Pearl Pirie’s 4th poetry collection, footlights, is “ lyric grief-work, and joy-work, loss, resilience and finding small beauties”. It releases in October 2020. Preorder to receive it first! Show me you and your copy and I’ll send you book swag: footlights: the colouring book.
Ask your local library for copies. Give it for all the seasonal holidays! Review it and view the trailer soon.
My newest chapbook is Not Quite Dawn (Éditions des petits nuages, March, 2020). You can email me to get a copy. It is the compilation of 25 years of my best published tanka and haiku, as well as a few new ones.
My epistle haibun chapbook, Water loves its bridges comes in Dec 2020 from The Alfred Gustav Press by subscription.
Recent chapbooks include Call Down the Walls (Frog Hollow Press, Feb. 2019) which is a chapbook concerning my concussion. And a haibun collection, Eldon, letters (above/ground, August, 2019). Both are still available.
I have written a few poems, a handful, since fall. Mostly I am in the body, or reading. When the muse doesn’t bite like a swarm of deerflies, I’m content.
I know I’m in a natural state, brought on by pill brain chemicals that keep me level and not strung to a squeak anxious.
I have assembled a few poems from phrases that accumulate, from images I want to mull, from mental exercises towards deadlines after reading my fill.
I composed a few poems scaffolded to other poems a couple years ago. I think they are uncommonly good. That doesn’t seem to be the general take. 5 test readers have given them a meh and said they are less good than my usual. I think they are different, less pressed, frenetic, less sad and clenched. But people want what they expect they want. Or maybe they are just head poems.
In any case I like them but have basically not written to any degree for 3 years or so. First I was too busy and then too concussed.
So, today I had the sensation of writing a poem, of the words falling out. I’d forgotten that feeling. As easy as unravelling knitting or shelling a bucket of peas. A familiar motion. A sense of being lifted. Of time stopping. A flow state. A sense of release.
As Kevin Spenst shared on twitter, coincidental with my reading Audre Lorde again, “I used to speak in poetry. I would read poems, and I would memorize them. People would say, well what do you think, Audre. What happened to you yesterday? And I would recite a poem and somewhere in that poem would be a line or a feeling I would be sharing.” – Audre Lorde
I’ve been blasé about poetry, frustrated with its impasses and repetitions, tropes, pretension, postures, slack romanticism, performativeness and clumsiness for five or six years. It wasn’t nourishing anymore. To find a kernel caused allergic reaction to all the chaff.
Maybe I needed time away. Maybe I still do.
It is perhaps a relative measure. Poetry gave better quality connection than people. Now people give a better ratio of connection than words.
I read more fiction, more non-fiction, more essays. I’d rather read about poetics than hear poems.
Partly I get full up easier. All I want is a sweet phrase. Give me a whole stanza and I’m good for weeks. A whole book worth reading takes ages to process. I overflow. And maybe that’s fine. I don’t have to take it all in.
I don’t have to share or condense everything either. Things can flow through me unseized. It’s fine. I don’t need to micromanage my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, pass judgement, direct, correct, make it all do athleticism.
I’d rather move stones, garden, cook, chat, listen to podcasts. Is this what civilian non-poets live like?
It’s curious going through a thick pad of haiku in journals and without reading the names, 2 poems called out to me by people I was already fond of. The individuality comes out in so few syllables, and the perspective on the world that clicks is still there, even remotely. Interesting.
Poetry matters more when you care about the person making it.
Two others got third reads because they are people I care about. Looking at the poem and their known parts of life, with more empathy than before I knew whose it was.
We need that in reading. If a person puts their heart out there, risks some show of self, why categorize it first a poem, not poem, quality of writing. It is something from the person. Even if the creation is imaginative fiction like Norman Rockwell feeling the ugly so making what he wanted to see, even if the creation is quaint attempts at wildly chaotic from a safe ordered position.
There’s the reader in the perceiving. There’s the writer in the perceived.
As much as I try to make a gap between myself and “what I produce”, the model is faulty. The Buddhist insistence of removing ego and that one can’t be hurt if one one has non-attachment, the Christian idea that one is disconnected, in the world but not of the world, separate from the body, the workshop idea that there is divide between created and creator. They are all binary ideas.
reading The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative by Thomas King (CBC Massey Lectures Series, Anansi Press, 2003) has me pondering the underlying givens.
What would a collaborative model that doesn’t put self against self, self-against other, other against self look like?
What is reading as a collaborative, community act?
Conversational acceptance, curiosity, kind questioning into, less rule-based, more exploring for truths or exploring for its own sake?