Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Here is a River

Here is a river full of dog,
and oh, its slumped banks,
its pools of delight.
Here is the salmonberry reaching
its flowers over the edge.
Here is all the green fuzz
and newborn April wanting –
stroke it now and walk,
sand covered branch in hand.
And what did you bring
in your pocket today?
White stones for the bone tree,
dried meats wrapped in foil,
a collar stitched with salmon.
Bound, bound to the water's edge
across the morning path.
Will you love him more than this
when he's gone?
Here is a river
full of sticks and spaniel,
you bring it along on your fingers,
you wear the scarf of robin song
and call the old dog home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A month with Brian Brett

Ten aspiring writers have just completed a month of mentorship with one of Canada's finest writers, Brian Brett, writer in residence at Whistler BC.

As one of the ten, I would travel up to Whistler twice a week, leave my truck in the beautiful little Wayside Park and follow the Valley Trail around Alta Lake to the 'Station House' where Brian was staying. Sometimes it would be dark and we'd hike around using headlamps and talking about bear. Most of the time the brilliant autumn colours accompanied us along the path.

Brian Brett was a very engaging mentor. Speaking animatedly about books and writing while drinking homegrown tea brewed in a 2 foot high glass and silver pot, Brian kept us keen and on topic with his obvious talent, experience, and love for the writing craft. The mentorship included 4 one-on-ones and 4 group sessions, and closed with a delicious potluck and lots of promises to keep in touch.

Brian was one of the readers in the closing event of the 2010 Whistler Writers Festival. He read poetry, rather than excerpts from his latest book Trauma Farm, and entertained a somewhat sleepy audience with wonderful earthy pieces read in a sonorous and joyful voice. What a treat to hear this poet read aloud! If you ever get a chance to spend time with Brian Brett, do not miss the opportunity!

Patricia Young at the Whistler Writers Festival

The paragraph below, taken from the Whistler Writers Group website, lists the 10 Canadian stars that gave readings this weekend to a nearly packed auditorium at the Squamish LilWat Cultural Centre in Whistler.

The stars love this festival and continue to visit. On Saturday, October 16th at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, we’re excited to host the 2009 Governor General Award winning author for fiction, Kate Pullinger (The Mistress of Nothing), two-time Governor General nominee, Patricia Young (An Autoerotic History of Swings), the 2009 winner of the Writers Trust of Canada Non-Fiction prize and the BC Booksellers’ Choice Award, Brian Brett (Trauma Farm), award winning author, Russell Wangersky (The Glass Harmonica), City of Victoria Butler Book Prize winning author, Terence Young, (The End of the Ice Age), short-story author Jenn Farrell (The Devil You Know), writing couple and former Whistler writers in residence, Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady (Breakfast at the Exit CafĂ©: travels through America), Kathy Page (The Find), and two-time Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize winning author Caroline Adderson. Local writer, Stephen Vogler will MC the event and make sure all is groovy.

Patricia Young, winner of the CBC Literary Award for Poetry in the 1990's, appeared twice in the 2010 shortlist. Clearly one of Canada's top poets, Patricia treated the audience to a graceful reading from her newest book An Autoerotic History of Swing. Patricia Young's husband, Terence Young, was also present, reading from his newest book of stories The End of the Ice Age. His story had the intensity and depth of a satisfying poem and cooled the room by placing us in a dark lake for about 15 minutes.

Margreet Dietz shares her expertise with new publication ‘A Work in Progress’

Every writer hears the term “writer’s block” and shudders.

It seems every person who loves to write will sooner or later find themselves at a point of intense frustration where the words they are searching for simply dry up.

Enter Squamish author Margreet Dietz and her book A Work in Progress.

Read more here

Sunday, October 3, 2010

137 years of subjugation coming to an end

In the 1870s, two inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both independently designed devices that could transmit speech electrically (the telephone). Both men rushed their respective designs to the patent office within hours of each other, Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone first. Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell entered into a famous legal battle over the invention of the telephone, which Bell won.

Alexander Graham Bell's notebook entry of 10 March 1876 describes his successful experiment with the telephone. Speaking through the instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room, Bell utters these famous first words, "Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you."

Source: About.com

This is a record of the first command issued through the telephone. The second command was "Pick up the damn phone!"

Since that time, approximately 137 years, humans have been enslaved by the telephone 'leash'. Think about it.

Employers expect to be able to contact their team at all times of the day and night.

Family gets angry if they can't get hold of you by telephone.

Boyfriends get angry if you don't answer your cell phone. "I think you're lying." they snarl when you insist the phone was left in the car.

People leave angry messages in your mailbox "Oh sure, on your message machine again! You never pick up the damn phone."

Pick up the damn phone. It's become idomatic. Pick up the damn phone.

Generations of teens sat glued to the telephone, the long curly cords running around the house down the hall and into their rooms.

Wives were leashed by their new cell phones, able to call hubby with any and all questions - "Shall it be red salsa or green?"

Ring Ring Ring. Aren't you going to answer that? Why no, darling. I'm going to let it ring. In fact, I'm going to unplug it. Horrors.

Advertisers love to call during dinner. You've won a cruise to the Bahamas! Of course, you have to fly down there to get it hahahaha. Bill collectors love to call during sex. Take this survey, win some steak knives - during your bath.

And to further suck your time into it's long black cord, the new message services - listening to Jenny (or Mable or Gertrude) patiently go through levels and levels of recorded messages before you can hear the one meant for you.

I lost a good boyfriend because of the telephone. He wanted to use it 11 times a day. I thought maybe once a day was enough. He thought my not answering the phone meant I was having lunch hour sex with the local Citizen of the Year. I explained I had simply left it in the car - but he said I was lying.

The night I disconnected my Telus answering service started like many others. I came home to find 10 messages - it took 20 minutes to go through the recorded menus and hear the messages. Half of them were angry - because I had not picked up the damn phone, because they had to leave a message.

Now, if I don't pick up the phone, it's because I'm not home. Or maybe I'm busy. Call back.

But the most wonderful thing is starting to happen. More and more people are texting (no bullying ringringring, just a polite "I need to say something, will you please read when you have time?" ) and emailing (and facebooking and twittering) - what does this all mean for me and you?

It means we can connect with each other on our own time, when we have time, to give each other the attention we deserve. It means we have a record of the conversation too which helps make sure we don't forget.

Here's to the end of the telephone. Hooray for connectivity.

So email me ok? I don't pick up the phone.