28 Apr 2009, 8:19pm

Norman Bethune

noon masterclass
Denise Chong interviewed Adrienne Clarkson at the writers festival in Otttawa April 28 for the noon masterclass series. The topic was what is truth in the context of biographies and autobiographies. Here Clarkson reads from the Bethune biography which she wrote. Bethune I heard of as a child, in a comparable way that Bethune himself heard of China. He grew up sensitized to China, in a Presbyterian Manse, needing to memorize the Bible, attend church 3 times a day and during a time of evangelical revival where there was sorrow on the Christian heart about the plight of he godless China of the 1890s. I grew up under a later revival, spending at peak, over 15 hours a week in church, going to 5 separate Bible study groups in parallel (with 2 denominations and 2 non-denominationals) and to 2 to 3 Bible studies a week along with my own twice or 3 time daily devotionals. Missionaries came to our church from the mission field of China among other places. I grew up reading of Bethune and Pearl S Buck. Each person mentioned her and her legacy upon meeting me, primed hearing my our shared name.

She mentioned a bookplate Bethune used which read “This book belongs to Norman Bethune and all his friends.” It’s emblematic of his sharing nature, how he may have expressed those Presbyterian lessons of service through an ideology of communism. He is a figure portrayed as being a womanizer but he would take women as emergency sexual rations if they fell in his path but in the free love era of the 1930s, the feeling was different. He wouldn’t chase women so much as not protest them pursuing him.

Loads of interesting tidbits about this fascinating fellow, Clarkson herself, the history of TB in Canada as well as about biography as a practice. When asked if a bio is to set a record straight she said that it isn’t really the case. People can’t get to the ultimate truth about anyone even of oneself. It is more looking a diferent layers and bringing them forward.

Link: Another conference of good ideas….TED talks: Ideas worth spreading: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world recently added Tim Ferriss on how to follow fear to excellence by working out first principles. Being nervous of any kind of dancing he went out 100%, studied tapes, interviewed people, learned what were the explicit rules for best dancers and the unconscious commonalities used by the world’s best (such as type of pivots and length of stride) and studied from those who exemplified those aspects then Ferriss went on to compete internationally and win. Matthew Childs is a rock climber who has teased out 9 principles that apply to life generally including keep momentum, be present. Fear is not being present. Know when to let go.

Quote: “Charity sees the need, not the cause.” – German Proverb

27 Apr 2009, 10:56pm

In 3 Snaps

The writers festival is drawing good sized crowds. Even the lunch hour talk had (rough head count) about 120 people coming to hear about Trudeau and Pearson by the authors of the Penguin biography series.

Pearson vs Trudeau
Here, after a series of articulate longish answers, host Jeff Davis gave a rather long-phrased question, with Andrew Cohen (author of Extraordinary Canadian: Lester B. Pearson) is asked whether there are any Big Ideas in Canadian government today. He answers. “No.” and stops there. The host, and fellow panelist Nino Ricci (author of the Penguin series, Extraordinary Canadians, Pierre Elliot Trudeau) laugh as the very engaged audience does. The audience had comments flying out of them.

Spring sprouts. Home grown arugula. A salad any minute now…

Duckie cake
Claudia Coutu Radmore launched her chapbook, Ode to a Rubber Duck. The picture is of the cake she brought to celebrate with. People brought gifts of duck-related wind up toys and various duck things that squeak.

She’s been pecking away at the series of poems for 12 years. Here’s a snippet from a poem of trying to separate the stories known by retelling or very old dreams from what actually happened, (p. 23 “the same question I asked the fish”)

the bride’s door on the right led into the second floor flat
of the white wooden building
however, since the two structures
didn’t match up evenly, you had to step down inside that door
like some brides do when they marry without thinking

That got a wave of chuckle out of the 35 or so people filling the Royal Oak’s basement. (A funny place that. The water was a drip from the ceiling but when I told the waitress she assured me it wasn’t a problem. It only does that after it rains. )

Tomorrow morning is an early start and with good things on later in the day with a noon hour lecture by Adrienne Clarkson, hosted by Denise Chong on biography, How do you know when you are telling the truth? and a second poetry Cabaret with Garry Thomas Morse, rob mclennan, Adeena Karasick and bill bissett in the evening. I still haven’t put up notes from the last one but I have more photos and more notes to go from that and other events.

Quote: “Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit; it is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love; I love in order that I may love. – St. Bernard

Crumbled Cookies

Now let’s see, wonder if Safari will keep staying with me without crashing…holding breath…turning faint…gasp…and it’s still running.

Speaking of running, for 3 years running, the most popular searches to come to Humanyms is for people googling for information on how to deal with the sociopaths in their lives. [I did a book summary of The Sociopath Next Door. Thank goodness. I’d hate the reason for the search string to be me. 😉 ]

armenian protest
1915 never again, no more genocide, we demand justice was being chanted by a crowd 4-8 people wide, two blocks long. The march comes on the anniversary of Turkey’s attack of Armenian that led to Armenian diapora. More info is in the speech by the President of the Republic of Armenia.

To cherry-pick a part of that, interesting that watching a soccer game should be a chosen starting point…

[Armenian President] Serzh Sargsyan: As I have mentioned, April 24 1915 has everyday presence in our live. But also as you know I have invited the President of Turkey Mr. Gul to come to Yerevan last year in September to jointly watch the football game between Armenia and Turkey and also to talk about our relations. And as you know Mr. Gul accepted that invitation and visited Yerevan. We have started an intensive negotiation stage with Turkey to establish diplomatic relations.

We base ourselves on the fact that there has been genocide, but non-recognition of that genocide by Turkey is not watched by us as an insurmountable obstacle for the establishment of the relations.

Always so much always. Continuously.

Thoughts occur. Such as this: everywhere life is full of trial, tragedy, joy, regrouping and neutrality – make muffins anyway.

I wonder what to do with such a thought. Hoard it to the squirrelled novel, pop it into a poem, have it printed on an apron, or share it with you. Let’s go with the simplest.

sunny knoll
On Parliament Hill people stretch out sunning. It’s a knoll, it’s a lolling place. The RCMP patrol nearby but people chat and it feels like a park. Quite a different scene than during Tamil protests.

And for myself? I do what I do. Life balance can only come from within.

It’s tempting to duck and play dead, to not admit what I do or don’t or where. To dive under radar, play hooky from online.

But the journal is for my own use. As is any part of my life. That anyone else gets benefit is cream that spills over. It’s good to cultivate regularity but useful to not be overly reliable because that is the framing for all kinds of fatigues. All that I do is by choice, by internalizing options out there into obligations in my head or habit. Self-imposed. Self-perpetuating. I have to is a much smaller set than I suppose, pretend. Even eating and breathing and sleeping, one can subsist or thrive on less. Tea and toast and 4 hours sleep with rests in a polluted atmosphere. Inner dialogue good and sense of usefulness and much less is enough.

What use is it to my future self or you to know of the people who left the park when a few raindrops fell, but how most people stayed including the man with puppy? Or how pup got scared and hid behind his man’s leg from the paper bag that was a giant comparatively? and how a miniature daffodil seemed scaled to the pup, or how her ears were pink in sun, or how she shied from people who offered finger rubs beckoning mid-air? and how the woman in dreads said oh my god that’s the smallest fricken dog ever! The pup didn’t quite understand fetch and would chase if the stick was thrown but wouldn’t bring it back, just accept the greeting, of man or whatever near person. All these ankles so similar, so confusing but thrilling, thrilling. A wriggling bottle, this hand-sized dog…

And sometimes the most useful thing you can do is arrange the useless bits in memory, in some small geography of house. Wipe the shelves, wash the car, move the legs.

And the quote I take in beside the invocation of Gandhi that all roles in society are equal, prime minister or cleaner of outhouse. You do what you do as best you can. All are humble and ways to be stewards.

Poetry Quote: “I closed the book after a short time and caught myself thinking: He’s an important poet. Which seems akin to saying: He’s an important forklift driver.” – Steve Caratzas

And let me change that final thought in light of the quote Deana brought to light.

Quote: “To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself.” — Henry Miller [via Deana]

23 Apr 2009, 5:19pm
Photos Poets
1 comment

Life Lately

I thought this picture along Highway 7 was interesting.
hwy 7
As I was out beside the car — getting something from the back before I got distracted into the photogenic brambles — the friendly neighbourhood constabulary slowed down, rolled down his window and yelled out, “you ok?” I nodded large and he drove on. (How is it that when I go about my normal life I manage to attract attention and concern?)

Over at Pesbo, I’ve been posting some poems and I’ve decided to run 40 Word Year into year 2 and see where it goes. And the food blog is still going of course. I forget about myself occasionally, but it is a habit that’s likely to stay around longer itself. It’s been 3 years now. I do like how Carmel described it; taking a picture of food before she eats it is how she prays. It is a pause to become conscious, aware. It even influences how I eat and shop for food. I needed to buy currants recently because the blog post could be Currant Event. Now I just need to decide the recipe…

Jim Larwill Interesting that the photo I liked best of those I took of Jim, was at almost the exact same moment as the one that Charles took.

It’s funny how I can get a food photo shot in 3 to 6 shots, and a flower or landscape in 1 or 2, but people I vary from needing 15-30 shots to get one passably good one.

This is the other one I liked best from the Al Purdy reading. Gwendolyn Guth
Gwendolyn Guth was another of the 8 readers in an entertaining night of good poems and stories. Did you see how it went for that Al Purdy A-Frame Fundraiser in Ottawa on the 21st? (As a teaser, the total raised is over there.)

I told dad it was Al Purdy Day and he looked up at me. I started to say he’s a po- and dad looked at me sharply saying poet overtop of me and looked at me in a flicker like I must think him an idiot. As if I’d explain to him that the Atlantic is an ocean next. I know who Al Purdy is. he added to underline the point. Dad, who has no interest in news, geography, current events, politics, movies or television, other than to collate the necessary as those Things Other People Fuss Too Much About. None of it concerns him but Purdy, that’s worthwhile and he wanted to know more about. (Nope, I didn’t see that coming.)

Quotes: “You put your best effort in and you can’t command the consequences.” & “You can read the life you’re living but you cannot change the words” – Leonard Cohen, interviewed on Qtv for forty-some minutes

22 Apr 2009, 7:42am
Comments Off on Interim Jots

Interim Jots

chain link How about excuses and jots in lieu of a post today? More later.

And gratis today, this picture of a chain-link fence that reminded me of a spider’s web.

In 80 words or less…Lots to write about, write up. Photos from last couple days – still on camera. The pre-fest Al Purdy Day tribute was fabulous. What a bliss-out of great and great variety of loved poems, of his and of the readers.

Then writers fest proper starts tonight and I’ll be busy at events, volunteering or soaking in.

And Dad has shingles on face, in his eyes. I am going to spend the day with him.

Poetry Link: At National Poetry Month I’m the feature today.

Quote: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

  • RSS Humanyms

  • Archives