Sometimes

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Kingsbrae 20.3
20 June 2017

Some Times

Sometimes,
something happens:
lightning strikes the tree,
the upraised golf club,
the umbrella,
the baby’s stroller.

Maybe
an earthquake rocks the house,
or
hailstones as big as golf balls
shatter the greenhouse glass.

More often
it is as silent as frost on geraniums,
or clothes on the line quick-frozen in the wind.

Slow crumbling:
a breaking down by freeze and thaw,
free fall on the cliff face and the subsequent scree.

A cloud passes overhead:
our sunshine vanishes.

Insomnia

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Kingsbrae 18.2
18 June 2017

Insomnia

When the gate-keeper sleeps,
who will open the gate?
Dreamland lies before us
but the gate is closed.
Where now is the gate-keeper?

How many sheep must we count
before the gate-keeper comes?
What will we do if he doesn’t arrive?
Must we just stand here and wait?

The sheep grow weary before our eyes.
They age and become frail.
Who now will count the motionless flock?
Where is the gate-keeper? Who will open
the gate that leads to the land of dreams?
Who will open the gate?

This Old Man

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Kingsbrae 16.1
16 June 2017

This Old Man

This old man, with his bundle of memories
carried on his back like a snail carries his shell,
a broken record, he played, with the gramophone needle
stuck in a groove and the same tales repeated.

The ancient  mariner who lives in his brain
stops people in the street and retells
the old story: life’s doldrums where
no winds blew and his ship just drifted,
with no wind to bring it home.

Then blew the wind of change, and suddenly
the sun was just as warm as it was in his youth.
The sea became blue again.  Flowers flourished
brighter, stronger. Birds chirped in the trees.
Light grew bright and he felt beauty return to
the new-born world of his second childhood.

Comment: My journal tells me that I wrote the original version of this poem on Friday, 21 April 2017, and posted it to my blog on Sunday, 23 April 2017 . Today’s rewrite changes the structure and tone of the poem and illustrates how time and place can influence any previously generated word sequence. For time and place we can also substitute attitude and change of heart, as Ludwig Wittgenstein suggests. More important, perhaps, our attitude and outlook can change with the weather and the state of our digestion. This is the same poem, then, written by the same person, on two different days. Or was it the same person? My stay at this residency would suggest that perhaps the person has changed along with his attitude, his outlook, his digestion, and the weather.

Beachcombers

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Kingsbrae 15.4
15 June 2017

Beachcombers

Low tide on the island,
the bay haloed with silence.
Wading in the distance,
tourists and school kids,
shapes wading in shallows.

Soft footprints, my past,
through a seascape of echoes:
sand at the Slipway
and
rocks at Pwll Ddu.

Another sea now,
and a similar shoreline;
same light in the sky
as, barefoot, the bathers
still hop and still stumble
over sharp pebbles.

Time walks backwards
and fills me with sorrow.
Ghosts of my mother,
my father, lost brothers.

Clouds cover the sun:
so sudden the tear-tang,
salty on tongue

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

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Kingsbrae 14.2
14 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday

All sound has run dry in my
song-sparrow throat.
Words and music no longer flow.
They need eaux de vie,
the waters of life.

Water from a bucket, perhaps,
though I cannot stoop to fill,
nor carry it, without spilling.

A hosepipe, then, though I need
to bend to make the connections
and turn the tap on, and alas,
I am too old and stiff to bend.

Rain, perhaps, though today
it must fall from a cloudless sky.
Who could pray for rain on a day
like today, with sun warming earth
and flowers and my old bones
basking, wordless in the warmth.

I long for the word drought to end.
Silent I shall sit and wait for the word
-well to fill itself with those spiritual
waters flowering and flowing deep within.

 

 

 

“Don’t Get Off the Bus!” Wednesday Workshop

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“Don’t Get Off The Bus!”
Wednesday Workshop
Wednesday 14 June 2017

Journal: Roger Moore had the honor and pleasure of addressing the artists in residence at KIRA / Kingsbrae last night. He gave a brief biography of himself then stated that he did not consider himself to be a poet, the honor of the name is too high. He is, he stated, above all a writer. He began writing poetry at an early age, but was always put off by the lack of understanding shown by his contemporaries. Such slogans as “He’s a poet, but he doesn’t know it,” chanted endlessly, made him hide his poetic talent. In 1962, however, in his last year in school, he entered the Stroud International Festival for Religious Drama and the Arts and won first prize for a sonnet he wrote for that competition. This confirmed , in his own mind, that he could write and he continued to do so.

He attended Bristol University from 1963-1966, studying Spanish (Honours) and French. While at Bristol he published some 30 poems with the university’s literary review, the Nonesuch Magazine. He also wrote a weekly column in the student newspaper reporting on cross-country running in winter and athletics in summer. He began an MA in the University of Toronto in 1966 (completed in 1967) and decided to stay in Canada and work for his PhD (17th Century Spanish poetry). His encounters with the Toronto literary circles were not satisfactory and he realized that neither his style nor his subject matter were suited to the CanLit of the Canadian art scene. He hid again until 1977 when Fred Cogswell published Last Year in Paradise, Roger’s first poetry book, in the Fiddlehead Poetry Book series. By now, Roger had completed his doctoral thesis and published Towards A Chronology of Quevedo’s Poetry with York Press in 1976. From 1973-1977 Roger was first the Editorial Assistant and then the Assistant Editor of the International Fiction Review (University of New Brunswick). This position allowed him (a) to revise the submissions of writers whose first language was not English; (b) to translate articles from Spanish to English; and (c) to himself submit articles and reviews to the magazine. One of his first translations was of an article by Enrique Anderson Imbert, the Argentinian writer. Roger’s academic writing and editing is a different story and will be told at another time.

In 1979, Roger took his first workshops in creative writing at St. Thomas University  with Norman Levine, the Canadian Short Story writer. Norman Levine inspired Roger with a new taste for creative writing and he started writing short stories at this stage. He also started attending the Maritime Writers’ Workshops at UNB working with Patrick Lane, Susan Musgrave, Richard Lemm (twice) and Erine Moure. Roger was now submitting regularly to Canadian Literary magazines and his poetry was published first in Poetry Toronto (by bpnichol),  and then in Poetry Canada Review, The Fiddlehead, ARC, Ariel, the Cross-Canada Writers’ Quarterly, and in some twenty other Canadian literary magazines. In 1986, his second poetry collection, Broken Ghosts, was published by Goose Lane (Fredericton). Roger’s mother died in 1987 and his father followed in 1989. The poems he wrote at this stage were collected together and were awarded the Alfred G. Bailey Award for Poetry by the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick in 1989. A second collection again won the Bailey in 1994, but neither of these collections were considered worthy of  publication by the multiple Canadian presses to which Roger sent them.

In 1991, Roger was the Atlantic Provinces Director for the League of Canadian Poets. He started, with JoAnne Elder, the Writes of Spring at St. Thomas University, and this continued for three years. The Writes of Spring was designed as a gender balanced, language balanced reading event in which eight poets participated. The reading group consisted of four men and four women, four of whom were Francophones and four Anglophones. These bilingual readings gave a wonderful insight into the poetry that was being written at the time within the province of New Brunswick. Roger started self-publishing his poetry in limited edition chapbooks at this time and gave his works to the participants and audiences in this series. He published six chapbooks this way: Idlewood, In the Art Gallery, Daffodils, Secret Garden, Iberian Interludes, and On Being Welsh.

In 1999, Roger chaired the third Atlantic Association of Universities’ Teaching Showcase at St. Thomas University. He edited the proceedings with Denise Nevo and they were published by Mount Saint Vincent University Press. Denise suggested that Roger might publish his poetry with MSVU and declared herself willing to edit and publish any work he might care to submit. This most fruitful collaboration with a wonderful lady who was also an outstanding editor allowed Roger to publish six more poetry books between 2000 and 2012, namely, Sun and Moon (Poems from Oaxaca), Though Lovers Be Lost, Fundy Lines (Prose Poems), At The Edge of Obsidian, Obsidian 22, and Monkey Temple. Roger continued publishing chapbooks and Dewi Sant (with the Central New Brunswick Welsh Society) and M Press of Ireland were among those that appeared, while Land of Rocks and Saints (Poems from Avila) was published by Nashwaak Press (Stuart Donovan) in 2008.

2015 saw three books appear in print: Stepping Stones (in collaboration with David Brewer of Rabbittown Press), Systematic Deception (in collaboration with Randi Drake of Ottawa), and Triage, his last poetry chapbook. In August 2016, John Sutherland, a member of one of Roger’s writing groups, introduced him to CreateSpace / Amazon / Kindle, and since then eleven books have been published online: Monkey Temple, Though Lovers Be Lost, Bistro, Sun and Moon, Obsidian’s Edge, The Empress of Ireland, All About Angels, Avila (Cantos y santos y ciudad de la Santa), Iberian Interludes, A Cancer Chronicle, and Nobody’s Child. Bistro (Flash Fiction), Avila (in Spanish), A Cancer Chronicle, and Nobody’s Child (short stories) are new, while the other seven titles have all been expanded and revised. Bistro was one of three finalists (and the only independently published book) in the New Brunswick book Awards (prose fiction) in 2016 (results announced, May 2017).

This Wednesday Workshop / KIRA Artist’s Report has two concealed messages. The first is that writing, like all creative activities, is a long apprenticeship (in the words of Fred Cogswell). The second is that if you want to travel from Halifax to Vancouver, you must stay on the bus. Quite simply, if you get off at Fredericton or Quebec City, Or Montreal or Toronto, and if you stay in one of those cities and don’t get back on the bus, you’ll never arrive at Vancouver. So: writers young and old … stay on that bus. Persist with your work. Never give up your dream. Never give in. Looking back from the vast old age of seventy-three, I realize now how easy it would have been to admit defeat and stop writing at so many stages of my writing career. I kept going and I encourage, nay URGE, any writer / creative artist reading this either to stay on that bus or to climb back on board. Quite simply, the world needs us and the world needs our poems, our paintings, our sculptures, our music, our encaustics,  and our stories.

Icarus

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Kingsbrae 13.4
13 June 2017

Icarus

Such a miracle,
those first steps
of the sea-bird’s flight,
lurching his launch
over troubled water.

That first step heavy,
the second lighter,
and the third
scarcely
a paint brush
pocking the waves.

Deep within me,
I sense the need
to fly, to soar, to rise
high in the sky
and seek the sun.

I don’t care
if the sun’s heat
melts the wax
that binds my wings
and sends me
tumbling down,
a shooting star
falling
from the firmament.

A second sun,
I’ll be,
stunning in my sunset,
burning a glorious
path to death in my decline.