Tuesday, October 7, 2014

alone with our madness and favourite flower

Late Echo

by John Ashbery

Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.
Or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things
In the same way, repeating the same things over and over
For love to continue and be gradually different.

Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.

Only then can the chronic inattention
Of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory
And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows
That speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge
Of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.

And so I'm back home, with my madness, and if not my favourite flower, certainly the beauty of turning leaves.

Thanks to those of you who left comments and sent well wishes. The days in Toronto and Hamilton included many gifts, among these the meeting of new friends, and reconnecting with old friends. Also - meeting several of those people I think of as, 'un-met friends' - a more common phenomena in these internet days. Un-met no longer.

One of the amazing people I met is John Delacourt, and he gives an excellent account of our reading in Hamilton on his blog, and says some ridiculously nice things about my book Asking, so I'll let you dip into it here.

I've come home with all the new Seraphim Editions books for the season and am looking forward to reading them all. John Delacourt's Ocular Proof will be first, because it speaks to many things of dear interest to me - art, art forgery, authenticity, poetry. I know a few people who have a passion for verse novels, and this book contains a verse novel within a work of mystery and historical intrigue.

Will have more to say about all the books as I've read them.

One thing I treated myself to in Toronto, was the Alex Colville show at the AGO. If you have a chance to go, do. Although I've been thinking about the place of Canadian art for some time, this really blew things open for me. And as always, though I think I'd seen every one of the paintings on display in reproduction - they're infinitely more interesting and powerful in person. So it always is with art. More shows like this focusing on a single Canadian artist, are needed, if we're to understand our place in the art world.

And now, I leave you with the images from a walk I took before heading out on my fancy, mini-book tour. Leaves, and more leaves.


  1. How great to read news of your conference. I like that term un-met friends, I like to think that the world is full of them, just waiting. Interesting to read about your Colville experience, too. I would love to know more about what it was that pulled you in, and even more about why this show enhanced/enlightened your understanding of the place of Canadian art. Just curious :) xo

    1. I think part of it is just that we don't see our art as being worthy of commanding a 'blockbuster' type show. But it is. The show was really well curated, too, I thought. There were interesting videos etc, and the write-ups on each piece were thoughtful, accessible, and enriched my experience of the painting. Anyway, I could go would be a good conversation over tea :)


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