Sunday 21 October 2012


I delivered my Convocation Address at Luther yesterday without mixing that text up with my intros for this coming weekend's open mic in Saskatoon. In other words, all the stuff about the pool has been said. Next: the mountain.
I've also drifted into the job as MC for our (that's me, Mike Trussler, Medrie Purdham, Jes Battis and a student rep, Cassandra) creative writing Open House at Luther in November. I seem to be on about keeping a series of readings/performances not stalling. Evenings drag, even with the best stuff, if they go on too long.
I remember Tom Wayman saying Two words that should never go together: open and mic. One of his colleagues at DTUC in Nelson in '81-'82, Fred Wah, used to run what he called oral anthologies, still does. A dozen writers seated on a stage. 3 minutes each at the mic. No stalling there.
I know things are moving when well-known Saskatchewan poets jump up and down--for the first time, I witnessed someone stamping her feet, heels well off the floor with every stamp. Thrilling!--when I tell them, rudely if necessary but not really, their time is up.
Also true for this entry.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Royal Wood

For all my students today would know, Royal Wood is another name for rare oak. I was trying to remember the line from one of his songs: what good's a mirror without a face or, I wondered this aft, what good's a face without a mirror. Although I should know better by now, I was surprised no one in the room had heard of Royal Wood. (Later, in a Sven Birkerts essay, came an allusion to Kooky from 77 Sunset Strip, a tv show I barely remember myself. shhhhfflltttt said one my students, making the fly-past motion over her head. Now that was no surprise.)
See, the problem is, we're not talking about the face and the mirror or the mirror and the face, part of what their current assignment is about.
In another class we're reading The Things They Carried and I've issued a couple of half-hearted language and content warnings. Much eye-rolling (which we do, we humans, if we sigh or gasp) when I say this, but with loads of assignments and midterms and labs (whatever they are) my students, I'm wondering tonight, might find episodes of violence and other nonstandard behaviour, rendered with grim certainty along the trail in South Vietnam circa 1968, too much to carry. Even so, this will help with their assignment, which is to write an essay on what they (university students) carry, in the manner of O'Brien's fiction.
I'm thinking about tomorrow's class, in other words, on the O'Brien stories "Love" and "Spin".

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Putting the Pope's Former Butler To Shame

How lucky can a man be. In two hours my daughters arrive for cocktails, then they're taking me out for dinner and the Royal Wood show at the Exchange. One's arriving from work or maybe checking in at home. The other will have just dropped her mother at the bus en route to Saskatoon.
We'll hit Bushwakker for the meal, all this for my birthday, six weeks past but alive when my daughters get here.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Maybe I Should Speak as The Pope's Former Butler

I'm working on intros for the forthcoming Saskatchewan Writers [count me out for the would-be apostrophe] Guild open mic and on remarks for the Fall Convocation at Luther College and hoping to hell I don't mix them up.
If at the open mic I start telling stories about the last day the pool was open or if at Luther I speak in lascivious fragments, you'll know.
Usually I sort of wing the open mic intros but in May I wrote a bunch at Banff. The Luther thing comes around only every seven years or so. I can't remember what I did last time, other than use Lorna Crozier's "Packing for the Future: Instructions". The heart of the matter is that I'll urge the grads to stay at the pool, even after classes have started and summer has been given up for dead by Back to School fanatics.
Short and sweet and sexy at the open mic.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Blaming it on The Pope's Former Butler

Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned him in the title, but hell, just look out the window. In single file two men wear the coat of the cold. Leaves: cold. Limping takes longer one way than the other.
The day I got stitches in my knee out I had to park half way to Winnipeg and crutch it over. A nurse took me to bed 4 in the Ambulatory Care zone (short of full ward) and told me to expose my knee. I tried but couldn't pull my jeans over my knee and had to ask for a gown. She was about to say she didn't have gowns but pulled one out, the usual grey-blue. She pulled the curtains and walked away.
(Here I'd like to salute St. Itches, with thanks to bp, and to that kingdom three holes made on my right knee. Been a wet summer for the knee, almost as if there'd be leakage if the stiches gave. But they didn't, and things are coming around. I take back what I said above, that one way took longer than the other. I didn't keep track. St. Itches took off and so did the nurse.)
Blame the Pope's former butler. I had to crutch it back out across the parking lot.
But that was the last time.