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.
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.