Lost!

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Kingsbrae 20.1
20 June 2017

Lost!

Mist covers Passamaquoddy Bay.
The stone roads stretch long arms
out into the mist and figures move
along them, losing shape and form,
disappearing, so many gone, lost on
fishing grounds, fallen from boats,
while some, sad and alone, have filled
their pockets with a load of stones
and walked out into the clinging mist,
never to return. What is it like,
that slow immersion into cold waters,
the shallows, the water deepening,
the sudden depths, the rip tide
and the currents that sweep you
off your feet and carry you out, down,
and away to be lost forever in those
swirling mists that cloak the bay?
The mist knits itself in and out,
covering the scene before me
with a theatrical curtain that raises
and lowers itself. I watch the stage
before me. Mist thins and figures grow
stronger. There’ll be no tragedy today,
just a comedy of errors as footsteps
wet and muddy come my way and
a dog shakes salt and water from its coat
covering her owners with mud and spray.

Mist

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Kingsbrae 19.1
19 June 2017

Mist

Full sail, the sailing ship, clawing
into the mist. For a moment, only
mast-head showing, then hazy at
last, vanishing, appearing again,
doubt in the beholder’s mind: is she
or isn’t she, real or apparition? So
easy to believe in ghosts and ghost
ships when mist deceives and eyes
grieve for the subtlety of a clear
day, not mist enveloping the bay,
holding the boat back with tenuous
tendrils, ghostly fingers, damp music
on sails and cordage, shallow the sea,
the channel through sand banks and
pebbles, half -seen, yet known about,
both sensed and scented, heard from
water –sound, wave-pitch changing
and lost again the schooner, grey ship,
grey camouflage blanket of clinging mist.

Three Visitors

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Kingsbrae 18.3
18 June 2017

Three Visitors

The first one knocked on my door,
called out my name, knocked again.
I got out of bed, opened the door,
looked out: but the corridor was empty.

The second one stood in the corner,
calling, calling … I tried to answer
but I couldn’t unseal my lips. “No,”
the visitor said. “No. Don’t go.”

Lips and throat dry, tongue tied,
I lay in my bed.

My third visitor was David,
and I knew he was dead.

“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.

Reversing Falls

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Reversing Falls
Saint John, NB

Quietly, the tide turns,
holds back the river’s flow,
pushes fresh waters
backwards, holds them up
against their will.
The river builds and gains
in strength. The tide water
weakens, its muscles can
no longer support
the river’s weight. The tide
ebbs, flows out of the bay,
slowly at first, then with
ever quickening steps.
The river grows strong,
pushes back against the tide
and renews its seaward flow.

Comment: Just back from Saint John, New Brunswick and the WordSpring meeting of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB): theme … Finding Your Voice. I gave two seminars, one on Friday night (30 participants) about choosing your text for a literary reading and the other on Saturday afternoon (25 participants) about meeting your metaphor and finding your voice. I had a great time and I hope the other participants did too. We finished the Saturday afternoon seminar with a sing-song, so I guess a good time was had by all. Oh yes, and I did a Blue Pencil Café and several one-on-ones that were wonderful. I attended some very fine sessions, too, heard some great people read, play the piano, and sing. Oh yes, the hospitality and food in the Harbour Hilton was excellent. It was a fabulous weekend and I would like to give a big thank you to all who made it possible, especially my guide, the poet Annette, and the chief organizers, Andrea, Cathy, Gwen, and Rosalyn. If I have missed anyone out, forgive me. The omission is by accident, not design.

Triumphs

 

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Triumphs

Now is the time of minor triumphs:
waking to birdsong in the morning,
making it safely to the bathroom,
shaving without cutting my face,
getting in and out of the shower
with neither a slip nor a fall,
drying those parts of the body
that are now so difficult to reach,
especially between my far-off toes,
pulling my shirt over sticky patches
still damp from the shower,
negotiating each leg of my pants,
tugging the pulleys that permit
my socks to glide onto my feet,
forcing my feet into my shoes,
hobbling to the top of the stairs
and lurching down them, left
then right, one step at a time …

Bears

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BEARS

Think of pink salmon caught in pools,
plucked from water, tossed to air,
the catch stacked rainbow‑fired.

Winter now:
unsnubbable, lumbering overcoats
closeted, laid to rest;
seeking power in hibernation
till sun from summit melts frosty dark:
fresh heartbeats forged in forest’s night.

Think alchemy:
prime matter moved safely in flask or jar.

Think circus stars:
The Great Bear leads the Lesser,
dancing to the trainer’s whip,
tumbling from their pedestals.

Secure behind bars,
think fallen stars.