Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Last night I hosted an open studio at the Leighton Colony, with my little buddy the marten on the poster--a photo taken just seconds before he tracked down and executed the squirrel living inside my north wall.

About 30 people showed up for the cocktail party/reading, everyone having a dandy time with the wine and cheese (part of it provided by the Leighton program) and chit-chat. As people arrived, I'd greeted them with the standard line my father used to use: I'll pour you the first drink, after that you're on your own. At 5:30, though, I did what goes against the grain of a certain keep-the-party-vibe-going policy I think I learned from dad. I interrupted everyone so I could read a few poems.

The poems, mostly made from images and moments visible or imaginable through the windows around us in the studio, worked fine. Since Robert Kroetsch was on hand, I decided to publically acknowledge my writerly debt to his work by reading one of his poems, "Elegy for Wong Toy", a poem itself about honouring "one of my fathers". That worked pretty well too, I think.

Then back to the wining and cheesing. People gradually drifted off, leaving a hard core of 6 or so. At 7:20 I had to leave for the Wynton Marsalis concert. Turn the lights off and lock up when you leave, I told the rest of them.

At the concert, which was a blast, I ran into the man who was principal of the school where I had my first teaching job, from 1975-78, in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. He was a fabulous principal--willing to let me try things, not afraid to let me know if he thought I was getting a little carried away. (I got the sense that W.Marsalis shares that leadership quality. If the rhythm section got a little out of line, he'd just look at them from his trumpet chair and keep on looking until they got back into line.) This man, now retired, Alan Marshall by name, was the model administrator that no one else in my experience has matched. Another kind of father.

After the concert I was roaming around the Banff Centre campus, looking for someone to have a nightcap with. Seeing no one, I thought I'd head into the woods to the studio, do a blog entry or something. Damned if those cocktail partiers weren't still there, having a merry old time, all the booze long since consumed.

Off we went from there. This morning I cleaned up.

I forgot to mention that Andrea Przygonski, a printmater/papermaker from Adelaide, installed one of her stocking pieces in the studio.

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