The Poem-a-Day Series, Poem #41

Given my background and sensibility, it was just a matter of time until I metaphored love as akin to rare book collecting. The diction and images are that of a bibliophile.

Some book terms:

definitive copy–most authoritative version of a work

shelf-cocked–a book which has leaned against another, deforming the book binding

folio–a book over 28 cms. in height

slipcased–refers to a cardboard case covered in cloth or leather (in this case) which holds the book with only the spine exposed

blurb–review printed on outside of a book dust wrapper

front matter–includes: frontispiece image, title page, copyright page, dedication, preface or foreword, table of contents, list of illustrations, introduction, acknowledgements, half-title

errata–mistakes or errors listed on a small paper slipped into the book

imprint–refers to the place of publication and/or publisher

laid-ins–a letter or sheet inserted into, but not attached to the book

variant— a book that differs in one or more features from others of the same impression

First Thus–means not a first edition, but something new, nonetheless

bookplate–pasted-in sign of ownership

tome— a large or scholarly book

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Peter Sellers

One of the most naturally funny comedians who ever lived and acted in movies.

(Here, as Chance the Gardener aka Chauncey Gardiner in Hal Ashby’s classic 1979 film of Jerzy Kosinski’s political/social satire Being There, a wonderful movie years ahead of its time. The relevance of this film some 4 decades later is reflected in the rise and popularity of another ‘Chance’–Donald Trump, reflected in a 2017 comment by Mark Harris: “We invest people with unspeakable power by reinventing them as reflections of our hopes and our vanities, and it is thus terrifyingly possible for us to endow a complete imbecile who watches tv all day with qualities he has never possessed.”   )

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Obit: Vangelis, 79

Composer of Chariots of Fire soundtrack, with one of the most inspiring musical openings in a feature film: (skip ads)

Chariots of Fire, by Hugh Hudson (1981) – Opening scene – YouTube

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The Poem-a-Day Series, Poem #40

For much of my adult life from 16 on, my conception of the world was largely Romantic-based: civilized, spiritual, and highly imaginative. In particular, the language and imagery of my love poems, too. To a large extent, this orientation was fostered by exposure to English Romantic poets in my teens and growing up in the 1960s.

Wordsworth described that time best:

“We who were strong in love!                                                                                                        Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,                                                                                               But to be young was very heaven!”

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The Poem-a-Day Series, Poem #39

Sometimes you can amaze yourself when composing a poem. Dean McKenzie and I were at a literary event one Sunday long ago at the Convention Centre and we were set up to write poems on demand. But traffic was very slow and, bored, we started writing our own.

Something W. O. Mitchell once said came back to me: that juxtaposition often produced good results when used as a starter. The example he gave was a little old granny behind the wheel of a Big Mac truck. That day, having recently returned from my first New England fall literary excursion, I imagined Emily Dickinson juxtaposed into the world, then, of the WWF, encountering Andre the Giant in the ring. The rest followed and I had this one mostly finished in about 20 minutes, sitting there at the convention. Mitchell was proven right; his gimmick can work in poetry, too.

For the record, Emily did have a second-storey bedroom and she did lower picnic baskets for/to neighborhood children. She did wear a small white dress (she was tiny) which still hangs in the bedroom today for tourists to see. She also did use capital letters on certain words, strategically for emphasis in her poems (not just on opening words of sentences). Andre the Giant, for his part, was one of the most famous wrestlers of the day.

(above: the only photo–a daguerreotype–of Emily at the time she was a student at Holyoke Seminary.)

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Today’s Hard News?

CNN headline:
Indian couple sue only son for not giving them grandchildren

And your observation is…

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Spring is still in the air…

(Goose famille over at the lake behind my daughter’s place)

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The Poem-a-Day Series, Poem #38

And so the long-time influence of Cohen eventually permeated my songwriting when I composed this ditty in the ’80s. I tried to include the pathetic pathos of Cohen’s early humorous songs like “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” in which he casts himself as the anti-hero schnook chasing one impossible woman or another.

Though I came by the subject matter honestly from all the movie theatres I once frequented from the 1950s to about 2015 or so when I stopped going to what-have-become cinematic playgrounds. At any rate, there is nothing quite like the smell of popcorn when one enters a theatre building. These days, here, we periodically relive that smell during a game or movie.

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The Poem-a-Day Series, Poem #37

Block 1912 - Southwest Edmonton - Edmonton, AB

Block 1912, Old Strathcona, Edmonton in the 1990s. It used to have a stage at the back and I can remember being involved in a number of readings here, including a special one with Spiritus in which we performed my poem for voices: “Nordicity”.

I used to spend a lot of time here, otherwise. I would come for lunch or a nosh with friends after a Princess Theatre show.  The coffee and food were good. There were large paintings on the wall. There was a section of international newspapers on a scroll rack which you could remove and read at your table. It was my favorite go-to place.

They even phoned me once to return me my wallet when I dropped it there once. Daya, the owner of this family business, was a nice personable guy. When he sold the place, I became friends with the optimistic new owner who had plans for the place to move it into the 21st century. I’ve been there once since it was darkened and totally remodelled, but the old sunny ambience is long gone.

Poetry readings. Anybody that goes to them will tell you that just about any subject gets covered and the poets often delve into the hearts and minds of people. There is that kind of intimacy about readings, often stirring memories and forgotten moments, desires, and unfinished personal life business. Virginia Woolf’s quote pretty much sums up what’s possible at readings. I’ve never failed to see people brought closer or palpably moved by poetry readings.

I will dedicate this publication to Daya and the many memories of my old poetry collaborator the late Dean McKenzie, who sadly/gloriously passed in 2013. He is the man with the beard, of course.

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