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Les Semaines

01.07.01

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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Second Week of Clarion

Sunday night was Brad Denton's introduction to the students, and they introduced themselves by saying who their favourite writers were, which I found quite interesting--few of the students repeated authors. Brad then let them ask him questions, and the first was how he lived as a writer, which also was instructive as he does live by his writing. As they settled down to have with group dinner--Thai food cooked by Karen, I headed off home.

Monday I worked frantically trying to move toward wrapping things up for the summer, and somehow the afternoon and evening utterly disappeared. The only thing I distinctly remember doing is going grocery shopping with Jim as we always do on Mondays. Tuesdays I was in the classroom with Leslie, watching the students critique with Brad Denton. Afterwards Leslie and I had lunch at Bill's right by the classroom, then I went to the dorms to read the stories, then I got one our Australian student, Michael, and we headed off to the University Bookstore (and met Jim there) for a reading by Australian writer Garth Nix, whose novels, especially Sabriel and Lirael, I have adored (see my May 27 entry for my comments on Lirael). He read from Lirael, then asked for questions, and there was a fairly long Q&A session that followed. Garth was surprised to find Michael there, which was fun. It made me want to re-read Sabriel, but I think I'll wait until shortly before the sequel to Lirael appears next year and read them all together.

Then I drove downtown and tried to find a parking spot and would up about eight blocks north of Elliott Bay Bookstore to grab a bite of dinner and then for Brad Denton's reading, which was quite wonderful. He really made Lunatics (see my February 18th entry for my comments on this one) shine by his funny and well-moderated performance, and the students made it clear how much they think of him, which was delightful.

Wednesday and Thursday I was in the classroom again and it's amazing to see how much the students have already learned in both their critiquing and how the stories seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.

Friday was my last day of work and I tried not to seem already as signed out as I feel. Put my vacation messages on my email and voicemail, and went home, and then out for Brad's party. Clarion ho!

Saturday I lazed around. I didn't have my shower or get dressed until well into the afternoon. Then I had to get right into gear by racing off to buy dishes for the instructor room (somehow over the last year the dishes there had disappeared) then drove north to pick up Octavia, then met with Leslie, Brad and his wife, and Nalo Hopkinson for dinner to give them a chance to talk about the class and share what they'd been doing with the group. Then we went to Whole Foods to do a little shopping, then I drove Octavia home, raced home and found Jim and Tamar had waited for me to start watching the last episode of the most recent batch of Tales of the City. So we watched it and then crashed, and that's a week.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Still mostly listening to Annika Bentley's with leak, blink, & breath when I get a chance.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Cecelia Dart-Thornton's The Ill-Made Mute is the story of a woman who wakes up with an utterly damaged face and without memory or voice in a world full of magic creates--evil, benevolent, and some that are neither. She begins this new life as a servant, learning of the magical dangers of the world in tales other servants tell, and she learns to hide her hideous face. Her life there is miserable and she determines to escape on a flying ship and begins a series of adventures involving pirates and treasure and many encounters with human and creatures cruel and kind. The world is what makes this book so interesting. It's full of creatures from Celtic myth: waterhorses, sprites, brownies, creatures that drown the unwary or kill them to dip their caps in the blood. The plot itself could be a little more compelling and the characters could be a little more three-dimensional, but if you're looking for an interesting world, this would be a great book for you.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

None yet. Plenty thinking though, so next week it should begin again.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1980

1097. This page is tomorrow's
January 21st 1980

But tonight I continue to write. I am somewhere forever, dreaming and burning, and wondering if you are on your way back to the coast, or if you have found a new home in the Big City.
     I continue to write, to write forever on another night in forever Gillain with this internal/eternal/infernal beast of a bleeping switchboard shrieking at me.
     I am reading Eliot again for Robin's marvellous fecund lectures (Joyce in an hour--rich food!) I am reading Grave's White Goddess trying to understand, to grasp his ideas through the fog of my preconceptions (I have been starting at the cover for more than two years now and have built up quite a mythology about the book.) I am reading W.S. Graham, whose later works are incredible. I have an anthology of English and American surreality poetry that looks interesting, and am reading the interesting and satiric Mrozek's The Elephant. This is the selection I have brought with me to Gillain.
     I have also brought with me to Gillain my very lostness, and lack of logic. I have a distaste for the election reports running on the TV now. There are no answers, no leaders, and all too much government [quote from a song about government omitted]. I am learning more and more why I am an anarchist [1], but am too responsible (and anarchic) to campaign for it. Vote for the Rhinoceros party! (10:30, and I half an hour to go.)

1098. Last night I dreamt
January 22nd 1980

Last night I dreamt that poets were fighting a war against the rest of the world. That we had magic while they had technology. It was a long dream of running and magicking. I like being magic and having special powers, but they were trying to kill us, and we were trying to survive.
     Last night I dreamt that I went to Vancouver to look for you. I saw Mir and Cathy [2] and sat in the kitchen to wait for you, but it would be a long wait because you were still in Toronto. I sat and waited until my alarm went off. I think that must be the first time I've even had a waiting dream--meaning where I just sat still, usually I waft around waiting for this to happen.
     Tonight I will dream that I am asleep and that my cat sleeps beside me and that tomorrow's poem is all right, and that my alarm won't go too late that I will have time to wash my hair and perfect and type my poem and get to university in time to hear Robin deal with T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets and that I will have a brilliant idea for my W.S. Graham essay and that I will recover from all my dreaming. (I'm in Vancouver, waiting for you.)

1099. Climbing the Winter Hill (for Randy)

     It's not much of a path
     Covered by some minor avalanche
     of rock. The higher we get
     the more indistinguishable it is,
     and the bright the sun becomes,
     the thinner the air,
     and the heavier my breathing.

     I'm dressed in a skirt
     and my long winter coast.
     My boots offer little grip
     in the streambed we resort
     to following. I keep saying
     I will never get down,
     and you say wait till
     you are up to think of that.

     and I've done it,
     I've reached the last
     rim of hill, then you tell me
     to turn outward and look.
     I turn to watch
     an avalanche of air
     spreading all the distance out before me. [3]

1100. Comment
January 23rd 1980

It took me a little over a year to get another hundred chapters moving--they're longer, and so am I. I reached 1000 last year, late fall 1978, so these chapters hold an entire year within them (poor things). This is my New Years. I should throw a hung ho party. I should throw, I should. I've dragged through the bad year, now for the good and painful and growing. This book holds almost all of me.
     Today, for no change, was draining. Robin's lecture drained me, lunch with Harold and Diane drained me, the workshop drained me. John, Ann, and Louise and I went to the Sub for a beer (which I passed up--I've been clouded too often lately) then John and I went to his apartment to make a thrown-together meal for us and Ann, who had gone home to make a salad and see the creature (her beautiful 10-year-old daughter). Dinner was marvellous, as was the company. We adjourned to Ann's (to be with the creature while she slept) and to go over John's long (and surprisingly good) manuscript, with time to glance at a poem of Ann's and mine for class today. It inspirited me, helped me recover to find myself again. I did John's dishes because I find it therapeutic, and I helped his poems find a more permanent shape. I am again learning to do therapeutic things, housework and sewing, to give me a change from office and school, but I need to go out more, to be simply outside. To walk and pass through all of my changes. To learn to walk by my own company.

NOTES

1. Ha! Like I knew anything about anarchy.

2. The people Christina used to babysit for when she lived in Vancouver before leaving for Toronto.

3. This poem never did have an independent life--it was eventually tossed in the scrap heap.

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