Quibble away with T. S Eliot’s charge that April is the cruelest month, but my shovel knows better. Love or loathe it, frosty or green, April is here and needs your attention. National Poetry month is upon us and all eyes are on the road.
It’s time to celebrate the roads we travel, the roads we wish to travel, the roads we’ve found and made and cherished for decades.
Fitting on a day where a few million traveled through familiar slop and slush, the 2016 theme from the League of Canadian Poets, currently marking their 50th anniversary, hopes to celebrate the timeless journey of poetry. Canadians can take part by planning readings and events (share it on social media with the hashtag@NPM16)—
Wait, stop, another event?
It’s Monday. I know, I know. You’re muttering (a Monday ritual) Where did the weekend go and there’s five days before the next one and you just want to go back to hibernating until the real spring comes. Wake me up when the green is here.
How about I wake you up with a little profane slamming? No, that’s not what it sounds like. POETRY SLAMMING, sweet peas.
In addition to corralling Canadians on a cultural road trip, the League today has also announced the winner of the Golden Beret, a national prize in spoken word poetry, awarded today to RC Weslowski. You can read this Vancouver talent’s bio here or you can watch this performance he’s posted on his website. The video, called There’s No Fucking Time to Fucking Live, was posted in 2014 so it is dated, but you may share his frustrations.
Warning: If you are dreaming of bucolic April vistas, this video may not be to your liking. There’s a lot of F bombs. If you liked Stephen Harper or Rob Ford, it won’t be to your liking either. You can log off and go back to
sleep work. I won’t be offended. Poetry slams are feisty affairs and not for the fainthearted.
As for that poetry directive, this roadie is game. I’m thinking today about a trippy train trip and my first encounter with the Canadian prairies.
Blink open to black motion
A heavy curtain drowns out place
Rum breath stumble, some drunk’s lot
teetering near my upper bunk
The others are undisturbed
but me, I’m on full alert
The intruder wanders off
I slip down, pass the sleeping berths
Find my father window watching
Outside the land races
Miles of flattened carpet
lit up by forked streaks stabbing the sky
We hear little but the wheels rounding the tracks
The flashing repeats, sharp defined strokes
through the glass
I wait for the hills
the flat flows
further yet further
I want to wake up everybody
think better of it
Sit out the night with Dad
fingers on the map
eyes on the silent storm
I remember the hokey hypnosis we tried at summer camp
But this midnight sideshow
on a moving train
beats all that.
Anne Langford © Holding Glass, 2001
Lots of gorgeous poetic language can be found in “All the Light We Cannot see”, my pick for favourite winter read, chosen for our book club last month by the equally gorgeous Nancy.
As absorbing as the narrative was, the brilliant characters and their many connections with one another will linger with me for some time. And all of Anthony Doerr’s beautiful lines:
“To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.”Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
More on spring here
More on spoken word here
More on poetry here
More on time here