Saturday, December 31, 2005

Just noticed that a video of Steve Reich's Clapping Music is up on his site.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Don't believe the hype

Yes, certain events in this city this past week were horrible, but methinks members of the media sometimes get a little carried away with their own mythmaking.
The year 2005 is no longer searching for a theme. Boxing Day made it clear. Not just another shooting, easily contextualized in a more or less normal year of big-city homicide -- whatever that is -- the horror on Yonge Street is brazenly symbolic. However senseless it was, however trivial the dispute that triggered it might have been, it can only be felt as an act of terrorism: a targeted wound to the open heart of the city, delivered on the one day of the waning year it is most vulnerable, and a pointed -- to the point of seeming deliberate -- confirmation of the truly wild criminality that now threatens us all.
I admit that I tend to be a little more skeptical of notions such as theme than the average person, but shouldn't John Barber, the author of this hysterical babble (and who normally seems okay to me as far as columnists go), be a little embarrassed?

By the way, in the interest of perspective, I'll bet that a Torontonian is far more likely to be killed by a car than a gun. Yes, let's mourn a life lost and work to control guns and give kids in tough neighbourhoods some opportunities (the latter is a worthwhile thing in itself), but let's maintain our sanity while we're at it. Otherwise we might be tempted to overreact.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The sky has a weird pinky glow to it right now, and for some reason I associate it with Blade Runner, which I barely remember otherwise, and the way New York looked the first time I saw it as we arrived on the Amtrak train. I think this glow is the result of pollution, but it's quite beautiful.

Now back to my nature poems.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Free idea

Someone should put together a Mapquest-like site but for pedestrians (or everyday hikers). It could give all the shortcuts and recommend cool things to look at on the way. Just start with your own street. Or hey, make an interface so everyone can map his or her own neighbourhood.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Funny, I thought Lisa's middle name was Margaret.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Words have their class and their occasion," says William H. Gass in his essay "The Sentence Seeks Its Form" (which I've now found). He also says,

Mr. James has the very highborn tone that Mr. Micawber strives for, and if he were to read Mr. James (which as fellows common to the Universal Library, he might), the right airs could be donned and doffed as circumstances required. The right airs include a measured gravity, a mouth-filling motion, and a stately rhythm that suggests every word is formed out of politest consideration for every other, and that a Latinated diction has been chosen, which is so full of itself, so free of the contaminations of commonness, it can hardly bear to touch any subject whatever, and lights upon one, only to leave immediately for another, which it approaches with the same trepidation.
I have to admit that I don't know much about Gass and that my only reading of the essay was pretty hurried. In my next one, I plan to search for indicators of irony to convince myself that he doesn't actually endorse this view. We'll see if this works. Of course language is social, and so class is implicated every time it's used. It's Gass's valuation of politeness that sticks in my craw. It renews my worry that literature and politeness are, at least for now, functionally linked. (I like to think that one of the aims of my practice is to separate them.) Let's hear it for rudeness and, to recalibrate something I said recently, bad grammar.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tomorrow night:

Lex meets Word for an all-review revue. Dani Couture, Bev Daurio, Sharon Harris, Maggie Helwig, Jay MillAr, Stan Rogal, Lorissa Sengara, Hugh Thomas, and Mark Truscott (moi) read their favourite reviews without revealing the names of their authors. Match the readers' names with those of the reviewers on a handy game card to win fabulous prizes. At least I think that's what's happening. With an all-review open michele.

It's the launch of the first issue of the print version of Word: Canada's Magazine for Readers + Writers. Buy one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005, 8:00 p.m.
Cameron House (back room), 408 Queen Street West, Toronto
If you want confirmation that you are a lazy slug, check out Angela's latest post.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Poem is wave.

At poem's base is the depth of our unknowing. At its crest our knowing. In the movement between—poem's urgent momentum.

Because poem's very form acknowledges both what can be said or known and never said or known, poetry may be as close as we come through language to the sacred.
—Betsy Warland, "Nose to Nose" in Only This Blue

I can get behind this formulation, and in fact I've said similar things. What stops me short is the word "sacred." What does sacred mean in this context?

Monday, December 05, 2005

What a wild Sunday. Lisa and I went to the Pedal to the Metal craft fair and caught Gun Street Action Team, a pretty amazing band of high-school students who played covers (e.g., the Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking With You") and original material. Lisa got their contact info in hopes of getting them to play at the library.

Then we headed over to This Ain't and listened to bill bissett talk about Lunaria, which was, well, excellent. Seriously though, what struck me about bissett's talk was that it seemed for him writing truly is coterminous with life and, perhaps, reality. I certainly am aware of the fact that language conditions my experience through and through, I figure that any experience is potentially going to figure into my writing, and I think of my writing as the primary way in which I understand the world, but to a great degree, and likely out of necessity, I keep my artistic practice separate from my paying work and stuff like cleaning the house. It was interesting, on the other hand, to gather the impression of a kind of total immersion on bissett's part, at least during the period of his work on Lunaria. He talked about a routine in which he got up in the morning, swam, ate, and spent the rest of the day on his book. He also spoke of watching September 11 on television and how it changed the colours in certain copies. bissett claims to be from the planet Lunaria, and he only occasionally gives signs (a smirk here and there) that he's joking. After his talk, I'm inclined to believe him. (By the way, hearing bissett meant missing the Youth Scream, but luckily Angela writes about it here.)

After bissett's talk, we went home and ate soup before heading back to This Ain't for the first installment of the Fictitious Reading Series. It had been a while since I'd heard fiction read, and I don't think I'd ever heard it in as non-commercial an atmosphere. I was impressed by the rendering of Heather Birrell's teenaged characters in the second story she read from (I'd heard the first before), and Harold Johnson's work was startling in its violence. I was curious, though, to see how it would feel at a fiction reading, conditioned as I am to poetry events. I'm not sure I noticed anything striking. For one thing, there was no heckling (nor any possibility of it, as far as I could see), and I suppose there may have been a greater and more respectful distance between reader and audience. That's it though, I think. It will be interesting to see if a core group of regulars forms.

Believe it or not, I'm stil working on an account of Shift & Switch and its launch. For a number of reasons (not least among them the fact that I find it difficult to write about events I read at), I've been hesitating. Maybe tomorrow. I also have to respond to some e-mail and some comments.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Did a quick version of the True Colors personality test as part of a "team building" exercise at work. I love this kind of exercise, and I was disappointed to realize that we all weren't going to start wearing our colours in some kind of homage to the original Star Trek series (the first part of this sentence is entirely facetious; the second isn't). My results, in order from most to least like me, were green, blue, orange, and gold. Apparently greens and blues aren't supposed to like one another, which explains some inner conflict I've been experiencing.

Oh, and get this: the blue card says "I am a natural romantic, a poet, and a nurturer." That's how the puke stains got on my "Hello my name is ..." sticker.

Friday is my all-day "Working in Teams" workshop. I'm leaving if we don't get jumpsuits.
Ron reads Rob Read. Rob the 21st century balladeer.