this aft, up to Saskatoon to buy a crokinole board at Lee Valley and read at McNally-Robinson. I'm feeling a little worn out from working late at the annual "midnight breakfast" event at Luther, in which we faculty serve breakfast at night to students studying for exams. I get to run the industrial dishwasher, allowing my inner efficiency-obsessed worker to have his moments.

I may have to pull over for a sunny nap on the road. This morning I went over some details for my launch tomorrow night at Le Bistro. Mainly I want to make sure that people can get their booze without a lot of standing in line. Snacks, candles and tablecloths, low lights--if I didn't have to read every half hour or so I could sit there and have a great time as, I hope, everyone else will.

Then Saturday it's time for the songs of Stan Still at the Freehouse. Good thing I've got a guitar player who can play.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

spring rain--what's it good for?

Boo-hoo, the rock doves don't like the splash when a car drives through a puddle in the alley below my kitchen windowsill. On which today's dove leaves his breakfast.

When I shoo him away, trying out my new slingshot, he gives me look like "Hey, leave me alone, fella. I'm just trying to stay out of the rain."

These verbal rock doves are the worst kind.

All of which, I hope, helps me come up with final exam tasks for my expository writing class.

Monday, 7 April 2008

the first launch of the book

I'm happy to hold a brand new My Human Comedy, beatiful design by Duncan Campbell at Coteau. Just read pages 70 to 80 or so. Doesn't seem too bad. As I was reading page 83, titled "Youngest Daughter, First Date", that youngest daughter called from Paris and I read her the poem.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Weyburn and Back

Last night I drove Robert Kroetsch to Weyburn and back for his reading. On the way home, he admitted that he'd rather write than speak. No wonder he'd deflected some his post-reading questions onto me. It's part of his generous nature--valuing the knowledge of everyone in the room. Part of his reluctance to talk, too. A quality I share with him. Nevertheless, I tried to offer some observations about what to do with history, about nonfiction and truth. I'd rather listen to Kroetsch anytime.

He says he's found that the last 6 days in Saskatchewan, including trips to St. Peter's Abbey and the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, have made him want to write again. "I've been going through a dry spell," he says. He's writing another novel.

Meanwhile, his Seed Catalogue continues to be required reading, I'd say, for anyone who wants to learn ways of butting heads with one's language and one's stories.