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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks, told with paper-cut puppetry

Using paper-cut puppetry, this video imagines the moment of witness that inspired Gwendolyn Brooks to write her landmark poem, “We Real Cool.”

We Real Cool

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

“We Real Cool” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Guardian's Poem Of The Week: My Mother says No on Bloomsday by Mary O’Donnell

My Mother says No on Bloomsday

It is not easy, it is not easy
to wheel an old woman to the shower

on Bloomsday, when the world
and Molly cry yes, yes, yes,

and she is saying no, no, no,
because what’s left of her life

depends on the freedom of No.
How Joycean of her

to resist the cleaned-up conscience
of filial attention, your need

to fix her taints and odours,
wash hair and teeth,

attend to toes when all she wants
is to float on the lily-leaf of her own

green bedspread, drowsing Molly
in a tangle of snow-white hair.

Now, dreams enclose her
more than talk of showers or meals,

the flowing waters of memory
rise and touch her skin

just where the mattress eases
spine and bones

in that yellow-walled room.
Hello, my darling, she greets

his photograph, flinging kisses
towards mottled frame.

To her then,
the logic of love,

to her, the logic of No,
her tongue untameable.

The Guardian

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Boy In The Field


The Boy in the Field is Margot Livesey's ninth book but this is the only one I've read. When their father fails to pick them up from school three siblings start the five mile walk home. They discover a badly injured boy lying in a farmer's field, a traumatic incident which has a large impact on them. Duncan, Matthew and Zoe are bright well-adjusted kids who live in a small English town near Oxford with their supportive parents. Duncan, the artistic youngest child, was adopted at birth. After the discovery of the injured boy he feels compelled to search for his birth mother. Matthew decides to find the perpetrator of the assault and embarks on door-to-door interviews with the boy's brother. Zoe becomes infatuated with an older grad student and initiates a sexual relationship with him shortly after discovering that her father is having an affair. The novel is told from the point of view of the three children in alternate chapters. This is not a whodunit, it is the story of how they try to make sense out of an incomprehensible act and the effect that act has on the trajectory of their lives. I enjoyed this book very much. The children and their parents, the victim, even the lead detective on the case and the family dog are all sympathetic characters. I look forward to reading more of Margot Livesey's work.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

John Steinbeck asked Marilyn Monroe for her autograph

This sweet 1955 letter from John Steinbeck to Marilyn Monroe, found in the superstar’s personal archive, sold for $3,250 at Julien’s in 2016.

Source: The Book Haven 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

The Open Ground Experience

A new literary attraction invites visitors to hear poems read by Seamus Heaney in their own ‘home places.’

The Open Ground experience, which is part of the Seamus Heaney Home Place in Bellaghy, links Heaney’s poems to five places in south Derry, which held particular significance for his writing: Bellaghy, Magherafelt, Toome, Moyola, Lough Beg
Read More

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Henry Miller: Asleep & Awake

Filmed when Henry Miller was 81 years old, this is an intimate documentary in which the author speaks about writing, sex, spirituality, and New York. 

Saturday, June 05, 2021

A poem by Louise B. Halfe-Sky Dancer, Parliamentary Poet Laureate and member of the Canadian Virtual Hospice Elder's Circle.

Angels: 215 >, 1820 – 1979
“The Past is Always Our Present”

A cradle board hangs from a tree
A beaded moss bag is folded in a small chest
A child’s moccasin is tucked
Into a skunk Pipe bag
Children’s shoes in a ghost dance.
A mother clutches these
Palms held against her face
A river runs between her fingers.
A small boy covered in soot
On all fours a naked toddler
Plays in the water, while her Kokom’s skirt
Is wet to her calves.
“How tall are you now?” she asked.
“I’m bigger than the blueberry shrub,
Oh, as tall as an Aspen
Where my birth was buried.
See my belly-button?”
Each have dragged a rabbit to the tent, a tipi
Watched expert hands
Skin, butcher, make berry soup for dinner.
Boy falls a robin with a slingshot
He is shown how to skewer the breast
Roast the bird on hot coals.
He will not kill
Without purpose, again.
The tipi, tent, the log-shack are empty
Trees crane their heads through
The tipi flaps, the tent door
Through the cracks of the mud-shack.
A mother’s long wail from 1890
Carried in the wind. A grandparent
Pokes embers, a sprinkle of tobacco,
Cedar, sweetgrass, fungus, sage
Swirls upward.
Children’s creeks
Trickle in their sleep.
A blanket of deep earth
Covered fingers entwined
Arms around each other.
We have been
It is time to release
This storm
That consumes all this nation.
Awasis, this spirit-light, these angels
Dance in the flame.
The bones
Will share their stories.
Listen. Act.
These children are ours.
Could be……………………..Yours.

Copyright: Louise B. Halfe-Sky Dancer
Learn more about Louise B. Halfe-Sky Dancer here: https://lop.parl.ca/.../Poet/current-poet-laureate-e.html

Poets On Couches

 John Murillo and Nicole Sealey on their couch, reading and discussing "How to Write" by Anne Waldman. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Reservoir 13


Reservoir 13 is British writer Jon McGregor's fourth novel. Becky, a 13 year old girl disappears while walking in the hills while on vacation with her parents. A massive search is undertaken with intense media coverage but the girl is not found. Meanwhile life goes on for the villagers and the natural world continues as it always has. There are many characters of varying ages and walks of life. None are unaffected by the disappearance of the young girl. Each chapter describes one of the thirteen years following the incident, following the births, romances, family upheavals, illnesses, community gatherings and deaths in the village. The seasons flow and birds, bats, badgers, foxes, pets and farm animals go through their life cycles as well. I read the Kindle edition and didn't realize that there was an index of characters so initially I had difficulty identifying everyone but once I figured out who was who I became more engaged. Becky's disappearance continues to touch the town's inhabitants for many years after the search parties have given up and gone home.

There is a rhythm to the way McGregor tells the story that is almost soothing as we wait for the mystery of Becky's disappearance to be revealed. The story moves along like a poem, not a police procedural. It's beautifully written and true to life.