Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh dear...

...I got to the Afternoon Book Chat at McNally Polo Park a little late this afternoon. Curses, Winnipeg Transit! Is there anything more wretched than a bus into, or out of, downtown on a Saturday afternoon? Well, yes I suppose there is, but I’m grumpy today and I want to indulge myself for a moment.

My surliness was not helped by the fact that I missed JohnArno Lawson reading from A Voweller’s Bestiary, full of poems I really wanted to hear. All that word play and vowel juggling is right up my alley.

Crankiness was lifted when I got to hear Douglas Burnet Smith read a couple of selections from Sister Prometheus, Discovering Marie Curie. The poem about the death of Pierre Curie kind of sucked the breath right out of us all in attendance; it was so intense and heartbreaking.

I wish I’d been able to see all the Afternoon Book Chats, because if they were all as interesting as Saturday’s I would have enough inspiration and motivation to keep my creative fires stoked well into the winter. As it is now, it looks like I’ll be hacking up my furniture by February, for firewood and a fresh idea.

But I did get something of an inspiration boost by seeing these two fine poets, who couldn’t be more different in their approaches to their latest projects. Obviously, the material, word play for children and the inner life of Marie Curie, dictates a different approach for each, but the process of poetry for these two authors was fascinatingly dissimilar. JohnArno Lawson talked of keeping lists of vocabulary and dictionary definitions and “workshopping” his work with his children, while Douglas Burnet Smith explained that he did a lot of research in Paris and Warsaw and that generally he writes by himself, and tends not to seek or receive comment from fellow writers or editors.

This reinforces the idea, which has been told to me many times, that there is no right way or wrong way to go about the business of poetry. It’s heartening to see such different approaches both resulting in success. Now, though, I can’t attribute any lack of success in my future to: Poetry. Yer doin’ it wrong.

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Emma Hill Kepron is a librarian at the University of Manitoba.

She is also an aspiring poet.

Her writing takes place in a small blue house near the river, which she shares with her husband and her dog.

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