from the Reaper Poems by Adam Staite
Performers Cafe Moose Jaw
Reading at WRITE OUT LOUD
Swift Current SK
Doors open 6:30 pm
Launch of Rolli's
Mavor's Bones: A Gothic Novel-in-Poems
Common Cafe & Bakery
23 Main Street, Moose Jaw SK
7:00 pm Monday April 6 2015
Launch of CUTTHROATS in Moose Jaw November 14
Sponsors: Post Horizon Books & WorDoctor
Special Guests MJM
(Image by Derek De Young w. Permission)
Cutthroats & Other Poems
From Cutthroats and Other Poems (Turnstone Fall 2014)
THE CLICHED EDGE
What is it then
drives me to this clich�d edge--
to this face of vertigo?
That trout I hook has been caught before.
The pull on my line is as old as a mountain.
Many stand before me, here, at this edge
overlooking this swirling pool.
The neck I now break has been broken
already, and my thanks to the river gods
are a repeat a repeat a repeat a repeat.
When I lift the last morsel to my lips
I know that as I eat this holy fish
so too will I be eaten. I drink
my brandy, my blood.
Every new heart breaks as no heart
before it. The pale rose blackens
eternally on the thorn. The crescent
moon sinks forever into a curved
The great machine stutters,
and begins, again.
COMMENTARY:In the 90s I was lucky to be able to spend my late�
summers�back-country camping along the upper reaches of the South
Ram River on the eastern slopes of the Alberta Rockies, a�region�
paradoxically called The West Country. The paradox�extends to�
a flourishing cutthroat trout fishery�introduced into The South Ram�
above the falls in�David Thompson Canyon in the 50s. And to the
�situation of�an otherwise decent human being hooking, killing, and
eating a trout whose beauty is exceeded only by the very�are golden trout.
The poem grew out of the many hours I spent fly-fishing a
favourite pool, an experience sketchily described within its lines.
More accurately, the poem meditates on the terrible beauty
of an endless cycle of living and dying in which the fisherman
and the trout participate equally. As my Inuvialuit friends
taught me many years after this poem was written, the Creator,
my " great machine," offers the wild trout to sustain another
more or less wild creature - man - who will eventually be returned
by the same machine to feed the trout.
This motif is applied to the much lesser, closer cycles of
the human heart in the last stanza. Yes, every love will
die, the moon is always waning; yet the morning is
imminent, and "The great machine [endlessly] stutters, /
and begins, again."
YES - Newsletter #1 was launched at a very successful Writing
Retreat March 29 hosted by the Prince Albert WFYL Group
facilitated by Lynda Monahan, visitor writers from Eastend,
Swift Current, and Moose Jaw attending. See article at
TRANSITION Newsletter #1 is due out in March.
Turnstone Press is doing Cutthroats & Other Poems in fall.
I think -- to both.
DIOGENES AT AGORA #2
ok so you live in a glass jar beside a pine tree & wear nothing
but the holy string that you stole from that visiting brahmin now
sleeping curled up beside you the night after he said to ask him
anything & he would grant it & you said please sir stand aside
from the sun so i can continue reading & he drew himself up
as only a hindu can naked as a jay bird but for a sacred string
& his three-valued logic split your head like the betel he split
with his teeth & lips red as blood & covered with a chalky dust
the brahmin slipped that string from his shoulder & threw it eyes
rolling on the tiles in a frenzy in front of you & to your surprise
you staggered back as though his spittle had struck you
& fell to your knees bowing your head & kissing the string lying
on the agora and the holy man spoke again in a kind of singing
you had never heard a song generated so hotly by a string
which you now wanted so you offered the holy man a place�
in your jar & he scuttled up one side like a spider & slid down
the other in a stoned stupor maybe the song had tired him after
that it was easy a piece of cake to pick up that string left lying
on the agora & now you can hardly wait ...
... that song .... [in progress]
The year from hell is ending:
1. Once bitten -- twice shy;
Twice bitten -- thrice never!
2. How many windows does it take to break a contract?
Answer: 8 = 2exp3 = 1 Octave
Lo que pasa he breathed
this place is in the constructive process
of ruin -- Gaze upon it: ...
-- Dorn, Gunslinger
Teaching started -- smart class of 40.
WFYL enters communality stage, I think.
Papa Brown of Bone Creek lives for another year.
The WFYL Conference is done!
For the� preliminary report�, click.
The WFYL Conference 28 June at Delta /Regina is ready to
roll -- with 14 registrants to date!
April is Poetry Month in Canada!
And Shaunavon Public Library is hosting a Poetry Slam
Friday April 26 at 7:00 p.m.
Come and slam!
JOURNEY TO PLACE/CANADA
Young and told by those older of Place
in direction in distance and (just in case)
in detail, the Lover travelled and found Not.
Though in Transit, with some Quality of Motion
and (all is vanity) Relation, this Formula he made
which tried failed:
A voice from the past - Brick Books discovers lost reviews of�Pisscat Songs
WFYL Conference consultations reveal some real ideas: e.g.,
expanding TRANSITION to an additional two issues,
newsletters dedicated specifically to inter-group communication!
Teaching English: No-lectures approach seems to be working
- student presentations have to be evaluated of course
(which students they don't like to do), and the "level"
slips down a notch if you're not careful. Insight -
today's young people know almost nothing about how to use
the internet for anything other than socializing -
I am continually reminding them to "Ask Dr. Google."
Start the New Year off right:28-Feb-13
A voice from the past - Brick Books discovers lost reviews
of Pisscat Songs!
1. WFYL gets SAB grant to study "communality of writing-
for-therapy" groups (thank you, Dave, CMHASK).
2. Drop in at The Neoghboprhood Cafe in Winnipeg, if you're
in the neighborhood. Details at www.victorenns.ca.
It's hard to say anything that hasn't already been said about this time of year.
WORDS: People are sometimes offended when someone writes Xmas for Christmas. But X is the English version of the Greek letter Х�(pronounced chi), which in turn is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ (Χριστός), and has been a recognized abbreviation of that word�for thousands of years. So Xmas, far from supposedly "taking Christ out of Christmas," is actually putting the etymology of the word for Christ back�into Christmas!
TEXTS: If you're looking for a change from dear, old Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," check out Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in�Wales," available as text and audio online. The best. Rudy Wiebe has somewhere adapted Thomas's piece to recreate a Mennonite child's�Christmas in Western Canada. Not bad for a Mennonite. (Does anyone know the citation for this one?)
MUSIC: Handel's Messiah with its "Hallelujah Chorus," is new every year, as are traditional Christmas carols, but not advertising jingles like"Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." And if I hear Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" once more in connection w. Christmas, I'll hurl - unless it's sung by someone�else, in which case I'll only dry-heave as I pour myself another brandy.�So perhaps it's best to say the same old thing:
MERRY XMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!
That's the day of the Shaunavon Mini-Launch of TRANSITION
Fall 2012. Shindig at the Domed House, after.
In memoriam: Menno Martens (d. 16.11.12)
I was one of Menno's first students when he began
teaching at Herbert High in 1955-56. Even then, the
characteristics that made him such an outstanding person
were evident. He was first of all a well-informed and
rigorous teacher of the subject he loved, not without an
ironic sense of the human condition that history makes
manifestly clear. As important as that trait was in his
life, I want to share, for the first time ever, the direct
and lasting influence on me of an even more important aspect
of this man.
I was the kid from Turnhill, 16 years old and finishing
Grade 12, my first year away from home. What nobody knew
- including myself, at that time - was that I was living
a first bout of clinical depression. All I knew was that
I was totally miserable; all my classmates knew was that
I was pathologically shy; what Menno knew I can't guess.
But he reached out, in his inimitable way, his care and love
cloaked in a teacherly demeanor, and took me aside one day.
The student band - of which he was, naturally, the leader -
needed someone to beat the big drum, and he thought I was
just the right man. Of course I couldn't refuse; of course I
couldn't keep a beat, either. But I could and did begin to
move out of my self-constructed hell and into my life.
A half-century later, I returned to Saskatchewan and,
more or less by chance, met up with Menno again. We
shared the occasional writerly anecdotes during these
past few years; he proudly gave me a copy of Harold
Jantz's Leaders Who Shaped Us (2010), to which he had
contributed a chapter.
I thought I knew the sort of person Menno was - but I was
stunned at his memorial service yesterday to learn of the
man's fuller accomplishments, his well-lived life. All I
can say is that I was blessed to have known him and have
been empowered by him.
Requiescat in pace, Mr. Martens.
Nov. 09 2012�
Coupla things came out this week:
"By the light of the lilac moon." Prairiefire 33.3 (Autumn
2012): 98-118. [See Essays, Writing.]
"Writing for your life." Freelance (Oct/Nov 2012): 17-19.
Oct. 18 2012
WFYL Reading at CMHA National Conference Delta Regina
was a great success!
Adam, Barry, Carol, Darrell, and Ian performed at lunch today
to rapt audiences and hearty applause.
Can't think of a more fitting formal conclusion to WFYL 2011-2012
than this - KUDOS to all of you.
Oct 12 2012
Fall here with a vengeance: frosty mornings, warm afternoons, maple bugs everywhere (solution -
soap and water).
WFYL at crossroads - CMHA/SAB again, or go rogue? Eventually, will do the latter. Surveying facilitators, in advance of Nat'l Conference next week. Big time for our writers/readers.
��Sept 25 2012
Feels weird to have no WFYL to tend. Beautiful fall weather persists. Warm enough
to let me hook a keeper brown in Bone Creek. Butala wins $10K Sask literary award. About time. �
Aug 24 2012
Fall teaching gearing up at GPC [U of R English]: GPC sends invitation to a two-day "event" called"The Annual Instructor Gathering" -- no agenda, one day to accept or not, at taxpayers' expense!! An event, yet.
Aug 12 2012
Posted these old "News" to my new website.
Jul 29 2012
WFYL finished up mid-month.
Jun 4 2012
WFYL hosted a very successful Facilitators Workshop with Reinekke Lengelle.
May 17 2012
Did the�Symposium on Manitoba Writing
Jan 01 2012
Will this be the year?
Oct 2 2011
The Writing for Therapy [WFYL] Project through CMHA (funded by SAB) is up and running again -- maintaining the three former groups (Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Weyburn) and starting new ones (possibly Eastend, Estevan, Yorkton, and a second one in Swift Current) keeps WorDoctor busy.
And as if that weren't enough, there's 40 hungry English students (U of R) waiting for me every Friday at Great Plains College. Most with HS English grades in the 80s and 90s. I am so lucky.
Am also reading about a hundred Manitoba poetry books for a talk at the Manitoba Writers Symposium next May. Currently much taken by the superlative degree of their blurbs. Or, as rhetoric would have it, the topos of the exceptional. Ho hum.
Sep 9 2011
In Memory of Robert Kroetsch (d. 21.06.11)
I went to the U of M in the fall of '75 to study with Robert Kroetsch (RK).
Months earlier, he had read in Moose Jaw, where I was then teaching mathematics, from one of those rants in The Words of My Roaring. He would be interesting to work with, I thought. So when I met him later that night at a party in Regina hosted by a co-member of the Moose Jaw Movement, I chatted him up. Yes, he would consider being my advisor. How did I know about Russian formalism anyway - and would I be interested in reviewing Ed Dorn's Gunslinger for boundary 2? I had never heard of the man or the magazine, so I said yes. Great, he said, I'll send you the book, and he turned away to the lovely twenty-something waiting impatiently for me to finish.
Everything I know about RK is contained in that episode.
He was a writer of astonishing range and vitality. He was also a man of great, even foolish generosity. And he had a passion for and a powerful effect on young, female writers.
I never did take a formal course from RK. He was a diffident PhD advisor, acting only to prevent me from making a fool of myself. He was disappointed by my rejecting postmodernism, but I had studied contemporary logic - so I knew something about truth and models, not to mention argument.
May 27 2011
Joined Wordwrights Canada as coach today.
May 4 2011
Congratulations to Jess Boyachek on presenting two of her very fine, degree zero gems
at the Mentorship Gala in Saskatoon last week!
Apr 10 2011
Gary Hyland was buried yesterday:
Lay your lyrics down, poet,
lay your lyrics down.
Sing your fearful song, poet,
sing your fearful song.
Your lyrics do live on, poet,
Your lyrics do live on:
we sing your fearful song, poet,
we sing your fearful song.
Mar 23 2011
Guest-editing a special "MennoMental" issue for RHUBARB (out June 2011)
Gathering materials for TRANSITION's special issue on "What's so funny about crazy, eh?" (Fall 2011)
Writing another postphenostructarchic satire on writing (Manitoba Conference May 2012)