Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 14 (about which the less said,the better) and Day 15, on which Sandra's beleaguered soul is restored by a whopping dose of real, live poetry...

First of all, there was yesterday. I took a notebook and pen with me and managed to write a bit, off and on, during the day. I think I came home with 622 words, or thereabouts, which I then typed into My Writing Nook in order to count the words and get them into the story.  I figured I was home free. 2000 would be a breeze, with this great head start I had made. I didn't count on the effect of exhaustion, which was to send me off to dreamland with only 1123 words to my credit. I had had high hopes (alliterative, or what?) of reaching the 30,000 mark last night, but I got some sleep instead. I did read somewhere, in the last couple of days, that Week 2 is the time to give yourself a break if you need to, and I seem to be doing that, intentionally or otherwise. So...I came into Day 15 with 29,477 words, which is still ahead of schedule, but not as dramatically so as I had hoped.

Today, I didn't have to work. What I did do was go over to Gabriola Island - a twenty-minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo - to take part in the last day of the four-day Poetry Gabriola Festival. I dithered, because the ferry fare, including my car, was close to $30, and then there would be lunch, plus a fee for each session I wanted to attend - and I knew I would come home with at least one book. In the end, though, I decided to go. This has to rank as one of the best decisions I've made in quite some time. I took my netbook along, thinking I would find a table near a wall outlet when I went to the pub for lunch (that being the first item on the agenda) and make a start at today's writing. The netbook never came out of my bag, though, because as soon as I walked into the pub, I was invited to sit at the long table where the presenters were sitting. I knew a couple of people at the table - Kim Goldberg, whose book "The Red Zone" is in its second printing (She launched the book at The Vault just a few weeks ago), and David Fraser, poet and editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine. I know David (slightly, as yet) through WordStorm. David presented me with a gift certificate for my lunch. That was a complete surprise, and it allowed me to feel free to buy a copy of Rocksalt, the first anthology of BC poetry in 31 years. Seven of the poets featured in the anthology read at the first session I attended after lunch.

After the poetry reading, novelists George Szanto and Sandy Duncan read from their jointly-authored novel, Never Sleep With A Suspect on Gabriola Island, and offered some insights into their collaborative methods.

At 3:00 p.m., I was treated to a round-table discussion by Alexis O'Hara, Christian Bök, and Paul Dutton. The brochure advised that these three would: discuss what has led them out of standard narrative and into the cacophonic hubbub of sound. What causes artists to make departures from language as we know it? How do these artists understand the relationships between form and content, improvisation and scripted scores? ...I went, because I had absolutely no idea what this meant. I'm not sure that I'm any the wiser now, but I had a wonderful time listening to them. Just now, looking for links to put here, I came across some YouTube videos of Christian (who, by the way, is very charming.) I'll embed just one of them, so that in case you are as ignorant as I of the art form under discussion, you can hear it first here.

Finally, there was a reading by the absolutely delightful Antony Holland,who read a number of poems from a variety of genres. We heard Dame Edith Sitwell, Ogden Nash, Dylan Thomas, and - oh - this special poem, which Antony referred to as the Worst Poem He Had Ever Read. It was written by William Topaz McGonagall. I found it online. This link takes you to the poem, Attempted Assassination of the Queen, but then if you click on Home, you will be taken to a page where you will find the following description: (McGonagall)  "poet and tragedian of Dundee, has been widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language.." so apparently Antony is not alone in his assessment.

At the end of his presentation, Antony read from King Lear. He has played the part of King Lear on stage. He read from the beginning of the play and then from the end, to demonstrate the change in Shakespeare's use of language over the course of the play. He brought me to tears.  When he had finished speaking, I had to rush out in order to catch the ferry back to Nanaimo, but I did so with regret. I would love to have spent some more time getting to know these people. Fortunately, I know that at least some of them are involved in WordStorm, so I may well be seeing them again next week.

On the way home, I sat in my car on the ferry. The boat was dark, and Gabriola was also dark, at least by comparison to Nanaimo, which  positively glowed, just off the bow. Because I couldn't see the water, the trip home seemed much shorter than the trip out had. I turned on the overhead light inside the car, and I leafed through my new anthology. I came across a poem by Rachel Rose. When I went googling, I found a post about her at a blog called Nowhere, B.C., whose author, Zonko, says of Rose,

"...she's writing some Of the most vivid poems of her generation, poems so intense they're nearly
Scary, easily passing emily dickinson's test of poetry q.v. making the hair on The back of your neck stand up."

The poem that I read in the anthology is called What the Sea Perhaps Heard. I don't dare reproduce it here, because I don't have Rachel Rose's permission. I can say, loudly, Buy This Book. I read the poem, read it again, then turned off the light and just stared out across the bow, felt the boat rise and fall  on the waves, and decided I had had a truly wonderful day.

Now, having written nearly 1,100 words here (I couldn't help myself. I was well and truly stoked!) I'd better go do some NaNoveling, don't you think?

p.s.  It is almost midnight now.  My word count for today is 2,017. To date: 31,494. Enough.


Karen said...

How I envy you your literary day! I seem to be so tied up in family these days that I hardly have time to read or write anything. I have to get up at 5:00 a.m. just to visit friends' blogs. (I'm not really complaining, but oh, how I yearn to have a literary life! Just a discussion would be wonderful!)

Thanks for the recommendations, and for what it's worth, I think your day was super productive!

Barry said...

That sounds like my kind of day. I envy you, the entire experience.

Debbie said...

I am so impressed with you! What an amazing day that was.

AngelMay said...

Glad you had a great day, Sandra. I must confess, though, that I could only tolerate 40 seconds of your YouTube offering in this post because I was reaching the point of wanting to kill. :)

Sandra Leigh said...

Karen, Barry, Debbie, yes, it was a productive day, and a happy one. Maybe because a day like that is such a rarity for me, it felt like a whole holiday packed into a few hours.

Angel May, I had much the same reaction to the sound poetry. I imagine that it is an acquired taste, like Scotch, but I'm not sure. When I heard Christian, he was speaking English, and he was a delight to listen to. I should probably seek out sound poetry and give it a chance, because I know I love listening to Bobby McFerrin, and some of what he does is sound poetry set to music, or including music. Ah, the world is so full of a number of things...

Poetikat said...

Sounds like a truly memorable day, Sandra. I hope one day in the not too distant future you can report that you yourself were up there reading your own work.
I will definitely check out Rachel Rose.
I bought a small volume by a Sask. poet on the weekend. I had never heard of Sally Ito, but her Japanese heritage gives her poems a real haiku sensibility and I figured it would be good for "Kigo". I am well-pleased with my decision. (It was only $5 too!)

AngelMay said...

I never acquired a taste for Scotch, either. ;o) And by the way - I think we drank your O'Douls. Good thing there is more where that came from.

John Hayes said...

What a fun day you had. Mr Bok's poetry strikes me as a bit between scat singing & throat singing, but with no melody. I wonder what it would be like as part of a musical ensemble? Curious, anyhow. Thanks for posting it, & of course the news about your day. Continued congrats on the writing project!

Dominic Rivron said...

You are inspiring me to have a go myself next year. Perhaps I'll do my own "nanowrimo" in the summer holidays (there must be a few teachers out there who would do it if it was then).

Sandra Leigh said...

AM - that's okay. O'Doul's doesn't keep forever. I'll buy fresh.

John, apparently I missed a real happening on Saturday night - the three sound poets performing together. I know that Alexis uses electronic feedback in her work, and Paul started out as a singer. I'm told that whatever they did on Saturday, it was intense and - (I think I heard) completely out of control. Heh.

Dominic, you should do that. The only advantage to doing it along with everybody else is the peer pressure, but if you don't need that, then why not just set yourself a goal? And if you can draft some peers, then that's all the better.

On that note, I had better go write something.

Sandra Leigh said...

Did I forget to answer you, Poetikat? I think I was trying to decide what poem I will read on Thursday at WordStorm. I do intend to read, this time. And.....I have set my cell phone alarm to ring at 5:30 on Thursday afternoon, so that I don't forget to go down to the theatre for 6:30, the way I did last month. Sigh.

You got a bargain! Good for you.

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