Friday 28 December 2007

Great Big Mood

Now that this year has almost ended, I'm in the mood for a new one. Today is day one of reading My Human Comedy proofs. I'll let you know how it turns out.

An hour or two later: Hey, not bad so far. I forgot I had a quote from Brenda Schmidt in it, which she has approved. And mention of a few other writers I know--Smith, Mitchell, Schmidt again, Margoshes, McKay--behaving like unruly children as their books jostle together and finally topple my bookshelf over my brand new rug, some of the books making it all the way to Hudson's Bay.

Wednesday 19 December 2007

A Few Words About My Students

By now my students will have made it home, so to speak, from my classes. I'm thinking about how to say what I hope they've learned. Not that "learning" is any kind of explicit goal.

I hope my students have a lot more fun with language, that's one thing. As if it's a whirling, circular beast we can poke at from many different angles.

I hope they feel challenged, familiar with a few more Saskatchewan writers and other artists.

I'd love to see any of my students adopt some kind of daily or otherwise regular writing practice, in whatever form that might take.

(And always tagging along with writing is its little buddy reading.)

Not far away is an objective something like this: a sense that cultural phenomena change and that we all have a stake in, and an opportunity to affect, which way it goes.

Further thought, reading, writing, everything else.

Friday 7 December 2007

December 7, 2007

Those people in my office today, the ones looking as if they just hopped down off a swift pony--they've been writing all day.

And yesterday I got in a bit of a knot over a memo from on high, specifying this and that about our language use.

Thinking of it, I remind myself of my dad, who would get good and pissed off at people as much for wherever he was in some kind of passive-aggressive cycle as for what people had said or done. That's unfair to dad, who died in 1992, and not quite true for myself either.

That was yesterday. Today I finished something that took two-and-half solid days--I can feel a grey wall forming as I say those words, so that's far enough.

Anyway, these students have been writing all day, finishing their "writing the western landscape" essays--something on the Fafard show, a parody, a formal essay on historical fiction, or a walk around the lake. A bit cold for the walk lately but a few students did it. One woman said she'd encountered rabbit tracks and used them to structure the rest of her essay; one guy said he saw rabbit tracks but kept on walking. Either way, they're done, and the essays sit on my desk. Have to grade them before Monday afternoon's final exam.

Finally, how about those Leafs, folks. Everyone's willing to rag on them when things go a tad off for a while, then when the Leafs take four in a row, not a peep out of anyone. Schmidt, if you read this--here's to the blue and white.

And now it's off to the Christmas party, too late to get my devilled eggs ready.

Friday 30 November 2007

November 30

Today I was sitting in the cafeteria, writing in a notebook. An old friend walked by, leaned toward me then pulled back, saying "Oops, I don't want to interupt your train of thought."

Note, I was writing, but her concern was for my thought.

So I went back to the classroom and asked my students "What's the difference?"

No answer yet.

Tuesday 27 November 2007


This afternoon I get an update on my students' final projects for the creative writing class. I've tried to ban "my project's on the back burner" and "I won't lie to you--my project's taken a back seat to [insert name of other assignment in other class]". No back burners or back seats, I told my students, meanwhile shifting tasks from burner to burner in my own life. Heating up right now is my Joe Fafard material, which promises to both touch and not touch.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Dream / Event

I woke up just now. In a dream, I'd been sitting beside a young man, not my son, a paratrooper, flying to his drop point. "D-Day started this way," I told him. Just before that, my daughter Lucy had become the new proprietor of a confectionary that had been run by a Korean family. And well before that--hours earlier, maybe--I experienced a scene out of Huck Finn: I was trapped on the raft that had been taken over some nasty figure. I decided I might as well ride along for a while, make my escape later.

At the Book Awards last night--this is no dream--I was happy for my friends and for the community as a whole. But what silliness: toast to the queen, some guy singing "Impossible Dream" onstage, endless unnecessary intros, thank yous and self-congratulations. It's fun to get together, celebrate some books, celebrate some money getting into writers' pockets, but the rest is getting tougher to sit through every year. Grain bought my ticket; I'd never buy one on my own.

There was also a torture scene in the dream (that rambling, serial fragment of a dream): a bunch of us are in a ballroom, the floor of which is slowly pressing toward the ceiling, us with no means of escape. The only question is, whom do we want to die beside. Somehow, later there is one possible escape: a door that opens onto an alley on which a company of Nazis have pointed their machine guns.

Friday 23 November 2007


I had fun this morning in my first-year class re-reading the first poems we'd read in September, a season ago. At certain points in the poem I stopped, waited for someone to fill in the next word: "slipshod" or "love" (in Ralph Gustafson's "The Sun in the Garden") and "canary" and "shawl" (in Dorothy Livesay's "Green Rain"). Jason K. was all over the pauses, filling in the correct word. Earned himself a piece of chalk.

Wednesday, Jason had trouble, who wouldn't, with this lead sentence from a Globe & Mail article written by Marina Strauss and Paul Waldie: "The federal Competition Bureau is examining the entire industry of eco-friendly materials and how they are touted in the wake of a controversy at Lululemon Athletica Inc. that pounded its stock yeaterday after the yoga-wear retailer was forced to drop its seaweed-related health-benefit claims from a line of its clothing."

Thursday 22 November 2007


Tough to keep the energy going through to the end of term. I know students feel the same way. The other day in one of my classes I tried out some football coach-type motivation: hard-ass, stern, driving. Make the players mad enough, maybe they'll perform, is how the coaches see it. I returned one essay, assigned another, handed out preliminary classwork marks (which could be adjusted, I noted, between now and the end of term), and laid a rare lecture on them. Any one of those four acts tends to induce silence; the four of them at once scorched all sound from the classroom for the full 50 minutes. For the next 48 hours, I fretted over how to take the edge off, now that I'd put it there. Which I did, next class, with the more familiar fumbling, bumbling and fooling around. All in all, it was a useful wake-up for my students, I'd say

Saturday 17 November 2007

Can "History" in Western Canada Exist Without "Land"?

I've been a tad disappointed in not being able to get the Sweatman text across better. Not that my students' reading is entirely my responsibility, of course. What worked best were the parodies they wrote, stories (in contemporary settings) leading to a major purchase, something like the 160 acres along the Red that Alice and Peter purchase in Sweatman's story. In my students' hands, a GMC truck was the big score. An entire meal for thirty people. A ring.

Next Friday we'll all see the Joe Fafard show. I want them to consider using it as the basis for their final essay (other options: developing their parodies further, doing a walk/think/write around Wascana Lake, reading/writing "history" and "land" in various historical fictions, including Sweatman's).

Speaking of Fafard, I have to come up with some writing for the 30th. Lots of leads, including: the PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH labels--highly ironic, considering that touch is everything in Fafard's work--mounted near every work.

Monday 12 November 2007

Ready for Reading Sweatman

These days I get to enjoy the pleasures of Margaret Sweatman's When Alice Lay Down with Peter. A version of its Chapter One appears in that Banting anthology I've been using. In that version, the story, called "1869," begins, "It is time for me to be born." The novel version has it this way: "These are my beginnings." Either way, we're getting into it, although a few of my students expressed reservations about Sweatman's writerly tactic of having of a 109-year-0ld woman narrate the moment of her conception. (Not to give away the moment, but think bolt of lightning in just the right place.) This happens in 1869. A man and woman have just bought "160 acres of bush by the Red." (The rest, as I'm going to go ahead and say, is truly history--with jolts of landscape, play, storytelling (the best kind of history, in my opinion) written in.) And I haven't yet mentioned the best part: the voice of the woman, who is not afraid to throw her language around.

Thursday 8 November 2007

In Class Today

Madonna 'n me, both bloggers today.

My creative writing class handed in proposals for their last major project (after a suite a poems, a short story). Everything from more poems and stories to music and words, reading, children's verse, chapbooks--neat stuff they've got a month to pull off. It'll be like Santa's workshop in there at the round table, with all sorts of stuff going on.

So today was last read-throughs of their stories. With an odd number present, Heather C. had to go one-to-one with me, swapping short stories. She pointed out that my Leon piece, called "Leon's Time," was a tad wonky, time-wise, among other useful comments. Her story, on the other hand, was a first-person account of a girl who wears one of her mom's vintage dresses to school and finds a condom in the pocket. Which the girl keeps, just in case.

Leon (in case you're among the 0 followers of my earlier notes) ends up remembering fondly his movie-showing days out at Grin Valley, how the entire community was rivited by "Red River" and "Dial 'M' for Murder." He's drinking a smoothie while he remembers, in one of three tumblers from the four he'd bought at IKEA in Calgary on his way out to Grin Valley with Claire, his beautician friend. That was six months ago.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Writing Joe Fafard

Now I'm on the Joe Fafard trail, having to come up with (by the end of November) new writing based on Joe's show at the MacKenzie. Lots to consider, both about the work itself and--after the tour he gave five or six of us (including Bruce Rice, Joanne Weber, Gillian Harding-Russell, Sally Crooks and a woman from Saskatoon whose name, other than Martine, escapes me at the moment)--about Fafard's general approach (assuming there is one).

I'm going to start by formulating a few statements and questions to run by my "writing the western landscape" class prior to taking them over to see the show.

Like this: If you work as simply as possible, what exactly do you do?

Thursday 1 November 2007

Leon III

My creative writing students are handing in first drafts of their stories today, while my Leon exists only in fragments--as a pair of eyes on a morning's grey sky, another dream (this time he hadn't ordered the water, posters, wine--anything--for a panel on "writing and history" due to start in an hour), a few choices for breakfast.

Leon had better get it going. Problem is, he couldn't imagine a page less interesting than one about him or in his voice. If there's one thing he learned from decades of running films at the Luxe (he'll explain the extra e), it's that he'd choose image over text anytime.

An hour or so later:
Ok, he's visiting his home town with his sister Claire. They're having coffee in the cafe two doors down from what used to be the Luxe. Took him a page and half to get there.

Tuesday 30 October 2007


The essay assignment is "What does nature do?" in a selection of five of a dozen or so poems we've read. I'm going to give the topic a try myself.

Right now it brings a cold hand, a morning in which I'll step out carefully, first opening and closing windows. In some of the poems it takes animal forms, gazing. Other poems bring weather, darkness, a wildness at the end of some road. Wildness at the end of every road, is what this essay might get at.

Yesterday I asked them to test a comment Graham Swift made, as reported in the Oct.6 Globe review of his new novel: "Our big feelings are drawn out of us by small things." (Thanks to Ibi for pointing the quote out to me.) So we spent thirty minutes outside. Start small, see what happens.

(When I tried it, I heard a cardoor slam, and got into a few paragraphs about "Did I really rush out and hug Dad's legs after I heard the sounds of his '58 Chev, the gravel on our driveway, the thunk of his door?")

Monday 29 October 2007

Leon's Chopper Episode

He's spreadeagled over the curve of a glass dome about the size of an overturned rowboat. Must be way up there, because Leon knows if he lets go he's a goner. A helicopter dangles a rope ladder close enough for Leon to grab hold. As the chopper lifts him to safety away from the dome, Leon hears "Climb! Climb up the ladder!" It's only four or five feet, maybe that many rungs, but Leon decides he's better off just dangling there, holding tight. The pilot refuses to fly unless Leon climbs all the way up and through the open hatch. Leon refuses. The chopper sets him back down onto the dome and flies off.

Thursday 25 October 2007

Leon's Story

So far the short story's not going so well. Maybe because I write sentences like that. Anyway, I haven't gone much beyond the name, Leon, and the fact that he once owned a movie theatre in a small town, but sold it after a while. Now he lives in the city, works at a grocery store part-time. He wishes he had more company, but then notes he's happier the way he is.

Lucky I'm not one of my own students, or I'd have to come up with a complete first draft in a week. (Hell, I know a few short story writers who'd be happy with a paragraph in a week.) All their stories are started; we've workshopped a few.

Might be time for Leon to step things up a bit. To be continued.

Friday 19 October 2007

Two Generous Writers

Yesterday Ibi Kaslik came to my creative writing class. She's the novelist who's writer-in-res at the library this year. As it happened, I'd already written a list of certain things on the board--suicide, murder and mayhem, serious illness or surgery, exotic destinations, rape, assorted other sensational or melodramatic plot bits--and wondered if my students would agree to BAN them from their short stories. Then Ibi shared some of her tips, one of which was "start small," as in, your characters don't have to go from zero to sixty in two seconds. Perfect!

Today it was Brenda Schmidt. Talking about one of her poems in my "writing the western landscape class", I waited until the class got good and puzzled, then said "Hey, why don't we call her up right now?" followed by my favourite question: "Anybody got a cell phone?" Of course, I'd set all this up with Brenda ahead of time. So we compiled some questions and called her, using one guy's blackberry phone on speaker so we could all hear. Brenda had everyone's attention, I'll tell you, as she patiently responded to our queries, although "most of the time, writers don't have a clue about their own work," I'd warned the class, and Brenda agreed. When at one point she articulated a connection between "place" in general, her boreal forest place in particular, and herself, well it was as if she'd leapt from the pages of the Banting text we've used for most of the material in the class. I also really liked Brenda's notion that any poem is just part of the the trail to the next poem, part of that lifelong trail.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

5:48 pm

Today read a few of Lorna Crozier's Mrs. Bentley poems, the ones that give a voice to the Mrs. B of Sinclair Ross's As For me and My House. In Crozier's hands, Mrs. B is a poet naming, for example, the various spirits of horse, grass and sometimes rain. My class found them convincing, I think--"Joe Lawson's Wife" such a finely honed telling of story.

In the other class today it was "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed. About the instructor barking out the parts of a rifle while keeping one eye on the blossoms out the window, the silence there (except for bees). Lots of repetition evoked--of action, of season and some poor bugger of a rifle instructor wondering How can I get out? and Should I?

And marking the last of the poetry assignments (six poems, at least three of them revisions) plus a page of commentary. No fun coming up with a grade, but looking over the poems is a gas. I guess I should admit that I'm worried some of the writers are putting down what they think I want to see. As long as what I want to see is fresh stuff that listens to itself and doesn't settle for easy words or phrases and stirs up some action in its lines, well then I suppose that'll do.

Tonight: reading for Grain.

(Last night: first curling game of the year. We kept it tight for four ends then lost it.)

Monday 15 October 2007

16 and Sunny Today

We were looking at those seven poems again today, this time more conventionally. Trying out the "what is nature doing in these poems" question, to which two or three students offered useful responses. It might lead to figuring the human/natural "conversation," as Pamela Banting calls it, in fresh ways (beyond, for example, calling nature "God's creation").

Two other ideas I'm thinking about for this class: Get Luther Dean Mary Vetter, a botanist, to take us for a walk down by the lake, drawing our attention to whatever she knows about. And/or take the class to the Joe Fafard show at the Mackenzie. See what kind of conversations he's been having in his work.

Today at Luther a reading room was dedicated to Margaret Belcher, long-time Regina-area birder and naturalist whose Birds of Regina, first published in 1960, helped turn Trevor Herriot on to birds. Trevor was there today for the dedication. The ceremony was, for me and quite a few others I think, a meaningful connection to Belcher's passions as a naturalist and to Luther's past (she was a Luther student early in her career).

Friday 12 October 2007

Result (for the moment)

We had lamps shone through holes in cardboard, soft guitar, poems storyboarded on the blackboard, gestures and mime, "wefts" of leaves with those seven poems today. I'm pleased with what they came up with. We'll talk about the poems a bit more on Monday then move on. Thinking of this for a second essay assignment: What does nature do in this literature?

Wednesday 10 October 2007

An idea

Big poetry festival in G.Hill's "writing the western landscape" class today. Just coming up with the idea right now. Seven brand new poems by Philips, Weber, Kane, Wilson, Trussler, Hyland and Smith. Seven groups of English students commanded to "somehow do the poem" in front of the class. Get their bodies moving, figure out ways in and out of the poem, make the poem happen for us, etc. We'll take a half hour today, present the poems on Friday. This will be a challenge for these students, most of whom have never met a poem they didn't resist. But freed of any obligation to figure poems out or get what the author is trying to say (I can barely utter those words), they'll come up with something useful. Poems as invitations, not demands.

Later this same day: So far, so good. There's talk of surprise, colour, bags or real leaves, simultaneous translations. As applied to, or sampled from, poems in which (to make a long story short) figures vanish into nature and don't come back.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Beautiful Dreamer

I'm supposed to bring one of my own poems to creative writing class today so the students can critique it and send me off with some possible edits for Thursday. Might as well bring in something new, maybe something based on "Beautiful Dreamer," the Stephen Foster parlour ballad from 1864. Wrote it a few months before his death, the poor bugger, destitute.

Too bad about those lyrics, though. I'm going to need to come up with a contemporary sound so words like "dewdrop" and "steamlet" don't slow me down. Wish me luck!

Friday 28 September 2007

Wind Notes

Compared to that world-renowned ethicist I just heard--a woman whose opinions, which is all they are, have acquired and are delivered with authority (McGill, Ethics, Law, Medicine) untempered by humility, and whose agenda seems driven by motives far less noble than Ethics (which, in any case, must prove, not assume, any nobility)--the wind is a plain but honest speaking.

She's anti-choice (re abortion), this ethicist is, and anti-marriage (of the same-sex variety). She's dressed up these position in Ethics garb. Call it Ethics garbage, and let's get back to the wind.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Writing Out

In comparing the event (last Friday, see Sept.21 post) to the writing of the event, which my students handed in on Monday, I was again struck wondrous (wounded, for short, or wondered) by what word does to world. How do you put your finger on the difference between being out there and writing about being out there, I asked them today. And by the way, which comes first--language or perception? Not commonplace questions for all students/writers, especially those who take language for granted. We're heading out again Friday.

Also fun today: getting my students to list the most common possible answers to a series of questions like What does wind create on water? and What do ducks do on waves? then banning all such language, so overused in their writing, from further use.

Monday 24 September 2007

Idea Sitting for a While

Now that Marcel Marceau has died, I can get to that Leonard Cohen matter I heard about the other day. In an interview on Bravo, not so many years old, Cohen speaks of our intimacy with our own heart. Each of us. That's what songs are for, he says. "And not my ponderous songs," he adds, "but the songs we wash dishes with, love with" and so on. They tell of our hearts.

The intimacy a man feels with where he is, then, doesn't need the where-ness, it needs only the heart.

And Marceau. His obit in the Globe today tells us he became a mime artist as homage to Holocaust survivers who could not speak of their experience.

Friday 21 September 2007

Damn Near Blew the Pages From My Notebook

We joined the wind this afternoon, my students and I, down by the lake for a word or two (in writing) on what we saw there. I've noticed that many of my students need encouragement to allow that even in the city, at least this city of wind and cloud and goose-life, we live a life that's more or less placed.

"Pay attention to what you see out there," I insisted, "and in here [tapping my noggin]." So that fellow in the black t-shirt on the bikepath that separates our scattered locations from Wascana Lake will show up on a page or two. Or the next fellow, bearded, jogging sleeveless through the leaves.

Later I said that for the fun of it you could try to write this up without using the word wind. But I can't do it myself. I had to lie down on the stubble to get out of it, and even then, I observed, facing up, the w_____ blew a convertible shaped like a cloud (its top retracting) into a horsehead and after that the British Isles.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Go Ahead, Go Out in the Woods Alone, and Don't Hurry Back

As much as I'm thrilled with what the new writers in my creative writing class are starting to get to, tomorrow I'm going to lay some "Push it" on them. Looking at poems, including some really neat ones, I'm seeing too many cute endings, too much ok-I've-taken-it-out-there-now-it's-time-to-wrap-it-up. I'll try the John Fowles line on them again: "An answer," says Fowles, "is a form of death." So's an ending.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

What's Really Fun

is trying to come up with some exercises for my creative writing class. I'm not claiming that these will drive back today's clouds, but here's what I have in mind for part of this afternoon's class: Bring in a bag of kitchen utensils (most of which I had to clean first) and pass them out. Maybe say something about the Neruda-Wayman-McKay (to name only three) tradition of honouring the stories of chairs, forks, fridge doors, and so on, or maybe not. Ask students to see if they can read through the utensil and find a form for what they see. Also thinking of passing out, without comment, a poem from Ken Babstock's Airstream Land Yacht that upsets a few expectations usefully. I'll ask the students to comment, in writing, for Thursday. At some point, the "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" calendar my sister Fay sent me last Christmas--today's Place, Miami Beach, is home to "the largest collection of tropical art deco architecture in the world"--will make an appearance in class. And getting back to that first idea, I imagine the students and I all reading our utensil piece aloud at the same time, building in the sounds our gizmos make.

Sunday 16 September 2007

A Morning

I thought the morning was great already--summerish, gently breezy, a run around the lake just ahead--then I heard Rajaton (Finnish, six-person, mixed-voice vocal group) sing "Butterfly," a song crying "love me" and "good-bye," from a concert recorded by CBC last month in Vancouver. Quiet, lots of swing, sweeter than harmony. If you have a sentimental streak, as I do, and you like your musicianship at a very high level, you too might have sat there half-dressed, hoping the song won't end. I did manage to call my daughter Lucy, though, who'd caught Rajaton at the Banff Centre a few years ago on a school band/choir trip.

Friday 14 September 2007

Just Now

Relay from McDonald: not in time, 3-0 Orioles
gives me a chance to tell this story from earlier today.

Another entry in the assignment-gone-wrong category. I wanted my students to talk about elegy in connection with a Sid Marty essay called "The Rucksack," from Fresh Tracks. (Ain't what it used to be both for the rucksack and for Marty, like that.)

But one of students hears allergy, and ends up talking about chemical reactions.

Later he apologized for his English but didn't need to.

Thursday 13 September 2007


Pursuing a kind of degrees of separation thing here, I note (following the Judy Garland thread from the previous post) that the director Norman Jewison was hired to direct Garland's tv special, at around the time of her Carnegie Hall concert. That led to his first film directing job in Hollywood, a Tony Curtis film. Lots of great films followed, my fav being In the Heat of the Night, with that terrific Ray Charles song over the opening credits.

Wednesday 12 September 2007


Just now I was lying awake, imagining a "degrees of imitation" gauge for my creative writing students (after observing they were too attentive to poems by Lynes, Wayman, Collins, Cooley, Carson, etc., in an assignment about imitation), when I heard, on the CBC Radio 2 program "Nightstream," about Rufus Wainwright's Judy Garland project. Apparently he re-staged, song for song, her 1961 Carnegie Hall concert, and plans to do the same with her follow-up Hollywood Bowl concert in Los Angeles. After laying all this out, the host played some Wainwright tune or other--I can't stand the guy's music so was about switch the radio off when I heard, from two miles north of my place, the call of a CPR train. At first the train just imitated Wainwright--that diesel whine--then (thank goodness) made its own night sound.

Tuesday 11 September 2007

A Lover's Discourse, Maybe

I said I thought it was a lover speaking: Di Brandt in her essay about the prairie (in the Pamela Banting anthology, Fresh Tracks). That's why it's so full, I suggested to my class. So excessive "in a good way," I claimed. So rambly, overwhelmed, wide. But the students weren't so willing to go with the writing. "I can't process it," one student said. "These long sentences, these lists, all the commas, running on and on."

"Well, if you're in love," I continued, "and if it's the land you're in love with, this land . . ."

To be continued in tomorrow's class.

Saturday 8 September 2007


50 years after On the Road, another round of Jack Kerouac buzz. I plan to keep quiet about it myself, but he was my first literary hero. As a young man, I felt a kinship not so much with his writing, which I collected, but with that sadness--that void, to use a favourite Beat word--between him and his world. As for the counter-culture that first valorized then abandoned him, Kerouac was already out of it by the end of the 50s. He'd always been essentially an observor, letting Neal Cassady and others operate out there on that mad edge (mad another Beat staple). The world so easily passed him by.

As brilliantly documented in Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (a must-read for anyone interested in the 60s), when Kesey and the Dead and company drove their bus on a pilgrimage to Kerouac in '68 or so, I forget when it was, they found in Kerouac a drunk, a loony right-winger dependent on his mother. I remember, too, the pics in Rolling Stone of his funeral--Ginsberg and Corso and one or two others in the rain at Lowell, Mass.

I see him now as an innocent, a Quebec/Lowell boy (McGarrigle territory) looking for the right brand of holiness, which he never found.

For the goods on Kerouac, read anything by Ann Charters, especially her biography of J.K.

Friday 7 September 2007

A Few Words about Backgammon

Not sure how to put it together but I will say this about bad luck on the backgammon board: When I roll a 4-5 at the wrong time, I'm driven back to high school, shoved against a brick wall. Feel a younger version of the same self.

But can't lose with those double-5s when I need to run home in a hurry.

Why I Love My Job

With the first-years, I can play with their nervousness (see "What's UP" on and talk about how they read a poem. (After we deal with the article in Thursday's Globe about the proposed banning of hoodies in a Halifax high school.)

With my "writing the western landscape" class we can consider just what connection, if any, we might feel with what Don Gayton calls our "primal landscape." (After I finish teasing them about walking across intersections while operating hand-held gizmos--and without a helmet.)

And in the creative writing class I get to brandish my favourite quotation on line-making: "Keep the line (which has movement) from breaking down and becoming a hole into which we sink decoratively to rest" (W.C. Williams).

It's all part of a fun wash back and forth, writing and teaching.

Thursday 6 September 2007

More Will Come of This

How wordly should a writer be. I tend to operate according to some notion of local first. As if by taking care of, or at least trying to pay attention to, the local, then larger-scale matters will be taken care of. The result is a bunch of local stuff, like the hulk of cloud just out my west window, which, if anyone read it, might give rise to the "so what" reflex.

Wednesday 5 September 2007

How To Get Out

Quick throw to a covering McDonald at second to double-off Varitek.
Still 1-0 after two.

Tried to pick up the extra base, did Ortiz, and it cost him.
1-0 after three.

Rolls it back to Marcum, who was a shortstop in college, for the easy out at first.
1-0 after four.

LIner by Glaus, right to Ellsbury. But the Jays strike for three--3-1 after four and a half.

The Jays will hold the Rod Sox 3-1 through five.


Red Sox 1, Jays nothing after one

The problem with the Jays being on is the bottle on the table beside you. But don't get the wrong idea. Bottle of beer is all.
The table's cheap green plastic would stand out if not for the lime green indoor/outdoor carpet it stood on, or the bucket marked HOME DEPOT next to it.
With the lid cracked, the bucket lets loose. To be continued . . .

Young Man Leaving

The thing about your son leaving is that if you're playing backgammon while he's out running his list of errands, the dice won't roll your way. For long, anyway.
Sure, and just after I wrote that, he arrived home, reporting that he'd lost his wallet.
"I've had kind of rough afternoon," he said.


I dedicate this moment to Don DeLillo, American novelist. His Underworld delivers a long (as in 800+ pages) series of moments--words and sentences, half-pages, chapters--that create the second half of the last century (one version of it, anyway) with convincing tentativeness (about as sure as I'm sitting here, day after Labour Day). Think of the big issues, think of zany sentences, images you'd like to high-five DeLillo for. It's pomo in the best possible way, I'd say. For you baseball fans, the opening section is by itself worth the price of a novel. Polo Grounds, 1951--Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, J.Edgar Hoover in attendance.