Monday, August 3, 2015

some people ascend

Let's begin with the light in my backyard one evening last week. I'm in a hurry to slowly drink in all this summer light and it's exhausting.

"Perhaps my task as a poet is to describe the landscape of loneliness."

"I don't write poems any more. For this you need to have at least a splinter of hope."

"And yet, to write poems you need a touch of madness. That's why poets hold desperately to their despairs and faults."

"Joy - it's not just a gift. In a sense, it's also a duty, a task to fulfill. Courage."

- all of the above, Anna Kamienska

One morning last week I took Chloe downtown to write her second exam (just the diploma exam to go now) for her biology 30 correspondence course. While she wrote, I walked over to Audreys bookstore and browsed. Found California Sorrow by Mary Kinzie. Wow! Published in 2007, a lucky find.

In amid the poems, a poetic essay, "The Poems I am Not Writing" which begins:

Why should I believe there are poems waiting for me which I am not writing? Because I miss them, these shadows like birds dying of cold on the branches, their life diminished as I move closer to them. I frighten them with my nearness. Everything I say in prose, with its links, its clauses, its causal flourishes; its reservations and chatter of afterthought; everything with prose's anecdote and self-observation and preening that is like the shiver of a body brushing back its hair before going into the room, dispels the poem. Explanations and the appeal to authority tear down the modesty of poetry. Its near invisibility. Its perfected impermanence. A scat of wind through a tall fir that knocks off all its caught-up snow and causes the branch to spring about ... but in smaller, evaporating language that brings no attention to itself because it belongs to something greater—perhaps the greater "Whisper of running streams and winter lightning" Eliot wrote of as part of his own world of debased, involuntary phantoms.

{continue reading on Poetry Foundation}

Not only did her words resonate for me and delight - the poem as 'shadows like birds' which can be frightened by the poet's nearness. But validated my assemblage of Asking, in my mind anyway, and also the manuscript I'm coming near to the end of writing, which is so far called The Flower is Always Changing, and which is mainly comprised of various types of essays which might not be essays at all. Who knows.

It's an interesting feeling, this I'm nearing the end of the book I'm writing, feeling. It's good, it's bittersweet, it's a relief, a sorrow. It's a loss, a joy, a lovely lonely lovely weird feeling.

Because I haven't sent any of the pieces from this work to too many places (only if someone asked, really) the manuscript has been mine. I haven't even yet shown friends, though that is soon to come. Thank the gods for friends who give up their time to read your 100 pages of whatnot at a moment's notice.

And then. One considers what comes next, what has come before, what can be done in the space and time allowed in the near future. One considers how old one is and what one has accomplished to date. One considers the lists one has made. The five year plan, the ten year plan. The two year plan.

What's interesting perhaps, is that I wrote Rumi and the Red Handbag before I wrote Asking. I'm in that moment of having my work 'catch up with me.' So I suppose for a short time I'll appear to be 'prolific.' I prefer to be thought of as hardworking.

My focus will be on RRH for the next few months, obviously.

But I'm also going to be wrapping up my flower book, as I like to think of it. And then. One of my many plans is to spend the winter dreaming up my next novel. Yes.

So let's see. This is what's been happening in my house lately. Rob never stops painting, truth be told. 

The Humans of EPL project that I'm part of (one of the two photographers) is still going strong. 

Recently read: Colourless Tsukuro Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Maybe not my usual thing, but I loved it. I found the premise/beginning of the book heartstopping. In a group of close school friends, suddenly one becomes an outcast and is too crushed to even find out why. If you read the novel, you will be drawn to this piece of music

I enjoyed reading this article titled "Researching the Heart of Contemplative Practices" by Maia Duerr. 

Another poem, by Rolf Jacobsen, translated by Robert Bly, found in The Roads Have Come to an End Now. And it probably shouldn't but it's made me think of all the people I'm connected to for this or that reason, some of the reasons forgotten, on Facebook. 

Some People 

by Rolf Jacobsen

Some people
ascend out of our life, some people
enter our life,
uninvited and sit down,
some people
calmly walk by, some people
give you a rose,
or buy you a new car,
some people
stand so close to you, some people,
you've entirely forgotten
some people, some people
are actually you,
some people
you've never seen at all, some people
eat asparagus, some people
are children,
some people climb up on the roof,
sit down at table,
lie around in hammocks, take walks with their red
some people look at you,
some people have never noticed you at all, some people
want to take your hand, some people
die during the night,
some people are other people, some people are you, some people
don't exist,
some people do.

I'll leave you with some photos and brief descriptions and the wish for a calm week ahead. 

I'm most fond of those flowers we've grown from seeds, who knows why. The poppy above, the sunflower below.

After a long and odd day, sometimes just walking into the backyard and seeing this is enough to restore me. Better than a glass of fizzy wine.

I love the way the sun shines through the prayer ghostly at times.

The next few photos are near Government House in Edmonton. The totem pole was carved by Earl Muldoe of the Gitskan and the gazebo is Korean.

The bells in my backyard. Evening light.

I'm going to be picking these cherries any day now. I swear.

Backyard. Scarlet runner beans are out of control.

Just some light. A web.

From my little buddha garden.

The light one morning:

They don't call it the golden hour for nothing.....


  1. Hi Shawna. I love finding your calm things every Monday - your Calm Things are one (or many) of my calm things! We seem to have read Murakami's Tsukuro at the same time and thank you for posting the link to that piece of music, which I hadn't done myself - funny how different it sounds to what I imagined. xx

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline. It wasn't what I thought either! Cool that we both read the book at the same time.

  2. As always, wonderful thoughts and photos Shawna. Thank you. Felt very much at home reading Mary KInzie. Thank you for that.

    1. I was glad to find her! Thanks, Stephen.

  3. Thank you, Shawna. You photos are very calming. I'm feeling distressed about my garden this year. It is wild and overgrown, something I always thought I'd like but now I'm wondering where I got that idea. I remember that I had restorative feelings before, the one you described here as Better than a glass of fizzy wine." Even in my tiny postage stamp city yard. I guess I'm starting my dreaming for next year's garden and in the meantime I'm going to soak in the images of yours.

    1. I have to confess my garden TOTALLY has a lot of the wild element.....I make sure not to photograph the weeds, haha. But a couple of years ago I decided I couldn't take the wildness either. So we ended up putting wood chips down and are trying to get everything to behave and stay where it's supposed to. I realize I'm too lazy to garden properly :)

  4. Gorgeous! These photos are stunning - you should also think of releasing a photography book! I am particularly in awe of the way you've captured the light, it's mesmerizing. Beautiful words too. I love the poem and that quote from Mary Kinzie... well I'm off now to check for that book! So lovely to stop my here and feel nourished by your wonder-full posts, as always :)

  5. beautiful! beautiful! beautiful!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...