Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Words for Lunch

Ok, I’m a little late. (It’s in my nature, it’s how I roll, I can’t help it. Would you like any other, really bad, excuses?)

Furthermore, I am also totally busted for taking so long, because Ariel saw me there and has likely been waiting for this blog entry. (Call it intuition. It has nothing to do with the fact that it is her current Twitter status….)

Yesterday for lunch I decided to eat words.

And they were delicious. (I also had a fake turkey sandwich and a bowl of soup.)

I attended the nooner with Joan Thomas reading from her new novel Reading by Lightning.

I have been having trouble deciding what aspect about this event to write about. So perhaps I will just give brief, point form feelings and observations.

- Joan Thomas made the most perfect comment before she began reading, conjuring memories of being read to in grade school after lunch time. Head on your desk, being able to sit back and listen to the teacher read. This is exactly what attending this reading over my lunch hour felt like. A little break from the expected Monday-Friday work routine. A little dose of imagination and play. Like recess for grownups.

- Ms. Thomas' novel is, in part, about the experiences of British immigrants to Canada. This brings up very interesting political issues, around the notion of what it means to look at the experiences of a group of people who have white privilege, but were also subjected to the occurrence of recreating a notion of home in a new and unfamiliar land. It is interesting the think about how issues of choice around immigration, as well as white privilege, play into and shape the feelings of displacement that come with re-establishing home in a new country. This brings up more issues then I care to get into here, but it was certainly something that got me thinking.

- The excerpt she read was about one of the characters, a young girl, finding her grandmother in her bed during the last moments of her life, and the process of grief surrounding that experience. It is difficult to write about grief, partly because in western culture we are not really provided a language with which to speak of the realities of grief/grieving. Ms. Thomas’ portrayal of this young girl's physical sensations - from running to get help, to the feelings in her body at the time of the funeral, all manage to convey elements of one of the most difficult emotional processes to articulate in words.

(I told you I love theory. Sorry if that was a little too much theory for a lunch hour reading break. I just can’t help it sometimes)

And today, I will be off to the nooner with Miriam Toews. Which I will report back on much more promptly. I promise.

As for my first festival experience, these lunch time breaks are finding themselves to be quite popular with me.

* * *

Courtney Slobogian likes to sit quietly memorizing all of the reasons she is in love with this city. She graduated from University of Winnipeg in 2007 with her BA in Women’s and Gender studies. Her honours thesis was entitled “mother[loss]: An exploration of our silences in grief and longing.”

She is putting that degree to use mostly by insisting that there is a need for theory in everything. Along with writing academic papers for fun, she finds herself constantly playing with poetry (where it is desire, and not theory, that she finds most useful).

By day she busies herself with women’s reproductive health issues, by night she rides her bike.

1 comment:

andrea said...

Courtney. I love you. And not just cause you're my best friend.

It was so nice to read your description of the reading. Like you stopped by my house to tell me about it, only I got the pleasure of seeing the visual portrayal of your words. Oh, the conversations we would have about grief, displacement, the soup.

I actually saw someone reading
Reading by Lightning on the bus yesterday. It interested me before I knew what it was about.